Scene & Herd - A whole lotta nerve

Scene & Herd... and a few MARTA rides

While running errands a couple of weeks ago, I spotted a billboard advertising an event called Neurology EXPO! at the Georgia World Congress Center on Sat., Oct. 22. The billboard intrigued me. I'd like to meet and congratulate the smooth ad sales rep who convinced the American Academy of Neurology that the best way to reach metro Atlanta's neurologists and neurology buffs was by placing an ad in a spot typically associated with "Eat Mor Chikin" and "Fireworks, Next Exit."

I arrived at the GWCC around 11:45 a.m. The place was packed with medical-looking types. At first, I thought I may have underestimated the power of billboard advertising, until I realized that the crowd was actually there for the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. I tried to get into the ASA's cadaver workshop, but was unsuccessful.</
After several minutes (the GWCC is a big place), I located the Neurology EXPO!, bought my ticket, and went inside. The place was empty. I should clarify. The room probably had 75 or 100 people in it. Because the hall could have easily held a few thousand, however, it looked empty.</
The convention hall was decorated in a way meant to tell attendees that neurological disorders can afflict anyone. The room was littered with giant, unlabeled portraits of normal, healthy-looking, handsome (but not too handsome) people. The message: Even normal-looking stock photography models can suffer from neurological disorders. Several of the walls featured statistics. One said, "One in six Americans are affected by neurological disorders." Under that, it noted that Beethoven, Charles Dickens and Danny Glover had/have epilepsy.

I tried to sit in on some of the workshops such as Dr. Sharon Hartman's presentation on dizziness titled "Saying 'Goodbye' to Vertigo," but I found them a little too geared toward neurology pros for me to fully appreciate. Luckily for me, tucked in the room's corner was a set of displays geared to kids. I "won" "$2,000" playing Who Wants To Be a Mill-Neuron-Aire.</
After that, I played a neurology Mad-Libs game on a computer. I typed in my name, a neurological disorder, a place, an adjective and a color. The computer-generated neurology Mad-Lib: Andisheh was one of the top neuroscientists in the world. Whatever it took, Andisheh would find a cure for Alzheimer's disease. Today, Andisheh was deep in the jungle of Vatican City looking for a homicidal, pink plant.</
After a quick, convention-hall personal pizza ($5.50), I hopped on MARTA and headed east. I spent 20 minutes riding next to a surly looking woman sporting an "Everyone Loves a Black Girl" trucker hat. Then I exited the train at the Avondale Station and walked a couple blocks to the Paste Rock 'n' Reel Festival.

Presented by Decatur-headquartered Paste magazine, Rock 'n' Reel offered two days (Saturday and Sunday) of Paste-y bands along with a film festival. I watched (and enjoyed) a coupla musicians (Elf Power and Anthony David) and lounged in one of the screening rooms as "Homestar Runner" creators Mike and Matt Chapman shared rare clips from their online cartoon and chatted with fans.</
For those of you who haven't seen it, "Homestar Runner" is a hilarious, absurdist cartoon available online at www.homestarrunner.com. Though appropriate for kids, it has a large grown-up following (large enough that the Chapmans make their living off "HR" merchandise). The clips were great (I could watch the non-sequitur spoofs of Bazooka Joe comics all day).</
Incidentally, on the way out of the screening room, I overheard a female fan say about Matt Chapman, "He's so hot. But then, he was like, 'My wife,' and I'm like, 'Shit.'"</
After the music and film festival, I MARTA'd back to Little Five Points for the neighborhood's annual Halloween Parade. The standard joke for the Little Five Points Halloween Parade: "Freaks and weirdos walking through Little Five Points? That happens every weekend." Funny, cuz it's true, but let's give credit to the parade's participants for the best set of freaky floats and costumes that I've yet seen in that parade.</
Special gold stars go to the person in the giant Medusa mask that kinda looked like a psychedelic Mayor McCheese head, the Star Bar paraders who never broke out of their zombie characters, and to Reid. Reid was the guy unicycling in the white Tyvek jumpsuit, crazy glasses and rotten teeth. He unicycles in every parade in the city. There should be a prize for that.</
Gosh: Regulars watchers of this space may remember that last year, I spent an evening in beautiful Stockbridge visiting Tribulation Trail. Tribulation Trail is a scary depiction of the biblical end of the world, presented by the folks at Metro Heights Baptist Church.

Because the past year's natural disasters have heightened pre-apocalyptic anxiety in some circles, I figured it'd be worthwhile to trek to Tribulation Trail again this year to see how the scriptwriters at Metro Heights are coping.</
Pretty well, it seems. Last year's Tribulation Trail featured "evidence that the end is near" with a slide show montage that conflated Saddam Hussein, Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden with "Will & Grace." This year's montage replaced "Will & Grace" with images of the Asian tsunami and hurricane damage.</
Other than that, everything's pretty much the same. God speaks with lots of reverb. The grim reaper drawls. The United Nations and the European Union are still tokens of Satan. The various Jesuses still look like the king from the Burger King commercials, and the River of Life is still lined with plastic. I highly recommend a visit.</
For more on Andy's travels, visit Scene & Herd at andy2000.org.

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