Saturday, October 14, 2017

Still Life with Robin: I've Dealt with Knelt

Kneeling statue - The Netherlands
(public domain)
by Peggy Robin

It’s been my practice in this space to avoid dealing with weighty national issues but to stick to local matters and also tackle some quirky but inconsequential little matters that only a curmudgeon would find worth pondering. Like the past tense of “to kneel.” While others are debating the deeper meaning conveyed when a football player choose to “take a knee” during the playing of the national anthem, I’m in a dither over the “kneeled” versus “knelt.” The Washington Post wrote, “After players of several NFL teams kneeled….” [Sept 24, 2017], while the New York Times wrote, “Colin Kaepernick may forever be known as the quarterback who knelt for the national anthem…”
[Sept 7, 2017].

Why can’t we all just agree? Because sometimes both sides are right. Here’s how the Grammarly Blog gives props to each past tense.

Kneeled and knelt are interchangeable. Knelt is more common in British English than in American English. One ending is enough for most verbs. However, some verbs have a regular and irregular ending in the past tense. To kneel is to bend down or rest on one or both knees. Let’s take a good look at the past tense of “to kneel.”

Kneeled Examples:
“Some men kneeled down, made scoops of their two hands joined, and sipped, or to help women, who bent over their shoulders, to sip, before the wine had all run out between their fingers.”
―Charles Dickens, The Complete Works of Charles Dickens: The Tale of Two Cities
“The one time Richard had kneeled, unavailingly, was when he returned from Ireland and bowed his knee to Mother England herself, begging the very ground to sustain him against his enemies.”
―Meredith Anne Skura, Shakespeare the Actor and the Purposes of Playing

Knelt Examples:
“She walked down to one of the front pews and knelt, genuflecting in long, sweeping movements from her head to her chest to each shoulder.”
―Robert Hicks, A Separate Country
“I patted down the summit and knelt on it, time seemed to stand still. I opened my arms wide and in the instant that lasts forever, a gust of wind gently nudged me forward and I toppled into the void.”
―Mark Brook, “Climbing Mountains: Day Eight and Summit”

What’s the Difference Between Kneeled and Knelt?

Languages change over time. In English, knelt is slowly giving way to kneeled. This trend is not limited to this verb; there are a few others that are losing their irregular past tense forms―or gaining an -ed form, at least. If knelt were a caterpillar making a transition into a butterfly, it would still be in the cocoon. Right now, both forms exist. They are both still acceptable. In American and British English, knelt is still the most common of the two. British English speakers don’t use kneeled as much as Americans do, but it is also gaining in popularity in that version of English. Though both forms are correct, one or the other may look more natural to you based on what you learned in school or where you live.

So the underlying question is, do you want to be part of the trend toward promoting the regular “-ed” ending? Or do you want to be one of those holding the line for the odd, irregular form, and insist on “knelt”? It helps, I think, to look at what other past tenses of “ee”-sounding verbs we’ve kept (not keeped!) and see whether we’ve learned (not learnt!) from the plethora of examples.

Creep – can be “creeped” or “crept,” with “creeped” on the rise. In the phrase, “that creeps me out” the past tense can ONLY be creeped – as in “that creeped me out.”
Deal – can’t be anything but “dealt”
Dream – can be “dreamed” (more typically American) or dreamt (more typically British) – but “dreamt” does seem to be fading, even in the UK.
Feel – can’t be anything but “felt.”
Keep – can’t be anything but “kept.”
Kneel – equally acceptable as “knelt” and “kneeled”
Leap – can be “leaped” (more typically American) or “leapt” (more typically British).
Learn – “learned” is now standard on both sides of the Atlantic, but “learnt” is still in use in the UK
Leave – Can’t be anything but “left”
Mean – can’t be anything but “meant”
Sleep – can’t be anything but “slept.”
Smell – “smelled” has become standard on both sides of the Atlantic, but “smelt” is still in use in the UK.
Sweep – can’t be anything but “swept”
Weep – While I did find one dictionary, [] that accepts “weeped” as well as “wept, ” I have never heard anyone use it….and if I did, I might very well weep!

Here’s the count: Eight of the fourteen verbs on this list have just one acceptable past tense, the irregular form. If the “-ed” form has crept up in usage, it certainly hasn’t swept out the odder, older forms. So I come down on the side that says “Knelt” should be left alone.

