Thursday, April 2, 2009

Blue Cupcake of Death

A few months ago, I started squatting in an abandoned cube in the newsroom. We have many people leaving the newsroom and free desks are popping up almost weekly. It's sad. But the silver lining is that I now have a cube and a desk - something I have never had in 21 years at the newspaper. I like it.

So when you have a cube, you get neighbors. My neighbor, or "bunky" as we affectionately call each other, is Niki. Niki is our new online editor after years as a cops reporter. It's a new thing having a cube neighbor. Like Robert Frost wrote, "Fences make good neighbors." I think teal-colored dividers make good neighbors. Niki has a penchant for cupcakes. She likes to make them for the newsroom and the newsroom likes to eat them.

This leads to some fun cupcake challenges for Niki and me. Here is a little example of how we keep our heads up while the world of newspapers is crashing down around us....

From Niki Doyle's blog ( :

So … let me explain: My kind coworker Eric Schultz left a cupcake on my desk on Friday, March 6, as a birthday surprise. Unfortunately, I was off that day and didn’t see it until the following Monday. It was a little stale, but I felt bad throwing it away — it was a gift, you know? — so I left it there.
And left it … and left it … and left it.

It’s HARD AS A BRICK. No joke. It makes a loud clunking sound when you set it down (turn up the volume on the video and you’ll hear it). All the moisture has been sucked out of it, and it’s shriveled and rather disgusting looking. But it’s not growing anything yet, so it’s still on my desk.
Eric and I have started calling it the Blue Cupcake of Death because surely you would die of some strange disease if you ate the thing. We were feeling a little mischievous today, and, well, we thought we would play a little prank. We left our Cupcake of Death in The Times’ community snack area and hid the video camera in a leftover box of tea. Hilarity ensued:

A big thanks to our food critic (the poor guy in the video) for having such a great sense of humor about it. I brought him a fresh cupcake later as a thank you.
Eric and I, who share neighboring cubicles, also wrote mock obituaries related to the Blue Cupcake of Death and posted them on Facebook.

Niki's obit: Death by cupcake … “Huntsville Times crime reporter Niki Doyle, 24, died Tuesday after ingesting a bacteria-filled blue cupcake left by a well-meaning but possibly misguided coworker. Toxicology results are pending, but police believe botulism may be the culprit. Investigators are looking into the possibly that the aforementioned coworker intentionally left the cupcake out so he could claim Doyle’s cubicle after her death, knocking down the dividing wall to make the Huntsville Times’ first mega-cubicle.”

Eric’s: Death by cupcake … “Huntsville Times photographer Eric Schultz, 43, died early Tuesday morning after apparently ingesting cupcake crumbs left at the scene of an unsolved death at the desk of his bunky Niki Doyle at the newspaper office. While photographing the coroner removing the body of Ms. Doyle, whose face was smeared with blue icing, Schultz apparently nibbled on some crumbs left on the desk of the ill-fated crime reporter. Schultz was overcome with illness while moving a dividing wall to create the Ultimate Squatter’s Cube in the newsroom. In his lust and rush for a bigger space, Schultz ignored the same symptoms Doyle suffered while assembling the “Biggest Desk The Newsroom Has Ever Seen.” Apparently Schultz tried to call 911 on the squatter’s phone at his desk, but the phone was broken. Schultz died from cupcake botulism, as did Ms. Doyle. He will be buried in a desk surrounded by sea-foam dividers. Cupcakes will be served.

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