At the start of each month compile a list of things we’re particularly looking forward to seeing, reading, eating, touching etc. Our goal is for you to have the best possible month. Here are the events, items, ideas, etc. that will make this December your best month.
The Artechouse space is ideal for immersive art experiences. They’re embracing the season with the upcoming AURORA. If you’ve ever been to Artehouse, you know what we’re talking about. If you haven’t, this upcoming exhibit features “an ice cavern, frosted forests and dancing skies,” that are family friendly. Come back to BYT later this month for our preview.
Disney’s Land: Walt Disney and the Invention of the Amusement Park That Changed the World by Richard Snow available December 3
So it’s 2019 and basically everyone can agree that the Disney megacorp is driving a monolithic culture of endless IP reboots and sequels, a bad, greedy group of people making a lot of things worse. But also, at the same time, many of us have fond memories of going to Disney World as a kid, and would like to learn more about how that all came to be. While it doesn’t seem that Richard Snow brings an especially critical eye towards the folks over at Disney, I’m still very interested in learning more about the park in his new book Disney’s Land: Walt Disney and the Invention of the Amusement Park That Changed the World. -Matt Byrne
Genius and Ink: Virginia Woolf on How to Read by Virginia Woolf available December 3
Wildly popular Scottish author Ali Smith wrote the introduction to Genius and Ink: Virginia Woolf on How to Read, a newly compiled collection of essays culled from Woolf’s contributions to Times Literary Supplement in the mid 20th century, which is honestly a great pairing. Smith provides context for this great collection of thought provoking meditations on the act of reading. -Matt Byrne
If you like books about D.C. and history and the White House, look no further! Get your very niche personal holiday shopping done at the White House Historical Association’s book fair! Once you’re done shopping and getting your books signed, check out a replica of Theodore Roosevelt’s steinway piano, swoon over reproductions of Jacqueline Kennedy’s dresses and fill your body with cups of eggnog from former White House Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier. It’s going to be a very D.C.time. -Kaylee Dugan
Need something to read as the temperatures get colder and going outside becomes a nightmare? Looking to get rid of the books you received as gifts last year? Need some help beating your Goodreads Reading Challenge? Our seasonal book swap is back and it’s here to solve all of your (book related) problems. This time, we’re taking over The Phillips Collection for an evening of free books, cocktails and incredible art. Bring some books, take some books, have a drink and enjoy free access to the galleries. It might actually be the perfect first date. -Kaylee Dugan
A Slice of Austin in DC Pizzeria Paradiso & The Bruery Store December 5 and 7
Over the past year and a half, The Bruery Store at Union Market has hosted a number of pop-up can releases with out-of-town breweries. Mostly, though, these breweries have been located just barely out of town. See: The Veil and Triple Crossing (Richmond), Burley Oak (oceanside Maryland), Commonwealth (Virginia Beach… but they distribute in DC), and Other Half (New York City… and maybe DC soon?). Are these highly regarded, hype lord breweries? Yes, of course. Could you get your lazy butt in a car and drive to Richmond on a random Saturday? Here I would say yes, too.
But this upcoming extended weekend, The Bruery Store is bringing us something extra special. It has arranged for a shipment of brews from Austin’s Pinthouse Pizza. Now, the award-winning Texas brewpub (with three locations in the state) sent beer to DC for SAVOR in 2014… but you’re really not going to find Pinthouse Pizza around here (unless a kind stranger on the internet sends it to you.) And you’re not driving to Austin on a random Saturday, even if their IPAs are truly outstanding – overflowing with bright hop flavor and aromatics while still relatively clean and quenching. So, color me ecstatic.
On Saturday morning, The Bruery will be offering “three freshly canned IPAs,” plus “additional draft goodies available to-go in growlers and crowlers.” If there’s a line, it’ll be worth it.
Or if you’d prefer to consume Pinthouse Pizza in the company of others and with actual pizza, head to Pizzeria Paradiso in Dupont on Thursday. The restaurant will have five Pinthouse Pizza brews on draft: Fog Runner (a 9% double IPA hopped with Galaxy, Comet, and Citra), the flagship hazy IPA Electric Jellyfish, the DDH version of Electrtic Jellyfish, Green Battles (a 6% pale ale hopped with Mosaic, Citra and Chinook hops), and Jaguar Shark (a 10.5% blend of imperial stouts aged in whiskey barrels).
