GROUP JOB INTERVIEW'd! (or "FEAR AND LOATHING AT THE KANATA CENTRUM.")So, to continue from the previous entry, I had the group job interview at the Kanata Chapters bookstore yesterday. I didn't quite "dress to the nines", but I "dressed to the eights" certainly. I put on my blue cheesecloth pattern dress shirt and my "interview pants" which I bought at Mark's Work Wearhouse in March, and, yes Nick, I indeed did put on a tie. My brother had suggested that I put one on and I wasn't sure that I would because I still can't tie the bloody things properly, but I found that I had one already knotted in my closet for just such an occasion. Oh, and to add just a tiny touch of "flare", I wore my Peorth cloisonne lapel pin. The one area where I really effed up was that, my mother bought me two pairs of second-hand shoes from Value Village on my birthday, and, instead of the "job interview" worth leather dress shoes (made by some company called "Penman's"), I wore the regular Caterpillar blue canvas sneakers. Still, I think I made myself look reasonably "neat".
The drive to Kanata was uneventful, other than that we were listening to the Ottawa police press conference about the police pressing charges against 25-year old Ottawa resident Chris Myers, who has been in custody in North Bay for several months after being arrested for a sexual assault, for the 2003 murder of cyclist Ardeth Woods. My mother was very, very relieved that the guy was caught, because she looked similar to and did the same sort of physical activities as my sister, so she was praying that it wasn't a serial killer. I just noticed that the press conference was remarkably bilingual for Ottawa, and the policewoman who was the moderator had the same general tone of voice, the same delivery, and the same way of alternating back and forth between languages as the slightly robotic voices on the prerecorded Air Canada pre-flight safety demonstration. I wasn't sure why so much French was being used at the press conference, but then my mother pointed out that they said that the investigation was being conducted jointly between the Ottawa police, the North Bay police, and, on the Quebec side of the river, the Gatineau police (Gatineau being mainly the city formerly called "Hull"), so the completely bilingual presentation was mostly for the Gatineau cops and press.
I got to Chapters, went to the cash, told them I was there for the group job interview, and they told me to wait in the nearby DVD section, where a couple of girls in their late teens or early twenties were also milling about. It's hard to say whether I was the best-dressed of the four people that were to be interviewed, since I was the only one wearing "boy clothes", but, certainly, I think my tie probably would have made a better first impression than one of the girl's pink outfit and feather boa thing that she was wearing. (Hey, Ran Kotobuki, you're not applying for a job at Barbie's Very Own Bookstore, you know? Sorry, I kid, I kid.) Since I was there anyway, I decided to check out the anime section. Compared to the fairly robust selection of English-translated manga at that particular Chapters location, the anime selection was somewhat lacking (only about 2½ shelves). However, the weird thing was that it was mostly Geneon titles , including many recent ones like Le Portrait de Petite Cossette that I personally have not yet seen on the shelves of other Ottawa retailers (or, at least, I haven't noticed it myself), and the price for all the single disk anime DVDs was $29.99 Canadian, which ain't that great, but, compared to Pioneer/Geneon's Canadian prices until very recently ($40 to $45 CDN), is a fairly significant price drop, though the first DVD of the Bandai/Manga co-release, Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2nd Gig, was also $29.99, and I've seen that one for as low as $19.99 CDN elsewhere. And they had the complete, remastered Bubblegum Crisis OVA set, so I wondered if this means that we'll see other AnimEigo items there, like Urusei Yatsura and Kimagure Orange Road? (Eh, just a pipedream of mine.)
The facilitator for the job interview came over to the video section. He seemed to be a guy in his mid-twenties, and had sort of a frizzy perm thing going on that reminded me a bit of South Park co-creator Matt Stone's hair circa BASEketball. He took us to the break room in the back. My mother said that, when she went to have a group interview at that Chapters a couple of months back, there were around twenty other people there, but the break room didn't seem that big, and the long table only had about twelve chairs around it. Either my mother's interview was in a different room, or she can't count. The facilitator introduced us to the general manager of the store, who reminded me of Lenin, and I don't mean that in a negative way, because, say what you will about Vladmir Lenin, at least he had a nice and trim and symmetrical beard and not a crazy bushy wildman beard like the guy on Sesame Street with all the birds living in it or like Karl Marx.
