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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

The Garage Theater

Posted on April 15, 2010 at 9:30 AM

My high school friend and occasional commenter, Craig, sent me an e-mail a few days ago asking if I had ever done any stories on baby-proofing your home theater. (I actually have done a column on it for S+V shortly after Lauryn was born.) And while this is something that I plan on revisiting here in the future, I knew the perfect person to ask to step up and handle the first guest blog spot: my friend Dan. You see, Dan is much like my Obi-Wan; older, wiser, and less in-tune with the Dark Side. For MANY years now, Dan has been proselytizing about the concept of a garage theater system. (Though when he talks to me about it, it is usually punctuated with a shaking finger and gloomy predictions of my future.) And, admittedly, there is perhaps no better way to kid proof your theater than to *entirely* remove it from your home. So, without further adieu, I turn you over to Dan. But beware: He’s a silver-tongued Devil and he’ll have you parking on the street to watch movies if you aren’t careful!


This idea may seem unorthodox to many upon first glance. "Why on earth would I go into my garage to watch a movie?" Why indeed! First of all, there are certain prerequisites and circumstances that are needed in order for the garage system to make sense. First and foremost, you obviously need a garage. I don't recommend carports. Sure, it would be great on a nice summer evening. Kind of like a drive- in. However in this cruel world that we live in, I'm betting that the next day your system would be gone. Poof! Hope you had theft insurance. (John’s note: Plus, just try watching something a little “blue” and see your neighbors start looking out their windows in shock/horror. Or, perhaps worse, having them want to come over and, say, “join in on the fun.: )While attached garages will work, the ideal system is a detached building. I am fortunate to have the latter. As far as prerequisites, that about covers it.


Now for the circumstances. First of all, if you live by yourself, this system makes absolutely no sense for you. As a matter of fact, you probably didn't even read this far. (John: Wait! I know how to stop people from leaving: 3D TV! 3D TV!) You can put your Theater ANY place YOU want! Living room, kitchen. Put it in the bathroom if it fits. In fact, I didn't start out with a garage system. I progressed (regressed?) into it. Here is how it happened:


My wife and I began our marriage with a 27-inch TV set with only the speakers that RCA put into it. As time went on I purchased a “giant” 32-inch Sony XBR, a set that John had been trying to relieve me of for many years. (John: Seriously---the stand this thing was sitting on WAS NOT SAFE! I feared for Dan’s kids. You could hear every fiber of that press board crying out in agony under the strain of that lead-filled monster.) I made this purchase while my wife was at work. When she came home, I was watching this new TV and asked her if she noticed anything different. She didn't until I subtly brought her attention in the direction of the Sony. 'It's big," she said. And we begin...


It wasn't much later that John explained to me that with external speakers, and requisite audio equipment that I would really be able to appreciate movies soooooo much more. Even back then, John was the expert on equipment. His recommendations to me were like commandments."Thou shalt beget Definitive Technology speakers! With Thy speakers, Thou must also obtain a Denon receiver." (John: Don’t forget about our matching Pioneer combo DVD/LD player purchases!) With his help, I purchased everything he commanded. And it was good. Then my wife saw it. "What a rat’s nest of wires. Those towering speakers are tall. Won't they fall over in an earthquake? This won't work when we have kids."

Then we had kids.


Now it's one thing to keep a toddler from crawling into the wires. It's also something when they want to try and push over one of the speakers. My wife begrudgingly tolerated this. Here is where the shoe dropped. Hard. As the young ones started to comprehend the English language and repeat new words and ask questions about new situations, my Living Room Theater was doomed. Don't think that I only watch movies that are truly heinous and violent. (John: Struggling to keep quiet hear, but there’s honor amongst thieves and partners in crime....) I watch others too. As a parent, even 'PG 'movies are pushing the envelope sometimes. I won't get specific, but you can forget about anything beyond straight PG. And as far as watching goes, f it's anytime after dinner, it's too late and too LOUD! "Kids gotta sleep. It's past their bedtime."

"Yes dear.”


So dies the living room theater.


Now I'm out in the garage. BLAST those speakers! Crank them up! It's what they do! I have a 50" Samsung HDTV. My next one may be 100. Nobody will tell me that it's too big here. Nobody! I have some buddies over to watch a man flick, somebody spills a beer? No worries, the floor is cement! Spilled popcorn too? I'll get it after the movie is over. Or not! After awhile it just adds character. Some have the luxury of having a dedicated room in their house for a Theater system. (John: Don’t listen to him, John’s Theater! I love you! Let’s never break-up!) My rebuttal is that the bass carries everywhere. Why, once I was with some friends (this very same John and Pierre) watching a movie when John lived at the Orinda Country Club. We were in an upstairs apartment. John was taking advantage of his subwoofers to watch a spectacularly loud fight scene from Mortal Kombat only to get a call from his wife (who was working downstairs near the other end of the very large building at the time) to inform him that she could “feel” the bass from where she was at and the members were complaining.


I really enjoy my system. Those of you that are single don't understand. You can't. Those of you married with young children know by now that you want one.

Dan Masri

Categories: April 2010, Movies, Guest Blog

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