MetaSpaceTimeContinuum September 7, 2018 2:25 PM   Subscribe

End of another long week filled with awful politics/news. Let's talk about something else instead. If you had access to a time-machine (DeLorean or Tardis), what time and place would you travel to? Maybe you would like to go back to ancient Mongolia? Or maybe you want to go back to the 60s and experience Beatlemania all over again? Or maybe experience the culture of 17th C French court? If you want to take a companion, feel free to do so, or maybe you're on this adventure solo. Either way, happy travels and try not to fuck up the time-line too much. :D
posted by Fizz to MetaFilter-Related at 2:25 PM (79 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

I would do the same thing that I always do. Kill the inventor of the time machine.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:46 PM on September 7 [10 favorites]


But what if the inventor of the time machine was your grandparent?
posted by acidnova at 3:05 PM on September 7 [4 favorites]


I would go back 500 years to the valley I grew up in. I would live with my Kulin clan, travel to conduct ceremonies with other clans, live a fairly easy, healthy, culture-rich, well-fed life. Swim in the clean river, sleep under star-studded skies, wear a fur cloak, dance, sing, and laugh, a lot. I would tell stories of how Bunjil the eagle created Birrarung the river. When the clans got together to hunt and feast at the ceremonial ground in the heart of the river bend, we'd play marngrook and celebrate our belonging to the land. We would sing the country and conduct ceremonies to keep the lore alive. We'd harvest fish from our river traps; seeds, fruits, roots and saps from our wild garden; spear kangaroo and snake, koala and blue-tongue; ponder at the yellow nuggets shining on the river bed; let the stars tell us stories year after year. It would be a life of intense love and embodied meaning; knowing that every living thing around me was part of me, and I was part of it.
posted by Thella at 3:16 PM on September 7 [36 favorites]


But what if the inventor of the time machine was your grandparent?

Wish I had a nickel for every time I've had to uncreate myself.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:20 PM on September 7 [8 favorites]


catch me in 1491 waiting for columbus with a bat
posted by poffin boffin at 3:48 PM on September 7 [47 favorites]


vampire columbus sucks too
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:50 PM on September 7 [14 favorites]


I would make a time travel system, similar to that in the film Primer. I would use this to arrive at the diner in Grinnell, Iowa, just when they were putting the pie out from which this was one slice. Then, using the recursive feature, I could create many instances of the pie, leaving them at crucial places in the time continuum of my life (past, present and future), thus guaranteeing fantastic pie during times when I needed it.

I'd also take a slice of it back to 1953 and the film set of Niagara, in the hope that Marilyn Monroe would find the sight of a tall time-travelling Englishman bearing fantastic pie too irresistable, and her own personal circumstances, life and timeline would then change for the better as she chooses me over some old man who write plays (and who does not have either a time machine or fantastic pie, so I should win that one).

So, in summary, fantastic pie for life, and that life shared with Marilyn Monroe. I guess I'd also nip away one weekend to kill Hitler blah blah blah as that is apparently the cliche thing required of everyone as soon as they get a time machine. But I'd come back to pie and Marilyn, so all's good.
posted by Wordshore at 4:10 PM on September 7 [16 favorites]


I'd love to go back to India and talk to my ancestors, just to shoot the shit, to connect and ask about their lives. That seems kind of pedestrian, but it's something I'd want to do.
posted by Fizz at 4:14 PM on September 7 [6 favorites]


Manhattan, 1957. Opening nights of West Side Story and The Music Man.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 4:19 PM on September 7 [7 favorites]


Uhhhhh, now I've read the other responses (should have done this first), which are more profound, considered and virtuous than mine, I'll rethink and have another go. And come up with something less shallow and opportunist than just endless pie and [redacted] with a famous actress.

But it was reeeeally good pie and the restaurant that served it, I'm glad to see, is still around.
posted by Wordshore at 4:33 PM on September 7 [2 favorites]


I was born the same day '50s Icon James Dean died (albeit a few hours earlier and 3 time zones away) so I'd go and take over the driving of his overpowered sportscar so he survives his drive to the coast. Then I'd arrange it so he, and not the similarly-named Jimmy Dean, gave Jim Henson's creation Rowlf the Dog his TV debut. (But I'd let Jimmy keep the sausage brand) I'd also convince the sponsor of Rocky & Bullwinkle to outsource their animation gruntwork to Korea instead of Mexico, and convince Captain Kangaroo's Bob Keeshan to give Bunny Rabbit a voice and put Mr. Green Jeans in Purple pants.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:01 PM on September 7 [1 favorite]


Mostly just travel around to various places and times and write Bad Wolf on any surface I knew would survive to the present.
posted by Basil Stag Hare at 5:33 PM on September 7 [13 favorites]


Nobody wants to go to the future? I'd be scared of what I might see but so curious I might just go ahead and set the dial to 3018 or so and have a look anyway.

