Month: February 2018

History, History Column

Dog Gone it America, Read!

Read America! By Parker A. Poodle™ Hello, Alexandria!  I, Parker A. Poodle, am reporting from the backseat of my mistress’ car. We have just crossed the 14th Street Bridge en route to The White House. Massachusetts-er John Adams—slaveless property owner, husband of Abigail, father of three and dog owner of two—was the first President to inhabit The White House. His stay was short, four months. The election of 1800, Adams v. Jefferson, was bitterly fought.     Adams dogs, Juno and Satan, were the first First dogs to dabble in Washington politics. To—how shall I say?—speak smartly, snarl angrily, perhaps pee on The White House lawn. March 2 is National Read Across America Day and, as biographer David McCullough confirms, children “should read history.” “If it should be the Design of Providence that you should live to grow up, you will naturally feel a Curiosity to learn the History of Causes which have produced the late Revolution of our Government,” John Adams wrote son John Quincy in 1777. “It will become you to make yourself Master of all the considerable Characters….” Reading Education Assistance Dogs are characters, of a type. We went home by way of the Alexandria library. Children are educated. Dogs are trained. I entered the library quietly. George Washington’s Breakfast, a book by Jean Fritz explains the library process. “The librarian smiled when she saw [a poodle patron] come through the door,” Fritz noted. “[I] walked up to the desk” and sat. The librarian “picked out four [children’s] books to take home,” then “promised that she would look at the rest.”    “As [George] Washington was the father of our country and [Thomas] Jefferson the author of its ideals, John Adams was the champion of government,” Cheryl Harness wrote in The Revolutionary John Adams. “When the Congress…

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Arts & Entertainment, High Notes

The Lords of Easton & Stan Medley

By Ron Powers The Lords of Easton & Stan Medley I got a preview of a new EP entitled “Love” by The Lords of Easton & Stan Medley. I must say this EP has wonderful vocal duets by The Lords of Easton’s Raven Kane and Sy Gorieb and just as impressive musical arrangement. The Wedding Song Duet (In the Morning Light) If ever a song were to meet precisely with the sentiment implied by its title, this is the one. The performances from each of the two leading singers come through with absolute passion and genuine affection, the intensity or brightness of which grows and grows accordingly as the song pours out. For what begins as a notably gentle soundscape, with two softly spoken voices declaring their loyalty and promises, it later explodes into something incredibly moving and far more fittingly reminiscent of the true dedication and adoration that is the essence of a marriage commitment. The lyrics also begin in a fairly subtle way, presenting peaceful imagery and references that slowly start to alight that fire and connectedness. Moving onwards, the lyrics take on an even more poetic form, fusing truth, realization, learning, desire, and depth – this is backed up beautifully by the musical creativity surrounding it, and of course by the sensational vocal performances. There’s a lot about this single that underlines the blessing of true love and the dedicative essence of a wedding, perhaps most distinctly though, it is the lyrics and the back and forth between the two performers that speaks the loudest. The music has a classically theatrical or stage feel to it – the way the soundscape meanders, the changing levels of passion, the various details and moments that make it what it is. For fans of musical theatre or performance and power…

