Tysons, VA

Nightlife is zilch in Tysons at the moment due to the pandemic. After a brief hiatus, the “Tysons After Dark” series is back to highlight different online and at-home activities from local organizations, along with offerings from eateries that keep people busy once the sun goes down. 

A Falls Church comic book and game store is keeping people entertained at home with supplies for creating and customizing miniature figures.

Shoppers at Victory Comics can find paints, primers, brushes and a wide variety of miniatures, Gareth Hoskins, the store manager, told Tysons Reporter.

“It’s a lot easier than most people think. A lot of people get worried about how a complex model will work,” Hoskins said. “There are easier techniques that will make details pop without doing a lot of work.”

Before the pandemic, the store had “Paint and Take” events — painting classes capped at 12 people Hoskins would teach participants how to paint different miniatures.

When COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and the stay-at-home order hit Virginia, Hoskins said that the store saw an upsurge in the number of people who hadn’t tried the hobby before.

So Hoskins created a Google Doc guide as the “one-stop for any kind of miniature work.” The guide covers tools, brushes, glue, color theory, assembly, painting and techniques to create effects.

“We get a lot of people asking us, ‘Where do we even begin?’ and having something to point them towards seemed like a good idea,” he said. “We found ourselves answering the same questions over and over.”

Basic supplies usually cost around $20-$25, Hoskins said. Some of the store’s miniatures require assembly, while others either need to get primed before they are painted or are sold pre-primed.

For novices, Hoskins recommends that they buy a handful of paint pods, one or two brushes and a pre-primed miniature.

Hoskins said that he’s been painting miniatures — mostly Warhammer and D&D minis — for more than 10 years, noting that his Death army has lots of vampires and skeletons.

“I tend to like minis that have a lot of detail to them,” he said, adding that most of the miniatures on the market are large enough so that people won’t need a magnifying glass or specific brushes to paint tiny details.

While Hoskins said that people have been playing D&D virtually over Zoom and using websites like Roll20, “those only go so far for customization,” he said. The store’s offerings help entertain people who aren’t playing D&D in person at the moment and have extra time on their hands to customize miniatures for their game setups.

The great part about miniatures is that people can paint them exactly how they envision the characters, he said, adding that monsters are a popular choice.

The store (586 S. Washington Street) is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day and except for Saturdays, when it opens at 10 a.m., Hoskins said. Shoppers are required to wear masks inside the store.

The store also delivers within a 10-mile radius and offers curbside delivery. People can place orders by contacting the store via Facebook, email or phone.

Image via Victory Comics/Facebook

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The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.

We’ve scoured the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Though many in-person events are canceled, organizations and businesses are setting up digital events to keep people occupied.

Tuesday (April 21)

  • Free Mecial Traning The American Red Cross in McLean is putting together digital training for people who want to learn about adult and pediatric first aid, CPR, lifeguarding and more at 9 a.m. This training is free but participants must sign up online.
  • Online Budget Town Hall — Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust will host a digital budget town hall from 7-8:30 p.m. People can submit questions by calling 703-324-1114, post them in a comment under the Facebook Live event or email them in advance. The town hall will also be shown on Channel 16 and be streamed online.
  • Virtual Trivia at Lost Dog Cafe The cafe is hosting free trivia for community members starting at 7 p.m., streamed live from the location in McLean. This event is free and prizes will be mailed to winners, the event page said. People who want to support the eatery can order from the location’s menu and can use the code “delivery” for free delivery.

Thursday (April 23)

Friday (April 24)

  • Mother Goose Minutes Every Friday, the Mary Riley Styles Public Library will post a story time and music video for kids featuring Miss Laura starting at 10:30 a.m., the post said. Anyone who wants to check out the rhymes beforehand can find them online. The videos can be found on the library’s website after they are posted.
  • Friday Art Focus — The Mary Riley Styles Public Library is hosting a free Facebook Live event at 3 p.m. with local artist and illustrator Samantha Fiddy. She will be recreating drawings sent in by viewers beforehand. Anyone interested in participating can tune in or submit work to be recreated to [email protected] People can follow the library’s Facebook post for a link closer to the event.

