A Christmas Carol

by

Charles Dickens

with additional dialogue by

The Committee for the Reunification of Art and Physics

 

 

Cast of Characters (in Order of Appearance)

Narrator Bojan Tunguz

Random Student Robert Rudnitsky

Bob Cratchet N. Peter Armitage

Ebenezer Scrooge Harris Shapiro

Jacob "Bob" Marley David Santiago

The Ghost of Christmas Past James Reiner

Young Scrooge Mallory Roberts

Martha Robin Erbacher

Young Scrooge's Graduate Officemate Peter Beyersdorf

Thesis Committee Professor #1 Peter Goldstein

Thesis Committee Professor #2 Mohan Rajagopal

Thesis Committee Professor #3 Andrea Davies

The Ghost of Christmas Present Doug Natelson

Mary Andrea Davies

Tiny Bob Himself

The Ghost of Christmas Future Marc Goormastic

Old Scrooge Mallory Roberts

Physics Department Chair Doug Natelson

Originally performed December 8, 1995.

The Committee for the Reunification of Art and Physics would also like to thank the following people, whose contributions to this performance were minimal, at best:

PropMeisters/Stage Feet Staff

Script Lay-out Tony Lopez

"Schrödinger Street" lyrics Mallory Roberts & Harris Shapiro

"Schrödinger Street" voices Cast

Lighting The Electromagnetic Field

Unwitting Scrooge Inspiration Mark Jacobs

Any opinions expressed in the below are not necessarily those of the performers. Any complaints/death threats should be addressed to the Committee for the Reunification of Art and Physics, P.O.Box g5, Hell, Michigan, 00666. Such letters will receive all of the attention they deserve.

 

[Narrator comes on stage with an overhead projector; Scrooge is sitting at his desk on stage left, scrawling incoherently and muttering to himself about the Great Red Spot. Narrator puts a copy of his statement on the projector and turns it on. The board onto which it is projecting is covered by blank white sheets of paper. Narrator begins reading with a thick Russian accent.]

  • Narrator: It was a dark and stormy night....[Consults notes] No, actually it was the best of times....[Consults notes] Excuse me: A screaming came across the sky...that is more like it. It is a night much like this one, in a building that bears more than a passing resemblance to the one in which we now sit. It is a fairly warm night, with a light breeze blowing at around 10 mph from the northeast. A few stars can be seen, emitting mostly in the red region of the spectrum. The first star is located (in the horizon coordinate system) at 1 hr 10 min 15 sec azimuth and 57°30'17.5" altitude which for the current local standard time and our latitude and longitude corresponds to 5 hr. 30 min. 17 sec right ascension and 21°57'30" declination in B1950 Celestial Coordinates. In Galactic Coordinates....[End of transparency]
  • [Random Student in front row, who has been snoring loudly, hears the shuffle of transparencies and starts awake. S/he looks at the new transparency, which has all sorts of random functions on it and squeaks in pain.]

  • Random Student: Um, excuse me, but does all of this have a point?

    [Narrator looks up, surprised.]

    Narrator: Oh, there are students here! Evidently, there are still some students who have not yet learned how to skip my lectures. This reminds me of a joke I once heard about Armenian radio....

    Random Student: Ummmm....is this going to go anywhere?

    Narrator: Not if you keep interrupting me. Anyway, to return to the oh-so-familiar building. [Student drifts back to sleep.] It was the Night of Christmas, a night like any other for Professor Ebenezer Scrooge, as he sat at his desk plowing through pages of tedious algebra, his graduate students slaving away around him. However, perhaps this Christmas Night will be a bit different for Dr. Scrooge after all...

    [The Narrator turns the projector off and steps back towards the post, pulling the projector with him. Lights on stage left. Cratchet enters stage right and crosses over into the light.]

    Cratchet: Um, Professor Scrooge, I was wondering if I could ask you a quick question?

    Scrooge: No.

    Cratchet: It’ll only take a minute...

    Scrooge: Which word didn’t you understand? Shut up and go away.

    Cratchet : [Steps up to Scrooge's desk.] Well, I’ve been working for you for 5 years now and every Christmas you spend the entire evening solving the fully covariant magnetic Navier-Stokes equation analytically I was wondering if this year you’d like to come have Christmas dinner with me and my Family?

    Scrooge: How would that advance my chances for tenure? [Pauses.] Wait a minute, you’re going home this evening?

