CREATURE FEATURE SUNDAY: 50 Thoughts While Watching Ghost Shark

It’s Sunday afternoon and my eyes hurt. It’s more likely caused by the smoky bonfire I went to last night than from watching Ghost Shark (2013), but I’m fairly certain Ghost Shark did nothing to help. Let’s jump right in…

  1. You can rarely go wrong with redneck fishermen as your opener, and that’s a creature feature fact.
  2. They are shooting at a great white with a handgun.
  3. And they have a GRENADE! This is excellent.
  4. Poor old sharky has swum his way to a cave to die but the cave is *gasp* some kind of supernatural portally thing?
  5. Ghost Shark is bright blue! And translucent! And DOES NOT MESS ABOUT.
  6. What is a shark movie without gratuitous bikini shots?
  7. There is a crotchety old alcoholic lighthouse keeper. How refreshing.
  8. “You think ghosts are illogical, Sheriff?” (To which my response would probably be: ‘yes, in the context of quality police work if nothing else’, but I am not in the movie).
  9. Classic Shark Movie Mayor. Check.
  10. “The pool party. What if we turn it into a memorial?” (Like, are you after a list of reasons why that is a horrible idea or…? Again, I am not in the movie.)
  11. So Ghost Shark can manifest in ANY water. ANY water!
  12. Good job it’s a pool party!
  13. Ghost Shark has crashed the party via the swimming pool, and a decapitated head just landed on a champagne bottle.
  14. Cheers!
  15. I mean, it IS awkward that the party was at Classic Shark Movie Mayor’s house.
  16. Quick montage of car wash, plumber working on kitchen sink, backyard slip n slide. Were the writers on a round of Family Feud where the question was “places you find water”?
  17. SHARK IN A BUCKET OH MY GOD ALL IS FORGIVEN THIS IS AMAZING! ghostshark1
  18. Do lighthouses have basements? This one does. Is that weird, being built on the coast and all? Anyone with expertise please advise.
  19. Bath tub #placesyoufindwater.
  20. Fashion tip: rather than seeking medical assistance, use a number of decorative belts as a tourniquet, then affect an unconvincing limp.
  21. “It appears in water. Any water. All we gotta do is stay dry.” GENIUS. I mean, that is much of the premise but I am glad we’re all on the same page now.
  22. Museum Exposition Guy has just filled us in on the legend of some lost colony that disappeared forever, town elders keeping it under wraps, blah blah.
  23. Anyone who dies violently in the magical cave will rise again to take their revenge. Again, that seemed kind of obvious but thanks for being there, Museum Exposition Guy.
  24. Oh no, the spell book with the instructions on how to send vengeful spirits back to hell has been stolen! Of all the times!
  25. Spell book? Lame.
  26. Oh wait, this is a movie about a bright blue, translucent ghost shark.
  27. …..
  28. We’ll just run with the spell book thing then.
  29. Fire sprinklers! #placesyoufindwater
  30. This poor bastard was literally only drinking a cup of water:ghostshark2
  31. #placesyoufindwater
  32. NO ONE IS SAFE FROM GHOST SHARK.
  33. Fire hydrant! #placesyoufindwater
  34. Toilet! #placesyoufindwater
  35. So long, Classic Shark Movie Mayor. You were a shit dude.
  36. Evidently, at least according to that stolen spell book, the object that killed Ghost Shark can send him back to hell or whatever.
  37. ….
  38. But it sure didn’t work.
  39. Oh man, this movie isn’t even close to being over, is it?
  40. Wait what, Crotchety Lighthouse Keeper got drunk and murdered his wife in the cave a bunch of years ago?
  41. What?
  42. Things got weirdly dark for a minute there.
  43. Stealing a bunch of dynamite is the next logical step.
  44. Rain! #placesyoufindwater
  45. Ghost Shark is literally diving out of the sky!
  46. It’s like Sharknado but somehow less endearing.ghostshark3
  47. Puddles! #placesyoufindwater
  48. “Bite me, you bitch!”
  49. SLOW MOTION RUNNING AWAY FROM EXPLOSION!
  50. See you in hell, Ghost Shark!

