Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Guess what time it is? Yes indeed folks, it's TIFF TIME. For those who live in a cave, TIFF is the Toronto International Film Festival. Wall to wall films. Anyone so inclined can start watching at 9 in the morning and not come up for air until after the Midnight Madness show ends. My personal record is 5 films in one day. A wee bit too much, I don't think I was coherent by the end of the day. I'll only be seeing 2 this year, sometimes life conspires to put a cramp in fun.

Toronto turns into red carpet land and people hang out star spotting, flitting (or running a marathon, depending on how well thought out your schedule is) from theatre to theatre. On my way home from a film this afternoon I stopped and took a picture of my all time favourite tiff people:


TIFF volunteers

Now like a complete and utter prat, I forgot to ask them their names so they'll have to be called the "unknown tiffies" ... ummm ... maybe not.... that sounds a bit rude. How about the unknown volunteers, unless one of them logs in and sends me their names. However, I digress. 

Every year, TIFF runs a nice little thank the volunteers spot, but really, they deserve far more recognition that that. The TIFF juggernaut runs on volunteer power -  2,800 actually.  I used to manage a volunteer radio station, with far fewer volunteers, and I always thought I was herding cats. 2,800 is staggering  and when you stop and think VOLUNTEERS, that becomes awe inspiring. They keep the festival ticking along with very few problems. It's an impressive feat. 

Every time I see one though, the old Hinterland Who's Who ad runs through my mind. Any Canadian will know what I mean... the rest of you go here: I hear the tune playing away and that voice droning on and start humming the Hinterland tune, it's like an earworm triggered by orange shirts. So, my brain worm is now your brain worm. Enjoy:


 A native of Ontario, TIFFs are difficult to identify during the year. In the fall, Tiffs shed their camouflage covering and take on bright plumage and distinctive markings that make them easy to spot. 

The TIFF Volunteer has a number of unique songs, some of which are "Yes ma'am bathrooms are on the left", "Rush line is over there"  and "this line is for tickets only please" . These calls can only be heard in Toronto during a brief period of time. Towards the end of the second week of Sept. their voice starts to fade and become hoarse because of the repetitive calls made during this time period. As a result,  TIFF VOLUNTEERS become mute after September.

Their habitat is very limited. They can be found in Toronto, congregating near theatres. They naturally flock to them and thousands can be spotted at this time. They can also be spotted near coffee shops, but it takes a keen eye to catch them. TIFF spotters might want to wait near the TIFF Lightbox, for  the best chance of finding TIFFs.  They can occasionally be identified during the off season, but only in this one location.

During the second week of Sept, TIFF Volunteers display a unique behaviour that has puzzled biologists for over 20 years. They make people form lines and tear little stubs of paper before guiding people into darkened theatres (even during daylight). There is no consensus about this odd behaviour. Some biologists suspect it may be a mating ritual. More research is needed on the TIFF to find out. 

To learn more about the TIFF Volunteer, contact TIFF here


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Catpaw with a pint & a typical bad haircutTime for a new look - the venerable cat on a postage stamp is now retired. As much as I loved him, it was time for a face lift - bad haircut & all. 

"The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself."

- Albert Camus

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