Each month the BYT staff compiles at least 28, 30 or 31 reasons why this will be the best month ever. December 2015 will be the best month ever. We’re embracing the cold with lots of books. We’ll be building LEGOs with The Doctor. We’re drinking local beers. We’re visiting Ballston by choice. It’s going to be fun.
What is better than a chance to explore the most creative warehouse in DC’s? A chance to shop it too. Explore the artists’ work spaces, meet a wide range of artists and arts professionals from a range of backgrounds and disciplines, and to see and purchase artists’ most recent works fresh from the site of creation. This years open studios will include the workspaces of painters: Kelly Towles and Katie Pumphrey; Jewelry designers: Poppyor and Kicheko; Natural skincare curator, Beck Wadell of Be Clean Shop; the communal workspace of Workspace Locale; Accessory Designers: Mint Lola and DeNada; Goldsmiths, Instructors, and students work from JewelryclassDC; Andrew Cohen, Caitlin Price, Cadence Archer, and others. See you all there.
Georgetown debuted their holiday GLOW installation, and we loved it. The only problem? It lasted only one weekend. Well, in 2015, we get a full 10 days (or evenings, from 6-10pm) of lights and magic, and we can’t wait. #SoInstagrammable
The Renwick re-opened last month. Lines are still massive. If you’re on Instagram, you’ve seen a version of the photo below. Go see it with your own eyes. -Brandon Wetherbee
Maps are awesome and if you disagree then I feel sorry for you because I could spend hours just playing around with Google Maps and I have. Martin Vargic is the same guy who crafted the intricate and very weird “Map of Stereotypes” and he’s back with even more weird and possibly upsetting maps like The Music Map, The Map of YouTube, and more. Buy this for your coffee table and pull it out when you want to drunkenly argue with your friends because I have a feeling this will incite more than one intoxicated debate. -Kaylee Dugan
The Oxford American has a yearly music issue, and this year the theme is artists from Georgia. It features a handsome, genteel-looking portrait of the godfather of soul and native son of Augusta, GA on the cover. Inside essay topics range from the deep blues of Blind Willie McTell to OutKasts’s Southern Stank to whatever “Gram Parson’s prophetic Nudie suit” might involve. Mostly I’m eager for an essay on the Allman Brothers by Amanda Petrushich, who’s recent work “Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for World’s Rarest 78rpm” is an excellent examination of the nature of the collector, specifically those collecting some of the oldest music ever recorded. The magazine also comes with a 25-song CD compilation, which I wish was something on vinyl, or even better yet, like, a colored flexie 7’’ stapled to the centerfold–being a bit of a compulsive collector. -Zeke Leeds
Makeup and skincare are highly variable topics. Before I buy any eyeliner, mascara, or moisturizer, I spend an unhealthy amount of time doing research on the product, but there are a few people I trust implicitly. They are Makeup fairy godmother Lisa Eldridge, Christine of Temptalia, Arabelle Sicardi, and Dita Von Teese. Anyone who looks that flawless 24/7 has either sold her soul to the devil (I’m still up to try this) or is just as insane about research and application as I am, and it seems like Dita has gone with the latter (or maybe a mix of both). The book is supposed to be packed with details of her beauty regimen, from makeup to skincare to exercise, because if anyone understands that beauty is pain, it’s your girl Dita. Plus she probably has good lipstick tips and stuff. -Kaylee Dugan
Make this December the month you finally get out there and learn to hunt, butcher, and cook your very own wild game. For the low low price of $12.99 (assuming you have an e-reader, it’s $15.31 for you luddites), you can learn enough about hunting and cooking small game and fowl that you will never have to buy chicken from Whole Foods ever again. Impress dates and friends alike with your newfound skills, or just use them to keep yourself alive when you inevitably move into the middle of the woods because you cannot stand to be around people anymore. You have so much to look forward to. -Kaylee Dugan
As soon as I read about the forthcoming Peanuts Every Sunday: The 1950s Gift Box Set it shot to the top of my Christmas list. Two volumes of full color reproductions of some of the earliest Sunday editions of Peanuts, the greatest newspaper comic strip ever. Alt-leaning graphic novel publisher Fantagraphics, of course, did a great job with the package design, I’m so excited to check this thing out. -Matt Byrne
I have never heard of this book or this author, but when someone promises to show me how to live forever, I goddamn listen. This may be the most important book you’ll ever read. Forget the bible. Who needs to worry about the afterlife when you can just live forever? The future is here, friends and it includes a lot of flaxseed. -Kaylee Dugan
If you love looking at pictures of old people than boy do we have the book for you. Not only does this book include “lush” photos of all your favorite remaining old people (RIP), but it also has a forward by an old person (Bill Walton) and an afterward by a person who cares a lot about old people (David Lemieux). Buy this for your parents and they might finally love you. -Kaylee Dugan
One of the highest quality drinking events of the year and rightfully so, since it IS the signature night of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild, and a celebration of the Repeal of Prohibition without which this section of YOUR BEST MONTH wouldn’t even exist. This year’s 82nd edition is being held at the Carnegie Library and will see over 600 expected attendees enjoying cocktails crafted by Washington DC’s AND the nation’s best mixologists (see full list here) while dancing along to Prohibition-era sounds. And yes, people DO DRESS UP. And there is ALWAYS a bathtub of something (usually gin).
