Monday, September 27, 2010

Biting my tongue

I worked for a small consulting/recruiting firm more than a few years ago; one of the things I wrote for them was a list of horrible responses to typical interview questions. I thought that the shock of the wrong answers would stress the importance of the right answers. Now that I'm interviewing again, I've got these worst-case scenarios in my consciousness and only have myself to blame...

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

No can do, compadre. You might find out too much. And then...could we truly be friends?

What has interested you about our company and makes you want to work here?
My friend, does anybody on God's Green Earth really want to work? Here's the thing. I've got these collection agencies calling me day and night, and these guys with baseball bats wanting to wring a little 'settlement' money out of me if you know what I'm saying...

What brought you to your current profession?
I chose this field as a cover for my covert operations. I'm a spy. Don't tell a soul. If questioned, say only that you briefly encountered 'The Squid' and you can't remember his face. Now...goodbye! (for full effect, run from the office covering your face with your suit jacket).

What are some of your strengths?
I'm a detail oriented, highly motivated and diplomatic individual who faces every challenge with a song! (sings) Work work work, don't be a jerk, there's nothing more fun than biz-ness...

What are some of your weaknesses?
Geez...are you sure you've got the time? And I hope you've got a strong stomach. Some of them get a little grisly.

Describe your work style.
I used to give 110%, 24/7. But my last boss told me that 75% was an ample percentage to cope with, so I split the difference and started giving 92.5% with an hour off for lunch.

What did you like about your previous job?
All those free office supplies. Look at this belt. It's made of paper clips. Free paper clips!

List your responsibilities in your previous position.
Hey. My first responsibility is to myself, babe

Why did you leave your last job?
I didn't really leave, per ce. I was chased away by my co-workers. They were wielding pitchforks and torches, screaming 'Unclean!' in my direction.

What can you offer this company?
(lift an eyebrow suggestively, lower your voice to a sultry, breathy purr) Let's just say I have an 'active imagination'...

What are your salary expections?
What do you make? C'mon, dish!

What can you contribute to our workforce?
By the time I show up at work bathed and dressed, I think you've seen just how brightly I can shine.

How do you handle stress?
(bring out a small sock puppet shaped like a rabbit) Mr. Bunny and I deal with stress very well, don't we Mr. Bunny? Yes we do...

How do you cope with conflicting deadlines?
Give me a cold martini and I can handle anything! don't have any martooney mixings handy, do you?

How do you deal with projects that didn't go the way you wanted?
Once I found somebody to blame, it was all good with yours truly.

September 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bad optics

Hey, it never hurts to ask...

"...royal aides were looking for a way to pay the queen's spiraling utility bills, which had risen by 50 per cent to more than 1 million pounds ($1.58 million) in 2004. A letter written that year and addressed to Britain's culture department asked whether the queen could get a community energy grant to upgrade the heating systems at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, the monarch's favourite weekend residence...the royal household was not initially aware that the money had been earmarked for low-income Britons."

- From CTV. Every so often, a right-leaning (most frequently) US politican will use the expression Welfare Queen. It's a hell of a lot more negative on the west side of the pond, granted. But c'mon. It just would have fit so perfectly here...

'Yeah, I am doing this. No, really!'

“...Mr. Colbert was mugging for and winking at the cameras. Representative John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, seemingly miffed, suggested that Mr. Colbert 'excuse yourself' from speaking. Looking baffled, Mr. Colbert said he did not understand the question, and threw himself on the mercy of the chairwoman, who allowed that he should stay. On the whole, the mood of the hearing alternated between the serious and the absurd. (His spoken testimony departed significantly from his prepared text, which was straightforward and earnest.)"
- From the New York Times. Colbert has skewered the US right so perfectly with his truthiness schtick that it kills me to see him walk into a trap of his own making. The Fox crew will claim that Colbert wasted the committee's time and they're right. Politico is reporting unimpressed Twitters from both Mother Jones and the National Review, extraordinarily unlikey bedfellows without a tray of free B-52s backing up a Spanish Fly & Viagra sampler platter. Rep Conyers all but yelled "Stay off my side!" in his direction when the wind-up started. You can make a case for the 'awareness building' chestnut for as long as you want, but the tit-for-tat wheels have been put in motion and Dennis Miller or Larry the Cable Guy will be appearing in front of a sub-committee with tongue firmly in cheek within a few months. This helps nothing. Al Franken, Reagan and Fred Freakin' Grandy all had the good sense to be elected before spouting off in front of (or as part of) congressional committees, good on 'em.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

And in this week's Ford-related election nonsense...

"It is Oct. 26, the day after the election, and you wake in a hard, unfamiliar bed. Your eyeballs are congealed chip fat and your contact lenses have gone crispy. Your liver is en route somewhere. You appear to be missing a tooth. And there's something in bed next to you. It is the sweaty, beer-smelling oik from the bar last night. Of course, you'll say what you always say, 'As God is my witness, I will never ever do this again.' You won't have to, Toronto. He's there for four years."

- Heather Mallick telling me far more than I'll ever need to know about either her deepest fears or worst habits in the Star.

"Note the same disquieting themes, which also appear in her Ford column: a casually hateful derogation of the white race, the presentation of women as passive (juvenile, drunk, unconscious) objects prodded by disgusting men, and the notion that the people who have political views she disagrees with must be motivated by sexual inadequacy."
- Jonathan Kay in the National Post going over-the-top in a rant about Mallick stemming from her over-the-top about Ford. It takes a while to him to segue into her apparent distrust of the white race (he starts with 'white men' and sneaks to the race in toto) and it's a long strange trip on both of their parts. Mallick's drivel begats Kay's drivel. It's a good case for the existence of amoebic journalism, but 'good' is used here only in the broadest sense of the term.

