Aye! Lake Fairfax Park to Bring First Pirate Fest

Posted by Editorial / Monday, July 21st, 2014

By Elke Thoms

Pirate Fest Logo

Courtesy of Fairfax County Park Authority.

Are words like “avast” and “me hearties” commonplace in your home of pirate-fanatic children? This Saturday, Lake Fairfax Park will provide a day that’s a welcome alternative to watching Pirates of the Caribbean for the 67th time.

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Fearing the Beast

Posted by Editorial / Monday, July 21st, 2014

A story of isolated terror, “Abominable” takes audiences on a journey of how fear can strike any of us, at any time. –Shelby Robinson

‘Abominable’ by Helen Pafumi.

Photo courtesy of The Hub Theatre.

Sterling resident, Helen Pafumi wrote the first draft of “Abominable” to explore the destructive behavior exhibited by the son of her friend after his parent’s divorce. But the countrywide terror caused by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary hijacked Pafumi’s play, leading her to transformed it into an exploration of the potential affects bullying has on an individual and on a community.

“What happens when we feel, as a community, that we have a safe place and someone breaks into that safe place?” asks Pafumi, Helen Hayes nominee and the artistic director and co-founder of the Hub Theater in Fairfax. “That’s the same thing that bullies do—they break into that safe place that we all feel.”

Although Pafumi thought this was one story better left in a desk drawer, her friend, director and producer and Kirsten Kelly, was quick to get on board for the project, seeing “Abominable” as relevant to the current struggles of communities everywhere.

Kelly, a two-time Helen Hayes nominee who has directed three shows at the Hub and the soon-to-premiere “The Homestretch” in Chicago, says “Abominable” is not just about fear and terror but is also a “story full of the joy and spirit of life … what keeps us going during the hard times.”

In “Abominable” two stories converge as a boy named Sam feels his inner world crushed by the pressure of a bully while the quiet town in which he lives begins to unravel from the presence of a beast. As Sam’s bully acts with more aggression, large footprints start to appear throughout the town.

Is Sam the beast? Is the beast a metaphor? These are questions that will be grappled with by viewers, as well as explored by Pafumi and the designers as they continue to plan the staging of the play. One thing is for certain, as Pafumi states, “The beast is real: There is evidence of the beast, there is fear of the beast.”

‘Abominable’ by Helen Pafumi
Running June 11 through Aug. 3
The Hub Theatre, Fairfax; thehubtheatre.org

(July 2014)

Andrew Tufano and his Mustached Guitar Take Jammin’ Java

Posted by Editorial / Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

By Elke Thoms

Andrew Tufano with Guitar

Photo courtesy of Molly Peach.

A few minutes after Andrew Tufano and I are supposed to meet, I receive a mildly frantic call from the singer/songwriter.

“I’m sorry, I just walked into Tyson’s—where is the Starbucks?” Tufano asks.

“It’s across from Gap, on the lower level,” I respond.

He assures me he’ll be there soon, just as soon as he finds a map. I hang up feeling confused as to why he picked this meeting spot.

The 19-year old has lived in Sterling his entire life, save for the past year he spent in Nashville completing his freshman year at Belmont University, where he is a songwriting major.

So how does a Northern Virginia native survive his teen years without memorizing Tyson’s layout? 

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Clifton Film Fest Brings Original Short Films to NoVA

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Clifton Film Fest 2014. Courtesy of Clifton Film Fest.

Clifton Film Fest 2014. Courtesy of Clifton Film Fest.

By Emily Rust

Starting a film festival wasn’t in Dani Weinberg’s plans for post-grad life. It was a dream for later on.

But her plans changed after she attended a friend’s graduation at the Art Institute of Washington where Mark Ruppert the founder of the 48 Hour Film Project spoke.

“He just inspired me because he just up and started the festival. I just never thought it was something maybe I could do, until I heard him speak.” Weinberg says.

Weinberg is in her sixth year as director and founder of the Clifton Film Fest, which began in a small park in Clifton with 200 attendees. Now the festival has outgrown the park and moved on to Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton.

Films are still shown outdoors just as they were when the festival started, giving the festival a “summer block party feel.” This year’s festival features more than 20 different original films.

The festival focuses on short films (entries must be under 10 minutes) and promotes independent filmmaking.  Most filmmakers are from Virginia, but this year’s films will include entries from Australia, France, England and South America.

Although the festival has “always been for the people,” as the festival has evolved, filmmakers have themselves become the stars.

Filmmakers are split into two categories: under 19 and 19-plus. During the festival, filmmakers are given the star treatment with red-carpet interviews and a special “VIP” room, encouraging collaboration.

