May 24, 2009 - Public Ridicule
by Doug Schneider

I read somewhere that the biggest fear for many people is making a complete fool of themselves in public. Who can blame them? It's not a lot of fun to look like a fool in front of others. Unfortunately for me, it has happened twice -- both times in Munich.

The first time was about five years ago, when Sony was first introducing the Qualia 004 projector -- the one with the ultra-bright xenon bulb -- and they had a press event, which they invited me to. Probably for the last time.

I stood near the back of the room and quickly become bored because the entire presentation was in German and I couldn't understand a thing. So, not long after the talking started, I began looking for things to do. Pretty soon I spotted a remote control that was on a table in front of me and I started playing around with it. My finger eventually found the Power button and turned the 004 on full blast, blinding the guy speaking at the front of the room -- and it wouldn't turn off! The last thing I remember before I hung my head in shame and ran for the door was all the faces looking back at me. I could read all the minds at once, and they were thinking, What an ass.

The other time I embarrassed myself in public was today, in Crystal Cable's elegantly set up display room, which featured the company's Arabesque speakers and new glass racks. Just my luck, my moment of self-induced foolery happened when the room was packed.

For whatever reason, while I was in a listening seat my eyes were drawn to the back of the room, and I began to wonder exactly how Crystal Cable secured the backdrop for the display. Since I couldn't figure it out from the chair, I went to the back of the room, looked behind the backdrop, and discovered the secret to it. Content with knowing, I began to make my way back to the listening area, not noticing...

...the two Crystal Cable Dreamline power cords on the floor. I don't really have to explain what happened next, but I will anyway. My left foot ended up pulling both cords from the wall, resulting in a collective "gasp" from all the people in the seats. What I remember now is the same thing I recall from five years ago -- a whole room full of faces looking at me and thinking, What an ass. The only thing I was thankful for was that at least I didn't fall flat on my face on the floor.

On a positive note, the folks from VTL and dCS, the companies whose electronics were in use, can be happy that I proved to everyone there that if you inadvertently kick a plug out of the wall, no harm will come to your system. Everything just went silent, and then music played fine again afterwards. The only damage was to my ego -- again.

If you're one of the many whose biggest fear is making a fool of yourself in public, I can certainly understand why. Having done it twice now in Munich, the only thing I can hope for is that it's many more years until I make a similar kind of mistake. Time will tell.