a couple of things…

the big sleep is over

So the blogging bug came back after a winter of discontent*.  The creative gears are twitching again.  Mixtapes to make, photos to shoot on the new cammy cam, lots of recipes to share, a new job to finance some new outfits and a lotta fresh vibes coming from hot and sunny Cambodia.  This time, a little more sporadically, a little less regular and a whole lotta love. xoxo, t

And to kick it off again…

I love this mix right now.  I can’t work without it.  Love the golden era beats and guitar licks, the francophone inflections, and Cambo retro pop starlet Ros Sereysothea pops up too!  Listen, rinse, repeat. And very safe for the workplace.

And I can’t wait to see this.  Hello Ryan Gosling, Bangkok underworld, Kristen Scott Thomas (as Ryan Gosling’s mom?!?!), and a wicked scary title.  If you enjoyed Drive…this one’s takes it to the next level.

PS – I know you’re wondering about that song in the trailer. Eerie when it’s set against that trailer, eh?  Listen to it in its entirety here where it sounds a hella more Thai poppy.

* Discontent is totally the wrong word to use.  Probably a winter of being all over the place is the better word.  I was literally….all over the place.

Photo: Source unknown, via sorakeem


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lazy sunday…hip(ster) vids!

Original Photos: Left by Jonathan Levitt, Right one by Ana Kraš.

What can I say? I’m a sucker for good food and beverages, soft lighting, minimalist fashion, cheeky humour and passionate people.  Some would call that condescending and pretentious, others would call it hipster.  I think it’s cool when people and artisans are just so committed to a craft and I reckon that Anthony Bourdain would appreciate it despite the contention that surrounds the term ‘hipster’.  So on this slow Sunday, I thought I’d share some cool videos from the hipster-sphere on great food and drink, and a hilarious and way-too-true-to-life video coming from expats in Hanoi, Vietnam.  I just love these snapshots of a sub-culture.  Happy slow Sunday!

American Hipster – My jaw dropped in delight when I first saw this post about American Hipster on Refinery 29.  This wholly original series from Seedwell Productions presents portraits of American (they should really include Canadians!) trendsetters.  This American Hipster film series will spotlight 10 American cities and profile trendsetters in the areas of art, food, style, music and the social scene with 5 short episodes per city.  And new episodes every Monday!  Check out this first video on mixology culture and the Bon Vivants in San Francisco!


Young Turks – Oh London! How I miss you! And knowing about the Young Turks just makes it even worse.  This collective of young chefs organises pop-up eating events in and around the city with a focus on locavore eating.  They even produced a big eating event at Frank’s Cafe & Campari Bar (I love this place in the summatime) and captured it all on video. So of course I had to watch and it just made my heart swoon.


Roost – Oh golly.  Foodporn!  This beautiful site from Coco in Birmingham, Alabama is just so incredibly sumptuous and delectable.  The photos are stunny and gorgeous and the recipes are incredibly healthy as they’re all gluten, grain, sugar, starch and lactose-free to accommodate those affected by Crohn’s Disease.  So I stumbled upon this video on the making of perfect Almond and Yogurt Waffles with Orange Honey Syrup, and it was so pleasing and lovely, I just had to post. Who doesn’t love beautiful weekend waffles?

Saturday Waffles from Coco|Roost on Vimeo.

Sh*t Expats in Hanoi Say – So on a grinding Friday morning, my friend Erin sent this over to me and I immediately lit up and couldn’t stop laughing.  While Hanoi isn’t necessarily Phnom Penh – I can definitely say, the experiences are pretty similar.  We’ve all said those same phrases.


Lola Versus – From the makers of 500 Days (of Summer) comes Lola Versus (US/Can June 8).  I just can’t wait for this movie.  Perfect hip(ster) girlie sorta-rom, but still-com with a great soundtrack (judging from the trailer) and the fun of Greta Gerwig.  Finally – a girlie movie I can’t wait to see!

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dance movie love…

All Photos by First Position, via Sundance Selects

For the lovers and artists of dance in my life – this is totally for you.  Centre Stage, eat your cheesy heart out.

