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Haunted houses, costume contests, scavenger hunts, and more. By Sara Gilgore
Halloween isn't only about candy. (Though it's mostly about candy.) Image via Shutterstock.

The balmy temperatures outside aren’t much indication, but Halloween will be upon us before you know it. Washington offers plenty of ways to celebrate, including ghost tours, costume parties, and themed scavenger hunts. Grab your favorite candy corn-flavored treat and read on for some of the spooky options.

PARTIES, COSTUME CONTESTS, AND CELEBRATIONS

The Nightmare on M Street bar crawl is back October 25 for its 15th year in the District. The area favorite is brewing up some new twists: A handful of Gallery Place bars have joined the roster of seasoned Dupont spots, amounting to more than 35 stops along the tour. Enjoy food and drink specials with no cover from 5 PM to 1 AM. The traveling party culminates in a midnight costume contest, so don’t be scared to dress in your eeriest ensemble. You’ll have to check in at one of four registration locations—the Front Page, the Exchange, McFadden’s, or the Green Turtle—before 10 PM, and purchase your ticket in advance. Prices start at $15 but could go up to $40 depending on availability, so get them early.

If you’d rather dance than crawl, shimmy over to the Hamilton on the 25th for its 2nd annual Halloween Howl. The live concert features a selection of spooky tunes, from a lineup of artists including Steve and Annie Sidley, Cal Everett, Cairo Fred, Brandon Ehrgood, the Crimestoppers, John Trupp, and Sara Curtin. Come in costume before the show starts at 8:30 PM; doors open at 7. Tickets are $20 to stand, $25 to sit.

It’s almost time for Boo at the Zoo! The National Zoo’s annual trick-or-treating extravaganza has been a DC cornerstone for years, and 2014 is no exception. October 24, 25, and 26 from 5:30 to 8:30 PM, the whole family can enjoy treats and souvenirs, demonstrations and chats, and ornamented trails for a fun and friendly pre-Halloween with the animals. Tickets for members ($20) and nonmembers ($30) are available online, as are parking passes, discount info, and additional details.

The zoo’s celebration continues with Night of the Living Zoo on October 30 from 6:30 to 10 PM. Performance artists, glow-in-the-dark lawn games, and a costume contest are just some of the staples you’ll witness at the yearly event. More information can be found on the zoo’s website.

The Mansion on O Street’s Halloween Costume Party on October 31 kicks off with a treasure hunt, a chocolate fountain, a deejay, and a mansion tour. Bring a pumpkin to decorate, and you could win a $100 gift certificate. There’s also a costume contest, which hands out awards in categories such as craziest shoes, grossest costume, and best pet costume (yes, pets are welcome if they are clothed for the occasion). Doors open at 8, and the party goes until midnight. Reserve tickets online ($40 through October 27, $50 through October 30, and $60 on Halloween).

On the big night, head to Bethesda’s Doubletree for the Monster Bash. Between 9 PM and 1 AM, dance in the grand ballroom or take advantage of tables and lounge seating with fellow boogeymen and -women. Enjoy treats from the sweets stations and cash bars, or watch horror films in the two movie theaters (with popcorn!) while awaiting the results of the costume contest. The event is 21 and up, so make sure you bring your ID. You can find more details on the grand prize and the event online, where you can also order your tickets ($10).

Want to start celebrating right after work on the 31st? Memories and Nightmares Halloween Night at Policy starts at 6 PM with happy hour. The bartenders will conjure up complementary cocktails, until the cauldron is empty. Come in costume (encouraged but not required), and stay for the deejay as dusk turns to dark. If you can’t make it until later, don’t worry: The spirits will be out until 3 AM.

The Halloween Fiesta at La Tasca is perfect for witches and vampires who are at least 21 and want to get down in Old Town. There’s no cover charge at this Alexandria party, but you will find bar specials, scary movies, and a surprise for the best circus-themed costume. October 31 from 10 PM to 2 AM.

Does the full moon awaken your competitive streak? Check out Lucky Strike’s Bowlloween Costume Bash. It’s happening across the country October 31, and the Gallery Place location invites you to join the ghouls and goblins for costumed bowling, magical potions, and supernatural songs from 9 PM to 2 AM. Tickets ($15, $40 VIP) are available online.

To get an authentic Día de los Muertos experience, don’t miss Fuego Cocina y Tequileria’s Day of the Dead Celebration. For the second consecutive year, Arlington’s “fire kitchen and tequila bar” opens its doors for this Mexican fiesta, which begins Halloween eve and continues through the weekend until November 2. Symbolic decorations, themed cocktails, and traditional sweets such as “bread of the dead” and Mexican hot chocolate are just a few ingredients you can look forward to.

HAUNTED HOUSES, TRAILS, AND TOURS

Everyone’s looking for ghosts this time of year, and Nightmare Manor is the place to see them. Also known as Seth’s Folly, the 200-year-old estate has been haunted by victims of the 1824 fire that engulfed it but left it standing. Formerly situated on a quarry, and now abandoned, the manor is open for you to tour. Get $25 tickets for a range of dates and times: from now until November 1, Thursday and Sunday 7 to 10 PM, and Friday and Saturday 7 to 11 PM. Be sure to check the website in the event of inclement weather.

