A Touch of Fey

Over the past few years I have become intrigued by –okay obsessed, maybe infatuated — with women of accomplishment. Is this a new phase? Girl crushes? Certainly, I have had my fair share of boy/man crushes, so change is good, right? There are a number of women whom I greatly admire, and I think I will start with Tina Fey. Recently I watched Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix, and I am re-watching 30 Rock. I loved Kimmy Schmidt and was happy to see that it received five Emmy nominations for this season, and numerous other nominations in past seasons.

Reading Tina Fey’s bio on Wikipedia and other sites is beyond remarkable. Over the past two decades her rise has been amazing, and it seems to gather more and more momentum as the years pass. She has broken some glass ceilings for women in a business that is often less than kind to them, and even at the zenith levels, pays women less. Her CV reads as a list of firsts – notably the first female head writer for SNL at the age of 29. Her helmsmanship of SNL produced wonderful talent and cast, and great characters like Debbie Downer (Rachel Dratch), and Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken in “More Cowbell” – I’ll stop there because there are too many actors and characters to mention.

If that wasn’t enough there’s her movies like Mean Girls and Baby Mama, and her book Bossypants…the list seems endless and it is entirely intimidating. Jealous? No, not at all  — what Fey has given us is a tremendous gift. Although, I do find that by comparison (I know! Don’t compare! And to Tina Fey! Am I out of my mind? Certinaly my league!) her ability to do SO much and SO many things is where I have a feeling of utter inadequacy.

How does she do it? If I get three things accomplished in a day that’s a small miracle. Admittedly, I can kill time with the best of them, and I would guess this is not a quality that Tina Fey has, or would condone. I bet she gets more things done in a day – with complete success – than I do….never? I would say that from birth to the age of ten, I made some great strides. You know, going from not being able to sit up or lift my head to walking, talking, going to school, doing sports, and having friends. That was my most meteorite trajectory. Not to say that there haven’t been other good things, but that lightening speed thing; it’s not the same.

What I also admire, and in awe of, is her ability to get super handsome men, and great actors, to act like idiots and look less like matinee idols. Her most recent “volunteer” is Jon Hamm as the sinister and stupid cult leader Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (that name!). Of course, there’s her long time colleague Alec Baldwin. Last week while channel surfing, I happened to see Alec Baldwin hosting The Essentials on TCM, and there beside him was Tina Fey as the special guest host. Seriously?

Tina Fey’s output and its quality makes me feel that I need to do some serious reevaluating. And, she has young children and a husband, and probably three scripts in the works, writing another book maybe, writing the next season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and who knows what else – but I bet it will be great, entertaining, and award-winning. The Indefatigable Tina Fey.

Jealous? No, not at all. I hope her house is messy. 

Clare Irwin

Next up…at some point – Stella McCartney



Holiday Movies

During the Thanksgiving holiday, I noticed that VH1 had a “Throwback Thursday” with movies that have stood the test of time and are light, clever, and charming. VH1 aired Big with Tom Hanks, Clueless, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Even with the changes in fashion, hairstyles, make-up, etc. they hold up. I think the common denominator in them is joy, and the capacity we have for it. These movies remind us that we need to plug into joy more.


This past Christmas weekend there were A Christmas Story and Home Alone – two favorites of mine. Surviving Christmas with Ben Affleck, James Gandolfini, Christina Applegate, and once again the super funny Catherine O’Hara, is an odd ball, maybe slightly lesser known, Christmas movie. I find it fairly hilarious and dopey — Ben Affleck’s manic overly aggressive cheerfulness and desperation to create a faux Christmas past is pretty good.

There are a bunch of other movies that come to mind that have a cavalier joy – Elf with Will Ferrell, and Planes Trains and Automobiles. Of course there are the old classic movies, and the new animated ones like Polar Express and Arthur Christmas. What are your favorite holiday or non-holiday escapist movies? Ones that even though you’ve seen them countless times, you still watch? I would love to hear from you.


Clare Irwin

P.S. They’re not holiday movies, but Superstar with Molly Shannon is another funny goofy movie — haven’t we all known some version of Mary Katherine Gallagher? The other is Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion with Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino. The first time I saw it I thought, what the hell is this? But on second viewing I thoroughly enjoyed its weird spacey humor – and heart.