I’m back….


Just a quick hello from my blog to update you on this year’s TIFF experience. I can’t commit to daily posts but I thought I’d capture my impressions for the kind people who’ve told me they miss my blog.  You know who you are and I love you for it.

First the movies – my edited impressions, no spoilers…

Watermark – Beautiful, disturbing, bleak and a little slow in the final half hour.  Edward Burtynsky said something interesting in the Q&A after the movie.  He said that once he’s chosen his theme, he looks for the largest scale examples of the theme that he can find.  Big they are, so hold on to your seats, especially for the Xiluodu Dam in China.

12 Years a Slave – This movie is really very good, it’s not hype. I’m convinced that only a Brit could have been this sophisticated in finding a way into slavery and avoiding the violence porn of Django.  But be warned, it’s still inhumanely cruel, and sad beyond belief.  The fact that this is a true story makes it all the more haunting.  It won the People’s Choice Award…no surprise.  Also, if you haven’t seen Hunger, Steve McQueen’s first movie, do so now.

Like Father, Like Son – A thoughtful and well made film, but the cultural gap made it hard to personally connect to this story of two families who discover that their 6 year old sons were switched at birth in the hospital.  I could never have responded to this moral dilemma the way the central characters did – the fathers seem to make all the important decisions.  It had surprisingly funny moments in the middle of serious story telling and incredible child performances.

Mandela – Idris Alba in this Nelson Mandela bio-pic.  They had a lot of ground to cover in two hours and did an admirable job.  It’s hard to get over Idris Alba being all tall and gorgeous.  He stands about 12 inches above everyone else in the film.  The first two acts were better than third but the last part does give you insight into what happened to he and Winnie.  She definitely took a different course while he was in prison.  If you remember that time, her name was associated with some pretty violent acts.  Worth watching but not as good as I was hoping for.

The Unknown Known – Errol Morris does to Rumsfeld what he did to McNamara in The Fog of War, except that Rumsfeld has no conscience, is oblivious to his own blatant contradictions, and is so caught up in his clever wordplay that he overlooks gross errors in his own content.  It’s a very good movie, but you’ll feel sick.  I couldn’t help thinking, the whole time I was watching the movie, and in the days since, ‘who the hell is running things?’

The Lunchbox – tech problems with 20 minutes to go, argh! They didn’t finish the screening, it’s  really unforgivable.  I was at the second screening, but they messed up the first one too and showed the film with no subtitles (half of it is in Hindi).  The Director did 30 minutes of funny, heart warming Q&A while the audience waited, both times.  Also, it was in Bell Lightbox, with its state of the art projection.  Bad form!

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby – A marriage in trouble told from both his and her points of view. Produced as two full length features that run back to back, I thought it was a noble experiment, that they didn’t quite pull off.  The two versions aren’t different enough to warrant this very long telling of their story.  “Him” was pretty good and quite involving, “Her” started well but grew repetitious and could have been half as long.  James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain were both quite good and were very moving in the Q&A.  She started crying because of how long it has taken them to get the project to this point and how much she loved the process, he was a little drunk but surprisingly eloquent on the subject of love and relationships.  Two adults telling a grown up story.  The just needed to get out the scissors.

The Invisible Woman – I love Ralph Feines. He directed and played Charles Dickens with all his faults.  And there he was on stage, all humility and awkwardness and it was very good.  I don’t know if anyone will go to see it outside of literate Brits and a some North American public radio fans.  It’s about Charles Dickens and his not so secret, but much younger, mistress and there isn’t a sensationalized second in it.  If it shows up in the theatres go fast because it won’t last.   It’s a visually beautiful, shot on film, with a good story and great acting.  It gives us some real insights into the lives of women in that age, pretty sad in that regard.

Tracks – True story about Robyn Davidson who crossed the Outback with a few camels and her dog.  It fit with my theme this summer… I read Wild (Cheryl Strayed) and relistened to A Walk in the Woods (Bill Bryson).  I loved every minute of this movie – maybe I need to plan a wee trek? My film buds found it unsatisfying because it didn’t explain her motivation very overtly.  I thought it was there in the subtext.  Let me know what you think.

Felony – Interesting ethical and moral dilemma for three Aussie cops but it missed.  It had a good script and great actors but I thought the Director shot it as a one dimensional thriller so instead of a nuanced morality play, it just felt like a predictable police procedural.  It’s too bad, it had lots of potential.

How I live now – From the director who gave us The Last King of Scotland (personal top 10).  Yikes, he’s gone young adult, uber commercial, melodramatic, and predictable.  And so has  Saoirse Ronan.  Disappointing

The Railway Man – A moving, and sad story about a quirky railway enthusiast who was a WWII POW and torture survivor.  He was captured during the fall of Singapore and sent to the railway camps in Thailand (think Bridge Over the River Kwai).  It was very good but this true story was softened for public consumption. The director admitted leaving out the worst bits and I think he should have included them, not graphically, but in the narrative.  Colin Firth was excellent as the grown up hero, Nicole Kidman’s face didn’t move, and some torture techniques are older than you thought.

