The Washington Times: Remembering the Space Race

I’d be mourning the end of the phenomenal first season of “House of Cards,” but luckily, I’ve gotten addicted to another show: “The Americans.” The FX drama stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as two undercover KGB spies who seem to live an ordinary American life in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., in 1981. Like any married couple, Elizabeth and Philip Jennings must deal with issues like jealousy and a rebellious teenage daughter–but things are a little more complicated for them, since Philip gets jealous when his wily wife must seduce a source, and their teenage daughter befriends the son of the FBI agent across the street. The show, while perhaps a tad far-fetched, is wholly compelling, with a fantastic soundtrack to boot. (The opening of the pilot features Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk.” Can it get any better?)

The Americans

The Americans

And just as you find yourself rooting for the calculating, ambitious-to-a-fault Underwoods in “House of Cards,” even Reaganites might inexplicably hope the likable spies come out okay in the end.

If the Cold War interests you, you’ll want to check out a party happening tomorrow night at Arlington’s Artisphere in honor of the 53rd anniversary of the first human space flight. On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin completed an orbit around Earth in Vostok 1, and lit the fire under our butts to take that next leap for mankind by being the first to successfully land a man on the moon. The United States won the space race, and ultimately, the Cold War, so it’s a good occasion to put aside our differences with our favorite frenemy and celebrate all that the space race achieved for science. You can read more about “Countdown to Yuri’s Night,” featuring space-themed art, performances, and more, as well as other hot weekend happenings, in my Washington Times column published today.

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The Washington Times

GET OUT: This Week’s Pocket Picks by Samantha Sault

April 12, 2013

Pick of the Pack: Festival: National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade & Blessing of the Fleets

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you already know that the cherry blossoms are in full bloom—so you’ll want to take your antihistamine and get to the Tidal Basin this weekend for a final look at spring before the summer heat sucks the life out of our swamp. On Saturday morning, the National Cherry Blossom Festival will culminate with the annual parade along Constitution Avenue, featuring blossom-inspired floats and costumes, marching bands and performers including Grammy-winning pop singer Mýa and “American Idol” runner-up Elliott Yamin. After the parade, head to the U.S. Navy Memorial for the 22nd annual Blessing of the Fleets, a traditional ceremony to guard the crews and ships from the dangers of the high seas. The event will feature musical accompaniment from the Navy Band and the Washington Revels Maritime Voices, as well as an opportunity to taste the famous Navy bean soup prepared by the White House Mess. Parade Saturday, starts at 10 a.m. at 7th Street & Constitution Avenue Northwest. Blessing of the Fleets Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Navy Memorial, 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. 877/44-BLOOM. Web: nationalcherryblossomfestival.org.

Exhibit: JFK

Nearly 50 years after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, his legacy lives on both in his only living child, Caroline Bouvier Kennedy, who is rumored to be the next U.S. ambassador to Japan, and in Washington’s Newseum, which will open two new exhibits on Friday commemorating his life and death. “Creating Camelot: The Kennedy Photography of Jacques Lowe” features a behind-the-scenes look at the Kennedy family from the 1958 Massachusetts Senate campaign to their life in the White House, through photos taken by their personal photographer. The second exhibit, “Three Shots Were Fired,” will give visitors a concise history of Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963 and the events that followed, featuring CBS anchor Walter Cronkite’s historic television announcement as well as a number of artifacts including the 8 mm movie camera that captured the assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald’s clothing, and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s personal schedule for the day. On Wednesday evening, Newseum members are invited to a viewing and reception with the curators. Through Jan. 5 at the Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. 888/NEWSEUM. Web: newseum.org. 

Lecture: Italian Masters at the Head of the Class

If you can’t make it to the Venice Biennale, the massive art exhibition held every two years that kicks off in early June, you can get a taste of Italian art this weekend at the Italian Embassy. John T. Spike, an expert art historian and author who teaches at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., will be on hand to discuss Michelangelo and Mattia Preti, two of the most influential artists in history. Sponsored by the Italian Cultural Institute, Mr. Spike’s illustrated presentation will explore the two artists’ unique styles, which are currently on display in two competing exhibits at the Muscarelle Museum of Art at William & Mary: “Michelangelo: Sacred and Profane” and “A Brush with Passion: Mattia Preti (1613-1699).” The event is part of the 2013 Year of Italian Culture, a yearlong initiative in the United States to promote the culture of Italy, including art, music, theater, architecture, fashion, and food. Friday at the Embassy of Italy, 3000 Whitehaven Street NW. Web: iicwashington.esteri.it 

Party: Countdown to Yuri’s Night

While the United States won the space race by being the first to land on the moon, we can’t ignore the fact that the Soviet Union might have pushed us to work a little harder by being the first to put a human into outer space. On April 12, 1961, exactly 53 years ago, the Soviet pilot and cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin completed an orbit around Earth in Vostok 1.On Saturday, celebrate Mr. Gagarin—who tragically died in a training jet crash only seven years later—and our now somewhat-friendly relationship with Russia. Taking over Rosslyn’s Artisphere, Countdown to Yuri’s Night is sure to be an out-of-this-world evening for 21+ space geeks with live music and DJs, acrobatic and burlesque performances and robot-themed art. If you ever wanted to be an astronaut, you won’t want to miss other space-themed activities like a space cadet training seminar and moon bounce—and costumes are encouraged. Saturday at Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. 703/875-1100. Web: outofthisworldparty.com. 

Concert: DCJCC Spring Showcase

In this era of YouTube celebrities and Auto-Tuned stars, “The Great American Songbook” lives on thanks in part to Michael Feinstein, the Emmy and Grammy-nominated performer known for his interpretations of American musical theater’s greatest hits. Now the lead conductor of the Pasadena Pops following the death of “A Chorus Line” composer Marvin Hamlisch, Mr. Feinstein once worked for Ira Gershwin, which he recounts in his recently published memoir, “The Gershwins and Me: A Personal History in Twelve Songs.” On Tuesday, Mr. Feinstein will headline the Washington, D.C., Jewish Community Center’s annual gala to discuss his book (and hopefully sing a few tunes), and be available to sign books after. The gala benefits the WDCJCC’s programs, and will also honor local philanthropists Trish and George Vradenburg, founders of USAgainstAlzheimers. Tuesday at the Carnegie Institute for Science, 1530 P Street NW. Web: washingtondcjcc.org.

© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC and Samantha Sault

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