Sunday, November 13, 2005

M/MLA Redux

Things accomplished in Milwaukee:

  1. Dirty Martini consumed at Blu, on the 23rd floor of the upscale Pfister Hotel. We had a view of The Lake, the gas building, and a ginormous bank. The mood: swanky hotel bar, complete with couches and comfy chairs. Bonus: I swiped the matches! I don't smoke!
  2. Had a beer. In the interest of authenticity, Fine Arts Friend and I visited Mader's, where we each had a huge beer (it lasted through the salad course, the entree, and into dessert) and we split a Bavarian Platter, which was basically just different kinds of meat: bratwurst (from Usinger's Sausage, right across the street), knockwurst, and pork loin? Also sauerkraut, of course, and some potato thing of indeterminate origin.
  3. Ate several things I probably shouldn't have, including: two different chocolate based desserts; appetizers whose second ingredients were cheese (but they were so good!); I think that's it? Maybe the potato thing (see above).
  4. Asserted myself with hotel staff. When I arrived, so late on Thursday evening, I was given a room with a bed designed for a little person (and I don't mean a kid). I don't consider myself tall, but when I laid in the bed, my feet hung off the end. The next morning I called the front desk. While I was at the conference on Friday, they moved my stuff to a bigger room with two beds. Hurray for assertiveness!
  5. Did not locate Laverne and/or Shirley nor any L/S paraphernalia. But FAF said she might be able to make me a sweater with a big L on it. Or sew a big L on a pre-existing sweater. Something. I think she has an expensive sewing machine, so if anyone can do it, she can.
  6. Networked with people who have no connection or power in any related field I may or may not be interested in. M/MLA wins, hands down, over the regular old MLA for friendliness. I met an Indian woman from Tennessee, and a comparative lit professor from Northern Milwaukee, both times when I was just sitting alone drinking coffee. Gotta love those friendly Midwesterners.
  7. Met a Super Cool woman (who was on the "Mothers, Maidens, Murderesses" panel with me) who has a PhD in Scandinavian Literature and Language. Her paper was on "Bad Mothers" in Norwegian novels. My favorite part was that her introduction was all about "Alias." Of course, she was from the Northwest (but now teaching in Indiana).
  8. Attended panels of extreme relevance to our current "Five-Year-Plan" discussion. More to follow on this.
  9. Caught up on meaningless television (That 70s Show, Malcolm in the Middle, Sex in the City).
  10. Read two novels that were okay, but not great: Shop Girl by Steve Martin (a summary or an outline of a novel, really. Okay, I know it's a novella. But if you are going to use the "several months pass this way" technique, couldn't it have been a novel?); and The Dog's Ransom by Patricia Highsmith (quite disappointing, not very suspenseful, not very well written, no incredibly creepy yet charming characters, kind of boring, but compared to staring out the window at cornfields, well, I guess the novel is better than some things).
  11. Went to Milwaukee Art Museum. Saw the sail/wing structure flexing at Noon when we arrived. Hurray for serendipity!
  12. Attended Live! Performance Art Showcase: a man, who looked naked, lifting up silver mixing bowls and spoons and "transforming" into a raven. My favorite part was when he put on a purple shirt while wearing a white shirt. It did look a little like feathers. But I was sort of giggling on the inside. After this piece I asked my FAF, "why is modern dance the only art form that has completely missed out on irony?" It was so earnest, I felt responsible somehow; some very good slam poetry from the Milwaukee Slam team (I won't comment here on the "my trauma is worse than your trauma" aspect of some of it; my favorite was a guy who was part stand-up comic, part love-poet, very sweet); and the star of the night: the middle-aged hula-hooper. She stood on stage in a polka-dotted dress and worked the hoop while doing some miming-type activity to Tracy Chapman's "Mountains of Things." In the second-half she came back again, this time with k.d. lang's "Constant Craving" while a video cuts of Wal-Mart and George W. played on a screen behind her. She was in really good shape! There was also a woman pouring water, doing some astrology thing that was only amusing once or twice. And a "Fash Attack!" sort of a new take on a fashion show. Mildly amusing. Certainly worth the $7 my FAF paid for the tickets (I got the wine at Polaris, the rotating restaurant atop the Hyatt, where we were staying. Many questions: why is it called Polaris? How fast was it turning? How bad is the food? The bar where we sat was not spinning, the result being that we couldn't look out the windows because we got motion sick trying to figure out why the people were moving, but the windows weren't. On the plus side, we felt drunk without actually drinking.)
  13. Promised FAF and beer-drinking beau that I would return with Middlebrow and Son at some point in the future for a Milwaukee pub crawl. I think Milwaukee is the antithesis of Salt Lake City. For example: when I got to the MMLA conference around 10 a.m. on Friday, there were many people in the Lobby Lounge drinking beer. Also: at the Performance Art show they were selling liquor in the lobby in plastic cups. Two words: free pour. AND you could get beer, in bottles, to take into the show. Also: two pubs on every corner. Also: the Pabst Theater, the Miller this or that. You get my point.
  14. Overall: Milwaukee a rousing success! Love Milwaukee! Had faith in basic corn-fed, dairy-laden goodness of Midwest restored. What's wrong with Kansas? It ain't Wisconsin, that's what's wrong with it!


Lisa B. said...

It does sound like a good trip. That sail thing is cool, don't you think? Can't wait to hear about the 5-yr-plan related panels.

Nik said...

Wow. And I too must hear the five year plan so I can crib your notes.

lis said...

it's too bad you couldn't find any L&S gear. Somewhat relatedly, my friend was getting wood floors installed recently and when he asked the floor installer if he wanted something to drink his request was coke and milk. weird, I didn't think anyone actually drank that concoction.

Counterintuitive said...

One very nice perk to working in higher ed: que viva la conferencia!