Saturday, January 31, 2015

Restaurant Review: RedRocks Pizzeria on H Street

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The other night my boyfriend and I stopped by the RedRocks on H Street after seeing a comedy show at the Atlas Theater.We figured we'd have some drinks and a little dessert before heading home after our night on the town. Curtains line the front door, and the atmosphere on this Friday night was quite romantic, with a quiet crowd, low incandescent lighting, and cushy benches lining the walls.

When we walked in, no host greeted us, so we seated ourselves at the bar. The bartenders were all very nice and attentive, and we put in our order. Unfortunately we didn't care for anything we got. The "ATC" cocktail my boyfriend ordered looked better than it actually was; this fun pink drink served in a martini glass didn't taste as fruity as it smelled. My prosecco came out of a tap like a beer, which I didn't find classy at all, and there was sediment at the bottom of my glass (although I was given quite a large glassful, so perhaps I shouldn't complain). And even though nothing really tickled our fancy on the dessert menu (which you can only find out about verbally, by the way), we decided on the apple crisp. Let me say this: I didn't know it was possible to make a bad apple crisp. But RedRocks did it. The apples tasted like they came out of can, so it didn't seem fresh, at times even tasting like metallic fish. And there was no "crisp" whatsoever. Instead, the apples were topped with a powder (chalk?) that tasted like oatmeal but did not have the lovely texture that most fruit crisps offer. Why did I throw my New Year's resolution out the window for that?

I can't speak for the pizza since I didn't try it, but my boyfriend says that it's good. So maybe I'll go back to try the pizza another time. But I feel like someone owes me a free canoli.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Bach's Brandenburgs

Such a beautiful space! Image found here:
While I was quite disappointed by the Great Noise Ensemble's recent performance I saw (you can click here to read that blog post), my ears were healed and my love of live music was restored the next night. My boyfriend and I went to see the National Philharmonic at the Strathmore Music Center.We see them several times a year to enjoy some classical music, but I think this may have been my favorite performance yet.

These pieces written by Johann Sebastian Bach in the early 1700's are simply beautiful. With the help of the harpsichord, I was instantly transported to a garden party in Pride and Prejudice times (okay, I realize that was 100 years later, but go with it), where children are playing croquet and ladies are strolling in the sunshine carrying parasols. This music just made me happy! I couldn't stop smiling! I think the only part I didn't like was the loud trumpet in the last piece, but other than that, I wanted to learn the waltz and dance with Elizabeth Bennet at some grand party.

Here are some clips you can listen to on YouTube (not the National Philharmonic, but you'll get the idea):

Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major
Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B-flat Major
Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major
Brandenburg Concert No. 2 in F Major

And then of course I started daydreaming about wedding planning and string quartets and where on earth I could rent a harpsichord...Don't get me started. I'm not even engaged!

Monday, January 26, 2015

"Winter Light" program at the Atlas

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The other night I went to the Atlas Performing Arts Center for a concert by the Great Noise Ensemble. My boyfriend and I figured we'd culture ourselves and see this group and enjoy some live music.

But enjoy ourselves we did not. The show opened up with a performance of Fratres, written by Arvo Pärt. It was originally written for string instruments, but this ensemble played it with wind and brass instruments, which may have been why it didn't sound very good. It's a rather short piece, but very slow and dull. Every once in a while you'd hear the squeak of a note gone wrong from one of the clarinets, things that even a lay person can pick out as mistakes.We should have known better and cut our losses and left right then and there, but when you sit front and center, it's difficult to leave politely.

So we sat through the rest of the performance, which was "Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing" by John Luther Adams. In the program booklet we read that this music is supposed to help us connect with God, meditate to "quiet the mind," and try to "lose perspective" geographically (Adams specifically mentions Alaska and the Antarctic).

I didn't think this music sounded like any of that AT ALL, except perhaps the parallel of the expanse of wilderness and the length of this piece that never wanted to end. The only way to describe this piece is "eerie." Each movement was weird and creepy, creating images of dolls from horror movies, swarming flies, and flashbacks to old TV shows like the Twilight Zone. Although "monotone" is not the right word, the piece was very repetitive, and after the first 15 minutes you felt like you had heard it all, probably because you pretty much had. So I made the conscious decision to fall asleep. Not like how I accidentally fall asleep at the Kennedy Center listening to the National Symphony Orchestra, where I like the music but I'm comfy and it's dark and I happen to doze off. No, I actually said to myself, "I'm not going to listen to something I don't like. I'm going to close my eyes, fall asleep, and then it will all be over soon." There were a handful of moments that I enjoyed that sounded like the effervescence of a butterfly, but those moments were as fleeting as the insect itself. There were frequent pauses in the music, and during each one you held your breath, hoping the music would stop. But then they'd begin again, crushing your soul with this "great noise" that I would not flatter to call "music." It was quite depressing; I realize Adams wrote the piece after his father had passed away, but wouldn't you rather write something happy in the memory of your dad, rather than forcing your own misery upon the rest of us?

