Samara O'Shea

Archive for June, 2008

Once Upon a First Amendment

Monday, June 30th, 2008

I’ll take an independent film over a blockbuster any day, and this past weekend I saw a good one. It’s called Trumbo—the story of screenwriter and novelist Dalton Trumbo. If you don’t know him by name, you know his work.

In 1947, Trumbo, along with nine other writers and directors, was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee to testify on the presence of Communist influence in Hollywood. Trumbo refused to cooperate. He was blacklisted, and eventually, spent 11 months in prison in the federal penitentiary in Ashland, Kentucky. Once released from prison in the early 1950s, Trumbo continued to write scripts—such as Roman Holiday and The Brave One both of which went on to win Academy Awards—under different names. In 1960, after ten years of writing under a pseudonym, staring actor Kirk Douglas decided to make public Trumbo’s credit for writing Spartacus. This was the beginning of the end of the blacklist.

It’ll come as no surprise that my favorite aspect of the documentary is that the story is powerfully told through the words of Dalton Trumbo’s letters as read by Joan Allen, Paul Giamatti, Nathan Lane, Josh Lucas, Liam Neeson, David Strathairn, Donald Sutherland, Michael Douglas, and Brian Dennehy.

Samara and Tyra Sittin’ in a Tree . . .

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

I was just made aware of the fact that this humble Web site you see before you was mentioned on the Tyra Banks Show as part of a “make your life easier” story. Thank you Tyra! If you need a letter written on your behalf, you know where I am.

This E-mail Will Self Destruct

Monday, June 16th, 2008

True story: I was applying for a job a few months back. I dutifully e-mailed my cover letter and resume and, once they were sent, immediately came up with my “follow-up” plan. The listing specifically said, “No phones calls,” so I scratched that idea but then I thought What good does it do to follow-up with an e-mail if you haven’t received a response to your first e-mail? I decided to follow-up with a note. I really did. It was a short handwritten note (thank-you note sized) that said something along the lines of, “I hope this finds you well. I sent my cover letter and resume a few days ago, and I’d very much like to have the chance to meet with you.” I’m sure I reiterated my interest in the position, too, and also wrote my e-mail address at the bottom. You get the idea. I mailed the note the same day I e-mailed my resume—planning it so she’d receive it two or three days later. Done and done.

The following week I received an e-mail from the hiring editor saying she received my note but not my e-mail. Apparently, the e-mail went straight into her spam file (um, G-mail what’s up with that?) The real live note, however, got to her and she then wrote and asked me to re-send my official papers. Isn’t that cool? I didn’t get the job. But who cares. Had I not sent my note I would have had no shot whatsoever at the job—completely unbeknownst to me. I sent the e-mail and received nothing from my good friend Mailer Daemon saying it wasn’t delivered. I would have sat and wondered. My follow-up note alleviated the wondering.

Think this was a freak accident? Think again. This past weekend, The New York Times did a nice write up on this very problem—sometimes e-mails really just don’t go through: IN THE E-MAIL RELAY, NOT EVERY HANDOFF IS SMOOTH