Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Letter From Julie Powell

Day... The Last You'll Ever Hear From L/J&J.

Even though the Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project technically ended weeks ago, I've tried to milk every last second out of my 15 minutes of fame by extending this "celebration" period a.k.a. recapping my glorious final viewing party in Denver for all three of you readers who've stuck around. But this is it. The final final post.

It's been a pretty weird year for me to say the least. The first strange thing to happen to me was that the actual Julie Powell left a comment on my first post. And then she went away for awhile... understandably so... After all, this pretty much became primarily a Julie Powell Hate Club. But as much as I hate the she-devil (or rather, the portrayal of said she-devil in Julie & Julia), I respect her accomplishments.

So anyway, the awesome people at Denver Off-Center managed to contact the real Julie Powell to ask her about my blog and she was nice enough to give a thoughtful response. And since her year's work was pretty much the genesis of mine, I thought it'd probably be most fitting that she would get to postmortem The Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project, once and for all.

Without further ado, the real Julie Powell:


Lawrence Dai's project was brought to my attention - not by him, I might add - within the first week of its inception.  I read along for awhile, impressed by Lawrence's attention to detail (many of his early entries mirror my own nearly forgotten ones to the point of eeriness), his dedication, and most of all his sense of the meta and the random.

I will admit, after reading for awhile, I got a little soul-sick, just putting myself in Dai's shoes.  I myself have watched "Julie & Julia" 7 1/2 times, and if I ever had to watch it again, at least for another decade or so, I will probably just go ahead and stab my eyes out.  I mean, maybe "The Third Man" could withstand such abuse.  Maybe "Rashoman."  Maybe "Serenity."  But this sweet Nora Ephron movie, made from my fluffy little book?  No one could survive this.

"Surely," I thought, "SURELY he will cave on this, he will give up and get on with his life."  I hoped so, for his sake.  But he didn't.  After a while I read it only once a week, or once or twice a month.  He made a lot of funny points, a lot of sort of painfully right-on ones, and quite a few I disagreed with but found intriguing.  But still.  It hurt me.  Not because of his incredibly fair criticisms of the movie, but because witnessing sado-masochism in such an intimate and daily manner takes a lot out of a person.  Gradually I dropped out entirely, perhaps hoping that if I wasn't reading, it wasn't happening.  So imagine my shock when I heard a week ago, that not only was Lawrence Dai still watching, still blogging, but that he was at the home stretch and doing fine!  That, my friends, is strength.  It's also insanity.  But mostly it's strength.

The whole "My-year-of-whatever" trope has become the tritest cliche of blogs and blogs-to-books in the last few years, but I've always thought that what blogs really do best is chronicle obsession, and the more obscure the better.  Lawrence's dedication, his daily session of flagellation-by-rom-com, moves his project to some place beyond the usual spate of snide one-joke internet gimmicks into something else.  I am not sure what that place is, and I'm not entirely sure I want to, but it is a deep and sticky place and nutty place.  Like pie!

Chin-chin, Lawrence!  May all your dreams come true and your J&J DVD languish in some dusty corner, forever and always!

~Julie Powell


***

Listen, I know I was going to gracefully bow out and let Julie Powell have the last words, but I have to interject. ONLY 7 1/2 TIMES?!!? POOR YOU, JULIE POWELL. POOR YOU. 

Seriously though, it's very cool that Julie Powell sent that letter. And she was super complimentary and supporting of the whole thing... I think...

Anyway, though this is my official goodbye to Lawrence/Julie & Julia, I won't be leaving the blogosphere entirely. In fact, you'll soon be able to find some Lawrence Dai-generated content at typesofbabies.tumblr.com. Follow me if you wish. I know, I know--a tumblr, what? Have I sold out? Yeah, probably. And Types of Babies? What is that all about? You'll see. Soon enough. Probably sometime in January.

But hey. This thing. Julie & Julia. 365 days. 365 viewings. We did it, guys. It's been fucking real.

Mad Respect.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Time I Met Amy Adams' Mom

Day... Does It Really Matter Anymore?

So as you all may know by now, the biggest surprise of the final Julie & Julia viewing party was that Amy Adams' mom, a Denver native, saw the event announcement in The Denver Post and decided to come see what all the hubub was about. Which put me in a rather... awkward position to say the least--seeing as most of my material is basically just me SHITTING on Amy Adams' performance as Julie Powell.

"Hi Mrs. Adams! Pleasure to meet you! Your daughter is the worst person in the world!"

Basically, whenever I said something bad about Amy Adams, I was pretty much saying it directly to her mother's face, which seemed to play well with most of the audience. Mrs. Adams? Not so much.

