Origami USA 2016

Another Origami USA convention has come and gone. A great time as usual folding and hanging with my origami friends. John, Brian, Beth, Paul, Sri, Jason, Robert, everyone was there. I also had a meeting with my publisher and finally have a contract in hand for my next book. Just gotta get a few fine points in the rider and we should be all squared away.

The venue for this year was St. John’s University in Queens, and it turned out to be a very nice place. Beautiful campus, and everything was in two buildings close together. Free parking too. There were a few good restaurants in the neighborhood, including a Mexican place that served a drink that was a margarita with an upside-down beer in it, attached to the rim of the glass by a special adapter.

One really nice thing was that the gallery this year was in a hall with great natural lighting, so everything looked much better than it used to at FIT.

I had a whole bunch of new models for my exhibit. The main thing was something I’m calling Flower Balls. The idea is to create a flower-like tessellation and then fold it into a polyhedron to create the effect that people like to do out of modulars, but with a single sheet of paper. I got inspired and started with it last summer in Ohio, and by MIT in the fall I had a Cube and Dodecahedron Flowerball, along with 4- and 5-petal flower tessellation units. In the last month or so I extended the approach to create 6- and 8-petal flowers, and combined them to form a bunch of Archimedean solids, namely a Truncated Tetrahedron, Cuboctahedron, Truncated Octahedron and Truncated Cube. Only downside is people don’t always get that it’s a single sheet.

I taught a couple classes. One was Airplanes and Spaceships II – intermediate level models from the upcoming book. Went over well, go thru five of them in a 105 minute class. The other was the Flowerballs, and this time I had crease patterns to use a guide while I laid out the concept and some examples. On Monday John Montroll did a rare class, on the topic of diagramming on the computer.

All in all a great, fun convention. I’m guessing OUSA will want to go back to St. John’s next year.

No Bidniz Like Show Bidniz

Lots going on around here. Really enjoying the summertime.

Last weekend was full of shows from the kids. Friday evening Lizzy’s choral group gave their spring concert at their church. I think I mentioned this before when I saw them do Lessons and Carols back around Xmastime, but it’s a proffessional-level singing group (and indeed the memebers make more than I do with my rock band). The group is twenty singers, four each of bass, tenor, alto, soprano I and soprano II. The church itself is a medievalesque stone building with amazing reverb. You can listen to them blend or focus in and pick out an individual singer. Particaluarty the lead soprano and the basso profundo. Their voceis can really fill the hall.

The program was largely classical choral works, Handel and that sort of thing, with a few lighter works and feature for the organist and the great big pipe organ as well. Thier conductor and music director is also a serious choral composer, from London and apparently of some repute, and they did three of his works. Lizzy says its her favorite stuff in their repetoire.

All of it was very good. Lots of great supsensions and movement in the inner voicings. Just gives you chills. Really a great show.

The next two nights, down in the chuch basement, the kids theatre group put on their production of You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. They actually did two complete productions with different casts, one for the middle school kids on Saturday and one for the high schoolers on SUnday. Michelle was in the younger group as Charlie Brown. They split all the roles among two or three (or sometimes more) kids so everyone would have at least one featured scene or song. The show worked quite well in that format. Michelle had a bunch of scenes, and is getting to be quite a good singer, lound and clear.

The high school version was at a whole ‘nuther level. There was just one kid for each role, and much more coherence, chemestry and commedy. Lizzy played Lucy, and she and the girl who played Sally stole the show. Afterwards I said to Lizzy “I knew you could sing but I didn’t know you could act!”

Bigger Gigger

Just got done playing two back-to-back amazing gigs. Friday I had a rare jazz gig, at the Carl Jung center in Manhattan. Believe it or not this was my first gig in Manhattan since I’ve come back from California. Luckily, as a jazz gig all I had to bring was my horn, some charts and a stand. I worked in the NYC office that day and walked to the gig. The rest of the guys had to drive in, unload and worry about parking.

The gig was organized by my friend Gary Trossclaire, a trumpet player and Jungian analyst. It was a wine-and-cheese fundraiser event, and the format was first Gary gave a lecture/seminar on the The Dionysian Dynamics of Jazz, then we jammed for a half hour or so. The seminar itself was very good and Gary touched on alot of topics including Dionysius, the Greek god of wine, song and extasy, the historic roots of jazz, a bit about psychotherapy, the relationship between creativity and substance abuse, how it all relates to Jung, and even a bit of music theory. For such a diverse range it was very well delivered and woven together. My favorite bit of knowledge in the whole thing: Jung didn’t dig jazz.

