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the only words I've written that will outlive me
August 31, 2010 6:42 AM   Subscribe


 
Just wanted to say thanks, that was a fantastic trip!
posted by run"monty at 6:44 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do I have to wear a gimp mask?
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:47 AM on August 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm going last week, I'll already told you how it will went.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:48 AM on August 31, 2010 [39 favorites]


How far do you want to go back, Dad?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:49 AM on August 31, 2010


I'm starving. I haven't eaten since later today.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 6:51 AM on August 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


"We have to go back to the future Marty! It's your kids"
posted by MuffinMan at 6:51 AM on August 31, 2010


Time travel is SO last week.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:52 AM on August 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


A little thin, and an old meme, but a great one. Check out the YTMND meme before you die.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:53 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm going tomorrow.
posted by run"monty at 6:55 AM on August 31, 2010


But I didn't dream the ad up that night. It's actually the opening lines to an unfinished novel I started years ago.

Was that novel Glory Road?

Huh, I thought the book opened with the ad but apparently not. Maybe I'm thinking of some other book?
posted by DU at 6:55 AM on August 31, 2010


It's always interesting finding out the backstories to memes. Thanks!
posted by Kattullus at 6:57 AM on August 31, 2010


This is obviously a cover-up. I mean, we have a black President.
posted by fusinski at 6:58 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


As with any time-travel thread...Obligatory, obligatory.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:00 AM on August 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


Awesome backstory! I've seen that ad so many times and was slightly confused someone would link to only it on MeFi, but this is a nice summary of what must be a crazy mini-adventure in this guy's life.
posted by milestogo at 7:02 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Isn't this a double? I recall this being posted a week from now.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:03 AM on August 31, 2010 [12 favorites]


"Actually, it first appeared on page 92 of the Sept/Oct 1997 issue of BHM—and I wrote it. In 2010."
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:03 AM on August 31, 2010 [12 favorites]


When was this a meme? I missed it altogether. Of course, I've been in the future until just now when all of you got here.
posted by .kobayashi. at 7:05 AM on August 31, 2010


But many letters came from people who wanted me to correct a past tragedy. Dozens, in prison, asked me to go back in time and talk them out of committing the crime that put them away. Others (and not a few) were from people who begged me to go back and save a loved one from a tragic death. Those letters were so heartbreaking I almost couldn't read them and I felt a certain amount of shame for not anticipating the false hope I placed in so many hearts.

I, too, find this heartbreaking. For some reason it's giving me flashbacks to a couple of years ago, when a friend of mine had died of cancer and we were going through her stuff and found hundreds of "SEND AWAY FOR THIS ANOINTED PRAYER SHAWL AND YOU WILL BE HEALED" junk mailers in her house. The heartbreak of desperation outweighs the hilarity of lolstoopid.
posted by Gator at 7:06 AM on August 31, 2010 [19 favorites]


DU: "But I didn't dream the ad up that night. It's actually the opening lines to an unfinished novel I started years ago.

Was that novel Glory Road?

Huh, I thought the book opened with the ad but apparently not. Maybe I'm thinking of some other book?
"

That book was excised from this timeline.
posted by Splunge at 7:06 AM on August 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


How the hell could you possibly know you've only done this once before??
posted by hypersloth at 7:06 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wait so it was a joke?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:12 AM on August 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


How the hell could you possibly know you've only done this once before??
Hence, he's doing the time warp again.
posted by schmod at 7:14 AM on August 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


ARE YOU A COWARD? This is not for you. We badly need a brave man. He must be 23 to 25 years old, in perfect health, at least six feet tall, weigh about 190 pounds, fluent English with some French, proficient with all weapons, some knowledge of engineering and mathematics essential, willing to travel, no family or emotional ties, indomitably courageous and handsome of face and figure. Permanent employment, very high pay, glorious adventure, great danger. You musty apply in person, 17, rue Dante, Nice, 2m étage, appt. D.
posted by Jahaza at 7:19 AM on August 31, 2010 [9 favorites]


How the hell could you possibly know you've only done this once before??

