Samson Project


Spouseinbox and I took Snapshots of Samson to Abilene on Sunday.   It was an interesting experience as the church was African.  I am not referring to the skin color, but the nationality.  We understood about 25% of the service – which was translated.  Some of the translation was worded in a fashion that an idea was grasped at best.  Snapshots of Samson is in English.  I was asked about pauses to translate, and of course being music on video, there was no way to pause.  The pastor attempted something between the first and second songs and then a long talk post the presentation.  He told me that for those who didn’t speak English, they watched the drama and used what they knew of the story.

The show takes about 3 hours to set up and close to 2 hours to tear down.  A small part of the issue is the light stands and bars which were loose in the trailer.  We would just pack them on top of some other boxed items and pray that they would stay there.  This week, I got the whim to fix that problem and spent three days (evenings actually) sizing, cutting and sewing a bag to carry the light poles and bars.  The usual bag from a music store would not work as the poles were too long.  We already have one for the speaker stands.  We went to Hobby Lobby and obtained some canvas in white and black to make the bag.  Anyways, a yard of each color and a yard and a half of webbing for a handle were about right with about 5 inches remaining for Jake to use as a toy.  Pearl had very limited interest.  I’m pretty happy with the result.  There is a 4 foot zipper across the top to allow access and a pocket with velcro on the end to hold the nuts.  There is enough space to also hold the pipe used on the wig stand.  Our equipment has taken another small step forward.

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Spouseinbox and I are taking off for a camping trip.  It’s anniversary week and we try to get away a this time every year.  I say “try” as life does happen.  Anyways, we were looking at money supply as this Spring has been rather rough and tried to decide what to do for the week that was 1.) relaxing, 2.) a different place from where we had gone previously, 3.) affordable.  After considering options, we chose camping at a nearby state.  I didn’t ask about having passports when leaving God’s country, but so be it.  We are going to hike and fish.  I informed spouseinbox that I would do so, and the fish were quite safe with me.  I’m the opposite of that bumper sticker stating “fish tremble at the sound of my voice.”  They look at me and say, “lunch.”  On that note, I was fishing off a pier in Long Island and had a spider crab enjoying my bait.  I would feel a tug, reel in the line, and there was this crab holding the line with one claw and feasting on my bait with another.  When there was too little water contact, he would let go and await another offering.  I finally quit fishing.  I was really wanting to do something other than feed a crab that day.  Now do you understand my comment of “lunch?”

So as the plans were swirling in the hopper, it happened to be that this trip would take us near a relative of spouseinbox.  That’s cool.  We can drop in and say hi.  I offered the possibility of doing Samson for them and heard back that their church would really like a performance.  We brushed up the trailer, added acrylic calk to each rivet, added tie-downs inside on the frame and secured the equipment and readied the trailer and all contents for a trip across Texas.  This will be our first performance on the road – so to speak.  We asked the relative to send pictures of the platform and will have an interesting time fitting the stage items on their stage.  That’s one challenge of doing this – the equipment has to be flexible enough to adapt to whatever stage is available.  In our case, we need a decent back distance for the projector, mirror, rear-projection screen which also doubles as our changing area and storage for props.  From the pictures sent, we may have to step off the main stage to utilize the floor in front as there isn’t a lot of depth to the stage.  I guess it’s like nursing – you have to be flexible and adapt to the situation at hand.

Mominbox is going to stay and look after things here and we have church folks to look in on her during our outing.  That noted, we are trying another first – Batman and Robin are joining us.  So, we are doing a trip across Texas pulling a home-made trailer with 30 pounds of canine (combined) to camp, feed fish go fishing in another state, and stop to perform Samson in a church in which we have never stepped a toe.  Sounds interesting to me.  Just note that there will be no postings as we will only have a solar cooler for drinks and all other food was chosen as it could be kept at room temperature.  Yes, no internet for a week.  We don’t even know if there will be cell service there, so phones are in question.  If there is no cell service, we will be as removed as on our cruise at our first anniversary.  The provisions won’t be as fancy though.

For any interested, the cooler we have is one of those 12 volt Coleman electronic coolers that is rated at 40 degrees below ambient.  We have a solar cell which is rated just over double of the wattage of the cooler and a battery pack with controller to – hopefully – charge the battery through the day and keep it running through the night.  This is also a first, so I can’t say how well it will work yet.  That’s why we are going to only use it for a drink cooler and not trust it to keep any food.  Having the temperature only relative to ambient temp is also a consideration.  An actual refrigerator running on 12 volts is available, but priced out of sight for us – this year.

Well, I’ve rambled enough and with final preparations coming today don’t know if I’ll make it back here before the trip.  Therefore, I’ll wish you a pleasant rest of the week until I can report on the performance and camping.

