Marshall & Julie: Day 7

3 08 2010

I know these posts look really bulky, but I’d sure appreciate if you put biglongtextaphobia aside and read these posts.  I really did put a lot of hard work into them, and I really do think they hold something great for everyone.  Blogging friends, consider this to be my 13-day elaboration on the Origins Project questionnaire I sent out.

As for commenting, I’d be perfectly happy if you just wrote “I read this post.”  Just to let me know.

Day 7: “The Law of Diminishing Returns” / “The Law of Double Features”

I’ve failed.

It’s June 20th, and I’m just now returning to this project.  “Julie & Julia” had sat on my bookshelf unread since the beginning of the year.  I wanted to finish this thing in two weeks back in November, and it’s depressing to go back and look at how badly I missed my deadline.  Unlike Julie, who had the discipline to force herself to cook all 524 recipes in a year, I’m a failure.  I couldn’t make myself set aside the time, and I’ve had

plenty of it.  I’ve blown off working on this project to watch movie after movie after movie.

In my first post, very inspired by the Amy Adams version of Julie Powell, I claimed that my big problem was starting something, not finishing it like her.  But it appears with this project, I am more like Julie than I would like.  Only when she wanted to finish, she finished, and I didn’t.

Sorry, Julie.  I’ve failed you just as much as I’ve failed myself.

But I’m out to finish this project now, just embarrassingly outside of my time constraints.  It’s a little more difficult to finish after I have, for lack of a better word, failed.  Yet I’m still going to finish this, no matter how little poise I have when I hit page 307.

Enough with me talking about my own failures; onto Julie’s failures and my ability to relate to them.

“Let’s talk about sex” was the tagline for the 2004 movie “Kinsey,” starring Liam Neeson as the doctor who explored human sexual behavior unlike anyone ever before.  Julie took a nod from the doc and spent a whole lot of time in this chapter talking about sex – or the lack of it.  And this is something I’m not going to talk about at all.  I’m a minor, so I think that me writing too much about it would be as inappropriate as you reading it.  So I’ll just do my best to pretend that all this sex talk isn’t happening.

Julie encounters a chapter in MtAoFC that she particularly hates – the aspic chapter.  An aspic, according to my dashboard dictionary, is “a savory jelly, often made with meat stock, used as a garnish, or to contain pieces of food such as meat, seafood, or eggs, set in a mold.”  I asked my parents if they had ever eaten an aspic, and I instantly got a groan and a shutter from my mom.  She recalled a time in college when she was obligated to eat an aspic with mayonnaise on top, and she called it “one of those experiences that you can’t forget.”

I’ve never eaten or seen an aspic, so obviously I have no experience cooking them.  But I can relate to trucking through doing something for the blog readers when I really don’t want to.  While I was blowing off “The Marshall & Julie Project,” I unofficially settled on another project: seeing all the Oscar nominees in major categories from the first decade of the new millennium.  I’ve had a giant list with all the ones I haven’t seen in a Word document aptly titled “Oscar Movies I Haven’t Seen.”  For the past several months, I’ve been working to cross titles off the list.  It’s slowly getting smaller and smaller, but it was depressing the first time I tried to count how many I had left.  I thought I had seen most of them, yet the count of about 50 did little to reassure me.

Even before this unofficial Oscars project, I’ve been watching plenty of movies I never would have seen had I not been drawn in by the golden allure of an Oscar nomination.  But now it truly feels like a slog, seeing some of these movies that just look awful.  I can recall one movie, “Whale Rider,” that I was particularly dreading.  I really didn’t want to watch it, but I knew I had to do it.  If I didn’t, the project could never really be finished.

It appears that the aspics served their purpose not for Julie’s taste buds but rather for her sense of purpose.  She didn’t begin blogging to make a perfect aspic, nor did I begin blogging to watch horrible movies like “I Am Love.”  Julie claims she couldn’t remember why she began blogging; I, on the other hand, do.  It just takes a bit of a refresher from looking at my first post.

What I do hope to do is to inspire a deeper appreciation of movies, foster a desire to discuss movies, and connect with people through the glorious medium of film.

