Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 24, 2014

July 24, 2014

Roll Call After Dark Tunes of the Week: ‘The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou’ Soundtrack

Portugese renditions of David Bowie, Ennio Morricone, Sven Libaek — the soundtrack of Wes Anderson’s 2004 film “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” has its own unique vibe.

Some of the most memorable scenes in the film feature music that didn’t make it onto the 20-song, one-hour album, including the Sigur Ros wonder Staralfur.

If you want to hear some of the soundtrack, as well as its Icelandic outtakes, you could always head over to the Union Market drive-in movie summer session this Friday, which will feature “Life Aquatic” and all its Anderson- and Bill Murray-ness.

By Jason Dick Posted at 9:30 a.m.
Music

July 23, 2014

Roll Call After Dark Book of the Week: ‘Overwhelmed’ by Brigid Schulte

 Roll Call After Dark Book of the Week: Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte

Amid the clutter, try not to get “Overwhelmed.” (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

“I’m a work in progress myself,” Bridgid Schulte, the author of “Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has The Time,” says. The Washington Post scribe is well aware of the pressure people are under, because she lives the same D.C. vida loca.

“Different groups want to talk about different things. But the big things, everyone wants to talk about,” she says, singling out that “busyness is a huge thing people want to talk about.”

Schulte is quick to point out her book is not all doom and gloom, with busy people all ending up with smaller brains because they’re stressing themselves to death. She details bright spots both domestic and foreign, whether it’s flex-time at the Pentagon or a cultural watershed in Denmark.

She says the biggest change between the time she began the book and when she finished were her own expectations about what she could accomplish, what she could blow off and what she could share. “I’m still working on it,” she says.

What about life in Washington, D.C., where what she dubs the cycle of responsiveness is particularly acute? She encourages people to do their best to change the culture of where they work and how they live. If it’s not a situation where the culture can readily change, to consider changing oneself. This might mean some emails don’t get returned late at night, which is probably OK. Consider what’s a priority and what isn’t. Most of the time, expectations come from within, not a boss or spouse.

Perhaps we could all benefit from taking a page from another book, Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Rule No. 1, you may recall is simple: Don’t panic.

“I do take time to step out of the craziness,” Schulte says. “I really try to just be where I am.”

Sounds like a good Rule No. 2.

Schulte drops by the Roll Call Book Club on Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Complimentary copies of the book are available first-come, first-served. Register for the event, sponsored by Hooks Books Events and Sprint, at roll.cl/schultebookclub.

July 22, 2014

Roll Call After Dark Nosh of the Week: Jamaican Patties at Sunrise Caribbean Cuisine

Jpats 445x333 Roll Call After Dark Nosh of the Week: Jamaican Patties at Sunrise Caribbean Cuisine

(Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

Bring us your beef, chicken or vegetable Jamaican patty at Sunshine Caribbean Cuisine.

Located in the basement of Washington’s Union Station, tucked away in a corner that was probably at one point a train tunnel, Sunshine serves up pan-Caribbean cuisine, such as oxtail or goat lunch plates, pholourie and cocoa bread. Its simple Jamaican patties, though, are the perfect, and cheap, grab-and-go nosh. Two bucks gets you one of these caloric pastries.

These Hot Pocket/empanada/what-have-you cousins contain a little something for everyone. The vegetable patty, a sort of succotash pie, is a creamy delight with a little kick to it. The beef is the spiciest of the bunch, and the humble chicken patty starts off like chicken salad and ends like hot sauce.

By Jason Dick Posted at 3:23 p.m.
Eat

July 21, 2014

Roll Call After Dark Documentary of the Week: ‘Code Black’

Not for the faint of heart, “Code Black” by Ryan McGarry is a documentary about Los Angeles County’s emergency trauma center. Right off the bat it plunges the viewer into the most graphic elements of health care, as well as doctors’ concerns about how they can balance the optimism that led them to their profession with the brutal reality they face on a daily basis. McGarry, who was in his residency at County while he was filming the movie, is just one of the many doctors who make the movie hum along.

