I love comedy. I love public transport. So when I heard that the Brixton's new free weekly 'Tuesdays with Funnie' comedy night was all about DC's public transport, I was sold. Other than the fact that the microphone was a bit dodgy, and also that I nearly missed it since it was the first beautiful evening for a million years and all the Capital Bikeshare racks were full (PS if you don't have a pass, it's $75 to use their bikes for the whole year and as such, brilliant value!)... The Tuesdays with Funnie roast of the DMV metro was hilariously well done, with some fantastic comedians. For a free show, I must say this was good value. And on the roof terrace: who dared to dream it might one day be warm enough?
The next night I was at a very cool reception to honor Team USA returning from Sochi. Unfortunately there wasn't a cake buffet. But there was a really excellent savory buffet. I ate three hundred miniature potatoes... It seemed that practically everyone there but my lovely wife and me was an Olympian which made me resolve to go back to the gym... Have you ever seen an Olympic medal in the flesh? I saw about 10 that night (around the necks of the winners) and I was embarrassingly excited about it!
Thursday was a first Thursday of the month and so I just couldn't resist the Phillps Collection's After 5, 1930s-themed extravaganza. These are always fun and I rather enjoyed drinking my punch while listening to live jazz, watching a magic show, envying people playing board games, and strolling around the Phillips Collection's current exhibition - I particularly liked some nice Cubist work. Next month's theme is the American 1920s - I can't wait.
I only realized Emma Donoghue was talking at Politics and Prose an hour before she did so, on Saturday evening. Emma Donoghue is one of my favorite authors and after complaining about DC not having enough literary events, it felt indefensible to miss what was clearly going to be an excellent event. But it was currently 5pm, the event was at 6pm and my lovely wife and I were due at the National Geographic at 7pm... Luckily, that's what Uber and Lyft are for! We leapt into a cab and were soon squeezing in to a particularly popular Politics and Prose author event - and Emma Donoghue was really lovely and interesting and funny and her new book sounded fab. What fun. Resolution: keep an eye on the Politics and Prose calendar. How many times must I remind myself!
We sneaked out when the questions started and sped down Connecticut Avenue, sliding into our seats at the National Geographic, just in time for the curtain to rise on the national finals of FameLab. This is essentially an X Factor-style contest for scientists and engineers: who could communicate their research in the most accessible and compelling way? Saturday evening felt a slightly incongruous time to hear about the nuances of science from eleven researchers, I admit. After the hour and a half of funny and illuminating presentations, I cast my vote and turned my thoughts towards beer... But instead, without so much as a sip of water, a really quite interesting presentation on exploration by diving in underwater caves immediately kicked off. For 45 minutes. Despite my Saturday night thirst, I had to smile. Hooray for scientists! Why drink when you can learn? It was a really good event. And I was happy with the choice of winners too. Wish I could go to the international final in the UK! Though when it eventually finished on Saturday, I admit we dashed to Pizza Paradiso's beer bar for some well-earned end-of-evening sustenance.
With the weather inducing us out of hibernation, this week was also full of some lovely strolls. Ever since I moved here, people have raved about Dumbarton Oaks. I decided to find out what all the fuss was about. My wife and I paid our $8 and were admitted to a huge, beautifully landscaped garden, of the type you might find in old British National Heritage properties. There were water features, winding little paths, walled gardens, pebbled gardens, fields of plants, and plenty of nooks in which to perch with a book. If I needed to charm a date, I'd take her here.... This will also be a brilliant place in which to view some cherry blossoms when they appear! En route home, we popped into the grounds of nearby Tudor Place which were also quite charming, though much smaller. Our other outdoorsy strolling this week included a stroll round Roosevelt Island, one of the nicest DC walks, and never very touristy, which is nice. Oh and after years of unfitness, I ran the Cherry Blossom 5k! My lovely wife was distraught that her having pneumonia meant she couldn't run the 10 miler as planned (though obviously she was made to do pretty much everything else listed in this blog!) but the atmosphere was lovely, the weather perfect, and despite the lack of actual cherry blossoms, I had a great time!
We went to a few movies too. I thought Lunchbox at the Landmark E St Cinema was really, really nice: an absolute charmer of a small, subtle, unshowy movie about loneliness, love and lunch in India. Le Week-End at West End Cinema was okay, but a bit more depressing than the trailer would have you believe. Also saw Bad Words at West End Cinema and thought it fairly good, as I always enjoy spelling-themed plots, but again, not sure I'd absolutely recommend it.
But other than yesterday's Perfect Liars Club, which was brilliant, perhaps my favorite event of the week was going to see Brief Encounter at the Shakespeare Theatre. Knee High are actually a British theatre company, and I saw this show back in the UK. Brief Encounter stands out as one of my top theatre experiences in the past decade, so when I saw it was on in DC, I grabbed tickets with urgency. I confess I have previously thought of the Shakespeare Theatre as a bit staid. When I'm looking for really exciting theatre, I tend towards the Studio Theatre and Arena Stage. I can guarantee that if Brief Encounter was on at the Studio, the run would already be sold out for weeks, mobbed by theatregoing hipsters. And with good reason. Brief Encounter may be the coolest show to hit Washington this year. The acting is wonderful. The music fantastic. The staging and design a wonder of inventive, stylish brilliance. Brief Encounter is full of charm and delight. Shakespeare Theatre: I apologize for underestimating your vision. Everyone else: you need to acquire tickets. (It is also a bonus that Jaleo is next door for a post-theatre pan con tomate - the best of the Spanish-bread-and-tomato genre in DC I think!)
What sounds cool in the coming week
Tuesday 8th - tonight Speakeasy DC's monthly storytelling show looks to be a good'un, with stories about slips of the tongue and gossip... Tickets $15 on the door. Doors at 6:30, starts at 8. I'm planning to go. Or else, kick off Yuri's Night celebrations (anniversary of first man in space is 12th April) at The Science Club's monthly space cafe at 7pm (I've crashed this International Space University monthly shindig before and it is nerdy, free and fascinating - and they have speakers from NASA).
Wednesday 9th - The City Paper's Best of DC Fete is happening at the Carnegie Library, featuring lots of the establishments voted 'Best of DC' in their recent poll. It sounds fab. If you're feeling rich (alas I am not), the tickets are $80 though I got an email from Bitches Who Brunch, DC's brunch reviewers, offering a $15 discount with the code BODCbwbGA - thanks, Bitches. If you are more bicycley inclined, the 2nd annual Cherry Blossom Chase DC bike party sounds very different, but also fab - they're meeting at Dupont Circle at 7:30 and cycling with music and coolness to Rock and Roll Hotel where there will be an afterparty.
Friday 10th - Randomly, go draw belly dancers at the Smithsonian American Art Museum from 5:30-7 for free. And why not? And then to Starcadian's dance party with telescopes in celebration of Yuri's Night on H Street. A fine evening's plans!
Saturday 11th - At 3pm sharp on the National Mall between 6th and 7th Streets, something that sounds really cool is happening. It's called Improveverywhere, or the Mp3 Experiment. I can't really explain it. Here's the details. Alternatively, grab a team and go on an urban scavenger hunt. In the evening, I'm suggesting either going to Nerd Nite for a Yuri's Night themed extravaganza at DC9, or heading to the Anacostia Arts Centre for the second week in a row, this time for a Countdown to Yuri's Night (C2YN) party, featuring art, music, sci fi burlesque, costume contests and the like! Random.