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Get Out! - The Events Column

Birds That Inspire  Conservation Storytelling
at American University, Oct 17
We wanted to share some events and activities that list members might be interested in. Have a great weekend -- and week beyond, too. If you know of an event that the 17,200+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at events @

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv  

Friday October 13 from 7 - 9 PM, Blues Jam at Levine Music. Musicians of any age and proficiency are welcome to practice their skills in a supportive, fun environment. In addition to facilitating each session, Levine faculty provide general instruction on improvisation, theory, and ensemble skills, so you don't need to worry about being perfectly prepared. Instrumentalists, vocalists, and observers are all welcome. Pianos, guitar/bass amplifiers, drumkits, and some sheet music are provided. All you need to do is come out and play! Cost is free to the public, no RSVP required. In Lang Recital Hall, Levine School of Music, 2801 Upton St. NW,

Saturday, October 14 from 10 AM - 1 PM, Pumpkin Carving and Painting Workshop. Glover Park Hardware hosts a patio party with warm apple cider, grilling, games & free pumpkin decorating with purchase of a pumpkin. Friends, family, and pets welcome! 2233 Wisconsin Ave NW. More info:

Saturday, October 14 from 10 AM - 4 PM, Heritage Day at Peirce Mill in Rock Creek Park. Step back in time for the Heritage Day festival at Peirce Mill. Master Weaver Chapuchi Bobbo Ahiagble from Ghana will demonstrate West African Kente strip cloth weaving. Chapuchi grew up among the Ewe weavers near the town of Agbozume, the largest market for Ewe Kente cloth in the world. There will also be a quilting demonstration by the Needlechasers of Chevy Chase that will include "make and take" quilting for children. Tour the orchard with Tim Makepeace. A blacksmith, carpenters, bluegrass music, cider press, and corn sheller will round out the activities. And we'll have hands-on children's crafts. A food truck will provide lunch options. The waterwheel will be turning from 11 AM - 2 PM to showcase the magic of the giant wooden machine, designed by Oliver Evans. Built in 1820-1829 by Isaac Peirce as part of his large estate, the gristmill brings to life the agricultural history of Washington County. Free! Peirce Mill is at 2401 Tilden St NW,

Saturday, October 14, 11 AM - 12 PM, Tenleytown Mural Ribbon Cutting Ceremony & Celebration. Join Mayor Bowser, Councilmember Mary Cheh, mural artist Jarrett Ferrier and the Tenleytown community in celebrating the new historic Tenley mural at a ribbon cutting ceremony and celebration.  Local music, dance and athletic performances, food trucks, free mural cake and a huge gift card giveaway from Tenley restaurants. The first 100 attendees will receive a gift card to Whole Foods Tenley. Grab your very own “Greetings from Tenleytown” postcard! See the new mural and a hip-hop performance from CityDance POP! Listen to music from the Middle C Jazz Ensemble! Eat a slice of free mural cake and have lunch from local food trucks (Rocklands BBQ, Mangia Tutti, DC Crab Cake & Co., Dogs on the Curb)! Win gift cards from local Tenleytown businesses (Angelico's, Beefsteak, Bourbon Coffee, Burger Tap & Shake, CAVA Grill, District Taco, Masala Art & Panera)!​ Kids can make their own Tenleytown mural at the Tenley-Friendship Library after the ceremony. At the park by the mural at 4425 Wisconsin Avenue NW,

Saturday October 14 from 12 - 4 PM, John Eaton Block Party. One of the most fun events of the year - on the school playground and you'll enjoy food, rides, games, face painting and much more. John Eaton Elementary School is at 3301 Lowell St NW. Ticket packages and wristbands available online at:

Saturday, October 14 from 12 - 4 PM, Murch School Fair. Fun, food, and games, including: Live musical performance by Marsha and the Positrons, wacky games with prizes, the famous used book sale, bake sale, pizza/ice creaml/hot dogs/snacks for sale, hair coloring and body art, bouncy house, and much more! Free admission. At Dennard Plaza, University of the District of Columbia, 4200 Connecticut Ave. NW.  

Saturday, October 14 from 6 - 9:30 PM, Rock Creek Gala at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens. Rock Creek Conservancy welcomes guests to celebrate Rock Creek at the enchanting Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens. Enjoy delicious food, creative cocktails, and bid on exciting auction items. All proceeds support the Conservancy’s mission to restore Rock Creek and its parklands as a natural oasis for all people to appreciate and protect.For tickets go to: Questions? Email Kate Arion at karion @ rockcreekconservancy dot org. The Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens is at 4155 Linnean Ave NW.

Sunday October 15  at 3 PM, Free concert version of La Boheme. The Arts Council of Metropolitan Memorial Church (now named National United Methodist Church) will present a free concert version of Puccini's beloved opera La Boheme with four excellent young singers and a superb pianist. The concert will be followed by a reception and the opening of a show of sumi-e paintings. National United Methodist Church, 3401 Nebraska Ave. NW,  202-363-4900

Sunday, October 15 starting at 11 AM, The 50th Annual Dupont Circle House Tour and Afternoon Tea (held from 2 - 4:30 PM). This year’s house tour focuses on the 16th Street Historic District stretching from Scott Circle to Florida Avenue. This stretch of 16th Street represents one of the best-preserved and visually interesting late-19th-early 20th-century streetscapes in DC. The imaginative, varied facades of these buildings create a rhythmic streetscape and a continuous visual experience seldom so well preserved in the District of Columbia. Tour-goers will enjoy a lavish afternoon tea at the Temple of the Scottish Rite. House Tour booklets (which serve as your ticket) are available for pickup at 11am at the Masonic Temple, located at 1733 Sixteenth Street NW. You can buy tickets online in various packages starting at $40 each ($50 for day of the tour) at:   

