Archive for the ‘Fun & Games’ Category

What’s Your Neighbor Renting?

Have you ever wondered what those noises coming from under the door of your neighbor down the hall really were?  Was he watching a Rob Zombie film, or trying to create a real zombie?  Well, the New York Times has created this awesome and engrossing interactive map of Netflix’ most rented films of 2009 to satisfy your curiosity!  You can check it out by zip code or by title.

Netflix Popularity Heat Map, courtesy NYT

Netflix Popularity Heat Map, courtesy NYT

While The Curious Case of Benjamin Button seems to have been near-universal in its appeal (that’s near-universal…it’s certainly not in my queue!), other films were…not so universal.  The different stats on Rachel Getting Married versus Lakeview Terrace, for example, provide an intriguing glimpse at the DC area’s demographics.

Truly fascinating!

DC to Be Dan Browned-And What to Do About It

Lost Symbol cover

With the advent of Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol” this coming  Tuesday, the secret societies of the DC area are bracing for a sudden onrush of tourists to their places of…secrecy, I guess?  As early as Tuesday night (Seriously-how long does it take to read a Dan Brown book?) throngs of Dan Brown devotees could be showing up at your local Masonic lodge asking if they could just “poke around a bit.”  This story in yesterday’s WaPo (while taking shot after shot at Dan Brown and his audience) details how even little places like Rosslyn Chapel Trust see an explosion in tourism based on their supposed (and by supposed I mean created for a work of fiction by a writer of fiction, but it sounds real) connection to the lost mysteries of Christ.  Where Professor Robert Langdon goes, so go the masses.

No doubt, there will be an increase to some of these probable locales (THANKS Matt Lauer!) and you’re likely to get some folks bugging you with stupid half right facts about secret societies for the next two years (just in time for a movie to come out and start it all over again), it doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun.  For your entertainment, here are some ideas for how to deal with tourists in search of a “Secret Washington:

1.) Stage an argument near one of these likely destination.   Have one person imploring desperately for help from another.  Just as it reaches a fever pitch, and just as your target is in ear shot, say “Will no one help the Widow’s Son?”   Then cast shifty looks all around, and sneak off together to go do something Masonic-y.

2.) Go on one of the inevitable tours that will blossom from this, and while looking at something old and mysterious (there is bound to be something), bend over and mutter “Oh my God..” just loud enough for others to hear.  Bring a little make-up brush and start dusting something carefully and say “Oh…it just can’t be!”  Feel free to exclaim “I found it” (specify it if you have read the above book and know something that could have been found) as you rush away from the tour.  Bonus:  Have two friends ready, dressed very neatly in suits, come “collect” you when you make your discovery.  Be sure to protest the entire time you are being escorted out-especially that the others “have a right to know!”

3.) Striking up a conversation with one of these folks, start to mention some of the “rumors” you’ve heard of hidden places in DC, full of “mystery” and “wonder.”  When they inquire as to where these places are, say you’ve only heard rumor (and maybe, saw on a map just once) of places tourists never get to see-places only referred to “NorthEast” and “SouthEast”…or was it “SouthWest”, you can’t really remember.  (And let’s face it, most of NE and SE are hidden, mysterious places for tourists despite some of the neat things they offer).

4.) When a Fan-Tourist (Foorist?) tells you something that is clearly wrong or made up from the novel, but wants to pass it off as half truth, say “pfft.  That’s not how it happened in National Treasure.”  If they press you that National Treasure was “just a movie”, well, I think you can figure out what to do from there.  (Side Note:  Why didn’t National Treasure create this kind of fervor?  Those movies were pretty fun!)

5.) Get some sidewalk chalk and just start writing stuff that sounds mysterious on the sidewalk like or “AOFACFSOA FSZWBEIC EIOA ZOHSFWQWOA OQQSDW” other things from the book’s twitter page. (note:  that might actually be illegal or considered defacing property-so be warned).

6.)  Introduce them to the people still in line at Five Guy’s and Ray’s Hell Burger from when President Obama went there.  Have them exchange stories of obsessiveness.

7.) Tell them “Walk left, Stand Right.”  Nothing to do with the book, but they are likely to be tourists.

Other suggestions?

Brief Updates from MBHQ

You’ve no doubt by now noticed that the sites got a bit of a re-design and some things got changed around last week. We wanted to highlight two changes to make sure everyone knows what changed.

The first and biggest is COMMENTS! Registration is no longer required to post a comment on any post. Of course if you already have an account you can still login to ensure your comments are attributed to you, but those who don’t can now post a comment without any long term commitment. Also, on the right you can see some of the recent comments so you’ll always know what the active discussions are. This was the most requested thing we’ve heard from people since our last redesign and we’re excited to see where it leads.

The next change is also something that was heavily requested, and that is a change to the ADS on the sites. You’ll immediately notice fewer of them, but what might not be as obvious is those smaller square ones to the right are specific to this city only and are being sold for a flat rate for a period of time rather than a confusing CPM/traffic/network model. Depending on the city, these range from $7-$175 for a full week. If you purchase one, during that time your ad will be the only one in that spot and will show on every page. We set these up both to make it easier for smaller local businesses to get their ads on our site, and also to help us bring in ads that relate better to our local audiences. Also, keeping these sites online is expensive and every little bit helps.

There are a bunch of other things we changed but we’ll leave those to you to investigate and take advantage of. Hope you like it, and we look forward to seeing you in the comments!!

The folks at MBHQ

Daily DC Item: Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown Comes To Washington DC


Slam Dunk Showdown in LA

While you may not be seeing anymore slam dunks from Etan Thomas,  this weekend you could have a chance to become a slam dunk champion. The NBA’s Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown comes rolling into town this Saturday and will be setting up a b-ball court on Pennsylvania Ave between 9th and 10th street.

