Friday, September 4, 2009

You are not really a "suburbanite" until you master the HD TV, DVD, VHS, Cable connection ... and can actually record something in decent quality

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You're not really a suburbanite until you have tackled three challenges: Setting up the Malibu lights around your well manicured lawn; failed a test naming the "last name" of at least one of your neighbors within a one block radius of your own home; and, most importantly, connected your Cable TV DVR box, your HD TV and your combo VHS/DVD player and recorder.

Who knows any of their neighbors in the suburbs? No one, unless their name has popped up on the Cook County State's Attorney's regularly updated online list of pedophiles who live in your zip code.

And setting up the Malibu lights, at least the first time, is pretty simple. Although replacing the Halogen bulbs is where the real hassle begins. But, once you have the Malibu lights up, who cares if they don't always last with the full suburban glow?

Anyone can move into the suburbs, but you are not a real "suburbanite" unless you can also meet the third and final, challenge. Hooking up the VCR/DVD player and recorder so it actually records and plays through your Comcast Cable TV system into your big screen HD TV.

That is no easy task.

I'm not talking about eliminating the blinking light on the VHS/DVD player where the time is supposed to go. No one sets the time. I don't know why any manufacturer wastes their time installing a clock in a VCR/DVD player or recorder. Mine has been blinking ever since the VHS player and recorder hit the scene in the early 1980s. I think my first video cassette that I rented and then copied was Purple Rain with the funny looking little guy who worked so hard at making me forget his name, it worked. I forgot his name. The guy with no name. Who knows and who cares. His last big song was 1999 and 1999 is long gone. How about we're gonna party until it's two thousand ninety nine? 1999. 2099. Same cadence.

It was easy to connect the VHS to the TV in the old days. You only needed one chord with three plugs at each end. A Red one, white one and yellow one. Yellow was always the video but, as long as each matched the in and out, colors didn't even matter.

Not today. There is a HDMI chord. There is the special HD three color video tetra monster cable. And there are the same old two headed audio cables.

But cable throws a monkey wrench into the system. I want to record all those great cable shows I save on my DVR that eventually disappear as my DVR demands more room. With a wife who watches Desperate Housewives, Brothers and Sisters, and a kid who loves America's Funniest Videos, American Idol, America's Got Talent, Sponge Bob Square Pants, Survivor Man, reruns of that Australian dude who was killed by a stingray, and Dirty Jobs -- not to mention Cash Cab. And me with Entourage, Porno, the cheesy made for SciFi TV movies, Porno, 60 Minutes, Dateline, FOX Chicago News, Porno, HBO and Show Time Movies, Porno -- actually, I'm just kidding about the porno. I'm married and I have a kid. All I have to do is watch regular late night TV to get what I need. Who needs Porno any more? Anyway, that DVR fills up pretty darn fast!

So, before the oldest recordings are automatically deleted, I want to make copies. VHS is the easier to copy too. Plus, there are some movies I love to watch over and over and over again. Independence Day. I'll think of more.

So it's not easy connecting the wires. I have so many wires coming out of the back of my TV cabinet it is unbelievable. And the wires cost more than the VHS/DVD player. And I refuse -- absolutely refuse -- to purchase a Blue Ray player. That's another manufacturer's scam to force me to dump something I already like and replace it with something that is supposed to be far better. I'm not a computer. I'm an average guy who likes my TV and movies.

The difference between Hi Definition TV and Blue Ray is imperceptible. Did I spell that right? It's a word I don't need to really know. Because if something is barely different, I don't want to waste more money on it. Not to even mention that they have overpriced the Blue Ray players and started to drop the VHS/DVD players.

And, it's getting harder and harder to purchase VHS tapes.

I got it all together, finally, today. Until my kid came home and pointed out one slight but very important issue.

I forgot to hook up the Wii system.

Gosh darn it!

-- Ray Hanania

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