IJR: I’m A Republican Woman – As Obama Leaves Office, I’m Realizing He Won Me Over

In advance of President Obama’s farewell address, I wrote a piece for IJR about my experience with Obamacare–and why I’m so worried about the anti-immigrant rhetoric and the future of personal freedom. An excerpt:

My entire adult life has been shaped by the Obama years, my “coming of age” both personally and politically. I’ll miss the Obama family. I wonder what will happen to D.C., which has experienced such growth.

I’m not quite ready to call myself a Democrat, because I still hope the Republican Party will remember that many of us joined because of our belief in the power of individual liberty, free markets, and limited government. But Obama—a free trader who fixed the economy, killed Osama bin Laden, enacted a healthcare plan nearly identical to Republican Governor Mitt Romney’s, and led the nation to embrace more personal freedoms—embodies my values more than the party that seems to care more about what we do in our bedrooms and bathrooms than the greater good, and more than the populists taking power on January 20th.

Read the whole thing at IJR.

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From the Archives: Revisiting the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

This year’s election cycle has all of us interested in politics reminiscing for times gone by, to say the least. As spring approaches, I’m reminded of fond memories of attending both President George W. Bush’s final White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in 2008, as well as President Barack Obama’s first the following year, and how much Washington has changed since then – and could potentially, drastically, change even more.

It doesn’t look like I’ll get an invitation to the dinner this year – but do any journalists, either? I’m revisiting my Washington Times article from 2012 covering the dinner – the time I interviewed a dog. Enjoy.

Uggie the dog, from the movie "The Artist," performs on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton in Washington April 28, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Uggie the dog, from the movie “The Artist,” performs on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton in Washington April 28, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The Washington Times

Media, politicos, celebrities turn out for White House Correspondents’ dinner

By Samantha Sault

April 29, 2012

This weekend marked not only the 98th annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, which brings nearly 3,000 journalists, politicos and Hollywood stars together for a night of revelry in Washington, to benefit awards and scholarships for current and aspiring journalists.

“Last year at this time, in fact on this very weekend, we finally delivered justice to one of the world’s most notorious individuals,” President Obama said to open his speech at the dinner, seizing the opportunity to boast about the killing of Osama bin Laden to a crowd scattered with potential donors in an election year.

But the crowd laughed, for it was not bin Laden appearing on the screens in the Washington Hilton’s packed ballroom, but Donald Trump, whom Mr. Obama and comedian Seth Meyers lambasted at last year’s dinner for his birther rhetoric. The crowd would continue to chuckle through Mr. Obama’s speech and comedian headliner Jimmy Kimmel’s act, both of whom joked about election-year politics and, of course, the recent Secret Service prostitution scandal in Colombia.

Since 1920, the dinner has allowed members of the Washington press corps to let their hair down and enjoy laughs with their sources, or, at recent dinners, random celebrities. As Mr. Obama joked offstage on a pretend hot mic before his speech: “I have the nuclear codes. Why am I telling knock-knock jokes to Kim Kardashian?” (Miss Kardashian attended the dinner with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren.)

On the red carpet, the paparazzi snapped major star power such as actor Kevin Spacey, who recently portrayed fallen Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff in “Casino Jack,” posing with J.R. Martinez, the former “All My Children” actor and U.S. Army soldier. CBS News’ Bob Schieffer escorted actress Claire Danes (“Homeland”), and Eliot Spitzer arrived soon after.

Meanwhile, Hollywood starlets brought high fashion to Washington, such as Elizabeth Banks (“The Hunger Games”) in a blood-orange Antonio Berardi gown with a trendy peplum, and Charlize Theron (“Young Adult”) in an elegant, long-sleeved, black lace Emilio Pucci gown.

“Modern Family’s” Sofia Vergara was popular, but the most sought-after celebrity was Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier who starred in “The Artist” and was a guest of The Washington Times. After walking the red carpet in a Beverly Hills Mutt Club tuxedo, the pooch visited The Times’ pre-dinner reception with owner Omar Von Muller and Mr. Von Muller’s wife, Mercy.

“He loves to make all kinds of appearances, and this is a big one for him, so he’s very excited about it,” Mr. Von Muller told The Times. Uggie, who was visiting Washington for the first time, also told The Times that his memoir, ” Uggie: My Story,” will be published in October.

Ed Kelley, editor of The Washington Times, was pleased with the reception and the publication’s guest list.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect,” said Mr. Kelley, who was attending his first White House Correspondents’ Association dinner after joining the paper in July 2011. “But we have a good group here tonight at our reception, and we’re looking forward to a lot of fun at the dinner.”

The Times’ guests looked forward to the high-powered mingling and the humorous speeches.

“It’s always good to see the combination of leadership and the media and the glitterati relaxing and enjoying themselves,” said Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the reception.

Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, who traveled from Harrisburg for the event, said he was looking forward to the humor.

Other guests of The Times included former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld; Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican; Moroccan Ambassador Rachad Bouhlal; Washington Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo; Sam Sebastian, Google’s director of sales; and Paxton K. Baker, executive vice president and general manager of Centric, a BET Network, who said he thought it was a great night in Washington because he’s “a big fan of bipartisanship.”

