Origami Site Update

Here’s part two of this winter’s updates to my web site. I’ve added two new links to my origami section to view Models By Subject and Models By Year. All the models templates have been updated to fit in with the look I’m using for the rest of the site. I’ve also added five new models and pics of a bunch of others. Some of these pics I took, and some were by Bob Plotkin as part of the photo shoots for my upcoming book.

I haven’t removed to old views yet, because I have yet to update the main origami page. So it’ll remain in a bit of a hybrid state for the time being. There’s other stuff to do too, so there’ll be a second update sometime soonish. I want to update my model templates so show multiple images, and create something like a gallery viewer for the full size images. I also want to create a publications section.

But that will have to wait. I’ve been working hard since new year, and coping with the darkness and the cold. It’s time to take a break and spend some time away from the computer.

New Origami Tessellations

I’ve be working on my origami site, adding new photos, new models, and updating the site templates to create new and improved layouts and to provide new ways to access the models by subject and chronologically. This isn’t done yet but should be along pretty soon.

I took new pictures of many of my tessellations. This is part of my getting-to-know-your-camera-better campaign, and while I was at it I shot some more test video for my book. I think I have a setup worked out now. One important change is I moved from my kitchen down to my studio to avoid having to break down every time it’s time to eat. The reason I was in the kitchen in the first place is that it gets lots of beautiful natural light. But this time of year I’m never even home in the limited daylight hours, so it’s a bit moot.

So now, down in the studio I have the camera on a tripod on the table, pointed straight down, and I have a sheet of light grey marble Wyndstone under the work. This is a nice, clear look. The thing that amazes me is how much light you really need. I opened of the f-stop, lengthened the exposure, and went to a higher (virtual) film speed, but my shots were still coming out dark. I turned on all the lights in the room, and ended up bringing in three 250-watt lights. One was from my living room, so I think I may go out and get a couple studio lamps going forward. Even so, this did the trick and I was able to capture clear, sharp video and stills.

One more thing I have to master with this camera is color balance. I left this on auto and it seemed to skew toward the warm side, as if it thought it was shooting in daylight. Another interesting side effect can be seen in the images here. The background is a neutral grey, but the camera skews it to be a weak complimentary color to the subject, which in this case happen to be strong, single colors. Very interesting.

News and the Weather

Still lots of stuff going on. The weather last weekend was warm and beautiful. It got up to near 60 on Sunday, and I even took my Mustang out for a drive. I also played some sax, learning the music for the kids’ school musical. I got the sheet music, which makes it much easier.

I’ve pretty much moved in to my new computer. I gave my old computer to Lizzy; she’s happy and excited about it. I began work in earnest on Lou’s record, laying down click tracks and basic piano parts for three of the songs. I’ve been developing the arrangements, adding intros and instrumental sections, changing the chords here and there, figuring out direction fro the groove and plan for the instrumentation. I also came up with a new song he can use if he wants to, called “Why Not Zed?”, sort of riff on the classic alphabet motif.

Then Monday the weather turned cold, and I mean bitter cold. The high today was just eighteen, and the low was eight or so. Between that and the darkness, it really makes you want to not go outside. Although the days are starting to get longer again. It’s still dead black when we get up in the mornings, but yesterday it was not quite fully dark when I left work. It’s supposed to stay cold like that the whole week. I understand they’ve been getting snow upstate. Sunday it may get up to 30 again.

Update Update

Been working on a bunch of things. Settling into the long winter and trying to be productive. Starting in or continuing on project that will take a while.

First off, my open mic the other night went pretty well. People told me I sounded good at least, and they like my songs. Before I’d played in a duo with Erik, but this was my first time as a completely solo artist. It’s not easy keeping both hands going and singing while no one is backing you up. Plus there’s always things on the stand the you don’t necessarily think about but you have to adjust to ont he spot: the sound and feel of the piano, the placement of the mic, the lighting. And there’s no sound check or warmup, you just go for it. Anyway I think I did pretty well.

I played two originals, Checker Cab and Get On Back 2 U. I’m trying to do one new song (as far as me performing it live is concerned) per show, and Checker Cab was it this time. On Checker Cab the left hand art in the chorus was a bit off one time thru, and I decided to skip the instrumental section in the middle for the safety of the groove. Still the vocals were strong on the groove was swinging the whole time. Get On Back 2 U went fine, no particular problems. I’m more comfortable with it, and maybe I should have opened with it but, ah too late now. When I debuted GoB2U live it was a bit shaky too, but now it’s solid and can focus on delivering a performance rather than worrying about messing up.

I can’t go to the open mic next month cuz of the kids’ school musical, but for the one after that the plan is to debut my version of Making Miles. Also gonna start looking for other open mics and try and find a rhythm section soon.

It looks like I’m mainly over the hump as far as moving into my new computer goes. It’s a Mac workstation with a great big screen, to replace my older mac workstation with a more moderately sized screen. Of course this means have to update all my software and everything. I really only use this computer for two things. One is software development on the days I work from home, and the other is music production on ProTools. The ProTools in particular took a while to migrate because of driver updates, and having to re-register all my plugins. But that seems to have all worked, and I can see lots and lots of channels in the mixer on the new screen. The last big thing remaining is to migrate my old windows partition to my new machine via VMWare. In fact I even started working on music on the new rig, add click tracks and stretching the chords on Lou’s songs. Soon hope to lay in the rhythms sections.