Monday, October 16 at 6:15 - 9:15 PM, The Washington National Cathedral will host “Gracious and Courageous Conversations: Deepening Understanding About Race, Community, and Country," an evening of guided conversation about the nation’s long struggle with race and racism. Recent events in our country and the Cathedral’s recent removal of the Lee-Jackson windows are the catalyst for this dialogue. Although we do not expect to achieve racial reconciliation in this one event, this moment calls the Cathedral, our community, and our country to reflection and renewal of our commitment to respect the dignity of every person, and to end racism. Free; Light dinner provided. Reservations required - go to: At the Washington National Cathedral, Washington National Cathedral, Massachusetts and Wisconsin avenues NW. Questions? Contact Michelle Dibblee, Cathedral Program Director, at mdibblee @ cathedral dot org.

Tuesday, October 17 at 4 PM Northwest Neighbors Village Happy Hour Get-together. Come out and meet your neighbors and strengthen our community! Northwest Neighbors Village invites all to join us for casual conversation at Soapstone on Connecticut Avenue at Yuma Street, which has a nice offering of food and drink. Northwest Neighbors Village seeks to build connections between neighbors and help seniors stay independent and connected to the community. More info about Northwest Neighbors Village at:

Tuesday, October 17 at 7 PM, Birds and People That Inspire Conservation Storytelling, with Aditi Desai. As Director of Multimedia at American Bird Conservancy, Aditi Desai produces stories to promote bird conservation across the Western Hemisphere. From a 10-second clip featuring the charismatic Lear's Macaw on Facebook to a short documentary about the impact of free-roaming cats on birds on YouTube, Aditi leverages visual media to take viewers on a journey and highlight interesting bird-related stories. Her work has taken her from young forests in Minnesota to the arid grasslands of Mexico to share stories that raise awareness of threats to birds and foster conservation action. Reception at 6:30 pm with refreshments. The event is free and open to the public – no reservations required. In the Malsi Doyle & Michael Forman Theater - 2nd Floor, McKinley Building, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW. For links to directions and other information about the series, visit

Tuesday, October 17 Farewell to AOL Messenger Party. Buh-bye! You have probably heard the news that the old chat program is going away for good. (See Launched 3 years before the Millennium (1997), this 20-year old dinosaur probably won’t be missed by many -- but if you are one of them, come to a farewell party to mourn the loss. Wear your 90s hair gel, denim overalls, plaid skirts, Doc Martens, whatever you have from that era….but we’re not sure where you can meet your fellow AOL Messengers, because this is the Weekly Fake Event!

Wednesday, October 18 at 7 PM, Book Hill Talks: "On the home front: Tudor Place and the Peter Family during World War I." Tudor Place was the Georgetown home of the Peter family from 1805 until 1983. This lecture will look at how the house, the family, and their servants were impacted by US entry into World War I. Using documents, photographs, and objects from the Tudor Place archive and museum collection, Curator Grant Quertermous will examine Armistead Peter 3rd's WWI-era military service as a Naval Radio operator here in Washington as well as his parent's support of the war effort through the purchase of Liberty Bonds, canvasing for the United War Work Campaign, and a generous Christmas gift they presented to the troops in 1917. The lecture will also examine the ways the Tudor Place household staff made up for shortages related to rationing - such as the baking of "war bread" - bread that was made with one-third the normal amount of wheat flour with either rye, hops, or rice used in place of the absent flour. Free. At the Georgetown Neighborhood Library, 3260 R Street NW,

Wednesday, October 18 from 6:30 - 8:30 PM,  “Is DC Ready for a 500 Year Storm Event?” Recent hurricanes are an unfortunate reminder of the necessity of preparation for a 500-year flood, an event that is considered so rare it has a 1-in-500 chance of happening in a single year. How will the Washington, DC region handle a similar storm event? What infrastructure is currently in place or being planned to mitigate flooding from these storms? Hear about local action in the D.C. metropolitan area as new studies are underway to assess the coastal storm risk in the region. Kevin J. Bush, chief resilience officer for Washington, DC, Jeffrey Gowen, branch chief of facility operations, National Mall and Memorial Parks, and Stephen Walz, director, Department of Environmental Programs, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments join Susan Piedmont-Palladino, curator, National Building Museum, to discuss D.C.’s flood resilience strategy and infrastructure to protect the National Mall and surrounding buildings. This free program will be presented at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. and livestreamed.  Pre-registration required at The livesteam registration link can be found at the link above, as well. Online registration for Museum programs closes at midnight the day before the scheduled program.