A Maryland classic, Markoff’s Haunted Forest has been operating since 1993 and continues to bring the scares. Hunt for zombies, zip-line through the woods, and choose a haunted trail to explore. This year, Calleva is donating proceeds to a new list of local charities and organizations: Girls on the Run, Maryland Off-Road Enthusiasts, Poolesville Green, Poolesville Wrestling, Stronghold at Sugarloaf Mountain, Team River runner, and WUMCO Help. See the website for full ticket information and dates of operation, and check out our video for a preview of the scares.

The Haunted Trail at the Workhouse Arts Center invites you to take a family tour before dark ($5), or a more unsettling journey, recommended for teens 13 and older ($10). As part of the Workhouse’s 31 Nights of Frights, all funds will support its programming. You can preorder tickets for October 24, 25, 29, 30, and 31, as well as November 1. Some dates don’t offer family tours, so check specifics before purchasing.

Discover a new side of Old Town with Alexandria’s Ghost and Graveyard Tour, which leads you through the historic district with chilling mysteries and folklore. An Alexandria Colonial Tours guide is well-equipped for the exploration through time, armed with a lantern and dressed in 18th century garb. Don’t bring your pets, but kids nine years old and up are welcome. Groups will be sauntering through the streets all month; visit the website to see the calendar and purchase tickets.

It’s scavenger hunt season, and Watson Adventures is extra-prepared. The Haunted Scavenger Hunts over the next several weeks will combine family, Halloween, history, art, politics, and more. For those of you who like a slower pace and in-depth questions about prominent historical figures (and their ghosts!), get tickets ($22.50) for the Haunted Washington Scavenger Hunt October 25 at 6 PM. If that’s not your cup of witch’s brew, bring your kids to the Fright at the White House Family Scavenger Hunt, October 18 at 4 PM or October 25 at 3:30 PM. Tickets for kids (ages 7 to 17) are $15.50, and for adults are $19.50. There’s also the Murder at the National Gallery Scavenger Hunt, the Wizard School Scavenger Hunt, and others. For a full list of hunts, dates, and times, visit the Watson Adventures website.

Gravensteen Haunted Productions is back in NoMa with The Curse of Frau Mueller, at a site of tragedy cursed since 1932, as the story goes. The 50,000-square-foot warehouse features multiple rooms of terrifying scenes. Tickets are $30 for dates from now to November 1.

Posted at 04:30 PM/ET, 10/17/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Broken Lizard comedian talks pre-show steaks, losing audiences to Kevin Hart, and how he’d protect Obama from Ebola. By Tanya Pai
See Kevin Heffernan (left) and Steve Lemme at Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse this weekend. Photograph courtesy of Arlington Cinema.

When Super Troopers came out in 2001, its particular brand of slapstick slacker humor propelled it to instant classic status. Thirteen years later, it remains eminently quotable—and responsible for many of those memorable lines is Kevin Heffernan, who played mustachioed liter’a cola fan Farva in the film. Heffernan is one of the original members of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe, which started as a college sketch group and went on to make Super Troopers, as well as Beerfest and Club Dread. He’s also appeared in several other movies and TV shows, including Veep, Workaholics, and How I Met Your Mother (as Ted Mosby’s porn-star alter-ego).

Heffernan is in town this weekend to perform three shows at Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse with fellow Broken Lizard member Steve Lemme, with whom he has a podcast, a web series, and a Netflix special. We caught Heffernan by phone as he was museum-hopping with his kids to ask about Super Troopers 2, weird fan interactions, and his memories of DC.

Tell me a bit about your show.

It’s a two-man show I do with Steve Lemme. A couple years ago we started doing some standup shows; we wanted to mix it up, and we knew there were fans of our movies out there that we didn’t interact with a whole lot, so it was fun to go out. So we just started doing standup shows, and we’d never really done it before, so it was a lot of fun. We don’t do it full-time, but we’ll go out and do these shows. We each do a traditional set of standup, and then there’s some audience participation stuff, we’ll bring people out of crowd, and then also we’ll tell stories from the makings of our movies, like behind-the-scenes stories.

What would be surprising about the show for someone who’s never seen it before?

The thing people are surprised about a lot of times is that we do this. A lot of people know us from the movies, but they don’t know us from standup, so I think doing standup is a different animal for people who are fans of ours. We’re trying to make it accessible to everybody, so if you’re not a huge fan of the movies, we still do tons of stuff that’s not related to the movies.

You and Steve have worked together on so many different things—how does that affect how you go about putting a show together?

We’ve definitely learned what works between us. It’s mostly us making fun of each other. Knowing each other for so long, we’ve gotten very good at making fun of each other, which I think is the big part of a show.

How do you prepare for a show?

Steve and I will normally go eat a steak, and we’ll sit at dinner and run through our show. It’s kind of funny because waiters will walk up and they’re not sure what they’ve walked in on—it’ll be just the two of us, it looks like we’re a couple arguing at the dinner table.

Do you know where you’re going to get that steak in DC?

Oh, I don’t know yet; we need to decide where to go. We use it as an excuse to get away from our kids.

How old are they?

I have an 11-year-old, a 9, and a 6. My wife is here too—she’s a doctor, and she’s at a conference here, so we tied it all together. I do some shows, she goes to the conference, and then we go monument sight-seeing. It’s all the stuff you’re used to living here.

Do you remember the worst show you’ve ever done?