“There’s all these websites and YouTube to show your work now. But I think it’s cool to be able show your video in public and see the reaction rather than just comments or likes,” Weinberg says. “You get to see what people think of your film and get that instant gratification. If everyone’s laughing, you get to see them laughing at the parts you want them to laugh at.”

Two filmmakers who are returning this year are Dillon Meyer and Seth Scofield.

Meyer, a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, is entering his first “real” film outside of college titled “Cold Cuts,” about two veteran mobsters who are going out to lunch one day to the same restaurant that they always bring hits, when one of them discovers that the other one’s intentions are a little bit more than just a friendly lunch.

The narrative for “Cold Cuts” was inspired by Martin Scorsese films, of whom Meyer says, the writer is a big fan. This year will be the Clifton native’s fourth time entering the festival.

Another returner, Scofield, was inspired by his love of cooking and Julia Child when creating his film “Cooking with Jacqueline,” a parody of the television show “Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home.”

As a graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design, Scofield has always loved the arts, which attracted him to the festival.

“It’s a really art centered environment,” Scofield says. “It’s awesome to have something so close that has so much culture in it.”

During the festival, judges including freelance producers, videographers and film enthusiasts, will announce festival winners.  Live music from “Little Red and the Renegades” in conjunction with Workhouse’s Mt. Vernon Nights,” along with a snow cone and barbecue truck will entertain visitors before the evening showings begin.

Clifton Film Fest
Workhouse Arts Center
9601 Ox Road
Saturday, July 19
4 p.m. Day Showing, 7 p.m. Evening Showing

Whiskey While You Work

Posted by Editorial / Friday, July 11th, 2014

A full tasting room at Catoctin Creek Distilling Company. Photo by Rick Martin.

 By Kate Masters

Well-dressed women swilling whiskey have been a national institution since at least Prohibition, when trailblazing female bootleggers started outselling their male competitors five sales to one.

Take a chance to honor those roots with Finch Sewing Studio’s Sip and Sew series, hosted this month in collaboration with Catoctin Creek, Loudoun County’s first legal distilling company since before the temperance era. 

The studio’s July 14 event features a lesson on Sashiko stitching, a type of Japanese hand embroidery. Owner Nicole Morgenthau describes it as a beginner’s sewing project, but one that looks more complicated than it actually is. In Sashiko, geometric patterns are sewn onto solid-colored fabric using a technique that inserts several stitches at once, simplifying the creation of an otherwise ornate design.

Sashiko sampler. Photo courtesy of Purl Soho.

Students at Monday’s event will leave the class with a handmade Sashiko wall hanging.

As for the whiskey, Cactoctin Creek distills a competitive rye that comes recommended by the Washington Post and The Whiskey Women, an online blog that takes its aqua vitae very seriously, indeed. The distillery also makes a blend called Mosby’s Spirit, an un-aged white whiskey that harkens back to the days of home-brewed Southern moonshine. While un-aged spirits often suffer from overwhelming harshness, Catoctin’s is more evenly balanced, with palpable notes of floral and citrus.

The business was started in 2009 by Becky and Scott Harris, former chemical and software engineers, respectively, who apply the same level of scientific expertise to their distilling processes. Beyond whiskey, the pair also experiment with gin and several different kinds of brandy, made from organic and often locally-sourced ingredients. 

There’s a take-home element to the Sip and Sew series that makes it easy to recreate the event after it’s over. If you can’t get enough of stitching and sipping, pick up a bottle of whiskey at the distillery and some extra embroidery supplies at Finch Sewing Studios and go wild in the privacy of your own living room.

We’ve included a Sashiko instructional video below if you need to refresh your technique, and a cocktail recipe so you can imbibe while you embroider. Catoctin Creek hosts a guest bartender every month from some of the area’s best local restaurants and shares their best creations on the company website. Becky Harris says her favorite has been a ginger martini crafted by Jamie Imhof of Wildwood Kitchen in Bethesda.

The mixologist makes the martini with Mosby’s Spirit instead of vodka or gin, giving it better complexity and a more lingering flavor. Imhof also adds a red wine rim to the cocktail for an extra layer of visual interest.

Jamie Imhof's ginger martini. Photo courtesy of Catoctin Creek Distilling Company.

Ginger Martini from Wildwood Kitchen

2 oz Mosby’s Spirit

1 oz ginger syrup

½ oz lemon juice*

½ oz lime juice*

½ oz pineapple juice*

Red wine of your choice (use a pour spout)

*Imhof only uses very fresh juices in her cocktails, emphasis on the very. Canned or bottled juices won’t deliver the fresh fruit flavors that really make the martini pop.

