rommy II

 

rommy art

 

(What’s It Really All About)

 

concept by
Robert W. Murphy

written by
Robert W. Murphy and Leslie A. Lowcock

 

©R.W. Murphy and L.A. Lowcock, all rights reserved
lyrics copyrighted by authors

 

music performed by

Ten Years On

Raoul Bain (guitar, vocals)
Ian Dworkin (bass)
Amy Lathrop (saxophone, various)
Leslie Lowcock (guitar, lead vocals)
Ross MacCulloch (guitar, keyboards)
Fernando Marques (saxophone, vocals)
Bob Murphy (drums, percussion, effects)
Anaya Ortigosa (vocals)
Nasreen Rahman (vocals)

cast
(in order of appearance)

SPONSOR--Tanya Trépanier
Dr. BOGART--Jim Bogart
ROMMY--Raoul Bain
CLIFF--Leslie Lowcock
Dr. PHENETICO--Bob Murphy

narration

Pat Gregory

production crew

Slides--Jinzhong Fu
Sound--River Run Theatre
Costumes--Salivating Army
Lights--Ontario Hydro

supported by

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Grant A3148 (To R. W. Murphy)
Royal Ontario Museum


LIGHTS:  Spot on front of stage

Introduction: by Gerry Smith

LIGHTS:  Stage lights down

SONG:  “OVERTURE

SLIDES: Credit sequence

LIGHTS:  Stage lights up following introductory slides. Last slide: “Sesame Street”

SOUND EFFECT: Beer can opening

Narrator: ROMMY is a postdoc who recently graduated from a well known American University. He’s entered one of Canada’s cutting-edge molecular evolution labs and started his research project on the phylogenetic relationships of amphibians using several molecular methods. He has become disillusioned. He just can’t handle nine months of winter, real beer -- or Don Cherry. And they won’t even let him bring his pistols into the country! In the lab he can’t seem to do anything right. His postdoc sponsor insists that he gather his own data instead of buying them, and she has become quite frustrated with ROMMY’s allegiance to the old ways and his former supervisor. Worst of all, the analysis he’s been haphazardly working on is nearly finished, and now he must confront his “rabid mad-dog cladist” sponsor, and a new philosophy of data analysis. ROMMY’s maximum-likelihood analyses are in strong conflict with what is being required of him. And knowing nothing (or next to it) about the philosophy of systematics, ROMMY sets out to interpret or analyze his results -- and stay out of his sponsor’s hair.

LIGHTS:  Stage lights down following narrative

SONG:  “IT’S A POSTDOC

SLIDES:  Graduation series.

_____________________________

SCENE 1:  Two professors talking

LIGHTS:  Stage lights up

Dr. Bogart:  So I hear you’ve got a new postdoc. How’s it going, eh?

(off-stage the sound of “Yee ha!”, followed by an explosion and the sound of shattering glass)

SOUND EFFECT: Off-stage explosion

Sponsor:  Does that answer your question?  You know if I didn’t know better, I’d swear he was a deaf, dumb and blind cowboy.

(off-stage Rommy sings “Sweetest Little Cladist"

Dr. Bogart:  Is that for real?

Sponsor:  You could not conceive....

(Rommy, wearing a cowboy hat, stumbles on-stage and drops a small bottle)

Rommy:  Excuse me Ma’am, but we’re almost out of isot . . . oops! (both profs jump up and off to one side) Aw -- I don’t understand why we can’t just send samples out for analysis like I used to?

Sponsor:  Rommy -- you incredulous Chretien! Uh, I mean cretin! I told you never to carry an uncapped bottle of isotopes -- didn’t you hear me?  Can’t you hear me? Now clean this mess up right now!

(Sponsor storms off with Dr. Bogart)

LIGHTS:  Stage lights down, blacklight/UV brings up glow from floor of stage and Rommy’s jacket.

(music begins -- Rommy slowly cleans)

SONG:  “ROMMY CAN YOU HEAR ME?

(Cliff --Rommy’s buddy -- enters)

LIGHTS:  Stage lights up

Cliff:  Hey cowboy, this is the second time this week. What is it anyway?

Rommy:  Aw, Isotopes (Cliff jumps to the side)  -- what’s it all about anyway?

Cliff:  Yeah, I know what you mean. There was another graduate student here about 10 years ago -- also studying molecular systematics. It was just too much for him, eh.

Rommy:  Really?

