Random Acts of Holiday Thinking

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NBC Universal threw its Washington holiday party at the National Museum of Women in the Arts Friday night.

In fact, it could have been called a "Holliday' party since Wilhelmina and Wallace Holladay were the fans of women's art whose collection morphed into the museum.

It was quite a spread, hosted by NBC U Chairman Bob Wright and laid out in a beautiful venue with large rooms and sweeping staircases.

And in a bit of serendipitous–I assume–payback, the collection is housed in a former bastion of mysterious and exclusionary male bonding, a remodeled Masonic Temple, of I would guess late-Victorian vintage.

I had no idea how many fine women painters there were–and sculptors and silversmiths–but, then again, women have historically had to fight for recognition while, as it was once famously said of Ginger Rogers, doing everything Fred Astaire did only backwards and in high heels.

It made me think that it is a good thing that former NBC vet Katie Couric is prominently atop the CBS Evening News, also a former guy thing.

As I made a couple of passes through the milling throng, I was reminded again of John Higgins, my late colleague, and how he would have worked the room far better than I, always knowing something about everybody that would get the conversation started before he moved it in the direction of news.

I did glean that those close to Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) were still looking for him to get the co-chairmanship of the Senate Commerce Committee when it changes hands in January to Democrat Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, though they had not gotten any signs in that direction yet. Stevens and Inouye are close friends.

Stevens took the unusual step of making Inouye co-chairman of the committee in the soon-to-be last Congress, and his staffers are looking for Inouye to return the courtesy.

Initially, Stevens' move struck me as akin to the curious "co-presidency" Gerald Ford was floating before George Bush got the nod as Ronald Reagan's VP. But, still, it was a show of bipartisanship and comity that stood out against the background of bickering and ill-will that divided the parties.

I also got the sense that the Republicans will vote the nomination of John Kneuer as head of NTIA, which has to get a move on in setting up the mechanism for distributing millions of DTV-to-analog converter boxes for the February 17, 2009, switch-over to digital television. Absent that, look for a recess appointment, though I see nothing standing in the way of a Senate vote in the lame duck session.

Speaking of which, my wife planned to get me an HDTV set for Christmas, but I told her I wasn'tready to make the move just yet.

Instead, they got me an oil painting I have always loved–OK, I bought it and told them it was their present to me. If you turn it on its side, it is about the same aspect ratio and thickness as a 42-inch flat-screen TV.  I don't know if that makes me a luddite or an art lover. Probably both.

I will probably get the TV set this year, too, and hope that at least one of my three kids gets a little scholarship money for college, But I still have to do more leg work before casting off into the sea–and c-notes–of tomorrow's TV.

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