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Here are the best events around town. By Heather Rudow
Musician and author John Darnielle discusses his book, Wolf in White Van at Brookland's Busboys and Poets. Photo by Lalitree Darnielle.

MONDAY, AUGUST 31

OPEN MIC NIGHT: Show off your creative side at BloomBars. Everyone is allowed to perform at this open mic night so long as they’re flexing their creative muscles. Slam poets, storytellers, singers, musicians, and comedians are all welcome to take the stage; just make sure the act is appropriate for all ages. Arrive at 8:30 PM if you want to participate. $5, 9 PM.

FILM: The AFI Silver Theatre celebrates the 25th anniversary of Gremlins 2: The New Batch. In one of the rare scenarios when the sequel is arguably better than the first, the film reunites fans with the cutest little mogwai Gizmo, who accidentally spawns many Gremlins--evil critters with a penchant for causing complete and utter chaos wherever they go. Good news for fans: A third film is currently in the works. $12, 9 PM.

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 1

FILM: Who would’ve thought the origins of jazz rock can be traced back to a small group of musicians living in the English town of Canterbury in the 1960s? Romantic Warriors III: Canterbury Tales is the third film in a series about progressive rock written and directed by Adele Schmidt and José Zegarra Holder. This documentary focuses on three of the most popular bands defining this “Canterbury sound": Soft Machine, Caravan, and Gong. Stop by the Black Cat for the screening; stick around after the movie for a Q&A with Schmidt and Holder. $8, 7:30 PM.

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2

BOOKS: You may already know John Darnielle as the singer of the indie folk band the Mountain Goats, or from his acerbic wit and staunch support of women’s rights on Twitter. Last year, Darnielle put his storytelling prowess to further use and wrote the mind-bending novel Wolf in White Van. The book--which made the 2014 National Book Award longlist for Fiction--centers on an agoraphobic video game designer whose face is disfigured. Darnielle will be in conversation with musician and writer Albert Mudrian at a Politics and Prose event at Brookland's Busboys and Poets. Free, 6:30 PM.

COMEDY: Arnez J initially dreamt of becoming a performer in a completely different realm. He was once on his way to the Harlem Globetrotters. Lucky for us, he became a comedian instead. The hilarious stand-up performer, who you may know from Shaquille O’Neal’s “All Star Comedy Jam,” headlines three nights at DC Improv. $25, doors at 6:30 PM.

Posted at 10:18 AM/ET, 08/31/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
The museum is looking for a new space in DC, as well as outside of the District. Photo courtesy Crime Museum.

Citing a tough downtown real estate market, Janine Vaccarello, the Crime Museum's chief operating officer, announced the museum will close its doors on September 30.

"The Crime Museum’s landlord has decided to execute their rights under the lease agreement and request that we vacate the premises," Vaccarello emailed members of the Washington Area Concierge Association on Saturday. In her email, she stated the museum will close on October 1; the museum's website cites September 30 as its closing date.

She wrote the museum is looking for a new space--in DC, as well as outside of the District. However, since its landlord requested a "strict vacate timeline," the museum will be closed for an indefinite period of time.

In the mean time, fans will still have access to specific programs, such as assassinations walking tours, traveling forensics educational programs, and off-site team building.

The news was also announced on the museum's website.

Washingtonian has reached out to Vaccarello and the Crime Museum for comment.

Posted at 09:44 AM/ET, 08/31/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photo-illustration by Paul Spella

1. Lyn Paolo on Designing for TV’s Scandal

S. Dillon Ripley Center, September 25

Scandal wardroom and costume designer Lyn Paolo. Photo courtesy of ABC/Danny Feld.

There are plenty of reasons why Washingtonians have their eyes on the ABC drama Scandal as its fifth season premieres on September 24: Lead character Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) is based on Washington crisis manager Judy Smith, and the juicy plot gives viewers a peek at the scabby underbelly of a fictitious White House. Just as satisfying as any jaw-dropping twist is Pope’s impeccable “where did she get that?” wardrobe. Lyn Paolo, Scandal’s costume designer, is the brains behind Pope’s look. She’s also responsible for shattering stereotypes about DC’s work uniforms: Gone are boxy, shoulder-padded red suits; in are gorgeous Alexander McQueen jackets and warm hues.

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Posted at 08:00 AM/ET, 08/31/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Grab a beer, plop yourself on the floor, and take in some classical tunes. Photo courtesy Groupmuse.

