Inside D.C. entertainment

Archive for January 2012

Duke Ellington kids melt hearts in performance with John Legend

January 31, 2012 - 03:30 PM

A bunch of grownups assembled at the Kennedy Center Tuesday for the announcement that the center is partnering with digital media organizations for a massive youth engagement project. The adults explained in enthusiastic detail how young people will be asked to reflect on Marvin Gaye’s still-pertinent question “What’s Going On” and produce artistic material in response; the young people will then upload their artistic compositions online, where the Kennedy Center will select pieces to be incorporated in a John Legend concert this May. Legend himself was present, wearing a great suit and saying some nice words about young people and the arts.

All well and good, but nothing at the press event could compare to the performance of a handful of real young people in the audience. A choir from Duke Ellington School of the Arts joined Legend on stage for a performance of “What’s Going On” that could have cracked a heart of stone. (One reporter confessed to getting misty-eyed while the kids swayed and sang, their braces sparkling under the stage lights.)

Duke Ellington junior Dani Ebbin won the crowd during a video of the choir being surprised by Legend at a rehearsal that morning. When Legend sat at the piano to play with the students, the camera turned to the redheaded Ebbin, whose mouth had fallen open with awe and stayed open while the star started to sing, earning her rousing laughs from the crowd. The theater major tells me that Legend’s appearance was a surprise.

“There was a rumor going around,” says Ebbin, but she was skeptical that Legend would show. Then during rehearsal, “we’re singing, we’re singing, and the left side of the room gets quiet,” she says. “We see John Legend and everyone’s like, is this real?”

Ebbin, a resident of Northwest D.C., is a big Legend fan (“John Legend’s awesome”) and describes singing with him onstage as “an honor.” She’s optimistic about the Kennedy Center’s initiative.

“I’m not exactly sure what the whole project really is,” she admits. But, “I hope to do it. As an artist, we have to get our hands on the world and shake it up!”

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UPDATED: Washington Post editor asks for 'blaring correction' to be removed

January 31, 2012 - 01:18 PM

Susan Baer's Jan. 8 Washington Post Magazine story about Page and Robert Melton is the kind of deeply affecting piece out on which a reporter should be able to dine for years. It told the story of former Post reporter Robert Melton's stroke and subsequent hypoxic-ischemic brain injury, and of Page Melton's heartbreaking decision to eventually marry another man while continuing to care for Robert.

No wonder, then, that the correction atop the story bugged Baer. It read: "An earlier version of this article incorrectly described a doctor’s specialty. Nathan Zasler is a specialist in brain-injury medicine, not a neurologist. This version has been corrected."

So Baer, a veteran of the Baltimore Sun and Washingtonian, emailed Sydney Trent, a senior editor for the Post's Style section who also works on the magazine, to see if there was any way to get that gnarly nub of journalistic hygiene off the top. "I'll understand if there's nothing to be done, but since the cx has run in the paper and the online version is correct, it seems like we've covered all the bases," she wrote.

Yesterday morning, Trent forwarded Baer's note to Amanda McGrath, the Post's innovations editor for lifestyle and entertainment who occasionally helps out with the online production of the magazine. " Hi Amanda," she wrote. "A favor: Can we take the blaring correction off the online version so the writer of this huge hit story (about the brain-injured Post journalist and his wife) can send the link without embarrassment? Or perhaps if not we can tuck it at the bottom?"

"I told her we don't functionally control where the correction strip appears," says McGrath, who says the request went no further than her.

The transaction might have ended there, but Trent also copied the request to an email list called "features" that goes out to quite a few people. It started to get forwarded around the Post newsroom not long after.

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A great moment for local headgear

January 31, 2012 - 10:28 AM
Nina O'Neil's hat creation on the set of Gossip Girl.

Gossip Girl cast a rare light on the little-discussed world of D.C. millinery in last night’s episode. Principal character Blair Waldorf spent 20 minutes with a fascinator—a small hat also referred to as a cocktail hat—atop her fancy head, courtesy of 30-year-old D.C. resident Nina O’Neil.

It was a great moment for O’Neil, who has watched her hat-making business unfold almost accidentally. Though she’s made objects her entire life, it was only a few years ago that she attempted to sell her creations to anyone other than friends of friends. “It was mostly me giving gifts,” she says. O’Neil set up an etsy shop and didn’t think much of it—she already had a dream day job at the National Gallery, working in exhibitions.