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Featured Post

March Comes in Like Aluminum

By Steve Chaconas March Comes in Like Aluminum   And goes out like fiberglass. After spending the last 20 years riding in luxury with two passengers at warp factor Beltway speeds in new 20 foot Skeeter bass boats powered by a 250-horse power Yamaha four stroke outboards, solo days on my wobbly aluminum West Virginia boat were a scenic country roads escape. Every March I’m in the world’s newest and coolest bass boat with 12-inch sonar screens storing secret fishing spots, revealing detailed sub surface images. Oxygenated livewells allow fish recovery for photos and then live release. Deck padding reduces knee and back strain. Storage for tons of fishing gear! It’s like fishing on a dock, stable no matter wind, weather or current, high enough for visual advantage. Powerful 36-volt trolling motor stealthily sneaks up on largemouth bass. A built in cooler too! My on-the-water office, open for predawn guiding business for hard-fishing 8-hour days, has everything except a secretary and fax. Recently I said goodbye to my little green 14-foot aluminum boat used at a lake near our Wild Wonderful WV mountain home. Modest, but it offered a large fishing platform, 24-volt trolling motor, carpeting, and tiny 5-inch electronics screen providing not much more than depth and water temperature. Top speed…3.3 miles per hour. Grabbing a handful of rods, bag of tackle, and small cooler, I was one with the fish. Hitting the water no matter the time of day, and only during comfortable mild conditions, fishing didn’t seem like a job. This 10-year-old boat didn’t ask for much. In one season, I successfully targeted larger fish on the small 50-acre lake in my one man fishing machine. Holding boat ramp classes, introducing locals to techniques and teaching youngsters were becoming routine. I was guiding in my free time!…

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Arts & Entertainment, Gallery Beat

The Quilts of Gee’s Bend Syndrome

By F. Lennox Campello The Quilts of Gee’s Bend Syndrome In the rarefied artmosphere (not a misspelled word – I’m using the word “art” and thus instead of “atmosphere” … get it?) of the art world, there is a curious case of the PC review that many years ago I dubbed the “Quilts of Gee’s Bend Syndrome.” In a nutshell: There are some art shows, and some artwork, which no one (who cares how other “perceive” them) dares to write a negative review about because if a writer did dare to criticize it, he/she would be skewered by readers and others in the art world cabal’ PC police. It is essentially the PC’ing of the art world. I called it the “Quilts of Gee’s Bend Syndrome” because I first wrote about this curious self-policing of art criticism in response to a spectacular show that traveled the US many years ago to the universal acclaim of everyone who wrote about it in the critical press (including me), even though there were many art critics in that set of writers who’d rather dig their own eyes out with a teaspoon than actually “like” a museum show about quilts. The reason for that was that the amazing quilt show was about the work of the nicest, warmest, and friendliest set of elderly African-American women that anyone had ever met! In 2004, the Quilts of Gee’s Bend displayed the craft produced by the women (mostly) of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, a very isolated, small African-American community in southwestern Alabama. As one of the quilters put it herself at the press preview that I attended back then, “the road ends in Gee’s Bend and there’s nothing else past us.” Descended from the former slaves of two area plantations, the inhabitants of Gee’s Bend (who call themselves…

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Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

Spring Into Fitness with these Tips!

By Ryan Unverzagt March is here and I hope you are still excited about your exercise routine. It’s been two months since the start of the New Year and not to mention those new fitness resolutions. Motivation levels tend to fizzle out during the month of March, especially once your spring break vacations are over. I realize that not everyone is motivated in the same way or by the same things. Therefore, staying motivated can be a challenging task. I would like to share a few ways to boost your commitment toward exercise. Workout with a Buddy- Find someone to train with who has similar goals. You will be less likely to ditch out on a workout if you know that somebody else will be expecting you to be there. It’s actually safer to exercise with a friend because you will have a spotter for resistance training and a —- during cardio training. In the worst case scenario, your buddy can assist you should any injuries happen. Try the partner exercises that I discussed in last month’s issue of the Old Town Crier. Gather Social Support- Besides working out with a buddy, let family and friends know that you need their support to keep you motivated. Schedule weekly meetings with them to talk about how your exercise program is going, what you have accomplished for the week, and how it makes you feel when you finish a workout. Focus more on the positives and less on the negatives. Who knows, you just might be able to inspire others in your support group to start exercising by being a role model with your success! Change Your Workouts- Staleness and loss of interest in your workouts can be a result of doing the same old thing for too long. If your workout…