    Cratchet: Well, I do like to have dinner with my Family at least one night a year and Christmas seems as good as any...

    Scrooge: Humbug! No wonder you haven’t made any progress these past 5 years. If you ever want to have a career in physics, you’re going to have to spend all night, every night, in the lab, Christmas or no Christmas. I’m just giving you some fatherly advice; you’ll thank me for it when you get tenure next decade.

    Cratchet: But Professor Scrooge, my family: they’ll be expecting me to...

    Scrooge: Don’t thank me too much, it’s not polite. Now get back to those integrals.

  • [Cratchet walks off stage right, muttering something vaguely obscene under his breath. Scrooge resumes scrawling.]

     

  • Scrooge: Damn European work ethic; bunch of lazy good-fer-nothings. Humbug. Hmmm....let's see...ln(1) should be about 1, for small values of 1...yes, that simplifies things nicely....
  • [Enter Marley stage left, lugging about a copy of the CRC, G&R's Table of Integrals, Series, and Products, and MTW's Gravitation, plus whatever other weighty tomes happen to be lying around backstage.]

  • Marley : [Muttering] Seems like they make these books heavier every year....

    [Scrooge looks up, surprised.]

    Scrooge: Why, if I didn't know any better, I'd swear that was the voice of my former undergraduate adviser (now, sadly, deceased), Professor Marley!

    Marley: [Sets the texts on Scrooge's desk.] Sharp as ever, Scrooge. How's the tenure track treating you?

    Scrooge: [Grunts unintelligibly] So what do you want? Shouldn’t you be dead?

    Marley: Actually, I am.

    Scrooge: Good heavens! [Pauses briefly to gather himself] Doesn't look like you're doing a good job at it. Now go away.

    Marley: Heaven has nothing to do with it. And I see you've developed the proper tenured attitude there, Scrooge, a whole year ahead of schedule. But that aside, I'm actually here to do you a favor.

    Scrooge : [Without sarcasm] Like the one you did for me by getting me interested in physics in the first place?

    Marley: In a sense. Turns out that the Big Guy took a rather dim view of me warping all those young undergraduates, starting them down the Dark Road of Physics and all. I’ve been condemned to wander the earth bearing the symbols of my shame [Points to the texts] until I've made good my sins.

    Scrooge: I guess it sucks to be you. Have fun redeeming yourself. Now go away. I've got important integrals to do. [Starts chugging away again]

    Marley: [Sighs] Maybe hell wouldn't be so bad after all...Look Scrooge, I've come here tonight to prevent you from making the same mistakes I did, so that you can change your life before it's over.

    Scrooge: [Looks up from his desk] What? You're still here? Well, why not make yourself useful and compute some Christoffel symbols or something. [Pushes a stack of paper towards Marley.] You've even got your own copy of MTW’s Gravitation with you. [Returns to scrawling.]

    PAST

    Marley: Well, maybe just one or two.....no, no, no, I'm not here for personal pleasure. I've got business with you and if you won't listen to me, perhaps you'll listen to your own past.

    [Enter the Ghost of Christmas Past stage left, with slide rule.]

    Scrooge: [Looks up] Nice slide rule.

    Ghost of Christmas Past: Thanks!

    Scrooge: Now go away.

    [The Ghost of Christmas Past turns to Marley, looking hurt. Marley shrugs.]

    Marley: Look Scrooge, this is the Ghost of Christmas Past. He's going to show you the past you probably wish you could forget, starting from when you were a [Dramatic Pause as Marley leans towards Scrooge] Chemistry Major.

    [Scrooge looks up in shock.]

    Scrooge: Well, just make it quick.

  • [The Ghost of Christmas Past starts walking towards stage right, gesturing for Scrooge to follow. Scrooge shrugs, stands up, and does so. Light off stage left, strobe on. Marley exits stage left with the texts and shortly thereafter re-enters stage right, seating himself behind the desk there. Enter Young Scrooge and Martha stage right, moving to stand facing each other a few feet from Marley's desk.]

  • Ghost of Christmas Past: [Loudly, with frequent short throat clearings] Okay? Everybody on board? Good. Just have to calculate the worldlines in the usual Kerr metric, and, and, [Stops to tack a "5" onto the GPB sign. Smiles and raises his eyebrows as he plays with his slide rule] Got it? Watch for those G-modes as we pass through the disko....
  • [Scrooge just stares, nodding absently. Strobe off, light on stage right. The Ghost of Christmas Past and Scrooge are now at stage right and have come across a young couple standing near a desk where Marley (still alive) is working. The couple is holding hands and looking into each other's eyes, i.e. poster children for Hallmark.]