Ghost Shark rates 2 out of 5 vengeful, translucent spirits.

‘Til next time,

Sig

Trash & Treasure: Considerations in Wardrobe Cleaning Sprees

First thing’s first:  I’m not a Marie Kondo decluttering type. I have stuff, and I have a lot of it. I’m big on shopping and holding onto things for sentimental reasons and if I was looking for a way of describing my household style, I would (somewhat generously) say happy clutter. There comes a time though, usually about once a year, when I go on a decluttering spree of the wardrobe variety. I call it my Brutal Seasonal Wardrobe Clean Out and it generally coincides with realising all my clothes, when laundered, do not physically fit in my wardrobe and that I have started dressing from a clean clothes pile, normally strewn over my bedroom chair. It’s also sometimes a ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’ scenario because, I am telling you, for everything crammed into the cupboard, I have nothing to wear.

Marie Kondo has one thing right: letting go can feel cathartic and freeing, so filling the first bag or two with clothes to donate is always easy. These are filled with the obvious items to cull. It’s getting down to the nitty gritty that can be tricky. We want to avoid decision fatigue, whereby everything feels like trash and then three days later you regret donating that pair of soft pink mary-janes and that one dress that was old but was actually still awesome. To a hoarder like me, being brutal is vital, but so is making considered assessments. It’s a slippery slope.

 

Items I bought without trying them on.

Everyone knows that sizing varies wildly from store to store, and a medium from here may be comfortable but a medium from there may only fit one leg. We should all know better than buying without trying. But you do it, I do it, and occasionally time is of the essence and you just have to guess, right? Oh hello, unflattering mid-calf length knitted pinafore dress. And you, frilly off-the-shoulder shirt. We tried. It didn’t work out. Let’s move on. You’ve hung, unloved and unworn, oftentimes with tags still attached, for long enough. Verdict: cull.

Concert t-shirts.

Oh, how frequently have I handed over my hard-earned $40ish to say YES, I WAS HERE AND IT WAS GOOD. More often than not, my concert tees washed poorly and shrunk and now languish in the drawer, a monument to experiences past serving only to take up much needed space. I have moved them from prime drawer real estate to a sentimental box at the back of the cupboard. I have occasional thoughts of stitching them all into some sort of quilt, but I am not known for my craftiness so they will probably stay there still, until I next review the whole wardrobe sitch. Verdict: keep, for now.

Trend items that are no longer on trend.

Let’s consider the speed that trends move. It’s logical that some pieces won’t stand the test of time that staple items will, but do you hang on to them hoping they will re-emerge or do you let that fleeting moment remain consigned to the annals of history? I’m remembering a time when I wore red and yellow tartan pants with a beret, but that is worst case scenario. Look at velvet and skivvies. Who knew they would be seeing the light of day again? What goes around comes around might be true, but it could take its sweet ass time. Trend items, in my view, are here for a good time not a long time. Verdict: ditch.

The maybes.

The maybes are a tough bunch. They are the much-loved, well-worn items that parting with is such sweet sorrow. You know the ones. The cardigan from that first time you decided you were adult enough to splurge on proper quality expensive-as-hell knitwear and it lasted for years but is finally, devastatingly, starting to show its age (pilling, am I right? BASTARD). The favourite dresses and jeans that fit a pre-pubescent body but can’t quite handle hips or boobs or, dare I say it, all that pizza. The old leather jackets and that one pair of boots. Verdict: tough call. I sometimes move my maybes to a separate box and if I haven’t worn them or thought about them by the next wardrobe clean out, they are instant goners. Sometimes wardrobe catharsis comes in stages. What can I say?