Indeed, after poking fun at himself, Mr. Obama poked fun at both political friends (Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton) and foes (presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney), along with the entire U.S. Congress, whom he thanked for taking “a break from their exhausting schedules of not passing any laws to be here tonight.”

Given the election year, however, he did focus his jabs on his likely opponent in the presidential race.

“It’s great to be here this evening in the vast, magnificent Hilton ballroom — or what Mitt Romney would call a little fixer-upper,” Mr. Obama said.

After referring to attendee Newt Gingrich as his “likely opponent,” Mr. Obama continued: “Recently, [Mr. Romney’s] campaign criticized me for slow-jamming the news with Jimmy Fallon. In fact, I understand Gov. Romney was so incensed he asked his staff if he could get some equal time on ‘The Merv Griffin Show.’ “

Noting the members of Congress in attendance, Mr. Obama thanked them for taking “a break from their exhausting schedules of not passing any laws to be here tonight.”

He joked about eating dog — “As my stepfather always told me, ‘It’s a boy-eat-dog world out there’ ” — and took a jab at his own administration’s scandal-plagued General Services Administration: “Look at this party. We’ve got men in tuxes, women in gowns, fine wine, first-class entertainment. I was just relieved to learn this was not a GSA conference.”

Mr. Obama closed with a joke at the expense of his Secret Service: “I had a lot more material prepared, but I have to get the Secret Service home in time for their new curfew.”

After a politics-themed “Unnecessary Censorship” video modeled after his talk show, Mr. Kimmel started with jabs at the president — “cover your ears if that’s physically possible” — and first lady Michelle Obama, who he said is starving her husband with her healthy-eating initiative and meals of “carrots and sticks.”

The election-year rhetoric continued. “Remember when the country rallied around you in hopes of a better tomorrow?” Mr. Kimmel asked Mr. Obama. “That was hilarious. There’s a term for guys like President Obama, probably not two terms …” he continued.

The Republicans weren’t safe, either, with jabs at Mr. Romney tying his dog to the roof of his car and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who was in the audience, about whom Mr. Kimmel said: “It just wasn’t Rick’s year. Rick’s year was 1954.”

Despite a few off-color, but overall well-received, jokes, Mr. Kimmel kept his mocking bipartisan with jokes at the expense of everyone from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and Rep. Allen West, Florida Republican, to the Secret Service scandal and Lindsay Lohan’s need for a designated driver.

The one joke that made the media-filled room groan was a deliberate jab at print journalism: “What’s black and white and read all over?” asked Mr. Kimmel. “Nothing anymore.”

The Washington Times was proud of star guest Uggie, who got a shoutout from Mr. Kimmel.

“Uggie is amazing. He can roll over on command,” he said. “He’s a Democrat.”

While we don’t know Uggie’s politics, we do know it was likely a night to remember for him and his fellow attendees, who hopefully had a few laughs with friends of all political persuasions before the real election-year blows begin.

© Copyright 2012 The Washington Times, LLC and Samantha Sault

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The Washington Times: American History Museum Innovation Wing and Other Weekend Picks

As I grow older (and see more of the world), museums like the Hirshhorn and the Freer/Sackler become more meaningful to me. But the Smithsonian’s American History Museum will always be my favorite. As a little girl, I loved seeing the First Ladies’ gowns and the massive trains and the Star-Spangled Banner, and while I know it’s touristy, it will always hold a special place for me. Now, I’m itching to revisit the museum of my youth as they are opening a brand new wing dedicated to American innovation. I’ve got the details on the ribbon-cutting events in my Washington Times column, available in the print edition, in PDF format, and below.

P.S. I’ve also been out of the loop on openings in D.C., because the owners of one of my favorite restaurants in the city (Cashion’s Eat Place) have opened a new spot in Columbia Heights with beachy fare like crabcakes, hot dogs, and snow cones! I’m starving!

The Washington Times Get Out: The Week’s Pocket Picks for June 26, 2015

By Samantha Sault

Pick of the Pack: Opening of the American History Museum’s Innovation Wing

After months of renovations, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History will reopen the first fl oor of the museum’s West Wing for exhibits focused on innovation, just in time for the country’s 239th birthday. The 45,000-square-foot area opens on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. with a ribbon cutting ceremony with live music and DJs, and every day through the next week the museum will host living history presentations, docent-led tours, and hands-on activities. You can get a first look at new exhibits like “Inventing in America,” highlighting the pioneering work of Morse, Bell, and Edison, and “American Enterprise,” chronicling the impact of businesses and capitalism on American life from the 1700s to today. “Places of Invention” will showcase the development of Technicolor in Hollywood, hip-hop in the Bronx, and the personal computer in Silicon Valley, while the Gallery of Numismatics will explore the evolution of American money and the role of money in art and culture. Opening events Wednesday through July 5 at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, 14th Street & Constitution Ave. NW. 202/633-1000. Web: AmericanHistory.si.edu.

