cait +tiff


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T / mental space mix

Photo Credit: Olympic Peninsula by Tiffany Tsang

It’s been a minute, right?  So we took a good long break.  I was on the road (a big long one called the US101) and there’s just so much brewing right now on all our sides. I know that my mental space has been filled up.  It’s also way cluttered in the way a an A&E Hoarder is, without the random dead bodies hidden it the corner but still the feeling that it’s all gonna spill at any moment. So I’ve had to limit things. And one of the first things to go was music.  Super sad face.  But that’s what breaks are for, right?

My resolution coming back was to make time for it.  (I’m a big fan of this app, by the way).  Telling my brain: it’s time for pure, unadulterated MUSIC.  And that’s how this new playlist was borne.  Until a bad case of the jetlag hit and I became of puddle of displaced equilibrium.  So I’m sharing it now.   I hope you’re making time for the things that matter to you.  And if you aren’t, you really should.

Anyways, there’s a lot of good new stuff in here that’s from all over the place.  Yaeji is a hip new artist that splits her time between Seoul and New York.  Siobhan Sainte hails from New Zealand. And there’s all the fabulous artists I’ve loved for ages that are now releasing new and remixed beats.  Charlotte Gainsbourg and Tame Impala – big hearts out to you.  Basically, this mix is getting me through my to-do list.  It’s a big mix for the long list.

 


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T / unsolicited TIFF

Photo Credit: Haubitz + Zoche.

Okay, it’s that time of year again.  Whether you like it or not.  At this point, I’m surprised I don’t have a gambling addiction.  Last year’s winning pony was Moonlight.  This year, my bets are on a Norwegian psycho-sexual drama.  The festival started last week, so I’m a little late on this year’s selection.  But here goes…



So about that Norwegian psycho-sexual thriller.  It’s called Thelma.  Which I initially thought was going to be a family drama set in Oklahoma.  Nope.  Instead it’s Scandi-minimalist possibly sci-fi nuts things.  I just can’t wait.



When I first went through TIFF’s programme this year, I was really disappointed to see that it’s larger budget played it a little too safe.  Meaning: historical and very white (there are more than two WWII movies and too many period pieces), and where it wasn’t so white, it was Denzel Washington.  Enter Guillermo Del Toro to save the day.  I like a little bit of whimsy and this is not unlike when he dropped Pan’s Labyrinth at the festival over a decade ago.  The Shape of Water is all childlike in its wonder and the trailer is just gorgeous.  Also: Octavia Spencer.



Call Me By Your Name is sumptuous in its coming of age sexuality.  It says summer love all over it and who doesn’t enjoy Americans in a slow simmering affair?  Get me to Aix en Provence, stat.



I’m always looking for new narratives from voices that we don’t always get to hear from.  My small size foreign film selection this year comes by way of the Philippines, whose culture is not so indistinct from our own in the West.  When I lived in Manila, I couldn’t get over how familiar it was.  But when you step outside your affluent enclave, you couldn’t be further from the truth of what’s really happening in Duterte’s Philippines.  And perhaps that’s what makes Dark Is the Night so terrifying: that I can see it happening in all of my backyards.



This year’s Midnight Madness programme at TIFF veers towards the ridiculous.  Which I love.  But I’m also a fan of the classical horror film set in a haunted house and involving children.  Enter The Lodgers. It had me at “Shirley Jackson-esque.”  Cursed, orphaned twins in a haunted house.  I just saw It last night so naturally I’m picking this one.


I’m playing it terribly safe this year with my TIFF picks.  But maybe it’s because I’m looking to getaway from everything that’s happening around the world.  I even hear there’s a meteorite coming at us.  So perhaps my TIFF picks are a little more skewed towards the fantastic this year.  But if you’re interested in a variety of perspectives on the world, check out the TIFF master list.  I guarantee you’ll find something that will be exactly what you’re looking for.  By the way, I’ve also got a tiny little Greta Gerwig feature in my crosshairs and I couldn’t be a proud Asian-Canadian if I didn’t also tell you about Mina Shum’s latest.


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C / Landline

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Image via The Hollywood Reporter

I have been trying to bring back the phone call for the past two years. I am one of about 6 people who still prefer talking on the phone over texting, but there is something about actual human communication that I am into. My push to get people to talk to me, is often not welcome, and it’s honestly not working that well. My friend Nitika told me the other day that she “hasn’t made a phone call to someone since 1993.” Whatever, I am holding onto this.

This morning, I saw the trailer for Landline, a new movie with Jenny Slate. It’s set in the 90’s and its sort of a romcom-looking thing, but with Jenny Slate, so it’s clearly going to be amazing. This has to be a sign, a sign that I am right about the proper form of phone communication, and I feel like I am about to be vindicated by a movie set in the time of non-ironic scrunchies.