  • Ghost of Christmas Past: Ah, and at the end of the day, here we are....

    Young Scrooge: Dinner tonight sounds great. I'll stop by your room right after I talk with my adviser.

    Martha: I don't trust him, Eb; he keeps trying to get you to do physics, when you're perfectly happy with me in biochemistry!

    Scrooge: Who are these people? And why are we wasting our time listening to their stomach-turning romantic drivel?

    Ghost of Christmas Past: [Loudly] Come now, I'll give you three guesses...need a hint?

    Scrooge: Do you need to be hurt?

    Ghost of Christmas Past: [Loudly] Come on, about your height, same color hair (maybe a bit more of it, though), first name rhymes with "geezer"?

    [The couple embraces, then Martha walks off stage right. Young Scrooge turns and knocks hesitantly on Marley's door. Marley looks up, beaming.]

    Marley: [Gesturing with his hand.] Come in, Scrooge, come in! So good of you to stop by!

    Scrooge: [Surprised] Wait, that's my undergraduate adviser Prof. Marley, again. [Pause] Only looking about 30 years younger. [Slightly longer pause] And not dead, of course....

    Ghost of Christmas Past: [Loudly] Getting warmer...! [Starts gesturing wildly, almost beheading Scrooge with the slide rule]

    Young Scrooge: It's no problem, Professor Marley. You know I always enjoy our conversations.

    Scrooge: That can't be me, can it?

    Ghost of Christmas Past: [Loudly] The one and only!

    Scrooge: But that's absurd! This was 30 years ago! How can we be seeing this? And why can't they hear us?

    Ghost of Christmas Past: [Loudly] What's my name? What did you think "Ghost of Christmas Past" means? Eh? That's my job. As for why they can't hear us, you'll be doing that on the homework. Hint: Think spherically symmetric. See? Right. [Slaps the slide rule authoritatively. Scrooge just nods and turns back to Young Scrooge and Marley, who have been conversing quietly during this exchange.]

    Marley: So have you thought about what I said?

    Young Scrooge: Well....

    Marley: I know lasers seem like an exciting field, but there’s no future in them. You should work with the GPB group; they’ll be launching a couple of years from now and you’ll be in on the ground floor.

  • [Marley gestures to the lecture sign in background announcing a GPB talk: Celebrating 5 years of "Science"]

  • Young Scrooge: Well, it's very tempting, but....

    Marley: Come on Scrooge, I've been your adviser for 2 years now and I've always been honest with you. Nothing's wrong with chemistry. Why, some of my best friends are chemists and a few of 'em would even make decent third-rate physicists. But if you think that physics is, well, a bit too challenging, or you'd like a less demanding major, then maybe....

    Young Scrooge: No, it's not that, it's just, well....

    [Marley just looks at Young Scrooge, oozing condescension]

    Young Scrooge: I guess you're right. I'll never know what I'm really capable of if I turn away now.

    Marley: [Smiling] Great. A man after my own heart. So I'll put you down for mechanics, E&M, quantum, stat.mech. and GR this term. We can probably hold off on field theory until next term without having you end up too far behind, and it'll fit in with the particle physics stuff you'll be taking that term anyway....

    Young Scrooge: Um, okay, if you think it's wise...

    Marley: Trust me; I'm a professional...

    [The Ghost of Christmas Past tugs on Scrooge's arm. Lights off stage right, strobe on. Young Scrooge, Marley exit stage right. Shortly thereafter, Young Scrooge enters stage left and sits at the desk there.]

    Ghost of Christmas Past: [Loudly] So, seen enough here? Time we moved on, right? Come along. Still with me? Still got grad. school to do!

  • [They walk back to Scrooge's office (stage left), where Young Scrooge is sitting, feverishly scrawling away. As the Ghost of Christmas Past walks past the GPB sign, he replaces the "5" with a "10". Strobe off, light on stage left.]

  • Young Scrooge: [Muttering] Well, ln(1) should be about 1, for small values of 1....yes, that simplifies things nicely...
  • [Young Scrooge's Officemate enters stage left; for the remainder of this scene, the Officemate wears an insufferably cheerful expression.]

  • Officemate: Hey there, Scrooge. Nice day out, isn’t it?

    Young Scrooge: How will the weather advance my chances of getting a postdoc? And who are you? What are you doing in my office?

