Thursday, December 28, 2006
Random Bullets of Conference
Yes, there was a nice holiday sandwiched in there somewhere (which I might write about some time), but for about 10,000 people right now it's all MLA, all the time here in Philadelphia.
The weather is nice, saints be praised. At an MLA in Toronto some years back, the temperatures fell into the minus digits, which made walking between the hotels considerably less than pleasant. I wish I had a camera to take pictures of the Reading Terminal Market, which is right next to the main conference hotel. It's like Pike Place Market in Seattle, an old building converted to small open shops--fish vendors (though no one throws the fish here, at least that I've seen), bakeries, and lunch counters of all sorts. If you go, here's a tip: it supposedly closes at 6, but I observed many very unhappy countermen serving us clueless MLA types at 5:30 p.m. The cliche really is true: the dress code is black, black, and more black. It's nice to see people greeting their friends here. On the other hand, I've never seen so many people ready to give a cool, appraising stare without either smiling or looking away once someone meets their gaze. Due to other commitments, I won't get to see the "Meet the Bloggers" session on Saturday morning with Michael Berube, John Holbo, Scott Eric Kaufman, et al. but hope that others will blog about it. (I feel fairly certain that the panelists will.) Secret message to panelists: When you look up from your paper and start speaking extemporaneously, time does not stand still! The clock keeps right on ticking and cutting into someone else's presentation time. Really. I wouldn't kid you about this. To try to curb Meandering Speaker Syndrome, the MLA has placed timers on all the tables and blinking lights on the podium. Green means that you have 3 minutes left, Red means that your time is up, and the next step is a trap door that opens beneath the speaker's feet and drops him or her into a dungeon. All right, the MLA hasn't perfected that last step yet.