Call your friends, they will hate it.

caitsig

 


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T / happy monday / hot thoughts

Photo Credit: Feist.

Some really good albums from a couple of my all time favourite bands came out over the past month.  And I got to spend a lot of time in a car with them this past weekend.  These bands were the soundtrack to my late teens and early 20s and are so telling about my early millennial status.  I discovered Spoon while watching The OC.  Then I found The Shins when I fell in love with Zach Braff and his Garden State.  I met Dirty Projectors when I moved to Cambodia and met all the young things from Brooklyn.  And the story of Tennis fell into my lap while I was living the hipster wannabe story in London.  Don’t you love it when music comes with a time and a place?  True story: I catalog all of my music by the month and year it came into my life.  There is indeed a soundtrack to my life.  Not joking.  I might actually be John Cusack from High Fidelity in the multiverse.  Or Kevin Smith.

Oh right, Feist is coming out with her new album next month.  22 year old Tiff is going nuts.   Here are the faves from everything I am spinning this week!


Spoon – Hot Thoughts, from their album of the same name.

The Shins – Name for You, from Heartworms.

Dirty Projectors – Cool Your Heart (ft. Dawn) from their self-titled album.

Tennis – Ladies Don’t Play Guitars, from Yours, Conditionally.

Feist – Pleasure, from her forthcoming album of the same name.


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C / Wonder Woman

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When I was in 7th grade, I went to Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm with the school band. Between pretending to practice my trumpet, and figuring out how much gummy candy and churros I could buy with my weekend stipend, I looked for cool key chains. I know, you are sitting there like “Cait, stop bragging about how cool you used to be!” Sorry, I don’t mean to look down on you so obviously.

Anyway, while I was there, I DID find a cool keychain that reminded me of my mom. She has always been one of the people in my life that can seemingly do anything, so I picked up the Wonder Woman keychain and brought it back to Tucson with me. I was super proud to give my mom a present, because when you are 12, it’s hard to be not poor, and cool moms deserve cool keychains.

Fast forward 20-ish years, and I am going to Disneyland next week, and watching the trailer for the Wonder Woman movie, and completely psyched for it. The movie looks stunning and empowering and feminist and all kinds of badass. I’m excited.

This all proves that nothing really changes, my mom is still awesome, I am still a band nerd on the inside, and this lady is getting ready to go nuts on churros. #deepthoughts

Cover photo

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T / happy monday / cool your heart

Photo Credit: D. Morrison.

Photo Credit: D. Morrison.

When a song features the lyrics: “gonna cook you with pepper and lime,” I know it’s going on heavy rotation.  That would be from Paris chanteuse Mai Lan.  And then there are all the new things from Dirty Projectors and their collab with Solange.  Good music is blowing up right now.  And with efforts like the 100 First Days, I cannot wait to see what the subversives come up with.  Also, Moonlight just won Best Picture at the Oscars. I don’t care what people say, the arts are responding.

Hearts are ALL on fire right now.  And it’s definitely not from all the good heat coming from Valentine’s Day.  So I thought I’d put together a playlist of some very new faves and some old spins that have kept my cardiac sounds in check.  New faves like Bay Ledges, and stalwarts like Animal Collective, Clap Ya Hands Say Yeah, Spoon (because I’m a 39 year old guy who went to school in Austin at heart) and Sondre Lerche all have new tunes the kick the year off with.  So this playlist is mostly filled with some old geezers.  But I’ll get the babies to you soon.



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C / art helps

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Look who’s blogging again. I took a break because I really needed it, and now I’m back.

For a while there, I couldn’t think of anything real to say. This is technically a design/fashion/storytelling blog, and the only thing coming from my brain the last few weeks was a string of expletives and blank stares. It’s hard for me to talk about fashion and design thingies when I am worried about the absurd and hateful things happening in my country.

I went to The Broad museum this morning to look at art and get inspired. I also really wanted to take a photo in the Infinity room I had heard so much about. I showed up a few minutes late, got in the wrong line, and my outfit wasn’t cool enough. The cattle herders outside took pity on my confused face and let me in anyway.

When you go into the Broad, it feels like you are going into a giant, square, alien brain that happens to be full of Jeff Koons bubble art and some pretty dark cartoons. The long escalator ride up into the main exhibition hall added all the drama I wanted and I landed at the foot of what looked like giant candy dipped in liquid glitter. (Clearly an art critic here.)

As I walked around more, I saw a gold and white statue of Michael Jackson with a monkey, a few Warhols, some badass sculptures, and a photo of Batman from 1955 which I am pretty sure proves he is real. I also saw revolution in the art. I saw a lot of pain, struggles with oppression, silencing, slavery, racism, and a big ass collage of white dudes in hats that scared the bejesus out of me. Most of the art in the museum is older than I am, but the themes still ring true, and in a way, seeing these pieces made me feel better. Not better in the “everything is ok” way, but like when you would get in trouble but all of your friends did too. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it’s how I feel.

