Thursday, February 28, 2008

tag, we're it!

I was tagged earlier this week with a meme that's been making circles through the SF food blog community. The game? List five sordid facts about yourself, then tag five others. My tagger thought this would be a perfect project for a writer-cook, and that fact threw me into a tizzy. I had to cough up something good. And there are a few sordid stories I'd really rather keep to myself. The pressure was on to come up with five details and then sell them on their grisly details.

I'll just share two of my "five sordid facts" here, but you can find the rest right here. I was hoping we could use this as a celebration of the more literary moments of blogging as well as an adventure. I challenge the subsequent posters to share (at least) one sordid fact with the Fringe community. Hell, you can even make it all up! We'll never know...right?

So, from my list:
1. the "who am I really?": For a long time when you googled me (which is to say when I googled myself) the first thing you saw was this: Toby Reid is a faggot Jew. It was the first sentence of a story I wrote and had published. It's actually a really good piece and I still love it, but I always wondered if people randomly coming across it would think I was a bigot. Also, in grad school I wrote a story on terrorism that involved me googling things like "how to make bombs" and "how to get away with arson" so the government probably thinks I'm nuts. And now you all can as well.

5. the "violence against literature": Recently I took The Last Course out of the library (back in Boston, because SF just has no love for Claudia Fleming) out of the library and photocopied the whole thing because I can't afford to buy a marked-up ebay copy and it's out of print. So I have the most ghetto version of that cookbook, but it's okay, I still love it. Also, years ago when I worked at a bookstore I was so fed up with things in my life that I would rip pages in the back of the travel guides. Customers would be able to bring them back for a new people would just take them and read them on the floor so lots were pretty banged up anyway.

And now, I'm looking forward to yours...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Persepolis: A Review

This weekend, I made the journey to the Kendall Square Theater to see Persepolis.
Since Kendall is the only theater in Boston showing the movie right now, it was packed, forcing me to the second row, where I slumped as down low in my seat as I could and craned my neck to watch. Luckily, it's one of the best movies I've seen in a long, long time.

Persepolis, nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, tells the story of Marjane Satrapi, a young Iranian woman. Based on the graphic novel written by Satrapi, the film details Marji's coming of age as her country dissolves into revolution and war with Iraq. Marji's story doesn't need lush color or flashy animation--the film is almost entirely in black and white stark graphics, true to the graphic novel format. Though Marji is forced to wear a veil and cannot be seen consorting with men, drinking alcohol, or listening to music, she somehow manages to remain fiercely independent. The film is charged with humor (watch out for the Marji's rousing rendition of Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger") and grace, even while people are executed and the country is bombed. I don't know much about Middle Eastern history or culture, and I learned a great deal by just seeing this movie. I highly recommend giving it a watch, even if it means sitting in a crowded theater in a far away neighborhood.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Lizzie Gets Posted

After numerous nights sans sleep, I'm proud to announce the release of NYC24: BODY, the online news magazine I helped edit and build.

Check it out!

Here's our press release: Launches The Body Issue
Real stories, reported from New York City

Feb. 15, 2008 -- The New Media Workshop at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism announces the latest issue of, an online news magazine,

NYC24 (pronounced "N-Y-C-two-four") brings you eight feature stories about NYC, centered around the theme of BODY. This collection of multi-media stories burst with the strange, sexy and fun things people do with their bodies. The site is entirely conceptualized, reported, shot, produced and edited by the students.

Editors for BODY:


In this issue:

* An Afro-Brazillian martial art draws new devotees by ELSA BUTLER & CHANNTAL FLEISCHFRESSER

* Circus performing or yoga -- how 'bout both? by LISA BIAGIOTTI, PHILIP CAULFIELD, KENAN DAVIS & ELIZABETH R. STARK

* Craig Hormann's Ivy-league path to the NFL by DAVE BURDICK & ANTHONY VANGER

* New York's Tall Club: Do you measure up? by TOM DAVIS & SYDNEY BEVERIDGE

* Make your skin bling with sub-dermal piercing by KATYA SOLDAK & VERONICA ZARAGOVIA

* Sword-swallowers show us how it's done (hint: don't drink) by MATTHEW P. MOLL & YIAN HUANG

* The ultimate three-minute love affair: Tango by KAREN ZRAICK & JAY CORCORAN

* Burlesque: Fabulously fit at any size by SANDRA LARRIVA & MATHILDE PIARD

Visit us at

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Make Me A Match

Everything is Jane Austen these days. Or that’s what the BBC would like us to believe. Yes, I have been eagerly sucked into this romantic pleasure, turning on my TV every Sunday to watch Masterpiece Theater televise Austen’s novels. I am swept away by costumes, love triangles, and the saga of 19th century female survival. I can’t help it. I love this stuff regardless of my feminist sensibilities. The prospect of historical romance is alluring, and Austen’s a master at presenting a formula for True Love.

