Sunday, 29 November 2009

An Even Darker Side of Mary Poppins

Earlier this year, I suggested that Tim Burton direct a Mary Poppins film, which would show the darker side of Mary Poppins.

This was suggested to me in a dream and I'm still convinced it could work.

It seems that I'm not the only person who has a Poppins fantasy, or the wish to see Poppins' dark side. I was reading a movie message board today, and in a thread on suggestions for remakes of movies, a poster suggested a remake of Mary Poppins by Quentin Tarantino ... a really dark side to Mary Poppins.

Now, let me see, how exactly would it work?

I'm picturing Jane and Michael and the twins a little older now, and both are pot-smoking, cocaine-doing hired guns.

The scene should probably open at a cafe ... no, let's make that an upside down tea party on the ceiling, where Jane and Michael indulge in some badass gangster chat that is lightly disguised as philosophy about something totally pop culture irrelevant to the story, and use dirty language as much as possible.

Something like:

Jane: You see, Michael, I got this theory.
Michael: What's the f*ing theory?
Jane: You know that f*ing carousel we was riding on with the f*ing ponies?
Michael: Yeah?
Jane: Well, that is actually symbolic for child molestation.
Waiter: What'll it be today?
Michael: Can't you see we're f*ing floating on the ceiling having a private conversation? Come levitating later when I look like I'm ready to have my upside down jams and scones replenished.
Waiter: (sarcastically) Yes sir.
Michael: That's what's wrong with this country. You can't get no good customer service. he must've been molested by a f*ing carousel pony as a child and it messed with his sh*tworthy brain.
Jane: I was telling you about my theory. It's like, the carousel's spinning round, and the ponies are bobbing up and down, and the kids are being put on them by their parents, up down up down up down and this is just like being sexually molested, you know what I'm saying?
Michael: I hear you. Oh, shouldn't we be robbing that upside down cashier right now?

In the new Tarantino version of Mary Poppins, that spoonful of sugar Mary Poppins advocates probably costs thousands and has to be smuggled in over the border, but it really gives you a high!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

The Making of A Legend: Gone With the Wind

One of the great things about being unemployed is that you can sit back and watch TV shows you wouldn't be able to watch if you were at work. (I can't watch TV much at night as my Dad dominates the telly with his endless reruns of Law and Order.)

Today I saw a show I'd taped, The Making of a Legend: Gone With the Wind. I'm an official Gone With the Wind junkie (see the link on this site to the GWTW Forever site).

I have the DVD of the feature film, I just hadn't realised how much had gone into making it.

I knew, of course, that GWTW was the only book Margaret Mitchell wrote. Scarlett was initially called Pansy, and the book was not initially written for publication. Then a publisher read it and was interested, but didn't like the name Pansy, so Margaret Mitchell agreed to change it to Scarlett.

And then David O. Selznick secured the rights for $50,000 to produce GWTW.

I watched the show as they showed the search for Scarlett. It seemed they had an easier time deciding on Rhett Butler - the public demanded they choose Clark Gable. The only problem was that Gable was with MGM and Selznick wanted to do the project alone. It wasn't for ages and after lots of money and negotiations that he made a deal with MGM - they would let him 'use' Gable, and they'd also lend some money to fund the project, so long as they got half the profits of GWTW for the next 7 years.

Then it turned out that Gable didn't particularly like the deal, as he didn't want to play Rhett, so they 'sweetened' the deal for him by giving him ... $50,000 so he could pay off his wife and get rid of her and a weekend off so he could marry his new girlfriend (an interest payoff!)

Anyhow, I watched a lot of the auditions with the different Scarletts and Ashleys. After seeing what Vivien Leigh and Leslie Howard can do - especially Vivien Leigh - watching the different screen tests is like watching a series of Australian Idol auditions, you just feel how wrong they are and you want a nasty judge to pop up and give them a gong and tell them they're absolute crap.

It was amazing to see how much work went into creating - or destroying - some of those sets. They decided one way to make a set was to burn down an old set and then rebuild. An idea they had was to burn down the old set and then film it as the burning of Atlanta. At the time they hadn't got Leigh and Gable working yet so a stunt double is what you see when you see the horse and carriage driving through burning Atlanta at the time. And they really did just burn down a whole set, film it, and then rebuild a set.

Then some sets were only partially built - for instance some of the big houses were built without roofs - it was less expensive - then an art director comes in later and "draws in" different style roofs later to make the different places.

And the scene in Atlanta with the soldiers all lying wounded ... well while they called in many extras to lie there as wounded men, but they didn't have enough so they put in some dummies as well and instructed extras how they could pull a string on the dummy so the dummy could move a little so it looked alive. (Apparently Margaret Mitchell's husband said when he saw that scene that if they'd had that many soldiers, they would have won the war!) I know, I know, I guess they cheated too because those extras, they only pretended to be wounded. Many of them weren't really shot or anything at all. They only pretended to be shot. And int he scene where Dr Meade is supposed to amputate the leg - I think he doesn't amputate it at all. It's all faked!

So much work went into the recreation, it was amazing, especially when you consider there was not the advantage of the special effects that we have today.

I watched in amazement as every detail of dress was attended to ... the only thing I think I could compare it to was watching This is It when I watched the perfectionism that went in to making the Michael Jackson tour show. How many people actually put the time and effort and research into their shows any more. It's immense and it's amazing.

By the way I still love Scarlett's green barbecue dress - it must be her most famous - but now I've really taken a fancy to that little light blue jacket and white dress she wears to the store when she's caught with Ashley.