Then two years ago, a woman approached O’Neil in public while she was wearing one of her fascinators. “She came up to me and said who made that? I want to sell it in my store,” says O’Neil. The woman was Kassie Rempel, owner of SimplySoles, and soon the store was carrying O’Neil’s fascinators.

“It’s turned into a side thing,” says O’Neil, who sells to a few other vintage boutiques and “tons of bridal parties.”

Another serendipitous moment came last year, in the form of an “adorable email” from folks at Gossip Girl, who had found her website and wanted to borrow a few hats.

“I sent a box with everything I’ve ever made, essentially,” she says. “I didn’t really have my hopes up that it was really going to turn into anything.”

One day O’Neil opened her email to find notes from “pretty much everyone I know.” New York paparazzi had snapped photos of Leighton Meister, playing Blair Waldorf, on the Gossip Girl set in all white outfit with a dainty hat fixed to her head. The pictures were making the rounds online, with the fascinator credited to O'Neil.

It’s as much credit as O’Neil is likely to receive for her hat’s appearance on the show, as Gossip Girl does not compensate or credit the designers whose work appears on air. (O’Neil explains that if such a fashion-heavy series were to credit all the designers, the credits themselves would take 30 minutes.)

O’Neil doesn’t mind. She’s not trying to make a living off her line of eccentric hair accessories (she’s sold around 80 hats, at $48 apiece, total) and seems excited just to be seeing hats in public again. She advises inexperienced hat wearers to start simply.

“If you really want to wear things in your hair, it’s jarring for people to see stuff on you,” she says. She advises trying sparkly clips or headbands before moving into hats. “You have to work yourself into it,” she says. The fascinator is having a moment right now, she explains, due to the resurgence of burlesque and its non-matronly appeal.

O’Neil warns that though the fascinator can look “totally normal” (she herself is wearing one during this phone conversation) it is “conspicuous.” She doesn’t advise wearing it just anywhere—Smith Commons, she says, is a good place to debut a hairpiece.

“It’s a speakeasy and you should be dressed up appropriately,” she says. O’Neil also likes Rock N Roll Hotel or the Palace of Wonders for a hat. “It’s different from going out in Adams Morgan,” she says. “You have to try harder.”

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Here comes TV's new wave of Washington political dramas

January 31, 2012 - 10:19 AM
Kerry Washington in ABC's

UPDATE: Leslie Green of the D.C. film office emailed me the following:

We are working with the USA Network's production team to find locations that match the content of their script for Political Animals. Filming is tentatively scheduled to film here in April.

As for the other two shows, Scandal and Newshour, we are actively trying to get both shows to film here. However, as of today they have no plans to film here.

ORIGINAL: Americans loathe Washington, as we all know. But Americans don't mind watching myriad shows about all of these people they loathe. That's what several TV networks are hoping, anyway, as a wave of Washington-based political dramas will begin washing over us in April. That month, ABC will premiere Scandal, from Shonda Rhomes (Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice), in which Kerry Washington plays Olivia Pope, a D.C. fixer reportedly based on the life of Judy Smith, whose clients have included Monica Lewinsky, Marion Barry, and Michael Vick. Smith may be fond of strutting in a white trench coat, as Washington does in this trailer, but has she ever stood between two drawn guns? Doubtful.

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Kyle Gustafson leaves Washingtonian

January 30, 2012 - 02:53 PM
Kyle Gustafson
Kyle Gustafson

Kyle Gustafson left his post as Washingtonian's online editorial director just before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. He's the third person to sit atop that part of the magazine's masthead in recent memory.

While he was editing, Gustafson, one of the area's best-known photographers, continued to shoot live concerts for the Washington Post, a situation he says was "absolutely not" a problem for Washingtonian.

"They're all wonderful people and I wish them well," he says. "It wasn't working out for either party."

He declined to elaborate further.

Gustafson took the Washingtonian gig in mid-August, replacing Sommer Mathis, who edited the site for about four months before leaving for Atlantic Cities. Mathis came in over Alyssa Rosenberg, who had served as the site's top editor and subsequently left for Think Progress.

