I Want My Gay TV (Part V): Satellite TV–Read the Fine Print and RuPaul–Draggin’ in Another Season of Reality Television

When I moved to my house, I decided that I wasn’t going to lug along my bulky Zenith TV, which I’d had for about 13 years.  It worked well enough, but I had been browsing the electronics aisles for more than a year ladmiring the flat screens.  Anyway, there was a small set with a built-in DVD player in my bedroom that I could take along and use for a while.

But when I had most of the furniture in place,  a desperate corner in the living room just longed for a big-screen TV, so I made excuses to myself about why I didn’t have to wait and could shell out the money for another expense to add to all those others that came from moving into a new place.  The Sears near my old neighborhood had an even-better-than-online price on a Sony that I had been reading up on.  And result is obvious.  They didn’t have one in stock, but would have by the following Saturday, so  I’d have to wait a few more days with the internet and a small radio made to be used in the shower, which had been given to me as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago and that I had stumbled upon hidden in some drawer during the move.  My God! More than a week without TV!  Had Hurricane Ike returned?  And what about the small TV?  No luck there either because I hadn’t yet ordered any type of cable service.

There were a number of choices, but finally I decided on satellite with DirecTV, which I ordered through AT&T.  I was trying to bundle up with my cell, internet, and regular phone services.  Also the house already had the DirecTV dish in place with all the wiring.  The price was right for the Choice Xtra:  $29.99 per month, and with all those HD channels.  I like as many ESPNs as I can get and I wanted Logo (the gay channel), and the Choice Xtra gave me those.

I scheduled the DirecTV installers for Saturday, so that I would be off from work; it was one of those “they’ll be there between 1 and 5” deals.  The problem was the new TV wouldn’t arrive at the Sears store until some time that same afternoon, so I wouldn’t be able to pick it up until after the installers had been there.  Of course, like many of those situations where you have a time slot to wait for service people, these didn’t come until between 4 and 5.  It didn’t take them long to get everything hooked up and the little non-digital TV was tossing out the various channels.

Not long after they had left, Sears called and told me that my Sony had arrived, so I hopped into my car and went to pick it up.  When I got to the store, it seemed like everyone was picking up something, so I had a wait for my TV to come out.  I was a bit surprised by the size of the box, but it fit into back of the hatchback.  Even though the screen size is larger than my old TV, it must weigh about half as much, so while I had to maneuver a bit because of the size, it wasn’t long until I had it out of the box, in place in the corner which had been waiting for it, and finally hooked up to the satellite dish cables.

When I first started flipping the channels, I thought the picture looked a little fuzzy, but I decided that it probably was because I had been watching the smaller TV earlier.  I was so enthralled with the new TV and involved with figuring out the channel line-up that I really didn’t pay that much attention.  I thought the image should be better with an HD TV but because I hadn’t had one before and because satellite reception was also new to me, I figured everything was the way it was supposed to be.

Then about a week later, I was visiting someone who also has a Sony HD, and I thought “Wow, this picture is so much better than mine.”  They said to me, “Are you watching the HD channels?”  “I think I am,” I replied doubtfully.

When I got back home, I started looking at the manual the installers had left me and found “need HD equipment for HD channels”.  I thought that’s what I had.  I looked at the box but couldn’t see any indication.  Then I went back online to the DirecTV site that had the offer for the various service choices and, of course, at the bottom in special notation it says this:

††To access DIRECTV® HD programming, HD Access fee ($10/mo.), a DIRECTV® Slimline dish, DIRECTV® HD receiver and HD television equipment are required. Number of HD channels varies by package selection.

No mention of that option had been made when I talked to the salesperson when I ordered the service.  I’m really surprised because she had tried to get me to buy other services.  I definitely want the HD but I haven’t ordered it yet.  I’ll need time to be at home, and, I’m sure, to wait another four hours for the service people, and there will be charges for the installation for that Slimline dish, I bet, and for the HD receiver box.  If the picture is a little fuzzy until there’s time in January to do that, no big deal.

There’s another charge to watch out for on the DirecTV special offers.  When I got my first bill, I checked for all the specific charges.  One item was for Equipment Protection Plan.  I even got another letter from DirecTV telling me that I had signed up for the Protection Plan @ $5.99 a month.  I knew that I hadn’t signed anything, since I had ordered over the phone and no mention had been made about any such Protection Plan.  There was a number to call if I didn’t want this plan, and they told me if the dish or the receiver had a problem if I didn’t have this plan, it would cost $49.  It seems to me this protection plan is no different than those the stores like Sears and Best Buy try to sell you when you buy some type of electronics; it’s just another way to get extra money out of a customer.

