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***WARNING: This post contains a lot of photos.***


We have a ritual in our family, that after the end of the school year, J & I offer the boys a congratulatory gift. It's our way of saying thanks for doing your best in school, you're done so let's party!!!





Usually we offer the kids a monetary value so that they can buy something that they've had their eyes on. This is big, because the *only* times we parental units buy the boys something is if it's their birthday, Xmas, they have done something amazing and we want to say thank you, or the end of school. The rest of the time they earn whatever they buy through their allowance.

This year however, as I was in the car listening to my AM news radio, an interview with the NC Symphony was on and I heard about an upcoming concert that I thought Xavier and Ashe would go CRAZY for. It was the first ever in Raleigh, Video Games Live symphony: a symphony of music straight out of video games.

My thought was that this would be the perfect way to introduce the symphony to the boys. What a wonderful cultural experience, catered to their very hobbies!

J & I offered the boys the option for their usual shopping outing, or this unique opportunity for their graduation gift. They did not disappoint me, and by a unanimous vote, we were going to the symphony.

One of the cool side events going on would be a costume contest of your favorite video game character. Ashe was all set. Since he has been wearing the same Link costume on an almost daily basis for two years, it was a no brainer.

Xavier decided that he also wanted to dress up... mere hours before the concert started. Of course it couldn't be simple either. Oh no! It had to be something elaborate. He decided that he wanted to be Altair, from Assassins Creed.


Altair from Assassins Creed



I had no clue where to start. I don't sew well, nor did I have a random white bed sheet lying around the house. Instead, I tossed every article of fabric we owned around my bedroom, trying to figure out how the hell I was going to make even a similar costume for Xavier. Then my eyes landed on a black pillowcase, and I remembered that I had two cloaks I used for Halloween last year that might work. Add in my leather bracers, my calf high boots, a pair of khakis, and a plastic dagger.... and we might have something.

I whipped out the pillowcase, grabbed my scissors, and got to work. 90 minutes and 25 safety pins later, and we were ready for the symphony!


Xavier (Altair) & Ashe (Link) ready to go to their first symphony





Now, I was asked by friends why I didn't join the boys and dress up too? I love dressing up and would have done so except for one factor. Xavier was wearing 2/3 of my go to costume. I think the only two things he didn't use of mine were my leather pants (which I wore that night) and  my corset (which would have looked awkward on my eleven year old son, and I wasn't going down that road!)


Posing with the boys


While I did not get the chance to dress up due to my motherly sacrifice, J actually did! Not that anyone would know it. But I promise you, J dressed up as his avatar....his Xbox avatar. To prove to everyone that J thoughtfully picked out his costume for the symphony, I did a side by side comparison of J's Xbox avatar and J himself outside the symphony:


pretty uncanny how accurate that is, huh?


We get to the concert hall an hour before it starts. Within moments of us pushing open the doors, Xavier and Ashe were bombarded by adults, both in costume and not, exclaiming over how cute they were, or how cool they looked. Both boys ate this up, Ashe swinging his sword around yelling "HYAH!" or playing his plastic ocarina. Xavier would pose, head tilted down, looking up under the shadow of his hood, then pulling out a plastic dagger from his bracer. And the crowd ate it up like crack.

I put the bys names down for the costume contest, something I thought would be a simple affair out in the lobby. But oh no. When the time came for the contest to start, the guy in charge started leading everyone and their parents through a long corridor, down a set of stairs, and finally into a stairwell, where the contestants were prepped to go on stage. Huh. Didn't see that coming.

While J & I stayed backstage, all contestants walked on stage to a thundering applause. I was able to sneak out and grab a few photos of Xavier and Ashe:

Ashe & Xavier onstage with another Link, Princess Peach, and TF2 sniper
 

I wish I had stayed out a little longer to get the crowds reaction when it came time to vote. The crowd voted by screaming. The MC would put his hand over a contestant, and gauge the crowds reaction. When it came time for Ashe and Xavier, the crowd flipped out. I mean, you would have thought that we were at a Bieber concert and the audience was filled with prepubescent girls. It. Was. Crazy!!!!! It became clear that the winner was between the two brothers. The MC had a hard time, going back and forth a few times trying to determine the winner:

MC: Little Link?

Crowd: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

MC: Altair?

Crowd: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

MC: Link?

Crowd WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

MC: Altair?

Crowd: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

MC: Link? Altair?

Crowd: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

By one decibel, Ashe won, as J says, on cuteness alone. Xavier was extremely gracious about the whole thing, and seemed to be just fine knowing that it was only his height that made him lose. And while Ashe had his photo taken and posted on all sorts of media sites last night, both he and Xavier were treated like rock stars for the rest of the evening. If they went to the bathroom, they had to stop and pose for photos, high fives, and hair ruffles.
Photo of Ashe taken by the NC Symphony after his win.

Finally, we sat down to listen to the symphony. And I have to say, that while the tickets were quite pricey for a family as large as ours, EVERY PENNY spent was WORTH IT! We have not had that much fun in a long time. It wasn't a normal concert, where everyone had to hush hush. We were told to clap, whistle, scream, cheer, holler, any time we felt like it. And we did. Or maybe I should say *I* did. I almost lost my voice for cheering so loud, and I'm pretty sure that if anyone asked, J would have claimed that he had no idea who the crazy woman sitting by him and his children were. Someone should lock her up already! I was screaming and cheering more than I do at the Red Sox game at Fenway (and coming from a native masshole, that's saying something).

Xavier and Ashe, like me, were completely enthralled. While they did not know some of the older games (like Contra, or Castlevania), they cheered when Zelda, Mario, Sonic, and others came on that they knew and loved.

For four hours, minus an intermission, we sat and listened to the amazing journey the symphony took us on. And at the very end, after the symphony had given us one encore and had taken it's final bow, the co-creator of Video Games Live, Tommy Tallarico, and Laura Intravea (flute Link for anyone who watches youtube) came onstage, and started a sing a long with the audience, to one of our families favorite gaming songs, Portals "Still Alive" by Jonathan Coulton (one of our favorite composers/singers. Look him up, you won't regret it): 


After the concert was over, we asked the boys what they thought of their experience. And the one word they kept repeating over and over was that the symphony was EPIC. And now they want to know.... when can we go again?

Mission accomplished!


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