We’ve had a couple of those [laughs]. I remember one time we did a show at Hobart College [in New York]; it was part of a freshman orientation. So it was like a series of orientation lectures and then us—a sexual harassment lecture, then a couple other lectures, and then we were gonna come up and tell jokes. And it didn’t quite go over well.

Do you think people just didn’t realize it was okay to laugh at that point after all the sexual harassment talk?

I think people were just tired of it. They wanted to leave.

Then we had another show in Tampa, a double bill with Kevin Hart, and I don’t know what the reason was, but he went first. So it was in a college gym—there were probably 4,000 kids there—and Kevin did his set and finished, and then I’d say about 3,000 of the people stood up and walked out. And so we went on and did our show, and the sound of 3,000 people walking out of an arena is deafening. We laugh about that to this day, having 3,000 people walk out on you.

How did the rest of the show go?

I think it was okay—we took the last thousand people in this giant arena and made them come as close to the stage as they could get.

They were probably all pretty stoked about that.

They were happy. You could tell that the people left were fans.

What would you say has been your biggest professional accomplishment thus far?

Probably getting Super Troopers made. That was certainly the turning point. We’d spent many years trying to get it made, and we had a feeling it would be successful; it was just a matter of getting it done. So finally we got it done, and brought it to the Sundance Film Festival and sold it, and I think that was the big moment for us, when things kind of shifted.

And are the rumors of a Super Troopers sequel true?

It’s gonna happen. I think the rumors are all swirling around when. We’ve written the written script and have the deal set with Fox Studios, so now it’s just a matter of putting the rest of the pieces together. The plan is hopefully in early 2015—if all goes according to plan, my hope is we’ll do it then. But we’re still putting all the pieces together, there’s still a few question marks, but everyone’s really gung-ho to get it done.

What’s the line people quote at you the most when they see you on the street?

Oh, yeah. People yell—and that’s the funny thing about our shows, is that’s how we get heckled. People will yell out not, “You suck,” but they’ll yell quotes from our movies. But the ones I get are—wait, I don’t know what’s printable—but they’ll call me a chicken f**ker. I get that a lot. A LOT. And then I do a joke in there about my favorite restaurant Shenanigans, and people will throw that at me a lot. And a lot of people will walk up with their cell phone and ask me to leave their outgoing voicemail message.

Do you do it when they ask?

Yeah, why not, right?

What’s the weirdest fan interaction you’ve ever had?

We were just talking about one the other day. We did a show in Minneapolis, and we had a lot of friends who came, and they all came backstage. So it was a group of people, friends of friends, whatever. And after show we all went out, we went to three, four, different bars, catching up. So it got down to end of night, maybe 1 or 2 in the morning, and there were six or seven of us left, and one was a guy that we didn’t really know. So at that point we said, “Who are you friends with?” And he’s like, “I’m just a guy who snuck backstage during the show,” and he hung out with us for four hours as if he was a friend of one of these other people. Usually you’ll get a guy who’ll do that and call his buddies, and be like “I’m at this bar, come hang out,” but this guy went all the way to the end of the night by himself. He seemed like a normal guy; I guess he just wanted to hang out by himself.

Do you guys still keep in touch?

We send each other Christmas cards.

Are you big on interacting with fans over social media?

We try. You have to be diligent; you have to be faithful to keeping that up. I think Lemme and I go in waves, and then it breaks down after a while. But we try. It’s interesting because in last three, four, five years that we’ve been doing standup shows, it’s changed—you used to go into a town and do local morning radio shows, and that was the way to reach the crowd, and now it’s definitely social media, so you really do have to try to get yourself out there.

Do you remember the first time you visited DC?

I came a bunch of times as a kid. I grew up in Connecticut, and we have friends of family who live in Virginia, so I came when I was probably seven or eight. We did it all—the monuments, the Smithsonian, all that stuff. I loved it. I thought it was great. We would just go around and take funny pictures with my parents, posing at different statues.

Is this the first time for your kids?

It is—we live in California now, so we were like, “Ah, let’s bring ’em!” And now they’re lovin’ it. We’re at Air and Space as we speak, so they’re liking that.

Who’s your favorite fictional president?

I definitely like Michael Douglas in American President. Wait, that’s boring. Who was the president in that Mike Judge movie, where everyone gets really dumb? It was Terry Crews, right?

You mean Idiocracy?

Idiocracy, right. Wasn’t it Terry Crews? It was a big, scary black dude.

That sounds like Terry Crews. [Ed. note: It was.] So why American President?

I just really like that movie. I’m a Rob Reiner fan.

That movie was interesting because it’s strange to think of a sitting President going on dates.

Yeah, he was a dog. He was dating people in the White House. He was a single dad!

If you were going to meet the real President, what’s one piece of advice you’d give him?

Well, we went by the White House yesterday, and I thought maybe we’d catch a glimpse of him. I heard he’s staying in town to deal with the Ebola crisis—so my advice would be for him to wear gloves.

Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme perform Friday and Saturday at Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse. Tickets ($25) are available online.

Posted at 01:00 PM/ET, 10/17/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
“Daddy issues” doesn’t even begin to cover it. By Tanya Pai
This week in "ripped from the headlines": The Secret Service is failing to protect the First Family.