Gustafson previously worked as a Web producer for Hanley Wood. I've called and emailed Washingtonian's editor, Garrett M. Graff, and will update when I hear back from him. 

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DC Fab: A website for 'the browner D.C.'

January 30, 2012 - 11:31 AM
Yodit Gebreyes, being fabulous on DC Fab. Photo: DC Fab.

Joi-Marie McKenzie had no idea that the blog she started as a bored 21-year-old in her first year in the workforce would five years later be a mini media empire, spanning four cities and partnering with major news outlets. In 2007, McKenzie, fresh out of the University of Maryland, started the blog Fab University, mostly out of boredom with her 9-5 job. The college angle was quickly abandoned for local nightlife, which McKenzie had just begun exploring. She kept the “fab” part — “I love the word fabulous” — and DC Fab was born.

Part events listings, part party coverage, and part personality profiles, DC Fab chronicles a scene less covered by mainstream local media. “We cover the browner D.C.,” explains McKenzie. Black faces from the worlds of sports, non-profits, music, and occasionally the clergy fill DC Fab’s pages.

“I remember when we started, there was no one like us,” says McKenzie. “You’ll flip through Washington Life, or Washingtonian, and you’d never guess there was this whole world, making hundreds of thousands, I’d say millions of dollars, of these urban professionals.”

“I want to showcase my peers,” she says. “There’s industry here. There’s tastemakers. Who’s going to talk for us? Who’s going to navigate this world?”

The Washington Post’s veteran gossip columnist Amy Argetsinger, whom McKenzie says she looks up to, says the Internet has been a good place for society news to blossom. “In a town the size of Washington, there are so many glittering social circles that never overlap,” she writes by email. Though socialites love to read about their own parties, they don’t so much love to read about strangers’ parties. “That’s why society news has blossomed on the Web,” she writes. “It can accommodate all these niches.”

Argetsinger says she loves and learns from McKenzie’s work: “She’s putting new people on my radar — like Yodit Gebreyes. Who? I don’t know, but I will remember her the next time I see the name and know that she’s a rising It Girl in a certain social circle and the object of some interest.”

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Weekend planner: Art Soiree, TV out of a box, DC Hearts Jonathan Toubin

January 27, 2012 - 06:19 AM

A weekend of thinking inside a box, nostalgic dance parties, romanticism, and humorous political cartoons that foresee what's in store this year.


• A special screening of Young Goethe in Love at E Street Cinema. Director Philipp Stolzi's captivating story is based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's autobiographical The Sorrows of Young Werther. Set in the throws of Romanticism, young Goethe falls in love with Lotte, only to find out her hand in marriage has been promised to another man. The screening runs to Feb. 2.

Art Soiree: Apocalyptoon 2012 at Artisphere. Mixing politics and art, the pop-up exhibition takes a humorous look at what 2012 will bring. The exhibit features original works by renowned editorial and political cartoonists including Kal of The Economist, Tom Toles of The Washington Post, Jeff Danziger of the Los Angeles Times, Daryl Cagle of MSNBC, Matt Wuerker of Politico, Damien Glez of La Monde and Dan Piraro of Bizzaro. The exhibit runs to Sunday. Free.

Mirror to the World: Documentary Photograph 2012, a photographic narrative — storytelling in photos and words — opens at Photoworks Gallery. The exhibit curated by documentary photographer and author Frank Van Riper features photographs from Indonesia, Italy, China, the Pacific Northwest, and Washington, D.C.

• The blues-rock band Lethal Peanut releases its debut album with Fight the Lion and Once Okay Twice at Rock and Roll Hotel. 8 p.m. $10.

DC Hearts Jonathan Toubin benefit show at Comet Ping Pong. Comet Ping Pong, Civilian Art Projects, Sasha Lord and Bikram Yoga Capitol Hill bring a benefit and dance party for the soul DJ, who was injured in a freak accident last December. Featuring performances by Chain and the Gang, Cane and the Sticks & Deathfix w/ DJs Kid Congo Powers and Baby Alcatraz. 10 p.m. $10.

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Two weeks, two Page One stories for the Post's gardening columnist

January 26, 2012 - 12:50 PM
Adrian Higgins
Higgins, from his Twitter page (follow him: @adrian_higgins).

