Ava Gardner

•January 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

“Deep down, I’m pretty superficial.”

“When I lose my temper, honey, you can’t find it anyplace.”

My earliest movie memory: Green satin dress; a close up on olive skin; red lips quivering to the Showboat song “Can’t Help Loving That Man Of Mine”. Lips that belonged to Ava Gardner. I was 4 and it wouldn’t be until much later that I discovered some troubling news–Ava’s vocals had been dubbed. She hadn’t actually sung the songs I remember so vividly. Imagine the day you discovered Santa Claus was fictional. While Show Boat is an affinity of mine all in itself, its Ava who made it so memorable. Maybe because of her wide set green eyes or that I subconciously recognized her as someone who was also raised in North Carolina–for whatever reason, she was certainly a gateway drug of sorts for all the other actresses I would grow to admire. While many people posess recordings of themselves singing their first songs as a child–“the itsy, bitsy spider”, “mary had a little lamb”–the recordings of my first song were straight from Broadway. Imagine a 4 year old with a painfully strong southern accent singing what was once vocalized by Lena Horne. “Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly…can’t help loving that man of mine.” Obviously quite grown up lyrics for such a young girl. It only further stresses the fact that Ava’s performances which have been often overlooked by critics had a profound effect on me.

The basics, shall we? Ava Lavinia Gardner (sounds beautiful, I know) was in fact born in North Carolina. 1922 to be exact.And she grew up, stereotypically of North Carolina, on a tobacco farm. Its here that she’s buried and where her museum operates. I’m ashamed to say I’ve not yet made the pilgrimage to Smithfield to see it. Soon, though, soon. By the time she was 23, Ava reportedly had only read 2 books– The Bible and Gone With the Wind (staples for a southern girl at the time). After visiting her sister and photographer brother in law in New York, she was given a screen test (which was silent due to her thick accent) and was signed with MGM.

Following two failed marriages and a near-obsessive pursuer in famed billionaire Howard Hughes, Ava began an affair with the then married (and Catholic) Frank Sinatra causing quite the scandal. About it, she said “I didn’t understand then and I still don’t why there should be the purient mass hysteria about a male and a female climbing into bed together and doing what comes naturally.”

Frank and Ava being both volitale, bold individuals, their marriage did not work out. After moving to Spain to film a movie, Ava took up Flamenco dancing and stayed in the country for a few years before moving to London.

Ava was recently potrayed by Kate Beckinsale in The Aviator, the movie based on the life of her persistent admirer Howard Hughes. Kate Beckinsale is, by all accounts, attractive and a great actress, but when you’re embarking on a role that will leave you to be compared to such a legendary beauty, you just can’t win.

Essentially, discussion of Ava’s beauty or even of her career doesn’t compare favorably to discussion of her as a person–elegant, sexy and honest. Not concerned with public oppinion or even of her acting which she viewed as simply a way to earn a living. Like Julie in Showboat, Ava seemed all-knowing and yet laid back, possibly attributed to her southern childhood. She was witty and un-apologetic and, yes…quite the brunette bombshell.


Time’s 10 Questions with Ariana Huffington

•August 5, 2008 • Leave a Comment


Conservatives complain that the media have a bias to the left. Do you believe that this is true? Mike Kovanda, DAVIS, ILL.

The problem with the media is not that they’re veering to the left or to the right but that they have an addiction to presenting two sides to every issue, even when the truth lies on one side or the other. I’d much rather we make our preferences and points of view transparent than pretend we don’t have them.

How do you think blogs have changed the field of reporting? Rob Opaleski, CHICAGO

First of all, it’s made clear this is a 24/7 operation. Professional journalists have had the opportunity to write about what is happening in real time, which wasn’t happening much before.

Huffington Post blogger Mayhill Fowler reported on two activities, one of which reporters were not invited to, at the other of which she did not state she was a newsperson. Is this the proper way to do business? Bernard Awtrey NEWTON, MASS.

The Obama fund raiser was clearly not off-the-record. The Clinton rope line was a public event. These are really the new rules of engagement. Citizen journalists are expanding the coverage of campaigns.

What is the biggest story that the traditional media have completely ignored? Kevin Judge, CHAPEL HILL, N.C.

Here’s an interesting thing about the traditional media: very often they break great stories, and then they ignore them. It takes the blogosphere to pursue the story, to do all the things that turn a story into a major event.

Why did you make the transition from conservative to liberal? Paul Hoehne, OAKTON, VA.

I left the Republican Party [because] my views of the role of government changed. I used to think that the private sector would solve many of the major problems we are facing–poverty, inequality. And then I saw firsthand that this wasn’t going to happen.

