Inside D.C. entertainment

Archive for November 2011

Tarsier brings Filipino cuisine out of the shadows with a masquerade ball

December 1, 2011 - 12:10 PM
Tom Constantino and Erik Anderson at The Occidental (Source: Steven Bang)

It's past 11 p.m. at Galaxy Hut on Tuesday night, and Tom Constantino is starving after a day spent preparing pan de sal, a sweet and salty bread, in advance of tonight's A Masquerade for Charity, a ball to benefit Touching Heart, in Columbia Heights. Beside him sits Erik Anderson, with whom he runs Tarsier, a Filipino catering project named for a tiny primate in Southeast Asia.

Constantino, a former sous chef at Hook and The Occidental, worked under Chef Patrick Orange at La Chaumiere, a French bistro in Georgetown. He provides the culinary chops. Anderson, a server-by-day at Lost Society, works the creative side. And then there's David Lanexang, the financial backer, whom Constantino met at a house party awhile back.

"David wanted spaghetti, so I busted out the flour, dough, and I made spaghetti for the guy," the 28-year-old chef says. Afterward, "David said, 'You and I should work together and open a restaurant one day.'"

In a diverse city where Ethiopian, Vietnamese and Korean restaurants are as easy to find as a Starbucks, there's nonetheless a shortage of Filipino cuisine in Washington. With Tarsier, says Anderson, 26, he wants "to modernize the cuisine for people to really understand."

But don't misunderstand, he says. Their dishes aren't fusion: "The flavors will stay true, but taking modern techniques." Filipino food is "very big pots, family food, comfort food," he says. "We're trying to take it down and make it concise ... approachable for non-Filipinos."

Tarsier has catered events before, but the masquerade ball is their first solo event. It was Lanexang's idea. An IT worker by day, he'd recently been to a hipster masquerade party in Brooklyn and wanted to bring that type of party to D.C. — but to do so in the name of a good cause like Touching Heart, which provides basic necessities for disadvantaged kids.

"David picked it but it struck a chord with everyone involved," Constantino says. Growing up in Prince George's County, Constantino joined the Boys and Girls club while a student at Northwestern High School. "I wanted to give back that same thing," he says. "Every kid deserves something in life."

Tonight, among other dishes, they'll be serving a twist on turron de banana — theirs will include miso dulce de leche — and are turning lechon, a whole roasted pig, into sliders with sukang sili slaw, chili aioli, and crispy chicharron. The aforementioned pan de sal will serve as the bun.

Masquerade for Charity at The Dunes. Thursday, Dec. 1. $39 advance, $45 door. Open bar, open food. 7 p.m.

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Reviewed: Stew and Heidi's 'Making It' at Studio Theatre

November 28, 2011 - 07:00 AM

The man in skater pants, red sneakers, and what looked like Austrian hunter hat had a question for his audience at the Studio Theatre: "How many of you have seen Passing Strange?" About half the hands in the audience went up, which is sort of surprising: At this point, Stew, the man before them, is probably far better known for his autobiographical musical than his rock career.

But music was what the show, held the Friday before last, was about, even if it was in the same venue where Passing Strange had its first regional production last summer. He wrote the musical with Heidi Rodewald, and she was onstage, too, sipping white wine and not revealing much except allowing the occasion look of slight wonder.

The pair's new project is a sort-of concert, sort-of play called "Making It," which tells the story of their relationship and breakup. One of the night's first song was a heavy take on alcohol consumption called "Kingdom of Drink"; halfway through the song Stew baptized the tired end-of-the-week front-rowers with his bottle of beer.

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Weekend planner: Strawberry Pies, The Mousetrap, Babyface

November 23, 2011 - 03:45 PM
Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (Facebook/The Swell Season)

Whether you're spending the weekend in the city because it's home, or you're simply stuck here, the weekend planner, albeit bleak, is not empty. Succumbing to Black Friday in the throngs of madness won't be necessary — here are some events that won't make you lose your mind.


Kenny 'Babyface' Edmonds at Birchmere. Wed 7:30 p.m. $65.

• Grammy Award-winning 'hip-hop violinist' Miri Ben-Ari performs at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage. The Israeli-born artist fuses classical style with R&B, hip-hop and jazz. Wed.

Moombahton Massive IX 'Nadastrom EP Release Party' at U Street Music Hall with Nadastrom, Sabo, and Jen Lasher. Thurs. 9 p.m. $6 advance/$8 door.