Anyway, for the most part, I like my new TV.  The channel line-up isn’t much different that what I had with TVMax (read my post about TVMax) at my old apartment.  TVMax also had several ESPN channels and Logo.

Even though Logo has a lot of re-runs and shows I don’t watch, I like having the option of watching gay-themed TV shows and movies when I want rather than waiting for “a glimpse of gay” on other channels.  One of the hits of last season on Logo was a reality show called “RuPaul’s Drag Race”–sort of a transvestite  “American Idol” a la “Project Runway”.  The host of the show is RuPaul, singer/drag queen, most known for his/her hit song “Supermodel (You Better Work)”.  It’s similar to “Project Runway” because not only do the contestants perform, and ultimately, there is a winner, but they share living space, so we see also how they interact when they off the stage and out of drag.

I’ve never been one to really get into watching drag performances (lip-synching) in clubs, but the contestants on this show have been well-selected both for their talent and their personalities, so it’s not difficult to be lured into watching the show week after week, pulling for one favorite or another.  The first episode of season two will air February 1st at 8 PM (Central).  Check out some teasers here.  I couldn’t stop laughing at this promo for the show which takes a jab at Sarah Palin’s book cover.  There are drag queens and there are airheads, and RuPaul is certainly not the latter.

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That Little Red Sewing Machine and Women on Tractors

(The following post is from a few months back, but it hasn’t gotten much mileage, and it’s one of my favorites. Now that people are writing and reading more about equality, I thought I’d re-post it.)

The Center Pinwheel for One of the Stars

The Center Pinwheel for One of the Stars

I’m piecing together another quilt.

Sometimes when I’m working on a quilt, I wonder how many other guys out there might be doing the same thing. I doubt very many. I’ve met a few others at quilt shows and guild meetings, but I’d say for every 300 women who quilt, there might be 1 guy who does it, maybe fewer. There are several out there, though, who make a living as quilters and quilt artists.

When I first started quilting eight years ago, I felt somewhat awkward going to fabric stores, but that didn’t last very long. Because I was so intent on getting what I wanted, I soon got over feeling out of place in a quilt store, where the only other guy was some husband standing near the door, ready to bolt when his wife had finished checking out at the cashier. The good thing about being a guy quilter is that everyone who works in the fabric store gets to know you very quickly. I say “the good thing” and mostly it is good because the large majority of the women quilters and those who work at quilt stores are really curious about what I’m working on, and, of course, want to make suggestions. There are a few, though, that give me the impression that I’ve invaded their space; these are certainly the minority. I suppose they are like some firefighters or macho truck drivers who don’t think a woman should be a part of their professions.

In thinking about this tonight, I remembered how lucky I am to have had the parents I had, and unusually amazing, for the humble, Republican-voting people that they were–to give me (well, “Santa gave me”) the Christmas gifts I asked for back in those Eisenhower years–whether it was a tool set or a baking set, an electric train or that little red metal sewing machine (or even the child’s set of China that I still have in its original box)–they never said, “No, you can’t ask for that, because it’s a girl’s toy.” I wonder how many boys’ parents have said that because they didn’t think some toy was “gender appropriate”.

But my parents were part of that group of neighbors and hometown people scratching out a living on quarter-section farms and small town businesses–people that didn’t judge the farmwife who got out on the tractor to plow the fields or on the combine to harvest the wheat because “that is man’s work”. To them, the work just needed to get done, and whoever did it, it didn’t matter.

I don’t know–economic hard times might not be such a bad thing; if some people had to work harder, maybe they’d have less time to be judgmental about other people’s lives.

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You can see one of my quilts here.

Holiday Gifts For You (From Triptotheouthouse)–Wishing You All A . . .

merrychristmas

The thermometer says 48 degrees this morning, probably not very crisp for some of you in the more northerly climes, but a mighty big change here in H-town from the 80 degrees that my car thermometer read about 7:30 last evening.

With my green sweatpants and red jacket, I probablylooked a little like one of Santa’s elves when I took out Annie for her morning “go” at 7:45 this morning. I guess the grey, colder weather had made us both stay snug in bed and not want to get up at the regular 7. Anyway, it’s still cold enough that there’s a “Christmas-y” feel in the air, so I’m in the midst of wrapping presents to put in the car for the drive up to Kansas. The trip is on the long and boring side, especially during this time of year when everything is brown and a bit bleak, but Annie makes a good traveling companion, even when we have to get out at a rest stop and find some grass for her with the north winds whipping at us. But, hey, that’s gets us more in the Christmas spirit, right?