‘Til next time,

Sig

Backwards page numbers are my jam (and other thoughts on books)

Ah, books. My  favourite. I was reminiscing earlier this week about the time years and years ago that I did a holiday internship at a publishing house and I got all doe-eyed and nostalgic over copywriting blurbs, editing recipes and compiling indexes for history books. One of my colleagues called me ‘bookish’ and they weren’t wrong. I refer to my spare room (only half-jokingly) as ‘the library’, which conjures up images of wingback chairs and rich mahogany and not a tiny cupboard of a room which also houses my vacuum cleaner. But you know, I am bookish. So there.

library

The ‘library’

I want a book to read, obviously, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t also want something pretty to adorn my shelves (so torn: lugging a doorstop-style hard back on the bus is not my idea of a great time, but SO PRETTY). I love the idea of books as objects. I am one of those old souls weirdos who romanticises picking them up and leafing through them, inhaling that new book smell, that old book smell, like I can absorb the contents through my fingers by osmosis. It’s part of the ritual of reading, for me, to hold a book in my hands. There is a satisfaction in turning the pages or reaching the end that can’t be matched by e-readers or tablets no matter their convenience.

I love a plain old paperback as much as the next girl, but as a collector of quirky things, I am especially in love with books that do something a little extra, a little special, a little bit inventive. Not to judge a book by its cover, but you will win me over almost instantly with clever publishing quirks. It’s not all gilt-edged pages and embossed covers (though, admittedly, sometimes it is). I am nothing if not sophisticated: basically I want pop-up books for adults.

Anyway, here are a handful of books from my collection that do interesting things…

Survivor – Chuck Palahniuk

In Palahniuk’s Survivor, the pages are numbered backwards, counting down to page one, chapter one, as protagonist Tender Branson narrates his story to the black box of a hijacked 747.

Novel Journals 

One of the coolest gifts I’ve received in recent times is a thing called a ‘novel journal’. It’s a note book, right, but the lined pages are actually a classic novel in tiny, tiny print. Who comes up with this stuff? I don’t know, but they sure had my number. (Mine is Dracula, by the way – thanks, Rose!).

Ella Minnow Pea – Mark Dunn

Not so much a publishing quirk as a conceptual one, the premise of Ella Minnow Pea is that it becomes unlawful to use certain letters of the alphabet. One by one they fall from a memorial statue on the fictional island of Nollop, and one by one the totalitarian Council bans their use. The cleverest part: as the letters are banned, they also disappear from the novel.

Vitalogy – E.H. Ruddock

As any good Pearl Jam fan knows, Vitalogy is a pretty great album named for a home medical encyclopedia first published in the 1890s. I have an edition of this veritable BRICK of a book from 1940 and among the questionable and hilarious health advice it offers there are amazing flip out anatomy charts. Flip out anatomy charts?! I am so there.

Girl Waits With Gun – Amy Stewart

I caught Amy Stewart at Adelaide Writers’ Week recently and really enjoyed her panel (with Kate Summerscale) on writing about real figures in history. Girl Waits With Gun is a fictionalised account of real-life Constance Kopp, the first female deputy sheriff in the US. Ever a fan of a signed edition, I was especially stoked that Stewart co-signs with a stamp of Constance Kopp’s actual signature. Oh, and she also had super cute temporary tattoos of the cover art. It was like book-signing Christmas.

‘Til next time,

Sig

Lull

I’m home sick at the moment, trying to work up the energy to go to the supermarket for green tea and a fresh supply of paracetamol. I’m wearing new knitted bootie slippers that I never want to take off and this ancient bobbly jumper that is too big and well past its prime but that I can’t part with for personal reasons (top of the list right now: it’s super cosy). So of course, in the spirit of the-couch-is-my-home-now procrastination, here we are. Hello, blog. Long time, no see.

Neglecting my blog reminds me of one of my worst habits: starting things that I don’t finish. I am surrounded by half finished projects, deserted at the mid-point because I turned magpie and (probably) got distracted by something shiny. Writing projects are chief among them, as is my Masters in Communications. (See also: cleaning out my wardrobe). There is no excuse, really, and no amount of frustration over these looming incomplete demons seems to prompt me to action. Oftentimes I just assume I will get back to it. Therein lies the problem: most of the time I don’t.

