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Give a Walk/Hike/Ride to Remember 12

College Bowl Guide: The Games to Catch 10

Claus Celeb How do you keep the Christmas spirit alive for a quarter-century? We asked the area’s definitive Santa 8





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Your Best Shot | Submitted by Mike Silva of Washington

eye openers


MacGyver Feels Threatened Karen Perrin of Clinton, Md., spent eight hours locked in a D.C. office bathroom without a cellphone on a Friday night earlier this month, Fox5 reported. She shoved paper towels under the door hoping to get security’s attention and tried to set herself free by battering the lock with a chair, to no avail. The door handle eventually broke off, and she used it to chisel a hole in the wall. Perrin reached through and unlocked the door from the outside. It was not known how the door got locked. STORM NECESSITIES

Milk, Bread, Toilet Paper, Batteries, Not Ravens Tickets Although the Ravens have had a better season than their D.C. counterparts, fans still had trouble unloading their unwanted tickets to the Dec. 8 game, which coincided with the region’s first sizeable winter storm. Baltimore Business Journal reported tickets on StubHub selling for as low as $4. SCOTS

‘Luke, Ah Am Yer Faither’

GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT: A gumdrop ski lift operates on the frosting-covered slopes of “Gingertown,” a 5-foot-by-14-foot gingerbread city created Dec. 4 by local architects, engineers, construction companies and real estate firms to raise money for charity. The eighth annual event was hosted by David M. Schwarz Architects.


Keep your cellar stocked with great wine and be a holiday party hero. X


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Old Town Alexandria hosted the 43rd annual Scottish Christmas Walk this month. While most participants showed up in kilts to listen to the bagpipers, one marcher went in an unexpected direction — he came dressed up like Darth Vader, Old Town Alexandria Patch reported. He did not specify which side of King Street is the dark one. (EXPRESS)

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for what it’s worth DYE HARD


D.C.’s Surprising Searches

No locals made it into the region’s top-trending searches for people. The list was mostly made up of celebrities such as Lil’ Wayne and Amanda Bynes, with a few highprofile people from 2013’s top news stories, including Trayvon Martin, Jodi Arias and the royal baby.

Apparently, the region needed a primer on the year’s most talked-about dance move; “What is twerking?” topped the list of trending “What is” searches. “What is ricin?” came in second. (Pair at your own risk.)

Miley Cyrus, twerk results


When it comes to getting around online, many of us rely on Google. But if you thought that time you Googled “what is twerking?” would fade into the ether, never to return — think again. Google knows all! The company released its highest-trending searches of 2013 this week, broken down by region, and some of the items the D.C. area Googled — and didn’t — are a bit surprising.

Although the region is filled with millennials ready to mingle, “how to flirt” managed to take the No. 3 spot in “how to” searches (the first flirt search result features illustrated tips like the one above). This followed searches for “how to screenshot” and “how to wop,” another dance move.


The area’s film preferences are a little lower brow, er, we mean more adventuredriven than one might think in a region with so many college graduates. Topping the list of top-trending films are “Iron Man 3,” “Man of Steel” and — wait for it — “Sharknado.”

THE MYTH: The District of Columbia has always had a mayor to cut ribbons, veto laws and fight with Congress over voting rights.

Homing In On Home Rule The District’s mayoral race kicked into high gear this month, with almost a quarter of the D.C. Council and a prominent restaurateur among the candidates. Mayor Vincent Gray, long in the shadow of a federal investigation into his 2010 race, is also in the running. It feels like D.C.’s had a scandal-entangled mayor FOREVER. Doesn’t it?

REALITY: Gray is only the seventh mayor since D.C. was granted “home rule” 40 years ago this Tuesday. Congress passed an act on Dec. 24, 1973, that gave the city a mayor and the 13-member D.C. Council. Before that, D.C. had several different forms of government, as locals won incremental steps toward self-governance.

For What It’s Worth is produced by Marissa Payne and Rachel Sadon. Have suggestions for the page? Email us at or tweet us @WaPoExpress.

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Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was the utter lack of Redskins trends. RGIII, Mike Shanahan, Dan Snyder —even the team name — failed to make a dent in the Top 10 searches in any of the categories. Maybe that will make it easier to erase the team’s dismal season from our collective memory.

69% The amount of dinner reservations made in D.C. through an online service, such as OpenTable, according to a recent Zagat survey. The District beat out both San Francisco and Boston, where 68 percent and 66 percent, respectively, of dinner rezzies were made online.

Painting the Town Radiant Orchid Each December, Pantone announces the color of the coming year. After hearing that 2014’s official color was Radiant Orchid, “an enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink,” our noggins filled with ideas for D.C. icons that would look great in the hue. Supreme Court justice robes: Yes, the law is a serious matter, but court proceedings shouldn’t seem like a funeral. Let’s brighten ’em up. Joe Biden’s hair: The vice president certainly has the personality to pull off a wild look. Plus, Radiant Orchid’s cool undertones would bring out Joe’s pearly whites even more. Bao Bao: We’d never advocate a full dip-dye for the area’s most famous zooborn, but the little lady could add a tad technicolor with some hair bows. Capitol dome: Since it’s going to be under repair for the next two years anyway, why not make the iconic building a bit more … radiant?

