Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Back to friends...

One of the disadvantages to our job is that we leave our friends for four months. One of the advantages is every time we come home, it's like a homecoming celebration.

When we entered our apartment, after a 14 hour travel day, we were do pleased to have a bucket of popcorn and a welcome home sign from our dear friend Becca.



She even got a Wrigley Field tin!

The next night, we saw her, Brett and Guillermo as we recorded a new podcast. You can listen to it here.

We're back to doing the podcast every week, so make sure you listen.

On Wednesday we had lunch with Jason and then I did Deep Schwa and Armando and saw several more friends. Even though it's only been 3 months since we last saw everyone, they're all so happy and warm and hug us and say "Welcome back!".

It's just nice to hear.

Still more friends to see, but we have time. We're here for 5 more months.


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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Argenta...

My brother Jacob graduated from high school yesterday. He was Valedictorian.




So proud of him. Such an accomplishment. Look out all this ribbons and sashes he wore!




Such a good student. Here he is with one of my sisters, Pam.




The ceremony was fun, but it was stifling hot in that gym.




Jeannie really enjoyed the speeches.




She laughed hard st every joke they made.




Jacob gave speech and did a really good job.
Graduations are emotional times. It's an important moment for the entire family. Sometimes the emotions are so strong that the only way to deal with them is to play Tetris on your phone.




This mother was so overwhelmed that she played Tetris throughout the entire ceremony. She did stop briefly to applaud when her son crossed the stage and to send an e-mail to her cousin to tell her that she'd just beat her Tetris high score.




After the ceremony, we went back to the house for a little party.
















We then drove all the way back to Chicago. In total, we were on the road for six hours and only with my family for a grand total of five hours. Quick trip.
We needed to get back to the city so that Jeannie could fly to Texas early this morning so she could go to her cousin Angela's graduation.
Busy weekend for graduations.
It's also the day that our dear friend from Hawaii, Jennifer Waihee is getting married. We so badly wanted to go, but we couldn't miss the graduations.
So, congratulations to Jacob, Angela and Jen and Jay!
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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Chicago...

We've been back in Chicago for a couple of days. It's been so nice to be home. So nice to be back in our apartment and so nice to see our friends.

Being home has elicited so much joy. Joy over small things. Small things like being able to go to the refrigerator and get a bottle of cold water. Not tepid water or lukewarm water. Cold, cold water.

Lots of small things like that.

I still have more pictures and traveling stories to tell, but I'm taking a break from thinking or talking about traveling. I'll share the pictures and stories later.

Instead, I'll share this. I bought a bike.


I used the money I had leftover from the trip to buy it, so it's now officially my Finland Bike.

I haven't had a bike in years and really wanted one so I could ride with Jeannie and her new bike. The bike that I bought is an old style Schwinn Corvette Cruiser.

I have to say, I'm pretty shocked that I bought a retro style bike. I wouldn't have been caught dead riding one of those things a few years ago. But, I really liked Jeannie's and it seemed fun and cool to get one. It's also fun to have a bike that matches Jeannie's. I hadn't intended to get matching colors, but the tan/yellow bike was the only corvette bike they had in stock.

The other big selling point was the cool plaid seat.


And, a cup holder!


A CUP HOLDER!


How awesome is that!

Jeannie and I went for a long ride today down by the lake and it was nice, peaceful and relaxing.

It's nice to be home. It's even better to be home and to have a hipster doofus bike!

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sauna party...

As stated previously, I'm not a party person. I like meeting people and talking to people. But then, mingling, drinking and partying come about and I bow out. Not my forte.

Luckily, I'm blessed with a lovely wife who is a social butterfly. She is blessed with the skills and personality to mingle and hang out all night long.

Thankfully, she stays at the parties with her friends after I leave and then comes home with all kinds of stories and pictures.

The closing party of the festival was at a party sauna.

Now, in America, we have sauna's. They're in health clubs and places like that. In Finland, sauna's are not a "pop in after a workout" type of thing. They are a way of life. Most homes and apartments have sauna's. Many people sauna (yes, it's used in a verb form) 2, 3, 4 times a week. They do it with groups, families, business meetings,...whatever social gathering you can think of, the Finn's can and will sauna while doing.

