Uncle Rico: Kip, I reckon... you know a lot about... cyberspace? You ever come across anything... like time travel?
Beware bunnies bearing bad news.
Kip: Easy, I've already looked into it for myself.
Uncle Rico: Right on... right on.
So, if drastic change is out of the question (last column), how do we go about extricating ourselves from the boob tube this year (assuming "this year" wasn't Writer's Strike '08, and there was a something other than the Netflix delivery to watch)?
We just never settle into the sofa in the first place!
Time travel, folks, is the answer to all our ills. A bit of strategic quantum leaping and et voila: bad habits never acquired, loves unlost. An industrious suggestion given during a particularly suggestible time, and gold medals, Guinness records, that perfect pair of shoes remaining only in size 8, the American Presidency -- all become tangible. Extra-precise space-time continuum meddling, and possibly even the Illuminati could be thwarted!
Well, okay, maybe not that one, but still, a great many possibilities -- improvements -- to be had.
However, before we go strapping on our aluminum foil caps and trekking backwards to tell that wicked, bulging boy, "NO!" so that we could keep our virtue in tact, remaining pure for our future suitor, we should first inventory what we've learned.
1)Virginity is Overrated.
I was just kidding about the whole "remain virtuous" thing. Let's not waste our precious few dilithium crystals on that -- besides, since I've painted my nails a scandalous, occupation-era shade of red ("Vodka and Caviar"), I had a fellow hit on me! Not only is this a marked improvement over pre-red solicitations from malefolk, it also proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that men prefer whores.
2)"Stupid Bug – you go squish NOW!"
For goodness's sake, watch your feet when traversing the years. As we learned in both, THE SIMPSONS, and A SOUND OF THUNDER, even a shoe-sized butterfly can be tethered to a great weight of existence. Innocent missteps, then, can rouse dire consequences. Though in the short story, Ray Bradbury's A SOUND OF THUNDER brilliantly expounded upon what could happen if even a mouse were inadvertently snuffed out during a wander through time, his climax fell short of fears stirred. Hollywood, however, lacquered on the cgi and showed us in real time. Ripples were heralded by a thunderous crack, with each surge of change more dire than the last. Even though the characters didn't, themselves, thunder to life on the screen, the effect was memorable.
Mind your feet, indeed – or you'll be minding hideous, baboon-raptor creatures in Central Park.
3)Children Not Included.
There are some spots where the timeline leaves us gridlocked.
PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED... to something of a twit. Then, Peggy Sue Had Children. Here's the rub: that error, glaring and festering in the past, might also be a link in a pivotal chain of our lives. No twit husband, for Peggy, would equate to no lovely offspring. Something to seriously consider.
Another thing PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED gives us to mull over, is the idea that we needn't be so scientific with all this
time traveling. Peggy's nerdy schoolmate, Richard, presented "Richard's Burrito," based off his culinary experience at Disneyland. In it, he theorizes that, "Well, I think time is like a burrito. Sometimes it just folds over on itself and one part touches the other... You can till it with whatever you want. From illusions to memory, from experience to innocence, from happiness to the entire universes."
Since when did knowing better make any difference?
The charm of PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED wasn't in the how-she-go-there, or what-she-was-going-to-change, rather, how irresistible yet frustrating the past might be, if revisited. In the past, friends are who they were when one still considered them a friend, starry-eyed hopes can supersaturate adolescence, and grandparents are still alive.
A definite addition to our learning trove – even if some find Francis Ford Coppola's casting of his nephew, Nicolas Cage, as the twit husband, questionable. I'd read that Coppola spent "hours and hours" editing Cage's work into something "palatable." Either my standards are incredibly lenient or, judging from the pre-shooting script, a heck of a lot more than just Cage was edited. What do people have against poor Nicolas Cage, anyway? Hmm... perhaps in our forays into yesteryear, one of us can take him aside before he strangles GHOSTRIDER (and prod him into coming up with a backup plan for Dresden Files!).
