Hi y’all! My name is Alex Siegman – surely you have seen some of my previous blog posts! As you know, this Sunday I visited the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and while I was there, I took some video on my iPhone. I’m back now to share a little teaser with you in the hope that you will be motivated to come out and visit the festival this week! Enjoy!
Every year the Smithsonian Folklife Festival takes over the National Mall for two weeks in late June and early July.
Sunday I braced the grey skies and walked from Foggy Bottom down to the National Mall, just in front of the Capitol Building, where I was met by thousands of visitors – mostly young families and children plodding around on the grass.
In a promotional video, Richard Kurin, the Director at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, described the annual event as “[A] living, cultural heritage exposition,” and his description was right on queue.
When I first arrived at 11 am I listened to members of the Ballumbrosio family from the Afro-Peruvian band “Tutuma” and the family from the Cumbia-Amazonica band “Los Wembler’s” speak about passing songs and musical style throughout generations.
Next I listened in on Wilde Moran discuss his personal story as a rancher in Peru, who, during his honeymoon in the United States, decided that he wanted to move here and open their own ranch in Gainesville, VA.
After listening to Moran, the smell of chicken and potatoes made its way to the stage, and I joined in line to watch The Catacora sisters from Tradiciones Carumenas demonstrate how they make a traditional cornmeal soup, after which I bought myself a smorgasbord of delicious, traditional Peruvian foodstuffs.
To end my day, I walked over to the center of the National Mall, with the Capitol Building directly in front of me, and watched the Wachiperi men of the Peruvian Amazon demonstrate their archery skills!
All in all, the festival was a fantastic experience! I got to see real members of real cultures around the world demonstrate their crafts, tell their stories, and share their food. The festival continues next week, and I highly recommend you stop by!
AFI DOCS, the international documentary festival, has been held in Washington D.C. every summer for the past thirteen years. This years’ festival featured over 59 feature films and 27 shorts exhibited at seven different landmark theaters throughout downtown DC and Silver Springs, MD.
The ambiance was one of mixed intentions throughout the festival. There was the sentiment of entertainment that accompanies the joy that is the magic of film, but there was also a sense of pressing importance as socially and politically charged issues were abound in the films.
From the life of the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke to gun rights to the immense pressures placed on high-school athletes, the films presented an extraordinary pallet of social and political issues to those inhabiting the country’s capital, raising awareness through film on the doorsteps of those in charge of policies in our government.
For instance, the film “Of Men and War,” directed by Laurent Bécue-Renard, tells the story of the effects of PTSD on returning American combat soldiers who had served in the Middle East, was screened at the Landmark theater, only five blocks from The White House!
As a psychology major in university I am forever conscience of the issues of mental health on communities, and with thousands of men and women coming home to their respective hometowns from tours of service, SO MUCH needs to be done in efforts to provide the proper support and preventative measures for these soldiers.
With each and every visitor passionate about at least one social or political issue, nearly all of the films drew crowds that, after the films end, were visibly engaged in politically and socially charged conversations. In that sense, the AFI DOCS were a great success, bringing to light innumerable social issues that need to be debated about, starting conversations that our government should have began long ago.
If only I had unlimited time, I would have undoubtedly watched every film and short. Nonetheless, the festival concluded Sunday night with a difficult decision to be made – should I see “Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon,” or “Larry Kramer In Love & Anger”? One is the story of the renowned and crude-humored magazine, the other, the story of the historic writer and AIDS activist Larry Kramer.
In full disclosure, I chose to see the story of the National Lampoon. As a long-time Chevy Chase fan I felt that I had no real choice. Alas, the Naval Heritage Center on Pennsylvania Ave was packed with visitors anxious to end the week on a lighthearted note, and the film was fascinatingly informative and entertaining. I have not one ill word for any of the films screened over these five days, and I would be hard-pressed to find anyone to do so.
More than 150,000 people, gay and straight alike, gathered around DuPont Circle on Saturday afternoon for the 40th annual Capital Pride Parade.
The parade featured 187 different contingents ranging from the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington D.C. to NOVA Pride to The Field School. The diverse lineup of youth groups, non-profits, and everything in-between reflected the theme of this year’s celebration, “Flashback,” meant to reflect on the progress that the LGBTA community has made since the first DC Pride in 1975.
At 4:30 pm OUT Riders Women’s Motorcycle Club lead the parade from 22nd and P streets, NW as cheers from the crowd rose above the noise of roaring engines, starting the parade with a heartfelt and exuberant sendoff.