“Someone is suffering. What are you going to do?” asks Jamie Eng, a senior resident physician says after a series of scenes that makes the goriest episode of “ER” look like kid’s stuff. The staff’s narration revolves around the role that emergency rooms fulfill in the American health care system, an out-sized and expensive one that goes beyond treating gunshot wounds and reaches to primary care for the most vulnerable members of society.

“When we started this, it seemed so simple. We were going to be doctors. We were going to help people. But what if those ideals can die? I mean, what if those hopes can fade into the failure of the system. If you’re a young doctor, you have to ask yourself, ‘how do I protect the ideals I came here for?” McGarry says early on in the film.

Amid the depressing polarization of the health care debate in Washington, the fact that they’re even continuing to ask questions like that is a minor miracle. This movie shows why people go into medicine, and how tough that choice can be, however rewarding it may be.

“Code Black” is playing at the Angelika Pop-Up at Union Market at 550 Penn St. NE.

By Jason Dick Posted at 6:27 p.m.
Movies

Segs in the City: They’re Just Not That Into You

 

There are things worse than being small, electric and self-balancing in Washington. Such as: Being small, electric and self-balancing and having your tour guide’s speech regulated in Washington.

Lucky for the city of monuments and tour guides, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit recently struck down silly requirements that tour guides pass a test and pay a fee to see if they know Teddy Roosevelt from Franklin Roosevelt. I wonder, isn’t life hard enough without regulations? If journalists have freedom of speech, why not Segs in the City?

Is it that Washingtonians had an innate aversion to Segways, or was it more than that? I wondered: In a city such as D.C., with its infinite possibilities, had Segway tours become too much to endure? The answer is no, thanks to Segs in the City and their friends forever at the Institute of Justice, who sued to get rid of that D.C. rite of passage. Full story

July 18, 2014

Roll Call Book Club: We’re Here to Make Sure You’re Not ‘Overwhelmed’

Theoretically, we still have the same 24 hours in a day our grandparents and their grandparents had. But it sure doesn’t feel like it. We’re “busy, busy, busy,” as the late, great Kurt Vonnegut Jr., wrote.

A city such as Washington is filled with strivers and striving, filling every conceivable moment with constructive, career-related activity. But that sense of compressed time is not just the purview of places like Washington. People have their hair on fire in Fargo, N.D., too, as Brigid Schulte tells it in her new book “Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time.” The problem, she writes, is spreading as we divvy up our days into a thousand pieces.

So what’s a person to do if they’d like to live a fulfilling life but still feel like they have enough time to shower in the morning and read the occasional book? Schulte will discuss just that, and her book and the research and, ahem, time that went into it on Wednesday at the latest Roll Call Book Club.

Some of the more eye-opening nuggets from Schulte’s book include studies that show that being pressed for time can actually make us dumber, by shrinking the prefrontal cortex of our brain; that Pat Buchanan, after helping sink a universal child care bill while in the Nixon White House, never had kids, and that “rough-and-tumble play” can actually make us smarter. She also delves into why — far from there being something rotten in the state of Denmark — the Danes are the happiest people on the planet.

One big note of appreciation for the book is its embrace of the finite nature of our lives. This isn’t always the cheeriest of topics, and you could probably hear book agents and publicists thinking to themselves, “can’t she lay off the we’re-all-going-to-die stuff?” — but it’s a necessary, bracing reminder of what’s a stake in our busy-busy-business.

“Whey we die, the e-mail in-box will still be full. The to-do list will still be there. But you won’t,” Schulte quotes Terry Monaghan, a time management and organizational expert, as telling a group of people looking to find a way out of what Schulte dubs “The Overwhelm.”

Things get under way at 6 p.m. and will run until about 7:30 at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Complimentary copies of the book will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis, and Schulte will be on hand to sign them. Heck, we’ll even feed you and provide something to drink. To register, go to roll.cl/schultebookclub.

