Monday, February 27, 2012

Un/Fortunately, it's Pass/Fail

Best to begin with the highbrow portion of the evening and degenerate from there.

So we started at Firehouse for "You Don't Know Me: A Trio of  One Acts," part of the Acts of Faith Festival.

And, yes, I'm a heathen but they let anybody in, probably hoping to make converts.

The plays were all about those most impolitic of topics, namely race, religion and redemption.

"What Strong Fences Make" and "Beirut Rocks," both  by Israel Horovitz, dealt with Arab/Israeli issues and were separated by an interpretive dance piece done first in silence and then to Talking Heads' "Life During Wartime."

In the second piece about Jewish and Arab prejudices, Audra Honaker was especially strong as the Arab girl with a good reason to hate Jews, even as her reaction crossed the line.

I appreciated a scene in that play where the Jewish guy chided his new roommate for sloppy language. "I'm a Lit major, Jake," he shouted, ""Words are inspirational to me,"

In other words, choose your words carefully and say what you mean.

True in context, true in real life.

The final play was one I'd seen a bit of at the Acts of Faith Preview and dealt with racial prejudice at a predominantly white college in Ohio in 1949 .

The subject matter (illegitimate children, unmarried sex and bias against blacks in the early '50s) was strong, a worthy match for Katrinah Carol Lewis' performance as the author who had to live through it all.

The premise of the play was, you want to hear why there's s much violence in the author's books? Listen to her life story.

And we did.

After our culture fix,we headed for dinner around the corner at Cellar Door (where the sandwich board said they were open for lunch and dinner every day but closed for Superbowl), where I immediately ran into a bartender friend.

"You missed a good show last night," he grinned.

I also missed oysters and dinner with an Italian winemaker last night, but as far as I can tell, I can only be in one place at a time.

Goodness knows I try to prove otherwise.

We ended up having a fine supper (Prosciutto-wrapped scallops in beurre blanc, Peruvian chicken and roasted corn salad for me) with reduced price Malbec (always a treat to find happy hour on a weekend).

The final stop of the day was at Sticky Rice (I know, right?) for the final round of their Iron Man chef competition, pitting the Richmond chef against the Baltimore and D.C. chefs.

A Sticky Rice face off, so to speak.

Since I hadn't been in Sticky Rice for years, there was some adjustment period while I took in the crowd, the music, and the vibe before the smoke machine started up and the three finalists came through the front door to music.

It was pretty hysterical and the whole thing was being filmed and broadcast throughout the restaurant.

Don't let anyone tell you there's no good entertainment in RVA on a Sunday night.

My partner in crime and I found a bar stool and claimed it, with me ordering a Hornitos to transition to where we were.

Which was a very noisy bar with a (for all intents and purposes) meaningless competition going on while a comedian made loud jokes with the judges and some people snapped pictures.

No, really.

Although we stayed through the first round of tastings by the judges, the winner wasn't announced, so we may never know which Sticky Rice chef took home the trophy.

On the other hand, we'd revisited a place once recommended in an out-of-state newspaper as a hip place for a visitor to go.

No, really, let's not send our out-of-town guests to Sticky Rice as a representation of who we are.

Even for the Tater Tots.

But all experiences are good conversational fodder and this one was no exception.

We made up stories about the high maintenance-looking blond talking to the guys next to us.

We watched the two cameramen all but trip over each other trying to film the Ironman no one was paying attention to.

The funniest exchange of the evening involved a past event.

"Remember what you said the other day?"

A puzzled look. "Give me the footnotes."

My advice? Take notes if you have to.

No one said it was going to be easy to keep up.

The fun is in trying.

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