Recently during a clean up I found and re-read two such projects. One a very incomplete manuscript for a classic sword-and-sorcery style fantasy novel (which I am sure I imagined being a trilogy, because that is the done thing, right?) and the other a complete first draft of a humorous vampire novel, both written by me some years ago. Both have major failings and neither do anything revolutionary or of spectacular merit, but somehow I had forgotten how far I had gone with them both. How many hours did I spend on these for them to end up in a drawer? Achievement unlocked: English major with unfinished manuscript in drawer. Wait, two unfinished manuscripts. Do I get a patch for that?

I think a part of me assumed I would finish one if not both of these eventually, and then my reading grew more diverse and I wondered if there was much merit to what I was writing and whether launching it out into the world was worth it. In short, was sword-and-sorcery fantasy or funny vampires really what I was passionate about? I’ll admit: for a time, yes it was. There is process and there is end point. The process, at the time, must have been enough if the product of so many writing hours was locked away with little thought or use afterwards. I try to claim that it bugs me, and on some level it really does. Reading a solid chapter with a brief middle section that reads “plus more here to link scenes” is just annoying. Past April, how could you?

I wonder if it would give me a hearty sense of accomplishment to try and finish either of these projects, just to prove I could. Truth be told, it has been so long, I quite enjoyed reading the pair of them. What if it wasn’t desertion or failure, but just a lull? It’s tempting but I think I know that neither of them is right for me now, and anyway, we’ve established that one of my worst habits is failing to finish what I start. Maybe the process, this time, really was enough.

‘Til next time,

Reflections on Romance (ft. very little romance)

Valentine’s Day is approaching, you guys. I’m not a fan and never have been, but this is not a rant about Valentines’ Day being commercialised / made up / lame / a Tuesday. If it’s your bag, more power to you. It’s not mine but it’s not that hard to just chuck all the jewellery catalogues in the recycling instead of complaining about it. Go forth and be loved, lovers, and bask in your I-got-flowers-delivered-to-work smugness when I see you on public transport. Good for you; you deserve it.

It does seem timely though, to use this opportunity to talk about dating and romance, so here we are. Don’t know what it’s like to be a single girl negotiating this whole dating landscape this day and age? Well, pull up a chair, bucko, and let me take you on a journey…

You’re a bit confused at the moment. Because obviously you are a sucker for cute boys with nice arms who laugh at your dumb jokes and are sweet to their mothers. It wasn’t a ‘thing’ though, even if you wouldn’t have minded it being so. What can you do? Sometimes people don’t people very well and it sucks. You can only be you and you’re not everyone’s cup of tea.

So you feel a little deflated, until you pick up Aziz Ansari’s excellent and hilarious Modern Romance at the airport, which fills you in on how this whole thing is legitimately HARD FOR EVERYONE, not just dorky introverted girls like you, and people are BAD AT IT, as backed up by a swag of research data. Evidence, you guys! In your face, people who reckon this stuff is easy.

But then you’re on a plane reading a book about dating while this perfect hipster poster-child couple (long hair / straw hats / sketch books) start madly pashing in the seats next to you and you start to think that if your life was a sitcom this would be one of those moments when the laughter track kicks in.

So you think now is the time to just branch out. You don’t have to be looking for anything in particular. Just find some people to go on dates with. At best, you will meet some nice, interesting people. No big deal.

And then you find yourself on Tinder because it’s quick and easy and no one can bother you unless you’ve matched with them. And this happens:

  • Within the first 10 swipe-able options: the guy with the nice arms above.
  • Within the first 30 swipe-able options:the guy you slept with before him.
  • Every other person: former colleague / school friend / presumably-fake calendar fireman.
  • Also, does EVERYONE snowboard?

You go on a turbo swipe-left marathon and then:

rejector

You’ve rejected everyone in town. Good for you.

I kid, I kid. You matched with people. It’s not all doom and gloom.

Your bestie hits you up to say a former colleague has asked after you, seeing as how you’re single and ready to mingle and all. They seem to be forgetting that THEY HAVE PREVIOUSLY MET YOU and you did not particularly get along. Hooray for the information age. Just use the damn app and leave my mates alone.