Do you consider yourself a Democrat now or an independent? Lainey Sickinger RENTON, WASH.

I consider myself a Democrat, because although I would love to see third parties thrive in America, I recognize that’s not going to happen in 2008.

What can liberal politicians learn from Republican tactics? Jack Bini, NEW YORK CITY

Go after your opponent’s strengths. That was Karl Rove’s great gift to the Republican Party. If we translate that into Barack Obama’s campaign, it would mean recognizing John McCain’s strength is the perception he would be better for our national security, and Obama needs to go after that.

Do you think there is room today for a politician to change positions without being referred to as a flip-flopper? Jose Rodriguez, WASHINGTON

Absolutely. If circumstances change and new evidence is made available, I think it’s important for a politician to be able to say transparently, I’m changing my position because of X, Y or Z. Very often politicians like to seamlessly move to a new position without really explaining that it is a changed position.

How has your personal immigrant experience shaped your understanding of America? John L. Chapman SAN PEDRO, CALIF.

I’m very grateful that this is my home. As an immigrant, I see immigration as an essential part of this country, and that’s why I’m very troubled when immigrants are demonized.

Would you ever consider running for public office again? Ken Volok SANTA BARBARA, CALIF.

No. I love my day job.

Video at Time.com To watch a video interview with Arianna Huffington and to subscribe to the 10 Questions podcast on iTunes, go to time.com/10questions

Work One Out

•August 4, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Polish your physique with the mansion set.


On May 15, 2007, Exercise TV and Dragonfly Productions released an exercise DVD starring Kendra Wilkinson, Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt. Yes, those would be theGirls Next Door” and Playboy Hugh M. Hefner’s personal, live-in, frolicksome threesome. The video manages to capture the vibrance of the girls while also being suprisingly relaxing. Holly’s lulling tone, Kendra’s throaty giggle and Bridget’s “everygirl” vibe put you at ease and make you feel as if you are simply stretching and squatting with the girls as opposed to being put on the spot in a harsh environment with an unfriendly, self-important instructor. The DVD features “Holly’s Sexy Silhouette Shape-up”, “Bridgette’s Boot Camp Challenge” and “Kendra’s Hip-Hop Romp”.

Each girl has a different approach to her segment. Holly, who I consider the classic starlet type of the group, demonstrates an aerobic workout with simplistic moves. She brings a blonde exuberance to what are considered by most to be “tried and true” exercises.

Bridget calls her method of work-out the “butt-and-gut”.She admittedly focuses so much on her butt and abs that she often leaves out any leg or arm moves. She considers hers a military style routine. (Hence her camo exercise ensemb.) Her segment on the video emphasizes the abs and her major in Communications shows as does her professionalism. On the DVD as in life, she has a very likeable quality and sells it  well without seeming dense. Bridget has been called-out by some as being a bit chubby which may explain why she is the only girl to cover her mid-section while exercising. (It may also explain recent photos of a much thinner, but not necesarily prettier Bridget.)

Suprise, suprise. Kendra’s contribution to all of this is a segment of booty dancing and another of martial art punches. Her accompanying interview does little to her advantage. She comes across as niave and obtuse. That said, she is definitley the most fit of the three and works out every day to counter-act her football game beers and nightly nacho habit.

After doing the routines I was slightly sore, especially the next day. This, however, isn’t saying much. Once an exercise fanatic it had been a while since I had any kind of a work out  other than sex (By the way, Holly’s main way of staying in shape). Not exactly cutting-edge, the girls’ techniques and presentations bring something different to the fitness table. Their positive “bunny” attitudes, not to mention physiques provide a plentitude of inspiration to say the least. Despite the lack of innovation or realization of the work out clothing line mentioned by the girls, I am very supportive of and hopeful for further output from the girls. Although the loss of momentum makes further productions seem unlikely, I’m keeping my ears crossed!

Holly’s interview from the DVD:


Just because the exercise clothing line touted by the girls failed to come to fruition doesn’t mean you can’t kick  every element of your workout into Playmate mode. Here, just a few of the active wear pieces offered on PlayboyStore.com.

Above: Convey femininity, even while flushed and sodden with sweat in this matching creamsicle set.  Playboy workout top, $14.50 and skirt, $17.00 (on sale currently)

PMOY 2006, Sara Jean Underwood demonstrates not only the perfect gym ensemble but the desired outcome of the workout itself. T-back tank, $14.50 and capri pant, $29.99. Below: True, an inveterite playmate can do everything in open-toed stilettos but keep in mind that as a modern princess, your feet incarnate your pedestal. Keep them safe in pink or white “Abstract Bunny Leather Sneakers”, $49.99 And don’t forget the socks! HollyMadison.com skater socks, “Pink Edition”, $23.95