Snow Blessings

The past two weekends were spent in the abundantly snow-covered Green Mountains of Vermont, getting after some of the best conditions one could hope for; February was one of the best months for snow in the Northeast that I can ever remember. I spent two days at good ol’ Magic Mountain, riding Red Chair and finding pristine stashes of untracked powder everywhere. Saturday was actually the most crowded I’ve ever seen the mountain, and the usually empty lift line involved a 15 minute wait a few times. While I love that place for its desolation, I like to see it selling some tickets and hope that with a few days like that, it can manage to clear the bare-bones-but-not-cheap expenses that it costs to operate the area for the year. Sunday was frigid and back to emptiness with plenty of snow to enjoy, and we brought the whole family and a crew of friends and spent time trading off child-care in the remarkably kid-friendly lodge. While it does offer some of the steepest and most challenging tree skiing in the East, the mountain is perfect for all ages and abilities, with its lone chair servicing a wide variety of terrain and a convenient meeting spot for everyone at the bottom, no matter what run you choose. I also spent a morning skiing “The Backyard” in Chester, hiking up and dropping into some of the deepest powder I have ever experienced; the runs are quick but also some of the sweetest turns I could imagine.

The following weekend was a boys trip to Sugarbush. I am fortunate to have a wife who understands my obsession with the sport and my need for vertical feet when the conditions are calling, so I made the trip North solo at 4am on Saturday and met my Boston buddies on the hill. We skied hard and maximized our time deep in the woods, finding spots we had never discovered with the highlight run being a quick hike off the Heaven’s Gate lift along the Long Trail to an untouched line of pure joy. We were whooping ecstatically with every turn, loving the blissful sensation of effortless carving through the fresh snow.

Despair and Euphoria in an Instant

Unbelievable. I have watched sports for my entire life and have witnessed dramatic victories and crushing defeats and experienced the full spectrum of emotions on every level. I learned about heartbreak early, watching the ’86 Red Sox fall apart in Game 6 with family and friends in my living room, then tasted my first glory with the Patriots’ first Super Bowl victory in 2002 in The Louisiana Superdome with my dad. These epic contests ended on singular plays that are eternally enshrined in Boston sports lore: Bill Buckner’s ground ball whiff and Adam Vinatieri’s boot through the uprights. They were certainly dramatic and instantaneous finishes, but in reality, they both came out of ties: had Buckner managed to corral the grounder and step on 1st, the game would have gone to extra innings and had Vinatieri missed his opportunity, Super Bowl XXXVI would have been decided in overtime.

This is why the ending of Super Bowl XLIX was so beyond anything I have ever experienced. It was a battle from the start and the lead changed several times, with the Seahawks taking a 10-point lead in the third quarter that became a 4-point Patriots lead with 2 minutes left in the game. The last two Patriots’ Super Bowls had eerily similar situations that set up game-winning drives by their opponents, and when Seattle completed a miracle catch at the 5-yard line, the absurd inevitability of deja vu (see Tyree, 2008 and Manningham, 2012) and acceptance of a curse on the team seemed logical. One play later and they were 36 inches from delivering that same backbreaking blow. With three plays to get the ball past the goal line, I put the odds of the Patriots winning the game at less than 1%. It could not have been more certain doom for the Pats, and as I watched with my family in the same living room where I had witnessed the Red Sox collapse 28 years earlier, we were absolutely resigned to defeat. It was hopeless to imagine any other outcome. But then, in a flash of Malcom Butler colliding with Ricardo Lockette and intercepting an ill-conceived pass, the Patriots were Champions once again! In all my years of watching sports, I have never seen the tables turn from defeat to victory in an instant like that: I have seen comebacks and last minute drives and clutch baskets and walk-off home runs, but nothing like a game-stealing goal line interception for the win in the biggest single game in sports. It is almost impossible to comprehend just how significant this play was, but I will never forget jumping up and screaming and hugging my dad and shattering his glass in a moment that ran through the entire spectrum of sports emotion and will happily live with me for eternity.

Like the yin and the yang, there are two sides to this moment. As an invested sports fan, you have to accept that either outcome is a possibility. This compilation of reactions to the play shows our culture’s obsession and deep emotional connection to the game. I have been in both camps and can only enjoy this victory with the knowledge that I will inevitably see the dark and depressing side again. No matter what my teams may suffer in the future, past glories will live forever!

Sufjan Stevens at BAM Again!

