Weekend Now

Weekend Section: Child's Play
Weekend Section: Child's Play (Mark Finkenstaedt - For The Washington Post)
Weekend Staff
The Washington Post Weekend Section
Friday, July 7, 2006; 11:00 AM

The staff of Weekend , The Washington Post's weekly entertainment guide, covers what's happening in the Washington area. We'll field your questions on everything in the section from performances and new DVDs to weekend getaways and kids' activities. We write about all kinds of fun things to do and we're happy to talk to you about it.

The Weekend staff was online Friday, July 7, at 11 a.m. ET to take your questions and comments.

This week Weekend hears from local kids about how they like to spend their summers. We share their suggestions for summer fun and add suggestions from Weekend staff experts on music, movies, art and food along with fun ideas from area adults who make it their business to know kids and to entertain them. Elsewhere in Friday's Weekend section, Michael O'Sullivan interviews comedian and actress Amy Sedaris , and Richard Harrington talks with John Corbett , actor turned country singer. Ellen McCarthy checks in on GALA Hispanic Theatre, and Eve Zibart samples Burmese cuisine at cozy Falls Church cafe Myanmar.

Read about the staff of the Weekend section.

A transcript follows.


Scott Vogel: Morning, all. The skies have cleared just in time for a beautiful, if warm, weekend ahead. So come on out of that dank, still-smelly basement and reacquaint yourself with the great outdoors. Need help? Weekend is here. Our staff of experts comes armed with loads of suggestions on how you might enjoy this great town we call home. All you have to do is ask...


Gaithersburg, Md.: So how would the various actor-rockers rank? Keanu better than Seagal? Corbett better than both? Jared Leto? Kevin Bacon? Russell Crowe?

Richard Harrington: It's generally a treacherous two-way street, with actor X dismissed for indulging in what is likely a life-long passion and musician Y dismissed for thinking he/she has the chops to act. Generally, actors do it for love. They tend to make A LOT MORE money in front of a camera than on stage--think Keanu Reeves or Russell Crowe ever got a tour guarantee of $20 million, which is probably what they get per film? (On the other hand, that salary affords them their indulgence). Kevin Bacon always looks to be having fun between films with The Bacon Brothers, who, if I recall, predate his acting career. Corbett seems to be having fun (SEE TODAY's STORY)and he's surprisingly credible. A whole other discussion awaits for rappers turned actors.....


Washington, D.C.: Hola. I heard something about a Latino Heritage Celebration this weekend. Can you tell me more about it?

Ellen McCarthy: Seems like it should be a great event. Lots of music, dancing, food, etc. There'll be a few members of the Nationals there, along with some local radio celebs. It runs from 10:30 to 3:30 on the 14th Street block of Park Rd. in Columbia Heights. One the groups performing, 3canal, also has a show opening at GALA Theatre on Thursday. I saw a rehearsal last weekend and, for what it's worth, still have their soulful Caribbean rhythms stuck in my head.

_______________________ At the Heart of the Caribbean (Post, July 7)


Downtown D.C.: OK, I did something crazy. I packed a bag this morning and brought it to work, not knowing where in the world I might go after work. I don't want to drive more than two hours in any direction, but I want to arrive at a quiet, peaceful place for an overnight stay. Am I deluding myself? Will I just spend two hours on the freeway? Was it weird to pack a bag like that? Help!

Jenny Abella: That is such a fun, adventurous thing to do! If you're relatively new to the area, there's the charm of Annapolis. If you're looking for a bigger city, there's Philly just about 2 hours away (though could be much longer if you're in I-95 traffic). You could head west into the mountains if you want to get out of the heat. Or go to the Eastern Shore. Have a great time whatever you do, whatever direction!