First let’s address the contrivance elephant in the room: This week’s A plot hinges on the audience believing that First Daughter Karen Grant—demure, twinset-and-pearl-wearing Karen—has been transformed through grief over her brother’s death into a drugged-out teen rebel willing to let herself be filmed having a threesome. Making that leap of logic even more awkward is the fact that the part was recast for this season, replacing Madeline Carroll with Mary Mouser. This is like when the Veronica Mars movie hinged its whole plot on a character played by the one actress they couldn’t get to reprise her role from the TV show (why, Leighton Meester, why?). Anyway, let’s recap.

Olivia is really into eating Gettysburger with Jake this week like they’re a normal couple, but things just keep interrupting them. This time, it’s a call from Karen, who’s gotten wasted at a party and needs a way to get out. Olivia and Quinn go to get her out before anyone sees (although how was she there long enough to get so wasted without anyone noticing her?), and as they’re in the helicopter on the way to the White House it comes out that Karen also had time to make a sex tape with two guys. El Prez, naturally, wants heads to roll, so he dispatches Cyrus to figure out how Karen slipped her Secret Service detail and asks Olivia to find the guys and get rid of the tape. One of the boys involved is a blue-collar scholarship kid; Quinn, via her patented throat-squeezing technique, gets her to reveal the name of the other, a nightmarish trust-fund brat with even more nightmarish parents. They attempt to blackmail the President, demanding $2.5 million to get rid of the tape. Olivia goes to El Prez and tells him to pay. “You have the money,” she says. (Does he? He’s that wealthy that he can just give up two and a half million dollars? I have a lot of questions about this episode.) El Prez would rather talk about Olivia being back, though. “I almost died without you,” he says as he grabs her. He asks if she missed him, and they make out, and I brace for another uncomfortable Oval Office sex scene until she tells him she didn’t go away alone. “You went with Jake,” he realizes—but when she tries to touch his shoulder, he grabs her wrist so hard she winces, and I think this is the moment their emotional abuse of each other nearly spills into the physical kind. He agrees to pay the money, but when the parents demand an extra half million, Olivia comes down on them hard, saying she will destroy them and putting enough fear in their mercenary hearts that they sign a non-disparagement agreement.

Awkwardly, Olivia also runs into FLOTUS at the White House, still roaming the halls in her bathrobe like the greasy-haired Ghost of Benders Past. Mellie hilariously/scarily yells “OLIVIAAAA” as she chases Olivia down the hall and demands to know why she’s there. Olivia says nothing, so Mellie takes her ire to El Prez, reminding him that she is supposed to be the one who picks up the pieces of their shattered family, and El Prez rips her a new one. He says he’s suffered through “Smelly Mellie,” drunk Mellie, and the Mellie who “eats everything that’s not nailed down,” and that though he shares “some guilt” in this situation, he’s managed to grieve his son while also running a country. He also explains that their daughter was caught being “Eiffel towered” on tape, which is why he needs Olivia around. These people are the worst at having conversations. So Mellie goes to talk to Karen, but rather than yell, she tells her she knows it’s because she misses Gerry and gives her a free pass. It’s sweet and sad, and Bellamy Young wins the scene as always.

Over in B613-ville, Jake and Rowan are continuing to try to destroy one another. Rowan orders Tom the Secret Service agent to kill Jake, but when Tom fails, Rowan threatens his life, too. Jake very reasonably points out to Tom that Rowan is trying to cover his own ass and isn’t likely to leave alive the one other person who could link him to Gerry’s death. Complicating matters is the fact that Cyrus has hired a consultant to examine Secret Service security issues, thanks to Karen’s little adventure, and some of Tom’s scheduling isn’t quite adding up. Tom knows he’s going to get pulled in for questioning, so he calls Jake, who tells him he has proof that Rowan was behind Gerry’s death and that Tom should cut a deal. Jake goes to deliver the proof to El Prez, who is not in a mood to see the guy who was boinking his girlfriend on an island for two months, and brushes him off. And now we see how screwed poor Tom really is: El Prez calls Rowan to take over the investigation, and Rowan forces Tom to lie that Jake was the one who ordered him to kill Gerry. The episode ends with Jake and Tom both in handcuffs and an El Prez out for revenge.

BEST LINES/A FEW THOUGHTS

“Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be Olivia Pope? It doesn’t seem like much fun.” Cyrus makes an excellent point to Abby, who doesn’t get to do much this week except try to hold on to what little ground she’s gained in the White House.

“Am I due for a good threatening?” Cynical David Rosen is my favorite David Rosen, even when he’s, as usual, immediately folding under Jake’s threats. Also “your ethics mean nothing” is basically the tagline of the whole show at this point.

I have to say, I have basically zero sympathy for El Prez. I get that he is also a grieving father, but he basically asks for a prize for doing his job while also tolerating his wife’s nervous breakdown. But Mellie is not going to lie down and take it, as evidenced by her line, “She takes after her daddy, doesn’t she?”

Gettysburger got so many mentions this week, it should demand to be made a regular cast member.

Michael the escort is still around, though no Lizzie this week. Maybe she was busy making Hot Ham Water for a fundraising dinner.

Are we supposed to believe Rowan is going to protect Tom for throwing Jake under the bus? I don’t see why he would, but that shot of them holding hands seemed to suggest it.

Even the fictional Secret Service can’t do things right!

WINNER: Feel free to disagree, but I’m going to give this one to Karen. Yes, both her parents have seen her doing things you couldn’t pay me to explain to my own mother, but the tape disappears and her mom gives her a get-out-of-jail-free card. And hey, no more twinsets!

