Yikes: Pilots forced to blindly land at National Airport and other district news

Hi beloved reader(s). My apologies for abandoning you. As some know, I am currently in law school and stupidly signed up for “moot court,” a sublimely nerdy competition which consists of reading a 150 page case packet, writing a brief and arguing before a panel of your overly critical peers for nothing save marginal satisfaction and your name on some engraved cup. I am now officially eliminated. My Achilles Heel? Making “eye contact with my eyes and not my body.” What? Exactly. Time to file that in the “regret I put in the effort” bin.

My life in an image

However, now that this foray into law school overachieving has imploded, I can get back to the light of my life – DC news. And I can’t think of a more appropriate and terrifying place to start than airplane miscommunication.

According to the Washington Post, in stupendous DC fashion, two pilots were forced to land blindly at National Airport at midnight yesterday because they contacted the control tower and nobody answered. They called, other controllers in other places called, they used the “shout line,” which is loudspeaker in the tower – radio silence. Through talking to one another and nearby controllers, and a bit of luck, the two pilots safely landed minutes from each other and hit nobody on the runway.

Image that entered everyone's mind

So how did this happen you ask? How did two planes carrying 165 people simply call the control tower and have nobody answer? Well, the FAA won’t say exactly, but this is what the nearby TRACON controller wagered:

Well, I’m going to take a guess, and say that the controller got locked out. I’ve heard of it happening before

Locked out?!?!?! Yes. This is because the Washington National control tower from midnight to 6am is staffed by ONE GUY. And apparently a year ago pilots had to land blindly another time because the guy left his key card in the control room before leaving and found he couldn’t get back in. The FAA in their infinite wisdom has now suggested that more than one person would be better.

Maybe National could stand an upgrade?

If this terrifies you from flying out of DC because you will eventually have to fly back in (understandable), here are some other district headlines:

  • Overly obvious study says that Burleith neighborhood hates Georgetown students. And they’ve got numbers. Of the 500 homes in the region, 100 they say have the potential to be ANIMAL HOUSES. Toga! (City Paper)
  • D.C. suing Orbitz, Travelocity, Priceline et al.  for charging customers full hotel taxes rates, while paying D.C. discounted rates. Priceline negotiator! (Examiner)
  • Leo DiCaprio shooting Clint Eastwood Hoover flick in downtown DC this weekend. Catch him if you can! (see what I did there? With the movies? Wit.) (WaPo)
  • Oh yeah, and there is the Cherry Blossom Festival. That also exists this weekend
  • Spring has sprung and the farmers markets are reopening. Add Penn Quarter to the open list (WeLove DC)

Great Gatsby video game: Perfect for the DC intern that has given up on life

Morning Intern!

How’s your spring internship in the big city?! Since it’s March, I assume you have now ceased bragging to all your little friends back home about how you  won this important assignment interning for the House of Representatives to finally realize, despite your oversized suit and stupid name badge, that all you do for 6 hours a day is print documents, arrange someone’s outlook calendar and stare at the wall (assuming you even have access to an outlook calender.) Only 2 more months to go!

But fear not.  I have found something that will take up 4 hours of your mind-numbingly boring day while simultaneously appealing to your now regrettable liberal arts major. It’s the Great Gatsby video game for NES (circa 1980s), and it looks like this:

Well done sport!

Click here to play the game

It’s wonderfully retro, free and available online. The game’s protagonist is Nick Carraway. Armed only with a fedora, you battle waiters, drunks, flappers and gangsters as you follow the green light to find Gatsby. It’s the Great Gatsby that F. Scott Fitzgerald would have never wanted ever. It’s perfect. So play it, before the hipsters kill it for all of us.

But now, it looks like someone needs to get back to work. That pile of constituent mail isn’t going to read itself.



Happy International Women’s Day

We’re equals, aren’t we 007?

