Friday, September 04, 2009

The Best Made Plans…

… on a full moon Friday are bound to be thwarted at every turn. This is a story of one such set of plans.

Ever since a friend and I attended the BBC America party (and by attended, I mean crashed like the ninja you always suspected I was) and chatted with David Tennant (who turned out to be so lovely, I've given Doctor Who a shot), I've been feeling frisky. Both of us have been looking around for the next adventure bolstered by the confidence that an action plan and positive outlook would lead the way—ok, mostly the action plan.

I thought we'd found it: the Toronto International Film Festival. Why TIFF? I love films. I also love George Clooney (said to be attending), David Duchovny (said to be attending), Clive Owen (said to be attending), and Colin Firth (said to be attending). Plus, my new best friend David Tennant has a film opening there, and while he hasn't mentioned attending, throwing him in artistically would be fine with me. And of course, because the last adventure was such a rousing success, my brain immediately began to formulate all sorts of intricate scenarios. If I was able to chat with David Tennant over wine, surely the next adventure would top that?

So, my brain went to work.

Naturally, upon seeing "The Joneses" at TIFF, I would find myself debating film and literary themes with Duchovny as we hung out by the fire at a chalet (shhhhhhh, let's not ruin it with the whole "there probably aren't chalets in downtown Toronto" talk) while sipping a fine red wine (because even in the fantasy, I'm not eating). Of course, we would be interrupted from time to time when Mr. Clooney dropped by to inquire if I had any additional insight on Darfur, and to see if I'd ever consider returning to Think Tank work (of course, I think about returning to Brookings, George, but my place is here now). Needless to say, Clive and Colin would also wander by, chat and leave thinking, "If only we were single." Essentially I began to fantasize that our intellect and charm would be nearly as lauded as the films on display.

My positive outlook was working. All those pesky problems that could be noted as being inherent with the New Adventure Plan (NAP) just seemed to melt away.

For instance, NAP would take place in Toronto. I am not in Toronto. Toronto is deceptively far away, and I hate to fly. No matter! New Ninja Kate was willing to white-knuckle it for six hours to put NAP in play. Plus, I just watched a terrifying, yet really very helpful show on surviving a hijacking called "Surviving Disaster", and now that I know how to deal with a sucking chest wound, I feel much better about the whole thing.

The hotels are a little pricey, and my partner in crime is broke, but these are the emergencies that credit cards were made for.

We would not be stopped. Toronto was the next frontier. We would be delightful, alluring and ready to take on the world.


The festival is scheduled to run from September 10 through September 19. Not knowing what the film schedule was, I set about giving work a heads up that I'd be gone a few days during that time. At which point, they gave me the heads up that I was likely to be needed for "team building" in New York during the main week of the festival… possibly…and suggested that I should be prepared to leave the festival so that I could bond (and most assuredly play games like, "if your practice area is a color, what color would it be"). I suggested that if someone thought I would be skipping lazing about with George Clooney to build a tower out of office furniture, they could think again. Plus, I've seen that episode of "The X-Files", and unless they can guarantee that I'd be rocking Mulder in the woods, I was out.

But I was saved. Work delayed our bonding session. Our adventure was back on! Of course, by the time I knew we were saved, the advanced package tickets were sold out, and we'd have to wait to buy individual tickets, but no matter. It would be fine. I began to assess my wardrobe, and contemplate how I would juggle having multiple careers as documentary filmmaker, writer and analyst.

Obviously, between finances and work, we never planned on being there the entire time. So, we prayed to the film gods to put all the films we really wanted to see into 3 days. Hurray! The bulk of our "must see" films, no doubt to be followed by "must do" evenings, were covered in three days when the schedule was released. But we forgot to be specific. One of us, not the one with the first name starting in "K", has meetings all weekend on the 12th and 13th and couldn't possibly leave (without perhaps heavy bribery) before the night of the 13th on red eye. Not a problem! The fest is long! What are the odds of the premieres being…


And then there was one.

Seeing no way to escape work commitments, partner in crime was to become long-distance cheerleader. For a week, I pondered the sense of me attending alone, knowing that under the best of circumstances I avoid interaction and that left to me, I'd just be paying a lot of money to see movies I'll eventually see when they are released to theaters. Plus, it looked like the hotels in the area were largely sold out. And I probably wouldn't be able to get tickets when they went on sale the morning of the 4th.

But there was still a whisper of hope that there was an adventure to be had, and I don't usually hesitate to do things solo. So, I did some checking. The online schedule didn't indicate that any of the films were sold out. I found a hotel quite close to the theater where most of my chosen screenings would be held. And fortune was smiling because I happened to find a completely affordable (as in, I have shoes more expensive than that) flight to Toronto. It appeared that fate was smiling on me. I was giddy for at least 20 minutes. While not entirely settled on going, there was that tiny spark of mischief igniting.