Roll Call After Dark Quaff of the Week: Dead Rise Summer Ale

 Roll Call After Dark Quaff of the Week: Dead Rise Summer Ale

(Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

If it’s summer in the capital region, it’s time for beer, crabs and Old Bay. And sometimes, it’s good to combine as many as possible in one package, such as Flying Dog Brewery’s Dead Rise Summer Ale.

The Frederick, Md.-based brewer’s latest mad scientist concoction, complete with Ralph Steadman bottle art, has been popping up more and more in Washington. I purchased my latest six pack at Hayden’s Liquor Store at Eastern Market, and partook of a flowing tap at Kelly’s Irish Times on Thursday.

For those counting themselves at Old Bay skeptics, give it a whirl. The celery salt brininess makes a nice baseline in the peppy ale. For those who can’t get enough Old Bay, you won’t need Roll Call After Dark’s encouragement to potentially overdo it with your table full of steamed blue crab by adding Dead Rise as your beverage of choice.

And if you’d like to go to the source, you’re in luck! This Saturday, Flying Dog is hosting its outdoor music/beer drinking session at its Frederick facility, with musical guests Lucero.

Questions? Flying Dog has an FAQ page for all your Old Bay-laced beer curiosity.

By Jason Dick Posted at 2:01 p.m.
Drink, Eat

July 17, 2014

Roll Call After Dark Tunes of the Week: ‘Women & Work’ by Lucero

“Come on out tonight,” could be the unofficial motto for good-timing Memphis band Lucero, a band dedicated equally to touring and defying easy classification. Country? Sure. Punk? Why not. Roadhouse? Yeah.

You can fulfill their request — words from the “Downtown” track of their “Women & Work” album — a couple of different ways this weekend. On Saturday, Lucero plays at Saturday’s Summer Sessions at Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Md. General admission is $25. If you can’t make that, head over to Dewey Beach, Del., where they’ll be playing at the Bottle & Cork on Sunday.

Notice a theme in the venues? That’s right, my friend — fermented spirits!

July 16, 2014

Roll Call After Dark Book of the Week: ‘National Pastime’ by Barry Svrluga

 Roll Call After Dark Book of the Week: National Pastime by Barry Svrluga

(Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

Baseball’s All-Star Game break provides us with a respite from the churn of the 162-game regular season, as well as an opportunity to check out a great baseball book, Barry Svrluga’s “National Pastime.”

The Washington Nationals are in first place in the National League East at the break, a nice position for a team that was up-and-down and replete with injuries at the beginning of the season. Amid a so-far successful current season, last year’s winning season (which saw the team miss the playoffs) and 2012′s dynamic division-winning team, it’s worth remembering that the Nats’ first year in the District was anything but auspicious.

There was no owner. The team’s transitional home, RFK Stadium, was barely ready for prime time. The team was a collection of injured or unproven or washed-up players. The staff had almost completely turned over from the team’s previous year iteration in Montreal as the Expos. The manager was a crank. And yet, the team finished 51-30 at the halfway point and contended for a playoff spot deep in September before ending the season 81-81.

Svrluga, a Washington Post sports reporter, was there from soup to nuts, covering the last-minute glitch in negotiations with the District Council that almost caused the deal to move the Expos to D.C. to crater, all the way to the last homestead against the Philadelphia Phillies. The writing is briskly paced and has an eye toward the human story that went with the business story.

It’s also a great reminder that the Nationals’ current success on the field and with the city — as the area around Nationals Park fills up with breweries, condos and bike lanes — were never guaranteed in those rough-hewn first days at RFK.

July 15, 2014

Roll Call After Dark Nosh of the Week: Curbside Cafe Chocolate Sprinkle Doughnut

 Roll Call After Dark Nosh of the Week: Curbside Cafe Chocolate Sprinkle Doughnut

Doughnuts from a place that made its bones on cupcakes? In the case of the chocolate-frosted, chocolate sprinkle fare at Curbside Cafe, the answer is yes.

