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Austin Film Festival Journal: Part One

November 2, 2019

The alarm went off at 1:30 in the morning.

That wasn’t a mistake, or a malfunction.  That was the plan.  My flight left Boston Logan airport at 5:45 a.m., and my apartment in Connecticut was 90 minutes away. Plus, one must build in the two hours which may or may not be necessary to pass through the TSA’s own Patuxai gate (Reminder: sign up for TSA Pre-Check).

In spite of the sheer ghastliness of the hour, I was out the door by 2, at parking by 330, and in the airport shortly after 4.   The flight, of course was delayed, and my connecting flight in Atlanta was scheduled to depart early (why is a flight scheduled to leave early?), so I had to move quickly from one plane to the next.  In spite of being forced to check my luggage, the second flight was a breeze and I was in Austin shortly after 11 a.m. local time.

Most of us have areas in our lives in which we are unlucky.  Love, finding fulfilling work, health–the end is listless, as they say.  For me, it’s airport shuttles.  The usual process for me is I wait, the shuttle doesn’t come, I call the hotel, they scramble to find it, and then it arrives.  It’s unusual for me to spend less than an hour anticipating the arrival of an airport shuttle. (When Darlene and I returned from Colorado this summer, we had to wait a very long time for our parking shuttle–in fact, the only reason we got picked up was that a driver heard the radio dispatcher trying to locate our shuttle and took it upon himself to come get us before his shift even began.  If it wasn’t for that guy, we’d still be waiting on a curb in Queens).  After my customary phone call, I discover that my hotel does not have its own shuttle–I have to go downstairs to a kiosk in a hidden corner of baggage claim one cannot find unless they are specifically looking for it, and tell the people at the kiosk I’m headed to the Hampton Inn.  Finally, after another quarter hour, I am on my way to my hotel.


The room, though is ready three hours early, so I can check in. I drop off my luggage, and hail a ride from RideAustin–my very first foray into ride-sharing.  The cool thing about RideAustin is that, unlike Uber or Lyft, it is a nonprofit organization.  You can even round your fare up and donate the difference to a charity of your choice.  It’s quick and efficient, and gets me downtown in twenty minutes.  Plus, I don’t feel exploitative, which is always a good thing.

I reach the Driskill hotel, wherein the festival is headquartered.  I check in, pick up my badge (see the photo above),  and I am ready to go!  But more than anything, I’m hungry. I was at Logan before any of the eateries opened, and both my flights were short, so I was only able to get a drink and a snack.  I haven’t eaten an actual meal since Wednesday night.

Darlene and I have been doing a cleanse/diet that is reportedly good for people with neurological disorders.  I’ve lost over 12 pounds, and I don’t feel lethargic after I eat, and my stomach is significantly\y quieter than it once was.  The diet largely consists of eating green things and protein. On this trip, however, I have given myself permission to eat carbs–particularly via the delivery system known as a tortilla (this is Texas, after all).  I find a nearby restaurant called The Iron Cactus, and I order myself some cheese enchiladas with black beans.   Chips and salsa. I am one happy guy.

After lunch, I head to a nearby Episcopal Church for my first panel discussion, with Michael Grillo, a producer who has worked on a few films you may have heard of: Defending Your Life, Silverado, The Accidental Tourist, Anchorman, Road to Perdition, Cast Away, Gladiator, American Beauty, Saving Private Ryan, The Deer Hunter, Young Frankenstein–oh, and the last two Avengers films.  I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say.

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