Register Thursday | July 2 | 2020

What Happened at the Interview

"Tape recorder: check!"

Yesterday I had an interview with the director and two stars of Shaun of the Dead, the funny zombie movie. I'm still new enough at this that interviews make me a bit uptight, so I was conscientious to the point of obsessive-compulsive disorder about having everything ready. I went over my mental checklist about fifty times:

Tape recorder: check!
Fresh batteries: check!
Extra batteries: check!
Brand-new crisply wrapped five-pack of tapes: check!
Pen: check!
Notebook: check!
Long list of pertinent questions: check!
Extra, less pertinent, leading questions in case they're very taciturn: check!
Approximation of grown-up outfit: check!
Tape recorder: check!

So I get to the rooftop patio of the Drake about ten minutes early. (An aside: could there be a snottier place to conduct an interview? For those who don't live in its shadow, the Drake Hotel is a former dive in a formerly low-rent part of town; it was basically low-income housing, until a dot-com millionaire bought it, kicked out all the poor people, and renovated it into an admittedly very attractive nightspot. But now, thanks to the Drake, the sidewalks of Queen West are bloated with Oakville cokeheads shrieking and posturing behind velvet ropes, in the hopes of being allowed up to schmooze with, like, Mandy Moore or somebody on abovementioned rooftop patio. Ick.)

And I'm popping a fresh tape into the tape recorder, and pressing fast forward, and nothing is happening. Nothing. Then a faint grinding sound, then nothing. I pop the tape out again, and it's all chewed up. The photographer is directing the three movie guys to cuddle up on a couch. I try another tape. Gnnrrrrr.

Two minutes later, racing on my bicycle the ten blocks over to M.'s place to borrow his tape recorder, I recall the day, just over a year ago, when I bought mine at Honest Ed's. If you know Honest Ed's, you are rolling your eyes. You fool, you are thinking, how could you stake your professional reputation on ANYTHING you bought at Honest Ed's?

Well, for one thing, I had fifty dollars in my bank account. For another thing, I got the sales pitch of the century from the woman behind the electronics counter that day.

"I need a walkman that records," I said.

"Here," she said.


"This tape recorder."


"This is a very good tape recorder."


"You know how good this tape recorder is? When my nephew went crazy, I got one of these. I hid it in the bathroom so I could record him talking to himself in the shower. It picked up every word."

I bought it.

Serves me right, I guess.

Anyway, I got back to the Drake five minutes after the scheduled start of my half-hour; the guys were funny and articulate, and everything was fine, and now I have more than fifty dollars in my bank account and I'm going to go, today, and buy a really good tape recorder.