Silver Spring, Md.: I would like to know where in the general vicinity are there free or low cost things to do for a 10- and 12- (soon to be 13)-year-old (girls)? The camps in Montgomery county are too expensive, at least the ones that have before and after care, which are the ones I need. The ones that don't have before and after care are reasonable, but then I'll have to pay my sitter to drop off and pick up which is not convenient for her or me. Any suggestions? Thanks

Christina Talcott: Have you looked into YMCA camps? There are some with extended hours - morning and afternoons - and they're reasonably-priced. Consider enrolling your older daughter in a counselor-in-training program there. My sister and I spent a summer as CITs and it was a great experience. (Link to follow) Swing by your local library and check out the bulletin boards there, which are usually full of ideas. Another thing to consider: Are you ready to teach your soon-to-be-teen to get around using public transporation? She's at a great age for learning to get around herself, and it takes the strain off a sitter. Any chatters have other suggestions?

_______________________ YMCA of Metropolitan Washington


Reston, Va.: OK, I'm not a kid, but I wanted to let you know that my grandsons (ages 7 and 10) had a GREAT time at Cub Run Water Park in Chantilly (Ffx Co Rec Center) the other week. The price is right (discount for Ffx Co residents) and it was great fun for a day that threatened lots of bad weather. I personally like the Water Mine better because it's bigger, but it's a bit pricey and not much fun if the weather chases you out.

Scott Vogel: I agree that Cub Run is a blast, particularly when the weather is iffy. Most people don't think about indoor waterparks in July, but given the heat index of late, maybe they should.


Fairfax, Va.: Hi. Do you need timed tickets for the reopened American Art museum and Portrait Gallery?

Joyce Jones: No, you don't need timed passes. And of course, like all the Smithsonian museums, it's free. Have fun.


Washington, D.C.: I loved the Ami Sedaris piece by Michael O'Sullivan. For Amy Sedaris, the Weird Is Weirdly Wonderful (Post, July 7) But what I find weird is -- why doesn't Desson Thomson in his review in the Style section on Page C01 link the reader to the piece in the Weekend section? 'Strangers With Candy': Tastier In Bite-Size Pieces (Post, July 7)

It would only seem logical to guide Style readers over to this insightful and funny interview.

No wonder people think the Weekend section is only lists about where to take your kids to get their faces painted!

Joyce Jones: That's a worthwhile idea. thanks.


Bethesda, Md.: A friend and I are doing a spa day in downtown D.C. on Sunday and are looking for a nice (yet not pricey) place to have lunch or brunch. Any ideas? She likes to stick with less exotic cuisine, so the more mainstream the better ... Thanks!

Ellen McCarthy: Have you done the drag queen brunch at Perry's in Adams Morgan? That could add to a day of festivities. Or hit Luna Grill and Diner in Dupont, which makes a fine hollandaise sauce.


Two Hours to a Quiet, Peaceful Place: Gettysburg, Pa.

St. Michaels

Cumberland, Md.

Jenny Abella: Great ideas all! Thanks for writing in. Does anyone else have suggestions?


Washington, D.C.: I'm interested in these new bars I hear have opened up on H St NE. Anyone been to them? Apparently there is a museum in one that is kid-friendly on Sundays. And that online dating lady Jean Smith is supposed to be coming to the Red and Black bar. Is there cover charge there or drink minimums?

Curt Fields: There are several new places in the H St. area. One is Palace of Wonders. It has displays of such carnival freak-show style oddities as 8-legged goats, a lamb with 4 eyes, that sort of thing.

The Red & the Black is brought to you by the folks behind DC9, a fine venue for live music, and is fairly similar to that club in a lot of respects.


Washington, D.C.: I have part of a plan for my weekend, in that I need to be in The Plains, Va., by 3 p.m. on Saturday. I will have a friend in tow, and there's a restaurant in Vienna that I think she'd like, so I thought we could do that for lunch. Depending on when we eat lunch, that probably leaves an hour or so to kill between Vienna and Manassas. I've never been out that way before -- do you have any recommendations of someplace to stop and look around for a little bit? Thank you!

