Fotoz Update

It looks spring is like finally here. Today it was mild and mainly sunny, and we started in on spring yardwork in earnest, scraping off all the old leaves and debris, doing some trimming and planting a few lilies. I also go the mustang out for the first ride of the season.

The main news is that I updated my photo galleries up the end of the year 2012. The most of the pics are from our trip to Florida last summer. As always, these galleries are for friends and family and password protected, so if you need the login info please contact me. Enjoy!

Origami Publications

Winter lingers on. Believe it or not, we still have some snow on the ground from last week’s freakish snowstorm. It looks like random chunks of styrofoam. Still can’t do much to get started on the yardwork.

So instead here’s another update to my web site. I created a page for my origami publications. Enjoy!

Speaking of which, the video for my book is done, and I’m back in waiting-to-hear-from-my-publisher mode. I’m starting to work on a new batch of designs, including some advanced polyhedra, so I have some new stuff to exhibit at this year’s convention.

Standard Issue

First off, the weather has been really confused lately. Last weekend it was all warm with promises of spring, and then it turned cold and stormy and just plain weird. Saturday it snowed the whole day, but it melted almost as fast, so it really just made everything wet. I had meant to rake the yard as the first part of the spring yard cycle, but had too punt. Sunday it was cold, but by late afternoon the sun came out and it felt nice to be outside, so I took care of the front yard. But then yesterday it snowed again. This time it picked up when night fell, so by morning it was something like 6” of snow that had tuned into 3” of slush the consistency of wet cement. Oy.

Saturday night Jeannie and I went out to hear Mike play piano at the Underhill, a local restaurant/bar. It turns out it’s a pretty swanky place – we’ll have to go back for dinner sometime. Mike’s wife (who’s also Lizzy’s algebra teacher) and some other friends were there too. We heard the end of Mike’s middle set, which was mainly standards, and his last set, which was mainly rock/pop. Heavy on the Billy Joel and Elton John, which is his thing. Mike says he does mainly standards during the dinner, and mixes it up later when it’s just folks at the bar. As far as the standards go, he didn’t really solo on any of them, and his voicings were pretty trad, but sometimes he got into a good Red Garland kind of vibe.

It turns out the owner of the club just installed a grand piano a few months ago, and they have live piano music five nights a week there. He’s trying to make the piano bar thing happen. So now I want to see if I can get a gig there. Mike says I should go for it. Only thing is I don’t know that many standards. I know a few, plus a handful of modern jazz numbers, but not two set’s worth. Here’s the list:

East St. Louis Toodle-Loo – Duke Ellington
Pannonica – Monk
Round Midnight – Monk
Powerhouse – Raymond Scott
Cantaloupe Island – Herbie Hancock
Letter From Home – Pat Metheny

So I decided to learn a few more:

Manhattan – Rodgers/Hart
My Romance – Rodgers/Hart
My Funny Valentine – Rodgers/Hart
Someone to Watch Over Me – Gershwin
Naima – John Coltrane
Dolphin Dance – Herbie Hancock

As you can see I picked mainly ballads. This saves me from having to learn to play them fast. My intent is to solo on them. It turns out most of the ones I picked are by Rodgers and Hart. They just have a brilliant sense of melody and how to back it with great harmonies. Pop music definitely lost an important dimension when rock’n’roll came in as far as that goes.

I’m at the point now where I’m working thru them, trying to get up to real time. But as I do I’m also working thru how I want to approach the voicings. This is no small matter. It gives me a chance to put into effect a lot of what I studied earlier this winter with the Metaphors book. I definitely have a sound in my head I’m going for. It’s fairly Monk influenced and rides the cusp between lyrical and dissonant. Manhattan feels like it wants to have a stride approach, cuz that’s the main way I know for an uptempo song without a rhythm section. This whole thing is also good cuz it gives me familiarity with some new jazz chord progressions, so next batch of standards I learn will be easier.

Still, it will take a few weeks to get these songs together. But with these, and the ones I already know, and the not-really-jazz-but-work-in-a-jazz-context ones I have, I ought to be able to handle it. I’ll let you know if it pans out.