A few years ago, I witnessed a performance that still ranks as the most incredible live event I have ever attended. Sufjan Stevens’ BQE at BAM: video of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway with a live score performed by large ensemble and hoop dancers. It was such a unique and special event and I cherish it as an inspiring and beautiful demonstration of audio-visual possibilities.

Last night, he performed his newest piece, Round-Up, with slow-motion rodeo footage and an entrancing score performed by Sufjan and quartet Yarn/Wire. It was phenomenal. The music was layered and textured, with a propulsive Steve Reich feel, and the musicians played pianos, organs, vibraphones, percussion while Sufjan conducted from his laptop. The score was synced tightly with cuts in the film and the long, detailed shots matched the pace and depth of the composition.

The rodeo is a fascinating study in human culture and ritual, and of our dominating and violent relationship with animals. In the faces and character of its participants, Cowboys and Indians, and the raw chaos to be tamed of the wild beasts, we see through time to our primal ancestors and the quest to conquer their domain.

The Patriots Are in the Super Bowl Again!

It has been truly astonishing to witness the consistency of The New England Patriots’ domination. I am inspired by their greatness and feel fortunate to have experienced their ascent from nothing to everything in my lifetime. Of course, I am aware that they will return to nothingness again, likely after Belichick and Brady move on (and not, as it briefly appeared, after the Kansas City game of this season), but in the meantime I will enjoy every meaningful game of this run.

Unfortunately, nobody wants to talk about how great the Patriots are now, about how they are about to play one of the most important games in any dynastic conversation and about how they have raised the standard of superiority in any sport.

All anybody wants to talk about is #deflategate. Five days after their crushing 45-7 destruction of the Indianapolis Colts, I have barely heard a word of analysis from that game and hardly a mention of their upcoming contest with the defending champions in the Super Bowl. The only discussion happening right now is about pounds per square inch, and how the acceptable range (which I never knew but will now never forget is 12.5-13.5 psi) was violated in footballs being used by the Patriots’ offense.

Instead of talking about championships, we are talking about cheating. Instead of marveling at the perennial success of this franchise, we are questioning its honor and integrity. Belichick, a tactical mastermind always pushing the envelope of the game, and Brady, the consummate professional on his way to establishing the greatest Quarterback career in history, are instantly villains in the very game they defined.

So, what happened to alter perception? While my first reaction to this story was admittedly grief and despair, I have made peace with it and even give them credit for creative rule interpretation. With the same amount of journalistic standards I have seen in this coverage and lacking any proof, I present my definitive description for this farce:

Using simple physics that any equipment manager whose main duties involve pumping up the ball for Tom, who openly states his preference for softer footballs, could probably figure out, they are filled with warm, indoor air just before inspection and pass, but as time goes on and the temperature drops, the pressure drops as well (PV = nRT), resulting in a softer ball that Brady underthrows into the hands of D’Qwell Jackson who returns it to The Colts’ sideline as a souvenir, which then is measured by their equipment manager (who may have been tipped off by the Patriots’ previous opponent, The Ravens, who noticed soft balls because they played in even colder temperatures and also intercepted a pass, grumbled about the “kicking” balls’ inflation, and were embarrassed by revolutionary yet fully legal offensive formations for which they were completely unprepared and failed to properly defend) and it is discovered that the balls have below standard psi when tested five hours after they originally passed, so the team getting whooped whips up a media frenzy to attack the greatest, the one they couldn’t beat on the field, as the worst, the one who would defile the integrity of the holy game…

Questions and Answers that I don’t really know:

Q: Have any other game balls used in the history of this sport been outside the allowable 1 psi range?

A: Yes. Obviously.

Q: Has anyone in the history of this sport been penalized even a yard for this infraction?

A: No. If it has ever been detected, it was probably remedied immediately without public knowledge.

Q: Do Belichick and Brady know exactly what is being done to their game balls?

A: Yes. They are the best in their field because they are perfectionists and highly particular about their tools and techniques.

Q: Do they believe they are following the rules set by the league regarding pre-game testing?

A: Yes. As there has never been a previous example of anyone being punished for low psi before, during or after a game, they probably couldn’t even conceive of the ball-capture, test and ignition of media-wildfire scenario. They have suddenly magnified a gray area of the rules that nobody even considered: the effect of atmospheric conditions on game balls.

Q: Do they need to do this to be the most successful sports franchise on the planet?