Ellen McCarthy: Ooooh, how about a quick stop at the Old Dominion Brewing Co. in Ashburn? They give free tours of the brewery on Saturday afternoons, so you might hit it in time for one of those, or you could just taste some quick samples and be on your way.


Washington, D.C.: What's the best way to get to the Kennedy Center for the 6 p.m. free shows with my three kids in tow from Crestwood in NW D.C.?

Jenny Abella: There's a free shuttle right outside the Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro stop to the Kennedy Center. It's reliable, and I've seen plenty of kids on it. Have a good time.


Washington, D.C.: I'm Irish, new to town and very intrigued by your critics recommendation of Solas Nua. A friend recently gave me some free novels that were distributed locally that have a Solas Nua sticker inside.

Are they a resident group at the D.C. Arts Center? Their Web site says they have a visual arts section too. Is that also displayed at D.C. Arts Center along with the play?

Christina Talcott: Welcome to Washington! Solas Nua is a non-profit group that was started by an Irish transplant, Linda Murray, to bring contemporary Irish arts to DC. I haven't seen "Bedbound," but I saw "The Mai" in the spring and was very impressed. Check out their homepage at and sign up for their mailing list. Did your friend give you John Banville's "The Sea"? That's their next book in their book club, which meets monthly. Read it by Tuesday and join their discussion at Love Cafe then.


Hyattsville, Md.: Can you give any suggestions for fun activities for 3-5-year-olds, in the Maryland area?

Joyce Jones: It depends on what your 3 to 5 year-olds are interested in, but if they like the outdoors, as most kids do, Great Falls is a fun place to take them. There's food and other people with kids and dogs (often a lot of other people on the weekends). If you want to get away from the bustle you can hop on the C&O canal towpath and either walk or ride bikes away from the more crowded areas. You can also take a ride on a barge pulled by mules (and see a real mule close up). And, the big draw, you can take the boardwalk out to a large overlook of the falls.


Re: H Street : I've been to Argonaut a few times. I really like the place; good eats, good beer, pleasant folks.

I've also been the farmer's market on H (nice, but a bit small). RB Coffee (mmm, pastries) and Phish Tea Cafe (mmm, Caribbean food).

Curt Fields: Some more good stops in the H St. area. Thanks.

_______________________ Capital Fringe Festival


Washington, D.C.: Could my 6-year-old son ride a horse at Rock Creek? Trail rides seem pretty advanced -- he has never ridden a horse before but really wants to try it.

Do they have some slow ponies that walk around a ring?

Ellen McCarthy: Just talked to the folks at Rock Creek Horse Center and they say 6 is a little young for a trail ride. (Minimum age is 12, actually). But they do offer staff-led pony rides, so that might satisfy you're little guy's cowboy dreams.


Arlington, Va.: OK, quick answer needed. Best roller coaster in the area. My kid's crazy about them. Which one is best? You can only pick one.

Christina Talcott: Superman at Six Flags America. I'm tempted to say the Hypersonic XLC at Kings Dominion, but if I can only choose one, I'd go with Superman. It's fast, it's got a huge drop, and it's waaayyy better than any movie. It's a classic and an all-around crowd-pleaser.

Scott Vogel: I vote for the Roller Soaker at Hershey Park. It's one thing to fly down a coaster at top speed, quite another to be pelted by water cannons while you're doing it.


Stafford, Va.: I am hoping you can help. We have almost all the grand kids this weekends -- 3 girls -- 7, 5, 3. Where can we go in the southern northern Virginia area to have some fun with our girls? Something fun, something inexpensive, something not to terribly far from home?? We'd love to get out and do something fun. Thanks!

Joyce Jones: Since we get a lot of waterpark questions, that seems like a safe bet as a fun place for kids this time of year. In your area Splash Down Waterpark near Manassas may be your best bet. SplashDown Waterpark is a link.

Other ideas out there?


Washington, D.C.: I love that you responded to someone seeking something mainstream by suggesting a drag queen party.