Next came the concert. The group consisted of Gary T. on Trumpet, Gary B. and Jay from the Haven Street Five on guitar and bass, this dude K. C. on drums, and myself on tenor sax. We’d gotten together twice to rehearse, in the music building of SUNY Purchase, where K.C. is on the factuality. It’s actually a great place to rehearse, with high ceilings and great acoustics. The set included a bunch of standards, all great songs: Bohemia After Dark, Mercy Mercy Mercy, Willow Weep for Me, I Mean You, Straight No Chaser and Second Line. We ran thru the set before the show, and it all really came together for the performance with great energy and spontaneity. K.C. in particular had alot of feel, ideas and dynamics. Hope to be able to play with him again. The crowd and the Jung Center people loved it and sent each of the musicians home with a bottle of wine.

Next day LEFT HOOK played for our bassist Ken and his wife Kate’s 125 party. It was his 50th birthday, and hers as well, and their 25th wedding anniversary. 50 + 50 + 25 = 125. So it was a big todo with lots of their friends and relatives, great food, cake and all. The venue was a lodge house in Croton Point State Park. Very nice but also very hot and muggy. We played one set, a little over and hour, all our best stuff. I must say it sounded great and went over well although by the end people were drifting out cuz it was much cooler and breezier outside. All in all a great time. Congratulations Ken and Kate!

The last LEFT HOOK gig before that was three weeks ago. Musically the group keeps getting better and our songlist keeps expanding. The Bowie was a hit among the young hipsters in the crowd as well as the old timers.

But we’re growing dissatisfied with the same old dive bars and the same old crowds, so we’ve stepped up our quest for better gigs. It’s an uphill climb. We’ve started calling and visiting bars and other venues. We recorded the audio from that show and I’ll be putting together a new demo reel as soon as I’m able. Now with the gigs from Ken’s party and the audio from the Burke’s gig I have three shows worth of material to draw from. Just sifting thru it all will be a major task. At the same time we’re focusing on tightening up our arrangements and vocal harmonies and looking strategically towards picking new songs.

Bustin’ Out All Over

It’s June already, the summer’s here the time is right. Lots going on right now. Settling in to the new job, doing the GJB at night, ICS carnival came and went, a pair of great back-to-back band gigs too, the origami convention coming soon, the kids having their shows and recitals, getting into final exam time, counting the days until the end of school. Wow. Amazingly everything is going smoothly.

I must say the springtime really flew by. I started my job, consequently spending alot of time indoors, back in April when it was just getting warm and things were beginning to grow. Easter was early this year, as saw the kids’ spring break. Then BAM! greensplosion. But you know summer is my favorite time of year and I’m happy it’s here. Soon it’ll be time for tiger lilies and fireflies.

This just in — Lizzy got a 95 on her recent NYSSMA solo for voice, singing a grade 6 piece. Very good!!!

Lots to say about the new job, but it’ll save most of it for another post. One thing I’ll say is that I’ve been getting up early every day to work out, and that it’s been going better than expected. I feel energized in the morning, I’m drinking less coffee, and no matter what the day has in store I’ve already worked out. On even days I do a full workout with weights, getting up at 6:00, starting by 6:30 A.M., takes about an hour. I’ve gone up in weight twice for the bench press. I’m back up to 155lbs now, and up 90/110lbs on the dumbbells. Going up about 11lbs/month. Not bad considering I had to start from zero last fall — I’m still rehabilitating from a torn muscle. Ought to be back up to 185lbs — nominal full weight — by the end of the summer or so – just about a year since the injury. I’ve also added deadlifts and squats, which are really good for the back, yet amazingly no one suggested when I was PT years ago. On odd days I’ve been adding the Nordic Track in the morning, or going into the office early, or a combination of the two. The commute to the Westcehster office is nice and short, which helps alot, and the Mahnattan office is about as convenient as it gets, although you have to factor in waiting for the train. Trying to do something physical every evening too.

Lawn Guyland

Hey guess what? I bought a new lawnmower. It’s electric. My old mower is only 3 or maybe 5 seasons old, but it seems like it always needs to get it fixed, the carburetor, the air filter, throttle, always something. Lately it’s been extra loud, and then it started making a rattling noise, and finally the muffler, which was cracked, fell off. I called the place where I go to get it fixed, but they no longer have their mechanic, so S.O.L.

I figured it’s already, they must make a decent battery powered lawnmower. They have electric cars nowadays for Pete’s sake. No more hassling with gas and oil and engines. So I looked around online first and then picked one up at Lowe’s. They don’t have Lowe’s near us but they do out on Lawn Guyland, and we were on our way to a barbecue over at Nick’s house. So that totally worked out. The thing cuts great and runs like a dream. The brand is Kobold, and it runs on a 40 volt battery system, good and powerful for this application. It’s lightweight and maneuverable and quiet like a house fan; you can talk over it while it’s running. Easy to charge, easy to start. It also throws alot less cut grass around so cleanup is easier. Better in every respect. Woo-hoo!!!

If anyone out there wants a used lawnmower, I’m selling my old one for $50. Runs great, but no muffler.