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Moving apartments in Chicago

After a long week – I told you about some of it already – like the shelves trying to come down on my head on Tuesday when I was trying to get towels down to sop up the flood – I’m in Chicago to  move apartments. No internet because it’s already shut off at the old place and we’re not in the new one till Monday.

State St. apartment on move out weekend

State St. apartment on move out weekend

So enforced no work although I met with one student online this AM before we left to help with an assignment and I’ve been emailing with two others about the same assignment all day. And I might go use the wifi at Chicago Public Library tomorrow if we get enough packing and cleaning done.

We took the train down and so far went to the UPS store to return the Comcast converter box and buy packing boxes, and to Whole Foods for a few things for breakfast and while-packing snacks tomorrow, and Target for a bucket. Next, Lou Malnati’s and Black Mass.


From something like 5:45 until 6:45 PM Saturday: We’re at Lou Malnati’s trying to get pizza & a salad before the movie.

Art at Malnati’s that reminded me of Jen’s, and the bathroom tile floor

Didn’t work so well – they were having some kind of problem and it took so long to get the food – even though I pre-ordered the pizza – that at 6:37 I realized that even if we got the food we wouldn’t have time to eat it. Mark went to the bathroom and of course the salad arrived. While the waitress was dishing that up I asked to cancel the pizza and just get the bill. So of course the pizza arrived with the bill and we got it to go.

We jumped in a cab and made it to the theater in plenty of time to get decent seats and watch all the previews. I even went to the bar and bought a water and a beer. The bartenders talked me into getting the larger 20-oz. beer, “have to make it through the previews”, which I predicted at 6, and they said 25 minutes.

Black Mass was well done, not prettified at all, and I suspect Johnny Depp will get an Oscar nomination. Seemed like a lot of good actors with small parts in it, too.

We went back to the apartment and ate the pizza and went to bed. So all’s well that ends well, except I had kind of stress dreams in which one of our exchange students had head lice and I had to deal with that and washing bedding in time to pack and working at my computer with all kinds of metal shrapnel all around. Must’ve been the big beer and pizza consumed at 10:30 at night – too close to bed time for an old lady like me.

On Sunday we got up and packed, then went out for coffee (at the Roosevelt Rd. Starbucks, which must be the worst Starbucks in Chicago) and sat by the Legs, and set up with Al that we’d meet for dinner at a pasta place. Then back to the apartment for a little breakfast, and more packing and cleaning. We both showered and Mark scrubbed the bathroom. I went over to Chicago Public Library to use the free wifi to work for a few hours. While I was working at a table on the 8th floor (Art), I got a text from Al, ditching us. As usual. So instead of pasta at 7:00 at a place up on Halstead with Al, we went to a burger place at 5:30 and then went to see the Martian. Which was much more uplifting than Black Mass – it was good hard science fiction, American ingenuity, people that are too smart to fit into the rules and regulations. Lots of actors that I like, Sean Bean and Jeff Daniels, and that everyone likes, Matt Damon.

On Monday morning the move itself was ridiculously easy – I hung around after the movers left and vacuumed. I especially like that they took away all the shrink wrap and other packing materials they’d used on our furniture so we didn’t even have to throw it away.

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Tuesday thoughts about the weekend past

Friday was Mark’s 64th birthday. I made a pie on Thursday night, so that we could come home after the first Madison symphony of the season on Friday and have pie and ice cream. We went out for dinner on Saturday, and I made his request for brunch on Sunday, but I don’t think I did any better at getting Mark thoughtful gifts for his birthday than I did at Christmas – in other words, I kinda sucked at it.

