The Big Show

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While some of the agents I spoke to following ASTA's Monday general session felt that the elaborate entertainment segment left too little time to deal with substantive issues (more about that next week), I would be remiss if I failed to describe the spectacle.

What amounted to a glossy cultural overview of Alsace began with two French actors playing an American couple who've invited a few thousand of their closest friends to a backyard barbecue. Armed with some hokey patter and hilarious Southern accents, the pair gamely tried to warm up the crowd. Snake eyes.

What followed was a barrage of Alsatian dancers, a children's choir dressed as candle-carrying angels (two of them were hoisted into the air, which was how I knew they were supposed to be angels), a grown man dressed in a silver-spandex suit who was flown around the auditorium while wielding a silver propeller and throwing handfuls of silver confetti onto the heads of unsuspecting travel agents, and a symphony orchestra whose selections were accompanied by huge working fountains for a Vegas-style "dancing waters" effect.

It was silly and wonderful and vastly entertaining. For some reason, though, after all that big-bucks merrymaking, your colleagues still wanted to discuss those darn commission cuts. Go figure.

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