Mars, Incorporated funds American business exhibition at Smithsonian. Exhibition opens 2015 in the National Museum of American History. (Credit: National Museum of American History)

Mars, Incorporated funds American business exhibition at Smithsonian. Exhibition opens 2015 in the National Museum of American History. (Credit: National Museum of American History)

Dining: Alexandria Food & Wine Festival

We’ve always loved Alexandria’s cobblestoned streets, and now the city has become a foodie destination. On Saturday, you have a chance to try many of the area’s best restaurants and wines while enjoying a riverfront view. From 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., try Union Street Public House’s classic pub fare, Mason Social’s modern American cuisine, and Alexandria Cupcake’s award-winning Guinness Stout Cupcake, among other restaurants. Nearly a dozen Virginia wineries will also be available to taste, along with food trucks and other vendors. There will be a moon bounce and crafts for the little ones, plus rock and blues by Scott Ramminger and the CrawStickers as well as Gina DeSimone and the Moners. Saturday at Oronoco Bay Park, Alexandria, Va. Web: AlexandriaFoodAndWine.com.

Art: Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter’s Eye

In 1875, Gustave Caillebotte submitted a painting to the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris, but the esteemed institution rejected his work. However, Edgar Degas and Auguste Renoir saw something in the young painter and encouraged him to try for the impressionist shows. Mr. Caillebotte’s unusually realistic depiction of shirtless workers finishing a floor caused a sensation, and kicked off his respected career that lasted until his death at age 46. Because he never sold his works, he’s not nearly as well known as his contemporaries, but his works deserve a look because, as he once wrote to Monet, “the very great artists attach you even more to life.” Beginning Sunday,you can get a chance when the National Gallery opens a comprehensive exhibit highlighting his impressionist works. The exhibit runs simultaneously with “Pleasure and Piety: The Art of Joachim Wtewael,” showcasing the Dutch artist’s risque scenes from mythology and bible stories. Through Oct. 4 at the National Gallery of Art, 6th St. & Constitution Ave. NW. 202/737-4215. Web: nga.gov.

Dining: Pop’s SeaBar Snow Cone Launch

This week, you don’t need to go any further than Columbia Heights for your favorite boardwalk-style foods. On Wednesday, Pop’s SeaBar, the seafood restaurant from the owners of Cashion’s Eat Place inspired by summers in New Jersey and St. Petersburg, Florida, will launch snow cones for the summer. Made with fresh, local fruits, the flavors include spearmint and lemon, strawberry and bing cherry — which can be infused with Novo Fogo Cachaca, El Dorado 8-year Aged Rum, Bulleit Bourbon, and Meletti Amaro for indulgers of-age. If you need another excuse for a snow cone, from July 1-7, the restaurant will donate $1 from every cone sold to Brainfood, a local nonprofi t devoted to helping high-school students develop life skills and healthy eating habits. Pop’s SeaBar, 1817 Columbia Rd. NW. 202/534-3933. Web: PopsSeaBar.com.

© Copyright 2015 The Washington Times, LLC and Samantha Sault

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The Washington Times: Smithsonian Folklife Festival and Other Weekend Picks

You’ll want to be sure to take a trip to the National Mall between now and July 4th to experience the Smithsonian Folklife Festival–and of course, those fabulous fireworks. This year, the festival will highlight the food, arts, and culture of Peru, and hopefully some Pisco Sours. I’ve got the details on the festival and other happenings in my Washington Times column, available in the print edition, PDF format, and below.

The Washington Times Get Out: The Week’s Pocket Picks for June 19, 2015

By Samantha Sault

Pick of the Pack: Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Take a trip to Peru without leaving the city. Beginning Wednesday and running through the Independence Day festivities, the 49th Smithsonian Folklife Festival will take over part of the National Mall to feature the arts, culture and food of Peru. The festival opens with the traditional procession of La Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen by visitors from the town of Puacartambo, followed by a concert featuring Afro-Peruvian singer Eva Ayllon, who has earned six Latin Grammy nominations for her combinations of pop sounds with traditional music and dance. Performances are scheduled nearly every evening, including July Fourth, when you can learn the traditional dances Marinera and Sarawja before the fireworks. The festival also features copious children’s activities such as Quechua language workshops, storytelling, scavenger hunts and crafts for all ages, as well as a 4,000-square-foot marketplace with handicrafts, musical recordings, specialty foods, accessories and more by Peruvian artisans. Festival through July 5 and marketplace through July 12 at the National Mall between Third and Fourth Streets SW. 202/633-6440. Web: festival.si.edu.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2015 Promotional Poster (Credit: Cristina Diaz-Carrera / Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage)

Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2015 Promotional Poster (Credit: Cristina Diaz-Carrera / Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage)

Festival: Fete de la Musique

French-speaking and Francophile cities around the world—including Paris, Geneva and the District—will celebrate the first day of summer Saturday with Fete de la Musique, which takes place annually on June 21. American musician and French National Radio producer Joel Cohen started the event in the 1970s, and it now brings professional and amateur musicians to the city streets to perform free concerts and revel in French culture in 120 countries. From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Washington’s Alliance Francaise will take over the park at Dupont Circle for the free event. Bring a baguette and a blanket and enjoy brass band, salsa, roots rock and, of course, vintage French chansons performed by Canadian vocalist Jennifer Scott and her jazz quartet. Other activities include children’s songs and storytelling, musical instrument workshops and face painting. Saturday in Dupont Circle. 202/234-7911. Web: FranceDC.org.