Sam Bodkin took the typical classical music experience and did away with nearly every trope. The setting? Forget concert halls. He figured there's no better way to enjoy a string quartet than sitting cross-legged on a stranger's living room floor. The vibe? He thinks it's best to listen to music as it unfolds five feet from your face. Drinking is also allowed.

As for chatting during the concert? That's one line Bodkin wasn't willing to cross. "[The music's] gotta be the focal point of the crowd's attention," he says.

In 2013, he founded Groupmuse, an online platform that connects budding musicians with hosts who want to hold happenings in their homes. It also brings together people who are looking for a new type of music experience: cheap, chill, and intimate classical music concerts. And these people, more often than not, tend to be in their 20s.

"We're trying to reconstitute the listenership for classical music," Bodkin says. "It's kind of really about giving people an unabashadly positive and substantive way to connect to members of the community."

Now Groupmuse is in 20 cities across the world, including New York, Boston, and San Francisco, and has hosted happenings in Stockholm and Berlin. In May, the concerts debuted in DC. Since then, monthly happenings have been held in group houses in Bloomingdale, Dupont Circle, and Columbia Heights.

July's Groupmuse event in Columbia Heights. Photo by Richard Walsh.

Christian Dutilh--the platform's volunteer organizer in Washington--first attended a Groupmuse this past winter at a Brooklyn studio apartment. He quickly decided to import the concept to DC. The 26-year-old, who owns a real estate and branding company by day, is convinced these concerts are as rewarding for audience members as they are for musicians. "This is me trying to get my friends into a different kind of music that they wouldn’t normally be able to explore," he says, adding, "The musicians are so wonderful, so appreciative. They never get a chance to perform in an atmosphere like this."

Here's how it works in DC: "Groupmuses" are free to host, but usually cost $10 per person to attend. Proceeds go directly to the musicians, who are typically young, classical music students at Baltimore's Peabody Institute. Concerts are BYOB. They start with an hour of conversation and mingling; once the tunes begin, audience members are expected to sit down and listen. The music is split up into two 25-minute segments, with a 30-minute intermission in between. After the show, people drink, chat, and hang out with the musicians.

On average, about 35 people attend each concert. There's no vetting process for hosts; all you have to do is sign up. "It's literally easier to host a Groupmuse than it is to host a birthday party," Bodkin says. "You just have to move your coffee table aside."

The next DC event is on Friday, September 11, in the back patio of a Columbia Heights house, featuring Baltimore Chamber Orchestra celloist Peter Kibbe--and just enough room to cram 40 guests.

Posted at 01:04 PM/ET, 08/28/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Cheer up! It's not you. It's the demographics. Photo courtesy Shutterstock.

You're not imagining things: The dating scene really does suck for women in Washington, and the reason why has nothing to do with love or romance.

It's all about demographics: There are 49 percent more college-educated women in DC, age 24 and younger, than college-educated men. Americans typically marry within their same educational level, so it's no wonder dating can be downright awful for women.

That's the premise behind Jon Birger's recently released book, Date-onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game. Birger, a former writer at Money and Fortune magazines, calls this phenomenon "the man deficit."

He first caught on to the idea when he and his wife turned 30. They realized they didn't have any single male friends. What they did have were a bunch of terrific female friends who just couldn't find suitable partners. "That made no sense," he says.

He started digging through Census data and discovered the problem was much bigger than his own experience. He says it's a nationwide phenomenon. At birth, things are pretty straightforward: 1.05 boys are born in the US for every one girl. But when it comes to college-educated women between the ages of 22 and 29, the numbers shift considerably. In that case, there are four women for every three men.

Washington women have it pretty bad, but it's actually worse elsewhere. The gap in Miami is a whopping 86 percent. It's also tough finding a date in rural areas. "The surprising thing is that in rural states like Montana and Mississippi, this college man deficit is actually worse," Birger says.

And the inverse applies to non-college-grads. In that cohort, there's a deficit of ladies: "There's an oversupply [of men] in the working class." (Though the book focuses on straight couples, Birger also delves into how the gay and lesbian community affects the "heterosexual dating pool.")

So what's a gal to do? Accustomed to writing about what he describes as "boring stuff like the stock market and oil and gas," Birger is the first to admit he's no dating coach. But while self-help books rattle on about how "he's just not that into you," his book offers a very different explanation: "It’s that there aren’t enough of him."

