Coming Next Week:



10/2 World Architecture Day 10am-5:30pm at the Hirshhorn Museum

In honor of World Architecture Day, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden invites visitors to celebrate the genius of modern design Monday, Oct. 2, at “Donuts with the ‘Brutalist Donut,’” a day of free donuts and unconventional architecture tours.

Known best for the art displayed within its walls, the Hirshhorn will devote the day to spotlighting its sculptural Gordon Bunshaft-designed building, which opened to the public in 1974. Standing out among the classical buildings of the National Mall, the Hirshhorn—affectionately nicknamed the “Brutalist donut”—is one of the most popular examples of the Brutalist architectural style, which erupted from the 1950s through the 1970s.

For the second year in a row, visitors of all ages can drop by the museum to enjoy complimentary donuts, while supplies last, and partake in a wide-ranging schedule of architecture-themed activities led by Washington-based experts. Architecture, photography and art enthusiasts alike will be drawn in by local Instagram community IGDC to join in appreciating the monumental stature of this much-debated architectural style.

For kids
10 a.m.: For a special edition of STORYTIME, the museum’s youngest visitors are invited to explore architecture through a read-aloud of Iggy Peck Architect by Andrea Beaty and a hands-on building activity.

For all ages
12:30 p.m.: Architecture specialist Amanda Hurley talks Brutalism and color, expanding on her Washington Post Magazine article arguing in favor of preserving brutalist architecture in Washington.

2 p.m.: A Gallery Guide-led tour will explore architecture-inspired art on view, including the fantastical world of Ilya and Emilia Kabakov’s models in “The Utopian Projects.”

4 p.m.: Kelsey Keith, editor-in-chief of Curbed, debates the good, bad, beautiful and ugly of Brutalism, and the Hirshhorn’s groundbreaking design in architecture history.

6:15 p.m.: Deane Madsen (@deane_madsen), former design editor of Architect magazine, will lead an IGDC (@igdc) brutalist Instameet tour #atHirshhorn. Founder of the Instagram account @brutalistdc, Madsen will explore the exterior and lush garden at sunset.



10/4 Counts of Conjuring Magic Club 6pm

Holiday Inn
2460 Eisenhower Ave
Alexandria, VA 22314

The Counts of Conjuring meeting next week! The next meeting’s theme is “Bring a Friend”

Not only will we be learning a new magic trick for everyone to take home but we will also be introducing new friends to our kids club! If you bring a friend (8yrs to 17 yrs) then you will get a free magic trick for EACH new friend that you bring (max 3 free tricks)!

So, come learn some new magic with your friends!

Wednesdays UpCycle Tinker Time 3:30pm-5pm at the Durant Arts Center

All ages (an adult must accompany children ages 12 and younger)
$5/person or $15 max for a family (Annual Members tinker for free)

Tinker with us on Wednesdays from 3:30 – 5p and Saturdays from 10:30a – 12:30p.

Explore our unique collection of materials in our studio space and create your own thing. There will be wire, glue, tape – you name it – to hold your work together, and we’ll have a nice selection of mark making supplies available as well.


10/5 Interpretations of Julius Caesar at the Walters Art Museum (Baltimore) 6:30pm

Associate Curator of Art of the Mediterranean, 5000 bce–300 ce, Lisa M. Anderson-Zhu will share insight into the Walters’ ancient Roman collection, while cast members from the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company present scenes from their production of Julius Caesar.

Thursdays Alexandria Homeschoolers Park Day at Hoofs Run (Blue Park) 2pm-5pm

Thursdays Family Night at Old Country Buffet 4pm-9pm

Not only do kid’s 4-11 eat for only $1.99 from 4:00 p.m. to close, but they also get to enjoy treats like cotton candy, soft serve ice cream and all the desserts Mom can handle.


10/6 Peabody on the Court at the Walters Art Museum (Baltimore) 12:00pm-1pm

Enjoy free lunchtime concerts on the Walters’ Sculpture Court the first Friday of each month.

Presented in partnership with the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University.

October 6: Tyrone Page, saxophone


10/7 Art on the Avenue in Del Ray 10am-6pm

​October 7, 2017: Art on the Avenue – Artist Demo Booth & Kids Activities
2301 Mt. Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22301
Art on the Avenue is a multi-cultural arts festival celebrating our community’s diversity through the arts in the Del Ray neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia. UpCycle will host a DIY stomp rocket kids activity and an artists demo booth.

