Thursday, November 25, 2010

Spamalot Pit Crew

Hello all.

It's been about 4 days since the last show of Spamalot at the Ritz, and I must admit that I am having separation anxiety. These guys were so much fun to play with and the cast and crew were all 24 karats.

Here we are 'shoe-horned' into our 15'x4' space, stage left in the theatre. The line up from left to right is: Gary Jackere on Drums, Me (Dale Storer) on Bass, Brian Bacon on Keyboard (also Conductor), Jim Sheffer on Trumpet and Steve Grenhart on Woodwinds.


This is us at the Opening Night after-work party. I'm gonna miss these guys.

There is something to be said for working with people that are talented and have easy-going attitudes. That makes it less like work and more like fun - and getting paid for it.

Hopefully we can do more soon! And thanks go out to Gary Jackere for supplying the photos.

...Thanks for listening...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just landed a Killer Gig

Hello all.
I am so jazzed (literally)! I got a small gig playing bass in the orchestra for 'Spamalot'!

It's playing at the Ritz Theatre in Haddon Twp., NJ

Now - I'm a Monty Python freak from way back, I caught it from my late brother, George (I think I was 8). And in keeping with tradition, I passed the bug on to my son a couple years back (I think HE was 8). -Although due to mature content restrictions, I have only turned him onto The Holy Grail and any TV episodes I can find on the DVR (my wife still blames me...).

Karma has blessed me with the most pleasant fortune and timing to find this gig on Sunday evening and start practicing with the cast yesterday - the Show opens this Friday, October 22nd @ 8:00!

I found the gig on craigslist (the ONLY job listing site that I actually get 'callbacks' from). I sent the email out, got a call from Brian Bacon (conductor & killer keyboard player) 5 minutes later, picked up the score and a CD an hour after that and started cramming (it wasn't jamming - that will be happening by Thursday-ish).
Last night I did the entire 2nd act by sight-reading and it was... a blast! The one actor who is doing the French soldier/Lead Knight who said 'Ni'/Conjurer Tim, nailed the part(s). He had me splitting my side so bad I had to cover my mouth to stifle my chuckling - I actually missed a cue or 2...^o^. The other guys were at it too - his obvious talent was not wasted on me alone. Of course, being steeped in the classics, I was the one guy in my 2'x2' corner back stage-right, bass in lap, slamming an imaginary block of wood against my forehead during the 'Monks' scene - good times.

The guys in the orchestra (& myself) went back through some of the songs after rehearsal and we started gelling - it only took 4 hours ^_^. I can't stress the coolness that happens when 5 musicians who just met, belt out the songs and get a groove in such a short amount of time. I dig being part of the clan. Later, Brian & I were helping Gary the drummer out to his car with his cases. The cast (getting a pep-talk by the director, Bruce Curless) in the foyer applauded - what a shot in the arm! Imagine when we get the groove really going. I practically blushed.

You know, this takes me back to my High School daze (NBC - now 'Northern') when I played bass in the School musicals (and one for $ at Holy Cross, Delran) - Thanks, JL (John Lindner, teacher and mentor)! He (JL) had me playing tuba for a year an a half before I even looked at the bass - but I sincerely Thank Him for teaching me 2 instruments and the joy that comes from being a good musician. And since I am having a bit of a time getting real work. **Important Note - do not take that last line as meaning that that this ISN'T real work - The cast and crew has been at this since August and they put everything into it! I am just the new comer to this team. And I am so glad to have these skills to recall and use for a positive purpose (and the karma that comes with it).

The show is playing through to the 20th of November. So please get out and support your local arts, friends. And just enjoy the exuberant, overly-acted, silliness that IS Monty Python. And Many Thanks to Mr. Eric Idle and John Du Prez (as well as Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and all the imported, Peruvian llamas).

...Thanks for Listening...


...PS. Last night (10/20) while walking to my truck with my gear, my neighbor asked if I was going to play banjo for them ^_^. I told him about the gig and he took a step back and kept on saying," Spamalot? At the Ritz?!?" After a couple confirmations, he said that his oldest son was playing Sir Galahad - that's the gent all the way on the left. It truly is a small world.