There will even be a collaboration pizza for the occasion: Pinthouse Paradiso Pizza. Founder Ruth Gresser’s riff on Pinthouse Pizza’s Shroomin’ Goat, the pizza is cooked with goat cheese, ricotta, roasted mushroom, roasted garlic, and roasted red peppers, then topped with a salad of arugula, toasted pepitas, and honey dressing. Yas. -Phil Runco
It’s big beer szn. Stouts, barleywine, scotch ales. Warm my blood. Warm my cheeks. Warm it all up.
Rocket Frog gets this. On December 7, the Sterling brewery will host its second Winter Warmer Festival.
The event will feature 10 guest taps and a “special lineup” of Rocket Frog offerings, including the barrel-aged imperial stout Roscosmos. Guest beers announced thus far: Virginia Beer Company’s Mocha Evil Santa milk stout, Three Notch’d Brewing’s Bourbon Barrel Biggie S’mores, Horus Fresh Ale’s Hazelnut Harris (a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout with coffee and hazelnuts), Carton Brewing’s Sakura (a Cherry Blossom salted sour ale), and the 2018 vintage of Deschutes’ classic The Abyss. Not too shabby!
A ticket will run you $35, which covers ten drink tickets and a commemorative 5oz tasting glass that you will cherish for the rest of your mortal life and pass onto your children. -Phil Runco
‘Tis the season for brewery holiday markets. On the heels of DC Brau’s OG seasonal gathering comes two notable others – one in Maryland, one in Virginia. (And I’m sure there are a dozen more, but this is not a brewery holiday market guide.) (Note to the editor: Please don’t make me write a brewery holiday market guide.)
First up, Denizens Brewing’s Drafts & Crafts! Hosted at the Silver Spring Barrel House & Beer Garden the December 8 event pairs beer with the local artisans of the Silver Spring Craft Market. (Revisit my July article on PGC Premium if you need to brush up on Denizens’ summer expansion.) Unsolicited recommendation: I recently had a bottle of the brewery’s DC Beer collaboration Bock to the Future, and I’d highly recommend ordering a pint of that easy-drinking, malty goodness. Denizens also recently released an oyster stout with Hank’s Oyster Bar. Friend of the blog Jake Berg has the story.
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the Potomac, Aslin Beer Co. throws its Snow Daze on December 14 at its Alexandria brewery. (Revisit another July article of mine if you live in a hole and don’t know about the Aslin expansion.) The event will feature “local makers, creators, and curators” from Virginia and D.C. The brewery also promises a surprise release of “some swishy, sticky, sweet stuff,” so if Aslin imperial stouts are your thing, you’ve been given fair warning. (Or maybe it’s a barleywine! Who knows?!?) -Phil Runco
DC gets its fair share of international releases, but more obscure titles have trouble making their way stateside. This festival at AFI Silver gets film that make the festival circuit – mostly from Cannes, Venice, and Berlin – and gives local audiences to catch up with movie buffs across the Atlantic. Highlights include The Whislters, Romania’s take on film noir, and Young Ahmed, the latest from Belgian master filmmakers the Dardenne Brothers. -Alan Zilberman
I don’t like musicals. I don’t like them live. I don’t like them as movies. I don’t like their soundtracks. I wasn’t a theater kid. It was never for me. That being said, I adore White Christmas. I don’t know why! It’s not that great! It’s minimally funny, the plot is straight up dumb, it’s old fashioned in the worst way and Vera-Ellen’s waist line makes me feel very nervous. The costumes, however, are bomb from top to bottom and the song “White Christmas” is enough to make you (read: me) cry. If you, like me, love this movie for reasons that feel entirely out of your grasp, go see it on the big screen at the National Museum of American History. Wear your biggest ball gown. -Kaylee Dugan
Black Christmas in theaters December 13
Almost everything Blumhouse touches turns to gold or in this case black…Christmas. By my count this is the second reboot of one of the only decent horror/Christmas films and it’s looking like it will probably be the best. Each iteration gets women who fight back harder and more brutally and isn’t that all we ask for in 2019? -Jenn Tisdale
A Hidden Life in theaters December 13
In what looks to be his most narratively coherent film in decades, Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life follows a conscientious objector in Austria during World War II, who refuses to fight for the Nazis. Malick’s stylistic flourishes remain intact while relating the inspirational (and tragic) story of one man’s fight against unimaginable evil. -Matt Byrne
Uncut Gems in theaters December 13
