29 July 2010

So, it's almost Friday and I'm still at home.

I'm not sure anyone's ever been happy about a cancelled flight before, but I think that my cancelled flight and my missed interview on Friday could have been one of the best things that could have happened. I will explain.

Originally, I had a schedule of flying to Wisconsin on Thursday, attending an interview on Friday, flying back Friday, staying at home Saturday, flying to Wisconsin on Sunday, interviewing on Monday, and flying back on Monday. Whew, that's a ton. But, tonight's flight was cancelled. Not delayed, cancelled.

At first, I was bummed out. Missed interviews are never a good thing. On the other hand, I started to really analyze the situation. Firstly, it is absolutely not my fault that I can't get to Wisconsin, it's absolutely Delta's fault and I certainly hope that the possible employer won't hold it against me. Next, I will be in Wisconsin for the other interview on Monday, and only an hour away or so. So, I can make an offer to the first interview and tell them that I'll make my own way to Wisconsin as long as they can arrange a single flight back. That shows the employer that I'm not only flexible, but able to help them out when things go bad.

Better yet, I get Friday as an off-day to have fun with my family. This was not in the cards before, but now it is. There was a bit of a question about whether or not I'd even be going on Monday, but everything was set up almost at the last minute today.

The only fly in the ointment is that the first employer needs to be able to make time for me Monday afternoon. There could still be ways that this plan may not work, but it seems that there is a lot of upside possibilities with what happened tonight.

So, to sum up... I may be getting a free day tomorrow, maybe impressing a possible employer with my ability to work with them and make plans on the fly, and still attending the other interview too. If only all cancelled flights could lead to so many positives. More news in a couple days.

28 July 2010

The waiting game

I almost wrote this blog post two days ago. It will likely be word-for-word as what I had planned back then, too. It's due to the fact that there's absolutely no updates throughout the beginning of this week. All *four* of the companies I am waiting on have pretty much kept me cooling my heels. One of them was justified, which is the interview I will be conducting at the end of this week. However, I feel as if I should have received information back on the other three. I'll repost the scoreboard to keep confusion at bay:

First place: Company with third interview, no change from mid-last week due to the fact that the next meeting is planned.

Second place: Company with first interview, they called last week and had stated that they would set up a face-to-face with me the following week but have not provided an itinerary or a confirmation as of yet.

Third place: Company with second interview, it's now been eight business days--a full week and a half--since my last contact with them.

Fourth place: Company with first interview given in the second half of last week, was told that I would be contacted at the beginning of this week.

Last place: You know these people, I've talked about them more than enough.

(For those scoring at home, the new second place is due to the conversations I'd had with the company last week, where they had told me that they were really looking for someone with advancement potential because they want to give them the opportunity to advance. Between that and the huge lag in time between interviews, old second place became the new third place)

Of course, I've been given even more ammunition through this week as to why last place remains in last place, which just makes information regarding any of the above that much more sought after. I've been clicking on my mailbox once every five or so minutes throughout the first three days this week. As a matter of fact, I'm late to my next click.....

....still nothing. Waiting stinks. It's really a bummer when you realize that while the very place that you work at and earn money at is a major consideration for you but HR has so many other issues to deal with.

This post will be SO dated in about two weeks.

Postscript: The other issue that's currently worrying me is that they've put bus funding up for a vote here in town. There's been a couple of stories posted in the newspapers and on the news which actually have been misleading and completely not helpful. Of course, I am biased in a very specific direction on this issue. If this vote does not pass, I will have an extremely hard time trying to figure out how I will go back and forth to work on a daily basis, especially since I have come to depend on the bus and I definitely do not have the money to purchase a vehicle, keep it gassed, and provide for upkeep.

I am scared that the vote will go badly as well, because Detroit itself is not involved in the voting, just the suburbs around Detroit. The biggest travesty is that the vote is only to *continue* funding the buses, not to raise taxes. I don't know why such a system would have a time limit, especially since you have to have a major outlay in order to start a system and if the system is abolished, there's no more buses and you have to figure out how to get rid of them. If the system is then reestablished, you have to buy vehicles all over again! Uggh, I know what has happened through the last few years when I depend on people to make correct decisions the first time, BigConglomCo has taught me that people are selfish jerks that don't listen. I hope to heck that this is yet another time that BigConglomCo is wrong, but I really am apprehensive.