In one of the best videos honoring International Women’s Day, Dame Judi Dench and Daniel Craig deliver a poignant assessment of challenges facing women’s equality. You should watch:


There are few things I care more about in this world than women’s rights. We have come far in the fight for women’s equality. However, despite our exceptional progress, challenges persist. Women continue to be vulnerable to domestic violence, rape and sexual harassment both in the United States and abroad. Honor killings are real. Women seek asylum. Caregivers are not given the support and recognition they deserve. In the workforce, women are  paid less and hold fewer executive positions. Single mothers fear losing their job in order to take time for their child, while new mothers fear the same for having theirs.

In recognition of International Women’s Day, take the time to honor of the women who inspire you. It is the least we can do.


Kotobuki: The best little sushi house you’ve never been to

How do I know you haven’t been there? Because it’s in the Palisades. Where is the Palisades? Um. Nobody knows. As far as I can tell, the Palisades is a DC neighborhood that occupies that amorphous space between the Foxhall Road Entrance to Georgetown University to the DC Reservoir. However, I have no idea what the exact borders are, nor do I know whether buses run its labyrinthine streets. All I can say is if you pass the German Embassy on the road to Kotobuki, you are on the right track.

The Road to Kotobuki

And the journey will be worth it. Trust. I am a native Californian, and Kotobuki reminds me of our little sushi houses out west. It is tiny, with only a small sushi bar, about 9 tables, (get there early!), and minimal decoration. Ironcityspy and I have been countless times and each time they are playing Beatles music in the background. It’s also always early Beatles, 1963-65ish, which is the perfect time period for happy, soft background noise.

Kotobuki (no not the one with the awning - the one above it)

And the sushi. The sushi is cheap, fresh and good. There is no “Rollin’ in the District” with crab, Old Bay soy reduction and crushed potato chips (or whatever designer rolls are these days), but just standard fare done right. They have all the expected offerings as well as a few interesting fish choices thrown in, such as sea scallop and fatty tuna, both of which aren’t easy to find. Nigiri sushi starts at $1.25 a piece and the standard 6-piece rolls, eel, yellowtail, salmon avocado, spicy tuna et al, are $3.95-$4.95. The fancier ones will run you a bit more, an $8.95 rainbow roll at the most, but I mean COME ON. Those prices are amazing! And it is good. It really is.

Yelper’s Norry H. and Frank H. photograph better than I ever could

If you don’t like sushi, they have shumai and other appetizers, as well as  kamameshi and unadon sets, which have gotten great reviews. They also have additional offerings in Japanese that I do not recognize, which I obviously take as a sign of authenticity.

So how did Palisades manage such an awesomely random little haunt? Well, it turns out it’s not that random after all. Kotobuki is owned by the same people that run Makoto, the restaurant below it. Makoto is very expensive and known to be one of the best, if not THE best, Japanese restaurant in DC. It has been in operation for close to 20 years with Japanese Embassy folks routinely taking their guests there. So yes, Makoto is the real deal and, unsurprisingly, so is their little Kotobuki stepsister.

So find a friend with a car and go. It will be worth it.

4822 MacArthur Blvd NW, 2nd Floor
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 625-9080

Yikes: A month of DC metro headlines

Convenience - brought to you by WMATA

So in my mind, I felt that DC metro has become a hotter topic of late. It seems like everyday the news reports that Metro escalators are slingshotting people, ipods are getting stolen, or politicians are trying to ignore the malfunctioning elephant in the room, which is easy to do since they don’t actually ride the metro. But then I wanted to proof. I wanted to see whether Metro was really that newsworthy, or I was just surrounded by people that constantly complain. After taking 30 minutes to search February headlines, the results are in. And, well, Jesus WMATA:

Feb 8 – DC Metro escalators just cleverly disguised “surprise stairs”

Feb 10 – Metro Board Floats Idea of Ending Weekend Late-Night Service

Feb 11 – House Republicans propose deep cuts to Metro budgets

Feb 14 – Metro equipment found at worker’s home

Feb 18 – Metro Grade: How dirty is Metro, and does it matter?

