I had never heard of this magazine before my beautiful and courageous new FB friend Alessandra Kelmans de Bozzo entered the “most beautiful woman” contest, which she entered not for self-aggrandizing reasons, but rather to pay for the medical bills incurred by her son in a tragic accident. I have been posting her contest–which ends around Easter–on my FB Wall for the last ten days or so.
Then two nights ago, I was on an ice cream run for my boyfriend to the Montecito Vons, near my beloved hole in the wall Little Alex’s, which has the best taco salad I have ever eaten, for 8 bucks, and saw it at the checkout. Kate Walsh, whom I consider the TV bombshell of my generation (42), graces the cover, looking stunning, powerful and happy all at once. I must preface this by saying I disdain rag mags and only read People when fulfilling my duties as Dad’s “schlepper number one,” taking him to various doctors, banks, office supply stores, and Fromin’s (a very old Jewish deli in Santa Monica we have eaten since I was in elementary school, where he has chopped liver on rye, an omelette or a surprisingly good Chinese chicken salad). Fromin’s has the best rye bread I have ever tasted, at least in LA.
I only bought People once, when a review of Nora Ephron’s sequel to the book about hating her neck was advertised on the cover, and having been a fan of Ephron since 8th or 9th grade when I saw Heartburn, I could not resist. By the way, she appeared on Charlie Rose and was brilliant, witty, charming and human. I do not know if you can find old Charlie Rose online, but it was in mid-December, and she discussed her lifelong friendship with Mike Nichols, about whom I wrote a FB essay which I will post when I finish the current post.
I really loved the movie but my good friend Amanda did not. And I remember getting into a rare argument as we walked home from Westwood to her parents glorious home on Loring about fidelity. I will blog about this separately, but I always had a more relaxed notion about male fidelity than other people with whom I grew up, and not because these were hyper-religious folks. She was Jewish, had her bat mitzvah party at the legendary Chasen’s in Beverly Hills, sadly now closed, a restaurant featured in the Love Affair remake with Beatty and Bening (1994). The film, a sentimental favorite of mine with tremendous soundtrack by Oscar-winning composer Ennio Morricone (The Mission, Salvador), includes a hilarious scene with Garry Shandling–such a talent especially in the Larry Sanders Show–over borscht which is just as much a staple there as the cheesy toast they bring you when you sit down or the red booths.
It was a nice party but like so many affluent Jews in West LA (her parents had a very expensive house in an insanely pricey area which was large but tasteful and one of my two favorite houses of all my friends, the other being the truly glorious house near Mandeville Canyon of Michael Kidd, Amy’s father), they weren’t all that religious, and my friend just thought that basically when a husband screws around it is just automatic grounds for separation. I thought that was an absurd notion at 14 and I still do. So I have been following Ephron from quite an early age and I later read Salad Days upon which the movie was based. Of all her films, my least favorite is Sleepless in Seattle, though I liked it a lot better on TV than in the theater.
The soon to be famous, haha, Nora Ephron People may also have included the 2010 Emmy fashion/red carpet issue (if not that means I have bought it or a comparable celeb magazine twice ), and when I saw the dress worn by Jon Hamm’s girlfriend, Jennifer Weisfeldt, who had appeared in a rare multi-episode story arc on one of the three shows of the last decade to which I am devoted–Grey’s Anatomy–I had to have it. She was the beautiful pregnant blonde with some sort of neurological problem who develops aphasia before Derek Shepherd (McDreamy) botches a preliminary surgery and then, in the fix-it surgery, loses her, precipitating his escape to the trailer and determination to quit medicine for good. (He refuses to listen to Owen, Callie, Chief Webber and only comes back late in that season when Izzie (Katherine Heigl) gets cancer and needs him and Meredith tells him she could not love a man who walked away from a gift like his, though I thought that was a bluff). Weisfeldt is a dirty not platinum blonde with green eyes and the green, beaded Armani with spaghetti straps was hands-down the best gown at the Emmys.