I've often wished I could go back and see the younger versions of my kids again, so I'd definitely do that. I'd love to be able to hold them again as babies or have conversations with them as toddlers. I'd take the current versions along sometimes so they could see how cute they were.

I'd also like to see all my favorite parts of North America as they were 1000 years ago. I don't really want to interact with any people, I just want to look at the landscape and the wildlife.
posted by Redstart at 6:27 PM on September 7 [4 favorites]


Mine is all concerts, starting with being in the crowd for a Linkin Park show on every tour. I never got to see them live (I got close once - they were supposed to come to my city on the Hunting Party tour, but that's the tour where half of it got cancelled when Chester broke his leg playing basketball) and I never made the space to go see them when they were getting close enough but still further away.

We drive to the concerts these days and go to more shows than may be we should, because you never know. We have tickets to go see Shinoda in Raleigh in October, and I'm having a hard time not getting tickets to his Charlotte show the week before, too. I will go and sob my way through In the End and it will be good.
posted by joycehealy at 6:43 PM on September 7 [2 favorites]


I'd go back 100 years or so and hang out a few years to wait for my grandfather's birth. I'd see his parents and grandparents and write down their names and anything I could about them and where they came from. I have searched and searched and though I can go back to seventh- and eight- great-grandparents on my grandmother's side, I can find nothing about my grandfather's family. As far as I can tell, he materialized out of thin air on the day of his wedding to my grandmother. I have his parents name from the marriage certificate, but I can find no sign of them. No baptism certificate for my grandfather. No record at all of his parents, beyond their names on my grandparents' marriage certificate. I even did Ancestry DNA and turned up fifty million cousins multiple-times removed and as far as I can tell, none through my grandfather's line. Maybe he came from a long line of only children (though he himself had a brother and a sister.)

Also, my grandfather was orphaned at a young age (which is why there wasn't much known through him). So I guess while I was there I would see if I could do something to help his parents survive. I don't know what they died of. It would have changed the course of his life so much if he had had a family.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:53 PM on September 7 [4 favorites]


Oh, and also, I'd go back to the early 80s and see Stan Rogers perform live. Ideally in canso or halifax.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:16 PM on September 7 [4 favorites]


I would travel to the ’90s. Stripping was so much better then: waaay more money, waaay less contact.

The money in stripping has plummeted. I’ve worked at clubs where nowadays most girls are probably averaging $150, maybe $200 a shift. Back in the ‘90s, at those same clubs, girls would complain about making “only $2,000” a night.*

The economy was better in the '90s, sure. And back then, corporate America was more comfortable mixing strip clubs into business, so a lot of the fruits of the booming economy flowed directly into the strip clubs. But changes regarding those two things alone didn't cause the drop in stripper earnings. It was—I think—a change in the options.

Just like network television stations don’t make as much now because they’re competing with cable, strippers don’t make as much now because we’re competing with webcamming and porn and escort sites. I don't think the money will ever get back to where it was at before the internet truly revolutionized the sex industry. (Certainly, the revolution was starting to happen in the '90s but wasn’t where it’s at now.)

Back then, if you had money and wanted to use it to get attention from a pretty girl, you didn’t have the options that you did now. Strip clubs were the most obvious choice.

So as long as all the clubs in town held the line by charging a lot for not much (if any) contact, everyone made $$$$$. But it’s a game of limbo. As soon as a guy knows that he can get X, Y, and Z from a pretty girl for $$$, why is he going to spend $$$ on a pretty girl who is just going to do X?

I’ve heard the story in a number of cities. All the clubs were making bank, and then one club loosened the rules, and so the other clubs in the area have to loosen up as well to compete for customers. Strict no contact relaxes to a little non-sexual contact (holding hands, touching each other on the arm). Then a little more intimate but still non-sexual contact (thigh, hips). Then a little more sexual contact though still within the law (breasts). Then straight-up sexual contact in violation of the law (the, *ahem*, cupcake). Then one day you see a coworker giving blowjob in the main dance area for $200, $100, $60 bucks. No wonder you’re struggling to convince the men in the room that you’re worth that same figure for so much less “action.”

Now you’re stuck feeling pressure to violate the law in order to make this job profitable. How do you build your own law-abiding client base against that pressure?

Answer: Slowly—which means you're not making the "fast money" that this industry is known for, the fast money that you can use to justify doing such a stigmatized job. And most girls don't enter this industry looking to get rich slowly.

I love my job, and I think that most people who have a reasonable level of social awareness understand that it’s hard even though I love it. But most civilians I speak with are downright shocked to learn how much harder it has gotten since the '90s.