Mark's birthday pie for "When I'm 64"

Mark’s birthday pie for “When I’m 64”

Saturday we slept in a bit and then went to the Farmers’ Market by bike. I just got a CSA box Thursday and think I will be getting boxes the next two Thursdays as well, because of shifting boxes to go to TIFF, so I tried to be conservative in what I bought, but all the fall riches were so tempting. I bought 3 squashes – an acorn, a butternut, and a red kuri; 2 red peppers to go with the 2 I had from the CSA box;  4 apples – Cox’s Pippin and something else; 5 poblanos; 6 oz. of mesclun; a basket of borlotti or cranberry shelly beans; a head of romaine; and a dozen eggs.  Doesn’t sound too conservative …

I ran some errands – bought a new smoke detector, to replace the one that was meeping at me and Megan the night I was packing for TIFF, and Mark was able to install it pretty easily. I spent the rest of the afternoon processing tomatoes and roasting peppers. I have 2 quarts of Marcella butter tomato sauce, and 2 quarts of spicy pizza sauce with tomatoes and roasted red peppers, and a trio of yogurt tubs of diced tomatoes.

Butternut & acorn - the kuri and the borlotti beans went into this mole from Heidi, except I didn't bake if for two hours

Butternut & acorn – the kuri and the borlotti beans went into this mole from Heidi, on Tuesday. I only baked it for one hour, not the two hours called for.

We went to a neighbor’s 60th birthday party – a big to-do with a tent in the backyard and a DJ and a bar, then walked Estrellon, Tory Miller’s new tapas place, for Mark’s birthday dinner. I think I had too much to drink, good thing we walked there and back to get some of the alcohol out of my system.

Sunday I made Mark’s mom’s sour cream waffles, at his request, for brunch. I was going to finish up my TIFF blog posts before breakfast, but instead spent the time taking apart the beater attachment for the Miele. I’m trying out a new cleaner who will use my supplies and equipment, instead of the service I’ve been using that cleans everything with weird sprays and brings their own vacuum cleaners. I watched this funny video to help me take it apart – he got confused at the same places I did. I ran a bunch of car errands, like Target to stock up on cleaning supplies for the new cleaner. I was determined to use up P&G coupons and came back with like 3 Tides and 3 Downeys. I was going to make myself a Caesar salad for dinner – with the Farmers Market romaine – and I made the croutons – but instead I ate leftover pie, and toaster s’mores, and tried to watch TV, and see the super blood moon lunar eclipse. I went downtown to make sure I’d left a tip at the tapas place the night before, and had a good view of the start of the eclipse from the roof of the parking ramp, and then saw a little more of it through our 2nd floor windows. I tried to get NASA’s live stream, but had to sign up for a U-Stream account – which I finally got working on my phone in time to see the reddish moon when I got into bed around 11:00. I was waiting until it was time to pick up Megan at the bus, and I kept falling asleep in front of TV. It could’ve been from the too much to drink the night before, or it could’ve been because what I put on – Scarlett Johansson in Lucy – was truly terrible.

Detail of Supermoon Total Lunar Eclipse and Lightning Storm Image Credit & Copyright: Jose Antonio Hervás - see original at APOD

Detail of Supermoon Total Lunar Eclipse and Lightning Storm
Image Credit & Copyright: Jose Antonio Hervás – see original at APOD

It rained hard on Monday night, and the new stock of cleaning supplies made the rickety metal shelves in the basement top heavy, so they tried to fall down on me Tuesday morning, at 6:13 AM, when I was getting towels to sop up the rain water flood. After sopping up the basement I went to help serve a food pantry breakfast at the community center, to campus to be on a panel discussion about academic staff issues, then back to the community center for a meeting about the upcoming pie sale. It’s been a long day. I think it’s time for a cup of tea and collapse in front of TV.

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Sunday at TIFF 2015, Monday back in Madison

On Sunday, the last day of TIFF, we got up early and walked down to the Scotiabank multiplex to see Lolo, an oh so French romantic comedy, co-written and directed and starred in by Julie Delpy. The TIFF description compares it to a Nancy Meyers rom com, and that’s pretty apt. It was nice to start the day laughing throughout a film.

When we walked out of Lolo, we were basically in the same area where we went looking for bakeries on Friday night – the financial district/West King/Queen/Spadina. I yelped around for bagels to take back to the airbnb after the movie, and we ended up at What A Bagel on Spadina. Got a couple of bagels and an out of season Hamen taschen, and went back to the apartment for breakfast. We had three nice tomatoes and some ham and cheese, so Mark scrambled some eggs with one of the tomatoes, and I ate another one on top of my bagel with cream cheese and Siracha.