Cliff:  Yeah, and he used to wonder what it was all about too (gazes off with faraway look of reminiscence and starts to sing...).

LIGHTS:  Stage lights down

SONG:  “WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT (GRAD STUDENT’S LAMENT)

SLIDES: Rommy 1988 slides - lab disasters

_____________________________

SCENE 2: Cliff and Rommy go to the wizard

LIGHTS:  Stage lights up

Rommy: Yeah Cliff, I can relate to that. I’ve screwed up everything I’ve done today.  This lab work’s really getting to me.  Yesterday, I broke the $1400 thermo-plate on my sponsor’s p-r-e-c-i-o-u-s automated sequencer. It’s especially bad because when I came here I told her I knew everything I needed to know!  But I just can’t seem to get the techniques wired.  She’s even making me do protein (stutters)  electroph-ph-phoresis to get some cheap nuclear genes!

Cliff:  (laughing) Electrophoresis? That’s like going back to kindergarten, eh?

Rommy:  Yeah, except I’m failing.

Cliff:  Rommy, the time has come for you to meet a friend of mine.

Rommy:  Who’s that, huh?

Cliff:  Rommy, that’s “Who’s that, eh?” (replaces his cowboy hat with a toque) You better get with the language program around here or nobody’s gonna understand you.

Rommy: Oh yeah. So who is it (pause--adjusts toque) -- eh?

Cliff:  Someone who can straighten you out on electrophoresis once and for all.

(they start walking towards the door)

Rommy:  Awright! But who is it?

Cliff:  You’ll see.

(they come to a door which Cliff knocks on)

Cliff:  Rommy, I want you to meet Dr. C. K. Locus.  They say he’s a wizard!

Rommy:  (gasp) You don’t mean, the Dr. Locus?

SOUND EFFECT: Yeah, baby!

Rommy:  Oh!

LIGHTS:  Stage lights down

(Cliff pushes Rommy through the door and shuts it)

SLIDES: Rommy & Dr. Locus in the lab

SONG:  “STARCH GEL WIZARD

SLIDES:  SGW

LIGHTS:  Stage lights up

Narrator:  Rommy eventually solves the subtle nuances of electrophoresis and even gets his sequencing techniques straightened out. But now that he’s finally producing some consistent results, he’s faced with the onerous task of analyzing his data.

_____________________________

SCENE 3:  Rommy meets the infamous Dr. Phenetico.

(Dr. Phenetico walks onstage, Rommy singing to himself with a C&W twang)

SONG:  “DO YOU THINK IT’S ALL RIGHT?

Rommy:  Hi, Dr. Phenetico.  How’s it goin’, (small pause) eh?

Dr. Phenetico:  Fine, Rommy, and how about you?

Rommy:  Well I’ve finally finished fiddling about with my data gathering and I guess it’s time for the analysis, eh?

Dr. Phenetico:  Analysis!  Why there’s nothing to it.  Just plug your data into the MEGA distance analysis computer program.  It gives you a clustered matrix using a bunch of different methods.  It’s easy.  Here, come with me and I’ll show you.

(they exit -- ad lib conversation about ease of phenetics)

SONG:  “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

SLIDES:  Rommy and Phenetico at computer

Narrator:  Well, Rommy thinks he’s got it made now.  After a short time with Dr. Phenetico he gathers up his results and heads off to see his sponsor.

_____________________________

SCENE 4:  Sponsor at desk, Rommy knocks on the door.

SOUND EFFECT: Computer game noises

Sponsor:  (Hunched over joystick at computer, lots of computer game sounds, a beer in hand, voice rising in orgasmic crescendo) Fifty thousand, fifty-five thousand, sixty thousand -- oh, heavens -- oh, oh (hears knock) . . . oh pooh! (disappointed and sighing)  The door is open.  You may come in (stashes beer can).

Rommy:  How’s it goin’, eh?  Have ya’ll got a minute?  I know you’re r-e-a-l busy with research, and editin’ manuscripts, and writin’ research grant applications, and committee....

Sponsor:  (cuts Rommy off -- sharply)  Yes, yes, Rommy.  By the way, although I find this altogether quite difficult to comprehend, I’ve actually heard some encouraging things about your lab work from your (said with obvious desire) amusing little friend ... you know, the fellow who’s always got a guitar on his back.

