Da Roof

Well spring is getting closer. We’ve begun work on the yard, clearing out the winter debris, putting down dirt to fill in some low spots, and some grass seed and fertilizer. Yesterday was the first genuinely nice warm day, where you could enjoy being outside with just a light jacket. Today it’s rainy but temperate.

We got a new roof put on the house a few days ago. I was super impressed: the crew came around 8:30 in the morning and were done by 3. Pulled off the old roof and everything. It looks great, very attractive color and pattern on the shingles. In the photos it looks kinda greyish, but there’s a good amount of red and brown mixed in. I’ll have to take some more pics on a day when the sun is out.

Next up: solar panels!!!

Origami Dual Color Stellated Octahedron Revisited

A few years back I published a crease pattern for my Origami Dual Color Stellated Octahedron on this very blog. Being a single sheet polyhedron with a color change, the layout is kinda complicated, with two superimposed grids. In order to make the folding easier I slightly fudged the relationship between the two, so one could start by folding a 13×13 grid and develop the other grid in the middle at on offset angle.

The other day I got an email from Akira Terao. He not only developed a method for folding a mathematically perfect layout, but he also published an article about it on the origamidraw blog. Very cool. His method is developed from first principles very elegant, and his article is very clear and explains it well. You can read it here:


I hadn’t heard of Origami Draw before. It’s an app for making crease patterns. It has a lot of origami geometric logic embedded in it. From their web site (origamidraw.wordpress.com):

With Origami Draw, you can:
– Perform all folds possible with the 7 Huzita-Hatori/Justin axioms
– Divide segments and angles in any number from 2 to 8
– Compose with building blocks from rabbit ear to frog base
– Propagate new folds across existing folds, alternating mountain and valley folds (or not)
– Instantly find the missing fold to flatten the paper around a node
– Find and retain all references needed to replicate your model exactly
– Verify its flat-foldability, with clear indications if anything is missing
– Keep all your CPs in one place
– Create different versions as your design evolves or to show a folding sequence
– E-mail your CP to your desktop computer as an Oripa file

Very cool!

Pink Elephant

My friend Gina, the singer in my rock band, asked me to make an origami elephant for her, with the trunk up for good luck and fortune. A little while back, at Origami Heaven I came across the perfect piece of paper – a 12″ sheet of pink stardream. Stardream is really fun paper, thick like marble wyndstone, and very workable, but with a pearlescent sparkly finish. I’m very happy with the way the model came out, especially since it required no wetfolding. And like I said, perfect for Gina.

New Keyboard

In music news I bought a new keyboard last week, mainly to use live with the rock band. The old keyboard has great sounds, particularly electric piano, clavinet and organ. But it was not easy to switch between sounds quickly between songs, lots of button flipping. With old classic rock that was fine, but now we’re doing a fair amount of 80’s and modern pop and dance stuff, which requires layering and being able to call up different sounds in the middle of a song. The new keyboard has a thing called Stage Setups that let you combine stacks of sounds and effects and store them as presets, with the individual components of the sound under the control of a bank of sliders. Super powerful and flexible, just what I need. Only thing is now I have to learn how to program the thing! Last week the band learned the classic Funky Town by Lipps Inc., and that’s a good example with different synth and string sounds coming in and out. We have a gig this Friday night, hope I’m ready.

Fotoz 2018, Part I

Well we’re not quite up to springtime yet. It was a lovely weekend, and I went for a nice long walk up the hill, finally took down my xmas lights outside, and even started up my Mustang. But it’s gotten cold again and is supposed to remain cold all week. Ah well. Lizzy is home again for spring break.

It’s photo gallery time again. I added five new albums for 2018. This brings up up to middle of July. It turns our last year was a really interesting year with lots of travel, and these galleries include our trip upstate and to Montreal. Still plenty more to come, so stay tuned.


Why Not Zed?

It feels like spring is just around the corner. The sun is coming out now and again, and the snow piles are melting. And so I’m starting to come out of hibernation and sift thru the old to shed or refresh, with an eye to making space for brave new things to come. Since rock the band has been gigging so much I’m looking into a new keyboard, stand and some other stuff to improve my sound and make the schleppage lighter. More on that soon.

And as I continue to organize my back pages of songs and lyrics, here’s one I came across that’s fully compete but I’ll probably never use. My brother-in-law Lou is a singer-songwriter. He wrote and recorded an album of songs for children, He’s My Bear, when his kids were little. One day a while back we were talking and he had a bunch of songs for a follow up. I thought it might be fun to produce. So we made a demo of four or five songs and I began laying down the actual tracks. However life keeps you busy and we were never able to complete the project. Along the way I wrote a song for the record called Why Not Zed? It’s basically a scrambled A-B-C song, using the Canadian pronunciation of the last letter of the alphabet, as in Zed Zed Top, or Why Why Zed. It turns out a lot of Americans aren’t hip. So take off, eh!

Why Not Zed?

A – B – C – D
Dinosaurs and cheese
H – I – J – K
Elephants sneeze
1 – 2 – 5 – 3
Blue green red
Double-U, triple-X
Why not zed?

One half, zero
e and pi
Radical two
The golden rule and i
L – M – N – O
Toes knees head
Who what when where
Why not zed?

-jfs 1/14


2018 was a good year for music. I put out three new albums (well, two new ones and a remix/remaster of an old one) and both my live bands started gigging regularly.