Thursday, October 19 at 6 PM, Discussion of the federal budget and other legislative issues affecting federal employees and retirees, hosted by the Chevy Chase DC and Georgetown chapters of NARFE  (National Active and Retired Federal Employees). In this Congress, Federal benefits are more acutely on the line than usual. A member of the legislative staff on the federal budget will address concerns that federal benefits may be at risk. The meeting is free and open to the public. At Iona Senior Services, 4125 Albemarle St. NW,

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Still Life with Robin: Block That Papyrus!

Image by
by Peggy Robin

If you are have been reading the Cleveland Park Listserv for any length of time, you will be aware of its poverty of fonts. If you receive in “daily digest” format (the last 15 messages received in one long email from Yahoogroups), you get the whole thing in just one font -- always the same stripped-down sans serif font each time, without any effects whatsoever – no italics, no boldfacing, no highlighting, no emojis 😏.... Nada (and that’s not even a font name). If you get individual messages you are getting your messages converted into whatever your email program has as its default font – unless there’s something in your email system that doesn’t mesh with the Yahoogroups system, in which case you may sometimes receive a garble of strange symbols. (The most often happens when there's an apostrophe in the subject line, which for some reason, does not come across correctly for most recipients.) This is because the Yahoogroups system is so ancient and decrepit, and the various attempts to upgrade it over the years have been so poorly executed, that it’s still stuck with the font limitations of a bygone era.

I often write to would-be posters to let them know that they have sent in a message to the listserv in a font that the system does not recognize and cannot process correctly – and so it appears as a blank box in the “pending messages” folder. I used to think that the extremely small number of compatible fonts was an unfortunate limitation on our posters, but just recently I was struck with the realization that it’s actually a blessing. And that blessing is….no one can post a notice in a really stupid, childish, or hideous font.

What are the fonts that merit these descriptors?

It’s easy to find typographers’ lists of the “10 Most Hated Fonts” – here’s just one example -- but the lists seldom agree on even five out of the ten. Still, certain trends emerge: Comic Sans will most often occupy the number one spot. Papyrus is usually there, along with Brush Script. Some ungainly variant of Helvetica, like Gill Sans, may be on the list (while Helvetica itself is almost always near the top of a “10 Best Fonts” list).

What made me aware that the CP Listserv’s dearth of fonts is actually a virtue, not a flaw? It was this sketch on Saturday Night Live last weekend (9/30/17) – something I instantly recognized as the single best non-political font-based comedy in the show’s 42-season history:


Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland ParkListserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Get Out! - The Events Column

Hispanic Heritage Festival
at Smithsonian American Art Museum
We wanted to share some events and activities that list members might be interested in. Have a great weekend -- and week beyond, too. If you know of an event that the 17,200+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at events @

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv

Thursday, October 5 at 7 PM, First Thursday Evening Poetry Reading. Two featured local poets will read from their original works. Open mic follows the featured readings. Free. At the Georgetown Neighborhood Library, 3260 R St. NW,

Thursday, October 5 at 8 PM, Chester A. Arthur’s Birthday Party and Celebration of Civil Servants. All civil servants and their friends are invited to honor the life of the 21st President of the United States, who pressed for the passage of the Pendleton Civil Service Act, ensuring that those who worked for the US government were chosen by merit rather than through political patronage. This was the outstanding achievement Chester A. Arthur’s presidency. He was born on this day in 1829, and became president in 1881, following the assassination of President Garfield. The Arthur Birthday Parties should be held in all federal buildings where civil servants spend their underappreciated workdays, but it won’t be, because this is the Weekly Fake Event (although October 5 really is Chester A. Arthur’s birthday)!

Friday, October 6 at 6:30 PM, MPD Community Movie Night. Doors open at 5:30 PM. The Second District Police invite you to a free movie in the Community Room of the 2nd District Police Station. The movie is Zootopia. It’s free -- and so are the hotdogs, drinks, popcorn, nachos and snacks. Seating is limited - you must RSVP to kyi.branch @ dc dot gov. The Second District Police Station is at 3320 Idaho Avenue NW.

Saturday, October 7 from 11 AM - 2 PM, The 5th Annual Washington Jewish Music Festival Day in the Park. Bring your whole family to the park for a Sukkot celebration featuring games, fun activities, and musical performances by Mister G and Joanie Leeds! The Humane Rescue Alliance will be nearby with their mobile adoption center so you can take home a new furry family member. Free. At Stead Park, 1625 P St. NW,   

Saturday October 7 from 11 AM - 4 PM, The Taste of Bethesda. Bethesda's famous food and music festival brings 60 restaurants and five stages of entertainment to Bethesda's Woodmont Triangle. Sample the delicious restaurants, enjoy the live entertainment and visit the kid's corner for face painting and arts & crafts. Taste of Bethesda is held rain or shine. Admission is free and taste tickets are sold on-site in bundles of four tickets for $5. The event is held along Norfolk, St. Elmo, Cordell,   Del Ray and Auburn Avenues in Bethesda's Woodmont Triangle - just 3 blocks from the Bethesda Metro. Complete details at:

Saturday, October 7 from 11 AM - 5 PM, Cathedral Fall Festival. Come one, come all to the first-ever National Cathedral Fall Festival! Enjoy the autumn weather and experience the beauty of the National Cathedral as you browse vendors’ selections of jewelry, books, knitwear, ornaments and other treasures! Food trucks and caterers onsite provide barbeque, Mexican cuisine and dessert! Funnel cake! Pumpkin carving! Balloon animals! The event takes place on the west front, rain or shine. The Cathedral is on Wisconsin Ave. at Massachusetts Ave. NW.

