Life in the Capital, The Daily Feed, The District

Verdict: Jury Duty Not So Bad

George Gordon Meade by NCinDC

Last week, for the first time in my life, I was summoned for jury duty.  Imagine the horrified look on my face when I received notice in the mail that sure enough, my time had come, the time to sit all day in a waiting room full of complete strangers and hope that I didn’t get picked as a juror.  My friends had all told me how terrible it was and provided me with many excuses to get out of being picked.  “Tell them that your uncle is a cop.  Tell them that you could never judge another person for what they may or may not have done.  Tell them that you’re a racist pig.  Tell them you have an uncontrollable bladder.”  But somehow, deep down inside, I had a morbid curiosity of seeing our legal system in action and actually did want to be picked.  I wanted to be on a jury of peers, to listen to a case, hear the judge bang on his desk with a gavel, hear an attorney yell, “Objection!”, deliberate for hours, and finally deliver a verdict which would decide the fate of the defendant.  I wanted Law & Order, only this wasn’t TV.

Continue reading

Business and Money, The Daily Feed

Goodnight Olsson’s


Oh Olsson’s. I remember a couple cool book signings in your Courthouse location before it up and turned into a corner bakery. Your stores were homey before homey was the new chic in bookstores, and that’s why you’ll be missed. They filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy this morning and all locations in DC are currently closed.

From their Press Release:
Olsson’s was established in 1972 and grew to as many as nine retail stores in the Washington, D.C. metro area with sales over $16 million a year and as many as 200 employees. Currently there are five retail stores: Reagan National Airport, Old Town Alexandria, Arlington Courthouse, Crystal City, and one in Northwest Washington at Dupont Circle

Entertainment, The Hill, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Romeo & Juliet, Redux

Taffety Punk's Romeo & Juliet, photo by Teresa Castracane

Rahaleh Nassri (Romeo) and Kelsey Grouge (Juliet), photo by Teresa Castracane

Taffety Punk Theatre Company sure has guts. The marketing for their all-female “answer” to Shakespeare Theatre Company’s all-male production of Romeo & Juliet had me instantly intrigued: “An hour shorter, a fraction of the cost, and 100% more women. We will totally crush them!” Really, with that kind of chutzpah shown by director Lise Bruneau, how could I not go? And only $10 bucks!

I wasn’t disappointed.

This is a very stripped down production that manages within limited budget and extremely tight space constraints to hit most of the passion points of the play. It’s like watching “The Outsiders” do Shakespeare, using very contemporary speech patterns and body language that help to freshly illuminate the text.

Two outstanding performances in this vein are Rahaleh Nassri as Romeo and Kimberly Gilbert as Mercutio. I swear every time Nassri came on, I thought I heard Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Possess Your Heart” – so perfectly did she embody that particular style of hipster boy the girls have a crush on. Oh, he may start out as a bit of a player, but once he’s hooked he’s yours forever. It’s a brilliant bit of naturalistic acting and she’s completely believable as a lovestruck teen. Continue reading


We Love Music: NSO Chamber Players/American Residency Commissions

Millennium Stage Detail

Millennium Stage Detail uploaded by mjlaflaca

This past Tuesday, Sept 23rd at 6p in the Terrace Theater of the Kennedy Center, the National Symphony Orchestra Chamber Players presented the first of two concerts featuring works commissioned as part of the NSO’s ‘American Residency’ program.  Works by four composers from four states gave us musical portraits of those states.  Having now heard some 8% (by item and roughly by time) of the result of this project, some assessment as to its artistic success, or at least its agenda is possible.  Considering the programs as a whole will need to wait a while.

Continue reading

Petworth, The Daily Feed

Not a Good Sign in Petworth

washington dc by wayan
Photo by Wayan

A for sale sign does not bother me. A foreclosure sign insight some worry. But its the tall grass of household abandonment that generates concern for my neighbourhood.

In this market where people are talking about 10% of borrowers behind or in default, I expect some pain all around, yet when pain becomes neglect the impact goes from citizen to community.

What is yours doing to mitigate the mortgage mess? In Petworth, I am going to cut the grass.

All Politics is Local, The Daily Feed

The bailout vote

Photo courtesy of andertho

Capitol Dawn, courtesy of andertho

I’m not going to spend time looking up which districts are in our immediate area and then find their representatives, but it’s easy to paste in the names of all the VA and MD reps and how they voted on the bailout bill. I’m not weighing in on my opinion – I’m not even sure I’m of one mind on which way I would  have liked it to go – but almost everyone else seems to have an opinion, and here you can tell how your rep weighed in.

