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Thursday, December 24, 2009

End of the Year Poem - DC Style (with apologies to The New Yorker)

Peace de Resistance

Ho-ho, dear readers, allay your winter fret,
Gather here with me away from the Internet.
It’s the Santa of Sonnets, the Nick of Time,
Here to give young and old mariners a rime.
So join us on this DC seasonal skate,
(Hey look who’s coming – it’s Alex the Great!)
As we wrap up 2009 in one glittery roll,
With a greeting to some who stirred our soul.

A toast to the Holiday (isn’t Johnny great?),
And the long-awaited prospect of a 51st state.
To that late great paper, hark the Herald,
And our hunk prosecutor of yore, Patrick Fitzgerald.
Can you serve hot cider with your subpoenas?
For Antawn Jamison and Gilbert Arenas,
Holly Twyford and Tom Shales,
Lisa Moscatiello and our own Wale.
Light the yule log for Bob Mondello,
And Avery Brooks (our favorite Othello),
Joy Zinoman, Michael Kahn,
And our biggest celeb, Tai Shan.
Let’s go caroling with Fennelly and Schwartz,
Diane Rehm and puzzle-guy Will Shortz,
We’ll bring along the tenors Carreras and Domingo,
And a Beatle, of course (we’ll settle for Ringo).
Load the reindeer and sleigh with presents to the top,
For Mayor Fenty (he'll run alongside) and Linda Cropp,
Jhumpa Lahiri, Billy Taylor,
Jessica Cutler, Bunny Wailer.
Send out some merry seasonal wishes,
To Debi Smith and Sarunas Jasikevicius,
Ryan Zimmerman and Vincent Gray,
Delores Williams and Doris Day.
Spike some eggnog for her channeler, Nellie McKay,
The Last Train Home and Buddy Guy,
Hey, it’s Nora Pouillon and Frederick Yonnet,
With Septime Webre and the Washington Ballet!
May live music land under your Christmas tree,
(Maybe if you strike a deal with Michelle Rhee.)
All hail Coach Joe Gibbs (but don’t embarrass),
Just give him a holiday CD by Emmylou Harris.
We’re good now Joe, Bruce Allen’s here,
Or better yet, check in again in another year.
Put on the lederhosen, ring the chimes
For Kojo Namdi and Geoffrey Himes,
Lady Gaga and Sen. Ben Cardin,
Roberto Donna and Marcia Gay Harden.
Darrell Green, Carolyn Hax,
Lark McCarthy, Emanuel Ax.
Police Chief Lanier, Stephen Breyer
Norman Parish and the National Cathedral Choir!
Raise a glass to the Alleys, Kirstie and Blues.
(Maybe they know what happened to La Sooz?)
Ylan Q. Mui, Sammy Sosa,
Philippa Hughes and Omarosa.
Sonia Sotomayor, Coach Joe Bugel,
Carl Bernstein (he’ll bring the kugel!).
Serve the punch for O’Malley the gov,
And get him a treat from our own CakeLove,
Cheers for Santana Moss, our favorite wideout,
Politics & Prose and Bonnie Rideout,
Edward P. Jones, Doc and Ed Walker,
Ruth Bader Ginsburg and that new Ooma Talker.
Ermanno Tonizzo and Erin McKeown,
And our king of go-go, the Chuck Brown.
For Abe Pollin and George Michael we mourn,
For those about to be fired, we Zorn.
How 'bout we take him to Bens for a winning chili bowl,
Where we can all sing a verse of Joyeux Noel.
We’ll invite Kal Penn, Adam Dunn and Joey Cheek
And our friends the Salahis, Michaele and Tareq!
Forget about all this fuss and to-do,
And let me introduce you to Freddy Adu.
He had some problems but now it’s all in the past,
Just go to Mallorca (and you should move fast!).
It’s been a tough year, we look tired,
Traffic and the economy, we’re all so mired,
Can’t we all just get away and fly to Ibiza,
With Taraji P. Henson and Condoleeza!