Winter sucks. That’s why I left South Dakota for California. Still not really sure why I thought D.C. would be a good idea after that. Regardless, one of the best things about the cooler weather is the emergence of some great seasonal beers. Winter beers are sturdy; you don’t crush them with bros at Dewey Beach, you sip them out of a tulip glass while reading Proust under a blanket (I mean, I don’t personally do that, but whatever – you get the idea). Most aren’t light, either – they’re rich, robust, dark, toasty, and loaded with alcohol. Winter beers don’t fuck around. I respect them for that. Drinking alone at home while it’s dumping snow outside gets lonely, though. That’s why you need to hit up Drink the District’s Hoppy Holidays Beer Festival on December 11th and 12th. Three hours of unlimited tastings of over 30 ciders and winter beers, some free food (who needs it when you’ve got stouts and porters), food trucks, and games (last year I tried to play giant Jenga and it’s much harder than regular-sized Jenga but mostly because I had trouble staying upright so eventually I was all like “FOH with that giant Jenga”). Down with winter; up with winter beers.
Artists & Artisans Holiday Extravaganza @ 3 Stars December 13
For the fourth year running, 3 Stars will host a boozy Sunday afternoon market to celebrate the holidays. If it’s anything like last year, it’ll be the perfect opportunity to taste some of the boutique brewery’s seasonals (cranberry saison Nectar of the Bogs and old stock ale Madness) and harder-to-find offerings (new chocolate stout Starsky and Dutch and, please dear god maybe, their graff Brandy Lyn), while also picking up some crafty stocking stuffers. (I went with wood ring coasters.) This year, there will be a handful of purveyors on site, both digestible (Greenhat Gin, Whistle Pig Whiskey, Jerkface Jerky, Qualia Coffee) and otherwise (Crushing Apparel, Cielo Productions). The $15 price of admission gets you your first beer and a fancy commemorative glass that will let future house guests know you were doing something cooler than they on December 13, 2015. -Phil Runco
Ugly Sweater Party @ Roofers Union December 16
Ugly sweater parties are generally the scourge of the holiday season, but we’re willing to make an exception when Dave Delaplaine is picking the beer. The Roofers Union manager (and Ripple alumnus) curates a meticulous selection of brews on the Adams Morgan bar’s 22 draft lines, and on December 16th, he’ll turn all of them over to holiday ales from local breweries. (Side note: Roofers Union’s dedication to the area’s beer is always rock solid.) On this particular Wednesday, the list of breweries on tap will include inside-the-beltway standbys (Port City, DC Brau, Atlas, Mad Fox) and up-and-comers (Denizen, Hellbender, Right Proper in its new production capacity), plus some of the finest from Maryland (Jailbreak, Flying Dog, RaR) and Virginia (Hardywood, Lost Rhino). Patrons attending the party are encouraged to bring a small toy or make a donation, both of which will go to Mary’s Center. Bone up on what beers are likely to be on tap with DC Beer’s recent holiday seasonal guide. -Phil Runco
Allagash Tap Takeover @ Iron Horse December 17
Portland (the Maine one) brewery Allagash makes unfuckwithable Belgian-leaning beers, and while its flagship offerings are not exactly hard to find, gathering all of them in one place – and including some of the rarer stuff, too – is definitely reason to celebrate. On December 17, Penn Quarter’s Iron Horse does this for us. Rejoice. And if you work in Penn Quarter like I do, rejoice doubly and meet me there. (Also, mark your calendar for the bar’s Hardywood tap takeover on January 7th, too.) -Phil Runco
New Year’s Eve Winter Wonderland @ Poste December 31
If we can’t go to Alice’s Wonderland we’re going to go to the next best thing…New Year’s Eve Winter Wonderland at Poste in Hotel Monaco. Cold is the new hot and while we can’t back that up with any scientific facts we can tell you that ringing in the new year with an ice luge, fire pits and an open bar is as cool as it gets. The all inclusive $120 ticket also includes an open bar (obviously), a seafood buffet and live entertainment. If you do this one right, you’ll spend the night in a Hotel Monaco room. Plus, the first 100 purchasers to use the code ‘BYT’ get $20.