CORRECTIONS: The cover story “Near and Dear” on page 6 in the Dec. 1 edition gave the incorrect spelling of Cary Eldred’s name. The story also gave the incorrect maker of a clay tray — it is made by Le Penny J — and incorrectly said that Bob’s Best Quality Easy-asPie Apple Pie Mix requires wet ingredients.

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on the spot


the books. I probably read them to my son differently than you intended.

Yes, but I’m not in the room with you. Because that would be creepy.


That’s true.

When a book is read, there are many different ways to read it. But these actors aren’t reading it in the moment — they’ve brought a lot of thought and consideration to the lines.

Mo Willems is the kind of children’s author who writes books parents can tolerate up to and beyond 1,598 readings. Best known for the Knuffle Bunny, Elephant & Piggie, and Pigeon series, Willems is now on his second theatrical collaboration with the Kennedy Center. “Elephant & Piggie’s We Are in a Play!” brings pachyderm Gerald and his porcine BFF to the stage in a vaudeville-style musical. Did watching these characters come alive bring some shading to them that you didn’t expect?

You’ve got to be a little bit careful — I get a little prickly when someone says this show “brings the characters to life.” They are in books. There is no medium more alive. Oh. Sorry.

Now, what is interesting about

“I get a little prickly when someone says this show ‘brings the characters to life.’ They are in books. There is no medium more alive.”

Is there anything, though, in writing the show that gave you something new to do with the characters?

doing a play is I have less control. I wrote these lines and they are going to be read in a different way than I have intended. I’m getting this wonderful insight that I didn’t have when the words were just in my head.

To be able to see them and write them for longer periods of time, using longer words was a real joy. In each of the books I’m very careful to only use 40-50 unique words. Here I got to use multiple syllables, which I never get to do in the books.

But that can happen any time anyone reads

Can you talk a little bit about Gerald and Piggie’s relationship?

Every Elephant & Piggie book is about two friends blowing it — messing up their friendship in some way and then having to rebuild it and being stronger in some way. And the show encompasses a bunch of the books?

I see it as a series of existential crises that continue to build. But for kiddies! KRISTEN PAGE-KIRBY (EXPRESS) Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW; through Dec. 31, $29; 202-467-4600, (Foggy Bottom)

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‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ Based on a short story that first appeared in the New Yorker in 1939 (!), this film stars Ben Stiller as a daydreaming photo archivist at a near-defunct Life magazine who must travel the world in search of a missing negative.


‘Messiah’ Sing-Along


This is Handel’s “Messiah” for the maximalist: 2,400 singers in the audience plus a stage sagging under the weight of a full orchestra and hundreds of Washington-area choristers. And they sing the whole dang thing, all 100 minutes of it. Just note that while the show is free, tickets are still required and will be distributed (two per person) in the Hall of Nations starting at 6 p.m. Kennedy Center, 2700 F St.

‘A Very Awesome Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! Holiday Show’ The characters on “Yo Gabba Gabba!” leap out of the television and on to a Baltimore stage for “A Very Awesome Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! Holiday Show,” the Nick Jr. series’ fourth live tour. DJ Lance Rock and rapper Biz Markie are part of the event, which runs 80 minutes — just long enough to tucker out the younger audience members the show is aimed at. Baltimore Arena, 201 West Baltimore


NW; Mon., 8 p.m., free; 202-467-4600, (Foggy Bottom)

‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ After he sat out “Hugo,” Leonardo DiCaprio, above, is back at work with his favorite director, Martin Scorsese, for this black comedy about the rise and fall of a New York stockbroker.

St., Baltimore; Fri., 2 & 5:30 p.m., $27-$44; 410-347-2020,


In Theaters



‘Flashdance — The Musical’ “Flashdance” was arguably the “Showgirls” of the ’80s — reviled by critics, beloved of audiences who reveled in its cheesy sexiness and bad dialogue. The not-quitea-jukebox-musical adaptation has hits from the original (“Maniac,” “What a Feeling”) and original songs. It also has the memorable scene where heroine Alex, the steel-mill welder who wants to dance, gets drenched. Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW; Wed.-Jan. 19, $45-$150; 202-467-4600, kennedy (Foggy Bottom)



Water-Skiing Santa For the 28th year in a row, St. Nick is hitting the banks of the Potomac River to get his ski on — water-ski, that is. WaterSkiing Santa, a D.C.-area holiday tradition unlike any other, is best seen from the grounds of National Harbor, near the Wilson Bridge. He’ll be joined by his Kneeboarding Reindeer, the Flying Elves, the Jet-Skiing Grinch and Frosty the Snowman, in a dinghy. It all gets going at 1 p.m., rain, snow or shine. National Harbor, 165 Waterfront St., National Harbor, Md.; Tue., 1 p.m., free; 571-385-2929,



Joaquin Phoenix plays a lonely writer who falls in love with a computer operating system voiced by Scarlett Johansson in director Spike Jonze’s fourth feature.