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Beauty & Health, Fitness

Lunch Break Workout

By Nicole Flannigan Lunch Break Workout Who says that you have to work out for a whole hour every day? Some days we are able to sweat through a 90-minute spin class, or hold our own in advanced yoga, and some days we barely have enough time to get everything done. On days that you feel like you are running out of time just trying to find time, take a 30 minute breather and get a little work out in. You can blast calories and boost your energy in less than 30 minutes, which may be just what you need in the middle of a hectic day. To start, get on the treadmill, elliptical or rowing machine and begin with five minutes at a moderate pace to get warmed up. You are going to alternate each strength exercise with 2 minutes on the cardio machine of your choice. End this workout with a five minute cool down: Wall Sit with shoulder raise- Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms by your side, palms facing forward, lean against a wall with back straight, feet hip-width apart about 2 feet from wall. Bend knees and slide down wall until thighs are parallel to floor. Maintaining squat, raise both arms straight out to sides at shoulder height, then bring them close together in front of chest, palms facing each other. Reverse arm move to complete 1 rep. Do 15 reps Hamstring Leg Lift- Lie facedown on a bench with legs extended in a wide V behind you, hips just above end of bench, feet flexed, toes on floor. Grip the bench you’re your hands, arms extended overhead. Lift both legs up in line with your torso, then bring feet together in midair. Open legs back out to sides, then lower to start. Do…

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Beauty & Health, First Blush

Tools of The Trade

By Genevieve LeFranc Tools Of The Trade….. Let’s face it gals, it’s a tough world out there and who couldn’t benefit from a few tricks and tools that make our beauty routines (and lives) easier. We all want to look our best and be able to rely on tools that get the job done quickly and effectively. With a beauty arsenal of reliable weapons, you can face each day with confidence knowing you possess the must-haves to pull off any great look. Tweezer You may think there is little difference between the drug store tweezer you discovered in the back of a messy drawer and the precision options praised by beauty editors. But quality makes all the difference. Tweezerman is the Cadillac of tweezers and relatively inexpensive when you consider its unmatched performance and precision. Its sharp steel tips are hand-filed and grab the hair every time. It comes in different shapes, sizes and styles, some with fun patterns to complement your style. And here’s a bonus –  Tweezerman will sharpen your tweezer when it becomes dulled from everyday use at no cost! This coveted favorite pays for itself, so invest! Nothing frames your face better than a set of neatly groomed, excellently manicured brows. Eyelash curler Short of a solid eight hours in dreamland, nothing makes you look more awake or bright-eyed than curled eyelashes. Even if you have absolutely no time to throw on makeup, curling your eyelashes takes seconds and gives you a flirtatious look that lasts all day. Don’t feel like swiping on the mascara? No problem—a pair of curled lashes makes your peepers pop. Invest in a quality tool to make your curl last. The brand adored by makeup artists and professionals is Shu Uemura. It yields a perfect curl with unmatched precision, accentuating even…

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Financial Focus, Pets, Places, & Things

Personalize Your Social Security Payout Strategy

By Carl Trevison and Stephen Bearce Personalize Your Social Security Payout Strategy Only you can decide if claiming Social Security at age 62 or waiting to claim later makes more sense. Lifestyle and philanthropic intentions, marital and employment status, and gender are all factors. When do you claim? If you’re in a position to think through your Social Security claiming schedule, do it. It could mean thousands or tens of thousands to your annual retirement income. Here’s your choice: You can start receiving monthly payouts at the qualifying age of 62 like many people. Or you can hold out for a bigger payout down the road. It’s your call – and it could be a game-changer in retirement. Though an immediate need for funds will usually trump other considerations, delaying Social Security for just eight years – until age 70 – could mean up to 30% more from Uncle Sam every month. Some key considerations will likely factor into your claiming strategy: What’s age got to do with it? If 60 is the new 40, then 80 is the new 60. Longer life spans are only part of the story, though. The rest of it plays out every day in 21st century lifestyle and retirement expectations, not to mention philanthropic intentions or plans to help out the family or grandchildren. Along with modern realities, retirees’ multiple income sources and investments are changing traditional Social Security claiming patterns. It may make more sense to begin drawing funds from other income sources while delaying Social Security. Or you may even decide to put off retirement for a few years to make it possible. What’s your claiming combo? If you’re married or in a relationship, you’ll want to look at where you both stand in relation to retirement. We’re talking “still working” versus…

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Arts & Entertainment, Events, Events, Featured Post

St. Patricks Day Parade 2018!!!!

