By Calvin Palmer
Christmas this year brought just two DVDs into the household. How times have changed. But such are the spin-offs of the economic recession, in general, and my lack of income, in particular.
Nora Ephron’s Julie & Julia (2009), starring Meryl Streep in the role of American culinary icon Julia Child, helped pass Boxing Day night (December 26 for American readers). It was one of my wife’s Christmas presents.
If found it a binary film. I loved the scenes that explored the post-war life of Child and her path to success in the art of cooking and French cuisine.
Streep’s portrayal of Child’s larger-than-life character reminded me at times of Benny Hill’s Fanny Haddock character based on Britain’s equivalent of Julia Child, Fanny Cradock.
Julie & Julia also featured Dan Aykroyd’s Saturday Night Live sketch from 1978, where he parodied Child and continued cooking despite bleeding profusely from a cut to the thumb.
Add in the street scenes from Paris and Stanley Tucci’s marvelous supporting role as Paul Child, Julia’s husband, and I feasted on a delicious appetizer, entrée and dessert.
In contrast, those scenes charting Julie Powell’s challenge of cooking the 524 recipes in Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking within 365 days, and documenting the attempt in a blog, were more like cold leftovers.
Amy Adams injected a certain charm into the role of Powell but failed to flesh out her character with any real substance. Powell’s blog was supposedly littered with four-letter words but it was strange they never appeared in the dialogue with her husband (Chris Messina). Usually if someone writes the f-word, it tends to feature in their day-to-day conversation.
But while Powell’s rite of gastronomic passage attracted a faithful and growing readership, and later media interest, it did not gain the approval of Child.
It is said that during her life Child did not suffer fools gladly, so her reaction to the blog is hardly surprising. All Powell was doing was following the recipes – Child’s creativity and intellectual property – and writing a commentary in the process. The idea in and of itself is novel but where is the artistry in such an exercise?
The Powell approach to blogging and subsequent fame and fortune got me thinking. After all, I would not be adverse to a degree of fame and would certainly enjoy a modest fortune from my blogging activities.
So yesterday, I came up with the challenge of recreating the Great Pyramid of Giza in my backyard and to document in a blog the daily progress, setbacks and moments of hilarity. So here it is.
A Geezer Builds On Giza
I stepped out into the backyard armed with a measuring tape and suddenly realized it is not big enough to accommodate the structure. Finding 200,000 skilled craftsmen and laborers to work for nothing, even in these times of high unemployment, may prove difficult. Also dragging 2.3 million blocks of limestone through a Jacksonville suburb would likely cause severe traffic disruption and we already have the construction on Interstate 10. The project is hereupon cancelled.