Rommy:  (beaming) Why thanks ma’am. I’ve finished gathering all them data (shakes paper pile in hands)  and I’ve done the alignments too.  I resolved 4,837 bp and 72 protein loci from all populations -- well, except for Washington – ever(y)thin' from that place seemed to be dead!

Sponsor:  Yes, well that’s marginally impressive I suppose, (launches into a meandering reminiscence.  Rommy shifts from one foot to the other) .but I recall my own industrious postdoctoral days in Bob Murphy’s lab -- we had to collect a minimum of 10,000 base pairs and whenever I’d ask how many protein loci were appropriate he’d simply say “one more than Don Buth’s latest paper...

Rommy:  (interjecting)  Uh, ma’am -- I’ve already analyzed the data too.

Sponsor:  (sarcastically) Oh goody!  Perhaps you can get at least this right?

Rommy:  Well, I’ve been doin’ a lot of reading, especially in Systematic Biology, and in Evolution, and I talked to Dr. Phenetico. (puts paper on desk and points to something on it) Here’s the matrices of Kimura’s 2-parameter distance values for the sequence data and Nei’s D’s for the proteins. (Rommy pauses for breath, music starts -- intro to NO D!)’ I’ve clustered them a bunch of different ways, like UPGMA and neighbor-joining, using MEGA. It seems to give pretty good results. Look, the trees are similar and . . .

Sponsor:  (slams high-heeled shoe on desk stopping Rommy, then shrieks)  Rommy! ... How many times do I have to tell you about distance data?

Rommy:  Tell me what?

Sponsor:  (stands and gestures)  Look you insufferable moron, everybody knows!

Rommy:  Knows what?

(music stops)

LIGHTS:  Stage lights dimmed, house lights up

Sponsor:  (hand gesture to theatre)

SLIDES: “NO D!”

Theatre reply:  No D!

Rommy:  Oh.

LIGHTS:  Stage/house lights down

SONG:  “NO D!

SLIDES:  No D series.

 LIGHTS:  Stage lights up

Rommy:  Sorry ma’am, but I reckon the difference between cladistics and phenetics is just a euclidean versus Manhattan distance matrix.  That’s what my Ph.D. supervisor taught me and he oughta know -- ‘cause he says he’s a cladist!

Sponsor:  (gets really excited, comes out from behind desk with journal in hand, and backs Rommy through door and across stage toward slide screen) Listen Einstein, your prof was wrong!  Phenetics is only about overall similarity. It has nothing to do with euclidean vs. Manhattan distance matrices. You’re as confused as the fools in this new journal issue (waves it in Rommy’s face). They think you can use frequency data to reconstruct a phylogeny. Ha!

Rommy:  And what’s wrong with that?

SLIDES:  slide A

Sponsor:  Well, in the first place, look at the assumptions. Consider this (gesture to slide screen), at mutation a gene is at its lowest frequency, and it may increase in frequency through time until fixation.  Now evolve some taxa.  Voila, you get a character state tree that reflects evolution.

Rommy:  (arrogant) Yea, exactly!

SLIDES:  slide B

Sponsor:  Exactly my derriere! You just swallowed the bait, fishlips. At each clagogenic event one taxon must stop evolving. (gesture to slide screen). In this case, A goes to fixation, B decreases in frequency, and so forth. And the resultant character-state tree does not reflect genealogical relationships. Besides, the character state trees can only be pectinate in shape -- A can never have B as a sister taxon! I could go on, Doctor Rommy.

Rommy:  (sarcastic) Whatever ya’ll! Ya know, where I come from, we just call these concerns cladobabble (grins stupidly).

Sponsor:  (super irritated, practically screeching)  Cladobabble?  Don’t get me started!  Look you (pause) half-witted hayseed, if it’s just cladobabble, tell me why the pseudocladistic FREQPARS evaluation is typically the same as a UPGMA (yelling) phenogram, whereas coding for mutation events only gives you congruence with a really good, independent osteological analysis?

SLIDES: (Hybognathus example on-screen.)

Rommy:  They’re just different trees -- that’s all. Don’t mean one’s righter.

Sponsor:  Go read Popper. It’s called independent corroboration. Just look at these fish data -- well, okay so they’re just fish data -- but come on, tell me they’re just different trees, and one’s not (with Texas accent) righter!  And before you say anything about this just being one case, Doctor Rommy, lay your money down, boy, and we’ll do it data set by data set, corroboration by corroboration. But only if you really want to get me started?