LOSER: Jake. Things are not looking good for old Ballard—not only can he not even get a word in edgewise with his pseudo girlfriend, but he gets arrested for killing, like, the one person he actually didn’t kill, and apparently can no longer afford razor blades.

Find Tanya Pai on Twitter at @tanyapai.

Posted at 11:50 AM/ET, 10/17/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Discovery Channel series begins its fifth season Friday. By Hallie Golden
Still from Gold Rush courtesy of the Discovery Channel.

The success of Gold Rush, one of Discovery Channel’s most popular series, seems simple: The more gold miners discover, the more viewers the show gets. And since season five, which premieres at 9 PM on Friday, is said to have more gold then ever before, the show’s future looks good. But executive producer Christo Doyle says the show’s success stems from the wish-fulfillment aspect as much as the action. “For someone like me, who works in an office environment all day every day, it’s sexy to think about dropping everything you’re doing and going North on a treasure hunt,” he says.

Doyle, who’s based in Chevy Chase, has been with the show since it was started in 2010 and with Discovery Channel since 1999. Gold Rush, for anyone unfamiliar, follows three mine bosses and each of their five- to ten-member crews on their hunt for gold in the same area where the original gold rush took place at the end of the 19th century. Because it’s a reality show, Doyle and the rest of the production team have little control over what takes place and how much gold is uncovered. They can choose which miners are followed and how much screen time each gets, but little beyond that. “We have to take what we’re given and tell the greatest story we can,” says Doyle.

For season five, according to Discovery’s Sarah Morgan, the crew was filming up until last week, so the turnaround time can be tight. This is especially challenging because the show’s key players—the production team, the miners, and Doyle—are nowhere near each other. The production team is based in London, the miners are hunting for gold in the Yukon, and Doyle is based in Washington. In order to travel to Dawson, where the show is filmed—about a four-day drive from Portland, Oregon—Doyle would need to take four different planes. “Each plane gets smaller and smaller, until you’re in a type of Indiana Jones duct tape on the ceiling situation,” he says. Understandably, he’s only made the trip three times thus far.

But there is one aspect of the show he is especially close to, both geographically and professionally: Gold Rush’s supplemental series, The Dirt. Doyle is the host of the hourlong show, which is filmed in Fairfax and allows super-fans to learn about the many events that were left out of the finished episodes. It’s aired immediately before Gold Rush to get viewers hyped for what’s to come, but it’s its own animal. “We can have a lot more fun on The Dirt than they have on the show,” says Doyle. “We can laugh at things. We can get serious about things. We can call each other out about things.” And they can interact with viewers via social media—all in service of translating the unpredictable thrill of striking gold into reliable entertainment.

Gold Rush season five premieres October 17 at 9 PM on the Discovery Channel.

Posted at 03:30 PM/ET, 10/16/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
An A-to-Z booze tasting, a ’90s party at Chief Ike’s, and the Hirshhorn After Hours. By Jason Koebler
Check out the Hirshhorn's new look and exhibits during its After Hours party on Friday. Photograph by Cathy Carver.

Thursday, October 16

PHILANTHROPY: Want to donate to a good cause but afraid of doing the Ice Bucket Challenge in chilly weather? Head to Georgetown Piano Bar’s grand-opening party, where you can benefit ALS research by drinking rather than dumping ice on your head. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres will be served, and 100 percent of proceeds from certain drinks benefit the local chapter of the ALS Association. Bring along your challenge videos to share with everyone. Free. 5 PM.

BEER: Ashburn’s Old Ox Brewery, which doesn’t have a whole lot of history since it was only founded in June, will be at the Heurich House tonight for its History and Hops night. The history part comes from touring the house itself, where one of DC’s most successful brewers lived. Old Ox will serve a session IPA, a Belgian Golden Ale, and a Rye Porter. Tickets ($30) are available online. 6:30 PM.

LITERATURE: Hillyer Art Space is getting into the Halloween spirit with readings from Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart and The Raven. If you read, you’ll get a Kramerbooks T-shirt or pint glass, and if you wear a costume, you’re eligible to win a prize. Bonus points if you can turn yourself into an 1800s-esque headless person. Free. 6:30 PM.

Friday, October 17

FILM: Union Market’s drive-in movie this week is Rushmore, the Wes Anderson movie that really kick-started his (and Jason Schwartzman’s) career. It’s weird by normal movie standards, but for Anderson, it’s held up as one of his best (and least eccentric) movies. $10 per car; free otherwise. 8 PM.

MUSEUM: The Hirshhorn stays open late tonight for its monthly After Hours party. This month, it debuts its new exhibitions, “Days of Endless Time” and “At the Hub of Things: New Views of the Collection” (see our preview for more), as well as its newly renovated third floor. There will also be a performance by Zola Jesus, booze, and film screenings. Tickets ($25) are available online. 8 PM.

PARTY: Chief Ike’s Mambo Room is throwing a ’90s party that has all sorts of things going on with the number nine. Drinks are 90 cents between 8 and 10 PM, there’ll be ’90s music, games, and fashion, and the best themed costume wins $90. Free. 8 PM.