Interestingly enough, Cage stars in KNOWING, a film due this year, with a fantastic premise: "A teacher (Cage) opens a time capsule that has been dug up at his son's elementary school; in it are some chilling predictions -- some that have already occurred and others that are about to -- that lead him to believe his family plays a role in the events that are about to unfold. (courtesy IMDB)" Even more promising, is Alex Proyas (THE CROW, DARK CITY) in the director's chair.
4)"If at first you don't succeed, try, and try again. And again. And again...."
From GROUNDHOG'S DAY to RETROACTIVE to CHRISTMAS DO-OVER, we learn the high probability of suffering time-trekking whiplash. Time travel can quickly become the proverbial string on a sweater. A situation should be cut, but instead, the impulse to just yank and get it over with prevails – leaving one with a much longer stand in hand than originally intended. The second time around, the scissors nick the fabric. Third time, the cigarette burns a hole, and so on.
Unless you're Bill Murray, the repeat will wear thin. Quickly.
5)"If there's a dog involved, forget about it."
First off, wow, who knew Ashton Kutcher could act? Even if THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT wasn't the phenomenal film that it is, I'd add it to our list simply to illustrate the potential, seemingly potential-less individuals might harbor.
The paramount lesson of THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, is we might not be able to time travel and get the result we desire. As a matter of fact, skewing the result eight ways to Sunday, we might desire an entirely different result, in the end.
6)"Though saving the dog, and the girl, are powerful motivators, do make sure the
time travel unit you purchased online is the real deal. Otherwise, you'll just end up looking
really, really silly."
The Future (as predicted by a pre-schooler)
Such was the case with Uncle Rico (NAPOLEON DYNAMITE).
7)"Beware Men in Bunny Suits."
Sometimes, it'll take more than a well-placed whisper, or note to oneself to undo the bad. Oddly enough, one of the finest redo of days film, DONNIE DARKO, is one many profess not to "get." It's also one of those films I'd hate to reveal any sort of spoiler of, but sufficed to say, the lesson learned here is that the solution a step back in time reveals might be a harsh one.
8)"You might not be as memorable as you thought you were, err, are."
As a matter of fact, you could run right past yourself, and not even know it.
Terry Gilliam's vision of the future in 12 MONKEYS is beyond glum – but (as is the case with any step into the slipstream) there's hope! I'm not talking about the hope that Gilliam will return to making films as wholly enjoyable as 12 MONKEYS (or TIME BANDITS, for that matter), rather, the hope that one person can change the world.
Watching this one could prove fatal to traveling ambitions. The possibility of a world where Brad Pitt isn't pretty and Bruce Willis isn't cracking one-liners, might prove daunting to some, but once in, the viewer is gasping in horror, alongside Willis, as each question is eventually answered. It might lead you to decide to leave saving the world to someone else. Dirty work, that saving the world business.
9)"If one thinks oneself is slipping from year to year, at will or random, one just might have bats in the belfry."
Vonnegut's creation of Billy Pilgrim raises this worry. In SLAUGHTER HOUSE FIVE, Pilgrim is a man who is jettisoned between experiences in WWII, a 1950's suburban life, and as an inhabitant at a sort of interplanetary alien zoo.
Perhaps we need only go back in time in our heads, to correct many wrongs. If Billy had come to terms with the horrors he witnessed in the war, perhaps his subconscious wouldn't have thirsted for such elaborate escape... if he is, in fact, only in his head.
I read something recently which stuck in my mind on this subject... but scour though I did, damned if I can locate it. Basically, an observation was made about destiny. It would seem that Hitler was destined to take his dark throne, Louis Pasteur to combat rabies – that is, as we look back on history. Every decision, geographical relocation, every instant, sliced together to create the whole of their final picture. Destined. Their perspective must have been very different. Trivial decisions, frustrating mishaps, millions of tiny steps they took, without the benefit of knowing where their path might lead. It's a wonder then, how many things our predecessors might have wanted to change – did a grandmother regret marriage instead of a chance in LaLa Land, would a distant ancestor have gladly stepped into a quantum leap accelerator, never leaving her Ireland, rather than continue to suffer in the New World?
At some point, someone, either in our direct lineage, or indirectly influenced by something we do, is going to achieve a something we could be proud of.
Let's just hope it's not a government sponsored mass lobotomy program.
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