It's been a busy time, churning out proposals.

Some of these applications require bios from key employees. The last lines of this submission from one of our Housing Workers squeezed my heart a little.
One of the sadder tasks in my employment with SSCH is to deal with clients who have passed away. Sometimes I am the only person at their funeral. It is important for me to make sure that a client feels that he or she feels that they matter.


The 32nd Toronto International Film Festival is officially over. Every year, right around this time, my life feels a little emptier. This has been my busiest festival yet -- working the day job, volunteering at RTH and entertaining a visitor from NYC -- yet I still managed to fit in ten screenings ^_^

Films seen in order of awesomeness:

The Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin - Germany/Turkey) *Baki Davrak, I want to bear your children.

The Band's Visit (Eran Kolirin - Israel)

Persepolis (Vincent Paronnaud & Marjane Satrapi - France)

Sukiyaki Western Django (Takashi Miike - Japan)

Lust, Caution (Ang Lee - Taiwan)

Chacun son cinéma (An omnibus film celebrating Cannes' 60th anniversary, featuring three-minute shorts from a slew of international filmmakers. Wong Kar-wai's was rather disappointing. Favourites: Theo Angelopoulos' Trois Minutes, Bille August's The Last Dating Show, Alejandro González Iñárritu's Anna, Zhang Yimou's En regardant le film, Walter Salles' A 8,944km de Cannes, Wim Wenders' War in Peace, Lars von Trier's Occupations, Nanni Moretti's Diaro di uno Spettatore, Takeshi Kitano's One Fine Day, Ken Loach's Happy Ending, Tsai Ming-Liang's It's a Dream, Ethan & Joel Coen's World Cinema, Abbas Kiarostami's Where is my Romeo?, Claude Lelouch's Cinéma de Boulevard - France)

Sleuth (Kenneth Branagh - UK)

Across the Universe (Julie Taymor - USA)

Glory to the Filmmaker! (Takeshi Kitano - Japan)

I'm Not There (Todd Haynes - USA)

Cinematheque Ontario starts up again in less than a month. Yay.


After all those late nights, and countless hours spent in dark movie theatres, my body knew it was time to get caught up on sleep. I slept in this morning, and almost missed out on the Picnic at the Brick Works fundraiser for Evergreen and Slow Food Toronto. You know you're completely zonked when you would rather sleep than sample treats from the city's top chefs and wines from around Ontario.

But D, with her charm, managed to convince me to get off my ass and catch the shuttle to Brick Works. I got there an hour and a half before closing, with just enough time to try a decent amount of food without stuffing myself silly. But with the back-to-back screenings the night before, I didn't get a chance to eat dinner (unless a small pack of Nibs counts as a full meal) and when I arrived at Brick Works, all I had in my belly was a latte from the morning. The food samples (Elk Tartar, Chicken Liver Mousse, Blackberry Sorbet, Sheep's Cheese tarts, Wine-marinated sausage, New Potatoes encased in pastry, oysters, Cured Duck, Rainbow Trout, Beef Cheeks, Grilled Goat, etc.), yummy as they were, just weren't enough to keep the wine from rushing to my head almost immediately.

I could barely keep my eyes open while shopping for dinner in Kensington -- yes, despite all those goodies at Brick Works, I knew I'd be hungry for dinner eventually. Managed to pass out for a few hours as soon as I got home -- which meant a very late dinner AND that the things I'd hoped to accomplish this evening would have to be postponed for another night.

There's a pile of clothes on my bed. The various pieces I'd contemplated wearing this weekend, and tried on, tossed off, replaced with another outfit. It's a huge pile. Putting them away was also one of my planned activities for this evening. Guess I'll just burrow my way under the pile again tonight. It's cold in this house anyway.


I was amused to find this article on the front page of the Star this morning, confirming that I did not make up those facts last October. While it's great that readers will be able to decide whether or not to eat at a place like this, that treats its staff like poop, the publicity (note to self: being a meanie is one way to get a front page photo) will also attract those who would love to get a peek of management in action, further drumming up business at the two restaurants.

"Some people do not understand a sense of emergency." And what, dear Chef, is this emergency that you speak of?

For weeks, I got the run-around when I called to inquire about my paycheque. I had a feeling that I'd never see the money. All that effort wasn't worth the $50 owed, but I'd persisted out of principle. Eventually, I gave up when all the individuals I'd been passed on to had all gone "on vacation for an unknown length of time" and/or left the company.


twizzlers for dinner

Five films screened so far and not one disappointment. Hurray!

Sleuth, Kenneth Branagh's remake of Joseph L. Mankiewicz' 1972 film, starred Michael Caine and Jude Law. Highly enjoyable. The screenplay was written by Harold Pinter, who's so good at conveying the ugliness of people; I always get an icky feeling whenever I read his work. (Like LaBute, but less funny.)