Anyway, I got the chance to talk to her after the event, where I profusely apologized for the two hour-long hate-fest of her daughter that I put her through. It was a pretty weird interview and she just seemed to be generally confused as to why I would ever do what I did (the fact that I was still wearing the wig and pearls probably didn't help. See for yourself.



So that was probably the pinnacle of surreality throughout the night (not that there weren't many, many competing moments). And afterwards, I asked the question I knew I had to ask--if she had told her daughter about where she was at the moment. And guess what? She'd texted her earlier that evening! Mrs. Adams said she hadn't heard back from Amy (or she just didn't want to say), but it didn't really matter at that point. Because...

AMY ADAMS IS AWARE OF MY EXISTENCE!!!

I guess I can cross that goal off the list. What a weird... thing. The one downside of this whole meeting Amy Adams' mom ordeal is that I guess this will make it much harder for me to murder Amy Adams now. You know, since the family knows I'm out there, silently lurking in the alleyways. But hey, you never know until you try!

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Non-Julie & Julia Quote of the Day: "
You had me at hello."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Final Viewing Party Recap

Day... Doesn't Really Matter.

Here it is! A recap of the culmination of my yearlong struggle against Julie & Julia.

THE FINAL VIEWING PARTY! 

As most of you faithful readers know, I was flown out to Denver to watch Julie & Julia for the 365th time by an experimental interactive theater group named Off-Center @ the Jones. I didn't really know how many people would show up or why anyone would want to essentially watch me watch Julie & Julia, but hey, I wasn't going to argue with a free plane ticket (plus a generous appearance fee). Long story, short I didn't know what to expect at all really. And well, the last thing I would have probably expected was...

Over 100 people showed up! They paid $10 a piece! To watch me watch a shitty movie!
Audience members recreated my blog posts! What?!?
And of course, I finally boned a duck.

Here are the highlights (and the lowlights) of the big party that Denver Off-Center & the Jones threw for me two weeks ago. It was quite the wild ride. And by that I mean, It was unequivocally the weirdest evening of my life.



How to summarize my experience? Well, the first thing that happened was the announcement that Amy Adams' mom was in attendance. After that, all bets were off.

It was pretty much anything goes from there--we churned butter, we chopped onions, we made jokes about Not Mark Ruffalo. It was insane. I mean, watch the video, see for yourself. There were sharks, there were vaginas, there were live tweets--Hell, there was even a video message from real life Random Actor Tuesday, Megan Byrne.



Oh, and did I mention? AMY ADAMS' MOM WAS THERE. YOU KNOW, AS IN THE MOTHER OF THE ACTRESS WHO PLAYS JULIE POWELL, MY SWORN ARCHENEMY. I HAD TO SIT THERE AND RAG ON AMY ADAMS IN FRONT OF HER MOM. IT WAS AWKWARD.

But more on that tomorrow. Let me just say that this final viewing of Julie & Julia was, without a doubt, the most enjoyable viewing out of the 365 and probably the most fun anyone's ever had watching this 2-hour long piece of shit movie.

I cannot thank Charlie M. and Emily T., the curators of Off-Center, enough for giving me this opportunity to come to Denver and feel like an absolute king for a day or two. You guys really couldn't have made this final viewing party any better and I owe you a huge debt of gratitude for making it all happen. You guys picked a weird cause (in me), but I'm eternally grateful that you did. The whole Denver experience made it all somewhat worth the pain (the emphasis on somewhat). Thanks again, guys.

Check back later for:

  • My exclusive interview with AMY ADAMS' MOM!!!
  • A letter from Julie Powell!!
  • Other things!

And... soon enough, I will announce my post-L/J&J FOLLOW-UP BLOGGING PROJECT. What movie will I watch next every day for a year? (Hint: No movie. I'm never doing that again.)

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Non-Julie & Julia Quote of the Day: "
One does not simply walk into Mordor."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Trailer Park

Day... Who Cares?

The dilemma? How does one go about introducing the Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project to an audience completely unfamiliar with the likes of Cheese Guy and Not Mark Ruffalo? The solution? Put together a sweet-ass dramatic trailer along with awesome movie guy-sounding voiceover.



The good people at Denver Off-Center really know how to inflate a guy's ego. Man, I am full of myself. I mean, I was always full of myself--but now, more than ever. HEY EVERYBODY, LOOK AT ME!

Tomorrow: The highlights from the event itself!
Later: My interview with Amy Adams' Mom!
And after that: Julie Powell's final response to L/J&J

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Non-Julie & Julia Quote of the Day: "
Some men just want to watch the world burn."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Look Ma, I'm on TV!