    Officemate: What do you mean? I'm your officemate, Scrooge.

    Young Scrooge: [Grunts] Humbug! So, got any food?

  • [The Officemate shakes his head but otherwise makes no response as he sits at the side of the desk closest to center stage and begins to work]

  • Scrooge: I remember him; he did have food, too, in his top drawer. Always made me have to get it myself.
  • [While Scrooge says this, Young Scrooge surreptitiously sneaks a pretzel from the Officemate's top drawer while the Officemate isn't looking. While Young Scrooge is chomping the pretzel, Martha enters stage left and drapes herself around Young Scrooge.]

  • Martha: [Sultry] I should've known I'd find you here, Eb. Just look at you, scrounging for food, hunched over pages of meaningless math...

    Young Scrooge: Hey! It's not all meaningless!

    Martha [Sultry] ....I bet you'll even try to claim you forgot we were supposed to have dinner tonight. I mean, I hardly get to see you anymore, Eb, and now that you've started staying in the lab for dinner, too...I practically had to bind and gag you [Giggles] to get you to go away with me on vacation last week and you spent the whole weekend moping about the "Navel-Strokes" equation.

    Young Scrooge: [Fanatically] "Navier-Stokes", and it's not just an equation....

    Martha: [Oozing innuendo] Well, "Navel-Strokes" sounds like more fun to me [Giggles] and before you switched into physics, I bet you'd have thought so too.

    Young Scrooge: Well that's really very nice, but why don't you run along now like the perfect little sphere you are and I'll be home just as soon as I finish this calculation.

    Martha [Stands up, shocked] So that's how you think of me, as a sphere? Look, I have gainful employment with a biotech firm and I don't need to put up with your neglect. Have a good life Scrooge, if you can call what you do here a life.

  • [Martha walks out stage left, disgusted. Young Scrooge finally seems to notice that something is amiss. He starts to go after her.]

  • Young Scrooge: Wait Martha, I only meant you were a sphere to first-order! I love you to all orders!
  • [When she doesn't come back he sighs, notices the rest of the pretzel, and sits down to finish munching it. The Officemate looks at Young Scrooge, looks off-stage after Martha, and then runs off stage left after her. Light off stage left, strobe on. Young Scrooge exits stage left. The sheet covering the "BoseConden Station" tableau is pulled off.]

  • Scrooge: Well, I didn't have time for a girlfriend anyway. But a pretzel...! That's food!

    Ghost of Christmas Past: [Loudly] Seen enough? Eh? No? Well there's still one more stop, so hang on! Next stop, Thesis Defense!

  • [The Ghost of Christmas Past and Scrooge begin to walk towards stage right. While the Ghost stops to change the number on the GPB sign from "10" to "20", Scrooge points mutely to the scene next to the sign: a building labeled "BoseConden Station", next to which is lying a derailed train labeled "Chu Chu". Two trains are in sitting in front of the station, labeled "Cornell" and "MIT". The Ghost of Christmas Past shakes his head sadly. Enter Professors #1-3 stage right to seat themselves behind the desk. Enter Young Scrooge stage right, to stand in front of the desk facing the Professors.]

  • Ghost of Christmas Past: [Loudly] That train's a regular around these parts; never quite seems to make it into the station, though....Kinda sad....
  • [They resume walking towards stage right. Strobe off, light on stage right. Young Scrooge is standing in front of a panel of 3 professors.]

  • Professor #1: Look Scrooge, our hands are tied. Your thesis is done; we have to give you a degree. And even if we had some choice in the matter, you've been here nearly 12 years; we've practically had to create the position of grad. student emeritus for you. So get over it.

    Young Scrooge: But, but, there's so much more I can do! I can perturb the metric to 17th order!

    Professor #2: Now wait, I'm confused here: isn’t that the term in the expansion that’s formally identical to photosynthesis?

  • [Professor #1 and Young Scrooge just stare at Professor #2 for a moment, then turn back to each other.]

  • Professor #1: I'm sorry, he hasn't been the same since the day he tried to cover all of group theory and electroweak unification in one lecture and his students attacked him with his own monkey problem.
  • [The Ghost of Christmas Present walks in quickly from stage right, heading towards stage left and trailing a stream of coffee as he thumbs through a pile of papers.]

