Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Revenge of the Holiday Ham

Cesar and John decided to throw a holiday party that would showcase some of the guests' talents, so after some consideration (my input was requested but I was a bit out of commission at the time and not very verbal) the event was titled Revenge of the Holiday Ham. One of John's roommates kindly volunteered his bedroom as a performance space, so the intrepid hosts rigged up a stage at one end (I added the lights). As is his custom, John cooked for two days straight. I intended to help out on that, but since my mother had just had major surgery and I am the designated chef at home, I was not all that useful on the party catering front either.

Cesar undertook the role of master of ceremonies, which he carried off with skill and panache. John and I were disappointed, however, that he did not wear the hat during the majority of the party.

Given the title of the event, I was not sure whether to expect stand-up comedy to take over. However, all the performers (participation onstage was optional though stronly encouraged) ended up either presenting poetry/prose or performing music. (If I am reminded of the names of all the performers, I will be happy to add them next to the photos... sorry, I only know some of you.)

The first half of the program was primarily literary. Clifford, for example, gave a spirited reading of a long poem.

Sanjeev gave a moving performance of a devotional song. He claims he is an atheist, but that he likes this particular song. It was extremely well received, which is more than I can say for how the photo will be.

Memories of departed family members made for an unexpected but appealing change of pace.

Not all of the literary offerings were written by the performers; we also heard some John Donne recited in a quietly compelling fashion.

A combination of fiction and court testimony also proved effective.

After the intermission, we moved into John's bedroom in order to use the piano. John, Rachel, and Shirley started off with a Purcell duet, which prompted musicological inquiry.

Since it is usually hard to come up with fiction short enough to read in less than twenty minutes, I settled for some piano improvisation. Fortunately the muse cooperated and no one threw fruit.

We then returned to the main stage, where Peter gave us the benefit of a shakuhachi piece. I think it was of his own devising.

Shirley then presented a classic Chinese poem in her parents' native dialect.

An enchanting Caribbean song followed, but I confess I've forgotten whether the performers learned it in Venezuela or exactly where.

More poetry followed.

Some of the audience actually got to sit on chairs... Somewhere around this point Shirley led a sing-along of Greensleeves.

We also had a song with guitar accompaniment.

Since there had not been any pictures of John, Cesar, and I before, Cesar and I persuaded John to join the lineup and Laurie to operate the camera. And, since John and I met precisely six years ago at one of Cesar's holiday parties, it seemed like an appropriate time to get the three of us together. (Certainly more so than when we were dismantling the stage the following morning.)
In any case, a fine time was had by all.

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