Who’s Funnier: Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?
Celebrity visitors at the 15th Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor event speak out.
October 24, 2012
Comedy was the draw at the October 22 program for the 15th Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, but we couldn’t resist asking a few questions about politics. After all, the prize was awarded at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in our nation’s capital, and in the midst of an election season. In fact, the program was held on the same night as the third presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.
“The election is very much on my mind,” actress Jane Lynch confessed from the red carpet. “There’s so much at stake, and I know that we say that with every election, but there’s so much at stake. Especially with the Supreme Court.”
Honoree Ellen DeGeneres was forthcoming about who is getting her vote. “I’m certainly hoping our president stays put,” she said, noting that she thinks a Romney presidency would take the country back. “Obviously, as a gay person, [Romney] doesn’t believe in me having the same rights, so of course I’m not happy about that. And as a woman who wants to have the choice to do what she wants with her body, I think you should think about that, too.”
Since attendees had gathered to celebrate comedy, we also asked about the lighter side of the campaign. Our big question: Who’s funnier—the President or the Republican candidate?
Jimmy Kimmel responded, sort of. “You know, we like to turn people into cartoon characters [on our show], and so we decided that Mitt Romney is the preppy robot with no emotions,” he joked. “And Barack Obama is the other preppy robot with no emotions.”
“It depends on what we’re laughing at,” offered DeGeneres, closing out her trip down the red carpet. “I mean, I laugh at Romney for certain things, and, I don’t know. Barack makes me laugh. He’s been on the show before and he’s pretty funny. They’re both funny for different reasons.”
And John Krasinski—while he wouldn’t admit who’s captured his vote—offered a straight-up answer to our comedic query. “Who do I think is funnier? That is a great question,” he said. “I’m gonna go with Obama, because, if nothing else, his smile convinces me that he’s funnier. I’ll laugh with him only because he’s already laughing.”
Photography by Win McNamee/Getty Images
Ellen DeGeneres Receives Humor Prize at Kennedy Center
Capitol File captures exclusive quotes from celebrities on the 2012 Mark Twain Prize honoree.
October 23, 2012
As the recipient of the 15th Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, television show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres stepped onto the red carpet at the The Kennedy Center to the sound of applause. Walking with her wife Portia de Rossi on the evening of October 22, she greeted attendees and chatted candidly about her career trajectory—from her early years to her ground-breaking 1997 announcement that she is gay. With her talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, entering its ninth season this September, and winning 35 Daytime Emmy Awards over its run, notable guests—including Sean Hayes, Jane Lynch, and Jimmy Kimmel—praised the entertainment legend.
“What I appreciate is what everybody appreciates, which is that kind of universal, all-around, observational, very relatable comedy voice,” said Hayes of his longtime friend. “And I think that’s why she’s so popular and so loved because nobody’s doing that. Everybody is sort of mean-spirited these days, and we look at her to kind of laugh at everyday life things.”
“Ellen has a way of making nothing into something,” added Kimmel. “It’s very difficult to do. She can take a letter from a viewer and do a 20-minute segment on it.”
Attendees called out her kind humor throughout the evening. “Her comedy is always so good-willed and fair-minded, said actor John Leguizamo, who admires DeGeneres personally and professionally. “She spreads so much love in her humor because most comedians are scary, dark human beings—like myself—and she’s not like that. There is nobody else, also, who is so much themselves like she is.”
And because she is herself, DeGeneres has affected others. “That one night in 1990-something when she came out of the closet personally and on her show…we all held our breath and thought: ‘Will Ellen have a career after this?’” recalled Lynch, standing tall on the crimson carpet. “And she was brave enough and had the stones to stand up and be counted, which a lot of people have been afraid to do. So for that bravery I am deeply indebted to her, [because] the path I walk today has been cleared by her. So I can kind of amble down it and be who I am, and walk around with my wife and talk about my family.”