Nadastrom x Sabo Moombahton Remixes EP by Mad Decent

Black Friday Liberation Dance Party at Black Cat. 30% off cover and open bar from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Fri. 9 p.m. $5.

• D.C.'s indie-pop dance night The Mousetrap at Black Cat featuring DJ's Mark Zimm and Stereofaith. Sat. 9:30 p.m. $10.

They Might Be Giants at 9:30 Club. The alternative rock band dropped Album Raises New and Troubling Questions last month, a compilation release of songs that were on Join Us (released earlier this year) and other rarities. WIth Jonathan Coulton. Sat. 8 p.m.

They Might Be Giants -Can't Keep Johnny Down (Midnight Sun remix) by extramusicnew






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Yes, you can see music over Thanksgiving

November 23, 2011 - 06:30 AM
Classic Albums Live
Classic Albums Live

Certainly, Thanksgiving is a holiday centered around food and family. But that doesn't mean you have to spend all weekend trapped inside playing Scrabble or hovering over the deep-fryer; the Thanksgiving weekend offers plenty of cool concerts if you want to get out of the house, whether you're looking for a way to bond with your kid brother or just to escape that creepy relative you wish you didn't have to make small-talk with.

Daryl Davis Band

Thursday, Nov. 24, at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, FREE!

Quiet weekends like Thanksgiving are a good time to remember the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, which hosts free shows every day of the year -- even days when most people are sitting at home eating turkey. The Thanksgiving performance at the Millennium Stage is part of the Kennedy Center's recent Swing, Swing, Swing festival; Chicago native (and Howard alum) Daryl Davis is performing with his band. There will be two free performances (5 PM and 8:30 PM), and both will feature dance instruction by Gottaswing.

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Gary Oldman not impressed with D.C. red carpets

November 22, 2011 - 09:52 AM
The puny red carpet at AFI Silver Theatre. Photo: Joshua Yospyn.

Actor, director, and Batman ally Gary Oldman steps onto the 20x12 rug passing for a red carpet at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring last night.

“This is the smallest carpet I’ve ever been on,” he says in wonder.

Set in a remote corner of the theater with a handful of reporters and photographers, the scene at Monday night’s screening of Oldman’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy evokes high school play more than glamorous Hollywood. The carpet itself shows spots, and it’s not long enough to “walk,” so Oldman and his director, Tomas Alfredson, stand in the middle and allow the 10 or so media folks who’ve shown up to snap their photo.

Amy Argetsinger of the Washington Post’s Reliable Source finds the scene as wan as I do. “Red carpets are rather weird these days, aren’t they?” she says. “It’s almost more like a metaphor than a real thing. It’s like a little terrarium for stars.”

Indeed Oldman stands like a potted plant on the red rug while we all stare at him.

Peter Freeman of DC Film Review calls himself “anti-red carpet.” He has avoided them until now.

“I’m not so much about the publicity as I am the films himself,” he says. “I generally avoid stars. The ritz and glitz is not for me.” Not that there’s much ritz or glitz to this set up. Freeman notes the wear and tear on the carpet: “In years past they’ve had outdoor events, so perhaps this is the weathering.”

Oldman expresses little love for the entire red-carpet trope. “I mean, sometimes the parties are good,” he says. “Occasionally. Batman throws a good party. But I could give a whatever about a red carpet.”


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TBD ArtsBook: Elliott Smith's missing song rediscovered at WMUC

November 22, 2011 - 09:30 AM
Elliott Smith
Elliott Smith (AP photo)

David Malitz has the wonderful story of how a song Elliott Smith recorded at U.Md.'s radio station WMUC in 1997 vanished for years, only to be rediscovered recently. The song, “Misery Let Me Down,” was whispered about by die-hard Smith fans but no copies could be found. Turns out former WMUC DJ Ben Weisholtz had accidentally taken the MiniDisc with him when he finished school. He sent it back to the college when he found it in the MiniDisc player he was preparing to sell this May; "Looks like I accidentally stole it around 10 years ago," he wrote. "Here it is back.” "Misery Let Me Down" is now rocketing around the sadder corners of the Internet. My favorite part: The MiniDisc with the Smith song also had a Braid session on it.

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It's not easy being Glittarazzi

November 21, 2011 - 12:15 PM
(Photo: Glittarazzi)

The Glittarazzi girls have a busy day ahead of them. There’s a “really important business meeting lunch” at the Ritz, interviews with LMFAO and Russell Brand, and a meeting with the Republican National Committee. The girls are due on Capitol Hill at 10, and they’re still trying to work out the details with Russell’s people. Plus their makeup isn’t done.