It didn't even look like the musicians liked the music. They all looked bored, depressed, or in pain the whole time. The bass player barely played anything and looked like he was going to fall asleep on his cushioned stool at any moment. Only the cellist seemed alert and focused, so snaps for her. They also pathetically tried to visually entertain us by changing the colors on the projection screen behind the group. By pathetic I mean I was still bored, and my boyfriend didn't even notice the colors.

I can't imagine that anyone in the theater liked the show (not to mention that the place was so empty, with maybe 50 people there). We were just lucky that we only had to listen to it for about an hour; the ensemble had to practice it over and over again for weeks, if not months! I'm surprised none of them killed themselves. I know I wanted to end it all.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Beauty and the Beast play at the Warner Theatre

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A sorority sister of mine and I went to see Beauty and the Beast at the Warner Theatre (after a yummy dinner at Chef Geoff's). Of course we all love the Disney classic, but I wanted to see the play version.

The play had a weird start. You see the young haughty prince, and when the old beggar woman approaches, you can tell something's up. Her hands and arms looked weird, but I couldn't tell why. Then she shows her true form as an enchantress, and she's about 15 feet tall; she's a ginormous puppet. Why they couldn't just make her a beautiful woman with a wand beats me.

Why couldn't she look like this? Images found here: &
But moving on. I really enjoyed the scene where Belle is walking around town with all the other townspeople milling about. The set was very creative, with several little buildings that could be moved all around the stage and turned backward to see the inside of whatever shop it may be (ex. the book store). That was so dynamic: even the set moved! So that was great. And the actress who played Belle, Jillian Butterfield, has an AMAZING voice; she sounds like the real thing (and by real thing I mean the cartoon Belle, who was voiced by Paige O'Hara).

We got to see the townspeople again while Gaston (played by Cameron Bond) sang about how great he is. While he was a pretty good actor, his sidekick Lefou (which means "crazy" in French) was super-annoying. His comedic relief was all physical comedy, and while that is a big hit with children (there were lots of kids in the audience), I found it obnoxious. Another thing that bothered me during the bar scene was that the actors clanked their beer mugs together to go along to the music. Though I assume they were going for the "cups effect" (if you will), the noise was so jarring, and they did it for way too long! But I did enjoy the three silly girls who fawned over Gaston.

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Amazing costumes, too! Image found here:
But enough about the little provincial town! Now onto the castle. Of course we have all the beloved servants: Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Mrs. Potts and Chip. The live dresser in Belle's room (played by Kelly Teal Goyette) and the feather duster (i.e. "Babette" played by Melissa Jones) get bigger parts in the play than they do in the cartoon movie.

I'm not sure his is the actual cast I saw, but it gives you an idea of how they looked. Image found here:
Very clever how they created Chip! Image found here:

Too bad the actor who was Lumiere (Patrick Pevehouse) did not have an accent as good as the original!
And Mrs. Potts is just not the same without Angela Lansbury. Image found here:
The "Be Our Guest" song with the dancing dishes was quite fun, but I was turned off by the women's costumes. Although the men had complete outfits, the women were wearing leotards, so their legs were completely bare; their crotch regions were emphasized with a heart-like design right over their pubic mounds! I thought that was a bit much, especially for a family-friendly show.

"Be Our Guest" number. Image found here:
But I haven't even gotten to the beast yet (played by Ryan Everett Wood)! I thought he did a good job, but he didn't blow me away like Belle did. I think the main thing I didn't like was that he squealed like a little girl when he got frustrated or annoyed by Belle; this may not be the actor's fault if he were directed to act that way, but a beast should NEVER sound like a little girl.

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Image found here:
There were some songs in there that aren't in the cartoon movie, which surprised me, since this is definitely advertised as the Disney version. "If I Can't Love Her" was meh, but I really liked "Human Again," and wondered why that didn't make the cut in the original. And one thing I never noticed before: Belle's song in the beginning and "Something There" later on have similar (if not the same) tunes! Sing these bits to yourself:

Oh isn't this amazing?
It's my favorite part, you'll see
Here's where she meet Prince Charming
But she won't discover that it's him 'til chapter 3

New, and a bit alarming
Who'd have ever thought that this could be?
True, that he's no prince charming
But there's something in him that I simply didn't see

There are so many great songs from Beauty and the Beast! I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the play, and it didn't hurt that the second act was so short (I always get sleepy near the end, since I'm not a night owl!). Plus, the Warner Theatre is such a beautiful venue! Four out of five stars!

