Thursday, February 21, 2013

Just another normal day at work

Me: "Hello, Memorial Park Community Center, this is Csenge, how may I help you today?"
Caller (nice elderly lady): "Csenge! I got this figured out! You are from, which country again?"
"Um... Hungary?"
"Hungria!... My son's girlfriend is from China."
"That's nice..."
"So how is that for you?"
"Excuse me?"
"Being from Hungary. Do you miss your country?"
"I do. But I am having a great time over here too."
"Are you going back?"
"I don't know yet..."
"Are you married here?"
"That's too bad, I am sure you are a doll."
"Thank you...?"
"I need to talk to the lifeguards. Do you know Zsazsa Gabor?"
"She was Hungarian too, right?"
"Yes she was."
"So you are like Zsazsa Gabor!"
"I would like to talk to the lifeguards now. What brought you to Tennessee?"
"I am studying storytelling."
"That is wonderful! I heard about storytelling before."
"Yes ma'am. I'll transfer you to the lifeguard station."

I have no idea who it was.

Moral of the story: have a conversation with a nice stranger once a day. It's good for your health.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Popular Culture is popular - Ray Browne Conference 2013

I have been staling circles around the Popular Culture program at Bowling Green for years. I applied there under Fulbright (but ended up going to ETSU instead) and then applied again for a PhD this year (standing by for answer). Finally this week I got the chance to visit as a presenter at the Ray Browne Conference on Popular Culture, and see what the whole thing was all about.
I was not disappointed. Even though the Northeast blizzard took out most of the flights and resulted in several cancellations from people who could not get to Ohio, we still had a nice, eager and friendly crowd. I have had my fair share of conferences - archaeology, storytelling, folklore - but this was my first time visiting one that focused on pop culture. It was tons of fun, and very inspiring.
The opening evening included a buffet, a lot of talking and getting to know our fellow presenters, and watching a documentary titled White Scripts and Black Supermen, about black male superheroes in comic books. It was a very well done documentary that raised a lot of interesting points, and started a discussion that went pretty late into the evening. I was delighted to find out that everyone was pretty much up to date on comics and TV shows, which was a first within my conference experience (and I loved it).
The rest of the conference was similarly enjoyable. Dr. Brendan Riley's keynote was fascinating through and through, especially when he talked about how education (and the role of teachers) should and could change in the digital age. The other keynote speaker, Dr. Thomas Malaby, took us on quite the intellectual ride through the world of meaningful games. The panel that included three presentations of different aspects of digital fandom and copyright (Harry Potter, X-men and Alice in Wonderland) was also fascinating (and very well presented). The roundtable discussion on slash fanfiction was very professional and raised several interesting points (and we also heard things we did not want to hear, but that is the nature of fanfiction). I presented my own paper on role-playing and traditional narratives, and got interesting questions and a friendly audience. All in all, I learned a lot, I was inspired in many ways, and I also made a few new friends along the way (the Saturday night karaoke helped a lot with that).
Now I'm just gonna sit here with my fingers and toes crossed and wait for the admissions results.