OUSA 2019

Ah, I finally have a day to catch up on things. The rock band played a gig last night and we have another tonight. But for now the topic is annual Origami USA Convention, which was last weekend.

What to say? I’ve been going to these conventions for 18 years or so. They still remain alot of fun, and it’s good to hang with my origami friends and see what people are up to. John Montroll was back this year and he has a new book out called Origami Symphony #1. He’s got two more books in the works, Symphony #2 and #3. The concept for each is that it’s subdivided into four movements, which contain a series of models related by subject and/or folding style. It’s a cool concept: it enables him to cover more territory than a single-subject book, to get into some depth in each movement, and to draw connections among the movements. They’re all very cool, as John’s style continues to get more refined and essential. Perhaps my favorite is #3, whose movements include Dinosaurs, Birds, Polyhedra and Dragons.

My exhibit this year included some new models, mainly boats. I have a new model Catamaran and another Powerboat, both on display. I also brought out some classics not seen in a while including my big blue Elephant. I did get a little further folding my Champion Oliphaunt but is was still not quite ready for the exhibit. Still have the final sculpting to go, and it’ll need some kind of internal frame or wire.

I talked to my publisher Jon. Apparently my first book has been selling constantly well and is on the cusp of entering the pantheon of classic origami books. Meanwhile the new Air and Space kit book is selling well too, and it’s time to start thinking of a third book. I had been thinking of a Sea and Shore theme, and maybe another kit book. But now Jon says the success of my first book is making them rethink if they want to get back in to that kind of thing. I hope so cuz that format is more inserting to me. At his point I have quite a few models diagrammed and could pull together any number of books.

The special guests this year were Satoshi Kamiya and Dása Severova. Satoshi of course is known for his supercomplex models such as his Ancient Dragon, and was quite a hit, particularly since he doesn’t come to the States that often. Dash does geometric stuff, mainly with polar symmetry, such as stars and flowers. She’s also quite friendly.

As usual I taught a few courses. First was my Catamaran which I designed back in February at Origami Heaven and diagrammed a few weeks ago. This was a one-hour class but the model didn’t take and hour, so I brought along diagrams for my Flying Fish, having recently completed those as well. Both models went well and I spotted a couple opportunities to improve the diagrams. My other class was my Blimp, which I invented exactly a year ago. I taught it last fall at OrigaMIT and everyone had trouble with the third-to-last step. So I updated the diagrams to show that sequence in more detail and everyone was able to do it just fine.

There’s not alot of dinner options in outer Queens in walking distance from the St. John’s campus where the convention is held, but this year we discovered an excellent Chinese dumplings place.

Sunday night my friend Marc asked me and Jeannie to be judges in the giant paper folding contest. The contest is all in good fun and everyone gets a prize so the judging mostly involves thinking up clever categories appropriate to the various entries. Of course there’s always a few really excellent standouts that should be acknowledged. This year there were several dragons, and the best one was folded by a team of 12-year-old kids. It was an action model and an original design, and they were very earnest. So naturally that team won Best in Show with several honorable mentions.

Monday I spent a good part of the day talking to Robby Kraft and Robert Lang about origami software. Robby is making an origami simulation and diagramming application called Rabbit Ear, which is not to far from the vision of my Foldinator software. So I showed and explained that to him and we discussed how we might collaborate. Only problem is I’m pretty busy now with other things, so I have to find the time!

Can’t Get No Fancy Notes on My Blue Guitar

Tonight’s gig at the street fair was rained out. Ah well. On the upside I have some unexpected free time, so here’s an update to my blog.

I picked up a new guitar not too long ago. This has been on my list for a long time but the stars never aligned. Every few month’s I’d go to the music store to see what they had but I never found one that felt right. I mainly play acoustic guitar, strictly rhythm, to accompany myself singing. I’ve written a few songs on guitar and I want to use it more in my recording.

I have a Strat that Martin lent me a long time ago but I could never really get the sound I was after. I wanted something with dual humbuckers, so I was looking at Les Pauls for a while, and finally figured I’d check out some hollowbody and semi-hollowbody guitars. I found a few new but I’m not such a good guitarist that it’s worth spending huge money, and there’s no point in getting a cheap guitar. So the strategy was to wait until the right used one went by.

This one was for sale at my rehearsal studio, in new condition and at less than half the original price, and right in my zone. It’s a hollowbody with the right pickups, an Epiphone Joe Pass signature model. It’s made in Korea, basically a knockoff of a Gibson (alot like the Chuck Berry one at the museum) that costs ten times the price, but you know, a well built instrument and a good value. It sounds great even unplugged, with excellent sustain and a smooth rich tone. The feel of the neck is great too, much more facile than any of my other guitars.

