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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Ahmadinejad and Chavez: A Love Feast of Dictators, and Don’t Forget the Hezbollah Appetizers

"Meet me behind the hotel at 11 o'clock, and we'll see what other conniving we can do."

"Meet me behind the hotel at 11 o'clock, and we'll see what other conniving we can do."

Knowing a second language has a lot of benefits, and for far too long, most Americans have stuck their heads in the sand and thought because they know English, they have an advantage and don’t have to learn another language.  However, being fluent in two or more languages opens up so much more of the world.

Personally, I read a number of foreign language sites every day; some are news sites and some focus on some topic or interest that I have.

Usually at night time, I check abc.es, an online news site from Spain.  That way I can see what is happening in the world, usually before sites like cnn.com or msnbc.com pick it up.  Reading the news out of another country also gives a different perspective and often there is news that isn’t even highlighted by the U.S. media.

Such was the case in an article I read last night: Arranca la gira de Lieberman para frenar la expansión de Irán en América Latina, which tells about Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s 10-day visit to Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Colombia.  (Read a similar AP article in English.)

What I didn’t realize before reading the article, but have since corroborated through other sources is how much influence Iran and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, which Iran backs, have in Latin America.  Apparently, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have become BFFs and anyone who has been paying attention knows that both of these guys have found ways to manipulate the systems of their countries in order to stay in power. Hezbollah, for its part, because of connections with Lebanese immigrants to countries like Venezuela, seems to have gotten involved in that old Latin American standby–kidnapping; and not unlike other rebel/narco-terrorist groups (i. e. FARC in Colombia), uses the ransom money extorted from victims’ families as a way of supporting itself.  (Check out this in-depth article for more details.)

Chavez and Ahmadinejad negotiated a number of deals, and it’s not difficult for those who keep up with current events to see what is going on.  Chavez already has his emulators in office in several of the Latin American countries, the latest being Zelaya from Honduras.  And although there are those who are decrying the coup that pushed him out of the country as being un-democratic, what Zelaya was doing was trying to circumvent his own country’s constitution in order to allow himself to stay in office longer, nothing different than what Chavez did a few years back.  These guys don’t really want democracy built upon a long-standing constitution; they want to create their own “democracy”, which in effect validates their dictatorship. 

As for Ahmadinejad, anyone who is not aware of the corruption in the last election in Iran is walking around with blinders on, but what goes for democracy in Iran is only pretense anyway; there is no democracy when a malevolent theocracy is in place.

As citizens of this world, we need to remain informed, as having as much information as we can is a big part of maintaining our freedom and a way to make decisions about who we support or don’t support as leaders in our own countries.  And with the Internet, we also have the ability to access many sources besides our daily print newspaper.  Of course, we must also be able to judge the veracity of these sources and extricate the biases inherent in them.

Lest you think I have some kind of slant here based on religion or otherwise, let me say, “I don’t”.  From my own personal viewpoint, I see that these guys are bad guys, bad guys who want to have power and control over millions of peoples’ lives.  And, yes, the U.S. government doesn’t like these guys either, but in reality, they are not so different from Pinochet or Marcos, whom the Reagan and Thatcher governments supported only 20-some years ago.

A dictator is a dictator is a dictator and they are like noxious weeds in the gardens of this planet.