Tribe Vibe's Pop Culture Monthly Roundup

Movies, Books, Magazines, Podcasts and more! The three of us at Tribe Vibe spend a lot of time discussing over coffee what is making us happy on the pop culture scene. Here are a few things that entertained us in September.



Instagram, Facebook, Twitter…

Social media exploded in the final days of September with images in support of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Blasey Ford has revealed her account of the sexual assault done to her by Brett Kavanaugh, Supreme Court judge nominee. Support for her bravery in coming forward was lighting up on all social media platforms. One word, HERO.

Film

RBG Film. Inspirational movie about Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Is there anyone cooler than Ruth Bader Ginsburg right now? Seriously, at 80+ years old she is a total legend. Her new film, RBG, showcases her life from a young girl, through law school, marriage, motherhood, career, illness and Judge on the American Supreme Court. This is a must see film for anyone, but especially for young girls envisioning themselves as change makers of the present and future. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a boss. And if a book and film weren’t enough, she even has super cool merch available.


Book

Andre Agassi's boook, Open

Ok, so this book is not exactly current pop culture material but what can I say, I’m very late to the party on this one-like twenty years late. But hear me out, even twenty years later, it is really, really good. The book is filled with blasts from the past of high profile names of sports stars and celebs, the unforgettable fashion sense of the time (think mullet and lots of neon), as well as memorable big brand campaigns of the time (Canon Rebel). There is a dark side to the book as well. Aggasi’s complicated relationship with his father, his loneliness as an adolescent at tennis school, an unhappy marriage to Brooke Shields, and a short reckless period with drugs and alcohol. As the book comes closer to its final chapter you will find yourself rooting for Andre Aggasi on the court as well as in life. Definitely worth a read.


Podcast

Sandra. Current Podcast.

This is a podcast mini series on the voice behind the A.I. technology, Sandra (think equivalent to Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa.) When “Sandra” builds a friendship with one of her clients the story takes a very dark twisted turn. It’s definitely not an anticipated ending.


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A Movie Suggestion for Moms. Watch Mum's List (and have your tissues ready.)

The real Kate Greene of Mum's List

The real Kate Greene of Mum's List

When traveling on a plane, what is the first thing you look for when boarding? For myself, and my three children, the first thing we do, before even finding our seats, is to check the seat backs to see if there is an entertainment system. If there is, we all breath a giant sigh of relief. Then, immediately after finding our seats, we frantically scroll through the movie/tv list to see what is being offered, mentally preparing our movie viewing list for the flight.  Life is good, or at least as good as being cramped on a plane can be (especially on an Emirates plane because their entertainment system usually feels like an onboard, mini-iTunes.) 

This past week while flying, I went through the same scenario as above. I scrolled through the movie list and found one I had not heard of - Mum's List.  The description explained it as a true story of a mom who had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. At this point, some of you might be saying "no, don't do it. Don't hit that play button." But I am usually a tiny bit steel-hearted when it comes to watching tear-jerker movies so I thought "sure, no big deal, I'll give this a try." I don't know if it was the fact that it was the end of the school year and I was exhausted or the fact that I was feeling extremely grateful to be with my three children and my fabulous (most of the time) husband heading out on a family trip of a lifetime, but.. wow.  The mantra, we hear over and over again, but never really seem to pay attention to, about being grateful for every moment, will hit you like a ton of bricks. I had tears rolling down my cheeks from the opening scene. Did I mention it was a True Story! Mum's List is my summer movie suggestion for moms (or anyone for that matter.) It will make you think about family, women fighting the battle with cancer, young love, old love, family love, tenderness, kindness, friendship, and grief that comes with all of this. Check out Mum's List. Just make sure to have the tissues handy.


Something to do on a Hot Summer Dubai Day. Etihad Museum is Worth a Visit

Are you looking for something to do to during these scorching summer Dubai days? Instead of wilting in the heat or being lazy at home, we decided to give Etihad Museum a visit. When I say "we," I really mean "me." My children would have been happy staying perched on the couch texting and watching YouTube clips but a parent can only stand to watch that happening for so long. So after a few eye rolls, we were in the car and headed to Jumeirah for some cultural enrichment.

