Of all the outdoor film screenings, I have to admit I have a soft spot for Rosslyn outdoor film festival. It's scrappy, it's cheery, the people who attend are relaxed, there is an emcee and silly games before it, and it's all very sweet and non-pretentious. You can combine it with a walk round Roosevelt Island. Plus they have the best taste in movies of all the outdoor options this year, in my opinion. We saw Empire Records there this week and it was delightful. In terms of indoor movies, we saw two, both of which I enjoyed: First up, The 100 Yard Journey, about an Indian family who open a restaurant in a French village opposite a top French restaurant. It's not going to win an Oscar, but it has all the enjoyable, funny and sweet moments you can imagine. It's been a chef cinema extravaganza this year! I feel like I do nothing but watch chef films. But I did deviate, to see Magic in the Moonlight, Woody Allen's latest period piece about an attempt by a magician to unmask a psychic. And again, I wouldn't bet on it for the Oscars - it doesn't have anything huge to say, but it is charm and pleasingness, and has a very attractive south of France setting.
As for live performance, I had a great time at the SpeakeasyDC Tuesday night show - one of the best I've seen for a while, with some cool new stories. I also finally got to see Stupid F***ing Bird at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre. I star the "uck" because I don't really approve of this pretentious, self-conscious bid to grab our attention in the form of a risque title. And though I'd been excited for weeks to see this show, I ended up feeling a bit like this about the play itself. I was very ready to love this play. But being a contrary girl, I wasn't totally sold. My lovely wife tells me I'm wrong: she thought it was excellent. I thought it was quite good, worth seeing, and certainly the majority of the performances were great. The set was brilliant. The whole concept is bright and modern and energetic and engaging. And yet, I just couldn't get engaged. Maybe it was the freezing temperature of the theatre. Maybe it was the three acts. But I think it was the self-conscious use of 'clever' devices like talking to the audience. It felt like they sat down and said "hmmm, how can we look innovative and hip", and then implemented everything they thought of. Then again, maybe that's the whole point: it's sort of what the play's about! I think you should read this DCMTA review which I think captures the whole thing very well, in more detail. You've got til August 17 to see it. You probably should.
One exciting innovation to the theatregoing experience... As those of you who have been to theatre in the UK may be aware, at the interval, people eat icecream, in little tubs sold at concession stands, and also by ushers standing at the front of the theatre. It would be a travesty to go to the theatre and not be able to acquire a tub of ice cream. And yet, here in the US, not a tub to be found! We addressed this horrible deficit once and for all by leaping out of our seats at the interval at Woolly Mammoth, dashing round the corner, buying delicious Pitango ice cream, and eating it delightedly in the lobby, while the rest of the audience stared covetously at our ice cream. Woolly Mammoth: this would be a good partnership! (and of course we had our post-Woolly pan con tomate treat at Jaleo - mmm!).
Speaking of food, we finally tried Thai Xing last night. This quirky Thai restaurant essentially inside someone's house is not a very DC restaurant experience. It was a little intimidating when I arrived, alone, the first guest of the evening. But it is cool. They do vegetarian tasting menus on Tuesdays and Sundays (BYOB!). For a mere $30, the food was flowing. Other than allergies, no decisions are invited - you just sit back and receive small plates of tasty things. Some of it was really quite spicy, but there wasn't a dish I didn't enjoy, from the soup, through all the curries, and eventually to dessert. It felt more than a mean: it felt like an experience. This isn't a hidden gem: it was full! But if you like Thai food and quirky experiences, you should book a table now.
Also on food, we eventually made it to the Big Bear Cafe at 1st and R NW. I always thought this was in Brookland but no, it's in Eckington, says its website. On Sunday there was a lovely, particularly charming farmers market right outside, and some tasty food and drinks inside. I loved the ambience and commit to coming back here to hang out with drinks, a good book, and maybe one of those breakfast burritos.
I can attest that it isn't in Brookland, because after our drinks we conceived a ridiculous notion to cycle in the blazing sun through Brookland to Bladensburg Waterfront Park. It's further than it looks on Google, thanks to all the hills. But first, the Metropolitan Branch Trail turns out to be a short but very nice little cycle! It runs north from Union Station and links up with other trails in Takoma Park, and it's got a really cool aesthetic if you like industrial buildings, railways, quirky graffiti and occasional arty sculptures. I'm not joking: I really liked it. But if you've been thinking "hmmm, should I go to Bladensburg Waterfront Park?" let me save you the confusion and answer: "probably not." On Sunday afternoon I found it a depressing, run down, fairly deserted small stretch of paved waterfront with a couple of locals hanging out, looking unimpressed. There was no sign of boat rental, but the website claims there is, and it would be really cool to paddle from here to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Apparently you can do it. Maybe phone ahead to check. As for us, we turned around and headed back to the Big Bear Cafe along the unpleasant non-shade, ascending misery of Rhode Island Avenue...
Oh, and remember a couple of weeks ago we hiked the Western Ridge trail in Rock Creek park, from Boundary Bridge to Peirce Mill? Well this weekend we took another Uber to Boundary Bridge and this time we turned left, onto the Valley trail. I'd read that this trail was much busier, but on Saturday we saw less than 10 people along the 5 mile trail. Having now done both main trails in the park, my vote is for the Valley Trail. If you like your scenery to include water, as I do, it's much more scenic. It's a really lovely, easy walk and much recommended. On this map, Western Ridge is the green trail and Valley is in pink.
Cool things to do in DC for the rest of August
Wed Aug 13 - Africa-sourced chocolate, paired with wine? But of course: head to Cocova at 5-8pm.
Thu Aug 14 - Sour ales beer tasting at Sixth and I
Fri Aug 15 - Miss Congeniality at Rosslyn outdoor cinema
Sat Aug 16 - Essentially, you're probably going to comedy tonight. There's a live version of the podcast Throwing Shade at Black Cat which sounds funny. Or #NOFILTER comedy show at Sixth and I which also sounds funny.
Sun Aug 17 - Free admission to Synchroswim - synchronized swimming meets performance art.
Mon Aug 18 - Go see some Robin Williams films at West End Cinema.
Wed Aug 20th - It's time for your dose of storytelling, with Story League. Theme: tasty...
Thu Aug 21 - Thirst brings you a delightful evening of science learning, drinking, and their particular brand of hip nerding at Smith Public Trust.
Fri Aug 22 - Anchorman at Rosslyn outdoor cinema. Or the cool-sounding Art After Dark 5 - art, music, drinks, glamour, and general coolness.
Wed Aug 27 - Little Salon will provide you with music, fiction, poetry, screen printing, and the history of salons in DC. BYOB!
Sat Aug 30 - Block out the whole day, book fans: it's a 10am-10pm National Book Festival extravaganza!
Wed Sept 3rd - Make sure you've got your tickets for Perfect Liars Club in its new, bigger venue - so you can actually get tickets!