"Any time anyone mentions Ford's name, the Star collectively looks like those guys in David Cronenberg's famous 1981 horror flick, Scanners, just before their heads explode."
- Lorrie Goldstein in the Sun, keepin' current.

"If nothing improves over four years of a Ford mayoralty, if transit remains just as crappy and the roads just as busy, at least Torontonians won’t have been forced to spend billions bringing it about. They’ll have the same city they have now, plus more money in the bank. How is that bad?"
- Intensely pragmatic or utterly lukewarm so-called endorsement of Ford from Kelly McParland in the Post.

"The red, white and blue colour scheme is a bit much—tax revolt, tea party, we get it—but at least it’s more engaging than the other signs (though we double-checked, and Thomas Jefferson never spoke about a gravy train)."
- John Michael McGrath dissecting candidate lawn signs in Toronto Life. Pantalone and Rossi get away with little more than a nod, but Ford's colour scheme supposedly evokes the Tea Party, Thomson's alludes to one of his earlier columns, and Smitherman's sign lacks structural integrity.

All of that said, there's at least one exception to the nonsense rule:

"Mr. Ford makes these untrue statements over and over at debates and campaign appearances. His rivals for mayor have corrected him repeatedly in public, but he keeps on trotting them out as fact."
- Marcus Gee in the Globe pointing out that Ford's numbers aren't necessarily based in reality. One can quibble about the price about a bike lane, but when he says that council put $360 million towards tearing down the Gardiner when such a thing hasn't happened, that's either one hell of a spin or an outright lie or the statement of somebody who honestly, truly and deeply doesn't understand how things work. I'm indifferent to most candidates so far, I just want somebody who knows that 2 + 2 = 4 and that the 2, the second 2 and the resulting 4 all exist in the first place.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Idle nonsense from earlier this year

Between paint-splatters, online.

Her: Wanna play scrabble? I'm bored.

Me: I'd be delighted but I'm painting my kitchen. There's yeast everywhere. Er...not as gross as it sounds.

You sure?

Me: Bread. I was baking bread all night. My weird stress response.

Her: Ah. I prefer alcohol.

Me: Me too. But I have a child. I can't say "Here's a change of pace little fella, daddy's throwing up on you tonight."

Her: I suppose. Though it's been done.

Me: By Robin Williams among others. I stole the line. Wanna help me paint?

Her: Nah. I'll stay here under my blankee.

Me: Fine. You can come here and sit under a blanket and WATCH painting if u want.

Her: 'You' want. Don't use 'u' in place of 'you'. You're over 40. it's unseemly.

Me: I am? I'll get back to you on that if I accept it.

Heh. In my mind you're still 16.

Me: In YOUR mind? Hell. In MY mind I'm still 16. Despite my best efforts.

Her: You're still younger than me, dude. I'm one month older. It makes all the difference in the world.

Me: On what plain?

Her: Yogurt?

Me: Astral plain, I meant.

Her: Astro plain yogurt?

Me: Very well madam. Would you like that with granola?

Her: Yes. And blueberries.

...what can I say? It made me smile.

Sept. 2010

Thursday, September 02, 2010

This week's self-serving and genuinely depressing mayoral race coverage

"The circa-1850s St. Lawrence Hall has played host to many poignant moments in our city’s history. Monday night’s mayoral debate hosted by Heritage Toronto and the Toronto Historical Association was not one of them."

- Enzo Di Matteo in Now Magazine, managing to complain about a limp debate concerning "the preservation of our city’s history, be it cultural, natural or its built form." 739 words later, all we've learned is that Smitherman showed some conservationist cred, except that he didn't. Everyone else must simply have bored Enzo and he's paid it forward.

"Just before I went on holiday, I got a message from the Ford campaign, addressed as follows: 'Dear Joe Fiorito ‘Al Gosling Is Dead.’ That was the salutation, all on one line. Not “Dear Joe Fiorito,” but “Dear Joe Fiorito ‘Al Gosling Is Dead.’ That’s not just some dumb mistake. That’s sick. If you read this column at all, you know the Gosling story. Maybe you don’t care that an 82-year old man was kicked to the curb by this city’s community housing corporation — evicted for the flimsiest of reasons — and, while living in a shelter, he picked up a bug of some kind and died as a result. But I sure as hell care."
-From The Star. Full disclosure: I'm not a Fiorito admirer and I didn't follow his Al Gosling material until recently. But just knowing that somebody at Ford's campaign thinks it's important enough to footnote is, in and of itself, scary as hell. I don't think Ford had anything to do with this, it's probably the classic overzealous campaign worker that's in such demand 'round these parts these days. It's as depressing as the kitten-eater nonsense during McGuinty's campaign, which at the very least didn't feature a flesh-and-blood corpse as a punchline.

"At Toronto City Hall, the old leftist guard is on the rooftop preparing a landing pad for the postelection helicopters that will finally airlift the David Miller regime out of office."
- Terrance Corcoran in the National Post, dipping into a last days of Saigon thing at the start and end of 1,238 words. It doesn't work any better at the end. But the quiet shout-out to Rossi and shrug towards Ford ("What Mr. Ford brings to the campaign is attitude rather than policy") is a bit surprising. So is the idea that St. Clair Ave. looks like Poland before the Iron Curtain dropped.

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