We are both on the same page, though, in wondering what life was like before blogging.  It seems like an eternity ago that I would go see a movie and then come home and NOT review it.  I barely remember a day when I wasn’t on the lookout for random factoid material.

Much like Julie, I feel like blogging has turned obsession into purpose.  I don’t just watch movies to please myself; I’m watching them to share the best ones with friends and spare them the agony of watching the bad ones.  And she came under the same illusion any blogger with some sort of community has – people want to hear what we write, potentially even needing it.  Since I post at least a tiny random factoid every day, I’ve never seen what would happen to my community if I forced them to endure a day without reading something new.  I’m not sure whether or not they would go into withdrawal, but I won’t get too cocky and assume they would.

Julie then tries to track down the source of this surge of purpose.  She doesn’t think it’s the challenge that she’s put ahead of her or Julia Child herself; rather, it’s the community of her readers that she calls “bleaders.”  She once again feels conflicted, torn between skipping some of the aspics to please and retain her bleaders or doing them all to fulfill her goal.

I love having a nice community of readers, whether they comment or not.  I wouldn’t say that I blog only for them because this is something I would probably still do if it only became a self-serving project.  I love to write this stuff, and it’s fantastic to have an audience that reads it.  At times, when I have struggled to finish a post or would have much rather blown off writing to watch yet another movie, thoughts of how happy my readers would be at another post has kept me going.

The aspic chapter coincided not so wonderfully with Thanksgiving, and Julie served Oeufs en Gelée as an appetizer.  She points out, quite astutely, that after an aspic, everything else on the menu is going to taste like manna from God.   Turns out, she was right, and the dinner quickly turned from feasting on goose to a drinking game to every time someone drops the F-bomb in the movie “True Romance.”  Once again, I get more fodder for both my image of the moviegoing Powells and New/Real Julie.

I know Julie’s feeling with the Thanksgiving aspic – setting the bar low so it’s easy to jump over afterwards.  I love doing what is casually known by movie lovers as a “double feature” – seeing multiple movies in one visit to the theater.  Unlike most, I actually pay for each movie I see, walking out of the theater to go buy another ticket at times.  Friends tell me it defeats the purpose of the double feature, which is to see as many movies as you can for the price of one.  But theater hopping, in my mind, is disrespectful to the myriad (SAT vocabulary word) of people that toil away to make a movie.  Eight dollars is the least I can do.

But arguments on morality aside, I carefully plan out double features, as I stated in Random Factoid #371:

…Here’s what I’ve learned from my double features and how to plan the perfect one.

  1. The movies have to be pretty close in quality.  If one movie is really good, the other has to be great as well.  And if one movie is bad … you need to see a good movie.  If they aren’t pretty evenly matched, the day gets pretty lopsided, and you leave with a bitter taste in your mouth from it all.
  2. Plan for the first movie you see to be worse than the second.  You want to end the day on a high note.
  3. Pick genres that mix.  Action and comedy go well together; drama and comedy sometimes don’t.  Think of how you will feel after each movie you want to see and what would be appropriate to follow it up with.

Julie then goes on to talk about friends, and she divides them into two categories so brilliantly that I have to borrow it.   The two friends are “those who inspire you in all that is great and good and those who’d prefer to get right down on their haunches and help out with the mud pies.”  Her friend, Gwen, is one of the few that is willing to do the dirty work with her.  She tries not to make Gwen seem like someone who just feeds her obsession without any sort of practical consideration but rather very “accommodating.”

I guess now would be the perfect time to thank my Gwen, my friend Nelson.  For the past three years, well before I started blogging, he has been my constant moviegoing companion.  Even whenever we have something vastly more important to be tending to, we blow it off and head to the movies together.  We’ve probably made many ill-advised trips to the theater, and the consequences have caught up with both of us.  But it’s been so nice to have a friend that will always go with me and not complain about my obsession.  Really, it’s understood whenever we call each other that it’s about going to the movies.  “Hanging out” has become code for “let’s go to the movies.”  Thank you, Nelson, for being a sort of cinematic booty call.



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