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Live music at Nanny O'Brien's (photo: Reed)

I met up with my friend Kimon for dinner in Cleveland Park.  Afterwards we went over to Nanny O’Briens to have a couple pints of Guinness.  

I’ve been to this place several times…used to go there on Tuesday nights for trivia.  It’s a no frills neighborhood pub that has straightforward service and live music some evenings.  This night there was a pony-tailed man strumming the guitar to typical sing-along type bar songs like Brown Eyed Girl and American Pie.

In the front of the bar there are these two little secluded tables that are tucked away on each side of the door.  They look like a nice romantic place to sit and have a chat with your loved one.  I noticed a young couple that were looking at each other like they were the only ones in the bar.  The carved out window nook lends itself to that feeling I think.  Would it be rude and insensitive to go and interrupt this beautifully peaceful moment?  Who knows, but I was about to find out.

A shot from outside of Jessica and Jonah enjoying a drink at Nanny O'Briens in Cleveland Park, DC. (photo: Reed)

Jessica is a 28-year-old human rights advocate.  She mainly focuses on Sudan, Burma (Myanmar) and the Congo.  Originally from New York City, she moved to DC about a year and a half ago. 

She and her boyfriend Jonah were killing some time before heading over to the Uptown Theater to see Inception.  Opened in 1936, the Uptown is a historic art deco theater featuring just one screen.  Sadly I haven’t been there yet to see a movie.  Shame on me!

I learned that Jessica used to live on an island in Southeast Alaska.  “It was interesting.  I was friends with this one guy who had dodged the Vietnam war by paying people off with homemade baked wheat bread,” she went on to say.  Odd…what would make you think to do that?  Hmmm…I don’t want to go to Vietnam.  What can I give these people that will keep them quiet?  I know, I’ll bake some bread, wheat bread no doubt, and give it them.  At least they were quiet I guess while they were eating the bread right? 

Jonah and Jessica (photo: Reed)

I definitely felt like I was intruding and felt bad about that.  I tried to be as quick as possible and let them slip back into the moment where they were before I interrupted.  His scotch and soda looked almost done and she was finishing up a gin and tonic and they were getting ready to head over to the theater.

“I think I will treat myself to a really nice coffee,” Jessica says referring to the $10 that was on the bar table.  Wow…ten bucks must buy a hell of a cup of coffee!

I grabbed a few photos, thanked them for their time and told them to enjoy the movie.  

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Day 188 was Father’s Day.  My dad came down from Pennsylvania for the day.  My brother and his wife met us at Guapo’s in Shirlington, VA for lunch.  After getting our Mexican fill, we went over to watch City Island.  I had never heard of this movie, but it is quite good.  Then we went over to my brother and his wife’s house and played bridge.  I really enjoy playing bridge, however, I don’t know hardly anyone who plays and I am not that good.  It is probably the most dynamic card game that I know. 

For dinner we decided to take our father to Ray’s the Steaks (2300 Wilson Blvd.) in Arlington, VA. I had not been there before and was very impressed….well I shouldn’t be surprised, their sister restaurant, Ray’s Hell Burger (1725 Wilson Blvd, Arlingtong, VA), serves up the best burger I have ever sunk my teeth into.  I asked our server, a young lady who was working her last shift before taking a leave of absence from Ray’s, if there were any staff members who were fathers.  She went to check.

Daren (Photo: Reed)Meanwhile we enjoyed a delicious dinner.  They have a special that runs Sun-Tues that consists of a salad, two 5-oz filet mignons, two family style side orders and dessert for $24.99.  For the quality you get, it is a pretty good deal.  We didn’t have anything to drink, but their wines and beers seemed reasonably priced.

Our server returned with Daren.  He’s a proud father of two girls, 5 and 8 years old.  A product of growing up in both Ocala, FL and the Bronx, NY, he considers himself more of a Bronx guy.  “I’m definitely more Bronx when I’m angry,” he says laughing.

He’s been working at Ray’s for about a year and a half.  “It’s a great place to work.  Management is very respectful to the employees.”  He goes on to say that, “Michael, the owner, comes in almost every day.”  

I asked Daren what his favorite item from the menu was.  Check out this video for his answer as well as a little bit about one of Michael Landrum’s newest ventures, Ray’s Hell Burger II  (1713 Wilson Blvd, Alrington, VA).  Caution, you may be mouth-watering hungry after watching:

I learned that Ray’s has no website and does no marketing.  Anyone who has eaten there understands why.  The food is so good that you don’t need to do marketing.  Another interesting thing they do there is on Sundays they donate 10% of their sales to the Boys and Girls Clubs of NE Washington, DC and Arlington, VA.  “I’m going to donate your $10 to the Boys & Girls Club,” Daren shares with me with great excitement.

Although polite, Daren’s supervisor seemed a little bothered that I was potentially keeping Daren from his tables, so I wished him a happy Father’s Day and said goodbye.

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Last Friday night we wrapped up our planning session for the DC 48 Hour Film Project pretty late and I got back to my home in DC around midnight.  While I searched my house for clothes and props that I would need the next day, one of our team members, Matt, spent all night writing the screenplay.

Once I got all my stuff ready, I dissolved into my bed and fell asleep, only to wake up at 5:30am to be ready to start filming in Springfield, VA at 7:00am. 