Weisfeldt is well-known– and hated–by a legion of loyal female Mad Men fans as Jon Hamm’s girlfriend of nearly 14 years, but she is a talented working actress in her own right. I respect the artistry of Hamm and expertly stylized vision of the ad world in the 1960s, but the show leaves me cold. Weisfeldt’s heartbreaking arc appears is Season 5 (episodes 15 to 18 if memory serves me), the first of the seasons I purchased, which I still consider to be the finest season in many ways, due in part to the appearance of the Scottish actor Kevin McKidd, who made his name in HBO’s Rome. And while I usually prefer a British accent to an American one, I must say that his American accent is the absolutely sexiest American accent ever by a Brit (or Scot, whom George Eliot said in a letter to a friend, were the best of the British).
McKidd’s wife scored with him. He’s rugged, masculine, sweet, very sexy and talented on top of it all. A frequent topic on Grey’s Anatomy FB Discussions is whether Derek Shephard (Patrick Dempsey) or or Mark “Manwhore” Sloan (Eric Dane, best goatee on TV) is hotter. When Owen Hunt waltzed into Seattle Grace Hospital in his fatigues, it was a trinity of hot men vying for the top spot. I am absolutely in love with Owen, though I am now almost 2 years behind with the show. I did not wish to interrupt my narrative experience and watch Season 7, currently on primetime, before I saw Season 6. And that DVD has been in my trunk now for 5 months.
McKidd is the kind of man so wonderful you’d almost (as an exceedingly non-maternal woman of course, a maternal one would be plotting to get him to impregnate her) want to have kids with him, or at least one kid. He is happily married with two children about whom he is very dear. He told a story about driving them to and from school during a hiatus of course, and observing that he would drop them off with little British accents and then pick them up with American accents employing all kinds of slang. Pretty soon, the little ones were proper little Brits again and of course McKidd slips in and out of English and American accents with such fluidity, I just fell in love.
I am also in love with Owen Hunt and actually prefer his voice on the show to McKidd’s in real life, though I could do without being nearly strangled to death in the middle of the night like Cristina is, when Hunt thinks the ceiling fan is a chopper, which triggers his PTSD. Hunt is a trauma surgeon back from Iraq (for the second time when he retires from military service) who may have had some PTSD at the time of his first appearance but has a full-blown case when he comes on board at SGH permanently, as a result of losing 19 out of 20 in his platoon.
Hunt appears in an early episode of which I never tire, in which he removes an icicle from Sandra Oh’s stomach before a passionate kiss. (That is a hilarious scene when Cristina is yelling at Meredith for being characteristically self-absorbed and speaking of nothing but the Derek drama, and an icicle falls off the frigid roof and Meredith says she deserves it for being so mean, very funny!) Of course as the ultimate badass surgical resident, with a zero-tolerance policy for whining and emotional claptrap, Hunt greatly impresses Oh’s Cristina by using the surgical staple gun on his own leg sans pain medication.
Before I found the “notes” function on FB, I wrote many essays on Discussions, both on the Denis Leary FB page (I have 27 essays on Leary’s work, including of course Rescue Me, the show which quite literally rescued me, and his stand-up comedy (No Cure for Cancer, Lock and Load) and film (The Ref and Recount)) and the GA FB page. Of course, for reasons unclear to me, GA fanatics seem to have nothing else to do all day than write posts, though of course some are quite banal (“Who’s Hotter: Meredith or Addison”) and there are some one-thousand posts. Denis Leary just got FB last May as a way to promote his Twitter feeds to plug the sixth season of Rescue Me, while GA has been around longer. I never even read the DL FB page, but there are some 80 essays total, nearly a third of which are mine, so that Denis Leary FB Discussions is really Victoria Ordin FB Discussions.
(I also am unclear about the operation of public pages on FB because I noticed that within 15 seconds of posting an essay–“The Bro-Code” for instance, a fascinating rule about not banging , without permission, your friend’s wife, ex-wife, sister, girlfriend, or ex-girlfriend–the Wall would say “Denis Leary responded to….” and yet there would be no comment. This happened to me on the Gilmore Girls page as well before the whole page was discontinued utterly without warning, so that all my analytic essays were lost.)