...digging the karma... (and I am STILL having to cover my mouth backstage to stifle my laughter)

Monday, September 6, 2010

The size of things

Hello all,

A friend of mine on Facebook, Susan Poliniak, posted this link.

It was so cool, I had to post it here. It is a presentation of the size of things. From the edge of the known Universe, down to the Quantum Foam (Einstein's 'Fabric of the Universe'). Those of us that read Michael Crichton's 'Timeline' can relate. And it's the book - NOT the movie, the books are ALWAYS better... Anywho, please take a little time and learn a thing or two.

Thanks Susan!

...and Thanks for listening...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Why all those toolbars?

Hi All,

Replying to Kini's comment got me thinking about another item which I think is important for those that download a bunch of 'FREE' stuff and wonder why their computer system is running slow.

OK, here's a rule that I was taught by my Father, James H. Storer BEFORE the internet and it is still true today... "Nothing is free."

Folks, it's common sense - which is not common at all these days. If someone gives you something for free, they are poking a hole in your back pocket for your change to fall out.

I'll make my point: When you download the latest 'cute/neat/killer/sick' game or app, don't just keep clicking on the OK and NEXT buttons during the install. Read the fine print. When I upgraded my Java yesterday, It wanted to install a Bing toolbar. I installed AVG Free (antivirus software) and it wanted to install an AVG toolbar. Now, I'm OK with people wanting to forward their brand, but these toolbars are backdoors for other things (Spyware, Malware, etc.) to get into your systems. Not that (all) these people are crooked, they just don't upgrade the toolbars and hackers will use any means to send your private info to someone who will pay them big bucks for it.

Think about it. Microsoft puts out patches and updates to their software on a nearly weekly basis to keep the bad guys out of your systems. When was the last time I saw a Google toolbar update? - Hmmmmm. I've never seen one of them... And if you have these toolbars in Internet Explorer - the hackers can get right into the base command of your operating system and then all bets are off!

Friends (and I mean that), why do we need a toolbar to search Google, when we can search Google in the built-in 'search box' in the top right of Internet Explorer or Firefox? My advice, uninstall the toolbars - they clutter-up your browser(IMHO) and do nothing but allow junk (that's a nice way of saying what I really mean) into your system. The junk (Spyware, Malware, etc.) takes down your Firewall without you seeing it, and lets in more junk which makes your system slow to a crawl. Then it's too late and you are calling guys/companies like me (which I can't say that I mind) to fix the problem.

I have seen one such system that Windows defender was down, the Firewall was down and I couldn't get either one back up. And I couldn't do a 'System Restore' to an earlier date to try to fix it - the junk in the system erased them! The only thing to do was to Pull the personal info from the system and wipe it clean and start over (FYI. When I connected to Microsoft to get updates, I stopped counting at 71.) And that was a system where unsuspecting kids were playing 'free' games and not doing Antivirus/Spyware updates and scans. Computers are like anything else - you need to do maintenance to keep 'em healthy - do the updates and scans at least every 2 weeks!

So, If you have made it this far and not fallen asleep. I will award you the 'Geek Medal of Honor'.


Now Let's chant the anti-toolbar mantra of system cleanliness:

"Toolbars are for Mars...Toolbars are for Mars...
Toolbars are for Mars...Toolbars are for Mars".


OK, that should about do it for this post. Thanks for listening...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Just Geekin'

Hello all,

Today I wanted to do something other than I normally do, so I figured on getting some 'geek' on. Actually, I geek pretty much everyday. Anyways, I went ahead and made a 'Persona' for the Firefox web browser. It's an add-on that places an image background in the header and footer of your Firefox browser. (I prefer most things non-MS)

Here's the link if you want to check it out (Shameless Plug of self-promotion). The persona features Mo, from my upcoming Children's book and Animated short. It's the same guy you see above in the blog header. I figured if you couldn't get enough plastic cuteness and had to navigate from this blog, you could keep him on your browser for constant distraction!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Payback

Hello all,

IMHO I think that our kid's time span of 'childhood' is shrinking. The amount of information available (and not so good info) is staggering and most children grow up way too fast. As parents, we rush around taking care of work (I'm laid-off, so I find myself busier than ever between my 'Start up', running errands and the Honey-do list) and having not much time to let kids be kids. I really can't say that I agree with the amount of academia our kids have on them today. We need more culture, people - too much 'reality', sports, competitiveness, rude behavior and pushing kids (not in that order), I believe contributes to the shocking headlines of these poor kids when they snap.