*I’m a skeptical person, especially when people start throwing around numbers I can’t personally verify. (People “puff” in this industry. Not quite so much to others within the industry as they do to civilians outside the industry, but it still happens.) Nevertheless, at this point, I’ve heard it from many, many, many, many, many people in all sorts of positions and contexts, so I really do believe it.
posted by Peppermint Snowflake at 7:21 PM on September 7 [28 favorites]


I feel like i'd have a different answer to this question basically every day. For today my idea is this... I grew up in an 1840's farmhouse in the US. When it was built there wasn't much around it. I've been able to watch that house and the neighborhood (which is now nearly suburban MA) age over the last nearly-50 years (we moved there when I was a baby) but I am really curious about how it evolved before my parents bought it. It had been in one family from 1840-ish to 1971. It had been added on to and was a working farm for a lot of those years. I am super curious about it, I would like to see it being built.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:36 PM on September 7 [9 favorites]


Just this afternoon I was thinking, "I wish I could have seen Black Sabbath play 'Supernaut' live, 'neath a haze of green smoke."
posted by scratch at 7:48 PM on September 7


What I want is a machine that will let me safely visit the inner surfaces of the Sun, as well as the other hostile atmosphere planets of course.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:56 PM on September 7 [2 favorites]


If there was a way I could figure out how to keep my Dad from getting cancer in 1997, I would be ON THAT NOW. However, without that capability, I would keep my Dad-in-law from getting into that vehicle four years later. JFC, I need to stop losing fathers.
posted by blurker at 8:09 PM on September 7 [15 favorites]


Oh my God oh my god I have wanted someone to ask me this for ages

I would use a time machine

To go to the best performance

Of every Broadway musical I never got to see in person

Which is a lot of musicals

So yeah

Time machine

Broadway

Let's go
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:40 PM on September 7 [8 favorites]


No question.

Post-apocalyptic San Franciso.
posted by bendy at 8:44 PM on September 7 [2 favorites]


As far as I can tell, [my grandfather] materialized out of thin air on the day of his wedding to my grandmother. I have his parents name from the marriage certificate, but I can find no sign of them. ... [He] was orphaned at a young age

Careful, if Heinlein is writing this story there's a decent chance you turn out to be your own grandfather.
posted by jedicus at 8:46 PM on September 7 [8 favorites]


Just saw 2001 on a humongous screen at the local science museum but if I had a time machine, I'd go back and watch the premier with the missing 19 minutes included that Kubrick edited out afterward.
posted by octothorpe at 9:10 PM on September 7 [3 favorites]


Whenever I would go, I would make sure to hang up this cheatsheet in my time machine before I left. I would get vaccinations before I left, and also bring my own weapons because safety not guaranteed. See you all in the past/present/future!
posted by Rob Rockets at 10:43 PM on September 7 [2 favorites]


Mine is all concerts,
Me too, except I'd have to go back a bit further in time. I'd start by hanging out with the Gershwins when they were young (and tell George to go to the damn doctor when he started getting headaches), and then dip back further and visit Brahms, and see if Schubert really was the sweetheart they say, and maybe do some weeping at the legendary premiere of the Ninth where the first violinist had to turn Beethoven around to see the applause.
Hopefully I'd end up by having dinner with the Bachs, with little Bach kids climbing all over us and Johann Sebastian patiently wrangling them while he scribbled down that week's cantata. I'd hand over to him all the sheet music I'd been able to lay my hands on of 20th-c jazz, plus some recorded sound if I could bring a music player that would work in 17-whatever, and then when I got back to now I'd see what he'd done with it.
(Although maybe somebody did that anyway...)
posted by huimangm at 11:45 PM on September 7 [3 favorites]


This is hard. I keep thinking Stalin, Cook, Churchill, Kissinger or countless others could meet early ends but how do you ensure some other random doesn't end up filling their roles? The same old Hitler question.
Maybe Coyoacán, Mexico City, early August 1940. Better to save than to kill.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 12:18 AM on September 8 [2 favorites]


You know, there are lots of bits of human history I would like to see — original Shakespeare performances, ancient Rome, that kind of thing — but the first thing I would do would be dinosaurs.

And there are so many other natural history outings as well: Great Auks! Passenger Pigeons! And the British countryside before agriculture; for example, the Thames estuary must have been amazing when there were no sea walls or embankments or anything, just miles and miles of reedbeds and wet woodland and saltmarsh.

And also, more recently but pre Agricultural Revolution — maybe the C17th — to see if the countryside was as full of nightingales and turtle doves and butterflies as I imagine. If I took back my moth trap it would literally be the brightest night-time object for hundreds of miles in all directions, so I’d probably catch a few moths.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 12:47 AM on September 8 [6 favorites]


I feel like it’d be fun to travel backward through London-time in short hops until I got to a year where I couldn’t understand anything that was said to me. I don’t have a sense of how many centuries this would be.
posted by eirias at 12:47 AM on September 8 [8 favorites]


Thinking of something more profound than sex or food, there are a few inflexion points in human history which would be interesting to travel back to.

