Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Solution for the Majestic

The Majestic 20 is not in the Regal Entertainment Group theater chain. It'd be a lot cooler if it was, because we could really use some of these.

This week, Regal Entertainment Group will significantly expand a program to give selected patrons wireless devices to anonymously alert the manager of disruptions.

If I had one of those, I'd be calling in management every time a cellphone went off. On vibrate. If I were the device manufacturer, though, I’d add a laser targeting system so that theater staff (or better yet, cops) could come in wearing special glasses that would allow them to perceive a laser beam identifying the offender. I'd also re-label the buttons in the following manner to make them more relevant:

#1 - Boost Mobile - Person carrying on an entire conversation using the walkie-talkie feature on their mobile phone. ("Where you at?" "I'm up in the Majestic annoying the shit out of the whole theater!")

#2 - Sound - This one would remain as-is. I once sat through an entire movie at the Majestic where the sound was barely audible. I went and asked someone if they could check on it but I could tell she didn’t give a damn. I ended up sitting through what was a hare’s breath away from being a silent movie. With my version of the device, a member of the staff would be fitted with a belt that would administer an electric shock of ever-increasing voltage. This would only be turned off once I determine that the theater's sound is at an adequate level.

#3 - Baby - This one is self-explanatory. It will also automatically alert child services.

#4 - Dumb Girlfriend/Boyfriend - Someone continually explaining “what is going on” using a full-volume speaking voice to their date who can't seem to grasp a single plot point in the entire film.

The real trick to seeing movies at the Majestic is to know what movies you can and can't view without constant disturbances. I've found that if you select more serious fare, you can usually watch a movie in peace. (Although I don't put anything past theatergoers in Silver Spring, having been forced to listen to someone talk/phone through the entirety of Babel at the AFI.) Saw III, probably not so much. I have found that some movies are actually more enjoyable to watch with, uh, "audience participation".

The way things are going, you'll probably end up needing one of these babies, too. I was downtown Saturday Night and was disappointed to discover they didn't take my advice with regard to the use of armored vehicles, however they did have a paddy wagon parked outside the entrance to the theater. Seriously, someday someone is going to get shot and that area will seriously regress as a result. People won't feel safe taking their kids and Downtown Silver Spring could turn into an outdoor City Place. (Sorry, I mean Silver Plaza.)

UPDATE: Another possible solution - pipe in classical music.

Friday, May 25, 2007

News 'N Notes - Memorial Day Weekend Edition


The long weekend is finally upon us. If time permits, I'm going to try and hit up the AFI Silver and see Seven Samurai . The theater is also hosting a John Ford/John Wayne triple feature on Monday. And soon, Lawrence of Arabia returns. Showing Lawrence of Arabia has become a summer tradition at the AFI, and I have started my own tradition every year of saying, "I should go see Lawrence of Arabia at AFI" then ultimately not going. Maybe this will be the year that I finally buck that trend.

Speaking of the AFI, I just noticed that they finally updated it with the winner of their Program a Night at the Silver contest and the winner selected... THE BIG LEBOWSKI!!! And even though I once said, "If you see The Big Lebowski scrolling across the marquee at the Silver Theatre anytime soon, you'll know I was the winner of the Program the Silver sweepstakes", this person is not actually me. He is just another man with impeccable taste in films, or he just ripped off my idea. Heat is a decent choice, too.

Also in the "news"...

- Metro has approved the opening of a ($400K) southern entrance at the Silver Spring station.

- The mixed-use version of Studio Plaza project is back on the table after the chimerical "Purple Line" was re-routed.

- The Washingtonian has recommendations for a "date night" in downtown Silver Spring.

- The Silver Spring National Guard unit is headed to Iraq.


- Contrary to information on the corporate website, the Silver Spring Five Guys is indeed open (and quite busy). I'm not as enamored with Five Guys as some others, but it's nice to have the option available.

Apparently former Vice President Dan Quayle is an employee at this location:

UPDATE: You will notice that this has been fixed. That was me.

- The Saturday Post has a profile of Silver Spring's Quaint Acres neighborhood.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Do the MoCo cops fancy themselves some sort of county Gendarmerie? I can understand needing an armored vehicle when policing some places like, you know, Wheaton, but what's up with the olive drab paint scheme? Is this camouflage supposed to hide the vehicle from Panzerfaust crews in Germantown?

Maybe they should just park that bad boy outside the entrance to The Majestic. That might dissuade theatergoers from engaging in brawls on Ellsworth Street. That may not be necessary, however, as it looks like they've already brought in the big guns to restore order to Downtown Silver Spring.

What would be really cool is if they re-painted their Segways and fitted them with armor plating and submachine guns.