Rommy:  (indignant, storms towards the door -- tosses paper into trash, then whirls around) Looks like I don’t need to get you started! You’re so blinded by your own vision of this cladistics stuff that ya’ll can’t see nothin’ else!

(picks up guitar and starts to sing)

LIGHTS:  Stage lights down

SONG: “ADDICTED TO CLADES

SLIDES:  dogma, religion, enslavement, etc.

LIGHTS:  Stage lights up

Narrator:  So Rommy leaves the office.  He realizes he lost it big time, and is in deep do-do with his postdoc sponsor. He heads off to look for evidence supporting the ideas his Ph.D. supervisor drilled into him, even though he now has some nagging doubts...

_____________________________

SCENE 5:  Rommy meets Cliff

Cliff:  Hey Rommy, so how’s it goin’, eh?

Rommy:  Not so good, Cliff.  I thought lab work was tough but now I gotta analyze my data (gestures with paper pile in his hands) like that mad-dog bi-bi.... cladist wants me too -- (sarcastically) her version of cladistics...(then does a tonal 180 and looks thoughtful/worried) ........hey, uh CCCliff?

Cliff:  Yeah?

Rommy:  What all is her version of cladistics anyway?

Cliff:  Cladistics is simple -- in theory.  You reconstruct phylogenetic relationships based on shared derived character states, and not overall similarity.  There are a number of ways to analyze data but only one is genealogical.  Look...

LIGHTS:  Stage lights down

SONG:  “ONE OF THESE THINGS” 

SLIDES: One of these things sequence

LIGHTS:  Stage lights up

Rommy:  Hot dang, I think I see what ya’ll’s gettin’ at.  A phenogram and a cladogram ain’t the same.  You cain’t just use any ol’ method of analysis and expect to resolve relationships and reconstruct phylogenies.  Different methods have different assumptions, and shared derived states ain’t the same as overall similarity. (throws paper in garbage)

Cliff:  Exactly. But of course, it’s all in Willi Hennig’s book.

Rommy:  Oh Yeah? Who was he, eh?

Cliff: (incredulous) You’ve never heard of Willi Hennig?

Rommy: (clueless) Noooo, why?

Cliff:  Jesus, Rommy, he’s a superstar!

Rommy: Oh.

LIGHTS:  Stage lights down

MUSICAL NOTE: Band members pull out kazoos; Ross hits the starting note on keys; cast holds the hum until everyone has it; Les raises arm to stop, then drops it to signal the start of the song.

SONG:  “WILLI HENNIG SUPERSTAR

SLIDES: Monty Pythonesque sequence

SCENE 6: Rommy and Cliff meet Dr. Phentico again

LIGHTS:  Stage lights up

Cliff:  It's called a puck, not a ball, and you play it on ice.
    
Rommy:  Ice?  That's slippery. Must make tackling more difficult.
    
Cliff:  It's checking, not tackling, and the players wear skates.
    
Rommy:  Must be tough to kick field goals.
    
Cliff: There are no field goals.....

Rommy: Oh!

Dr. Phenetico:  (enters)  Hi, boys.

Rommy and Cliff:  Hi, Dr. Phenetico.  How’s it goin’, eh?

Cliff:  I was just telling Rommy about cladistics, parsimony and character and state analyses.

Dr. Phenetico:  Oh, that’s easy. It’s all garbage -- but it’s easy.  Parsimony? Just what type of parsimony do you want? And who said evolution occurs in a most parsimonious manner? Besides, what’s the real likelihood of finding the true tree anyway?

Rommy:  Yeah, that sounds great, eh Cliff?

Cliff:  I don’t know.  (looks thoughtful) Dr. Phenetico, isn’t maximum parsimony just the least problematic method of data analysis because it has a refutationist philosophy and isn’t based on neo-justificationism? Your approach just doesn’t sound right to me.

Dr. Phenetico:  Naw, philosophy isn’t important. It’s easier to justify how your estimating the truth, than to waste time trying to explain the data.  Besides, enter the new millennium and use neighbor-joining and maximum likelihood methods.

Cliff:  (more analytically) So let me get this. You want to predict the frequency of an evolutionary event occurring. Hmmmm. But there’s only one truth in an actual phylogeny.  And you’d prefer to justify your phylogeny regardless of whether it’s true or not, instead of just explaining your data? (Grunt.s)

Dr. Phenetico: Uh . . . Well, something like that. Why are you worried about assumptions anyway?  All you need is an analysis so you can make predictions from your data. The predictions are the important thing. Assumptions are just trivial bullshit.  Besides, Rommy, if you follow my advice, you’ll get fewer trees.