Saturday, October 18

MIMOSAS: Beer-soaked bar crawls are so passé. Class things up with a bit of bubbly at the DC Mimosa March, which stops by all the usual Dupont Circle watering holes—except this time for mimosas, obviously. Admission gets you six of them, and there’ll also be specials on food and extra cocktails. Tickets ($50) are available online. Noon to 8 PM.

WINE: The Rosslyn Pop-Up Space is hosting the A-Z of Beer + Wine, in which you’ll be able to learn your ABCs in the booziest way possible: by sampling a beer or wine from every letter of the alphabet. Your admission gets you 26 samples of beer or wine (one for every letter, duh), and small bites from Spain’s awesome sandwich import 100 Montaditos and Heavy Seas. Tickets ($36.50) are available online. 3:30 and 7:30 PM.

BEER: Even if you don’t brew your own beer, you can hang out with and support the people who do at the DC Homebrewers barbecue fundraiser. There’ll be a home-brewing demonstration and barbecue (duh), plus you can try beers from Sierra Nevada, Stone, and Boulevard. Proceeds benefit the organization’s educational programming. Free to attend, or $10 for a barbecue ticket. 1 PM.

Sunday, October 19

FILM: The Naval Heritage Center’s Burke Theatre is hosting all sorts of shorts screenings as part of Docs In Progress. Things get started with Our Teachers, which, unsurprisingly, follows three DC teachers as they pass down their knowledge. At 3:30, you’ll catch documentaries about DC’s changing neighborhoods; at 6, there are screenings of Inside/Out and High Hopes; and at 8, you can watch The Bayou, about DC’s long-gone, lamented music venue. Tickets ($15) are available online. See website for showtimes.

SCARY THINGS: Just a couple weeks left to check out DC Dead, Fringe’s interactive haunted house/theater-esque thing. It’s a spooky dart game zombie hunt through Fort Fringe, and from everything I’ve heard, it’s very fun. Tickets ($35) are available online. 7 to 11 PM.

Know of something cool going on around town? E-mail Jason Koebler at jasontpkoebler@gmail.com, or find him on Twitter at @jason_koebler.

Posted at 11:40 AM/ET, 10/16/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
DC is about to get funnier. By Tanya Pai
See Jay Leno and Kathy Griffin at the Kennedy Center next year as part of a new focus on comedy. Photograph of Leno by Everett Collection/Shutterstock; Griffin by Helga Esteb/Shutterstock.

Just in time for Sunday’s presentation of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, the Kennedy Center has announced plans to roll out a new program focused on comedy. Thanks to a $5 million donation from Capital One, the performing arts institute is launching Comedy at the Kennedy Center, “focused on elevating comedy as an art form and uniting the local community together through laughter,” according to a press release.

The donation, doled out over five years, will fund programming that includes existing events such as the aforementioned award ceremony and the continually running comedic whodunit Shear Madness, as well as an annual series that will bring three big-name funny people to town to headline the Concert Hall—in 2015, it’s Mark Twain Prize recipient Jay Leno in April and Kathy Griffin in June, plus another who’s yet to be announced. Between those “signature” shows will be occasional free comedy nights on the KenCen’s Millennium Stage.

Meanwhile, if you’re out and about this weekend, keep your eyes peeled for Ross “The Intern” Mathews, who’ll be roaming DC on Saturday filming man-on-the-street bits to pay tribute to his former boss Leno before he’s honored at the KenCen. Check out Capital One’s Twitter feed for updates on where Mathews will be.

Posted at 10:55 AM/ET, 10/16/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The museum debuts a fresh look and two new exhibits. By Tanya Pai
Ernesto Neto, “The Dangerous Logic of Wooing,” 2002. Photograph by Cathy Carver.

On Wednesday morning, before the rain and tornado warnings descended on DC, the Hirshhorn hosted a preview to show off its new look to donors and members of the media. The museum, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, has for the first time redone its third-floor galleries, and introduced visitors to the changes—as well as to new director Melissa Chiu, just three weeks into the job. (She formerly served as the director of New York’s Asia Society Museum.)

The major changes to the third floor include removing the carpeting, along with some drop ceilings and spur walls, to return to the openness originally intended by architect Gordon Bunshaft—and to allow for installation of more contemporary sculptures, many of which are designed to rest directly on the floor. The impact can be seen in one of the Hirshhorn’s new exhibits, “At the Hub of Things,” which comprises 50 rarely displayed works from the museum’s collection of modern and contemporary art. The show adopts a “choose-your-own-adventure” structure, grouping the works by theme rather than by artist or time period, as co-curator Melissa Ho explained. The works include Ernesto Neto’s “The Dangerous Logic of Wooing,” a massive installation involving bulbous swoops of rice-filled fabric suspended from the ceiling; Yoko Ono’s “Sky TV for Washington,” which relays a continuous video of the sky over the Mall via closed-circuit camera as a contrast between the natural world and technology; and the piece that gives the exhibit its name, Anish Kapoor’s blue resin sculpture inspired by Kali, the Hindu goddess of time and change.

The other exhibit is well worth a visit by stressed-out Washingtonians. “Days of Endless Time” is a collection of 14 moving-image works by 13 artists, all created in the past decade and sharing a single theme: the suspension of time and the importance of solitude and contemplation. Israeli artist Sigalit Landau’s “DeadSee” features her floating naked in emerald water amid a spiral of watermelons, juxtaposing the womblike calm of the sea against the violent red of the broken fruit. Clemens von Wedemeyer attended the preview to explain his “Afterimage,” an eerie and slightly vertigo-inducing 3D walk-through of an old sculpture and prop warehouse. Especially intriguing is Robert Wilson’s portrait of Lady Gaga, almost unrecognizable in period dress and subdued hair and makeup. What at first seems like a static image over time gives way to movement, subtle at first and then more noticeable, rewarding the patient viewer with a new dimension of the work.