Tickets went on sale at 7am Toronto time this morning. I woke up at 4am, VISA in hand, ready to deal. I took the constant error message at the online box office as only a minor annoyance. I thought, with only mild dismay, that my work computer had an out of date browser. So, I switched computers. Twice. I couldn't get the system to work. With a determination usually reserved for getting out of going somewhere at night, I picked up that phone and got ready to make it happen. Imagine my consternation when I got an "all circuits are busy" error recording in my attempt to reach Canada. Repeatedly.


I showered. I contemplated. I waged war internally. I drove to the office. Same thing happened. No access. I told myself that I would try one more time, and if I couldn't get in, it was a sign that I was not meant to go.

You can guess what happened—I got into the system.

Joy. Rapture. Funny stomach feeling people tell me is happiness.


I got into the system to find out that 2 of the movies I wanted to see were sold out, one was moved to later in the week, and one other kept giving me a "not available" error when I clicked on "buy".

Perseverance is one thing. But rejecting all the signs along the way is quite another.

For those of you lucky enough to attend the festival, take many photos and think of me. I will be eagerly watching coverage on the TIFF website and wishing that Toronto wasn't quite so far away. You know… until my internet access goes down and my computer crashes. But, boy, those first 20 seconds are going to be gold.


Helen said...

Yes, The Universe has once again laid waste to our brilliant plan, but I refuse to be undone by this. We live in Los Angeles. There will be other events. Events which require neither six-hour flights nor hotel stays (unless, of course, Clooney asks you back to his.)

Dee Murray said...

Though the Universe is an evil bee-atch you will clearly need to save up your ninja skills to outmaneuver your play-date with office furniture! I must say, however, fuzzy rug in front of fireplace with wine & Duchovny really sounds like the closest thing to heaven. Sigh. Fickle, fickle Fate!

Anasazi said...

Oh I was rooting for you. I actually felt a pang of dismay when it didn't work out. That's something we totally wouldve done if Iived out there. :) I totally believe things happen...or don't... for a reason. I'll just have to live vicariously through u some other time :D

MishAgain said...

As a somewhat seasoned TIFF goer (this will be our 4th trip), I can give you some ticket tips.

You have a MUCH better chance of getting tickets on the telephone than online, especially the first day.

I placed my order on the phone at 7:10 yesterday and got most of my selections. 10 minutes later, sold out. The web page was nearly impossible to access.

But even for the ones we did NOT get - in the last 3 trips (since I discovered telephone ordering on the day of the screening) I have seen every film I wanted to see. Each day, blocks of tickets are relased for that same day's screenings. (They will even send you e-mail notifications of which ones if you sign up.) If you call the box office a few minutes before 7, you will more than likely get tickets for just about anything scheduled for that day. Similarly, the web ordering page refreshes around 7 a.m. each day, so that many of today's titles, listed as sold out the previous night, are once again available to buy.

If all else fails, there are rush lines at every screening. Quite a few of the people on line get in. And even if you don't, you meet some great film buffs on line!

As for travel arrangements, has the best package deals, particularly if you reserve the day the film schedule is released (of course, even cheaper a few weeks earlier than that, but then you take the chance you won't be there for the films you really want to see). I am in NY and when I checked in July, the cost of a 5 night stay (9/12 through 9/17) in a 4-star hotel near downtown Toronto (10 min subway ride at most to the various theaters) with roundtrip airfare FOR TWO was around $850. Because I waited until the day the film schedule was announced in late August, I paid $1000, still quite reasonable. As of yesterday, that same package was going for $1400.

If you can arrange travel and hotel at this late date, I say GO! As I said, you will more than likely be able to get tickets to the films you want to see.

If you need any advice on tickets, etc., feel free to ask!

bethany said...

Oh, Kate.. when the universe rejects you in instances like this, you need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and come out swinging - You will show the universe who's boss!! ;o)

Besides - it's just Toronto... and they DON'T have chalets...

Kate, Dating in LA said...

@MishAgain, thanks so much for the tips! While I know for certain now that I can't go, I'm filing this away for future years.

@Helen, there will be other plans! I have no idea what, but there will be. :)

@Dee Murray, Fate and I keep sparring. I'm hoping to land a knock out punch soon.

@Anasazi, LOL but if you and I were together, we'd get all dressed up and then 2 minutes before we'd leave a Bewitched re-run would transfix us.

@Bethany, shhhhhhhh don't ruin the chalet fantasy.