Monday Morning Critic – 3.16

On tap this week:
— Rampant stupidity in the world of job searching
— What the box office of Watchmen really says
And slightly much more!

I’ve been unemployed since the middle of December. It’s a tough economy and I didn’t hit my sales numbers for a couple quarters, so here I am. After 4.5 years at the same insurance broker, I found myself in a spot that I hadn’t had to be in for a while: Unemployed and looking for work.

After the initial shock and awe, and the resulting stupidity I engaged in to clear my head, I got myself ready to get back into the world. I’ve been though this before, as I graduated college and walked into the post 9/11 economy (which wasn’t nearly this bad, but close), but it still stinks. But it has given me an INSANE amount of whacky stories about my dealings with recruiters and the ilk.

When you’ve done sales, and done it long enough to be considered successful at it like I’ve been (3.5 years at one place), you get the scumbags of the world calling you constantly for crappy jobs they’re responsible for filling. Outside sales reps with no benefits (that kind of deal) and especially from insurance companies looking to fill their coffers with reps they don’t have to provide anything for. Some of these people are a bit off-kilter, to say the least, but it leads to some hilarious conversations. Like the one I had with an insurance company recruiter. After some initial pleasantries, and his complimenting me on my “very strong background in insurance,” the following happened:

Dipstick Insurance Recruiter #1: So, uhh, Scott, have you ever sold insurance before?
Me: Excuse me?
DIR1: Have you ever sold insurance before?
Me: Did you even read my resume? Honestly, mate.
DIR1: Well, uh
Me: Well, if you had you would’ve realized I sold life insurance for 3.5 years. So please don’t call back.

Was I a bit ticked? You betcha. Did I handle it in the least classiest manner? You betcha.

I have no patience for most recruiters, I admit, because most of them have either been condescending or seemingly intent on wasting my time. It’s as if posting your resume on Monster or CareerBuilder gives someone license to waste your time. That doesn’t beat Recruiter #2 of that very same week.

DIR2: I’m [redacted] from [redacted]. My boss found your resume on CareerBuilder and wanted me to give you a call.
Me: Ok.
DIR2: Are you free for an interview tomorrow?
Me: Pardon?
DIR2: Are you free for an interview tomorrow? We’d like to bring you in for an interview.
Me: For what position?
DIR2L: I don’t know. It could be an entry level; it could be a manager’s position. I don’t know.
Me: Excuse me.
DIR2: I don’t know what position he wants you for. He just wanted me to call you to come in for an interview.
Me: So you want me to come in tomorrow and no one has a bloody clue what you want me to interview for and why?
DIR2: Uhhhh, well, he wanted me to call you to come in for an interview.
Me: That’s kind of ridiculous, honestly. When you get a clue, call me back *click*

The more ridiculous thing was that she called back on other occasions. Not once. Not twice.


The first time I hung up when she said the name of the company, second time was a voicemail that she left (with someone in the background telling her what to say loudly enough that it was unintentionally hilarious, The third time I told her that this was harassment and to stop calling. That did the trick.

Stuff like this makes me really wish I got into the good colleges.

Random Thoughts of the Week

One of the more amusing things about films is following their box office grosses. People put too much time and effort into following them, I think, but they make for good discussion. And the thing that’s come up recently was Watchmen and how it went from a huge opening to a massive drop in a week. It’s not that hard, really, to figure out why.

1. The actual hardcore, built in fan base for Watchmen is significantly smaller than for Batman, etc.

Watchmen is an influential comic/graphic novel property, but by no means does it have the same massive fan base that Spider-Man, f.e, does. So the sheer number of people who will it see it 4-5 times isn’t as big to begin with as The Dark Knight had.

2. Reviews were wildly mixed, including word of mouth

Everyone raved about The Dark Knight, including critics. I know of one person amongst my extended friends and family network who didn’t love the film. My parents included. My dad enjoyed the “pencil” gag, believe it or not.

You can’t say the same about Watchmen. The hardened fanboys were split up, and Ebert was the only critic who really went out of his to rave about it. Even guys on the PJ staff had wildly differing opinions. Usually a hit doesn’t have such mixed reviews.

3. Its March, stupid

300 was a rarity in that it struck big money in the first quarter of the year. That’s the exception, not the rule, as films released in the first quarter are usually remnants from the year before sent out to not get the “direct to DVD” tag. Or they’re perceived as not being strong enough to make money in the summer.

The 2009 film season really begins April 3rd with the fourth installment of the Fast and the Furious franchise. Everything else has been an enema of 2008, for the most part, up until this point.

4. The quality of films at the theatres

This plays into the previous point. Films that draw well tend to do so together. The summer is a unique time of cinematic excess because so many films come out and so many more people are in theatres, period. So even a lesser film can draw on the coat tails of a bigger film and draw much more than it normally would, all things being equal, just by the sheer volume of people at the Cineplex.

There’s no surprise that box office grosses of The Dark Knight, Hancock, and Iron Man (three of the biggest hits of 2008) helped give films like Mamma Mia! and Wanted (amongst others) more legs at the box office. More people in the theatres, period, means more films will win. When people trek out for one particular movie en masse, it sells out. So people will either buy tickets to see something else, buy tickets for a later showing, or do both. I saw this first hand when the last Star Wars live action film came out. More people went to see Crash and The Interpreter because Revenge of the Sith was sold out so heavily than normally would. And who wants to make the time and effort to go to a theatre and NOT see a movie?

There are a couple films that have had some drawing power, but overall there aren’t several big films out together. Race to Witch Mountain isn’t an event film that will bring out lots of crowds. For example: Parents went and saw Wedding Crashers while their kids saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory much more than they’ll drop the kids off for The Rock’s latest opus and go see Taken. The former were event films. The latter are solid films, but nothing special.

5. Too much good stuff on DVD coming out

In the aftermath of the Oscars, there’s a bunch of great movies coming out on DVD. So it’s easier to go out and find something with a track record as opposed to something that is marketed slickly. With the descent of cinemas, and the ascent of the home theatre, it’s easier to go and rent two or three movies than pay for the hassle of the usual idiots in the theatre.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s Film – Elf


I love Will Ferrell. He’s the guy I will pay to see every time he releases something because there’s something about stupid humor that appeals to me. And Elf was one of the dumber films on his resume, but has a shocking charm to it.

Ferrell is a baby who was abandoned by his folks and picked up by Santa to be raised as an Elf. When he is told he isn’t an Elf, and being 6’5 in a land of midgets leaves itself open for comic antics. Even more antics ensue when Ferrell goes out to find his former family, headed up by James Caan, and everyone learns a valuable lesson about Christmas.

It’s like every Ferrell comedy out there, which is him acting like an imbecile and everyone else acting accordingly, but it still is good. Definite recommendation.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and Northwestern University Co-Eds with low standards at The Keg

Knowing – Nic Cage has a sheet of paper that lets him see when major catastrophes will happen

Skip it – I am a big Nic Cage fan, but this film looks excessively stupid even for an action thriller he’s starring in.

I Love You, Man – Paul Rudd needs a best man at his wedding. Jason Segel comes to the rescue.

See it – Jason Segel gets choked out by Lou Ferrigno. Worth it just for that.

Duplicity – Clive Owen and Julia Roberts conspire to rob two big companies of a whole lot of money.

Skip it – This looks like an Ocean’s Twelve clone, a film that tries to do so much and be witty that it ends up being stupid as all hell.

Do you have questions about movies, life, love, or Branigan’s Law? Shoot me an e-mail at and you could be featured in the next “Monday Morning Critic.” Include your name and hometown to improve your odds.

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