Tag Archives: DC

Star Wars vs. Matilda?

29 Dec

Unlike most of the world, I don’t give two shits about Star Wars. I’ve seen the original three movies, but none of the sequels. Any movie or book that features a made-up creature (like a unicorn, a dragon or a wookie) doesn’t interest me much. Unless it’s Harry Potter – then all bets are off.

Alan is in the other camp and was excited for the new Star Wars release. He didn’t have any firm plans to see it, but by the opening weekend he was concerned that if he didn’t see it soon, someone would spoil it for him on Facebook. So as we made our plans that Saturday morning, he informed me he’d be heading to the theater that night.

“I think you probably needed to buy tickets already,” I told him.

“Nah,” he said. “It’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure? I saw pictures of people still lined up at the Uptown yesterday.”

“Worst case, I’ll drive out of the city a bit. There’s a huge theater in Manassas that is almost always empty.”

Still dubious, I decided to not push it: Not my problem.

I also decided to look around for something to entertain myself since it was officially Day One of my nine-day break from work. A quick cruise around the internet and I found that there were still tickets available at the Kennedy Center for “Matilda” that night. A perfect way to end an all-day “Me Party” (my sister’s term for when you do things you love to do by yourself without worrying about pleasing anyone else).

So I arrived at the theater, relaxed from a day that included yoga and a massage. While waiting for the show to start, I snapped a quick photo of the stage, intending to text it to Alan with a “guess where I am?” caption. No sooner than I’d heard the shutter click than an usher was standing in the aisle, shouting down at me that photography was NOT allowed inside the Opera House. (To be fair, I’ve seen enough productions there I should know that, but I’d totally blanked.)

“My apologies,” I told her, somewhat mortified.

Instead of accepting the apology and moving on, she continued her lecture so that everyone within a ten row radius could hear it. I wanted to melt into my seat and disappear. OK, lady. Got it. Don’t you have people to usher? PS: there is someone behind you taking a photo RIGHT NOW – if you’d stop lecturing me, you could actually stop another photo from being taken.

At long last, the show started. Spoiler alert: It was a disappointment. Mind you, the last performance I’d seen at the Kennedy Center was Book of Mormon this summer, so it’s likely that anything would have fallen short in its wake. And it probably didn’t help that children comprised half the cast, which yielded a lot more shouting than singing. It had potential, and I can see where it would’ve been a great book – it just didn’t translate well to the stage.

When intermission rolled around, I went out to the lobby to text my illicit photo to Alan. When I turned my phone on, however, I was greeted by this picture from him:

Fire! Fire!

While he was, in fact, in possession of a ticket to see Star Wars (score one for his confidence, zero for my pessimism) he was unable to get there because his car was blocked by fire trucks, apparently dealing with a small fire up the hill from his place. Huge bummer. Apparently the Force was not with him.

To make him feel better, I sent him this photo, saying, “I got yelled at taking for taking this.”

Kennedy Center

As I took my seat and waited for the intermission to end, I eavesdropped on two couples sitting below me, who were clearly season ticket holders.

“This show is horrible,” the man said to his wife. “I don’t know if it’s because it’s opening night and they haven’t worked things out or what, but it’s hurting my ears.”

“And those strobe lights,” the other man chirped.

“Thanks for reminding me!” the woman said. “I’m going to send them a complaint. Those lights are triggering a headache. I can just feel it coming on.”

“I hate their British accents,” said the original complainer.

He didn’t get a chance to say any more because the flights flicked and one of the characters took the stage, standing in front of the curtain with the house lights still up. “Folks,” he said, addressing the audience directly, “there are a few things that have happened up here that I need to apologize for…”

“Here we go!” the complainer behind me said, with an excitement that then shifted to disappointment when he realized that the apology was part of the show and NOT an attempt to make amends for the first act.

 

The show might have been a disappointment, but at least it DID entertain me – which is more than Alan can say about Star Wars. As best I can tell, the only person who was satisfied with their evening was the usher who got to bust me.

Glad I could help.

 

Lunch Break Overload

16 Nov

I usually eat lunch at my desk, hunched over my keyboard. Bad habit, I know, but my days often don’t even hold time for bathroom breaks, so the idea of having 30 minutes of solitude to dine seems rather far-fetched. (Maybe there’s a new year’s resolution in there?) 

Friday, however, I was forced to venture outside my building to pick up food because I hadn’t brought anything from home. I was in a hurry (ten minutes between calls) so the best option was Pret-A-Manger, since they are located right below my building and have pre-made soups/sandwiches that allow me to just grab and go.

