Saturday, June 16, 2007

WWSFF #3: Beware strangers bearing samples!

Anyone who knows me knows how much I enjoy a free sample. Seeing an apron-clad Starbucks staffer standing outside their store with a tray full of micro-sized, perfectly assembled Frappucinos – you know, with the wee straws and tiny dollops of whipped cream – makes my heart smile, especially if I happen upon one while heading from one film screening to another on a hot summer day.

Today, however, I made a grave sampling error.

I was walking west along Bloor between Bay and University. At the southeast corner of Bloor and St. Thomas sits some kind of chi-chi new coffee place. Or sandwich place. Or both. I have no idea; I always just walk past because it looks pretentious and expensive. So, imagine my delight when, today, I spotted someone outside with a sample tray – I could taste the pricey wares without having to pay for any of it. Cool!

Now, in hindsight, perhaps I should have done a better job of heeding the warning signs that were all over this situation. First of all, the shop employee manning the tray of small paper cups was just kind of leaning against the wall of the building with all the enthusiasm of a high-schooler stuck in detention. Secondly, she still had at least a half dozen cups on her tray. Odd, given the level of foot traffic on the street at the time. She also made no effort to entice me or even greet me. She just kind of stood there. “You can’t fool me!” I thought, foolishly. “If you’re not going to offer me a free beverage, I’m going to walk right up to you and ask for one.”

So I did. “Can I take one of those off your hands?” I asked with a smile, peering down into the cups and almost immediately regretting my request.

“Sure,” said Bored Betty. “It’s our iced green tea.”

I took one of the cups, thanked her and continued westward. As soon as I picked up the cup I could tell the “iced” portion of this drink had long since gone. She must have been standing outside for a while because the paper, and its contents, were warm. Nonetheless, just as I reached the opposite side of St. Thomas, I took a sip.


Ugh, it was terrible. Awful. Nasty. Bitter. It tasted like a cup full of chemicals. I made an “I’m thoroughly revolted!” face and then started laughing because this was all my fault in the first place. I had been blinded by the lure of a free icy drink and this was my punishment. I mean, I’m pretty sure that tea isn’t supposed to be gritty. I felt like walking back to the sample girl, returning the cup and saying, “You made this wrong.”

As I continued walking, a very amused security guard who’d been standing outside one of the buildings and who’d clearly witnessed my face-making horror, sort of chuckled and said, “Looks like that didn’t taste so good.”

“No! It was disgusting!” I said, repeating the face and hoping it would keep him from making the same sampling mistake.


I saw two programmes of films today: Official Selection 5: Portraits of an Artist, which featured (sometimes reaching) films by or about “artists” (dancers, filmmakers, animators, etc.), and Irish National Film School Spotlight, comprised of shorts made by grads of the titular institution. Among my faves:

* Mathieu Grondin’s Screen Test: Karen Elkin (6/8), a fictionalized account of an actual encounter between Elkin and a demanding, borderline abusive, director. As an aside, I might have liked this film more had Elkin, who was at the screening, not very obviously opened up her cell phone to check her messages while another short was screening. Tsk, tsk. Manners, people.

* Trouble in Paradise (7/8), a clever little animated gem from Shane Collins, which follows the turf war between a beach-dwelling crab and a coconut. SO cute!

* Likewise, Conor Ryan’s animated short Cold Pursuit (7/8), about a polar bear chasing a bouncy fish, was light-hearted, fun and adorable.

* Ken Wardrop’s poignant doc, Undressing My Mother (7/8), was like a poetic love letter from a son to his mum, from a woman to her husband, and from a woman to the realities of her own body.

At the other end of the spectrum, though, was Radio Kebrle, a freaky and twisted Czech film that I’m fairly certain will give me nightmares. It was a well-made film, but one that – for no reasons other than my own personal tastes – creeped the crap out me. All it was missing were some ventriloquist dummies.

Total shorts screened today: 22


Lou said...

I like to pretend that I can see only ONE of the films you describe, and today I picked "Undressing My Mother."

Iced green tea is BIG hereabouts.

Vickie said...

That would be an excellent choice, lou.

Btw, iced green tea is big here, too...which is why the swill I had was even more offensive. I mean, it's not rocket science, it's steeping tea!