10/7 OPUS 1 at Merriweather Post 4pm-11pm

Inspired by the spirit of the woods, OPUS 1 combines art, music and technology to create an enchanting evening in the forest.
Join us on October 7th as the woods come alive with light and sound like never before.
Immersive art installations, mesmerizing music performances and treetop projection mapping–OPUS 1 presents more than 11 entrancing installations for all ages to enjoy, including:
The Lightning Cloud: An inflatable air pavilion designed by architect Jesse Seegers offers a euphoric performance environment and an iconic backdrop for dynamic projection art
The Dream Machine: Fresh off of the world premiere at Melbourne’s Supersense Festival, Dream Machine takes hallucination-inducing sculpture to an immersive performance environment on the iconic Chrysalis stage, led by Darkside’s Dave Harrington and a host of special guests
EXO-TECH Galactic Hearth: Sophia Brous lights up The Hearth stage with her star-studded improvisational ensemble weaving a strikingly unique palette across wide influences, exploring free jazz improvisation alongside expansive R&B exotica
George Mason Pep Band: Voted Best Pep Band in the Country, George Mason’s Green Machine and its eccentric bandleader Doc Nix kick off the festival with a performance featuring over 50 of the group’s top players and a set of energetic tributes to today’s hits of EDM and pop
Enjoy food and drinks from DC and Baltimore in the Culinary Village throughout the night.
Admission is free and open to all ages.
Reserve tickets for expedited entry.
OPUS 1 is designed to bring art and cutting-edge culture to the new Merriweather District, in celebration of Columbia’s 50th Anniversary. For more information on the full program, visit


Mein Pants


This week is Banned Books Week, bringing public awareness to demands for censorship, especially within public libraries.

Common Sense media has a couple of good articles on the importance of broaching this topic with your kids and the kinds of books that often get asked to be taken off shelves:

We celebrated in our co-op by sharing Shel Silverstein poems and talking about why some people might have been offended by them — and why it would be a loss to be missing such voices and viewpoints.

The day before I watched the Captain Underpants movie with E1 and E2. Because my children have a sense of humor, they thought the movie was hilarious. To their chagrin, though, I had them talk to me about why Captain Underpants is one of the books that libraries receive the most complaints about.

They could see that humorless prigs could have a problem with potty humor and an adult authority figure prancing about in his underwear. With some prodding, they grudgingly admitted that the two prankster protagonists, George and Harold, basically teased and bullied the supervillain, Professor P, before he did anything wrong.

And then there’s the whole issue of hypnotizing their principal, Mr. Krupp, to be Captain Underpants, which is essentially forcing a person to act against his own interest without his consent. E1 could see how the same sort of action in a very different story would clearly be an act of evil.

This didn’t lead him to the conclusion, though, that Captain Underpants was deserving of being banned. Art uses distortions of the truth to make you notice aspects of the truth that were hard to see. Professor Poopypants’ (and Krupps’) absolute lockdown on transgression and humor is not an act of justice but a will to power. Their censorship does not make the world safe and orderly, just limited to the scope of their own imagination. Harold and George are agents of chaos — but that is because they are kids, and they are human — and they thrive and grow under grace, not repression. We ignore their joie de vivre at our peril. But we also ignore their ugliness at our peril.

So my next move is to veer into Cosby. I’m pretty sure they don’t know about him as a troubled sexual predator, so I hope to introduce his comedy in a state of innocence. They deserve to hear the joy and mastery of his storytelling before I stain it with the context of his personal shortcomings. You can watch his 1983 standup film Himself on Youtube. I’ll then play his bit about Spanish Fly (also on Youtube).

Then I’ll drop the bomb about the multiple allegations of him forcing himself on women over the years — very carefully, of course. I’d be interested to see if E1 still thinks the artistic ends justify the means. I myself would have considered myself a free speech absolutist a few years ago. A number of things that have come up in the past year, though, has complicated my feelings on the subject… and it’s too important a topic not to talk through and think about time and again.

Objects of Wonder


I highly recommend the Objects of Wonder exhibit at the National Museum of Natural History.