“At the Hub of Things” is an ongoing exhibit; “Days of Endless Time” closes April 12. See images from both collections below.

From left: Robert Rauschenberg, “Dam,” 1959; Anselm Kiefer, “The Book,” 1979-85; Yinka Shonibare, “The Age of Enlightenment—Antoine Lavoisier,” 2008. Photograph by Cathy Carver.
Su-Mei Tse, “L’Echo,” 2003. Courtesy of the artist and Peter Blum Gallery, New York. © Su-Mei Tse.
From left: Jan Dibbets, “Tide,” 1969; Richard Long, “Norfolk Flint Circle,” 1992; Brice Marden, “Cold Mountain 2,” 1989-91. Photograph by Cathy Carver.
Sigalit Landau, “DeadSee,” 2005. Collection of Lizbeth and George Krupp. Image courtesy and © Sigalit Landau.
Guido van der Werve, still from “Nummer Negen (#9) The Day I Didn’t Turn with the World,” 2007. © Guido van der Werve.

Posted at 02:20 PM/ET, 10/15/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The artistic director talks about his current production and the upcoming “Gigi” with Vanessa Hudgens. By Emma Foehringer Merchant

Photograph by Christopher Mueller.

Eric Schaeffer is having quite the busy fall. Signature Theatre’s cofounder and artistic director is a week into the run of the musical Elmer Gantry, which he first directed in Chicago 16 years ago. He’s also prepping to direct a production of Gigi at the Kennedy Center in January, starring High School Musical and Spring Breakers actress Vanessa Hudgens. In between, he’s somehow finding time to celebrate Signature’s 25th anniversary. We caught up with him to find out how he’s juggling his multiple projects and all the packing, script changes, and weenie roasts they entail.

Elmer Gantry opened last week. How was the first show?

It went great. It was kind of a bit of a crazy day because we ended up putting a lot of changes into the show. I cut part of a song, we cut some scene stuff, we put in two additional reprises, we restaged a whole section of it, and we put all new lyrics in one song, as well. So the poor actors were all going into overdrive. They all had a change sheet by their dressing station, and they were like, “Oh, my god, what’s next, what’s next?” But they did great—they got it all in there.

So it went smoothly?

It did. I think the stage manager said it best: “On the surface it was smooth as a duck; underneath, everyone was paddling crazy.” That’s what makes it exciting, though—it’s never the same.

How is this production different from your 1998 production of Elmer Gantry in Chicago?

There are six new songs in the show, so that’s a huge thing. It’s a lot shorter. I like to say it’s the lean, mean version of Elmer, because we probably cut about 20 minutes out of the running length of the show from keeping more focus on Sister Sharon and Elmer. It’s really quite different from what it was. It’s the same story, but there are so many subtle differences throughout.

What’s it like to put this show on at your home theater?

It’s great, because I love the show so much. It’s like visiting an old friend. The show is so good, and I’ve always loved it; I’ve just never felt like it got a to-do. That was one of the big reasons I wanted to do it again and do it here in Washington. People who worked on the show, the actors, they didn’t know the show at all, so when they came in and started hearing and learning the music, they were all like, “Oh, my god, this show is really good!” That’s always invigorating as a director, because they’re getting what you got about the piece.

When do you begin rehearsals for Gigi?

We start rehearsals in December in New York, and we start performances at the Kennedy Center on January 16. I’m really excited about it; I didn’t know the show that well when I started working on it more than two years ago. Heidi Thomas is the book writer [for Gigi], and she also wrote Call the Midwife and is the executive producer and creator of that series. She’s so fantastic and understands this world like none other. Her book for the musical is so good, and it just makes the show feel so fresh and relevant today. It’s exciting because it’s the great [Alan Jay] Lerner and [Frederick] Loewe score with a whole new book and a whole new approach to the material. I think people are going to be really, really surprised. And Vanessa Hudgens is fantastic as Gigi. She’s really a special performer—she just has this great energy and is a terrific actress, and she sounds fantastic singing these songs. It’s great to have her leading the charge on it.

Does the dynamic change when you’re working with someone who’s famous for TV and movies as opposed to well-known theater actors?

I find that with Vanessa, or with huge stars like Carol Burnett and Bernadette Peters, everyone is doing it for the same reason. They’re doing it for the work, and they’re really professional about it. They really are in the trenches doing the work. I find it invigorating because they just want to be in the sandbox with everyone else—they just want to be one more player on the team—and that’s what’s fantastic. Vanessa is exactly like that. I think people don’t understand that; I think they underestimate the stars. Theater is difficult, and it’s demanding. Anyone who makes the commitment to do that is doing it because they love it and they really want to work hard.

Preparing for Gigi has you rehearsing in New York, traveling back to DC for Signature performances, then heading back to New York. Have you developed any strategies for working under the stress of traveling?

