My Design Seats is now carrying My Design Home Theater Seating. That’s no small thing, as My Design makes some of the best custom home theater seating in the business. They’ve been around since 1956, back when the only way to get a home theater was to buy the main street cinema, so they know their stuff!

The My Design seats use the T-Max home theater seating system, designed to accommodate any room size or shape, and there’s 16 (!) styles to choose from. The My Design seats have manual or power recline, three different cupholder materials (including stainless steel), and they’re buttkicker-ready.

The best part, in my opinion, is the C.O.M. (Customer’s Own Material) covering option. You can have them build these seats using fabric you provide! Obviously, this is intended to give you the opportunity to create an absolutely perfect and customized set of seats to compliment the decor in your home theater. When I first heard of it, though, I instantly thought of tiger-print luxury recliners. I wonder what the most unusual material they’ve ever been sent is…

As if that weren’t enough, their warrantees are outstanding. On leather, there’s a 5-year warrantee on splitting and natural scars, as well as cracking, tackiness, peeling, tearing and premature fading. On fabric, there’s a 1-year warrantee on seam failure, fabric separation and nap loss. And on the frame, springs, and mechanisms, there’s a limited lifetime warrantee, with a 2-year warrantee on motor mechanisms. Whew.

If you want custom home theater seats made your way, these My Design seats are definitely the way to go, I think. The C.O.M. option is outstanding on its own, to say nothing of the quality, the warrantees or the designs themselves! Head to and check out the Annular series, and tell me if those aren’t some cool looking home theater seats.

I want a popcorn machine!

I was looking at popcorn machines over at, and
it got me thinking… I could really use
one of these. I daresay I need one.

When I was a younger guy, I worked in a four-screen movie theater
called the Glen Theater, as an usher and concessions
booth worker. And lemme tell ya, was pretty much the best job a 16-year-old guy
could have. The work was easy, and came in very short, very intense bursts,
punctuated by hours of playing cards and talking about movies. We were allowed
to see free movies anytime we liked, with no limit. We got free popcorn and soda,
and the occasional bag of candy. I also had a crush on half the girls who
worked there…

Anyway, Thoreau had his Walden, Lyra had her Oxford, I had the Glen.
Everything about it was perfect, even the imperfect parts.

A big part of the job was keeping the popcorn machine running. It was an 8 oz.
kettle machine, with an automatic oil pump. It was truly ancient- probably older than I am. Nevertheless, it worked flawlessly.

That smell was everywhere. It was completely and permanently
infused into my work shirt- I only had one, after all, and I worked almost
every day- and no amount of washing could cause the shirt to lose that characteristic
popcorn essence. Not that I ever wanted it to, of course; I could be anywhere,
and as long as I smelled that popcorn smell, I was in a good mood. Pavlov would
be proud. Remarkably, over a decade later, it still works that way! I can’t
imagine walking into a theater without smelling fresh, kettle-popped popcorn,
and the minute I step through the doors, any theater feels like home.

Microwave popcorn is nowhere close, in my opinion. I’ve mentioned that I’m
going to have a home theater of my own someday, and I still intend to do so.
When I do, mark my words: it will not be complete until I have a real popcorn machine, popping away, filling my brain with memories via those marvelous
popcorn sounds and smells.

To Serve and Project

Choosing a Projector!

For some people, “big” means REALLY BIG. I’ll be
the first to admit it: I’m one of those people. I like my monsters big. I like
my explosions big. My favorite natural phenomena are stars, oceans, and
mountains, in that order. My ideal pizza is one the delivery guy can’t fit
through the door.

I refer to the Giant Squid as “Medium Squid”.

It turns out, I’m not alone. Lots of home theater owners
aren’t willing to settle for the mere largeness of a plasma screen. For these,
my comrades in bigness, I submit the following guide to the biggest thing in
any home theater: projectors!

Know Your Projector

There’s three types of home theater projector: LCD, DLP, and

LCD (liquid crystal display) projectors work a bit like an
LCD TV screen, passing light through an LCD chip, creating a vibrant, sharp
image. Since it’s really creating a composite from three differently colored
beams, this image is subject to color breakup (the “rainbow effect”)
around the edges, as well as the “screen door effect” of seeing individual,
separated pixels at times. These are best suited to dimly-lit rooms,
auditoriums, and boardrooms.

DLP projectors (short for Digital Light Processing) use a
single digital chip, effectively projecting a digital screen through a single
beam. Great for HD video, with high contrast ratios, and not much pixellation.
These are ideal for home theaters.

3LCD projectors function similarly to LCD projectors. It
shines a single beam of light through three LCD panels, and the light is then
recombined through a prism into a single beam, which comes out of a single
lens. Because the colors are recombined and projected as a single, bright image
(they call this “accurate color registration”), you get the vibrancy
of LCD without the rainbow effect. 

Projector Qualities

There’s a few qualities you’ll see in projector specs that
it’s good to pay attention to.

Projector Resolution: This is the sharpness and clarity of
the picture. It’s measured by the number of pixels, and is often expressed as
the number of vertical pixels used (720p = 1280 x 720 pixels, 1080i = 1920 x
1080, etc). More pixels, more resolution, sharper image! 

Throw Distance: This is how big an image a projector can
create from any given distance. Most manufacturer websites have throw distance
calculators, which are very useful to anyone setting up a home theater and
shopping for a screen.

Keystone Correction: This is a feature that lets you adjust
the image to account for the angle between the projector and the screen. It
“skews” the image accordingly, resulting in a perfect projection
image from an odd angle. 

Contrast Ratio: The difference between the lightest white
and the darkest black the projector can manage. A higher contrast ratio is
always a good thing.