Krampus in theaters December 4
I’m a Halloween/horror movie kind of person so if you inject a little bit of that into Christmas then I can tolerate Jesus’ big day. Plus this film has an ALL-STAR CAST in Toni Collette, Adam Scott, David Koechner, and more. Krampus sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good so BE GOOD FOR GOODNESS SAKE. -Jenn Tisdale
In the Heart of the Sea in theaters December 11
Even at it’s best, CGI can make or break the realism of a film. We’re at a technological breaking point when it comes to CGI right now, which makes it the perfect time for this Ron Howard directed Moby Dick reboot starring Chris Hemsworth. The film takes a different approach to the classic story and instead focuses on the real whale that inspired Herman Melville’s epic rather than the fictional one and the crew’s struggle for survival after it attacks. I try not to think about whales too much (the ocean is full of some spooky shit!) but I’m really looking forward to this one. At it’s best, this film could be the Jaws of 2015. At it’s worst…well I don’t know. I’m just kind of banking on it being good. -Tam Sackman
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens in theaters December 18
I’ve been hyped up for this movie for months and already bought my tickets for opening day, just like every other nerd in this world. I still get goosebumps when I hear the theme music in the trailer. Unless you live under a rock, you know pretty much everything there is to know about the next highly-anticipated, quasi-unnecessary film in the Star Wars series. It even spurred an online campaign about how the film is “anti-white”! Fingers crossed it lives up to the hype because Star Wars has disappointed. Despite the looming disappointment, I’m ready for an aging Harrison Ford to fly the Millennium Falcon and to finally understand the weird, new triple-pronged light saber. -Mary Beth McAndrews
Son of Saul in limited theaters December 18
I hate to be all “critics are saying” but critics are saying that Son of Saul is the best Holocaust movie since Schindler’s List and I’m hoping they’re right. Hungarian director Laszlo Nemes’ subtitled debut is about an Auschwitz prisoner trying to recover the body of a boy he thinks is his son. The trailer is harrowing: this movie will no doubt be difficult to watch. It won the Grand Prix at Cannes if that means anything to you. -Tam Sackman
The Revenant in theaters December 25
Nothing says Merry Christmas like a revenge film set in the 1800s wilderness! In Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s latest film, The Revenant, Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is on the hunt for the man (Tom Hardy) who murdered his son and left Glass for dead after a bear attack. From the trailers, this film looks beautiful and brutal, and is definitely a change in tone from Inarritu’s Birdman, which swept last year’s Academy Awards. Here’s the question on everyone’s mind: will this role finally get Leo the Academy Award? The answer: probably not. But I bet it’ll get Tom Hardy one. -Mary Beth McAndrews
Remember way back in March when Priya wrote about that pop-up at Mike Isabella’s G? The restaurant there at the time, Yona, is just about ready to open for real, you guys! The month-long pop-up showcased some of Chef Jonah Kim’s outstanding ramen and Japanese small plates (try the crispy brussels sprouts with chili mayo and rice pearls). Yes, it’s out in Ballston, but it’s a brief 5 blocks from the Ballston Metro stop. I’ve walked further for dope ramen. Much further. Lunch began this week and dinner service kicks off December 4th. -Logan Hollers
El Centro DF’s Destination: Oaxaca Menu
You guys also remember way back in May when I wrote about El Centro DF’s Destination: Guadalajara menu? If you’ll recall, twice a year, Richard Sandoval and his chefs travel to different regions of Mexico to pick up some fresh ideas and learn some classic dishes. Anyway, the kitchen crew just went to Oaxaca to get ready for their Destination: Oaxaca menu. On the menu this time: pipian pork belly tacos (sounds good), smoked pork tenderloin and pumpkin mole (seasonal, I like it), and . . . chapulines guacamole (LEGGGOOOO!). Yep, guacamole with crispy fried grasshoppers. At the risk of getting too wonky and deep in a “Your Best” piece, food waste and food insecurity are huge international issues right now; bugs are plentiful, nutrient-dense, and often delicious. At least give it a shot. Crispy grasshoppers, creamy guacamole…you’ll love it or your money back! (Actually you probably won’t get your money back if you don’t like it. But you’ll like it.) -Logan Hollers
Crane & Turtle Japanese Hot Pot
You guys probably know by now my aversion to leaving Capitol Hill. It takes a lot to get me out of my snug little Northeast quadrant. One thing I have no problem traveling for? Two new specials, courtesy of Crane & Turtle. The tiny Japanese-French standout smack-dab in the middle of Petworth is now offering a Japanese hot pot, the ultimate cold-weather comfort food, on their patio on Friday and Saturday nights. $35 per person gets you either the Carnivorous or the Vegetarian hot pot, each of which comes with a simmering cauldron of hot broth and various meats, tofu, and vegetables. Even better? Their newly launched Ramen Night, where a mere 30 bowls of ramen per night are offered every Tuesday at the Chef’s Counter. Styles change every week, so check back often to see what’s coming up. -Logan Hollers