As this brief GA genealogy attests, I am absolutely in love with the show, so a magazine with Kate Walsh on the cover is sure to make me plunk down 6 bucks to read about her. Addison, or Addie, is Derek Shepard’s (Patrick Dempsey, one of the most truly beautiful men on TV) gynecological surgeon wife whom Meredith jealously calls “Isabella freakin’ Rossellini” upon first meeting her (quite a shock, since Derek never told her that he was married). The costume designer, like the music director Alex Patsavas–owner of The Chop Shop, which does music for this show, along with Rescue Me (in my comparative essays on the two shows, apparently dissimilar due to class and content, but fundamentally similar on structural and diegetic levels), I note that music is integral both to RM and GA–is a genius. Addison has the best hair on TV, along with Andrea Roth (Janet on RM), and she is all glammed up in curls with her hair the deep reddish brown for which she is famous.
Aside from Walsh’s flawless face, fantasy chin (take that, Angelina Jolie) and ethereal hair, the cover includes the following articles: 7 Hair Secrets (You’ll Wish You’d Heard Years Ago), Step Away From The Knife! (Face Fixes You Won’t Regret), Runway To Your Way (High-Fashion Pieces Made Wearable), Men We Love (Some Gone So Wrong, They’re Right), Income For Life (How To Make It Happen), Fit Again-Fast (The Miracle of Muscle Memory), and the The Strange Sisterhood of Chernobyl.
As a girl who had Breck model hair until 37 (I’m 39), I am eager to hear any hair secrets to obscure the 30% hair loss in the last two years. This is quite bizarre, as I swam for 7 years, five to six nights a week. Swimming is marvelous for your body, spirit, and mind, but horrible for hair, skin and nails, and yet it was not until I quite my nearly one-hour swim a day, that I began to shed. I have okay to nice hair, but it is not enviable, bring a hair salon to halt while all the stylists come to gape at the man washing your hair before the cut and color.
So I bought it and was not disappointed to see a piece on great lingerie under 100 bucks, along with a back page of brainy women in Hollywood. Since the subtitle of this post includes the phrase “women with brains,” I will cut to the chase and interrupt my characteristically digressive stream of consciousness style and list the women featured in this single page list, along with their schools: 1) Amy Brenneman: Harvard, (comparative religion), 2) Maggie Gyllenhaal (Columbia, literature and Eastern religions), 3) Ashley Judd (Harvard, HIV-advocate), 4) Aisha Tyler (Dartmouth, government, environmental policy), 5) Mayim Bialik (UCLA, Ph.D. program in neuroscience), 6) Elisabeth Shue (Harvard, political science, after a 15 year break, 7) Mira Sorvino (Harvard, East Asian studies, fluent in Chinese), 8) Kate Beckinsale (Oxford, French and Russian literature), 9) Christy Turlington Burns (Columbia, MPA in public health), and 10) Jennifer Connelly (Yale, Stanford, degree not stated).
Of course I knew all about Mira Sorvino but I must question the magazine’s information on Amy Brenneman. I audited Randall Havas’s course at Yale on Kierkegaard the year after I graduated, in 1995, and he told a wonderful story (he’s insanely hot, loves dogs and has the dark intensity of a philosopher with a sweetness that is all the more attractive in a brilliant and dignified man) about his wife rooming with Amy at Wesleyan. I have a steel trap memory and while I might be wrong, I rarely forget academic credentials uttered by a brilliant man I find incredibly hot and sweet at the same time, one who also studies Qi Gong with some master in Manhattan, no less.
Havas, who studied at Harvard with both Stanley Cavell (my dissertation is philosophy/lit and in particular ethical criticism and Cavell is one of the fathers of that type of work) and Hubert Dreyfuss, a very famous Heideggerian. He is a major Nietzsche scholar and his 1995 The Will to Knowledge: Nietzsche’s Genealogy (I have to check the title but don’t see the save button so will publish and correct in a minute) is a truly brilliant study of that stylistically imaginative as well as conceptually innovative and brave philosopher. He is big with the philosophy and lit crowd because of his distinctive and highly “literary” writing style (Thus Spake Zarathustra, for one).