Saturday, October 7 from 11:30 AM - 3 PM, Hispanic Heritage Month Family Day at Smithsonian American Art Museum. Dance in the courtyard, create colorful crafts, and participate in a museum-wide scavenger hunt! Discover works by Latino artists, which are part of a major initiative at SAAM to build a significant collection of Latino art in the nation’s capital. Free. In the Kogod Courtyard of Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th and G Sts NW. 202-633-1000,

Saturday, October 7 from 1:30 - 6 PM, The 5th Annual Adams-Morgan PorchFest, a community music festival in Adams Morgan, featuring 44 bands playing on 16 porches this year! Opening concert at 1:30 PM, followed by overlapping 45-minute sets from 2 to 6 PM at various locations. Free. Maps will be available at the BB&T Plaza near 18th St and Columbia Rd NW, the site of the opening concert. More info:

Saturday October 7 from 10 AM - 10 PM and Sunday October 8 from 11 AM - 6 PM, Taste of DC. Bringing together friends and families since 1989, Taste of DC is a weekend full of delicious bites, beverages and captivating entertainment. Taste of DC 2017 offers: Tastes from 65+ restaurants; DC’s largest beer garden; 3 stages of live music and culinary entertainment; artisan market; kid zone for family friendly fun; and more. Free admission. Location: The festival grounds at RFK Stadium, 2400 East Capitol St SE - walking distance from Stadium-Armory stop on the Green Line of the Metro. Free admission. Food and drink packages from $9.99 to 49.99 at

Sunday October 8 from 1 - 4 PM, The Fantastic Tenleytown Block Party, featuring: Free Grilled Burgers/Hot Dogs/Drinks/Desserts & More; Free Ice Cream by local area favorite food truck; 45' Inflatable Obstacle Course For Kids/Teens/Adults; Children’s Ferris Wheel & Bounce House; Face Painting/Balloons/Live Entertainers; The Fan Zone- Featuring Live Viewing Tent For NFL Games; Shaded Seating Areas; Heroes Spotlight with local Police and Fire Dept; 3-On-3 Basketball Tournament; Live DJ/Music; Cornhole & Football Toss; Help put together 150 care packages that will be distributed by Martha's Table to neighbors in need; Cupcake Baking Competition: And Much More! Free and open to all. At Citizen Heights Church, 4100 River Road NW,   

Monday, October 9 from 1 - 2 PM, Tour: Medicinal and Poisonous Plants at the US Botanic Gardens, led by Beth Burrous, Biochemist and USBG Volunteer Docent. Many important medicines are derived from plants, but too much of a good thing can be dangerous. During a walking tour of the Conservatory, Beth will feature poisonous and medicinal plants growing at the USBG. She will talk about famous, interesting, and sometimes fatal cases of poisoning by plants. You will also see and learn about plants used to make lifesaving medicines. Free, no pre-registration required. Tour meets in the Conservatory Garden Court, 100 Maryland Ave. SW,

Tuesday October 10 at 6:30 PM, Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City. Professor Derek Hyra from American University will speak about his new book, “Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City.” Free. At Juanita E. Thornton/Shepherd Park Library, 7420 Georgia Ave. NW,,  202-541-6100.

Wednesday, October 11 at 12 noon, David Major, retired supervisory special agent of the FBI and former director of Counterintelligence and Security Programs at the NSC staff at the White House, will discuss the hottest intelligence and security issues, breaches, and penetrations. Major uses his expertise to analyze trends and highlight emerging issues of interest to both intelligence and national security professionals and the public. Free. At the International Spy Museum, 800 F St. NW, 202-393-7798,

Wednesday, October 11 at 4:30 PM, Author event: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, author and Newbery Medal Honor recipient for her novel, “The War that Saved My Life,” will discuss her new follow-up book, “The War I Finally Won,” followed by a Q&A and book signing. The first fifteen attendees will receive a complimentary copy of The War I Finally Won for signing, provided by the Friends of the Chevy Chase Library. Books will be for sale at the event and in advance at Barston’s Child’s Play at 5563 Connecticut Ave NW or (202) 244-3602. Free admission. At Chevy Chase Neighborhood Library, 5625 Connecticut Ave NW,

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Still Life with Robin: A Dress-up Party

Maryland Renaissance Festival
by Peggy Robin

The Maryland Renaissance Fair, back for its 40th year, has been open on weekends since the last weekend in August and will remain open through the third weekend in October (see for dates and tickets). Every year the fair brings performances such as jugglers, sword swallowers, tightrope walkers, plays (“Twenty Minute MacBeth” is a perennial favorite); knights in full armor jousting with wooden lances; as well as Maypole dancers, Celtic harpists, stllt-walkers, acrobats dangling from silks, puppet shows, magic shows, all manner of musical acts, comedy acts, pirate shows – the acts are all found here: -- and in a schedule grid layout here (PDF):

In the market for something handmade? This is the place to talk to glass blowers, leather toolers, blacksmiths, weavers, wood carvers, stonecutters, armorers, goldsmiths and silversmiths….if there’s an old craft still practiced in an old-fashioned way, you’ll find the craftsperson here and happy to talk to you.

