An exploration of things to do in Arlington

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Mississippi Masala

Being Valentine's day, I thought it would be appropriate to write about the most recent cross-cultural cinema -since the movie was a love story (among other things) and since I highlighted it as a "great date."

Last Thursday, I headed over to Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street - near Virginia Square Metro) to catch this month's cross cultural cinema film - Mississippi Masala. The film, featuring Denzel Washington, follows the lifes and love story of an Indian immigrant from Uganda (see the film for the historical background - interesting) and an African-American male in a small town in Mississippi.

There was a good crowd - the auditorium was pretty full. It was supposed to start at 6:30, but didn't start till around 6:45 - so if you're having trouble getting there on time, you probably have a little leeway - grab some fast food and head over. The crowd tilted senior, but there was some variety, including at least one young couple that looked like they were on a date (if you're reading this, let me know how it went!) So, here's my question to you - Why do we as young, lively, intelligent 20s and 30 somethings not go to stuff like this? There are some obvious reasons, I know. But I would love to hear your thoughts. Is it because it's in the library, because we assume that the crowd will just be older (and if so, for something like this, why does that matter?), because of the time? I'd love to hear your thoughts - what do you think, and how can we change that? Post here, or e-mail me @

But I digress (digression seems to be a common theme in these posts) - the movie. On the positive side, the film raised a lot of interesting questions about race relations - black/white - American/immigrant. Plus, it taught me a little history I wasn't totally aware of - Indian immigrants in Uganda. It definitely got my brain turning - I really wanted a discussion group afterwards. Maybe we should start, a cross-cultural cinema discussion group? Carpool is right across the street - we could go there after the film (maybe a little loud for a discussion, but I'm open to suggestions). What do you think? Post or e-mail me ( if you have any interest.

On the down side, I thought the love story, which was the tie that bound the story together was a little awkward and forced at times - but hey, I can get over that. All in all, it was an enjoyable, thought-provoking (free), experience, and I'm glad I went. And, yes, I got home in tome for Lost this week too. What's up with Charlie anyway?

Random postscript - the film reminded me of a really good book I read once about immigration in America, titled The Other Americans - a book which incidentally is available at the library. You can check the library catalog online here. I highly reccomend the book.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Ellipse Photo Show

So, I had a little lull in my attempts to explore and test more of the fun opportunities in Arlington, but this past week, got back on track (although the snow storm cancelled an activity I was really looking forward to :-(.

Anyway, ... This past week, I checked out the photo show at the Ellipse (that's the Ellipse Art Center in Arlington, not the grassy field near the White House). First, a word about the Ellipse if you decide to check it out. To get there, come out of the Ballston Metro and take a left on to Fairfax Drive (going away from the IHop). You'll go through a construction area, and then the building will be on your left (less than a 1/2 block away). Yes, the address is correct - 4350 N. Fairfax Drive - it's on the bottom floor of an otherwise normal looking office building -just go in, you'll find it.

Second, my rant - hours - what's with us and hours? -- post offices, banks, small art galleries all keep hours when most of the world is at work. Hours for the Ellipse, 11-7, W-F, and 11-2 on Saturday. A few weeks ago, I went to the PostSecret exhibit in Georgetown - hours were 6-10 PM every evening. It was mad packed. Granted, that exhibit has a lot of pop culture appeal (and NPR coverage) right now, but still. BTW - that exhibit was cool, but really, was it all that? What's with this PostSecret phenomenon?

But I digress, back to the Ellipse Photo Show. Summary - if you live or work in the Ballston or Clarendon area - GO. It's worth it. It's free, and there are some really cool pictures there. I wouldn't recommend making a big evening of it or a major event - it's too small for that - but if you are in the area, it is definitely worth it.

As for the pictures, there are some very cool ones. I'm not an art critic, and when it comes to pictures, I tend to prefer ones where I think "how did they do that with a camera?", so you can take my opinions with that grain of salt. But with that being said, my favorites (...drum roll please...)

"Nine to Five" - OK, this violates my normal preferences for "how did they do that" and for color pictures, but I just liked it. It's a picture taken looking up one of the steep Metro escalators (I don't know which one). The angles of the escalator look like really sharp lines, but with the rounded top of the Metro cover. And then you have the small people going up and down the escalator which just make the escalator look really massive - I don't know, I just liked it.

I also liked the one titled "21st Century Artist" - it's a picture of a girl with a paintbrush coming out of a computer - meets my "how did they do that" criteria, plus it's just kind of funky. I also liked the still life of a magnolia which looks like it was taken through a microscope, and there's a picture of a guy by the Colorado River that just looks fake - which is kind of funny. Oh, and probably my runner up favorite - the picture of two bath rugs hugging. Again, how did they do that?

So, as I said - if you live or work in the area, I definitely recommend checking it out. It's well worth the time.