The museum is set up to give the public a better understanding of the history of the formation of the UAE, particularly between the years of 1968 and 1974. Its location in Jumeirah is noteworthy as it is the same site as the original Union House, the place where the first constitution was signed in 1971, establishing the UAE's independence. At that moment, the UAE became the first federation of the Arab world.

The sleek modern design of the building, with its symbolic curved white roof, was intended to represent the folded constitution. It is held up by seven columns which represent the seven pens used by the founding rulers to sign the original agreement. I have only seen the exterior by day, which was very pretty, but, like most buildings in Dubai, it comes to life at night. (Another mission during these hot summer days is to go back at night and take a sparkly photo.)

For me, the interior of the museum was more impressive than the exterior. Big open spaces, sweeping staircases, soft lines, and beautiful lighting make the museum stand up to the standard we have come to expect with most buildings in the city. It really was impressive walking in, and we hadn't even gotten to a single exhibit yet.

The museum's main focus is honouring the country's founding rulers and the formation of the UAE as we know it today. There are also exhibits explaining the beginning of the postal service in the UAE, a photography exhibit, a passport exhibit, etc.... What really interested my kids was the short movie on the founding rulers (shown in a beautiful small theatre) and the modern interactive displays. If there is a screen, swiping, dragging, or pointing involved, then you will have their attention. Etihad museum checked those boxes for them.

Don't expect this to be a full day outing. You can easily get through it in less than two hours (which was perfect for us.) The price is quite low at 25AED per adult and 10AED for each child (tip- you need to pay in cash.) If you happen to get hungry, there is a very nice restaurant on the top floor surrounded by natural light. Of course, underground parking is free and plentiful from what I saw. The surrounding grounds seem like they will be a place to relax in the cooler months but with the current weather situation, enjoying the outside is not what we were interested in. All in all, Etihad museum is worth a visit, especially on a hot summer Dubai day!


Unplugged!

On Saturday night, my husband and I brought our two boys to the airport. A suitcase each in hand, off they went on their adventure: ten days with their grandparents and a full week at a local camp in Switzerland. Fresh mountain air, stunning scenery, outdoor play, hikes, fishing, fresh berries, cherries and lots of chocolate awaits them! 

One thing they didn't pack is their phone nor iPad. When mentioning this to friends I get a puzzled look - "you are punishing them on holiday?" Quite the contrary - I am giving them a break - a well deserved break from all the information and from being constantly connected!

I strongly feel that they need some time to themselves. Time to let the noise, stimulus and information subside. 

The aim is for them to simply be - truly engage in face-to-face conversations, make personal connections with old and new friends and family. Think about it - how do you unwind? Reading a book? Taking an early morning yoga class? Going for a walk? Enjoying a nice meal with a friend? Flicking through Facebook or Instagram? Watching TV? The virtual world is always there, tempting you to learn more, see more, know more. I know how difficult it is to unplug and that's the reason I hope my kids take advantage to connect with the real world and allow their minds to wonder using their imagination - just for a couple of weeks, at least! 


Don't Forget to Pack this Photo App!

What’s a holiday without some good photos? With summer around the corner; it’s a good time to download a good app that will make these cherished moments look even better.

To be honest; we are spoiled for choices. But after numerous downloads; I have to say my favorite would be, queue drumrolls:  Snapseed from Google app.

snapseed photo editing

Not to say that other free apps like Instagram, VSCO or TouchRetouch aren’t great photo editing apps but I guess it just comes down to that personal level of control and user interface that you are most comfortable with.

Aside from having an impressive range of editing options and filters, which I will leave for you to discover; Snapseed stands out for me for these reasons:

1.  The tools are multi-dimensional; every tool has settings that give you control over the level of enhancement you want to apply.

You can use any tool, let’s say the color and light tuning, in a straightforward manner but then you can also adjust the sharpness, brightness or contrast in a specific area of the photo with different intensities. If you want to blur your photo; it will give you control over the blur intensity, center, transition…etc.

