If They Can Make It Here

The school musical was last weekend, and it was a smashing success. Lizzy was one of the leads, playing a young lady name Melody who comes to New York City in search of fame and fortune in the music biz. She had six songs. The show was entitled “If You Can Make it Here”, and revolved around people coming to NYC to make it in show business. It was custom written by Ms. Gizzo, the musical director, and was well crafted to take advantage of the talent available at the school. There were six leads and multiple supporting roles, a team of dancing girls, and a class on a school outing played by the younger kids. They all did great. I was very impressed at how it all came together.

The costumes and sets were impressive as well. In particular the dads who made the sets created a double-decker bus for one scene.

I played in the band. Mainly sax, but a bit of guitar too. The book I had to read during rehearsals was Hackers and Slackers, a chronicle of NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program in the early 90’s, and the rise of the “New Media” industry. I knew the author back in the day and pretty much everyone who appeared in the book was a friend of mine. It took on a whole ‘nuther layer of meaning, reading it in play rehearsals, because at the time I had just moved to NYC to try and make it in the entertainment industry. One chapter, based on a lecture I attended that had a big influence on me at the time, featured Jaron Lanier comparing virtually reality to theatre some pretty deep and specific ways. It was pretty mind blowing.

Anyway the show went over well, and the songs were really fun to play. By the end of the second performance everyone knew what they were doing. Here’s a set list. We also got to stretch out and jam between scenes as the rearranged the scenery.

Act I:
Not For the Life of Me
New York New York (Bernstein)
On Broadway
Manhattan (Rodgers/Hart)
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
Lullaby of Broadway
The Boy from New York City

Act II:
It’s Christmas In New York
New York State of Mind
42nd Street
I’ve Never Been in Love Before
Your Song
I Turned the Corner
Theme From New York New York (Sinatra)

Origami Videos

I’ve been jamming on the videos to go along with my book. I few weeks back I perfected the setup with the lighting and camera, and did a few tests to get up to speed. Now I have eighteen of twenty-two models in the can. Of course the four remaining include three of the hardest in the book. My publisher pointed out that I tend to pick the model up of the table sometimes, when executing complicated 3-D steps, and this makes it hard to see what’s going on. So I may go back and shoot some extra footage to cover these spots. I’m already shooting most models in several parts. I’m thinking I might go ahead and edit together the parts with crossfades, and while I’m at it tighten up the pacing, so I know it’ll come out the way I like it. I’d also like the improve the audio with some dynamic compression and a noise gate.

My problem now is the only video editor I have is iMovie and Quickitme, both of which kind of suck. I used to have Premier and After Effects, but that was years ago, and I don’t want to shell out thousands of bucks for a new video editor. I’m wondering if there’s a decent quality video editor out there for free, like Audacity is for audio. So far nothing has turned up.

A fun side effect of doing this video is that Michelle has been watching me, as she likes to take an interest in most of my studio things. Now she’s inspired to get back into origami, and has folded the Octopus and the Narhwal from my book. She wants to do one of my models for OBC this year.

More and Merrier

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve posted, and I’ve been keepin’ on with my various projects and stuff. Work has been busy. It feels like everyone is waiting for spring to arrive now. The kids were originally supposed to have the whole week of for Prez day, but they had only two days off so they could make up days they lost to Hurricane Sandy. Jeannie and the kids and I went up for a quick visit to our friends Seth and Cathy in the Berkshires last weekend. Jeannie and Michelle went skiing with our hosts, but Lizzy and I hung around the cabin for the day. It was bitter cold and I didn’t think I’d enjoy it much. At least I had a nice day to relax, and I did go for a nice hike in the woods. Maybe there’ll still be a chance to ski in March.

I put up another big update to my web site a couple days ago. This one brings us most of the way to new origami presentation, with view-by-subject and view-by-year in place. It also updates the nav bars and headers to make the layout nicer and save space. And of course as I go, bit by bit I’m converting things to divs with style definitions to make it all more flexible and modular. The next update will mainly focus on the module items in the origami section. I want to put back multiple images per item, and I want to introduce some kind of inline image viewer. I also wwant to put up some new pages for my various books and publications.

The kids’ school musical was supposed to be two weeks ago was postponed because of a snowstorm. It was rescheduled for this coming weekend. I went to a dress rehearsal today, and there’s another Friday with shows on Saturday and Sunday. Lizzy is really good, and so are the other leads. The band consists of me on sax and two teachers from the school, one on piano and one of drums. I’m also doing a bit of guitar. The music itself is really fun. They still need to work out some of the logistics of getting the little kids on and off the stage in a timely fashion, and moving around the scenery between scenes, as well as getting a good mix from the wireless mics the leads are wearing. Hopefully it’ll all get ironed out.


January is always the harshest month of the year, with the cold and the dark, but we ended it on a high note. Jeannie and I took a quick getaway to the Bahamas her birthday. Three days of sunshine, beach and open bar. We made essentially the same trip five years ago, and had great time, and we couldn’t find an alternative to beat it. At the time we pledged to make a winter getaway every year, but you know how life can be. It took a few years to get back to it.

We stayed at the same hotel, Breezes, which is nice and cozy and has several pools, bars, and restaurants, with great food and open bar and is right up on the beach. It has a very friendly and relaxed vibe. The place is really a little gem.

This time around the vast majority of the guests were Canadian, and most of those from the Toronto area. So it felt a little like going home. And you know, those Cannucks are all so darn nice and friendly. Most of them seemed to assume I was Canadian too. At one point one said “Is there anyone in this hot tub who’s not Canadian?” Then she turned to me and said, “You know an awful lot about Canada for an American.” One evening we gathered ‘round and watched Hockey Night in Canada. (The Leafs lost, eh.)

The day we arrived the weather was great, sunny and warm, and we went straight to swim in the ocean. Towards evening it turned stormy. The next day it was overcast and windy, too rough to do anything out on the ocean. After breakfast I wandered into the piano bar, which was empty, and practiced for an hour or so. I did some of my originals, some covers, and Jeannie sang harmony on My Old School. I guess you could hear it from the next room cuz all day people were coming up to me saying I sounded good. So ’round midnight, after the main entertainment was finished upstairs, I went back and there was just the piano player there, and maybe a few people. He was playing a Monk song (Bud Walked In) when I walked in, so I requested ‘Round Midnight. He didn’t know it, and asked my if I knew it. So I hopped up on the piano again. I did 4 or 5 Steely Dan songs and some other things. This time I attracted a bit of a crowd. Since there were so many Canadians around I closed my set with Subdivisions, which was a big hit.

We also spent time exploring the island. Nassau is great, easy to get around, and everyone we met was really friendly. One afternoon we took the bus into town, but the bus got “hijacked” by an itinerant local tour guide, who took us to this place called The Caves, which was bunch of caves where pre-Colombian Bahamians lived over 1000 years ago. Really cool. We walked around Nassau and watched the cruise ships take off. We went to Fort Charlotte, build by the British in the 1700’s. BTW, there’s a giant monstrosity of a new hotel under construction just down the beach from Breezes. Apparently being built by Chinese labor with Chinese financing to the tune of $2 billion. Our guide had a lot to say on that topic and the political and economic implications for the island.

It was a great break from the winter and from everything going on, but it was over much to soon. Now we’re back and the main thing this week is the kids’ school musical coming up this weekend. Lizzy has one of the leads, Michelle is in the chorus, I’m playing in the band and my first rehearsal was yesterday, and Jeannie is acting as producer.

Coming soon: pictures!