The stand-out one for me would be arguably the most (in)famous ship sinking in history. Not the Titanic, but the White Ship on 25th November 1120 outside Barfleur in Normandy, which pretty much took out a large proportion of the England-ruling cabal. When that went down, a sudden succession crisis for the throne of England happened, and the Anarchy - nearly two decades of chaos and lawlessness across the land and Normandy - started while various people battled for power. How different history would have been if the ship had not sunk and/or William Ætheling had survived has been the inspiration for various literature over the last 900 years or so.

It would be interesting to go back in time and try and ensure that the ship did not crash on the rock off the coast of France. Then again, there's a whole bundle of inconsistencies and oddities in the accounts of the shipwreck; those who sailed on a different ship, or who chose at the last minute not to sail; the sole survivor, and why the ship was wrecked when it shouldn't have been; the alleged failed rescues, and a lot more. So, a trip back may have cleared that up, but after reading the accounts for a while you start to wonder if a time traveller went back and and actually caused the ship to sink, for whatever reason. If I couldn't stop it, and wasn't busy battling that other time traveller, I'd probably at the least try and rescue Matilda FitzRoy, Countess of Perche, for complicated historical reasons.

The other inflexion point, and more recent, would be to travel back to the battle of Evesham on 4th of August 1265. Again, I'd be curious to see how accurate the historical accounts were; maybe the great thunderstorm just before the battle wasn't an actual thunderstorm, but the arrival of my time machine. Evesham was my home town for the first twenty years of my life; I know it well and have walked around the actual battle site (though it was an oppressive and seriously unsettling wood that you didn't want to go in after dark). It would be good to go back and either not interfere, or perhaps give Simon de Montfort a bit of tactical advice (mainly: you are seriously outnumbered and the higher ground isn't going to save you because there's a river on three sides that has a habit of drowning people, so make haste northeast in your only escape route while you can). Then again, we were taught at school that he was an all-round good guy because politics I won't get into and that turned out to be very wide of the truth (as was rather a lot of what we were taught at school) so I'd probably just watch, take some photographs, and steal his sword at the worst possible moment.

Of course, doing any kind of interfering - especially with the White Ship - would have the result of radically changing history since then. Especially making any changes to the royalty of Albion/England before the 14th century as many English people - and by default many MeFites, quite possibly you reading this now - are descendents of King Edward the Third (1312-1377) i.e. English Royalty. Seriously. Do anything that stops Edward III from existing, or having the opportunities to have many children (of whom some would have many children themselves and that's why basically the modern western world is descended from him) would drastically change human history, and probably take out myself, other MeFites and many others (maybe). So it would be a large gamble of profound consequence.

But it would be a nice anecdote to tell the children of myself and Matilda FitzRoy when we are nesting in our hideaway cabin somewhere, eating a fantastic lemon pie that mysteriously appeared one day (sorry not sorry) and they ask why the world is as it is.
posted by Wordshore at 1:53 AM on September 8 [14 favorites]


Do anything that stops Edward III from existing, or having the opportunities to have many children (of whom some would have many children themselves and that's why basically the modern western world is descended from him) would drastically change human history, and probably take out myself, other MeFites and many others (maybe). So it would be a large gamble of profound consequence.

{Remembers some of the many oppressions and genocides and wars of this most recent millennium, the latest research on climate change, and where we are at now.}

Yeah, on reflection I'd go back, stop the sinking of the White Ship and therefore by default completely roll the dice again for how civilisations and nations and populations and rulers (good and terrible) and technologies (likewise) rise and fall over the last nine hundred year. Maybe in this new timeline, kittens would end up ruling and running the planet? I could (non-ironically) live with that.
posted by Wordshore at 2:21 AM on September 8 [10 favorites]


Nobody wants to go to the future? I'd be scared of what I might see but so curious I might just go ahead and set the dial to 3018 or so and have a look anyway.

I'm not sure I'd be able to handle a peek that far into the future. There's more comfort in going into the past because it's already happened, it's settled territory.

That being said, this is a reminder that I really need to pick up Connie Willis time-travel SF novel Doomsday Book.
“This is a story about infectious diseases, history and caritas. It is set in two epidemics in two time periods, an influenza epidemic in 2054 and the Black Death in 1348, and the two stories alternate, the future time worrying about Kivrin, the student trapped in the wrong part of the past, while Kivrin back in 1348 is trying to cope and learn and help.” [via: Tor.com "Time Travel and the Black Death: Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book" by Jo Walton]
posted by Fizz at 4:34 AM on September 8 [3 favorites]


I would go back to the afternoon after my son was born when I was 29, laying alone in the baby room on the floor, looking at the wall, silently losing my shit and freaking out because my entire family was on my ass about finally “manning up” and telling me me how I needed to “learn how to be the man my son needs me to be” and show 29 year old boy mode me that I really am a girl. I would read to him my piece A Visit to My Childhood Self because I know 29 year old me has repressed those memories and feels guilty about behaving that way. Then I would pull rank on my younger me and sternly order him to start transition TOMORROW and to get hell out of that awful marriage ASAP because it’s never gonna get any easier to transition and the regrets are only piling up.