Gary was with me when I bought it and declared it an excellent jazz guitar (he’s a huge Joe Pass fan). Erik, the studio manager says there are two kinds of players who like a guitar like that: jazz guys, and punk/surf guys who crank it up and prize it for it’s nasty feedback. So perfect for me.

I came home and plugged it into my amp. Playing guitar thru an amp is the big missing piece in my sound, and it’s another thing you have to get used to. My amp is a Roland JC-120 which I use mainly as a keyboard amp since it has that built-in chorus and warm distortion, great for thickening up Fender Rhodes and organ sounds on stage. But it’s really made for guitars and pairs particularly well with a jazz guitar. Woah, totally awesome! So now I’m getting used to it and exploring the range of tones between smooth and chunky.

Next step is to hook it up to some effects. A long time ago Martin also lent me a Zoom multi-effects box, but for the life of me I can’t find it. Ah well, the main application is studio recording, and my method has always been to apply the effects in software. That’s still and option. I can come direct out of the guitar or out of the amp and it ought to sound better than before. But I’m unlikely to fire up my computer just to practice, and it’d be good to get together a bag of tones that I know and can use in various writing and arranging situations. So I might end up getting a new FX box anyway. But not until at least sometime in July.

Jazz at the Lodge and Rockin’ in the Street

Once again there’s so much going on. I bought a new guitar recently and have been getting to know it. Working on recording a new song Sun of the Son; up to the bass part now. The annual origami convention is coming up and I been working on designing new models, and I diagrammed my Flying Fish. Been jamming a ton of new work on the Global Jukebox. I got a new radiator for my Mustang, and washed and waxed it too. Been planning a trip to Europe and learning two new languages, and while I’m at researching Hungarian linguistics, mythology and ancient history. And of course my my day job: just finished a major milestone, now back in bug fixing mode. And there’s been lots and lots of rain. So there’s lots of things to write about for this blog, if I could, uh, find the time.

For tonight the topic is music. The Haven Street Jazz gig last Saturday night at the Elks Lodge in Ossining went really well. It turns out there’s a pretty cool little scene there, a concert series called Jazz at the Lodge. The guy who runs it is named John Codman, and he’s an Elk and huge jazz fan. He’s put together a room in the back with tables like a little jazz club, and has local jazz groups like ours come in and play. Up front they have a bar and food. He’s promoting it and selling tickets and making it into a thing. All in all it’s very cool and groovy and he made us feel very welcome.

The gig itself went quite well. The set list was:

Bye-Ya (T. Monk)
Buzzy Blue (J. Szinger)
Un Gato Gordo (R. Paganello)
Fever Dream (J. Militscher)
Nana’s Song G. (Bruce)
Lift Off (J. Szinger)
Close the Distance (G. Bruce)
Oleo (S. Rollins)

D-Bop (G. Bruce)
Mobility (J. Szinger)
Samba Astor (G. Bruce)
West Coast Blues (W. Montgomery)
King’s Hex (J. Szinger)
A Minor Event (G. Bruce)
All the Things You Are (J. Kern)

A couple of the songs sped up a bit, and there were a few minor clams, but overall the band was really on and having fun, and the audience was digging it. In particular I played a really good solo on West Coast Blues. I also have been woodshedding Lift Off, which is a real mofo to play at tempo (I know, I wrote it), which paid off in the melody being good and tight.

My next gig is with the rock band G Force, at the St Teresa’s Street Fair in the Bronx, this Thursday. For this gig our regular bass player Ken couldn’t make it, so we had to get a sub. For our last gig we were also sans Ken, so Vinny our guitarist played bass, and we brought in his friend Eddie on guitar. Vinny is a good bassist but not at Ken’s level, and Eddy is good but didn’t really know the tunes. Between having two subs and Adrian still learning the set on the drums, it was not our best gig. Which was too bad too cuz it was a nice venue, a bar on City Island with an octopus motif. One of the drunks there really loved the saxophone.

After that I had to insist we can’t do gigs anymore with two subs, at least not until Adrian can hold it together if there’s someone else who doesn’t know what’s going on. So this time we got my friend Jay from the jazz group to sit in on bass. We did a rehearsal last night and went really well. I’d never really heard Jay on electric bass doing rock, but he’s just great. And he memorized 30 songs in a week and a half. We were all very impressed. So all systems go for the Fest.

Unfortunately it’s an outdoor gig and it looks like it may be rained out. Ah well, we have two gigs coming up after that on June 28 and 29. So stay tuned for more.

Haven Street – Jazz at the Lodge

The weather has gotten really nice the last couple weeks. Most days are sunny in the mid 70’s and into the 80’s. Our flowering tree is in bloom. Still very busy, lots of things in motion. More updates soon.

Right now I’m just here to say my jazz group Haven Street has a gig coming up. Saturday June 15 at The Lodge in Ossining. 8 o’clock start time. Should be lots of fun, so come check it out.