The Restaurants, the Theater, the Book and the Nats (96 cents)

The Restaurants.  Three to talk about.   1.  We had a rather late dinner Wednesday night at Regent Thai in Adams Morgan.  Sitting outside on a beautiful night was great; the staff was very accommodating.  Everyone there seemed to be enjoying themselves.  The only problem was that the food was not what we hoped it would be.  I don’t want to conclude that Regent Thai is just an ordinary Thai restaurant; the problem may have been that we just did not order the best on the menu.  We started by splitting a papaya salad, something we often do in Thai restaurants, so we are able to compare.  This salad was smaller than most, and I thought the dressing tasted like it had a little too much garlic; no subtlety here.  On the other hand, the vegetable fried rice, which was loaded with fresh vegetables, lacked a degree of taste, and the Penang tofu curry, seemed to be small cubes of soft tofu in an awful lot of sauce.  I thought it needed a little more of something in it to give it more texture. All in all, not bad, but somewhat disappointing  2.  On Saturday at lunch, however, what we thought would be simply passable turned out much more than that.  Again, sitting outside at Asia Spice in Chinatown (a beautiful day, but the main view was that of two funerals at the Baptist church across the street), I decided again to try the fried rice, this time with seafood.  It is on the menu as “spicy” and I asked them to tone it down a bit, which they did, leaving with it just the right amount of bite.  The seafood was plentiful and fresh, and the rice had more taste to it than Regent Thai’s.  Our other dish was a very well designed green salad, with a Thai peanut dressing.  3.  That night, we went to the new Busboys and Poets, on 5th Street.  A simple vegetable pizza with non-dairy cheese, and a wonderful baby spinach salad, with blueberries, pecans, wheat berries, gorgonzola cheese.  I sprung for the extra $2.95 to put chicken on it, and, although the chicken was plentiful and fine, it was not necessary.  (We should also say that we ate at Clyde’s Chevy Chase last night, with relatives.  I had roast chicken with jicama, and black beans and rice.  No complaints.  And it is nice, every once in a while, to go where you seem to be the youngest, and not the oldest, in the restaurant.

The Theater.  Saturday was devoted to the Capitol Fringe Festival; we saw 5 different shows.  First, a two person sketch, called Riding the Bull, about a rodeo clown and his overweight girlfriend (and her cow), punctuated by a banjo player/folk singer from New York; this was the most professional and strongest show of the bunch.  Then, came Dorks on the Loose, back for their second year.  Friends of my daughter, they are zany, and have put together a bunch of short pieces of the humorous variety.  Third was a piece based on two fierecely rival a capella groups at a college, with a love interest between a member of each.  I can’t say much for the plotline, but the music was very harmonious.  Fourth, a 90 minute comedy called GS-14, based on a government bureaucrat who gets a little too involved in the life of his employees.  Finally, All Good Men, which I don’t know how to describe, except to say that it is a 5 person dance/movement piece with an off-stage dialogue telling the story of a medical school, which has a growing need of cadavers, and the folks that make sure that it gets them, any way possible.  All were enjoyable, the day relaxing, seeing so many people attending so many atypical theatrical events encouraging.

The Book.  The book is called Many and Many a Year Ago, and is written by a Turkish banker/author, Selcuk Altun.  I found it at the Fringe Free Store, amongst the many books donated and not yet taken.  Because it was a mystery set in Istanbul, I thought it would be interesting to read.  Seeing that it also had to do with Edgar Allen Poe was intriguing.  I have read it now, and I found it a worthwhile read, although the plot is a little complicated.  Our hero (actually a hero of the Turkish Air Force, crippled by a jet crash, unable to follow his other passion as a classical music performer) becomes the unwitting tool, perhaps, of an old army buddy, who leads him through all sorts of missing person chaces and chance encounters, across the city, and throughout some of the Turkish countryside, but also to Argentina, and to Boston, New York and (of course) Baltimore and Poe’s burial site.  Do I think this is a must-read?  No, but it kept me going (if scratching my head too often).

But that’s not the point.  The point is that this book, which I have read cover to cover, has not yet been published in English, and won’t be until September.  Now, I am not reading an advanced reading copy, nor an earlier published foreign edition, although my copy was printed in the UK (where also it is to be published on 9/1).  How is this possible, and how could it arrive so quickly at a give-away table?  It seems to me that this is the true myster.

The Washington Nationals.  Oh, my.  They fire their manager (correct decision), elevate their bench coach (who worked under the manager and thinks he did “everything right”), and the team loses four straight to the Cubs.  Oh, my.

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