I would lay down on the floor beside him and tell him all the awful shit he’s gonna avoid, and describe how fucking kickass transitioning is even though it is hard. I would also tell him that super cute girl riding that scooter around town is named Tina Sparkles, and that she’s as bad ass as she seems and to go to more shows around town and not be afraid to talk to her. Then I’d wink, show him my wedding band, give him the “you smelling what I’m stepping in? You marry the cute girl on the scooter” look. I’d sit up, pat him on the cheek, smile gently and then let him know that for all that being a boy sucked for us, we actually had a pretty good go at it, that boymode me is adorable as hell and to not feel too badly about my time in that state.

After a time I would stand up and I would make him look at me. I would explain to him that there is hope, that it doesn’t have to be like this, to get up off the damn floor and go be the mother to his son that his son needs him to be NOW instead of waiting and suffering another 10 goddamn years before becoming who the world needs you be as opposed to remaining stuck trying to be what the world is expecting you to be.

That’s exactly what I’d do.
posted by nikaspark at 4:45 AM on September 8 [27 favorites]


I'd like to go back a couple hundred years and hang out among a bunch of great American Chestnuts, whose demise I learned about as a child and still think about all the time, and it still makes me sad. Maybe build a treehouse, bring back a stack of books and a solar-powered teakettle to wow the contemps? (Sorry, time traveler speak; short for "contemporaries")

Alternatively, travel back to visit myself as a child, take me by the shoulders, shake me vigorously and shout "FLOSS, GOD DAMMIT, FLOSS!"
posted by duffell at 5:03 AM on September 8 [3 favorites]


West Berlin in the 1980s. It seems like one of the strangest places to have lived in modern times: cut off by the wall, depopulated by people moving west, re-populated by kids avoiding conscription, and under quasi-military administration.

I would honestly be worried about going back much further than the 1960s due to health issues - if the time machine stuffs up, I'd want to be able to survive where I was. However, I am most interested in Wordshore's travel choices, so if you could pop back with photos and an in-depth rundown of what happened with the White Ship (on your way to get that lemon pie?) that would be great.
posted by Vortisaur at 5:16 AM on September 8 [2 favorites]


Back to 1999 and grab User #2 ...
posted by carter at 6:09 AM on September 8 [3 favorites]


My granny was a French teacher in the 1940s, and still speaks to me in French aged nearly 98, I would love to visit her classroom.
posted by ellieBOA at 6:20 AM on September 8 [2 favorites]


I’d go to Stephen Hawking’s dinner party for time travelers, just to piss off all the other time travelers who keep him shunned.
posted by fedward at 6:26 AM on September 8 [6 favorites]


Would I still be my current age? Or can I go back and be teenage me again, hanging out with my best friend and walking the hills at night.

Just one night, maybe. I couldn't live that again, but I'd like to visit.

Also, I would freaking love to see a dinosaur. I imagine it would be like the first time I saw a rhino in real life, times 100. It's a cliche but DINOSAURS.
posted by stillnocturnal at 6:42 AM on September 8 [2 favorites]


I would take Jim Henson to the doctor.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 6:47 AM on September 8 [12 favorites]


Also, I'd go back in time to see Freddie Mercury live and in concert.
posted by Fizz at 6:54 AM on September 8 [7 favorites]


After I invent my time machine, I will went back and spent a few years being Y-Chromosome Adam.

Yes, that will was me. I will fiddled the records, though, so you won't ever have been able to check.
posted by flabdablet at 7:58 AM on September 8 [2 favorites]


OK. So 50-someodd million years ago, we're in the Eocene. The earth is at its thermal maximum, and practically the entire planet is covered with tropical rain forest. Including Ellesmere Island, an island just north of the Arctic Circle.

Imagine: It is 50 million years ago, a November day around noon. You step out of your Time Machine onto a springy carpet of moss. You breath deeply and you can smell are earth and rain and decaying leaves and wood. You squint as you look up at the tall forest around you - a tropical rain forest north of the arctic circle in a period of continuous darkness, with rodents and creodonts and tapirs and primate ancestors and ...

