Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past six months, you’ve probably heard about the wildly successful podcast, “Serial,” from This American Life. And on Tuesday, you might be able to get some of your burning questions answered by Rabia Chaudhry, frequent contributor to the podcast, at an event at Arent Fox law firm.
The podcast premiered last October with 12 episodes focusing on one case: the murder of Hae Min Lee and the questionable conviction of her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, who was sentence to life in a Maryland state prison.
Throughout the series, host Sarah Koenig walks her listeners--of which there are over a million--through her investigation of Adnan Syed’s 15-year-old trial. Chaudhry, a Baltimore attorney, was the one to present the case to “Serial,” leading to its feature in the podcast.
Though there have been numerous online debates, theories, even an SNL skit inspired by the podcast, the most remarkable outcome has been that a Maryland court has granted Syed an appeal, which will be heard in June. On Tuesday night, Chaudhry will discuss the podcast and what’s next for Syed in his case.
RSVP to attend.
The Curious Case of Adnan Syed: An Evening with Rabia Chaudhry, Contributor to the Serial Podcast, March 17, 6:15 to 8:30 PM; Arent Fox LLP, 2nd Floor, 1717 K St., NW.
It’s a big day for comedy announcements in Washington: On the heels of Wednesday’s reveal that SNL’s Cecily Strong will host the upcoming White House Correspondents’ dinner, the Kennedy Center has stated comedian/DC native/soon-to-be Late Show host Stephen Colbert will head this year’s Kennedy Center Honors in December.
In a release, co-producer George Stephens Jr. promised Colbert “will no doubt undo any solemnity that might otherwise attend the occasion,” which this year recognizes Al Green, Tom Hanks, Patricia McBride, Sting, and Lily Tomlin. Colbert, for his part, says, “I am stunned to be receiving a Kennedy Center Honor at such a young age. I thought it would be years before… I’m sorry. I’m being told I am HOSTING the Kennedy Center Honors. Oh...Well, I’m glad. That makes a lot more sense.”
Colbert joins a relatively short list of hosts for the program, which was created in 1978. Walter Cronkite hosted from 1981 to 2002 and in 2004; Caroline Kennedy hosted in 2003 and 2005 through 2012; and Glenn Close helmed the event last year.
The 37th annual Kennedy Center Honors will be held December 7, and will be broadcast on CBS as a two-hour special December 30 beginning at 9. Here’s hoping Colbert has time to check in with his wax likeness at Madame Tussauds in between official hosting duties.
While for people of a certain age, Halloween has become an excuse to wear 40 percent less clothing than usual, October 31 involves plenty of other rich cultural traditions. And the Library of Congress wants to document them: Starting Wednesday, the library’s American Folklife Center is seeking photographs of Halloween and Dia de los Muertos celebrations around America to include in a new collection that illustrates “contemporary folklife.”
What to do: Between now and November 5, photograph yourself and your friends/family trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, decorating your house with those impossible-not-to-get-tangled-in fake spiderwebs—pretty much any activity that shows how you celebrate the holiday—and upload it to Flickr under a Creative Commons license using the tag #FolklifeHalloween2014. AFC will comb through the submissions and archive its favorites; a selection will also be shared on the Folklife Today blog starting in November.
To up your photos’ chance of being chosen, keep in mind that the photos should show both how you celebrate Halloween and what makes the celebration special—the haunted house you set up in your front yard, the pan de muertos that’s become an annual family project. (As AFC’s Stephen Winick wrote in a blog post explaining the rules, “Photos of a festive meal are good, but photos of a festive meal with a distinctive holiday centerpiece are better.”) And because the goal is to highlight contemporary celebrations, keep the photos current.
Here are the full rules for submission via AFC:
- Title: Give your photo a title.
- Short Description including photographer and location: Include a brief description. What is significant about the image? Where was it taken? Who is the photographer?
- License: For potential inclusion in the collection, please license the photo under a creative commons license.
This is a good chance to show off your photography skills and maybe be a part of the annals of history. At the very least, it’ll get more eyeballs on that homemade Hazmat costume you worked so hard on.
It’s long been known that anyone can browse the Library of Congress’s digitized archives online from anywhere in the world—but now virtual tourists can access the Washington Monument observation deck’s spectacular views from the comfort of their own couch.