This is done through gesture based editing. For some tools like the brightness and contrast; you will swipe horizontally to increase/ decrease intensity; with other like blurring you will need to pinch in and out. This might be annoying for some at first but then becomes real fun. This photo app shows changes in real time and so you get to play around until the photo looks just right.

 If you’re not fussed or tight on time; you can always use quick edits. Use the magic wand that will automatically adjust all the brightness, contrast, saturation ..etc for your photo.

Now think of this when using filters, most photo editing apps like instagram offer great filters but may give your pics that over-stylized look. With Snapseed filters, you control the attributes like the filter strength, saturation , grain , noise..etc depending on the filter type.

I found that this high level of control over your photo editing tools and filter gives you endless possibilities.

2.      User Interface

Within the app, you can select an image already on your phone. At the bottom of the screen, insights will call up a number of tutorials you can watch.

Once the photo is open; the pencil sign bottom-right corner calls up the great Snapseed grid of editing tools and filters. When you pick a tool or filter, there's a control panel at the bottom of the screen where you can adjust the tools and save or discard your edits.

So far so good.  However, unique to Snapseed is the edits feature at the top which allow you to undo, redo, revert the file or apply last edits.

This will actually show you the steps you’ve done once you save the photo, pretty cool.

 If you’re a Photoshop or Adobe family user, you will feel very familiar with these. 

In addition, Snapseed has double exposure and face enhancements tools. With the face enhancement, you can not only play around with the skin smoothness and such but also change smile, pupil size or tilt the head in a different directions. Try it!

In conclusion, I think Snapseed is a great app for all but is best suited for those who like to control the level of polish to their photos. It might come off as overwhelming at first, but I think the time you put in will be worth it

Snapseed is for  (iOS|Android) and is completely free.


Summer TV binge List

Summer tv binge suggestions

As everyone gets their summer book list together, I fine tune a different, slightly less cerebral list. It's my summer tv binge list. I am not a traditional, loyal, week to week watcher. I'm more of a modern day binger when it comes to entertainment. SO summer is my time to plough through my backlog of shows begging to be watched. As I get ready to spend countless hours waiting in airports, long plane rides, and sleepless nights due to jet lag, one song keeps playing through my head, "Hello Netflix my old friend, I've come to watch with you again." It's time to get my pop culture entertainment vibe on. Here are the shows I am counting on to satisfy my TV appetite. Honestly, I know I won't get through even half, but one can dream :-) And please, if you have any "must watch" suggestions let me know. This in no way is a finite list ;-)

*all series images taken from IMDb website*.

Our summer ritual with the boys usually consists of being outside all day and then, after dinner, curling up on the couch for some screen time together. The chosen show has to meet the needs of a 10, 12, and 14 year old and not be too painful for the parents to sit through. This is a tough criterion to fill. We rarely find one that works for everyone so usually my youngest is watching something I never, in a million years, would have allowed my oldest to watch at the same age. What can I say, consistency is not my thing when it comes to entertainment upbringing. Here you have it, my tiny list of preteen/teen series we will pick from to watch.

I am also an avid podcast listener. Between the multiple daily school runs and my twice daily walks with Enzo, I probably average about two podcasts per day. With some long car rides ahead of me this summer I'm going to need my podcast list to be fully downloaded and ready to play. Here's what will be taking up room on my iphone.

Summer is almost here to induldge in some of the things we don't get time to do all year. Enjoy!


Sharing Fridges

In the spirit of sharing and caring for those in need, a brilliant initiative has been set up in Dubai to ensure the city’s laborers have access to food and drink to break their fast this Ramadan. A few years ago, it started out by a lady called Sumayyah Sayed, a young Australian mother of two, who stocked one fridge with water and snacks for Iftar. This grew rapidly to a Facebook group with more than 24,000 members all over the United Arab Emirates, 70 fridges already open and more popping up every day! 

By putting fridges in communities, outside homes in garages, a sense of community is created, some hungry bellies are filled and a few eyes opened. Families have been donating everything from fruit (fresh or dried) to juices, water, laban or biscuits, with fridges often powered by electricity from their own homes. Walking around the neighborhood to get some pictures for this post, I realized how little interaction I have had with the people who keep our community so beautiful. A gesture that seems so small to us can make a huge difference in the life of someone else.