Saturday (April 25)

  • Virtual Independent Bookstore Day Bards Alley Bookshop in Vienna is planning a virtual day of activities and guests from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to its Facebook page. Details have not been announced yet but people can check the store’s social media accounts for details. People can order books online for curbside pick-up (110 Church Street NW).

Photo via Bards Alley Bookshop/ Facebook

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Editor’s Note — This is a guest post written by Saira Uttamchandani, an eighth-grader and Falls Church resident, that was submitted by her mom Komal Mohindra. The story has been lightly edited.  

My dad has never been an overly emotional type. But the day that he found he’d be on the trivia show “Jeopardy!,” he let out an uncharacteristic whoop of joy.

My dad, Mahesh Uttamchandani, was introduced to the trivia show in 10th grade when his teacher didn’t feel like instructing one day and had no lesson plans, so he played an episode of “Jeopardy!” instead. That day, he fell in love and he has held that torch ever since.

In December, my dad received a thrilling call that invited him to Los Angeles for the taping of the show. He went through a rigorous testing process in the lead up.

Our family flew out to L.A. on a Saturday, so we had a few days before my dad was scheduled to tape his show on Tuesday to do some sightseeing. I had never been to L.A. before, so I enjoyed eating In-N-Out and seeing the Walk of Fame and the Santa Monica Pier.

Then, Tuesday arrived, and we could not have been more excited. My dad had to get up at 5 a.m. to get to the studio on time, to get his makeup done, fill out paperwork and be prepped on the rules and protocol. My mom, sister, uncle and I instead got to sleep in and be there at 10:15 a.m. instead.

The guides led us into the studio and my breath caught in my throat. The studio smelled and was very cold. There are two sections — one for the audience — and one for production guests and friends and family of the contestants.

During the commercial break between the first round of questions and Double Jeopardy!, Alex Trebeck, the host of the show, let the audience ask him questions, which was amazing. For example, we got to ask about his favorite pizza toppings, his back up career plans and his most memorable contestants.

One interesting thing about “Jeopardy!” is that they tape all of their episodes for a week in one day. The contestant match-ups for each episode are completely random, so some contestants, like my dad, were at the studio all day.

Each episode takes around 30 minutes to film, provided there are no malfunctions or retakes needed — like if Alex reads a question incorrectly. In addition, the episodes are filmed months in advance, so my dad’s show will air on March 6, but was shot on Jan. 7.

There was a small break for lunch after the third episode and the contestants were taken to the Sony cafeteria on set, but we were not allowed to dine there because the contestants had to stay sequestered in case we somehow got the answers to the questions.

My dad was in the last episode filming that day. One thing I noticed was that there is a very tiny window where contestants can buzz in and have a chance to be called on. You’re supposed to buzz in during that perfect window after Alex finishes reading a clue, but before lights on the side of the game board flash — otherwise, you miss your chance.

My dad struggled with the buzzer in the first round but managed to answer a few questions correctly.

I won’t spoil the ending for you but I invite you to watch on the episode on Friday, March 6, and cheer on one of your Tysons neighbors!

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A long-time dream was fulfilled for Vienna resident Angela Ellis after being invited to appear on “Wheel of Fortune” as a contestant for an episode airing this week.

A longtime fan of the game show, Ellis, 58, said she was thrilled when producers finally invited her to become a contestant after she tried out for the spot multiple times.

“I watched it a lot with my mom growing up,” she told Tysons Reporter, adding that her knowledge for the contest came primarily from watching the show, playing games on her iPad and looking through trivia books.

The episode, which will be part of a “National Parks” five-episode series, will air beginning today (Feb. 24) even though it was taped back in January.

