Beyond the Books

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Friday, July 17, 2015 3:22 p.m.

Janelle Monáe to headline Alumni Weekend

Janelle Monáe has won six Grammy's. Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bobamnertiopsis under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license

Janelle Monáe has won six Grammy’s. Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bobamnertiopsis under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license

Updated: July 17, 2015 at 4:58 p.m.

Janelle Monáe, the suave songstress behind “Yoga” and “Tightrope” will headline Alumni Weekend this year. The Kansas native will perform at 9 p.m. on September 26 at the Smith Center.

Monáe has been nominated for six Grammys and is known for her high-energy performances. “Q.U.E.E.N.,” which she collaborated with Erykah Badu on, and her song “Dance Apocalyptic,” are tributes to her shamelessly funky style.

Monáe, who is also featured on Fun.’s 2012 hit “We Are Young,” moves between genres: On “Yoga,” she sounds like up-and-comer rapper Tink, but on the soulful “Primetime,” she croons.

“The Electric Lady” is known for her quirky, androgynous style and donning black and white tuxedos. She is an outspoken supporter of LGBT rights and the city of Boston dubbed October 16 “Janelle Monáe Day” to honor her social leadership.

Alumni registration for the weekend opens the week of July 20.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported alumni registration for the weekend will open on July 20. Registration for the weekend will open the week of July 20.

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If you’ve ever walked into the blue building on the corner of 18th Street and Kalorama Road, you probably headed downstairs for Korean food and karaoke at Muzette. But upstairs is Himalayan Heritage, an Indian restaurant tastier and cheaper than Taj India in Georgetown.

The decor at Heritage restaurant is pretty, if not a little cheesy: Gold Buddha and Ganesh figures line the deep red walls, a thatched roof hangs over a few tables and white tablecloths and heavy silverware are disorienting once you realize nothing on the menu costs more than $20.

The entrees are the most expensive items, as usual: $15 chicken tikka, $16 chicken tandoori and lamb ko jhir – lamb marinated in yogurt and spices, grilled then sauteed – for the same price. My dates (two former roommates) ordered chicken masala and “sizzling” shrimp, jumbo shrimp marinated in honey mustard and cooked in a tandoor oven.

We sat down at 8:40 p.m. and waited about an hour for dinner, which felt a little too long in a restaurant that was two-thirds empty. Luckily, we had a lot to catch up on, but I couldn’t help noticing a few second dates around us who seemed to grow impatient. Instead, we had the two stars of the evening to preoccupy us: vegetarian mo and mojitos.

The mo, the Nepalese word for dumplings, were shaped like little volcanoes, steamed perfectly, stuffed with cabbage and carrot and served with a creamy chutney, which is like a curried take on Thai peanut sauce. For just $6, the serving was massive: We each ate four.

The mojitos ($8 each) were deceptively strong, topped with fresh mint and a cool way to relieve us of the spicy red sauce that came with the garlic naan ($3).

For dinner, I settled on two vegetable samosas ($5) and $7 stuffed chatamari, a flat bread made with rice flour and filled with with minced chicken, egg, tomato, cilantro and scallion. But I could have done without the chatamari– after the dumplings and samosas, I was just as stuffed as the doughy appetizers.

Himalayan Heritage is located at 2305 18th St. NW.

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GW could soon be sharing its namesake with a D.C. Megabus.

A survey launched on Megabus’ website Tuesday allows people to vote on naming a bus to represent every state where the travel company operates — and “George Washington” is listed as a possible name for the D.C. bus.

Sean Hughes, the director of corporate affairs for Megabus in North America, said that both GW and the former president’s connections to D.C. played a role in making the name a contender.

“Obviously George Washington was an important figure in history and a lot of our passengers are college students,” Hughes said. “I would say both things fell into consideration.”

The option could also be an incentive for GW students to participate in the vote, Hughes said.