‘Good for the Jews’ Rolling Stone contributor Rob Tannenbaum, below left, and The Rosenbergs singer David Fagin, below right, team up on “Good for Jews,” their annual comedy and music celebration for those who don’t celebrate

Christmas (those who do observe the holiday are still welcome). Expect plenty of kvetching and songs with titles like “They Tried to Kill Us. We Survived. Let’s Eat.” and “It’s Good to Be a Jew at Christmas.” Jammin’ Java, 227 Maple Ave. E., Vienna; Tue., 7 p.m., $20; 703-255-1566,

‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’ Idris Elba, below, stars as the late Nelson Mandela in this biopic about Mandela’s journey to becoming the first democratically elected president of South Africa.


Common Fox News declared Common Public Enemy No. 1 in 2011 when he received an invite to the White House, citing his supposedly profane lyrics. But Common is actually one of the most tame, socially conscious rappers in the game. One listen to his most recent album, “The Dreamer/ The Believer,” would prove that. He’s also a gifted actor, who has spent three seasons playing Elam Ferguson on the AMC railroad drama “Hell on Wheels.” Fillmore, 8656 Colesville Road, Silver Spring; Fri., 8 p.m., $39.50; 301-960-9999, Spring)

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cover story


Elijah Stewart, 5, has just met Santa at the mall. The two didn’t even talk about what Elijah wanted for Christmas (Elijah opted not to impart this information, for reasons known only to himself). They just chatted like old friends. ¶ “He felt very comfortable with Santa, which is always the catch and the kicker. He’s very believable,” says Elijah’s dad, Victor Stewart. According to Elijah, Stewart added:

‘This is the real Santa.’ For two generations of Washingtonians, “the real Santa” has been the one at Tysons Corner Center, a role owned by a man named Michael Graham since 1989. Graham, 56, spends most of the year working as a carpenter in Kodak, Tenn. He has an authentic white beard, which he keeps year-round, and ruddy cheeks. His belly is large. You wouldn’t be surprised at all if it could shake like a bowl full of jelly. He laughs easily — though it’s more of a giggle than a ho-ho-ho — and his speech is peppered with exclamations of wonder, usually “Wow!” or “Oh, my word!” It turns out that a quarter-century as Santa gives you a starring role in strangers’ lives. Photos of Graham appear in family albums

or dot the walls of people’s homes. “I’m with them at their house all the time, so they just treat me like I’m part of the family,” he says. He’s in so many photos that a McLean pediatrician once waited in line for three hours — without a kid — just to meet him. The doctor had a board in his office where he put photos his patients sent him around the holidays. He told Graham, “I’ve got several hundred up on this board and over 95 percent of all these pictures are of you.”

Hang Out With Santa: Tysons Corner Center, 1961 Chain Bridge Road, Tysons Corner, Va. Hours: weekdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 7 p.m., through Dec. 24. Free to visit Santa; $24.99 and $55.99 for photo packages. 703-893-9400,

Michael Graham has spent two decades as Santa Claus at Tysons Corner Center. The beard is real, and he keeps it year-round — but has to bleach it.

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cover story With that kind of market saturation, it makes sense that Graham is starting to meet the children of the children who once sat on his lap. He recalls meeting four generations of one particular family, starting out with a woman and her daughter and ending up with the woman, her daughter, her grandchild and her great-grandchild. When they came to see him two years ago, they brought photos of their great-grandmother. “They said, ‘We just wanted to let you know that Grandma passed away,’ ” Graham says. They told him how much joy he’d given her during her life. “And I just thought, ‘What a great honor that is,’ ” he says. It’s not just kids who want to see Santa. A young man once proposed to his girlfriend while she was sitting on Graham’s knee. (She said yes.) And an elderly man brought an urn containing the ashes of his brother, who had loved visiting other Santas during his life, to be photographed on Graham’s lap. Sometimes, kids ask Graham for things that can’t be given. “Your heart breaks for ’em, because they don’t want anything else. They just want Mommy or Daddy, or they want them back together,” he says. “I say, ‘I know that’s hard, but you know what, Mommy or Daddy, they want you to continue on and do the best that you can do.’ ” It was 28 Christmases ago that Graham was asked to fill in as Santa in a Gatlinburg, Tenn., Christmas parade (he’d been helping to build the f loats). “I thought, ‘Sure, I’ll help out,’ ” he says. The next year he signed up with a photo company that was looking for Santas. He bleached his black hair and beard a snowy white. But did he look like Santa at 30? “Not as much as I do now!” he says. After working in Nashville, Tenn., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., the company told him they had an opening at a mall in the D.C. area called Tysons Corner.

All for a Good Claus Taking your kid to see Santa can be trying for parents. We asked the man himself for some tips on making the experience joyful. Instead of posing for photos, William Terry, who is almost 2, reaches for mom Laura Terry.