While my break to pick up food was only ten minutes, it still provided enough space to switch gears, make some observations and think about something other than work for a brief spell. Here’s where my head went…

As I walked through our building’s lobby, I saw that our concierge, Frank, had a vase of flowers bearing a sign that said, “Happy World Kindness Day, Cecil!” I stopped briefly to compliment them on the flowers. “Those are beautiful, Frank. But why do they say Cecil?”

Frank – who seems to be eternally cheerful, despite his chronic limp that makes me imagine he was mangled in an industrial accident of some sort before moving to the US – smiled and said, “Cecil is my name.”

“Then why do we call you Frank?” I asked, puzzled.

“That I do not know. Frank is my last name,” he told me.

Hmmm. For almost three years, we’ve been greeting him by his last name? And he’s cheerfully wished us – “his cherished tenants” – a wonderful day anyway? Yeesh. “I’m sorry, Cecil! From here on out, we’ll use your first name, OK?”

“That does sound like a splendid plan,” he answered, smiling.

I was still scratching my head as I walked out and saw a homeless man rattling his cup for change. I looked around and noticed that most people walked past wearing earbuds, not even hearing the coins he shook. I found myself wondering how iPhones and earbuds have changed pandhandling.

And because I’d been working on sales training at work, my mind jumped to the increasing challenge salespeople face in connecting with buyers via the phone. “Interesting,” I thought. “As technology becomes more advanced, it’s harder for both salespeople and beggars to reach their prospects. Hmmmm…”

Before leaping to the conclusion that many salespeople could be classified as salaried beggars, I found myself in Pret-A-Manger, where I grabbed a small tomato-feta soup and was out the door two minutes later. This prompted me to create a quick list of what I love about Pret-A-Manger:

  • The packaging (it’s minimal and recyclable)
  • The efficiency of the purchase (just grab and go)
  • The convenience of the location near my office
  • The fact that they control the napkin distribution and don’t offer them automatically (which I assume significantly reduces waste since most people grab fistfuls of napkins that they subsequently throw away, unused, when left to their own devices)

Do you notice what’s missing from that list of what I love about Pret-A-Manger? Um, yeah – the FOOD. Whoever determines their menu has a love affair with mayonnaise, thus ruining everything but the tomato-feta soup for me.

I momentarily got excited last year when they introduced bacon mac and cheese – until I tried it and realized it contained cauliflower lumps. WHAT? I’m not a pre-schooler who hates vegetables – please don’t sneak them into my food, screwing with the texture and ruining my go-to comfort food.

Actually, on second thought, maybe their menu planner is a mom from Ohio. I’ll keep my eyes out for new casserole options that feature CheezWhiz and condensed cream of mushroom soup as ingredients.

Without realizing it, I was back at my desk, hunched over my tomato soup, answering the phone for my next call, and amazed by how much ground my mind covered in such a short walk. Maybe there’s something to be said for stepping away from your desk…

A tourist in my own city

15 Oct

We’re having an amazing fall (read: 70 degrees and sunny) in DC, so I’ve been taking advantage of the weather by playing tourist. For my nerdy self, that means one thing: WALKING TOURS.

Last weekend I tagged onto a walking tour of Embassy Row, which felt a bit lazy since the starting point was a ten minute walk from my place. While it may sound dumb to take a walking tour of your own neighborhood, I wanted to do it because whenever I have visitors, I find myself making up stories in response to their questions. I thought it might be helpful to equip myself with a few facts for a change.

And man was I ever equipped! I learned a ton. Here are just two highlights to tease you into attending your own tour:

  • Embassy Row was originally called Millionaires’ Row and was where “new money” built their homes – and it became Embassy Row after the crash of the stock market, when many residents were forced to sell their homes (and foreign countries were the only entities flush with cash to purchase them).
  • Westinghouse lived here when the whole AC/DC battle was going on with Edison and he spent $1m of his own money to defend a guy on death row in NY to try to prevent the electric chair (with his current) making its debut (and generating some pretty horrible PR for his cause). It goes without saying that his house was pretty fantastic.

Excited from all that I learned on that tour, this weekend I signed up for a walking tour of Georgetown. Unfortunately, the guide had an artificially boisterous delivery style and over-the-top vocal projection, so listening to him made me cringe. I felt like a legitimate tourist as he yelled history at us on the otherwise quiet streets of Georgetown, so about halfway through the tour, when the group turned left, I turned right and walked home.