If you don’t know who your rep is you can use Who Is My Representative, though I’d question your right to be pissed off if you hadn’t bothered to be aware of their identity before now…

From Virginia:

  • Rick Boucher: yes
  • Eric Cantor: yes
  • Tom Davis: yes
  • Thelma Drake: no
  • Randy Forbes: no
  • Virgil Goode: no
  • Bob Goodlatte: no
  • James Moran: yes
  • Robert Scott: no
  • Robert Whittman: no

From Maryland:

  • Roscoe Bartlett: no
  • Elijah Cummings: no
  • Donna Edwards: no
  • Wayne Gilchrest: yes
  • Steny Hoyer: yes
  • Dutch Ruppersberger: yes
  • John Sarbanes: yes
  • Chris Van Hollen: yes

gathered from here.

Downtown, Essential DC, Penn Quarter, Sports Fix

Sports Extra: Capital Preview

Photo courtesy of clydeorama
Four Caps, No Waiting For Love, courtesy of clydeorama

Thank goodness, it’s almost Hockeytime.

No, seriously. I get the Redskins, people. Really. But I’m not a football fan. It’s all about sticks, pucks and skates – and the cool Zamboni ‘race’ between periods.

Hockey. Where the men have more gaps in their teeth than West Virginians. (I kid! Ok, not completely.)

And yes, Ovechkin, I’m lookin’ at you. Continue reading

Featured Photo, The Daily Feed

The star is aligned for you

Photo courtesy of mosley.brian

Washington Monument – West View – 7-15-08, courtesy of mosley.brian

Shooter Brian, talking about the photo above, proves himself to be his own worst critic when he says “This could have turned out better, but that setting sun was really strong. ” I think it’s a great shot, but if one of the things he’d like to change about the photo is the alignment of the sun along the reflecting pool, this is the time to do it. Capitol Weather points out that during the weeks surrounding the equinoxes (ie, now) the eastern sun is aligned with the reflecting pool.

So if you or Brian want to get out and get some shots on the Mall from the Lincoln, you could line the sun up nicely with the Washington Momument. Or Brian could re-create his shot with a morning over the Capital building, though they don’t open till 9am.

added for clarity – it’s the Washington Monument, from which the above photo was shot, that doesn’t open till 9am. Whether or not the Capital is being used is a slightly less consistent schedule

Sports Fix

Sports Fix: Hail to the Victors!

Crazed Fan by Leediehr

26-24. Sorry, Cowboys, no 4 & 0 for you. The Redskins looked quite good in Dallas today, with Jason Campbell starting to look like the Quarterback that the Redskins had hoped he’d become. Two TDs and 230 yards, all without a single pick. Clinton Portis came up big with 121 yards over 21 carries. It was the kind of victory that kept the TV on and the fans cheering right down to the last play. Fortunately, Shaun Suisham’s leg was up to the task, with four Field Goals and a pair of extra points.

Great day for Jim Zorn, and for the Skins as a whole, with the last Redskins Regular Season Game in Texas Stadium coming up a big victory for us. But that’s not all the sporting news…

Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Dulles Diamond Lanes: Diluted!

washington dc by wayan
Photo by Wayan

I am disappointed to report that the Diamond Lanes at Dulles Airport are now diluted by the very people it was designed to exclude.

Before, it was the providence of frequent flyers who know how to transverse the TSA security theatre. Now it is the overflow for the regular security lines.

On a busy Monday that translates into clueless tourists holding everyone up with change in pockets and liquids in luggage.

The Daily Feed

Presidential Debate Drinking Game

Every four years, our nation faces a great choice: which is better for the Presidential Debate Drinking Game? Beer or Liquor. This year, I think we might need both, and so in the spirit of bi-partisanship, I’ve created the Presidential Debate Drinking Game to find out just how  much we’ll have to drink to stomach John McCain referring to us as “his friends.”

Tonight is the first of the presidential debates. If you think you can’t handle the anger and frustration of watching politicans speak for a couple hours, we’ve got definitive drinking game for the festivities, and the corresponding website (currently offline, thanks to Pepco not getting power back on in Ben’s Friendship Heights basement where he keeps his servers.)

The game has rules for Sipping beer, taking shots, and chugging those drinks, but feel free to add your own rules to make it even more fun. Download the rules below:

Presidential Debate Drinking Game (PDF)

Sports Fix, The District

Sports Fix Light: Take Heart, Redskins Fans

Appropriate for Dallas Week by dharmabumx

I know, Sports Fix doesn’t usually air until Monday, but I’ve made a snap decision to run with it today because it’s Dallas Week. That’s right, it’s time for the Redskins, as they have several times over the last few years, to frustrate the Cowboys in new and unusual ways. As Skins’ Blogger Jamie Mottram wrote,

“But out of the ashes the feathered arrow flies. Starting with the Skins’ 14-13 midnight double-strike win on Monday Night in Big D three years ago, Washington has reversed and reheated the once-great rivalry by winning four out of six.”

