Saturday, February 18, 2006

Conference Roundup

My conference went pretty well. My paper was fairly well-received, I think. Giving a paper at these big conferences is often anti-climatic. Beforehand, you visualize all these scenarios where famous senior scholars quiz you on minute details of your presentations, and you spend hours trying to think up snappy replies. In reality, you get one or two questions about some insignificant detail, and that's it. Still, I think people were pretty receptive. They laughed at my jokes, at least.

Friday night I had dinner with an old family friend--my grandmother's boarding school roommate, as I said earlier--who is the grande dame of Nashville society. It was pretty amazing, and involved a gigantic mansion and a butler, but I'll leave it at that. Afterwards I went out with her grandchildren to the Bluebird Cafe, a famous little bar in Nashville that is a forum for up-and-coming country songwriters to show off their tunes. Friday nights they have a regular residency with these four guys who have been playing together there for twenty years--the only one I had heard of was the songwriter Don Schlitz, who has written songs for Mary Chapin Carpenter, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, and others. The bar is a tiny little place that seats about 50. There is no stage, just a little clearing in the middle where the four musicians sit in a circle facing each other. They play their own tunes, chat, tell jokes, and it is a very entertaining few hours.

Today was a whole range of papers to see. A really good one about the fifties child star Brenda Lee was probably my favorite. Then tonight, the graduate students all hit the karaoke night at the hotel. Hearing a grad student sing a song that he is writing his dissertation about? Good times. And there was even a Very Distinguished Senior Scholar listening to all of us from the corner of the bar. Afterwards, suffice to say, I cannot say I really know Very Distinguished Senior Scholar all that well, but I can say that I have done shots with him.

Looking forward to coming home tomorrow!

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