Regardless of whether you are a “doughnut” person or a “donut” person, the brick-and-mortar baking HQ of the Curbside Cupcakes empire at 257 15th St. SE offers a delicious addition to our favored starch-heavy dessert ranks. There is no shortage of doughnut offerings in Washington these days, with the likes of Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken, GBD and District Doughnuts.

Curbside provides a no-fuss option, simply a nice yellow or chocolate cake doughnut  that lets the flavors fly. It’s baked, not fried, which is kind of surprising, considering how good it tastes, how well it holds together (minimum crumbliness) and how satisfying it is. Its frosting complements, rather than dominates. Its sprinkles top don’t distract. Its cakeiness anchors it all splendidly. Doughnuts: They’re not just for breakfast anymore.

By Jason Dick Posted at 3:46 p.m.
Eat

July 14, 2014

Priorities, Priorities: In D.C., Yoga More Expensive, Beer More Available

atlas002 091713 2 445x307 Priorities, Priorities: In D.C., Yoga More Expensive, Beer More Available

Coming soon to a brewery near you, beer-drinking on the premises! (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

How’s this for a city motto: Washington, D.C., where the yoga’s expensive and the beer is easy!

That might need a little work, but that’s the gist of the fiscal 2015 D.C. spending plan that is on a glide path now that the D.C. Council has over-ridden Mayor Vincent Gray’s veto of its $10.6 billion spending plan. That plan raised taxes on health club memberships and cut funding for a streetcar project, but contained language that allows D.C. burgeoning breweries to sell beer for on-site consumption, according to my Roll Call colleague Hannah Hess.

Get the message? Drink more beer, work out less! Right?

By Jason Dick Posted at 5:53 p.m.
Drink

Roll Call After Dark Documentary of the Week: ‘Getting Back to Abnormal’

A new political documentary, “Getting Back to Abnormal” debuts this week on PBS and examines New Orleans politics in the post-Katrina era.

The 90-minute documentary — produced and directed Louis Alvarez, Andrew Kolker, Peter Odabashian and Paul Stekler — profiles a Big Easy city council race between a white incumbent, Stacy Head, and a local African-American pastor, Corey Watkins.

But the film also asks: Can New Orleans preserve its character amid recovering from the 2005 hurricane?

This team’s previous work has appeared on PBS’ Nova, American Experience and Frontline.

Stekler wrote and produced Frontline’s 2008 “The Choice” documentary chronicling then-Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., ahead of the general election.

“Getting Back to Abnormal” premieres Monday evening. In Washington, it airs Friday at 10 p.m. on WETA, and on July 23 at 8 p.m. on WHUT.

Beyond the Beltway, check your local listings here.

Disclosure: The author of this post interned for Stekler while a student at the University of Texas. 

July 11, 2014

The Movies’ Guide to Understanding Cleveland

 The Movies Guide to Understanding Cleveland

(Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

It’s been quite a week for Cleveland, starting out by scoring the 2016 Republican National Convention and ending it with LeBron James spurning NBA mistress Miami to return to the Cavaliers.

But what if you’re not one of the fortunate travelers out there who have experienced all that Ohio’s North Coast has to offer? Well, there’s always the movies. Here are five to get you started on your journey to understand Cleveland.

