Web Civ: Northwestern Student Blog Does the Unthinkable

Lawrence Dai spends a year with Julie & Julia / Columbia Pictures

These days it seems a blog exists for everything. Wannabe DJs post ‘exclusive tunes’ for the raving masses, think tanks provide an endless flow of policy recommendations and college journalists who can’t seem to get any assignments from the daily news offer an relentless stream of stuff to read. With free Blogger and Tumblr accounts, anybody can sign up and start posting–and this leads to a lot of garbage. But every so often, somebody can stir the weblog pot with a great idea and undying commitment. Enter Lawrence Dai, a Northwestern University student who has dedicated his blog, The Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project, to chronicling his experience viewing Nora Ephron’s Julie & Julia every day for a year. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the premise for the film, it’s based in part on the blog (and subsequent memoir) published by Julie Powell (played by Amy Adams), which described her difficulties as she worked through Julia Child’s 524 recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking while managing her own life. This plot line intertwines with a biopic of Julia Child, featuring an Oscar-nominated performance by Meryl Streep. While Dai’s blog could have easily fallen into the category of ‘good concept, bad execution,’ the individual posts are very entertaining. As the blogger progresses from ironically simplistic assessments on Day 1 (“This film is simply delightful!”) to a breakdown of how much time the film devotes to Powell and Child, respectively (exact numbers here), the reader sees a man descend into the absurdity he set out to mock. In the end, Dai’s blog is inventive, fun and, at times, unsettling. If you decide to visit the site, and you really should, don’t forget to check out his experiment with syncing the film with Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

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