What A Bagel in Toronto

What A Bagel in Toronto

Bakery case, showing Hamen taschen at What a Bagel

Bakery case, showing Hamen taschen at What a Bagel

We checked the TIFF website to try to find out what the People’s Choice Award would be, trying to plan our night – would we be going to a movie at 8:00 PM, or just coming home and packing? I even tried the livestream of the awards ceremony, but that was obviously going to take forever, so I just opened a browser window to TIFF’s Twitter (@TIFF_NET).  Mark went and got coffee while I recorded my “what’re we doing this week?” for both of my classes, these 5 – 7 minute screen captures where I open up the course module for the week, and go over what’s there for students.

We had Maggie’s Plan at 3:00, with Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, and Juliane Moore, all actors I like to watch. Bill Hader and Maya Rudolf are also in supporting roles as Maggie’s married friends. One reviewer described it as “light, but it’s not trifling” – and it did make Sunday truly our rom com day. It’s set in New York City, and portrays relationships between a bunch of academics. Ethan Hawke is an adjunct professor of “ficto-critical anthropology” whatever that is – I think it’s defined in the Onion – at the New School, where Maggie works as some kind of advisor. She describes what she does as helping students bridge art and business. I think they made it all up for the film. I guess it got a Sony pictures distribution deal out of showing at TIFF.


We’d found out that the people’s choice was Room, based on a novel by Emma Donoghue (note to self – put on hold at library, or buy an e-book), so we knew we wanted to go. I wanted to wait until one of my recordings finished uploading, and that got us to the line at Ryerson a little too late for a prime spot on the wall. But we still had OK seats for Maggie.

I’m not sure why Room got the People’s Choice. The acting was very good, but we’d seen a lot of good acting in a lot of different films. There was something quite absorbing about Room – I sort of forgot I was sitting in the theater, and just was in the film – maybe that’s what made everyone vote for it. Either that, or it’s because it was so obviously filmed in Toronto. Since I’d finished working, I treated myself to a Grolsch (of course) on sale at the theater, and I could bring it back to my seat in a covered plastic cup. Used up $8 of my remaining Canadian cash, too.

Last two movies

Last two movies

Growing pile of ticket stubs from been-to movies

Growing pile of ticket stubs from been-to movies

On Monday, we got up and took out the trash and recycling, and shoved the last things into our suitcases. I packed a cream cheese bagel and fruit and Kind bars for the trip. I thought I’d get to meet our airbnb host, Adam, but we had to go, leaving the keys for his partner on the counter in the kitchen, so that we could make it to the train. It was a 20-minute walk dragging mammoth suitcase to a smooth 25-minute ride out to Pearson. Getting through customs was its own mysterious self – why were only 3 out of 29 service windows open?; why did the agents who were minding the lines carefully get us all lined up pointing at desk #8, and the agent there let about 3 people through, then he put on his jacket and went on break? leaving us to wait for another agent … plus I thought I was never going to get to the baggage drop, and be able to stop dragging mammoth suitcase. After that, going through the actual security x-ray was easy. And my packed apple was deemed OK, even though you’re not supposed to import food, because it had a barcode on it.

I made the 1:00 bus from O’Hare, and was in Madison by 4:15. There was a TIFF trailer that we saw before every film, promoting a show they’re doing at Bell Lightbox on Andy Warhol’s films. There were three variants, actually, one with Billy Name, one with Nico, and one with Edie Sedgewick, B&W and silent, like Warhol films are supposed to be, but then closing with some clanging Velvet Underground guitar chords. I don’t know what song the guitar chords came from, but all the while I was traveling on Monday, those chords merged with a John Cale tune from Songs for Drella, where John sings things that Andy (might have) said – Style it Takes. “This is a rock & roll band called the Velvet Underground; They have a style that grates; Let’s do a movie here next week”.

Ghostly young billy name, and what he looks like now - from this Guardian article about a show of his photographs currently in the UK

Ghostly young Billy Name, and what he looks like now – from this Guardian article about a show of his photographs currently in the UK



Posted back in Madison; I started writing on my Tuesday that felt like a Monday, my first day back – but I am finishing up on the Sunday one week later – and now gotta go record this week’s “what’re we doings” for both classes.