DeGeneres, however, says that she didn’t realize how much of an impact she would make—as a comic or as a leader. “I was not a class clown. I was not somebody that thought I was funny,” she explained before the program began. “I didn’t think it was very important for me to tell everybody that I was funny. [I had] more of the subtle, dry humor.”
But would the prizewinner consider herself brave, like so many others do? “I think that courage is not doing something because you’re not scared of it [but] doing it in spite of the fact that you’re scared of it,” she said, serious for a moment. “And I was definitely scared of coming out and scared of what would happen. And I did it anyway because it was the right thing to do. So I guess that’s courageous. It gave me more courage by doing that.”
New Saks Men’s Floor at Tyson’s Galleria
Saks Fifth Avenue’s Eric Jennings reveals what you’ll find—and the latest trends for men.
October 22, 2012
We caught up with Eric Jennings, Saks Fifth Avenue vice president and fashion director, to get the scoop on the recently opened men’s department at Tyson’s Galleria (2051 International Dr., McLean, 703-761-0700). The new floor includes clothing, shoes, and accessories; a made-to-measure shop; and a new formalwear shop—just in time for the holidays and a host of political happenings.
Why did Saks roll out this new floor?
ERIC JENNINGS: We’re excited [about] menswear in general. We’ve done a lot of capital investment in our men’s department this year, so there are quite a few stores that are getting this kind of project upgrade. And of course Tyson’s is such a big market for us that we’re [taking] the entire first floor of the store and converting it into a 30,000-square-foot men’s destination.
What excites you most about this opening?
EJ: That we’re really able to expand the offerings of some of our pillar brands, from Armani, to Burberry, to Versace, to Valentino…and really capture a whole lifestyle element, whether it’s sportswear, work clothes, formal attire, or just casual weekend wear.
What other new offerings will people find?
EJ: If a man wants to get a more custom-made suit that’s very specific to his body type and his measurements, there will be an expert qualified specialist there. I think more men, and especially young men, are interested in things that are bespoke, things that are unique and really one of a kind. …The Hugo Boss shop, Ralph Lauren shop, and Armani shop [are also] new.
What trends are coming down the pike for men in our area?
EJ: There’s this whole movement toward tailored clothing, suits sport coats, but they’re much softer, they’re closer to the body. So they’re more flattering whether you’re a bigger guy or a thinner guy. ...These tailored pieces feel like you’re wearing a sweater or a really comfortable worn-in sweatshirt, but you still look polished, put-together, and professional.
Can you tell us what we’ll see for the holiday season?
EJ: We’re calling [it] “the formal remix.” …It’s not just a penguin tuxedo but it’s sort of mixing and matching dressier sport coats, and ties, and even dressier jeans. For example, wax-coated dark denim [trousers]—black, and dark colors with a coating or resined finish—are really popular right now, and they’re very dressy. So if you put them underneath a jacquard or silk jacket, it works.
How should these dressier jeans fit?
EJ: Avoid bootcut and just stick with clean, straight trousers. Stark straight. No flare on the bottom and not too pegged either.
Any thoughts on the importance of fit in general?
EJ: Not everybody is going to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe each season, but there are ways of taking things that are still in great shape and good quality in your wardrobe and finding a great tailor that can slim them down, that can shorten the length of your trousers, that can nip in the waist of your sport coat or your suit.
Back to the new opening. Can you share final thoughts on what local men can expect?
EJ: Go check it out. I think maybe sometimes guys are intimidated: They feel like we’re maybe going to be too fashion-forward or too expensive, but we’ve really done a great job of balancing our assortment and the brands we carry, and the price points that we carry. From more accessible price points all the way to high-end, made-to-measure pieces, there really is something for everybody.
Costumed Cruising for Halloween
Take in exquisite views of DC as you celebrate Halloween this weekend.
October 21, 2012
Hop aboard Spirit Cruises' Boo Cruise to celebrate Halloween on the Potomac.