One of the wonderful but maddening things about the Smithsonian is that its museums are so expansive — one could wander through any one section for hours and still feel overwhelmed. I tend to prefer smaller museums, like the Baltimore Museum of Art, to peruse without pressure and savor a well-curated selection.

“Objects of Wonder” relieves itself of the onus of a topical thesis and just presents a few rooms of random cool stuff. Ostensibly celebrating collectors and the obsession of collecting, it really doesn’t have much rhyme or reason. There’s a wall of “blue things” catty corner from a taxidermically preserved lion that Teddy Roosevelt shot on safari. There’s a mural display that will tell you the story of a Tsimshian tribal legend and another display that will compare analogous bones of a hummingbird and a dinosaur. It’s just wow after wow after wow.

I’m sometimes frustrated that my 9-year-old has a compulsion for trivia, but I’m sometimes able to see it as a superpower — and this exhibit bathed him in the sun of that strength.


I Really Should Pledge a Membership


E2: Look at my Batman.

Me: Oh yeah, that really does look like the Batman logo.

E2: Or a seagull or an eagle…

Me: Seagull-Man.

E1: (Singing the “All Things Considered” theme) Da-da-da-dum-da-da-da! This is Robert Siegel, and I’m fighting crime with the news!

Baby Steps: No Means No


Here I state the obvious: Having a daughter is different than having a son. Example: at some point, maybe around two years ago, I realized I had to be careful how I tickled her.

Tickling is a Dad’s best weapon. It’s physical, it’s aggressive, it’s playful. It says, simultaneously, “Dad is fun” and “Don’t mess with Dad.” It’s horseplay at its most intimate, the most delighted roughhousing. It is usually completely pure and simple in its feeling.


With E1 I could drive him to the point of pain, back off, and go at it again, without any compunction.

With E2, my baby girl, I had to think twice about what expectations it would set for other intimate interactions down the line. If I kept tickling mercilessly, would it seed a little self-doubt about whether her protestations could — and should — be honored?

I decided not to risk it. She still yelps in mock-terror when I show my tickle-claws, but she knows that when she says, “STOP,” I will immediately back off. And her older brother knows it, too. In this world of fraught sexual politics and complicated gender dynamics, one has to apply some forethought.

It’s not yes means yes, but we’re getting there.



Turns out one of the pleasures of middle age is having things like shoulder bursitis. Every unthinking twist and reach is now sending me into paroxysms of pain.

E1 is the one who suggested I ask my dad, an acupuncturist, to treat me. I honestly hadn’t thought of it before, mostly because I’m pretty skeptical of alternative medicines. In fact, Mike Pesca had Maria Konnikova do an “Is This Bullsh*t” segment on it for The Gist podcast, and she pretty much confirmed my suspicions — acupuncture isn’t demonstrably better than the placebo effect.

Still, what’s the harm? My dad was delighted to get a chance to treat me right when I asked — he apparently carried around a pocket acupuncture kit.

My son was very curious. “Why aren’t you sticking needles into his shoulders?” When given the explanation of how acupuncture frees up chi-energy flows, he was basically like, “So… it’s not science. Right?”

Still, I can’t deny I felt a heck of a lot better after my dad quivered me with his needles. Much better than 600 mg pills of ibuprofen. And I got a lot more mobility back. Things have slowly returned back to misery after that one session, but 15 minutes with my dad made a big difference for a while.

I dunno… it’s one heck of a placebo.


And I can’t get any more of these treatments for a while… because my dad had a stroke last Wednesday. He said that as he was falling down, he felt bad for me … that he was probably passing down a genetic condition to me.

I’ve never thought of my dad as a huckster. He always wanted to help people, even as a personal cost to himself. One early client of his paid him in ice cream, which he would stockpile to give to us in bulk whenever we visited. But I guess I always thought he was a bit of a naif — too ready to jump on a bandwagon, too quick to be zealous, too willing to believe.

I look in the mirror while shaving, though, and I catch more glimpses of him in me. His face, one half still vivid and expressive, the eye flitting and prodding, and the right half eerily still. I feel myself skirting the electric fence of my physical limitations … and I peek into my metaphysical ones.

Coming Next Week


9/15-9/24 The Great Frederick Fair

Cost: Adults $8, children under 11 free.