In other words, it's not a woman's fault she can't find a partner. "It seems from reading a lot of dating books... the message is, 'You’re going about it wrong,'" Birger says. "My message is, 'This is not a strategic problem. This is a demographic problem."

His advice, as you might expect, is more wonky than inspirational: "The long term solution is to get more men to attend college. This is a labor, economic problem."

There you have it, ladies.

Posted at 10:42 AM/ET, 08/27/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Here are the best events around town. By Heather Rudow
Yoga at the museum: It's a thing. Photo by Cathy Carver.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 27

DRINK: Get ready for the cooler days ahead while celebrating your love of tart bear at City Tap House’s Sour That: Summer is Ending Party. Expect nine tap lines of sour beers made by breweries from all over the world. Sour beer is pretty rare because of the often-arduous process of making it: Its unique flavor comes from fermenting wild yeast and bacteria, sometimes for years. $6 to $13, bar opens at 11:30 AM.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 28

YOGA: With its unique design, manicured greenery, and fascinating art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden already gives off a Zen-like air. The weekly free yoga sessions offered on the museum’s plaza don’t hurt either. Every Friday morning through September 11, ease your way into the weekend with an hour of vinyasa flow yoga. All you have to do is bring your mat. Free, 9 AM.

PARTY: The Art Museum of the Americas’ annual Art After Dark party gives you the chance to explore the museum at night while enjoying live music, cocktails, video, and performance art. "Waterweavers," the museum’s latest exhibit, will stay open for the occasion. $49, 8 PM to 1 AM.

BIKE: Celebrate the full moon with a bike ride under the stars while donning a Hawaiian shirt and lei. BicycleSPACE’s Luau Ride begins at their downtown shop and ends at Bardo. The route goes along the Anacostia River, so you’ll get a perfect view of the moon. Plus, while you’re wetting your whistle at Bardo, Aloha Island Revue will bring the luau theme to life. Free, 7 PM.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 29

PARTY: Part of WithLove DC’s mission is to bring joy to the masses. (They host pop-up yoga classes in town every week.) On Saturday, the organization will host a silent disco party in Dupont Circle. A danceable playlist will be uploaded to a Dropbox on their website for participants to download. At 8 PM in the Circle, everyone is asked to press play at the same time; then the dancing commences. Free, 8 PM.

DANCE: Michael Jackson would have been 57 years old on August 29. Celebrate the King of Pop with a dance party at the 9:30 Club. MJ Day is how Dominic Redd, also known as DJ Dredd, has honored Jackson’s birthday every year since his death, with what's considered “DC's biggest Michael Jackson-themed dance party.” The celebration will feature Jackson’s most-loved songs, deep cuts, remixes, and videos. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Girls Rock! DC. $15, 8 PM.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 30

KARAOKE: If countless renditions of “Don’t Stop Believin’” have you hating on karaoke, DC9’s got the antidote with their monthly dose of indie rock karaoke. The much-needed palate cleanser will include music from the likes of Wilco, Beat Happening, Elliott Smith, Rilo Kiley, and more. Free, 8 PM.

THEATER: Atlas Performing Arts Center presents Scena Theatre’s special rendition of Oscar Wilde's the Importance of Being Earnest through September 12. The beloved comedy of errors premiered in 1895, but this gender-bending version is set in in the 1920s. $25 to $45, 8 PM.

DANCE: Jump to the left, then take a step to the right: Earlorrin Productions presents Chocolate Covered Rocky Horror at Joe’s Movement Emporium. The '70s cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show has given rise to interactive performances, and Sunday's version involves a shadow cast with performers acting out the music and scenes--all while the movie plays onscreen. You can also catch the show on August 28. $25, 8 PM.

Posted at 10:00 AM/ET, 08/27/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
This fall, female playwrights debut more than 50 world premieres around town. Here are the ones you can't miss.

Photograph by Christopher Mueller.

Cake Off

Signature Theatre; September 29-November 22

Signature turns up the heat in this musical—a batter-soaked battle-of-the-sexes comedy filled with juicy jabs and delicious zingers. Playwright Sheri Wilner's satire is set to a score by Julia Jordan (Murder Ballad) and Adam Gwon. Let the flour fly! $40 to $96.

Illustration by Nigel Buchanan.

Destiny of Desire

Arena Stage; September 11-October 18

You don't need a Latin lineage (or passable Spanish) to savor a spicy telenovela. This play opens on a dark and stormy night in Mexico, where two newborns are switched at birth by a conniving beauty queen. Playwright Karen Zacarías defies expectations in this comedy about the roles we play onscreen and off. $40 to $90.