Halloween falls on a Wednesday this year, but you can observe it early with a cruise on the Potomac this Saturday, October 27. Spirit Cruises’ special “Boo Cruise” will let you have some grown-up weekend fun before trick-or-treating with the little ones. Halloween costumes are encouraged for all onboard guests, and featured (and very festive) hors d'oeuvres include “mummy hummus,” “bar-b-cue batwings,” and “bandaged Frank-in-steins” (also known as pigs in a blanket).
After you dine, party the night away as a DJ spins hits—from line dances to pop songs—or take a dreamy stroll on the ship’s outdoor deck. Boarding begins at 9 PM, and the cruise runs from 9:30 PM until 12 AM. Buy tickets online from $44.90 by calling 866-302-2469 or purchasing online here. Departs from 600 Water St. SW, Pier 4
Observe Day of the Dead in DC
The Mexican holiday is on November 2, but get a head start by planning your activities now.
October 19, 2012
The Mexican holiday Day of the Dead—Día de los Muertos in Spanish—has indigenous roots, and is a time when people gather to remember and honor loved ones. Take part in these revamped twists on the traditional observances happening around DC.
Mexican restaurant Oyamel goes all out for this holiday, with celebrations stretching from October 22 to November 2. Inside, you’ll find Day of the Dead window stenciling, candles throughout the restaurant, and a traditional altar. Sip on the Zombie cocktail, a mix of tequila, rum, Mayan liqueur, and pineapple juice, among other ingredients, and dig into food specials like the Mukbil Conejo, a Mayan-style tamal of that features rabbit, duck, achiote, and habanero. 401 7th St. NW, 202-628-1005
Torpedo Factory Art Center
In its fourth annual Day of the Dead extravaganza, the center features an exhibition of artist-made altars alongside themed photography and paintings. The art will be on display October 29-November 4, but a day-of event on November 2 from 8-11 PM features live entertainment, a costume contest, bubble gum painting, snacks, and much more. Tickets for the costume and dance party portion are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. 105 N. Union St., Alexandria, 703-838-4565
National Museum of the American Indian
This Smithsonian museum celebrates the occasion with a two-day family event Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21. Visit from 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM each day and try hands-on activities like decorating plaster skulls and making papel picado (paper cut-outs). Multimedia artists will also talk about traditional ofrendas (altars used to display items in memory of a loved one), calavera (papier-mâché skulls) making, and more traditions associated with this holiday. 4th Street and Independence Ave. SW, 202-633-6644
It's no surprise that Bandolero, the Mexican restaurant that’s in Day of the Dead style year-round, hosts an unparalleled event in its honor. The Georgetown fixture’s Wake the Dead party on November 2 at 10 PM includes a DJ on the first floor and a popular-vote costume contest. Sample the holiday-appropriate Chupacabra cocktail while you’re there: it’s made with Los Amantes Joven mezcal, St. Germain, Carpano Antica, and fresh lime juice. 3241 M St. NW, 202-625-4488
Photography by Greg Powers
Celebrate DC Wine Week
Sip your way through the second-annual celebration of local wines.
October 16, 2012
Wine lovers rejoice: Now you can officially toast to your favorite local vino during DC Wine Week—underway until October 20—and attend hosted themed events, sample special offers from participating bars and restaurants (such as Vinoteca, Bourbon Steak, and Veritas), and network with area wine experts.
“Wine is really booming in the DC area. We have [had] many amazing wine shops and bars popping up all over the city over the past few years and, in addition, many award-winning wineries in Virginia and Maryland,” explains event co-founder Vanessa French, noting that the second-annual celebration has two missions. “One is to demystify wine and educate the area on local wines. And the second is to support the local wine industry—that includes wineries, shops, bars, and restaurants.”
What an industry it is: Maryland has 45 wineries, while Virginia boasts 210 wineries and 27 wine trails. Even better, the wine these local vineyards produce is earning critical acclaim. “Just recently at the Virginia Wine Summit, Virginia wines won six of the eight categories in a blind tasting against better-known wine regions,” French explains.
