Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- So, yeah, Chompy's back, in case you haven't looked up lately. Following the conclusion of Shark Week, Chompy will be replaced with a giant inflatable 6-year-old beauty contestant to promote TLC's new series Here Comes Honey Boo Boo!

Photo via Discovery
 - We were supposed to know by the end of this month when the transit center would finally open, but I'm still waiting...

- Don't mess with O.G. seniors or run the risk them going postal - a 67-year-old man straight shanked a dude at a SSINO post office last week when he thought the man was cutting in line.

- File this under things I didn't know: America's Most Wanted is based out of Silver Spring. Their studio is in the unassuming building at the corner of Wayne and Cedar.

- Bar Rescue host Jon Taffer responded to the Piratz Tavern "revolt". (Shouldn't it be classified as a mutiny?)

Tony is not looking forward to The Premier.

- Silver Spring's future Premier Apartments is not yet corporeal, but the building has already begun tweeting in the first person. I hope it turns out to be malevolent like the Overlook Hotel and sends out tweets like "Come play with us."

Monday, July 30, 2012

Watch the Piratz Tavern Bar Rescue Episode Online

Miss last night's episode of Bar Rescue (or don't have cable)? Watch the whole thing here. Love the episode title: "Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Dumb".

Unfortunately the following footage wasn't included...

Piratz Tavern claims business is much better now. If they make it through the year, I'll believe it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Silver Spring News 'N Notes (Featuring Long-Delayed Token Derecho Post)

I considered doing a derecho-focused post a couple weeks back, but what hadn't already been said about the storm by then? Everyone already knows that Pepco sucks. I will say that If we're going to expect multiple long-term power outages every season, perhaps it's time to seriously consider burying the power lines once and for all. I don't care if you put a surcharge on my bill - it probably won't be more than the total I've spent on hotel rooms, meals out, and spoiled food over the past few years, not to mention the non-monetary costs associated with the inconveniences resulting from the outages. (e.g. The shame of wearing wrinkled shirts to work.)

This doesn't even fall in the category of "first world problems" - regular blackouts are a common problem of the third world.

After strolling through down Ellsworth this past weekend, a full two weeks after the storm, I realized that I might have underestimated the full level of destruction in my neighborhood. After surveying the damage, my belief that the large trees surrounding my house were somehow "too big to fail" has been somewhat shaken.

I mean, look at this biggun that got taken down:

And this unfortunate house, now wearing a tarp, appears to have been split down the middle:

This is just a small sampling. There were few houses that appeared untouched. This storm toppled more neighborhood trees in five minutes than EYA's townhouse construction ever could. Maybe we need to print up a batch of anti-derecho lawn signs. ("Weaker breeze, more trees?")

Of the countless fallen trees littering the post-derecho landscape, this one was my personal fave. It managed to somehow perfectly split the uprights of a nearby tree.

This had the effect of making the base of the tree appear from certain angles to be levitating.

 And in non-derecho news:

- The Magruder's in Kemp Mill is closing.

- The Piratz Tavern episode of SpikeTV's Bar Rescue, originally scheduled to air this Sunday, has been moved to next Sunday at 9:00 PM.

- KBR, already in the process of erecting the Heritage at Georgia Avenue apartments, has been selected to construct The Premier, "a 14-story complex with 160 housing units with aspirations of LEED corroboration". Not 100% sure where this one is located, but I believe it is to be somewhere on or near Fenton Street. No doubt someone will tell me.

- EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson likes to go to the AFI with Cabinet members.

- When this news item popped up, I was disappointed to learn it was not from our Silver Spring...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Majestic Concession Line Angry Me!

I maintain a love/hate relationship with Silver Spring's Majestic Theatre. It's great that there is a 20-screen modern movie theater with within walking distance to my house. It has become exponentially better since adding an IMAX screen last year. Despite ticket prices of $17.50 or more, thanks to the Majestic IMAX has become my new standard in movie watching. I've already seen The Avengers and Prometheus during this year's summer movie season, and intend to see The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX when it is released this weekend.

It remains bothersome that there can be a bit too much disruption during movies at the theater, but that seems to be the norm these days. I've had similar issues at the AFI and the Bethesda Row Cinema. To be fair, I haven't noticed it as much lately, but the 500 decibel IMAX sound system tends to drown out all other sounds (permanently).

One thing that continues to annoy me is the the exceptional inefficiency of the theater's concession operations. You'd think after a hundred plus years of existence, the movie theater industry would have concessions down to a science, yet the service at the Majestic is pathetically slow. I now have to budget an extra half hour if I think I may want to get a popcorn for a movie. I recently went to the Majestic for a weekend evening show, generally a theater's busiest time. That being the case, you would think they would staff accordingly, however if I recall correctly only nine of their seventeen (?) registers were manned. If they aren't going to use them during their highest-volume times, why were they even installed in the first place? I've never seen them all in use at once. When I got in line, it was only about four groups deep, so it couldn't take all that long, right? Wrong. Somehow I managed to wait 25 minutes for a popcorn. Adjacent lines didn't appear to be moving appreciably faster.

