Dish of the Gods
  Duesday   August 26, 1997




The Usual Suspects

Sell my computer, fluff up the sofa and tell my agent I'm never writing again. I've got DirecTV.

I'll admit it: I'm a TV guy. I even try to write for TV. But I've never had TV on this scale before. I resisted cable for a long time, but then the Gulf War stumbled along and I had to have CNN so I could get my news fix. Once I got wired I never went back. Even with CNN, though, my cable years weren't happy ones. Every time it rained, or the locals rioted, or the earth shook, I'd lose my cable feed. And when I did have my feed I didn't have the SciFi Channel. Ever. I went through four cable systems -- one of them twice -- and never got the SciFi Channel. But now I'm 90's, baby, I'm money -- I've got the SciFi Channel. I've got satellite. God is in His heaven, I'm camped out on my couch, and all is right with the world.

Let's talk about the remote control unit. This isn't one of those flimsy 3-ounce pressed plastic party favors, this is a serious chunk of electronics. It's weighty, hefty, big and chunky. When you're holding it you're holding it. Using this thing, you can skip a trip to the gym. Heavy enough for a work-out and with buttons for days to work on your dexterity, it's a thing of beauty. And it's powerful, too. A garbage truck drove by and I aimed the remote and hit the "mute" button. Instant silence. Changed the channel and the truck was zapped one block over. This is a remote made for Men.

And then there's the interface. You can set it up with personalized guides to list only the channels each user wants to see, so the guys can screen out dreck like House&Garden, the Food Network, Lifetime and all the other testosterone-ally challenged channels and the women can see only these and ignore the real programming. These user profiles are represented by a little cartoon character that you can modify to your liking, which, believe me, takes some time to get just the right effect. Right now my cartoon guy has a blue face and red pigtails, but that could change tomorrow. There's so many options on this thing that I'm spending more time setting it up than I am watching.

But don't get me wrong, I am watching. With something like 500 channels, how can't I? 15 movie channels, eleventy-seven news channels, a channel for every known athlete in the Western Hemisphere, east and west coast feeds for all the networks... It's a TV guy's dream: so many channels to surf that by the time you've made your way around the dial, something different is on where you started. Beth says that I never watch what's on, I only watch what else is on. DirecTV was made for that.

And did I mention I now get the SciFi Channel? It was a disappointment tonight, my first night, because all that was playing before it went off the air was a Godzilla flick -- "Godzilla Versus The Sexpet," I think -- but I'll be keeping my eye on it. Even if I never watch it again, it's enough to know that I have it.

Whoops, I've gotta cut this short. Something's on. Somewhere. And with DirecTV, I can get it. Waaaahhhh-hoooo!





Copyright 1997
Chuck Atkins