Someday I'd like to go to the Toronto International Film Festival with Noel. Given that it's impossible for me to take vacations in the middle of the semester, it might not be until I'm retired. (I'd hold out the possibility of a sabbatical, but as an administrator, the only time I can get sabbaticals is in the summer.)
I loved Toronto when I was there for the American Academy of Religion meeting several years ago. The sprawling underground shopping district that connected my hotel to the meeting venues was never less than fascinating, and I became proud of my ability to navigate it after a couple of days. I even got out to the area where some of the festival screenings take place and saw a movie, as I recall. A lot of that has changed since I was there and the festival has changed the spaces it uses, but I still feel like I got a tiny taste.
Noel has attended for years now, and has the status of a veteran. Friends who decide to make the trip or more sporadic attendees quiz him about the festival's arcane ticketing procedures, transportation, and accommodations. He works hard while he's there, seeing four or five movies a day and writing them up in capsules every night to be posted the next morning. I especially like the little touches in the capsules that I feel are just for me, like the "Headline" category which often approaches an inside joke. For example, the Headline on Noel's review of Kill List is "But will it sync with Toodledo?", referring to the to-do list manager we both use.
It seems to me, reading these reviews and Noel's more immediate tweet-reactions from the films, that he's had a pretty good festival -- a couple of awesome experiences, some confounding but unforgettable ones, and a nice run of solid second-tier successes. He's gotten to hang with friends he sees only once a year, typically, and eat some good meals. Sleep probably hasn't been too plentiful. I know he's missed his kids something awful. But I hope the trip has proved well worth his while. Maybe the shakeup in his routine will re-energize him at a time of year when we all need a serious kick-start.