As a traveler herself, Ellis said her experience and love for national parks likely helped her land a spot on the show.

Of all of the parks she has visited, Ellis said Acadia, which runs along the Atlantic coastline, is her favorite.

Through the 16-month contestant selection process Ellis said she passed a variety of screening processes that tested her knowledge, enthusiasm for the show and ability to keep up energy while facing challenges.

Once selected, producers invited Ellis to Culver City, Ca. for the taping of the episode. 

Contestants are responsible for paying for their own airfare, hotel room and miscellaneous travel costs.”If you really wanna do something like this, it is once in a lifetime,” she said, adding, “It is really worth it.”

On-site in the studio she had the chance to meet Vanna White along with her fellow contestants. “Before the show, Vanna came in to talk to us before she got her makeup or anything on,” Ellis said. “She is very personable.”

Despite the glow of the spotlight, Ellis was shocked by how welcomed and at-ease everyone made her feel. “I couldn’t even tell you where the camera was because I was so focused on the board.”

Because of game-show rules, Ellis won’t be able to appear on the show again but said she had such a positive experience that she’d volunteer again “in a heartbeat” if given the chance.

For anyone hoping to appear on the show one day, Ellis said to never give up and keep trying out, even after the first few rejections.

Photo courtesy Wheel of Fortune/Carol Kaelson

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(Updated 12:50 p.m.) Shoppers and diners can find free games at BrandBox in Tysons Corner Center starting this weekend.

The mall teamed up with local business Snap Entertainment to bring an arcade pop-up to the lower level of the mall near Barnes and Noble.

“Partnering with a company like Snap is just another way that we are changing the retail experience and enhancing our shopper’s time with us,” Becca Willcox, a BrandBox spokesperson, said in the press release.

The pop-up offers “large format games, old school and classic video games, interactive photo booth experiences and the latest in party entertainment, to enhance their shopping experience,” according to a press release from the mall.

Willcox said that the end date for the arcade games has not been determined yet.

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Would you play a version of Monopoly based on Tysons? Yes — it does exist.

The Walmart by the Spring Hill Metro station used to carry “Tysons Corner Opoly” — what appears to be a local version of the popular board game. (Hat tip to Tysons Reporter’s former editor Vernon Miles, who spotted this on reddit.)

Tysons Reporter — along with the help of four store employees — hunted through the store yesterday (Monday) for the game to no avail. An assistant store manager said that the game was selling very well recently and now appears to be sold out.

The store manager said he does not know if or when the item will be back in stock.

It’s unclear how many of the comments on reddit are jokes versus actual information about the game. Here are a few of the 90+ comments:

“‘Tyson’s corner opoly’ the game of traffic congestion and looking for a parking spot.”

“Toilet Bowl Building” is spot on. We all know immediately what it refers to, even without a pic.

“Walk light is too short and you only made it halfway across Route 7. Lose a turn.”

Sound like something you’d choose for game night? Let Tysons Reporter know if you would play Tysons Corner Opoly.

And if someone reading this has a version and is willing to let the Tysons Reporter team borrow it for game night, our email is [email protected]

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

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The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.

We’ve scoured the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Wednesday (Nov. 20)

  • Holiday Extravaganza — 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Sheraton Tysons Hotel (8661 Leesburg Pike) — This event combines networking with shopping and holiday spirit. The event will feature food, drinks, keynote talks and booths with shopping opportunities. Tickets start at $75.

Thursday (Nov. 21)

  • Canning at Caboose Commons — 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Caboose Commons (2918 Eskridge Road) — People can learn about canning Caboose’s Fog and Citra Session IPAs.