Lumens: The measure of a projector’s illumination. This is
an official measurement established by the American National Standards
Institute (ANSI). More lumens mean a brighter image. Who doesn’t want a
brighter image? 

So Which One?

There’s a lot of projectors out there, all with different
stats and prices. Choosing the right one, as usual, comes down to your own
situation, depending on how much you care to spend and the room it’s intended
for. You might care more about keystone correction than resolution, or be more
concerned with cost than lumens. Hopefully, this little breakdown will be of
some help!

Plasma vs. LCD: FIGHT!

If you’re shopping for a big screen TV, there’s advice all
over the place on which to get. My blog is no exception! This is coming purely
from a home theater point of view. If you don’t care about colors, viewing
angles, or size (say, if you plan to use it to watch Bloomberg Television), my
conclusions might not be what you’re looking for. However, if you want to watch
Lord of the Rings and have your eyeballs melt… then read on!

What are LCD and
Plasma Screens?

An LCD screen is made up of liquid crystal pixels pushed
between glass plates. Current goes through the pixels, and a controlled picture
is created. This is how a digital wristwatch works, basically, only with more
colors and smaller pixels. It’s important to note that the pixels are backlit-
they don’t light up on their own.

A plasma screen, on the other hand, uses millions of little
cells filled with neon and xenon gas. When electricity zaps these cells, the
gas turns into a plasma (hence the name). Each cell is coated in phosphors
(red, green or blue), which fluoresces when the plasma gets charged. Think of a
plasma screen as a sheet with millions of tiny, tiny fluorescent light bulbs,
because that’s basically what it is.

Plasma: None More

One big difference a lot of people find between LCD and plasma
is the deepness of blacks. Plasma screens get a deep, true black, because it’s
made up of tiny lights. Turn the lights off, and you get the absence of light,
which is as black as it gets! LCD screens have a constant backlight, however;
LCD blackness is thus achieved by setting the pixel to block as much light as
possible. There’s always a little leakage, though, so you never get true black,
especially at certain angles.

This viewing angle is another big issue with LCD screens. If
you’re looking at it from the wrong angle, the colors distort and the black
gets even lighter. This has to do with the polarity-shifting mechanism of LCD
technology. I’m told they’re getting better at this, but it’s still annoying,
in my opinion. My new laptop is LCD, and while it’s bright and crisp, the top
and bottom of the screen are usually a little discolored compared to the
middle, because I’m viewing the top and bottom at the wrong angle. I can turn
the screen to fix this, but then the middle’s at the wrong angle.

Plasma TVs are also usually bigger. Most LCDs top out at
about 50″, barring a couple new (and costly) 70-inch models, whereas
larger plasmas are easy to find.

 LCD: More Pixels,
Less Juice

Why would anyone go with LCD TVs? Well, for one thing,
they’re cheaper than similarly-sized plasma models most of the time, and
they’re getting even cheaper by the day. LCDs also usually have a much higher
resolution. More pixels can be better!

There’s also the issue of burn-in. The phosphors used in
plasma screens wear out over time (a long time- 30k to 60k hours). Ever seen an
old arcade machine, where the title screen was still visible even when the
picture changed? Same deal. It’s usually not that bad these days, of course,
since most pictures move around more than a Galaga high-score list, but any
plasma screen’s days are numbered. LCD screens die, too, but usually much later
on in their lives, and there’s no risk of ugly, mucky burn-in.

If you care about power consumption, and you should, it’s
worth noting that LCD uses far less power (as much as 30 percent less than
plasma). That adds up to a lot of clams.

So, which one should
I get?

If you’re talking about a TV screen, and not a computer
monitor, I’d suggest plasma. The viewing angle issue alone should seal the deal
to anyone who plans to put the TV in a family’s living room, and the lack of
true black is, in my experience, not very cool.

LCDs tend to be lighter and cheaper, though, and are fine
for a lot of smaller applications like computers. Cheaper does go a long way,
too; that’s extra money to spend on speakers, DVDs, or  a whole lotta beer. Not to mention the lower
power draw, which (in this age of utility bills gone mad) is a gift that keeps
on giving!

Ten Ways to Recreate the Genuine Moviegoing Experience at Home

You’ve got the curtains, the projector screen, the seats… yet it’s
not quite the same as a night out at the movies. Your home theater is better than going out to see a movie, sure, but is it an accurate reproduction of the genuine moviegoing experience? Well, having worked in a movie theater for years, I’ve come up with the following list of ideas to help you get the true multiplex experience in the comfort of your own home:

10. Turn on the hallway lights, and
prop open the door to the home theater room.


9. Tune a radio to the most annoying
talk radio station you can find. Use it to prop open the aforementioned


8. Invite a friend over to watch the
movie with, and tell him the radio in step 9 is an advanced new radio
that actually turns itself off if shushed at loudly, pointedly, and


7. Leave your soda, candy, and some
wadded-up tissues in the cupholders after the movie. If you can still
conceivably fit an actual cup in there, add more


6. Drizzle a fine squiggle of maple
syrup on the floor, and sprinkle lightly with a garnish of stale popcorn. Don’t
worry about attracting bugs; realism is the goal here,


5. Set your ringtone to “My Humps,”
order a wakeup call for twenty minutes from now, gently toss your phone over
your shoulder, and let the movie magic begin.


4. Buy the brightest emergency exit
sign you can. Two or three, if possible. As a bonus, this might also help you
find your phone in the dark after following step 5. Let’s be honest, there’s
only so much My Humps a person can take.


3. Don’t waste water cleaning those
old gym socks. Wedge ’em between the seats, right next to your head. Save the
environment and smell the ambiance!


2. Watching a noisy horror flick?
Babies love those. Give mom the night off!

And finally,

1. Four words: Fart in a Can.