Simple signs in different languages invite gardeners, security staff, construction workers and other hungry men whom work outdoors in temperatures exceeding 40 degrees and are unable to go home for Iftar due to work commitments, to take some food or a drink. 

This year it’s even more structured thanks to bigger organizations such as Emirates Red Crescent and Open Arms UAE getting involved.

Have you heard of this initiative? Would you like to participate? Here is what you can do: 

Donate:     Check out the map for locations of the fridges.

Ramadan Fridges

 

When shopping, add extra drinks, pieces of fruit or packets of arabic bread to your cart. It’s a fantastic way to get the whole family involved. Last year my younger son encouraged us as a family to drive by the fridge in our community numerous times a week to stock it up with fresh fruit and laban. He never forgot, not a single time! The success of the initiative relies so much on individual donations. 

Create:     Start your own Ramadan fridge! Contact the admin on the Facebook page to get your location listed and start stocking up! 

Sponsor:     Do you work for a company that could help out with suitable products? Contact the admin on the Facebook page to get involved.

Beyond feeding people, this initiative hopes to promote a sense of community and bring us all closer together, and that’s really what Ramadan is all about. Giving to others gives us pleasure. It makes us happier people which in turn leads us to give more which makes us even happier and ... well, you get the picture. 

Now, it makes me wonder....why not extend this through the entire year? Would the fridges be full at the beginning and end of each day ? What do you think? 

Ramadan Kareem 🌙

#startwithsomething


So, Have you decided?

Earlier this month, all parents at my kids Uptown School were invited to participate in a career fair.The purpose of the event was to introduce students to their career fields of interest by meeting with career professionals from those chosen fields.

Seeing this as an opportunity to interact with students without receiving deadly “you’re embarrassing me” stares of from my own kids; I signed up.

The speakers and grade 9-11 students first attended a short general briefing then took part in informal group presentations they chose. 

Assembly before presentations

Assembly before presentations

It was a great event; there was a big turnout of parents with different career backgrounds; from medicine to aviation to zoology.  Students listened, watched and asked questions.  The smaller class group presentations allowed for a relaxed interactive setting. One could tell that some had a clearer direction of where they were headed. I have to say I felt the big burden of those who didn’t.

And so, from gathering student feedback collected, talking to the school counselor and some parents, it dawned on me the big amount of pressure some students must be feeling to make that “right choice”.

The fun and creative classroom I was assigned for the presentation ( right ) 

The fun and creative classroom I was assigned for the presentation ( right ) 

some of the collected feedback

some of the collected feedback

Snippets from what students liked about fair

Snippets from what students liked about fair

This is not to say that the parents themselves had not undergone similar pressure back then;  but it’s considerably different I think.

I mean, think about it.  Since their early years, students now undergo not only regular school tests; but other International standard tests; IBT, ISA, PISA.. etc. They are great tools that tell you where you stand amongst your school, regional and International peers. And then some more tests like CAT;  the Cognitive Abilities Test which defines the learning methods you are more receptive to and even what grades you are likely achieving now and “ if challenged”.

Add to that, almost every school has a higher education counselor, holds college/career fairs, brings in professional and motivational speakers ..etc;  the list goes on.

Some parents feel this is not enough and take it a step further; scatter college applications around the house;  “drop by” colleges while on family holidays; all unplanned, of course.  

Oh look! What a nice looking college.  let’s see that they have inside, shall we?

We don’t retweet much but when Bill Gates lately tweeted advice to college grads; good parents pass it on, I just did. 

So have you decided

 

I’ll be honest here; on career day I did set out with the “How lucky are they?” state of mind before I even got to school.

And yes I DO still see the advantages, privileges and open access to the great resources they have at hand.  But I also see that by offering them these; most parents expect them to be more decisive, much sooner than later.

We should all remember that even if ten career tests tell  you will be brilliant in the medical field; if there’s no fire in your belly for it; you’re not going there.  Ken Robinson talked about  "the element" as not only the natural aptitude to do things well but to have the desire and passion to do them well. 