Continue reading

Adventures, Downtown, Fun & Games, Special Events, The Mall

Mallwatching: National Book Festival

Photo courtesy of caryn74
Book World, courtesy of caryn74

I have to admit, this one snuck up on me.

To be fair, it seems to do that to me every year; you’d think a writer like me would be a bit more cognizant of the National Book Festival, especially since it’s right across the Potomac every September.

This year, though, I have an excuse. (We won’t talk about previous years…)

BUT! Just because I’m lame doesn’t mean you should be! The National Book Festival will go on, rain or shine, as scheduled tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Located on the National Mall between 3rd and 7th streets, the festival is free and open to the public. Continue reading

News, Sports Fix, The Daily Feed, The District

DC Rollergirls Take On Charm City All-Stars


Since it looks like rain tomorrow, you might want to eschew the various outdoor Oktoberfests and head instead to Sterling to check out the DC Rollergirls as they take on the Charm City All-stars in a pre-season match. DC-based matches at the DC Armory start up on the 4th of October.

Good luck Rollergirls, give those Bal’mer girls something to say “hon” about.

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Chocolate-Orange Port at MyLHBS

Oranges and Chocolate

My friend Derek at MyLHBS in Falls Church informed me that he still had some kits left to make the chocolate-orange port that has become so popular in recent years. I am told that the wine ends up tasting like those dark chocolate-orange candies that are so tasty. Except with alcohol. I just picked up two kits yesterday – enough to make approximately 30 bottles. These are going fast, so be sure to go soon.

What? You don’t know from making wine? Don’t fret because Derek can help you with that as well. He knows a lot, so go pick his brain and buy your first wine kit. It’s a great hobby and very cost effective if you end up drinking wine. Wine makes great gifts as well, especially for me. You know – in case you wanted to get me the perfect gift.

Oranges and Chocolate by VROG in Bristol

The Daily Feed

Lace ‘em Up!

Ovechkin Takes the Ice
Originally uploaded by clydeorama

Hockey is right around the corner. Caps hockey drops the puck on the 2008-2009 season in two weeks against the Thrashers. So get ready for some more Ovie-worship around town, even from those who can’t tell the blue line from the red. (That’s ok, we still love you people.)

Look for WeLoveDC’s take on the upcoming season next Monday!

Talkin' Transit, Technology, The Daily Feed, The District, WMATA

Four Line Announcements

Four Line Announcements
Originally uploaded by brownpau

Paulo captured this shot of the new Metro sign format for announcements. The old side-scrolling versions are thankfully history as they were nearly impossible to read. Thankfully, Metro’s embracing some good IA these days and going for something that’s a bit more passenger friendly than the crawl, which tended to cause crowds of gawkers while the waited for the message to finish displaying.

Entertainment, The District, The Mall

Tourism: The New Sant Ocean Hall

Phoenix, the Right Whale

Five years ago, the Museum of Natural History got together a group of people with the goal of expanding the Museum’s reach beyond just the land. The incredible wealth of life below the water’s surface, and the great span of the ocean, was a missing spot in the museum’s coverage. Thus, they began the most extensive renovation in the Museum’s History. Tomorrow, the NMNH opens the brand new Sant Ocean Hall. The ceremonies kick off at 11am out front of the Museum, where the Aloha Boys & Halau O’Aulani Dancers, as well as the Tlingit community, who will be performing a drum ceremony to bless the exhibit.

Once inside, the centerpiece is Phoenix, the Right Whale, suspended in the dead center of the exhibit about 10 feet off the ground. Phoenix is a model built off a living Right Whale living in the North Atlantic that scientists from the New England Aquarium have tracked for the last 21 years. Right whales represent one of the North Atlantic’s most endangered species, though their population is on the rebound with some of the more recent preservation efforts.

The Ocean Hall is 23,000 square feet, the largest single exhibit space in the Museum. It features a central corridor that features exhibits on coastal ocean life, and leads back toward the Open Ocean exhibit, featuring a couple of specially displayed giant squid. See, the fire marshall just about had a conniption when he found out the Smithsonian wanted to put a bunch of jars of flammable, toxic alcohol in the middle of a bunch of children. So, they went to the 3M corporation and they came back with their Novec 7100 Engineered Fluid, by the tankful. See, it still allows for neutral buoyancy, and the preservation of the specimen, it just doesn’t catch fire easily, or poison people.

Continue reading