Day... Whatever.

Okay, so I know I said I'd slowly wean you guys off the Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project by spending the next few days updating you all of my illicit activities in Denver... but then... I had other stuff to do. Or something... you know... final exams to study for... a Bon Iver show to see... a lot of masturbating to catch up on... you know what? I don't have to explain myself to you.

I watched Julie & Julia 365 every day for a year and blogged about it. I've earned this blogging vacation. But now that I'm on winter break, I figure now's as good a time as any to tell you about the time I was on TV for watching movies.

Doomed to be forever known as "Lawrence Dai, Julie & Julia Blogger"

So as many of you know, I was flown out to Denver for the final viewing party. And as a part of that press junket, (I know! A press junket! What? I still don't know what a "junket" is!) I was briefly interviewed on FOX Denver's morning show Everyday! (an oddly fitting name for a show, given my... accomplishment)


My part starts about 5:15 into this video. It was pretty fucking surreal being interviewed on live television. I won't lie--I was pretty worried that they were gonna ask me about Amy Adams and I'd just start swearing prolifically. But I think I ended up doing okay... see for yourself.


Also, here's the cooking segment they did after my interview. Chris Parente, the host, borrowed my Juila Child wig and pearls and did his own little JC impression, but I think I could give him a run for his money.

Anyway, that's all for now--I also appeared on a Denver CBS affiliate and a PBS entertainment show, but those aren't on the internet yet--watch them if you want, but I won't be offended if you've got better things to do. Just thought it'd be cool to share WHAT YOU CAN ACCOMPLISH BY WATCHING THE SAME MOVIE EVERY DAY. Check back tomorrow for:
  • The opening trailer to my party!
  • Highlights of the party itself!
  • An exclusive interview with AMY ADAMS' MOM!!!
  • A response from the REAL Julie Powell!!
  • Other things!

And... by the end of the week, I plan on announcing my FOLLOW-UP BLOGGING PROJECT to the world. L/J&J was just a warm-up for this shit, people. So stick around.

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Non-Julie & Julia Quote of the Day: "
Yer a wizard, Harry!"

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tying Up Some Loose Ends

Day... ?

Today, I went outside. I breathed fresh air. I looked at the trees. I didn't watch Julie & Julia for the first time in a year. It was pretty weird. Oh, wait--did I say weird? What I mean to say was, THE BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD.


But alas, I find myself back here blogging. One can never stray too far from what made one... well, whatever it is one--I--am. But enough about that. Let's tie up some loose ends, shall we? The L/J&J Project has been "officially" over since Tuesday, but I thought you guys might've liked to see how my last viewing of Julie & Julia went. As most of you know, I was flown out to Denver by the Off-Center Theater and they threw me a big bash to go out on.

Little did I know that it was going to involve fan clubs, red carpets, limos and swanky apartments... and that was only on the EVE of my FINAL VIEWING DAY!!



Arriving at the airport and seeing all those people with their L/J&J T-shirts, posters, buttons--that was definitely a top 10 moment in my life (Strangely enough, the other 9 also happened over the course of the next day or so).

I've got a lot of weird and random content concerning my trip to Denver waiting in the blogging pipeline, so I figured I'd stagger the updates over the course of this next week or so. You know, to slowly wean you guys off your Lawrence Dai addiction (A-dai-ction?).

So be sure to check back soon for more fun-filled updates, including but not limited to:
  • Media appearances!
  • The actual final viewing party!
  • An exclusive interview with AMY ADAMS' MOM!!!
  • A response from the REAL Julie Powell!!!
And you thought you were all rid of me...

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Non-Julie & Julia Quote of the Day: "
I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day 365 - The End

Day 365. 

So here we are. The final day of the Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project.

I've been waiting to post this screenshot for a long time.

On Sunday, August 11th, 2002, New Yorker Julie Powell began blogging her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She did this because she loved her husband, she loved food, and she loved the sound of her own voice. And in the process she found joy (while the rest of us found her to be insufferable).

I didn’t understand this for a long time, but I do now. Julie & Julia taught me that. But here’s what Julie & Julia really taught me. It taught me discipline. It taught me to never give up. It taught me that even the stupidest of ideas could find a home on the Internet.



Exactly one year ago, I was just another unremarkable snot-nosed college kid, sleepwalking his way through class, spending most of his time wallowing in his own self-pity. But then I discovered Julie & Julia. And then I re-discovered it. 364 times. It’s strange how these things work out—I mean, I’d been looking for a new creative outlet ever since high school, and the fact that it manifested itself in a trivial blog about a mediocre cooking movie never ceases to amuse me (or rather, it never ceases to amuse my friends, who all take great enjoyment from my misery).

