Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Day 214: Back to the States for long enough to mess up my body clock!

Hello dear and loyal readers!

So sorry for the extensive delay in this post--I was doing my usual jet-setting type of thing, naturally, and between the flights, conference-ing, and everything else going on during my trip back to Los Angeles, I didn't have much time to sit at the computer and blog. When I did end up sitting at my computer (or lying on my stomach, as the case usually is), I was furious at work for my next couple of pieces. But I'm getting ahead of myself! Let's begin.
Me at the Melrose Trading Post, sinking into a partially-inflated America. I don't know how to unpack that unintentional metaphor...
So my application to the Popular Culture Associate/American Culture Association National Conference was successful, which meant that I needed to get myself over to San Diego to present my paper on Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series (nope, not even joking a little. I contain multitudes). My paper, which I wrote for my fan studies class last spring, examines the self-referential nature of the series with regards to its fandom, and how fan interactions become incorporated into the text of the series itself as it continues. (I did it. I managed to write about Yu-Gi-Oh! for academic purposes; I have officially gamed the system and I love media studies, because media studies says these kinds of explorations are worthy of attention and interest.) I was scheduled to present my paper on Friday April 14th, and thanks to a travel grant from the PCA/ACA (for which I applied separately), my plane rides were partially covered.

The first flight was a short one-hour jaunt to Zürich, during which I somehow managed to sleep. The next flight was fifteen hours from Zürich to Los Angeles, during which I slept intermittently and watched some of Westworld, which I'd never gotten into when it aired, but found very fascinating once I got through the first two or so episodes. As you can see in the photo below, I noticed that they used part of the Skirball Center patio as a set in the show, which cracked me up as I used to volunteer there in high school, and I am pretty sure there is no cabana there, as the show portrays it in another appearance.
I've probably stood exactly where these actors are standing and being all cryptic and pseudo-philosophical.
I love the view I get when the plane starts to land over Los Angeles. I always try and spot my house but we don't live close enough to the airport for that to happen.
(Nota bene: don't ever buy Swiss Airlines wifi because even the most expensive package lasts for about twenty minutes of standard email and social media-checking. It's by the megabyte and not by the hour, so it really drains quickly!)

The next two days were a whirl of trying to get on the Los Angeles time zone, as well as eating delicious food and celebrating two Passover seders. My mom and I also went to our favorite Los Angeles flea market, the Melrose Trading Post, and bought a dress, some jewelry, and took the classic sunglasses photos (albeit at the different stand, since the usual stand's owner yelled at us).
I do basically have glasses in this shape, but we didn't want to dawdle at this stand picking other shaped frames.
Rainbow rolls from Ugly Roll Sushi, aka the best sushi I've ever had. It's a little hole in the wall joint, cash only, by my high school, and I swear by it when it's got an A rating (although I don't eat raw fish from places with less than As).
I also made it over to the Third Street Promenade, where I basked in the glow of stores that were open at 8:30 pm on a Sunday evening. (Imagine that, Austria!)
The Santa Monica version of Mariahilferstraße!
I can't wait to show this photo to my students. These are the standard opening hours for the grocery store near me. 
By the time Wednesday rolled around, I was ready to head on down to San Diego for the conference! Unfortunately, Amtrak canceled my train, setting me behind over an hour (and giving me several more gray hairs in the process, no doubt). After waking up before seven in the morning and taking two trains to get to the Amtrak, I was more than a little peeved that they didn't seem to have a contingency plan. They didn't even give us any freebies as an apology! As an American, I demand freebies as an apology! 
I always forget how beautiful Union Station is... and how much I'd like to go back to Olvera Street sometime.
I think I took this as we were pulling into San Diego. New glasses ahoy, because I needed to fix the sat-upon ones back in Los Angeles.
The conference itself was pretty overwhelming at first. Apparently there were something like 3,000 attendees, which certainly is bigger than the other conference I've participated in (the German Conference at Lafayette about a year ago). Still, though, people were really, really friendly, even okay with me slipping into a panel late (quietly, of course), and when it was time on Friday to read my paper and show my slideshow, the attendees were really thoughtful and welcoming to me even as a newbie. Despite my resolve and planning to attend as many panels as I could, I actually spent more time ~networking~ in the Exhibition Hall, where different academic publishers peddled their wares (and in the case of Penguin, offered them for free in exchange for signing up for their email list!). I shouldn't have been surprised that I felt more at home standing around chatting in a room full of books than in a conference hall, even though many of the halls were pretty small, as far as those sorts of things go. I also got to make some great connections with scholars over lunches and dinners, talking about subjects as variable art, what "quality" means, media, superhero media, why Ben Affleck is the best Batman, Judaism, and all that good stuff.
I got one book for free, and managed to restrain myself enough to only buy one book. I'm so proud of myself! Usually I always buy more books than I have time to read...
I also enjoyed walking around San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. San Diego as a whole actually reminds me a bit of Tel Aviv--at least in terms of the beaches and hotels on the water.
I'm a sucker for this kind of thing, okay? Don't judge me, don't shake your head at me, you know you would park it on Market if you had a car...
Because I am me (what a weird statement. Anyway!), I managed to find a museum to visit even in downtown San Diego (most of the museums are in Balboa Park, away from the downtown area). One of the buildings of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is actually located in the San Diego train station complex, literally a few doors down from the station's waiting room. And it was free!!!! It wasn't a super large space (I think the main location down the block is undergoing renovations) but it had both a great exhibition (Dimensions of Black: A Collaboration with the San Diego African American Museum of Fine Art) and a sublime installation (Jennifer Steinkamp: Madame Curie). The third show didn't make much of an impression on me, but overall it was a great way to kill an hour before the museum closed and I went to wait for my train.
Part of the Dimensions of Black show. Really, really ethereal. I also really liked the Carrie Mae Weems photo they had on display (which didn't photograph well).
Inside the installation. I wish I could have just lain down and watched the animations move...
Overall, it was a good visit back home. Of course, now I'm back in Vienna and I'm super jet-lagged...

Miscellany of the week:
  • I got to review The Handmaid's Tale for PopMatters. Watch it. That's all I'm gonna say here.
  • I took a bunch of photos from the first Seder for my student, who don't really know many (or any) Jews beside me. I hope I get to talk about the holiday and its rituals to at least one of my classes this week!
  • Photos of the week:

Here is the cover of a book I wrote about my fish Oberon for a sixth grade Spanish class project.
Even though these drawings are so bad and should never see the light of day, here I am, posting them on this blog. You're welcome, world!
Seder dessert of Passover-kosher shortcake, fresh whipped cream, and strawberries!
This coffee shop near LACMA transformed itself into what is basically Bernieland. I'm not sure if it's even a coffee shop anymore...
Despite my fiercest wishes and strongest efforts, grad school is not happening this fall. So... please hope for me that I get a good job! I've been getting a few emails asking me to come in and interview, only for them to tell me they would want someone to start before I get home. So I guess that's a good sign?

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