Patricia Boxwell, 79, left, and Richard Boxwell, 81, have been visiting Santa for the past 28 years, often at Tysons.

Toward the end of that season, mall managers showed Graham the stacks of positive comment cards visitors had written about him. They asked him to come back the next year. Graham is still at Tysons. He usually stays in corporate housing, though this year he’s lodging with a friend. His wife joins him, and when his three kids were younger, they did, too. “They would go to the Smithsonian,” he says. “It’s a perfect place to bring your kids to learn a lot and bring something back to share with the class.” His kids still come up for a week or so each year and bring their own kids to sit on his lap. Back home, Graham keeps photos and other mementos children have given him over the years in “a room, like an office, that looks like Christmas exploded in it.” Graham gets a lot of little gifts from the children who come to see him. It’s no wonder. Any parent

Chaeli Burns, 3, left, and Quinton Burns, 4, take their turn with Santa.

Go on a weekday. “There’s not nearly as many people,” Graham says. Go in the morning. “The children are fresh and ready to go,” Graham says. “And the parents are going to be that much better as well.” Play it up. Talk to your kids about what they’re going to do and how exciting it is. Get them started thinking about what they’ll tell Santa they want for Christmas. “Make it a big positive thing, so they anticipate the special time,” he says. B.M.

who’s taken a child to Tysons at Christmas will tell you that Graham has a knack with kids. He’s always holding tiny babies — the youngest was 1 day old. “Parents trust me to hold their precious cargo!” he says. “I mean, my word!” “She didn’t cry for the first time,” Kenjewel McCullough, 34, says of daughter Lea’naisa Johnson, 4. They tried to get a photo with Santa at another mall last Christmas, but Lea’naisa was too scared. This year, “she was happy, she was excited,” McCullough says. “He called her ‘princess,’ the favorite word she likes to be called.” The key to Graham’s rapport with kids, he says, is “looking them in the eyes and giving them that one-on-one time. They’ve got your undivided attention, and that’s what it’s all about.” “The gifts change just because of the technology and the media, but the kids are the same,” he says. “They’re just full of the wide-eyed wonder of Christmas.” So is he.

Photos of Graham appear in family albums or dot the walls of people’s homes. “I’m with them at their house all the time, so they just treat me like I’m part of the family,” he says.

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sports 31. Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl Ohio | Bowl season just wouldn’t be the same without a 4-4 MAC team.

Devils stop Johnny Manziel? Fellow Heisman finalist Jameis Winston had four total touchdowns in a 45-7 victory over Duke in the ACC title game.

30. Heart of Dallas Bowl

7. Capital One Bowl


JAN. 1, 1 P.M., ABC No. 19 Wisconsin vs. No. 9 South Carolina | Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney entered the season with a lot of hype, but he had just three sacks all year. Will he make a statement before entering the draft?

DEC. 23, 2 P.M., ESPN East Carolina vs.


North Texas | The Rebels against the Mean Green. That sounds cool. It’s not.

29. Godaddy Bowl JAN. 5, 9 P.M., ESPN Arkansas St. vs. Ball St. | Could you imagine a better game to watch as an appetizer for the BCS national championship game? We can.

28. Little Caesars Bowl DEC. 26, 6 P.M., ESPN Pittsburgh vs.

Bowling Green | Pizza for $5? You can’t beat that. But this bowl? There are 27 better options.

27. Armed Forces Bowl DEC. 30, 10:45 A.M., ESPN Middle

Tennessee vs. Navy | Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds had a seven-touchdown game in a triple overtime win over San Jose State. Middle Tennessee has won five straight.

Going Bowling College football’s bowl season kicked off this weekend with four games Saturday. Here’s our ranking of the remaining 31, counting down from the rather-be-doing-laundry Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl to the cancel-all-plans, must-see BCS national championship. JEFFREY TOMIK (EXPRESS) 21. Hawaii Bowl

26. BBVA Compass Bowl

DEC. 24, 8 P.M., ESPN Boise St. vs.

JAN. 4, 1 P.M., ESPN Vanderbilt vs.

Oregon St. | If you’re a fan of offense — and, really, who isn’t? — then you’ll like this one.

Houston | Commodores senior receiver Jordan Matthews led the SEC in catches (107).

20. Pinstripe Bowl

25. Liberty Bowl

DEC. 28, NOON, ESPN Rutgers vs.

DEC. 31, 4 P.M., ESPN Rice vs. Missis-

Notre Dame | The most prestigious college football program is playing at Yankee Stadium. Oh, the history. Too bad the Irish are facing Rutgers, of the brand new American Athletic Conference.

sippi | The Owls lost their season opener to Texas A&M 52-31, but they get a second shot at an SEC squad.

24. Military Bowl DEC. 27, 2:30 P.M., ESPN Maryland vs. Marshall | It’s a short drive for Terps fans to Navy Memorial Stadium. Marshall’s lone game of the season against an ACC team was a tripleovertime loss to Virginia Tech.

