Rack On

Our run of luck with the nice weather continues, interrupted only last Saturday when it rained all day.  I spent a good chunk of the day doing origami.  I completed the first successful single-sheet stellated icosahedron earlier in the week.  I made out of a 19″ sheet of elephant hide.  I unfolded and refolded the bottom and the lock several times, experimenting until I found an arrangement of the paper that worked best.  The finished model is a bit squished, so Saturday I spend a bunch of time folding a new one now that I know how it goes at the finish.  This one is out of 15″ mohawk skytone paper, given to me by my friend Madonna.  It’s a very nice paper, a bit thinner than elephant hide, but just as strong and crisp, and in a variety of nice soft colors.  This one is almost finished, just the final collapse to go.  With luck it will be an exhibit quality model, just in time for this year’s OUSA convention.

Michelle came home from college Saturday.  we immediately rebooted family game night.  We also finally also finished Muppets Mayhem.  Now Michelle is baking a cake.  Nice ot have her home.

I got three bike rides in last week during the week.  Then went for another bike ride with Jeannie Sunday morning, on the same pathway but this time starting in Yonkers.   This time Michelle came with us.  Jeannie thought her bike was too tall for her, so she tried riding Michelle’s.  She thought that was too small, although Michelle likes Jeannie’s bike. (Michelle is about six inches taller than Jeannie, although they were around the same height when I bought Michelle her bike.)  Anyway, Jeannie is now shopping for a new bike.

I went 12 miles although Jeannie and Michelle both turned around earlier.  Afterward I came home and did a bunch of yardwork, including washing the Mustang and putting armorall on the new tires.  Ah how it all gleamed, for one brief shining moment.  I left it out in the driveway for a few hours and by time it was already dusted in tree pollen.  Ah well.  I also trimmed my hedges, which involved going up and down a ladder and swinging around a trimmer over my head for a few hours.  By the end I was pretty tired.

In jazz land, Steve, the old drummer for my group Spacecats had to leave for health reasons. This was unfortunate because he was an excellent drummer, a great guy and a good friend.  Luckily, we got a new drummer a couple months ago, and he’s been working out well.  His name is Rick, and he’s a friend of our bassist Ken. He’s an excellent player, great chops, great groove, very responsive and energetic.  He also writes, and is into alot of the same kind of stuff we are, not just jazz but fusion, rock, prog, and jazz-adjacent funky jam bands, and likes experimenting with bringing those sounds into the group.  Last week our piano player Josh couldn’t make rehearsal, so we got together as a trio, sax bass and drums.   It was super fun exploring different sounds and ideas.  We did tune by Stone Alliance called Sweetie Pie for just such a set of instrumentation.  Also ran Some Skunk Funk a few times, getting it fast and tight.  I think it’s time to start looking for gigs.

Rack ‘n’ Roll

Beautiful spring weather continues, and we’ve been trying to spend time outside to take advantage.  I’ve been getting on my bike more.  I did four bike rides last week, the longest of which was about ten miles, partly along the Bronx River Pathway, which was very nice, and the rest getting there and back from my house, which involved some major hills.

I finished putting down the red mulch under the hedges and in the flowerbeds.  The only remaining task in the spring cycle is the trimming.  I also got the mustang into the shop for an oil change and inspection, and a new set of tires.  All that remains with that is to wash and wax it.  

On Friday night we discovered there’s a new show about the muppets called Mayhem, about the adventures of the Electric Mayhem Orchestra, still together and touring after all these years, as discover they owe their old record company an album.  Great fun.

Saturday we went upstate to visit Martin and his family.  Always a very good time but a long drive.  They’re all doing well.  Charlie is getting tall.  Went out to eat at a local restaurant that’s also a farmer’s market sometimes.  Good food, craft beer and cider.   Came back to Martins house and played Carcassonne with the boys.  Jeannie won with a risky but aggressive farming strategy.