(Dr. Phenetico leaves)

Cliff:  (calling after him)  But I still think that philosophy is important.

Dr. Phenetico:  (over his shoulder) Aw, you’re just pissin’ into the wind.

Rommy:  But what if it works, Cliff?  I read that you should calculate the likelihood of a tree being true -- ya know, like using bootstrap values. And like Dr. Phenetico said, you also get fewer trees.  That sounds good to me.

Cliff:  Rommy, you may get fewer trees simply because the computer program is written that way; it can only give one answer. 

Rommy:  Oh. (pauses) But what if it works? You don’t think all these people can be wrong, do you? It just sounds like more of that cladobabble stuff again.

Cliff:  Well, Rommy, I know what I think -- what do you think?

LIGHTS:  Stage lights down to half

SONG:  “CLADOBABBLE

SLIDES:  Cladobabble “words”

LIGHTS:  Stage lights up

Narrator:  Ignoring the warnings of both his friend and his sponsor, Rommy goes back to Dr. Phenetico’s office and inputs his sequence data into PAUP STAR’s maximum likelihood program.  With his new computer printout in hand he returns to his sponsor.

_____________________________

SCENE 7: Sponsor at desk, Rommy knock on door

SOUND EFFECT: Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” and beer can opening

(Sponsor at desk; ghetto-blaster blaring Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.”)
Sponsor:  (Singing and dancing)Like a beer can"

(Rommy knocks on the door. Very hard a second and third time.)

Sponsor:  (Turning off ghetto blaster, changing music, stashing beer, buttoning up lab coat, pinning up hair as knocks get louder) Uh, you . . . may come . . . in.

Rommy:  How’s it goin’, eh?  Well, I’ve re-analyzed my data.  I found this new beta test program called POOP . . . er, I mean PAUP STAR over at Dr. Phenetico’s and I just fed my data in and, well ma’am, quicker than Michael Johnson out came the analysis, eh.

Sponsor:  (finally finishes rearranging and composing herself) Well, um, that’s truly wonderful Rommy.  It only took you two months to finally execute a parsimony analysis. And by the way, the proper analogy would be “quicker than Donovan Baily.”

Rommy:  Huh? Oh yeah, sorry -- I’ve been watching NBC again. Uh ... anyway parsimony? Hell no!  I modeled evolution and predicted the maximum likelihood of base‑pair changes with the sequence data.

Sponsor:  (with defeated groan, head in hands) Rommy!

Rommy:  What?  I just followed the literature and Dr. Phenetico helped me!

Sponsor:  Well, my misinformed little miscreant, what does the “P” in your Ph.D. stand for -- “phony?” Are you never going to learn to think for yourself?

Rommy:  Huh?

Sponsor:  (exasperated) Listen you slowpoke cowpoke, like I have painstakingly explained to you on occasions too frequent to enumerate, the entire approach to distance analyses -- including maximum likelihood -- is philosophically flawed, especially when it comes to sequence data, which can only change in certain, predetermined directions.

Rommy:  Oh.

Sponsor: Here, look at this. (points to see slide screen)

LIGHTS:  Stage lights down

SONG:  “SUBSTITUTE

SLIDES:  dumbbells educational sequence

LIGHTS:  Stage lights up

Sponsor:  So you see, you always have to think (points to head). And just when you think you have it figured out, step back and question your own conclusions. It’s okay to make mistakes -- but it’s as wrong as wrong can be to be pig-headed and defensive about previous ideas.

Rommy:  Awright.  I think I understand.  I’ll go and re-analyze my data right now.  Gee, I really appreciate the help.  Yeah, a Ph.D. is a doctor of philosophy degree. Philosophy is important. Without a sound philosophy, analyses are just a waste of paper. (drops paper in garbage) Thanks ya’ll.  (Rommy leaves saying...) a Ph.D. is a doctor of philosophy.

Narrator:  Rommy spends weeks checking his sequence alignments and evaluating them using maximum parsimony.  He re-codes his allozyme data and re-calculates his trees.  Then it’s back to his sponsor’s office.

_____________________________

SCENE 8:  Sponsor at desk, Rommy knocks on door.

