Thursday, July 12, 2012

Back in Bloomington

We've now been back from Europe for just over a month and we are in full summer mode. 
Bloomington is great and we are so glad that this is where we're coming back to.  There's something European about Bloomington, probably the limestone buildings and homes that make up a majority of the architecture.  We were very lucky to have a couple days after we returned to relax before we had to start work.  I highly recommend scheduling vacations that way.  I (Ben) was the first to work.  I'm performing with Indiana Festival Theater (IFT) which is basically IU's summer theater company.  Barbara is working in the costume shop.  We have more or less switched places: Babs has the normal 9 to 5 job with time to prepare food and keep up the house and I have the crazy, nutso hours.  It's been kind of nice switching places for a bit, walking in the others' shoes, at least Babs thinks so.  The thing I especially like is how much we get to see each other.  The rehearsal hall is about 20 paces from the costume shop so we actually bump into each other in the halls, which is always a treat.  The downside of course is that because our schedules are offset from each other we don't actually get a single whole day off together

The big project since returning home has been making a commercial.  As some of you know, about a year ago I made (with the help of my awesome nephews) a little video for the KoolSpoon for our brother-in-law, Troy.  Well, one of Troy's associates is also a inventor and has created something called the Spine Pal.  It's an insert that you put into any backpack to make it more ergonomical, and he asked me to make a commercial for it. The difference is that I made the KoolSpoon video to be shown by Troy and online.  The Spine Pal commercial is specifically for television, which is exciting, and also more complicated technically.  Since I'm no longer in California to enlist nephews, I called on my friend Reynolds (Julia's fiancee) who has a lot of amateur experience and even better still, camera equipment.  I wrote a script that got approved, and we spent a week planning out how to actually shoot it.  It's a single take for about 90 seconds so it was a bit complicated to choreograph. After finding a location we liked we assembled equipment, props, actors, and crew.  Barbara drove the car while Jake sat in the trunk with the camera.  I enlisted some help from church and an actress friend of mine and we were all set!

The pictures above are from our pre-filming rehearsal.  We arrived at our location at around 5:30am to give ourselves plenty of time to rehearse before shooting.  We had an elaborate system in which everyone had a specific place to be in order to achieve the single-shot including Reynolds throwing a mattress down in time for one of the girls to fall over onto it.

There were some unforeseen problems, like the fact that apparently the grounds crews water the plants in that area with big loud compressor tanks at that time in the morning.  But we were still able to get in 15 takes, of which one was really usable (though not perfect.)  Being one long take, if one thing goes wrong, the whole thing doesn't work.  We had hoped to get in at least three good takes to choose from, but the sun came up right behind me and forced us to stop.  The next week inovled me and Reynolds editing the video (all the stuff after the end of the take was complicated) and filming the rest of the little bits.  I should say it was me sitting next to Reynolds while he actually did the editing, but I was on hand for artistic decisions.  Anyway, it was a very fun process, and there's a chance we may actually do a couple more of these things.  If it picks up, Reynolds, Jake and I would love to start a little production company making these sorts of hip, quirky infomercials.  If you haven't seen it, here's the not quite finished product:

We've also enjoyed having time to spend with friends.  The other week we went out to dinner and then bowling with Reynolds, Julia, and Erica and Jake.  We bowled two rounds, first it was couple vs. couple but then (against my protestations) it was men vs. women.

The Men trying to be as ridiculously manly as possible.  The other guys were much better at this that I was.  That odd face I'm making is me trying desperately not to laugh at them.
Jake was in the Bathroom when they decided on names so Erica gave him "Poopy Butt".  Every time there was a glitch it was on his turn so we had to go to the desk and ask if they could reset Poop Butt again.  We college graduates sure are mature. 

We saw our first fireflies of the year that night, or in Barbara's case, her  first fireflies EVER!

June 28 was my birthday, but very little to mention.  I went out to a restaurant on my dinner break with a bunch of the cast.  The IFT crowd has been just wonderful to me.  Very welcoming and fun to work with.  When I came home Babs had made me cake (oatmeal cake with maple frosting, mmm) and got me the Muppets movie soundtrack.  Inside the cd case was a cooking class schedule.  My big gift is a cooking class session!  Barbara's the best gift giver.

On the 4th of July I just had an afternoon dress rehearsal, so that morning we went to the ward pancake breakfast and that night we went up to Jeff and Katie's place near Indianapolis.  They're getting married this saturday and this was a sort of pre-thank you for the help. They are just the best hosts.  This is where we went shooting while the ladies were gone.  Again it was Julia, Reynolds, Jake, and Erica.  We had an excellent pool party followed by amazing food.  Katie's parents were there, too, and her dad made perhaps the best BBQ ribs I've ever had.  I may have eaten too many of them...

 The food was amazing!  We had an especially fun time eating the blue-frosted cupcakes. Delicious and turned our mouths blue!

Jeff works for Rolls Royce in Indianapolis and his building is about four blocks from where the fireworks are set off.   So after dinner, we went to the RR garage roof and watched the Indianapolis fireworks display.

Erica and Jake doing an interpretive dance to "Proud to be an Amercian."  The consensus among us hippie theater folk was that there needs to be a bigger portfolio of non-country patriotic songs.

More to come soon, but as you can see, we've been having a fun time.  It's just so nice having a little more time together.

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