Friday, 13 November 2009

You can rely on me

I may have mentioned before that I'm really utterly failing on this Get a Job thing. And in our society, success is so often tied up in being employed and having lots of money. If there was an award for the most Successful at Being a Failure, I would apply.

What has irked me so often is this thing about being overqualified to do work thing. Employers don't really try to find out anything about you, they make assumptions like if you are overqualified for a job you won't be very dedicated as you'll be very ambitious.

Well, let's just see. I have three tertiary qualifications and I haven't got much experience except in junior administration, do I look like the ambitious type? Please, these idiots really don't think very hard do they?

What I would like to say right now is that I would be a very reliable worker in almost any job, even low level, so long as people weren't totally beating me up every day, just because I HATE INTERVIEWS AND RECRUITERS. I can't stand them. I resent this whole process I am going through every damn day I do it.

I wouldn't try leaping to another job very fast because it would mean having to do ANOTHER STUPID INTERVIEW.

You'd have to be paying me a darn lot to make me take that jump quickly. A small pay rise or a new desk would not cut it. I would probably still sit there screwing tin lids on Cheesybite containers unless I got 300% payrise or something because I hate interviewing so much. It really is annoying the crap outta me!

There! You can rely on me, more than those not-so-bitter trainees who would jump for an extra $100 and a larger cookie jar in the shared kitchen.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Good luck to my tote bag!

Just the other day I was on my way to an interview with a recruiter.

I was standing at Gordon station when a very non-obliging bird decided to swoop down UNDER THE SHELTER mind you and drop faeces on me.

On my tote bag, that is.

I checked carefully and it didn't get my clothes, and the only bit of me it got was my hand (the hand that was placed on my tote bag).

Yelping, I made my way to the station toilets, swearing "shit shit shit". I felt that at least I should use appropriate language for the moment. Then I tried using the only available accessories (toilet paper, water and soap) to rid my bag of birdy-poo. Oh, and my hand, too.

I missed that train but caught the next and I decided not to regale the recruiter with this amusing story of birdy-droppings at the interview.

However, I have heard the old adage that if a bird chooses to drop its droppings on you, it's good luck! Is this meant to be an omen? Will I get a job with this recruiter? Or does it simply mean I will get no more bird plops?

Or does it mean that my TOTE BAG is to receive the good luck? Will it be a very lucky and fortunate tote bag, that has lots of happiness and longevity in its toting life?

I'm a little confused, but very optimistic!

Monday, 2 November 2009

'Tweaking' (aka lying) on your resume

It's a tough world out there, but someone's got to live in it. Like alive people. And lots of us have to work in it, or try to. But sometimes it's not that easy to find a job, or get into an industry we like, or some people just hate the job we're doing but can't think of a way out. Or some people are just plain lazy. Whatever it is, we have a system where for the most part a resume is a big slice of how to get a job, or even just to get an interview, but is it ever ok to lie on your resume?

Here's a discussion of that very topic.

Some people would say you have to be totally upfront on your resume, some would say it's ok to lie on your resume, and others would point to a middle ground - it's ok to tell white lies, to exaggerate, to 'tweak' a resume, but telling outright lies is just wrong. The problem with this is that where exactly do you draw the line on tweaking? And won't you be mad if you draw the line differently from someone else and that other person gets the job!

In the link above, many of the objections come from someone who wants to outright lie on their resume, and also because the motivation seems to be because he's bludged around a bit, and has decided he wants to lie because he knows a bit about some things, but doesn't have the certificates, and he wants to get a job that "doesn't totally suck" without doing the hard menial yards that most people have to do to get there. His idea is that he will try to walk straight in to a more comfortable position.

Whereas most people either have to do the hard yards either in a university/TAFE, or spend a few years doing low-level crappy work to get their foot in the door. I remember some producer at Channel Nine telling me she got there by taking on a crummy job filing tapes in the library for less than $18 000 a year in order to become a TV producer. And she had to badger them like crazy to get that job.

But is it EVER ok to lie on your resume? The arguments on the forum are that if you lie on your resume, it helps you not because you wouldn't have the skills if you didn't have the qualifications/experience. Others say that if you weren't prepared to work hard to get the qualifications and experience, then you cannot be the kind of person who would work hard to learn on the job, so the "I would work hard to learn on the job" argument is invalid.

But there are certain arguments for tweaking your resume.

Employers are notorious for skimming resumes and jumping to conclusions based on them, and key words leap out at them. What if the job you did recently, if you were to honestly describe it, would not really contain any of those key words, yet you know you gained the requisite skills. It might be easier to use the vague and industry accepted terms just to get your foot in the door, rather than be very honest.

What if an unusual situation occurred on your job that did not majorly affect your career progression, that could either be glossed over or covered up by a white lie, or look awkward on a resume that could put you slightly behind someone who had a more 'conventional' career path, or would take a 500 word exposition to explain that no one would bother to read? Many would choose the 'white lie'.

The trouble is, at what point do you distinguish between the white lie and the dirty big fat black lie? Everyone has their own standard.

If you say you have "lots of customer experience" and you really worked for two weeks in a boring old quirky shop where you might have been lucky to serve one person every two days, and simply took their money and gave them a receipt, is that just "slight embellishment" or a lie?

If you are misleading - for instance - write that you "attended" a course but don't point out that you mean that you turned up for the first half of the first class, but never studied the subject and certainly never passed any of the tests or assignments ... is that a lie?

And what about lies by omission? What if you omit that you have certain qualifications because you don't wish to look overqualified for a position, or interested in other areas of study which may make them think you are a less stable employee?

My resume is edited, embellished and tweaked, I must admit. It is not a bland setting out of my educational and work history to date. But I regard that as a necessity - I just don't know whether my own version is anyone else's "too far".