I want to go there and wander around.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:44 AM on September 8 [10 favorites]


I'd love to go back to pre-Roman Britain. Let's say all the way back, to the Neolithic, and preferably in the Gwent levels. For a whole lot of reasons it's an area rather special to me, but really any part of Neolithic Wales...I would love to live a life there, to learn their gods and their stories and their jokes and live so utterly subsumed in the landscape, and know all the things they knew.
posted by kalimac at 8:57 AM on September 8 [2 favorites]


I'm a big early horror film fan, but it's so hard now, as a person living after those films have become such cultural touchstones, to react to them the way people did when they were new. People apparently screamed and fainted watching Frankenstein. There were protests and riots against The Cabinet of Dr Caligari in LA. My time machine plan has always been to attend those showings of the films - not to see the movies themselves, as I can certainly see them now, but to see the people reacting to them.

(Also I would go to see London After Midnight, because I can't see that one now.)
posted by darchildre at 10:20 AM on September 8 [1 favorite]


— but the first thing I would do would be dinosaurs

So... you are secretly Dr. Chuck Tingle?
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:48 AM on September 8 [3 favorites]


So... you are secretly Dr. Chuck Tingle?

No comment.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 12:19 PM on September 8 [2 favorites]


I'd travel back to when I was 14 or 15 to impress upon my younger self exactly what deep lifelong regret feels like, assure him that his cherished goals truly are worthwhile, and beg him to muster up the discipline and sweat and grit needed to achieve them.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:54 PM on September 8


I'd like to see the future. And there is no way I'd be spending any amount of time in a time where there isn't indoor plumbing.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:09 PM on September 8 [4 favorites]


I'd go back to my parents' house in the spring of 2005 and have a little chat with sixteen-year-old me. I don't know whether I could get myself to listen, but just showing myself that I made it to 30 (and how) would be something.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 1:21 PM on September 8 [3 favorites]


Note: Wow, I think I need a hug.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 1:22 PM on September 8 [10 favorites]


There's certainly some overlap here with the regrets thread, but one thing I'd like is to go back to about 1955 to see what the heck my parents were actually doing in their teens and twenties. They never talked about it as if it had any meaning, but my teens were overflowing with it, so...I feel there's gotta be a connection somewhere.
posted by rhizome at 1:37 PM on September 8 [1 favorite]


If I had a time machine, I'd love to go way back to when the solar system was beginning to form - to see just how the planets got their start.

After that, I'd travel to the future about 5 billion years when the sun expands and destroys Earth.
posted by Roger Pittman at 2:01 PM on September 8


Obviously, I'd go back to Mohenjo-Daro in its prime and record what they were speaking. And of course have them read some of the seals out loud.
posted by zompist at 2:05 PM on September 8 [1 favorite]


DO You people know anything about the history of bathrooms??? Nope nope, the far future for me. (after funding a very conservative compound interest trust).
posted by sammyo at 3:07 PM on September 8 [2 favorites]


Oh definitely would go back to the end of the Paleozoic to settle once and for all the question of what caused the greatest mass extinction in earth history, which killed off 96% of all marine species and something like 70% of all vertebrates; caused a complete global change in plant ecosystems including all the forests disappearing; and caused the only mass extinction of insects - diversity wise, they've never fully recovered - and NOBODY REALLY KNOWS WHY. Or even how long it really took in whether it was catastrophic or gradual. I'd take all my friends with me and also any and all entomologists/botanists who wanted to come too. I'd cram that time machine full!

I would also go back to the end of the Cretaceous right before the bolide impact just so I could see that thing coming towards earth AND see a dinosaur AND take back a sample of the ocean to study its chemistry because of how we deal with knowing that its isotopic composition changed through time and yet use a particular standard for "comparison" purposes and it kind of drives one bonkers (which is a giant simplification of the matter, my dear, dear pedants). I'd also take all my friends and even some colleagues I don't agree with because the bar arguments and research journal letters to the editor fights after that WOULD BE AMAZING.

Maybe I'd also go back to any point before there were real plants on land because I'm dying to know what erosion rates looked like back then and how rivers looked and other mass wasting questions, but that's more of a personal hang-up than anything else.

Then I would go back in time so I could meet my husband one day earlier, just so that I can have one more day with him. (But not any earlier due to fear I might accidentally fuck it up, haha!)
posted by barchan at 3:39 PM on September 8 [7 favorites]


diversity wise, they've never fully recovered
I.
I just.
I....
what does that even look like, to have more diverse insect life? That is extraordinary! This has been my best lucky ten thousand day!
posted by kalimac at 4:06 PM on September 8 [1 favorite]


Ideally, the time machine would have a functional bathroom with a toilet, a shower, an endless supply of soap and a fully stocked medicine cabinet...

First stop: a fairly prosperous Old English meadhall where I could sit in a dark corner unnoticed and listen to someone reciting poetry. I want to know whether they spoke, sang or chanted, and what instruments they played.

Second stop: Medieval Britain. I'd want to visit multiple regions to hear as many dialects of Middle English and Scots as possible. I'd like to talk with musicians and see a cycle of mystery plays. I'd conclude my tour by sneaking into the Tower of London to find out what happened to the Princes. I wish I could save them, along with Richard III's wife and son, even if Bosworth still happened. But let's assume you can't change history.