But at least I got to be on TV!

As I reflect upon this past year, I have found it increasingly difficult to pinpoint what today’s final viewing really means.

I mean, sure—I have finished my blog about a movie about a book about a blog about a book, but I can only get so much mileage out of the meta-ness of it all. They’ve called me the “nadir of stunt journalism,” which is pretty apt, even if I wouldn’t consider anything I do to be “journalism” at all. Perhaps something can be said about the blog’s relatively small success and the overall nature of the Internet—after all, both the J&J Project and the L/J&J Project wouldn’t exist without it. But, I don’t know—I will try to resist the urge to make some sort of grandiose statement about the nature of my… rather unique and bizarre accomplishment.

The only thing I know for sure is that by the end of today, I’ll have seen the 2009 film Julie & Julia 365 times.


So what does that mean? Well first of all, it’s nice to be indisputably the best at a very specific task. I mean, I think it’s pretty safe to say that no one else on this world has seen the movie Julie & Julia as much as I have. It might not be glamorous, but how many other people can say that? None. None other people.

And aside from all of that, The Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project has given me some structure in my life, as strange as it sounds. Like Julie Powell says in the movie, “It's a regimen… It gives you something you have to do every day, one day at a time.” And being forced to write something funny/amusing about the same movie every day has definitely maed me a more better writer-person.

And finally, I like to think that by doing this stupid, stupid thing, I have made some people happier. I have grown fond of my daily readers and I hope they’ve found my antics to be amusing this past year. I do it all for you guys. Really.

And so, here we are.


Some thanks are in order. Thanks Mom, Dad, Lance and Maria for supporting my crazy half-brained schemes no matter now crazy they got—I know it must be hard to be related to me sometimes—so thanks, for everything.

Thanks to Jeannette M. for constantly pushing me to better myself and get up off my ass and do something for a change. You and I both know the Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project wouldn’t exist without you.

Thanks to Jack D. for being a constant sounding board throughout the entire year. Friends and supporters come and go, but I can always count on you to terrorize my comments sections with your fictional characters i.e. Rodger Spence and Garrett Popcorn.

Thanks to Brandon D. for believing in the Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project before anyone else did, and for sharing it with the rest of the world.

Thanks to Erin K. for her excellent videographing abilities and undying support.

Thanks to Kaitlin S., Annie C., and Jonathan L for never hesitating to help me out whenever I needed a favor for a post. Whether it was an elaborate scene recreation or a simple borrowing of lipstick and pearls, you guys were always there for me.

Thanks to Joseph P., and Green C., for agreeing to live with me, even though you knew about “my little problem.”

Thanks to Alex M., Eli. G., Jonathan A., John G. and Sam W. for cheering me up when I was feeling down. And for being secretly resentful of my HUGE BLOGGING SUCCESS. Not.

Thanks to Sophie K. and her wonderful family for inviting me to their beautiful home for dinner.

Thanks to Scott R. and Heat Advertising for making the mistake of hiring some guy over the Internet that they didn’t know. All those pens I stole from your offices have really come in handy

Thanks to Theo O. for renewing my passion for blogging and for his Beautiful Swear Words

Thanks to Audrey L. for keeping me going throughout the summer. And for making sure I never missed a deadline.

Thanks to Amy R. for just being generally awesome.

Thanks to Charlie M., Emily T. and everyone else at Off-Center for throwing me this ridiculous event and for creating a final viewing experience that has surpassed my wildest dreams expectations.

And finally, THANK YOU, the loyal readers of the Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project. I think fondly upon you all during the many years of therapy that are sure to come.


***


And that was it, really. A college student at Northwestern University risked his grades, his mental health and his high score on karaokeparty.com to watch the 2009 culinary-drama Julie & Julia 365 times—a movie that changed the lives of thousands of desperate American bloggers looking to land book deals—all in one year. The same year he turned twenty. It was the hardest, bravest, stupidest, best thing a coward like him ever did, and he wouldn’t have done it without the support and encouragement of you all, the faithful readers. As someone once said, “You are the butter to my bread, the breath to my life.”

The project has come to a close. We're back exactly where we started, my Julie & Julia DVD, me, the duck I boned, slightly worse for wear, sitting in The Denver Center for the Performing Arts, eating, watching, blogging.
 
So thanks, everybody. And guess what?
 
Bon app├ętit.