So, therefore, on to the first-place job and hopefully some sort of prosperity that I can actually go forward with!

26 July 2010

Review: How to Train Your Dragon

This blog came too late. In the late 90s through the mid 00s, the Internet had a few forms... there was Usenet, message boards, and internet sites. It would not have been horribly difficult to be able to create a website that reviewed MSTings in a format like this; after all, even the "new releases" link on our webpage is nothing more than a faux-blog which provides links to our latest MSTings.

However, push-button publishing really didn't take off until the tail-end of online MSTing's popularity. The SVAM message board could have been close, and even allowed for the review and critiquing of MSTings, but that is also a long-gone artifact of the Internet, not even accessible anymore.

This means that I need more than just MSTings to be able to put up topics on this blog. It's why I've been putting up real-life faux-drama like my job search, and pseudo-reviews such as the anime series I'd been watching lately. Today is no different, though it is a review about a movie that is now in the second-run theaters.

How to Train Your Dragon never really showed on my radar, though I do enjoy animation. I think it's because the trailers they make anymore really aren't aimed at me, there's only so far you can take the same repetitive joke. However, the rest of the family went to go see it a couple weeks ago and reported that it was terrific. So, having nothing much to do on a Saturday evening, we all went once again.

Without giving too much of the movie away, I really enjoyed it quite a bit. The animation is a ton of fun, you can tell that the animators had a blast trying to figure out all of the various possibilities of dragons. You had tall ones, skinny ones, short ones, fat ones... one memorable scene is of dragons that look (and act) a lot like squirrels. One of the characters was a walking encyclopedia on dragons, and it makes you think that there could have been a bit of success if the animators had just scrapped the movie idea and created some sort of card game like "Magic the Gathering" out of all the sketches.

The animators did know what they were doing with the animation though, and that really shines through. I quite admittedly enjoyed flying with the main character and his trained dragon through the skies, far more than that CG'ed up Avatar movie. I suppose that this could be another proof of the "uncanny valley" principle, but I suspect it's something deeper, which is the biggest issue I have between the two movies.

In Avatar we're confronted with a jarhead Marine protagonist who seems none too bright and barely cares that he isn't. With extra irony thrown in, he's a broken Marine, as he is currently injured and in a wheelchair. This would not be an issue except for the fact that he goes to a *jungle planet* (which presumably doesn't have wheelchair ramps) yet has not even attempted to train himself to be a gunship pilot, or a mecha pilot, or even operate the remote-controlled bulldozers. He doesn't CARE about any of that, and presumably doesn't have the intelligence to do so.

Through the course of the movie, we seem him gain an Avatar body through sheer dumb luck (hey, your brother's dead and you're close enough genetically to serve!). He proceeds to learn how to work it within only seconds movie-time, as he's running within a few frames of waking up. This same jarhead proceeds to learn how to integrate himself into a new culture and even learns a new language in scant months, which is presumably more difficult than learning how to pilot one of the many contrivances that would make it worth having a handicapped gun-toter. In the process, he gets two new flying birds, one the Big Red Plot-Contrivance Chicken, and becomes the de facto leader of all the tribes.

Almost all of that growth feels like it happens off-screen and implausibly. I relate all of that because it seemed so out-of-character and was, to me, the example of trying to fit a square peg (non-curious, unable to help himself jarhead jock) into a round hole (having to learn and adapt to way too many new things simultaneously for someone who barely cared when he got there).

As far as I'm concerned, How to Train Your Dragon did it the right way. The protagonist is shown to be a curious person who puts the plot into action due to his characterization... he refused to kill the titular dragon. The parts where he and the dragon are shown to be growing in trust to each other are actually rather sweet, and they're not without bumps along the way. I felt happy for the protagonists (for the dragon is certainly one of the protagonists) as their journey was shown on the screen.

This really is the best comparison I can make. Avatar had bogus contrivances and a protagonist that had a very badly-written characterization. Graphics can't save that. Of course, all movies have contrivances... you have to accept that there is a unicorn in the garden before you can have adventures with the unicorn. On the other hand, you can *explain* the unicorn and as long as the reason sounds somewhat plausible, audiences will make the leap of faith to accept your premise. How to Train Your Dragon had its own leaps of faith, but it did the best it could to allow this moviegoer to accept what was going on and to enjoy the concept.