Saturday (Nov. 23)

  • Christmas Market — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Andrew Chapel United Methodist Church (1301 Trap Road) — At this market, people will be selling various items including baked goods, candles, wreaths and various gifts. Gift wrapping is available on-site and Santa will make an appearance for photos as well.
  • 50s’ Sock Hop — 7 to 9 p.m. at Vienna Community Center, Auxiliary Gym (120 SE Cherry Street) — This event invites community members to come together for a friendly evening of dancing. Admission is $5 at the door and free for kids under 5.
  • Apple Brandy Bottling Party — 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Falls Church Distillers (442 S. Washington Street) — This party celebrates the release of the distillery’s new batch of Apple Brandy. This event is free but organizers ask that attendees RSVP through email.
  • Winter Walk of Lights — 5 to 10 p.m. at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens (9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court) — This event allows community members to enjoy holiday lights at the gardens. Hot drinks and smores are available for purchase on-site. Tickets are $14 and $8 for kids.

Sunday (Nov. 24)

  • Sensory-Friendly Santa — 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Tysons Galleria (2001 International Drive) — Autism Speaks partnered with Tysons Galleria to invite children of all abilities to enjoy the Christmas festivities. The event page said that this will provide a calm environment for kids to meet Santa.
  • Sutton Foster at Wolf Trap — 6:30 p.m. at Wolf Trap (1635 Trap Road) — Tony Award-winning singer Sutton Foster will take the stage as one of Wolf Trap’s last performances for November. Tickets to her performance start at $67.
  • Hope Family Fun Festival — 2 to 5 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School (601 S. Oak Street) — This festival allows community members and families to come together for an afternoon of face painting, moon bounces, yoga lessons, games and prizes for kids.

Photo via Falls Church Distillers LLC/Facebook

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Fresh off a first-place win at the North America International Championships, McLean resident Wolfe Glick is headed to the 2019 Pokémon World Championships in D.C. next month.

Glick took the first place in the video game division in a national championship tournament in June, winning part of a $250,000 pot in scholarships and prizes.

According to a press release from The Pokémon Company International, the tournament will be invite-only with attendees from over 35 countries vying for a series of prizes August 16-18 in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (801 Mount Vernon Place NW).

Glick says Pokémon is still a fun hobby rather than a job or sport, and he plays mostly to keep in touch with friends.

“I started playingPokémon competitively back in 2011 when there was a local tournament in the Washington D.C. area,” Glick said in an email. “I’ve kept competing all these years primarily because if I were to stop I would have a harder time seeing the friends I’ve made over the years through the game.”

There were a few tense moments for Glick at the most recent match. He noted that there were a few close calls, but he managed to pull through.

“I’m very excited for the World Championships and hope to do well,” Glick said.

Photo via The Pokémon Company

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Joining the latest and greatest at Ballston Quarter, 5 Wits officially opened for business earlier last month, bringing its unique style of interactive entertainment to the Arlington area.

Located in a 15,000 square foot facility within the mall, 5 Wits creates deeply immersive, theme park-style adventure experiences. Guests travel through real, physical environments, interacting with their surroundings through challenges, puzzles and elaborate special effects.

Each adventure tells its own story, with its guests’ performance deciding the outcome: the ending actually changes depending on how well its participants perform.

While the technology that runs this massive $2 million venue is cutting edge, the company behind it isn’t exactly new — in fact, 5 Wits is celebrating its 15th year in business. Its arrival in Ballston Quarter signals a shift toward entertainment-based offerings that set the redeveloped center apart as a destination.

“5 Wits is excited to bring our adventures to the Arlington area in such a unique and dynamic project. Ballston Quarter is curating an experience that the community is going to love,” says Frank Cerio, the company’s COO.

As Nothern Virginia’s newest dining, shopping and entertainment destination, the revitalized Ballston Quarter’s focus on experiential entertainment retailers continues well beyond 5 Wits. Offerings like play space Nook, entertainment complex Punch Social Bowl and Onelife Fitness compliment new expansive gathering spaces and fresh retail and culinary brands.

Community members and visitors are invited to experience the new heart of Ballston with continued openings, spring and summer holiday celebrations and seasonal programming that make Ballston Quarter a year-round community experience.

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