Beer: Northern Virginia Summer Brewfest

With DC Brau in the District, Flying Dog in Maryland and Bold Rock Cider in Virginia, the Washington Metropolitan area is making a name for its brewing skills. But those three big-name breweries aren’t the only ones in the region. This weekend, you can try more than three dozen from up and down the East Coast. Your admission to the eighth annual Northern Virginia Summer Brewfest will provide six drink tickets (additional tickets may be purchased) and a souvenir sampling glass, live music, cornhole games, and even demonstrations on how to cook with beer. Regional food and craft vendors will be on site, too. Saturday and Sunday at Bull Run Regional Park, 7700 Bull Run Drive, Centreville, Virginia. 703/631-0550. Web: NOVABrewfest.com.

Concert: Tribute to B.B. King

Blues fans mourned last month when legendary singer, songwriter and guitarist B.B. King passed away at the age of 89 in Las Vegas. Born Riley B. King, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is one of the most influential guitarists of all time for his unique style. This week, celebrate King’s legacy with a tribute performance at the historic Howard Theatre, featuring Joe Louis Walker, another blues trailblazer, who was raised in San Francisco’s Fillmore jazz and arts district and began performing at the age of 16. He has since won several Blues Music Awards and performed on Grammy-winning albums by B.B. King himself. On Thursday, Mr. Walker will be joined by the Stacy Brooks Band, Clarence “The Bluesman” Turner, B.T. Richardson, Black Betty and Lou “Jerome” Price, among others. Thursday at the Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW. 202/803-2899. Web: TheHowardTheatre.com.

© Copyright 2015 The Washington Times, LLC and Samantha Sault

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The Washington Times: AFI Docs and Other Weekend Pics

I’ve got the details on my favorite Washington film festival in my Washington Times column, in the print edition, in PDF format, and below.

The Washington Times Get Out: The Week’s Pocket Picks for June 12, 2015

By Samantha Sault

Pick of the Pack: AFI Docs 

Escape the humidity for a cool movie theater to catch some of the most important new documentaries. Beginning Wednesday, AFI Docs will feature 81 films from 25 countries, including four world premieres, with screenings, discussions and special events at Silver Spring’s AFI Silver Theatre and other venues. The festival opens with “Best of Enemies,” set in 1968, when ABC hired Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr. as commentators for the presidential election. The screening will be followed by a discussion with directors Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon. Other picks include “Mavis,” following R&B singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, and “All Things Must Pass,” Colin Hanks’ exploration of the demise of Tower Records and what it means for music. Many fi lms take critical looks at the world, including photojournalists working to establish a free press in Afghanistan (“Frame by Frame”) and human trafficking in Cambodia (“The Storm Makers”). On June 19, head to Silver Spring’s Fountain Plaza for a free screening of “Close, Ride, Rise, Roar,” electronic musician Brian Eno’s fi lm about the Talking Heads’ David Byrne. Wednesday through June 21 at the AFI Silver Theatre, Silver Spring, Maryland, and other venues in the Washington area. 301/495-6700. Web: AFI.com.

AFI Docs Opening Night in 2015 (Courtesy AFI Docs)

AFI Docs Opening Night in 2015 (Courtesy AFI Docs)

Jazz: Jazz at the Yards

The highlight of the DC Jazz Festival takes place this weekend at Yards Park at Capitol Riverfront, featuring two days of performances by contemporary jazz artists and plus outdoor fun for all ages at the beautiful urban oasis near Nationals Stadium. On Friday, Jazz at the Yards features several free performances by Sharon Clark, Cubano Groove, and New Orleans’ eight-piece ensemble The Soul Rebels. On Saturday, purchase tickets to see big names such as Grammy Award winner Esperanza Spalding, Common, and Femi Kuti & the Positive Force. Splurge for premier tickets for reserved seating areas near the stage and other perks, or purchase a general admission ticket and bring a lawn chair or blanket. On both days, enjoy a food and beverage marketplace, tastings and chef demonstrations, and other family-friendly activities. Friday and Saturday at the Yards Park at Capitol Riverfront, 355 Water St. SE. Web: DCJazzFest.org.

Dining: Virginia Cheese Festival

This weekend, take a drive a few hours outside of Washington to Blacksburg, Virginia, home of the Virginia Tech Hokies and some really great cheese. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, the city will host the first-ever Virginia Cheese Festival, where visitors can try local artisan cheeses expertly paired with beers and wines. Activities throughout the day will include cheese-making demonstrations and workshops, live music, displays of regional art, and a petting zoo, face painting and other activities for children. Arrive early to participate in the 5K Rat Race and 1-mile fun run/walk, and indulge in your cheese guilt-free. Saturday at the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech, 190 Alumni Mall, Blacksburg,Virginia. 540/443-2008. Web: VirginiaCheeseFestival.com.

Concert: Vertical Horizon

You know Vertical Horizon, one of the quintessential alternative rock bands of the late 1990s, but you may not know that it got its start playing covers at Georgetown University parties. Formed in 1991 by undergrads Matthew Scannell and Keith Kane, the band produced a few albums and toured the country before releasing its smash 1999 album, “Everything You Want,” which propelled Vertical Horizon to mainstream success and sold over 2 million copies in the United States. The band released several more albums, including its most recent in 2013, “Echoes From the Underground,” and is now touring with a stop at the Howard Theatre on Wednesday. Expect to hear hits such as “Everything You Want,” “You’re A God,” “Save Me From Myself” and “Best I Ever Had (Grey Sky Morning).” Wednesday at the Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW. 202/803-2899. Web: TheHowardTheatre.com.