For the closing party of the festival, the producer's rented a party sauna.


Jeannie stayed at the party with her friends Senja and Marju until it closed down.






All the JadaJada folks were there and performers from all the other teams.











After you sauna for 30 minutes, everyone goes outside to cool down, then head back in for another sauna session. While they're outside, they usually cook up sausages.








Sausages and saunas. It's a Finland thing.
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Location:FlygstationsvƤgen,,Finland

The Finland International Improv Festival...

Saturday was a full day.  We taught all day long, then watched and performed all night long.

From 10am to 5pm, we had our classes.  I had two really great groups of people from all over the world.  I had people in my class from Ireland, Finland, Estonia, Germany, Holland and Israel.  So many accents.  So many styles of improv.

Both classes I taught were really great.  I love teaching Chicago style of improv to new groups.

After the workshops, we went back to theater to watch more shows.


At the theater I met David.  He's from England.  He travels around everywhere going to improv festivals. In fact, he's seen Aphasia perform at a couple different festivals in the US.
We ended the night doing a show with all the teachers.  It was myself, Jeannie, Yani, Trent, Anya, Rod and Senja.  We had a very, very fun show.  It was such a treat to perform with Trent, Rod and the rest of the teaching staff.  The show was so fun.

One of the things about teaching all day and then doing a show is,...you just spent 6 hours telling everyone how to perform, you better back it up!  It's something I'm very cognizant and mindful of.  I watched many teachers and instructors completely ignore every rule they teach.  So, when I get onstage, I try very, very hard to execute what I teach.  After last nights show, one of the guys from one of my classes asked me if I had broken the rules from my classes.

I started to apologize and say, "...it was just a fun show, we were having lots of fun out there so it doesn't matter."  But then, I stopped myself.  I went over scene in my head.  I realized, for the most part, we had done everything I had taught in my classes.  Almost every scene was started organically.  Every scene started with an emotion, character or object work.  Every first line was a gradual build of scene work.  None of the first lines declared for everyone the full premise, beginning, middle, end of the scene and didn't paint everyone's characters...they were all building and developing scenes.  And, for the most part, we had no arguments in our scenes.  We didn't ridicule each other and weren't cruel.  We played characters and had some really funny, wild and playful scenes.  Our inspiration came from the suggestion and then from each others scenes.

We were very playful and the show was very fun and fast.  I think that's what may have confused him.  Since the scenes in class were slower, he thought the scenes in the show should have been slower.

Again, for the most part, our show was a very Chicago style of show.  The show was a little more fast paced than we would have done with Aphasia or Meta Five or Armando, but it was definitely same pace and in the same style of a Deep Schwa show.  It was an organic, character based, emotion and relationship driven show.  We just did it faster in the show than the scenes developed in the classroom.

There.  There's my rant.

It was a great, fun festival.  I had a great time and feel very fortunate to have come here.  We met so many great people and had so much fun.  Hopefully we'll see them all again down the road.

Special thanks go out to Yani for arranging my workshops in Helsinki...

and to our friends in YadaYada.



And, of course to Trent Pancy.  He really went out of his way to put on a great festival and to make Jeannie and I comfortable for the entire week.


Great time in Finland.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sausage Party...

We went to Trent's place for a kick-off BBQ for the Finland International Improv Festival.

Because it's Winter, 6 (7?,8?,9?) months out of the year, their BBQ's are enclosed.

That way, they can BBQ year round.

It was a great little hut.  We fit in there nicely with all the YadaYada folk.




It was a great time.  They're a really great team and fun to hang out with.  I feel like they've become good friends to us this week.

Later that evening there was an improvised Karaoke party.  A band played and people got up and improvised songs.



It was fun.  As most people know, I'm not a stay out all night, party person.  I like to go for awhile, feel the fellowship, have some laughs and then head home.  Jeannie, on the other hand, could stay all nights.  She loves singing, dancing and hanging out with people.  She made two new friends this week, Senja and Marju.  The three of them had a grand ole time singing and laughing and having fun.  I knew she was in good hands when I left her with them.

On Friday, we were back at the festival for a night of shows.  3 Shows, 6 hours of improv.




Today is a full day.  Teaching 2 classes, watching 4 shows then performing in one.  Busy, but that's what a festival is all about!