But most fun of all, the Renaissance Fair is a one great big dress-up party. You’ll see all kinds of people clothed in garments from Shakespeare’s England to Botticelli’s Florence. The Fair employs costumed actors to play King Henry VIII and the ladies of his court, who wander through the fairgrounds appropriately garbed in sumptuous velvets, with doublets and capes, gloves and hose, and very elaborate hats! – all while inwardly praying for a cold snap in September. And you have never seen so many women in corsets as you will see at the Renaissance Fair – so much lacing and stiff bodices nipping in waists and pushing up bosoms. So many ladies who look like they belong on the front cover of a historical romance, just waiting for the gamekeeper’s roguish son to meet them in the misty heather. Lots of men in kilts, too.

Not that everyone is costumed in things that Renaissance lords and ladies (or rogues and wenches) would have worn back in the day. You will also see people costumed as Vikings (too early) and 18th century highwaymen (too late) and Dickensian characters (way too late) and steampunk figures out of some science fiction/fantasy world that never was, and all kinds of people dressed up in bits and pieces from several different time periods all at once. And people who don’t seem to be from any identifiable time period, including the present, but who just present themselves in something colorful and kooky, like devil horns, or fairy wings. 

If you want to join in the costumed fun but don’t want to create your own look, you can always rent when you get there:

Want a little music to put you in the mood for a visit to the Renaissance Faire? Try this clip from The Larksong Ensemble:

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Get Out! - The Events Column

Cleveland Park Historical Society
We wanted to share some events and activities that list members might be interested in. Have a great weekend -- and week beyond, too. If you know of an event that the 17,200+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at events @

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv  

Thursday, September 28 at 6 PM, UNCENSORED: Banned Book Button Bonanza. Join us at the Cleveland Park Interim location (at 4340 Connecticut Ave NW) to create your very own banned books themed button! We will have options for kids and adults alike. Free. More info: This program is part of Banned Books Week at the DC Public LIbrary -- see for other activities and events.  

Thursday, September 28 from 6:30 - 8:30 PM, Opening Reception for “Shipwrecked! Preserving Our Underwater Heritage.” This audiovisual exhibit unveils the untold stories of Spanish shipwrecks found on US coasts. The exhibit seeks to raise awareness about the need to preserve and protect our underwater heritage. Free, RSVP required at At the Former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain, 2801 16th Street NW. More info:   

Friday, September 29 from 6 - 9 PM, The Second Annual Lions Club All you Can Eat Crabs and Bake Sale. Come on over to this feast of feasts, sponsored by the Palisades Georgetown Lions Club. The Crab Feast is $30/person pre-registered, and $35/person at the door (BYO Beer/Wine). There is a picnic dinner available for non-crab lovers ($8/per person). Call 202-966-4418 to pre-register. All proceeds go to support charities for the prevention of blindness, restoration of sight, support for the hearing impaired and diabetes research. At St Ann's Gym, 4404 Wisconsin Avenue NW. More info:

Saturday, September 30 from 10 AM - 12 PM, National Public Lands Day in Rock Creek Park. Join Rock Creek Conservancy and the National Park Service to celebrate National Public Lands Day, a day to connect people to public lands in their community, inspire environmental stewardship, and encourage the use of public lands for education, recreation, and general health. Volunteers will remove invasive plants, clean up trash, and clear debris from the Piney Branch Tributary of Rock Creek Park. Tools, gloves, and training on how to identify and cut invasives will be provided. This event is suitable for ages 8 and up. Volunteers will meet at the picnic pavilion off of Piney Branch Parkway very close to the 16th St Bridge. More specific directions including a map with the meeting location will be shared with all sign-ups. Please dress appropriately for the weather; wear sturdy boots or sneakers, no sandals. Long pants and sleeves will help protect you from contact with poison ivy. Bring water. Tools and gloves will be provided, but bring your own if you have them. More info and registration at

Saturday, September 30 at 7 PM, UNCENSORED Underground is DC Public Library Foundation's annual fundraising party celebrating the freedom to read, create and express. The evening will include: Banned book-themed cocktails created by DC's best local bartenders; Live musical performances by DC bands; Provocative art installations designed by local artists; Maker crafts led by DC Public Library librarians; Pop-up market with Made in DC businesses; and so much more! At DC Underground, 19 Dupont Circle NW. Age 21+ only. Tickets ($50 general admission) at

