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Julia Child (2) vs. Ira Glass; Dorothy Parker advances

Yesterday we got this argument from Manuel in favor of Biles:

After suffering so many bad gymnastics (mathematical, logical, statistical, you name it) at seminars, to have some performed by a true champion would be a welcome change.

But Parker takes it away, based on this formidable contribution of Dzhaughn:

Things I Have Learned From the Contest So Far:
(Cf. “Resume” by Dorothy Parker)

Thorpe’s 1/8th hashtag
Babe’s just a champ
Oscar is all Gray
Hotdogs cause cramp
Serena’s a whiner
Erdos sylvan
Jeff’s gone ballistic
I might as well win.

Today’s contest features the second seed in the Creative Eaters category against an unseeded magician. (Regular listeners to This American Life will recall that Glass did magic shows when he was about 12 years old, I think it was.) Both have lots of experience performing in front of an audience. So what’ll it be? Public TV or public radio? In either case, the winner will be facing someone from New Jersey in the second round.

Again, the full bracket is here, and here are the rules:

We’re trying to pick the ultimate seminar speaker. I’m not asking for the most popular speaker, or the most relevant, or the best speaker, or the deepest, or even the coolest, but rather some combination of the above.

I’ll decide each day’s winner not based on a popular vote but based on the strength and amusingness of the arguments given by advocates on both sides. So give it your best!


  1. Julia Child would open up great possibilities for differentiated instruction. If she were selected, we could invite Judy Graubart to join us too, as “Julia Grownup” (remember The Electric Company?). With this setup, those who felt like children could join the Grownup, and those who felt like grownups could join the Child. We could even do both; differentiation occurs even within the soul! I would split my time, becoming a temporary child to see the “grilled dill pickles with chilled vanilla filling,” and then transmogrifying back into adulthood for Child’s cheese soufflé.

  2. Ethan Bolker says:

    This is a hard one. They are both formidable fundraisers for their respective media, so we’d surely get a pitch.

    Ira Glass would shame us into contributing to Columbia to support the seminar series by nagging some unfortunate in the audience who hasn’t. A random choice would work.

    I’d rather see Julia recreate a long ago WGBH spot in which she complains from behind her kitchen counter about having to work all alone on the set while the camera pans around behind her to show several assistants handing her dishes on cue.

  3. gec says:

    Julia for me, no question.

    Ira is good at telling other people’s stories, but I don’t know how many he has of his own.

    As for Julia Child, she was in the OSS (predecessor to the CIA) where, among her other duties, she developed a shark repellent so that sharks would stop interfering with underwater mines.

  4. Jeff says:

    A Julia win would open at least the possibility of a Wilde-Child semifinal.

  5. Bob says:

    Well, until Ira (1) gets the Presidential Medal of Freedom and (2) is the subject of a rap song (
    ), Julia should win.

    A clip from the lyrics:
    She cooked with butter, and not the margarine,
    So tip a nip of cooking sherry for the Culinary Queen.



  6. Jonathan (another one) says:

    IF Meryl Streep plays you in a biopic, your life must be interesting enough to justify a good seminar. Unless Streep is planning to play Glass, I’ll go with Child. (But I haven’t researched this. If she’s going to play Glass, it’s Ira all the way.)

    • Claire Vaye Watkins writes in a story or memoir in Granta, “Once I was talking to Michael Chabon at a party and Ira Glass interrupted Chabon to talk to me and then — then! — someone cut in to talk to Ira it was Meryl Streep.” It’s possible that she wanted to talk to him about possibly playing him, but then again, she may have had a comment about a recent episode of This American Life or something else entirely. So on the basis of your reasoning, and the lack of any evidence of a Streep playing Glass in the past, present, or future, Julia comes out ahead.

  7. Chris says:

    Maybe Child will take a line out of her book “Cooking Secrets from the CIA” –regardless, everyone knows her work is always stirring. Most people don’t know she concocted a shark repellent that is still used today. If the session is held late in the term, perhaps faculty could try using it on their office hours to see if it keeps students away as well.

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