Cabazon Dinosaurs

February 2, 2014 · 1 comment

The drive from San Diego to Palm Springs takes you on the I-10, past the Cabazon Dinosaurs. Better known to some (like me) as the life-sized T-Rex and Brontosaurus from Tim Burton’s 1985 classic Pee-wee Herman’s Big Adventure.

I’ve passed them a few times, but it wasn’t until October last year that Mr. F and I decided to get up close and personal. Being the ham that I am, I directed and starred in a mini-movie. Can you guess what happens next?

Cabazon Dinosaurs from Lauren Vasil on Vimeo.

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I ♥ Charles Bradley

September 3, 2013 · 2 comments

Back in June, I had a very spiritual response to Charles Bradley‘s heart-breaking song, Why Is It So Hard? and was moved to tears. I watched this video half a dozen times in a row.  When I learned he was playing at the Belly Up (San Diego) in August I was astounded that tickets hadn’t yet sold out! I bought two tickets based on listening to this one song:

A couple of months later, the Mister and I were at the Belly Up and making our way towards the stage. By the time Charles Bradley came on, we were perhaps three ‘rows’ (it was standing room only) back. I’ve never been so excited about seeing a musician I admire perform. He didn’t disappoint — even though he didn’t sing Why Is It So Hard?

I watched this man — who I’ve dubbed the contemporary king of soul — scream and holler his pain through his music; and I listened as he patted his heart and told us all to love one another. To my delight, as he sang Lovin’ You Baby, he looked straight at Mister and me, holding each other as we swayed to the music, and blew us a kiss.

At the end of his encore, he made his way to the edge of the stage. Dozens of hands reached for him. I stuck mine out too, What the hell, he might shake it and that would be cool! I watched as he took others’ hands, but not mine, and made his way off the stage and into the crowd. And then he was coming towards me with a smile on his face. And then he was in front of me, holding out his arms. And suddenly I found myself hugging him back and saying Thank you, thank you, thank you in his ear. I released my embrace and watched him disappear into the crowd of adoring fans, far more fervent than I was. When I turned to Mister, he was visibly moved. He said, That was amazing. That wasn’t an accident. He wanted to hug you, he literally made a beeline for you.

I know, I responded. I know. I was surprised by how calm I felt. Around us the excited screams continued and I could imagine what it must have been like to be at a Beatles concert. He hugged me, not the couple with their framed wedding photo. He hugged me. Isn’t that weird?

Why do I ♥ Charles Bradley? Not just because he loves his audience in the most compassionate (not narcissistic) sense.  Not just because takes his suffering and turns it into something beautiful. His voice screams with the pain you can only know from having loved and lost.  Not just because something drew him to me.  Not just because at some level he knew I needed a hug.  But because, after finding musical success in his sixties, he is a powerful reminder to us all to not give up on our dreams. Because they sometimes do come true.

 

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Holding Pattern

March 30, 2013 · 3 comments

 

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Please take a pen and a sheet of paper. Go to the foot of a tree or to your writing desk, and make a list of all the things that can make you happy right now: the clouds in the sky, the flowers in the garden, the children playing, the fact that you have met the practice of mindfulness, your beloved ones sitting in the next room, your two eyes in good condition. The list is endless. You have enough already to be happy now. You have enough to no longer be agitated by fear or anger.

Thich Nhat Hahn

 

 

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I’m not someone who listens to commercial music, preferring to seek out musicians who have their own sound.  Here are ten female singers from around the world who don’t just sing beautifully, but use their voice expressively and/or as an instrument in its own right.

Spanish: Estrella Morente – Coquinas (live)

South African: Miriam Makeba – Amampondo

Native American: Ulali – Mother

Hawaiian: Rose Moe – Mai Kai No Kauai

Ethiopian: Aster Aweke – Tizita

[Listen Directly on YouTube]

American: Joanna Newsom – Colleen

Scottish: Cocteau Twins – Heaven or Las Vegas

New Zealander: Kimbra – Settle Down

French: Nouvelle Vague – Too Drunk to Fuck

American: Janelle Monáe – Violet Stars Happy Hunting!

Music can be so powerful, can’t it?  Who would you have added to this list?  I eagerly await your recommendations and suggestions!

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Best of 2012

December 31, 2012 · 4 comments

Only 24 hours to go until the New Year! (Well, for those of us in California, at least…)

I don’t know about you, but I’ll remember 2012 quite fondly.