  • Ghost of Christmas Present: Sorry I'm late; hope I didn't miss much; oops, gotta go.
  • [The Ghost of Christmas Present leaves stage left as quickly as he came. Young Scrooge blinks a few times and shakes his head as if to clear it, although none of the Professors seems to have noticed the fly-by.]

  • Professor #2: [Blinks] Oh, so sorry. Did I say photosynthesis? Please excuse me. Replace "photo" with "painting", "syn" with "cos", and "thesis" with "defense" in all of the above, some of the below, and an order of fries on the side.
  • [Professor #3 looks up from the thick tome of Young Scrooge's thesis which she has been scrutinizing while this exchange occurs. All of her lines are spoken with a Russian accent.]

  • Professor #3: Perhaps I am mistaken, but aren't pages 427 through 463 (inclusive) completely obvious and therefore unnecessary?

    Young Scrooge: Yes.

    Professor #3: I thought so. And in chapter 16, I was confused by your treatment of the case of a fissioning universe. Wouldn't one fragment get all of the electric charge and the other all of the magnetic charge?

    [Young Scrooge ponders this for a bit.]

    Young Scrooge: Yes.

    Professor #3: I thought so. Have you experimentally verified this conclusion by asking Stephen Hawking about it?

    Young Scrooge: [Wincing] Um, I was just going to do that....

    Professor #1: Well I think we've heard enough. Congratulations Dr. Scrooge, you're now a full-fledged member of the Community of Physicists.

    Young Scrooge: No!

    [Light off stage right, strobe on. Exit Professors and Young Scrooge stage right. Enter Marley stage left with texts, to sit down at the desk. Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Past start to walk towards stage left.]

    Ghost of Christmas Past: [Loudly] So, get it? Any questions?

    Scrooge: Yeah. What does any of this have to do with Christmas?

    Ghost of Christmas Past: [Loudly] Ahhhh! [Wiggles his eyebrows, smiling. Points to Scrooge with slide rule.] Exactly.

  • [In silence, they walk back to where Marley is sitting (i.e. stage left). As the Ghost of Christmas Past passes the GPB sign, he replaces the "20" with "35". Strobe off, light on stage left.]

     

  • PRESENT

  • [The Ghost of Christmas Past exits stage left, clutching his slide rule to his chest possessively. Scrooge lets out a sigh of great relief and turns back to Marley.]

  • Scrooge: Er, well, that was, um, very interesting. Thanks for stopping by Marley, but it’s getting late and I do have quite a bit of work to get done before tomorrow. And since this isn’t advancing my prospects for tenure any....

    Marley: Sorry Scrooge, you’re not getting off that easily. Why look who it is, the Ghost of Christmas Present!

  • [Enter the Ghost of Christmas Present stage left, leafing furiously through a stack of papers labeled "GRANT PROPOSALS", a sheaf of plane tickets sticking out of his shirt pocket. For the rest of the time that the Ghost of Christmas Present is on-stage, he is never at rest, pacing in small circles if necessary, motions which continually threaten to spill the cup of coffee he’s holding.]

  • Ghost of Christmas Present: Oh, hello there. Sorry, I just came from a thesis defense and I was trying to proofread a few grant proposals before catching my plane to Monaco (by way of Sydney; wink, wink, nudge, nudge) to attend the latest conference on Advanced Techniques in Fundraising.

    Marley: No problem; we all have similar paperwork to bear.

    [Scrooge and Marley nod understandingly. Enter Cratchet and Mary stage right, each carrying a pot of food. Cratchet sits behind the desk, while Mary sits on the side that is nearest center stage. An empty chair is on the stage-right side of the desk.]

    Ghost of Christmas Present: So was there something I was supposed to be doing here? I really do have to be going soon.

    Marley: As a matter of fact, Dr. Scrooge was just asking if you were free this evening to take him on one of your special tours.

    Scrooge: Actually, I was really...

    Marley: ...hoping you wouldn’t view it as too much of an imposition on your busy lobbying schedule, funding being especially difficult for deceased researchers to find in these days of budgetary cutbacks.

    [All of them sigh forlornly.]

    Ghost of Christmas Present: Oh, did we have an appointment? That’s right, so sorry. Now, where was I? Ah, Christmas Present. Well, we better get going. Just follow me to the office.

  • [Light off stage left, light on stage right; no strobe. Marley remains where he is while Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present walk over to where Cratchet & Family are having dinner in Cratchet’s office (i.e. stage right).]

  • Cratchet: Stop playing with that operator Tiny Bob; it’s dangerous! Now come over here so we can say grace.