23. Texas Bowl DEC. 27, 6 P.M., ESPN Syracuse vs. Minnesota | The Orange already have a victory over the Gophers this year, but it was in basketball. Minnesota should fare much better on the gridiron.

22. Belk Bowl DEC. 28, 3:20 P.M., ESPN Cincinnati vs.

North Carolina | The Tar Heels, who put up 80 points against ODU last month, won’t have to travel too far for this one in Charlotte.

19. Fight Hunger Bowl DEC. 27, 9:30 P.M., ESPN BYU vs. Washington | This game features three 1,000-yard rushers: BYU quarterback Taysom Hill and running back Jamaal Williams, and Washington running back Bishop Sankey.

18. Poinsettia Bowl DEC. 26, 9:30 P.M., ESPN Utah St. vs.

No. 23 Northern Illinois | If you haven’t seen Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch play, make sure to tune in. The Heisman finalist is the fifth quarterback in FBS history with 20 passing and 20 rushing touchdowns.

17. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl DEC. 28, 10:15 P.M., ESPN Michigan vs.

Kansas St. | The Wolverines are 7-5,

but four of their losses were by four points or less.

16. Outback Bowl JAN. 1, 1 P.M., ESPN Iowa vs. No. 16

LSU | Quarterback Zach Mettenberger will be out for the Tigers, making this matchup a little less intriguing. But both teams’ defenses are pretty talented.

15. Music City Bowl DEC. 30, 3:15 P.M., ESPN Ole Miss vs.

Georgia Tech | The Yellow Jackets run a lot and have plenty of options in the backfield. They had 12 different players with at least 100 yards rushing this season.

14. Gator Bowl JAN. 1, NOON, ESPN2 Nebraska vs.

No. 22 Georgia | The Bulldogs will be without quarterback Aaron Murray, but Georgia was able to overcome injury woes to defeat rival Georgia Tech.

13. Holiday Bowl DEC. 30, 10:15 P.M., ESPN No. 14 Arizona

St. vs. Texas Tech | The Sun Devils (10-3) would have just one loss this season if they avoided playing Stanford. The Red Raiders (7-5) would be undefeated if they didn’t play their past five games.

12. AdvoCare V100 Bowl DEC. 31, 12:30 P.M., ESPN Arizona

vs. Boston College | This is worth watching just for Heisman finalist Andre Williams, who led the nation with 2,102 yards rushing. He had 897 yards in a three-game span.

11. Alamo Bowl DEC. 30, 6:45 P.M., ESPN No. 10 Oregon vs. Texas | The Ducks stumbled down the stretch, but their fast-paced offense should give Texas’ shaky defense plenty of problems.

10. Russell Athletic Bowl DEC. 28, 6:45 P.M., ESPN Miami vs. No. 18 Louisville | Both these teams had BCS aspirations. Miami was ranked as high as No. 7, and Louisville got up to No. 8 at one point. Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater could be this year’s No. 1 pick.

9. Sun Bowl DEC. 31, 2 P.M., CBS Virginia Tech vs. No. 17 UCLA | The Hokies’ defense, which has allowed 17.4 points a game, faces UCLA sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley, whom NFL scouts love.

8. Chick-fil-A Bowl DEC. 31, 8 P.M., ESPN No. 24 Duke vs.

No. 21 Texas A&M | Can the Blue

6. Sugar Bowl JAN. 2, 8:30 P.M., ESPN No. 3 Alabama vs. No. 11 Oklahoma | Crimson Tide senior quarterback AJ McCarron has a 36-3 record as a starter and would like to end his career on a high note against the Big 12 champion Sooners.

5. Fiesta Bowl JAN. 1, 8:30 P.M., ESPN No. 15 Central

Florida vs. No. 6 Baylor | How good are the Knights? Quarterback Bryce Petty and Baylor’s high-powered offense, which averaged an NCAA-high 53.3 points per game, will be ready to test the American Athletic champs.

4. Cotton Bowl JAN. 3, 7:30 P.M., FOX No. 13 Oklahoma

St. vs. No. 8 Missouri | Which team will bounce back from a BCS-busting, season-ending loss? These teams were a combined 12-12 in the regular season in 2012 and are a combined 21-4 this year.

3. Orange Bowl JAN. 3, 8:30 P.M., ESPN No. 12 Clemson vs. No. 7 Ohio St. | This should be one of the better quarterback matchups with Clemson’s Tajh Boyd going up against Ohio State’s Braxton Miller. The two passed for a combined 51 touchdowns to only 14 interceptions.

2. Rose Bowl JAN. 1, 5 P.M., ESPN No. 5 Stanford vs.

No. 4 Michigan St. | The Cardinal and the Spartans have two of the best defenses in the country. The question is: How much will the coaches ask their quarterbacks to do?