(Speaking of the MoCo police, if you have a parakeet but not a camera, give them a call.)

- They've started to set up "temporary bus stops" along Wayne, Dixon and Bonifant Streets to accommodate the construction of the new transit center in Downtown Silver Spring. This guy is none too happy about it.

- I'm not sure what this has to do with Silver Spring other than to prove there is still a little room for nature in our 'burb, but check out this Cute Overload-worthy shot of a baby cottontail I took in my yard Sunday night. The best part is there was a litter of six.

The next day I found two of them stuck down in window wells, requiring me to perform a little rescue operation.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Marc Elrich: Representing DC & PG County on the Montgomery County Council

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I rarely, if ever, write about politics, but this comment over at Silver Spring Scene by county councilman Marc Elrich really rubs me the wrong way. He may be the first politician in history to openly say they don’t want new jobs coming into their constituency. Apparently he believes that NPR moving from DC to Silver Spring could somehow “destabilize” the District, as if it were Fallujah or someplace. I’m not asking for a “Bridge to Nowhere”, but isn’t it a representative’s duty to attract businesses?

It seems Elrich’s position on “shifting” jobs within a region and not using financial incentives is strange for one who “supported the revitalization plan that was successfully implemented in the Silver Spring core”. Wasn’t luring Discovery from elsewhere in the same county by using tax breaks a big part of that effort? He believes that relocating companies “doesn’t necessary result in a corresponding change in residential location”. I can state with some confidence that in the case of Discovery a lot of people DID move to Silver Spring who used to live elsewhere and who would have not otherwise relocated to Silver Spring. OK, so maybe not everyone moves the same day as the company, but when they start to look for new houses or apartments, they strongly consider locations that are nearby their place of business.

Even if they don’t move, that influx of people every workday supports the addition of companies that services these businesses and their employees. I’m not sure where he expects jobs to magically come from if they don’t come by way of relocation from another place in the region. How often do businesses move to a completely new metropolitan area? Not frequently, because such a move usually isn’t very practical, especially for larger or well-established organizations. Start-up mom and pop businesses aren’t going to get together and decide to construct a 10-story office building. The thrift shops, hair salons and check-cashing stores in downtown Silver Spring aren’t going to make up a steady and significant tax base.

Ehrlich also states that “most people make a conscious decision not to live in NVA”. Really, then why has Northern Virginia been one of the fastest growing areas in the country? From 2000-2005, Loudoun County had the biggest population increase of any county in the US. It must because no one wants to live in Northern Virginia. And when it comes to jobs, counties like Fairfax are blowing MoCo away.

But you know what, it’s all okay because he supports the Birchmere, which will employ maybe a dozen workers who will take out the beer bottles and mop the floors (and bartenders who won’t report their tips). That increase in tax revenue alone will certainly fund all the social programs that Mr. Ehrlich supports. I guess we’re just going to see people continue to commute right through Silver Spring on their way to jobs in DC and NoVa. I used to do a “reverse commute” to Silver Spring on the Metro and quite frequently I was the only person on the train car because there were so few quality jobs in Silver Spring to go to.

This crap is almost enough to get me to start voting Republican.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

H.I.S.S. Tanks 4 Jesus

While the Silver Spring flea market may be defunct, there is still one place in town where bargain treasures can be found, albeit just once a year. Yesterday I dropped by the St. Luke's Tent Troupe Yard Sale and was able procure a fantastic haul of stuff for a total of less than $20.

Here's just a small sampling:

Ninja Golf. That's right, Ninja Golf. OK, so I don't even have an Atari 7800, but who cares? The box alone can entertain me indefinitely.

Vintage Star Wars action figures for 10¢. So maybe they didn't have a mint on card vinyl-caped Jawa, but I'll take Star Wars figs for a dime any day of the week.

Coooooooooobbbraaaaaaahhhhhh!!! A circa 1983 H.I.S.S. tank (sans driver, unfortunately) for 50¢. This is the first G.I. Joe vehicle I ever owned. Mine came from Lowen's, for those of you who remember that store. I think Lowen's was the only reason I knew Bethesda existed when I was a kid.

An entire car for $7!

Sadly, there was one precious item that eluded me. When I drove by the sale as they were setting up Friday afternoon, I was astonished to see an Eames Lounge Chair among the assembled furniture. I went to the sale before it opened to queue up and make a break for this particular piece, but alas it was already gone, most likely sold to a shrewd volunteer. I can't really complain, though.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Save Our Turnaround!

Ike Leggett has expressed his desire for Metro to do away with one of the little perks of living in Silver Spring. The county executive believes that train “turnarounds” at the Silver Spring Metro station should be eliminated. Apparently doing so would somehow save the county money or end poverty or cure cancer or something.