EarthCam, a live-streaming video and time-lapse camera provider, has partnered with the National Park Service to place a camera in a preexisting hole in the monument’s pyramidion. The all-weather HD camera system is encased in a tube of aerospace polymer material and is promised to have no impact on the monument.
You can check out the camera’s feed from the EarthCam website. As a bonus, through October 31, you'll be able to spot a 10-by-6-acre face that stretches between the Lincoln and the World War II memorials. “Out of Many, One,” a landscape portrait by Cuban American artist Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada, was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery and constructed out of 800 tons of soil and 2,000 tons of sand.
The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association also played a role in the camera’s installation, eager to help publicize of Rodríguez-Gerada’s work and the use of sand and stone in its creation.
The Washington Monument isn’t the first in the District to claim an EarthCam—viewers can also take a look at the feed from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
Check out a time-lapse video filmed at the top of the Washington Monument.
On Thursday, the Kennedy Center announced the five people who will be recognized at this year’s Kennedy Center Honors ceremony on December 7. Soul singer Al Green, actor and filmmaker Tom Hanks, ballet dancer Patricia McBride, musician Sting, and actress Lily Tomlin are this year's honorees, and will be received by President and Mrs. Obama at the White House before the gala.
In a press release, Kennedy Center chairman David Rubenstein lauded the recipients as “five extraordinary individuals who have spent their lives elevating the cultural vibrancy of our nation and the world.”
Last year, the KenCen revised the process used to select honorees, after organizations including the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda criticized the lack of diversity among recipients. (Until 2013, just two Latino artists had been chosen in the event's history.) Members of the public are now permitted to make recommendations, which are then narrowed down by a committee composed of artists, past Kennedy Center Honors recipients, and members of the arts center’s board.
Tickets to the gala can run thousands of dollars, so if you don't have a few spare Gs lying around, you can watch the ceremony during a two-hour broadcast on CBS Tuesday, December 30, at 9 PM.
Find Tanya Pai on Twitter at @tanyapai.
The birth of a giant-panda cub is big news around the world, and Washington is no exception. After Mei Xiang and Tian Tian's first cub, Tai Shan, was sent to China in 2010 a few months before his fifth birthday and their second cub, born in 2012, lived for just six days, Bao Bao, born in 2013, has been a huge source of excitement for Washingtonians and tourists alike—not to mention a generator of sweet, sweet merch dollars.
Bao Bao's first birthday is Saturday, and she's come a long way from her helpless, hairless early days. She weighs 40 pounds and can now eat solid food, climb trees, and stand on her hind legs, according to Smithsonian Magazine's recap of her first year. To celebrate her progress, the zoo is hosting a birthday party at which guests can try bear-themed snacks and decorate cards for Bao Bao and her keepers. The zoo is also asking people to tweet with the hashtag #BaoBaoBday to show their support for panda conservation efforts.
This might be one of the few occasions Washingtonians have to celebrate with Bao Bao's birthday with the guest of honor present: Though giant pandas can live for 20 or 30 years, this particular baby bear is scheduled to be sent to China in 2017.
Click through the slideshow for some highlights from Bao Bao's first year, and check out the links below for more about giant pandas.
Find Tanya Pai on Twitter at @tanyapai.
On Wednesday, the American Century Theater announced that it will close its doors after the conclusion of its upcoming season. The Arlington theater, founded in 1994, says its mission is “to promote 20th-century theater as a vital part of our cultural dialogue.” According to a release by the theater, the decision to close after the 20th-anniversary season was made jointly by the board of directors and artistic director Jack Marshall.
The decision, according to the release, is not due to financial reasons but instead “by a sense that the theater has accomplished what it set out to do.” Says Marshall, “We find ourselves fourteen years into the 21st century, and, in light of our artistic and cultural achievements we think that upon the completion of our final season we will have proved our point, made a difference, and accomplished our mission. Too many organizations fail at the hardest thing, which is knowing when to say goodbye. For The American Century Theater, we think that time has come.”
In its 20 years, the theater has produced more than 100 shows, including two that have evolved into continuously running productions (one of which is the current production, An Evening With Danny Kaye, running through August 16). The upcoming season has yet to be announced.
Find Tanya Pai on Twitter at @tanyapai.