    Tiny Bob: [In audience.] Oh, all right!

  • [With the operator, Tiny Bob walks over to Cratchet’s desk, which has been set with plastic utensils and Styrofoam plates. Cratchet’s wife Mary is already seated. Cratchet is seated in front of a pot labeled "Turkey-Flavored Top Ramen", while Mary is seated in front of a pan labeled "Macaroni". The Ghost of Christmas Present starts leafing through his pile of grant proposals, occasionally dropping one. Scrooge seems startled.]

  • Scrooge: What are all these people doing here, Cratchet? Why aren't you doing integrals....

    Ghost of Christmas Present: Oh, he can't hear you, you know... [Goes back to pacing and poring over proposals. The Cratchet Family continues getting ready to say grace] So they won't mind if I make a quick phone call... [Goes over to phone on the Cratchet's dinner table and dials; for the rest of the scene, he speaks almost unintelligibly in the background.]

    Cratchet: [Head bowed] I'd just like to take a moment to recognize everyone who helped make this meal possible. I'd like to thank the DOE for providing the funding for the Christmas turkey [Gestures towards the Ramen noodles], the DoD for funding the macaroni, and the NSF for helping to fund these nice plastic cups. But most of all, I'd like to thank my wife Mary for being here all these long, tedious, fully covariant years, and my Family, for making it all worthwhile.

    Tiny Bob: God fund us, everyone! [Pauses briefly] Even Dr. Scrooge!

    Cratchet: Um, er, yeah, even Dr. Scrooge.....

    Mary: I don't see why; the man treats you like a slave!

    Cratchet: Now Mary....

    Mary: And if 5 years ago he hadn't given me the first F in this school's history, I would've gotten into medical school instead of having to work at McDonald's!

    Cratchet: But that was the course where we met! If you hadn't taken the course when I was TA'ing it, we might never have fallen in love! Would you really trade all of our years of married bliss just for some piece of paper?

    [Mary just stares at him, until he turns away.]

    Cratchet:

    Well, let's see what's on television.

    Tiny Bob:

    Can we watch PBS?

    [Cratchet & Mary smile indulgently.]

    Mary: Of course, dear. We both grew up on the Physics Broadcasting System; it's almost part of the Family.

  • [Mary gets up to turn on the television. In the background, the Ghost of Christmas Present distinctly utters the word "GLAST". Turn on the recording of "Schrödinger Street".]

  • Singing Voices: [Cheerfully]

    Ya, moving with .

    On its way, to where each state's discrete!

    Even cats turn into kets,

    when they get to Schrödinger Street!

    Come and play, look out for !

    Deadly neighbor to each state it meets!

    Now each cat's an empty set,

    not a ket, on Schrödinger Street!

    Voice:

    This episode of "Schrödinger Street" is brought to you by the letters "a" and "q", and the number "i".

    Big Blas: Hey there, Lenny! Did you see the Monopole? I think I just heard it go into your trashcan!

    Lenny: Come off it, Big Blas! Nobody's ever seen that damn thing except you and you've only seen it once. 'Fess up: you'd had one too many hits of liquid helium and just made the whole thing up.

    [Cratchet turns to Mary and groans loudly.]

    Cratchet: Come on! They'd beaten that horse to death even when I watched the show and that was 20 years ago! And you know, it's just not funny anymore...

    [Mary nods in agreement and they both turn back to watch.]

    Big Blas: No I didn't! The Monopole's real! Real! And it's my friend!

    Lenny: Yeah right, BB; and I've got some plumbing to sell 'ya.

    [Turn off recording. The Ghost of Christmas Present hangs up, looks confused for a moment, then focuses on Scrooge.]

    Ghost of Christmas Present: Look, I'm sorry about this, but I've really got to be going now; perhaps we can talk later, after I get back from Japan?

    Scrooge: I thought you were going to Monaco?

    [Light off stage right, light on stage left; no strobe. Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present begin to walk back to Scrooge's office (i.e. stage left), where Marley is still waiting.]

    Ghost of Christmas Present: Oh yeah; there too.

    FUTURE

    [Marley gets up from where he's been twiddling his thumbs.]

    Marley: So what did you think? Satisfied with the hell in which you've put your students?

  • [The Ghost of Christmas Present doesn't stop to talk, just walks off stage left, muttering something unintelligible as he vanishes. Scrooge looks after him, baffled, then turns to face Marley.]

