Tag Archives: Time Travel

I’m glad the future didn’t turn out like it did in Back to the Future II

I’ve been seeing it every once a month or so for the past several years, someone posts a picture on the Internet, it’s a screenshot of the clock inside the Doc’s DeLorean. “Today is the date that Marty McFly visited in Back to the Future II!” and, the first time I saw it, I thought it was really cool, but then it kept popping up, someone just photoshopping a new date to match the current one. Super lame.


But it does raise some interesting ideas. Back to the Future II is a movie made in the eighties that attempts to portray what life in America should look like right about now. Obviously there aren’t too many similarities between the real world and that fantasy land where every homeowner has access to his or her personal flying car. But it’s a movie. That’s one idea of what a future might look like.


It makes me wonder, which version of 2014 is better, ours, or the one imagined way back when? While there’s a lot to consider, I’d have to say that the real 2014 has shaped up to be far superior in almost all respects to the one from the movie. And yes, I’m taking into account the fact that mostly everything made in the eighties looks super cheesy in hindsight. But even after acknowledging and compensating for that handicap, the real future is still so much brighter.

That’s not to say that they got everything wrong. I’m obviously talking about Hoverboards here. And while this futuristic neon pink play toy only had a minor role in the movie, it’s lasting grip on our collective imagination only serves to underscore its very noticeable absence from the future that we inhabit today. Yes, the flying cars were also pretty cool, as were the sneakers that tied themselves up with a push of a button. But come on, why do we not have Hoverboards yet? It’s almost enough to make me want to rule in favor of the eighties future, if only to encourage us to realign our modern priorities, shift away from whatever it is we’re currently working on and reorient our goals to making Hoverboards a viable consumer technology.

Almost. But the rest of the eighties future is depressing enough that I can forget for a few moments that I live in a world where Hoverboards remain a distant fiction. Which is weird, because from a cursory glance, the future in Back to the Future II looks bright. Everything is clean and hi-tech, people seem to be happy, in essence, it’s not Mad Max or Robocop or any of the dystopian visions of the future commonly portrayed in the eighties.

But it still kind of sucks. Marty McFly had dreams of becoming a rock star, but in 2014, he instead finds himself living in some highly automated cage where his foreign boss can appear anytime he wants on giant wall mounted TVs. When they decide to fire McFly, it’s not enough to just tell him that he lost his job, they start streaming in commands to all of the printers around the house, “You’re fired!” printed in giant type for his whole family to read. Talk about lack of privacy, I’d rather have the NSA reading my emails than my boss having the ability to weasel his way into my off-the-clock hours.

And speaking of work, why does everybody in the eighties future have to wear two ties? In my version of the future, we’re all wearing less ties, zero ties, not an additional tie. A tie is the stupidest must unnecessary piece of clothing currently in every man’s closet, and yet it’s somehow required for any sort of formal event. What’s the point of looping a piece of fabric around our neck? It’s just dumb. Dumb, dumb, dumb. And yet someone who made this movie thought it would look a little more advanced if we all got to wear an extra.

It’s just a subtle way of showing how maybe their future wasn’t meant to be as appealing as its glossy coated exterior made it appear. Everybody in the house is working. Work, work, work. Everybody’s so busy that they barely have enough time to feed themselves. They can’t cook dinner, they don’t even have time to go out for a bite to eat. No, instead, Marty’s mom comes over and rehydrates a Pizza Hut pizza in some futuristic kitchen appliance. So not only are the people of the twenty-first century forced to eat dehydrated junk food, they have to fit their houses with expensive appliances that deny them even the ability to enjoy their fast food outside of the house.

And why do Marty and his future son appear to be identical twins? It’s too easy of an answer to say that they just wanted Michael J. Fox to play both roles. No, I think that in this vision of the future, gene therapy has advanced to a point where parents could customize the DNA of their offspring, mapping their appearance to the most minute detail. Of course, Marty being a total self-absorbed rock-n-roll wannabe narcissist, he basically molds his son into his clone, ensuring and predicting a perpetual stagnation of the human race, of eighties American decay, endless suburban sprawl, and lame retro-themed diners.

Yeah, the real future is so much better. Seriously, they didn’t even predict the Internet. How do you not predict the Internet? And the further we march ahead, the sillier Back to the Future II looks in the rearview mirror. I say we leave it all behind, stop airing Part II on TV, and try to forget all of those unexplained temporal paradoxes (Like, when Biff steals the time machine, he comes back to the future after having dropped off the sports almanac, but nothing’s changed yet. Why? Shouldn’t he have come back to a future continued by the timeline in which he’s a ruthless billionaire? It doesn’t make sense.) Except, let’s not forget about the Hoverboards. I’d really, really like a Hoverboard. But I said that already.