First Position (US/Can – May 4) directed by Bess Kargman  has been making very lasting impressions at film festivals all over including premiering at TIFF this past September where it quickly won over the audiences.  And I now understand why after watching these trailers (below).  This stunning documentary follows the lives of 6 incredibly young and utterly talented ballet dancers – ranging from the tender ages of 9 to 17 years to the ultimate global ballet competition (to the world’s best ballet schools) at the Young America Grand Prix.  The stories sound moving and true to the best documentaries capturing artists who devote their entire lives to an art form.  I can’t wait!

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tdot love…take this waltz

Photo by Mongrel Media for Take this Waltz.

This lovely film was at TIFF this past year and while it was on my must-see list, I knew tickets were going to be harder to get than The Descendants.

Pour quoi pas?  Well, it’s all about love and pride for the city.  Torontonians are known for their self-love (which the rest of Canada seems to hate), and it’s this pride that might actually trump George Clooney.

Sarah Polley totally knows how to show off that love and pride for our shared hometown of Toronto in her new film Take This Waltz (US June 29).  Yes – there’s Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman….but check out this trailer and it is truly an ode to my favourite city and the neighbourhoods I practically spent my formative years in.  Clafouti! The Annex! Book City! The Ex! Trinity Bellwoods! Hipster heaven. Sigh –  stuff like this makes me miss home! My heart will always lie in The Big Smoke.  Check out the trailer for Take This Waltz, below!


Oh and isn’t that song amazing?  It’s Parachutes by Jenn Grant!

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thinking, seeing, helping – with the heart and the brain

Photo by unknown, via A Well Traveled Woman

Documentaries and film dramas no doubt have the ability to pull on the heartstrings, to motivate action, to inspire careers. I still credit my viewing of The Killing Fields, when I was about 9 years old, as the catalyst to engaging in a career of health and development in Cambodia.

But not all works of film are alike.  We now live in the age of social media.  Projects no longer only seek to “tell a story” and let the viewer reconcile their own mind and feelings to chart their own courses of action or inaction on a particular disease, conflict, or ongoing saga that may or may not be true.  These days, it’s all about an agenda that is being pushed.  There is a growing population of online minds to be shaped and actions to be motivated.  The rise of social marketing wishes for us – the viewers, the masses – to think a certain way and be pushed into action in a that a stakeholder wants you to do it; usually via the donation of funds or joining an effort to advocate for change; though what often happens is armchair activism, or slacktivism as some call it.

These efforts have been most effective when we already are aware a problem exists.  The fight for improving the US health care system has an obvious face that we know – either in the mirror or those close to us (I’m Canadian – so having friends who do not have access to health insurance because of the current economic recession is important to me), efforts to make gay marriage a legal reality around the world, and of course, the Occupy movement. But for crises and issues that we might not be aware of – well – that’s another story.

I mention all of this because the webosphere has been all a twitter about a certain viral video called Kony2012 and an organisation called Invisible Children Inc.  As of the writing of this post, it has had 43,354,020 viewings on YouTube and a plethora of celebrities from Oprah to Justin Bieber tweeting about it since its launch on March 5.  This collective of efforts are seeking to raise awareness of the crimes of Ugandan war criminal, Joseph Kony, with Invisible Children seeking to “save” Uganda by lobbying for a US military effort.  My first reaction was confusion.  Hadn’t we already gone through this before?  Hadn’t the problems subsided, Joseph Kony was rotting away somewhere in central Africa like how Bin Laden was hidden away with sickness in the valleys of Afghanistan/Pakistan?  Weren’t other development issues – like violence against homosexuals in Uganda, the reduction of mortality of children under 5 years of age, or poverty reduction, the new primary goals of Uganda’s development strategy?