1. BCS national championship JAN. 6, 8:30 P.M., ESPN No. 2 Auburn vs.

No. 1 Florida St. | Florida State has beaten every opponent by at least 14 points, so can the Tigers at least keep it close? The way Auburn’s season has gone, anything less than a miraculous ending would be a disappointment.

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The Gift of Something to Do If you’ve smelled one Whispering Pine Spice scented candle, you’ve smelled ’em all. This year, instead of giving your mom, spouse or best pal another tchotchke to go on a shelf, why not give an activity to remember? “D.C. is a thriving city of professionals who are torn in a million different ways,” says Jennifer Brickman Rasche, the founder of 25th Hour Concierge (, a local company that will shop for your presents, pick up your dry cleaning and more. “A lot of people don’t even take vacations, so an experiential gift is a good way for people to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do.” TR ACY KRULIK (FOR E XPRES S)

Nothing can brighten a dark, chilly winter’s day like a ribboncovered vase filled with chartreuse orchids and hot-pink peonies. Students in floral design workshops at Old Town’s Helen Olivia shop learn the secrets of flower cutting, posy choosing and even bow making during two-hour-long classes and then take home their creations. Most lessons $95 per person, 128 N. Pitt St., Alexandria; 703-548-2848,

Zip-Lining Playbook Send your thrillseeking spouse (or kid over 10 years old) ziplining and ropeclimbing in the treetops around Lake Needwood in the Rockville section of Rock Creek Regional Park. Dozens of crossings, a skateboard zip line and Tarzanstyle swings add to the adventure.

Road, Knoxville, Md., 301-695-5177,

Battlefields by Bike During the three-hour, 7.5-mile “Yanks Tour” of the Civil War’s Gettysburg battlefield, a guide pedals beside you, pinpointing such spots as Cemetery Ridge, where Union soldiers halted a Confederate charge on July 3, 1863. $56 per person, 1195 Baltimore St., Gettysburg, Pa.; 717-7527752,

Let the Bonbons Roll At two-hour classes (either at his Capitol Hill headquarters or in your home), Algerian-born sweets pro Ismael Neggaz teaches chocolate making, detailing finer points of truffle forming and tempering. The best part: You eat what you make. $40-$60


per person, four-person minimum; 617-595-0330,

A Fin Time Orioles season is over, but you can still play catch in downtown Baltimore — with a dolphin! A gift for ages 8 and up, the National Aquarium’s two-hour Dolphin Encounter tour lets participants get a behind-the-scenes look at the life of these acrobatic mammals, priority seating for a show in the dolphin amphitheater and hands-on playtime with the show’s stars. $210 per person, 501 E. Pratt St., Baltimore; 410-5763833,

$110 per hour for hands-on help, three-hour minimum on gift cards; 703625-7336, simplifyyou .com.

Tails and Trails



$55 for adults, $35 for ages 17 and under, 6129 Needwood Lake Drive, Derwood, Md.; 800-971-8271; goape .com.

A voucher for a professional organizing session gives both ways: He’ll be able to find his keys, and you won’t have to help look for them. Consider gifting your discombobulated loved one some quality time with Certified Professional Organizer C. Lee Cawley of Simplify You. It’s amazing how much peace a label maker and some matching bins can bring to a room.


Vase Camp

Clean Up Their Act

For someone who loves fresh air and stunning views, consider a guided hike up a gradually ascending trail to Maryland Heights, which overlooks the spot where the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers connect at Harpers Ferry. After the hikers descend, a brief walk along the Potomac River leads to a wine or cider tasting. Hikes last approximately two-and-a-half to three hours. $45 per person, 604 Valley



Yes, I Really Hike You

One-hour, guided horseback rides through Rock Creek Park take off on the weekends throughout the year (weather permitting) and seven days a week in the summer. Sorry, jockey-wannabes: No trotting or galloping. The relaxed walk through the woods is open to ages 12 and older. $40 per person, 5100 Glover Road NW; 202-362-0117,

1 2 . 2 2 . 2 0 1 3 | E X P R E S S S U N D AY | 13


The Swanson brothers use manufactured Japanese whetstones to sharpen knives.

Derek Swanson of DC Sharp wants Washingtonians’ cutlery to be a cut above A model from the July/August issue of Playboy is on display in one of the stalls at D.C.’s Union Market — and talk about some dangerous curves. The chef’s knife is part of a $2,500 set handcrafted by Cut Brooklyn’s Joel Bukiewicz. It’s just one of 300 pieces of cutlery on offer at DC Sharp. “It will be the largest kitchen cutlery shop in the country,” vows Derek Swanson, who started the blade emporium when Union Market opened in September 2012. At the time, he knew almost nothing about knives other than that he wanted to have his sharpened. Turns out other people did, too: Within days of opening, he had so much business that he had to summon his brother, Ryan, from Boston to join him. Why so much demand for sharpening? “A sharp knife will go where you want it to,” Swanson says. A dull knife, on the other hand, might go into your finger. The other benefit of a sharp blade is that it slices cleanly, he adds. This is helpful not only

