cait +tiff

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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: 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.


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.


T / tiff picks TIFF 2016

Photo Credit: Matt Barnes for TIFF.  All of these were taken on an iPhone 7!

Photo Credit: Matt Barnes for TIFF. All of these were taken on an iPhone 7!

It began sometime in junior high.  That’s basically when I knew I had a taste for this.  The movies never have to get big.  That’s not the point.  But the films I chose wound up getting known.  That was more important.  I guess I knew early on that I was a serious ENFJ.  And that I wanted to be an arbiter of the visual medium.  And my namesake, the Toronto International Film Festival, was my ultimate playground.  The festival is in full swing in my hometown right now.  Christian Bale is photobombing everyone’s festival selfie.  I’ve been making my annual tiff picks for TIFF since I was 13, so why stop now?

Before I get into it, here are the Honorable Mentions.  The films that didn’t quite make the cut, already got too much attention, or don’t have a trailer yet.  But all I can say right now is that I can’t wait to see party girl Anne Hathaway get all monstery.  Here is my other shortlist:

Nocturnal Animals, Colossal, Mascots, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, The Rehearsal


This film had me at hello and it’s been on my radar since way before TIFF.  I don’t know what it is.  No I do.  It’s all the intersections.  The mumblecore nature.  Boyhood, sexuality, depressed economies.  Everything.  And it just looks so rich.  Yet it all seems balanced at the same time.  I can’t wait to see what comes for everyone who made this film happen.

Maybe it’s because we did visit Nepal this year.  And the fact that I want to go back and experience more of it (as well as see this girl).  White Sun has a powerful plot line.  Perhaps it’s also because I share the feeling of the prodigal child coming home.  In any case, this film evokes a new voice to me and I can’t wait to lay my eyes on it.

The Road to Mandalay

I’m always on the lookout for cinema from southeast Asia that really has power. I think it’s because I’ve always wanted to share the sights and sounds and feelings of living and working in this region with all of my loved ones. The cinematography in this film just gets it perfect.  I know, I know.  I’m not a Burmese migrant worker.  And The Road to Mandalay is heavy on the romanticization, but damn, it’s gorgeous and it gets the heat, the intensity of the experience, and everything just right.

It’s Just the End of the World

There is Canadian cinema. And then there’s Quebecois cinema.  And then there’s Xavier Dolan. So I don’t care if this film is populated by really big French actors (hello my favourites: Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard and Léa Seydoux), nor the fact that it’s based on a French play. I’m still counting this as Canadian.  It looks beautiful.  It was shot on 35mm and you can totally tell.  The light is just perfect. I can’t wait to lay my eyes on this one.

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T / happy monday / back to school mixtape

Photo Credit: Black Mountain College via the North Carolina Digital Collections and The Reed

Photo Credit: Black Mountain College via the North Carolina Digital Collections and The Reed

So in theory, we’d begin the slow down right around this party of year.  Unless you’ve got an Indian Summer going on, the days will start to get shorter, the layers will start happening and your toes will pull on their covers (unless of course, you’re from Canada, where Birks last well until November).   But things stay sexy, in a completely different way from the summer.

In these parts, the rain is back and that’s pretty much the closest I’m gonna get to fall temperatures over here.  So I decided to mix up a bunch of brand spanking new tunes that help cool things down and slow the pace.  I can pretty much feel the leaves crunch under my feet when I listen to Her’s Five Minutes. I slipped in a little slow jamming with Jamila Woods and her beloved Minnie Ripperton too.  The indie rock just screams back to school, get your back pack on, doesn’t it?

PS – You all live everywhere!  So we’re trying to make sure the tunes can get to you! Bear with us as we try out new music sharing platforms that make our ears in Cambodia and the US happy.

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C/ The Get Down


Photo via Tube Filter

With the advent of Netflix in Cambodia, a whole new world has opened up to people that sometimes just want to stay inside. Sometimes, those people are me. My current Netflix bright spot is The Get Down, a music-laden series on the beginnings of hip hop, life in the 1970’s Bronx, and of course, love. Everybody loves love.

The characters are raw, imperfect, beautiful, and silly talented. The lead love story is between Ezekiel and Mylene, played by Justice Smith and Herzien Guardiola. The two of them make me feel like I have accomplished nothing in my life. Most of the cast members are new names for me, with the exception of Jimmy Smitts, who I have loved since his days on LA Law, and Jaden Smith, the prodigal son of never-aging beauty-robots, Will and Jada.

