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I went to my second Dr. Sketchy’s event in 2017 but it was my first one in DC for this year. It was raining that day so I didn’t do much walking around in DC other than walking from the Dupont Circle Metro station to the Bier Baron.

This is the rare Dr. Sketchy’s event in that all of my drawings are perfectly safe to view at work or school. That’s because the model for this event, Alyssum, is a belly dancer not a burlesque performer. Alyssum is also a contortionist so I have some drawings where she’s posed in some pretty unusual looking positions.

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Alyssum made a costume change where she posed in this pretty colorful outfit.

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Alyssum made one more costume change where she was dressed in a mermaid-themed outfit.

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Unlike all of the other Dr. Sketchy’s I’ve attended in the past, there were no contests at this one. It was pure drawing the entire time. Alyssum is also a jewelry designer and artist and she had some of her work on sale at that event. (I didn’t buy anything because of tight finances.) You can view and buy some of her work here and here.

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I spent the first Sunday in December attending another session of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School at the Bier Baron in Washington, DC.

When I got off the Metro at Dupont Circle I encountered this protest.

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Yes, it was a group of Muslims who were protesting ISIS and terrorism in general. I hear so many right wing people in the media saying that all Muslims are terrorists but this march I saw directly contradicted that belief. Not only are all Muslims not terrorists but only a very tiny majority of them are actually waging violent jihad.

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These right wingers will denounce all Muslims for being terrorists yet they are strangely silent on white Christians who also commit terrorism, such as Robert Lewis Dear and Dylann Storm Roof.

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Having seen first-hand the outpouring of Muslims denouncing the terrorist extremists like ISIS makes Donald Trump’s call for a total ban on Muslims from entering the United States and refusal to rule out warrantless searches and ID cards for Muslims even more odious and more Hitler-like.

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The next two photographs show some of the flyers and postcards that the protesters were handing out to bystanders.

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I took one last shot as the protesters were walking south of Dupont Circle.

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I ate a quick lunch as Cosi then I walked over to the Bier Baron. On my way there I took a couple of photos of this wall mural that’s located on the side on this building on P Street, N.W.

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Not only does this mural depict a scene from The Wizard of Oz but it is also an example of a trompe l’oeil with a depiction of a realistic window that looks like it faces a view of the yellow brick road and the Emerald City in the distance.

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I arrived at the Bier Baron just in time for the start of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School. A bellydancer named Naimah was the model so she was more clothed than the burlesque performers who usually serve as models. But she definitely had a way with a sword, as some of these drawings show.

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There was only one contest at that event and I took part in it. Since the latest Star Wars movie was opening soon, the challenge was to put Naimah in a scene from any of the films. I had Naimah laying triumphantly on the body of Jabba the Hutt, whose throat she slashed with one of her long swords. That drawing didn’t make it to the finals.

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After the contest I did a few more drawings of Naimah before the event ended.

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Even though the event ended at 6 p.m. it felt like it was much later at night since it has been getting dark earlier and earlier. I noticed a bar and restaurant located around the corner from the Bier Baron called The Fireplace, which has a fireplace facing the street outside.

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The fireplace at The Fireplace is covered with plexiglass, which felt warm when I put my hand on it.

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I also made a brief stop at Fantom Comics since it was on the way back to the Metro station.

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As you can guess from the name, Fantom Comics is a comic book store that’s located on the second floor of a building. The stairwell leading to the store is decorated with posters, drawings, and paintings, which makes it very colorful and interesting.

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One October weekend there were not one but two festivals going on simultaneously in Greenbelt, Maryland. One is the annual Utopia Film Festival, which has been going on for the last nine years. The other was a relatively new festival that a friend of mine was one of the organizers of (he raised the funds needed for this new festival through a Kickstarter campaign) called the Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival.

First, here are a few words about the Utopia Film Festival. The great news was that the admission to each film was actually lower than last year. Last year each film had a $5 admission with an optional $25 all-access pass where the person could view as many movies as he/she wanted. This year each film had a $3 admission fee with a $10 one-day pass where the person could see many movies on either Saturday or Sunday and an $18 all-weekend, all-program pass where one can see as many movies on both days as one can stand.

