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The Solo Tailgater

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Some people are popular and some people work all day, but very few people are both. If you're not the type to retain a solar system of friends at beck and call, not inclined to investing the kind of time schmoozing popularity demands, or, I don't know, just not the kind of warped narcissist that needs constant popular approval and affirmation, not the type that values possessions and activities for their exclusivity, that jumps the crest of a meme and poo-poos the tardy, that knows what it means to "rule the tweet" and the allure of updating one's status, if you're not a modern popular person, do not want to be a modern popular person and truly can not be a modern popular person, it's very probable you're going to do some things alone.

My friend Ian once described me as "a bit autistic," but of course that's ridiculous. Not every behavioral oddity needs a diagnosis. It is correct to say I am different in some ways. I don't filter information well and busy places can overwhelm me with traces of conversation and muzak and motion, but I can't be the only person that feels anger and distress when "Counting Blue Cars" or some other such atrocity follows you down ever aisle.

That and that I don't find people particularly interesting, not that I'm a misanthrope -- if only. I spend a lot of time alone and a lot of time working on personal projects. It's my nature. I'm not aloof, just isolated.

Oh yeah, this is a Captain Morgan whatever. Drink up, boys and girls.

I watch football alone. I watch Saturday and Sunday and Monday and typically Thursday too, alone. So party favors and proper dip are not priorities. Quality is. I like quality. I'm a poor kid born with rich tastes and that means some craft is required.

So I have to write something that globally is about the periphery of enjoying a game, and this week I want to write about the speaker system I assembled. Audiophiles will roll their eyes. Bose, Boston, Dynaudio, Klipsch and the like are not within my universe of shopping options. But I don't want crap. I can not stand crap. So this took about two years.

The key for me was patience, research and Goodwill Industries. With those tools, I was able to assemble a ~$2,000 system for about $200. Also, a friend helped me out.

It took a lot of time and little guile, but I landed a nearly new  Denon receiver. When you're buying an aftermarket home electronic with a lot wires and parts, and you're not quite at the level where you can do much to fix it, condition becomes paramount. It's superficial and speculative, but one can infer a lot about the overall quality of a product from its face -- for instance: the one I bought was immaculate and still had stickers on it -- the turn of the knobs, and most importantly, the quality of inputs and outputs on the back. It takes a little while to put it through its paces, connect speakers for sale in the same department, hook up inputs and outputs, but if you can't spend big but want quality, work is the only bridge. You'll draw glares. You'll draw attention brandishing a screwdriver or a butter knife if you didn't prepare properly, a little popular resentment is worth it.

It took dozens of trips leaving empty handed, but the one I settled on seems like a bad ass little unit. They day I found it, someone else was going through the paces, testing everything, looking everything over, and I did the snake in the grass thing and bided my time (screw you Google spell check. That is a word.) and struck when the person left, presumably to research and think it over. Been there, done that, lost out and I was prepared this time. It took a long time but I picked up an AVR-1908 in as-new condition for a hundred bucks.

The center and surround speakers are Polk Audio M series. 30 bucks on those. Got a couple Cerwin-Vega towers just recently and had to fix one, but they kick mid-range and blow the doors off when I crank em. Those were 50. The subwoofer is a JBL that's about twice as big as the receiver and very warm. That was a gift from a friend, but I hope to replace it eventually and give it back to him.

The thing about a nice audio system and football is that it makes football, I don't know, immersive. You can hear chatter and some of the stranger found sounds picked up by the field mikes. It's good, it's good for me to take something I love and really max out the quality, because I'm not a broad but shallow type. I left my dilettante ways in my teenage years. I watch football for football, and not as a way to drink beer with buddies, or avoid chores, or gorge and loaf. I don't know if it's a tailgate, or the intended purpose of this series, but it's how I watch and how I love football and sports, and music and movies and just about everything, alone or with my wife, and tuned into what I'm doing, and not multitasking, which I'm miserable at, and as fully as I can do it.