(OK, I'll get off my soap box and onto the point of the post ^_^)

Last week I played a small gig in this great spot called Kindergarten. It's right down the road and I suggest it to any Dad that has a talent for playing music. Really Dad's, they won't miss you that much at work if you call in sick (hint-hint), and if you're laid-off, absolutely no excuses... There was no money involved, took me a few hours for prep. of materials, some practicing, and the payback was immense!

Ally on the left, my late brother George's guitar, center...

There is an activity called 'Centers' in Mrs. Bray's Kindergarten class. It's where a volunteer parent (I'm the only Dad so far) comes in and does an activity with the class. This is the second one I have done. Last time, I read "Don't let the Pigeon ride the Bus" - one of my favorites from Mo Willems (since the kids get involved and get to say 'No' during the book) and then the kids put together Construction paper buses which I cut out the day before.

Good Times.

This time I sang "Bingo", "This Old Man" with cue cards for the kids to follow along.

I also did Ice Cream Man by VH for the potty break,
and No - Eddie VH, I am NOT ^_^.
Check out the kid in green - right back at ya, bro.


I believe that steeping kids in the classics is paramount. After that, it was 3 books including "Parts", and 2 Dr. Seuss - "Sneeches on the Beaches" and "Fox in Socks". I can't really say which of the Dr.'s books are my favorites - they both are so great.

If you are looking for the defacto standard
of tongue-twisters to read to kids, "Fox in Socks" is it.
Thanks to Mr. Wigley (my son's 5th grade teacher) for having me
read it for his class, introducing me to a wonderful book
that is a challenge to read at a normal pace and gets the kids giggling.
(I ran out and bought it that day)


The payback I mentioned came that Friday afternoon. My Wife went in to school for "Tea time with Mom" for Mother's day, and she spoke with a few of the Moms there - she is one of the 'Room Mom's for Ally's class. They said that their kids were singing "Bingo" and "This old Man" out of the blue. When asked, they said some Dad came in with a guitar and they all sang together - SCORE!!!

I plan on doing an encore next month, so if you have any suggestions - I'm all ears. And remember friends, Don't play down to kids - just play with them.

thanks for listening...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Music - Michael LuBrant

Hello all,

Well it's been a long road, and I love it when life affords us the karma that comes when paths cross of good people whom you haven't seen in so long. Remember folks, it's a journey. I feel lucky to be given one of these moments a couple weeks back.

When I worked at Teknion, I worked with a cool guy, Michael LuBrant in the IS (IT) department. I also played bass with him once or twice at open mic nights. Back then, he had already began his musical career recording his own music - and it was good then. I bumped into him, and he turned me onto his latest stuff - You have to check it out!

The music from his latest CD, 'Any Road You Take' shows his accomplishment and maturity as a singer/songwriter. From the rock beat in 'Long Time Gone' to his soulful balladeer's delivery in 'Rainy Sunday', Michael demonstrates his formidable songwriting ability. 'A Little More Time' hearkens back to 80's influences from pop music and shows more of the vast creativity he possesses. No need to look further, his music is fresh, soulful and you can see right into him and feel what he gives to you.

Like I said...karma. It's the best.

...Thanks for listening...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Animation: Moe Test

Hello all,

Here is a quick animation I made of an original character for my upcoming Flyball Short. His name is Moe. He's all happy now, but keep an eye on him. His mood can change at a moment's notice. ^_^ / -_-

video

...thanks for listening...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

3d Rigging: Free Lightwave character
- Pawn

The year before last, I designed a character named Pawn which I was going to use for animating shorts to use in my (upcoming) reel. I still plan to use him, but sometime life gets in the way of getting the personal projects done.