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TIFF 2015 – Saturday

Saturday was a little different because we had an early movie, The Man Who Knew Infinity, with Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons playing early 20th century mathematicians, Srinivasa Ramanujan and G.H. Hardy. It’s based on a book of the same title, and I liked the way Irons acted Hardy’s cold British reserve by almost never looking anyone in the eye. It was fun to watch the mathematicians delight in numbers; the matter-of-fact racism Ramanujan faced less so.


After The Man Who Knew Infinity, we went seeking breakfast, and ended up at Aunties and Uncles. We lined up and waited our turn, and were glad we did. Even though it was pretty funky, hipster-chic, it was on all the best-brunch-in-Toronoto lists. We sat for awhile with a nice couple, the woman was a city planner and the guy working on a PhD in literature. He felt bad about sitting just the two of them at one of the large picnic tables, with everyone still waiting in line staring at him, so asked if we’d share. I asked the waitress if it’d throw things off with the kitchen if she sat a four instead of a two – and she admitted concern, but thought it’d be OK. There was an umbrella kind of over the table, and we weren’t really covered, tho the other couple was. When it started raining, the waitress asked if we’d like to move inside, which we did, but I was a little sorry actually. The rain never came down very hard, and it was kind of stuffy inside. They only had one bathroom in the basement – which was clean – and there was a knicknack cabinet next to it with RC Cola cans with baseball players on them – Robin Yount next to Carl Yastrzemski. Sort of alphabetical order, and oh, I guess Robin’s a ’55 baby like me – just turned 60 on September 16.


I had the breakfast pocket, a big slab of what we call Candian bacon, and the Candians call peameal bacon, scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, tomato and caramelized onions, with Dijon mustard & aioli on focaccia. I got it with a salad instead of potatoes. My sandwich was overstuffed, I removed some of the egg to be able to eat it, and the bacon wanted to slide out. The combination of the onions and aioli on the herbed focaccia was perfect, and while the salad didn’t look like much, it was also a good combination of flavorful greens and a red wine vinegar dressing. Mark had the apple French toast. There was something rough but well made about the food. I waved at our new friends on the way out.

Our next film was our add-on to make up for the canceled London Fields, Parched. A bird pooped on my shoulder while we were walking there and I had to go rinse my shirt off and blot it with paper towels in the ladies room in what must be the only Starbucks left in the world without hand dryers. After the rain it turned cool so I was kind of chilled until my shirt finally dried out.

The official description in the TIFF program says

In a rural Indian village, four ordinary women begin to throw off the traditions that hold them in servitude, in this inspirational drama from director Leena Yadav.

It was fun to watch – women being rowdy, bargaining, arguing, talking about sex, and obviously changing their lives. But we’re not exactly sure how it came out because we left a few minutes before it ended to get to our next one on time. 

Which I had really high hopes for, directed by Meathead, with Cary Elwes, Being Charlie. The kid in title role (Nick Robinson) was really good, a lot of the other actors were good – Charlie’s fellow rich white addicts – Cary was pretty good as his politician running for governor dad – but I felt there were too many scenes with people yelling at each other, and mostly everyone, especially the actress who played the mom, was too pretty & actor-y. Common played a group home counselor, one of the few black faces in the film.

Being Charlie let out early enough that we stopped for ice cream on the way home. After the ice cream, Mark watched the 3rd season finale of House of Cards while I finished up recording lectures.

Sunday I took my required shot of the CN Tower while we were walking to our 1st movie. But I’ll have to tell you about Sunday and Monday traveling home in the next post.

Required tourist pic

Required tourist pic


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TIFF 2015 – Friday

On Friday, our first movie wasn’t until 4:30. We got up, worked some, and then went to our second breakfast of the trip at The Senator.


I had eggs and toast and bacon; Mark had an omelet with onions and Comte cheese.


I took a photo of their glads to make try to make up for all the ones that I have not bought myself this summer , because the cats would just knock them down. I still feel deprived. There were two guys at the booth next to ours, and I thought they were an older and a younger brother – but they started discussing the 1938 Coke sign on the wall, and the younger one said, “1938 – that’s when my Dad was born.” The older guy maybe could’ve been 77 – a youthful 77. We played around at Eaton Centre, looking at expensive leather goods and soft sweatshirts at Roots, and then went back to the airbnb to work some more.

