Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I am a simple man

I am a simple man

Perhaps this is why I had quite the time this weekend installing my surround sound system with the wireless rear speakers. First, I must as usual clarify things before I continue with my story.

We bought a 50-inch LCD HD television last weekend from Sears. It was a floor model and I determined it was a pretty darned good buy. Though transporting it home without a box in the back of my pick up was pretty dicey. Since the monster truck moving experience back in May, I’m not big on transporting things I really value.

You can’t have a big screen television without a surround sound system. Because to have the total “home theater” experience, you need to have Dolby sound. Though to have a true “home theater” experience, I’d have a bunch of fat people coming into my family room about ten minutes after I’ve stared a DVD, talking loudly and dropping popcorn all around. And then they would have to sit next to me and talk to the screen and each other throughout the movie.

But I’m waiting on investing in the “fat, obnoxious moviegoer” package. In the meantime, I went back to Sears and bought a reasonably expensive surround sound system with wireless rear speakers to avoid those nasty speaker wires that you run everywhere because you are too lazy to hide them under the carpet. I could have lived with the wires, but Tess has made it clear in an unspoken kind of way that aesthetics come first in home d├ęcor. So I voluntarily went down the wireless rear speaker route.

Okay, “wireless” is a misnomer (a nice word for bullshit). The rear speakers have wires that connect to the wireless “receiver” that must sit in the back of the room. It picks up the signal from the surround sound/DVD player in the front of the room.

Now that I have all of that cleared up, I’m going to make a plea for universal, color-coded connections for all audio/video equipment in the world. I almost cried when I looked at the back of the surround sound box and then at the back of the television. There are close to 40 different input/output jacks, all begging you to plug something into them. It’s like a frigging riddle out of a James Bond movie:

“Your challenge, Mr. Bond, is to connect the surround sound system to this 50-inch television and actually get sound out of all five speakers in less than two days or we fill the room with 1000 gallons of water and release hungry sharks.”

Of course, I also have to throw the satellite receiver box into the equation to make all of the connections even more incomprehensible. So, I sat on the floor with all of the cables and speakers in front of me and flipped through the instruction manual which devoted a good portion of the pages urging me not to submerge the DVD player in water.

Okay, after a couple of hours of inputs and outputs, digital signals versus analog, S-Video ports and docking stations, even the most macho guy will start to sob. Every now and then Tess would walk through, shaker her head sadly and leave to unpack more boxes.

For a few brief moments, sound came out of the speakers and then the unit would flash “Check Rear Speakers.” Of course it was the blasted “wireless” puppies that weren’t cooperating. I read the section entitled, “Resetting the rear wireless speakers in the even the unit flashes ‘Check Rear Speakers’.” It suggested reciting poetry and trying again. This didn’t work.

I am going to add the person who designs remote controls to my list of people who deserve to burn in hell. Why do we need so many buttons? There should be three or four buttons that say, “play,” “stop,” “loud” and “Really loud.”  And then I found a hidden compartment on the front of the control that slid back and revealed even more buttons that had mysterious symbols on them. I swear one of them could possible launch a nuclear attack on Albany.

So, I lay there sobbing on the floor trying to get sound out of the surround sound system until Tess came in, patted me on the shoulder and urged me to try again in the morning after I’d had time to calm down. I went to bed and dreamt of coaxial cable and input/output jacks.

Monday I woke up determined to hear sound coming out of my big screen television the way god had intended it to be heard. I checked each and every speaker connection and reset the wireless receiver in the back. Then I checked the connections on television, satellite receiver and DVD/surround sound box. I turned it on and prayed. Nothing.

I picked up the remote and stared at it, waiting for a sign. Then something told me to try something unheard of (no pun intended). I pressed the volume control and wonder of wonders sound began pouring out of the front speakers and sound effects from the rear speakers.

I now believe in miracles.
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