  • “American Splendor.” Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s 2003 brings the real crown prince of Cleveland, the late graphic novelist/file clerk Harvey Pekar to the screen with Paul Giamatti and Harvey Pekar playing Pekar, whose vision of life in Cleveland matches the city’s gritty ethos.
  • “Major League.” David Ward’s 1989 film about a Cleveland Indians team that the owner tries to sabotage, but, of course wins instead, is a classic against-the-odds sports flick. It does capture the particular craziness of Cleveland sports fandom and their resignation to falling short, particularly with its ending. The team wins, yes, but it’s just a win for the division title. Usually these movies end with a World Series win! Not in Cleveland.
  • “Stranger Than Paradise.” Jim Jarmusch’s 1984 black and white story of a road trip that takes in a nice, middle-of-winter visit to Cleveland and the shores of Lake Erie captures just a little bit of what the reasoning might have been for some of the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled Cleveland in the last few decades.
  • “Draft Day.” Want to see the more optimistic view of Cleveland sports? Ivan Reitman’s film this year stars Kevin Costner as a hometown general manager for the Browns whose ass is on the line to deliver big on the NFL’s draft day for the team and its fans. Wouldn’t you know it, he did. Wouldn’t you know it, within weeks of this film being released, the Browns drafted Texas A&M Quarterback Johnny Manziel. You be the judge if art imitates life.
  • “Howard The Duck.” Willard Huyck’s 1986 flick is perhaps one of the worst studio movies ever made, a colossal flop with George Lucas’ imprimatur and a Marvel Comics pedigree. A talking duck from a parallel universe gets beamed to Cleveland. Has to be seen to be believed.
By Jason Dick Posted at 5:53 p.m.
Movies

July 7, 2014

Washington’s Biggest Repertory Cinema: The Great Outdoors

screenongreen 1 072406 2 445x297 Washingtons Biggest Repertory Cinema: The Great Outdoors

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The outdoor summer movie circuit is in full swing, with plenty of al fresco viewing to go around in Washington, including the grande dame herself, the upcoming Screen on the Green on the National Mall.

Screen on the Green, which is entering its 16th year, starts back up between Seventh and 12th streets on July 21 with “The Karate Kid,” that touchstone of 1980s and Generation X culture. It continues on following Mondays with “Lover Come Back,” “Key Largo” and “A Soldier’s Story.”

Debuting that same week is the Washington City Paper’s Summer Cinema series in the Heurich House Museum’s garden, a bit cozier venue than the National Mall located just south of Dupont Circle at 1307 New Hampshire Ave. NW. The first in the series, “Wayne’s World,” plays on July 24, with the next three Thursdays hosting “Clueless,” “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Beetlejuice.”

The city’s Film Office last month launched its Gateway DC Summer Film Series on the grounds of St. Elizabeth’s East Campus, the District’s only outdoor film series east of the Anacostia River at 2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. SE. On Wednesday, it will show “Talk to Me,” a feature film about legendary D.C. journalist Petey Greene. The series continues through Aug. 13 with “Life of a King,” “My Family/Mi Familia,” “Wall-E,” “Rize” and “Are We There Yet?”

Closer to the Capitol, the NoMa Summer Screen at Second and L streets Northeast, continues Wednesday with the “The Muppets,” the rebooted one with Jason Segel and Amy Adams, not the original with Richard Pryor and Charles Durning. The food trucks serving the NoMa crowd are scheduled to be Popped Republic, Kafa Mania, DC Slices, Crepe Love and Orange Cow. NoMa’s series continues on Wednesdays through Aug. 20 with “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “The Dark Knight,” “Pitch Perfect,” “Top Gun” and “The Sandlot,” with a rain date slated for the last slot and the film to be determined.

Also not too far from the Capitol is the Capitol Riverfront’s Canal Park series at 200 M St. SE. On Thursday, after a one-week hiatus, the movies fire back up near Nationals Park with “Balls of Fury,” the ping pong comedy. The “It’s a Whole New Game” theme will be in full effect, with Thursdays through Sept. 4 showing one sports movie after another. On July 17, Canal Park will show “Space Jam” and the following weeks will feature “Invincible,” “Bend it Like Beckham,” “Rudy,” “A League of Their Own,” “The Blind Side,” (a break on Aug. 28 in anticipation of Labor Day) and end with “Moneyball.”

So find a comfortable blanket for these free, dusk-time events. That’s a whole lot of movies.

By Jason Dick Posted at 3:30 p.m.
Down Time, Movies

July 3, 2014

By Jason Dick Posted at 3:34 p.m.
Down Time

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