I can't be the only Adrian Higgins fan who yelped last Thursday on seeing the byline of Washington Post gardening columnist on the front page with a story on botanists abandoning Latin for plant names.

Who knew I'd get to repeat that nerdy jump-for-joy today?

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ellen cherry, the Katy Perry of 1933

January 26, 2012 - 11:15 AM
Ellen Cherry, mid-leap. Photo: Daniel Bedell.

It’s hard to write about ellen cherry, because Word keeps telling me that “ellen” must be capitalized. Word will have to take that up with ellen cherry, the Baltimore-based singer-songwriter who's the artist-in-residence this February at the Strathmore, because she spells her name with all lowercase letters.

No, she isn’t a belle hooks devotee or obsessed with k.d. lang. cherry discovered the name in a Tom Robbins novel. The character, from Skinny Legs and All, was an artist traveling across the country.

“I loved her life,” says cherry. “I thought she was this amazing spirit. I thought this would be a great way for me to set my sights on something artistic.” She took ellen cherry as a stage name as both a source of personal inspiration and a way to conquer occasional stage fright.

“You kind of put on your role, and you’re able to perform,” she says. The lowercase letters, she feels, are a reminder to have humility.

“I’m not, like, gigantically tall,” says cherry (she’s 5’10”), “but I’m taller than average. I can be seen above a crowd. But I want to make sure I remember, when I look at that name, I’m a small part of the system. It has to be to keep my ego in check.”

The lowercasing makes for interesting conversation with copy editors, whom cherry frequently has to battle. “People ignore it all the time,” she says. Even if a reporter records her name as “ellen cherry,” a copy editor frequently gives it the uppercase treatment. cherry doesn’t mind the clash because it’s a conversation starter.

cherry’s not about to pick a fight with a stubborn newspaper employee over some letters. “If they do it intentionally, it’s like, who cares,” she says. “There’s bigger fish to fry in the world.”

And there’s plenty more to ellen cherry than her novel name. The Emmy-nominated singer performs a sort of folksy-pop hybrid with lyrics inspired by history and her own diaries. “Pop music for history buffs,” cherry says, is how she’s been described, and she thinks it’s a good fit. “I help people nerd out on history.”

Indeed, there is something delightfully old-timey about cherry. Her favorite song, “1933 to California” was inspired by Dorothea Lange’s Depression-era photograph Migrant Mother. To get inside the mind of a Dustbowl-era mother struggling to save her children from starvation, cherry “got really into hobo culture.” Her 2005 album Years was composed of six songs about women’s history.

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The Fancy Feast: Chef Geoff busted edition

January 26, 2012 - 06:00 AM
Chef Geoff, up to some antics. Photo: USDA/flickr.

Poor Geoff Tracy. The proprietor of perennially popular happy hour destination Chef Geoff's and husband to Norah O'Donnell managed to get three speeding tickets in three days thanks to some recently installed speed cameras on Foxhall Road.

"I haven't gotten a speeding ticket in 21 years," Tracy tweeted. "With the new camera, I got 3 in 3 days. Ouch."

The down-on-his-luck chef was slapped with $425 in fines after his Lexus (fancy) was captured going 10-15 miles over the 25 mph limit. Tracy tells The Reliable Source that he's planning to hire someone to stand on Foxhall Road for a week with a sign drawing attention to the camera.

"It'll cost me about $1,200, but I figure it is worth it from a goodwill standpoint," he says. Goodwill toward whom, exactly, we don't know, but Chef Geoff has sure proved he knows a good cause when he sees one.


Fancy bright young people at a fancy Washington Ballet Mad Hatter party. (BYT)

Glittarazzi’s Kelly Ann Collins doesn’t like to eat and she doesn’t like to sleep. She likes to make shit happen. (Twitter)

Betsy Lowther feels the same! (Twitter)

When decorating your Rhode Island seaside house, take care not to let the look veer from preppy to juvenile. (Washingtonian)

Washington Life "kills" with this headlines. (Washington Life)

Capitol Hill Barbie guestblogs on Capitol Hill Style about Paula Deen’s diabetes drama and fall from foodie grace. (Capitol Hill Style)


Karl Lagerfeld interviews himself. (YouTube)


Trending on the local wedding bouquet and boutonniere scene: roses. If you’re feeling particularly whimsical, match hot pink rose bouquets to your bridesmaids’ hot pink shoes. (Ask Miss A)