“We love to have the GW students weigh in and I’d think they’d be voting for a certain name, if you will,” he said.

The other options for the D.C. bus name — which would be printed on the front door of the bus — are “Cherry Blossom” and “Capital City.”

Voting closes on August 17 and the results of the vote will be released on social media around Labor Day, Hughes said.

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Who would have guessed?

D.C. has some of the country’s best-looking men, according to a study released this week. The District landed at No. 3 on a list of the 25 cities with the most handsome men, falling behind San Francisco and Seattle.

The study, conducted by Grooming Lounge, a D.C.-based day spa for men, considered men’s average annual spending on personal care and a city’s fitness ranking. (The District ranked no. 1 in 2014.)

D.C. men spend about $3,000 every year on personal care services and personal care products, and nearly $4,000 on clothing, according to the study.

District men spend an average of $157 on “shaving needs.” Men in Seattle topped the list in spending on shaving, dropping about $3,400 every year on personal care products, according to the study.

A focus on shaving habits has also made its way up to Capitol Hill in the past. A political action committee launched in 2013 support bearded candidates. The Bearded Entrepreneurs for the Advancement of a Responsible Democracy (or B.E.A.R.D.) was formed to “bring facial hair back into politics,” its founder, Jonathan Sessions, said at the time.

But now it’s 2015, and we just have one question: Where is the man-bun PAC?

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Monday, July 13, 2015 5:11 p.m.

The ’1989′ world tour drinking game

Country superstar turned pop icon Taylor Swift will play two shows at Nationals Park this week. Photo by Wikimedia Commons user marcen27 used under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license

Country superstar turned pop icon Taylor Swift will play two shows at Nationals Park this week. Photo by Wikimedia Commons user marcen27 used under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license

Taylor Swift is in town, and if you were lucky enough to score tickets, you’re going to need a way to drown out the squeals of middle schoolers to focus on the lyrics to “Blank Space.” (It’s “star-crossed lovers,” but it really could be “Starbucks.”)

Band-aids don’t fix bullet holes, but a few brews at Nationals Park will ensure that your night is full of especially shameless dancing.

Cheers to being one of the few legal attendees – besides these 26 lawmakers, of course.

Drink…

– For each model-friend Swift brings on stage

– Every time Swift stares at the crowd, with an amazed or surprised look on her face

– For every wardrobe change

– For every song about a male celebrity

– When Swift compliments the audience

Take a shot if…

– Swift brings the Obama girls on stage

– You see a politician with his or her kids

– Swift posts an Instagram photo of a monument (take another if you’ve posted a similar photo)

– Swift talks about the rain (be sure to bring an umbrella)

Finish your drink if…

– You spot University President Steven Knapp dancing to “Shake It Off”

– Swift reveals she’s dumped pop star Calvin Harris for a lobbyist

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Director Hannah Jayanti, illustrator Jules Feiffer, author Norton Juster and producer Janice Kaplan at the New York premiere of "The Phantom Tollbooth: Beyond Expectations." Photo by Alexander Porter.

Director Hannah Jayanti, illustrator Jules Feiffer, author Norton Juster and producer Janice Kaplan at the New York premiere of “The Phantom Tollbooth: Beyond Expectations.” Photo by Alexander Porter.

Before she started working on her documentary about the 1961 children’s fairytale novel “The Phantom Tollbooth”, the film’s producer and alumna Janice Kaplan had never imagined that she would make a movie.

On Sunday, “The Phantom Tollbooth: Beyond Expectations” — which debuted in New York in 2013 — will premiere in  D.C. at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Afterwards, Kaplan will host her first interview with the novel’s author, Norton Juster.

Kaplan said the idea for the documentary first came to her when Juster hired her as a publicist for the celebration of the novel’s 50th anniversary in 2011. Juster had been working as an architect and was in his 20s when he penned the story about a boy named Milo who travels to imaginary lands via his magic tollbooth. Kaplan, who graduated from GW in 1981 as an art history major and worked in marketing for the Smithsonian before becoming a publicist for nonprofit companies, said that this is her first film — and will most likely be her last.