This year is shaping up to be a good year too. I’ve already played six or eight gigs between my two bands. Now I’m getting going on putting together new material for the next round of studio projects.

With the jazz group Haven Street it’s time to start thinking about the next recording. We’ve grown alot musically in the last year, both in terms our writing and our playing. We’ve been working on depth, range and dynamics in our improvisation, and on group improvisation ideas. And the writing provides vehicles for different kinds of playing.

Our first album, which we were mixing a year ago, had nine songs: four by me, four by Gary, and one by Jay. We now have nine new songs, three by me, three by Gary, two by Jay and one by Rich. This probably more than enough but it’s a nice number, and it’s good to have a depth of material going into the studio.

The most recent song is one of mine, tentatively titled A Lazy Lady. It’s a languid, melodic slow swing groove with lots of major seventh chords and shifting modalities. We don’t have another tune that sounds like it, so it’s a worthy contribution to the set. I actually wrote it around Xmastime but we didn’t get into rehearsing until recently cuz we were focused on a series of gigs and wanted to sharpen the material we had. Once we did, the band instantly got into it and started contributing ideas, and pretty soon it was clear that the song would be a winner.

For a while I had been pushing for the group to do Sun of the Son, a song I originally wrote for Event Horizon back in the ’80’s. It has a lot of meter changes and a heavy synth-laden fusion sound. Rich in particular though it was too prog-y for our group and would take too much time to really learn well and make our own. So I started in on making a new demo for it, making it more latin and less electronic, and re-imagining the middle section. Now that I have another new song the group digs the urgency has gone away, but the track has kinda taken on a life of it’s own. It’s gonna be much more than a basic demo, more like a full arrangement. I’m not sure what to do with it; might end up putting it on my next album.

In the rock world we continue gigging with the G-Force band. With the group lineup stabilized we’re adding new songs every show. We’ve probably added a dozen since the New Year. My favorites among last few (because I’m singing lead) include It’s Only Love by Bryan Adams and Tina Turner, I’m No Angel by Gregg Allman, and Rio by Duran Duran (which has a nice sax solo too.) We’re learning a bunch of new dance stuff too. On the other hand, we still have maybe five of the top ten most overplayed bar band songs in our set, and no matter how many new songs we add, there’s a steady thread of songs of that kind.

The last gig we played in Connecticut. The we had to wait to set up because the dinner crowd was really going on long, but they fed us and food was great. (Dragon Roll Burrtio!) It was first bar we’ve played in a while without TVs on in the room. There were plenty of people enjoying the music. It’s amazing how a dancing crowd can really make it fun. On the other hand, the set up and tear-down all the time is getting to be a drag, as I’m still getting over problems with my feet. Ah well, hopefully with the spring coming it’ll get easier.

Last weekend I was feeling particularly bad and spent most of my time hanging around the house listening to music. Explored a lot of long-forgotten 80’s prog-jazz crossover stuff on spotify. We also got a new King Crimson DVD from the same tour we saw last year, with the seven headed monster configuration of the band including Mel Collins on winds, Jakko on vocals, Fripp, Tony Levin, and three drummers. They played at least one song from each of their first seven albums, including lots of mellotron stuff, as well as updated arrangements from the later parts of their career. All in all an amazing job of unifying an incredibly diverse set of material. There were a few songs I didn’t know that well so I went back and found the original tracks. That got me thinking about lyrics.

In addition to planning the next jazz album I’ve been thinking about my next studio solo album for Buzzy Tonic. I have a the first three or four songs ready to go, and now I might be adding a crypto-jazz instrumental as well. We’ll see. Anyway that’s probably enough for one side.

I always have a big backlog of partially written musical ideas that can be developed. I was surprised to discover I also have a pretty big backlog of potential lyrics. I thought it was mostly random fragments, but I went thru and with just a little organizing I found I have enough stuff for maybe ten or fifteen songs. Of course not all are equally good, most are incomplete, and none have a musical idea to go with them. So it’ll take some work, but it’s great to find this cache of material and It’ll alot of fun go thru it and see if I can get some songs happening.

BTW here’s a lyric I came up with at a recent Haven Street gig for Jay’s song Slope. I normally don’t care for vocalese (listen to pretty much anyone who’s not Ella Fitzgerald and you’ll know why) so I have no plans to ever record it, but it just came to me while we were playing and now it’s stuck in my head every time we do the song. Enjoy!


Just when you think that life’s looking up
And you might drink from that flowing cup
Then comes the day when it all turns around
And then you think that life’s looking down

Climbin’ up that slope
Slidin’ down that slope

Just when you think that life’s looking up
And then you think that life’s looking down

Slidin’ down that slope
Climbin’ up that slope

And you might drink from that flowing cup
Then comes the day when it all turns around

Holdin’ on to hope
Ridin’ on up and down that slope

– jfs 1/19

New Home Page

Hey everybody, go on over and check out the new home page to my website:

It’s now split into two main entry points, one for music and one for origami, with the rest of the stuff below. The current features are the Haven Street album for music, and the Origami Air and Space book for origami. This way I can update the features for the two front page elements independently. While I was at it I updated my origami publications page with the new book and some improved layout.

There are some updates in the offing. I figure I’ll want to finesse the styles on the home page. And I realized I never made a page on my site for G-Force. I also want to add some more media to the Haven Street page. And it’s getting time to put up some new photo galleries.