Where does one find a bathing suit in the middle of winter in Maryland? (Twitter)


If you want a get-noticed necktie or a punchy pocketsquare, this is a great time to be a man in D.C. (Washingtonian)

NBC's Angie Goff seeks fashion leaders and fans for a new panel to evaluate Fashion Star, a Project Runway knockoff featuring Jessica Simpson and Nicole Ritchie. (Oh My Goff)

Luke Russert not only knows who Tory Burch is; he’s now the go-to on questions about presidential candidate’s Vineyard Vines ties. (Twitter)

A Diva State of Mind would like party promoters to please stop exploiting Dr. Martin Lurther King, Jr. with their promotional materials. Also: This is how to wear sequined shorts. (A Diva State of Mind)

Tucker Carlson ties a bowtie:

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Singer-songwriters on parade this weekend

January 25, 2012 - 01:17 PM
Ari Hest, being all singer-songwriter-y. Photo: slgckgc/flickr.

Any dude with a guitar and original songs can be branded a singer-songwriter-- a common (if not particularly descriptive) sketch of a solo performer. There are tons of such performances around the area this weekend, and while we can't guarantee that there won't be a backing band or two at these shows, we're fairly certain that each of these artists has been described as a "singer-songwriter" at least a dozen times.

Ari Hest and Sarah Siskind
Thursday, Jan. 26 at the Barns of Wolf Trap, $18

You can't be a singer-songwriter without writing songs. Ari Hest did a lot of that in 2008 with his "52" project, where he wrote-- and shared with fans-- a song a week for an entire year, then compiled and released a dozen fan favorites onto his album Twelve Mondays. Opening this show is another singer-songwriter, Sarah Siskind, whose songwriting claim to fame is penning the song "Simple Love", which was covered by Alison Krauss (and earned Krauss a Grammy nomination for Best Female Country Vocal Performance in 2008).

Elizaveta and Tiffany Thompson
Friday, Jan. 27 at Jammin' Java, $14

Elizaveta (nee Elizaveta Khripounova) is a Russian-American singer/songwriter, pianist, and opera singer with a debut album due out in February. Her electronica-influenced music and her ethereal, operatic voice are reminiscent of Bjork and Imogen Heap. Opening the show is local singer/songwriter Tiffany Thompson.

Justin Jones
Saturday, Jan. 28 at IOTA, $12

Justin Jones’ EP The Little Fox was the debut release for 9:30 Records, making him the poster boy for D.C.'s singer-songwriters. He often performs solo, but this show will feature a full band. We're hoping it's the band featured in the video below, because the violin and upright bass add a gorgeous texture to Jones's music.

Dallas Wayne
Sunday, Jan. 29 at the Mansion on O Street, $15

Monday, Jan. 30 at Hill Country Barbecue's Hill Country Live Wildfire Benefit, $20

Austin's Dallas Wayne has expanded his career beyond performing as a singer/songwriter; he's a radio personality, currently on SIRIUS's Outlaw Country channel and host of the weekly show "Deep in the Heart of Texas with Dallas Wayne.” After headlining at the Mansion on O Street on Sunday, Wayne will host the Hill Country Live Wildfire Benefit on Monday, featuring Sons of Bill, the Deep Dark Woods, and Ruthie & the Wranglers. Proceeds benefit the victims of last year's Bastrop, Texas, wildfire-- which also destroyed Wayne's home.

These and other show listings can be found on ShowListDC.

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Alamo Drafthouse's plans for Washington

January 23, 2012 - 09:00 AM
Alamo Drafthouse
A screening of 'Semi-Pro' at an Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. (Photograph courtesy Alamo Drafthouse)

Anthony Coco and Joseph Edwards of Cojeaux Cinemas really do hope to piss off D.C. residents who talk and text during movies soon.

Cojeaux, a meet-the-owners press release announced this morning, has purchased the rights to the Washington, D.C., market from the iconoclastic Alamo Drafthouse chain, beginning with a theater in Ashburn next spring.

"Obviously, we can't wait to get into D.C., says Coco, who's on the phone from Texas. "We have numerous sites we're looking at." They need a 30,000-square-foot building to install an Alamo Drafthouse, he says, "and it's Washington, D.C. We're doing our best." 