Ellen McCarthy: Ha ha ha. Well, listen, they specified mainstream cuisine, but that doesn't mean they won't like a little spice in their ambiance.


Fairfax, Va.: For the person going to the Plains. Ashburn is not between Vienna and Manassas and the traffic on Rte 7 is awful. If they are coming from the Plains, they'll want something off I-66, Rte 50 or Rte. 29. I thought Middleburg when I read their question. It's not between Vienna and Manassas either, more north of the Plains, but it won't take them as far out of the way as Ashburn would and it's much cuter.

Ellen McCarthy: Another suggestion for a pit stop en route to the Plains.


Curt Fields: By the way, for more on the Palace of Wonders on H St., check out the story in today's Style section.


Durham, N.C.: I have read several reports pegging the costs of "Superman Returns" at $200 million (when you include marketing and distributing costs). Considering the film needs to make $600 million to break even, what is the real financial point in making the film?

Michael O'Sullivan: Movies typically make much--if not most--of their money from DVDs, cable and foreign release. "Superman Returns" should be no exception. It will recoup its cost, and, I believe, make money one way or another, regardless of how well it does with the domestic box office.


H St: What's the nearest subway stop to these bars?

Christina Talcott: Your best bet is Union Station, though it's a bit of a hike from there. Next closest is Stadium Armory. The X1 and X2 go there directly from downtown. If you take a cab, remember that H street is the zone line, so go to Eastern Market or Potomac Ave for a one-zone charge (and let the driver know you're expecting to pay for one zone).


Washington, D.C.: Have any of you been to the Folklife Festival? I was at the Hirshhorn with my kid last week and saw a huge monster truck there. Do you know is that truck part of the festival?

Jenny Abella: Are you talking about the 100-ton oil truck? If so, then, yup, it's part of the festival as part of the Alberta section. Check it out before the festival ends Tuesday.

_______________________ At Folklife Festival, a Few Modern Twists (Post, July 2)


Bethesda, Md.: How early is the Folklife Festival open? I know most music acts don't start until 11, but if we got there earlier would the exhibits be open?

Joyce Jones: The festival opens at 11 each day. The concerts are usually in the evenings, beginning at 5:30. The City Guide features a guide to the festival, which can give you more detail about the daily events. Enjoy and next week let us know what you saw and heard...


Lancaster, Pa.: Regarding the Getaway in two Hours or Less:

Lancaster County -- Lots doing downtown tomorrow -- be sure to visit Central Market and our parade of rocking chairs that have been embellished by local artists as part of a fundraiser. The Amazing Maize Maze opens. Stay at a country inn/B and B -- can't get much quiter!

Scott Vogel: I can vouch for this suggestion -- and if you've never visited the wonderful Central Market in Lancaster, the pretzel-shaped donuts there are worth the trip alone.


Columbia Heights, Washington, D.C.: So I take it that 14th Street and Park Road are going to be closed to traffic from 10:30 - 3:30 for the Latino festival?

Ellen McCarthy: Yep, part of Park Rd. anyway.


Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: I understand the Portrait Gallery is overflowing these days with crowds. When would be the time you'd least likely find crowds?

Michael O'Sullivan: I'm told that the crowds thin out during the late afternoon and early evening every day. Keep in mind that it's now open until 7 p.m. too, longer than other Smithsonian museums.


Washington, D.C.: You guys write a lot about water parks, but usually you talk about places to take kids. Are there any water parks that are more adult-friendly? I don't mind sharing space with kids, but I don't want to slide down a fiberglass volcano. I want a nice pool and perhaps a little flirting.

Christina Tailcoat: Some hotel pools let non-guests swim for a fee, and some are good places to flirt and relax. However, I have some bad news: I just called the Washington Plaza Hotel on Thomas Circle, and they said their fab pool, where locals and guests could sip cocktails and lounge poolside, is NOT open to non-guests this year. You could try other nearby hotels, and I'll do some more digging. Meantime, the public pool at 24th and N is pretty grown-up, from my experience.