  • Scrooge: Humbug! The ingrate eats better than I did when I was a student. I had to beg for every scrap of food I got!

    Marley: [Muttering] Yes, we remember....[Louder] Well, if the plight of your students doesn't bother you, then perhaps your own miserable fate will wake whatever cinder passes for your heart.

    Scrooge: Um, sure. Look, is this going to take much longer? I've got a thesis defense in the morning and I need to prepare some loaded questions.

    Marley: [Muttering] They aren't paying me enough for this....[Louder] Well, not much longer now because unless I miss my guess, that's the Ghost of Christmas Future coming now!

    [Enter the Ghost of Christmas Future stage left, looking hopeful. Enter Old Scrooge stage right, to sit behind the desk.]

    Ghost of Christmas Future: Hello! Would you folks like to be in my group?

    [Scrooge turns to Marley, looking puzzled.]

    Scrooge: Was he dropped at birth or something?

    Marley: [Sighs] No, he's just newly appointed to the afterlife and he hasn't had a chance to put together a research group yet. [Turns to the Ghost of Christmas Future] Sorry, we're already in groups.

    Ghost of Christmas Future: [Crestfallen] Oh.

    Marley: But my friend here would really appreciate it if you'd take him on one of your tours.

    Scrooge: As long as there aren't any others after it.

    Ghost of Christmas Future: [Brightening] Which tour? A tour of my collection of 100,000+ redshifts?

    Marley: Perhaps next week. My friend was more interested in your tour of his future.

    Ghost of Christmas Future: [Trying to put on a happy face] Well, okay. [Turns to Scrooge] Follow me.

  • [Light off stage let; strobe on. Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Future walk to where the Old Scrooge is sitting at his desk, scrawling frenetically (i.e. stage right). As the Ghost of Christmas Future passes the GPB sign, he replaces "35" with "65" and adds "Deceased" next to Everitt's name. Strobe off, light on stage right.]

  • Old Scrooge: [Muttering.] Well, ln(1) should be about 1, for small values of 1....yes, that simplifies things nicely....

    Scrooge: Good to see I don't change that much....

    Ghost of Christmas Future: Well, on the surface, I suppose. Notice anything odd about the office?

    [Scrooge looks around, puzzled.]

    Scrooge: It seems to bear a striking resemblance to my slave...er, student Cratchet's office. But that doesn't make any sense; where's Cratchet? And where's his bothersome brood of a Family?

    Ghost of Christmas Future: You're not going to like the answer....

    Scrooge: And you're not going to like what I'll do to you if you don't cut this mystery crap and give me some straight answers.

    Ghost of Christmas Future: Okay. Turns out a few years from your present, Tiny Bob gets put into the ground state after playing one too many times with his father's annihilation operators. After that, Cratchet just couldn't bear the thought of doing physics. So he quit and went to Wall Street, where he's now making an order of magnitude more money than you ever will. Since then you haven't had a single graduate student which, when you think about it, is strangely appropriate since you are the Marcus Professor of Theoretical Physics. Eventually, the department gave your office to some bright young biophysicist.

    Scrooge: Humbug! Well, I guess Cratchet was never cut out for physics, especially if he was stupid enough to let his kid play with differential operators unsupervised.

    Ghost of Christmas Future: Well then maybe this will change your mind.

  • [The Department Chair enters stage right to stand in front of Old Scrooge's desk. The Department Chair is barely restraining borderline-hysterical laughter.]

  • Old Scrooge: So what do you want?

    Department Chair: Oh, I just wanted to be the one who got to tell you the good news. [Giggles] Well, good news for me, that is.

    Old Scrooge: Charming. Close the door on your way out.

    Department Chair: Not quite yet, Scrooge. The Committee meeting that you just failed to attend has decided unanimously to make you Department-Chair-For-Life. Congratulations, Scrooge. Couldn't have happened to a more, er, deserving guy.

    Old Scrooge: But, but, you're Department Chair!

    Department Chair: Not anymore!

  • [The Department Chair breaks down into uncontrollable laughter.]

  • Scrooge: So is that all?

    Ghost of Christmas Future: Not quite, Chair-For-Life Scrooge....

    Old Scrooge: Are you quite done yet?

    Department Chair: [Calms down to giggling.] Oh, how charming! I can see the students in your classes are really going to have a very positive experience!

    Old Scrooge: I see you're delusional. How quaint. Forgot your medication today, did you?

