Out on the Tiles

I’ve updated my origami site with some new tessellations. I had been waiting and planned to refold these designs out of good paper and then take new pictures. But there’s a lot going on with origami and me these days, so I figgered as long as I’m updating my site I may as well throw ‘em in there. I’ll be folding lots of new stuff and taking lots of new pictures soon anyway.

Two of these designs date back to last June, when I created them at the OUSA annual convention. They are what I’m calling the Quadrose and Psuedo-Penrose Stars. The Quadrose Star came first. It features a fourfold symmetry that is easer to fold and has fewer cells (24 vs. 40). In fourfold geometry this is an allowable quasicrystal tiling. But it was just a proof of concept for the Penrose, a spiral matrix of parallelograms that features fivefold symmetry. At first I thought it was a ture Penrose tessellation, since it was in 4space, but the joining rules do not conform to the Penrose tiling. I have since folded several true Penrose quasicrystal tilings, but have yet to fold one out of good paper. They are more challenging because several different angles come together at the vertices. Meanwhile the star will have to do.

The third model is a grid of interlocking pentagons and hexagons, which has some really interesting properties if you look at it long enough. I hope to fold all of these out of good paper soon.

In related news, I just ordered a metric shitton of high-end origami paper from France. It’s from Origami shop, Nicolas Terry’s online store. The thing that motivated me was his claim that he bought up the remaining world’s supply of Elephant Hide paper, which is no longer being made and hasn’t been for sale anywhere the last few years.

Paper Dragon

I’ve been researching videos of origami instructions in preparation for my new book, when I came across a funny thing. It used to be that when you googled “origami dragon” the first link was the diagrams for my Classic Dragon:


Every so often I’d get an email from someone asking how to do step 8 or so. The diagrams are clear, but it’s a complex move that can be difficult for someone who’s not at an advanced level or is not good a reading diagrams. I hadn’t gotten a question like that in a while, and now I know the reason why: someone video’d the step and put it up on youTube:


The video has over 8,000 hits! I’m amazed, I guess a lot of people must be folding my old Dragon. The guy has a youTube channel in which he has video clips f a number of other steps from other models:


I also came across a video for a song called Paper Dragon by a band named Moe. By coincidence I heard them on the radio the same day. This is kind of a big deal for me simply because it’s been a long time since I heard a new band on the radio that I like well enough to want to go and by their record. The group is musically adventurous, which is important to me. They have actual musically creative ideas and can play. They have a vibes player who gives them kind of a Steely-Zappa sound. Plus the subject matter spoke to me. But then I went to try and find their CD, and it looks like they’re a jam band with more live records than studio records, and Paper Dragon is a new song and not on a CD. But then where did the version I heard on the radio come from? Maybe they’re making a CD. Hope so.

New Song: Now and Forever

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that Michelle has taken in interest in my home studio recordings and been working on ways to get into the act. She wrote a song a while back called Now and Forever for her mother. Very sweet. She came up with the lyric and melody and I liked it well enough to record, and helped her by adding chords and a piano part. Together we came up with an arrangement. It was Michelle’s idea to have a tambourine and have Lizzy play a flute solo, and to do the last chorus uptempo with a beat. We started recording it last fall before the Cabaret show and finished over Xmas vacation. I’ve been doing mixes the last couple of weeks and it’s nearly done. The only thing that’s been holding me up is blending the flute FX, but I think it’s pretty much there now. It’ll be ready in time for Jeannie’s birthday. So look for a posting of the audio file here soon.

This is the third song on my next album, whose working title is “Buzzy Third”. Michelle has another song in the works called “Now”. I have three more songs in the works, including a longish, prog-ish number that’s next. But with getting my new band off the ground I’m looking toward changing my approach to recording to be more live-in-the-studio. At the very least I’m working up the songs to play on piano and sing before I start in on recording them.

Now and Forever
Lyrics by Michelle Szinger
Music by Michelle Szinger and John Szinger

I’ve always loved you
And in my dreams
And forever and ever
I’ve always wanted your attention, yeah yeah yeah

Now, now and forever
I’ll be there for you if you need me
Now, now and forever
Now, now and forever
Now, now and forever

The wind blows one way
The earth turns one way
And forever and ever
I’ve always wanted to know why, yeah yeah yeah

Now, now and forever
I’ll be there for you if you need me
Now, now and forever
Now, now and forever
Now, now and forever

Cold Snap

Last weekend was a little ski trip up to the Berkshires with our friends Seth and Cathy and their daughter Erin. The trip coincided with a cold snap – zero degrees when we woke up Sunday morning! It got up to maybe 10. There’s been no snowfall this year but they’ve been making snow on the mountain. Conditions were pretty good, mainly cuz it was so cold. We had a great day skiing but we didn’t stay out too long. For once, though, the cold didn’t seem to bother me, and I stayed out on the mountain longer than anyone in my fur-lined tuque. I got in a good 10 runs.

Apart from the weekend this has been a mild winter and so far I’ve been feeling really good. Hope it lasts ‘til spring. The days are already starting to get longer.

The trip was a really good time and we stayed up late playing games with the kids. As an added bonus Michelle went with Erin to her horseback riding lesson Monday and got to help groom the horse and ride him too! She was absolutely thrilled.

The next day it was back to work, and the kids are already deep into school again. Tuesday night was Lizzy’s school band concert. The band sounded really good. Lizzy and the girl sitting next to her sound particularly good as the 1st flute section. It’s the same band director as the old school, which is nice cuz he’s a cool guy and a good teacher. It’s much larger ensemble now, forty kids compared to maybe a dozen. And that’s just the experienced band. The beginner group, including Michelle, will play in the spring concert and double the size!

