This weekend, Jasmin came to visit, which is always fantastic. We talked about books, the Olympics, wine, Michael Phelps, food, Olympic gymnastics, traveling the world, Bob Costas ... ok, so maybe it was a wee bit Olympic-heavy, but whatever.
We did our fair share of DC-ish things too. It's restaurant week, so we had dinner at Zola yesterday, which was pretty awesome, not just for the food but also because the design is kind of stunning. It was clearly fit into an odd space, but it plays on and uses the adjacent International Spy Museum theme and to great effect. Jim and I want to go back and sit in one of the super-cool red booths. Very Mata Hari.
Before dinner, Jasmin and I did a whirlwind tour of the Portrait Gallery, through the presidents and Herblocks' sendups of them, the posters-as-portraiture exhibit, the Zaida Ben-Yusuf photography show, and the hip-hop exhibit, among others. We even restrained ourselves at the gift shop, although it was supremely tempting to get the Barack Obama and Family Paper Dolls for Jim (yes, they make a McCain version too -- this town may be political, but not precisely partisan).
And prior to that, we went to see the Jim Henson's Fantastic World traveling exhibition at the Smithsonian. I highly recommend -- nay, I almost demand -- that you go see this exhibit when it comes to a museum near you, whether you have young children in tow or not. I had no idea that Henson was such an amazing artist beyond the field of the doodles that turned into Muppets later in life, nor that he had made some way-out wacky student films in his day. For example, he painted an elephant. Pink. Which makes me wonder, how did he get a hold of a real elephant, and how long did it stay pink?
There was an awesome moment, too, when Jim, Jasmin, and I were standing in front of the case holding an actual Bert (circa the 70s) and an actual Ernie (circa the 80s, with rubber duckie in hand). A toddler with a mop of brown curls ran up, parents lagging behind. "It's Ernie!!" he cried. "And Bert! Look! It's Ernie and Bert!"
"Yeah!" his mom answered, with what appeared to be mostly unfeigned enthusiasm (seriously, this exhibit is more for adults than kids, really). "It's Ernie and Bert!"
"And the rubber duck!" the kid added.
There was consensus all around that, yes, it was Ernie and Bert and Rubber Duckie, and how cool was that? I think Jasmin and I just about lost it from the cuteness of the whole thing.
(By the way, am I the only person who somehow thinks of them only and "Bert and Ernie" and never "Ernie and Bert?" Is it a rhythmic thing? Hm.)
Anyway, while the exhibit comprised more than the Muppet era (think commercials and The Dark Crystal), there was also a case with Mahna Mahna and the two Snowths, which made me and Jasmin both wish the museum had a looped video of the track playing.
I mean, Mahna Mahna is like It's a Small World: It sticks in your brain and you can't help but sing along to it even as it drives you nuts. Which I guess might have a negative impact on the exhibition's security guards, but really, you can't have the Muppets without the music.
Although as Des and Nick will warn you, toddlers tend to love it so much that they watch it again and again and again and OHMYGODWHYWON'TITSTOP?!?! Yes, we can watch it again.
This one's for you, Nina.