Pour Mosby’s Spirit, ginger syrup, and juices into a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously until frothy. Pour into a chilled martini glass and garnish by rimming the glass with red wine.


Ginger Syrup

1 cup sugar

1 ½ cups water

½ cup ginger, peeled, diced, and muddled

Combine all ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let steep, covered, for 30 minutes. Strain. Can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a month. 


Getting to know a 150-year-old Civil War General and Governor

Posted by Editorial / Friday, July 11th, 2014


(Left) Governor "Extra Billy" Smith portrait; (Right) David Meisky portraying Governor "Extra Billy" Smith. Photos courtesy of David Meisky.

By Jessica Godart

Speaking with the dead might come off as a little strange for most, but for David Meisky it’s all part of his daily life.

As a living historian portraying Gov. William “Extra Billy” Smith in the organization Lee’s Lieutenants, Meisky, 68, is actually one of the dead that many talk to.

No, he’s not skeletons and bones. His persona, Extra Billy Smith, served as a colonel and a general in the Confederate Army during the Civil War and, more often than not, he can be seen walking and talking at Civil War camp site during numerous Lee’s Lieutenants events.

He will be appearing as Capt. David Meade, the paymaster on July 12 and 13 at the Gray Ghost Vineyard’s 20th Anniversary Celebration.


How long have you been portraying?

Probably close to nine or 10 years. My first event as Extra Billy Smith was with [Chris Godart as Gen. Richard Ewell] up at Bedford Va.

What got you interested in living history?

I was very fortunate in the seventh grade – and let’s just say that was a couple years ago – to have a teacher that made history very interesting. So I’ve always been interested in history, especially in the Civil War. For a number of years I’ve been going to events thinking “Gee, that looks like fun, I’d better get into that reenacting stuff.” Finally about 15 years ago I did. I started [in] Lee Lieutenant’s as Capt. David Meade, the paymaster.

How did you choose who you portray?

I’m looking for the physical resemblance. I pretty much resemble him. His face is a little thinner; I’ve got a square jaw from my Pennsylvania-Dutch ancestry. There was the resemblance and there were some others, but this was the closest one. I didn’t know much about him I started realizing, “This is an interesting guy.” The other thing is you have people like Bill Frueh, who portrays Jeb Stuart, who is twice his age. I’m fortunate in that right now I am two years older than Extra Billy was at this stage 150 years ago, so the age works in great. [Extra Billy’s and my] birthdays are actually only nine days apart.

General Richard Ewell (left) portrayed by Chris Godart and General Extra Billy Smith (right) portrayed by David Meisky. Photo courtesy of David Meisky.

Do you identify with Extra Billy in any way?

Yes and no. I’m not going around thinking I’m the reincarnation of Extra Billy Smith, but you start to take an interest in things [as he did]. Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In the beginning Dr. Jekyll could control the changes…but then it became that he couldn’t control it, he just slipped back and forth. When I’m speaking about Extra Billy, sometimes I find myself saying, “Well ‘I’ did this,” then suddenly saying, “Well ‘he’ did.”

When you’re not the Governor or Capt. David Meade, what are you doing?

Today, I will be at the Paxton House, a home built in the 1830’s. Two times a week I’m down there; tomorrow there’s a meeting for [the Paxton house]. I’m a member of the Civil War Round Table, I do a lot of speaking engagements. A month or so ago I read “The Three Musketeers.” Now I’m reading a book on German spy efforts in the early years of World War I.

What advice would you have for someone looking to get into the hobby?

Enjoy reading, and I would say first thing is to start out as a private or infantry or cavalry, that kind of gets you to feel what it was like back in that day. It gets you into the mindset of the period. Do a lot of research, talk to people, visit the sites. You can read all you want about different battlefields, but going out and actually being there as they would have been, gives you a bit of an idea what they were going through. Walk the places they walked.


Gray Ghost Vineyards. Photo courtesy of Gray Ghost.

The living historian will be joined at Gray Ghost Vineyards by members of the 17th VA Infantry Living History Society for artillery demonstrations.

The weekend festivities will include winery tours, vineyard tours, local art and jewelry vendors. Ezra’s Roadside Kitchen food truck will be on-hand and memorabilia from Colonel John Mosby on display. Civil War authors Eric W. Buckland and David Goetz will also be in attendance at the celebration for signings and meet-and-greet.