In the midst fo checking work emails we found out that one of our Saturday movies had been pulled from the Fest, the one with Johnny Depp – London Fields. There’s a legal dispute between the director and the production company. We didn’t think there was time to get to the box office to swap for something else, before our first film, so we decided to go after.

Which was the second or third showing of Len and Company, Rhys Ifans as a jaded former punk rocker turned producer. Based on a play called Len, Asleep In The Vinyl. We liked it – it was pleasant and funny, although most of the reviews I read said it was too much the Diet Dr. Pepper that Len called his son, than the “blood, bourbon, and napalm” Len says is Rock & Roll.  3 Stars from the Guardian; C- from The Playlist. I thought it might’ve actually been filmed in upstate New York where it’s set – but I think they were someplace in Canada.

Actors Rhys Ifans, Jack Kilmer, Keir Gilchrist and director Tim Godsall from 'Len and Company' pose for a portrait during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 12, 2015 in Toronto, Canada Credit: Jeff Vespa

Actors Rhys Ifans, Jack Kilmer, Keir Gilchrist and director Tim Godsall from ‘Len and Company’ pose for a portrait during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 12, 2015 in Toronto, Canada
Credit: Jeff Vespa

We headed to the box office, and swapped our London Fields tickets for Parched – more on that in the post about Saturday & Sunday. Parched was maybe our 5th choice replacement – the real coup was that we were able to get a pair of advance tickets to the 8:00 PM showing of whatever won the Grolsch People’s Choice award on Sunday night. The tickets are free, but we would’ve had to queue up at 6:00 PM to get them, if we decided the winner was something we wanted to see, when it got announced on Sunday at midday.

We had a little time, and I wanted coffee and a piece of pie, but that was a little difficult at 7:30 on a Friday in the financial district. Mark Yelped for bakeries and found a place called Butter Avenue, but it turned out to be mostly fancy macaroons in glass cases, and didn’t look like it had seating, although I guess there is, downstairs and upstairs. One of the Yelp reviews said, “So, if you are in the mood for eating with your eyes, then I highly recommend Butter Avenue.” We kept wandering along Queen St., past burger joints, bahn mi, noodle shops, almost stopped for gelato, and of course ended up at Starbucks. Iced coffee, a cookie, and free wifi to help me figure out what the messages I was getting from Telus about using up my data meant. The girls next to us were having hot dogs from the street vendor, and frappucino’s for their dinner – go, girls.

Macaroons at Butter Avenue

Macaroons at Butter Avenue

Even though it started at 9:15, The Girl in the Photographs was categorized as a Midnight Madness movie at TIFF. A.K.A. bloody. It was a standard grade-B slasher pic, filmed in South Dakota, and it will be remembered as Wes Craven’s last film, since he was the executive producer. Which is either a travesty, or exactly fitting, depending on your point of view. Having seen Scary Movie in a multiplex on a hot summer night in Manhattan with my early teenage sons, I have to say I am in the exactly fitting camp. And, I know, Scary Movie is not Craven’s movie, it’s the Wayans Brothers. The trailer even says, “From the people who had nothing to do with Scream.” That’s the whole joke.


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TIFF 2015 – Thursday

Thursday morning, we had a little yogurt and fruit for breakfast again (or maybe Thursday was the toast and fruit day?), and worked, and our first movie of the day was I Smile Back, with Sarah Silverman as a suburban housewife who’s just about to not be able to cover up her reckless escapades into boozing and drugs and sex with one of the other husbands in her circle of friends, and the occasional random stranger in the back room of a bar. Prince Humperdinck played her estranged father, Thomas Sadowski as that other husband, her most sympathetic drugging & fuck buddy, and Josh Charles, who we also saw in Freeheld, as her husband. We thought the film ended at a kind of different point for an addict story – while the addict is still on the way down – before they hit bottom and have a chance to come back.  It was in the Wintergarden – the smaller theater with the leaves in the ceiling.