Photograph by Stan Barouh.

Women Laughing Alone with Salad

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company; September 7-October 4

Inspired by an internet meme, this world premiere is a biting look at our thinness-obsessed culture. When a twentysomething guy is tempted by a self-conscious new gal, the world--including his diet-obsessed girlfriend and former old-school feminist mothe--rallies against him. $35 to $58.

Posted at 06:00 AM/ET, 08/27/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
They've got big plans for those plastic balls. By Emily Codik
Rejoice! The plastic balls will live on. Photo by Lauren Joseph.

You have until September 7 to visit the National Building Museum's all-white ballpit exhibition, "The Beach." If you don't make it over there in time, don't fret. You'll soon have the chance to see some of its plastic balls elsewhere--only they'll be part of a completely new project.

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Posted at 12:27 PM/ET, 08/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus, a look at other locally sold papal souvenirs. By Jackson Knapp
Give yourself the gift of a pope bobblehead! All photos by Jackson Knapp.

Pope Francis' DC trip is less than a month away. So how are people preparing for his visit? Purchasing papal bobbleheads, of course.

An article published Tuesday in the Washington Post took readers inside the "Papal Industrial Complex" and the wacky souvenirs that have popped up in gift shops in Washington, New York, and Philadelphia in anticipation of the pope's tour. According to the Post's Steve Hendrix, you can credit the pope's "populist touch” for his "pop star status." That might help explain the mass-merchandising of his likeness in the form of T-shirts, trinkets, and even dolls. (There's even Pope Francis cologne!)

The Catholic Information Center, located at 1501 K Street, Northwest, has embraced this “pope-apalooza” by stocking its shelves with some nifty papal accessories. Here’s a selection of what's in stock right now.

Souvenir: “I [Bishop’s Hat] Pope Francis” T-shirt

What it'll cost you: $15

Souvenir: Pope Francis doll

What it'll cost you: $26.95

Souvenir: Rosary with Pope Francis’ official cross

What it'll cost you: $17.50

Souvenir: Mini prayer book

What it'll cost you: $1.95

Souvenir: Pope Francis bobblehead

What it'll cost you: $19.95

Posted at 03:36 PM/ET, 08/25/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
John Grade's "Middle Fork" will be exhibited at the Renwick Gallery in November. By Emily Codik
A peek inside John Grade's "Middle Fork" sculpture. Photo courtesy of the artist.

John Grade's "Middle Fork" was created in Washington state, but the finished sculpture will be exhibited in DC's Renwick Gallery when the historic space reopens on November 13. A sculptor of dynamic, large-scale objects that typically involve community involvement, Grade started working on the piece in April of last year. The first step: A group of eight spent about two weeks working on the ambitious (and seemingly grueling) task of casting a living, 140-year-old hemlock tree near the Snoqualmie River. Thanks to the help of tree-climbing rigs, they hung nearly 90 feet in the air and painstakingly applied layer after layer of foil and plaster cast.

Next, the artist invited the public into a Seattle studio to help cover the cast with quarter-inch cedar blocks. The result is a hollow, 40-foot-long sculpture built out of hundreds of thousands of tiny blocks--a mesmerizing piece that mimics the tree's lower half and offers viewers a unique look inside a massive trunk form. Following its exhibition tour, Grade will place the biodegradable sculpture on the ground near the original hemlock in Washington state, where it'll disintegrate into the earth. You can hear more about how the stunning piece was made--and will ultimately be destroyed--in the video below.

"Middle Fork" is part of the Renwick's opening show, WONDER, an immersive exhibition featuring nine contemporary artists, including Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Wonder will run through July 10.

Quarter-inch cedar blocks were placed onto the cast by volunteers in Seattle. Photo by Amos Morgen, courtesy of CYNTHIA-REEVES.
The sculpture's surface was evened out with a sanding machine, bringing together each individual contribution into a single whole. Photo by Amos Morgen, courtesy of CYNTHIA-REEVES.
After exhibiting in DC and a few other museums, the sculpture will be placed back in the forest to disintegrate on the ground. Photo courtesy CYNTHIA-REEVES.
The 40-foot sculpture represents the lower half of a 140-year-old hemlock tree. Photo courtesy CYNTHIA-REEVES.

Posted at 12:19 PM/ET, 08/25/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()