July 5, 2009

A Capitol Fourth

[Spoiler Alert: This post may include spoilers about the 4th of July production you know and love. Don't say I didn't warn you.]

The 3rd of July
You may not know this, but the day before most big celebrations shot in Washington DC and televised to the nation/world, there is usually a dress rehearsal to make sure things go smooth(er) on the actual night. These rehearsals are complete with the celebrities and famous musicians who will be present the following evening. That means that we locals can go get a sneak peak of the show without having to deal with quite as much mayhem, as long as we also are patient with their breaks and getting lighting sorted out and the microphones adjusted.
A group of us went down to see the 4th of July rehearsal. We sat on the lawn right in front of the US Capitol, ate food we'd brought, drank free bottled water provided on site (thanks taxpayers!), and watched Aretha Franklin, Barry Manilow, Natasha Bedingfield, and the cast of Sesame Street practice for tomorrow's big show.

We noted a few observations, both general and of trickery. [Alright, here come the spoilers... this is your last chance to not have some patriotic illusions shattered... ok, I'll continue.]
  1. Aretha Franklin isn't as much of a diva as she has a right to be. Classy and nice!
  2. Natasha Bedingfield isn't just a pretty face with a studio-remastered voice. She can sing live, too.
  3. The musicians were not playing with their backs to the US Capitol. They were facing it. In some promotional posters, the US Capitol is digitally matted into the shot to be between the orchestra and the Washington Monument, which is not accurate.
  4. Some of the fireworks on TV are not actually going off in Washington DC. Some are added digitally in order to fill in gaps and to make the finale look more amazing.
  5. Big Bird is really, really tall. 8'2" to be exact. [Click here to read or here to listen all about Muppets and how they work. Fascinating stuff!]

I hope that didn't crush any patriotism in my reading audience. I just thought I'd share those tidbits of information from a first-hand DC local.

The 4th of July
Our celebration started with a tasty all-American meal at Shandi's house. She even used some fresh food from her garden, so we know that it was as American as it could possibly be.We all drove up to Pentagon City and took the metro downtown, and it was surprisingly not a madhouse. Our chosen firework-watching spot? Right by the Washington Monument. We could hear just enough of the concert, and we had a great view of the fireworks right above us. As we waited for the show to start, we snacked on applie pie and chatted. The fireworks and music were excellent, as expected, and then we waited for a bit to let the crowds dissipate at the metro stations. Apparently we didn't wait quite long enough, because there was still a huge line when we got to the metro. Being impatient, we walked another couple blocks to the next stop. Again, the line was all the way out of the station and onto the street. This time we asked why it was still so long, and someone told us that there had been a fire in the station and that the metro wasn't running there for a bit while they did a safety inspection. The phones and Blackberries came out, and everyone was trying to get info on whether we should just call a couple cabs or walk to a station closer to our destination and hope that the fire hadn't caused delays there. In the end, we decided to try walking to the next station and our faith was rewarded, as the trains were running there. A short ride back to the car, and then quickly home.

An all-around fantastic evening of American awesomeness! God bless America, land that I love!

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