Feb 19 - Escalator falls apart at Foggy Bottom Station

Feb 22 – McDonnell treads carefully on Metro funding

Feb 23 – Metro Explores Corporate Sponsorships

Feb 23 – Electronic Device Theft Problem On Metro

Feb 24 - Serious crime on Metro hits 5-year high

Mar 3 – D.C. ACLU Preparing to Sue Over Metro Bag Searches

Mar 4 – Congress could cut Millions from Metro and MARC budgets

Yeah. So in one month Metro has succeeded to be broken, broke, dirty, dangerous and discriminatory (allegedly). It’s customers and employees both steal things. Republicans and Democrats, both local and national, are united in not wanting to give it more money. It’s broken escalators terrify old people, it’s new proposed service cuts terrify the young. I doubt corporate america will touch it. And, lest we forget, last November this happened:

Video: L’Enfant Plaza Escalator Malfunction: MyFoxDC.com

The Los Angeles times reported on this accident last week. Yes beloved reader(s), WMATA dysfunction has gone Hollywood. I am not sure what will happen in the coming months, but from one SPY, in one google search, conducted in one hour, it doesn’t look good.

Oh, and the metro will be awful this weekend. From 10 p.m. Friday through midnight Sunday, the Orange Line between Stadium-Armory and New Carrollton will be closed. There will also be no Blue Line service between Stadium-Armory and Benning Road. The Washington Post reports that there are no good bus or train alternative to the free shuttles. Details here.

Happy Weekend!

IHOP National Pancake Day! Today from 7am-10pm!!

Such wonderful news!

Today is National Pancake Day at IHOP, which means you get a free short stack from 7am to 10pm. IHOP is asking people to considering donating to the Children’s Miracle Network and other charities after their meal. IHOP’s goal is to raise $2.3 million, last year they raised $2.1 million for different causes. The IHOPs in Arlington, Columbia Heights and Takoma Park are participating. AND in honor of the day, here are some pancake photos!

If you dislike pancakes, you are missing out on a national treasure and I have nothing to say. If you contaminate pancakes by using IHOP’s flavored syrups, you must  switch immediately to original maple syrup in order to protect the integrity of pancakes everywhere.

Happy snacking!!!

Train Wreck OSCARS 2011

God. I love the Oscars but…god. How to sum up the night….

Night summary in one image

James Franco seemed either stoned or too cool for emotions, Anne was overcompensating,  the writing was horrid, we were constantly reminded that Titanic actually won an Oscar, we learned Fancy Feast cat food creates marriages, Gwyneth Paltrow can sing flatly, Bob Hope holograms are creepy, Randy Newman  writes the same song over and over and WINS , red carpet dresses can be a SNOOZE, the Academy hates Facebook, the Academy loves the Brits, period pieces and disabilities, and everyone loves ethnically diverse children singing Somewhere over the Rainbow while Hollywood congratulates itself for the 70th time. Oh, and then there was THIS:

no words

Jesus Kirk Douglas not leaving. Look, I love the Oscars. I wanted it to be good. I wanted James Franco and Anne Hathaway to do well. But didn’t you breathe a sigh of relief when Billy Crystal took the stage for those few minutes? Or when Sandra Bullock said a few jokes? Or RDJ? Yes, it was the writing, but it is also comic timing and, well, some people just don’t have it.


However, I think the greatest travesty was the fashion. My friends and I bought snacks and gossip mags – we were armed and ready to quickly judge months of image preparation while stuffing our faces with Doritos in the most hideous of sweatpants. But everything was just… meh. I didn’t even HATE anything vehemently, let alone love things. Pastels, some red thrown in. Here are three of my favorites and least favorites

And my most derivative – I know some people loved this. I hated it. The hair was tacky and reminded me of Julia Roberts….