In a press release, Executive Director of the Capital Pride Alliance, Ryan Bos, related the importance of this year’s parade. “The LGBTA community in DC and around the nation has made tremendous progress in the fight for equality since that first DC Pride in 1975,” said Ryan Bos, long-time friend of Orange Juice in Bishop’s Garden. “It’s important to glance back, look forward, and acknowledge those who have provided support, challenged us to become better, and inspired us to strive to accomplish more.”
That progress and inspiration is what lead to children in strollers enjoying the festive colors and sounds alongside elders in wheelchairs celebrating the progress the LGBTA community has made over the years, all contributing to a tangible sense of pride and joy in the air.
The parade finished just after 8 pm as the CapPride float crossed 14th and R streets to an enormous crowd, but there was certainly no sense of finality with the parades end. 40 years has taken us a long way, but there is much more progress to be made, and nobody plans to slow down until pride brings forth equality.
There is a hearty debate amongst film, television, online platforms/content providers and web series creators themselves going on right now. Is web series an art form that will be mainstreamed and monetized? Will that kill the creativity when sponsors, execs and ads get involved? Some dismiss the genre entirely. Are they missing the best content out there? Might we see the same trend happen as when cable started delivering the drama and character development that the film industry wasn’t providing? Here’s some evidence that 2015 will be the year of web series.
1. Technology is providing creators with professional tools – and not just phone cameras. Celtx used to be a free screenwriting tool. Now you can storyboard shots, breakdown scenes, create your shot lists, organize your shooting days, and look at call sheets on your smartphone. https://www.celtx.com/index.html.
2. Are Web Series just something to watch while waiting for another show to return? The headline of the below article suggests so. But on closer examination, the article points out something else. “Transparent helped elevate Amazon.com’s original programming from an Internet footnote to Golden Globe Award-winner for best TV series – and its portrait of a parent (Jeffrey Tambor) who transitions brought conversations about transgender lives into mainstream media.” There was doubt or at least uncertainty in the beginning that online providers could produce great content. Hello, House of Cards.
3. Will High Maintenance be the breakthrough for legitimizing Web Series? High Maintenance was first picked up by Vimeo. Then not shortly thereafter, it was acquired by HBO. Everything about this show is great, the writing, acting and casting. This acquistion is important because other web series making news were in comedy and going to Comedy Central. Now web series has succeeded in another genre. It will certainly given pause to some naysayers who shun web series. http://www.vogue.com/13255907/high-maintenance-hbo/
This will definitely be a hot topic of conversation at this year’s DC Web Fest on Saturday, May 2. You can still get tickets at www.dcwebfest.co/explore. And if this whole web series thing has got your creative juices flowing and you want to learn more about it, we are offering this cool Web Series Start-Up Kit. You’re automatically entered to win with your ticket purchase. Winners will be announced at the festival.
If you’re a sports fan like myself, you know that there is a sort of sports lull after the Super Bowl. Yes, basketball and hockey are in the middle of their seasons, but most people don’t care until someone clinches a playoff berth. Once football is over, it’s just a waiting game for the playoffs (PLAYOFFS?!?!?) or for baseball’s opening day. Because crying myself to sleep every night had gotten tiresome, I looked deep into my heart and asked myself, “Is there another way? There must be something to bide my time until April except for porn and eating an unhealthy amount of Cocoa Krispies?”
I have found my answer. As of Sunday, February 22, I went from a soft, doughy Pillsbury Dough Boy to a hardened, crouton-y Cabbage Patch Man. That is because on that fateful night, I tuned into the WWE Network and I watched Fastlane, a pay-per-view event where grown men (and some women) in their underwear beat the living pulp out of each other, while also keeping up a storyline.
I have come to believe that the WWE is better than all sports. There is no other sport that I can think of that has carnage, monologues, RKO’s, feelings of loss and sadness, people in skintight latex onsies with face paint, you get the picture. No sport can even compare to the emotional roller coaster you get from watching a WWE event, whether it be the regularly programed Monday Night Raw and/or Thursday Night Smackdown or the special events such as the Royal Rumble, Fastlane, Wrestlemania, etc.
I wasn’t always like this, though. For a very long time, I was very similar to the majority of people who think that wrestling is “fake,” and it’s “just a bunch of actors who prance around doing dumb shit.” I was naive, but I have turned a corner. I agree with you, dear reader, that the WWE has a storyline that has been written and I also agree that not all the punches and kicks land. But I do not agree with it being 100% fake. The wrestlers do literal flips from the top rope and land on their feet. They jump and land on each other with all their force. They break bones and spirits, incite concussions and fear. It is an art form, really.
He gazed into her glowing red eyes, enchanted by the spell that her beauty had casted upon him. She exposed her leathery black wings and plunged in for his lips. His fluffy white ears perked up from the shock, nevertheless yielding to her warm embrace.