Santa Claus brought me an early Christmas present this year; it’s a JVC Everio camcorder. Supposed to have easy upload of videos to youtube; I have no evidence that it’s easy yet. But the techno-geek gene is not part of my DNA make up, so hopefully with more reading of the manual and more trial-and-error, soon I’ll be able (or later) to put up some of my own videos here.

For now, I have a couple of Christmas gifties (I really like to write the word “gifties” but I would never actually say it–hmm, on second thought, maybe I would) for you, my blog readers. (I know somebody must at least look at my blog because the little “ticker” says that there have been more than 11,000 hits since I started it at the end of July).

Here’s the first one. It’s a video I found that somebody made with the music from my still favorite group from Spain–OBK; the vid itself is from the old TV show “Queer As Folk”, which you may not have seen before because it was on Showtime. Now you can watch it on Logo TV if you get that on your cable. Anyway, this is called “Ultimatum”, just another one of OBK‘s songs that I like (I don’t have this CD yet), and makes me get up from the computer chair and start to dance. I hope it’ll make you do the same! (Listen to another one of their new ones–Tal Vez–on my Vid Box on the right side bar.)

My second present for y’all (I like to say “y’all”, but I hate when I hear people from other places–like California– that have no right to use it using it) is a recipe for some easy Christmas goodies. The name may be a bit deceptive, but my mom made these when I was a kid–so they’re very “old fashioned-y”, and I still make them sometimes. If you want to make something that’s really homemade, that everyone will like, and and that doesn’t take a lot of time, try these. Most of the ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.

Boiled Cookies

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup milk

3 tablespoons cocoa (I like Hershey’s)

4 tablespoons butter or margerine

1/2 cup peanut butter (crunchy is great)

3 cups quick oatmeal (not the microwave kind)

1 teaspoon vanilla

(optional: 1/2 cup chopped nuts)

Boil the sugar, milk, cocoa, and butter for two minutes. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter, oats and vanilla and stir well. Use a teaspoon and drop them onto wax paper or a silicon baking sheet. Let stand at least 1/2 hour or until dry. Store in a air-tight container. (But these will probably get eaten up before you can store them!)

Have yourself some safe and happy holidays.

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Two Too Cool: Little Gifties–Snow in Houston and Pet Shop Boys’ Remix of “Kids”

It was one of those days at work today, all hectic in the morning and then an afternoon that dragged its butt until 5 o’clock (and, no, calling in for “Call in Gay Day” wasn’t really an option. There were just too many things that had to be accomplished that couldn’t have been done any other time. I’m not sure I bought into that tactic anyway.)

When I got outside the wind whipping through the parking garage was bitter cold. The thermometer in my car for the outside temp said 34, pretty dang cold for Houston at 5 in the afternoon in early December.

It wasn’t until I reached the stoplight at the top of my exit ramp that I noticed the white flecks barely hitting the windshield and thought they might be snowflakes. Then after I hurried inside, got Annie bundled up for the cold dash outside for her “business” walk, more of the the moisture was coming down, and when I saw them landing on her black patches of fur, I knew for sure it was snow.

We hopped in the car and headed for our little Logan Park, thinking there’d be nobody else for the evening dog romp, but there in almost a huddle were five hardy or crazy friends and as many dogs managing to have fun in the wind and wet. Annie and I stayed ten minutes at most, both of us ready to get back into the warmth of the car, go back home, and get inside.

Tonight, just a little after 10, we went out for the last “go” before bedtime, there was about a quarter inch layer of snow on the tops of the cars outside, but none had accumulated on the warmer ground.

I don’t like snow when I’m some place where it gets so deep that you have to shovel it and fight it when you drive, but here in Houston, where it’s such a rarity, the snow is a delightful change in the weather.

MGMTNow if you’re a Pet Shop Boys fan like me, here is a fun little “gifty” for you that I ran into (maybe you already have). PSB has made a remix of MGMT’s “Kids” and it’s very PSB. Originally, I found it at: petshopboys.co.uk .  It’s no longer there, but there is a lot of other PSB good stuff.

Check out some other remixes of ‘Kids’ in my Vid Box in the right sidebar.

Hey! I found it again; check it out!