✔ Pick of the pack—
Festival: Bethesda Literary Festival
Writing a book any book, really — qualifies as celebrity status in this, our country's nerd capital. And so the trick to enjoying the Bethesda Literary Festival is to come up with a game plan and stick to it. If you don't know which authors you want to see until you arrive on site, it's likely you'll have to stand while they opine and sign. We'll start with who you should absolutely avoid: Thomas L. Friedman, king of the taxicab anecdote-as-policy suggestion, is living proof that the Pulitzer Prize is not worth the paper it's printed on. Despite having almost zero good ideas about anything, Mr. Friedman has won the prize three times. His session will be packed to the gills. Do not waste your time. As for who you should see: R.L. Stine, author of the "Goosebumps" series; Walter Isaacson, author of the recent and much acclaimed "Steve Jobs"; and professional parent Marguerite Kelly. These sessions will be packed, too, but they're worth attending.
Through Sunday throughout Downtown Bethesda
For times and venues, visit www.bethesda.org
In the tradition of Tom Wolfe, whose journalistic documentation of the 1960s doubled as a mass elegy for the minds lost at the intersection of Haight and Ashbury, "Psych-Out" is a dark depiction of life in San Francisco in 1968. The film is part of AFI Silver's Jack Nicholson retrospective, but as with 1969's "Easy Rider," Mr. Nicholson isn't the protagonist. That honor belongs to Susan Strasberg, who plays Jenny, a deaf-mute who travels to San Francisco to find her lost older brother. Jenny's deafness makes her, in many ways, a lot like Mr. Wolfe: She's in the movement, but not of it. The relationship between music and drugs makes it impossible for her to be led into temptation. Her intense desire to locate her brother makes her impossible to distract, and her love of order and safety make her difficult to corrupt. Instead, the filmmakers have her serve as a Middle America witness — an international observer, almost — to the senseless self-destruction that defined late-1960s San Francisco.
Sunday and Tuesday at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring
Play: 'Long Day's Journey Into Night'
Last month, Bloomberg News reported on the fortunes lost by New York's former financial princes. Many of them had to sell their second and third homes, depopulate their sports-car stables, and forego vacationing in places you need a passport to visit. The report was met with derision, mostly by people who have never had enough money to know that the wealthy are more than capable of suffering the slings and arrows of misfortune, and always have been. Written in 1956, Eugene O'Neill's"Long Day's Journey Into Night" is a perfect example of how to gin up sympathy for the Joneses, or in this case, the Tyrones. The autobiographical play is not about money, per se, but all the awful things that can happen to people who have it, such as morphine addiction and alcoholism.
Through May 6 at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW
While the documentary "Bully" continues to make waves in the U.S. because of its brutal depiction of teenage bullying, 2011's "Sunny" offers an alternative vision of surviving high school. This South Korean ensemble film follows Na-Mi, a rural teenage girl who moves to a big city and immediately finds herself the target of her savvier, more cultured peers. In the spirit of Judd Apatow's "Freaks and Geeks," however, Na-Mi finds salvation in the company of a group of similarly ostracized girls, a group of foul-mouthed rabble rousers called "Chun-Hwa." With the encouragement of her new friends, Na-Mi finds that what was once her handicap — her provincial vocabulary — allows her to hurl new and unparalleled insults at her foes.
April 24 and 26 at the Freer and Sackler Gallery, Jefferson Drive at 12th Street Southwest
Exhibit: 'Dissociative' by Scotch!
When pundits talk about assimilating immigrant cultures, San Antonio's Scotch! is probably not who they're thinking of. He's nevertheless a sparkling example of what the melting pot can give us. The Texas-based graffiti artist grew up on "Star Wars" and border state madness. Combining the two, along with themes from Mexican folk art and nods to the high life, is the focus of his new show at the Fridge. The result is hilarious and bizarre: a stormtrooper in a tuxedo holding up a glass of (you guessed it!) scotch, dapper detectives sporting gang bandanas (tied in the front, of course) and other dissociative combos.
Through April 29 at the Fridge, 516 Eighth St. SE