Dear friends, our goose is nearly cooked,
The tables are set and fully booked.
Apologies to those we couldn’t rhyme,
(Like Vincent Orange), we’ll try next time.
From Maryland to Virginia and thru the District line,
Blessings to all for a safe 2009.
It’s time for the flag of peace to be neatly unfurled,
With a sincere and happy Joy to the World.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Great Performance IS Worth a 5-Mile Walk; I Get Exposed in Georgetown

I always wanted to be part of a special gathering, a once-in-a-lifetime thing that can't be recreated. I finally may have been on Saturday. The kind of event I'm thinking of is like when I was at Rutgers, friends would head down to Asbury Park in hopes of catching an unannounced Springsteen appearance. He never showed when I went. At Iota a few years ago, Glenn Tillbrook of Squeeze fame led the audience into the parking lot to sing Pulling Mussels From a Shell. A few months ago, I couldn't believe it to read that Tillbrook did it again, this time at a concert I went to at the State Theater. After it ended, he went next door - unannounced - to Clare and Don's to play a set. I had gone home.

But on Saturday, with a blizzard taking place outside, I was one of the 60 or 70 people in the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater audience for the next-to-last performance of August: Osage County. It was a performance I'll never forget. They told us to move close to the stage - quite a deal for my $25 balcony seats. I was completely engrossed from the first minute on of this Pulitzer-prize and Tony-winning play that Peter Marks really did not take kindly to in The Washington Post. (He wrote that he can't figure out why audiences like it so much. Hello! Thank God for Bob Mondello in The City Paper!) The cast had to know that we fought the elements to get there and perhaps even that I would have to walk 5 miles to get home because they put on an amazing performance. The play has a little bit of everything: incest, pedophilia, suicide, divorce, choking and romance. But the cast is so talented and apparently they play it a little more for the humor now, which makes the moving parts that much more moving.  When it ended, and we gave a standing ovation to the amazing and gut-wrenching 82-year-old star Estelle Parsons and the rest of the cast, they applauded right back. I'm convinced that sitting close for plays really adds to your enjoyment. I liked Streetcar Named Desire last month, but I was not moved like I was on Saturday. The Kennedy Center was probably wrong for going on with the shows Saturday afternoon. But I am so glad they did. I've now got my "Been There" moment.
Aside: Check out Emily Kinney's entertaining blog. She is a young Nebraska actress who was wonderful in Osage County and apparently has a small part in the new film It's Complicated.

My friend Cinthia and I decided to explore Georgetown last Friday as part of their Georgetown Gallery Gaze the third Friday of every month. We started at the beautiful Sea Catch Restaurant where they have a fireplace and a nice Happy Hour with half-price wines and drinks. I wanted to show her the incredible micro-sculptures at Parish Gallery; they're charging $5 now to get in, but it's worth it. You still have until Jan. 23 to see them. We walked next door to a new gallery owned by a Russian couple - she's a professor at the Corcoran. The current exhibit is comprised of nude drawings done by her students. When I wanted to see who drew a particular sketch, I bent down closely to look at the name.  Apparently, Cinthia thought I was looking for a close-up of the penis that was directly in front of me.  Now I will never hear the end of it.  Lastly we went into the gallery that's known for their nudity - MOCA.  I don't want to talk about it anymore.  The next Georgetown Gallery Gaze takes place Jan. 15.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Fun Across the City


I heartily recommend The Washington Ballet's Nutcracker at the Warner Theater - for all ages. It's a colorful and acrobatic romp through Washington's cherry blossoms and a snowy landscape. Only drawback is no live music, but budget cuts have a tendency of doing things like that.

The Georgetown Gallery Gaze takes place this Friday from 5-8pm. This should be a very nice evening, given the holiday festivities taking place all over.  They're running a promotion that if you get 7 "signatures" fom galleries than you get 20% off of dinner at Mie N’ Yu restaurant.