Third stop: 1590s London. If it turns out to be livable, I'll stay here a decade or so. Fencing lessons with Saviolo; try to hear Dowland or Campion play; maybe gain some insight into what happened to Christopher Marlowe (but *drop it* if there's any risk of getting on the wrong side of Walsingham). And Shakespeare. I'm going to all the shows. Maybe I can get hired to mend costumes or copy parts or something. I want to see how those plays were done; what they did to their audiences; how Burbage and Kemp and Armin performed those roles that were written for them.

I'll write up my findings and leave them stashed in a building somewhere south of the river that survives the Great Fire. If I don't make it back to "discover" them, someone else will.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:16 PM on September 8 [4 favorites]


I've had the same answer for years:

I'd go back to the 80's. Then, I would kidnap the Stray Cats and shove them into the time machine. Then I would go back to the 50's, let them out, and see what happens.
posted by 4ster at 4:20 PM on September 8 [4 favorites]


I’d go back to yesterday morning and re-read the job submission guidelines again and maybe this time I’d notice they said 4pm Friday deadline not 5pm for actual fuck’s sake.
posted by billiebee at 4:30 PM on September 8 [12 favorites]


I have two amazing biological children, and I wouldn't do anything that might result in either of them not existing. So I can't go any farther back than late June 2015.

But as soon as I knew the new one was safe, I'd drive to New York City and see what kind of good trouble I could get into.
posted by Etrigan at 7:30 PM on September 8


1989, Manchester. Join the Verve, become a heroin addict and wear big fat black sunglasses 24 hours a day. Try to catch a Stone Roses show.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:10 PM on September 8 [2 favorites]


While there are many historical eras I'd love to take in (Cuba pre revolution, Afghanistan pre-Russian invasion, New York City circa 1800), all I'd really want to do is see my parents again, as well as the grandmother who was killed in a DUI car crash when I was 12. Also maybe meet my great grandfather, who was a Civil War veteran (on the Confederate side), who was born in the 1840s--just think of the stories he could tell.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:01 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]


I would go back to 1990 and work through my brief intense bout with depression at design school and finish the degree rather than dropping out.
posted by infini at 12:12 PM on September 9 [3 favorites]


I'd go back to yesterday and try to figure out what happened to the post I made in this thread. (Not sure if it just didn't go through or got deleted. I've been trying out a plugin for using external text editor and may have posted nothing...)

But better answer this time anyway.

I'd go back to 1983, Huntsville Alabama, and find 13 year old me. I'd fast-forward to:
On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon reentering Earth's atmosphere, killing all seven crew members.
I'd whisper in his ear: "Fix the tile", and put him back into the cockpit of the space shuttle simulator at Space Camp.

Because we totally burned up on re-entry due to a damaged tile and not sending somebody out to try and fix it. (13 year old me didn't quite get that the whole point was to put somebody in the space suit on the floaty spacewalk thing)

I sorta fear there are a handful of kids who are slightly traumatized by remembering that summer camp and that disaster and thinking "Oh no, not again."
posted by zengargoyle at 12:51 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]


I would travel into the future and get the cure for cancer and various medications for pain and depression. Then I would travel back and cure Frank Zappa and Hunter Thompson. We still need them.
posted by Splunge at 2:36 PM on September 9


I would like to visit all of the places I've lived at different points in time.

I want to see the tall grass prairie of Kansas going on for hundreds of miles before it is plowed under.
I'd like to the mist-covered old-growth of the Pacific Northwest before it is subjected to the axe. The salmon runs so heavy you could almost walk across the river.

Boston during the height of Revolutionary fever.
The patroonship era of the Hudson Valley.
Southern California when it was full of orange groves.
Victorian London.

None of these are particularly historical in the grand scheme.
I don't need to see Benjamin Franklin or participate in the Wyandotte Constitution.
I just want to feel the energy and experience the sights and sounds.
posted by madajb at 4:19 PM on September 9 [3 favorites]


I should add, if I only get one trip back, I'd join my parents at one of their motorcycle rallies in Europe during the 60s.
Having a drink with my (now) fairly reserved mother would be something to experience.
posted by madajb at 4:21 PM on September 9


This is gonna cost me
posted by lalochezia at 7:38 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


I'd go back and sneak into my house/apartment when I knew no one would see me and I'd spend time with beloved long lost pets...

To snuggle with Jinx again, to play with the bumble ball and Sadie, to pet my old cat Kittymeow again.

Surprised nobody has mentioned anything like this.