Blind Detective – laugh out loud Hong Kong flying fighting movie from Johnnie To.  Over acted, over wrought, over the the top entertainment.

The Sea – Charlotte Rampling and Ciaran Hinds in an Irish, sad (is that redundant) adaptation of  the John Banville novel.  The Irish seashore never looked so gloomy.  It didn’t make a lot of sense.  The book is much better.

Unforgiven – Sang-il Lee’s remake of the Clint Eastwood classic, set on the furthest north island of Japan, in Japanese, with Samurai swordplay instead of wild west guns.   Ken Watanabe in the Clint role.  As you would expect – awesome!
Beyond the Edge – A gripping documentary, with reenactments, of Sir Edmond Hilary’s and Tenzing Norgay’s Everest climb.  It’s very suspenseful and has you on the edge of your seat, even though you know the outcome.   Good casting and wicked good location shooting put you in their shoes.  Go for the 3-D version.  As Director Leanne Pooley said, you’re not likely to see this view for yourself so she’s made it as real as she can for you.
Bright Days Ahead – An attractive Dentist of a certain age retires after a conflict with a patient.  She loses her patience or something like that (can’t imagine).  With nothing else to do, she goes to a community centre offering activities and courses for retirees people.  She meets a stunning young computer instructor and has a May-December affair.  I’m not going to say any more.  It’s French, the dentist is played by Fanny Ardant – we should all age like she has.
Gravity – This should have been my favourite.  Alphonso Cuoron (Children of Men, another top 10) directing a movie in space. The  first act was really good… very suspenseful and artfully shot.  But it is followed by an incredibly bad 30 minutes of the worst that Hollywood implausibility and melodrama, with an embarassing score.  Sandra Bullock, who I actually like, delivers a one dimensional performance.   2001 a space Oddessy meets Speed!
Pioneer. A Norwegian thriller based on a true story about laying the deepest pipeline in history in the North Sea and what happened to the divers who set depth records to do the work.  The first experimental dive goes horribly wrong but is covered up to protect the incredible financial opportunity of getting the pipeline laid.  Norway didn’t become one of the richest countries in the world on fish exports.  Tense movie in tight spaces. A little predictable but well made.  I saw it with two claustrophobes, that’s not recommended.

Those are all of the movies I saw.  Overall, it was a good but not great festival.  I didn’t have as many pleasant surprises as I usually have and it was a little more mainstream than I usually aim for (although the programme book was so weighted to English speaking films it was hard to balance it).

TIFF has changed every year, but this year it felt like it crossed a line and will never come back.  It is no longer about enthusiastic audiences who love film, follow directors, and look for the little gems (some of those people are still there, but they’re frustrated and with good reason).  It has become a celebrity festival.  All of the logistics were organized to accommodate more and larger red carpets.  Boo.  Meanwhile, the logistics for the film goers were a mess, there were technical screw-ups, and the staff were neither as friendly or knowledgeable as they used to be and should have been.  I was regularly given wrong or contradicting information and they didn’t seem to care.  Disappointing compared to the amazing sense of community I grew accustomed to each year.

I will write a letter.  I do that every year, although I’ve never had a reply or an acknowledgement, so I don’t know if anyone reads them. However, I like to let them know what I loved and didn’t love so I’ll do that again.  And now, you know too.

Suspended – Too much stuff to write about

April 19

Today I’m giving away, a great many things…

Hi all, I have decided to move so I’m getting rid of too much stuff to post about.  I am afraid I won’t have time to take a picture of it all and post it over the next several months, I have to move too fast to be ready in time.  I’ve found some great recipients for my stuff though,

My family – of course…the sisters get first dibs on everything

My friends – I’ve reached out and although there aren’t that many who want my old junk, I’m trying to match supply with some specific demands there – I might get a few hits

My friends’ kids – I have a few offspring “new apartment” donations happening that I’m really happy about, I set up my first apartment at University with cast offs and vintage and loved that place as much as I’ve loved any home since

My cleaning lady’s church – they have a giant garage sale that funds a breakfast program for kids in their neighbourhood, pretty hard to do better than that

Goodwill – they help you unload your car and I like that they provide employment and are self funding

Garbage – I’ll try and limit the landfill but there is some stuff that no one wants, and I have some toxic waste (paint cans etc.)

I pledge that I will give away at least 256 more things.  That’s how many days there are left in the year.  I plan to give away at least that many things between now and next weekend.

