Tuesday, December 22, 2009

MLA Bound

I am, once again, MLA bound next week. Off to snowy Philadelphia to deliver a paper, see old friends, and horse around in a place I used to live.

I'm dreading and looking forward to it. Dreading it because MLA still fills me with residual dread. It's just so huge. Sometimes it's really hard just to locate one's friends in the midst of all the posturing and networking and nervous job candidates and competitive colleagues. And dreading it because the economy's so bad, there are few jobs available for anyone, and even my alma mater has canceled its annual party. It's a dark, dark time.

But let's face it, I'm a nerd. I totally love the work that we do, and so I am looking forward to it because part of me cannot wait to give my talk, and meet the important person who agreed to chair our panel, and reconnect with scholars whose work I admire.

But if you're one of my friends and you'll be there, and you're also feeling overwhelmed by the massiveness that is MLA, please get in touch with me and let's arrange to meet up. In advance.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Maybe it's me, but I find most pop songy holiday music as irritating as it is inescapable this time of year. So I'm always glad when a little jazz standard by Irving Berlin ("White Christmas") or Mel Tormé ("Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire") comes out over the loudspeakers, only partly because both composers were Jews who knew that Christmas sells. They were also elegant composers who knew the thrill and complexity of a long, drawn out musical phrase.

Another Jew who capitalized on Christmas was Yip Harburg, who wrote the lyrics to my favorite Christmas song of all time, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." I like it because the original lyrics are so dark and ironic and uncertain.

Meet Me in St. Louis was one of my favorite movies as a little girl. And this scene in particular. Have yourself a merry little Christmas indeed. Then run outside and smash all the snowmen, because you have to move to New York.