You realise your conversation skills might not be quite up to snuff when you find yourself chatting with a guy about the weather. The weather?! You don’t care about the weather. You are capable of talking about so many other things. (Sorry, Thomas. My bad.)

The point is, it doesn’t matter. Not in any real way. And it’s hard because people are hard. No one has a clue what they are doing. Look as much or as little as you like. Message, don’t message. It is no big deal. The only person you are going to end up with forever is yourself. So buy yourself some goddamn heart-shaped chocolates for Valentine’s Day, and cut yourself some slack. You’re a pretty sweet deal.

‘Til next time,

Sig

CREATURE FEATURE SUNDAY: 50 Thoughts While Watching Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre

I can’t remember who told me about Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre (2015), but here we are. I think this one might actually hurt.

  1. Let’s jump right in. Fracking activity seems to have unleashed a spiny prehistoric swamp shark from the depths of the earth.
  2. The Arkansas Department of Corrections has opted for tiny denim shorts and little white singlets as their prison uniform of choice.

    sharkansas01.jpg

    White and denim is the new orange is the new… oh, you get it. Source.

  3. “Ain’t a real man deserve a brewksi?” #scripting #acting #fracking
  4. That’s what you get for drinking on the job, bucko. Shark 1.
  5. Traci Lords is a cop with a newbie sidekick. I predict he will be the first ‘character’ to go.
  6. They’ve stumbled upon bodies inland. Let us speculate over cause of death.
  7. There’s a survivor! He says shark. I think. His ‘traumatised’ acting is awful and incoherent so it’s hard to tell.
  8. Let’s introduce the prisoners – not with names but with a list of their crimes. One of them is in for bootlegging movies. You wouldn’t steal a handbag, you guys.
  9. I am unclear what the purpose of the prisoners’ hard labour is, except for there to be a cleavage-filled digging montage. What are they digging for? We’ll never know.
  10. When you cut your arm and go wash the wound in muddy swamp water… #justbmoviethings
  11. Oh well. Better death by prehistoric shark than septicaemia I suppose.
  12. “Let’s hope this is one big misunderstanding.” What, you mean the whole movie?
  13. So this is actually a mass break out attempt.
  14. With lines like “to be continued, sweetheart – we’re in the middle of a felony here”, this may be the worst thing I have ever seen.
  15. Can the sharks just eat everyone? Please?
  16. Better change clothes out of those really obvious prison uniforms.
  17. One of the guards has made a break for it. Shocking chase scene editing (legs / other legs / legs / other legs / legs / other legs).
  18. Run, Guard dude, run as fast as you can away from this trainwreck.
  19. Aww no. There he goes.
  20. They are literally heading to a cabin in the woods.
  21. Let’s all argue about how terrible this plan is. What a good use of movie time.
  22. They keep calling the Asian prisoner ‘Soy Sauce’. I wish I was lying. What. The. What.
  23. Weird scene about a vintage glass coke bottle? “None of this plastic. It must have been here 80 years.”
  24. In a movie with a couple of porn stars, the line “let’s have a hot bath before bed” did not result in nudity of any kind.
  25. Where the hell are these goddamn sharks in this goddamn massacre?
  26. Oh wait.
  27. They can SWIM THROUGH LAND.
  28. ….
  29. THROUGH LAND!
  30. I think, if I was to make a trashy horror movie drinking game, ‘blood cloud in water’ would be a definite drink.
  31. Hmmm. Must make trashy horror movie drinking game.
  32. Peaches and beans?! Is that a thing?
  33. I googled. It’s a thing.
  34. Geologists are here to save the day / explain situation / be weirdly dressed like a cuban detective.
  35. They’ve been monitoring vibrations. “You mean like ‘good vibrations’, the song?” (Still no nudity).
  36. So, to sum up: Professor Geologist reckons the nearby fracking activity has opened a SUPER HIGHWAY between the earth’s surface and a vast underground ocean.
  37. Sharkosaurus. He just said sharkosaurus!
  38. “Do you think we can make it?” We, the viewers? Not a chance.

    sharkansas-2

    ‘Protect yourselves from these great shark effects!’ Source.

