Back From the Future

Not long ago, a Northern Irish filmmaker caused a sensation when he posted a video of a “time traveler”: a woman captured on film at the 1928 premiere of the Chaplin silent movie The Circus walking past the Chinese Theater apparently yammering into a cell phone. Now, on one level, this is entirely plausible, as what sane person among us wouldn’t take the opportunity to travel through time in order to get out of a contract with AT&T? But then again, is this a likely mission for a time traveler? “Hmm, I have the ability to project myself into the past and change the course of history. What should I do, take out Hitler? Poison Stalin’s borscht? Prevent the formation of sports talk radio? Or, even though it’s on DVD—I own it, in fact—should I check out that old Chaplin film while speaking into my cell phone, which will be rendered useless because of the lack of cell phone towers in 1928? Why, the choice practically makes itself—1928 Hollywood, here I come!”

So, yes, I’m skeptical regarding the possibility of time travel. Or rather, I was, until the following showed up mysteriously in my e-mail in box. I believe strongly that it’s a home theater review mailed to me by mistake from the distant future. See what you think:

I was lounging in my hover chair trying to force down a State-mandated Carrot and Rutabaga Health Shake when my editor rang my cell phone. “Why are you calling me on this? Cell phones haven’t been in operation for 50 years. In fact, I heard it ringing and had to go to the attic to retrieve it. And how did you get a signal? And how was there still battery left in—?” “Never mind that,” she said. “I’ve got an assignment for you. I’ll be sending you some new equipment to review today, so keep an eye on your transporter.” “Sure. What’s the deadline?” “We’ll be uploading the next issue into people’s cranial ports a week from today.”

Sure enough, an hour later, I had in my hot little hands the Wal-Mart P58G25 television. (Television—hmm. I wonder where that word comes from and why we still use it?) As with all models in this line, the P signifies that it will project actual matter and events safely into your room, while the 58 lets you know that it measures 58 microns across. Kind of a beast, if you ask me, but you have to pay a lot more to step up to a model in their slimmer 46-micron line. The P58G25 is a handsome set, trimmed in diamond and synthetic but no less rich Corinthian leather. This is unnecessary, of course, as all of it is impossible to see with the naked eye. Still, it’s a nice touch. I placed it in the usual position adjacent to my revitalizing station and right next to my mandatory 12-foot holo-portrait of World Chancellor Justin Bieber.

As with all televisions, I didn’t have to set it up, as it, too, scanned my brain waves and downloaded the entertainment it knew I wanted based on my perceived desires. This went relatively smoothly but wasn’t without its flaws. During the process, it erased my memory of St. Patrick’s Day the year I turned 27. Not a huge loss, to be sure, but it’s slightly annoying as my wife claims we shared our first kiss that day. It’s her word only, though—I’ll be damned if I can remember.

Also, although the P58G25 pretty accurately assessed my entertainment likes and dislikes, it made the mistake of first showing me an episode from Season 57 of The Jersey Shore. I’m more of a Season 62 man, so I thought-remote-controlled that fact, and the P58G25 imme- diately corrected the error. The matter that came forth from the P58G25 was stunningly lifelike and vivid. The army of Snooki’s that had been cloned in that classic (and hilarious) episode 20 years prior looked con- vincingly orange and smelled as though they had all smoked several packs and then bathed in low-grade perfume. Well done. There was a hiccup when Ronnie Ortiz-Magro broke loose, got into my liquor cabinet, and fell asleep on my kitchen counter clutching a box of Fun- yuns. But the P58G25 soon discovered the error and evaporated him as efficiently as you could hope, leaving only the faint odor of hair gel.

The sound was uniformly good to excellent, which is exactly what you’d expect from a television that creates actual events in your living room. Just a few times, I thought I detected a subtle thinness in the low bass, so I got out my trusty green magic marker (handed down to me from my grandfather), ran it around the edges of the unit, and voilà, problem solved.

There was another issue, although it certainly wasn’t the fault of the television. I wondered briefly about current events. Had Texas been accepted into the World Union yet? Was Google’s huge and powerful navy still threatening to attack Apple’s? No sooner had I done so when the P58G25 projected a news program into my room. As news of any kind was made illegal half a century ago with the passage of the Seacrest Act, I quickly corrected my error (but not before the Entertainment Police came by to see what all the fuss was. Nice guys—they hit me ever so gently on the kneecap with their Correcting Wands and let me off with a warning). Just be aware that the P58G25 is very sensitive, so keep your thoughts pure.

The P58G25 is of course a budget set—you can’t expect high-end features like Popcorn Injection Technology or Automatic Emotional Counseling. But at a mere $43 trillion (not counting the 300-percent Existence Tax), you’ll have plenty of money left over to buy bacon—in the few short days it’s still legal.