Also, and I understand that my focus might be different that others, but the clothes are amazing. Some of the disco suits are hilarious and cringe-worthy, but there are so many pieces that I want to snag for myself. You could pull a lot of these outfits and wear them now, and my affection for the high-waisted, booty loving, denim culotte is only growing.

I highly encourage watching this show. It has had mixed reviews, but if you are into hip hop, the historical side of the greatest city on earth, and Donna Summer, get down on it.  (Sorry.)

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C / this mix

I am constantly searching for things that make my days brighter and a little bit more fun. Because I often work alone, I try to keep music upbeat and often turn to embarrassing pop to keep the day moving. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly times when the only option is putting on the Les Miserables soundtrack (the 1992 live cast version, not the movie version, don’t be ridiculous) and singing Eponine’s parts poorly and loudly. Lucky for me, Tiff is able to rescue me from myself and has far better taste than I do. She also has the patience to constantly hunt for new cool tunes and share them with me.

She sent along this mix on Sunday and it has been my soundtrack for the last three days. It’s a fun one, with mostly remixes from the 80’s and 90’s including, but not limited to: Listen to Your Heart, Just One of Them Days, and the King of Wishful Thinking. I honestly don’t know what else I need.

It’s so good. Perfect mix of chill and fun and OH MY GOD ITS THAT SONG I LOVE THAT SONG!!!!

I hope it helps you through your Tuesday.


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T / happy monday /

Photo Credit: Prue Stent

Photo Credit: Prue Stent

So I just woke up from my old-man phase when it came to music in 2016.  Sometime in March, I had given up.  The world had succumbed to Ariana Grande.  I was a mega curmudgeon. The medium was dying, everything that was being produced sounded the same and it was futile to expect anything more than what would satisfy the addiction algorithms.  But I’ve had a slow rebirth that wound up with a crescendo of music love this past weekend.

But enough of those meditations.  I had a slow morning.  The snooze button was pressed multiple times.  This means I wasn’t in the mood for any sort of high intensity exercise either.  So I’m all about the fancy pantsy dancey this morning.  And I’ve declared Biggie as my spirit rapper this week.  So I have to open the mix with a little millennial remix.  Enjoy!

PS – To our international friends, we’re currently exploring new music platforms as 8tracks has reconfigured its policies to be in line with international streaming regulations (mega huge frownie face!).  If you are unable to reach our playlist below, try this link, where you can play on your desktop!

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T / happy monday / rock (sort of) on

Photo Credit: David Bonazzi

Artwork Credit: David E Bonazzi

I’ve started to fall in love with music again.  Gone are the days I spend grumbling about how pop music all sounds the same.  I’m not that curmudgeonly yet.  But ever since I started a project to help re-brand these guys, I’m getting back to my roots.  Last week, I spent an evening with all the new stuff.  And they are goodies.  This mix starts like any commute in the twilight of winter should.  Slow and early with the wandering beats of Sun Seeker.  The beats move a bit faster as the day edges on, with Kevin Morby and then a Duran Duran cover by Shamir.  And finally we hit up Anderson .Paak, a newbie on the hip hop-soul scene that I’m beyond digging.

I hope this little mix gets your Monday going swell.

PS – 8tracks is currently down. You can access the mixtape here!


T / happy monday / tiff’s top tunes 2015


Photo Credit: Eric Cahan

We’re supposed to be slacking this week and getting our friends to do our work, but it turns out I forgot to schedule this thing I have to do every year.  So I’m sliding it in while I’m supposed to be not doing much but eating my weight in seafood on the Cambodian coast.  

Last year, I wasn’t what you would call crazy about the selection of tunes that were being churned out.  Increasingly, I find myself non plussed by how mechanical and inorganic sounds are becoming in the sphere of popular music.  Almost as if an algorithm is pumping them out, aware of what beats per minute will most stimulate our repeat listens.   There was a bunch of swiping to the left basically.  This year, I’m a hella more optimistic.  There was reinvention and cross ocean collabs. I can’t get the K-pop dub smash intermix out of my head. It just works so well.  Then, Blood Orange took us back to the old days while confronting very current issues with Sandra’s Smile, which I’ve had on repeat for the past couple of months.  Great people came back to us and made even better music (I’m looking at you, Jamie XX, Beirut and Animal Collective).  And a whole bunch of new kids on the block made a scene (baeb rxxth, Class Actress).  Basically I was happy this year.  The same kind of happy that comes with watching the opening credits of Master of None.  And looking back on it, there were a lot of favourite songs, so I couldn’t name one.

And there was so much good stuff, I made a list just for remixes and covers.  Because being a music geek knows no bounds and a member of Janelle Monae’s Wundaland crew reinventing Radiohead is more than inspired.