A: Of course not, and yet it demonstrates exactly why they are so great: They always think outside the box and in between the rules, on offense and defense, in formations and personnel, with scouting and scheming, and to the appropriation of the ideal gas law with respect to a hand gripping a football. This franchise inspires me not because they win more than anyone else, but because they are focused and driven and disciplined and crafty and constantly defying conventional wisdom while revolutionizing the sport. The league is constantly behind the Patriots, rewriting the rules to define their ambiguous loopholes. Does the rulebook state that balls must be inflated at the same temperature the game will be played at? No. Does it state that balls’ pressure must be accurately measured every time they are put in play? No. Should it? No. Are the refs are responsible for ensuring that balls are legal and aren’t they implicitly declaring they are every time they place it on the line of scrimmage? It sure seems like it: if they can’t tell that something is amiss with the central piece of equipment that millions of people are focused on, then isn’t it, for all practical purposes, acceptable? If my theory is correct, did The Patriots tamper with the football? Maybe, depending on how hot their inflation environment was, in a way that possibly seems against the spirit of the rules but not necessarily against the actual rules. Would it be different if the equipment manager were deflating balls with a needle on the sideline after they had been measured and approved by officials? Yes. Is it ethically wrong for them to take advantage of basic atmospheric science to create a ball that softens as temperature drops? Maybe, but in a way that can’t really be corrected without explicit rules on inflating temperature and measurements on every play.

Bill said he has never given a thought to a ball’s legality after it is approved by the refs pregame. Tom says he doesn’t believe he is a cheater. Maybe it is cognitive dissonance and maybe it is the mark of artistic genius, refusing to accept vague boundaries as limits in rules that are revised every year. Either way, they are probably lying when they say they don’t know what happened to the balls, and that is maybe the most painful part of this debacle because there is nothing I despise more than lying, but they are talking to the media, which they have demonstrated, through controlled and tempered responses to all press conferences and a thorough mocking of the weekly injury reports, is just an extension of the game itself, and are playing a sport in which “deception” is key to success and are acting on higher principles of circling the wagons around a team and leaving no man, not even a lowly equipment manager, behind for the media vultures. Those are the guys I want on my team.

And maybe there were no shenanigans whatsoever and this is common in all cold weather games but nobody has ever considered it an issue before the Patriots were “caught”…

After five days of confusion and disappointment worrying about their tarnished reputation, I have accepted it and earned an even deeper appreciation for the greatest dynasty in sports. I am proud to be a Patriots fan and look forward to them winning another Super Bowl and rewriting the record and rule books for years to come.

Here’s Hoover

Sometimes I do things now that remind me of how different life was before Ivy. Last night, Alaina and I did something incredibly rare that we did frequently until 16 months ago. Seeing a show together involves many more calculations now but occasionally we make it happen. We hired a baby sitter and went to see Les Freres Corbusier’s new production, “Here’s Hoover!” at the Abrons Art Center. It was a blast: Herbert Hoover’s Comeback Special as a rock star dead set on re-telling his legacy and escaping the pack of below average presidents. It is fun and ridiculous with a sweet soundtrack and free beer last night! Our 4-hour escape even included 2 bonus stops at bars before and after, and some time to enjoy each other and chat without distractions.

Our lives are infinitely richer now than they were 16 months ago, but we have made sacrifices. It’s nice to know that it’s still there when we need it.

A Favorite Day


I had a fun family day today! We went to New Jersey to spend time at Liberty Science Center; Ivy loved the animals there, including tamarins, lizards and neon frogs, and I was excited about the guitar exhibition. Alaina appreciated the Infection Connection for the giant sneezing nose and the “actors” portraying her dad’s job, and we watched a phenomenal performance by a Brazilian student string orchestra, playing sambas, Beatles and James Brown while dancing and jumping out of their seats.

Then we went to Harrison for some playoff soccer! Red Bulls v. Revolution in leg 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals of the MLS Cup. We brought Ivy to a game at Gillette Stadium this Summer and it was awesome; while I would never consider bringing her to a Patriots game at this age (And I’m not sure I completely understand why that is true), soccer provides a great atmosphere for all ages and seems to encourage youth attendance. Today, our busy schedule left her with only a quick nap in the car and after the pre-match techno blast and fireworks, she fell asleep for most of the first half and missed two great goals – and was awake but getting a diaper changed in the 85th minute when Jermaine Jones scored the winner for the visitors. Being a Jersey Girl, Alaina was rooting for the local club and bought Ivy a supporters T-shirt, but I was obviously cheering for New England.

When we got home, we watched the condensed DVR version of the Patriots’ 34-9 dismantling of the Lions and my day was officially in the books as a lifetime favorite day! Good results in great company is unbeatable!