Having a good chance at empty train (and an empty seat) is one of the advantages commuters to and from Silver Spring have enjoyed since the station opened in 1978.

To quote The Dude quoting George H.W. Bush, "This will not stand, ya know, this aggression will not stand, man.” Taking away our turnarounds will tear at the fabric of what it means to live in Silver Spring. Contact Metro immediately and let them know how you feel about this potential travesty!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

An Inconvenient Rink

Let's face it, we can have countless meetings about whether or not there should be an ice rink built in Veteran's Plaza, but in the end The Man can decide it's going to happen and there's not a damn thing you turf lovers can do about it. Your green shirts will be soaked in bitter tears as you see your precious carpet unceremoniously pulled out from under you.

It's time to adopt a new strategy: make an ice rink completely unfeasible by rapidly accelerating global warming. You need to open up a hole in the ozone layer directly over Silver Spring ASAP. Not only can you scuttle the whole ice rink plan, you will be able to enjoy the turf all year long, with the possible exception of those 120+ degree days.

Here's how to go about it:

- Set your thermostats as high as they will go and open all the windows of your house.

- Park your car in one of the downtown Silver Spring garages and let it idle all day, every day.

- If you've got trees on your property, immediately chop them down. Burn them, too - I figure that can't hurt.

- Flood your lawns - the methane released will help the process along nicely.

- Find any old aerosol cans lying around your house and spray their contents toward the sky.

Hurry, there's not much time!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- It appears Virginia may get even more high rises (and jobs) as plans to build 30 and 31 story tall towers in Rosslyn have been approved. Now is the time to retaliate with our 100+ floor tower in Silver Spring.

Heck, I'd be happy with a ten story building at this point. Silver Spring is far enough removed from the monuments to avoid any complaints about distorting the D.C. skyline. Maybe we can make downtown Silver Spring Washington's version of Paris' La Défense district, where they build all their skyscrapers so as not to disturb the city's skyline. Washington was partially modeled on Paris, after all.

Here we just have to contend with those who will attempt to block any proposals that might displace a hair salon or thrift store...

Also, this has to be the most sniveling and whiny justification ever put forth for constructing an office building:

"I beg you please to approve this project today. Make my neighborhood as nice as the other neighborhoods in Arlington."

Waaaaahhhh make Silver Spring as nice as Bethesda waaaaaahhh!!!

- This Thursday is the grand opening of the Marimekko store in downtown Silver Spring at the former Storehouse Furniture location.

- Tight end Zach Hilton is trying to become the second player from Silver Spring to play for the Redskins, the other of course being Shawn "Silver" Springs. Speaking of the Redskins, I hadn't realized that The Danny's "Triple X ESPN Radio" is based out of the World Building in Silver Spring. Kind of ironic that I can't even get a decent signal a mile away...

- If there are layoffs at Discovery today after all, affected ex-employees should make their way to Bowie for the Bowie Baysox's "Office Space Night".
[T]here will also be a “Smash Technology For Charity” event outside the stadium main gates prior to the game. For just $1.00, fans can take a swing, with a baseball bat, and smash up some of the office equipment that frustrates you in cubical land every day - including printers, scanners, and fax machines.

This is the first and last time I will recommend going to Bowie.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Bring Back the Flea Market!

Last night I was lamenting the destruction of Eastern Market and my wife suggested we could go to the Georgetown flea market as an alternative. That sounded great, but unbeknownst to me, the Georgetown Flea Market has been moved to Virginia. WTF? First of all, if you move the Georgetown Flea Market to Arlington, you should be forced to forfeit the Georgetown moniker. It's bad enough people in Glover Park claim they live in Georgetown. Secondly, they might as well have moved it to Irkutsk, because there's just about as much chance of me going there on a Sunday morning as Clarendon.

As usual, Virginia gets everything and it's time to fight back. We need to bring back the Silver Spring Flea Market. Yes, Silver Spring used to host a flea market once a month (I think) at the parking lot that existed between Wayne and Ellsworth where the Whole Foods is now. I'm not contending that it was another Puces de Saint-Ouen, but it was decent. Granted, flea markets aren't what they used to be thanks to eBay, but they're still fun to browse while looking for something unique.

I'm not sure where the best place to put it would be. Perhaps on the grounds of the new civic center with some booths inside as well. It could also stretch down Ellsworth into the "DTSS" area. I'm sure something can be worked out. It would be a great supplement to the farmers market in the summer.