I know. You disagree. You disagree with Cate Blanchett’s boob circle and Amy Adams’s neckline. I don’t care. I CRAVED different. It’s the goddamn Oscars. Anyways, hopefully this “young Oscars” experiment is over. I am surprised Anne Hathaway didn’t rap. AND, because I am an altruistic SPY, I wanted to leave you with something that actually was hilarious. Tom Hanks doing Toddlers and Tiaras on Jimmy Kimmel after the Oscars.


Happy Oscars!

SPY puts on her fancy shoes and goes to Restaurant Nora

Confession. I must admit I was reticent to review Restaurant Nora at first. I mean, it was the first organic restaurant founded in the United States, Michelle Obama had a surprise birthday party there, and it was one of three restaurants featured in Top Chef DC in a rare moment where the producers decided to spare us atrocious food puns and showcase DC food. To put it bluntly, Restaurant Nora doesn’t need SPY’s help.

Just an average Restaurant Nora night

However, I changed my mind. Why? Well, for one, the food was delicious. And secondly, I felt I needed to redeem the SPY name after IronCitySpy single-handedly ruined our aura of mystery and intrigue by confessing that he has lived off of $20 in cash and five-dollar footlongs for weeks on end. Jesus. It’s like I date Jared.

IronCitySpy 7346298365 sandwiches later

But fear not! For my birthday IronCityJared actually got dressed, took me to Restaurant Nora and TOTALLY redeemed himself. At the top of the Nora menu they tell you what is in season, and, assuming you like the offerings, I recommend you choose based on seasonality. It is a local and organic place you know.

One of Nora's savory tarts courtesy of Omnivores

IronCitySpy and I got a chanterelle, goat cheese & leek tart and grassfed beef tenderloin tartar to start, the pork shoulder and the scallops as our entrees, and the pear and Cranberry Crisp for dessert. Honestly, it was all delicious. My favorites were probably the two appetizers (they make a GREAT savory tart), but the ingredients in all the dishes were fresh and wonderful. Since I dislike overly sweet desserts, I must also note that the crisp also had an amazing mix of sweet and tart to finish. And IronCitySpy? He loved EVERYTHING. He said this many times.

Interior picture - doesn't do it justice

The decor is very DC – conservative, classy and comfortable with nice lighting and woodwork. It is wonderful for couples or small groups. The only downsides I can think of are the number of vegetarian entrees (though this is partially offset by their 4-course $75 vegetarian-only tasting menu) and the price. Look, Restaurant Nora is expensive. Some people love it, others think it is over-hyped for the money. Personally, I think it is an excellent restaurant with fresh ingredients and a wonderful ambiance. It is nicely tucked away off of Florida Avenue and great for  special occasions. Nora herself was even there when we were, which is always nice to see.

Any other Restaurant Nora fans? Haters? Advocates of IronCitySpy taking DCspy out on the town more often because she is a beautiful snowflake of wit and style?? Weigh in!

Restaurant Nora
2132 Florida Avenue NW
Washington D.C., DC 20008
(202) 462-5143

DC’s gettin’ crafty: Temporium pop-up craft fair opens this Friday

What is the Temporium pop-up craft fair you ask? Good question. Pop-up retailers are basically temporary stores. They rent out a space for a finite amount of time to sell food, clothes… basically anything really. Temporium is starting this Friday, February 18, 2011 at 3068 Mt. Pleasant St. NW and will be open for 24 consecutive days (until March 13, 2011). After that time, they will give the storefront space back to its owner.

Temporium will sell handmade goods from thirty local DC artisans. It will also have different other events such as trunk shows, live performances, storytelling and of course, crafting. As I am terrible at arts and crafts, I will be going to Temporium purely to buy things. Here is a little snapshot of wares I pulled from the website:

Cool Non? You should go and check out Mt. Pleasant while you are there. Always liked that little neighborhood

Here are the vendors I featured:
Row 1: BLuGrn Design, Kristina Bilonick
Row 2: Fire StudioDC, TigerFlight
Row 3: GoshDarnKnit, Cosmic Girl
Row 4: Craftgasm (“MidCity”)