Last year I bought the $25 all-access pass because there were at least six films I really wanted to see and I ended up seeing nine films. This year I didn’t go for any access passes and just paid the individual $3 admission fee because there weren’t as many films I was interested in plus I couldn’t make it on Sunday at all because I had committed to do something at my Unitarian Universalist congregation before I realized that it was also the same weekend as the Utopia Film Festival.

Friday night (October 18) the local STEM center Club 125 had a free Utopia Film Festival preview where it would show three science fiction shorts. I decided to go to it since it was free. Here were the movies I saw.

Gears was this surreal science fiction story about a single father raising a young daughter that the film seems to hint at the possibility that she may not even be human but the ending was very ambiguous.

The Wheel was a steampunk fable that was surreal and had a narrator who told the whole story in verse a la Dr. Seuss. The one thing I liked best about that movie was the really awesome special effects.

Jack in the Box was based on a Ray Bradbury short story about the strange relationship between a young boy and his very overprotective mother who lived together in this very large home. I think this film was probably the best of the three although the film also had an ambiguous ending.

The next day was the day that the two festivals being held simultaneously. I first went to the Utopia Film Festival where I saw a double film feature for $3. The first movie shown was a short called From Hell to Here and it’s an intense film that shows what it’s like to be a war veteran with PTSD. I found it very gripping and very moving.

That movie was followed by an hour-long documentary called DPRK: Land of Whispers, which is a rare in-depth look at North Korea. The filmmaker was one of the few Westerners who was permitted to visit North Korea and there were many times when he came close to running afoul of the very stringent regulations regarding filming the locals and filming certain areas. I found that documentary to be a fascinating look at the notoriously secretive country whose leaders have long encouraged a cult of personality where the citizens were to respect them as if they were living gods.

After the last movie ended I stepped outside the theater where the Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival was going on. (Amazingly, despite the constant pounding of drums, the noise never traveled inside the theater when I was inside.) Even though it was very cloudy and threatening to rain, the weather managed to hold out for a while. This festival drew a huge crowd. There were also a few vendors. (I would’ve loved to have taken part but I found that the person responsible for the vendors decided to limit vendor participation to no more than 12 vendors because it’s the festival’s first year. By the time I tried to register, all the slots had been taken.) I took photos of some of the decorations, the performers, the vendor booths, and the attendees.

2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival

I caught a performance of a belly dancer performing alongside a band playing Middle Eastern music.

2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival

I also shot a short video of the same belly dancer and music group.

I hung around the festival until it started to rain. At that point I decided to leave. On the way to the parking lot, I briefly checked out an indoor drumming workshop. The noise was very loud with all those workshop attendees enthusiastically banging drums while the noises resonated against the walls.

2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival

I went home for a few hours then returned to the Utopia Film Festival, where one of the venues was having a Saturday night science fiction double feature. I arrived late because I had already seen the first movie of the double feature, the short film Gears, the night before. I timed my arrival just in time for the beginning of the second movie, The Ghastly Love of Johnny X. The film is a wild mix of campy science fiction, film noir, and a musical with a zombie rock musician thrown in for added effect. It’s like The Rocky Horror Picture Show in a desert with aliens from outer space theme. The music was kind of catchy at times but the songs weren’t quite as memorable as—let’s say—"Sweet Transvestite" or "Damnit, Janet!" from Rocky Horror.

That was it for what I saw at this year’s Utopia Film Festival. I would’ve loved to have seen the movie Led Zeppelin Played Here (a documentary that investigated the rumor that, before the band became very famous, Led Zeppelin played an early gig at the Wheaton Community Recreation Center in Wheaton, Maryland to an audience of 50 teenagers). Unfortunately the film played the following day (Sunday) at the same time that I committed to attending a church event. Oh well.

Ramadan

Tanya took a break from her belly dancing performance to provide some lessons for a few lucky patrons at the New Deal Cafe on March 2, 2010. You can learn more about Tanya at:

http://www.myspace.com/brenabelly

Ramadan

Tanya provided the belly dancing at the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland on March 2, 2010. You can learn more about Tanya at:

http://www.myspace.com/brenabelly

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