I visit the 11second club here and there. They have a monthly animation competition for the fun of it and they have free rigs for Max, Maya, etc. But they never have any free rigged characters for us Lightwavers.

So I found a need to fill... Why not clean him up a bit and post him for free for others to use and learn by picking the rig apart? I have learned so much from these forums - I taught myself 3d, no university schooling yet ^_~. I thought this would be a good opportunity to give back, for so much I have taken.

I contacted the 11second club a few times to offer it for free to the users with no response - maybe I'm on their spam list. So I decided to go to the source and post the rig for free on the Spinquad and the Newtek forums.

Of course with human nature, there is always someone riding your coat-tails or trying to steal your fire. My thread on the Newtek forums got Hi-jacked by a guy in the UK offering his own rig for free to reel in people to buy his tutorials and all. Well, he has to pay for his schooling somehow - no worries, there's always one.

Anyways, mine has a control panel to manipulate the facial morphs and mouth for lip sync - his doesn't even have a mouth ^ ^... Live and let live.

...thanks for listening...

Rendering: Li & Fung,
New York, NY

This is a visualization which I did for an office furniture client in New York. It was a space planning and color scheme exercise, that is why you see 2 countertops with different colors.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Renderings: Game Development

Back in 2001, I made some concept art and 3d models for an independent game company in New York. The game never went too far in development due to the developer cancelling production. Here are a few images that I made for the proposed game.
2d concepts


3d images just before production was canceled...

Animation: Flag Icons

I also made some animated gifs for an Administrator of a racing web forum. I developed these in 3d studio Max 4 back in 2001.

Renderings: David Wolfe Design

Some more visualization renderings I found while going through my old CD's.
This is a rendering of a Cherry corner hutch for a colleague. He did get the job to make and install the hutch for a private client.

These are visualizations of a proposed niche installation at the Double Tree hotel in Center City, Philadelphia back in 2001. Both of these renderings were made in AutoCAD 2000i and 3d Studio Max v4.

Web Development: Artist & 3d Render Client

Here are 2 links to web sites which I developed.

This is the first site I made for a client. It was made back in 2002 for a former colleague who was doing a start-up, and done in HTML and JavaScript. HS Studios

This site I co-designed with a former colleague in 2007. It is a bit more involved then the one I made five years earlier. I was responsible for the Web Graphics in Adobe Photoshop and ImageReady, and developed and incorporated 2 Flash plug ins, a slide show and mp3 player. The mp3 player does not have any volume since I did this site for free (come to think of it, I did the first one for free too). This site was made for a starving artist in Mullica Hill, NJ. Once I had the site development done and needed content, the client dropped off the face of the earth. ie. We couldn't get any information from him, so I only have the site without content to complete it. Shepherd

Feel free to contact me if you would like more information about the programming behind the sites.

Rendering: Backroom Bench

Here is a visualization rendering that I made for a personal project. A wood bench which I wanted to make and install in the back porch of our old house. I made it for Proof of Concept for my wife to see what I was thinking before I did the work.

I did this rendering in 3d Studio Max v6.

Illustration: Tekion Newsletter Optips

I made a few versions for a revamp of the company newsletter's logo. Below are the 3 versions which I made in Adobe Illustrator.

Exhibit Design, Renderings:
Philadelphia Museum of Art

These are various (OLD) renderings I made while I worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (circa 1994). These were made in AutoCAD v13 and 3d Studio Max (that's v1!). These are the first 3d renderings I ever made and it shows that I had no training...

When they wanted to revamp the Kid's gift shop in the basement on the south side of the Museum, I was called in to do before and after renders for approval of concept. This is before.

And this is after.

Another concept rendering was to move an existing statue from the field at the north side of the museum into a niche. The project was not done since the President at that time, the late Anne d'Harnencourt, considered it not appropriate. This rendering saved the museum quite a bit of money in labor and coordination costs.