Sunday, October 1, All Day, Countdown to Halloween Patrol. You have just 30 more short days to get those decorations up! All day long the “Halloween Police” will be driving around the neighborhood, checking to make sure that at least one house in every block represents the true Halloween spirit, indicated by at least three or more of the following: spider webbing in the bushes plastic gravestones in the front yard; skeletons; bats; ghosts/ghouls/goblins; light-up and/or fog-producing cauldrons, super-sized spiders; Frankenstein monsters; and of course, pumpkins. Blocks that are deficient will be published on the Listserv! On Halloween morning the best-decorated block in Cleveland Park will be awarded a prize. To register your block for Halloween spirit compliance or to complain about a non-conforming block, go to:

Sunday, October 1, Cleveland Park Historical Society Tours. From 10 - 11 AM: Tregaron Landscape History and Stewardship: A Behind-the Scenes Tour. From 2 - 3 PM: The Development of Connecticut Avenue in Cleveland Park, 1916 to 1952. (A third tour of the Kit Houses of Cleveland Park is sold out.) Tregaron tour info: The Tregaron landscape was designed a century ago by the pioneering landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman in partnership with Charles Adams Platt, the leading architect of the American Country House Movement. The tour will showcase the Conservancy’s current projects aimed at recapturing the Estate’s historic landscape design and the Conservancy’s ongoing stewardship of the landmark. Led by Lynn Parseghian, Executive Director of the Tregaron Conservancy. Registrants will receive an email with details about where to meet for the start of the tour. Tickets: $15 for CPHS members/$30 non-members. Connecticut Avenue Tour: Judy Hubbard, longtime leader of the Cleveland Park Historical Society, leads a history tour of Cleveland Park’s Connecticut Avenue commercial area, focusing on its development from the 1916 building of the firehouse to the former Cleveland Park library in 1952. There will be an optional gathering for refreshments after the tour. Registrants will be emailed with details about where to meet for the start of the tour. Tickets: $20 CPHS members/$35 for non-members. Register for tours here:

Sunday, October 1 at 1:30 PM, The Blessing of the Animals at St. Thomas Apostle Church. Animals of all species and denominations/beliefs are welcome. In year's past we have had big dogs, little dogs, kittens, cats, gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, and people brought pictures of their fish. Feel free to come out and bring Fido, Argos or Fluffy, or if just come out and meet some fantastic animals. Free and open to all. St Thomas Apostle is at 2665 Woodley Rd NW.

Sunday, October 1 from 10 AM - 5 PM, Takoma Park Street Festival. Enjoy the day exploring over 200 vendors booths, live music from 18 local bands, children's activities, food trucks and more. Takoma's unique shops and restaurants are all open and welcoming visitors.Free admission. Along Carroll Ave, from Philadelphia Ave to Eastern Ave NW. Full details at:

Monday, October 2 at 2 PM and 6:30 PM, Film showing: Zookeeper's Wife (US/UK/Czech Republic 2017). Based on the book Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman, the true story of the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo who helped save hundreds of Jews during the Nazi occupation of Poland. Starring Jessica Chastain and Daniel Bruhl. PG-13, 2 hours 7 minutes. Free. At Chevy Chase DC Library, 5625 Connecticut Ave. NW,

Tuesday, October 3 at 6 PM, DC Youth Orchestra at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. After 15 months of intensive renovations, the Terrace Theater, located on the roof level of the Kennedy Center, and newly compliant with the American With Disabilities Act, will once again open its doors to the public. The privilege of bringing the music back into the redesigned space has been granted to the city’s own DC Youth Orchestra. About 60 students from the 700-member organization’s top orchestra are to perform a variety of pieces to celebrate this event. Maestro Mariano Vales will conduct the group opening this element of the Millennium Stage program with the very-appropriate “Consecration of the House Overture” by Beethoven. Along with other pieces selected for this performance, Sydney Ebhersol, DCYO’s concerto competition winner, will play lead in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. Free - but seats are first come, first serve. At the Millennium Stage, Kennedy Center, 2700 F Street NW. More info:

Wednesday, October 4 at 7 PM, Uncensored Fully Charged Productions Presents: Banned! Books are dangerous. Books contain ideas. Ideas are dangerous. Ideas make people question. Questions are dangerous. Questions lead to thinking. Thinking is dangerous. Books are dangerous. Stay safe. Avoid books. Fully Charged Productions presents a world premiere play celebrating banned books. This collection of four short scenes asserts the power of books in the face of fear with humor, parody, and irreverence. Audiences will also enjoy interactive and improvisational moments brought to you by a cast comprised of graduates of DC’s acclaimed National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts. Free. At the Georgetown Neighborhood Library, 3260 R St. NW, to commemorate Banned Books Week with this dramatic representation of the power that words and reading can hold. More info:

Wednesday, October 4 at 7 PM, “Vice Capades: Sex, Drugs, and Bowling from the Pilgrims to the Present” - author talk by Mark Stein. Stein looks at the quirky, yet serious history of how Americans have defined and regulated vices. While we think of bowling as a harmless pastime, it was outlawed in colonial America. Today, we place more and more restrictions on where people can light up cigarettes, yet simultaneously ease regulations on smoking pot. Stein examines with a keen eye our nation’s inconsistent moral compass and how the powers-that-be in each era determine what is or is not deemed a vice. Mark Stein is an author, playwright and screenwriter. He has authored several books, including “How the States Got Their Shapes,” a New York Times best seller and the basis for the History Channel series of the same name, and “American Panic: A History of Who Scares US and Why.” Free. At Tenley-Friendship Library, 4450 Wisconsin Ave NW,

Thursday, October 5 at 7 PM, First Thursday Evening Poetry Reading. Two featured local poets will read from their original works. Open mic follows the featured readings. Free. At the Georgetown Neighborhood Library, 3260 R St. NW,

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Still Life with Robin: Happy Eggcorn Day!

Photo by Juan Diaz Hidalgo
via Wikimedia Commons
by Peggy Robin

Happy Eggcorn Day! What’s that? - you say. It’s the perfect question for a holiday that honors the universal propensity to mix up words. An eggcorn is something like a malapropism, but it’s more deeply embedded in the user’s language learning brain. An eggcorn is usually a childhood mistake in hearing, You grow up with it and use it freely, until one day you discover, to your chagrin, that you’ve been misspeaking a word or phrase that everyone else uses in another way. The word “eggcorn” itself is the prime example. The story is that a woman grew up hearing people talks about eggcorns – you know, those nuts that fall from oak trees. Yes, she’d read about “acorns” in books, but for some reason, she assumed that was something different. Then, one strange day, in an amazing epiphany, she connected the two and realized they were the same word. That’s an eggcorn!

Now you may be wondering why September 23 is named Eggcorn Day. Because it’s the day that linguistics professor Mark Liberman of the University of Pennsylvania first described this verbal phenomenon in the blog Language Log (23 September 2003) – see

Some common eggcorns are:

For all intensive purposes (for all intents and purposes)
Bread-and-breakfast (for bed-and-breakfast)
A jar-dropping event (for jaw-dropping)
It never seizes to amaze (for never ceases to amaze)
An old wise tale (for old wives’ tale)
Their efforts came to knot (came to naught)

In case you were thinking at this point, aren't these things simply malapropisms? -- here’s the distinction: a malapropism is a mistake caused by the speaker’s inattention or indifference to meaning. It’s funny, because the speaker often doesn't realize the meaning of the substituted word doesn't fit. Example: “I want to improve my speaking voice, so I’m taking lessons in electrocution.” Or, “I deny the allegation, and I deny the alligator!” Malapropisms are often the inventionof a satirical playwright, mocking the vocabulary of a character created to sound ridiculous. Indeed, the word “malaprop” comes from a character in a play, The Rivals, by Richard Brinsley Sheridan – a Mrs. Malaprop, who gleefully and unwittingly mangled words and phrases (“…illiterate him from your memory” instead of “obliterate him” – or “Oh, it gives me hydrostatics to such a degree” for “hysterics” – see The legendary Hollywood film producer, Samuel Goldwyn, was so famous for his peculiar misuse of words and phrases that his malapropisms became known as “Goldwynisms” (see – and he came to relish his own reputation for the amusing mixups so much that he actually hired a press agent to invent funny malapropisms to be attributed to him.

One could argue (and I do!) that an eggcorn is closer in spirit to a mondegreen, which is a simple confusion of sounds. Mondegreens, however, are limited to mis-heard song lyrics. The term's origin is from the old Scottish folk song:

“Oh, they hae slain the Earl of Murray and laid him on the green!” Which tended to be mis-heard as: “They have slain the Earl of Murray and Lady Mondegreen” – resulting in two sorry corpses, instead of one.

For more about mondegreens, see Mondegreens, because they involve familiar songs with slurred or unintelligible lyrics that we all tend to want to make sense of, may be the funniest type of word transposition -- even funnier than either eggcorns or malaproprisms. So why don’t they have their own holiday? They do! Mondegreen Day is March 25, chosen because it is the birthday of the King of the Mondegreens, Sir Elton John. A quick sampling follows – but you will have to go and look up the real lyrics yourself.

“She’s got electric boobs, a mower too, you know I read it in a magazine” (from “Benny and the Jets”)
“Hold me closer, Tony Danza” (from “Tiny Dancer”)
“You can’t stand bein’ a penpal, I’m going out to laugh now” (from “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”)
“I’m not a man, they think I am a ho” (“Rocket Man”)
“He had a no-go Chevy and a case of B.O.” (from “Crocodile Rock”)

Mondegreen Day is just about six months from now, so mark your calendars! And in the meantime, enjoy the eggcorns of fall!

Still  Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.