Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Deep in the Heart of Texas!

I don't think this really counts as "Day 1" of the conference just yet, as it was spent in traveling and dealing with all the myriad of details that go with getting ready to burst from the starting gate for this shindig. The National (makes it sound like a horse race, doesn't it?) is big on its own; paired as it is this year with the regional SW/Texas conference, the program itself is the size of a respectable doorstop. I need to go through and at least figure out my game plan for tomorrow; planning more than that much is just too darned intimidating. See, the academic study of popular culture is an offshoot of American studies - and that's an awfully big boat by itself. Interested in just why Americans have such a love affair with cars and the open road? This is the place for you. Interested in the Beat poets? We're your huckleberry. Fascinated by the sharp rise in the popularity of so-called reality television programming? Want to get some ideas on incorporating the "new media" in your classroom? Want to meet other scholars who focus on the American detective novel? Or the depiction of images of women in advertising? Trust me, hang out in the lobby of the hotels (the conference is so large that it's overtaken two major hotels in downtown San Antonio) and you'll find your people.

And I have to say that this was just one of those smooth days, which is especially nice after the sturm und drang associated with getting ready to be responsibly away from campus for this long this close to the end of the semester. No problem getting to the airport, the bags were duly tagged and whisked away, security was just fine - I even had time for a coffee and an overpriced airport pastry before the boarding call. The flight was fine and even got in a few minutes early. Our bags came down the baggage carousel promptly, we were advised how to cheaply get to the hotel (no free shuttles, alas!), where an alert bellman carried our bags and filled us in on the history of the city. We unpacked, sauntered around the immediate vicinity of the hotel and found the Riverwalk where we ate ice cream in the sunshine and watched other tourists watching us.

All in all, a lovely end to a twelve-hundred-mile journey. We finished up with a wonderful, artery-clogging Italian three-course dinner on the famed Riverwalk where we were entertained by the stylings of (no kidding) "Adean Fusion," who rendered amplified show tunes on the Peruvian pan flute and an assortment of other native instruments. You know I'm telling the truth; I couldn't make that up if I tried. The Eagles' "Hotel California" was also presented, which may qualify them for inclusion in the Sixth Circle of Hell. (That's where they kept heretics, according to Dante, and it seems to sort of qualify.)

Now to take a deep breath and begin highlighting that doorstop of a program . . .

And don't forget about the Re-Watch! We're into the really, really good stuff of Season 3 here, including the introduction of Mothers Opposed to the Occult, or MOO. Always watch for your acronyms, people. Always.

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