Everything Going on at Once

This was a really busy weekend. I was sort of stressed and feeling down in the middle of the week, but now I feel great about everything. I’ve probably talked with more different people in the last 48 hours than I sometimes do for weeks on end.

First off, work has been busy. Thursday night into Friday was a big messy snowstorm that cancelled school and made going into the city an epic adventure. We’ve had three releases of our product in three months, all with pretty bug new feature sets. The last of them was last week. On Friday we had a big demo for the new stuff going into the next – as yet unplanned – release. I’ve been spending a good deal of time on refactoring with an eye to improving runtime performance and the architecture. I found a set of bugs where components were slow to initialize or put themselves away, and discovered they’re caused by some object disposal code implemented recently by another developer to try and staunch memory leaks. But his approach is really heavy and creates more problems than it solves. So now I have to rip the whole thing out and do it right. Ah, what fun.

Friday night I went to an open mic. I hadn’t seen my friend Erik in a while and he showed up too, which made it fun. I played Making Miles and Get On Back 2 U. Somewhere along the line my singing just sort of came together and I don’t really have to worry about that anymore. Also I’m getting used the feel of the piano there. Making Miles was written by Martin, but at this point I have my own version of it. The song is not hard to play and it went over well. It always makes me miss him though. GOB2U is one of mine and I know it well, but it’s full of altered jazz chords and prog meter changes, and has a big solo section in the middle. My songs often seem to have a passage where the left hand does some advanced thing, and if I find myself consciously thinking about it it’s too much to handle. So there was a moment when I had to let the left had go for a bar or so, but no one seemed to notice. And then at the big ending I somehow landed on the wrong chord. It fit with the key and I was able to improvise my out of it. So at least I’m getting better at covering my mistakes smoothly.

Saturday I had the time for a nice long piano practice, and actually got to work on some things in depth. Taking apart and reanalyzing some of my songs, and starting to learn a few new songs. In keeping with my policy of trying to perform a new original song every time, next I’m work up It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Day, which as harmonically pretty straight forward (just a few sharp 4’s in there) but is largely in 5/8 time. I’ve also stared looking at the classifieds to see if I can either acquire a rhythm section or join a group that would be into playing my material.

Saturday night was the school’s annual father-daughter dance. This year I took both girls. It was a lot of fun. I know more of the dads and kids than I did last year, and some of the dads brought beer. My friend Mike, who was the piano player for last year’s Cabaret show, told me he’s now doing a lounge piano gig at a neighborhood restaurant/bar on Saturday nights, and what a challenge it is getting together an evening’s worth of standards. I’ll have to go check it out. While the dads hung around and talked the kids had a great time dancing up a storm.

Today I did an origami special session at the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. Had to get up early with the clock change. I taught my Squid and my Cuttlefish. This British kid from my class is ten years old and already an amazing folder and designer. He brought a box of his own models that looked great. I encouraged him to put together an exhibit for the convention in June. After the class I did a quick cruise thru my favorite parts of the museum – the giant halls of dinosaurs, animals and sea creatures – and then went for a walk around Central Park. It was really warm this weekend and most of the snow has already melted. You can really feel spring is coming soon!

When I got home this afternoon I did the final bit of video for my book, the introduction. For this I’m talking into the camera rather than show closeups of paper on a light stand. It was the perfect day for it, since the kitchen was filled with sunlight.

This evening I worked on Lou’s record. His songs are nice and easy to play. I’m on track to have all the rhythm instruments, plus a midi guide track for the lead vocal done by Easter. Last week I laid down the bass parts and today it was rhythm guitar. (I did the drums and piano a few weeks back.) I’m getting a good sound with a combination of direct inject and mic about 2 or 3 feet in front of the guitar. I got two and a half songs out for done before my fingertips started to get sore. I’ll finish the rest one night this week.


We have a new neighbor. It’s a red-tailed hawk. I spotted him Saturday hanging out on a fence at the end of our block, eating a squirrel. He must have been pretty hungry cuz he let me get right up close to take some pictures. I saw him the again on Sunday, eating some other animal. This time I guess he was tired of me and flew off into a nearby tree.