Saturday, February 23, 2008


Today I was a moderator at the French graduate student conference at NYU. Moderating is about a million times less frightening than giving a paper; moderating for the second time (my first was at the IFS conference last semester) is maybe a quarter as frightening as doing so the first time. So all told, lots of fun, and not scary in the least. Turned out one of the panelists I was introducing, a first-year grad student at Northwestern, was in my dorm at UChicago, the world-renowned palace that is Broadview. How far we've come! Turns out she's also interested in Philip Roth and French literature--two of us in one dorm, amazing. Broadview is indeed a special place. Some former residents even clerk for the Supreme Court! (end advertising section). I also introduced myself to an Israeli classmate, and told him that he is the reason I can no longer take silly notes to myself in Hebrew, thinking no one will understand. He takes his notes in Hebrew, which was what tipped me off in the first place. And I compared/contrasted, with a different classmate, studying all that is gay and French and studying all that is Jewish and French. Proust may have come up once or twice.

Before moderating, I went for coffee and muffins with Jo, and the café in question had a copy of The Article, the one in which it's announced that no man finds both Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson attractive, unfortunately not followed by an article about how no American likes both pizza and hamburgers. It took much longer to find the article than to read it. I guess it's been a while since I've looked at a woman's magazine, but is the table of contents usually more than 140 pages in? Is the point that you're so distracted trying to find what you're looking for that you neglect your muffin, thereby fitting into the clothes advertised on pages 1-140? Either way, all that research to learn that Natalie Portman went to Harvard, while Scarlett Johansson is known for her enormous breasts. If either of those bits of information come as news to you, then your ability to feign ignorance of pop culture is admirable indeed.

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