Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: The Kinsey Sicks

The Kinsey Sicks in "Oy Vey in a Manger," photo courtesy of The Kinsey Sicks.

What says the holiday season better than a Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet? Rambling, raunchy, rude dragapella, with no pesky plot or fourth wall realism! Singing, dancing, kvetching dragapella – the perfect antidote to any holiday-induced blues you may be harboring.

Through January 2nd at Theater J you can catch The Kinsey Sicks, who’ve been fabulously hilarious since their beginnings years ago in San Francisco. This little variety show, clocking in at about 90 minutes, features belting queens Trampolina (Spencer Brown), Winnie (Irwin Keller), Trixie (Jeff Manabat) and Rachel (Ben Schatz) satirizing popular Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs. Don’t expect much of a plot (the girls are trying to sell their home – a manger, gotten long ago from the Christ family) but do expect to laugh your ass off at some very irreverent humor.

After all, it’s called Oy Vey in a Manger. Continue reading

Business and Money, Life in the Capital, News, The District

Grand Opening: CitySports Georgetown


If your morning commute takes you along the Georgetown section of M Street, then on Tuesday morning you likely saw a long line of cold, sports enthusiasts waiting to get the first peak (and swag gift bags and prizes) at the City Sports flagship store located at 3338 M Street, NW.

The two story, 1000+ sq. ft. space is the 18th location for the City Sports group and offers shoppers not only fashionable and functional merchandise, but the opportunity to explore, learn and experience the various DC-based athletic activities and groups.

Given the current weather—SNOWOMG! Definitely hit up this City Sports and get a pair iof men’s running shoes, as it has all the outdoor, thermal underwear, winter boots, snow pants, puffy jackets, fuzzy sweaters, wool hats, Everest climbing gloves, you’ll ever need. Oh so, practical and oh so stylish!

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Adventures, Entertainment, Essential DC, Fun & Games, Life in the Capital, Special Events, The District, The Features

Gingertown 2010

courtesy of Timothy So

Last night, I had the extreme pleasure of participating in Gingertown, one of DC’s best kept holiday events. Begun in 2006, Gingertown is the brainchild of locally based David M. Schwarz Architects (DMSA) and brings together leading DC architects, designers, and architectural firms with other building enthusiasts (aka: the non-professionals) to create a town made of completely of gingerbread and candy goodness.

Gingertown is an entirely free event with DMSA and other event sponsors providing all the building materials, food and beverages. Teams sign up beforehand and are assigned town plots with free reign to design and construct their portion of Gingertown during the 3 hour event.

Each year, a new master plan and theme is created; this year, builders tackled the North Pole, transforming the layout into a magical town of gingerbread, jelly beans, Twizzlers, Nerds, candy canes, buttercream frosting, etc. Like previous years, the 2010 town map included communal and civic-minded centers, green spaces, city hall, a concert hall, a library, a toy store and a strong pedestrian culture. Continue reading

Dupont Circle, Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Agora

Photo Credit: Kim Maxwell Vu

A very good friend (and frequent dinner date) lived on 17th St. and P St. for a long time before moving to New York earlier this year. At least once a month we would meet at her house with no real dinner plan, walk out the front door and…stand. There were plenty of restaurants on 17th St., but none of them ever really struck us as compelling. It was all very poetic – restaurants, restaurants everywhere but not a bite to eat. There was Komi (too expensive), Sushi Taro (too long of a wait), and the slew of restaurant slash bar establishments that I could never really tell apart. Enter Agora to solve all my problems.

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Adventures, Entertainment, Essential DC, Fun & Games, Night Life, Special Events, The Features, We Love Arts

National Geographic Live: October 2010

Diving Bahamas Caves by Wes C. Skiles; courtesy National Geographic

It’s fall and the National Geographic Museum has one heavy lineup ready for DC. National Geographic Live! is a series of dynamic lectures, live concerts, and compelling films presented at the Society’s headquarters on M Street between 16th and 17th Streets. We present to you the complete October lineup AND a chance to win a pair of tickets to one of the listed events!

National Geographic has provided us two pairs of tickets to give away; all you need to do for a chance to win our random drawing is comment with what two events you’d most like to see, using your first name and a legitimate email address by noon on Monday, Oct 4. We’ll draw the winners that afternoon!

