Friday, April 26, 2013

Ancient Tips to Design Your Home Theater – Basic Feng Shui Ideas

Television Showing Pic of Zen Garden
images from istockphoto.com
The Feng Shui masters of 5000 years ago could not have possibly imagined the idea of a modern home theater with wide screen TV, surround sound and motorized leather recliners, yet many basic Feng Shui principles can help enhance the comfort of your home theater space. Many of these principles appear to be common sense ideas about furniture placement, but others are much more esoteric. Following some of these ideas may be the difference between occasional use and frequent movie nights with friends and family. Most of these tips come from an article in AVSforum.com:
Basic Tips:
  • Entry and Exit ways should be unblocked and well lit. They should also be in the front of the room so that none of the home theater seats face with their backs toward the door. Many people don't like to site where they cannot monitor the door to see who stays and who goes.
  • Isolate the home theater from other rooms and appliances. This keeps the focus of your home theater on itself rather than outside objects. Likewise no objects like home theater seats or d├ęcor should be so prominent that it pulls attention away from the screen.
  • Stay away from bright colors or shiny surfaces. These can also distract the audience from the movie, even in a dark room.
Some of the more "out there" ideas include:
Bamboo Plant in Pea Green Pot
image from istockphoto.com
  • Energy enters the room from outside, so make sure that your door opens inward. Also be sure to keep things from blocking the door (and any energy).
  • Live plants keep the room's energy fresh as well as the air.
  • Add curves to your room, especially if the space is square or rectangular. Curved shapes can include round side tables, curved patterns in wallpaper or rugs and even rounded theater seats can all help.
If you really want to take full advantage of the benefits of good Feng Shui design, you can always consult a Feng Shui expert for advice. Just make sure to check their online reviews and whether they are properly trained before contacting them. You can try to decipher the formulas yourself like this article.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Tough Guy Cinema: Michael Bay Honored with BAYMAGGEDON Tribute at the Alamo Theater

Sunday! Sunday!! SUNDAY!!!

An event like this needs to be announced like a monster truck rally or a chainsaw juggling contest.

Baymaggedon Poster for Michael Bay Marathon at Alamo Drafthouse
image from www.drafthouse.com

This Sunday, April 21, lucky filmgoers in four different cities will be able to take part in BAYMAGGEDON. This event honors Michael Bay, everyone’s favorite action movie director and explosion-meister. Baymaggedon will take place this Sunday at all four locations of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema: Austin TX, Denver CO, Kansas City KS, and Houston TX. Guests will be able to enjoy 3 mystery Michael Bay films while munching on a special menu of entrees based on the main characters of Bay’s upcoming film, Pain & Gain.

Whether you love him or hate him, there is no denying that Michael Bay has redefined the action genre with more explosions and less regard for the laws of physics. Alan Cerny aka Nordling of Ain’t It Cool News put it best in his article about Baymaggedon:

“There are a lot of socially-aware filmmakers out there, like Michael Moore, who make movies to expose various injustices in the world.  I know Michael Bay hates poverty.  He hates it with every fiber of his being.  Do you know how I know that?  Because in BAD BOYS 2 he destroys a shantytown in Cuba with a Hummer.  Just devastates it.  THAT is passionate, advocate filmmaking.  He literally runs poverty over.” 
Comet Hitting the Earth Artist Rendering
image from istockphoto.com

Michael Bay films are like chocolate covered popcorn, a guilty pleasure for many people. Plus, there is no better way to test your home theater surround sound system than with a screening of Armageddon or Transformers: Dark of the Moon. So if you are looking for something manly to do this weekend, nothing could be better than watching an explosion-fest while munching on an order of “Paul Doyle’s Carbo Load” or “The Lean and Mean”.  Tickets are still available, so get yours now!

Friday, April 12, 2013

A New Comic Book Based on Early Star Wars Notes: What Could Have Been is Coming Soon!

Deak starkiller vs Darth Vader in The star Wars
Deak Starkiller (Luke's father) fights Sith Knight Darth Vader with a lazer sword. Art by Ralph McQuarrie for early version of Star Wars (image from starwars.wikia.com).