Buzzy Tonic Unplugged

I just got back from playing at an open mic at a performance space called The Purple Crayon. It was my first time at the place, and they seem to go out of their way to provide a nice environment for artists. They had a nice PA and a helpful sound man, plus a drum set and grand piano.

When I arrived the crowd and performers were mostly kids. Made me feel really old. They all seem to write in this jingle-jangle post-alternative style, and none of them know many chords or much about melody, but they write these really down and angsty songs. Some of them could sing pretty well at least, and it went over with their friends. Later on there was a better balance of performers. One of the highlights for me was Erik’s daughter Ella, who’s exactly Lizzy’s age, sang a couple songs with Erik backing her up on guitar. She can really sing. We’ve decided that we’re gonna have Lizzy and Ella do the “las wages” part in Show Biz Kids when we do that song.

This was sort of a milestone in the development of my new band. Erik had said he’d made it a goal for the new year for us to do a gig playing three of each of our originals before the end of January. Well we came close. He played two of his songs and I played two of my songs, but each solo.

It was the live debut of a few of the Buzzy Tonic originals I’ve been working up. And it’s also my first ever solo gig as lead singer (while playing piano). And in this case, it was a completely solo performance. I played two songs: Ghost in the Machine, and Get On Back 2 U. It went well, and I feel like I passed a test and am ready to take to the next level.

The songs I played were written with a band in mind, and so the arrangements were very stripped down. Even playing as duo with Erik, I had him doing leads and providing some level of fullness and failsafe on the time, but all that was gone. Further, I usually play on a Fender Rhodes and use its sustain as part of my sound.

But tonite I was on a regular piano. Every single other person there played the guitar. The good news it that it was a grand, and it’s been a long time since I played on a grand, and never before in concert. The bad news is it felt kind of dead and needed a tune-up. The good news is it sounded good from the hall anyway. The other bad news is that the piano was set up so my back was to the audience, which was kind of weird and made it hard to interact with the crowd at the eye contact level. And the mic was set up on the treble side not the bass side, which is the wrong side, because one tends to lean and look down to the left as one is playing to keep an eye on the bass hand.

Ah well, for all that it was a good performance. The whole internet gadget age really paid off because Lizzy captured my songs on her phone and I’ve been able to study them already. When I’ve been practicing I’ve really just been concentrating on the not messing up the piano. So that paid off and my playing was relaxed and fluid and grooving, and any clams were minor and smoothly covered. Now I can take it to the next level and concentrate on putting more into the vocal performance and embellishing the right hand with riffs and all that jazz.

Now Are The Foxes

I finally perfected my origami fox. People seem to like this model, and I’ve had requests to put it in books and magazines, but I’ve never been fully satisfied with it. It was one of my earliest successful models and quite good for what I was capable of at the time. Naturally it’s a old design style, based on a stretched bird base. I still like the big puffy color change ears and tail. But the proportions were crude.

I had been thinking of doing a complete redesign, but thought I’d give this one more try before letting it go completely. I made one small change to the folding sequence fairly early on, and this just made everything work. I made the head larger and ears smaller, the back longer and the legs shorter. The overall aspect is much more fox-like. I also changed a lot of the sculpting and finish details. My change to the base removed a thick bunch of layers from the middle of the model, and this let me push in the fox’s back as part of the sculpting, giving it a nice curve. Now I’m really pretty happy with the model, and will be diagramming it for using a book and exhibiting it.

Origami Site Update

I posted an update to my origami site at http://zingman.com/origami. The main page now features larger thumbnails and an update image for the Fox. I added a few new models from 2011 including the Inchworm and the Dual Cube. I still have a bunch more new models to add, including some new tessellations, and while I’m at it take better pics of the Fox, and add the CP for Dual Cube. In the descriptions of the model I’ve added links indicating where diagrams for that model have been published.

Dinosaur Origami

I’ve been talking to publishers recently about getting my origami book published, and as part of the process I bought a bunch of origami books to see what kind of books are out there from different publishing houses. I don’t usually fold models out of books too much anymore, but I can still get a lot out of reading the diagrams. But in this case I was looking more at the books’ design, layout, photography, and that sort of thing. I also got a few Montroll books that are new and updated versions of his out-of-print classics Origami Sea Life and Prehistoric Origami. The Sea Life book (with Robert Lang) has been split into two new books, Origami Under the Sea and Sea Creatures in Origami. Prehistoric Origami has been replaced by Dinosaur Origami. I have the original of all the these books, but it’s interesting to compare the new versions and see the new models. Some are the same subjects (e.g. Tyranosarus Rex) with a new and updated design approach. Others are all-new subjects. And many favorite models from the orginals made it into the new.

Michelle’s new favorite show is now Dinosaur Train, ever since our trip upstate over Christmas holiday, when she watched the show with her cousin Charlie. Although the colors are too bright and premise is absurd, the show is educational in its own way, and Michelle is now learning about all different kinds of dinosaurs and using the word “hypothesis” alot. So when she saw my new Dinosaur origami book she got really excited, and wanted to know if it contained a Pteranodon. Shaw’nuff it did, and it was one of John’s great classic models, made in a style that was very advanced for the day, but feels quite natural to me now, even as it’s full of clever tricks. So I taught Michelle how to fold it. It’s a complex model, and although she never folded anything that advance before I thought she might be ready. We took it slow and I broke down all the compound steps for her. She did great! When she was done she said, “Daddy I fell like I’m a better folder now that I was before I started this.” Can you tell which one is hers and which one is mine?