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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

CEDIA Day 2 - Feet, no mercy for you!

Posted on September 25, 2010 at 8:50 AM

As I write this, it is 11:40 PM on Thursday, which means that I’ve been up and quasi on-the-go for about 17 hours now. I’ve got some Michael Franti (Say de rude boys are back een town. Rude boys!) going on the Renaissance’s iPod integration radio and the blood in my feet has momentarily stopped screaming as I’ve elevated them somewhat at or near heart level so that I can finally concentrate on something other than their muffled shrieks of pain and discontent.


So, to recount the day to really just put you *right there* with me in the trenches, I arrived at the convention center at about 8 and then posted up my blog from this morning. I grabbed a cup of coffee from the press room and then headed off to the first event of the day, an Open House for D&M (Denon, Marantz, Boston Acoustics, McIntosh, Escient, Snell). Got the booth walk-thru and talked to Kevin Zarrow about whether or not I needed to upgrade my Marantz processor that I have been heretofore totally pleased with to the new model that Marantz released, because, well, it’s the new model. While Kevin was totally trying to be politically correct and hedgy about it and saying how great my model sounded and that in certain circumstances mine might actually be the kind of, possibly better choice, I can tell that in every other respect, I totally won’t be happy until I’ve upgraded to the new model. In fact, I’m already not able to sleep knowing that my unit has been outmoded by this new model’s cool round, porthole view window, better Audyssey processing and FLAC audio streaming. I assure you, talks to trade up shall begin in earnest upon my return to civilization. Oh, yes! She…will…be…MINE!


So as you’ll recall from yesterday’s post, I was bemoaning having to cover a press event for Antennas Direct. I’m not sure why, but covering the antenna event become the symbol for all that was boring and lame about writing about the show and the entire time that I was at D&M, just when I would start to enjoy myself, I would hear the steady tell-tale heart beating away, ever vigilant in its reminder that time kept drawing nearer and nearer for my inevitable date with a soul-crushing destiny. It’s like someone who slowly starts to feel good about themselves, and then walks by something reflective and is painfully reminded that they have a giant weeping wound. On their face. Next to the upside down nose the doctor is growing off their forehead to replace the nose they lost to frostbite when trying to climb Everest and getting ditched by the second-rate Sherpa they hired a mile outside of base camp. I tried texting Kirsten and telling her that there had been a sudden newsflash that they had actually called off the event due to total disinterest and a mild sense of anger, but she responded with the sobering news that they were direly short on pages and that now not only did I need to cover it, but that they wanted somewhere around 500 words on antennas. A bit of my soul broke off and fell to the floor where a piece of its soul then in turn broke off. So I sacked up and headed over early and just approached the main guy with the straight up, “Hey, we both know that no press are actually going to cover your antenna event, so I’m here to write up something for the Daily and let’s get this party started. Me and you style. What is the message that you’d like me to convey to everyone? And try to keep it from being soul-witheringly lame and boring, although I know that’s impossible since we’re actually are talking about antennas, a technology that dates back to Woodstock when it was still considered boring and uncool.” (I might have interpolated a bit.) Shockingly, Antenna guy was really excited about his product which in turn pulled me out of my malaise and allowed me to get excited – OK, let’s not get crazy; allowed me to get slightly less suicidal – about the previously considered Bhutan death march of an assignment before me. So I note it up in my little notebook, race back to the Daily room, where I whip my notes into something brilliant, explain to Mary and Kirsten that I was about to send them something brilliant, send the brilliance, and then stand up and start immediately bugging them until they read it and acknowledged that, yes, it was indeed brilliant. All told, I managed to string together 400 inspired words on the subject that actually made antennas seem frickin’ compelling and interesting. My story was so damn good, that when I was re-reading over it, I actually started to feel like I might need an antenna!


While in the room I also finished my write up of SIM2’s news from the show, made a good bit easier as I had actually pre-interviewed the marketing guy the day before and filled my story with new quotes not found in the press release, or what I like to call “freshies”. So at this point I’m thinking, I’ve almost made it! Sweet, Jebus! It’s nearly over! I only have one story left for the show! Then a full day-and-a-half of John time!


After that Herculean task was accomplished, and with my ego stroked into a sated state of quiet content, I felt that lunch was well deserved, so I headed to the press room and found they were serving Mexican food. I loaded up a plate with things like beans, spicy chili, salsa, jalapenos and goopy nacho cheese. All the food line needed was a jar of Colo-Max pills at the end to really complete the thorough lower GI tract cleanse they were trying to encourage of the press corps. After slamming down the lunch and a Coke, I’m readying to leave when I get a call. From Kirsten. “Are you still eating lunch? We need you to come back for a bit of an emergency.”