I want to say thanks for all the encouragement, I’ve had such a great time hearing from some of you and plotting my weekly batch of stuff to get rid of.  It was partly this process that helped me finally reach a decision to move and I’m now really excited about it.  Ironically, I want to downsize and simplify on a bigger scale.  It was very interesting and satisfying to start getting rid of stuff and I’m impatient now to just get it all gone.

To that end, I’m looking for a condo with an excellent view, lots of natural light, low maintenance fees and good closets (I still like my shoes, what can I say!).  If you know of such a place, please contact me directly.

April 11,13,14,15 – Toiletries Bags

Apr 11Apr 11B


Today (and for the next few days, except Friday), I’m giving away these toiletries bags.  I know it’s kind of cheating to do this.  I’m not really cleaning out my junk with these, and I’m doing four days all at once, and they are all the same object but I’m really stuck for time today and I’m going away for the weekend and won’t be able to post anything until I’m back.  I will do a TIFF program tomorrow but that’s it until Tuesday.

I made these, it’s part of my make your gifts pledge, and re-learning to sew adventure, that I posted about Tuesday.  In order from top to bottom, these have gone to my sister, my mom, a friend (mother of the Tuesday recipients), another friend (who also got the syrup jug).  I got the fabric on sale at The Workroom and Fabricland.  The ones I posted Tuesday were a little funkier, I know, but I’m dependent on what’s in the sale piles.  I don’t want to pay full price until I know what I’m doing.

Have a good weekend, I hope this weather doesn’t follow you or me.



March 16 – Clothing Month – camisoles

Mar 16Mar 16 B


Today I’m giving away these two barely worn camisoles.  One is brown, with brown lace overlay, the other is cream coloured with a little bit of lace edging, it looks a little like an undershirt in this picture but it’s quite dense fabric.  They are about 6-8 years old.  They’re fine, I just don’t wear them.  They went to my sisters (I think two sisters each got one).

I had dinner with a former colleague on Thursday, a guy, who complained about clothing month.  Sorry if this isn’t interesting stuff, but I had to get it gone.  I have bought a lot of clothes over the years that I either never wear or never wear anymore.  It will be over soon.

Also, I forgot about Film Friday – I’ll do a TIFF program tomorrow.


Mar 10 – Sunshine Award Addendum – Additional nominations


Hi,  I didn’t have a full list of nominees when I first posted on this subject but I was in a hurry to get it up so went with an incomplete list.  I can’t imagine how I missed these two.  Probably because I think of them more as Facebook posts than blog posts, but I have two more nominees who need to be included.  They are thoughtful, engaging, really entertaining and motivating.

Blogwhatblog by Heidi Tee.  Heidi is funny, clever and original.  Her posts will help you see life through a different filter.  She’s a really great writer too.

Adteachings by Suzanne Pope.  Suzanne finds lessons for all of us and is a great source on advertising and marketing.  She has a unique voice and a fantastic sense of humour.

Both of these women are part of why I still check Facebook on a regular basis.  They make me laugh and laugh.  I almost never see either of them in person, but I really enjoy the wit they inject into my online experience.  A warm thanks to you both and if you don’t know each other, I hope you start checking out each other’s posts.

Please see my March 5 post on the Sunshine Award to see the guidelines you need to follow to accept the award.



March 5 – Sunshine Award


Fransi Weinstein, she of the excellent blog, Three Hundred Sixty Five, has nominated me for a blog award.

It’s awfully nice to have anyone tell me that they’re reading my blog, let alone that it brings a sunny moment to their day.

I’ve known Fransi for a long time and she has always been an enthusiastic supporter of everyone in her circle, real and virtual.  Fransi started a blog last year call 365 to commit herself to writing every day.  I now know what an incredible challenge that is.  Fransi is crafting lucid, thoughtful, poignant, and sometimes very funny observations about her life, work, family and everything else  that makes up the fabric of her perspective.  It’s a great read and I look forward to her posts every morning.  When I told her I had started todayigaveaway she was an instant champion.  In addition to providing help when I need it, she also “likes” every post I write, how supportive is that?  Thankyou Fransi for setting a great example and for being so generous.