© Copyright 2015 The Washington Times, LLC and Samantha Sault

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The Washington Times: Photography at the Phillips Collection and Other Weekend Picks

The weather is not so nice this weekend, but there are plenty of cool happenings indoors, from a comprehensive photo exhibit at the Phillips Collection, to a chance to visit the Dupont Circle and Kalorama private museums free of charge. I’ve got the scoop in my Washington Times column, available in the print edition, in PDF format, and below.

Washington Times Get Out: The Week’s Pocket Picks for June 5, 2015

By Samantha Sault

Pick of the Pack: American Moments

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the Phillips Collection’s newest exhibit will offer an encyclopedia of modern American history. Opening Saturday, “American Moments: Photographs From the Phillips Collection” will showcase more than 140 photographs spanning 1917 to 1980 from the museum’s permanent collection. These photos were chosen for how they capture the American experience in the 20th century, particularly post-World War II urbanization, the Great Depression and the rise of photojournalism. On Thursday, you can meet one of the 30 featured photographers, Bruce Davidson, known for his stirring images of New York from the 1950s to today, including Brooklyn’s gangs and scenes from the subway. On July 2, the Phillips After 5 happy hour event will feature gallery talks, discussions of different lenses and printing processes, live music, and themed cocktails and bites. Through Sept. 13 at the Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St. NW. 202/387-2151. Web: PhillipsCollection.org.

Bruce Davidson, Girl Waving with Sign on Road (Los Angeles series), 1964. (Courtesy: The Phillips Collection)

Bruce Davidson, Girl Waving with Sign on Road (Los Angeles series), 1964. (Courtesy: The Phillips Collection)

Film: Union Market Drive-In

The drive-in cinema was a summer hot spot starting in the early 20th century, but such venues were out of reach for many city dwellers. Every Friday in June, however, Northeast’s Union Market will turn back time to host a drive-in theater showing favorite ’80s and ’90s flicks, including “Jurassic Park,” “Pretty Woman,” “Space Jam” and “Beverly Hills Cop.” The $10 parking fee includes free popcorn and soda, but admission is free if you bike or walk. The gates open at 6 p.m. and close at 7:45 p.m. before the 8 p.m. film. All 40 Union Market vendors will be open. Fridays through June 26 at Union Market, Florida Avenue and Sixth Street NE. Web: UnionMarketDC.com.

Museums: Dupont-Kalorama Museum Walk

It’s time to welcome thousands of tourists to our museums and landmarks — and an opportunity for locals to skip the crowds on the National Mall and explore seven off-the-beaten-path museums in Dupont Circle and Kalorama, which will open their doors free of charge this weekend. We recommend the Woodrow Wilson House, where you can celebrate the 100th anniversary of Flag Day with crafts and croquet and learn about the work to protect Italian art and culture during World War I. Revolutionary War buffs will want to see “Lafayette & L’Hermione: Symbols of the French-American Friendship” at Anderson House, while Jane Austen fans should drop by Dumbarton House for English country dance lessons. Other highlights include classic garden games and a botanical drawing workshop at the Heurich House Museum, jazz at the Phillips Collection and Mary McLeod Bethune Council House, and the chance to learn about the Jewish American soldier who liberated Dachau at the National Museum of American Jewish Military History. Saturday and Sunday in the Dupont Circle and Kalorama neighborhoods. Web: DupontKaloramaMC.com.

Theater: Newsies: The Musical

When Disney’s “Newsies,” starring a young Christian Bale as a homeless newsboy in New York, debuted n 1992, it became an instant cult favorite. Based on the Newsboys Strike of 1899, it tells the story of a group of young orphans who rise up against Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst and ultimately receive better pay for their work hawking the newspapers on the city streets. With music by Alan Menken (Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin”) and lyrics by Jack Feldman (Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana”), the musical premiered at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey in 2011 before moving to Broadway the following year and winning the Tony Award for Best Score and Best Choreography. The show is now touring North America, with a stop at the National Theatre this week that will have you dancing in the aisles and “seizing the day,” as the newsboys say. Through June 21 at the National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. 202/628-6161. Web: TheNationalDC.org.

© Copyright 2015 The Washington Times, LLC and Samantha Sault

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The Washington Times: Memorial Day Concert, Jazz in the Garden, and Other Weekend Picks

It wouldn’t be summer in Washington without a few outdoor concerts–and this weekend marks two of the best free ones of the season. And if you can’t stand the heat, the Woolly Mammoth’s latest show opening this week is sure to be a ghoulish but funny take on D.C. politics. Get the scoop in my Washington Times column, available in the print edition, PDF format, and below. Happy Memorial Day!