A long time ago, on a vacation far, far away

I wish I could have a vacation home like five hundred years ago somewhere. Whenever I need to get away, I’d be able to hop back in time and take a temporary break in the not-so-distant past. And I wouldn’t even try to blend in. I mean, what would be the fun in any of that? No, I’d just zap myself right in the middle of town, a big public entrance, just to show everybody how powerful I am.

I’d wear my regular clothes, and I’d have small-talk with whoever happened to be around, but then I’d head off just outside of the community. I’d have a totally modern house, with everything, Internet, TV, all of my modern appliances. The house itself, it would just be in the past.

Also, I’d be totally untouchable. I’m talking about defense. Like, if anybody tried to overpower my futuristic abode, or try to kidnap me on my way back to the present, it just wouldn’t work. I’d have like a portable cloaking device or a random force-field generator. I don’t know.

And all I’d do is just kind of rub it in how awesome the future is. Maybe I’d let some of the townsfolk take a tour, I’d show them a cool movie on my giant projection screen. What kind of movie would it be? I could play them a period piece, something like Apocalypto or Braveheart. Or maybe I’d just pop in a copy of something totally crazy, like Star Wars, and I wouldn’t explain anything. In fact, I wouldn’t even be watching the movie. My entertainment would be totally derived from watching everyone else try to make sense of what’s going on in the movie.

Maybe I could teach them how to play basketball or baseball. Maybe I could really insert myself into the history of the sport. Although, I guess for continuity’s sake, my visits shouldn’t really disrupt the space-time continuum. Like, I visit, I leave, but nothing changes in the present.

So would any of it even be real? What would be the point of doing anything if there weren’t at least the potential for mild consequences?

Maybe it wouldn’t be as cool as I’m imagining it to be. Maybe I should just take a vacation upstate, get some fresh mountain air. Or something beachy, like, I don’t know, some beach somewhere. I’ll just order like ten piña coladas and fall asleep in the hot tub.

Night vision goggles

I wish I had a pair of night vision goggles. I wish I could see in the dark, without night vision goggles. I wish I could see in the dark, without night vision goggles, without even having to open my eyes. I wish I could see everything, regardless of what time of day it is, without having to open my eyes, without even having to be in the same room as what I’m seeing. Also, I get to choose what I want to see. And I don’t have to be looking at it, obviously. I wish I could think of something and have it appear right in front of me, just by thinking about it. Or anywhere. I wish that I could think of anything, anywhere, and have it instantly appear right in front of me, or anywhere else. And not just one of whatever I’m thinking of. I wish that I could think of anything, in the dark or in the light, and then think of ten or fifteen or twenty places where I wish a copy of that thing would appear, and it would happen. Like night vision goggles. I wish that, if I wanted to, I could think about night vision goggles, and then think about twenty pairs of night vision goggles appearing instantly in twenty different locations. Or split up. What I mean is, like, fifteen pairs at one spot, and then three pairs at another spot, one pair somewhere else, and one pair for me. But that’s just an example, one way of divvying it all up. It could be any number of pairs of night vision goggles.

Actually, I wish that I could think of something, and then have it appear somewhere else, but then alter the timeline of the place around it, so it would be like that thing was always there, like it didn’t just appear there, but it had been there. Forever? Maybe not forever. I wish that, when deciding where I’d like to place an object, I can also place it anywhere in time. Five, ten, fifteen years ago. Or fifteen minutes ago. Or any amount of time ago, not necessarily in units divisible by five, I just keep suggesting units of five. Like I could make an object – any object – appear somewhere ten minutes ago. Or ten seconds ago. I’m really hung up on the fives. I can’t shake it. But rest assured, any number. Any non-five number.

Also, I wish that I could place anything in the future. Like a pair of night vision goggles ten years in the future. For me. Even though I wouldn’t need them, because I can see anything, anywhere. I won’t even need eyes. I wish. I wish I wouldn’t even need eyes. I can just see without them, wherever, however many things, in the future, in the past. And why would I have them in the first place? What would I do with the night vision goggles? If I can see in the dark, would it be in full color, as if there were a light source? Or would it be in just green and black, like a permanent night vision? And would I be able to shut it off? How would I be able to go to sleep if I were busy with a constant stream of visual stimuli?

I wish that everybody else had night vision goggles, everybody except for me, and while everybody else is stumbling around in the black and green dark – there wouldn’t be any other lights, there couldn’t be – I’d be free to look at the world as if the sun were out. As if it were high noon. And so, what would be the advantages? Do night vision goggles run on some sort of a power source? Maybe I’ve …

Maybe I just want the night vision goggles. Maybe all of that other stuff is a little much. The duplication powers. The time powers. What would I feel like with all of those powers at my disposal? Would I still be me? No. Probably not. I’d be corrupted. Very easily. I think probably just night vision goggles would be enough to corrupt me. With or without power.

I’d really just like super strength. Maybe a night vision monocle.

Movie Review: Looper (it sucks)

If you’ve seen the movie Looper, let me just tell you, I’m sorry. I know what you’re going through. And while it never really gets better, that dead part of your soul slowly overtakes the very essence of your being, erasing happiness so thoroughly that after a while you don’t even remember what happy ever felt like in the first place, eventually the emptiness you feel inside turns into something manageable. And so, unable to identify joy anymore, the hollow despair that oozes through your pores, it won’t be as crippling as it was immediately after the end of the film. That film. Looper.

I’m not even exaggerating. If anything, it’s the opposite. What’s the opposite of exaggeration? I don’t know. Playing it down? That’s not a word. There’s got to be a word. Understated? I guess, but that doesn’t sound just right. Whatever, if you haven’t seen it, don’t. In fact, if you haven’t seen it, stop reading this review, because it’s best to just keep this whole subject as far removed from your life as possible.

If I had a time machine, I’d travel back to the past and stop myself from ever renting the movie. Or, even better, I’d go back a few months ago to the casual conversation I was having with someone at work, someone who just saw Looper, and told me it was really good. I’d punch him in the face, return to the present, and hopefully the crisis would have been averted.

Unfortunately, time travel doesn’t exist. But it did in Looper. And it didn’t make any sense. So now I can’t even imagine what time travel would be like, because events in Looper have totally ruined the whole concept for me. It’s all about people who come from the future to kill people, also from the future, but in the past. And they make a big show about not messing with the timeline, or, they pretend to. Whenever one of the characters looks confused because something doesn’t make sense with the story, another character will begin the first four or five words of an explanation before shrugging and going, “Ah, blah blah blah time travel, it’s confusing.”

It’s confusing, but it’s not absolutely impossible to wrap your head around. And if it is impossible, they should have incorporated that into the movie. Instead, you have unnecessarily gruesome scenes of a young guy getting maimed and mutilated so that way his future self gets stopped in his tracks, in the present. They amputate all of his limps so they don’t have to kill him. But then they kill him. Ah, blah blah blah, this movie doesn’t make sense.

The whole movie tries way too hard to be Inception, which it fails at, miserably. They shoot for big ideas, for huge plot twists. It never works. It’s all cheap and lame. Like I said, the entire premise of the movie is based around time travel. Kind of. There’s also telekinesis. Which isn’t supposed to be a big deal, but then why do they bother telling us about it at the very beginning of the movie? To tell us specifically that it’s not a big deal. But guess what? It turns out to be a very big deal. Not really the best use of foreshadowing there. And, again, it’s cheap. Is this a time travel movie or a telekinesis movie? I’ve watched the whole thing and I can safely say that it’s really about neither.

It’s about nothing. It’s about Bruce Willis and it’s about making Joseph Gordon Levitt looking slightly more like Bruce Willis. It’s about depicting the future without really changing anything, just adding a few flying motorcycles. Oh yeah and now drugs now come in eye drop form.

Things just happen in this movie. They happen without any introduction or explanation. Like the telekinesis. Like some guy calling up Bruce Willis in the future and giving him the birthday and hospital number of the main bad guy. In the future. But from the past. Confused? Yeah, it’s a stupid movie. There’s not really much more to say. If you’re ever on a plane somewhere and they have one of those built in monitors on the seat in front of you, I guarantee you that Looper is going to be on there. It’s exactly the type of bullshit movie that always makes it onto airplanes. If it’s a free movie, and it sucks, you just know those asshole airlines are going to coerce you to watch it, just to make your flight a little bit shittier.

Sorry, I’m all worked up now. I don’t like being this negative. But Looper, man, it was so bad. Like didn’t somebody review the script? Or take a look at the finished product, wondering if audiences might not react negatively to such a poorly thought up story?

I also saw Magic Mike this weekend. It was pretty good, you know, for a male stripper movie. Definitely better than Looper.

It’s another one of those posts where I talk about going back in time and talking to a bunch of cavemen about how much better the future is than the lame past they’re all living in

I haven’t talked about the future in a while. Sometimes I get on these kicks where all I can think about is time travel and space portals to distant dimensions, or even not-so-distant dimensions, like dimensions that might occupy the same space that we’re occupying right now, but just on another plane, (whatever that means) so everything’s happening right around us, but at the same time totally removed. Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve thought about stuff like that. Ever since I saw Batman really. I already wrote pretty extensively about how I thought Batman was so amazing, but it’s gotten past the point of ridiculousness. Like I never think about any of that other cool future stuff anymore because my mind’s still chewing on The Dark Knight Rises. I was on vacation a couple of weeks ago – I know, I’ve written about that a lot too lately – and while I was there I saw Batman again, but this time in Spanish. I thought that maybe seeing it all dubbed up would maybe loosen its grip from my mind, but if anything, it just made it even stronger, because I feel its appeal is universal, not just limited to American audiences.

But the Batman is wearing off of for a second and I’m starting to think about the future again. Or the past. I was thinking about imagining up a time machine and going back in time, like way back, no, even further back than that, to visit some of the very first human beings. Genetically, we’d have to be almost identical, right? I mean, we’d be the same species and everything. But how would we communicate? Language isn’t something that comes preloaded into our brains, which is kind of stupid if you think about it. You don’t have to teach a puppy how to bark, it just does it. One time I took this medieval history class in college and the professor was talking about one of those crazy medieval kings and how, at the time, there existed this rumor or legend that if you left babies to grow up without any parents or other humans around, they’d naturally start speaking Hebrew. So this crazy king locked up a bunch of babies in isolation, but they just cried and cried and eventually died. I always wondered if that professor wasn’t just full of shit, but to be perfectly honest, I actually haven’t thought about that class probably since I took it. I have no idea why that little anecdote just popped in my head.

But back to my little thought experiment. What would it be like to be a member of the very first generation of human beings? All of the sudden these people are just aware of the universe in a way that only humans are. But they can’t talk to each other. What do they do, just grunt, point, throw rocks? And they have to hunt everything to eat. And they don’t have any parents telling them not to eat all those poisonous but tasty looking berries, and so a bunch of them probably died right off the bat. And they can’t write. How does that first generation teach itself to be potty trained? How do they know not to drink their own pee? I’d like to go back and talk to them, or communicate with them somehow. I’m sure I could teach at least one of them enough English for a conversation.

And I’d be like, “Hello! I’m your great-great-great-great-great-great-(you get the idea, right?)-grandson! Being a human in the future is so cool. We have everything. Clothes, TV, Internet. It’s all so awesome. We have so much time to just sit around and chill out and drink. Oh yeah, you guys haven’t even invented alcohol yet. Well, it’s awesome. And so is McDonald’s. Trust me, whatever you guys are doing to get us all to that point, keep up the good work. OK, bye!”

But then I’m thinking a few things. I’m thinking first that, would it even be possible for those really early humans to understand exactly what I’m trying to say? Could they imagine all of the wonders I’d be telling them about? Or would they think I’m full of shit? I always picture my grandparents, growing up during the Great Depression, sharing a baked potato for dinner with their entire extended family. Even if I could tell them then about all of the technological breakthroughs we’ve made since then, all of the abundance our society has come not only to love, but to expect, to demand, would they even be capable of believing me?

In the 1960s, Star Trek gave us all the idea for cell phones. But did the people watching it back then really imagine we’d actually all have them just fifty years later? And not even that, but our cell phones are even better, much cooler than what they had in Star Trek. Sure, we’re not in space, like visiting aliens or anything, and yeah, we can’t transport stuff. That is, not yet. What’s the world going to be like when I’m eighty? Maybe there will be transporters. I’m guessing there will have to be a few Holodecks. That’s going to change everything. But right now it’s all pure imagination and I can’t really get myself to picture it happening.

And then I’m thinking that there’s no way this caveman would get it, and I’d try to explain it for a while, but then what if he did get it, and was just pretending not to get it? He’d think to himself, why the hell did this clown come back from the future, to rub it in my face how much better he has it than I do? And when I least expect it, he’ll knock me out, take my time machine, and take my place in the future, watching TV, going to see Batman again, downloading stuff from the Internet. And I’ll be stuck there, trying to outrun a herd of elk or whatever animal it is that they hunted back then, but I’ll be so out of my element. I’ll never catch one of them. And even if I do, what am I going to do with it, eat it raw? I’ve never made a fire out of sticks before. I’d have no idea how to even start. I’d probably just get a huge blister on my hand and it would get infected, but antibiotics wouldn’t exist yet, so I’d try eating some mold or something, because I heard that’s where the inventor of penicillin got it from, but this wouldn’t work, because you have to do something to the mold first before it turns into medicine, and I’d probably get even sicker.

And I’d lay there dying, hungry, alone, and centuries later some archeologists would find my bones and the leftovers of my iPhone, because right before I died, and right before my phone died in the past, I’d record a video, I’d say, if you’re seeing this video in the future, it’s because I got stuck in the past, please, please send a crew back in time to help me, to find that caveman who switched places with me. But that caveman was a lot smarter than I gave him credit for, because one of the first things he’d do upon arriving in the future is to pose as an archeologist, find my remains, and destroy the phone before any real scientists could get their hands on it.

All this stuff sounds crazy, but not as crazy as all the stuff today must have sounded in the past. That’s my whole point. That today, more than at any other point in history, we can really look around and look back and forward and think to ourselves that there’s truly no limit to what’s coming, holodecks, time machines, World War VIII, everything. It all has to happen. And I’m calling it. Call me a futurologist. Seriously, call me that.