Ali Lewis, who handles the business side of the celebrity and politics gossip website, sits at the kitchen table in Glittarazzi headquarters. A stylist runs a flat iron over her white blonde hair. Lewis inspects her handiwork.

“It looks so, like, older,” she says. There’s a pause as everyone in the room tries to decide if that means she likes it or not. “It’ll be good for the RNC people.”

“Maybe you’ll get a date out of it,” says Glittarazzi staffer Shruti Shah.

Lewis adopts a mocking tone. “What do you like to do for fun? Can you keep up with me? That would be a big no.” She apologizes to the stylist, who is now dabbing concealer on her face, for the bags under her eyes. “We’ve literally been sleeping for three hours,” she explains.

Kelly Ann Collins, founder of Glittarazzi and the one in charge of the website’s content, comes downstairs in attire conservative enough for a meeting with the Republican National Committee. She echoes Lewis.

“I’m so tired,” she says. “I don’t know how I’m going to do this.”

Lewis takes a final look at her hair and makeup and finds her lip color wanting. “Whoa,” she declares. “No.” She blots, and the pair sweeps out of the office to catch a cab to the Hill.

The women thumb at their phones in the back of the cab on the ride to RNC headquarters. “What did you think of this girl?” Lewis asks Collins. “The makeup girl.”

“I thought she was good,” says Collins.

“I look like the walking dead."

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Lucy Bowen McCauley seeks local musicians

November 18, 2011 - 03:29 PM
bowen mccauley time & clouds
Bowen McCauley's 'Time & Clouds,' performed this past spring.

Local musicians, you have two days.

Sunday is the deadline to submit songs for Bowen McCauley Dance's "Lucy's Local Playlist," a work it will perform next May at Synetic Theater.

Choreographer Lucy Bowen McCauley says the project stems from 2009's "Lucy's Playlist," where she created choreography from her favorite iPod mix. "I thrive on collaborations like this; it makes me grow," says Bowen McCauley, who's put out the call not just for the pop and punk from the earlier work, but also hip-hop, country, jazz, and metal.

"One of the biggest challenges with a project like this is tying it together so that it doesn't just come off as a dance made out of a random playlist," Bowen McCauley says. "The choreography will try to accompany each individual song without losing its own cohesiveness, and at the end, I'm hoping to arrange for one or two live acts."

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Weekend planner: MidNights, the Blues, Yamato

November 18, 2011 - 03:00 PM
Yamato (Masa Ogawa)

A weekend of semi-gorgeous fall weather and raking leaves deserves nightly breaks. Whether you have the blues or an obsession with massive drums, here are some weekend picks.

The Yamato drummers are far from a road-side cafe, though that's what the name often reminds people of. The Japanese taiko drum group stops in D.C. this weekend, with gorgeous giant drums made from animal skin and 400-year-old trees, some weighing up to a ton, and a new two-act program, Gamushara, which translates into "the beat of courage," says Danielle Mouledoux, the marketing manager at GW's Lisner Auditorium.

In essence, the stunning performance relays the message of "not thinking about the consequences and seizing the moment," she says. 

In contrast, the performers train vigorously for their tours, starting days off with 10km runs and weights, with rehearsals running into the night. "It's not like a traditional symphonic performance," she says. The performances require a great deal of stamina, similar to dance — add in a few drums.

Yamato's artistic director Masa Ogawa choreographs the performances as a connection of the drum beats with the energy in the room. "The opening of the program has these be absorbed," Mouledoux says. The performers are relaying their energy to the audience, "and letting the audience accept that and bring that into their own lives."

Yamato performs at GW/Lisner Auditorium Sunday, Nov. 20. 7 p.m. $25, $35, $45.



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Music for ex-lovers: Stew and Heidi sing this weekend

November 18, 2011 - 02:18 PM
Stew and Heidi

Surviving breakups usually mean erasing everything that ever reminded you of that former significant other. Stew (Mark Stewart) and Heidi Rodewald, the professional team behind the music of the Tony Award-winning Passing Strange, a story of self discovery abroad, took an unusual path.

They'd broken up at the beginning of the play's Broadway run. Instead of making solo hits of marked bitterness and despair, they channeled their experiences into Making It, an album that tells the story of how the former couple managed to break up, get over it, and still remain in each other's lives.

"We spent two years in a play as sort of a broken-up couple, so that presented certain challenges," Stew says. When the play closed on Broadway, they chose to continue their professional relationship. "We basically decided instead of not working together, we'd make a record about how difficult it was to be have gone through what we went through."