Some say, little has changed since Jane Austen’s day. In a behind the scenes interview, Masterpiece Theater compared Austen’s novels to Sex in the City. At first I was offended by the connection. I saw it as a degradation of Austen’s intelligence. But now, I can’t stop thinking of the Bravo reality show, Millionaire Matchmaker, where Patti Stanger, founder of the Millionaire's Club, matches wealthy men with their dream girls.

The sentiments expressed on Millionaire Matchmaker resonate freakishly with the courtship scene in Edwardian England. I urge you to go to the Bravo TV website and check out Patty’s commandments for dating. In them, women are told that on a first date they should be engaging, act like a lady, let the man lead conversation, and not get intimate. Have we progressed since Austen’s time?

We all know that in 19th century England, women’s hopes for marriage revolved around financial security. Love was often left to the lower classes—people who had little money to lose—or was an added bonus to an advantageous marriage. Luckily, many things have changed for women since Austen’s time, but clearly others have not, including a sentiment that wealth and marriage are keys to happiness.

Last week as I watched Pride and Prejudice, I moaned to my boyfriend, I want to be Elizabeth Bennet! He looked at me askance and said, really? Her life is so boring. And it’s true. The appeal, and danger, of Austen’s novels is that they paint a world where a woman’s goals are to end up happily secure in love and finances. And this formula is compelling, and should be looked at critically.

I certainly don’t want to be shut up in the house waiting for the next ball, or stuck submitting my profile to the likes of Patty Stanger. But I do want happiness. A balance must be achieved. I’m not quite willing to give up Jane Austen, but I do want to point out our continued social pressure (going strong over 200 years after Austen’s death) to “marry well.”

So here’s to Valentines Day, romance novels, and genuine relationships. We don’t need a millionaire matchmaker, or wealthy uncle to introduce us to Mr. or Ms. right. Let's be our intelligent selves. I think Austen would approve.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Girls, girls girls!

As Webmistress, I have been working hard to pull together Fringe's much-anticipated Ethnos issue (which will go live March 1). Though I had read each piece separately, it wasn't until I set the contributor page for the issue that I noticed we've got an all-female contributor list this time around.

When I made the realization, I was initially elated. Here I am, an editor at a magazine run by women, and I brag often about how many female authors we have featured over the past few years. I am proud that we have created a comfortable environment for work from all types of authors, be they female, male, transgender, non-white, non-traditional, or any other adjective you can muster.

But in spite of myself, I felt somehow self-conscious about having a male-free issue.

As I laid in bed last night with my now-usual pregnancy insomnia, I tried to reason with myself. The honest truth is that I felt that publishing all women would make men feel excluded. Why did this bother me? Afterall, women have often been excluded! But still, isn't our magazine trying to fight against the exclusion of anyone? So musn't we include the white male as well?

But then I intellectualized a bit. We did not set out to choose an all-female cast for this issue. Each genre editor chose the piece she thought worked best with the goal of the magazine and the goal of the theme issue. These contributors just happened to be women. Nothing to be self-conscious of there. And so I made myself feel better. And I realized that even I, a super feminist to the nth degree, cannot fully escape some ingrained patriarchal dictates. All I can do is reason with them, struggle with them, be conscious of them, and continue to fight against them.

And now you've heard my confession, so the circle is complete.

Julia (Who hopes you'll still think she's a good feminist. Do you?)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Hillary v. Obama - What Gives?

Am I the only one who notices/cares that when people refer to Barack Obama, they call him "Obama" but when they refer to Hillary Clinton, they call her "Hillary"? They don't call Bill Clinton "Bill" or John McCain "John," so what gives?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday

A reminder to everyone that this is Super Tuesday, the day that 24 states around the country hold primaries or caucuses. With enough participation, today could determine the nomination in one or both parties.

A MAJOR reminder to Massachusetts Fringe readers and voters: If you, like me, are NOT enrolled in a major political party, you CAN still vote in today's primary as long as you are registered to vote. You will be given the option of voting in either the Democratic or Republican primary. YOU CAN VOTE IN THE PRIMARY, EVEN IF YOU'RE UNENROLLED.

Fringe loves democracy! Woooo!

Monday, February 4, 2008

AWP Live-Blog

Well, we were going to do a real-live live-blog this year, but were sadly unable to, due to the Hilton's outrageous prices for Internet.

The convention hall was not rigged with wireless. Fringe was told that it'd cost $870 PER DAY to get a hard line into the convention hall. Clearly, the Hilton is stuck in the stone-age.

I went around and asked other online journals if they'd like internet, then found the conference director to try to lobby for Internet for the convention, but to no avail. However, the woman I spoke to handled my complaint gracefully and said she'd do her best for next year's convention in Chicago.

All the same, the lack of Internet felt like a slight toward the already-marginalized online magazine. Maybe next year things will be different.