Also I would go into the future until a cure for my diseases was found.
posted by cats are weird at 7:40 PM on September 9 [3 favorites]


You know how sometimes, on park signs or in books, it'll say some variation of "This this area was largely uninhabited by human beings until [Some Decade/Range]"? I'd find the most picturesque of those and travel to [Some Decade/Range-40], because fuck human beings, we are the worst.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:04 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


I'd find the most picturesque of those and travel to [Some Decade/Range-40], because fuck human beings, we are the worst.

Heh. I did a re-read of the Little House books this year (long story), and although there were certainly people around, I would have loved to spend a year by Silver Lake before white settlers showed up. Anywhere on the prairie, really, but especially there.
posted by kalimac at 1:09 PM on September 10


...there may be a couple of instances of bullying I faced as a child which I'd like to pop in on as an adult and distract the bullies from my child self before they did anything. ...Then again, those instances made up part of what and who I am, and may be part of where my compassion comes from; so maybe not.

(Although, on a similar note, maybe a time-traveling adult me did go back to visit my preschool when I was three, and distracted the teachers somehow so that they didn't notice three-year-old-me crawling out of the classroom and having an adventure.)

I'd like to jump back to each of the emigre's on my family tree, just about a week before they left their home countries, to just check out what was going on and what was sending them away - that way I'd finally find out what town my Irish ancestors were from, figure out why my Canadian great-grandparents left, things like that.

Also: I would go sit in the audience of the Venice Theater at 932 Seventh Avenue on June 16th, 1937.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:34 PM on September 10


1) Visit premiere of each Beethoven symphony, to put paid to all the weird tempo / performance problems (and OBVIOUSLY just to hear that shit)

2) Take a dinosaur's temperature. Settle that one too.

3) -- I dunno, sit with that for a while and see how I feel.
posted by obliviax at 5:37 PM on September 13 [1 favorite]


So many things to do, luckily it's a time machine so I'd have lots of time to do it all.

1) New Year's Eve 1969/1970, New York, Fillmore East, Jimi Hendrix played four shows with the Band of Gypsys. Go to ALL OF THEM.

2) Show up in the late 70s or so, find Donald Trump. Beat the living crap out of him. Make sure he remembers my face, maybe get his blood on my clothes. Then go to 2015 when he's announcing his campaign for president, and be there right in front, looking just the same as I did the last time he saw me. Watch him unravel.

3) Bring a really high quality stereo and a bunch of recorded music. Bring along a friend who speaks German. Visit Bach and Mozart, let them hear modern recordings of their music. Then let them hear Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Chuck Berry.

4) Speaking of Chuck, maybe go pay him a visit and suggest not driving across state lines with a minor.

5) Go to the 1930s and hear Robert Johnson play, live, stop him from getting poisoned.

6) Educate Jeff Buckley on the dangers of swimming in the Mississippi late at night

7) Many, many concerts: Beatles at the Cavern Club and in Hamburg; Muddy Waters' first band in Chicago; Muddy Waters at Newport; Jeff Buckley anywhere; Derek and the Dominos in Tampa, the one time Duane Allman played live with them; Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East; Coltrane at the Village Vanguard; Jimi Hendrix when he first started playing clubs in London

8) Spend the night of September 17th 1970 with Jimi Hendrix, talk about music, jam, watch the sunrise, make sure he isn't dead in the morning.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:00 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


I would go back to my wedding day, which will be 25 years ago this coming February. I would not marry the person I married.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 5:25 PM on September 18 [2 favorites]


Let's assume that I can't get away with scuttling every-Conquistador-ship-ever ten miles out from land, to steal the gold they stole, to fund my overall "Many Butterflies Must Be Stomped" plans.

If I've got limited funds and limited access, then I get:
a) the best Aramaic speaker currently living
b) the best Classic Hebrew speaker currently living
c) the best Classic Latin speaker currently living
d) a f^{kload of miniaturized video and audio recording devices
e) a triple f^{kload of recordable media for those devices
f) a sextuple f^{kload of the batteries for those devices
g) appropriate clothing for the time I plan to visit

And I take the team to Judea, approximately 715-720 Ab Urbe Condita, posing as a foreign man and his scribes, and settle in, ingratiating myself with the local Jewish power structures, so that when an itinerant miracle worker named Yeshua starts preaching insurrection, I can get what he actually said.

And once we get that, we come back to the present and get all the audio recordings transcribed and translated (Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, High German, Victorian English)and printed up .

Then if I get a second trip: distributing those printouts through appropriate time periods. Especially dropping the Hebrew and Latin translations on Saul before he goes to Damascus.
posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 5:52 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


If I can't get away with Project: Anointed Accuracy, then I would travel back to the 1920's, finagle some sort of introduction to Sara Josephine Baker and I.A.R. Wylie, and arrange for them to produce memoirs and yearly summaries that would not be published during their lifetimes. And set up a trust to get the papers published in English, French, and German after Wylie passes away in 1959.
posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 6:03 PM on October 1


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