A Day in DC

Baltimore is a cultural hub filled with things to do and see. But, what’s also great about this city is location, location, location. Philly is a short drive, New York City is a bus ride away, and our nation’s capital is a little down the road. So, if you ever want to explore another city’s hustle and bustle there are many options!

This week, I crossed DC off my to do list. I have been to the city a few times before, but not as often as I have hoped while living in Baltimore. So, taking advantage of a beautiful Tuesday afternoon, a friend and I took a day to explore.

While we strolled around the monuments my friend had the great idea to ride bikes to our next destination; the Newseum. We found the closest bike share which is located all around the city and pedaled our way down the streets of DC. In no time we were at the Newseum which has an amazing collection of news and journalism. As a journalism student, I was in awe of what filled the walls of the gallery and could have stayed the entire afternoon!

But, back on the bikes we went. Our next stop was Dupont circle where we walked around and did a little window shopping. After working up an appetite we grabbed a quick bite to eat and made our way back on the Metro to head home.

We only scratched the surface of what DC has to offer. The city is filled with art, music, and museums that can keep you busy for days. So if the weather keeps us on our toes like it has, take advantage of the next sunny day and explore!

*Bolt Bus and Mega Bus offer cheap tickets to some great cities.

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Tapas Teatro and the Charles Theater

Being the huge movie buff that I am, last night I went to see a free screening of Revolutionary Road at the Charles Theater.  I got there about 45 minutes early and instead of filling myself up on junk food at the concession stand, I dared to be adventurous and walked into Tapas Teatro.  Obviously from the name of the restaurant, you can figure out what they serve.  I’ve been to a tapas place before (ahem, ahem Pazo’s) and I never really understood the appeal of it.  Since I’m a tall guy with a large appetite who likes to get value for what I pay for, the thought of paying money for dainty little portions is a little foreign to me.   Regardless, I put my reservations aside to try something new. 

I walked in through the little doorway connecting the theater and the restaurant and made my way through the dimly lit restaurant.  I saw a bar to the left and made my way to a stool.  I started off with a nice cold Estrella – yup it was one of those days.  I looked through the tapas menu and they had amazing creations which were too hard to pass up.  I honestly had no intention of eating a whole lot there, but I succumbed to the temptation.  The server recommend the Marinated Chicken with Cumin Mayonnaise and that was definitely one of the best chicken dishes I’ve had in a while!  The flavors in the mayonnaise and marinated chicken complemented each other really well – I could eat that dish all the time.  I was floored by the first dish, so I obviously had to order another one.  I’ve recently acquired the taste of eating crabmeat, so I order the crabmeat and spinach dish.  What I envisioned the dish to be, wasn’t exactly what was served.  I envisioned more of a crab and spinach dip, but instead of it was chunks of crabmeat tossed in cooked spinach.  I must say the presentation surely didn’t live up to the taste!

I settled my check and walked out with my Ayinger beer into the theater (yes you can take alcohol into the movie theater!) and sat down to watch “one of the year’s best films!”  I’ve always enjoyed going to the Charles Theater.  The ticket price isn’t ridiculous like those chain theaters AMC and Regal, nor do they rip you off at the concessions, and they play critically acclaimed films that people should watch.  Not to mention, it’s near a lot of great restaurants! 

Like many other area attractions/places in Baltimore, the Charles has so much rich history associated with it.  The structure is over a century old and served as a cable car barn, house barn, and a library for the blind.  In the late 1930s, the venue was called the Times Theater and became Baltimore’s first all-newsreel movie house.  The movie house was renamed the Charles in the late 1950s and remained a single screen theater until 1999.  Now the Charles Theater features 5 screens,  and a lobby area to relax in before the show.   If you’re huge a movie buff like I am, check out Cinema Sundays:  http://www.cinemasundays.com/.  Basically you have a light breakfast, watch a movie, then have a discussion about the film after the movie. 

See, you learn someting new every day!

For now, this is Ankur…

Signing off…

The Matchmaker hits Centerstage!

Centerstage has started back up for its 2008-2009 season and the first show on their line-up is Thornton Wilder’s “The Matchmaker.” The basis for the more famous “Hello Dolly”, this old school romantic comedy will keep you thoroughly entertained and remind you why it is we love romantic comedies so much.

Housed in The Pearlstone Theater, the smaller of the two theaters in Centerstage, the Matchmaker combined great acting and a great script to produce a story that actually had the audience roaring with laughter and applause. The actors were cast perfectly, and there were even a few songs (only sung to distract from the crew changing the scene) to satisfy all those “Hello Dolly” fans. Our personal favorite was the actress playing Flora – a scene-stealer with great comedy. But, all the actors did a wonderful job and were so believeable in their parts that it made for a perfect show. Our only complaint was the distracting scenery – a stark black, white, and red pattern was harsh on our eyes. But when you’re laughing so much, even that is a minor flaw.

Another great part of the night was the venue itself. Centerstage is a great little theater tucked into the Mount Vernon section of town. With an expansive lobby area, and two bars that refresh patrons with beverages for the performance, Centerstage provides theater-goers with an upscale arts experience, at a lower cost, and with less of the stuffyness that often comes with high-end theater. The Pearlstone Theater, the smaller theater where The Matchmaker was being shown, is a great amphitheater-style venue, with even the upper balcony level seating providing a full view of the stage.