Get Sharp No appointments are necessary to bring your knives to the DC Sharp stall in the northwest corner of Union Market (1309 Fifth St. NE, Tue.Fri. 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-7 p.m.). Knives can usually be sharpened while you shop. DC Sharp also has drop-off locations at Annie’s Ace Hardware (1240 Upshur St. NW) and, on the first Tuesday of every month from 5 to 8 p.m., at Weygandt Wines (3519 Connecticut. Ave. NW). For more information, visit dcmobilesharpening .com.

for preparing crisp salads, but also in the event of an accident. One DC Sharp customer had a mishap that involved 43 stitches and surgery. “But on the bright side, the surgeon said, ‘It’s the cleanest cut I’ve ever seen, so it’ll heal faster,’ ” Swanson says. For their sharpening services, which start at $10 per knife, the Swansons use manufactured Japanese whetstones, which are renowned for their ability to hone a blade. “They take off far less steel than any machine,” Swanson says. The stones are submerged in


The Knife Life Derek Swanson, above, says a good knife “should last your entire life.”

water, which acts as a lubricant and keep the knife free of debris as it gets swiped repeatedly. The process usually takes between five and 10 minutes, but knives in spectacularly bad shape can require an hour of work. How well a knife holds up depends on the steel, Swanson

e x pla i ns. He recom mends a sharpening every three to six months. But the better the knife, the sharper it’ll stay, which is why it can be cost-effective to spend a bit more when you buy. Sharp shoppers should look for quality over quantity, Swanson says. “You can do most meals with two or three knives, so there’s no point in spending $500 on a 10-piece set and not getting the best tools,” Swanson says. He argues for investing in three knives — which will probably cost at least $30 each — based on what you like to cook. Do you make a lot of seafood? Buy a filet knife. Vegetarians might want a vegetable cleaver to make food prep go faster, he says. DC Sharp carries a wide range of blades from German, American and Japanese manufacturers. Expect to see quite a bit of the latter, since the Swansons just returned from a buying trip to Asia in October. Besides, with Japanese blades, Swanson says, “you get more bang for your buck right now.” When customers buy pieces from the likes of master Japanese bladesmit h Kenichi Shira k i, Swanson says, “They will know they’re getting something made by hand by a person who’s the best on the planet. It’s like a Bentley or Rolls-Royce.” And like a car dealership, DC Sharp invites customers to take test drives. Swanson recommends that customers get a feel for several knives, testing them out with tomatoes on the cutting board. “A knife should last your entire life,” Swanson says. “Choose the right one, and it’s your trusty companion for a long time.” VICK Y HALLET T (E XPRESS)

Three Ways to Test Sharpness: Tomatoes. Chopping other vegetables, such as cucumbers, onions and carrots, gives you a sense of how hard you have to push to slice. But with a tomato, “the blade should go through under its own weight,” Swanson says. There

should be no noticeable resistance as you cut and there should be no juice left on the cutting board when you’re done. Paper. Get your revenge for all of those paper cuts by taking your knife to a sheet or two. “A sharp

knife goes through paper like it’s butter,” Swanson says. Skin. A sharp knife can also give you a dry shave, says Swanson, while demonstrating the test by stripping his forearm bald with a few deliberate strokes. V.H.

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fun & games ACROSS 1 Quirky habits 5 The lady 8 Lady’s maid in India 12 Improper distribution of cards 19 Vocalist Fitzgerald 20 Scotsman’s cap 21 Run-down place to eat 22 Shakespearean tragedy 23 Impart knowledge again 25 What an avid baseball fan may own 27 Aug. 4 is one 29 Speech imperfection 30 Suffers defeat 31 Preserves from oblivion 32 Tons 34 No longer amusing

IN SEASON 35 Trigger puller? 36 FedEx alternative 37 Beats, as an incumbent 41 “___ this corner …” (boxing intro) 44 OPEC customer 45 Hotel room upgrade 48 Frat letter 49 WWII battle site in France 50 Ceremonial celebration 53 The real ___ (the genuine article) 55 Tea type (var.) 57 A little drunk 58 Allowing seepage 59 Fort Worth sch. 60 High-society roster 62 By way of

Last Week’s Solution

63 A person may have one of invincibility 64 Resets one’s clocks 71 Burden of proof 72 Plumbing pipe with a right angle 73 Marry in haste 74 One doing time 75 Start to give in 78 Tim and Harry 80 Grooming practice 82 Like crystal 83 Work produced by manual labor 85 Pear-shaped instrument 86 Feel out of sorts 87 Weather balloon 88 “ ___ the ramparts ...” 89 Katmandu’s country 90 “War and Peace” author