I remember Havas told us the following story, in discussing “crop rotation,” in Seducer’s Diary. My recollection of that text is just as fuzzy as my recollection of Either/Or and Havas’s alternative to the traditional faith/reason dichotomy in Kierkegaard which drives most of his discussions of this great philosopher. (I think it was about stages and Havas proposed aesthetic and ethical, but I cannot remember more than that as this was , first of all, nearly 16 years ago and two, I was just auditing the class for fun amid GRE and personal statement drudgery.)
But of course I remember the anecdotal part of the lecture perfectly. He was talking about one of my favorite movies—Michael Mann’s Heat–which had just come out and which I saw in some dumpy , tiny theater in Hamden, CT, quite a thrill as I never had a car at Yale, until my parents shipped back my first car, 1988 Toyota Tercel before my year after college in New Haven, applying to graduate school. ( I could not manage grad applications and GRE my last year, because I graduated in three years rather than four, using the AP credits to make up for the 18 months I spent working with AIDS patients at LA Shanti during my psychoanalysis at 19 years old. This was a mistake I will forever regret, as I could have double majored in philosophy and English as well as learned German, instead of accelerating and having to play catch-up in grad school.)
And then he said, as an aside, how weird it was, if you knew Amy Brenneman, to think of her with Robert DeNiro, at the most svelte of his career, overlooking that killer view of Los Angeles when he comes to her graphic design studio/apartment. (That is a touchstone movie for me and I will publish my “personal history of locations in Heat soon.) I always loved the moment he observes that she has a “tight” family, as my relationship to my parents and half-siblings was never uncomplicated, and rarely easy. (I also thought going to Fiji or whatever tropical place he proposed sounded enormously inviting, and I cried when he exited the hotel in the stolen outfit and met her eyes in his car, knowing they would not be together. But I am a very sappy, sentimental person, and I cry easily at movies, TV, even commercials like the classic scene in the Nora Ephron film I like least, Sleepless in Seattle. And it was all so stupid as he could have let the murderous rapist Waingrow go free and escape to a blissful life with Amy Brenneman in that tropical paradise. Of course, the narrative demanded the difficult ending and I respected Mann for following through with those narrative imperatives.
But the part of the small lecture–fifty people or so–I remember the best was his impression of Pacino, in what he felt was absolutely over the top, relative to his angst: “It keeps me on the edge. where I gotta be.” I do not remember how that sentiment related to Kierkegaard, but I will never forget his impression, almost as good as you would expect from Kevin Spacey, another actor with whom I am also madly in love. Havas found this scene with Pacino preposterous and I just watched this great 90s film with my boyfriend, who adores this film, and disagree.
This is also known as the “heinous shit” scene, when Pacino tells Venora that it is not possible to “share” his day at the office, his life among dead people as she calls it. It’s a wonderful scene, but I do sort of get what he was saying about the highly idealized and romanticized angst he expresses in the scene, and indeed, embodies in the film. It is Pacino, after all, who triumphs, even if he has to haul Natalie Portman’s 13-yr-old body out of a bloody tub after she slits her wrists in his hotel room. But hearing Randall Havas, the McDreamy of the Yale philosophy department (junior faculty, the Yale philosophy department is a total disaster area, which went into receivership and cannot decide if it is Continental or Analytic) before becoming tenured at Willamette in Oregan, do an impression of Al Pacino was one of the great moments of my post-graduation year.
I suppose given my fawning over Grey’s Anatomy, I ought to summarize the Kate Walsh cover story. Kate Walsh describes her “principal” moment with the genius architect of the show, who it turned out, wanted to create a spinoff, the viciously reviewed but commerically adored show Private Practice. For those not as enamored of Shonda Rhimes–in my view on a par with the wonderful Aaron Sorkin–as I am, I will explain that she is a writer with some medical background, who wrote a storyline where Addison has to get away from Seattle (Seattle Grace Hospital, fictional of course). She goes in her little red convertible to Santa Monica, 10 minutes from where I was raised, and one minute from St. Augustine on 4th Street, where I went to school with Gwyneth Paltrow (she attended my six girl 2nd grade birthday party but I haven’t seen her since sixth grade graduation, where Lori Rousso, Jewish and married to a wealthy businessman, said to my father, “Before I met Maria (my given name), I always thought it took two, but after Maria, I realized it only took one”), as well as daughters of true television legends including Bob Schiller (I Love Lucy) and Richard Levinson (Columbo, Murder She Wrote).