NOTE: All programs will be at Grosvenor Auditorium at 1600 M Street, NW. Tickets can be purchased online, by phone at (202) 857-7700, or in person at the National Geographic ticket office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Free parking is available in the National Geographic underground garage for all programs that begin after 6 p.m.

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Downtown, Fun & Games, Special Events, The Features

Geckos: The New Cuteness?

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘RomeTheWorld’

Opening today and running through the first week of January is a new exhibit at National Geographic. “Geckos: Tails to Toepads” features just over 15 species of live geckos of different colors, stripes, shapes, and sizes. While there are also interactive displays and a kids-oriented area, the main attraction are the self-contained terrarium-style displays with all sorts of geckos.

Some of them are pretty tough to spot, like the Satanic Leaf-tail Gecko. (There are four in the enclosure, of which I found only two.) Some are pretty “obvious” geckos, similar in appearance to the animated one on television shilling insurance. And some are just downright ugly. But all in all, they are fascinating to watch and most (if not all) are pretty darn cute – for a reptile.

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Adventures, Entertainment, Media, Special Events, The Features, We Love Arts

NatGeo’s 2010 All Roads Film Festival

Dear Lemon Lima; photo courtesy filmmakers and National Geographic Museum

The National Geographic Society kicks off its All Roads Film Festival on Tuesday, Sept 28, launching a jam-packed fall programming schedule. The six-day event will screen nearly 30 films, an outdoor photography exhibit, a Basement Bhangra Dance Party, and a panel of indigenous filmmakers discussing their art and careers.

All Roads Film Festival Director Francene Blythe is especially excited about this year’s theme, “Inspiring Stories Connecting Cultures.” “Whether the stories are comic or tragic, they will resonate with audiences because they involve characters and stories that are relatable and told with charm, wit and wisdom.” There promises to be something for everyone to enjoy. Continue reading

Dupont Circle, Food and Drink, We Love Food

We Love Food: Tabard Inn

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

There are two types of people in D.C.: those who go to Tabard Inn every chance they get, and those that have never been. I have a friend that even uses it as his go-to first date location. And though I like to knock his dating style at any possible point, he really is on to something with this one. It’s casual yet classy, and has that hidden gem feel. Boys, take note. It’s like giving a girl a puppy – she literally won’t be able to resist you.

And calling it a hidden gem is really the best way to describe this particular restaurant. It’s technically located just off Dupont Circle, but isn’t exactly on a high traffic street. And to get to the restaurant you have to wander through the lobby of the hotel, which has a distinct bed and breakfast in rural Maine feel to it. It doesn’t exactly scream high class restaurant. And the restaurant isn’t exactly clearly marked – once through the lobby you hang a left at the stairs, walk through the lounge and head to the hostess podium just outside the bar. She will lead you through the bar and then all the sudden the dining room opens up and it’s like being in some classy lady’s very large kitchen full of some very fun friends.

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We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Something You Did

Theater J’s Something You Did is a perfectly serviceable little production of a little play that revolves around very little personal growth and revelations that aren’t very revelatory.

Update, 3:08p: If you’ve seen the play – or don’t intend to – and want the spoiler-ific version of this review, absent the deliberate efforts at avoiding revealing plot, you can check out my comment.

When City Paper wrote about Theater J subbing in this production for the original contender they quoted Artistic Director Ari Roth. He spoke about filling “a very particular slot – that of our High Holiday season-opener, hop-scotching the Days of Awe, a period of personal and collective reflection.”

Which makes it so odd that the one thing this play absolutely lacks is any hint of reflection from any of the characters.

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Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Raki

Photo courtesy of
‘Efe Raki’
courtesy of ‘Jenn Larsen’

Welcome to the Friday Happy Hour, your single drink primer for the weekend.

Ah, the aniseed! Like cilantro, it has a taste you either love or hate. Absinthe, sambuca, pastis, raki are all anise-flavored spirits that inspire devotion or downright hatred. Me? I love licorice. So you know what side I fall on. Recently the mysteries of one of these aniseed derived drinks was revealed to me at Agora, the new Turkish restaurant on 17th Street NW in Dupont Circle. The charming bar manager, Ismail Uslu, was kind enough to let me sample some raki, Turkey’s official national drink. It was a fascinating experience and one I hope you’ll share.