We spent all day filming.  My character was Marco Gabbowitz, a washed out ballroom dance champion who now works as a dog walker.  Marco, and his former partner Kiki Patron, decide to make a run for the championship one last time.  Well, if you want to see the film before we win Oscars and become famous, check it out this Thursday night at 7pm at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring, MD.  Tickets are $10 for about a dozen short films starting at 7pm.

Georgia Mae (Photo: Reed)

So Saturday I was filming all day.  One of the people that was going to be in the movie with us was 13-year-old Georgia Mae.  As it turns out, she is quite the movie star having already been in a major motion picture, Familiar Strangers.  In addition to being a movie star in her own right, she is also the youngest person to receive my $10!  

Georgia Mae is in middle school where she loves to play the standup double bass and piano.  She recently taught herself how to play the electric bass.  I learned that when she first started playing the standup bass that often times teachers and others would have to help her carry it because it was so much bigger than her.  Now she even plays in the jazz band at school.  She used to play the violin and cello.  “I didn’t really like the sound I made with either of them,” she told me.  Sounds awfully similar to my saxophone days.

Georgia Mae is a very sweet girl.  When I asked her what she would like to do with the $10, she replied, “I am going to buy ice cream for my two little brothers.”  That is in fact just what she did.  She even treated her parents too!  Her mother later wrote me and said that Georgia Mae bought the ice cream and they ate it “on some homemade strawberry rhubarb crisp.”  Sounds good!

Photo: Reed

If you come see the film, I know that you will enjoy one of the scenes that Georgia Mae and I are in together.  In the scene I am out walking Sarah’s dog Laredo and come across Georgia Mae.  I say hello to her but she is so embarrassed to be seen with me that she shoots me a look and then crosses the street to avoid being seen with me.  The expression on her face was priceless!

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A few weeks ago I got an email from my friend Betsy saying that some friends of hers were entering in the DC 48 Hour Film Project.  She recommended that I go and be a part of a team called SwimFast, LiveSlow.  The 48 Hour Film Project describes itself as “a wild and sleepless weekend in which you and a team make a movie—write, shoot, edit and score it—in just 48 hours.”

On Friday evening each team receives a character, a prop, a line of dialogue and a genre that all must be included in a 4-7 minute film.  Then you work feverishly throughout the weekend to make the film and turn it in 48 hours later on Sunday evening.  The elements that we had to incorporate into our film were:

Genre:  Buddy Film
Character:  Marco or Muffin Gabbowitz, a person who works with animals
Prop:  a horn 
Line of Dialogue:  “Do you think you can do that again?” 

So last Friday evening I drove over to Springfield, VA to meet with the team.  I only knew Betsy and another friend Jeff from a play we did together last year.  It was there that I met Sarah.

Sarah is 32 and lives in Northern Virginia with her husband Van and their 14-month-old boy Will.

When Sarah is not watching little Will or participating in zany weekend film challenges, she is teaching 4th grade students at a nearby elementary school.  She says she likes 4th graders because, “they are old enough to understand occasional sarcasm but young enough to not be too cool.”  Her school is very different to the one that she attended when she was a young girl growing up in Lynchburg, VA.

I went to an all-white public school, the school where I teach is very diverse.  English is a second language to many of the students.  You can clearly see students who are living in poverty – some have to wear the same clothes almost every day to school. – Sarah H.

Sarah and her dog Laredo, both starred in our film (Photo: Reed)

When I explained the Lend a Hand program to Sarah, she said that she would love to find someone who is talented in needlework and sewing to volunteer about once a week for 3-4 hours until the end of the school year.  The school is located in the Falls Church, VA area.  If you, or someone you know, are interested in this opportunity, leave a comment here and I will contact you.

I learned a little trivia about Sarah too!  She has submitted a video application to be a contestant on the Survivor not once, but twice!  I asked her to share some of the video here, but I haven’t received anything yet…keep your fingers crossed.  And if anyone out there reading this knows how to get Sarah on the show – maybe there is still a chance for her!

Sarah’s $10 will go toward the cost of getting a baby-sitter for this coming weekend.

As for the film, we got it done and submitted it on time.  They are showing our film on Thursday night at 7pm at the AFI Silver Theater, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD 20910.  I am going to go see it.  I have not seen any of it yet, so I have no idea how I did or how the film turned out after being chopped up, edited, and put back together.  I am a little scared to watch myself bomb on the big screen.

Tickets are $10 for about a dozen short films starting at 7pm.

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I was trying out a new spot called Social.   It’s on 14th Street just north of the Columbia Heights Metro.   I just was having drinks, but the food looked fantastic.  They do several portion sizes as well so that you can share plates easily.  Very cool place…worth checking out.

It was there that I met Jim and Jacqie, a young New Jersey couple transplanted to Silver Spring.  Jim is a video editor.  Jacqie teaches art at a local school.  They are getting married this summer.  I mostly spoke with Jim.

He is a pretty interesting guy.  Frankly I think we are lucky to have Jim with us today.  He told me about some rough times in the past that he had with drug use.  Today he says that he is drug free.  I am sure the road was not easy.

Jim is a big fan of his home state of New Jersey and the opening scene of the movie Way of the Gun…a movie that I have never seen.  It was kind of funny…I think he looked at me twice and slowly said, “Way of the Gun.”  Speaking of guns…check out this video to see Jim’s tattoo.

This is not a tattoo that you later decide you want removed!

Jim handed the money over to his fiancée.  I asked him what he was going to do with it and he said that times were a little tough right now and that he would probably just put it toward rent.

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