The album drops in January. The only way the former couple were ever able to work together was their ability to use music as an outlet, he says. "Some people are so in love with their hurt they put their hurt over everything else. I had a choice to walk away or turn this difficult feeling to a piece of art."

Stew, Heidi and keyboardist Jon Spurney perform at Studio Theatre, Friday and Saturday. The acoustic set features songs from Passing Strange and songs that were cut from the play and never before heard, older songs from The Negro Problem, and previews of Making It. 8:30 p.m. $35 general admission, $20 students.

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Cutting things out of paper for a living

November 18, 2011 - 11:02 AM
A rare moment of drawing for Nick Hanzlik, professional paper cutter. (Photo: TBD Staff)

Nick Hanzlik learned that he was good at using scissors in his sixth grade class at Sidwell Friends. Working on a class collage about South America, he found that he liked cutting shapes out of paper. Lucky for Hanzlik, he discovered this early.

“That skill is the basis for my entire career,” he says. “It’s the only thing I can do. It’s an odd skill.”

Years later, after leaving his job with Abercrombie & Fitch under “unfavorable circumstances,” Hanzlik landed in his parents’ basement, where he resumed cutting things out of paper. This time he attached the cutouts to greeting cards and pitched them to places like Neiman Marcus and Gump’s.

“I cold-called Barneys, and they bought it,” he explains. He estimates that it took about six months of pitching stores to sell his cards before he landed his first high-end store, Gump’s, which has sold his cards for 14 years now.

Hanzlik, a native of "north Arlington" who now lives in California, was back in town this week promoting D.C.-themed cards at Neiman Marcus in Friendship Heights. His company, R. Nichols, makes stationary, fine art, prints, custom-cards for places like Barneys, and illustrations. His creations—whimsical, linear, minimal—have graced Southern Living and the face of the ubiquitous French Women Don’t Get Fat franchise.

He says people are surprised to learn he has no art training. “I can draw-ish,” he explains, but really, he just cuts things out of paper with orange-handled Fiskars. “I always get a fresh pair when I start a project,” he says. Hanzlik now has drawers full of scissors. (“I guess I could get those sharpened.”) He has no scissor callouses because he only spends maybe 10 percent of his day cutting.

Subjects range from skinny women drinking martinis to pets (“I do a lot of dog stuff”) to florals. Hanzlik credits his success partly to being ahead of the curve. “Like, I would do a bumble bee before bumble bees became the big thing,” he explains.

Occasionally he dabbles in darker, less popular subject matter. “I’ll do a little streetlight and there’s a rat crossing under it,” he says. “That doesn’t have much appeal.”

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Hey, Ty Unglebower's hater: Would you like a job?

November 17, 2011 - 12:16 PM
Unglebower, left, as Hamlet in Full Circle Theater Company’s production of 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.'

Legendary local acting columnist Ty Unglebower may have TBD's entire arts staff firmly in his corner, but that's no defense against the forces of Internet disagreement! This morning, I pointed out the words of commenter "Please," who on Nov. 3 called Unglebower's columns for ShowBizRadio "embarrassing to actors" and says his writing "will just have you behave in a manner that drives most theatre people around here insane."

Mike Clark, Unglebower's editor, wrote to TBD this morning to offer this skeptic a column of his or her own: "Since I have no way to reach the person who disagrees with Ty's thoughts," Clark writes, "maybe you could post this offer....I'd like to offer 'Ty's hater' a position as columnist. The position entails writing 400-600 words twice per month. Topics can be anything theatre-related. It would be great to get some columns about the 'reality of the situation in most theatres.' Anyone interested can contact me at"

Unglebower shrugs off the challenge, writing in an email that "I don't generally read the comments of those who read my column. (As I didn't read the link you sent me. I didn't see it as being productive.) I write my column for the sake of writing it."

It's up to you, "Please"! Are you gonna hide in the comments section forever?

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Local music weekend: Washington bands bring it home

November 17, 2011 - 11:00 AM
Joe Lally (Photo: Antonia Tricarico)

To the outside world, Washington's music scene begins and ends with Fugazi, Minor Threat, and Bad Brains. But those who hang out inside the Beltway know D.C. is swarming with bands in genres beyond punk and hardcore. Locals always play a ton of shows leading up to a holiday weekend; here are a few of our favorites:

Satori Trova, the Grey Area, and Megaphone Barons

Thursday, Nov. 17, at Rock & Roll Hotel, $10

If Satori Trova's colorful logo doesn't give away the band's influences, then the question posed on its Facebook page — "Are you down to take a trip?" — certainly will. The local sextet has strong psychedelic and trip-hop influences; singer Liora Valero's hoarse voice conjures up an image of Macy Gray singing with a downtempo Pink Floyd. Opener The Grey Area is a blues-rock duo that is reminiscent of other color-inspired duos (namely, the White Stripes and the Black Keys), and Megaphone Barons is a trio that just released its first EP.

