- Boxes placed in Smithsonian in 1881 by telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell opened for first time. Washington, D.C., Oct. 1927. (Photograph: Library of Congress)
• A MARVELOUS D.C. ARTS STORY: Megan Gambino on some recordings made at Volta Laboratory in Dupont Circle in the 19th century. "One March morning in 2008, Carlene Stephens, curator of the National Museum of American History’s division of work and industry, was reading the New York Times when a drawing caught her eye. She recognized it as a phonautograph, a device held in the museum’s collections....The article reported that scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, had managed the seemingly impossible. They played back the sounds. Using equipment housed at the Library of Congress, Carl Haber, a senior scientist in the lab’s physics division, took high resolution digital images of a phonautogram found in a Paris archive. Using computer software, Haber analyzed the images and extracted from the recording a 10-second clip of the French folk song 'Au Clair de la Lune.' Made on April 9, 1860, the sound snippet predates the oldest known playable sound recording— Handel’s oratorio, made by Thomas Edison and his associates in 1888.
>>"'When I read the article, I thought, oh my gosh,' says Stephens. The American History Museum has about 400 of the earliest audio recordings ever made."
>>I'm not gonna spoil the rest of it, but you can hear a few recordings from the early 1880s at the end of this post. What a kick!
• Hey, remember that Ned Martel piece from this past weekend about movies not opening in D.C.? Jon Fischer does, and he's made some calls on it. "I can't argue with Martel's rallying cry: Seeing limited release films the week I read about them in The New York Times and national magazines would be great," Fischer writes. "It's also pretty unlikely to happen, though Martel's argument doesn't really address why." Martel's argument is faith-based, Fischer decides: You can't count tickets that COULD be sold, and the idea that D.C. can put more niche audiences in seats than other cities that aren't L.A. or New York is shaky, too. "[I]t's not clear D.C. is more deserving of advance screenings than, say, Chicago or San Francisco, where people blog and tweet, too. Six hundred thousand people live in the District. I'm pretty sure most of us don't have buddies who work for Meet the Press."
>>In other words, get used to huffing New York's fumes, cowtowners.
>>RELATED: Benjamin R. Freed does a guide to Martel's guide to upcoming releases: "it looks like he's a firm subscriber of that 'Poliwood' nonsense glossies like Capitol File and Washington Life are always pushing." OK, everybody, OK. Settle down.
• BEST JOB IN D.C.? Buying books for Smithsonian gift shops, suggests Jenny Rogers. She quizzes Joan Mayfield on the facets of the gig, from the difficult -- finding books with color pictures printed in the U.S. -- to the fun -- checking out other institutions' giftoriums.
• Sriram Gopal's jazz picks.
• Theater J on Theater J: Stephen Stern on the Israel trip. Ari Roth goes long on writing about why he hasn't written that much about it.
• Here is an update from Exit Clov, including a new video.
• Would you like to see the inside of Jesse Tittsworth's apartment? You can in this video! Also you can learn a lot about him.
• CURIOUS FACT ABOUT TONIGHT'S CITY PAPER HOLIDAY PARTY AT MELLOW MUSHROOM: ArtsBook believes it's the first time the paper has held a bash in a chain restaurant.
REVIEWS: Chris Klimek on "You, Nero" at Arena. Also Klimek writes about "Hairspray" at Signature. ALSO Klimek writes about Beirut at 9:30 Club. Busy, busy Klimek. Tricia Olszewski on "Young Adult" and also on "A Dangerous Method." Marcus J. Moore on yU's "The EARN": "disarmingly unaspirational." Ally Schweitzer on Screen Vinyl Image's "Strange Behavior": "shoegaze is the gift that keeps on giving." Lindsay Zoladz on Pree's "Lemon Tree." Jayne Blanchard on "Hairspray." Andrew Lapin on "Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies." I AM THE GHOST OF A BILL O'REILLY SEGMENT...Elliot Lanes on "A Christmas Carol" at Ford's. Sophie Gilbert on "You, Nero."
Pop: Black Cobra w/ Zoroaster and the Body at Black Cat. The Riverbreaks w/ The Jones, Level 7 and High Waisted at DC9. Natalie York at Jammin’ Java. James Wilson at Iota. Dwele at Birchmere. Sesame Street Live: Elmo Makes Music at GMU/Patriot Center. Devo at State Theatre. Shark Week w/ The Art Department and Other Colors at Velvet Lounge. Lyle Lovett and his Acoustic Group at Rams Head. Life pres. Seth Troxler w/ Dave Martin at U Hall.
Classical, jazz: NSO: Handel’s Messiah at KenCen. Dan Tepfer at Strathmore Mansion.
Theater: Seasonal Disorder: “The Carmichaels,” “Guys in Xmas Sweaters” and “Subsidized Corn at Source. Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker at Strathmore.
What-have-you: Holiday Hairspray Happy Hour! at Busboys and Poets/VA. Terra de Boa Gente: Awareness and Prevention Through Art at the Fridge. Film: “Jesse Kanda: Waking From a Coma” at Artisphere. Vienna Boys Choir: Christmas in Vienna at Hylton. Misc: Latest Work by Zach Sherif at 410 GooDBuddY Art Space. Smash! Holiday Bash! at Smash! LIFE'S A RIOT: Mad Magazine’s Al Jaffee at Washington DCJCC.