Saturday, January 12, 2008

Forward to the Past

So, like, tonight, I'm watching Back to the Future for the first time in several years. When this movie came out in 1985, I was 17.... same age as Marty in the movie. He goes back 30 years in time. It's almost unutterably different; he can't relate. Ha ha, what a great joke! In 1985.

Well, it's 2008 now. And it occurs to me that nearly as much time has passed between when I saw the movie and now, as Marty traveled back from 1985 to 1955. It won't be long now at all till the distant future portrayed in the second movie, in 2015, will be upon us. Somehow, I doubt we'll have floating reporter robots or anti-gravity hoverboards. But on the other hand, no one seems to have conceived of the iPod circa 1990; or the web or the internet or Wikipedia. Or Blogger. :)

Around the time Back to the Future came out, my aunt and uncle (both of whom have passed on; him in May of 1999 and her last autumn) still had their cottage on Lake Erie. They had an outhouse that was well-stocked in reading material... I spent many an hour there (sounds weird, I know, but it was an unusual sort of public library). I still have the copy of The Wit and Wisdom of Archie Bunker that once resided there. But the one thing I wish, dearly, I had was a copy of a magazine from — ironically enough — 1955 that predicted what life would be like in 1965, three years before I was born. So even as a teenager, I was approaching its "predictions" as something of a subject matter expert. The predictions were, not surprisingly, hopelessly optimistic. By 1965, you (rather, my parents!) would have been working a four-day week... really? I still work a five-day week; indeed. THIS week has been a SIX-day week, technically... Robot lawn mowers would manicure your lawn. You would preserve food with radiation (well, okay, we don't preserve it that way so much as reheat it that way). But the best part was, while they were too optimistic about some things, they were too pessimistic about others. They swore that no one would land on the Moon before 1975, if not later. Of course, we know now that everyone who ever walked on the Moon did so before 1975, and actually, no one has been back there since 1972, never mind 1975 onward.

I hope that changes during my lifetime. I was alive when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, but far, far too young to remember it or even to have understood it. Even so, enough time has passed that I think even the most jaded of people who were bored by Apollo 17 (the last Moon landing) will be excited by the first Moon landing of the 21st century. Here's hoping it's not too long now, and that the younger of those who remember the first Moon landing will live to marvel at the next.

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