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Checking in with Ian MacKaye

January 20, 2012 - 12:17 PM

One of the more amusing lines in the “Shit DC Says” video that raced through the internet yesterday: “You know who I saw at Target? Ian MacKaye.”

Except the character pronounces it “mackey” when it is in fact pronounced “mah KYE.” Was the mispronunciation deliberate?

Perhaps. The name of MacKaye, former frontman of Fugazi and Minor Threat, owner of Dischord Records, and inventor of the straight edge philosophy, is often said incorrectly, so the video’s pronunciation could be either a genuine mistake or yet another layer of D.C. send-up.

So how does Ian MacKaye feel about his role in the local video-of-the-moment? We will never know. Asked for comment by email, the esteemed musician replied simply:

“you’ve found me, but i’m afraid i don’t have anything to say about the video.

yours, ian”

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Ninjas vs. Monsters, filming in a suburb near you

January 20, 2012 - 10:11 AM

Justin Timpane approached his 30th birthday with a faint sense of unease. A registered nurse and local film actor, Timpane felt the weight of another candle on the cake pushing him to ask questions about his career and what might be next for him. He likely didn’t anticipate finding the answer while watching Clerks II with a buddy, but Kevin Smith works in strange ways.

“In that movie,” says Timpane, “there’s a very powerful scene where two characters who are disenfranchised, they make the decision that they could either continue to work as clerks or to buy the store themselves.” The characters were also turning 30. Timpane said to his friend Daniel Ross, another local actor, “We’re going to do this ourselves instead of acting in other people’s films.”

Ross, who along with Timpane had just finished filming the horror flick Crawler in Baltimore (yet to be released), was game. “We both decided to take the reins, so to speak, with our own careers and try something,” he says.

A fortuitous decision for the millions of fans who have watched Ross and Timpane’s movies, a series of low-budget horror films about ninjas fighting various supernatural villains. Once the guys decided to make a movie, they walked around a Blockbuster for ideas. “[We] looked around for the movie that wasn’t there and should have been,” says Timpane. That movie was Ninjas vs. Zombies, a tale of slacker dudes bestowed with the gift of the ninja who take on the living dead on sets around D.C., northern Virginia, and Maryland.

Ross was executive producer and played one of the ninjas; Timpane wrote and directed. Made for $18,000, the film was released on DVD in 2008. “We were pleasantly surprised to find wide distribution,” says Ross. The idea of a sequel was tossed around. “We really consolidated our resources and worked very hard to make a better film on a lessor budget,” he says. For $7,500, the guys made Ninjas vs. Vampires.

As it happened, a lot of people liked watching slackers-turned-ninjas fight bad guys. “We ended up being one of the top 10 illegally downloaded movies last year,” says Ross. Estimates are fuzzy, but he puts the number of illegal downloads “anywhere from 2-7 million.”

“It would be wonderful if some of those people had actually paid to see it,” he says. The number of people who have paid to see Ninjas vs. Zombies is “in the thousands.” The films have yet to turn a profit, but Timpane says they’re “very close to recouping our expenses.”

“For movies like this,” Timpane says, “our hope is that, while we have not yet completely recouped the cost, this is going to be a slow burn. People keep discovering it. I get a random message every couple days.” Ross says fan mail comes from Alaska, Missouri, and Ukraine. Zombies landed on Netflix steaming.

The films spawned a comic book series, which has done well in its own right. Ross describes their fans as “people who love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, movies by Joss Whedon, movies by Kevin Smith, and J.J. Abrams.” The movies have something of a cult following, with horror fans hosting screenings in their homes.

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Weekend planner: Film Neu, Dru Hill, Dubtribe Soundsystem

January 20, 2012 - 07:40 AM

Film festivals and coffee shops for a cold and rainy weekend.


• Directed by Tony Award Winner Robert Falls, Red opens at Arena Stage. Painter Mark Rothko's in the midst of doing a series of grand-scale paintings for the Four Seasons in New York. Red is the story of his internal struggle. A work by John Logan, who writes, "For me Red has always been binary: red/black; light/dark; young/old; teacher/student; father/son. In the end if you don’t like the play, blame me, not the paintings. They are mute, magnificent and unassailable." The play runs to March 11.