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TBD ArtsBook: Avril Lavigne destroys D.C. theater community

November 17, 2011 - 10:00 AM
Avril Lavigne
This woman is more dangerous than the supercommittee. (Photograph by Reed Saxon/AP)

Yesterday a discussion of pop music on Twitter ripped the D.C. theater world in two. Washington Post theater critic Peter Marks' started tweeting Avril Lavigne lyrics: "@michaeldove @kimberlygilbert He was a skater boy, she said see you later boy. How can you not love those lyrics?" and then all hell broke loose. Michael Dove, Forum's artistic director, is apparently a fire hose of guilty pleasures: James Taylor, Muppets Christmas album, John Denver, Toad the Wet Sprocket (just read his whole feed); New York theater maven Howard Sherman, who's appearing with Marks at Arena on Saturday to talk about social media, countered with Dr. Demento, John Denver, Foreigner (he saw them twice), and local yokels Starland Vocal Band (Howard, be sure to hit Clyde's in Georgetown before you hop back on the Acela). Taffety Punk actor Kimberly Gilbert argued about Lavigne's lyrics with Marks, who then unexpectedly played the Kelly Clarkson card, for the win. 

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The Fancy Feast: No horses edition

November 17, 2011 - 05:00 AM
Horses. Photo: Horia Varlan/flickr.

Here at The Fancy Feast, we strive to chronicle the fanciest people, events, and tweets of the region. Imagine our joy when we learned that Washington Life devotes a section on its website exclusively to the fanciest animal of fancy people: the horse. And imagine the crushing loss when we clicked on "Horse Country" and found its content is updated just once a month, maybe twice.

Hardly the level of coverage we'd expect from Washington Life. So no horses for you, fancy readers. Sorry.


Crucial signs that you might be dating the wrong person: he cheats on you, is manipulative, cruel, abusive or makes you unhappy. Also: you are cheating on him. (Pamela's Punch)

Belle cuts Cashmere and Cupcakes from her blog reading list, citing Emily's propensity for rearranging her own furniture and writing about it. (Capitol Hill Style)

If you tell your best friend that you love him, the chance of awkwardness is "93" percent. It's science. (Fifty First (J)Dates)


Local sister trio debuts series of nail polishes with cute D.C.-inspired names like Big Brown Chair and Go-Go. Sadly, no Marion Berries. (Washingtonian)

Showtime's Homeland name drops Truxton Circle too readily for the Reliable Source ladies. (Reliable Source)

Local college girl style! Delightful, if you can get past the fact that one of these young people is wearing Chanel, Vera Wang, and Hermes in one fell swoop. OH GWU! (Refinery 29)

Fancy crepes land in Hill East. (TBD)

Breaking on Twitter--Glitterazzi asks the important questions. (Twitter)

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Google Reader: The non-update update

November 16, 2011 - 10:40 AM
Google reader protest
Boorstin, above right, meets with Leah Libresco and Paul Savitz at last month's protest. (Photograph by Joshua Yospyn)

It's probably self-evident why Google has been able to ignore the high-pitched whining of people cheesed off by its recent changes to Reader, a free product that makes it easy to read news online. As Jack Shafer wrote, "Seeing as Google doesn’t charge for its RSS reader I can’t complain much more than if a bar serving free beer suddenly switched from Sierra Nevada Pale Ale to Old Milwaukee."

But whether people are paying for it or not, the company's response to the surprising amount of criticism of the Reader redesign has been remarkably...restrained. The Google Reader blog hasn't been updated since Oct. 31, when its new design got pushed to users, and the only acknowledgment of the criticism of that design was a Nov. 4 tweet that announced titles and links, which had been turned gray in the new design, would be colored blue again.

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TBD ArtsBook: Stuff a Jack Johnson remix someplace safe

November 16, 2011 - 10:00 AM
Jack Johnson
Johnson in 2008 (pre-remix). (Photo: Associated Press)

Washington City Paper wants your Jack Johnson remixes. WTOP's posted MP3s of the former P.G. county exec's phone calls to his wife; in one he appears to instruct her to stuff money in her underwear and leave the house before police arrive (Aaron Morrissey transcribes another one about flushing checks down a toilet). Put some beats behind those; winner gets a City Paper T-shirt.

