Peter Lyons

Thanksgiving Catch-up Post

December 19, 2017

Here's a blast post of what I can remember from the last month or so, which has been busy with lots of good stuff.

Tuesday before Thanksgiving I went to Barbès to hear Slavic Soul Party, which was a real treat. The next morning I took the bus out to Lambertville. My Mom had a bunch of stitches in her hand and was instructed to rest it, so I helped with cooking the stuffing and mashed potatoes and helped Dad yell at Mom to stop doing things. "Violation!" we exclaimed whenever she reached for a cooking implement.

Thanksgiving was medium-small with mostly my core family, Uncle Eddie, and one of my parents' friends. Mom got a turkey breast instead of a whole bird to roast which I think was a real pro move. We also researched a bunch of recipes in a confirmation bias experiment where Mom claims first to be unsure about the time and temperature to roast the turkey and asks me to find some recipes on the web, then to discount any I find that contradict her unspoken and preheld ideas of what the correct answer is. Then she just cooks it how she thinks and it comes out great. The mashed potatoes I made with crumbled butter on top came out pretty amazing both in appearance and taste.

Saturday after Thanksgiving we threw a big party celebrating my Mom's 70th birthday (which is in December). Mostly my sister did 99% of the work and then Matt, Frankie, and I did one trip to the grocery store in Flemington to pick up the cake and balloons and last few things. A lot of my Mom's friends and family came and it was really great. Kate collected old photos and made a slideshow which Frankie projected onto one of the walls. My nephews served as coat check attendants.

Then it was back to New York for more Recurse Center. That next Friday Shannon came to visit and we kicked off the weekend with a visit to Momofuku Ramen, which we learned about watching the PBS series "The Mind of a Chef" which features Chef David "Top it off with a poached egg" Chang for all of season 1. It was really good and we didn't have to wait long. The spacing was tight but otherwise there wasn't too many "this restaurant has been on national TV" shenanigans. I was super exhausted from the long days at Recurse Center so needed to crash right after that.

Saturday we had Brunch in Brooklyn and then went into Manhattan to see the Downton Abbey Exhibition in the evening. It was really neat to see all the fancy costumes: wool tuxedos and endless evening gowns.

Sunday we had breakfast sandwiches at my place in Park Slope then did some brownstone touring around the neighborhood, visited the specialty chocolate shop, then got ready to go to Manhattan for dinner and a show. Dinner was at Porteño, then some drinks at a hotel bar next to the venue, and the show was Sleep No More, which was really fun and engaging. I was super exhausted when the show and post-show live jazz were over and realized my version of taking it easy to rest up over the weekend involved something like 30 hours being out and about doing stuff in NYC.

The following weekend I saw a long night of music at The Ktichen called "Forever Weird" which had Kamikaze Ground Crew, Jazz Passengers, and The Microscopic Septet performing. There's a write-up in the NY Times here. The next day I went to visit Andrew and Ariel who live not too far from my sublet. We were joined by Peter, Elizabeth, and Mark as well. It was my first time meeting new baby Isla who is super cute, and they have a pretty kitty as well.

From there I went to Brooklyn Boulders to do a coaching session with one of their coaches Danny. Main tips were I need to start movements with my feet and move everything in order from feet up through knees and hips and only move my upper body as the last component. We also talked about using drop knees as a primary technique on any overhang. He also showed me some good stretches for my legs which are super tight with low mobility. I feel like there's better techniques available now and I might try to work on that consistently next year. Will be writing up some plans for changes in 2018 soon.

That week I had dinner with my parents, Matt, and Frankie at Cookshop on 10th Ave on Wednesday evening. Thursday morning I got up early to a snowstorm, and met up with another recurser to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. It was snowing and cold so there was no view of sunrise, but still a cool experience and lots of interesting visuals. Thursday evening was my last day at Recurse Center, the "never graduate" ceremony, and the RC holiday party.

Recurse Center was a really great experience for me. I definitely accomplished my main goal which was to get past the steep part of the rust programming language's learning curve. The community aspect of it I think will be a long-term major thing for me. I haven't really connected to the Denver tech scene partly because I hate driving there, and the Boulder scene is just pretty small.

I rested up on Friday which was my first post-RC day. I also went into Manhattan to practice sax at Michiko studios which is sadly only accessible via Times Square. Times Square around Christmas is a crazy high rage-per-footstep ratio, but I got through it without shoving anyone out of the way. Saturday I found a music studio in Brooklyn that would rent me a room to practice in so I did that.

Sunday I took Metro North up to Poughkeepsie to visit Chris. We grabbed lunch at a diner then headed to the high school across the street for the Hudson Valley Saxophone Orchestra concert. My former sax professor Paul Cohen was there and it was fun to see him and hear him play soprano and sopranino. The group has both bass and contrabass saxophones which is pretty awesome. They invited any sax players in the audience to join them on the final group of holiday tunes and quite a few of us took them up on it. Oh man my sight reading is terrible! Who said you could have a key change in the middle of a song? What's up with that even?

After a nap, Chris, Liz, and I went to see Star Wars at a small theater nearby. I loved it! It was easily my favorite Star Wars yet.

On Sunday after sleeping in I practiced sax while Chris and Liz went for a run. Then we went over to Mohonk where Alex met up with us for a music camp sax team reunion. We hiked around up to the tower. It was cold and misty. Then we had a huge buffet lunch in the Mohonk Mountain House. My travel plan was to have Alex drive me to the Oradell train station, which is near his house and I'd make my way from there back to Brooklyn. But apparently the schedule is weird in that there are frequent drains all day then an unexpected period between like 4PM and 9PM when no trains run east. I didn't account for this so we had to do some smartphone scrambling on the drive toward Alex's house. I eventually found an NJ Transit bus I could take from Dumont, NJ in to Port Authority. $6 and like 9 million stops later, I was back in the city and then a quick Q train ride into Brooklyn had me home in time to watch s03e10 of Mr Robot before zonking out.

This morning I went and had a sax lesson with Peter Hess who plays alto in Slavic Soul Party. We worked on the idiomatic phrasing used in balkan sax playing, which I find impossible to learn on my own and need someone to slow down to like 1/10th speed and talk me through all the stylizations they do on almost every note that give it the right sound. It was fun but similar to Balkan Camp, I'm not very optimistic of my chances of being able to really integrate it into my playing, but we'll see how it goes with some shedding sessions (or "drilling" as it's apparently called).

I'm in RC today blogging just for fun and because the WiFi at my apartment is abysmal. Hoping to get a final few visits to Brooklyn Boulders in before heading to NJ for Christmas on Friday.

Here's some photos of the 2nd part of my time here in NYC this fall.