And so what I'm saying is; in this overwhelming age;  remind them that they are not heading for doom or failure if they still don't know.  Finding that passion and drive will take more than a few tests and for some, a little or a lot more time. People are allowed to change their mind in college or work…. repeatedly.


Kick off your shoes!

Kick Off Your Shoes

It is easy to feel irritated, stressed and maybe even a little lost in this fast paced modern world. One of the quickest and easiest ways to re-connect and feel grounded again is to find our way back to nature. When people speak about Dubai, one thinks of tall, magnificent skyscrapers, luxury malls and state of the art restaurants, not natural beauty. 

 

Re-connecting with the natural rhythm of the flora and fauna has an instant calming effect.  Have you ever heard of Grounding or Earthing? The theory suggests that our bodies are meant to come into direct contact with the Earth on a regular basis, which is the “grounding” force. Humans, throughout history spent time outdoors, walking, hunting and gardening. Nowadays, we live in houses, wear plastic shoes and are exposed to Wi-Fi / mobile phone waves and Electromagnetic waves. Our bodies build up a high amount of positive electrons which can be balanced out by walking barefoot in direct contact with the ground. 

So kick off your shoes, walk on the sand, in dirt, mud or puddles. Do you remember how it felt the last time you strolled in the park without your shoes? Do you remember feeling happy and at peace? Do you recall sleeping well at night? The Earth naturally maintains a negative electrical potential on its surface and when our bodies have a good supply of electrons, our immune system functions at its best. 

Take some time to seek out the five basic elements which form the foundation of all things: 

Earth is found everywhere, even in Dubai! Walk alongside the beach, in the sand in the desert or on the grass in one of Dubai’s parks.

Volunteer your time at EMEG (Emirates Marine Environmental Group) which focuses on marine and terrestrial environmental issues. Plant and clean mangroves, participate in a beach clean up or watch tiny baby turtles being released into the ocean. 

Fly a kite at Kite beach or dive into the crystal clear water for a swim. 

Kick Off Your Shoes

Walk your dog barefoot around the Al Qudra lakes, home to desert foxes, gazelles, the oryx and over 170 bird species. Some of these native birds are on the endangered or vulnerable list such as the Steppe Eagle and the Asian Houbara.  

Grounding or Earthing is highly beneficial while being completely safe - its literally a walk in the park! 


Jigsaw

So this weekend everyone was speaking about Justin Bieber who returned to Dubai on Saturday night at Dubai’s Autism Rocks Arena four years after his last performance in the Middle East. Just behind the Arena you will find Dubai’s latest large-format artwork - a massive jigsaw puzzle mural made up of 63 custom-painted shipping containers! Dubai is renowned for giant structures : Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world and the city boasting the four tallest hotels. 

Australian artist Guido van Helten, who decided to challenge himself with this unusual project said “ shipping containers are very interesting objects now. They’re all around the world, they are transient and they move. They have a life of their own. Who knows where they’ve been before and how they’ve ended up here?” He unveiled his masterwork, a 135m long and 12 m high reconfigurable mural, which took 18 days to create and 500 liters of paint! 

Watch the mural come together in the video below: 

 

When the colossal pieces are put together, the disposition forms a monochrome pair of solemn-looking eyes; quite an interesting canvas and yet another record-breaking image for Dubai!

Jigsaw

A Taste of DIFF all Year Round in Dubai

Vox cinema, Mall of the Emirates

Vox cinema, Mall of the Emirates

Dubai International film lovers are in luck. A small theatre in the Vox cinema chain, Mall of Emirates, is dedicated to showing DIFF (Dubai International Film Festival) films all year round. The show times are often, starting as early as 10am and running throughout the day. As a huge film lover, this was very exciting to learn about! The early morning showtime was the perfect opportunity for some girlfriends and I to meet to watch a film we probably wouldn't go out with our families to see. The film I had chosen for us was a British film, I, Daniel Blake. I had read rave reviews about the film and the icing on the cake was that it was the winner of the Palme D'Or award at the Cannes Film festival.