Dark Horse Comics is coming out with a new Star Wars title that is sure to turn Star Wars fans on their collective ears. This new title is a comic book adaptation of “The Star Wars”, an early draft of the script that would eventually become Star wars Episode IV – A New Hope. While the basic story follows that of the final movie, many of the characters and settings are radically different. Here is a list of some of the major changes to be found:
  • Han Solo is a 6-foot green lizard.
  • Luke Skywalker is much older and takes the role later filled by Obi-Wan Kenobi.
  • The young hero is named Annakin Starkiller and not related to Vader or Leia.
  • Darth Vader is a Sith Knight, and plays a much smaller role as an Empire enforcer.
  • Light sabers are called “lazer swords”.
  • Jedi knights have more in common with Japanese samurai, including top knots in their hair.
  • The Millenium Falcon looks completely different (though it does have the iconic cockpit).
  • The Wookiees live on the planet Yavin and play a major role in destroying the Empire’s massive space station (NOT called the Death Star yet).
While there are no plans to adapt this script beyond the comic book series, we all know that successful comics eventually find other mediums to inhabit, whether it be TV, movies or video games. Plus, Dark Horse released over two dozen comics that became movies and TV shows. These include Frank Miller’s 300, The Mask and Timecop, to name a few. With such a track record, you may be able to enjoy this alternative version of a beloved franchise in the comfort of your home theater!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Big Power in Small Packages, 3 Set Top Boxes Under $100

One of the newest technologies to hit home theaters is also one of the smallest. Tiny set-top boxes from manufacturers such as Apple, Roku and WD are not much larger than a can of SPAM™, yet they pack powerful technologies like 1080HD resolution, 7.1 surround sound, wifi support and other great features that help you enjoy the best in streaming TV. In this post we are going to look at three popular set-top boxes and compare their strengths and weaknesses.

All of these boxes share similar features like 1080HD resolution, wifi connectivity, support for major streaming services like Netflix, and smartphone control in lieu of an included remote.

Image from apple.com
Apple TVApple’s set-top box has all of the user friendliness that you get from your iPhone or iPad. It comes with a user interface and remote control that are easy to learn for everyone from small kids to their grandparents. You can also control the Apple TV box with your smartphone or tablet with a handy app. The other handy feature of the Apple TV is Airplay. This wireless system lets you share music, video and image files  from other Apple devices. For example, you can shoot a video with your iPhone and immediately send it to the Apple TV.  One of the major downsides to the Apple TV is the lack of streaming services such as Hulu Plus and Pandora.

Price - $99.99

Image from wdc.com
WD TV Play – Made by Western Digital, the company that has manufactured computer hard drives for years, the WD TV Play is a fully functional set-top box at a smaller price tag than the other two entries on this list. Its remote also offers direct access to some of the more popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Vudu. Another great feature of the WD TV Play is its ability to play music, video and image files from your home network. You can easily watch movies or listen to music stored on your PC or an external hard drive, (one product in this line is the WD TV Live Hub, which has a built-in hard drive for content). The WD TV also reads more video, music and image formats than the competitors, so it eliminates the need to reformat files. The major downside of the WD TV Play box is its video resolution. While it does support 1080HD, the picture tends to look a bit washed out compared to other devices.

Price - $69.99

Image from roku.com
Roku 3 – Roku has been making high quality set-top boxes since 2010, and the Roku 3 is their latest product. This little set-top box has more channels than the other two entries combined. You can find movie and music channels to fit just about any genre and the motion control game remote lets you play popular online games like Angry Birds. The remote also has a convenient headphone jack which allows you to enjoy music or movies privately without wireless headphones. While the Roku does not support as many file formats as the WD TV, it does work directly with Plex, which is an app for your computer that streams any stored content. A built-in USB port also lets you watch .mp4 movies from a flash or external drive. While this is a downside to those who have a home server full of ripped movies, it does offer a workaround, and Roku has been good about providing regular updates to their equipment.

Price - $99.99