We can all agree that it’s really nice when Adam Sandler tries, and try he does in Uncut Gems, the latest celluloid anxiety attack from gritty filmmaking duo the Safdie Brothers. Sandler plays a jeweler navigating a chaotic vision of New York City populated by gamblers, con men, and necklaces decked out with golden Furbies. Further elevated by a score by electronic futurist Oneohtrix Point Never, this one’s gonna be good. -Matt Byrne
Cats in theaters December 20
Okay the cast for Cats is absolutely bonkers, featuring everyone from highbrow Actors like Ian McKellen and Judi Dench to pop-culture junk food like James Corden and Jason Derulo. Both trailers that have been released as of this writing are nightmares of hideous CGI and garish late-period Tim Burton set design, and were rightly roasted online. Why do I still have the feeling this thing is going to make eight billion dollars upon release? -Matt Byrne
Georgetown’s favorite holiday tradition is a series of mesmerizing light installations that make wondering down M Street feel a little more magical. GLOW transforms the neighborhood into a living, breathing art gallery. You don’t need to RSVP, you don’t need to worry about lines, just swing by Georgetown between December 6 and January 5 to enjoy the killer outdoor installations. This years artists include Lindsay Glatz, Joana Stillwell, Extreme Lengths Productions (with Dance Place), Frank Foole, Jeff Zischke, VENIVIDIMULTIPLEX and so many more. Local businesses are also offering GLOW specials and there are a bunch of walking tours if you need a little help finding everything… But we highly recommend you get out there and explore. -Kaylee Dugan
It’s the most well lit time of the year! Dance and laugh and take more photos than you’ll ever need at Yards Park’s Light Yards installation. This year, the light sculptures have been designed by the award-winning artists ENESS and promise to immersive you in the world of the mysterious Airship Orchestra. It sounds magical and sci-fi and very aesthetically pleasing. Your Instagram feed is going to be full of shots from Light Yards, I can guarantee it. -Kaylee Dugan
We are thrilled to join our friends and partners at Smithsonian for their Holiday celebrations at the Smithsonian Castle. 10AM-2PM, free and open to public (of ALL AGES!), you can expect: storytelling, air plant ornament making, photo ops (with your traditional OR chosen family), poetry and demand an more. See you there.
No would blame you for thinking you were hearing a D’Angelo clone if you heard Mac Ayres’ “Where Do We Go from Here” from his 2019 album Juicebox. And if you’re going to sound like anyone, D’Angelo is as good as anyone. But despite the similarities, Mac Ayres is a singular talent. His origin story is made for Hollywood; he dropped out of Berklee College of Music after five weeks, walking out of a class where none of his peers knew what a hi-hat sounded like. Since that moment in late-2017, Mac Ayres has compiled an impressive catalog rooted in Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, D’Angelo, and Marvin Gaye (to name a few). His brand of music is as timeless as it is impressive; it is made even more impressive when you realize he’s playing most of his own instruments. -Ruben Gzirian
Reclusive electronic music producer Burial spent much of the last decade releasing a handful of tracks once a year or so, usually around the holidays. The series of EPs resulted in some of their most forward-thinking work, like the heartbreaking standouts “Come Down To Us” and “Rough Sleeper” as well as some more forgettable stuff. The forthcoming compilation, Tunes 2011-2019, collects it all in one nice package, which is cool because it’ll be nice to be able to put on a full album of the newer Burial stuff rather than having to go through and pick something new every 20 minutes or whatever whenever the 12” you’re currently listening to ends. -Matt Byrne
No artist in any genre had a bigger year than DaBaby (yes, even Lizzo). In 2019, DaBaby kicked the door in with Baby on Baby and then took a seat at the head of the rap table with KIRK. Dababy’s talent resides in the fact that no one sounds like him, no one can rap like him, and no one pairs the previous two with an outsized persona that forces your attention. In 2019 alone, he’s been on over 14 features, with Dreamville’s “Under the Sun” my personal favorite. Dababy has been making music since 2015, much of it so far under the radar that most people think he came out of nowhere. In 2019, he arrived and from the looks of it, he’s here to stay. -Ruben Gzirian
Recently rediscovered masters of lo-fi, lightly fried slowcore Duster have embraced their newfound cult following (developed on message boards and social media over the last five years or so) with a sleek box set collecting their entire discography in one package on Numero Group, as well a handful of well-received reunion shows. They’ve now moved on to Phase Three of the indie rock reunion game plan: new music. Advance tracks have sounded pretty cool, so I’m going with cautiously optimistic here!