Movie #2 was Forsaken, a traditional Western with both generations of Sutherlands. It was also nicely done for its genre – I especially liked that the gunslingers, played by Kiefer Sutherland and Michael Wincott were gentlemen – men of honor.

Our third and final movie of the day was James White, with Christopher Abbot playing a 20-something fuck-up (stark contrast to the role we all saw him in, as Charlie, Marnie’s boyfriend on Girls, who had a successful startup by the end of season two, when he left the show) trying to take care of his mom (Cynthia Nixon) who’s dying from cancer. Probably my favorite movie of the fest. I liked the NYC apartment interiors, and I felt like I knew all the characters. I liked the subtle way the mom’s illness was introduced – early in the movie, while people are gathered at her apartment to sit Shiva for her ex-husband, she looks at herself in the mirror, and very delicately, straightens her wig.

We stopped for pizza and salad on the way back to the airbnb, a place Mark tried his first night in Toronto, about 2 blocks away. They make skinny rectangular pizzas, you pass by the toppings bar and they add what you want, then run the pizza through a conveyor belt oven. All toppings same price. We had fennel sausage and goat cheese and caramelized onions, on top of a white crust and a nice spicey tomato sauce. With arugula and Parmesan to finish, and Mark asked for a drizzle of olive oil, too, which I would not’ve done, thinking no need to add oil on top of sausage, but it was good. We had their fattoush salad, which I thought meant bread, toasted pita, IN the salad, but in this case was lemon marinated garbanzos on top of romaine and red peppers. It was a nice place but I kind of felt like it was an example of the next food revolution that Ruth Reichl spoke about in Madison in June – we have more places serving farm to table, well-made food with interesting ingredients – but they’re not that comfortable. They don’t take reservations, they’re too noisy, everything is served on disposables. And we’re going to start demanding a more comfortable, grown up experience.

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TIFF 2015 – Tuesday & Wednesday

We are into a regular schedule of 3 movies per day, starting at noon-ish. And since we’ve already got 3, no getting up at 7:00 to try to get tickets to add more.

Tuesday: We started with Family Fang, and despite the fairly snarky review in the Guardian we liked it. Jason Bateman just can’t get a break. More than anything it was about how much unbelievably bad parenting happens all the time. Just like Robyn Hitchcock songs (Evolove, Uncorrected Personality Traits ….)

We went and got lunch at Caplansky’s Deli. We ordered too much food, but we wanted to taste everything, even if we couldn’t finish it all. We split a smoked meat Reuben and a BBQ briskit sandwich on a bun, and an order of fries, and a small poutine with smoke meat gravy. Then we walked though the park to get to the Bader Theatre for The Meddler, with Susan Sarandon as a mom who’s way too much in her daughter’s life. We made friends with the couple standing next to us in line, and ended up eating at a restaurant they recommended on Wednesday night. The Meddler was kind of a mess – lots of cute vignettes, but the story never really jelled – but it was made really pleasant by Sarandon’s performance. The Guardian liked it.


We had enough time to come back to the apartment for iced coffee and a slightly odd ginger cookie with pink peppercorns on top that we bought at the shishi coffee place across the street (linking to a saved image, because tho their website is quite nice, wonder how long it’ll be there!?), before we headed to our last movie of the night, Full Contact, about a drone pilot trying to get over killing innocent civilians. It was the one movie of the Fest I seriously thought about walking out of. Almost no dialog, too much drifting in the main character’s inner life, while he was sleeping next to an open fire, killing food in the wild, shooting people, hiding in a wedge between rocks.

Wednesday: The day began with Louder than Bombs, another family drama, with Gabriel Byrne trying to cope with his two sons after his famous photo journalist wife’s death. One of the best parts is the boys watching their dad on YouTube as Dr. Scanlon in Hello Again.

We only had time to exit the theater, grab a coffee, and go line up again before Man Down. Which was another war-related story, that had the germ of a good idea, but ultimately didn’t hang together. None of the relationships felt real. The descriptions all talk about how it’s set in post-apocalyptic America, but, spoiler alert, the post-apocalypse is only in the mind of the main character, played by Shia LeBeof. There’s this moment where all the bombed out skyscrapers turn back into shiny glass and metal, and you know it’s his hallucination.

