Face The Heat – Final Masters

Here they are at long last. I’m happy to announce that the final masters for my record, Face the Heat, now complete. Many thanks to Erik Blicker and all at G&E Music. You can listen to the tracks here, but only for a limited time. Once I get CD’s made and for sale on CD Baby and the iTunes store, I’ll change the links to be just 30-second-ish samples.

Heat Wave – 5:31
Fine Red Wine – 4:47
Earthbound (I Wanna Fly) – 5:08
Who Can Fool Me – 3:19
Making Miles – 5:11

Touch the Ceiling – 6:30
Green Glove – 3:42
The Nine – 4:07
Angel Or Alien – 8:12


With the mastering for my album being almost done, I thought it was time to start thinking about the cover image. Last time around I made a drawing, but for this one I want to do something different. My current idea is to use some watercolor artwork by my kids. They’re very into watercolor painting and have come up with some that focus more on color on texture than representation and form. Lizzy in particular is in a sort of Jackson Pollack phase there days. I may use just one or may take a few and layer and recombine them in Photoshop. in any event the other night I scanned a bunch. We have a big set of closet doors in our downstairs which is an art wall, but it’s gotten pretty full. So I made them into a web gallery to share.

Rush Concert

Jeannie and I saw the epic Canadian power trio Rush at Jones Beach Amphitheater last weekend. Rush is one of my all-time favorite bands and just about tied with the Grateful Dead for having seen them the most times. But last time I saw them was in 2004 or so, and before that it was many years. Rush are enjoying something of a revival these days, consolidating their legacy as it were, and touring in support of a (really good) documentary DVD about their career rather than an actual album.

Jones Beach is a really cool place to see a show. It’s situated right on the shore in a state park, with the stage out over the water. It was another super hot day, but as we crossed the bridge onto the island, the evening breeze was coming off the ocean and cooled everything down nicely. As the band started to play the moon rose over the stage. Very dramatic. After the concert Jeannie and I took a nice walk around the beach.

The show itself was great. Rush still have the chops and the energy to really deliver. Geddy Lee can hit those high notes, although didn’t do it as much. He sang a lot of parts lower and saved his voice for where it really mattered. They played two sets which spanned most of their career and included a bunch of newer stuff, and man they have a lot of records. I didn’t really know all of the tunes from the 90’s and 00’s. They played a bunch of brand-new songs from their forthcoming record, which sounded awesome. In particular “Caravan” had a lot of complex unison parts that evoked some of their earlier work. I think they tried to hit pretty much every record, but they skipped Fly By Night, Caress of Steel and Grace Under Pressure. This last one is one of my favorites, so that was a bit of a disappointment. Still, they played a lot of great material. Spirit of Radio, Freewill, 2112. Closer to the Heart included an excellent acoustic solo guitar intro.

They opened the second set with the whole of Moving Pictures, introduced by a spoof video of making a music video of “Moving Pitchers”. They were clearly having fun with it. Camera Eye was a definite high point; I’ve never seen them do that song live before. Encores included La Villa Strangiato, but with the first section played in a hockey-organ style, followed by a reggae version of Working Man. The walk-out music was a polka version of Closer to the Heart that would have done Weird Al proud. (The intermission music was Yes from Time and a Word.)

Rush music is fun to play as well as listen to. Back in college I did bunch of their songs in a band, playing synthesizers, including Subdivisions and YYZ. More recently I learned Xanadu and Cygnus X-1 on the bass, and now I’m learning Closer to the Heart on guitar.

Beat The Heat Part II

Been doing some good summertime stuff. A week or so ago Jeannie and I took the kids to Rye Playland, the local amusement park, for an evening of rollercoasters and that sort of thing. A few weeks back we brought them into the city for a trip to the Nintendo store and the new Lego store.

I’ve been trying to watch more TV with the kids. I’ve heard that most American households watch 6 or more hours of TV a day, but I have the opposite problem. I’m trying to go from zero to one hour of TV a week, or at least every other week. Specifically I’m trying to watch NOVA with the kids to help them get more of an appreciation for science in the real world. We all enjoy the show, but we’re usually busy when its on and we forget. Last week remembered, and it was about a bunch of guys trying to salvage an old WWII airplane that’s been sitting out in the ice in Greenland for fifty-odd years. This led to a whole flurry of renewed interest in flying and flying machines.

My friend John the origami artist came down from Washington for a visit this weekend. He’s been working on a bunch of new books and e-books, including new editions of some of his classic books, and some all-new ones too. He’s in a very productive, prolific phase right now. He’s got a fourth Polyhedra book coming out. This one I think will be the most accessible yet (it eschews the most difficult shapes like dipyramids) and offers a whole bunch of new models. Hidden in the pages is a wealth of geometric folding techniques, such as about ten different ways to fold an 18 or 36 degree angle.