    Department Chair: Oh no, Scrooge! The Committee whose meeting you just skipped was also unanimous in its selection of you to run all of the undergraduate physics labs for the next decade or so.

    Old Scrooge: That's absurd! I don't teach! You must have me confused with someone who gives a damn.

    Department Chair: Then you'll be perfect!

    Old Scrooge: Look, there must be some sort of mistake....

    Department Chair: Oh no, the Committee doesn't make mistakes. And to show you their appreciation of your taking on this responsibility, they've even gone through the trouble of coming up with some lab projects for you to do....

    [A random extra wheels in a rather large stack of data tapes.]

    Head of the Teaching Program: We have about 2 or 3 exobytes of data from FermiLab to search through for a few types of ultra-rare decays. We figure you can write all of the software for it and then just let the students run it. We even have 120 or so DEC workstations for them to run the programs on.

    Old Scrooge: But, but, but....I can't program....

    Department Chair: Well not at the moment, but that's what your upcoming sabbatical is for!

  • [The Department Chair exits stage right, laughing hysterically while Old Scrooge sputters incoherently. Light off stage right, strobe on. Scrooge turns to the Ghost of Christmas Future.]

  • Scrooge: [Frantic] No! No! This can’t happen to me! Ghost, is this the things that will happen, or that might happen? Because I can change! I promise I will! Just say that this is not what will be!

    Ghost of Christmas Future: [Sternly] Well, to answer your question, what you saw here doesn’t have to be, if you are sincere in your desire to change.

    [Enter Cratchet, Mary, and Tiny Bob stage right, carrying the props from their earlier scene. They seat themselves at their previous places at the desk.]

    Scrooge: [Desperate] I am! I am! I will change!

    Ghost of Christmas Future: Then I think we’ve seen enough.

  • [Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Future walk back to where Marley is sitting. Strobe off, light on stage left. After an exchange of thanks, the Ghost of Christmas Future walks forlornly off stage left, still looking for students. Marley stands up, walks around to stand in front of the desk.]

  • Scrooge: [Catching his breath] Thank heavens you stopped by this evening Marley! To think that I could’ve spent the rest of my days as Department Chair. [Shudders]

    Marley: [Relieved] I'm just glad I could help you avoid making the mistakes I did.

    Scrooge: [Approaching calm] Yes! Now I know which meetings not to skip. Good heavens, to think I could actually be forced to teach undergraduates. The very thought of it makes me ill.

    Marley: But, but....

    Scrooge: Look, I already thanked you once. Now go away.

    Marley: But what about Tiny Bob?

    Scrooge: [Slaps his forehead] You're right; looks like I have to thank you again.

  • [Scrooge runs out of his office to where the Cratchets are about to sit down for dinner. Light off stage left, light on stage right. The Family freezes in shock/horror as Scrooge enters and snatches the operator out of Tiny Bob's hands.]

  • Scrooge: And don't let me ever catch you doing that again! You could get hurt, and then your father wouldn't be good for anything except Wall Street.

    [Scrooge pauses to survey the dinner.]

    Scrooge: So, got any food?

    Cratchet: Um, sure Professor Scrooge, we were just sitting down to Christmas dinner. You're welcome to share anything we have. [Mary gives him an evil look, but says nothing.]

    Scrooge: Thank you, Cratchet. You'll go far with that attitude.

    [Tiny Bob sits down and they all bow their heads.]

    Cratchet: Um, I'd just like to thank all of the government programs whose funding made this meal possible.

    Tiny Bob: God fund us, every...

    Scrooge: Oh shut up, and pass the noodles.

  • [Light off stage right. The Narrator walks back on-stage with the overhead projector. He switches it on, thereby displaying a transparency of the last page of the script.]

  • Narrator: And with that, the story ends. Before finishing for the evening, I would like to mention that the soundtrack for this movie is available from Turing’s Records & Tapes and may be purchased at any local music store. One such store is Tower Records, located at the corner of El Camino Real and San Antonio Road in Mountain View. It is available there on album, cassette, and compact disc. Albums sell for $15.99 each, cassettes for $11.99, and compact discs for $16.99, prices which may vary slightly as the effects of inflationary cosmology kick in. Alternatively, one could go to the Tower Records located at....
  • [Cratchet & Family forcibly remove the Narrator, who continues reciting store locations as he is dragged off-stage. Marley comes over to the projector and places a transparency on it that reads: "The End (Applause)". If so moved, the rest of the cast can come on-stage, turn on both lights, and milk the audience for applause.]