SOUND EFFECT: Computer game noises

(Nasty kill computer game sounds again. Rommy knocks on door)

Sponsor: (Uncharacteristically affable) You may come in.  (Rommy enters carrying computer output) Young Rommy -- I haven’t seen you for weeks!  (Prof turns to audience) And they have perhaps been the best weeks of my life! (Prof turns to Rommy) Wherever have you been?

Rommy:  Well, I’ve been slapping my ol’ Mac . . . computer that is.  But I’m beginnin’ to understand how to do cladistics properly.  You know, I got a different set of trees with a much higher consistency index! And get this ya’ll, the allozyme and sequence trees were congruent for once!

Sponsor:  (haughty laugh) I’m not too surprised that your data show greater consistency.  How did you code your allozyme data this time?

Rommy:  Well ma’am, I found this obscure paper describing something called “mutation coding” which equates mutation events with synapomorphies.

Sponsor:  And philosophically?

Rommy:  Well, I agree that character states must be heritable, and that derived states be obtained from mutations, so I guess I agree. But the funny thing is, the paper isn’t even acknowledged in the data analysis chapter of my Molecular Systematics textbook. I guess they just didn’t know about it.

Sponsor:  (coughs into hand and rolls eyes) Rommy, your persistent naiveté about the politics of systematics is quaint but stunning. You have much to learn my green little grasshopper -- but never mind that now. How many trees did you find?

Rommy:  Well, PAUP found three equally parsimonious allozyme trees, but one was identical to the sequence tree.

Sponsor: That’s most efficient Rommy -- not to mention fortuitous. So, have we a manuscript?

Rommy:  Right, uh, yeah. A manuscript. Now all I have to do is get the analysis past the reviewers. Okay, a draft will be on your desk next week.

(Rommy leaves office, stands around near door reading something; Dr. Phenetico approaches)

Rommy: Oh, hi Dr. Phenetico.  How’s it goin’ eh?

Dr. Phenetico:  Just fine, Rommy.  And with you?

Rommy:  Well, my sponsor finally liked my last analysis -- parsimony with no frequency justification.

Dr. Phenetico:  Aww -- I don’t know why you’re wasting your time with this character and state crap anyway, frequencies are phylogenetically informative for allozymes, and you need to use maximum likelihood on sequence data. 

Rommy:  Well, I disagree with ya’ll.  I’ve decided to base my analysis on a defensible philosophy of science. 

Dr. Phenetico:  Philosophy! This is all very disappointing, because I’ve been very patient with you and even come to your defense when others were complaining about you. Look, Rommy, the rules are all written here (shows a ceramic tablet that looks like the ten commandments).

            Oh, sure you can go and “preach to the choir” in a journal like Cladistics. But then you’ve written off the vast majority of progressive, forward-thinking theoretical systematists in favor of appealing to a small, reactionary right wing of cladism.  There are only a handful of places left where these people thrive, and if you persist in this way of thinking, those places will be your only option for permanent employment!

            I’m giving up on you scientifically. I can’t waste time arguing philosophy with people who can’t think and behave rationally.

Rommy:  Oh, so I have to follow you to be rational and correct? Even to get a job? Whatever happened to academic freedom?  If you can’t handle the heat of philosophy Dr. Phenetico, then get the hell out of the theoretical kitchen. You’ve done nothing but cause me trouble! I think the basic premise of cladistics makes more sense for recovering genealogies than some mumbo-jumbo fancy-dancy model. Some of what you say makes sense too, but since ya’ll won’t even have a discussion about it, I think you’re the one who’s lost!

Dr. Phenetico: But the rules are all written in stone!

(Phenetico brandishes tablet again, Rommy grabs it and smashes it on the floor)

Rommy: Now it looks like I’m one of them “rabid mad dog cladists” too -- grrrrrrrrrr (Dr. Phenetico starts backing away), and damn proud of it.  I’m not playing no political fool’s game just to get me a job.  And I don’t understand why we all have to fight about it either. And speakin’ of right-wing, ya’ll turn everything into an “us against them” argument -- what are ya, some kind of Washington Republican? Well I’m gonna bite your sorry self-righteous ass! Grrrrr grrrrrrr grrrrrrr grrrrr...