My day job continues to keep me busy but everyone is focused on our upcoming launch now, and things seem to have finally gotten organized, at least for the time being.

Beat The Heat Part I

Summer continues. The heat wave continues, with temperatures remaining in the mid to upper 90’s daily the last couple weeks. My friend Seth gave us an old air conditioner because he got central air put in his house. Normally in the summer we just have a cool zone in the bedrooms and we don’t even need that every day, but this year we were grateful to expand the cool zoon to the whole upstairs.

Seth’s dad Shelly passed away recently. Mark and Kelly came into town for a from the Adirondack for the funeral. A sad occasion but good to catch up. I’ll always remember Seth’s dad for a day I spent on his sailboat many years ago. I was a hot summer Saturday, when I was living in Queens, before I was married. Seth called me up and asked if wanted to go sailing. It told him I had planned on doing laundry. He convinced me to drop off my washing, something which had never occurred to me to do.

It was a great day sailing. We started up in Ossining sailed down the Hudson and under the Tappen Zee, almost to the George. Coming back we were sailing into the headwind and had to do quite a bit of tacking. Shelly had a pretty big boat (40 feet or so) and I’d only ever sailed little Sunfish before. I was really impressed at how he and Lynn could operate everything with ease, how coordinated they were. All the ropes were rigged that he could have run the boat himself, managed the sails and the rudder, from one spot if he needed to. It was a really great experience.

Origami Quartet

If you’re not an origami person you’ll probably look at this and think “what a bunch of geeks”. But I know these people and find it pretty amusing. Jason Ku, Andrew Hudson, Robert Lang and Daniel Myer perform at the 5OSME (5th International Conference for Origami Science, Mathematics and Education) banquet in Singapore earlier this month.



Michelle is curious about computers and my work, and asked me to help her make her own web site. She’s got a theme, and lots of great ideas for games and videos and things. Last night I helped her get going with it. I showed her how to use an html editor, what a link is, how to do styles and layout, and how to refresh the page in the browser and upload content to a server. She’s like “That’s like magic! Okay, I know it’s not really magic, it’s technology. But it’s *like* magic!”.

So we got the first page done and she’s off to a good start. Check back periodically for updates.


There and Back Again

Last week we took a trip upstate to visit friends and family, staying with my parents for a few days. It was pretty low key as far as these things go, nice and relaxing. Went up to my brother-in-law’s house one day and went swimming in his pool. Enjoyed a parade and fireworks on the 4th of July. Saw a nice handful of classic cars, and great fireworks show right in the field behind the local school, right over our heads as spread out on the lawn. Best fireworks I’ve seen in years.

Now that we’re home I wish we’d stayed longer and did more. We have a long list of things we’d like to do and see there with the kids. Fort Niagara, Toronto, etc. Maybe next year we’ll take a tour of upstate NY and Ontario as our main vacation. We did get to the Albright Knox art gallery, which I hadn’t been to in maybe 20 years. It has a pretty excellent collection of contemporary and modern art and I was happy that some of my favorite pieces were still there, including the mirror house. On the other hand the upstairs halls including the sculpture court were mainly empty, which was disappointing. Walked around the lake at Delaware park too.

We left the kids with my parents for a few days. Had a stopover in Albany on the ride home to have dinner with Martin. It was a nice enjoyable trip home, listening mainly to hippie rock. We crossed the Hudson up near Albany and took the Taconic home, avoided the traffic on 87 and the Tappen Zee. (I hate every Tap I see from Tappen A to Tappen Z.) We thought we’d have time to relax and hang out, sans kids, but no. It was a busy, busy workweek. My project is under alot of pressure these days. On top of it we had a major heat wave with temperatures getting up to 104. I worked at home that day and only went outside to move the sprinkler around the yard, but even being out for a few minutes was pretty intense.

At last on Friday evening the weather broke and it was merely in the upper 80’s hazy and muggy. Jeannie and took an epic walk around Manhattan, starting in times square, doing downtown. We went along the High Line, in Chelsea, which is a really cool thing. It had once been a network of elevated railroad tracks that supplied butchers in the meatpacking district with carcasses to carve up into meat. It has been abandoned for many years and overgrown with weeds. The city has turned into a long, narrow park, basically a pedestrian walkway that runs from 20th street down to the west village. On either side of the boardwalk are gardens of wildflowers — basically the same weeds, but well tended. It’s a surprisingly effective setup and the whole feels really peaceful and special.

When we got to the end of that, we weren’t too far from the waterfront. When I worked at Radical Media there was a pier nearby I used to walk to sometimes. It was a bit run down and in later days it was fenced off. Well the city as turned this into a park too, and you can walk out the end and see the Verrazano Bridge and Statue of Liberty, and even a tall ship. When we were done there we got dinner are a Mexican restaurant, and the walked thru the NYU campus and to the East Village. We finished off at St. Mark’s place, which is where I lived when I first moved to NYC many years ago. At that time it was all bong shops, but the city has become so upscale that I wondered if it’d be all changed now. It was refreshing to see it was just as seedy as it had always been.