You just have to have a lot of extra laundry on the side ready to go. I’m fortunate, because for me it’s just like flipping switches: “Now it’s Gigi; okay, now I’ve got to work on Elmer.” The thing is, even though I’m in the throes of Elmer, not a day goes by that I’m not dealing with Gigi stuff. You end up juggling all of these different projects at once, so it’s really about staying organized and on top of it.

Signature also has its anniversary coming up. How are you planning to celebrate?

Oh, lord, we’ve already started! We had this big celebration in August, and we’re getting ready later this month [on October 20] to do this 25th-anniversary concert with highlights from all of the musicals we’ve done over the past 25 years. In the spring, we’re going to get all the designers and cast and crew and orchestras that have worked at Signature, and we’re going to have a big picnic, a weenie roast, to celebrate, as well.

Posted at 02:10 PM/ET, 10/14/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The new exhibit examines the culture and history behind the food industry. By Tanya Pai
The Aztec marketplace, part of the exhibit “Food: Our Global Kitchen” at National Geographic. Photograph by American Museum of Natural History/D. Finnin.

Nowadays, when even neighborhood grocery stores can offer an eye-popping variety of foods, including ancient grains and exotic produce, it’s easy to forget it all has to come from somewhere.

The National Geographic Museum turns the spotlight on that idea in “Food: Our Global Kitchen,” which examines the way food—producing it, distributing it, consuming it—anchors every culture.

The exhibit, organized with New York’s American Museum of Natural History and running October 16 through February 22, delves into how what we eat “connects us across geographic barriers,” says Kathryn Keane, vice president for exhibitions for the National Geographic Society.

Visitors travel through history with interactive exhibits exploring the early days of farming and cultivation, the food trade (including a replica of a 16th-century Aztec marketplace), and utensils and grocery-shopping habits in various regions. There’s even a “test kitchen,” cosponsored by Whole Foods, that teaches how certain edibles were prepared—and provides samples.

A discussion of the food industry’s past wouldn’t be complete without a look at its future and the increasingly relevant topics of world hunger and dwindling natural resources.

“There’s a lot of talk about conservation and how the planet’s population is expanding at a rapid rate,” says Keane. “This is an opportunity to learn about the different places and economies that go into supporting the food supply. We tend to forget the importance of farming, but in many ways it’s the most important economy there is.”

The opening of the exhibit—encompassing programs, lectures, and films that look at subjects such as food photography and sustainable dinners—coincides with World Food Day, which aims to raise awareness of global hunger.

The museum is also hosting a free Harvest Day on October 25 with vendors, live music, and tastings. Across all of the exhibits and activities, the goal is the same: to make people reconsider a subject both vital to life and easy to take for granted.

Purchase tickets ($11) at National Geographic's website.

This article appears in the October 2014 issue of Washingtonian. Find Tanya Pai on Twitter at @tanyapai.

Posted at 10:20 AM/ET, 10/14/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Sunday’s episode welcomed back a few familiar faces. By Alison Kitchens
Carrie reunites with some old friends in episode three. Photograph by David Bloomer/Showtime.

This week's episode started off with Carrie sneaking out of the embassy to meet a mystery guest who just landed in Islamabad. This could have gone somewhere very wrong, which is why it was such a relief to see that Fara (Nazanin Boniadi) and Max (Maury Sterling) were on the other end of the phone. It was a nice surprise at the start of a mostly uneventful episode. Here's where we found Saul, Quinn, and Carrie this week:


Saul Berenson

Overall mood: Cheerful.

Best moment: When Saul showed up unannounced in Islamabad. “Now that I’m here, do you need my help?”

Worst moment: Saul’s only offense this week may be inflating Carrie’s ego even more than she already has herself. Regardless, please stay forever, Saul.

Number of his ex-fiancées who now happen to be ambassadors: One (that we know of).


Peter Quinn

Overall mood: Miserable. Quinn is trapped in the CIA, and he apparently loves Carrie.

Best moment: I actually really enjoyed when Quinn told off Dar Adal. Just let him sulk on his own, everyone.

Worst moment: When Quinn tells Carrie she’s “the hardest person in the world to say no to.” Really, Quinn? I expected more from you.

Number of people who accused him of being in love with Carrie: Three. I was pretty disappointed when Quinn’s landlady (at least give her a first name, writers, come on) said, “Whoever Carrie is, she’s a lucky girl.” WHAT?! Quinn has done nothing other than get drunk by his pool, have drunk sex, beat up strangers, and yell at you since you met him. Get out of there and never look back, landlady.


Carrie Mathison

Overall mood: Self-satisfied. Carrie smile-sighed twice in this week’s episode, meaning she was pleased with the results of her actions, while simultaneously acknowledging how difficult it was to get there.

Best moment: Bringing Fara and Max (people who are actually likable) to Islamabad was genius.

Worst moment: When Carrie meets Aayan in the bathroom. While this was a win for Carrie, the combination of her apologizing for something she did (kill his entire family) as a third party, combined with her attempt to partially seduce him, was just too gross for me to handle.

Number of times Carrie thought about baby Frannie: Zero.


While I’m glad Quinn, Carrie, Fara, and Max will be working together next week, this episode didn’t do much in terms of answering our questions. Who was the man who organized Sandy’s death? Why did he do it? Does Aayan actually know any useful information, or is Carrie going to seduce him in vain?

What were your favorite/least favorite moments from last night’s episode? Share them in the comments.

Posted at 02:14 PM/ET, 10/13/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()