Montgomery Village, Md. Mom: For the 3-5-year-olds in Maryland: My 4- and 6-year-old kids love the Wheaton Regional park which has a train ride for kids, a carousel (the original one that was downtown D.C.) and lots of playgrounds. I believe Cabin John also is similar. There is also a great Adventure playground at the South Germantown recreation area (my kids call it Castle Park), also a great Splash playground and mini golf. Other ideas include the Montgomery County Aquatic Centers (include recreation pools with slides etc.); public library story times, and tons of local festivals including going downtown to the Folklife festival. Hope these help!

Scott Vogel: Tons of good suggestions here. Many thanks!


Washington, D.C.: Hope you can get to my question. What's good to do with an 8-year-old nephew and 11- year-old niece this Sunday? Prefer D.C. and must be Metro-accessible. Thanks!

Jenny Abella: The Folklife Festival seems to be the big do this weekend, so there's always that. But Sunday is also Tai Shan's first birthday at the National Zoo, and he's having a party from 10 to 2 with talks, activities, etc. I know there are adults out there who would enjoy this too.


Shepherdstown? How far: Is the Shepherdstown Theater Festival close enough to go and come back? Or do you really need to spend the night there?

Michael O'Sullivan: I have driven to Shepherdstown for a theater festival performance and returned the same night, but I got back very late. Leaving from downtown DC, it took me over two hours to get there, but I hit terrible Friday evening traffic. Coming back was faster. Staying overnight is fun because the town is cute, and it's worth poking around in.


Arlington, Va.: Fritz Hahn mentioned Psapp - -did anyone happen to make it to Pancake Mountain's Psapp dance party June 30?

Michael O'Sullivan: I didn't make it to that one, but I took my son and two of his friends to Pancake Mountain's Deerhoof dance party, which was really fun.


Takoma Park, Md. : Response to mom looking for activities for her girls -- check out the Dance Exchange's youth institute -- we will be working with science, art and dance -- very welcoming scene -- Aug 13-20 -- deep discounts. Dance Exchange

Joyce Jones: thanks. more ideas always welcome.


Ashburn, Va.: Are there clowns and face painting at the new museums? My friend told me there were clowns and Target sponsored stuff -- was that just a special day or is it like that for the whole summer?

Michael O'Sullivan: That was just the Grand Opening Family Festival, which Target helped pay for. The Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery won't be doing that every day.


Washington, D.C.: The truck at the Folklife Festival is an ore hauler, typical of what is used at the tar sands in Fort McMurray in northern Alberta. The truck on display is small in comparison to what they usually use up there; often you'll find trucks twice the size at the tar sands.

Jenny Abella: Hey, thanks for the extra info!


Bloomingdale, D.C.: I will admit that I should have been more proactive with finding a place to stay at the beach earlier. Between working, graduating and raising a four-year-old I could never fit it in. My son has strongly expressed several times his interest in going to the beach. My first question is this: while I like Ocean City I think that boardwalk would be overwhelming for him and take away from the fun of beach life. So which beach would you suggest that would offer some solitude, but the availability to escape somewhere and walk around? Second question, is it still possible to find a place to stay for the weekend that is reasonable? I tried doing the day thing and I found it tiring spending a day in the sun and then driving 2+ hours back home. Thanks

Joyce Jones: Lewes and Cape Henlopen combine for what you're looking for: a nice beach that's not overwhelming for a 4-year-old. You can visit the City Guide beach guide for more info. I imagine you can find somewhere to stay if you aren't too choosy, also, there are always cancellations somewhere, just might take a bit of phone work. good luck.


Scott Vogel: Well, another hour has come and gone too quickly, but thanks so much for all your interesting questions and summer fun suggestions. And by all means join us again next Friday at 11 for another edition of Weekend Now.

_______________________ City Guide: Beaches


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