The kids home again, all nice and tanned. They had a great time with all the grandparents, aunts and uncles. I guess they did lots of swimming. Ah summertime, and the living is easy.

OUSA Convention 2010

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. First there was the origami convention and then we took a road trip upstate for the 4th to see family and friends. Now we’re back and catching up on things. We’re experiencing a major heat wave. It got up to 100 degrees today in New York City. Tomorrow’s gonna get up to a hundred and one.

It was a most excellent origami convention this year. I had six new models in my exhibit, including my Zeppelin, Turkey, Two-Color Stellated Octahedron, Great Dodecahedron, the Cairo Tessellation and its dual, which I’m calling the Cubocta Tessellation because its pattern of alternating squares and triangles reminds me of the Cuboctahedron. Classic models displayed included my Moose, Elephant, Lizard, Turtle, Rocketship and U.F.O. I’ll have pictures of mine and the other exhibits sometime soon.

I taught two classes: My U.F.O. and my Medieval Dragon. Both were well attended and went over well. The U.F.O. is a pretty advanced model and I warned them ahead of time. About a third of the class worked ahead, following my diagrams and had no problems. Most of the rest were right with me as I taught it, and there were a few who were in over their heads and couldn’t handle the precision necessary for the prefolding. The Dragon was sold out, which made it hard to teach cuz the room was big and I had to walk around a lot to show people steps close up. Again about half folded ahead and about half were with me, and I learned that a few steps in the diagrams were hard to follow. It turns out the Dragon is a great model for sculpting and I saw people do lots of cool creative interpretation with the details of the head, wings and tail.

Lizzy and Michelle were there two and folded a bunch of stuff and had a great time. They’re getting to be pretty good folders. They made friends with some other kids and stayed late Sunday for the giant folding competition. Michelle was really proud to have an Exhibitor ribbon on her badge, since she had a model in the Origami by Children exhibit.

I caught up with a bunch of my origami friends including John, Brian, Susan and Brian, and made some new friends too. John is selling iPhone and Android versions of his books now. Apparently it’s a lot of fun and at least moderately remunerative for him. He’s also coming out with four new print books this year, including new editions of the classics Dinosaur Origami and Origami Sea Life with Robert Lang, with updated diagrams and a bunch of new models. While he was in NYC John met with his publisher and they gave him back a box of models that they’d used for photos of the book cover. Some of them were Robert’s sea creatures, so John kept surreptitiously putting one or two of them on Robert’s exhibit over the course of the weekend.

Susan Thomas in addition to origami does this thing with making jewelry out of rings of chain mail and rubber o-rings. It’s a pretty cool idea and she has a book out on it, and it seems to be catching on. Jeannie made a bracelet, and Susan gave a bracelet to Lizzy and Michelle, and they’ve all been getting lots of compliments on them. I think it’d be pretty wild to make a sweater or something using that technique.

I met Roman Diaz from Uruguay, who is a very nice guy and brilliant origami artist. I want to get his new book, Origami Essence, but they were sold out of it at the convention. I gave him one of my models, a half Stellated Dodecahedron. I met Alexis from Quebec who is an excellent folder too. I met Alexis because he took my U.F.O class and suggested an improvement to a sequence of folds. We got to talking, and I invited him to be my partner for the giant folding competition.

The giant folding was a new thing last year and it turned out to be really popular, so this year there were a lot more participants. I folded my Lizard out of a nine foot square. I figured it was a good model because the paper is so big and heavy a lot of models turn out floppy, but the Lizard lies on it’s belly and has enough layers that it’d keep its shape. I taught Alexis the model the day before and he seemed to have basically memorized it, so we had no problem folding it in the allotted hour. And it turned out looking really cool, like an ice blue Komodo Dragon. And we even won the prize for coolest model. A lot of other teams made really nice models too. Some standouts were Roman’s frog and Aviv’s Kawasaki Rose. Lizzy folded a snake. We’re gonna burn ours when we go camping later this month.

The most interesting class I took on Monday was by Nathan Zeichner, who is a CS student developing his own origami software. It has an interesting spin in that it’s part of a project to create self-folding origami robots, if you can believe that. I talked to him a length after his lecture. He said he was inspired by my paper in 3OSME.

Since lots of people were asking about it, I have to say I feel good about how my book is shaping up. I have over 100 pages diagrammed now. I’ve organized into chapters and have a few more models to design and diagram to round things out. I’ve decided to jettison my polyhedra for a future book since I have enough material already and they will be really hard to diagram. So that suddenly puts me alot closer to completion. It also puts the center of gravity in the intermediate to complex range rather then the supercomplex, which I think will have a broader appeal.

Next up: road trippin’. Coming soon OUSA Convention pictures.