First, we had to introduce ourselves, and say why we wanted to work at Chapters. Everyone talked about how they liked to read (probably a prerequisite for working there), but I added, hoping for a few brownie points, that, out of all the places I shop at, Chapters has the most pleasant atmosphere and the employees seem more content. And my youngest brother worked at a suburban Montreal one and didn't really have anything too bad to say about it (other than that, for the whole Christmas season, they play the same hour-long loop of music, and I doubt that anything could possibly test my patience more than hearing Paul McCartney's saccharine "(Simply Having) A Wonderful Christmastime" once every sixty minutes... no, wait, at least it's better than hearing John Lennon's funeral dirge "Happy Christmas (War is Over)" once every sixty minutes, I'll give it that much).
The next question was the peak of the interview: we had to talk a little about a book we've read recently and recommend it (you know, like the kids on Reading Rainbow whom end every review with "on a scale of one to ten, I give this book an eleven"). The first girl talked about... eh, something I don't remember. I think it was a fantasy book. Or maybe Stephen Hawking. The second girl talked about... Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, because, you know, I'm sure it could sell much better if it would just get more publicity. I almost talked about the Gals! manga, which is what I really wanted to recommend, but, since I was the only one of the interviewees with a penis and testicles, at least as far as I could tell, and, as such, didn't want to come across as being too gay, I decided to give a brief review of Makoto Yukimura's Planetes, saying that it was good "hard" science-fiction, with no giant robots, warp drives, or aliens1, which shows what the author believes life might be like for ordinary astronauts several decades into the future, once there are permanent large colonies on the moon. It has much more (relatively-speaking) realistic artwork than most of the popular manga like Inu Yasha and Fullmetal Alchemist, and it might be appreciated by someone who likes the sort of speculative stories that Isaac Asimov told. I was pretty proud of my little description. I'm glad that I didn't get told off for recommending a piece of "sequential art" (the pretentious term for comic books that comic book fanboys who don't want to call comic books "comic books" use). I just don't read much prose, and the most recent prose novels I've read, or, rather, skimmed, was... erm... Harry Potter. Oh, I also skimmed Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to see if the Tim Burton film added much2. I suppose I could have talked about Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism, but I didn't know if it would be clear that it was a novel and not a how-to book and I didn't want those girls thinking I had a weird hypnosis fetish, even if it's true. Then the feather boa girl talked about... eh... Harry Potter, even if it's already been mentioned.
The other questions were more typical job interview sorts of questions. The question on how I've helped customers before kind of betrayed my lack of job experience; I had to talk about this one time I helped my father set up a phone bank to answer phones for someone else's software copy protection "key" company that made a big splash at Comdex once but then promptly disappeared, and that experience was over a decade ago now. Well, since the baldness gene skipped over me and I still have as much hair as I did when I was a teenager, I'm hoping they think that I'm a decade younger or so. There were also questions asking what we'd do in a situation where a customer came into the store after hearing a positive review of the book on CBC radio but they didn't know the name of the book. One girl suggested trying Google, but I'm not honestly that sure if clerks are allowed using general Internet tools besides the regular Chapters online database. Another girl suggested to ask prodding questions to jog his memory. I thought that, since we're talking about authors featured on the CBC, I'd point him towards the Canadiana table, featuring new books by Canadian authors, since, if an author is currently promoting his book on the CBC, he's probably on some sort of publicity tour which means the Canadian publishing industry promotional machine that Chapters and Indigo owner Heather Reisman is an integral part of has shifted into full gear for this book, so there's a reasonably good chance that the book would be prominently displayed within the Canadiana section. They said that's not always the case, but I still think it's likely to be usually the case. Let's think logically here, okay?