In my recent article, 10 Most Overlooked Rap Albums from the 10s, I wrote about how impressive A$AP Mob’s 2012 Lords Never Worry was. A big reason I love that album is because of A$AP Ferg. Prior to that album, no one knew of the Harlem rapper. But songs like “Persian Wine,” the classic “Work,” and “Choppas on Deck” distinguished Ferg from the rest. Much of Ferg’s career has been unfairly compared to that of A$AP Rocky, and recent efforts show why that is. Ferg has always been a rapper’s rapper but with a deviant eye for experimentation; 2016’s ALWAYS STRIVE AND PROSPER, 2017’s Still Striving, and 2019’s Floor Seats all tap into Ferg’s singularity. -Ruben Gzirian
Rappers like Roc Marciano are a rare breed. For one, the current appetite for the type of guttural, low-fi, sample-heavy, lyrically deep New York rap Marciano is known for isn’t all that high with mainstream listeners. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. In fact, it’s exactly the type of rap music many of us fell in love with when we first discovered albums like Mobb Deep’s The Infamous, Big L’s Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous, and GZA’s Liquid Swords. Marciano is firmly rooted in the foundations those albums built; a foundation where lyricism and production overshadowed image. It’s a foundation many of us travel back to remind ourselves of where it all started. -Ruben Gzirian
Astronomy Club available on Netflix December 6
NYC-based sketch comedy troupe Astronomy Club, made history back in 2014 as the first-ever all black house team at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and quickly made a name for themselves, building buzz at festivals and via a series of online shorts produced with Comedy Central. They’ve made the jump to Netflix for their new sketch series, produced by Black-ish creator Kenya Barris. -Matt Byrne
The Confession Killer available on Netflix December 6
What can you say about Henry Lee Lucas? For starters he had a horrific childhood, a glass eye that leaked, and a partner (in crime? in love?) who may or may not have murdered Adam Walsh. Yes, that Adam Walsh as in the son of John Walsh from America’s Most Wanted. Henry Lee Lucas might be one of America’s most prolific serial killers, according to Henry Lee Lucas. That caged bird loved to sing. The question is, were the songs true? -Jenn Tisdale
Magic For Humans season 2 available on Netflix December 6
I enjoyed Netflix’s Magic For Humans way more than expected, honestly. I didn’t have a lot of room in my life for a new incorrigible magician freaking peoples beans on the street by putting coins inside soda cans or whatever, but Justin Willman’s got a pretty good angle on the whole magician thing! The show is a fun mix of “social experiment” type pop science and more traditional street magic antics, all infused with a manic, post Tim & Eric editing style that keeps things goofy and fun to watch. -Matt Byrne
John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch available on Netflix December 24
Throwing back to old school children’s variety entertainment of the 1970s and 80s, John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch looks to be sort of a Stranger Things, but with The Electric Company and Sesame Street rather than John Carpenter. Mulaney, perhaps the best stand up comedian out there, will be joined by the Sack Lunch Bunch, a crew of up-and-coming child actors (Mulaney describes them as “a group of children ages 8 to 13 who are more talented than me”), as well as special guests like David Byrne, Natasha Lyonne, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Richard Kind. Hitting Netflix on December 24th, this thing looks to be a perfect dose of non-bullshit nostalgia that could be played on a loop in the background of any/all holiday gatherings, regardless of demographic. -Matt Byrne
Having seen actor Ian Merrill Peakes’s lead turns in Folger’s (enjoyable) 2017 Timon of Athens and (astounding) 2018 Macbeth, I was nevertheless surprised by his Salieri, the Classical-era Vienna court composer driven nearly mad with jealousy and a megalomanic sense of divine betrayal. I correctly assumed walking in that Peakes would bring tremendous depth and passion to the character, who in Peter Shaffer’s ornate, two-and-a-half-hour script is never permitted to leave the stage. But he’s also sneakily funny, adept at instantly aging into an old man, and no doubt a name you’ll hear again come Helen Hayes Awards time. Forget concerti, it’s a one-man symphony of a performance, and the best reason to see this show. -Tristan Lejeune