Author Archives: charlesprogers
Post by Mark T. Locker.
I know it’s summer and scary movies aren’t what people usually think about until the pumpkins grow. But, I watch movies so infrequently that I have to report on what I’ve seen. And I watched The Cabin in the Woods the other night. In bed. This is not your typical horror movie, but it builds on those archetypes found in all the typical horror movies. In classic Joss Whedon fashion, he plays on those stereotypes in an entertaining and self-conscious manner.
As in most slasher movies, five friends, each of whom fits nicely into a stereotype: jock; nerd; virtuous girl; not-so-virtuous girl; comic relief, head out to a creepy old cabin in the woods to party for the weekend.
What they don’t know is that they are entering a curated horror movie, in which all their moves are being watched and buttons are being pushed to gently nudge them to certain actions. When they stop for gas at the run-down gas station, the creepy old attendant warns them of the old cabin. Classic horror movie stuff. He is a hired part of the whole experiment, and is referred to as the “harbinger”.
It’s an interesting take on the classic slasher/zombie horror flick. It’s bloody, but also funny, and also a little scary. If you watch this one in bed, I hope your dreams are better than mine were!
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
In the past, I’ve talked about some of the best bedroom colors to pick for your bedroom. In a nutshell, there are a few basic colors that tend to work better in a bedroom than others: neutrals, earth tones, and blues. While color preferences vary widely, and there an infinite shades of colors within those broad groupings, the goal of designing your bedroom is almost always the same — to create a tranquil environment that helps put your mind and body at ease. Think about it: fire-engine-red walls may look cool, but it the color is loud and energetic. Some even associate the color red with anger. Is that the kind of energy you want to create in your bedroom? Perhaps, though most will agree that such energetic colors are best used in other areas of your home.
Selecting a color palette that works can be difficult, especially if you’re new at it. I know that I often let my wandering mind get the best of me, and have trouble settling on a limited set of colors. Fortunately, technology has come to the rescue providing us with some helpful resources to ensure you get it right the first time. One such tool that has been a tremendous help for me is Adobe Kuler.
Kuler, a free app for the iPhone by Adobe, helps you select a great color palette almost effortlessly. The app works by using the camera on your iPhone. Simply point the camera at your favorite piece of art or a set of objects that you like, and the app automatically generates a simple color scheme based on that picture for you. It’s actually quite impressive.
Best of all, you can save your themes and use them as a reference when you’re out selecting wall paper, paint, bedding, window treatments, or decorative objects for your bedroom. The application is equally useful for graphic designers who need to come up with color palettes for websites and print work.
For more info, or to use the desktop version of the app, head over to the Kuler website. You can also explore color themes that other users have created.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett
For those who know Jan Brett’s oeuvre, she is best known for retelling European folk and fairy tales: the Mitten; Red Riding Hood; Goldilocks and the three bears to name a few. In Armadillo Rodeo she shows her American side, taking readers to the hills of Texas. It’s a silly sort of story, about a mother armadillo and her four children, one of whom, Bo, is always distracted, always getting into trouble. When he sees that girl with the brand-new bright red cowboy boots, Bo inexplicably mistakes that boot for a red armadillo. (The author blames this on poor eyesight, but really!)
Intrigued by this unusual new friend, Bo follows the girl with the chili pepper-red boots all over and gets a glimpse of some down-home cowboy living. From bronco riding, to barbecue to hoedown, this adventure has all that Texas living has to offer!
As with all of Jan Brett’s stories, this one is beautifully illustrated. I don’t think the story is quite up to snuff of her others, but my four-year-old may disagree. Implausible plot points seem to be lost on him :-/
Post by Mark T. Locker
Last night while channel surfing, I happened across a very interesting cartoon. It was three Indian shadow puppets discussing the Indian epic tale, the Ramayana. I was quickly hooked on Sita Sings the Blues which is truly unlike any other movie, much less cartoon, that I’ve seen. A mix of old jazz, even older Indian myth, and a modern story of heartbreak, this movie is an unlikely mish-mash that somehow works perfectly.
The shadow puppets discuss, as three regular folk might, the story of the Ramayana, about the ruler Rama and his wife Sita. This take on the ancient story is focused not on Rama but Sita, her trials and sorrows and joys. Interspersed with the dialogue about the story are musical numbers in which Sita sings the music of 1920’s jazz singer Annette Hanshaw. It sounds like a stretch, but it works incredibly well. So well that it’s hard to believe they weren’t intended to be together. The third, and least prevalent, part of the movie is bits about the creator’s own experiences of love and betrayal in India. But these parts, although illustrating how she came to make this feature, don’t hold a candle to the rest of this movie.
I love finding something while channel surfing and being so captivated that I watch the whole 90 minutes. What’s best is that Nina Paley has made her movie freely available on her website. So go look it up and watch it on your laptop in bed tonight!
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
From time to time, I come across very cool technologies coming to the world of interior design. In the past, I’ve introduced you to Smart Lighting systems, which together give you control over the lighting of your home. There are other products out there that give you wireless control over the HVAC system of your home too. Ever fascinated with advances in home automation, I wanted to share one of my more recent discoveries: the future of modern window treatments, the digital shade.
Essentially, a digital shade is a film that you can apply to existing windows, much like traditional window tint. Digital shades, however, allow you to control the amount of light that passes through the window itself. Digital shades, like the ones being developed by SONTE, use an innovative film that reacts to changes electrical current. When a charge is passed through the film, the transparency of the film (and the window it’s affixed to) is reduced giving you instant privacy. It’s easier to understand the effect by watching this video.
Digital shades not only offer you privacy in your bedroom, bathroom, home office, or home theater, they also help control the interior temperature of your home by controlling the amount of sunlight that comes into your home, blocking UV rays, and reflecting infrared. A triple threat! No longer will you have to worry about forgetting to close your blinds during the hot summer months (or actually having to walk over to the window to do it), as these WiFi enabled digital shades can give you instant control over your windows with the swipe of a finger on your mobile device.
You can read more about SONTE’s digital shades here.
What do you think about digital shades? Would you install them in your home? Let us know what you think in the comments below.