Sunday, March 4, 2012

Meal and a Movie: Office Space

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Occasionally the planet shifts and we experience a mass bad day. When the universe is completely unforgiving, we might experience a mass bad week. And last week was BAD. It was collectively one of the worst weeks many of us ever experienced at work. Well, at least for me and for those of you who confided in me about your very rotten work-week-from-hell.

The only way to recover from such a week is to dive into a comedy that we can relate to. The office door that always zaps us, the endless aria of coworkers answering phones ("Corporate accounts payable Nina speaking JUST a moment"), the drilling from eight bosses reminding us that we forgot the cover sheets on our TPS reports, and the beeping printer insisting that every other print is causing a paper jam, Office Space is the hair-of-the-dog-that-bit-you cure to a week long case of the Mondays in "cubicle hell."

Obligatory Movie Summary: Before he played Berger, the man we remember as the post-it breaker upper with Carrie from Sex and the City, Ron Livingston was Peter, the hapless sucker who works dreary hours in a dreary cube at Initech. He writes code in anticipation of  Y2K. Peter's girlfriend (played by Ali Wentworth, whom we remember best as Seinfeld's Schmoopie and George Stephanopoulos's main squeeze) takes him to an occupational hypnotherapist in an effort to motivate slacker Peter into making a career choice. The hypnotist dies while Peter is under, and Peter dream walks through the first half of the movie without a care or worry. It isn't until he hears that his two best friends will be laid off while he has earned a position in upper management that he snaps out of his worry-free state and together the three friends devise a retaliation that of course backfires. Meanwhile, Peter starts dating Chotchkie waitress Joanna (a.k.a. Jennifer Aniston who coincidentally starred in Friends, the television show in which George Stephanopoulos was mentioned regularly as possibly living in the apartment across the street from the Friends. Six degrees of separation, you intrigue me with your constant flirting.) and finds meaning in his life.

For the following reasons and many others, Office Space speaks to me on an eerily profound level. And if you've had a rotten week at work, it may speak to you on that level as well.: 
Yes, I own a red Swingline stapler. I have a bottle opener on my key chain (don't you?). My answer to the question "What would you do if you had a million dollars?" is "Nothing." I find the phenomenon of Pet Rocks to be brilliant (and I still own my original Pet Rock, Pet Rock Pendant, a cheaper fake called a Pebble Pal, Care and Training books, carrying cases, and straw bedding). Not being hassled motivates me. I've never really liked paying bills.I do want to express myself. I always mess up some mundane detail (As any regular CulturalConstruct  reader knows, my misspells are notorious even with the aid of spellcheck.). I've led a relatively trite and meaningless life. I love Kung Fu.
You might think I'm going to go with the obvious Office Space meal and suggest pizza shooters, shrimp poppers, and extreme fajitas washed down with coffee, diet Pepsi in a Big Gulp, mai tais, pina coladas, and unsalted margaritas. You might expect me to tell you burgers and a beer are the perfect accompaniment to this Orphic tale. But I'm going a different direction. When you are coming off of a terrible work week, you need comfort. So cook up your favorite meal from childhood, or something that makes you feel whole and loved. For me, this week, it was Chili Braised Chuck serve with a SALTED margarita.

I hope your recuperation, er I mean weekend, reminds you that "the Nazis had pieces of flair that they made the Jews wear," and that (The Bob's agree) no one ever really "misses" work. Keep these facts in mind and you might just become known as a straight shooter with upper management written all over you.

Chili Braised Chuck
2 pounds chuck roast, cut into 1-inch pieces
Vegetable oil
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne (less for mild, more for hot)
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 point crushed tomatoes
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
Any combination of your favorite chili peppers (such as Anaheim, red, jalapeno, poblano), diced
Juice from 1/2 lime
1/4 cup parsley or cilantro, chopped

Brown meat over medium high heat in vegetable oil. Add seasonings during final 2 minutes of browning. Add crushed tomatoes, cover, and heat in 300 degree oven for 2 to 3 hours, or until meat is tender. Shred if desired.

Saute onion and peppers over medium heat in vegetable oil until tender. Stir into meat. Cook uncovered in 300 degree oven additional 15 minutes. Stir in lime juice.

Garnish with avocado, salsa, cilantro, cheese, and sour cream.

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