I apologize for the digression but I have to tell the story of my sixth grade graduation. The school was called St. Augustine, but it was completely secular. And most kids were secular Jews. In fact, before 2nd grade, I thought everyone was Jewish and that either you had Shabbat and Hanukah and Passover or you didn’t. My father is a secular Jew and my mother was born Catholic but never overly invested, with the exception of her 6th or 7th grade year when she insisted that she be baptized and never did anything after that. We always did Christmas and the selection of the perfect small tree was a real bonding experience for my mother and me.
So the school, which I only got into because my best friend in preschool– Kinderdance in Pacific Palisades, owned and run by the sister of Buddy Ebsen (Family Affair, with the little girl whom I think overdosed on heroin)–was on the board of directors. My class of 25 kids was amazing, and the number of kids who went onto major careers in TV and film is quite amazing, including Shana Meehan Goldberg (Mad About You, Friends, Better For You , some CBS sitcom she created and executive produces), Chris Levinson (Charmed, Law and Order), Nick Wootton (in my carpool, his dad botched my 1988 nose job which was only recently repaired with Perlane, NYPD Blue, Blind Justice, Law and Order), Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live, Away We Go) and of course, Gwyneth herself.
Had it not been for Ari, whose dad was a partner at Latham and Watkins (the only kid with a lawyer dad in the class, other than me), I never would have gotten in. St. Augustine, now Crossroads Elementary, probably because the secular Jews were annoyed that it was called St. Augustine when it was not only secular but more than half Jewish, reserved spots for siblings. That meant that no matter what the qualifications of a child, if a sibling attended the school, that younger child was guaranteed a spot.
So after my talent show in 4th grade, when I nailed Solfeggietto (I cannot spell the piece by C.P.E. Bach, much less play it), after only 9 months (not a prodigy but quite talented and disciplined), after the most painful rendition of “Red River Valley” on the violin by a boy who gave me the shithole apartment in Santa Barbara that helped to make me into a hermit (the apartment on Hope Avenue about which I wrote in my inaugural blog posting which he wanted me to babysit while he went to Oxford for his second doctorate after his first at UCSB, in religious studies), my father did not go back to my school until the day I graduated in my pink taffeta dress (Mom still has it) and cheap, white pumps.
I joked about this on FB, on the page of a real classical music scholar, and said the experience of hearing poor Steve (not his real name) butcher that song, traumatized him to the point he could not set foot on the campus for three years. He did come to the ceremony (not the party of course), no doubt because my mother made it clear to him that it was the right thing to do. He probably felt that he wrote the checks and drove the morning carpool once a week and had fulfilled his obligation! Also, truthfully, my dad really didn’t like the parents of most of my friends as they were all major TV and film stars and he hates the industry though in his last decade has become a serious film buff, not just Turner Classics type of movies but Moonstruck, Sabrina, and hundreds of others he and Mom watch after dinner every night. So going to my graduation and having to be nice, to behave, would have been something to avoid if possible!
Of 25 kids, about 16 had been there from kindergarten. So the principal, Paul Cummings, a quite impressive man both in journalism, now, and education (uber liberal of course, I only knew one Republican in elementary school, the plastic surgeon in carpool who botched my nose job), thanked every parent/couple who had been there since kindergarten.
Paul had clearly spent some time digging through old files to find what each parent had contributed over a seven year period. We called teachers and administrators by their first names and had “evaluations” rather than grades, with checks and long essays about our intellectual and creative progress as well as an in-depth assessment of our internal psychic lives by teachers who could have easily been therapists. Paul thanked many parents for the Whole Earth Lunch Days (once a month we had some ethnic cuisine and there was no cafeteria so this was a big deal , especially for me, as I thought it would be an imposition on my mother, then US Attorney for Carter in the Central District to make me a lunch and I sure as hell wasn’t going to do it, so I just didn’t eat lunch), for the Tree People days, for recycling and food drives etc.
