The Late Movies: Julia Child

My girlfriend and I recently watched Julie and Julia (my pick, not hers) and, honestly, I could have done without the Julie half of the equation. I'm a cook and a blogger, so I didn't really need an hour of Amy Adams acting out a variation of my life and all the chopping, typing and talking to the cat that it contains. What I could have used was more Julia, and would have much rather had a movie that was solely a Julia Child biopic. Alas, Hollywood has failed me again, so I've been left to fill my Julia void via YouTube. Here's what I've found.

The Chicken Sisters
Here's Julia doing what she does best: sounding just a little drunk. Julia's mannerisms and her way of speaking are pretty easy to make fun of (which you shouldn't do if you know what's good for you, watch her swing that knife), so I appreciated Meryl Streep's performance. She nailed Julia's quirks without making the portrayal a caricature.

On the Subjects of French Fries and Fat
Who woulda thunk it? Julia really enjoyed McDonald's French Fries (James Beard was a fan, too), but stopped eating them once the fast food chain stopped frying them in beef tallow and switched to vegetable oil. Fun fact: prior to the oil switch, the fries had more saturated beef fat per ounce than the hamburgers.

Cooking Up Some Science
In 1987, PBS ran a program called The Ring of Truth: Atoms. Julia acted as something of a research assistant on the program, turning a meal into an experiment in applied biochemistry. The guy about to dine at the end is the host of the program, MIT physicist Philip Morrison.

In this video, which played in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Life in The Universe gallery from 1976 until its closing, Julia cooks up the stuff of life: a big ol' pot of primordial soup (again, with the knife waving).

Making Burgers with Dave
Not only does Julia make a great straight man, she also does all her own stunts. In this late '80s appearance on Letterman, she deals with broken equipment and Dave's sarcasm with grace and aplomb and wields a blowtorch like a pro. What a woman!




College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy

One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

North America: East or West Coast?


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