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Senators to Watch 'The Big Short'

Brown is going to watch the 'Big Short' on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A bipartisan group of senators is heading to the movies, hoping an Academy Award-nominated film may help shed light on the Great Recession and what lessons can be learned.  

"The Big Short," directed by Adam McKay and based on the bestselling book by Michael Lewis, examines the lead-up to the 2008 financial collapse. It has been nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. On Wednesday, McKay comes to Capitol Hill to participate in a panel discussion with Senate Banking ranking member Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio., and Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; Jack Reed, D-R.I.; and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and will screen the movie at the Capitol Visitor Center. “The movie opens a window on the financial crisis in a compelling and understandable way. With every year that passes, the more we have to be careful not to forget the causes and consequences of the Great Recession,” Brown told HOH. “Plus, it’s not often that you can have a discussion about collateralized debt obligations without putting people to sleep.”  

'City of Conversation' Illuminates Political Stage

Colin, left, and Hewitt, right. (C. Stanley Photography/ Arena Stage)

Arena Stage's production of "The City of Conversation" tells the story of national politics through the confines of Georgetown's elite salon culture, traversing three distinct recent eras.  

“I’m interested in D.C. politics in that this is where the rules are made that shape our lives,” Margaret Colin, who plays the main character, Hester Ferris, told HOH. “So I’ve been down here for protest marches since Roe v. Wade, I’ve been down here for my son, who went to Catholic University, so I’m familiar with D.C. But I’m here because it’s a really great part and I was invited to do it by a really great director.” The play opens in 1979 with Ferris working to procure the Democratic nomination for president for Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. Hester prefers Kennedy over the incumbent, President Jimmy Carter whom she describes as nothing more than a "seat warmer President."  

Rocking the Natural History Museum

An aggregates industry trade group is celebrating passage of the highway bill at the Natural History Museum. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lawmakers are invited to celebrate the nation’s infrastructure at the Natural History Museum on Wednesday.  

The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, a mining group, is hosting a reception at the museum’s rotunda, followed by an tour of the rocks gallery at the museum.  

Library of Congress' Civil Rights, Bay Psalm Exhibits About to Close

   

Two high-profile exhibits at the Library of Congress will close Jan. 2, giving those interested in civil rights and early American publishing the rest of the holiday season to catch up.  

'Stabbing in the Senate' Focuses on Hill Staffers

'Stabbing in the Senate' is a murder-mystery focused on Capitol Hill. (Bridget Bowman/CQ Roll Call)

Capturing the real-life drama of Capitol Hill in fiction can be a daunting task, but Colleen Shogan had an advantage: She's been there, done that.  

Shogan, 40, now the deputy director of the Congressional Research Service, used her time as a Senate staffer as the basis of her debut mystery novel, "Stabbing in the Senate," the first installment in her Washington Whodunit series. "I’ve always been a big mystery reader," Shogan said in a Nov. 13 phone interview. In 2011, after she finished reading a mystery novel, she was walking around her Arlington, Va., neighborhood and started thinking about what her own mystery novel would be like, and thought of a mystery focused on Congress.  

Opera Tenor Channels Young John Lewis in 'Appomattox'

Ballantine, second from right, plays Lewis during 'Appomattox.' (Scott Suchman/WNO)

There's really no other place but the Kennedy Center to launch the premiere of an overhauled version of "Appomattox," the Philip Glass opera about the end of the Civil War set at the eponymous courthouse.  

The opera, which premiered in San Francisco in 2007, underwent a complete transformation after the Supreme Court upended the Voting Rights Act in 2013. Now there's a new second act set during the Civil Rights era that features a young John Lewis — now the veteran congressman from Georgia.  

Chris Van Hollen Honored at Arena Stage

Van Hollen was given the American Voice Award. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

At a theater in Southwest Washington Thursday night, Rep. Chris Van Hollen talked about his most recent acting gig.  

"Since I sit next to Paul Ryan all day I know all of his lines. So I was invited to be Paul Ryan in the practice debates up in Delaware," the Maryland Democrat told a group gathered at Arena Stage. "So I spent five days in Delaware. I can tell you, I don’t have the accent down, but I have the lines down." Van Hollen was able to study for his role in the run-up to the 2012 vice presidential debate by sitting next to the Wisconsin Republican on the Budget Committee. But, he joked, he was not as skilled in other performances.  

Worship Your Way During #Popeapalooza

   

Updated 11:45 a.m. | Ridiculously long lines. Highly intrusive security screenings. Terribly limited access.  

Improv Troupe Aims to Milk Political Dysfunction for Laughs

The Theater of Public Policy is bringing its civic-minded brand of comedy to the District for an extended stay during which the performers look forward to having their way with all three branches of government.  

The Overlooked Opponents of the Iran Nuclear Deal

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin takes a selfie with a supporter before the rally (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

The sea of humanity sweltering in front of the Capitol Wednesday appeared to HOH to be less interested in getting an earful from pols -- who popped by to rile up the crowd and then quickly retreated to air conditioned offices -- than in being heard, once and for all, themselves.  

Ron Kirby, a Texas native who keeps a close eye on the federal government from just across the river in Alexandria, Va., told HOH he’d hiked up to the Hill on a 90-something degree day to ensure lawmakers understood his deep-seated reservations about the administration’s proposed deal with Iran.