Washington Times Get Out: The Week’s Pocket Picks for May 22, 2015

By Samantha Sault

Pick of the Pack: National Memorial Day Concert

Since the Civil War, we’ve reserved a day in late May to honor those who have died serving our country, and in 1971, Congress officially named the last Monday in May a holiday for the important cause. If you have the day off on Monday, there’s no better way to spend your Sunday evening than by enjoying a free patriotic concert and remembering those who don’t get a break from defending our freedoms. For the 26th year, the National Memorial Day Concert will honor all members of the U.S. Military with musical performances, dramatic readings, and pomp and circumstance on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. Hosted by Joe Mantegna (“Criminal Minds”) and Gary Sinise (“Forrest Gump”), the concert will feature Gloria Estefan, Tony Award winner Laura Benanti, and Tessanne Chin, winner of the fifth season of “The Voice,” as well as the National Symphony Orchestra and several military bands. The gates open at 5 p.m. for the 8 p.m. concert, and early arrival is recommended to get through the metal detectors and secure a spot. Sunday at the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Web: pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert.

Let your patriotic flag fly this weekend in Washington. (Credit: PBS)

Let your patriotic flag fly this weekend in Washington. (Credit: PBS)

Jazz: Jazz in the Garden

This weekend marks the launch of Jazz in the Garden, a “must do” for anyone spending time in the Nation’s Capital during the summer. Beginning Friday, and running every Friday (weather permitting) through the end of August, the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden will spring to life with free concerts featuring local jazz musicians. Bring a blanket and a (non-alcoholic) picnic, or purchase food and beverages from the Pavilion Cafe, including grilled favorites, hors-d’oeuvres, gelato, and wines, beers and sangria by the pitcher. This Friday’s performer is Tom Lagana, a jazz guitarist who played with the Walt Disney Jazz Band before returning to his home state of Maryland, where he frequently performs at bars in Annapolis and festivals across the country. Other highlights include vocalist Juanita Williams on May 29, the DC Jazz Festival concert on June 12, and Speakers of the House, an old-school funk, boogaloo, and rock band, to kick off Independence Day weekend. Fridays from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden, National Mall at 7th St. NW & 9th St. NW. 202/737-4215. Web: nga.gov.

Wine: Memorial Day Weekend at Paradise Springs

If you’re regretting not booking a Memorial Day vacation, it’s not too late to spend your weekend in paradise — Paradise Springs Winery, that is. Located in Clifton, Virginia, it’s the closest winery to Washington, D.C., though it will surely feel much farther when you’re enjoying an award-winning bottle of red or white in the countryside. This weekend, the winery will kick off a series of summer weekend events including live music every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, as well as outdoor movie screenings on Saturday evenings. Enjoy music and wine tastings on the patio from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, and from 2 p.m. through the evening on Saturday and Sunday. Or, arrive by 8 p.m. on Saturday for a screening of “A Walk in the Clouds” starring a young Keanu Reeves and Debra Messing, free with the purchase of a bottle. All weekend long, Rocklands BBQ sandwiches will be available to soak up your tastings. Friday through Sunday at Paradise Springs Winery, 13219 Yates Ford Road, Clift on, VA. 703/830-9463. Web: ParadiseSpringsWinery.com.

Theater: Zombie: The American

If you can’t wait for “Fear the Walking Dead,” the spinoff of AMC’s hit zombie show, you can get your zombie fix during the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s new production, which premieres Monday. “Zombie: The American” is a political satire set in the year 2063, following the first openly gay U.S. president who faces a slew of challenges ranging from a cheating first gentlemen to zombies in the White House basement. Part of the Woolly Mammoth’s FREE THE BEAST! initiative to produce 25 new plays in 10 years, the play is “a cross between Jacobean tragedy and Dr. Strangelove,” according to playwright Robert O’Hara. Reserve tickets for June 5 or June 12 to enjoy a post-show discussion with zombie experts and aficionados, or June 7 to “zombify” yourself during an interactive pre-show workshop. Through June 21 at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, 641 D St. NW. 202/393-3939. Web: WoollyMammoth.net.

© Copyright 2015 The Washington Times, LLC and Samantha Sault

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The Washington Times: Horse Races, Fancy Flowers, and Other Weekend Picks

Washington Times Get Out: The Week’s Pocket Picks for May 1, 2015

By Samantha Sault

Pick of the Pack: Virginia Gold Cup

The Kentucky Derby is Saturday, but if you can’t make it to Churchill Downs for “the greatest two minutes in sports,” you can still enjoy live horse racing and place a few bets during the Virginia Gold Cup. Virginia has hosted steeplechasing since the colonial era, and the very first Virginia Gold Cup took place in 1922. Considered “the crown jewel of American steeplechasing,” the event brings the who’s who of Washington to the Great Meadow in The Plains for a day of socializing (and schmoozing) in the sun. The gates open at 10 a.m. for betting on the Gold Cup or Derby, tailgate and hat competitions and a terrier exhibition before the races. The Virginia Gold Cup takes place at 3:30 p.m., but attendees are invited to stick around until Kentucky Derby post time at 6:36 p.m., which will be broadcast live throughout the Great Meadow. Saturday at The Plains, Virginia. 540/347-2612. Web: vagoldcup.com.