When he came to “O,” he said, “Mr. and Mrs. Ordin: thank you.” The humor and irony of this was not lost , I do not think, on much of the audience, because truly, the list of every shit detail that parents had volunteered for was very long in each case of the ones there the whole time. And O of course is relatively late in the alphabet, so the contrast was glaring. (My boyfriend and his ex-wife do tons of volunteer work at their son’s excellent public elementary school, but it’s not really volunteer because it’s mandatory.
See, this is another reason I don’t have kids. My feeling is look, I am gracing them with what I would hope would be my lovely and smart child’s presence and if it’s private, forking over 25K or whatever a year, so why do I have to go help out with a brood of other people’s potentially noisy and behaviorally-challenged children? Can’t they hire someone to do that? Isn’t that part of the point of school? (Of course socialization is a major part of elementary school, which is why home schooling is a difficult and controversial topic.) That honestly would drive me mad and create resentment at the school, and by extension, my child, though I would hope I would have the emotional maturity not to blame my kid for some stupid policy at the school taking 25K a year from my husband’s paycheck, as there is no way in hell that I will ever make that kind of money. At any rate, this Dad moment at graduation seemed hilarious to me, even at 12, and it has been a family joke/legend ever since. (Even if you send your kid to public school, you are paying for it with taxes and therefore ought not to be obligated to volunteer in my view. If you want to be around 25 screaming children, fabulous, but a parent has no obligation to take care of other people’s kids. I love Hillary Clinton but I don’t want to be part of the village!)
I will also say that it greatly amused my boyfriend’s 7-yr-old son that I had no cafeteria in elementary school. I will not digress for the tenth time in one blog posting, but I hardly ate breakfast and often took a diet Coke to school, with a piece of leftover pizza. The only relief came in the form of the “Feed Me, Eat Me” box. This was a smallish cardboard box in the grassy area by the church where we all ate lunch. Kids would put undesirable food items in the box, and you could take the ones you liked. It sounds vaguely pornographic of course, but in elementary school it seemed quite normal. I was of course overjoyed when I went to Westlake and could buy frozen yogurt and tuna salad on poppyseed bagels.
Our music, drama and dance teachers were highly accomplished. We read, wrote, created and painted. No one in my class went onto careers in science or medicine. We were hippie, liberal arts, privileged kids and if I ever make any money, I will not donate a dime to my high school, still pissed off at the merger of Westlake and Harvard three months after my high school graduation in June, 1990, which resulted not only in horrifying tuition increases which has made the school quite impossible for all but the very wealthy (upper middle class parents with two kids cannot fork out 70K a year after taxes), but also destroyed the beauty of the Bel Air campus on 700 North Faring Road (near Tori Spelling’s old house, before Aaron bought that behemoth with 20 some-odd bedroom and ridiculous recreational facilities).
My boyfriend is imploring me to finish up, so I will just say that for a girl whose imagination is equally divided between the academic world and the entertainment industry, More Magaizine is a real pleasure. I loved the lingerie piece, all under 100 bucks, and the Kate Walsh article is very moving. She grew up in a traditional household but moved a lot. She married a mogul after a short time dating, and divorced just as quickly. I remember seeing her on a late night talk show, though I am an early to bed, early to rise girl. She proudly showed off the rock he bought for her and she seemed truly happy. She has created a perfume called Boyfriend, which apparently simulates a man’s scent on a woman’s body and hopes it will give her a modicum of freedom after Private Practice finishes. I have not seen it but hope to do so soon. Taye Diggs and Amy Brenneman are her co-stars, and I very much enjoyed the story arc in Season 5 when she escapes to the Wellness Center, walking distance from St. Augustine.
I should also plug the dermal filler article. I will say , in closing, that I adore the inventor of Dysport and also Perlane. If I have more to say, I will edit as I must close now.