On the wall

On the wall

We had time to get a real dinner at Tutti Matti, before our last movie, Zoom. Which was really charming, a cartoonist drawing a graphic novel, an author writing a story, and a director making a movie, who are all controlling each other.

Dinner was great – we started with burrata salad, with peaches and tomato and basil, followed by a pasta with beef short ribs, and finally the fish shown – it was a crispy skinned sea bass, served with a little dish of pesto and what they called caponata, which was kind of deconstructed. Caramelized onions, peppers, squash and capers served in that little cast iron pot.

Zoom was shown in the Scotiabank multiplex, in the IMAX, so waiting was standing between the cattle stanchions and vending machines and popcorn concessions. When we got into the theater, I thought it smelled like cattle, too. Even though I enjoyed listening to our line mates chat – they were locals and talking about volunteering at TIFF and one of them said she knew the mom of one of the actors, also a local – good thing we got our touch of grown up luxury at Tutti Matti.


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TIFF 2015 – Sunday & Monday

Like I said, Sunday no movies for me, since our only one, Families, selected for us by TIFF and therefore immovable, conflicted with Robyn Hitchcock at the Drake Hotel.

Robyn brought British – or Seattle – weather to Toronto for us – although it seems as if he has moved his US homebase to Nashville from Seattle, which makes me a little sad, because I love Seattle more than Nashville. Anyways, this meant that Sunday was grey and rainy. Mark went down to the Starbucks in our building for coffee and I recorded lectures for the next week for my classes. We ate in, and then just worked some more.

I didn’t go outside until 5:30, when it was time to walk Mark down to the film. I bought a flat white and a cookie on the walk back, and changed into my going out clothes – my 6oth birthday dress – and rode the streetcar to the Drake. Mark was going to join me after the movie.

Emma Swift did a short set, and Robyn joined her for (Neil Young’s) Motion Pictures. He was sounding a little hoarse, so I was worried that his voice had not joined us for the evening, but he seemed to get warmed up on time for his set with the Sadies. During which they performed Sweetheart of the Rodeo in its entirety. Robyn didn’t tell us that until after they’d done You ain’t goin’ nowhere, during which I was thinking, “jeez dudes you sound like the Byrds.” Followed by Astronomy Dominie for the first encore, and then another Floyd song I did not recognize, with RH playing a pink telecaster, and then I wanna destroy you, and Queen of Eyes, and “we don’t know anything else”. We left the bar, crossed the street, got on the streetcar, and there we were.

Monday morning we saw Born to be Blue, up at the Bloor Hot Docs theater, Ethan Hawke as Chet Baker. And then at noon, we added a movie, so it was back to Ryerson for Freeheld, another one where one of the women in a relationship is dying of cancer, but so much better done than Miss You Already. I got Mark a scone at Bulldog, and I got a spinach wrap and water at Starbucks. They’re supposed to be egg white, feta, and spinach on a whole wheat tortilla, but mine seemed to have some kind of cheddar spread instead of feta. And the spinach wasn’t very good.

Ethan Hawke as Chet Baker

Ethan Hawke as Chet Baker

It was a pretty day, so we walked to the Brick Street Bakery (getting righted after a little mapping confusion that had us pointed to the branch of the bakery in the Financial District instead of the Distillery District) and ate sandwiches for lunch. I had coronation chicken – curried chicken salad on wheat bread – and Mark had a BLT on a bun, that had a truly impressive stack of really good bacon on it. We came back, and I had an online class meeting for one of my classes, then we strolled to the supermarket to get milk & bananas for the next morning, just to give me a chance to get out.

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TIFF 2015

Or, TIFF at 40 as they are calling this one. Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 1.04.29 PM

We’re 4 movies in:

The first one was Friday, at 6:00 – Bang Gang (A modern love story), about bored French teenagers’ summer of sex & drugs, and posting video of themselves to the Internet. Of course they get caught, with varying levels of repercussions for each kid. I liked how it ended better than it went. Somehow I felt like I didn’t need to be reminded that teenagers do stupid stuff; I can still remember both me as a kid and my kids at 16 and 17 all too well.