Virginia Gold Cup

Virginia Gold Cup

Festival: National Cathedral Flower Mart

You have seven days to pick out the perfect bouquet for Mom — or you could celebrate Mother’s Day a week early by taking her to the National Cathedral’s Flower Mart and let her pick out her own. This Friday and Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m., the 78th annual event will take over the Cathedral’s grounds with flora from as near as local farms and as far as Asia for sale and display. In addition to purchasing plants for your home or getting some landscaping ideas, you’ll also enjoy live entertainment, food and beverages, booths with books and gifts for garden lovers and children’s activities including a rock wall, moon bounce and antique carousel. Proceeds will benefit the upkeep of the Cathedral’s grounds, gardens and woodlands, which you can tour throughout the weekend too. Friday and Saturday at the Washington National Cathedral, Wisconsin & Massachusetts Avenues NW. 202/537-6200. Web: cathedral.org.

Science: Space Day

NASA made headlines recently when astronaut Scott Kelly took off for the International Space Station (ISS), where he will spend a year helping scientists understand the impact of long-term space travel on humans in anticipation of a mission to Mars. If you can’t get enough of Mr. Kelly’s Instagrams of his life in orbit and the incredible views from the space station, you’ll want to visit the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum on Saturday for a free, family-friendly event exploring life as an astronaut and the latest space developments. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., enjoy robotics and model rocket displays, spacesuit demonstrations, arts and crafts, musical performances and even presentations by astronauts. While you’re there, you can also tour the newest exhibit, “Outside the Spacecraft: 50 Years of Extra-Vehicular Activity” with the curator, or learn about the first African-American astronauts. Saturday at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, Independence Ave. at 6th St. SW. 202/633-2214. Web: airandspace.si.edu.

Concert: ABC’s “Nashville” in Concert

For fans of “Nashville,” ABC’s hit television musical drama that follows the lives of several country stars, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. can’t come soon enough. This week, however, you can get your fix on Sunday, when several of the cast members will perform in character live on stage. Fresh off filming the finale of the third season, the cast members will stop in just nine U.S. cities to sing favorite songs from the show and others they frequently perform in Music City. The participating cast members include Clare Bowen (Scarlett O’Connor), Chris Carmack (Will Lexington), Charles Esten (Deacon Claybourne), Aubrey Peeples (Layla Grant) and young sisters Lennon Stella (Maddie Conrad) and Maisy Stella (Daphne Conrad). Sunday at DAR-Constitution Hall, 18th St. & C St. NW. 800/745-3000. Web: ticketmaster.com.

© Copyright 2015 The Washington Times, LLC and Samantha Sault

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The Washington Times: National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, The Lincoln Tribute, and Other Weekend Picks

It’s baaack! Well, actually, it never went away, but other things have prevented my posting it every week. I’m actually away from Washington this week, but if I were in town, I’d definitely visit the cherry blossoms, which are expected to reach peak bloom this spring weekend. You can get the details on the parade and other weekend events in Washington in my Washington Times column, available in today’s print edition, in PDF format, and below.

Washington Times Get Out: The Week’s Pocket Picks for April 10, 2015

By Samantha Sault

Pick of the Pack: The Lincoln Tribute

Wednesday marks the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theatre. To remember the tragedy and the Lincoln legacy, the venue will host round-the-clock events Tuesday and Wednesday. Beginning at 9 a.m. Tuesday, historians will provide first-person accounts and academic lectures about the end of the Civil War, the timeline of the assassination and Lincoln’s lasting impacts. You also can catch a performance of “One Destiny,” which tells the story of that fateful night through the eyes of one of the actors and the theater’s owner, or a free screening of Steven Spielberg’s 2012 fi lm “Lincoln” at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. The highlight will be the candlelight vigil at 10:15 p.m. Tuesday followed by theater tours all night before a wreath-laying ceremony at 7:22 a.m. Wednesday, when Lincoln was officially pronounced dead. Most events require tickets, which can be reserved online or acquired at the theater’s box office beginning at 8:30 a.m. the day of the event. Tuesday and Wednesday at Ford’s Theatre, 511 10th St. NW. 202/347-4833. Web: Fords.org.

Festival: National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade & Japanese Street Festival

Spring weather has arrived just in time for the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. The parade will cover 10 blocks with helium balloons, floats and performers from across the country celebrating the blossoms and the nation’s friendship with Japan. Participants include law enforcement, dance ensembles, local celebrities, media personalities, military and high school marching bands, politicians, ambassadors and the Washington Redskins cheerleaders. Arrive early and grab a spot on the parade route along Constitution Avenue Northwest or purchase $20 tickets for grandstand seating near the National Archives. After the parade, take a walk around the Tidal Basin or rent a paddle boat to see the blossoms in peak bloom, or head to Pennsylvania Avenue for the Japanese Street Festival, featuring over 50 food and arts vendors as well as cultural performances. The parade will be from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday along Constitution Avenue between Seventh and 17th streets Northwest. Japanese Street Festival Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. along Pennsylvania Avenue between Ninth and 14th streets Northwest. 877/442-5666. Web: NationalCherryBlossomFestival.org.