Blending amusement park hype with agriculture, this Maryland fest, which runs from September 15 to 23, is a can’t-miss. While the Frederick Fair has all the quintessential fair elements—the rides, the yummy treats, the performances and the livestock—kids can also expect to see farm and garden demos, a pedal pull (where children can see what a tractor pull is like), as well as harness racing. For animal lovers, there are horse and pony shows, horseshoeing demonstrations, dairy cattle shows and rabbit juggling.

9/18 The World’s Most Stunning Shells at the National Museum of Natural History 6:30pm-8pm

Q?rius Theater, Ground Floor

This fall we offer opportunities to look more closely at some of the objects in our acclaimed Objects of Wonder exhibition. In this program, we’ll focus on the array of cowrie shells featured in the gallery.

Marine biologist Chris Meyer will take you on a 30 year journey pursuing cowrie shells all over the world. Throughout human history, people have collected cowrie shells because of their exquisite beauty. The polished shells’ diversity and intricate patterns make them truly objects of wonder. The shells have been used in ceremony and fortune telling, as ornamentation, currency, and status symbols, and as a model group for scientific study. Come see these shells and learn why they are so spectacularly colored, what they can teach us about biodiversity, rarity and value, and participate in testing your own perception of beauty. We will address the impacts, benefits and ethics of collecting animals from the wild, for study, collections, and appreciation of our natural world. Learn how they have inspired Chris’s research and appreciation for the natural world and help us answer the question: “Why do we collect things?”

This program is part of the Beyond the Exhibition series, which features the content, curators, and conversations inspiring new and developing exhibitions at the National Museum of Natural History.

Visit the Objects of Wonder exhibition on the second floor of the National Museum of Natural History to view stunning cowrie shells. Open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.

9/20 UpCycle Tinker Time 3:30pm-5pm at the Durant Arts Center

All ages (an adult must accompany children ages 12 and younger)
$5/person or $15 max for a family (Annual Members tinker for free)

Tinker with us on Wednesdays from 3:30 – 5p and Saturdays from 10:30a – 12:30p.

Explore our unique collection of materials in our studio space and create your own thing. There will be wire, glue, tape – you name it – to hold your work together, and we’ll have a nice selection of mark making supplies available as well.

Thursday Alexandria Homeschoolers Park Day at Collingwood Park weekly

9/21 Family Night at Old Country Buffet 4pm-9pm

Not only do kid’s 4-11 eat for only $1.99 from 4:00 p.m. to close, but they also get to enjoy treats like cotton candy, soft serve ice cream and all the desserts Mom can handle.

9/21 Back to the Future screening at National Harbor 7pm

9/22 The Princess Bride Quote-Along 7pm at the Old Firehouse (1440 Chain Bridge Rd)

Admission and popcorn are free.“B.Y.O.N.A.B” (Bring Your Own Non-Alcoholic Beverage).
Prop bags are $5 each. Supplies are limited and advance purchase is recommended.

“The Princess Bride” as a quote-along? As you wish! You already know the movie by heart, so join your friends for a night of nostalgia and interactive fun at this screening of the 1987 beloved adventure movie. Look out for Rodents of Unusual Size, six-fingered men and the Dread Pirate Roberts. Inconceivable!

9/23 Museum Day Live

Cost: Free, but ticket must be downloaded from the site.

Museum Day Live! falls on September 23 this year. For those not familiar, it’s an annual event across the country, hosted by Smithsonian magazine, where one free Museum Day Live! ticket provides free admission for two people at participating museums. In our neck of the woods, Newseum, Smithsonian Art Gallery, and the Renwick Art Gallery at the Smithsonian Art Gallery will all be participating. Starting August 25, the free tickets can be downloaded from the site.

9/23 Fall Festival 10am-3pm at Beatley Library

Join Beatley Central Library as we celebrate our 5th annual Fall Festival and Open House. This year we will be featuring food trucks, children’s activities, glitter tattoos, photo booth, Steel Pan Jam, cat adoption, Games in the Garden, a How-To Fair and more.

9/23 Aida 5pm-9pm at Nationals Ballpark

Celebrate the tenth season of free live opera simulcasts by joining Washington National Opera at Nationals Park for Aida on Saturday, September 23 at 7 p.m. Gates open at 5 p.m. for pre-opera activities.