Mark did conference on Friday morning, and I worked. We met at our favorite coffee place, Bulldog, which had moved, as their website says, “a 45-second stroll from our old location.” We went and got Thai for a late lunch/big meal of the day. After the movie, we stopped and bought ice cream – and sure enough, adding Nutella makes even grocery store ice cream good.

Next, The Daughter, an update of Ibsen’s The Wild Duck. At 8:45AM, in a nice theater that’s at University of Toronto’s downtown campus. We saw Southcliffe at the same place in 2013. Nice enough that it made up for being there at 8:45 on a rainy Saturday morning. We also admired the architecture at the Museum stop on the subway, and the TIFF line began within feet of where we came back to the pavement after ascending from the subway stop. I think my favorite of the Fest so far. The 16 year old actress who played Hedvig, Odessa Young, was amazing.

Odessa Young

Odessa Young

Since we’d started early, we had time to add a film, and we chose a premium showing of Miss You Already – which was fun, but a totally formulaic female buddy movie well-acted by Toni Collette, Drew Barrymore, Dominic Cooper, and Paddy Considine.

We got breakfast at the Senator, which was just as good as ever.

We had time to come back and do a little more work before our last film, The Office, directed by Johnnie To. Which was interesting – a play about the financial crisis of 2008, transformed into a 3-D movie musical. It was beautiful to look at, but I couldn’t read the subtitles, and had almost no idea of what was happening. And we got soaked waiting in line.

Today no movies for me – I am going to see Robyn Hitchcock’s last show of a three night stand at the Drake Hotel, this one with the Sadies & Emma Swift. Mark will join me there after our one immovable movie of the day, Families.

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O Canada

Alright, me and plenty of shoes arrived, bienvenu au Canada, yesterday. It was a long day of traveling, on the bus at 7:00 AM in Madison, through ridiculous security lines in Chicago, to the short flight to Toronto. The shoes were packed in the bottom of mammoth suitcase, which, although it is truly mammoth, is very obedient – it sits and stays upright better than any dog I’ve ever seen. I took the train into town from the airport – that was really slick – $19 and 25 minutes. I was able to pull mammoth suitcase along behind me on the 25-minute walk from the train station to our airbnb. That part was really fun – it was rush hour in Toronto and I could look the drivers who were trying to make right turns across my path in the eye and think, “Just try it. This suitcase is going to make such a bump when you drive over it, and I bet it could even bend the rim of your tire.”

I met Mark at Starbucks, after a little finagling – I went to the wrong one, because of course there are actually three within a 2 block radius, although one of them had a fire and is boarded up.

I unpacked, and we went to get my Canadian sim card. Nothing was working quite right so we went off to get dinner, while waiting for the Telus store manager to come back. We found a nice little Italian place. I had a salad of fried wild mushrooms on top of argula, with cheese and balsamic, that was delicious. Mark’s green salad didn’t have enough greens for him, but has tagliatelle with veal ragu, and my spaghetti with tomato-basil sauce were both just right. we went back to the Telus store, and the manager made my phone just right, too.

Funghi Assoluti Baked Oyster Mushrooms, Parmigiano, Bread Crumbs, Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar on Arugula

Funghi Assoluti
Baked Oyster Mushrooms, Parmigiano, Bread Crumbs, Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar on Arugula

Thursday was the library information technology conference. One speaker’s slides had some great metaphors for linked library data, trees and sap and apples – this is a 2-year old version, but similar. I stayed for the morning, then walked home and had lunch and worked. I picked up a salad and a plum (and some Jergens) at the big Loblaws that had been “our” grocery store the first time we came to TIFF and stayed at Liza’s on Mutual St. I was afraid our favorite coffee place, Bulldog, was no more – there’s a giant hole in the ground where they used to be – but turns out they just moved. Even closer to the Ryerson Theatre.

Loblaw takeaway salad

Loblaw takeaway salad

I went back and met Mark at the conference and watched the last two sessions.

We took the subway to pick up our TIFF tickets. Paying the membership fee was so worth it – the member line was waaay shorter, and indoors.

TIFF tix

TIFF tix

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