The fact that I have not written here in over two months speaks to how fast time has accelerated recently. I am working more than I have ever worked and doing my best to learn new skills and techniques of teaching older kids. It has been a challenging period for me, but I am enjoying it immensely. Seeing the musical abilities of children rapidly improving through the elementary years is awesome and inspiring!

Unfortunately, this schedule has made Ivy time increasingly rare. During the week, I see her from too-early in the morning until I leave for work. She is usually asleep when I return, so I cherish the hour or so I do spend with her, even in my typical morning zombie mode. Because of my limited Ivy-hours, I enjoy the weekend even more than I did when I spent those days in party zombie mode. Last weekend was a bit of a throwback to the olden days of my younger self; a Friday night Halloween kids parade followed by 5th Ave bar crawl and a Saturday night with Dean Ween band at Brooklyn Bowl, and a trip to Foxboro with Dad and Bro on Sunday where the Patriots stomped all over the Broncos and reasserted their dominance in the NFL. It was an epic party weekend with a confluence of amazing events! This weekend was more low-key and the past three days were wonderfully family-centric, sending me back to work tomorrow with great memories of time shared with my favorite people. I had Friday off and took Ivy on a tour of Brooklyn parks; we took a walk in Prospect Park, then Sunset Park and the brand new Bush Terminal Piers Park, where Ivy was recognized as the first baby visitor! Saturday was a Geisler/Taylor family adventure to the beautiful Storm King Sculpture Park and a trip to The Bronx Zoo and Sunday was a stroll through local Greenwood Cemetery and some quality time with Ivy’s bestie, Maisie. October weekends included a Vermont excursion and celebration of Grandma’s 90th birthday with four generations of Herters! Of all the amazing things I get to do in my life, there is nothing better than simply sharing time with Alaina and Ivy!

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Summer’s End

It has been creeping ever closer, and yesterday was D-day: the start of school. It begins and Summer ends, with all the freedom and travels and family time replaced by institutional regulations. I have always loved my schools and the learning and teaching that occurs within the walls, but will eternally dread the return to regimented schedule!

Summertime was fantastic while it lasted, and we left Brooklyn every weekend but one. Bellport, Warwick, Osterville, Chester, Portland and a phenomenal final week in Bar Harbor made Ivy’s first Summer a Northeast classic. I love these places so much and loved introducing Ivy to the world that I have grown up in!

Although the change is abrupt, this school year is highly anticipated with a particularly exciting new job involved: I will be working full-time at Poly Prep teaching all music classes Nursery through 4th grade. I have been teaching for 12 years and almost all of it has been with children ages 0-5; now I am working with kids twice as old. They change! I hope to learn as much as I teach and look forward to sharing music with these young humans!










Brooklyn Museum Fountain

I am lucky to have Brooklyn Museum as my local art collection. It is classical and cutting edge with interesting and eclectic permanent collections as well as a fascinating and evolving mix of current exhibitions; it is a wonderful space to revere and contemplate art. And when they announced an open-call for submissions to score the fountain, I was inspired to make music! My compostion was chosen as one of ten pieces to be played in a program on August 14 and I watched the fountain dance to my work. I spent many fun hours in the pursuit and truly enjoyed creating the soundtrack, so it was exciting to be a part of this event and share it with family, friends and strangers.

Thank you Brooklyn Museum for celebrating and inspiring artistic creation!

Summer of Ivy

Summer is always densely scheduled and the first half of 2014 has been jam-packed with great adventures and a World Cup background! We had our first family camp at The Backyard in Vermont and are headed up again this weekend; Ivy seemed to love being in the woods and although she has requirements that we have never dealt with in camping before, she was remarkably low-maintenance and fun to be with! We have attended two more beautiful weddings: in Brooklyn for Paul and Lindsey then Bartol Island, Maine for Patrick and Betsey. Celebrating Love is the best and most important reason! After a one-year hiatus, The Land Party resumed and Land Band rocked it! In a series of painful events (holding my baby in a non-ergonomic fashion then falling off my bike trying to ride one-handed), my wrists were incapacitated and I was unable to play bass, but Family Fun bassist Ricky heroically stepped in… We have been to Bellport, swimming, sailing and playing with added bonus Barcelona brother Kevin in a rare appearance Stateside. For my entire life, Cape Cod July 4th has been one of the greatest family weekends; celebrating my Father’s birthday with fireworks and lobster and extended Taylor clan has now evolved to include the next generation, with Lincoln, Oliver and Ivy, while the cousins have grown from babyhood to college in my memory! How amazing is life?!?!