I found a seat in the donors' pod just as the lights went down. The well-heeled are a lot more considerate when using perfume. I got whispers of scents, all of them sparingly applied. Nothing overwhelming. The man beside me had smoked a clove cigarette before coming in. Everyone smelled really nice. But moviegoers are moviegoers. They blurted things out at the screen, squealed and screamed at the sight of Jude Law and gasped with discomfort at the slightest hint of gay. Sure they've donated wads to the organization and have paid $40 for each gala ticket, but apart from that, there was no difference between this group and a 905 crowd at Silver City on a Friday night.

The world premiere of Julie Taymor's Across the Universe was the second film of the night. A musical made up entirely of Beatles' song. Ringo- and Paul-approved. Most of the donors in the pod were replaced by their children/grand-children for this screening. I was so glad that I convinced myself to stick around for this 2.5-hour film; the film did not feel long at all. The singing were excellent and the musical arrangements were tight. Taymor's designs were beyond awesome -- scenes from the induction centre and Vietnam gave me chils.

Now I feel like renting the visually-stunning Titus again.

Seven more to go... So far, my festival favourite has been the much
simpler The Band's Visit, which I saw in a packed Ryerson theatre on the weekend. Sukiyaki Western Django is tonight's Midnight Madness screening. Cowboys played by Japanese actors, speaking in English. How fun is that? I can't wait!

Highlight of the evening: Watching a distinguished member of the board run around giddily in his Crocs and khakis, hoping to catch a glimpse of Jude, Michael and Kenneth as they entered Roy Thomson Hall…


lust, caution

A date. Kind of. A kind-of-date with someone I did not meet through the personals. Yeah, I know. The concept of meeting someone through friends is so foreign to me.

We'd both chosen the 9:15 Sunday morning screening for Ang Lee's Lust, Caution -- positive that we'd both get in. He was lucky enough to actually get an advanced ticket. I had to stand in the rush line. At 8am this morning. In the rain. He went ahead and was kind enough to save a seat. But when they finally let rush people in, the film had started and the lights had gone down. Rush-liners were herded to the front section of the Paramount theatre -- the seats no one should have to pay more than $5 to sit in.

I didn't know very much about the film, except that it was a period piece set in Shanghai and Hong Kong -- and starred Tony Leung. Yummy. I grew up watching this guy play a police cadet in a popular Hong Kong series in the 80s (aptly named Police Cadet), opposite the divine Maggie Cheung. In Lust, Caution, his character is far less likeable -- and halfway through the film, my little Tony gets very naked. Many times. Up-close and personal, with hairier thighs than I'd imagined.

I just read that the film will be getting an NC-17 rating in the US. Ang Lee will not be required to clean it up for its release in Chinese theatres at the end of the month. Definitely an awkward selection for a first date; I am relieved that we did not get to sit beside each other for the film, for I am sure I would have blushed during all that sexing. I know, I'm 30 -- I really should grow up.

Since we're both TIFFing this week, a second movie get-together has been set for Tuesday midnight, for Sukiyaki Western Django -- the dude, the me and good ol' Derrick. I am looking forward to this screening, because the people who attend Midnight Madness shows are almost always a kooky bunch. Yelling at the screen is encouraged.


opening night at TIFF

As a volunteer for the Group and not the Festival, I get to forgo the oversized volunteer T-shirt (a lovely terra cotta colour this year) and dress like staff (sans official dangly tags). I also get to stand in the lounge and greet high-end donors who have purchased tickets to the Gala screenings. Excruciatingly back-breaking work.

We'd been informed that the first two nights of the festival would be the busiest for the galas -- and that while most patrons would be pleasant, others might try to push us around to get what they perceive to be better seats. I looked forward to dealing with the latter group, because saying "no" with a smile to the self-important is always a joy for anyone who has to deal with customers. The usher beside me agreed.

As there are more donors than there are seats in designated areas at Roy Thomson Hall, later requests for busy screenings are relegated to the upper balcony. While there really is no bad seat in the house, some of the donors who were sent up to the balcony seemed to sniff at the idea of being seated with the general public.

If you are a donor and are not happy with your assigned balcony tickets for tonight, I would suggest that you do not try:
  1. flashing your ticket quickly at the usher/staff/volunteer while blurting out that you're a Gold Circle patron as you hurry through with your date stumbling behind you. We check every ticket. Muttering "Oh, that's not how I remember it being printed out" will not save you the embarrassment of getting caught.
  2. claiming that you've lost your ticket, with the hope that we will replace it with a lower level seat. We'd be happy to issue you another balcony ticket.
My favourite line of the evening: "I won Canada's Producer of the Year Award and I've been sent up to the balcony? I can't believe it."

Michael Clayton premieres tonight. I bet George will smell really good. He probably smells great all the time.


only sereval thousands

there must be an easier way...
while I too am a fan of the ampersand, i also love the spellcheck
guess i'll just have to keep scouring