If you like luxe varieties, French recommends Barboursville, Black Ankle, Linden, Chatham, Breaux, and Ankida Ridge vintages. “Hands down they are amazing wineries and offer great reds and whites,” she says. And don’t miss the tasting event at Washington Wine Academy (1201 S. Eads St., Ste. 400, Arlington; $30 tickets on washingtonwineacademy.org) on Friday, October 19 at 6:30 PM, where you can sample 12 award-winning Virginia wines—many “deemed better than their California or old world counterparts,” French says—and learn fun facts about Virginian varieties. Cheers!
National Geographic Exhibit at Carroll Square Gallery
Vintage photographs of the District are on display for the first time in the region.
October 15, 2012
Tiers of basins and mirrors solve wash-hour traffic at Kansas Hall, NGM, September 1943.
The National Geographic Image Collection is one of the world’s largest photo collections, and now The District’s Carroll Square Gallery’s new exhibit—“Photographs of Social Life in Washington DC, 1900–1960”—gives you the first look at 30 of its regional images. This insider view of the city reveals the area’s social setting via accessible snapshots, including images of women out for a stroll; young people lounging by the pool; and an end-of-war, celebratory conga dance line in Lafayette Park.
“Prior to this Social Life show, the only people allowed access to these photographs were staff and the occasional scholar,” explains Julia Andrews, director of the National Geographic Image Collection’s Fine Arts Program. “Most of these photographs have not been seen in the original since they were first printed 60 to 100 years ago. It’s fascinating to see how a magazine that specializes in bringing exotic cultures home sees its own home, our home, Washington, DC.”
The Collection carefully selected each image from thousands of published and unpublished works, with all displayed photographs including captions along with field notes from original photographers. View the exhibit free of charge from 8 AM to 6 PM, through November 30. Carroll Square Gallery, 975 F St. NW, 202-347-7978
Photography by B. Anthony Stewart/National Geographic Image Collection
DC Eateries Offer Election-Themed Dishes
Vote with your taste buds when you order these political menu items.
October 12, 2012
Whether you lean right or left, you can make a political statement with your selections at these local restaurants. Boost your party’s position before November 6—some eateries are tallying orders to predict the presidential election—or just have fun over lunch.
Nosh on one of five constantly rotating selections from the Political Burger Board, offered weekdays from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM. Fans of the President should try the Obama burger—it’s made of hand-chopped Kobe beef skirt steak that’s formed into patties, then topped with roasted pineapple and speck. Those com-“Mitt”-ed to the Republican Party, will appreciate the Romney: an eight-ounce Angus beef burger made up of Utah-style pastrami, melted Swiss cheese, and fry sauce (a mix of mayonnaise and ketchup). And voters who cross party lines should try the Bi-Partisan: an eight-ounce American Kobe burger, with Maine lobster, white cheddar, and black truffle-buttermilk dressing. 1625 I St. NW, 202-689-8999
Blue Duck Tavern
Blue Duck Tavern has artisanal blue and red cheeses available 5:30 to 10:30 PM nightly—and the eatery is tallying orders to see if the cheeses purchased reflect the election’s final results. Blue cheeses are Ewe’s Blue, a sheep’s milk cheese from Old Chatham Sheepherding Company in New York, and Barick Obama, a pasteurized cow’s milk cheese from Lazy Lady Farm in Vermont. Red cheeses include Red Hawk, a cow’s milk cheese from Cowgirl Creamery in California, and Lincoln Log, a pasteurized goat’s milk cheese from Zingerman’s Creamery in Michigan. Patrons can also view the Presidential Cheese, a 35-pound pasteurized cow’s milk monstrosity made of Cabot Clothbound cheddar from the Cellars at Jasper Hill, Vermont, which will eventually be named for the November 6 winner. 1201 24th St. NW, 202-419-6755
Legal Sea Foods
From October 24 through November 5, seafood lovers can participate in a political “fishing poll” by ordering one of two exclusive seafood dishes. Paying homage to the President’s childhood home of Hawaii, the Blue Plate offers a liberal serving of macadamia and coconut-crusted mahi-mahi served with roasted Brussels sprouts in a lime butter sauce. Representing Romney’s connection to Massachusetts, the Red Plate is prepared with pan-seared cod and steamed spaghetti squash in a bourbon lobster cream sauce. 704 7th St. NW, 202-347-0007
The Sweet Lobby
Self-described as the “Political Pastry Polling Headquarters,” this shop sells tasty themed cupcakes and macarons. Obamamacs and cupcakes are decorated with a red and blue emblematic Obama “O,” while Romneymacs and cupcakes are decorated with the signature blue and red Romney campaign logo. 404 8th St. SE, 202-544-2404
Photography by Melissa Hom (BLT Steak Burger)
European Artists at The Phillips Collection
Noted gallery debuts two exciting exhibits this fall.
