In around 33 hours actually in the Washington DC area over the weekend, I managed to see 3 plays, visit 1 B. Dalton, 4 B&Ns, 4 Borders, chow down at 2 Whole Foods and a Pizzeria Uno, do the Saturday NY Times puzzle, two from Sunday, a regular and a cryptic, read 70% of the new Violette Malan book and get started on Tanya Huff's next.
I'll talk more about the plays later, but just a few idle observations.
I've sung the praises of Georgetown Cupcake before, no doubt I'll do so again, they're some of the only overpriced cupcakes that at least taste really, really, really good. But what is the world coming to when I pop by their new expanded flagship location in Georgetown and see over 30 people curled around in the store waiting to buy cupcakes. It's just a cupcake. It's not worth waiting, sorry, no possible way unless it's your child's bar mitzvah and the caterer's truck with the viennese table pastries overturned on the beltway, that anyone should wait 30 minutes for a friggin' cupcake. I noticed they had a new location in Bethesda down the street from the B&N on Bethesda Row, much closer to that B&N than the Georgetown location is to the B&N in Georgetown, and the Bethesda store does a much better business in sf/fantasy than the one in Georgetown, so I expect in the future that I'll go to the Bethesda location, and I did wait five minutes or so the next day. And yes, the carrot cupcake was yummy, and the chocolate/vanilla and the key lime pie and the chocolate mint, even though the icing had kind of run off from the top of the cupcake by the time I ate them back home after taking them around with me for several hours and I had to scoop the icing back on top of the cupcakes.
The original home of the Rockville Pike Borders, which became an Anthropologie when Borders moved down the street into White Flint Mall, is an Anthropologie no more. The store is up for rent, so if any of you want to open a store in a historic retail location on 11500 Rockville Pike... And this huge Borders location no longer has even a single visible store-discretion shelf facing in its Front of Store, nor really does the wonderful Borders on 18th and L have any store discretion that's visible in its FOS. I find this a little depressing. I can remember back 20 years when a Borders had character. Of course, there weren't 500 stores back then. And one of the problems the chain had was that it had too much character and not enough management. And I wasn't very happy with George L. Jones because he didn't run a tight ship. But the nostalgic part of me wishes the chain could be a well-run chain while still retaining some of that store-specific character.
B&N will soon have Elizabeth Moon's Deed of Paksenarrion back on shelves. Should have been there all along, but that's a long story. Maybe I'll tell that story in a blog post some day. That was one of the nice things to see in the stores. The bummer thing is that Borders is underordering on Peter Brett's Desert Spear, around half as many of those as the new Robert Redick hardcover, though I bet Peter will outsell the Redick by about that same margin.
It's soon going to be $8.30 for a one-day pass on the DC MetroRail system. Is it that long ago this was a $5 bargain?
As I get older I get more crotchety about my hotel rooms. I went down twice to ask for a new room because any of the ones facing the air wells on either side, the HVAC equipment at the bottom of the airwell, all that noise just shimmies up the walls. Which leaves a room facing the street so you can get the street noise as the "best" option. I probably won't race to book the Hilton Garden Inn on 14th St. again.
I've never seen so much snow in DC. Knocked over light posts and paper boxes. The sidewalks not so bad but at the corners where snow was plowed from two different streets, you had some interesting detours.
The Pizzeria Uno in Bethesda is closed. And right before I headed to DC, my younger brother told me the one in Manchester, CT is closed now as well. I enjoyed my dinner at the Union Station location. I tried the honey crisp chicken salad for the first time, along with that new moroccan lentil soup, and it was a good thing.
Whole Foods is about to open the new store in Chevy Chase, MD just over the border from DC in Friendship Heights. May 18, I'm told. That's just a little over a mile from the Tenleytown store in DC and not far from the River Rd. location in Bethesda, so I see some same-store cannibalization in the near future. And it's maybe but three years ago that the Tenleytown store was given a pretty major remode. I also see on their web site that the store in Lake Grove, NY will be opening on March 17.
With my little weekend trips the past two weekends when I've been considering myself as on vacation and able to do more than just the Sunday Times crossword, well, I've impressed even myself with how well I've done on the Saturday puzzles. They're not easy, and it takes some backing and forthing and fermenting in the back of the mind while I do other stuff, but I've been very pleased.
I just can't seem to get as much done on a weekend when I'm home.