Of course, they didn't have Photoshop, so I couldn't 'shop' the existing bushes out of the pictures I took of the niche. NOTE: my UV Mapping skills have also improved since then ^_^.

Exhibit Design: Visitor's Center, Williams, AZ

The largest exhibit we made at David Wolfe Design was a USDA project for the proposed Visitors Center at Williams, AZ. It is located within the existing train station. It had many interactive exhibits, lit panel walls a DVD display unit and much more. I was responsible for the working drawings and fabrication of the exhibit pieces. Of course, I was not part of the installation team, I had to stay behind and hold down the fort.

Here is a link I found that has a few pictures of the exhibit: Visitor's Center I still have nightmares about that squirrel ^_^.


This is the DVD display still in the shop. It also has a fiber-optic light display that traces the route (66) from Chicago, IL to Los Angeles, CA.

Here is a closeup of the DVD and Fiber-Optic display.

These are pictures of some of the interactive display walls in the final installation.

This was by far one of the most challenging and most satisfying (after completion) exhibits I worked on at David Wolfe Design.

Exhibit Design: Various Installations

We made a number of installations for smaller jobs at David Wolfe Design. We did installations at the Primate house in the Philadelphia Zoo, Private Clients and more, but I do not have pictures of all of them. Here are a couple pics of the ones I do have...

We jokingly called this the 'Money shot' of David in the Trolley at the Library. It has been a while, so I don't remember the name, but it's a library in West Philly.

Here's the Trolley installation Crew: Kevin Lamp, Roman Przychodzien, Phillip and David Wolfe.


This is another one that I made the working drawings for fabrication. It's a train that fit into an existing fireplace at a Library. Kept the kids out and gave them something to climb on ^_^.

Exhibit Design: Philadelphia Int'l. Airport,
Phila., PA

At David Wolfe Design, we also made some vitrines for the Philadelphia International Airport. It was all part of a project called "Jazz & Java" at the airport.

These were installed in Terminal D, but that was back in November of 1998, before 9-11. I do not know if they are still there or not. With the new security provisions at the airport, and also due to the fact that I don't travel too often, it's hard to get in there to see them.

This was the BIG ONE. It was a 'bear' to get in there at that time, since we had to install when the terminal was closed. David Wolfe is the gentleman center left giving direction.

These are 3 of the other vitrines we made for the installation.

Another detail of one of the vitrines above - just beautiful. I wonder if they are still in use???

Exhibit Design: Camper Exhibit, Dover, DE

Here are some photos of and installation that we did for the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village in Dover, DE. This was my first project working as a consultant at that time for David Wolfe Design. I made the working drawings which his company used to manufacture the cases, platform, and vitrines for the installation.

Here's the entrance to the exhibit. The exhibit was for Jehu Camper, a local whittler and historian. He made some impressive pieces of art.


The platform and vitrines.

Detail of the wall-mounted vitrines.

Exhibit Design: Betsy Ross House, Phila., PA

Here's some pictures of casework we made for the gift shop at the Betsy Ross house when I worked for David Wolfe Design. This installation was done back in 2001, I visited there this past summer and the gift shop has since been redone, only 2 of our original pieces remain - that's small business...

I was responsible for the working plans and I made a few test renders for approval (don't know where they got off to). We manufactured, and delivered them to the Betsy Ross house. Anvil Construction installed the pieces.

We also made the wall pieces too. This is how it all looked (beautiful) before the workers at the gift shop covered them all over with 8 1/2" x 11" sheets of paper with descriptions and prices for the goods they would soon carry.


Here's a detail of the dentils and acrylic grab boxes (point of sale) at the cashier's counter.

This is a view looking West in the shop, and Bill (24 karats) working hard holding up one of the freestanding cases.

The freestanding case Bill was holding up ^_^.

The second freestanding case, looking west again.

This was a great project to work on. it is just a shame that the pieces are no longer in use (except for 2).

...thanks for listening...