Our house subscribes to National Geographic magazine (brushes shoulder off). Outside of the random tribal boob and epic Himalaya pics, it’s rare to find a piece that I absolutely love. This month’s issue, however, featured an awesome article, “Beyond Taste Buds: The Science of Delicious.” I love food. I also love nerding out about the science of food and what makes us like certain flavors. The piece is outstanding, and well worth a read (who knew that “flavor” was based almost entirely on aromas traveling up through our nasal cavity?!). But we get it: it’s the holiday season, you might not have time to sit down and read through some hoity-toity scientific study of taste. Good news! On December 3rd, National Geographic is hosting an evening called The Science of Delicious. Co-owners Ari Wilder and Chef Myo Htun of Chaplin’s will present some innovative food and drink pairings and Julie Mennella, a biopsychologist with the Monell Chemical Senses Center, will discuss why we taste, how we taste, and the chemical and biological processes of flavor. Sounds awesome, right? -Logan Hollers
LEGO released a Doctor Who themed level pack for their genre-spanning Dimensions video game earlier this year containing a 12th Doctor minifig, plus K-9 and a mini Tardis, but if you didn’t actually own the game, it was a pretty weak bang for your buck.
Luckily on December 1st, LEGO will release their final major set of the year, a full on standalone Doctor Who set as part of the IDEAS line (Delorean, Wall-E, etc). The set includes a full size Tardis + breakout interior, both the 11th and 12th Doctors, Clara, 2 Daleks, and a sweet Weeping Angel.
Assuming this sells well, and I don’t see how it couldn’t, I’m betting we can expect a 9th and 10th Doctor sets in the future? If not, you’ll just have to pretend your MODOK minifig is the Face of Boe.
Nothing much else interesting being released from LEGO in December, so save your money, cause something like 24 new Star Wars sets are coming out in January + the Ghostbuster Firehouse HQ. -Cale
Car Seat Headrest’s most popular song, “Stop Smoking”, only has two sentences in it. That’s how good Will Toledo (who can’t be mentioned without subsequently mentioning that he is VERY young) is. His deep, often distorted vocals drag in the best way and there’s this ache of desperation that makes for an urgent necessity in his music, while simultaneously having this sad and disaffected ironic aspect to it. He just came out with an album “Teens of Style” and it’s very good, possibly because he’s been at this shit for five years (since he was 17). Ne-Hi and the Duskwhales are opening. -Tam Sackman
Some shows are just artists playing their record from start to finish. That’s fine, but I prefer a show giving me an experience that I wouldn’t have listening to their music in some other way. It’s worth seeing Darwin Deez live for his show. I saw him at the Black Cat on his birthday a few years ago. Darwin was undoubtedly the star, but each member of the band was so clearly valued and given a chance to have the crowd’s undivided attention. Jokes were plentiful, and the setlist had three SCHEDULED DANCE BREAKS where the band would put down their instruments and perform a choreographed dance before returning for the next few songs. At the end of the show, someone brought a cake on stage and Darwin blew out the candles and it was just very special and warm. This show won’t be his birthday again, but I’m sure it will be equally as entertaining. -Tam Sackman
This gets a slightly bigger title than any other stuff in the music section because we are VERY VERY VERY excited for this show. In fact, we are all going. Collectively. No excuses. You should be too. Read our super cool EX HEX interview from last year here,our Mac McCaughan (the man behind Superchink AND Merge Records) interview here and get those tickets NOW. Rock. – Svetlana
Cassie Ramone Christmas in Reno available December 11
Former Vivian Girls member Cassie Ramone’s releasing a fuzzy, lo-fi collection of Christmas covers called Christmas in Reno. It’s full of the sort of nostalgia and glad tidings that comes standard with these sort of albums, but a slight melancholy creeps into the songs, as well. This is THE album to decorate your sadboy Christmas tree to this holiday season. -Matt Byrne
Back in August, UK indie art-rockers Foals released their fourth studio album What Went Down to near-unanimous critical acclaim, so of course, the extensive world tour on which they recently embarked was inevitable. It’s been a couple of years since they last toured, but stage-rust (yeah, that’s a thing) shouldn’t be an issue due to the fact that they played a bunch of festivals this summer. Foals are a more than solid live band, as their discography evolves, so do their setlists, which are always a perfect blend of high-energy indie anthems, and subtle chill-out jams. -Norm Quarrinton
A trio of black men will perceive themselves to be magical unicorns. A pale and mohawked Irish thug will battle The Rock’s jacked and long-haired Samoan cousin who (inexplicably to you) wears a flak jacket and cargo pants. Empowered feminist grapplers will fight in 20 minute athletic contests. Also, a cult-like faith leader who looks like a Duck Dynasty castaway could appear alongside his three seven-foot tall bodyguards and get a crowd of 15,000 people to sing “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands.” No, what I’m describing isn’t a circus, but WWE’s Smackdown TV show taping on December 29 at the Verizon Center is certainly a great way to pass three hours during winter vacation. World Wrestling Entertainment may be past the era of “The Hulkster” and “Stone Cold,” and names like John Cena and Triple H won’t be present on the 29th, but this taping is significant.