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade (Courtesy: National Cherry Blossom Festival)

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade (Courtesy: National Cherry Blossom Festival)

Design: DC Design House

If spring cleaning has you itching to redecorate, you will want to visit the eighth annual DC Design House to get some inspiration from the area’s top interior designers. This year, an 8,869-square-foot country estate in McLean, Virginia, has been transformed into a magnificent dream home by two dozen interior designers, who have decorated the house’s 28 rooms and outdoor spaces with a blend of American farmhouse inspiration and modern amenities. You can get a first look Saturday, where the $50 preview ticket will include small bites by local celebrity chef Bryan Voltaggio of Volt and Range. The home opens to the public on Sunday. The DC Design House benefits the Children’s National Health System, and the event has raised more than $1 million for the cause in the past six years. Through May 10 at 956 Mackall Farms Lane, McLean, Virginia. Web: DCDesignHouse.com.

Dining: Taste of the Nation

A little self-indulgence next week can help a good cause. On Monday, Taste of the Nation will provide an opportunity to try dozens of the area’s hottest restaurants and bars while benefiting local hunger charities. Participants include longtime favorites such as Art & Soul and Westend Bistro and recent arrivals including Mango Tree and The Fainting Goat, as well as mixologists from Buffalo & Bergen, Southern Efficiency and Mockingbird Hill, among others. Tickets start at $120, but you can purchase VIP tickets for early admittance and meet-and-greets with Food Network celebrities. Taste the Nation benefits the Capital Area Food Bank, DC Hunger Solutions, and Mary’s Center, which supports pregnant women and infants in the need in the region. Monday at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. 800/969-4767. Web: Strength.org.

© Copyright 2015 The Washington Times, LLC and Samantha Sault

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The Washington Times: Blossom Kite Festival, New Found Glory, and Other Weekend Picks

Washington Times Get Out: The Week’s Pocket Picks for March 27, 2015

By Samantha Sault

Pick of the Pack: Blossom Kite Festival

It seems we’ve finally seen the last of the snow this year in Washington—and with temperatures approaching 70 degrees this week, it’s a great time to get out of the house and go fl y a kite. While the peak blooms are still about a week away, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is in full swing with the Blossom Kite Festival scheduled for Saturday. From 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., wind and weather permitting, kite fliers, hang gliders, paragliders and performers from around the world will take over Washington Monument grounds with soaring demonstrations and competitions. Following an opening ceremony and parade, enjoy kite ballets, tricks, and even a kite battle featuring the rokkaku, the hexagonal fi ghter kite from Japan. Throughout the day, you can make and fly your own kites or participate in amateur competitions for the chance to win roundtrip airfare and other prizes. This year, the organizers want to remind attendees that drones are not permitted at the event. Saturday at the Washington Monument, 17th St. NW & Constitution Ave. 877/44-BLOOM. Web: NationalCherryBlossomFestival.org.

National Cherry Blossom Festival at the Tidal Basin (Courtesy: National Cherry Blossom Festival)

National Cherry Blossom Festival at the Tidal Basin (Courtesy: National Cherry Blossom Festival)

DJ: James Murphy

Almost four years to the date after LCD Soundsystem’s final show at Madison Square Garden, fans of the dance-punk pioneers will be glad to know that the band’s former frontman, James Murphy, will bring his signature sound to Washington this weekend. He led the New York City-based band to fame with three acclaimed albums and several Grammy nominations for songs like “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House” before splitting up in 2011. Mr. Murphy now runs the pop-punk label DFA, and occasionally spins at hip music clubs and fashion shows around the world. This Friday, fans of LCD Soundsystem, as well as fans of Mr. Murphy’s diverse influences including The Talking Heads, Daft Punk and David Bowie, will want to put on your dancing shoes for his one show at the 9:30 Club. Friday at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. 877/435-9849. Web: 930.com.

Concert: New Found Glory

If you remember the HFStivals at RFK Stadium in the early 2000s, you surely remember New Found Glory, the pop-punk band from Florida. Founded in 1997 during the pop-punk movement, when bands like Blink-182 and Green Day were popular on WHFS and other radio stations, New Found Glory released more than a dozen albums, including their latest, “Resurrection,” in October. On Thursday, most of the band’s original lineup will be back in the area for a concert at The Fillmore in Silver Spring, where you can expect to hear favorites like “My Friends Over You,” “Hit or Miss,” “Head on Collision,” and “All Downhill from Here.” Up-and-coming punk bands including Turnstile, from Baltimore, and Turnover, from Virginia Beach, will open the show. Thursday at The Fillmore, 8656 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring, Md. 301/960-9999. Web: FillmoreSilverSpring.com.

Theater: Simply Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim — the American musical theater legend who has won eight Tonys, eight Grammys, an Academy Award and a Pulitzer Prize, among other awards — celebrated another incredible milestone last month: his 85th birthday. To celebrate, Arlington’s Signature Theatre, which has worked very closely with Mr. Sondheim during his 50-year career, will debut a brand new revue of his greatest works on Thursday. Part of the theater’s 25th anniversary celebration, “Simply Sondheim” will feature favorites from “Into the Woods,” “Sweeney Todd,” “A Little Night Music,” “Follies,” and “Sunday in the Park with George,” performed by six acclaimed local actors and a 16-piece orchestra. Fans of the American Songbook will want to reserve tickets immediately, because the show will run for just two-and-a-half weeks —and you can only see it at the Signature Theatre. Through April 19 at the Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, Va. 703/820-9771. Web: Signature-Theatre.org.

© Copyright 2015 The Washington Times, LLC and Samantha Sault

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