I’ve also been experimenting with recording video for my book. The idea is to demo folding the models. I’ve been learning more about my camera because I can use to shoot video in HD, so I want to try and use that rather than my miniDV camcorder. I’ve hooked it up to the computer and can see the viewfinder image on my monitor. I’ve also left the safety of fully automatic mode and am learning how to independently control the ISO, F-stop, exposure and focus, and started coming up with setups that work. It’s a bit tricky, because I need to be zoomed in pretty tight by still have a large depth of field. Adding more light helps. The next I’m gonna do is change my setup around so that the camera is looking down over my shoulder. For my first go I had the camera opposite me, but this made it harder to explain clearly because the audience POV was opposite my own. Also have to make sure I’m capturing good audio. I might add an external mic.

So look forward to progress on all of that and more in future updates.

Buzzy Third Music Site Update

I added some new pages to my web site, for my work-in-progress album, whose working title is Buzzy Third. There’s a page for the music and one for the lyrics. Check them out. These will continue to get updated as more songs are completed. While I was at it I made a bunch more updates to the main pages on my music and spew sections, and templatized and added style definitions to lots of second-level pages. There’s still a few things to do, most notably to come up with some album art for the new record, or at least a better placeholder.

Meanwhile, the new year seems to be off to a good start. The weather has been mild and my health has been good. January is always the roughest month of the year, and its too early to say the days are getting longer, but so far so good. We had a major deadline and demo at work earlier this week, and it went really well. All the bosses were impressed. I feel like all my hard work whipping my team in to shape is finally paying off. No random late-breaking bugs or snafus to contend with this time around.

At home, I got a new computer. More on that later. I started working on video for my book. I’ve been spending a good amount of time on music too. Started work on Lou’s EP, and getting back to working out the middle section of my song Black Swan. Been practicing sax and learning songs for the kids’ musical next month. Glad so say that since I got my tenor fixed it’s sounding great. Also been playing piano, concentrating on my originals. I’m doing an open mic tomorrow night a place called the Purple Crayon, in Hastings.

Strictly Commercial

I recently updated my web site’s main music page and Buzzy Tonic home page with big red links to buy my two albums. If you haven’t already done so you really should buy these records, either as CD’s or mp3’s. I’ve reduced price to $9.99, which is a fantastic value for such amazing music. I’d recommend getting them on CD cuz, you know, it’s a surefire future collector’s item.

Buy Now:
Face The Heat – Buzzy Tonic: CD Baby . iTunes
The Brothers Zing – Buzzy Tonic: CD Baby . iTunes

ZMP 2013

With my book done, I’m starting some new projects in the new year. Among them is a long-awaited update and redesign for my web site. I’m starting by templatizing the entire site. This is something I began a couple years back, when I introduced headers and footers as page includes. Now all the content items on the main pages are also php includes, and template driven. You can see the results on the music, art, multimedia, and movies pages. This turned out to be pretty quick and easy, and should it make it much easier to add new content to the site going forward. Of course this is just the beginning. I have a bunch of style updates in mind, and some new features around content presentation. But the next few updates I have in mind are for content. I’m going to add a page for my new work-in-progress record, whose working title is Buzzy Third. There are four songs done, so there’ll be info, lyrics and audio tracks. The other updated in the offing is to the origami site. It’s been a long while since I’ve updated that, and I have tons of new models, as well as new and better photos for older models. Plus now I’ll be able to present content by year as well as by category. Beyond that – back to the Foldinator!

Celebration Day

Happy New Year everyone. We had a most relaxing and enjoyable holidays. Caught up with lots of friends and family, had some guests, did some traveling – hundreds of miles of it in snow – and got in some good partying too. Seems like we often go weeks or even months on end without having a chance to hang out with friends, but we made up for it this holidays. Played lots of games: Risk, Sorry, Carcosonne, the green screen door, the triangle game, one up/one down, open/closed, and even chess.

It seems upsizing your house this the thing right now. Mary and Lou have been putting a second story on their house out on Long Island, adding four more bedrooms. It’s almost done, they’re just waiting on a railing for the stairs and a countertop for the bathroom sink. That’s pretty amazing considering they only started work in November, and the contractor with doing lots of post-Sandy repair jobs at the same time. Meanwhile upstate, Larry and Jackie moved into a sprawling ranch house with a really cool glass-enclosed family room and loft, on a lot adjoining the woods. Very nice for all of them.

When Lou came over on Christmas day we managed to get a few minutes together for him to play and sing some of his new songs into a mic. I’m producing his new record, and these are the demos. My first step is to listen to the songs and learn them, then I’ll put together some arrangements and see what Lou thinks of them. So far he only has 4 or 5 songs – enough for an E.P. Should be a fun project. We’ll see how it goes.

Among the parties we went to was New Year’s Eve at Erik’s. I brought along my new bass to show him. It turned out the house was full of musicians, so it was a jam session. I spent most of my time on the bass cuz Erik was on the piano. There was a drummer too. The guitar player kept on calling songs that I didn’t really know but weren’t too hard, things like “About a Girl” and “I Wanna Be Sedated”. I found it wasn’t too hard to keep up and lay down a good bottom. Later on I played some piano but switched back to bass after midnight cuz we had to lower the volume. Next thing I knew it was 4 am. It was a great to chance to get a feel for the bass. I’m really digging it.

Also watched about half of the Godfather trilogy, and got some new records including the abridged Ella Fitzgerald songbook (the three-CD set, not the 16-CD one), and Celebration Day by Led Zeppelin. BTW, when we up in Buffalo visiting my parents, Led Zep were on TV receiving an award. My dad turned and asked me “Have you ever heard of these guys? That guy has really fast fingers.” I’m like, “You told me to turn down their damn music so many times when I was kid!” You’d think he’d remember. Ah well, he’s certainly mellowed out.