Another question, and I'm not going over every single question so this will be the last one I talk about specifically, was whether there was any section of the store we'd be uncomfortable working in. If this was the downtown Chapters, I might have said the French section, since, while I'm a frequent French-translated Japanese manga buyer, I'm not really comfortable-enough speaking French to work in a dedicated French section. (Now, if someone asked for help in French in an English part of the store, I'd probably be able to help, since I know they wouldn't expect a random clerk in the English part of the store to be über-fluent and my conversational French is pretty good, if a little out of practice. I'm just never going to host a programme on MusiquePlus (unless they wanted a show hosted by someone who speaks "Anglophone French" as a joke, like that one time that Tom Green did a show from the U.S. Virgin Islands all in stilted French as a gag, so that none of the tourists understood a thing he was saying). But, Kanata being the westernmost major suburb of Ottawa large enough to have its own Chapters, there is no French section, so there's no problem. And, while this Chapters has an "Erotica" section, for pornographic books with some semblance of a plot rather than cover-to-cover grinding, pumping, and moaning (and no pictures to speak of), it's not like there's anything I'd be embarassed selling. There's all those "artistic nude" books in the photography section, but I never had much of any problem browsing those as a customer, so why would I have a problem selling those?
By the way, if you want a good tip for group interviews, always sit directly on one side or the other of the facilitator. That means you'll get called on first half the time. If you're like me, that's a bit counterintuitive, as I'm certainly not fond of being called on first, at least not in an academic setting, but, there's an advantage to this: If a question has a rather obvious "good" answer (like "I'm friendly and punctual and helpful and a hard worker"), half the time, you'll be able to say it first and won't have to rack your brain to come up with something slightly different from what the person whom was called on first already said before you could say it. Unfortunately, I sat at the opposite end of the table from the facilitator, so I was never "first". At least I'll know where to sit next time I have a group interview.
Long story short, since it was a group interview, it was a lot harder for me to ascertain what the hell they thought of me than it was for the previous Chapters job interview, that was more or less one on one. Also, I didn't get a phone call right away after, but that was because that Chapters was more or less emergency hiring, while this was more for normal annual seasonal contract work starting in November. I hope I get called back for a second interview, at the very least.
After the interview, since my mother thought I would be in the interview room for an hour or so (it was more like half-an-hour this time) and she was going to shop at a Farm Boy store around a mile away, I hung around Chapters a little bit, but they had neither a single volume of Planetes or Oh My Goddess!. I then went to Wal-Mart and browsed the Game Boy Advance games in the bargain bin, but, goddamn it, out of the literally hundreds of GBA games they had on display for below $20 Canadian, they didn't have a single old school 16-bit style RPG à la Phantasy Star/Breath of Fire/Golden Sun in there, not even ones that are a couple of years old. All the RPG's were still full-priced in the glass display case, and that was more money than I was intending to spend. I went to the McDonald's to meet my mother, since that's where I told her to meet up with me (she was going to suggest there anyway), but she hadn't gotten back yet, so I walked out to the parking lot and found her. I went back inside with her, but I had to wait for a few minutes as she attended to some urgent business, if you catch my drift, and then I had to wait a few minutes more as she thought the McDonald's was in a front corner of the store like in the Kirkland, Quebec Wal-Mart and not along the back wall. Since she was paying, I, once again, had a Big Mac meal. The annoying thing was that I had specified "medium", but guess which size they gave me? That's right, the "Piss off Morgan Spurlock and Jamie Oliver size", which was a bit more food and drink than I was intending to eat and drink, but, eh, just this once I did. And Morgan Spurlock must be a pretty fucking slow eater, because I finished my Supersize fries in about half the time he took to eat them (though the American supersized fries might be larger than the Canadian one). At least I got four Monopoly contest pieces. (For some reason, this year, when you order medium, you get two Monopoly pieces on your drink, but none on your fries. I wish they'd go back to having it on the medium-sized fries too.) After, I got two pairs of the bargain sort of Levi's jeans that they do exclusively for Wal-Mart, and, while my mother was paying, I walked over to the DVD bargain racks and picked up...