Considering the margins they are getting on $8 bags of popcorn and $6 sodas, it would financially beneficial to increase their staff. Ringing up just a single sale would likely cover a concession worker's hourly wage and any associated payroll taxes. It's not like there aren't plenty of teenagers out there looking for jobs. No doubt there are innumerable sales that have been lost due to patrons' not having adequate time to wait in these sluggish queues before their movie starts. I had the distinct pleasure of working at the defunct AMC City Place 10 for one summer as a teen, so I can say based on experience that you can move the line a hell of a lot faster than they do at the Majestic. (Two time AMC City Place 10 employee of the week here.) The process is incredibly simple: take order, up sell, serve order. Now all the popcorn is pre-bagged and concession workers don't even have to butter it behind the counter, so it should move even faster. A transaction shouldn't take more than 1-2 minutes at most.Why it seems to take 5+ minutes for each sale at the Majestic is beyond me.

As an aside, here's a few interesting things I learned from working at a movie theater:

1. You are in no way getting butter on your popcorn. We were expressly forbidden from calling the liquid that we applied to popcorn as "butter". It was only to be referred to as "topping".

2. There is something called a "Half and Half", or at least there used to be. This is when you fill up a popcorn bag half way, pump a full allotment of "topping" on the kernels, fill up the rest of the bag and re-apply the topping. There are likely a disproportional number patrons of the AFI City Place 10 in the 1990's who have since perished from congenital heart disease. Now that you have to pump your own topping, I don't see how you'd get yourself a half and half.

3. Orange soda is a lot more popular than I would have imagined.

On the subject of the Majestic, yesterday I received this email regarding a post on from way back in 2007:

Dear Sir or Madam: It’s 2012 and people are still calling my cell phone when they are unhappy at the movies. I haven’t worked for Consolidated Theatres since 2008, please, please, please remove this posting so that my peaceful Friday nights can return! I don’t work for them anymore and this is my personal cell number you have posted. The Majestic is owned now by REGAL.
I felt kind of bad, though it wasn't me that posted her number - it was in a comment that I have since deleted. At the same time, I'm glad people are making their displeasure known when they have a bad experience at the Majestic. Who knows, maybe it has helped.

One last thing... when did the Majestic start screening Bollywood films? I noticed this posted outside last month. DON'T ANGRY ME!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Four Corners' Corner Pub Closes After Forever

It's increasingly rare to find an authentic neighborhood bar these days, particularly in this area. The Dietle's Tavern on Seminary Road was definitely one, but that closed after the MoCo smoking ban went into effect.

The Corner Pub in Four Corners definitely fits the description of a neighborhood bar. If you didn't live in Woodmoor or one of other the surrounding communities, you could probably pass it by a hundred times and never know it existed. I don't know exactly when it opened, but it's been there as long as I can remember. You can go to the Corner Pub at noon on a Tuesday and find blue collar types at the bar sucking down beers (Pepco employees, perhaps?).

Well, at least you used to be able to - anyone trying to grab a pizza and a cold one at the Pub today was greeted by a locked door on which this sign was posted:

Photo by Yelp! user Michael M.
The Pub was on the market at some point over the past couple years, though it doesn't appear that any sale was ultimately made. Now, sadly, it appears the bar will be sold as part of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. There have been rumors circulating that there was some more nefarious reason behind the Bar's closing, but it may have purely been financial.

Former (?) owner Randy Hurowitz today posted the following message on the Pub's Facebook page.
To my value customers of the corner pub! It is very important to me that you all know don't always believe rumors you hear why I had to close the pub I was stabbed in the back and got comptley screwed over but all of that is not important know I want to thank each and one of you from the bottom of my heart for coming to the corner pub threw out the years I truley enjoyed seeing all of you every single day this is not goodbye just a brief break I'm in the process of purchasing and new and improve corner pub please stay posted to this page for updates and the new location there are going to be people that are going to try to put a bar resturant in the pubs old location they are bad bad people I'm asking all my loyal customers to never ever go in there ever it will stink big time and the people attempting to go in there are bad bad people again I love each and everyone of you and will see you all very soon at the new corner pub. Thanks very much love Randy
Well, that didn't clear much up, does it?

Will be interested to see how this one turns out. Regardless, it's a shame to lose a place like the Corner Pub.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Living Ruff Being Put to Sleep

Living Ruff, the pet store on Georgia Avenue, has announced that it will close at the end of the month. From an email sent to customers:

It's with mixed emotions that we announce Living Ruff will be closing at the end of July. It has been our extreme pleasure serving you, your pets, and the Silver Spring community the past four years. Why are we mixed? Well, because while we're sad to say goodbye, we're also excited to announce we're expecting our first (human) child in the Fall, and we feel this is the best decision for our family.
Local dog owners may be dismayed by this news, but at least they've still got Club Wags, located just down Georgia Avenue.

Let the obligatory "All businesses in Silver Spring fail!"/"What will replace it?" commenting begin.