July 12, 2016

Dear Job Applicant...

Dear job applicant,
Thank you for your resume that lists your stellar qualifications as a self-employed handyman for 37 years. It's a pleasure to see such a stable work history.
Perhaps you didn't realize that you applied for the position of inventory planner. I'm looking through your resume for the 8-10 years' experience in demand planning and ERP/SAP system knowledge that are listed as requirements on the job posting, and I'm not finding that anywhere.
Did I miss that?
Samantha Hoffman

July 10, 2016

Theatre Review: Between Riverside and Crazy *****

I saw Between Riverside and Crazy at Steppenwolf Theatre on Friday night, right after the events in Dallas, and it was such a powerful and timely show. It's the story of a black cop who was shot by a white rookie cop. I stayed for the discussion afterwards and so I know how emotional it was for the performers. This is an amazing production, on all levels; the writing, the direction, the stellar acting, the set. I loved the subtlety of the directing – these characters could have easily been over the top, but all of the performances were perfectly understated and believable, and drew me in.
This is an amazing production, on all levels; the set, the direction, the stellar acting. I loved the subtle
finesse of the directing – these characters could have easily been over the top, but all of the performances were perfectly understated and believable, and drew me in.
One scene, in particular, stands out in my mind; it’s in the first act where all the action is at the table at the left side of the stage. Only Junior sits off to the right, alone, not engaged in the conversation, checking his cell phone, but listening, and his reactions to what he’s hearing are beautiful to watch – his face says so much with so little, without a single word. It's a gorgeous piece of acting
James Vincent Meredith
by James Vincent Meredith; the kind of acting that’s so authentic and adds so much dimension to a production. Eamonn Walker (above, who plays the Chief on Chicago Fire) sets exactly the right tone as "Pops." 

Five stars out of five for Between Riverside and Crazy.

July 6, 2016

Dear Job Applicant...

Dear job applicant, 
If you're looking for a position outside of your field of expertise, I get that - I've been in that position myself (a hundred years ago). 
But you're going to need to sell me. If you send me a resume for a customer service position and your only job experience is the drive-thru at Burger King, write a kick-ass cover letter showing me how that experience translates to my position. I promise you'll get a phone call.

And here are my top 10 tips for job seekers:

  1. Create a resume that’s easy to read, concise (bullet points are always helpful) and professional-looking. Avoid large blocks of run-on text. I will not read them.
  2. Put your resume in a professional format. If you can’t use Word, have your eight-year-old do it for you. Do not put your picture and/or graphics on your resume.
  3. Don’t list photocopying as a skill on your resume.
  4. Do not put three phone numbers on your resume. Unless you are Barack Obama or George Clooney I’m not going to chase you down. Give me one number to call and make sure you check it for messages.
  5. If the ad says send a cover letter, send a friggin' cover letter.
  6. In your cover letter, omit the phrase, “I am excited about your position…,” particularly when you’re over 25. Your excitement is of no interest to me.
  7. Don't grill me about the company in the phone interview. There's an assumption you actually read the ad you applied to - don't burst my bubble.
  8. When you're going on an interview, be on time. Do I really have to say this? If you have a problem, call me to let me know you're going to be late. 
  9. When you go on an interview dress as if you care. Even if you’re interviewing for cashier at the Stop ‘n Go, wear business attire, meaning a jacket and tie for men and a suit or dress for women.
  10. If you’re looking for a job, clear your damn voice mailbox. If I call you and get a message that says your “mailbox is full, please call again later,” you can be assured I will not be calling again later.

June 22, 2016

Movie Review: A Bigger Splash ***1/2

The acting is amazing in this film and the scenery is beautiful but it's a very strange story. Tilda Swinton barely speaks (her rock star character, Marianne, has had throat surgery) but she really doesn't need words, her face says everything.
Ralph Fiennes is Harry, a former boyfriend who shows up and ends up staying with Marianne and boyfriend Paul, the hunky Matthias Schoenaerts (you might not know his name but you know his face), and with Harry is a young woman they think is his protege but who is his daughter - the very sexy Dakota Johnson.
You can imagine what might happen with these four under one roof, but you might not imagine the ending.
Check it out.
Three and a half stars out of five for A Bigger Splash.

May 29, 2016

Movie Review: The Lobster ***1/2

I can't decide if I love The Lobster or hate it; it's creepy and gruesome and bizarre, but it's beautifully acted and directed, funny and romantic, and it's like nothing you've seen before.
This is a world where it's illegal to be single (good thing I don't live there) and people check in to a hotel where you must find a mate in 45 days, or be turned into an animal. David (Colin Farrell), arrives at the hotel with his brother Bob, who didn't find a mate and is now a dog.
There are lots of rules in this place (masturbation is strictly forbidden and is punished with a combination of a toaster and the offending hand) and lots of angst; after all, you only have 45 days to find The One. Even Match.com can't guarantee that.
When David isn't successful, he escapes to join The Loners, a renegade group of single people in the forest. This is where he meets his match, but romance is not allowed and has dire consequences.
And then there's the ending, which is even creepier than what we've seen so far, and possibly more romantic.
Three and a half stars out of 5 for The Lobster.

May 22, 2016

Movie Review: Money Monster ****

George Clooney is Lee Gates, an arrogant and self-centered financial guru with an over-the-top TV show,  and Julia Roberts is his producer.
I would have liked Clooney's character to be less of a buffoon in the beginning - he opens his show with an overabundance of shtick (crazy costumes and nerdy white-man dancing) - and I imagine he felt like an idiot filming those scenes, but that goofiness is easily forgotten when the hostage situation unfolds.
George and Julia really work - they have great on-screen chemistry. You can tell they really like each other, so they're easy to watch.
The story's a good one - we relate to the hijacker, an everyman who lost his life savings and wants someone held responsible; we relate to Clooney as he freaks out and panics and then finds some humanity; and we relate to Julia as she works to try to save the day for everyone.
It gets a little slow in the middle but all in all Money Monster is an engaging story; charming, funny, nail-biting, heartbreaking.
Four out of five stars for Money Monster.  

May 11, 2016

Movie Review: Sing Street *****

It's Dublin, it's the 1980s, the new kid in school gets bullied by schoolmates and tormented by the cruel priest. He meets a girl, forms a band to impress said girl, and gets retribution against all who harrassed him.
Is there anything new in this story? Not really. But Sing Street is a joyous film with wonderful performances, especially from Ferdia Walsh-Peelo who plays Conor, the main character.
This is a heartwarming underdog tale and it's not a secret that I love this genre, especially when the underdog is immensely likable and charming.
The best scene is early on, when he meets the girl (who, by the way, looks much too old for him) and asks her to be in his band's music video and when she says yes he turns away, crosses the street and says to his friend, "We have to form a band!"
Wonderful, feel-good movie.
Five out of five stars for Sing Street.