Film|Neu, D.C.'s annual film showcase of new films from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, opens at E Street Cinema. Set in 1988, Westwind kicks off the week-long festival with showings at 7 and 9 p.m. A discussion with castmember Franz Dinda follows the first screening. The festival runs to Thursday, Jan. 26.

The 18th Street Singers: In These, Our Darkest Hours, an ensemble of 20- and 30-somethings perform a mix of modern choir music at First Trinity Lutheran Church. 7:30 p.m.

A Night of One-Act Plays, a series of short plays examining the notion that every human interaction is a performance, continues at Georgetown University. 8 p.m. $12 general admission/$10 students.

• The D.C. premiere of the post-apocalyptic film The Divide at E Street Cinema. Nine strangers living in an apartment complex in New York City escape a nuclear attack by hiding in the building's underground basement. As the days pass and supplies dwindle, the nine collapse into despair, desperation, and torment, without knowing if salvation exists outside. Starring Lauren German, Michael Biehn, and Milo Ventimiglia.

From What I Remember/From What I Forgot, a Broad Studio curated exhibition, opens at Principle Gallery.

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D.C. Jazz Loft says goodbye to Gold Leaf on Saturday

January 19, 2012 - 04:38 PM
Brian Settles
Brian Settles rocks a D.C. Jazz Loft in February. (Photograph by Carlyle V. Smith/Capital Bop)

Giovanni Russonello knew there was a problem in Washington's small jazz scene: " In D.C.," he says, "there's work for jazz musicians, but very little is about playing for people who are listening." The Tenleytown native, who is 23, grew up going to HR-57, Twins Jazz, and Bohemian Caverns, but he wanted dearly to re-create the New York loft scene of yore. "I was sort of always piqued by that romantic notion," he says. "I wanted to do something similar in D.C."

For a little over a year, he has. Luke Stewart, who with Russonello edits the very fine jazz website Capital Bop, pointed his partner to Gold Leaf Studios, the performance and studio space on Eye Street NW that's closing at the end of this month.

Saturday night will be the last Jazz Loft at Gold Leaf's Red Door. Russonello says Capital Bop will announce a new location for Jazz Loft soon, maybe even tomorrow. But the old space is worth saying goodbye to.

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Toki Underground pops up for Chinese New Year

January 19, 2012 - 12:36 PM
Toki Underground (Fickr/TPWP)

If you're craving curry chicken hakata ramen early next week, you won't find any at Toki Underground. The Taiwanese ramen house is turning its digs into a pop-up space for Toki chef Thang Le and Scott Drewno of the Source, in celebration of Chinese New Year.  

Toki will close on Monday, the first day of the New Year, in preparation for Tuesday and Wednesday's reservation-only dinners, where there will be no ramen to be found. In China, the New Year is a two-week-long party commencing with the Lantern Festival. "You're not supposed to work because it'll sweep away the good luck of the year," Le says over coffee at Peregrine Espresso in Logan Circle. 

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'Shit DC Says'

January 19, 2012 - 10:50 AM

This video is making the rounds today:

With stand-out lines like, "Yeah, but H Street is so hard to get to," and an unspoken, dispirited gesture as the Metro train doors close in front of a man, the piece seems to be speaking to the internet, and the internet is speaking back.

A flood of affirmation ("Hilarious! True, and so clever and well-done :) fills the comments sections on YouTube and on the website of the video's creator, SocialStudies DC. Of course not everyone was happy. A sampling of the backlash on YouTube:

"Things Hipsters In DC Say."


"I really hope that you mispronounced Ian MacKaye's name intentionally."


"Boooo this sucks! I couldn't relate to anything in this video. Seriously,? are you really from DC or the suburbs?"


"Please...except for the escalator and Fugazi...this is just "Corny Ass Shit White People Who Live In DC, But? Are NOT From Here, Say"...tired."


And from the Social Studies DC website:

"I think I've seen this one already. Didn't we already do Shit Entitled White Assholes Say? Or am I misremembering?"


Complaining about hipsters/white people who aren't from here/people from the suburbs in D.C.? Congratulations publius02, UntouchableMonkey, et al. You've just added to the list of shit people in D.C. say.

