Summertime Blues

Last weekend’s gig went well. An important milestone, our first full-length gig. We played for a smallish but appreciative crowd and the set went over well. Eight originals and ten covers in two sets. It’ll be a few weeks before we can get together again because of vacation schedules and whatnot. Hopefully in the fall we’ll start picking up more, bigger gigs and work on getting a rhythm section.

Meanwhile work has been busy and stressful. At least this weekend, there’s nothing going on and I can some time to recharge.

Froyo Gig

Here’s an announcement that we will be performing live next weekend:

The John Szinger – Erik Blicker Duo

Saturday, July 21 at 1:00 PM.

Beanberry’s Cafe & Frozen Yogurt Bar
265 Huguenot St., New Rochelle NY

Lots of good stuff, classic rock, blues and a good mix of old and new, covers and originals. Come out if you can. This is a family-friendly venue. Hope to see you there!

The Big Five-Oh

I just got back from a trip upstate to visit family. The big event was that my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. This was a big occasion that we’ve been looking forward to. Luckily they’re both still active and healthy, and they threw a big party that brought out lots of friends and relations I haven’t seen in a long time.

My brother Jim and his family came up from New Mexico with their monster truck and an RV trailer on an epic road trip. We all met up in Albany at my brother Martin’s house for the 4th of July. Martin’s in-laws were having a big ol’ barbeque picnic. Unfortunately, the power steering on Jim’s truck blew out when they arrived, but at least they had their trailer set up and were in a safe place. We all met up in Buffalo by Friday for the party the next day. It was great to see all my nephews and niece together with my kids. And, like I said, lots of cousins came out from Toronto, Ottawa, Chicago, and all over. It was great to see everyone. Really nice.

My folks hired a violinist and pianist, who were really good at Hungarian, German, Austrian, etc. music, plus a few jazz standards thrown in for good measure. It was perfect for the occasion. There was dancing and everything. My Mum was in high spirits and even extemporaneously sang a number.

I also saw my friend Mark C., who was the best man at my wedding, who I’ve lost touch with over the years and then remade contact. He’s also the best drummer I’ve ever worked with, in Infinigon, Event Horizon, and a few other groups. I wish he lived around here. He’s been in a metal band and a world beat party band the last few years, doing the summer festival circuit. He’s sporting a way-cool Zappa-esque goatee these days. It was great to catch up.

I gave the toast at my Mum and Dad’s party. I wrote a draft out ahead of time, and then paraphrased it (mainly to shortening it to fit the mood of the moment). This method has worked for me as well as an outline or bullet points, and one can always fall back on the text if winging it seems to be losing the thread at delivery time. So I thought I’d present my toast here, for my Mum and Dad.

A Toast

Mum and Dad, we’re here celebrating your 50th wedding anniversary. And it’s good to be here. A lot of people don’t make it to fifty, so you deserve to celebrate. And we here all deserve to celebrate too, having known you and seen your enduring love affect our lives. Thank you everyone for coming, family and lifelong friends, to help celebrate, some of you from a long way away.

Let me take a moment to express how, as a product of your love, how much you’ve meant to me. Dad, I want you to know how my admiration for you has deepened over the years. I don’t think I’ve ever known a more principled man. In my youth I mainly saw the uncompromising aspect of it, but over time I’ve come to appreciate the values and the strength behind it. You’ve given me a lot to live up to and to look up to. Your intelligence and vast practical knowledge have been in inspiration too. You speak and read several languages. You know how to build or fix pretty much anything. You’ve had a successful career as an engineer, and have been lucky enough to enjoy a long retirement. All your sons have gone on to careers in engineering, although in the field of software rather than machinery, some of us despite our efforts to do something else. Your passion for precise thinking has been an example that served me well. Another passion of yours is a love of nature and the outdoors. You’ve always kept the most wonderful fruit trees and vegetable garden.

Mum, my love and admiration for knows no bounds. Your nurturing, your industriousness, your fantastic cooking, your humor. Your commitment to education has been a big factor in my own success in life. But the thing I appreciate most is your creative side, and the creativity you fostered in me. Your love of music has certainly rubbed off on me. Growing up our house was always full of music, particularly classical music. Playing music is one of my great joys in life. You are an expert in needlepoint, sewing, and cross-stitch, and your work is beautiful and at a masterful level. My other artistic passion is origami, and I also credit this to you. Your example of patient dedication has been an inspiration.

Together you make a great team, and so have prospered and mellowed over time and grown in love and commitment. So we find ourselves here today. Like I said, It’s good to be here. All the family and lifelong friends, everyone who’s shared in their lives, now you’re to help make this a special day. Please join me in a toast to my Mum and Dad, Frank and Eva. Cheers!

OUSA 2012

This week it’s been really hot, in the upper 90’s. Yesterday we had a barbecue with family and friends, which was great fun, but by the end I was pretty beat from the heat. Today I’m sitting in the A.C., hoping the temperature will get below 90 before it gets dark, so I can at least go out and skate. Any kind of outdoor work is right out.

Last weekend was the Origami USA convention. This year was an especially good time. I had six new models in my exhibit this year, and feel like my work is getting to a level where it’s among the best out there. I finally perfected my Five Banded Armadillo and my American Turkey, and folded one of each out of a 19” square of Marble Wyndstone paper, which now available in States again. They came out awesome. The only problem with the Turkey is that it’s a color-change model and Wyndstone is the same on both sides. So I’m going to fold another, and am thinking of ways do the color either by painting the paper on one side or laminating a layer of tissue.

I also folded a Fox from a 12” sheet of scrapbook paper, which worked pretty nicely. Also I had three new tessellations: a Penrose Tessellation, a Penflower Tessellation, and a Pent-Pent Fractal. The Pent-Pent is not a true tessellation because it won’t tile the plane without distortion. It would however, tile a quasi-spherical surface and make an interesting 60-sided polyhedron composed of all pentagons. Ah well, put that in the future file. I rounded out the exhibit with some of my best models from previous years. Got a lot of good comments, and lots of people asking me to teach my models.

I taught two classes, one of intermediate animals and one of complex animals. Each was five recently diagrammed models for the book that I wanted people to test fold. It went quite well. The models are very foldable and I got great feedback as far as minor typos and drawing mistakes, and a couple fold sequences that need clarification.

I bought a lot of new origami paper this year, because I’m looking to re-fold every model for my book to take photographs. This year the Source was selling Wyndstone in 50 x 70 cm sheets so I bought a lot of that in different colors, plus a few large sheets of semi-sparkly paper, one of which will be used to fold my Zeppelin. I’ve decided I’m thru with thin paper. It totally doesn’t work with my design style. I tried to fold my Armadillo of some Origamido-style paper, and it wouldn’t hold together.

Of course seeing people is the most fun part of the convention. Many of my usual friends were there. Lots of good eating out and hanging out folding and talking. John M. is in the middle of several new books including one of Stars, one of simple dinosaurs, and one of (intermediate to complex) mammals, and one of horses. Each set of models is excellent and fascinating in its own way. The dinosaurs in particular show a high level of refinement, well beyond your typical beginner fare.

There seems to be a lot of interest in publishing this year. I met my publisher Jon face to face after months of exchanging emails. He seems like a very nice guy, and I have a good feeling about doing the book with him, which is important. He gets origami as an art form, and knows a lot more about books and book publishing than I do. On Monday I was invited to participate on a panel about publishing. Other panelist included John Montroll, Robert Lang, and Yamaguchi, so I was flattered to be in such esteemed company. It was an interesting panel too.

So all in all a great convention. You can see my photo gallery of the exhibit here.