Thursday, November 18, 2010

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Tonight (or technically tomorrow morning at 12:01) marks the grand opening of the Majestic's brand-new IMAX theater. The Harry Potter IMAX Experience midnight show, along with five(!) non-IMAX midnight screenings, has already sold out, but tickets are still available for the 3:05 AM (!!) show should you be really pressed to see it. Oh, and SNAPE KILLS DUMBLEDORE! Wait, never mind, that was the last one.

If anyone does have the privilege of getting the IMAX "experience" tonight or tomorrow, please report back STAT. How large is the screen? How's the sound? Is it worth the $17.50 ticket price?

- The county has wisely extended the downtown Silver Spring police foot patrols, though only through June. As the Gazette article notes, unlike the downtown areas of Wheaton and Bethesda, patrols in Silver Spring are not permanent, but rather staffed by officers working overtime.

- A reminder that Silver Spring's annual Thanksgiving Parade will take place this Saturday from 9:30 to noon. (It's a small wonder that the Takoma Park/East Silver Spring lobby hasn't gotten it re-designated "The National Day of Mourning Trail of Tears Procession".)

For those who haven't been before, the parade tends to be 50% emergency vehicles, 30% bands and other performance troupes, and 20% miscellaneous groups whose applications are rubber stamped by the organizers. The Redskins Marching Band usually performs, but perhaps they are too demoralized to do so this year after being forced to endure the entirety of Monday's abomination in Raljon.

Following last year's parade I was thinking we should really have zombies march to represent the Zombie Walk, but I totally dropped the ball on that one. Next year, perhaps.

- One thing that will not be happening this weekend is the grand opening of Silver Spring's ice skating rink. It was originally scheduled to open in conjunction with the parade, but thanks to to the usual MoCo bureaucratic nonsense, the date is now TBD. (Mid-summer 2011, perhaps?) But hey, the Civic Center and ice rink were supposed to be open years ago, so what's a few more months?

Speaking of the ice rink, was the shelter always lit by changing-colored lights at night? I just noticed that for the first time yesterday evening.

- Congratulations (?) to Silver Spring's own Erik McMillan, who was recently named by Deadspin as one of the 100 worst NFL players of all time. As Silver Spring defensive backs go, he's certainly no Shawn "Silver" Springs.

- For those of you who shop at the American Apparel in Silver Spring, Groupon has a great deal today: $25 for $50 Worth of In-Store Clothing and Accessories (while supplies last). Say what you want about the company, but they do have comfy sweatshirts.

- Silver Spring is (sort of) getting a Wal-Mart. The retailer has plans to open four new stores in D.C. by 2012, and one of them will be located at the corner of Georgia and Missouri, just minutes from downtown Silver Spring.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ceeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Veeeeeeeeeeeee Essssssssssssssss?

Word on the street (Fenton Street) is that an effort is afoot to convert the former Hollywood Video and adjoining stores into a single, large retail store that would house a CVS. The Hollywood space is presently the makeshift home of a nonprofit organization, while the space once occupied by the Upscale Pharmacy, which closed earlier this year, is the most recent location of the ever-shifting ArtSpring. Sandwiched in between the two is Family Dry Cleaners, the proprietors of which claim they are being pressured to vacate, and who have started a petition opposing the CVS plan. (I've never personally used their service, but I was always amused by the fact that this dry cleaners proudly displays a sign in their window touting their "Only in Arlington" award.)

From nearly the beginning of this blog I’ve advocated for a CVS or equivalent in or in close proximity to DTSS. I’ve heard all the complaints about CVS, and a lot of them certainly have merit, but one cannot deny that having a large drugstore located right downtown would be extraordinarily convenient. There are a lot of basic items you can't purchase during a visit to DTSS that would be available at a CVS, such as razors, diapers, school supplies, etc. Another good thing about CVS? Redbox.

Best of all, imagine being able to purchase a box of Junior Mints or Sour Patch Kids across the street before going into a movie at the Majestic. Not that I would ever advocate breaking theater rules regarding outside food or anything. But hey, when you’re dropping $$$ SEVENTEEN MF’N FIFTY PER TICKET $$$ (confirmed price, BTW) to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1: The IMAX Experience, your snack budget might be a little tight.

Of course, a huge downside to a CVS being located in that particular spot is that the waking nightmare that is the parking experience in the Whole Foods/Strosnider’s lot could become exponentially worse. For those of you who have been around a little while, remember when the Whole Foods lot had a large garage attached to it? I used to get annoyed if I was forced to park in the garage when I couldn’t find a space in the surface lot. Looking back, I didn't know how easy I had it.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

A few miscellaneous things I had lying around...

- Downtown Silver Spring will be getting a new bike station in the triangular area along Colesville between Discovery and the Metro station entrance. Amazing, this is technically considered a park. This may truly be the least pleasant park on earth. (I think they should also bring back the old clock while they're at it.)

- There may be a new community garden on Fenton Street. If the plan passes, and I don't see why anyone would oppose it, plot prices will range from $30 to $50 per year. I can imagine they'd go fast.

- This made me chuckle. The owner of this house in the residential neighborhood of Indian Spring Terrace installed their own parking meter on the curb. I was tempted to put a nickel in, but was worried I'd somehow break it.

Silver Spring Getting "IMAX" Theater

Over the past couple years, there have been a few occasions where I was tempted by studio marketing to see a Hollywood blockbuster on an IMAX screen. (Avatar, for example.) However, each time that I checked the movie listings, the film I was interested in was only showing on a single IMAX screen in far-flung Virginia.

While I have yet to see a feature-length IMAX film, when I'm down at the Natural History Museum or out at Udvar-Hazy (a rare thing I will go to Virginia for), I do enjoy taking in an IMAX movie on one of their humongous screens. The U2 3D one in particular was amazing. Now news comes that Silver Spring will be getting its own IMAX screen, to be constructed within the confines of our lovely Majestic 20 Theater.

While this is welcome news, our enthusiasm over this announcement should be somewhat tempered, as what you might think of as IMAX  is likely not what we'll be getting here. The IMAX screens in multiplexes like the Majestic tend to be significantly smaller than the big ass (the official terminology) screens at the Smithsonian and elsewhere. 

For perspective, here's a size comparison of a classic giant IMAX screen with what you might find in a multiplex:

(Of course, according to IMAX, you need only sit closer to the screen and it will look bigger... )

Not only is the screen at these multiplex IMAX theaters smaller, but there are other technical aspects in which they are inferior.

Furthermore, if you want the IMAX experience, however scaled down it may be, you're going to pay for it. For example, at the new Tyson's Corner theater, a ticket for a movie on their IMAX screen costs $5 more than the same movie on the standard screen. ($16.50 vs. $11.50.)

For the time being I will withhold judgment and give our new IMAX the benefit of the doubt, hoping they somehow manage to fit a large enough screen into the Majestic to justify the additional five bucks a ticket. I go to so few movies these days, I might as well splurge for even an incremental increase in picture and sound quality.

And hey, it will be MoCo's only IMAX, so suck it Bethesda, Gaithersburg, Rockville, etc.