But what is raki exactly? Like ouzo and grappa, raki is produced by distilling the solid remains of fruit after it’s been pressed, commonly raisins, figs, or grapes. Then it’s flavored with aniseed. Raki can be drunk straight (called “sec”), in which case it’s clear, or diluted with cold water, which turns it milky white. Ice cubes can also be added after dilution according to personal preference. Agora stocks six raki of different styles and distillation levels so you can sample several to see which one you prefer. I tried Efe, which is triple-distilled from grape remains.

Ismail showed me the traditional way to serve raki. Two glasses were placed on the bar, one with plain raki about a third of the way full, and the other with water. From a separate pitcher he poured chilled water into the raki which resulted in the magical transformation known in Turkey as “the lion’s milk” – turning the raki that beautiful opaque color. Then he placed a bowl of ice cubes down for me to add as I liked.

“It’s a slow drink,” he said, “sip some raki, then some water. It’s not like shots.” Continue reading

Special Events, The Features, We Love Arts

The African Diaspora Film Festival at National Geographic

Freedom Riders, courtesy the filmmaker and the National Geographic Society

Beginning tomorrow, the fifth annual African Diaspora Film Festival kicks off at the National Geographic headquarters here in Washington, DC. Showcasing a selection of independent films from around the world, the festival runs through Sunday and is presented in collaboration with the National Geographic All Roads Film Project and TransAfrica Forum. The festival will exhibit 10 films, eight of which are premiering in the DC area.

The ADFF presents to Washingtonians an eclectic mix of foreign, independent, classic, and urban films representing the global Black experience through an extraordinary range of subjects and artistic approaches. Created in 1993 in New York City, ADFF has long been delighting audiences with U.S. and world premieres of independent films, including features, documentaries, animation, and shorts.

The opening film, Freedom Riders, is the first feature-length film about the civil rights activists who risked their lives to bring the American people and government face-to-face with the civil rights inequalities that plagued our nation. The film was a Sundance Film Festival 2010 Official Selection made by Stanley Nelson. Gaining impressive access to influential figures on both sides of the issue, Nelson chronicles a chapter of American history that stands as an astonishing testament to the accomplishment of youth and what can result from the incredible combination of personal conviction and the courage to organize against all odds. Continue reading

The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Mikveh

Rachel Condliffe, Carla Briscoe, Tonya Beckman Ross, Sarah Marshall in Theater J's production of "Mikveh." Photo credit: Stan Barouh

What is our personal responsibility to others in the face of repression and abuse? Do you interfere in someone else’s life when you see injustice? To act or to collude in silence… and while we argue about the need for action, what’s happening to those suffering right behind our backs?

Mikveh, playing now through June 5 in its English language world premiere at Theater J, is not really a play about religion, though it takes place in the confines of an orthodox community in Israel. Rather, it’s a play about the moral battle between action and inaction. It also highlights how women’s territorial natures cripple them – as they police themselves from within, they are being policed by others from without. Their inability to rise above petty jealousies can be detrimental, sometimes to the extreme.

Though the action centers around the mikveh itself (a ritual bath, here used mainly to purify post-menstruant women), you don’t need a background in the Talmud or Family Purity Laws to understand the play. That’s what I love about Theater J, no matter the subject, there’s a dedication to clarity and consistent storytelling, always marked by strong ensemble acting and high production values. Mikveh is no exception – though at times the play veers dangerously close to a Jewish Orthodox version of The Women (the gossipy babymachine, the uppercrust bitch, the abused wife, etc.) – it’s worth it to explore these issues with such powerful actors. They are ably helmed by director Shirley Serotsky, whose handling of Hadar Galron’s engaging script mines the truth behind stereotypes.

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Dupont Circle, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: In Darfur

Erika Rose in Theater J's "In Darfur," photo credit: Stan Barouh.

“Plays like this make me so grateful I was born at the time and place I was,” my friend says as we exit Theater J Saturday night. We’d just seen In Darfur by Winter Miller, and as a Western woman who’d spent the day shopping for frivolities, I felt the cold twist of shame in my stomach. But this isn’t a preachy production. Its simplicity provides the horror, and it’s truthful. These things happen. We ignore them. Then we see a simulation of a woman’s legs being cracked apart like a wishbone, and our silence feels culpable.