Alexandria’s 37th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 3 is the First in the DC Region  Classic Car Show and Fun Dog Show Round Out a Day of Festivities   WHAT: 37th Annual Alexandria St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Classic Car Show and Fun Dog Show Visitors and residents are invited to don their green and line King Street in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia to kick off the D.C. region’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at the 37th Annual Alexandria St. Patrick’s Day Parade presented by the Ballyshaners, a nonprofit that aims to promote and preserve Irish heritage. More than 3,500 participants will march in the parade, including dog rescue groups, pipe and drum bands, historical re-enactors, Shriners and Kena cars, and Irish dancers. Parade-goers come early for the Classic Car Show featuring more than a dozen cars on Pitt Street and the Fun Dog Show on Market Square. This year’s fun dog show is  hosted by WUSA9 News’ Peggy Fox and benefits the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria. More than 20 costumed dogs will compete in a range of categories, including Best Human/Canine Look-Alike, Most Talented and Most St. Paddy’s Spirit. Each of the winners will receive a 2018 “Pet” Troy Award Trophy, in honor of this year’s Grand Marshalls, Pat and Bernadette Troy. The dogs will then kick off the parade. WHEN: Saturday, March 3, 2018 TIME:     Parade starts at 12:15 p.m. and ends at 2 p.m.               Classic Car Show is from 9:30 to 11 a.m.               Fun Dog Show is from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. WHERE: Parade starts at King and Alfred Streets and ends at Lee and Cameron Streets               Classic Car Show is on Pitt Street between King and Cameron Streets featuring more than a dozen cars               Fun Dog Show is on Market Square in front of Alexandria City Hall at 301 King Street WEBSITE:

Grapevine & Vintner Profile, Wining & Dining

Don’t Be So Serious…….It’s Just Wine

By Nancy Bauer Don’t Be So Serious……It’s just wine Who cares if you drink your whites too cold, can’t taste the peach in a Viognier, or didn’t know that Meritage is actually supposed to rhyme with heritage? Wine can be a fascinating journey, but it doesn’t always have to be an epic quest. Sometimes, it can just be a rollicking bump in the road. Don’t forget: were it not for Boone’s Farm Tickle Pink, many wine snobs wouldn’t be drinking Provençal rosé today. February has two great chances to have some fun with local wine: Valentine’s Day, and the long Presidents’ Day weekend, which is perfect for a quick wine getaway. Instead of the typical flutes of French sparkling for Valentine’s Day, how about something a little different? Most local wineries are happy to ship. The new Effingham Manor Winery in Nokesville has a beautiful rosé sparkling wine made from Pinot Noir grapes. In Leesburg, Casanel Vineyards offers a bubbly called Red Spark, made with estate grown Norton, Virginia’s native grape. And Paradise Springs in Clifton sells a fun Pineapple Sparkling, made in the style of Champagne, from Maui pineapples. Traditionalists will appreciate the Blanc de Blancs from Greenhill Vineyards in Middleburg. How about an apple wine for the apple of your eye? (Just don’t write that on the card.) North Gate Vineyards in Purcellville and Chateau O’Brien in Markham both have excellent apples wines. In Delaplane, one of our favorite hidden gems, Arterra Wines, has a Blueberry Apple Wine, and Village Winery in Waterford mixes apples with elderberry, along with several non-alcoholic elderberry-based beverages. Serious wine drinkers may leave the room in dismay if you uncork a chocolate wine, but that’s fine; more for everybody else! Barrel Oak Winery in Delaplane sells the popular Chocolate Lab, a Port-style wine…

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