• Speaking of City Paper T-shirts: Holiday shopping for your favorite local journalist just got a little easier.

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TBD ArtsBook: Even more on Ford's Theatre's dual personality

November 15, 2011 - 10:00 AM
Ford's Theatre Lincoln door
John Wilkes Booth made the hole in this door to Lincoln's booth, on display at the Ford's Theatre museum.

SURELY THIS IS THE END OF THE FORD'S THEATRE MEME: Ford's Theatre: Do not confuse it with Ford's Theatre! Seriously, that's something you have to watch out for, because the museum downstairs is run by the National Park Service and the actual theater part is run by the Ford's Theatre Society. Here's where it gets trickier: Both have gift shops. The NPS one downstairs is the one that is not selling Bill O'Reilly's "Killing Lincoln" because of historical inaccuracies. It is, in fact, on sale in the shop in the lobby above the museum, within the Ford's building.

Jon Fischer says the FTS' decision to "let our visitors judge the book for themselves" is a "cop-out": "Either it should explain the process by which it decided to sell Killing Lincoln, or remove it," he writes. He notes that Ford's hosted (and FTS director Paul R. Tetreault introduced) the premiere of "The Conspirator," a film whose plot shares one of O'Reilly's contentious points -- that Mary Surrat was pursued by an overreaching federal government. "The society should just cop to the fact that it's comfortable selling a pop version of the Civil War," Fischer writes. "Maybe the Ford's Society is worried that the political optics of the Park Service's decision will rub off. It should be more concerned with the flimsy version of the Civil War it sometimes peddles."

RELATED: From @tanehisi: "Politico refers to #OReillyLincolnErrors as 'alleged mistakes.' Because there's no real way of knowing when the Oval Office was built."

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Andy Holtin at Flashpoint: Sculpture, performance art, and science collide

November 15, 2011 - 05:01 AM

The first thing Andy Holtin has to break his students of when they take his art classes at American University is the idea that when they look at art, they have to immediately figure out what the artist is saying.

“[It’s] not merely evaluating, what is this person trying to tell me?” says Holtin, a kinetic artist and professor. He encourages students to instead experience a piece and not obsess over the artist’s intent. “It gives us the opportunity to not be so clear,” he says.

A helpful message for anyone visiting Holtin’s "A Theatre of Objects" exhibit, on display at Flashpoint Gallery through December. Holtin’s three pieces are part sculpture, part performance art, and part science fair experiment, and you could stare at them for a long time without the faintest clue what you’re looking at.

Each piece involves video of performers doing simple things — moving around a table, walking across the screen, glancing from side to side — and elaborate mechanisms that make the videos move and interact with each other. In one piece, a mechanized projector stand moves intermittently, casting a layered video image on the wall that occasionally separates into two video projections. In another piece, two identical screens mounted on the wall display a man and a woman. When one of the character’s eyes shift toward the other, the screen tilts as well.

It’s funny, weird, and baffling work. Trying to make sense of the interaction between the performers on screen is fascinating and frustrating. (Do they know each other? Are they going to talk? Are they supposed to be robots? Oh man, is this some kind of statement about robots?)

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Michael Kaiser doesn't want you reviewing shows in chat rooms

November 14, 2011 - 02:31 PM

Michael Kaiser's Huffington Post column took a dangerous turn toward the water cooler this morning. It's usually a somewhat sleepy collection of meditations on arts management, but today the Kennedy Center president takes aim at what he calls a "scary trend": Nonprofessional critics, even audience members, reviewing shows.

In the piece, Kaiser correctly notes that in the past, "[e]very artist, producer or arts organization used to wait for a handful of reviews to determine the critical response to a particular project."

But now, he worries, "it is difficult to distinguish the professional critic from the amateur as one reads on-line reviews and critiques."

A fair point! One maybe undermined a little bit by Kaiser's contention that "younger people get virtually all of their information online, through news web sites, social media and chat rooms" (seriously, chat rooms?) but it's undeniable that the castle walls have been shaken.

So I guess, two questions. The first is whether this parade of ham and eggers through the rarified halls of capital-T theatuh is really a problem; while lousy reviews on Yelp are the bane of many restaurateurs' lives, I've yet to read about bad word of mouth on the Internet sinking a theater production but assume it's a matter of time before I do.

The second is whether Kennedy Center keeps nonprofessional critics out as a policy.

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