- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 14, 2011

✓ Pick of the pack: The D.C. Summer Carnival

The shift from home entertainment system and central air conditioning to Ferris wheel and fried Oreos is sudden, harsh and liberating. Fairway games remind us that before we were symbolic analysts, PR pitchmen and parents, we were little league pitchers and amateur strongmen. The food carts remind us that we once had stomachs of steel (but no longer).

For youngsters, the D.C. Summer Carnival is Pinocchio’s Pleasure Island, with all of the fun and no danger of being turned into a donkey. All-day ride passes for the Mega Drop, Alpine Bobs, the Zipper, Super Loops, the Orbiter, the Giant Wheel, and the Tilt-a-Whirl will scare your children, then delight them and, finally, exhaust them until they are manageable. Through July 17 at RFK Stadium, 2400 East Capitol St. NE. Phone: 202/547-9077. Web: http://www.dpr.dc.gov

Interactive exhibit: Lego Architecture: Towering ambition

Architect Adam Reed Tucker rediscovered his fondness for Legos in 2003. Now one of 11 “Lego certified professionals” in the world, Mr. Tucker has used the toy building blocks to re-create history’s most famous buildings, which you can view in all their man-sized glory at the National Building Museum.

If Mr. Tucker’s eerily accurate model of the Empire State Building or Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater awakens your inner architect, then create your own Lego building in one of four sustainable-design categories: residential, commercial, institutional and industrial. (Sadly, no spaceships.) Completed models will be added to a sprouting Lego city that spreads through the day with each new contribution from a closet Corbu or Mies manque. Through Sept. 3 at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. Phone: 202/272-2448. Web: http://www.nbm.org

Visual arts: NASA/ART: 50 Years of Exploration

Before it was a sluglike bureaucratic organ with dialed-back ambitions, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was the brass ring of American exceptionalism. To celebrate and mythologize America’s efforts to explore the known universe, the National Air and Space Museum has assembled an eclectic array of 72 works created within the last 50 years by a disparate range of strange artistic bedfellows from Norman Rockwell to Robert Rauschenberg. As NASA prepares to retire its last active shuttle and private companies bid to fill that void, now is the perfect time to revisit the bold thinking that put not just a man, but Man, on the moon. Through Oct. 9 at the National Air and Space Museum, Independence Avenue and 6th Street SW. Phone: 202/633-1000. Web: http://www.si.edu/Museums/air-and-space-museum

Music: Gomez

British indie rockers Gomez are touring the states in support of their seventh full-length album, “Whatever’s On Your Mind.” Like their previous efforts, this album borrows heavily from American folk, ‘60s psychedelic and good, old-fashioned pop-rock. If it weren’t considered a pejorative among indie rockers, we’d go so far as to call this album “feel-good.” July 18 at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. Phone: 202/265-0930. Web: http://www.930.com

Classic movie, meal: “Raiders of the Lost Ark”

If the buzz is true, Jon Favreau’s “Cowboys and Aliens,” a sci-fi Western mash-up featuring Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig, will be the action hit of the summer. To get yourself in the right frame of mind, why not revisit a Harrison Ford classic? In “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Indiana Jones races against scheming Nazis to find the Ark of the Covenant, which once held the 10 Commandments. When “Raiders” came out in 1981, Mr. Ford was a dashing young action star on the rise, much like Daniel Craig is today. At American City Diner and Cafe, you can enjoy the movie with a burger and a shake. July 19 at American City Diner and Cafe, 5532 Connecticut Ave. NW. Phone: 202/244-1949. Web: http://www.americancitydiner.com

Digital projections: Charles Sandison: Rage, love, hope and despair

Charles Sandison has found a perfect way to replicate the mess and emotion of the human mind. In “Rage, love, hope and despair,” the Scottish artist overlays thousands of words in different colors using a generated computer code that imitates the way emotions evolve or devolve into antithetical or complementary feelings. The visual result is an explosive, mutating map of words, projected in vivid neon colors across the gallery walls. Through Aug. 14 at the Corcoran, 500 17th St. NW. Phone: 202/639-1700. Web: http://www.corcoran.org

Music: BSO performs John Williams

Chances are you’re familiar with John Williams, even if you don’t know his name. A composer and pianist, Mr. Williams wrote the scores of every movie Steven Spielberg directed except for “The Color Purple.” Among the best of his oeuvre are the dread-inducing two-note cello theme for “Jaws,” the playful “Parade of the Ewoks” and foreboding “Imperial March” in the “Star Wars” films, and the majestic horn lines of the “Jurassic Park” theme. While you can’t watch Mr. Williams at the Strathmore Music Center, you do get the next best thing: the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, which has a knack for bringing movie music to life. July 21 at the Strathmore Music Center, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, N. Bethesda. Phone: 301/581-5100. Web: www.strathmore.org