August 25, 2009

A Creature of Habit

The TIFF program book is sitting on my desk, and my office smells of fresh print, which means I'll be eating at Arby's today. Why? Because three years ago I grabbed my program book when I left for lunch and happened to flip through it while eating curly fries and a ham sandwich. And the next year I did the same thing. And now it's a habit -- one of the many TIFF-related rituals I observe each summer.

Others? After checking into my hotel on Thursday afternoon, I immediately walk to a crappy pizza place on Yonge and eat a slice while people-watching. After lunch, I pick up my tickets, thumb through the thick stack, and then buy some groceries in the bottom floor of College Park. I always carry the same old leather bag throughout the fest and meticulously squirrel away used tickets in one of its front pockets. My favorite habit is walking slowly to morning movies at the ScotiaBank, arriving just a few minutes before the screening time, and grabbing a cup of coffee on the way into the theater. These, I have to admit, are some of the most satisfying moments in my life.

Come to think of it, most of my habits are food-related, and they're all as essential to my TIFF experience as the movies are, probably because they often involve conversations with old friends. I always eat at least one meal with Girish at Zyng. I always grab a chicken shawarma at St. Patrick Market. I always run into Andrew and Moen at the food court in Village by the Grange. (I'll always associate the taste of pho with the Cinematheque Ontario.) Late in the week, I always end up at Fran's, exhausted and incoherent, after another 4- or 5-film day.

Anyone else have TIFF rituals?

15 comments:

Stacey said...

I have a ton (also mostly food related), but we usually stay up by the Cumberland and this is the first year I'll be staying by College Park. So I need new food rituals closer to my new hotel - I may steal some of yours! Is there anywhere else around College Park I shouldn't miss, food-wise?


Dan Dickinson said...

I live here in Toronto so none of mine are centered around hotels, but I find I drink and eat more from Starbucks during the festival than for the rest of the year combined. Last year, for every single combination of home->theatre or theatre->theatre trips between my 30 movies I passed at least one. Also, the street meat vendor outside the Ryerson gets a workout after MM screenings.

My ticket & guide pickup ritual used to involve sitting in the bottom of College Park and sniffing the fresh ink a little more deeply than I should, but since they moved the whole shmeel two years ago (AMC last year, Nathan Philips square this year) that's out the window.

Stacey: there's lots around College Park, none of it spectacular. Fran's is right across the street, of course, which is always handy. There's also a decent pub (The Elephant and Castle) at Yonge & Gerrard that's big, quiet(ish) and has decent beer. It's a good spot to decompress near the gong show of Yonge/Dundas.


Marcella said...

Am impressed you have time for food at TIFF. When people ask me about food in Toronto, I tell them that the popcorn is good, the falafel on Yonge (or is it Bloor?) is excellent, there are enough Starbucks (but not too many) and that is all I know.


Don Marks said...

Lunch at Flo's in Yorkville at least once (probably a grilled ham & brie, maybe the tuna melt). A banana crepe from Cafe Crepe near Queen & John. Bbq pork/spring roll/vermicelli at one the many Ginger locations.

When they were closer to Bay/Bloor, I'd slip over to Greg's for an ice cream on a hot day. (They're a little farther away at Spadina/Bloor now.)


Maya said...

It's delightful to observe how TIFF inspires the writer in you.


Maya said...

I usually stay with my editor at Twitch out of the hub of things. That allows me to enjoy Toronto on its own terms before converting my experience into a wholly cinephilic one.

The first thing I do the morning after I arrive is go to Eggstasy for breakfast. Then I wander around that first free day to refamiliarize myself with the lay of the land. Then Thursday morning pick up my pass, flirt with the publicists, and start scoring interviews and passes.


Darren said...

Michael, I'm getting in late on Wednesday this year. Let me know if you want to get together of breakfast on Thursday morning.


James McNally said...

And since I'm recently jobless but still flush with severance cash, please let me know about any plans for early breakfasts, lunches, dinners, drinks, etc. Would be great to see friends old, new, and as of now unmet!


Maya said...

Darren/Jim: How about breakfast Thursday morning at Eggstasy? We can shape up our schedules per recommendation!


James McNally said...

Sounds good to me. Eggstasy is on Bloor near St. George, right? Name a time (hopefully not too early, it will take me about 30 minutes by transit) and I'll be there!


Dan Dickinson said...

Attn breakfast seekers: Eggstasy (which was on Bay just north of Bloor) is closed now. Over Easy (Bloor east of St. George, west of Avenue) is still there as far as I know, Flo's is still open on Yorkville just west of Bay and there's the New Yorker deli on Bay just south of Bloor. Just a heads up.

There are plenty more options downtown, but you seemed to be centering on Yorkville so I thought I'd better wave you off before you congregate at the sushi joint where the Eggstasy used to be.


Maya said...

Oh NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!


Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

I have several TIFF habits, like charting out all my picks on graph paper usually with several calls to my sister to check in on what she'll come with me to see.

I love St. Patricks - I used to live up the street from there and I still miss it. Egg salad sandwich there is a simple yet spectacular. I love Scotiabank screenings weekday mornings. Huge theatre, but rarely full at that time.

One other tradition I have is trying to do something new each year - a film from a country I've not seen anything from, or a new program (last year Sprokets), but no idea what it will be this year!


Blake Williams said...

This is only my 2nd TIFF, so I'm still in the early stages of defining my rituals (I think I went to Salad King twice last year, so that's probably as close to a ritual as I have). I'll try out some of the ones mentioned here. Over Easy is right near my house, so I'll definitely try that out between claiming my student passes every 7am and the 9am screenings.


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