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Monday, March 20, 2006

Julie and Julia and Juliet

Julie and Julia has received a lot more criticism than it deserves. The book documents the year in Julie Powell's life she decided to make every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and blog about the experience. It’s been criticized both in terms of its structure and content. When I was trying to decide whether I should buy it or get it out of the library, I asked a bookseller for his honest opinion. We had an interesting conversation about blogs that become books, and structural problems that the format can create. This makes more sense to me hypothetically than practically. I found I loved the format, and that the sometimes uneven narrative mirrored Powell’s feelings about the project and created more of an opportunity for her personality to come across than if it had just been a regular book of essays. The book has also been criticized for not being enough of a cookbook. Who cares? I think people are missing the point, that it’s as much about giving birth to an idea as it as about the food.

Ever since I embarked on my endeavor to become a dating consultant for geeks, I’ve been thinking about the life of an idea. I get ideas all the time that I never act on. I invented The Real World in my mind years before it debuted. I never got further than a rough plot outline of the young adult gay novel I was going to co-author with J. I invent restaurants all the time with my friend R., my favorite being “The Other Side of the Tracks”, where you are arbitrarily seated on one side of a restaurant or the other. The food, service and atmosphere are great on one side. On the other, your server chooses your food off a limited menu, table legs have different lengths, you are seated with strangers, and there is no toilet paper in the bathroom.

I think how seriously you take your own ideas comes down to how much you need them. I don’t think my geek consulting idea is that much different than a lot of other projects I’ve dreamed up, I just needed something new in my life. It’s not that big of a step to actually try out an idea instead of just talking about it, but getting there can be a long process.

I can completely understand Powell's singular focus on her project; we need these things to entertain ourselves, to add structure and meaning to our lives. She hated her job and she was bored with her life. She built community and became a minor celebrity. How can you not admire her project, honesty, foul mouth and drive?

It was great to learn about Julia Child along the way. I’ve got a couple of her cookbooks, but had mostly just thought of her as the crazy old lady on PBS. She lacked the glamour and artistry of M.F.K. Fisher. I had no idea she worked for what would become the CIA and that she didn’t learn how to cook until she was 37. She did so out of boredom, when she her husband had just married and moved to Paris and she didn’t have enough going on in her life to fill her time. I love that she used money from the G.I. Bill to pay for her tuition at the Cordon Bleu.

Hats off to you, both Julie and Julia! You inspire me.


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Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Rules

Recently I've been thinking life would be alot easier if some things had rules, and especially if I was the one who got to make all of them up.

I enjoyed St. Patricks day and I hope you did, too. If you're in the kind of shape I'm in, feel free to follow my rules for a hangover.

1. Your hangover is in charge. Let him decide what you need. If you try to fight him, he will win.
2. If you have an indecisive hangover, try these steps:
A Take him out to breakfast
1. taking a shower before you go isn't necessary, but put on some lipstick
2. let your server know you will dining with your hangover. you will need his or her help.
3. achieve the fine balance between hydrating and caffeinating
4. be very specific about what you order- if you need a runny egg, alert your server. that way, if it's dry, and your hangover asks you to send it back, your server won't be angry
5. read a pretty book while eating. my hangover and I read a large print edition of "Julie and Julia" this morning. I think the adapation of blogs to books really lends itself to hangovers, busrides, and other potentionally distracting situations.
B. Go home and take a bath
1. put bubble bath and other fun things in the tub, with the obvious exception of bath oil. why people use bath oil is one of those myseteries I'll never understand. It smells funny and fucks up your hair.
2. bring your book into the tub with you. read until the water starts to cool down.
C. Put on your favorite nightgown, and get in bed with your laptop, book, or cat. or all three. It's a great time to watch classic movies. or Buffy.
D. Contact the nice person who you just met who gave you a ride home last night and thank him for getting you home safely. if you don't do it now, you probably never will.