My heart: it hurts. Image found here

P.S. - 30 Things You Didn't Know about Beauty and the Beast (via BuzzFeed)

P.P.S. - The cartoon movie is NOT streaming on Netflix. Hmpf!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Year's Eve at the Metropolitan in Annapolis, MD


I realize that Annapolis is not the first place you'd think I'd go for New Year's Eve (especially when I live so close to DC). But tickets to most NYE parties in DC cost at least $60, sometimes twice that, and last year when my boyfriend and I ponied up the dough, we actually spent most of the night not even at the party. So this year we knew we wanted to do something different. When we saw that the Metropolitan Kitchen & Lounge was hosting a party that only cost $10/person, we thought, "What the heck! Even if it's not that good, we only spent $20."

But it actually ended up being a really great party! For one, I was SO surprised by how many young people were there! There were several hundred people there, most of whom were in their 20's and 30's. Most of the girls were wearing cute sparkly dresses (like I was), and the men made somewhat of an effort to dress up (i.e. They thought, "If the shirt has buttons on it, it's dressed up," even though half the shirts there were flannel...). The young scene definitely made the party seem like the cool and hip place to be that night!

This is the dress I wore! Image from
With these shoes. I got these in 2011 for $15 from a Rainbow shop in New York!
There were three bands playing that night, all of which were pretty good! Walking Sticks opened up the night with their indie sound, Pressing Strings was next, and Little Bird finished out the show. I was rather impressed with all of them; who doesn't appreciate live music? I also bought this cute magnet as a souvenir. I'm totally going to try to make my own sparkly bottle-cap magnet!

This restaurant is one of those cool venues that has multiple levels, so you can go upstairs or downstairs depending on what kind of mood you're in. The restaurant was on the first level, and then the bar and stage for the bands was on the second level. When you went to the rooftop, there was another bar and DJ Ian Zimmerman was blasting current hits (and some throw backs like Prince of Bel Air). I love places like this because it feels like you're attending more than one party all at once!

Plus we got the champagne toast and a free shot, which was Piehole whiskey. They had all sorts of flavors, like apple, cherry, and pecan. Yum!

Image from the Piehole website
 What a fun way to ring in the new year! I can't wait to see what adventures 2015 brings!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Addendum: Restaurant Review of Mission BBQ

I know I just went to Mission BBQ recently (and wrote a review about it), but I had to go back.

This time I tried the dessert (I totally forgot to order a side salad to try that...), which was the pecan pie casserole. Let me just tell you, it is pure high fructose corn syrup (or molasses as they call it). There are actual pecans, so that's nice, but this total sugar-bomb really should not be eaten under any circumstances; you will regret it, especially if your New Year's resolution is to lose weight. So I am already looking forward for the change to the next seasonal dessert...Also, the cream of corn is way more cream than corn; it tastes like rice pudding, except with corn kernels instead of rice.

But other than that, Mission BBQ continues to impress me. Karen at the Laurel location was very sweet and attentive, and even offered us samples of the sausage with some mustard. Everyone likes free food! She also brought me my favorite sauce samples when she gave me a box for my extra food (along with a paper bag with a handwritten "Thank you!" on it). If only she got paid on commission...

Also, I did not use the restroom during my last visit, and I think that should be part of a restaurant review, too. The two posters by the ladies' room feature An Officer and a Gentleman and Top Gun, two great Navy movies. So I mirror Tom Cruise's thumbs up!

Paramount Pictures. Image found here:

The inside of the ladies' room was much fancier than you might expect from a BBQ place with counter service. Each stall is actually a miniature room, and there are wood and granite details throughout. The walls are covered in black-and-white photos of soldiers kissing their girlfriends/wives, which I thought was quite a nice touch. How romantic!

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And this iconic photograph!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Movie Review: Into the Woods [SPOILERS]

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The only reason I saw Into the Woods was because my friend wanted to go. I had no interest in seeing it, so I guess I was bound to dislike this movie from the get-go. Plus, I have friends who have read the book, and they said it's really dark, so even though I've never read the story, I knew the film was not going to be true to the original, since it's a Disney movie and kids are supposed to watch it.

