Ignite: Getting to know you - in five-minute sound bites

The Baltimore Sun

There's no time to mince words.

Tonight, 16 speakers from different corners of the city's arts and culture scene will discuss a wide range of topics at a bar on North Avenue. The catch? Each one has to cram 20 slides into a five-minute minipresentation. The free event, called Ignite, takes place at the Windup Space in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District.

Ignite may be new to Baltimore, but the idea has been around since 2006. Cities from Seattle to Paris have held Ignite events. Baltimore Ignite coordinator Mike Subelsky saw the idea online and wanted to bring it to this city. He and the other coordinators enlisted WYPR radio producer and host Aaron Henkin, the Rev. Amy Sens and several other speakers for the event.

"I went through the list of cool people I'd known about that I'd like to meet and invited them," Subelsky said. "I wanted to make sure there was a diversity of subjects with no constraints," he added. "I feel like everybody can be fascinating for five minutes."

Judging from the schedule, it's safe to say the inaugural Ignite won't drag. The evening begins with free pizza from nearby Joe Squared and an hour of mingling. Then comes an hour of presentations, another hour of mingling and another round of presentations.

The topics are certainly broad enough - they include everything from the current energy landscape to safer, more nutritious food. And Brent Halliburton from advertising.com will share 100 mistakes he'll try not to repeat. That's 20 mistakes a minute.

After all the talks are finished, attendees can continue to carouse well into the night. In fact, Subelsky hopes participants make friends and start new projects together.

"I really want people to be able to meet new people they wouldn't otherwise have been able to meet," Subelsky said. "The bar holds 243 people. I hope we get 243 people."

Looking for fans

It sounds odd - an Italian grill and cafe morphing into a sports bar.

But for Tiburzi's, the transformation wasn't that much of a stretch.

When Tiburzi's first opened about five years ago, the Canton corner eatery felt more like a neighborhood bar than a restaurant. There were video games and TVs, and the bar itself took up a large portion of the first floor.

Well, at least they didn't have to change much about the interior when they flipped it from a restaurant to a sports bar. But the question is, does Canton really need another sports bar?

Two of the roughly six draft beers were kicked when my friend Chuck and I were there last week. I ordered a Clipper City, and Chuck had a weakly made Tanqueray and tonic.

We shared a pound of delicious steamed shrimp and side of tough, cardboard-like french fries. If Tiburzi's wants to make it as a sports bar, it definitely needs to serve better fries.

At 900 S. Kenwood Ave., Tiburzi's is only a few blocks from Canton Square, which already has plenty of sports bars. And from what I saw, the new Tiburzi's doesn't really distance itself from those bars. I just can't see Tiburzi's becoming a destination joint.

Sure, the service was friendly and the prices reasonable, but nothing really stood out. The place was clean but decidedly generic. That means it's up to neighborhood regulars to keep the place afloat.

I hope, for Tiburzi's sake, they can.

So (un)necessary

Now that the word is out about drinking games like beer pong, companies are selling all kinds of accessories.

The Web site kegworks.com even sells an inflatable floating pool beer pong table. With this handy-dandy device, you can play beer pong in the pool. Don't have a pool? No problem! It comes with grommets and ropes so you can hang it from a tent and play almost anywhere. Joy!

Well, I guess there is one problem: It costs $59.95, plus shipping and handling. See, that sounds steep. But you have to remember - most of the people buying the inflatable whatchamacallit are college kids with roommates. Split four ways, you can purchase one of these for a mere $15 per person (plus shipping).

Now, this is either the pinnacle of awesomeness or the most worthless waste of money since the bread machine you bought your buddy for his wedding. You decide.


Ignite Baltimore starts at 6 tonight at the Windup Space, 12 W. North Ave. Free. Go to ignitebaltimore.com.

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