Saturday, December 19, 2009

Triangles and Stupid Kevin Tricks

Last night, I went with four friends from church to the National Symphony Orchestra's performance of Handel's Messiah at the Kennedy Center. Overall, it was a wonderful performance, and I tremendously enjoyed sharing the experience with friends. (It's not LW's cup of tea, so she took the boys out to admire the Christmas lights in the nearby neighborhoods.)

I changed into a suit and tie in my office and left my uniform in my office, then headed over to meet my friends for dinner at CPK. We were a little worried at first that the traffic would prevent them from joining me for dinner, but the timing worked out perfectly. They trusted me to order a few pizzas and a salad for us all to share. I ordered, and the food was delivered to the table mere moments before they walked in the door. We had plenty of time to eat without feeling rushed, then drove over to the Kennedy Center.

C, me, and J at Kennedy Center

This was my first time to the Kennedy Center. It's ginormous and spectacular inside and out.

Of course, anytime you attend a live performance such as this, there will be little differences in how they present it to make it their own. For example, one section I'm used to hearing sung by the soprano was sung by the baritone. Another part that I am used to hearing done by the brass section was done by the wood-winds, and the wood-winds have never stood out in my mind as a prominent feature of previous Messiah performances. Those differences are easy to adapt and enjoy. However, there was one key difference that really threw me for a loop.

Before the performance, I was reading the program and noted the list of instruments included. Among the list of the usual violins, cellos, french horns, trumpets, and trombones, there was listed one triangle. I laughed, leaned over to my friend M sitting next to me and said, "There's a triangle down there somewhere." We spent a few moments scanning the orchestra trying to find the triangle. M guessed that it would be in the percussion section. (She was right, BTW). We joked about how we wouldn't be able to hear it over the rest of the orchestra, so why bother with it?

On went the performance, and when we got to my most favorite part...

And the government shall be upon his shoulders And his name shall be called

Wonderful counselor, Almighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace

It sounded like someone wheeled in a 2-ton version of the classic alarm clock with the two dome-shaped bells on top and was wailing on the bells with a sledge hammer at the speed of a hummingbird's wings. There in the percussion section of the orchestra stood a man who must have been a professional body-builder by day in order to lift this very manly triangle. Ney, not a triangle. It was a

It would be inappropriate to use lower-case letters to describe this TRIANGLE. It had the diameter of a steam-roller. I think it was made from some recycled battleship gun barrel. Even from our seats up in the nose-bleed section, we could see the guy's rippling muscles as he lifted up that TRIANGLE.

Each time the chorus got to my favorite part, he beat the holy crap out of that darned TRIANGLE so hard that the echos of it ringing reverberated through my skull for several moments after the percussionist had set down his monstrous instrument, turned the page of his music and taken his seat.

After he did this the first time, M and I turned and looked at each other and laughed out loud at how wrong we were to assume that the TRIANGLE was such an un-manly instrument or that we would never notice it in the performance.

Stupid Kevin Tricks Vol 37 Ed 342

For those of you who aren't in the DC area or didn't notice in the news, the weather forecast last night was calling for heavy snow starting last night and throughout the day today. During the intermission, we stepped outside briefly to see the first snow starting to gently fall. It was very surreal and beautiful out on the terrace outside the Kennedy Center overlooking the Potomac River as the snowflakes slowly fell - only visible in the shafts of light from the spotlights under the evenly spaced trees on the terrace. After a short while, the house lights flicked on and off and signaled that it was time for us to return to our seats.

When we came out of the Kennedy Center, the roads weren't too bad, but they were a little slippery and traffic was already a mess with more traffic accidents than the emergency crews could keep up with. We left just after 10:30 p.m. and proceeded to creep home on I-66 in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

It was quiet initially in the minivan as we all had our cell phones open - texting and facebooking our experience at the Messiah performance while our driver listened to the traffic on WTOP. As time ticked on, the conversation in the car picked up as one-by-one, each of our cell phone batteries died.

Two and a half hours after departing the Kennedy Center, we finally arrived at my car in the Dulles North commuter parking lot where I had caught the bus to work that morning. I geared up - gloves on, hat on, backpack in hand, braced for the cold, got out of the car and trudged through the few inches of snow on the ground to my car. Brushed snow off my windshield, headlights, windows, then tried to open my car door... nothing.

You see, my car has the RFID keyless entry system where I just have the keys in my pocket and it senses that I'm there and allows me to open the door and start the car. I never even think about where my keys are, because they're always just in my pocket.

Yyyyyeah, not so much.

The keys weren't in my pocket. They were in the pocket of my uniform back in my office in Crystal City.

Me and that tall pointy-hat that said "DUNCE" on it got back into the van to humbly ask J for a ride home because I forgot my car keys. We made three stops to drop people off at their various homes, and then J took me to our house. I figured he would just drop me off and I'd worry about getting my car later. He insisted that I go in and get the spare set of keys and that we go back and get the car immediately before conditions got any worse.

By the time I got back to my house for the last time, it was 3:30 a.m. I didn't get out of bed until about 9 a.m. When I did sleepily stagger down the stairs, I was glad J took me back to get my car last night. There was 11 inches of snow on the back deck when first walked into the kitchen and measured it. As I write this on Saturday afternoon, we now have 21 inches of snow on our back deck, and it's still coming down hard.

I hope you all are safe and sound and enjoying some quality time with your family over the holidays - whether you're snowed in or not.

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