Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Truck is Coming . . . Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot . . . Academic Roadkill: Spielberg's DUEL (1971)

From Stephen Spielberg's DUEL (1971)

I often say, in my new book THE SCHOLAR'S SURVIVAL MANUAL and in everyday discourse:

A truck is coming, and you better not say:
What truck?
Much as Alfred E. Newman, of Mad Magazine fame would say:
What, me worry?
For trucks are real and if they are coming you had better get out of the way,
Otherwise you will become Academic Roadkill.

Publish that book or get that grant or have N papers out and seen.
You had better do it.
You don't want to say,
Warshel did a half a book and it was in draft
And he got tenure.
For others will think to themselves,
Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot,
And they will get the broom and dustpan
To clean up the road.

Maybe Warshel had other virtues, maybe he had slept with the president, maybe they made a mistake. But you are likely to be academic roadkill, be splat on the ground, unless you do what you must. You are lucky to have seen the oncoming truck. [Arieh Warshel of USC just won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. I use his name since he is so far from being the example here.]

Stephen Spielberg's Duel (1971), one of his first films, is about a truck that keeps coming. You really don't want to be the character played by Dennis Weaver, who is being pursued by an actual Etruck.