This is a hard sell, no denying it, but I urge you to go see In Darfur, playing now through April 18. The play is inspired by Miller’s own trip to refugee camps along the Chad-Sudan border, in the company of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times. Strangely, its flaws have to do with that prism of experience, as the two Westerners who serve as our entre to this world – an American journalist and an Argentinian aid worker – are simply not as compelling as the Africans they encounter. But I still urge you to see it, for Erika Rose’s central performance as Darfuri refugee Hawa is absolutely riveting.

The action unfolds in 2004, the aftermath of the initial atrocities committed during the conflict between the Darfur rebel groups, the Sudanese government, and the government-armed militias known as Janjaweed. Hawa, a Darfuri Muslim, has lost her entire family and been brutally raped – she is then further brutalized for being raped. Pregnant and wounded, she becomes the central pawn in hardened journalist Maryka’s (Rahaleh Nassri) quest to get Darfur on the front page, blocked by aid worker Carlos (Lucas Beck) in an ethical battle over whether endangering Hawa’s life to get the story out is worth the price she’ll pay. Continue reading

Alexandria, Dupont Circle, Food and Drink, We Love Food

We Love Food: The Burger Joint

‘DSCF3611.jpg’ courtesy of ‘joelogon’

The Burger Joint (BGR) is the latest in a line of local hamburger shops trying to muscle in on DC-area institution Five Guys by offering a gourmet twist on this American staple. I went to their new Old Town Alexandria location to put these burger peddlers’ wares to the test.

There is no better food than a hamburger. A good steak comes close but really hamburgers take the title with their myriad of configurations. Easily a sit-down meal or a perfect eat-on-the-go, with a few toppings tweaks the hamburger offers all things to all comers (except maybe vegetarians). I have long been a fan of DC hamburger establishments and have been putting new offerings to the test for many years. I guess it all began back when I was accepted to George Washington University back in 1993. While quite happy to have got in, I was secretly celebrating the fact that I would soon be living less than a block from burger heaven, Lindy’s the Bone. Back in those days DC was a tale of two burger shops; Lindy’s Bon Appetit and Five Guys pretty much had you covered. For specialty burger creations it was Lindy’s and for the purist burger experience there was none better than (the now overly-franchised) Five Guys.

In the time I have lived here there have been many new burger contenders. Most notably Hamburger Mary’s (now defunct), ZBurger (not bad), Elevation Burger (yuck), and Ray’s Hell Burger (omfg!). Of those four, really only Hamburger Mary’s and Ray’s Hell Burger stand out and for good reason; Hamburger Mary’s offered truly excellent specialty burgers in a fun and funky sit-down dinner environment; while Ray’s continues to serve-up over-the-top, gourmet burgers in a real, walk-up-order, ‘burger joint’ setting.

The Burger Joint now enters into a field beginning to feel a tad cluttered. After all, Five Guys has expanded all over the city like a fungus, Lindy’s is still quietly rocking the Red Lion basement, and Ray’s is all the rage after the Obama/William’s visit. So how does a new burger shop stand-out amongst such stiff and varied competition? By offering the best pure burger in town, that’s how.
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Special Events, The Daily Feed, Tourism

National Geographic Museum: Terra Cotta Warriors

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘akiwitz’

You’ve probably heard of Emperor Qin Shihuangdi’s terra cotta warriors, the thousands of life-sized statues buried with him in his tomb, intended to escort the Emperor to the afterlife. Discovered in 1974, they were one of the biggest archeological finds of the 20th century.

They’re making their last US appearance right here in DC, at the National Geographic Museum. Admission is $12, and the exhibition runs November 19th through March 31. The exhibit will showcase 15 terra cotta figures from Emperor  Shihuangdi’s tomb, including nine terra cotta warriors, two musicians, a strongman, a court official, a stable attendant and a horse. Also on display will be weapons, stone armor jade ornaments, roof tiles and decorative bricks, a bronze crane and swan, and a gold coins pièce collection. According to a rare coin dealer, this gold coin collection is highly valuable and costs millions of dollars.

We’re getting a full preview of the exhibit on the 18th, so look for our review shortly thereafter. In the meantime, here’s two ‘sneak preview’ photos provided to us by National Geographic… Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Plume

Table Decor at Plume

A few weeks back I was in the midst of plotting our 14th wedding anniversary. Usually we take a trip, but this year due to economy and employment, we decided to “stay in” town and dine. But where?