In order to accept this award I have to do a few things…

  1. Include the award’s logo in a post or on your blog.  see above
  2. Answer 10 questions about yourself.  see below
  3. 10 – 12 other fabulous bloggers must be nominated.  see well below, not quite 10 but they’re the ones I really like (plus of course fransi’s 365, but I don’t think I can double back and include her on my list) 
  4. Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blogs, letting them know they have been nominated.  OK
  5. Share the love and link the person who nominated you.  Of course

10 Questions About Myself (this feels like the Proust questionnaire at the back of Vanity Fair – okay well, sort of)

  1. Favourite colour.  Green –  literally, figuratively, politically and spiritually
  2. Favourite animal.  tropical fish
  3. Favourite number.  I have many.  I think 4’s and 5’s are lucky.  I am partial to 9 and appreciate the symmetry of 8.  I really love 19
  4. Favourite non-alcoholic drink.  water 
  5. Prefer Facebook or Twitter.  I’m on both and hate myself for it
  6. My passion.  A great story, well told, in any medium
  7. Prefer getting or giving presents.  Hmmm, they’re totally different experiences, if I have to choose, I’ll say giving something I made, even if it’s hack
  8. Favourite pattern.  I’m partial to no pattern, more of a silhouette person
  9. Favourite day of the week.  I would like to put The second half of Friday together with the first half of Sunday.  A fun night out with friends (knowing you can sleep in the next day) and a good long morning with the newspaper, a cup of tea, music on the stereo.
  10. Favourite flower.  Mock orange

Bloggers I nominate (not in any particular order)

1. This is Colossal

An incredible art blog that you can follow in social media or directly. Beautiful, inventive, visually stunning, and almost always technically baffling art from around the world.

2. Purl Bee

This is a blog for a shop called Purl Soho. I’ve never been to her shop but if you want to learn to make anything with wool or fabric, this blog is a great starting point.  Lots of free tutorials for interesting and nice things or just inspiration to do your own thing.  I will get to their shop the next time I’m in NY, if only to say thanks.

3. Ariel Waldman

I heard Ariel Waldman speak at SXSW two years ago where she introduced the audience to galaxyzoo.org. I’ve been grateful ever since.  If you have any amount of science geek in you, check out her blog.  If you’re at all interested in crowd sourced science check out galaxyzoo.org and all of its sister projects.  It’s addictive and fascinating and you can be part of our collective understanding of space, the ocean floor, climate, and so many other amazing things.

4. Poppytalk

A beautiful Canadian design blog.  Great inspiration and ideas from this Vancouver based couple.

5. < 2K a Day

Really tasty food ideas from a creative British blogger determined to get healthy by staying under the recommended adult diet of less than 2000 calories a day.  Some of the recipes are hers and some are from all over the web but so far they are pretty yummy.

6. Daily Infographic

Who doesn’t love some well designed information.  I think infographics might be one of my favourite things in the world.  I’ve heard two people say in the last two weeks that infographics are dead.  Wash your mouth out with soap.  Long live the creative use of data to explain stuff.

February 27 – Party napkins

Feb 27


Today I’m giving away these two unopened packs of dinner size paper napkins.  They are fine, there’s nothing wrong with them.  The pack on top is true to the colours in the picture, the one below is Christmas green, the only colour in the world  I really don’t like.  I’m not sure how it happened but I have about 8 packs of paper napkins and I never use them.  I like cloth napkins, you can throw them in the wash, they don’t fill up the recycling bin and they don’t waste paper.  I think they’re also nicer to your face and hands.  I must have bought these for something but I don’t remember.  They’re going in the Loonie/Toonie bin.

Thanks Fransi for the correct spelling of toonie.

Feb 26 – Decorative Art

Feb 26


Today I’m giving away this piece of wooden wall art.  It’s about 12″ x 12″.  It used to hang on a narrow wall, along with a few other smallish pieces, in a corner of my living room.  I liked the colour, the baroque thing, the hand tooling on the wood surround, and the fact that it used to be a panel in the door of a large wooden cabinet.  It felt like recycling to me.  I bought it for a couple bucks at a little antique store in Bancroft.  I haven’t had it out in a long time.  I really like art on the walls so this has sat in a storage cupboard.

I thought it would be perfect for the loonie/twonie sale at my nephew’s school.  It’s early to start collecting for that but his mom, my sister, said she was happy to take stuff now for the sale in December.  It’s such a great fundraising event for his school that they gather things for a long time.  She may regret telling me that; we’ll see if I’m testing her enthusiasm.

How do you spell twonie?

February 25 – Make up bags

Feb 22


Today I’m giving away these make up bags.   Can you tell I did a major clean out of my linen closet (where else do you keep all this stuff).  I never used these bags because I have a lot of them and so I’m picky.  These two always struck me as unreliable for the same reason.  I like a zipper closure and these both have a snap which means your bits and bobs can fall out.  I carry a large purse so that’s just an invitation for mayhem at the bottom of my bag.  They’re going to New Circles.

It’s all about containment.

February 23 – travel size toiletries

Feb 23


Today I’m giving away one and a half bags of hotel toiletries that I’ve been saving for quite some time. Some of them are very good brands, some are pretty cheap.  It depends on who was paying for the hotel.  I had been saving them with some vague notion that someone would want them, maybe the food bank or a halfway house.

I called  Covenant House and they were happy to have them so I’m dropping them off today.

Time to start a new bag.

fransi weinstein et al

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