93 Woman in a habit 94 ___-Man (video game) 95 “Figured it out!” 96 Ready for plucking 99 Seven-piece combos 103 ___ Canyon National Park 106 Person under the Union Jack 107 Jan. 4 is one 109 $100,000, for some 113 Wallace’s first “60 Minutes” co-host 114 Ratite relative 115 Niagara River source 116 Nickelodeon’s “Kenan & ___” 117 Spanish artist Salvador 118 Mick Jagger’s home country 119 Indian flatbread 120 Yearbook sect. 121 5-Across, in Venice DOWN 1 Brief 2 Part of the small intestine 3 Tackle Everest 4 World’s smallest republic 5 “It was a dark and ___ night …” 6 Die-___ (bitterenders) 7 Austen novel 8 Product movers 9 Cedes the right of way

10 Make use of 11 “Steppenwolf” novelist Hermann 12 Tues. preceder 13 “Addams Family” member 14 Swindlers’ decoys 15 Translate, as a secret message 16 Wild buglers 17 Away from the wind, at sea 18 Way more than a few 24 Criminal 26 Photo ___ (campaign activities) 28 Y’all, in Brooklyn 33 Abstract painting style of the ‘60s 34 Atomic number of hydrogen 37 All-purpose vehicle, briefly 38 With the bow, in music 39 You of yesteryear 40 Asian restaurant sauces 41 Some are FDICinsured 42 Spingarn Medal awarder 43 Voice a formal objection 44 ___ hammer on (pounds) 45 Flavorful 46 More than risky 47 More than unfriendly 50 Gadget for a grease monkey

51 Ignorance, in an adage 52 Composer of over 400 concerti 53 Juicy tidbit 54 Maryland seafood specialty 56 Way of doing things 58 Preacher’s podium 61 Words seen before closing credits 63 Emotionally distant


65 Very small quantity 66 Fail to pronounce, as a syllable 67 Church platform 68 Behave badly 69 Terra ___ 70 Demonstrate subservience 75 “Beat it, cat!” 76 Collection of miscellaneous pieces 77 Took a tumble

I N N E X T W E E K’ S

What’s your New Year’s resolution? We asked Washington-area celebrities for theirs and had an expert grade them on attainabilty.

78 Wasn’t brave in the least 79 Scrub 81 Item of current technology? 83 Today, in Madrid 84 Keep the magazines coming 87 “___ guy walks into a bar …” 89 Neck parts 91 ___ plexus (lower back network)

92 Louise’s partner in filmdom 93 Water-dwelling rodent 94 Petunia parts 96 Upper mgmt. degree 97 “Wizard of Oz” composer 98 Prom queen’s wear 99 Look of contempt 100 Actress Best and writer Ferber

101 Asian weight units 102 Six-Day War nation 103 Computer memory measure 104 It’s straight from the horse’s mouth 105 Partner of yin 108 Exasperates 110 Hither and ___ 111 South of France? 112 Craving

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Now until January 1, all of your favorite holiday activities are available at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Everything from animated light displays, seasonal food and drink, live entertainment, holiday shopping, and, of course, exotic animals — both live and in lights.


Best of all, admission is still free! Now – January 1 (Every night except December 24, 25, and 31)


Visit for dates, times, and schedules. Event parking is available.

Readers Get a Free reusable panda tote bag! Sudoku

Be one of the first 25


Last Week’s Solution

visitors to bring this coupon How to Reach Us To place a display ad: Call 202-334-6732 or email Spot a mistake? Email The newsroom: Call 202-334-6800, fax 202-3349777 or reach out to us on Twitter @WaPoExpress.

Need more Sudoku? Find another puzzle in the weekday Express, the Comics section of The Post every Sunday and in the Style section Monday through Saturday.

Features editor: Jennifer Barger Copy chief: Diana D’Abruzzo Story editor: Adam Sapiro Deputy creative director: Adam Griffiths Senior editors: Sadie Dingfelder Vicky Hallett Shauna Miller Kristen Page-Kirby

Valid Sunday nights only during ZooLights!

Who We Are Publisher: Arnie Applebaum Executive editor: Dan Caccavaro General manager: Ron Ulrich Circulation manager: Charles Love Managing editor, features: Holly J. Morris Managing editor, news: Lori Kelley Creative director: Jon Benedict

to the Panda Gift Shop!

Section editors: Michael Cunniff Rudi Greenberg Beth Marlowe Marissa Payne Rachel Sadon Sara Schwartz Holley Simmons Jeffrey Tomik Art director: Allie Ghaman Designer: Rachel Orr Production supervisor: Matthew Liddi

Published by Express Publications LLC, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071, a subsidiary of WP Company, LLC

ZooLights is made possible by support from: Pepco, Big Bus Tours, The Coca-Cola Company, Comcast, 94.7 Fresh-FM, GEICO, Giant Food, NBC4, SunTrust Foundation, Telemundo, United Airlines, Washingtonian Magazine and The Washington Post/KidsPost. XPE1192 2x10.5

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—William J. “Dr. Mena was excellent, compassionate, and made my visit lots of fun!”

Invisalign: $107/Month

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202-333-9282 730 24th Street NW Suite #9 Washington, DC 20037

“The financial coordinator made everything go so smoothly.”

*Free Parking* *Evening & Saturday Appointments* *24 Hour Emergencies*

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