The re-institution of the flea market is one of the many edicts I'd immediately hand down if I was elevated to my rightful position as führer of Silver Spring. I'd even hire this guy to cut a promo for it.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

"Lewis Black Comes Home" tickets now available (to you)

Tickets for Lewis Black's June 29th performance at Springbrook High can now be purchased by the general public (people who aren't students, alumni, staff or parents). Lewis Black, of course, grew up in Silver Spring (in this house) and is a Springbrook alum.

Here's the order form.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I hear they have a rare photo of Sean Connery signed by Roger Moore

This Saturday, after you are finished complaining about the "turf" and/or "ice" proposals or shopping at the first farmers market of the year, be sure to head over to Alliance Comics (Formerly Geppi's) on Fenton St. and take advantage of "Free Comic Book Day" by picking up a complementary comic book.

Here's a list of the free titles you can choose from. Personally, I'm aiming for Transformers the Movie Prequel # 1. I actually remember getting the original Transformers #1 at Geppi's many, many, years ago.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Time for Silver Spring to get Vertical

It’s time to solve the office space/job shortage in downtown Silver Spring once and for all. I’m sick and tired of browsing job openings and being discouraged that they are all located in the hinterlands of Virginia, where they can’t even get enough people to fill all the positions. Meanwhile, Silver Spring is located right on the border of the District, has MARC, Metro and bus stations in the middle of downtown yet is home to only one large employer of note. Seriously, it’s not like there isn’t space, yet most new projects are condos for housing people who work elsewhere. We can’t even get some token office space thrown in with the Studio Plaza project.

As Otter once said in Animal House, “I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part.” It falls upon me to propose that futile and stupid gesture.

We need to build a skyscraper in Silver Spring. And I don’t mean some pedestrian 60-storey job. I’m talking about an absurdly tall, “mine’s bigger”, Dubai/Shanghai-style, 100+ floor skyscraper. Sound crazy? Well, they said the same thing about the Empire State Building when they decided to build it in midtown Manhattan, and look how that turned out.

The glass should be tinted silver (of course) and about halfway up the building should have setbacks that narrow it by about 66%. This, in combination with a rounded top, will create a profile not dissimilar to that of an extended middle finger. This facade should be angled towards Northern Virginia. It will be lit up brilliantly at night so that that the populace of Virginia can see its outline 24/7.

Let’s be honest, the current Silver Spring skyline isn’t exactly awe-inspiring. Virginia has their cute little skyline when you cross the river into Arlington, but with this project we can absolutely crush them. Besides all the jobs we can fill it with (reducing vehicular traffic to VA), the building would provide us with significant bragging rights over the Commonwealth.

Someone get Donald Trump on the line.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

One shall stand, one shall fall.

Happy Loyalty Day fellow Silver Springers!

The whole Veteran's Plaza turf vs. ice debate is getting kind of tired, and needs to get resolved ASAP so we can all move on. It has even reached a point where the two sides have resorted to wearing gang colors and waving homemade signs like at a WWE event. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions as to how this debate can be settled once and for all.

Solution A:

Each side shall choose a champion to represent them in a fight-to-the death battle staged within a dome-shaped steel cage erected on Veteran's Field. The combatants will hang from the dome by elastic cords, as will a variety of mêlée weapons, including, of course, chainsaws. There will be only one rule for this contest: "Two proposals enter. One proposal leaves." I came up with this concept completely on my own.

(In a completely unrelated note, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome is one of the few films I specifically remember seeing at the Silver Theatre back when it was dumpy. Star Trek III is one of the others, so I always found it very random that inside the theater one of the old photos shows that particular movie on the marquee.)

Solution B:

Install a giant plate that rotates around its horizontal axis, with a ice rink on one side and crappy green carpet on the other. Based on changes in temperature, the plate can be flipped (suddenly, and without warning) to the more appropriate side. Everybody wins.

Solution C:

Scrap both the "turf" and "ice" ideas and put in Mini-golf.

Regrettably, none of these ideas are likely to be implemented. However, if you want to have your say about what will be done with that site, go to this Saturday's "community meeting" on the subject. Here's the schedule:

1:00-1:20: Meet on the turf, see the design and layout
1:20-1:30: Walk to Round House Black Box Theater (For those of you who don't know, this theater specializes in theatrical re-creations of aircraft crashes.)
1:30-2:00: Panel discussion
2:00-3:00: Small group discussions

As I've said before, I think they should retain some sort of "grassy" area, but use high-quality artificial grass rather than real grass or crappy green carpet.


- Welcome two new blogs to the Silver Spring "blogosphere": and Silver Spring Town Center. It's getting a little crowded around here.

- Blair principal leaving after 23 years.

- What I feared for my own car I saw happen to someone else's yesterday after it hit a exposed manhole on 29 and blew out one of its tires. The county/state/whoever really ought to pay for that.