In January 2016, WWE will be shifting Smackdown from it’s Thursday night outpost on SyFy to fellow Universal branded network USA. Thus, this final SyFy broadcast of Smackdown should be more fanciful than usual. Moreso than anything these days, WWE’s on-air broadcasts are a bizarre mix of Internet memes and trending societal topics wrapped up in spandex tights and baby oil. Come for the spectacle, stay for the entertainment. -Marcus Dowling
Top Chef Season 13 premieres December 2 on Bravo
Top Chef *serves up* Season 13 for you, kicking things off with a veritable *feast* of cooking contests during its *delicious* two night premiere, December 2 and 3. Check out some of the country’s *hottest* *rising (like dough)* chefs trying to win over judges with *well done* preparations in pursuit of the *rare* title of Top Chef!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! -Matt Byrne
Transparent Season 2 available December 4 on Amazon Prime
I feel like the premiere date may have shifted to 12/11, but I am going to delude myself into thinking that it’s coming sooner rather than later, because THAT IS HOW EXCITED I AM FOR SEASON TWO OF TRANSPARENT. It is seriously the greatest show (which I explain in detail here), and it’s been an agonizing eleven months since I binge-watched the first season // MORE PFEFFERMAN DRAMA STAT, PLEASE. -Megan Burns
Making a Murderer available December 18 on Netflix
On the one hand I should feel bad about loving as many crime-related shows/films/documentaries as I do because they wouldn’t be possible without the crimes, of course. On the other I love looking at a good old fashioned crime scene. GTFO with a dramatization. I want the real deal. Recently I realized that part of the allure of serial killers, sociopaths and the like is I get to identify out. No matter what’s going on at least I’m not as bad as all that, and when you’re kind of a nutter like me, every little bit helps. Making a Murderer is not so much about a crazed psychopath as it is about being from the wrong side of the tracks and on the worst side of the law. This ten part series documents the story of Steven Avery, a man wrongly convicted of a brutal assault. His release caused major criminal justice reform legislation but not before he was the suspect in a horrific new crime. It’s like Jinx except innocent. I think. Maybe. Some disagree. -Jenn Tisdale
Normally I don’t give a poop about awards shows but Stephen Colbert is hosting this so that’s enough for me. Also D.C.! The Kennedy Center! The Kennedys! Those guys! This year’s honorees include Carole King, George Lucas, Rita Moreno, Seiji Ozawa and Cicely Tyson. I heard George Lucas is making a shitty prequel to this show so be sure to catch that too. -Jenn Tisdale
Pitbull’s New Year’s Revolution December 31 on Fox
Are you planning on staying in this NYE but still want to feel like you’re at a chic, stylish party hosted by a man named after a kind of dog? Pitbull’s New Year’s Revolution is the television special for you! They did one last year and from what I can tell the special was ridiculous. From the bull man himself: “What’s better than ringing in the new year on a positive note? Instead of the ball drop, we’ll have the ball going up.” P-Ball keeping it posi in 2k16! Rising balls and other innovations await you on Fox this NYE! -Matt Byrne
I don’t even own a gaming system. I’ve never played any of the Uncharted games but I’ve watched play throughs online like a REAL WEIRDO because a friend got me into them. When the player is good, they’re better than most movies. The characters are delightful, the story lines fascinating. This series is for fans of Indiana Jones and the like, treasure hunters, National Treasure hunters, the usual. If you have a PS4 you can play the beta version of the newest game by buying Uncharted: The Nathan Drake collection. Yes that’s tricky but probably worth it. The full game will be released in March of 2016. -Jenn Tisdale