I, Daniel Blake

I, Daniel Blake

Daniel Blake is British construction worker who has suffered a serious illness and is trying to receive state aid/welfare. In the process he befriends a single mother who is also struggling to make the social system work for her. Lets just say the movie successfully tugs hard at the heart strings. It is beautifully written and acted and will have you reflecting on what is "fair and unfair" in many social systems around the globe. Don't leave home without your Kleenex, you will need it! I, Daniel Blake is definitely worth two hours of your time.


Miniatures Come to Dubai

What is your vision of Dubai? Expensive flashy cars? Shopping mall after shopping mall of extravagant items? Vast deserts speckled with camels? Architecture that keeps challenging itself to be the next latest and greatest? Tourists, tourists, and more tourists? Kandoras and abayas? While Dubai can be all of that, there is something the city  also has. A smart sense of humour about itself. While walking around City Walk early one morning, I was so happy to see Dubai’s sense of humour showing for all to see. There, near the Roxy theatre, on an outside wall was a series of “miniatures” based on the stereotypical culture and lifestyle of our city. UK artist Slinkachu has installed a series of large scale, clever photographs, that depict different Dubai settings. He combines life size elements with miniature elements to poke  whimsical fun at some common Dubai situations. . I challenge anyone passing by the exhibition  to leave without a smile on your face. Well done again Dubai for being able to see the humour in things. I loved it.


Let Me Entertain You.

So this wasn’t my typical spring break. No hotel bookings to be made, no tours to be booked and not one Trip Advisor review read. Yup, I was going home to Jordan.

And no, it was not my first time to go there but it was different for a number of reasons.

For the most part, I was going there to spend time with my parents. Being an expat like many in Dubai, I try to make up for the missed times whenever I can.  

And so as beautiful as some places are; I have no plans nor the time to visit Petra, the Dead Sea or even downtown Amman.

Let Me Entertain You.

I’m also going sans Hubby with my three children.

Typically, my kids would be scattered around at my in laws and cousins homes and we would only meet to deliver clean socks or a missing shoe.  

Not this time; In laws are away in Turkey and all Jordanian cousins haven’t started their spring break.

Queue the panic.

How will the ten school and entertainment free days pass with minimum casualties?

For starters, and to their delight, I insisted they pack the PS4 and all available electronic devices. These were used on most days. But that’s not all they did.

My children played outside, climbed trees and were thrilled I let them walk up and down the streets unattended. They connected with their toddler cousins; uncles and aunts. Sure, they fought ...a lot . But I left them to it. Watching them throughout their uneventful holiday, I saw images from my own childhood. Memories from the holidays we lazed through without expecting much, yet making the most of.

I learnt something about my children and something about myself as a parent. Maybe it should have been obvious; but with all today’s hype and pressure about how to impress and entertain a child; we forget that they really are not that different.

Children are creative and resourceful, if given some free time and space; they should be able to entertain themselves. They should not be expected to complain about how bored they are if you don’t spend your time and fortune organizing their outings.

Let us not make them believe that it is our duty to entertain them. Always.

Maybe sometimes it is we who feel the pressure to impress and wow them every time? The need to get that instagram or snapchat worthy shot. The need to feel we are giving and loving parents.

I was skeptic until the last minute on how things went.

On our way back from the airport, their dad asked them how the holidays went ..After a three hour late midnight flight they all answered with a tiered but honest:…it was GREAT !


Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies

HBO's Big Little Lies is a perfect guilty pleasure binge watch. A cast chalk full of hollywood faces brings to life Liane Moriarty's novel almost word for word. Unlike the book, which I found to be average, the mini series is fast paced and full of tv eye candy. The cast is beautiful, the homes are stunning, the location is dreamy, the wardrobes (right down to the bare essentials) are all things one would covet- total hollywood BS. But I loved sitting through every minute. Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, and Shailene Woodley tell the story of women fighting to live up to the standard of their self created perfect lives, while each desperately hiding their own secrets of abuse, insecurity, adultery and shame. Things quickly start to unravel in the small town with the final main event going down at the children's primary school fundraiser. Far Fetched? Maybe, maybe not. Big Little Lies is definitely worth a binge.