Enjoy and happy holidays!

PS – Here they are in alphabetical order, and you can even listen to them if you keep scrolling down.


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T / happy monday / back to school mixtape

Photo Credit: Nina Leen for LIFE, 1956. Via Tomboy Style

Photo Credit: Nina Leen for LIFE, 1956. Via Tomboy Style

How did I forget to put together a mixtape for the back to school season?  Oh right, it’s perpetual summer over here.

Most of us probably aren’t in school anymore, (though one of our favourite contributors is!).  But when the sun starts to wane at an earlier hour, the temperatures start to drop (sort of, kind of, not really over here), that’s my favourite time of the year.  The transition seasons are the best.  One’s mixtape might also switch over to slower, less poppy, more thoughtful beats.

I had the chance to catch up on the tunes of the new season during the week of quiet in an empty Phnom Penh.  And to be honest, I was a little spurred on by Condé Nast’s recent acquisition of my music bible, Pitchfork Media, with the sole purpose of bringing “a very passionate audience of Millennial males into our roster.”  I should also mention that I’m a fairly dedicated reader of Wired and Esquire magazines and a regular audience to All Songs Considered.  Guess that makes me a Millennial male.  Or a manic pixie dream girl.  I can’t wait for 2 Brown Girls to jump on this.

Gender-inflamed paragraphs aside (which sounds like an STI), this is all about the tunes.  I’m loving some of the new kids on the block who hail from the southern hemisphere. I start the mix off with Love Ssega all the way from South Africa and cap it off with Slum Sociable from Melbourne. There’re also some old faves jumping on the bandwagon with the cool kids (I’m looking at you Ryan Adams, new member of the Taylor Swift entourage).  These tunes are the ones I’d be plugged into, tubing to school in London or pounding the pavement in Toronto.  Enjoy!

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T / happy monday / lady podcast roundup

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Photo Credit: Associated Press

And we’re back!!! In the same town that is.  For seventy two hours, before another one of us hops on a plane again.  We are catching up on us, while also devouring mountains of cauliflower and jugs of green juice.  And planning, planning, planning. There might be some Channing Tatum action happening tonight with some other special ladies too.

Speaking of ladies…hella important thing right?  We are so freaking lucky to have an incredible community of ladies in Phnom Penh.  You’ve met a whole bunch of them already actually.  But these days, there’s a lot of movement.  Occasionally to places where there aren’t so many ladies.  I generally find myself missing the banter, the pop culture distillation, the cocktails and the support system.  They can be hard to come by when I’m out in the middle of nowhere.

My antidote to the potential run of the lonelies has always been podcasts.  Because I am obsessed with this generation’s radio and will devour content like the Stay Puft Marshamallow Man.  These are my favourite lady podcasts. They all feature a pair of ladies and a ton of banter. They substitute for those times I’ve been without any sort of network connection, stuck indoors because of the monsoon, or just even to keep in touch with the sphere of everything when I’m getting ready in the AM.  Enjoy!

A-Few-Things-and-Call-Your-GirlfriendThese ladies and their repartee are on opposite sides of the spectrum.  A Few Things with Claire and Erica is your the sister that knows stuff.  Because Claire Mazur and Erica Cerulo founded and run Of A Kind (totally aspirational for us), of course they know stuff.  And they want to tell you about their Top 5, whether it’s cleaning products of photography apps, dental hygiene or their new favourite flat.  Because they just know.  Trust.   Then there’s Call Your Girlfriend; otherwise known as your hip, witty, middle sister.  And they are three: Gina Delvac, Ann Friendman and Aminatou Sow do all the cool things at opposite ends of the US.  When you are craving the update on all thing, or want to simulate the convo that would distill among friends over wine, this is what you should have in your stock.


2000x1783srI also dig ladies who can make me laugh. Because let’s face it, I’m occasionally too (insert: jetlagged, stuck in traffic while deathly fearing tardiness, struggling with a poorly lit situation and hangry, etc) to do it.  Alex and Danielle over at SRSLY already had me giggling way back when their UCB-trained selves popped up onto the Youtube.  Now they’re talking classics films and funny ladies that helped shape their humor on Funny Lady Film Club.

Chewing-the-Fat-and-Radio-Cherry-BombeLadies who cook.  Also important.  Because the sphere of the art of eating, cooking and talking about it remains heavy from the male gaze, I love that ladies like food journos Louisa Chu and Monica Eng are pivoting the discourse on Chewing the Fat.  Ditto goes to the cookbook author Julia Turshen (who happens to be married to After the Jump’s Grace Bonney) and her foray into the world of talk with Radio Cherry Bombe.