  39. Love is blossoming, you guys! Him: “What do you do when you’re not fleeing prehistoric monsters?” Her: “Five to ten”.
  40. They’ve found a secret cache of weapons and Professor Geologist has filled them in on a range of useful shark facts (guess he had a double major).
  41. The plan seems to be to go underground. Even though the sharks are from underground.
  42. Um, so, the sharks talk to each other like whales.
  43. Hey look, I’m all for character traits and whatnot but having this chick continually say “crap on a cracker” does not equal characterisation.
  44. Where the heck are these sharks? Not nearly enough people have died to call this a massacre.
  45. Are these cops doing anything? What even is this storyline?
  46. Far out. This movie is still going.
  47. This inflatable raft doesn’t seem like a terrible idea AT ALL.
  48. We’ve nearly escaped with our lives so let’s start shooting at the guard who saved us for some reason!
  49. Blood cloud! (Drink!)
  50. Annnd the guard is letting the Asian prisoner go. Probably because they were heaps racist towards her.

Honestly, and my standards for this sort of thing are pretty low, you would think busty women fighting land sharks would somehow be more over-the-top and stupidly fun, right? It was just a bit safe and a bit boring. And those sharks only killed about 10 people. Where was my schlocky gorefest? You promised me a massacre!

Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre rates 1 out of 5 blood clouds in water.

‘Til next time,

Sig

Reference Checking: pet hates and phone tag

I work in HR and I think reference checks are balls. There, I said it. I’m sorry. I know it’s an unpopular opinion. Send the HR police. I will surrender my badge.

In places I’ve worked before, ref checking has been treated in turns as anything from a box-ticking exercise to the ultimate be all and end all. The intent is of course to verify the truthiness of the candidates skills and experience. But here’s the thing: no one with half a brain is going to list a referee who is going to give them a bad wrap. And if they don’t have half a brain, how the heck did you miss that in the early stages of the recruitment process? That’s on you, kids.

The best referee, in a lot of cases, will be a candidates current manager – especially if they have been in that role for a long time. That might obviously be awkward: not many people want their boss to know they are looking to throw in the towel asap. So right off the bat, I’m speaking to someone whose knowledge of my preferred candidate’s work performance could be 4 or 5 years out of date.

So maybe my candidate lists someone else. The number of times I have played phone tag for two days with Dave, only to find out that Dave wasn’t Melanie’s manager at all – he was just a colleague. Nice chatting, Dave, but you’ve been no actual help.

And obviously there was that whole thing from last year when Hamish and Andy asked a random guy to act as a referee and he actually did a pretty good job of faking it. They called him ‘the best bloke in Australia’ while HR peeps and recruiters cried quietly into their coffees.

job-hunt

So if everyone is only listing good referees, or non-manager referees, or even fake referees, is there really value in the reference checking process? Are they a waste of time? Maybe. Are they going away? Probably not.

And that’s kind of sad, because it can be a very time consuming process that, if your questions aren’t effective, may yield very little reward. I know plenty of candidates who received glowing references and then turned out to be problematic or unproductive employees. I think value would be better added through more stringent screening processes and better interview questions which really probe for detail. But ref checking doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

With that in mind, if you are an applicant, there are a few things you can do to make this step in the process a smooth one. Help me out, you guys.

  • List relevant, work-related referees.
  • Ask before you list. Give your referees a heads up that you would like them to act as a referee, checking they will be ok with that.
  • Don’t list personal referees (unless you are a school leaver with no work experience) – honestly, no one cares.
  • Do indicate where you worked with the referee. Don’t just say “Mike Smith on x number”. Context is key. Say “Mike Smith, former manager at Woolworths, x number”.
  • If you interview, give your referees a heads up that they may get a call. It helps them prepare, it helps HR people get phones answered, and even if we don’t like ref checks, we like that.

phone

‘Til next time,

Sig