The vineyard’s name “Gray Ghost” comes from a nickname Mosby adopted while in the war. The vineyard is family-owned and operated, thriving on producing high quality wine.

Visit Meisky this weekend and ask all the history questions you can muster. For example: Where did Governor Smith get the nickname “Extra Billy” from? Only one way to find out. 

20th Anniversary Celebration
Gray Ghost Vineyards
14706 Lee Highway
Amissville, 20106

Outdoor Summer Film Festivals

Posted by Editorial / Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

See the stars under the stars at these outdoor film festivals happening almost every night this month. –Janeé Williams

5 Outdoor Summer Film Fesitivals in Northern Virginia

Photo courtesy of Tomas Skopal/shutterstock.com.

Rosslyn Outdoor Film Festival
This year’s theme, Working for the Weekend, features movies about work: “The Internship” July 11; “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days” July 18; and “Up in the Air” July 25. At dusk.

Lake Anne Summer Film Festival
Lake Anne hosts themed movies every second Sunday. This month go back to high school with “The Breakfast Club” July 13.

Crystal Screen: In Flight
Crystal City takes to the skies with a plane-themed movie every Monday night at sunset. This month catch “Hot Shots!” July 7; “Up in the Air” July 14; “Con Air” July 21; and “Iron Eagle” July 28.

Comcast Film Fest
Enjoy family fun with “Despicable Me 2” July 18, and an action flick with “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” July 19.

Films in the Park
Films show every Friday in Strawberry Park with a new series each month. This month, the All American Series: “The Rookie” July 4; “Apollo 13” July 11; “JOBS” July 18; and “Captain America” July 25.

Check out more outdoor movies this summer here.

(July 2014)

Story of a rooster? Or the artwork of Seelig? Artist’s work features unique style

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Jean Seelig "Grace Upheld" Photo Courtesy of Jean Seelig

Jean Seelig "Grace Upheld" Photo courtesy of Jean Seelig.

By Emily Rust

“I’m going to tell you the story of the rooster,” Jean Seelig says.

“The emperor invited the master to paint a rooster for him. The master said ‘I will be glad to do that and I will be back in 10 years.’

“He came back to the emperor in 10 years and before the emperor in the morning, he painted for him a rooster. The emperor said ‘Well wait a minute, I am paying you all this money and you painted it this morning.’ And the master said ‘Well yes, but you haven’t seen the 10,000 roosters in my studio.’”

Sumi-e art is not an easy feat. As the master in the story demonstrates, it’s is something that takes years to perfect.

Characterized by a one-brush, one-stroke technique, Seeling has been studying the traditional Asian art form since 2004.

 “If you’re creating an animal, you spread the bristles of the brush to make the mane, curl it to make the nose or the eye,” Seely explains.

Stemming from Chinese calligraphy, Sumi-e (meaning ink in Japanese) is the Japanese interpretation of the Chinese art form and according to Seelig, “the cornerstone of all Asian art.”

Jean Seelig "Beautiful Creation" Photo Courtesy of Jean Seelig

Jean Seelig "Beautiful Creation" Photo courtesy of Jean Seelig.

Seelig has created dozens of Sumi-e paintings. Although the art form has four general categories; birds and flowers, landscapes, calligraphy and portraits or people; she mainly focuses on birds and flowers.

Her favorite piece, “Killing Fields,” came to her during a trip to Cambodia where she found beauty among the destruction from the 1970s genocide.

“I remember looking out and seeing the Cambodia killing field, this very fabulous lotus rising out of the mud,” Seelig says. “Because of the meaning of it, rising again, that has very special meaning to me.”

Jean Seelig "Whoo's" Photo Courtesy of Jean Seelig

Jean Seelig "Whoo's" Photo courtesy of Jean Seelig.

On July 12, Seelig will lead a workshop for children at the Center for the Arts in Manassas.  As the children create Sumi-e style art on T-shirts, Seelig will remind them that “you can create something with very minimal work and effort.”

“Regardless of what they do, I want them to feel successful in their endeavor,” Seelig says of the workshop participants.

Seeling serves as the president of the local Sumi-e chapter in the Greater Washington Area. In September,  the Sumi-e Society of America will host its National Exhibition in Rockville, Maryland.


Asian Brush Wearable Art Workshop for Kids
Center for the Arts at the Candy Factory
9419 Battle St., Manassas
July 12, 1-4 p.m.

Synetic Theater Brings Free Pantomime Family Shows to Lubber Run Amphitheater

Posted by Editorial / Monday, July 7th, 2014

By Elke Thoms

Synetic Theater Music Box

From left: Joe Carlson, Irina Kavsadze, Vato Tsikurishvili. Photo courtesy of Synetic Theater.