The Snapshots of Samson set has a rear projection screen.  This is to allow us to stand in front of the backgrounds without casting shadows.  The design is simple – place the projector facing backwards in the normal fashion and place a large mirror on the back wall and angle it so that the picture is seen on the screen located at the rear of the projector.  The set up requires just over six feet of back space.  The mirror I discovered was from a garage sale and spent maybe $15 for it.  I don’t remember the actual amount, but it may have been less.  The thing was in an old frame from a dresser.  We have been using the mirror apart from its frame for the performances so far, but that leaves the mirror without protection during transportation.  I decided to  box the unit.  Since money has been tight lately with the federal government taking a pound of flesh, I used what we had.  Scraps became treasures.  Flexibility in design and thought were orders of the day.  The following is the result:

 

The original frame is actually inside behind the mirror.  There is a piece of plywood on the back attached to the old frame and the angle iron makes a slot for the front chip board to rest.  I didn’t want to buy clips, so bent two pieces of strap, drilled a 1/4″ hole in the end of each and welded a small piece of rod in each.  This means that the front simply slides into the slot and the two rod holes.  It does weigh like a dead horse though.  The mirror was stamped with a manufacturing date of February 1953, so I was wondering the possibility of leaded glass.  That’s also the reason for the two handles made from scrap 1/8″ steel and rebar.  I had an old piece of clothes rod which when cut and drilled made the handles.  It’s not the prettiest, but it is functional and won’t be seen except during the set up or tear down and I’m happy with that.

We had a weekend that was not assigned to any other entity except ourselves, so I decided to try and get a bit more done on the trailer.  The ability to do this was the fact that the garage was a bit more cleaned out than normal, so there was space to place the Samson stuff.  While building the frame, I ran a couple wires through a couple ribs so that lights could later be placed.  We have the lights – two LED strips which adhere to the ribs on the ceiling.  They just needed power.  I went looking for a power supply and being 12 volts, it limited the items we could purchase.  After on line and a couple of stores, I decided on a rechargeable batter from a farm store – one that could run a gate.  For price and operation, this seemed to be usable.  I could charge it, if necessary, and it would run the lights for multiples of hours.  Once the solar battery is installed, I won’t even have to do that chore.  It’s interesting to place two days work into a few sentences, but that is what I have just done.  The graphical representations follow:

The floor is now primed so we can paint the plywood with a nonskid protectant.  The black spots you see in the lower picture towards the front is a spray which was supposed to fill and seal cracks.  After using the stuff, I’m entirely unimpressed.  It sprayed around holes quite well.  Filling them and sealing them – not so much.  Oh well, we now have the experience and will use silicone in the future.  That is my plan.  All the rivets are going to sport a silicone button to ensure they are sealed.

I get to announce that the last costume for Samson is now finished. Of course, spouseinbox has already reminded me that a base costume needs to be hemmed. I guess that the details will be perpetually found. This allows the last pictures to be taken and the background video to be made. So, Yea! Now I can do some more work. This project has given me a real appreciation for the amount of work that goes into producing a play, especially since it’s just the two of us being the production crew.

We live in West Texas. On the practical side that means the people and government of Texas. On the climate side, it means mostly flat land, a few hills here and there, mesquite and cactus and heat – plenty of heat. I heard once that when a sinner died, God would send him to West Texas to warm up on the way down. That being the case, there is also a lack of water leading to a burn ban in most counties in West Texas. A couple of years back we lost near half a million acres to fire. It is a subject not taken lightly here. Longer ago than that, I was heading towards home and noted a patch of grass starting to burn next to the road. Before it was all said and done, three strangers were stomping the budding licks of flame to get that area back to normal. No fire department was there. Just us taking care of business before another patch of dried plants joined the elemental set. We take it that seriously. The first video background of Samson required an altar and fire. It could not be done in this part of Texas.
Road Trip!
I packed up rocks, sticks, a 14 foot 2×4, coat thread, a blow up doll, and camera supplies. Spouseinbox and I went 3 cities away to find a spot which would allow the video to be made. It was in a spot near a river which allowed use of a bucket for water to be spread around the altar before the fire was started. (Yes, we take it seriously) We took some area shots and a couple with spouseinbox providing a figure to test the range and focus. We set up two tripods, one with the video camera, the other with the Canon. The angel costume was then donned, and pictures taken and video done with the background gestures needed for the first song. The outfit was then traded to the blowup man who was fitted with a hanger and coat thread. This thread was run up and through a little tube at the end of the 14′ 2×4. We set up the 2×4 off the truck tire held with a couple of tie downs and positioned over and behind the altar. Fire was started, and John (the blow-up man) took a trip up to the sky. Once the videos were placed back to back, the effect was rather good. Well, good for an extremely low-dollar production.

I have spent this week rather busy with work, overtime, home projects and being slightly inhibited by an action performed on Monday. I have a box for all my home visit supplies which I toss up into the truck. This time however, my aim was off and the steering wheel inhibited my arc making all that force end up at my ring finger. Yes, it yelled at me and I quickly took off the ring there as a preventive measure. This was a good action as the appendage did swell and hurt phenomenally for the next few days. I can now type, though it maintains its soreness. Coban has worked well in reducing the swelling. That said, I finished another costume this week by working on it as time allowed and being careful of the pressure points on that particular hand. Anyways, there are two more to go and the costumes will be finished. Yea!

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