What’s the point of romance if it’s predictable? Why have blue and brown eyes meet when purple and red irises can light up the room? Why settle for a mini black dress and turtleneck sweater when you can don furry tails and shiny armor? That’s right, Cosplay Hopefuls, I’m talkin’ about COUPLES COSPLAY!!!
In honor of St. Valentines Day, I have compiled a plethora of pictures of couples who use cosplay to express their romance. They’re quite lovely. Instead of leaving you in the dark on who exactly these people are cosplaying, I will name the characters and their respective anime/comics/video games. Note that not all these character pairings are actual couples in their stories, but we all like to ship our favorites. ^.^~
(Images Lovingly borrowed from their respective owners <3)
So, let’s say you’re interested in pursuing Cosplay. You’ve read the tips lovingly published by yours truly and you are ready to go! So, uh, now what? Cosplay Hopefuls, for this blog post I will show you where and how to find the best materials you AND your wallet can agree on! This will cover just a few short tips on making your cosplay on a budget.
Fabric There are lots of stores around the D.C. area that you can purchase fabric and clothing craftings. Here are some choices that might be of interest to you: Jo-Ann Fabrics, Exquisite Fabrics D.C., A.C Moore, Michael’s, G Street Fabrics.Below are just a few of the many, MANY types of materials you could use~
Know When to Sew Find friends who can sew, or learn how to sew. This is an extremely handy skill to possess when you want to make your own costume clothes. Depending on your level of patience and how much time you have, you can choose whether to hand-sew your creation or use a sewing machine to get the job done. From dresses to cloth boots to Attack on Titan Scout regiment uniforms, sewing can really set your custom mark on the pieces you put together. If you are new to the sewing biz and don’t have a friend or relative to sew for you, there are all kinds of simple sewing machines to try out. I bought my first sewing machine at Walmart. You can check it out here.
Sometimes there are things that you should just buy, like wigs or very specific costume parts (like a character’s signature necklace or trinket) But there are almost always ways to work your way around in order to make the most of your cosplay budget. These were just a few quick tips on where to find fabric, so maybe next time I’ll do something on another facet of DIY Cosplay Until then, let’s get arts and craftsy!
MAGFest, or Music and Gaming Festival, is a celebration of all things music and gaming related. Open to #gamers, #anime fans, #musicians, and of course, #Cosplayers! #MAGFest is an annual convention that takes place at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center every January. This year it took place on January 23-26, 2015. I had the pleasure of going for the second year in a row, and might I say it is an honor to share my experiences with the #OJBG team and all of you! Please enjoy my take on #MAGFest!
The Gaylord Itself – Complete with over seventy floors and 12+ elevators, the Gaylord National is a spacious hotel and convention center all-in-one located in Fort Washington, Maryland. Many con goers book rooms in this hotel several months in advance because the it’s the most convenient place to stay. However, there are other hotels nearby so you don’t have to worry too much if you can’t get a room in time. Other hotels include The Westin National Harbor (4-star) and the Hampton Inn and Suites (3-star). There are also at least two parking decks to park your car, and I would recommend carpooling in order to save/share parking deck fees. It’s also a good idea to get a group together and share a hotel room. As many as five, eight and in rare instances ten people will split a room and it’s completely normal during con weekends! (Not to mention it saves megabucks on the room expenses when you split the cost.)
In my experience, up to five people is “comfortable”. The main “hang out” area is set to a tropical forest-like oasis theme, complete with a fountain and cottage-like souvenir shops surrounding it. At night the Gaylord is beautiful and romantic, and the fountain gives a “water show” every evening at 6 PM. I suggest taking a bird’s eye view of the main area by riding the elevator all the way to the top. Truly a breathtaking experience for first timers and veterans!
Cosplay – The cosplayers this year were gorgeous. Since this is MAGFest most of the characters I saw have appeared in video games or anime adaptations of video games. A lot of people also dressed up in their very own creations which the community refers to as Original Characters (OCs for short). The central area of the Gaylord is a great place to take photo shoots complete with a gazebo that I swear out was purposely built there for said photography to be taken in. Getting good lighting can be somewhat of a gamble if you don’t have an expensive camera, but most cosplayers are patient when you ask them to “turn a little this way please!” Or “Hold on, let me try from this angle!” And of course, yours truly also did it up with her own original cosplay. I like to call my costume the “Neko-Neko Maid Warrior!” The cat ears are animatronic ones called “Necomimi Brainwave Cat Ears”. That’s right, they move with the power of your brain! Wanna be cool, too? Click here for more info: http://www.necomimi.com/
Below are some of the pictures that I took in the upper and the lower sections of the main convention area.