About a month ago I bought a bike rack for my car, and Sunday Jeannie and I put it together and hooked it up for the first time, and took our bikes out the the New York State rail trail, and rode the segment from Elmsford up to Hawthorne or so, about a twelve mile round trip.  Jeannie doesn’t like to bike on the streets around here, and I can see her point.  The trail is so much nicer, smooth and relatively flat, and no cars or traffic, thru the woods, so much nicer.  So the bike rack is a big hit.  Now that it’s put together it only takes a minute to attach it to the car and load up the bikes.  We can go to all different trails around here and ride together.  Hope to get into the habit of doing it most every week until the weather gets too cold.


After a pretty solid two weeks of rain, including heavy rains the whole weekend before, the weather finally turned nice this weekend.  That basically meant spending the whole weekend doing yardwork.  Friday I mowed the lawn for first time.  Unusually late and the grass had gotten quite tall.  Saturday it was weeding the edges of the driveway and putting vinegar on the cracks of the patio to kill the weeds.  Sunday it was weeding under the hedges and in the flowerbeds.  Meanwhile Jeannie wanted to start barbecue season, but or old grill was rusted, so we had to buy a new one.  She spent the better part of Sunday putting it together.

Our Nordic Track exercise machine broke one day last week, and it turns out they don’t make them anymore, but you can get replacement parts on the internet.  Meanwhile I relying on biking as my main form of cardio exercise, so it’s good that we have a spell of nice weather ahead this week.  I wanted to take a ride Sunday morning and test out our new bike rack, but Jeannie wimped out at the last minute.  I thought then I’d go for a ride on my own later in the day, but by the time I was done with the weeding I was pretty tired and my legs hurt, so it was just as well.  I did go for a ride today, and it was quite nice.  Hope to get a ride in every day this week.

Friday night often tends to be movie or TV night at our house, as we have time to relax but are often tired at the end of the work week and don’t always feel like going out, or maybe just go out to dinner then come home.  However, despite the plethora of streaming options there’s actually a dearth of good shows to watch.  The last few weeks I’ve been getting into Nova, the classic PBS show.  Lots of cool stuff about the James Web Space Telescope, saving Venice for sinking into the sea, renovating Notre Dame cathedral, and lots about fossils, ice age megafauna and dinosaurs, and how they can reconstruct stories of long-extinct creatures from bones in the dirt.  One in particular suggested they may have found a site where the fossilized creatures were killed the day the meteor hit the earth to end the Cretaceous, caught in a flood caused by the shockwave thousands of miles away.  They have episodes from past seasons, and I remember as a kid seeing the episode where the theory that the dinosaurs were killed by a meteor impact was first advance.  I wonder if I can work my way back far enough to find it. 

But last Friday I decided to watch a documentary about recently pass folk singer Gordon Lightfoot, who to me is one of my all time despite not being the any of the genres I listen deeply to nowadays.  He seemed to be on the radio when I was a kid, and they played alot of his songs at the ice rink at hockey practice.  Somehow his songs had a big impact on me.  This led me to a bunch of other music documentaries including one about guitar shredder Randy Rhoads and another about the great vocalist Ronnie James Dio, another one of musical heroes.  So now I have this mashup of 70’s folk ballads and 80’s post Black Sabbath heavy metal stuck in my head.  Strangely, it’s not a bad combination.

New Song – All of the Above

I started this song a while back, when I was in a phase of writing singer-songwriter style things on guitar.  The original idea of this one was an uptempo boogie shuffle number in the mold of Can’t Get Enough by Bad Company.  As I developed it, it became slower and bluesier and a bit less glib, since I’m not so young anymore and my relationship goals aren’t that same as a teenager’s.  So it’s a bit more retrospective, looking back on young love from a distance.