“I made this not because I’m a filmmaker or a film producer, but because I saw a good story,” she said.

After discovering “The Phantom Tollbooth” when her now 23-year-old son was in first grade and reading it to him, she said she has fallen in love with the book and used the story inspiration to produce the film.

“There’s a line that kind of inspired me throughout the process: ‘So many things are possible as long as you don’t know they’re impossible,’” she said. “If you don’t know you can’t do something, maybe you can do something. So I hope people can take that away from the movie as well.”

Over three years of production, Kaplan and the movie’s director, Hannah Jayanti, documented the friendship between Juster and the novel’s illustrator, newspaper cartoonist Jules Feiffer, even traveling back with Juster and Feiffer to the Brookyln brownstone where they once lived and worked together.

Juster said that when Kaplan suggested the documentary to him, he was surprised and unsure of how she would make the movie. But he said that Kaplan and Jayanti “did it very, very beautifully.”

“They were not trying to promote a book, they were trying to figure out how a book like that got written at a time when no books like that were being written,” Juster said.

The film also explores the book’s impact since its publication, and Kaplan said she was surprised to learn about its famous fans — actress Whoopi Goldberg and author Neil Gaiman donated to a Kickstarter campaign that funded the film.

When Kaplan began conducting interviews for the movie, she turned to fans of the book, from children’s authors — like Eric Carle, who wrote “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” — to groups of children.

“We met so many people with ‘Phantom Tollbooth’ tattoos, we met so many people who named their sons Milo after the book,” Kaplan said. “I just met someone who named their company Milo.”

Kaplan added that “Where the Wild Things Are” author Maurice Sendak, a fan of Juster’s work, had agreed to appear in the film but that Sendak became ill and died during production before she could interview him.

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Each of the movies are set in Georgetown. "St. Elmo's Fire" is about graduates from Georgetown University.  Photo by Wikimedia Commons user patrickneill used under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license

Each of the movies are set in Georgetown. “St. Elmo’s Fire” is about graduates from Georgetown University. Photo by Wikimedia Commons user patrickneill used under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license

You no longer have to pay a high price if you want to catch a movie in Georgetown this summer.

On Tuesday, Sunset Cinema — Georgetown’s first free, outdoor film series — will kick off at the Georgetown Waterfront Park. Movies will be screened alongside the Potomac river every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. until August 4.

All of the movies featured in the series are inspired by Georgetown and take place in the neighborhood. The first film in the lineup is the 1985 “St. Elmo’s Fire,” a coming-of-age drama a group of friends that have recently graduated from Georgetown University.

Other movies in the series include the political thriller “State of Play” and Joel and Ethan Coen’s dark comedy “Burn After Reading.”

And skip the popcorn during the screening for a snack that’s a bit more adventurous. Georgetown eateries like Malmaison and Simply Banh Mi are offering buy-one, get-one drink specials, free desserts with picnic meals and discounts to Sunset Cinema guests.

Make sure to grab your drinks and a picnic blanket beforehand. Lawn chairs and alcohol are prohibited at the movie.

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Guacamole with peas might be the biggest Internet trend, but for me, it was underwhelming. Eva Palmer | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Guacamole with peas might be the biggest Internet trend, but for me, it was underwhelming. Eva Palmer | Hatchet Staff Photographer

On Wednesday, the New York Times posted a recipe for a twist on a classic: guacamole with peas.

Almost immediately, politicians, journalists and other Twitter users posted their disgust for the recipe, and by the end of the day, President Barack Obama had tweeted that he was also “not buying peas and guac.”

I scoffed at the tweets. Was no one adventurous anymore? Does everyone really think peas are all that bad? And what happened to that famous saying, “Don’t knock it ’til you try it?”