It was the year I started doing Pilates and T’ai Chi Ch’uan — one of my new year’s resolutions was to find a form of exercise I love doing, and I found two!

I made new friends in San Diego and visited old ones in Portland and New York (shoutouts to Alex Zafiris, Sherry ParnesMomsicle, The Daily FrolicDr. Mind & Body, all of whom have shared beautiful, thoughtful, and hilarious posts this year).

I returned to school as a full-time student and maintained a GPA of 4.0 while working two part-time jobs.

I got to grips with Adobe CS6 and made digital artwork and websites I am proud of.

I discovered that even my black thumbs can turn green in California.

And I even learned how to make delicious jam without poisoning anyone!

Here’s a round-up of some of my favourite things from 2012 — enjoy!

Favourite Blog Posts

January ∴ Banjo & Lefty ∴ Dogs are from Pluto, Cats are from… ?
February ∴ Chino Farms ∴ A delicious trip to an organic farm in San Diego County.
March ∴ I Talk Funny ∴ So you like my accent? Thank you, I like yours ;)
April ∴ Recipe for Tortilla Española ∴ Sometimes the mountain must come to Mohammed…
May ∴ Fool Britannia ∴ Sometimes enjoy a little tongue-in-cheek high treason, don’t you?
June ∴ Now, Voyager ∴ A musical tribute to the mind-blowing Carl Sagan.
July ∴ How Does Your Garden Grow? ∴ Little plants all in a row.
August ∴ A Peck of Peppers ∴ What do I do with all these chillies?? (Hint: see September!)
September ∴ Habanero, Peach Basil Jam ∴ The first recipe in a fiery trilogy!
October ∴ Stopping to Smell the Roses ∴ Lessons from Paul Gauguin
November ∴ Soapboax ∴ In which I get quite political! I love freedom of speech :)
December ∴  Happy Birthday, Little Sister! ∴ I can’t believe she’s 21…

Bonus Video! ∴ Banjo & Lefty Animation ∴ More Shameless Anthropomorphisation…

Favourite Musicians

Here are some talented singer/songwriters I discovered this year.

Aaron Embry – Raven’s Song

WebsiteFacebook

Lianne La Havas – Au Cinema

WebsiteFacebook

Laura Mvula – She

WebsiteFacebook

I’m pretty happy where I’m at right now. I think my only New Year’s resolution is to keep doing what I’m doing, but do it even better. What are yours?

Happy New Year to you all!

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Weeks 51 & 52

December 28, 2012 · 0 comments

Do you know the difference between HTML, CSS, and JavaScript?  Not many people do, so I thought I’d share my analogy of a website being like a house, where each webpage a room.

The HTML is the architecture of the house — walls, floors, ceilings, pipes. On a webpage, this will be its layout and size of the header, sidebar, footer, and main content section.

The CSS is the interior design — floor tiles, carpet, lighting, furniture. CSS is what controls the fonts, colours, and spacing of the page.

JavaScript is the interactivity — taps, oven, alarm clock. JavaScript is responsible for things like rollover images and contact forms.

One of the classes I’ll be taking next semester is CSS.  Being primarily self-taught, I’m really looking forward to filling in the gaps in my knowledge and learning more about CSS3.

In the meantime, I’ve been exploring a collection of code experiments compiled by Hakim.se.  I think the Keylight is my favourite so far:

Also showing the power of CSS3 is this iPhone graphic.

How much is $100,000? This much!

A nice graphic showing How Animals See the World!

How to make a tiled pattern.

Enjoy!

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Today my little sister, Bubs, is 21.

Twenty-one!

It’s a funny thing, having a “little” (albeit now officially adult) sister — this is a person whose nappies I changed!  The relationship I have with Bubs the closest thing I’ve had to being a parent — and she’ll be the first to grumble that I’m like a third parent…

Truth be told, when I found out our mother was pregnant I was actually not happy at all.  I was 13 and starting to go through teenage angst: for the duration of my mum’s pregnancy, I vowed that I would put some sort of curse (where from, I had no idea) on her the first time I held her.

I’m glad to say that Bubs and I have often since laughed over this ridiculous curse idea.  Because when I met her, all those jealous feelings simply melted away.  I stepped into the hospital room where my mother and Bubs were sleeping. My mother, still sedated after the caesarian, outstretched her arm with a hospital bracelet on it and murmured She has my hands. I cautiously approached the crib and gingerly took this tiny bundle in my arms and looked down at this sleeping newborn… my sister.