I was reminded by a passing acquaintance that the Jefferson was re-opening during that time, including Plume, the hotel’s restaurant offering. So I quickly set up a reservation for dinner and prepared for another fine dining experience in DC. Especially after Jenn and Catherine had enjoyed their first look at the place.

What we had that night was not just a dining experience, it was dining heaven.

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The Daily Feed

Clean your closet for a good cause

Photo courtesy of
‘SUIT oyaji in Wall st.’
courtesy of ‘jacopast’

Men’s Warehouse is having its 5th annual National Suit Drive. If you’ve ever heard of the excellent charity Dress for Success which helps women in need get business-appropriate attire, well, this one’s for the dudes. I don’t know why they kick off the event almost three months in advance with the Capitol PurSuit Drive in June but they’ll be collecting suits all through the month of September. Though it’s called a suit drive, they’ll take any professional item that’s lightly worn and which can be passed on to men who need clothing to help them land a job. The full list of needed items are here but they include suits, sport coats, pants, and ties.

You can drop your items off at any Men’s Warehouse store; in the District that gives you one choice, just south-east of Dupont off Farragut Square, just steps from the Farragut North metro stop. If you live or work outside the city you can use the store finder on their website.


Food and Drink, The Features

First Look: The Jefferson

Jeffersonian Truth

"Jeffersonian Truth" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

If someone asked me to define elegance, I would have to toss out other words like simplicity and restraint, covered with a kind of luxury that has nothing to do with pretentious opulence but everything to do with exquisite comfort. It’s a hard sell in our over-the-top world, but I think there is a yearning to return to that kind of old-fashioned mystique. And the reopened Jefferson hotel, debuting after a 30-month renovation, is a breathtaking example of elegance, lovingly presented with true beauty.

Think I’m exaggerating? Well, I’ve taken plenty of photographs for you to see for yourself. While touring The Jefferson, fellow author Cathy and I were spinning around like tops, ooo-ing and aah-ing every little detail. And there are many – the Beaux Arts hotel was specifically renovated by design firm ForrestPerkins to evoke the Jeffersonian spirit. He’s everywhere, but in a refined way, nothing kitschy at all, oh no. Perhaps it’s the next best thing to being in Monticello – which features prominently in murals and custom toiles – even the spa’s “vinotherapies” pay tribute to Jefferson’s philosophies and interests.

But why are locals going to go? For two reasons – Quill and Plume. Continue reading

Dupont Circle, Entertainment, Music, Night Life, Special Events, The Features, We Love Arts

Fringe Arts: The Oresteia

Dizzy Miss Lizzie's Roadside Revue presents The Oresteia at Church Street Theater as part of the 2009 Capital Fringe Festival

Dizzy Miss Lizzie's Roadside Revue presents The Oresteia at Church Street Theater as part of the 2009 Capital Fringe Festival

Though I still stand by my original thinking that one of the chief joys of Fringe is seeing theater in the raw, as it were, scrappy and imperfect in rough and ready locations – sometimes I have to admit that can hinder as well. Dizzy Miss Lizzie’s Roadside Revue Presents The Oresteia, a funny and subversive retelling of the Aeschylus play, suffers from venue pains. Contained in the run-down Church Street Theater, it’s hindered by the confines of a proscenium stage. Despite the best efforts of a lively cast, the location really clips its wings. Chief among the venue problems is the sound quality – it’s plagued by bad miking that jars the ears and disconnects you from some truly great vocal pipes.

But, if you can get beyond that, there’s meat here. A lot of gusto in the retelling by company members Steve McWilliams (music) and Debra Buonaccorsi (direction), which takes the classic Greek tragedy pitting the old forces of matriarchal blood revenge against the new forces of patriarchal justice (or as my poker-faced drama professor called it, “the rise of the phallus”) and shakes it up with rock-n-roll, burlesque, and lots of profanity. The cast makes a valiant effort to get you in the mood upon entering, by busking cheap beer and flirting with the audience. But the theater’s not built to encourage much interaction and that’s a pity. Once the show starts the action is pretty much confined to the stage, and almost seems crammed in those confines. It erupts through in a couple of places where the gutsy singing just can’t be cramped.
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