Looking for a way to get your kids hooked on theater this summer? Synetic Theater aims to entertain children without uttering a single word.

Over the next two weekends, Synetic Theater will present two free shows at the Lubber Run Amphitheater in Arlington. The shows—The Music Box and The Miraculous Magical Balloon—are family-friendly and dare to keep your kids entertained without dialogue. The plot of each performance is conveyed through pantomime, physical comedy, sound effects, dance and music. 

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Not a Fan of the Fourth? We’ve Got You Covered With 5 Alternative Weekend Plans

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

TNT Bar on Columbia Pike. Photo courtesy of Eat Good Food Group.

By Kate Masters

Independence Day may be filled with fairs, fireworks and festivities, but some people just can’t handle the fizzle of firecrackers or the influx of festal families. If pyrotechnics aren’t your thing and you’ve never been able to pull off red, white and blue, try one of our alternative weekend plans, specifically conceived to help you avoid the patriotic crowds.


Karaoke at Cafe Chocolate

Anything but average, Cafe Chocolate in Annandale offers a taste of the East on a day otherwise filled with red, white and blue. The bar rents out private karaoke rooms for $30 to $50 an hour, and groups can belt out their favorite hits in English or Korean. Summon staff with a buzzer built into the room and stock up on soju, a vodka-like Korean liquor, or try a few orders of fusion dishes like kimbap or kimchi fried rice. The restaurant also offers hookahs and a separate room for smokers who like to indulge indoors. While firecrackers may light up the sky inside, Cafe Chocolate provides a temporary ticket to a country far from the USA.

 Cafe Chocolate
7129 Little River Turnpike, Annandale

Patriotic Punch at TNT Bar

Sister bar to the ultra-hip PX in Old Town Alexandria, TNT Bar in Arlington offers a trendy alternative to the usual Fourth of July pub rush. Though it’s closed the day of, TNT will reopen on Saturday for a belated celebration, offering bourbon-based “patriotic punches” in addition to its regular lineup of rock-n-roll-inspired cocktails. The punch flows for $4 a glass during the bar’s happy hour (5 to 7:44 p.m.—don’t ask), and it’s worth stopping by for an early indulgence to avoid the big-ticket prices later in the evening. No, your night out won’t actually fall on the Fourth, but there’s nothing hipper than running fashionably late.

 TNT Bar
2413 Columbia Pike, Arlington

Catch a Flick at the Angelika Film Center

Housed in Fairfax’s burgeoning Mosaic District, the Angelika Film Center is the perfect place to hide away from typical Fourth of July festivities. The boutique cinema screens independent and specialty films, and its Independence Day lineup runs the genre gamut. A screening of Snowpiercer, a post-apocalyptic odyssey from renowned Korean filmmaker Bong Joon Ho, closely follows a showing of Begin Again, a gentle romantic comedy starring Keira Knightly as an aspiring folk singer. If there must be a patriotic flair to your evening, try to catch the 11:45 screening of Coming to America, Eddie Murphy’s 1988 comedy about an African prince looking for love in the USA. Part of the Angelika’s weekly after-hours series, tickets to the flick only run $7.

Angelika at Mosaic
2911 District Ave., Fairfax

Soar High at Flight

If you have lofty expectations for Independence Day, you just might find satisfaction at Flight, an indoor trampoline park in Springfield. The facility is open all weekend, and it’s the perfect place to release some pent-up energy while enjoying a less-stereotypical observance of the Declaration of Independence. The park sets aside time for kids-only jumping from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., while grown-ups can burn off July 4 barbecue bellies with a boot camp trampoline workout on Saturday from 9 to 10 a.m. Take advantage of the Fourth of July festivities and head to the park later on Friday, when most of Northern Virginia will be transfixed by pyrotechnic displays.

Flight Trampoline Park
7200 Fullerton Road, Springfield

Try an Art Camp for Grown-Ups

The Nats may battle the Cubs every day this weekend, but you can avoid beer stands and brats with a grown-up art camp from the Del Ray Artisans. On July 5, unleash your arty side with an all-day drawing marathon from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Coordinated by local artist Ricardo Pontes, the event allows aspiring Vermeers to drop in and out of the gallery, sketching from nude models or still life displays. Your painting might not incorporate red, white, and blue, but you will leave the studio with a one-of-a-kind work of art. Pre-register for the event with a $25 advance fee, or show up at the door for a $35 admission.

Del Ray Artisans
2704 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria

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