This is a little bit of what I saw, with my own reactions an no proper citations.

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Puppiessssss!

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It’s so true, for all of us, but mostly you. 

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Misleading rainbow vibes on fatalist prose. 

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Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions

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Ugh, I know. 

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The caption next to this says something like “the bird is angry because it’s plaster.” Yeah man, I would be angry too if you gave me plaster snacks. 

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In my head, this woman was one of Elvis’s girlfriends back in the day. I also want her hair. The Warhol is cool too. 

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Most original photo in the history of the world that I really love. Wish I wore something cooler. 

Art made me feel alright today, and it made me want to write again, which I haven’t wanted to do for a while. See art if you can, and if you can’t go see it, make it. Then make your friends look at it and pretend they get it.

caitsig

 


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T / happy monday / top tunes 2016

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Photo Credit: Eric Cahan

2016 was weird right?  I’ve been making my year end music lists for the past ten years and looking back at the process, it’s always fraught with so many feelings.  This year there were so many feelings. Looking back at the year, Lemonade and all the excitement that came with it, feels like it was eons ago.   There was an attempted musical movement.  David Bowie released one of his best albums,  and past away shortly after.  We lost so many lions of pop.  Why did everything released after July sound like it was auditioning for the Stranger Things soundtrack? And I grew into a curmudgeon thinking that no one had rose up to replace them.  But hopefully the little eggs, like Anderson .Paak, will grow up to be icons.

But at least everyone’s soundtracks got better?  Magical Cloudz made it into a magical moment in The OA.  Have you watched (and listened to) millennial mystery Search Party?

I’m excited for 2017.  Because ladies will be marching. From turmoil comes innovation.  If 2016 was a moment of pause, then 2017 will be lit on fire. In the meantime, here is everything I had on repeat.

tiffs-top-tunes-2016

PS – Check out my lists for 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011.


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T / all the biz reads…sort of.

Artwork Credit: Kate Alizadeh

Artwork Credit: Kate Alizadeh

Oh man how good does it feel to not turn on your computer for two days?  This hasn’t happened…I can’t even tell you for how long.

So my partner and I viewed this trip to Bali as a bunch of things.  But probably the most important one was that we needed a reboot.  He had been travelling incredibly long journeys for work.  And I’ve just been juggling a bunch of work and getting plenty sick in between things (shooting things that are low to the ground tends to do that).  I’m also about to start a new job when we get back.  The kind of desk-related job I was trying to avoid before, but I’ve slowly come to realize its benefits.  Namely, consistent air conditioning during the hot season.  Sure I’ll still have a bunch of things happening, but that’s the way I like it, and I get to buy one of those really fancy grown up lenses with the earnings.  Happy dance.

Thinking about this, I wanted to get my read on things about work.  How people work.  Productivity.  Creativity.  Motivation. The cool books at least.  Not included in this list is In the Company of Women, which I’ve mentioned before.  Instead, I wrangled up a decent size reading list that I’m supposed to be tackling through this trip.  Here they are!


smarter-better-faster-and-daily-rituals

Smarter Better Faster: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Because we all want to find out how and why the most productive individuals do it all.  Because increasingly all of our responsibilities are layering on top of each other and threatening the height of the Burj Dubai.  Also the New York Times’ Charles Duhigg writes a killer fast and engaging read.  If you saw his piece on team work at Google, he goes even further and talks about Saturday Night Live too.  Yes, they can be compared.

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, stories collected and edited by Mason Curry

The first chapter of this book is about WH Auden.  And it had me immediately.  From Francis Bacon and chronologically down to the likes of Twyla Tharp, Mason Curry goes through their day from breakfast until night cap.  I basically read one every morning as a morning cuppa jo one could say.


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Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

Look Both Ways by Debbie Millman

These two books should basically be required reading for everyone.  Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived Joyful Life is something I’ve been throwing at all my friends lately.  All of them.  Based on the most popular freshman course at Stanford, profs Bill Burnett and Dave Evans have basically transferred their course into a book for everyone.  Then there’s Look Both Ways, which is an illustrated essays on life and design by branding maven Debbie Millman.  You’ve heard her podcast, no?  These two are such great resources for the well-lived life.  I heart them.


creativity-inc-and-the-oneCreativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull

The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

These last two are about how work gets done.  With Creativity, Inc, I was really excited about learning how people come up with ideas and how that works in the context of a team.  At Pixar of all places.  From the man behind all of that himself.  The complexities and the science behind it are all so exciting to me.  Oh right, and the advice too.  But then what about motivation? I first found about the whole rationale behind Jay Papasan’s goal setting philosophy through Jess Lively’s epically helpful podcast. And how it could be applied to daily work.  Then I was hooked. And it’s helped me to shape my work day tremendously since.