Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Live Blogging from the MLA in Philadelphia - ONLINE NOW

Hungover Horst, a German scholar at a small Liberal Arts College in the northeast, has sent us a flurry of emails this afternoon from in and around the main convention hotel in Philadelphia at this year's Modern Language Association convention, the biggest gathering of English and Foreign Language faculty in the country. We think Horst might need a big pill of some kind, or a mug of his favorite brew. But, we thought we'd share his ... uh ... er ... energy with all of you:

18:40 - Room
My colleague arrived and called me on the phone. Asked me what seminars I've attended. I flipped open the 40 pound convention guide and picked out one. That seemed to satisfy him. We're here to interview 9 applicants for our Spanish position. It starts tomorrow. As I was surfing the web on the lightning fast internet connection ($10 a day; thanks to my college for paying), my colleague nattered on about plans in the morning for a "conclave" with him and a grad school colleague who is also here. What my colleague doesn't know is that I have my own 10 am interview across town at the Embassy Suites. Pass.

17:12 - Sports Bar
Yeah, so I'm not attending any of the excellent presentations this evening on postmodern linguistics and its impact on teaching the 21st century dialectic. But here in the sports bar, it's just as enriching. Just a moment ago, a woman with tiny horned-rim glasses sent back a glass of some house pinot noir. It's a sports bar, honey. They have a giant box of wine back there and you're going to get another glass from the same freaking box. When it came back, she gave a big nod of her head and told her partner, "This is really good." Yeah.

16:10 - Lobby
You have to see the MLA to believe it. It's a yearly convention where thousands of faculty members from around the country gather to give and hear presentations and papers. Oh, that's what they say. But mostly it's a big job-fest. Almost everyone here is on the job market. There are a tremendous number of almost-minted PhDs who are looking for their first post someplace. But there's also a lot of mid-career folks - like myself - who are seeking a better job or a better school. Their departments don't know it, perhaps, but that's why they come. Oh, and for the light lager.

15:04 - The Bar
My colleague and I are back in the sports bar playing interactive trivia and drinking some Pennsylvania light lager. Is it a rule that every state has to make their own thin beer? Can't they just serve up Bud and Coors and whatever and leave the design of beverages alone?

14:45 - The Room
Okay, okay. So "Red" is off the shit-list. I got my room and it's palatial. I've spent nights in holding cells that are bigger. Ba-DUM-dum.

14:02 - Some Sports Bar
I don't even know the name of this place, but it looks like the last place in America where you can smoke. So I've got my American Spirits and I'm sucking them down along with some fried cheese that is so yummy that I'm thinking of sending some to the front desk for "Red."

13:51 - Philadelphia Marriott (lobby)
There are no rooms ready. I didn't call for an early check-in. What kind of a goon am I? Who'd ever want to check in before 4 pm? What kind of a crazy world am I living in that I might actually want to use my room for a bit in exchange for the $185 I'm paying for it. Hmmm, check-in is at 4 pm, but check-out is 11 am. So where do those 5 hours go? Do they ever come back to me? Do I get a rebate? Why wouldn't "Red" just cut me some slack and send me up to some primo suite that they hold in case Johnny Movie Star comes to town?

13:45 - Philadelphia Marriott (check-in)
My cab driver has left me. And we were having such a nice time. I'd rather drive around with him all day than get out into this mess of people. I hate the MLA. I hate the never-ending line of academic drones. Every one looks like they stepped out of that Sprockets sketch Mike Myers used to do on SNL. Black turtlenecks. Product in the hair. GOT TO HAVE MY PRODUCT. They suck. I'm tapping this while I'm standing in the check-in line, but a sweetie with red hair should be waving me forward any minute.