- - Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pick of the pack

Author talk: A.J. Jacobs

After almost dying  or rather, thinking he was dying — of tropical pneumonia during a family vacation in the Dominican Republic, author A.J. Jacobs decided to write his next book about his attempt “to become as healthy as humanly possible.” This is Mr. Jacobs‘ shtick: He sets a goal (living an entire year in accordance with every rule, law and ordinance in the Old Testament; reading all 26 editions of the encyclopedia, front to back) and writes a book about trying to meet that goal (and its effect on his wife). In previous books, the intensity of Mr. Jacobs‘ research sometimes was more fascinating than the results. “Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection” is much the same. Drawing from the wealth of health advice available in the Internet age, Mr. Jacobs built his book around a list of tasks he needed to do to improve his health. Where’s the humor in that, you ask? Well, the list is printed in 9-point font (squinting is a form of exercise), covers 52 pages and includes goals that are both unusual (keep his apartment at 62 degrees, which will cause him to burn more calories) and impossible (become an Okinawan woman — they apparently live an especially long time).

Wednesday at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St. NW

Phone: 202/408-3100

Web: www.sixthandi.org/

Film: ‘Comic-Con Episode IV: Fan’s Last Hope’

The assimilation of nerd culture into the mainstream is almost complete. The president of the United States cannot throw a fastball to save his life, “The Big Bang Theory” is among the most-watched shows on TV and the most talked-about man in America is a computer geek from Harvard who designed a program that keeps people glued to their computer screens for hours at a sitting. It is in this environment that Morgan Spurlock, he of “Super Size Me,” was able to make a movie about San Diego Comic-Con, the biggest comic book convention and general gathering of nerds in the country. Whereas a few years ago, such a film would have been (at best) condescending, Mr. Spurlock’s documentary perfectly captures the affection, weirdness, wonder and camaraderie that result from thousands of nerds gathering in the same space to celebrate the things they love. Namely, dressing up as Darth Vader, haggling for toys and showing off their artwork to established comic book artists.

Through Thursday at West End Cinema, 2301 M St. NW

Phone: 202/419-3456

Web: www.westendcinema.com/

Event: Japan Bowl

What we need now — with March Madness over, the NBA lurching toward an anticlimactic tournament and baseball just beginning - is a good contest. The Japan-America Society of Washington, D.C., has one that may or may not be right up your alley. The society’s annual contest tests high school students who are studying Japanese language and culture (no, we didn’t have any at my high school, either). But there’s more to the competition than just “It’s Academic”-style buzzer-banging. The contest also features workshops on origami, kimono-wearing and photo opportunities with Japanese celebrities, including sumo wrestlers. The winners of the competition get to go to Japan.

Friday at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center, 7100 Connecticut Ave., Chevy Chase, Md.

Phone: 202/833-2210

Web: www.us-japan.org/dc/japanbowl.php

Concert: Lambchop

Nashville’s Lambchop is a strange band. It’s been around, in various forms, since 1986. The “various forms” part is key to understanding exactly what the band does. Lead singer and frontman Kurt Wagner is the only permanent member. The rest of the band comes and goes like the seasons. The result is a massive back catalog — 11 studio albums, eight live albums, five compilations, four EPs, three cassette releases — that covers the musical map: pop, lounge, country, rock, alt-country. The only consistent things about the band are Mr. Wagner’s smoky, almost monarchic, vocals, and the quality of the music, which is contemplative, melodic, rich and often melancholy. Not even diehard fans know all of the band’s songs, so you won’t be alone as a listener if you’ve never heard even a single Lambchop track.

Sunday at Iota Club & Cafe, 2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington

Phone: 703/522-8340

Web: www.iotaclubandcafe.com

Festival: Filmfest DC

This year’s international film festival will feature films in three categories: international comedies, flicks about social justice and movies made in the Caribbean. While there are more films to see than we could possibly highlight here, as well as talks by directors and nominal stars from every category, we’ll throw a bone to the Canadian comedy “If I Were You,” featuring the incomparably good and criminally undercast Marcia Gay Harden. In “If I Were You,” Miss Harden strikes a deal with another woman that the two will do whatever it takes to help the other fix her life. The comic intrigue comes from the fact that Miss Harden’s newfound friend is sleeping with Miss Harden’s husband, yet doesn’t know that the man with whom she’s having an affair is married to Ms. Harden. Awkward laughs abound.

Through April 22 at various theaters.

Web: www.filmfestdc.org/

After almost dying — or rather, thinking he was dying — of tropical pneumonia during a family vacation in the Dominican Republic, author A.J. Jacobs decided to write his next book about his attempt “to become as healthy as humanly possible.”


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