The showdown is also part of the National Capital Barbecue Battle that will be going on in the area as well, so you can see some slam dunks or try out some BBQ ribs.

The showdown starts at 4 PM and admission will be $10, the champion will be voted by you, the fans via SMS text messages. NBA Legend Darryl Dawkins will also be on hand as well.

You know after watching More Than A Game last week, I maybe inclined to see what a 5’11” Asian man could do- however I don’t think I have that big of a vertical leap.

Parents Want to Roll Easter Egg Site Off A Cliff

Easter Eggs*

Easter Eggs*

Washingtonian magazine tweets:

Wow, people are super angry about this online White House easter egg roll distribution

And they aren’t kidding.  The newfangled intertubes version of signing up for Easter Egg Roll tickets seems to be universally reviled by Washingtonian readers commenting on the ticketing system.  They complain about system crashes and site errors, with the general sentiment being “at least when I stood in line, it kind of sucked but I knew what my chances were.”  Commenters on are expressing their frustration, along with a dollop of suspicion and a dash of “politics-as-usual”.  I think it’s safe to say we could hard-boil a dozen eggs for coloring with all the steam coming out of their ears!

How about it, DC?  Have you tried it?  Were you feeling trepidation because of the Purple Tunnel of Doom, or Ticketmaster≠Ticketsnow issues?   Is it E-Bay or nothing for you?  Or are you psyched because you didn’t have to stand outside in the rain on this yucky March morning?

* Photo by flickr user mistaric used under a Creative Commons license

Inauguration 2009: DC Bars Go 24/7

Inauguration week just got a bit crazier.

I heard on MSNBC today that the D.C. council has passed “emergency legislation” that will allow bars, restaurants, and nightclubs to serve alcohol to 5 A.M. The legislation will also allow these places to stay open starting Saturday January 17th until the morning after the big day- January 20th.

Personally I am very excited over the news. Councilmen that voted against in the 9-4 decision cited a suspicion that many will be drunk at 5 A.M.- and I fully agree. I do suspect that many will now be partying all night long, and I intend to be one of them.

The move clearly benefits these establishments which can now generate revue for a longer period of time, however it is a wise move to try and accommodate the big inflow of tourists that will be in town that weekend.

While I personally still don’t know how I will ring in the new President, the increased hours have enticed me to make it a weekend I won’t forget… or maybe remember…

What do you think about the new law? Good move? Bad move? Great move?

Preview: American History Museum

In three days the National Museum of American History reopens to the general public. I was fortunate to tour the renovated building yesterday.

The first thing I notice as I step through the Mall entrance of the American History Museum is how light it is. A skylight brightens the three story atrium and the artifacts, like a home computer circa 1985, that line the walls in 10 ft. cases. A grand staircase constructed of metal and glass connects the first and second floors.

As I walk into the Selin Welcome Center, videos preview some of the events and special exhibits on the four flat screens as helpful volunteers provide maps and membership information.


Mark your calendar: American History Museum Reopens November 21

Each time I volunteer at the Smithsonian, someone will inevitably ask, “Where are Dorothy’s slippers?” and “Where can I see the first ladies’ gowns?”. On November 21, the Smithsonian Institution will kick off a three-day festival to celebrate the reopening of the National Museum of American History.

The first 1,814 visitors through the museum doors will receive a special gift in honor of 1814, the year of the Battle of Baltimore when the Star-Spangled Banner waving at “dawn’s early light” inspired Francis Scott Key. The old favorites like the American Presidency, Julia Child’s kitchen, Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves, and America on the move will return on display with a new state-of-the-art gallery for the Star-Spangled Banner.

The museum closed in 2006 for an extensive $85 million renovation. The new interior features a skylit atrium and a grand staircase of metal and glass that connects the first and second floors. Artifact walls on the first and second floors will showcase some of the 3 million objects in the museum’s permanent collection.

So don’t miss the official ribbon cutting and plan to drop by between 10:00 am – 7:30 pm for the festivities.

Happy Birthday Madame Tussauds!

A year ago I was excited to see that there would be a Madame Tussauds in Washington DC, now a year later the wax museum is celebrating it’s 1-year birthday. According to the Going Out Gurus you can visit museum for only $1 (which is a whole lot cheaper than the standard $20 ticket price.)

There is a catch however- you have to sing happy birthday to the museum.

Call me spoiled from all of DC’s free museums but I am not a big fan of the expensive prices of some of the other museums here and I will definitely take advantage of this deal while it lasts (it ends Saturday.)

Now time to find someone that can actually go out during the museum’s tourist (but not local resident) friendly hours.

Buffalo Wing Battle-Minus the Buffalo

This past weekend (very last minute or I would have altered alerted you dear MetBlog readers) I found myself at the first ever Buffalo Battle-aka the “War of the Wings.”  The scoop?  J. Paul’s Chef Darrell “Big Wing” Hughes faced off against Old Glory’s Chef Richard “The Pit Master” Brooks in a four round cook off to see just who has the better wings.  For the price of admission spectators got two complimentary drinks and (wait for it) all the wings you could eat.  Proceeds went to the very worthy cause of the DC Central Kitchen.

As a native Western New Yorker, both hungry for wings and willing to donate to a good cause, I felt uniquely qualified to show up at this event and cast my own judgment on these so called “Buffalo Wings.”  Yes much like the native of Philly who is fond of saying “that’s not a real cheese steak”, the Chicago transplant who says “ugh! you call this pizza?” and the New York City tourist that can’t wait to tell you just how much “better the <fill in just about anything> is in New York”-I too become a food snob when wings are brought into the mix.   Especially when someone calls them “Buffalo Wings.”   

So on this, the alleged anniversary of the Buffalo Wing (Happy 44th!) allow me to share my thoughts with you:


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