If I’m being fair, the guide was only part of the reason I bailed. My feet were hurting because I’d already walked seven miles that day because I’d stumbled upon something called “Do the Loop,” which was an art event in which several museums and galleries in upper Northwest opened their doors at no charge for the day. I used this as an excuse to check out the Kreeger Museum up on Foxhall Road, and I was impressed with the collection, which included many Picassos, Monets, Renoirs – and even a small Calder mobile.

As fantastic as the collection was, I was actually slightly more intrigued by the museum building itself, which had originally been designed and built as the private residence for the Kreegers (president of GEICO back in the day) – with the stipulation by the architect (Philip Johnson) that they leave it as a museum one day. Imagine living in a home designed to one day become a museum? It was fun to roam around and imagine decorating it for entertainment back in the 70s.

So… not much pith in this post, but if you find yourself in DC and looking for something to do, perhaps this will give you some ideas. And if you have an obnoxious tour guide, hopefully you’ll feel fine turning right when he goes left. Because he deserves it.

Live from DC… it’s EQUALITY!

26 Jun

copyright pithypants 2015

I was home on my couch, nestled in for the night, when I heard a rumor that the White House was rainbow-colored. So I had no choice but to change out of my pajamas (and into my only marginally more appropriate workout clothes) and walk the eight blocks down to the White House to witness history.

I may have shown up alone with only my iPhone for company (and documentation), but the crowd was INCLUSIVE. People were welcoming, joyful and celebratory, handing off cameras so strangers could help each other get better angles than traditional selfies would afford.

I saw women jumping, men hugging, and more than a few people squealing. I took my share of photos (and helped others with theirs), then stood quietly under a tree, taking it all in. There may have been a few tears as I marveled that for once we got it right.

In a week that has contained much pain, it was a balm to see LOVE come out on top.

 

See This Film: From This Day Forward

23 Jun
Title Art - created by Trisha Shattuck

Artwork by Trisha Shattuck – pending permission for use

Last week was the AFI DOCS Film Festival in DC. If you couldn’t gather it from the name, it’s a documentary film festival.

Friday night, Alan and I made a beeline for the theatre on E Street so we could screen, “From This Day Forward,” which is described on its website this way:

From This Day Forward is a moving portrayal of an American family coping with one of the most intimate of transformations. When director Sharon Shattuck’s father came out as transgender and changed her name to Trisha, Sharon was in the awkward throes of middle school. Her father’s transition to female was difficult for her straight-identified mother, Marcia, to accept, but her parents stayed together. As the Shattucks reunite to plan Sharon’s wedding, she seeks a deeper understanding of how her parents’ marriage survived the radical changes that threatened to tear them apart.

In the wake of Caitlin née Bruce making headlines, it’s a timely topic, but that’s not what drew us to the screening.

It was on my radar because – some years earlier – my sister  told me that one of the students she had become friends with through her job at the University of Michigan was using kickstarter.com to raise funds to make a documentary about her family, focusing on her father’s transgender journey in northern Michigan.

I’m something of a kickstarter and gofundme junkie because I believe there’s not enough art, beauty or understanding in the world, so if I spot an opportunity to help reverse that, I do what I can.

Admittedly, most of my gambles have not paid off – aside from Calligraphuck, which seems to be thriving yet somehow lost my donor gift of profane greeting cards so I still haven’t actually handled the product. (Probably for the best or half my Christmas list might disappear in one year!)

So imagine my joy when I learned that a film I had contributed to actually made it to the big screen! There was no way I was going to miss it – and since Alan is pretty much the best partner ever, he accompanied me without even knowing what we were going to see.

Turns out? Incredible movie. Not only did Sharon Shattuck (the director) do a fantastic job with the images and videography, she also crafted a clever backdrop for the story by using her father’s artwork and her own wedding to unravel the threads of her parents’ marriage and their family dynamic.

Early in the movie she quotes her dad, Trisha, as saying, “Sharon, whenever you get married, I hope you’ll let me wear a dress when I walk you down the aisle…” The rest of the movie then builds to her wedding day, with the suspense of the reveal (will her dad wear a dress?!) flowing like an undercurrent, subtly tugging us forward as we learn about her parents’ marriage.

I won’t ruin the reveal. I will just say this: the film is loaded with gorgeous imagery – both in the form of Michigan landscapes and Trisha’s artwork; even so, the most beautiful part of the film is actually the message – that a marriage unfolds in many unexpected ways, and love actually can conquer all.

Needless to say, I wasn’t the only person wiping at my cheeks when the credits rolled. And I’m probably not the only person now trying to get one of Trisha’s paintings in my house.

Check out the trailer here, and see if it’s coming to your city soon – you’ll be glad you did: