Billion Years Ago

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The title of this post is clearly a play on Adele’s Million Years Ago (where she is reminiscing about her younger days):

I only wanted to have fun
Learning to fly, learning to run
I let my heart decide the way
When I was young

I wish I could live a little more
Look up to the sky, not just the floor

Over the holidays, I was enjoying (wine, a history book about wine, 9000 Years of Wine: A World History, musing over the various wine bottles I have opened at home in 2022 😳, and) the spectacular pictures from Webb Telescope, and it reminded me of many movies – one that I recall seeing at IIT-Madras as an undergraduate – that introduced me to Barbra Streisand’s music (especially Guilty, that was produced by Barry Gibb, of The Bee Gees):

A Star Is Born is a 1976 American musical romantic drama film directed by Frank Pierson, written by Pierson, John Gregory Dunne, and Joan Didion. A huge box office success, it grossed $80 million on a $6 million budget. At the 49th Academy Awards, the film won Best Original Song for its love theme “Evergreen”.

And, of course, its recent remake:

A Star Is Born is a 2018 American musical romantic drama film produced and directed by Bradley Cooper (in his directorial debut). The film received numerous accolades, including eight nominations for the 91st Academy Awards, among them Best Picture, Best Actor (Cooper), Best Actress (Gaga) and Best Supporting Actor (Elliott); it won Best Original Song for “Shallow”. It has box-office receipts of over $436 million on a budget of $36 million.

Another movie that I recall watching at the OAT (Open Air Theater) during my undergraduate years:

Saturday Night Fever is a 1977 American dance drama film directed by John Badham and produced by Robert Stigwood.  It stars John Travolta  who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance. The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, featuring disco songs by the Bee Gees, such as Stayin’ Alive, is one of the best-selling soundtracks in history. It had box-office receipts of over $237 million on a budget of about $3 million.

Back to Webb. Another movie it reminded me of is:

Heat and Dust is a 1983 British historical romantic drama film, with a screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala based on her 1975 novel of the same name. It was directed by James Ivory and produced by Ismail Merchant. It stars Greta Scacchi, Shashi Kapoor and Julie Christie. Heat and Dust was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival.

I am looking forward to visiting IIT-Madras – presenting our quantum work at Progress in Quantum Science and Technologies Conference – later this month. The last time I was there was in 2018, on the occasion of being awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award, and the time before that was in 2016, giving a talk at the Leadership Lecture Series (at CLT, Central Lecture Theatre, where I recall watching Erno Rubik and John Kendrew, among others, as an undergraduate student) on Academic Capitalism in the 21st Century.

Hey ChatGPT, write a poem about Academic Capitalist.

Academic Capitalist,

A curious mind and a keen eye

For knowledge and wealth.

A balance of the two

Is what they strive to achieve,

To succeed in all realms.

Their pursuits are scholarly,

Their goals are always lofty,

But they never lose sight

Of the value of money.

With hard work and dedication,

They reach for the stars,

And achieve great success

In both academia and business.

A true master of their craft,

The Academic Capitalist

Strives for excellence

In all that they do.

My alternative title for this post was Goin’ South(west)? 

Goin’ South is a 1978 American Western-comedy film, directed by and starring Jack Nicholson, with Mary Steenburgen, Christopher Lloyd, John Belushi, and Danny DeVito.

Not a great movie, in contrast to:

North by Northwest is a 1959 American spy thriller film, produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint.

I had flown (for the holidays) into Minneapolis, Northwest of Pittsburgh – no, not on Southwest 😏, which is, like other commercial airlines, “maximally inverse” to my favorite mode of travel, on a private jet – and in my early research career, also it was an enjoyable research application (an early example of my Academic Capitalism ☺️) – and the top news-story of the week reminded me of one of our papers (that was published in December 2007, extending Pinar Keskinocaks’s PhD thesis work a decade earlier, published in 1998, and a Teaching Case based on this won the Best INFORMS Teaching Case Award in 2000; implemented at Raytheon and FlightOptions) where we developed mathematical models and solution algorithms for:

Aircraft and crew scheduling for fractional ownership programs.

In contrast to commercial airlines, the scale is smaller; however, there is no scheduled time-table of flights with fixed origin-destination pairs! Instead, the origin-destination pairs can be any one of the 5500 airports, and flights are booked, on demand, just eight hours in advance.

I would be remiss not to take a moment to remember the passing of my good friend and colleague Ilker Baybars; in 1991, when I joined GSIA (as Tepper was called then), he had just become the Deputy Dean. Indeed, I dug up the Faculty Handbook from 1991-92 (see picture above) to remember many wonderful colleagues who are no longer with us:

Egon Balas. Dick Cyert. Paul Goodman. Rick Green. Yuji Ijiri. Charlie Kriebel. Lester Lave. Allan Meltzer. Tom Morton. Gerry Salancik. Herb Simon. Gerry Thompson. Jeff Williams.

Paul also loved movies (and was a filmmaker). One of the movies I remember watching with him in Squirrel Hill was Husbands and Wivesand then going to have pizza on Murray Avenue to discuss it and:

Crimes and Misdemeanors is a 1989 American existential comedy-drama film written and directed by Woody Allen, who stars alongside Martin Landau, Mia Farrow, Anjelica Huston, Jerry Orbach, Alan Alda, Sam Waterston, and Joanna Gleason. The film was met with critical acclaim, receiving three Academy Award nominations: Allen, for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, and Landau, for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

I am continually reminded of another movie (also with Alan Alda):

Everyone Says I Love You is a 1996 American musical film written and directed by Woody Allen. It stars Allen, Alan Alda, Drew Barrymore, Goldie Hawn, Edward Norton, Julia Roberts, Tim Roth, Natasha Lyonne and Natalie Portman.

Why? Because it was the first time I heard the song:

Enjoy Yourself (It’s later than you think).

Let me wish you all a Happy New Year as I close this post with:

Enjoy yourself it’s later than you thinkEnjoy yourself while you’re still in the pinkThe years go by as quickly as a winkEnjoy yourself, enjoy yourselfIt’s later than you think.


1 comment

  1. Oh, so sorry to hear about Ilker.

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