Musically, it’s alot more pop than my last song, but still with some interesting twists.  The meter shifts from 4/4 to 6/4 throughout, but is more easily expressed as 2/4.  I had the basic arrangement of guitar, piano, bass and drums, with the bass kinda channeling Geddy Lee in the verse.  But I felt it needed something more.  To finish it off I added a horn section of tenor and bari sax, and an ’80’s style lead synthesizer.  It took a little while to get the tone and dynamics right on the synth.  Lastly I added some real cymbals, played with mallets, to the intro and outro to support the guitar and bring some warmth into supplement the midi sample drum kit.

I now have six complete songs for my new album, whose working title is Plutonium Dirigible. That’s about twenty-eight minutes of music.  I have another close-to-ten-minute epic about halfway tracked, and one more song to record after that.  Hope to have the record out by the end of year.

Here it is, enjoy!


All of the Above

I wasn’t lookin’ for a true love
I was just lookin’ for a new love
I wan’t lookin’ for a long love, strong love
Yeah yeah yeah no, none of the above

I seen you out dancing last Saturday
Monday you’re in my class in chemistry
Now I’m thinking ’bout you and me
Let’s get together for some history

If I invite you backstage tonight all right
We just might dance and party all night
Okay day by day into brave and new love

Now I ain’t waitin’ on no old love
An’ I ain’t wastin’ time on slow love
Tonight I’m wakin’ to some fresh love new love
Yeah yeah yeah yeah, all of the above

And maybe if the love grows who knows how it goes?
A few more shows electric glide power slide
Side by side into a tried and true love

So now I’m sowing seeds of strong love
Maybe grows into long love
It all started with a fast love new love
Yeah yeah yeah, all of the above

So tonight it’s fast love new love long love true love
Yeah yeah yeah yeah all of the above
Oh fast love new love long love true love
Yeah yeah yeah yeah all of the above
Hey fast love new love long love true love
Yeah yeah yeah yeah all of the above

– JFS 7/19

The Rain Rain Rain Came Down Down Down

First of all, it’s been incredibly rainy the last week.  It rained the entire weekend starting Friday afternoon thru Sunday night, alot of the time sustained heavy downpour.  The pond in the neighbor’s yard is in effect, and there’s still puddles everywhere.  I left a wheelbarrow outside over the weekend, and now it’s full of a good six inches of water.  Needless to say I didn’t get any yardwork done, and the lawn is getting desperate for it’s first mowing.

We went to a party on Long Island on Saturday; Jeannie’s cousin’s daughter’s first communion. It was great to see everyone on that side of the family, especially since we missed the family Christmas party this year due to having covid.  A bunch of us ended up hanging out in the party tent in the backyard long after things had begun winding down.  It took over an hour to say goodbye to everybody.

I’ve been reading alot lately.  First was a book on the Italian Renaissance, focusing on sculpture, architecture and painting, the whole historic and cultural context, and the threads of development among the various famous masters.  

Next was a book called The World in Six Songs by Dan Levitin, a famous music brain science writer.  I used to work with Dan back in the ’90’s at Interval Research, and has a story in his book about the psychic research going on there to make a point about how hard it can be to design as study to produce verifiable claims in the social sciences.  That was fun, I’d forgotten all about the psychics there, and it inspired my to dig out an old song I wrote from those days call Paul Allen’s Limo Driver.  Anyway the book was really interesting, all about the purpose of music in terms of its origins in human evolution, and the different roles it plays for individual people and human society.

Then it was a book about the famous John Coltrane album A Love Supreme.  Everything you could want to know about the record, its writing, recording, and various reissues.  Of course it had alot on John Coltrane himself and his various phases of musical exploration and development, his relationships with Miles and Monk, and the coming together of the classic quartet that was the group for the record.  This led me into a deep dive into listening to Coltrane, which is something I hadn’t done in a while.  After all this time, it’s still a challenge to grok his later stuff.  In addition to A Love Supreme, I listened to Crescent, Ascension, and Live at the Village Vanguard, and with one of my favorites The Gentle Side Of.  For all his high energy playing in all keys at once, he sure could shift gears and deliver a killer ballad.