Looking for some family fun this summer? Here’s one option: Now on Fridays you can get into Baltimore’s National Aquarium after 5 PM for $18.12 a person. The special rates, offered weekly July 11 through September 12, are to commemorate the bicentennial of the 1812 Battle of Baltimore and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
This is good news for Washingtonians who’ve been missing their glimpses under the sea since the DC aquarium closed last September to renovate the building. Around 1,700 of the animals in the Washington collection were moved to Baltimore, so you can visit many of your old favorites, including Brownie the loggerhead sea turtle and Toby the rare blue lobster. Other animals on exhibit include puffins, stingrays, sharks, dolphins, sloths, and tamarins, to name a few.
Regular tickets to the Baltimore Aquarium are $34.95 for adults and $21.95 for children, and while the discount is only available for entry after 5, guests are allowed in the aquarium until 9:30 on these nights, giving you plenty of time to hang out with your fishy friends. All the regular activities and exhibits are included with admission, and there’ll also be a “star-spangled scavenger hunt” and snacks and drinks (yes, including beer and wine) available for purchase. Purchase tickets online until 7:30 the day of or at the ticket counter until 7:45.
If the discount still doesn’t quite fit your budget, just wait a couple of months: The aquarium’s annual Fridays After 5 program, when tickets are just $12, resumes on September 19.
Last week, Team USA managed to advance to the knockout stage of the World Cup, despite losing to Germany. Their next—and possibly last—game is Tuesday, July 1, as they take on Belgium at 4 PM, and Mayor Gray, the Downtown DC BID, DC United, and other city organizations are hosting a free watch party at Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue between 13th and 14th streets, Northwest. The game will be shown on a large-screen projector, and Fresh FM’s Tommy McFly and Kelly Collis will serve as emcees for the “pre-game kickoff,” beginning at 3, according to a press release. Lawn chairs and blankets are allowed—and probably a good idea, as Tuesday’s forecast is for a high of 96 and Freedom Plaza is mostly concrete. DC Water will provide water stations around the plaza during the game. Our suggestions if you feel like braving the heat: Get there way before 4, and don’t even think about trying to drive, as roads around the plaza will be closed during the game (Metro to Metro Center or Federal Triangle instead).
The Belgian Embassy, like Germany before it, is hosting its own watch party in the National Portrait Gallery’s Kogod Courtyard, beginning at 4. The embassy tweeted an invitation to soccer fans on Monday afternoon; American and Belgian food and drinks will be for sale, and, perhaps most important, there’s air-conditioning. Again, driving is likely to be a pain; the nearest Metro stop is Gallery Place/Chinatown.
Thirsty people who stopped by Georgetown’s Ri Ra Thursday night got a surprise bonus with their beer, when alt-rockers the Foo Fighters dropped by unexpectedly.
Frontman Dave Grohl, recently in the news for his drama-free reunion with Courtney Love at his former band Nirvana’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, discovered the Georgetown bar Wednesday while he was shopping for a shirt to wear to the White House, the reason for his DC visit. (The Foo Fighters are also the Friday headliners at this weekend’s Firefly Festival.)
According to Ri Ra manager Emmet Power, Grohl, who grew up in Springfield, Virginia, liked the bar so much he decided he had to come back. Thursday night around 9, Grohl showed up to Ri Ra again, this time with a couple of his band mates—drummer Taylor Hawkins and bassist Nate Mendel—and several of their crew members.
The band stayed in Ri Ra’s upstairs whiskey room until around 3 AM, chatting with bar-goers and taking pictures with the staff. Ri Ra staff closed off the bar around 10:30 to keep the band from getting overwhelmed by people, but Power says Grohl, Hawkins, and Mendel, whom he called “the nicest people you could ever meet,” seemed happy to spend time with fans.
Grohl also talked with Power about Kurt Cobain, got behind the bar to pour himself a Guinness, and even gave his support to Mayo Gaelic Football Club’s quest to win the Sam Maguire Cup, Ireland’s Senior Football Championship, posing for a photo with Ri Ra employee Aideen Murray while holding a “Mayo 4 Sam” sign.
At the end of the night, after all the customers had left, staffers and the Foggy Dudes, the band playing at Ri Ra last night, convinced Grohl to perform an acoustic version of “Everlong” (now on YouTube) for an audience of seven—a slightly smaller crowd than the one the band will be playing for this weekend.