Journal

Spellbound

I think this week will be a week of cinema. We went to see “Spellbound” at the American Independent Film festival. It was really good, and I was on the edge of my seat much more than during the thriller last night. I don’t think you could do this in fiction, but there were essentially eight protaganists and you wanted them all to win.

On the way to the film we stopped at a grocery store to grab a bite to eat. This sign was in the window.

Do you need more to let you know that I’m in a different country?

Massage, glorious massage

Last night I went to see “The Bourne Supremecy” with Jodi, Sam, Sarah, Julie and Raymond. It was a lot of fun, though there was a bit of unintentional humor. One of the characters turns to another, at a very intense moment and says, “Can I speak with you privately?” Suddenly the lights come up and the film stops for the interval. Everyone filed out of the theater to the snack bar. So, I guess he needed a really private conversation.

This morning, I’ve had a massage. Happiness.

Remote Control

I spent the afternoon turning a light on a remote control on and off. This was much, much harder than it sounds because I had to time it with the person who was hitting the button, but the timing was different with each touch. Surprisingly stressful.

Playing Football

I spent the morning on set as the live hands for Ziggy, played by Thor. Yes. Thor. I am in Iceland, remember? Anyway, I had to catch a football from a hike and then throw a lateral. You know how brilliant I am at sports. Fortunately it was a tight shot, so no one had to know where the ball landed.

I also got word that I’m moving on Wednesday. Actually, I’m moving in to my new place on Wednesday, I’m moving out of my current place tomorrow morning. I’ll spend tomorrow night at Julie’s.

Domestic labors

I spent the day being fairly domestic. I did laundry, cooked, washed dishes. Went for a walk. Read. Napped on the eighties sofa. Nothing terribly exciting, though I’m looking forward to my clean laundry. There are no driers in Iceland, or at least there are very few. All the washers are frontloaders, and all the basements have rows of clotheslines strung across their width. At least, all the ones I’ve been into thus far.

Lost in Translation

I have today off, but I don’t quite know what to do with myself. This is my first unstructured day off in Iceland. I feel a bit lost.

The Studmenn in concert

The rest of the afternoon went very fast, afterall. I was called in to help with a periscope and football shot. Were we where trying to make it look like a football bounced off a periscope. Not easy. I also played in the puppet shop some, trying to make the Mayor’s half-body legs walk.

After work everyone went to Magnus’s house for a party and then to a concert. The interesting thing about Iceland is that things go pretty late. The party started about 9:30, and the concert was at midnight. It was a band, Studmenn that was hugely popular at one time, and have been around for twenty years or so. One of the men in it has been voted sexiest man in Iceland for eight years running. They are a dance band, so the concert experience was not a music hall. It was a converted gymnasium, with a lot of open floor space for people to jump, gyrating, up and down. Don’t get me wrong, there was a real sound system and stage, but it’s not really my scene. I’m glad I went, but I’ll ask more carefully what someone means when they say ‘concert’ next time.

We left at the interval at two a.m.

Working today?

I feel a bit cheated. We’re working on Saturday because everyone got an extra day off the week before I got here. There’s something not fair about that. On the other hand I spent more time in front of the camera this morning than I have since I got here. I was on set almost continously before lunch.

The first bit was pushing Sarah in on a rolly-cart because the shot was too low for her to move herself without her knees showing. So, that was really puppeteer manipulation, rather than puppet manipulation. Still fun to be working.

The next shot I did live hands for Sarah as she worked Trixie. We had to come in carrying a cable, give a thumbs up, turn up the volume on a turntable, have a bit of dialogue and dance. Because of a turn that we had to do, there was a moment where I was blind (couldn’t see a tv monitor). It’s funny, because on stage that would have been no issue, but with television puppetry I’m not manipulating the puppet on my hand so much as I am moving the image on the screen. So, it doesn’t matter if my muscle memory tells me where something is; it can still look wrong on screen.

After lunch has been a different story. We’ve been doing our usual waiting routine.

Ah, the green room.

We started working as soon as we came in today. I did some right hands, but nothing terribly complicated. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this, but one of the reasons that I was hired is because the other puppeteers have fairly large hands and, in Jodi’s words, “they look freakish” when they do live hands for the puppets.

This is the green room, where we spend a lot of time. I wish I could take pictures on set, but I figure this way you’ll get to see all the backstage stuff; the show, you can watch on t.v. We’ve done a fair bit of work today, which is nice. The days when we’re here, just waiting, are excrutiatingly long.

Tea-time?

Interesting. We were called in around 4:00, but still haven’t done anything. We have half an hour left till the end of the day, so I can only assume that they brought us in for tea-time.

I used the time to start work on a new novel today, and am three chapters into it. It’s hard to concentrate here, but I think I’m making progress. As in, I think that I’ve done more than just put down a random collection of words.

On Call

Much to my surprise, they are letting us wait at home till they get close to doing puppet shots today. Which means I get to spend a little more time here.

Trying to tie shoes.

I spent some more time with David walking. We showed it to Jodi who thought that it looked good. Then we showed it to Magnus, but there’s no way for two puppeteers to be on the puppet without the second one showing. It is frustrating because the harness gear makes the puppet walk like a duck.

After lunch David was trying to make it look better, and fell off the platform. He was fine, but it scared us. I think it scared us more than it did him.

I also did stuff with hands for one shot. Oh, the most interesting thing was going to the prop shop to look at this shoe tying robot that I’ll be in one episode. Just for giggles, try tying a pair of shoes over your head, while wearing gloves and a blindfold. It’s fun! Trust me.

Learning to Walk

I actually wound up working quite a bit today. I was in a couple of shots as hands or feet, but my primary activity today was on a full body shot that they would like to do, but they’ve had little success with the full body puppets thus far. So we spent, what seemed like hours, walking the same fifteen foot stretch of floor with a puppet that is three-quarters life-size. For me, this means a lot of time crawling on the floor.

Tomorrow morning we’ll try the same thing but on a platform, which will be easier because I won’t have to crawl. Such fun.

After work I went to the pool with Jodi, Sam and Julie. The hot tubs are a really lovely way to unwind after a day spent hunched over.

Massage Day

Oh, Tuesdays are going to be glorious, I can tell that already. This is the day that Guna comes in to give all the puppeteers massages. I’ve just had a really lovely massage and all seems right with the world.

At some point today, we might actually work. Someone was making ominous comments about stretching into January, but I think they were kidding.

A day of nothing

Today all of the puppeteers were called in for work and none of us did anything. I take that back. We played scrabble.