Washington Printmakers Holiday Party takes place this Sunday, December 20th, from 3:00-5:00 pm.  It's free. A Sampling of Items up for Raffle/Auction: $25 Gift Certificate to Utrecht Art Supplies and $25 Gift Certificate to Maddy's, a nice new restaurant a few doors down Connecticut Ave! Raffle tickets are just $5!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Neo-Futurists Return, Pirate Radio Steals Some Good Laughs

The Neo-Futurists have returned to Woolly Mammoth with the second coming of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. They "perform" 30 "plays" in 60 minutes with titles ranging from A Neo-Gay-PSA to the very clever A Theater Major's Revenge. The best way to describe it is probably that the whole is better than the sum of its parts. Taken alone, the plays can be silly and inconsequential. But after a while, they start to build momentum and you get on a first-name basis with the performers.  When's Chloe going to come out again?  Where's Jay? It's fun - nothing more really.  But with our busy lives intersecting with bad economic times, fun can be a good thing.

The film Pirate Radio (4 RED DOTS) has gotten overlooked a little. Any movie that has Bill Nighy and Philip Seymour Hoffman and Rhys Ifans making merriment, Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson doing wonderful sendups, and Mad Men's January Jones as a love object can't be all that bad. Pirate Radio starts out over the top and never strays from there. Yet it keeps to the storyline, which is that back in 1960s England, radio stations weren't allowed to play the great rock music of the day.  So a bunch of legendary deejays commandeer a ship and live and broadcast from the North Sea.  It's by Richard Curtis who wrote one of my all-time favorite films, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Love Actually.

I saw a very good film at the Jewish Film Festival last night called Brothers, not to be confused with the Tobey Maguire-Jake Gylenhaal movie out now. It was about two Jewish brothers who got separated while growing up in Argentina and are reunited in Israel years later. It has beautiful footage of Jerusalem and the Israeli countryside.  Catch it if you can at the Avalon Theater Thursday, Dec. 10 at 6pm.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

'Up in the Air' Soars! Micro-Sculptures at Parish and Free Tickets to Terra Cotta Warriors

Up in the Air (4.5 RED DOTS) is an incredibly well-done, thoughtful movie that tries pretty successfully to tie today's modern woes into a sort-of romantic comedy formula.  It stars George Clooney as a corporate downsizer with no relationships in his life. He meets a woman (Vera Farmiga) who stirs his emotions, works with a young woman (Anna Kendrick) who jolts his precious ideals, and reconnects with his family and hometown. Director Ivan Reitman moves up into the rarefied air of our best directors.  He takes detours in the typical rom-com world and most of them pay off. It's a very enjoyable film to watch, though if you're single and/or have lost a job in the last couple years, there will be a few twinges.  The job-lost confessions from the "actors" - done in that Woody Allen interviewing style - are all too real for someone who has gone through that, and indeed, Reitman did tape real people who had lost their jobs. Just leaves a bit of a sour aftertaste - usually not my normal feeling after seeing what I consider a very good movie - but to steer into a cliche, I ceryainly feel the pain here. Kudos to Reitman for also allowing Kendrick to tell her boyfriend that Clooney is way old for her and mean it. It allows the film to stay in reality and deliver its punches.

So the Post finally wrote up the micro-sculptures of Willard Wigan at the wonderful Parish Gallery in Georgetown. In the above photo you can see the microscope on the left where the sculpture is contained. (The "painting" is a huge blowup of the art.) It's something you should see. I was there opening night and Mr. Parish said that he will have another reception for the works. I'm not sure yet if that will be the regular Third Friday (Dec. 18) that the galleries at 1054 31st Street usually claim.  I will let you know and maybe we'll even put a meetup together. Wigan said that he works on his minute pieces - often displayed on needles - crafted from diamond chips "between his heartbeats." He was demonstrating to visitors how steady his hand can be compared to ours. He's showing sculptures of the Titanic, the Obamas, King Henry VIII, Hulk and Charlie Chaplin among others. I marveled at a "regular" one of a couple having dinner at a restaurant. The details - her earrings, the glass of wine - are spectacular.

I spoke with a friend yesterday who said that getting free tickets to the Terra Cotta exhibit at the National Geographic was not that difficult. Here's the deal: every Wednesday they give out about 200 free tickets for 6pm viewing. They tell you to come as early as 3pm, but he said he got there at 5pm. The rain probably helped, he said. The exhibit goes to March 31, 2010, so if you're patient, this free option might pay off.