There is usually nothing like an emergency to cut into upcoming John time, but I duly head back and find out that some crisis has reared its company founding head, and now I need to clear an hour to interview the founder of Lutron and then write a story that basically establishes his LEGACY! Holy crap, no pressure. This guy has only patented like 260 things, been inducted into the Smithsonian and heads the largest lighting company in the world. No problem! Let me just jot down a few notes to establish a quick legacy for him!


Slightly troubled, apprehensive and a little downtrodden because my afternoon of skipping and frolicking amongst glossy black electronics had just been neck punched, I headed to the Runco press event that was SO far away, I’m not even sure it was actually still even in Atlanta. When I asked the CEDIA helper people how to get to the C Building, there was that brief look of panic someone gets when they realize that they have to deliver some truly horrible and devastating news. “Ummm, yeah. About all of that money of yours that we sunk into that ‘sure thing.’ That was Enron. So. Uh. Yeah. Enron.” Fortunately the 15 minute walk was totally worth it as the Runco demo had the BEST 3D I’ve seen so far at the show. (At this point, I feel like I’m a qualified expert since I believe I have seen all the 3D demos. ALL…OF…THEM!) They have licensed Real-D’s technology and use a passive system that is the closest thing (identical?) to what I’ve experienced in the theater and didn’t make the two hemispheres of my brain feel like they were trying to slowly tear apart, swap places and then wage war on each other.


So, rinse and repeat the return to press room and file bit, where I plop into my cushy executive black leather chair (teasing my feet and calves with the possibility of a respite from the war I’ve been waging on them) with Mary to my left and Kirsten in her eternal-as-the-Sphinx, as-sure-as-death-and-taxes chair to my right.

I head to the SIM2 press event where I sit through another 3D demo (see; I wasn’t lying about my experience with the 3Ds). And while this wasn’t painful per se, it didn’t make me want to whip out the checkbook and write a bouncy check for $80,000 either.


So I go BACK to the press room (and all this time you thought CEDIA was about the show floor! Ha! It’s really about walking to and from the press room with just tantalizing glimpses of the show floor thrown in just often enough to remind you that it’s there. Kind of like a nuclear sub guy that gets an occasional peek through the “Up periscope!” ) and await the arrival of Lutron’s founder. He comes in and we talk for like 45 minutes. I can tell that he would be content to go on. And on. And on. So I finally say, “Well, our deadline is 4:00 so that gives me about 15 minutes to write all of this up and get it filed. So…” Unfortunately he took my verbal dot-dot-dot to mean “So…let’s spend some more time together talking!” In fact, he said, “Why don’t we go through all of your notes to make sure you got everything.” Uh. Wait? What? Really? Did you just ask me that? Because that’s not really SOP. Like ever. So I convince him that no-no, really, there’s no need, my notes are fine. He leaves and I gets to typing and manage to put something together that greatly pleases their PR lady. And since I totally hinted that I’d love some more lighting control gear, hopefully greatly pleased myself as well.


So back to the floor where I have about two hours to cram in as much stuff into the cram hole as possible. At some point, the part of my soul that broke off from antenna-gate grew back, but it was fragile and itchy like new skin. Sadly, I passed by the Pioneer booth, and that new part immediately withered, turned black and died as I saw that Pioneer was now showing a Panasonic Plasma at their booth. Oh, Kuro-san…so deep, so black, so penetrating, so full of delicious entendre possibilities. You shall be missed!


I took in a few demos, set up some review possibilities and then jumped on the shuttle bus (Route #10, Lavender) and headed back to the hotel where I met Peter Hoagland (aka – The Priceline Negotiator!) where we went to a terrific place for dinner called Agave. I’d call it Mexican food but that would simultaneously insult this restaurant and give far too much credit to what I had for lunch. The chips, salsa and guacamole were all terrific as was the tasting menu they prepared for us. Ate with the guys from BG and a couple of other members of the press. Notably absent was…Darryl W. who was totally supposed to be here. Turns out he was sick today and bailed on the whole show and spent the day in his room. I tried bating him out with the text, “Stop being a bitch. Get out of bed. Get in a cab. Sack up and come to dinner” but proving he was truly under the weather, Darryl completely ignored the taunt and remained MIA.

Categories: September 2010, Electronics, CES/CEDIA

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