After the show we got to experience College Night at Centerstage, which was a perfect way to end a great show! They had free pizza and drinks for any student with a college ID, plus there was great music as well. The actors even came up to join in on the action and it was cool to get to mingle with the people who had just made you laugh so hard. Then Centerstage raffled off some great prizes for the students in attendance, including tickets to Alanis Morisette at the Lyric and Legally Blonde at the Hippodrome!

Overall the night was a great experience. Though we definitely need to allot more time to arrive before curtain (what with Baltimore traffic and all) we know we will brave the crazy highways once again to hit another show at Centerstage!

The Vagina Monologues at UB – a funny, yet informative night!

A couple weeks back, I was tabling at the University of Baltimore’s Student Life Expo and I had the pleasure of talking to the Director of the Diversity Office, Karla Shepard, about their upcoming events.  She gave me a flyer for Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues.”  Initially, I was a little skeptical and I was thinking “OK Cool…I’ll see if I can come!”  Then, I started thinking about it and I said to myself anyone I’ve spoken to that has seen the production truly enjoyed themselves.  So, I decided hey why not…go for it!  Tickets were definitely affordable – $5 for students, and $15 for non-students.  Not to mention, the proceeds from the show benefit V-day and the House of Ruth – both are great organizations!

It was a packed house in the University of Baltimore’s Performing Arts Theater on the night of February 15th.  There were definitely people from all age groups – students, UB staff, and family members rooting on the cast.  The show started a few minutes past the scheduled 8 PM time, but hey that’s show business!  The UB theater events coordinator started off with a brief introduction and a THANK YOU for attending.  The cast members in the production consisted of UB staff, faculty, as well as students who joined forces to put on a great production. 

The various monologues definitely tackled some important issues such as female genital mutilation in some African countries in the monologue “The Not-So-Happy Vagina Fact”  It was definitely graphic at times and a little too hard to handle, but then I was thinking about the girls who have to actually go through that experience – that’s hard to handle! Then there were obviously your comedic moments where you just had to burst out laughing.   There were definitely some jawdropping moments where I was thinking in my head “OMG, Oh no she didn’ttt!….Oh but she did!” One of the funniest monologues of the night was “My Angry Vagina” where the cast members were verbalizing what their vaginas would say if they could talk.  The showstopper of the night was the final monologue, “Wetlands.”  The bring it on home moment was when the various cast members shared how women of various ethnicities sound when they are about to orgasm.  Yeah, that was interesting and hysterical at the same time.  I was definitely laughing for a good three minutes straight during that monologue. 

The show lasted a little bit over an hour – I was out of there by 9:15.  Overall, a fun night!  Laughed and learned quite a bit.  UB is having a comedy show on March 7th @ 7:30 called “Allah Made Me Funny.”  That is definitely a must see! 

<For more information on V-Day or the House of Ruth, please check out their websites:  www.vday.org and www.hruth.org.

That’s all for now, but don’t worry you’ll be hearing from me soon…..

This is Ankur…signing off…

Have a great day everyone!

College Night at Centerstage!

This Thursday was College Night at Centerstage. It is the tradition of Centerstage to hold a College Night on the first Thursday showing of every production. For just $15 students get access to a show that normally runs them about $40, free food and drink (including beer and wine if of age), and various entertainment related to the show’s theme. Oh and then there’s the chance to win cool prizes.

This month’s College Night was for the show “Rosencrantz and Guildernstern are Dead.” This is a hilarious satirical show about two characters whose deaths played a pivotal role in how “Hamlet” turned out. This production answers the questions of what really happened to the two travelers who were just carrying out their duties. How did it all go down? Do you think they knew they were walking into a trap? What happened to them along the way? The current show at Centerstage gives a hilarious backstory to two of Shakespeare’s most undefined and misunderstood characters and keeps the audience entertained from curtain to curtain.

This College Night was a huge hit! With more students than we’ve seen at previous College Nights, the event was a great chance for students from different campuses to get to know each other. Delicious food was graciously donated by Gertrude’s (which was featured as a great place to eat by the one and only Rachael Ray) and there was enough to last for even those late stragglers who made it just before curtain. There were also great raffles with prizes ranging from theatre tickets to discounts at Howl at the Moon, and even an iTunes gift card!

The entertainment for this College Night was the Baltimore Improv Group. We had always heard how funny they were and we were very excited for their performance. They did a sketch routine called “Ice Cream Social” which involved different skits being played out by the performers on different topics which eventually intertwined and resulted in a final scene with all the players involved. (It’s not as complex as it sounds.) Well everything we had heard about them was true – they are very funny and witty, and kept all the audience members entertained. Though we didn’t understand exactly what was going on in every scene (we felt a little age gap) the performers were very clever and would definitely be worth seeing again.

So with free food, great entertainment, cool prizes, and discounted tickets to see a good show and get your culture on, College Night at Centerstage is a must try event. (And it’s a great chance to catch up with Collegetown as we attend as well!)