(heavy back beat and dub scratching as song starts -- Rommy chases Dr. Phenetico off the stage growling; Phenetico fends him off with staff.  Someone sweeps up broken tablet)

LIGHTS:  Stage lights down

SONG:  “SYSTEMATIC JUNGLE

LIGHTS:  Stage lights up

Narrator:  Well, Rommy sure told him!  (pause)  “Grrrrr?”  Give me a break--oh, and while you’re up, get me another beer! (several beers are opened and handed to him from various quarters) It might be ten years since we first did Rommy but some things haven’t changed -- you still can’t take a cladist anywhere.  Anyway, Rommy works with his data and eventually prepares a manuscript.

_____________________________

SCENE 9:  Enter Sponsor and Cliff chatting.

Sponsor:  . . . Yes, well of course I have no time for the triviality of something as puerile as Melrose Place, but I do enjoy having the television in the bedroom nonetheless. Besides, that was wonderful last night -- wasn’t it?

Cliff:  Yeah, what a game.  Wow! The fights were great, eh? Especially the one between the referees.  And that poor goalie, he sure got pulverized . . . and the coach got fired again!

Sponsor:  (sighing dreamily, clearly thinking of something completely different) Yes, yes, I do so enjoy these passionate displays of unbridled testosterone . . . (Rommy starts entering, then Cliff coughs, and Sponsor catches herself) Um, oh, the hockey game, uh, yes, it was certainly a physical one all right.  And, uh, I thought being a cladist was difficult!

Rommy:  Hey, how’s it goin’ eh? 

Sponsor: Hello, Rommy.

Cliff: Hi, Rommy

(all three open beers and hand them to each other)

SOUND EFFECT: Beer cans opening

Rommy: Well, I’ve finished the manuscript. I decided against a total evidence approach because each allozyme locus is the functional equivalent of each of the seven genes I sequenced. Anyway, all nodes are supported by good synapomorphic states. I suppose ya’ll want to be authors on the paper too?

Sponsor and Cliff:  No not really. 

Rommy:  Oh...

Cliff:  Listen Rommy, the data gathering was all yours, and so was the analysis and writing.  I couldn’t justify being an author.

Sponsor:  This is just fantastic, Rommy.  I’m almost speechless. I couldn’t be prouder, and since I didn’t do anything other than provide the appropriate guidance, you can leave me off as well. I’m just glad that you’ve finally learned to think for yourself.  No more black-box analyses, eh? I mean, right?

(music starts)

Rommy:  Yeah, I’ve learned to always look at the assumptions, and to consider the underlying philosophy more seriously.

Sponsor:  Oh (clasping hands) I’m just delighted! You realize, of course, that soon you’ll be finished here and your own students will be listening to you......

LIGHTS:  Stage lights down

SONG:  “LISTENING TO YOU

SLIDES:  Cheesy, life-affirming crap.

(Rommy, originally jubilant, begins moping around the stage, suddenly becomes enraged and interrupts the song...)

Rommy: Stop! Stop! STOP!

LIGHTS:  Stage lights up

ROMMY:  This isn’t where it ends. What’s the use of having students if all we pass on are our bad habits and petty squabbling. Systematics and philosophy are all well and good but what have they really got to do with anything in the big picture? We’re acting like a bunch of bad little kids in the same sandbox throwing sand in each other’s eyes. And at the same time this is going on, we’re losing everything that matters to life because we can’t work together.

            I’m talking biodiversity, and conserving something for my generation, and for my kids.

SONG:  “BEHIND BLUE EYES

SLIDES:  Vietnam experience -- slides/video.

(Dr. Phenetico enters)

Dr. Phenetico: You know Rommy, I’ve been thinking about what you said the other day and you’re right. We can’t have meaningful discussions when we’re all so polarized in our beliefs -- and  perhaps there is a role for philosophy and assumptions. But more importantly I agree that all our theorizing takes place in the bubble we call academics, and that there are more serious things to worry about. Maybe if we were more concerned about life and the fate of the earth, our philosophical differences wouldn’t be such a problem....Lets go have a beer and get to know one another.  (Phenetico and Rommy exit with arms around each other).

Rommy:  Uh, Dr. Phenetico, do we have to have that strong Canadian beer again? Can’t I have a Coors Light this time?

Dr. Phenetico: That’s not real beer, Rommy. You’ve still got a lot to learn.

Rommy: Oh.

SLIDES:  Acknowledgments

SONG: “Starch Gel Wizard/NO D!” (reprise)

LIGHTS:  Stage lights up

__________   the end   ___________

 

 
         
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