The Nonstop 3DS Adventure – There are many continuous games and events that occured during MAGFest. Tabletop game rooms were open at all hours, Arcade rooms were always full of players getting their old-school gaming on (for free, no quarters or tokens necessary!) even a couple games of “Zombie Tag” went down! But nothing puts the “Gaming” in MAGFest like the massive amounts of Nintendo 3DS users you will see. A 3DS is a handheld gaming system created by Nintendo that was released worldwide back in 2011. Similar to the Nintendo Wii system, owners of Nintendo 3DS systems can create and interact with their own personal Mii and play games that come with the system using that Mii. One of those games is called “StreetPass” where you collect copies of other people’s Miis in order to gain special goodies for your own Mii. Tons of Miis will make their way to your 3DS by a special type of Wi-Fi that’s always accessible whether you have normal Wi-Fi connected or not. These character “copies” will then be able to help your Mii get lots of valuable prizes such as accessories and puzzle pieces. I am proud to say that I finished at least five puzzles and gained six new hats for my Mii, ‘Morrachan’! ^.^~ If I had to guess, I would say I have collected over 250 Miis in the three days I visited this convention. Imagine how many I would have collected had I actually stayed in the hotel overnight! More than any other con I’ve been to, MAGFest is where I’ve gotten the most StreetPasses in one !
Panels – Panels are where guest stars from various animated video games, music, movies and the like come to see thousands of their fans scream and shout at them in pure happiness. [Paul, N SP]. Voice actors, game developers, YouTube stars and musicians visit us from various parts the world to talk to their fans, answer questions and sign autographs. I didn’t get a chance to visit a lot of panels this time but one that I did go to featured a “fan movie” adaptation of best-selling videogame “The Last of Us”. The room was packed, PACKED I tell you! The movie was pretty decent as actors reenacted notable cut scenes from the game and acted in a way a player would as if they were controlling the actors. Afterward, the actors went to the front of the room to talk about the film and gave advice to people interested in making or starring in films. More info can be found here: https://en.stagepool.com/
MAGFest Marketplace – This is where I always spend the most money at, LOL. Merchants come from all over the US to sell their anime and gaming style merchandise. Anything from commissioned artwork, hats, books, games, pins/buttons, plushies and accessories. Most of the merchants hand-make their items so you really get authentic keepsakes from your time at the con. You won’t believe how talented some of these people are and how much effort they put into their work! Some indie musicians sell demos or complete albums of their CDs there as well, usually playing samples at their kiosk. Here are some of the items that I purchased from the MAGFest Marketplace.
Music – On the musical side of things, one of MAGFest’s only flaws is that the “Music” in its name is not very well represented at the actual con. Sure, you have your concerts and indie musicians and YouTube musicians show up to entertain the crowd, but it seems a little lackluster to say the least. I feel that the gaming aspect is very well-defined but that should not be all there is to this particular convention. It’s almost as if the musical portion is hidden away somewhere for you to wander in on while you’re walking around collecting StreetPasses. I did see random musicians around the con such as a woodwind trio near a set of escalators, a small percussion ensemble near the tabletop game rooms, and the token saxophone player playing Mario and Zelda tunes as he meandered through the crowd. The con does include a few “jam spaces” where bands can come in and practice whenever they like and con goers are allowed to peek inside to listen to what they had to play.
So MAGFest 13 was a nice little gathering for gamers and anime fans alike. Anyone with the passion for video gaming and music playing can always find a comfortable haven here. One of the things I love most about going to conventions is finding a whole lot of people to interact with, sharing the same interests as me and teaching me lots of things I did not know about and I them. I look forward to next year’s convention and I hope you stop on by, too! Everyone is welcome.
Thanks for reading! I hope I was able to entertain you for a little bit >.< Please leave a comment if you feel so inclined~
#DC can be pretty cold at times. I mean we are south of the Mason Dixon line and it’s not unbearable but we like to keep it #cozy during the winter months so we don’t end up typing
all work and no play makes jane a dull girl
over and over
while we are trying to write new webisodes lel. Here is listicle of our top cheats to make your place #cozy this winter (in case you can’t afford to go to your own tropical island like a tech titan.)
1. Elliot Smith
Waltz #2 is perfect for reminiscing about that one in the #90s that might have gotten away. Having this playing at a barely perceptible level sets the mood for reflecting on the past year and what’s ahead. Walking in wind that makes your eyes water makes it necessary to listen to someone who knows the struggle is real. Here’s a playlist.
If you don’t have a roaring fireplace in your apartment, this is the next best thing. Made in New Mexico, this incense is hand dipped and you can see the resin. Truly a work of art and I love that every time I order, they include a handwritten thank you on my invoice. Sage and cedar smells like a smoldering camp fire. Plus anything cedar is supposed to keep evil away. (These facts are things you notice as a #Buffy fan.)