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The Fancy Feast: Miss D.C. doesn't act a fool edition

January 19, 2012 - 06:00 AM

America has a new Miss, and sadly, it’s not Miss D.C. Ashley Boalch put up a fine fight, but the powers-that-be (Kim Kardashian’s mom, among others) graced the cranium of Miss Wisconsin Laura Kaeppeler with the crown.

Not much to report about the pageant itself, which has undergone plenty of silly changes to make it sexier/more contemporary/more about fitness/more about school/more about charity over the years. Glittarazzi captured the latest bit of tomfoolery: a series of low-budget videos of the contestants giving a two-minute pitch about why they would make a great Miss America. “Is it just us,” Glittarazzi asks, “or do these chicks keep getting dumb and dumber?” before going on to highlight a terrible rap by Miss Nevada, an Old Spice commercial send-up from Miss Oregon, and some stunt with a big piece of paper by Miss Georgia. The takedown is capped with a photo of Snooki in a crown. Did the Glittarazzi girls just become social commentators?

It should be noted that our own Miss D.C. not only did not make a fool of herself, but she managed a decent joke about how she won the pageant (by not falling down) and a sly reference to The Bachelor (which belongs to Miss America’s host network, ABC). Fancily played, Ashley Boalch.

After the jump: More fancy houses, blazers, Philips After 5 outfits, and Pat Sajak spottings.


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Go vocal or go metal this weekend

January 18, 2012 - 10:25 AM
Jucifer, being loud. Photo: flavorflanks/flickr.

Vocal music and metal typically fall at opposite ends of the noise spectrum, which isn't too surprising since the former relies on unamplified harmonies and the latter, on volume, volume, volume. Wherever your tastes fall on that scale, here are a few suggestions for shows on the louder—and quieter—side of things this weekend.

Thursday, Jan. 19 at the Rock & Roll Hotel, $15

Swedish metal group Ghost writes some darn catchy songs-- just ask the crowd at last year's Maryland Deathfest, who sang along(!) loudly(!!) to all of the tunes in the band's festival-closing set. Ghost certainly amps up the drama of its live shows: its frontman dresses as a satanic pope, while the rest of the group wears cloaks that mask their true identities. (There are plenty of internet theories about who they are, though. Hint: they're all members of other Swedish bands). The group's debut album Opus Eponymous channels a sound that's as reminiscent of ’70s rock bands like Blue Oyster Cult as metal groups like Mercyful Fate

Friday, Jan. 20 at Axum DC Lounge, $10

The two guys in Dakaboom might look familiar if you know a lot about a cappella: Ben McLain and Paul Peglar were both founding members of the Los Angeles electronic vocal group Sonos. (McLain is still in the group; Peglar left amicably about a year ago.) Together the two are as musically innovative as they are hilarious—check out their dramatic interpretation of the lyrics to Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night."

Friday, Jan. 20 at the Black Cat, $12

When we tell you that Jucifer is LOUD, we mean it in a bring-a-backup-pair-of-earplugs-just-in-case kind of way. This sludge metal duo stacks speakers up to the ceiling, creating a literal wall of sound behind them as they roar with an earthquake-inducing rumble. Don't be fooled by some of the subtle melodies on the group's studio albums: live, they create an unholy racket, as singer Amber Valentine bellows from her gut and drummer Ed Livengood pounds out a thunderous rhythm.

18th Street Singers
Friday/Saturday, Jan. 20/21 at First Trinity Lutheran Church, $10

The 18th Street Singers, a 50-voice ensemble whose repertoire ranges from classical to contemporary, will perform works from a range of composers at its 8th annual winter concert. Think Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Samuel Barber, and U2.

King Giant
Saturday, Jan. 21 at Jaxx, $10 in advance / $12 at doors

Virginia's Southern metal group King Giant is celebrating the release of its second album, Dismal Hollow, at this CD release show, which also features a ton of other cool local bands: stoner metal group Borracho, Virginia Beach rockers the Crimson Electric, Baroness/Salome alums Auroboros, and psychedelic metal band Weed Warlock. King Giant is the main draw, though, and their new album blends catchy riffs and anguished vocals. As another bonus, the group this week unveiled the new music video for its song "Appomattox", which it funded with a Kickstarter campaign. Highly recommended if you like zombies or awesome songs.

These and other show listings can be found on ShowListDC.

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