So when all of this hubbub showed up on my Facebook newsfeed this past week, my first reaction was to see what my best friend, Andrea, was posting about it.  Not only being an amazing girlfriend and one of my closest friends despite the miles between us, Andrea is my most trusted source of information on Northern Uganda-related development activities.  She has been involved with development activities in Uganda since our days at the University of Toronto.  It began with her tireless work, starting in 2005 with the organisations GuluWalk and its parent, Athletes for Africa.  These grassroots organisations sought to raise awareness and money to resolve an issue that was ACTUALLY occurring on the ground from 2005 – the rehabilitation and assistance to child soldiers who had previously been kidnapped and recruited by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to fight in the oft-unknown Ugandan civil war in the north of the country.  But Andrea’s career has not been limited to this one specific issue.  Just as LRA activity has slowed to a trickle in Uganda and the Northern Uganda region now focuses on rebirth and reconstruction, Andrea’s career has also evolved and she now works on broader community development issues.  So when Andrea started to post links for voices that were critical of the Kony2012/Invisible Children movement, my eyes and ears perked.  Amid all of the Facebook Newsfeed items that were pro-Invisible Children were Andrea’s early and very informative links that deconstructed these efforts.

I won’t go more into the specifics of the Kony2012/Invisible Children debate.  But what I wanted to emphasize from this week’s events in this post was the important of evidence and knowledge.  There are a great many problems affecting the world’s most vulnerable.  At the same time, there are so many voices and actors who are engaged in this thing called “international development.”  So many efforts are being launched.  Many using the heart – but not so many involving a cooperative and supportive brain.  Some of them are truly good, sustainable and create positive change.  Others have ugly and unintended consequences.  The virality and deadly consequences of the MMR vaccine debate, with Jenny McArthy and Jim Carrey as its faces, comes to mind.  And some don’t really do anything.  As taxpayers which fund development efforts, as members of a global society, or even as practitioners of development activities and decision-makers, I believe it is necessary to look beyond what a viral sensation may deem to be real and to ask for the evidence.  In my experiences working in the field of health and development, I’ve found it necessary to stay hungry, as the great Steve Jobs said.  To delve deeper into the problem.  To ask for other sources of information and to look behind the voice and into who is really speaking.  The words and the images may tug at your heart – but what does your brain say?

If you are interested in learning more about the Kony2012/Invisible Children debate, check out this article from The AtlanticThis site also provides a very comprehensive digest of the voices who have been debating about the subject too. The drinking game is especially creative.  And if you wish to watch a truly heart-wrenching, visually stunning, but also informative documentary about the harm done by the Lord’s Resistance Army – I would check out War/Dance, 2008 nominee for the Academy Award for Best Documentary.

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the collegiate life still beckons…

Photo by Sony Classics

Perhaps it’s coming to grips with adulthood which has me fondly reminiscing about the collegiate life.  Or it could just be that really great books and films are being made about what’s supposedly the best years of our lives.  Either way – I’m really looking forward to the release of Damsels in Distress (April 6 USA/Aprll 27 UK).  Set on yet another east coast university campus, Damsels in Distress explores the trials and tribulations affecting our young protagonists, the first female students to be accepted onto the all-male campus since forever.  Sounds conventional, but it’s the cast and director who I think will make it especially filled with whimsy and ironic delight.  Directed by Whit Stillman, the visionary of The Last Days of Disco, and starring ingénues Greta Gerwig and Analeigh Tipton among others, I really think this will be great light fare for the spring!  Check out the trailer!

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silent films….really aren’t so bad!

Photo by Peter Iovino/The Weinstein Company

They’re actually kind of amazing!  Have you seen The Artist?  The past few months, I’ve been thinking “I do not have the attention span to sit through a silent film.”  Boy – was I wrong.  Somehow, that little guy, Oscar, convinced me; so I went out and got a copy of The Artist at one of our local Phnom Penh DVD shops.  I finished it last night and totally agree – it did deserve the Academy Award for Best Film.  Perhaps it may even push film-making to new styles and boundaries, contrary to other reviewers who believe it merely recreated the past.  Moreover, Michael Hazavanicius and actors Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo have brought back the art of expression in film – using all of the body and the face!  It will be great to see how the filmosphere harnesses its actors in that way in the future.  Plus I’m kinda hooked on the styles of the 1920s and 30s now.  Gotta figure how to recreate those looks here.  Oh and Best Actor Jean Dujardin!  My francophilia is so back in action.  Gotta love that guy, Oscar.