Like all newborns, she was an odd-looking, scrawny little thing. But she also had a stitch in her scalp from where the surgeon had accidentally cut her; peeling skin and a nose dotted with whiteheads; and eyes crusty with conjunctivitis.  But she opened them and looked up at me and smiled. She was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen and I knew (as I had secretly hoped I would) that there was no way I could ever curse her. In that moment, she waved her tiny heart at me and I fell in sisterly love. She’s been my naughty little bird ever since.

Twenty-one years later, I’m proud to say my sister is one of the kindest people I’ve known.  Perhaps one of the most brilliant lessons she’s taught me is that food tastes better when it is shared: even if it means giving someone that last treasured bite, how much tastier it is to share in the simple experience of eating.  Now that we haven’t seen each other in two years, we share music instead — YouTube links posted to our Facebook walls, on which we Like, comment, and croon.  She is one of the few people who is consistently able to pick out music for her fussy big sister, so able is she to put herself in others’ shoes.

When she was eight, she piped up and asked me if it was difficult having divorced parents — technically, as we have different fathers, Bubs is my half-sister — and if I ever wished my parents had stayed together.  My answer was quick and easy: No, because then I wouldn’t have YOU!  That’s the simple truth. But oh, that sweet empathic curiosity from someone so young who has since blossomed into one of the most emotionally intelligent people I’ve ever met.

A couple of years ago, she travelled to Tanzania to work in an orphanage for children who either had lost parents to AIDS, were HIV positive, or both. When she returned, she shared stories of sickness and sorrow, and one about death, her big eyes tearing up.  But she tells stories about friendships made, and giant insects, and a little boy who she helped laugh for the first time, and riding a bicycle for miles and miles in a hot and foreign landscape — the discovery of a different beauty that still tugs at her to this day — and her face lights up and her eyes dance with mischief.

Her serious side is sentimental and heart-felt, expressed through drawings of her life and the people in it, alongside thoughts written in her round, bubble handwriting.  But she has this big, goofy side too — she’s quick to laughter and silly-making.  Whilst most girls her age are pouting furiously in photos, there’s Bubs pulling dreadful faces and laughing… and laughing and laughing and laughing. She’s a good reminder to live in the moment, to take every free-spirited moment you can lay your heart on.

 

BubsOnASwingTShirt

 

Dear Bubs, you bring me and others such joy and  I wish I could be with you today, celebrating.  I am so glad to have you in my life and I am truly honoured to call you my sister. I love you more than I could ever say. Happy birthday, naughty bird — and keep singing your song! xxx

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Week 50

December 16, 2012 · 0 comments

Things that made me…

…sigh:

No, this isn’t Photoshop! Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde creates clouds indoors through the clever use of a meticulously climate-controlled room and a fog machine. Isn’t it lovely? It makes me appreciate the fragility of nature all the more.

…think:

Schrödinger’s Cat explained

…squeal:

Sound-Maker from Tipsy, my favourite experimental lounge band

…pick my jaw up off the floor:

I recently came across an email I’d written back in 2003, in which I bragged that our new computer had two (two!) hard drives — one with a 60 (sixty!) gig capacity just to run the machine, the other with a massive 250 (two-hundred-and-fiiiiiiftyyyyy!) gig hard drive for data storage. Less than ten years later, it’s practically peanuts, and almost as cheap.  I remembered this when I came across this photo of a 5MB hard drive that, in 1956, weighed a ton. A ton for the storage equivalent of an average jpeg!

Then I found that old-skool dial-up sound and found myself getting almost nostalgic. Not really.

And then I learned why a computer bug is called a computer bug.  It’s closer to the truth than you’d think…

…want to create:

I’m getting really into this canning thing and am even selling my Habanero jam by request!  But my next canning experiment might have to be this recipe for Honey Chestnut Butter from Food in Jars — mmm-MM!

…rock out to a different kind of music:

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Here’s an animated short I created for my Photoshop class, starring none other than Banjo! His co-star is Lefty, the orange cat from next door who you might remember from a post earlier this year, Banjo & Lefty: “A Metaphor for World Peace?”.

If you enjoy anthropomorphism as much as I do, check it out and make sure you have your volume turned on ;)

 

 

Banjo says Aroo!!

If yoo like dis biddyo, stop by my dog blog at Shyhound.com, or sniff me on Twitter and Facebark!

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