The main thing I hated about this movie was the singing. I suppose I should have known it would be a musical because Disney movies always include songs, but these ones were so obnoxious. They weren't nice to listen to! The songs were just annoying. The great thing about most Disney songs is that you like them so much and memorize the words and want to sing them out loud, even though you're 25 years old and haven't watched The Little Mermaid since you were 11. But I don't want to sing these songs, nor hear anyone else sing them, EVER again. 

Here is a list of the other things I didn't like:

-The baker's wife (played by Emily Blunt) cuts off several yards of Rapunzel's hair, and yet Rapunzel's Prince (played by Billy Magnussen, and yes, that's his character's name because no one could think of a real name to give him) is able to climb up to visit her just as easily as before. And when the witch realizes the prince has been visiting Rapunzel (played by Mackenzie Mauzy), she cuts off the long hair, but then they both somehow manage to leave the tower even though there are no doors or windows in the tower. If the witch can come and go as she pleases (which she does throughout the movie in a puff of smoke), then why did she have to climb up the tower using her "daughter's" braid in the first place?
-The witch (played by Meryl Streep) freaks out that her neighbor stole six magic beans from her. And yet later in the movie she's throwing around magic beans like she's got hundreds of them. So what made those first six so special anyway?

Sexual innuendos:
-The scene between Johnny Depp as the wolf and Lilla Crawford (who?) as Little Red Riding Hood is so Lolita. He talks about fresh, plump flesh and his desires...He doesn't want to eat her, he wants to have sex with a little girl!
-Jack (played by Daniel Huttlestone) talks (or sings, rather) about visiting the giants in the sky, and mentions nuzzling the breast of the female giant. He sucked the teat of a giant! Ew!
-The baker's wife totally gets it on with Prince Charming (Chris Pine). In the song she claims they just kissed, but everybody knows they did it up against a rock in the woods.
-And you know Rapunzel and her prince had sex on the floral canopy bed in that tower. Don't be naïve...

Random thoughts:
-How much make-up did they have to put on Meryl Streep to make her look young again?

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 -Why did the princes scene (Pine cannot sing, btw) make me think of a America's Next Top Model photo shoot?
Image found here:
Image found here:
-And Pine is NOT sexy with that beard. In Star Trek, he is downright gorgeous. In this movie? He looks like the missing link... And Magnussen looks freakin' possessed with the bleach-blonde hair and light blue eyes. I thought princes were supposed to be handsome, not borderline weird.
-Why on earth did they have to make Little Red Riding Hood scream SOOO loudly?! God, the shout practically shattered my eardrums!
-Anna Kendrick looks nothing like Cinderella (especially since we saw the trailer for the new Disney version of Cinderella right before seeing this film, and it shows a blonde [without ginormous teeth] as the character). And I wish she'd just stick to singing in the Pitch Perfect movies. Ugh...gag.
-How come we never get to see the inside of the prince's castle during the "festival" (i.e. ball)? Was the movie already running over budget and couldn't afford to create a set so we could see the dance? And why does Cinderella wear the same dress THREE nights in a row? How tacky. I guess Disney couldn't afford other dresses, either.
-Did anyone else notice that all of the main characters in this movie are white? Disney clearly didn't think about diversity when making this movie...Shame on them. 
-Any time the stepsisters (played by Tammy Blanchard and Lucy Punch) came onscreen, all I could think of was Punch in Bad Teacher looking like a squirrel (GIF found here: 

Probably the only good thing about this movie was the casting for Depp and Streep. Depp is always up for playing the creepy dude, and Streep's prominent nose and chin make her look like a witch naturally. (Sorry, Meryl, I've just never found you particularly attractive.)

Yep, Creeper #1. Image found here:

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Winter Classic

On New Year's Day, my family and I saw the Winter Classic hockey game at the Nationals baseball stadium in Washington, D.C. This game is part of the real sports season, but it's exciting because this game is played outside, where the sport of hockey was born. The teams playing were the Washington Capitals (the home team) and the Chicago Blackhawks, and my family was all decked out in red for the Caps.

My parents. How cute!
My sister and me. I DO have a jersey on under there, all bundled up!
 This was a special game, and the pre-game ceremony was one of the best parts! Men and woman from all five branches of the military (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy) were honored, and the Army Choir sang the national anthem.

 A huge flag was spread out over the ice by men in all different hockey uniforms, and fireworks and jets flew overhead as the song ended. How patriotic! (Click here for a video.)

Here are some photos:

Our view from the ice in section 235
A full-field view from higher up
A miniature Capital building in the outfield with a mini-rink in front of it for the Mites on Ice!
Gavin DeGraw was one of the musical acts, along with Billy Idol and Lee Greenwood.
 It was a great, high-scoring game, and obviously we were pumped that the Caps won! WOOT!