Armed with a handful of avocados, peas and a food processor, I took to the kitchen to find out what all the fuss was about.

The Times’ recipe for a verdant guacamole remix was too complex for the average dorm-room kitchen. To prep, I had to broil a single jalapeño in the oven, zest a lime and finely mince scallions and cilantro. Using the food processor to blend together the peas and other ingredients was a far cry from the mix of salsa, lime juice and mashed avocados my freshman year roommates and I would use to make our own dip on the floor of our Thurston Hall room.

After mixing together the mashed avocados and pea mixture, I sat down with my green creation. The recipe called for the guacamole to be topped with a tablespoon of sunflower seeds, but the supermarket was out and my mom called the suggested garnish an “abomination.”

I dipped into the guacamole and was underwhelmed. The jalapeños gave the guacamole too much heat, and I could barely taste the peas. Because the recipe called for lime zest and lime juice, the guacamole was overpowered with citrus.

While I consider myself a guacamole lover, this take on a classic wasn’t worth the time I took broiling ingredients or digging through my kitchen to find the food processor. Sometimes, it’s OK not to mess with a good thing.

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If real beaches aren’t your thing, stop by the National Building Museum starting Saturday to enjoy a fake one. The BEACH exhibit is a pure white alternative, without the risk of sand in your shoes.

We went to a preview of the BEACH to see what it was like:

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White beach chairs and umbrellas set up on each side of the foam platform lead to a giant ball pit that you can either saunter or plunge into. Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor

 

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Union Kitchen has its own concession stand in the back of The BEACH, adding to the resort-like feel of the exhibit. They offer green smoothies, patriotic cake pops and coffee. Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor

 

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The Union Kitchen staff members enjoy a “swim” together in the transparent ball pit. The pit contains almost a million recyclable balls, some of which have names of donors written across them. Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor

 

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Visitors can jump right into the “water” without having to worry about getting wet or hitting rocks. The transparent balls are surprisingly comfortable and allow for a relaxing float. Guests can also walk on the pier or lay in beach chairs. Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor

 

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The BEACH exhibit requires visitors to buy tickets to enter, and there are a limited amount of chairs. Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor

 

 

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015 8:58 a.m.

Skip traditional Fourth of July festivities

Fourth of July festivities aren’t for everyone.

If fireworks and picnics aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other ways — from indoor beaches to midnight movies — to spend your Independence Day in D.C.

The BEACH at the National Building Museum 401 F St. NW

You may not be an outdoors person, but you can beat the heat and still enjoy a beach day at the National Building Museum. On Saturday, the museum will open its indoor, man-made “beach” — complete with sand, beach chairs, umbrellas and a fake ocean made of plastic balls.

Snacks will be available at concession stands around the exhibit and admission is $16 at the door.

Native Foods Cafe 1150 Connecticut Ave. NW

If you’re not a fan of burgers and barbecues, you can grab a bite at Native Foods cafe, which serves up lighter, summery specials — like the grilled avocado plate or the blueberry lemonade — that will still fill you up.

Native Foods Cafe is a vegan restaurant, but with menu options like a Reuben sandwich and nachos, you might not even notice the difference.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival National Mall, between 3rd and 4th Streets NW

You don’t need to be decked out in red, white and blue if you’re heading to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This year’s festival highlights Peruvian culture with traditional dance lessons, arts and crafts workshops and musical performances.

In between learning about the culture and history, you can sample some Peruvian fare like a pork and potato stew called Carapulcra or a dish called Papa Rellena — a potato croquette stuffed with ground beef, egg, olives and spices.

E Street Cinema 555 11th St. NW

Your night doesn’t have to end once the fireworks start. Avoid the noise — and the crowds — at the late-night indie theatre that screens classic old movies at midnight. This Saturday, you can catch a showing of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

E Street Cinema’s concession stand also offers gourmet bites — like crab cakes and Brazilian-style churrasco steak — alongside classic popcorn and candy.

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