Which brings me back to the beginning of this post. MSTing is both a blessing and a curse, because while it really forces you to think critically about a piece of work it is hard to turn the critical thinking off. Ultimately, while I cannot give my opinions of good new MSTings to read or discuss much about the field of MSTing, I can at least attempt to think critically about movies, anime, and other things. I can then post opinions and rationale about these works and to try to take you readers into the critical thought process as to why some things work and why some things may not work.

MSTing, after all, is nothing more than witty critique about a piece of work that seems to have fallen short of its target. In order to draft those jokes though, you have to try to identify what's going on, what kinds of images the author/screenwriter is trying to convey, and hopefully craft a joke that relates the image to something humorous, all while trying to stay one step ahead of the audience's first reaction.

Ultimately, I am certainly recommending seeing How to Train Your Dragon, even if just once. I enjoyed the story's heart, the characterization, the humor, and the main pull is just all those dragons. They range from mean, snarly, and noxious to weird to cute. The setting is just fun to be in, and the movie really zips along (barely 100 minutes). It's a terrific popcorn flick and the kids'll love it too.

On tap, some updated status by the end of the week regarding MSTings, my current real-life exploits, and still going through My HiME.

23 July 2010

Interviewing continued:

I must admit, I'm actually somewhat amazed. I received another call yesterday afternoon for an introductory interview, which makes the fourth company that I've received some kind of contact with through the past three weeks. I honestly can't name another time in my life when I had even two active interview requests at the same time, much less four. Of course, not all of them will pan out... I can't do two jobs at the same time. I'm not even sure *one* of them will pan out. However, I must admit to being excited because at this point I'm not even sure where I'll end up in even three months.

As I think about the situation, I'm not unhappy about that. I'm actually kind of geeked... currently, there is some uncertainty in my life, but it doesn't revolve around whether or not I'll be able to pay the bills. It is actually about where I can hopefully find a better place to be able to pay my bills, and a new place to explore and enjoy.

I know that if things go south and the opportunities dry up, I will look back on this post wistfully. Especially since the worst position I've got on my docket is still better than the one I've got. However, I still have a semester here if nothing positive happens in any of these job interviews.

I think that going ACen really gave me a kick in the pants. Part of it was the convention. When I'm around all that art, it really just jolts the brain into gear, it makes you look around and think. The other half was just the ability to take a bit of time away from my job to reexamine exactly what it currently means to me. I believe I mentioned this already in a previous post, I drove home Sunday absolutely depressed due to the fact that I knew I'd have to go to work on Monday. I was essentially alone with that thought through 200 miles and four hours. At the same time, I was driving a vehicle that had so many things wrong with it, we couldn't get it repaired with our current funds. Additionally, I was hoping against hope that the tailpipe wouldn't fall from where I wedged it up into the auto body to avoid it dragging on the pavement. It amazed me to think that I had to specifically save and scrimp just for the $100 of gas and food when other people are able to drop that kind of money on nothing more than a whim. Especially people who I know are less capable than myself when it comes to work.

All of that really put my current work situation into stark focus. While I would absolutely like to finish my Econ degree first, I just cannot work through another four years of short funds and a pitiful work experience. Yeah, this may sound like petulant whining to some people, especially those without options, but I've certainly put my own time in to grow my career and I think that I've worked for too little for too long.

If any of you guys out there had a hand in trying to get me interviews, my thanks in advance. I know that both you readers and I will be grateful when all this process is over.

20 July 2010

More waiting...

There's another set of Rifftrax that I received a short time ago that need reviewing, and plenty more episodes of My HiME that need watching in order for me to review. Just like the last post, this title has a double meaning too... I'm waiting on answers, and you're likely waiting on reviews. There seems to be a very good opportunity for me coming up, I will be travelling next week in order to speak face-to-face as a third interview. Additionally, while the other position hasn't answered through the previous two days, I obtained another phone call. I think I may need a scoreboard in order to explain all of this out:

1st place: Job with third interview, face-to-face next week.
2nd place: Job with two interviews, awaiting word if a third interview is requested, have been cooling my heels through two business days (and a weekend, which makes it seem like forever).
3rd place: Job with first interview coming up in the next couple days.
Last place: BigConglomCoInc. and all the crap they put me through. (They're always in last place, even when they're the only one.)

