Tuesday, January 08, 2008

From Barack to Britney

Once around the news cycle:

It's January, when the nation's media converge on two places that usually fail to capture the undivided attention of most Americans: (1) New Hampshire; (2) a trade show in Las Vegas.

Once every four years, the state of New Hampshire becomes the scene of more political intrigue than the Roman Senate. That's become it's home to the nation's first primary which draws approximately one presidential aspirant for each five residents.

All you need to know about New Hampshire: It ranks 44th in total area and 41st in population in these United States. It's known as the Granite State because that term correctly reflects the facial expression of most of its residents.It has given us Horace Greely and Adam Sandler.

Its Mt. Washington claims to have "the worst weather on earth" due to hurricane force winds that buffet it on an average of every three days. Average annual snowfall ranges from 60 inches to more than 100 inches across the state.

You think the Clintons and Obamas and Huckabees and Romneys look forward to campaigning in California next month?

Then there's the consumer electronics show in Las Vegas which appears to draw every journalist in the country who is not in New Hampshire. Their job: discover a lot of quirky products with a high gee-whiz factor that most of us will never use.

This is the industry which has, over the years, given us Pong, Nintendo and voice activated car radios all of which have served to make the world a better place.

This year, for example, rap star Dr. Dre will be there to introduce an entire line of home and auto audio electronics sure to come equipped with woofers that will set off car alarms in the next county. He hopes to do for hip-hop what Emeril Legasse has done for frying pans.

But so far, the hit of the show is the world's largest plasma TV set, at 150 inches, or 12 1/2 feet, measured diagonally. It's 11 feet tall, and brought to you by Panasonic.

Just imagine watching "Dancing With the Stars," extreme fighting or the Cartoon Network larger than life in surround sound and high definition.

No price yet but the high rollers in Hollywood are already lining up to buy one. Too bad they won't be able to watch the Golden Globe awards on it.

That particular awards show has been canceled because of the writers strike. Instead of the usual self-congratulatory pap, NBC will broadcast a "news conference" in which the winners will be announced. Any resemblance to actual news will be purely coincidental.

Rarely does anything good come out of a protracted labor dispute but in this case, axing a manufactured egofest is a real plus. Who knew they needed writers for this drivel?

Speaking of show business, the AP bureau in Los Angeles has finally discovered Britney Spears, reports the website LA Observed. According to a memo to the staff from AP's assistant bureau chief, "Now and for the foreseeable future, virtually everything involving Britney is a big deal. That doesn't mean every rumor makes it on the wire. But it does mean that we want to pay attention to what others are reporting and seek to confirm those stories that WE feel warrant the wire. And when we determine that we'll write something, we must expedite it."

She's a big deal, to be sure, but not because of her boozy escapades. She's a story because she's a young woman in dire need of professional help who while in a fragile emotional state is being relentlessly pursued by a ravenous pack of paparazzi.

And who's there to offer her a hand? None other than the warm and fuzzy TV shrink Dr. Phil who, mindful of his own ratings, tried to engineer a show featuring Britney's parents.

He later canceled, because "the Spears situation is too intense at this time, and out of consideration to the family." "I've been working with this family behind the scenes for a long time, longer than you can imagine," he said.

If so, he's been something less than a great help. Britney has been married, divorced, lost custody of her children, been involved in a series of bizarre public episodes and has a 16-year-old sister who proudly announced her pregnancy recently.

While the family may not appear with Dr. Phil, they could pop up on the Jerry Springer show any day now.

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