Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Posted by Jeff Lipshaw
Colleague Andy Perlman has posted over at Legal Ethics Forum on his rationalizations, I mean reasons, for not wearing a tie when he is teaching, and the most persuasive one reminded me of a movie line that had me laughing out loud a few days ago. (I sat in on his class last Friday to learn pedagogy at the feet of a master, and it was a brilliantly conceived and executed class, even if Andy had the beginnings of the flu. But, indeed, he had no tie.)
The movie is Wonder Boys, one of my favorites. Michael Douglas plays Grady Tripp, an English professor in Pittsburgh (1) who won the PEN Award for his first novel many years ago and has never published again; (2) whose wife walked out on him that morning; (3) who is having an affair with the chancellor (Frances McDormand) whose husband is the chair of the English Department, and (4) whose strange student James Leer (Tobey Maguire) has just shot the chancellor's dog in the upstairs hallway of her house while the faculty is gathered downstairs.
Grady and James are now in the car trying to figure out what to do with the dead dog.
James: Professor Tripp, can I ask you a question?
Grady: Yes, James.
James: What are we gonna do with - it?
Grady: I don't know. I'm still trying to figure out how to tell the chancellor that I murdered her husband's dog.
Grady: Trust me, James. When the family pet's been assassinated, the owner does not want to hear that one of her students was the trigger man.
James: Does she want to hear it was one of her professors?
Grady: [Pause.] I've got tenure.