Thankfully, of the three, the job in first place is the one that I would choose if given a choice. Of course though, I'm waiting just like you guys are. I swear I've been doing some stuff, like riffing on the newest MSTing Megane 6.7 and I have been writing as well as watching a few episodes of My HiME, I happen to be through episode 8. I don't have any other strong opinions about it, though the cast of magical girls seems to grow greater by the show. Nothing but an observation... I don't mind a large cast to some extent.

I will be dragging the laptop along with me next week, when the interview happens, I'll be sure to stick something on the blog when I get a chance. I think my toes would cramp if I kept them crossed for the next several days.

16 July 2010

Playing awfully coy

The title actually refers to two things. Firstly, I definitely don't want to get my own hopes up, but I felt very good about both interviews today. I think I did well, and while I received semi-vague promises from one for a third interview and a follow-up call from the other asking my availability for a follow-up interview, I have nothing *specific*. Therefore, it's still life-as-normal. I can absolutely say that I am happy with the way I interviewed though, and I would not be hurt if either job fell through because I know I did my best and I can't name any other time in my life that I've been able to handle interviews better. I can happily say that it's just a matter of time, whether it's weeks or months... just time separates me from hopefully a fulfilling career where I can support my family better.

The other thing that's playing awfully coy is My HiME. It only took four episodes for My HiME's protagonists to fall victim to lecherous "underwear thieves". The writers and director of the show are all surreptitious about the characters they've made, hinting very heavily about the fanservice and trying to get to some point without going too far. One of the protagonists accidentally flashes a male student, ever so barely off-frame, who nosebleeds very stereotypically. Later in the same episode, a minor female character notes... nay, dwells on and shows every single type of lingerie the protagonists hang out on strings of Christmas lights in order to trap said underwear thieves. In episode five, there's reference to loli chasing. All of it adds up to time lost actually fleshing out a plot by going down backroads not necessary.

In the first few episodes, please do not make fanservice the primary push of a series. It makes me not interested, because I want a plot. I enjoy the magical girl angle, having been a Moonie for a decade and a half. The weirdest thing is that I'm a Moonie yet there's almost no plot there, just repetitive minion battles until the boss finally trots out. So, the point is that it doesn't take a whole lot to keep me happy. I hope that there's more substance in the next few episodes.

Tomorrow, suit and shoe shopping. Even if both third interviews fall through, I need some new interviewing clothes for the face-to-face that *doesn't* fall through.

15 July 2010

A pause in the Summer of Anime:

I've noticed that I've been quiet for the previous week and a half. There is a good reason for this, though. It's because no one cares to hear about my mad general skillz in "Rise of Nations". I always tend to fall into that game for a couple months at a time since getting it a few years ago. No more comments will be uttered, I'm sure no one cares. I have been watching My Hime through episode 4, but I have no opinions as of yet (except for how grown-up Mai Tokiha's seiyuu sounds, it's almost off-putting to hear an adult say some of those splutters and exclamations).

Additionally, I've finally made some headway in job hunting. Things seem to be coming to a head Friday (tomorrow), I've got a lot of talking to do in the morning and the afternoon. I'm hoping for the best from both.

It seems like it's going to get hot again, so stay frosty!

06 July 2010

The "no new news" update:

Just what it says above. About the only thing of note, other than the lack of responses to my resume, is that I've finally received my copy of Mai Hime and I will likely be starting that shortly. My last note is that I echo all Megane 6.7 related below about "Danger on Tiki Island", it's a very solid Cinematic Titanic offering. The jokes were great, there were a few terrific riffs (Mary Jo stepped up big time when the female lead first met the monster), and the crowd had a good energy about them. If I were to have only one complaint, it would be the rapid-fire riffing that started the show... it's almost as if they threw everything against the wall to see what would stick.

It's been HOT the past few days here, I'm hoping that the heat will break soon. I'm not sure if I've been quite so irritable as I've been the past three days. My one day off (5 July) was not enjoyable in the least because of all the heat. I can't wait for Friday and cooler temperatures, it's a group Rifftrax night... talking to Meg while Avatar and its accompanying Rifftrax plays behind.

Please, everyone, stay frosty!