Volume 4 of Tenchi Universe (the first Tenchi Muyo TV series, though the second Tenchi continuity overall after the OVA series), with the short three-episode "Time and Space Adventures" story arc, for just $6.88! I have the first three volumes of Tenchi Universe, which is actually my favourite Tenchi continuity of all for having Galaxy Police Detective first class Kiyone Makibi as a regular character and for having a far less convoluted storyline than the original OVA series, but I never got the remaining five volumes because the Pioneer DVDs at the time, around 2000 to 2001, were fricking expensive and fricking hard to get in Canada and I already had the entire TV series on VHS and the final volume on LaserDisc, so replacing them with DVDs wasn't as much of a "priority" for me as buying anime I didn't have before. After the episode on volume two showing a day in the life of Kiyone and her absent-minded partner Mihoshi living on Earth, having to take many day jobs just to be able to afford living in a cramped apartment in Okayama city (which always seemed a little absurd when Kiyone could just live stationed in orbit in the spacious living quarters of her ship, the Yagami), these are my favourite episodes in the series. They're basically just the Tenchi Muyo equivalent of those episodes of Star Trek when something goes wrong with the holodeck/holosuite and the characters have to assume the role of famous mythological characters or situations that resemble other anime (but not closely enough to get sued), like Sasami resuming her "Mihoshi Special" role as "Pretty Sammy", a magical girl sort of like a vague Sailor Moon parody (which later got spun off into an OVA series, and then a TV series, sold in North America as Magical Project S), Ryoko and Tenchi as "Bonnie and Clyde" (where Ayeka is shown carrying a shotgun in a scene that I've always thought was a spoof of Tanya Roberts as Stacey Sutton in a rather similar sequence from the mostly unloved James Bond flick, A View to a Kill, though I like that one because I like all of the goofy Bond movies best), and Ryoko, Tenchi, and Ayeka acting out their love triangle in the form of the story of the Demon of the Rashomon (where everyone tells the story from their own perspective), a story that Mihoshi would later claim, in the film Tenchi Muyo in Love, was the fourth story in the collection of tales known as the Uji Shui Monogatari (though, as I proved in one of the reviews I did at Anime On DVD that was actually decent, it's not from there at all). One nit I've always found in these episodes is that they're inconsistent as to whether the characters are aware that they're their normal selves just acting out a story for fun (like in the Star Trek: the Next Generation episode "Q-Pid", the Robin Hood episode wherein Worf exclaimed "I am not a merry man!") while, in other episodes, it seems that they have no concept of who they really are, like most of the characters in the Deep Space Nine episode, "Our Man Bashir", other than Julian Bashir himself. But that's just a minor nit in a fun group of episodes we aren't meant to take remotely seriously or think about too much.
After Wal-Mart, we went to the Beer Store, and then Mark's Work Wearhouse, where I bought, with the gift card I got for my birthday, a red hoodie identical one I had already that now has a huge gash down the side, and a black vertical ribbed sweater very similar to one I have already which also got very torn, though the "ribs" are wider, so it's not quite identical. Then I went to a art supply store called Wallack's that was right next door, and they have a way better supply of individual Prismacolor pencils than does Michael's, not only having the grey 20% pencils for both Warm Grey and Cool Grey, but they also have the 10% greys, which I don't recall ever seeing anywhere else. Michael's only seems to carry 30% as the lightest greys, which is far too dark for some of the things I want to draw. I know, I get excited about weird things.
Then we went home. The end. No, I can't think of a better way to end this.
1 To be clear, for the most part, there are no aliens in Planetes, but one manga chapter revolves around a character on the lunar base who believes himself to be an alien and who longs for someone to listen to his story, and, eventually, Tanabe, the sensitive-but-somewhat-naïve young female astronaut, obliges him his wish. Ultimately, Makoto Yukimura leaves it up to the reader to decide whether he's telling the truth or whether he's just an ordinary human who has a screw or two loose, and I appreciate the ambiguity. Also, if you want to be very technical about the word "extraterrestrial", I suppose the character Nono, who was born on the moon, technically would qualify, but she's completely human, she just wasn't born on Earth.
2 Answer: not that much. Mainly the subplot about Willy Wonka's inability to reconcile with his dentist father, and, also, violent cowboy TV show-loving American... well, I just skimmed again and he's not technically described as being American, but the implication's certainly there... kid Mike Teavee was updated into being a fan of violent "first-person shooter"-type games like Doom, Quake, and Half-Life, but that's actually quite logical an update.