October 10, 2012
The Phillips Collection introduces two European artists—Per Kirkeby and Xavier Veilhan—to the American public in not-to-miss presentations this fall.
On view now through January 6, 2013 is “Per Kirkeby: Painting and Sculpture,” 37 works by Kirkeby, a contemporary Danish painter, sculptor, poet, and filmmaker. Kirkeby has had a prolific 40-year career, and this exhibition features an interesting selection of 26 of his layered paintings and 11 bronze models of fragmented bodies, often shown melded together. Trained as both a geologist and artist, his chalk drawings on Masonite from the 1980s were frequently erased early on. This process of erasure and his study of the environment reflect Kirkeby's belief that nothing is permanent—which explains why many of his large-scale sculptures are fashioned like ever-changing geological strata.
Meanwhile, French artist Veilhan marks his first major US museum presentation with “(IN)balance,” an exhibit running November 3 through February 10, 2013 as part of the museum’s larger Intersections contemporary art series. Veilhan is most famous for animating the gardens at Château de Versailles with a lacquered royal purple horse and carriage. He uses sculpture, painting, digital photography, film, and video to address issues of representation: how and what we see. Inspired by technological innovation, Veilhan's works fuse historical art styles and traditions with modern materials and reinterpretations. One of the expected highlights is a striking, polyurethane sculpture of an angular bear. “We're incredibly excited about the fabulous eight-foot-tall Ferrari red The Bear coming to the corner of 21st and Q Streets,” says Cecilia Wichmann of The Phillips Collection. “This will be our largest Intersections contemporary art project to date.” 1600 21st St., NW, 202-387-2151
Artwork courtesy The Phillips Collection
OPI Presents New Bond-Inspired Collection
New holiday nail colors celebrate 50 years of 007.
October 08, 2012
We put our finger (or ten) on a cool way to commemorate a half-century of James Bond: Try OPI’s new Skyfall collection, named for the latest film in the series. The 12 limited-edition shades feature “lots of glitter, rich reds, and deep tones,” says OPI executive vice president and artistic director Suzi Weiss-Fischmann—so sophisticated yet daring wearers will fit right in when the movie opens on November 9.
With the latest film starring Daniel Craig as Bond alongside Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva, and Bérénice Marlohe as the newest Bond Girl, OPI specially designed the deep maroon Skyfall shade—Weiss-Fleishmann’s favorite—for Marlohe’s character. “Not only does James Bond draw a huge audience, the Bond films are sexy, and provide lots of inspiration for holiday lacquers,” Weiss-Fischmann explains.
Other new colors include Moonraker, a metallic gray, and The Spy Who Loved Me, a romantic cherry red. “Many of the nail colors reflect iconic elements seen in the film, such as Bond's Aston Martin,” says Weiss-Fischmann. “Other shades really capture the film’s mysterious, glamorous vibes.”
Buy the limited-edition line at salons and stores that sell professional products, such as Trade Secret, Regis Salons, ULTA, Dillard’s, and JC Penney.
Photographs Courtesy OPI
Celebrating the White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner at Carnegie Library.