How do you know you've done ANYTHING only once before?
posted by DU at 7:19 AM on August 31, 2010


> Of course, I've been in the future until just now when all of you got here.

For God's sake, why did you let it get like this??
posted by languagehat at 7:20 AM on August 31, 2010 [8 favorites]


Would you please buy me some Google stock before you return?
posted by Drasher at 7:22 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


> For God's sake, why did you let it get like this??

I, um, I... I... there's no good way to say this. Basically I was looking to get me some rocket cars, jumpsuits, robot butlers and funny haircuts. So, I wasn't paying very close attention. Sorry.
posted by .kobayashi. at 7:26 AM on August 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


Google street view: 17, rue Dante, Nice, 2m étage, appt. D.
posted by Jahaza at 7:26 AM on August 31, 2010 [10 favorites]


I really wish he had written that under the name John Titor.
posted by cmfletcher at 7:28 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


"This is a picture of me when I was older."

"Show me that camera!"
posted by tmacdonald at 7:32 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm one of those people who sits through the end of movies, all the way until the very end of the credit rolls, partly because I learned to do this while working at ILM, partly due to the fact that those end-of-reel gags sometimes just kill me, and apparently, I'm the only one in this thread who did the same thing with this piece, and I'll present the very last sentence, the best one of the whole linked story:

In the meantime, it's 13 years later, and I still need a girlfriend.
posted by dbiedny at 7:33 AM on August 31, 2010 [12 favorites]


Just curious: If you had the chance to interview this author, could you resist the urge to ask the question beginning "So, if you had the chance to do it all over again..."?
posted by .kobayashi. at 7:35 AM on August 31, 2010


Metafilter: In the meantime, it's 13 years later, and I still need a girlfriend.
posted by 445supermag at 7:42 AM on August 31, 2010 [10 favorites]


DU, The Heinlein story your thinking of is "The Door Into Summer"
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:43 AM on August 31, 2010


Doesn't seem to be Door Into Summer, either. Maybe it's All You Zombies? Pretty sure that opens in a bar, though.
posted by DU at 7:52 AM on August 31, 2010


Don't answer the ad. This dude is bad news. I was with him on his first trip, trying to kill Hitler. Total clusterfuck.
posted by A dead Quaker at 7:52 AM on August 31, 2010 [13 favorites]


YOUNG CATHERWOOD

Don't you see, Nancy? I've built the perfect time machine!

NANCY

Oh, it sounds dangerous!

YOUNG CATHERWOOD

Yes, that's why I'm going to try it out first. Now, when I get into this grandfather clock, you hit me over the head with this bottle of Champagne, right here, set the dial for a thousand, and put in three dimes. I'll be gone for a thousand years.

NANCY

A thousand! That's longer than anyone's ever been gone before!
posted by tommasz at 7:54 AM on August 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


Now that the mystery is solved, i kind of miss the mystery. I liked in my head wondering what would really happen if one were to respond to the ad, what dangers really lied ahead, even if it was just a crazy person that probably wanted to steal your money.
posted by djduckie at 7:57 AM on August 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's just a jump to the left.
posted by From Bklyn at 8:10 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why don't time travellers from the future ever show up amongst us?

Maybe the could, but won't, because we're boring.
posted by ecourbanist at 8:13 AM on August 31, 2010


Say what you will, Quaker, but the proof's in the pudding. Hitler is dead as a doornail.
posted by Mister_A at 8:19 AM on August 31, 2010


tommasz: I have proof I've been to ancient Rome -- Look at this grape!
posted by Trochanter at 8:25 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


The books section of the web site is just precious.
posted by lordrunningclam at 8:28 AM on August 31, 2010


The books section of the web site is just precious.

Typical winger. Thinks he's a self-made time traveler and ignores the fact that "tax-and-spend libruls" funding the development of the Time Travel Superhighway he uses.
posted by DU at 8:34 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Don't answer the ad. This dude is bad news. I was with him on his first trip, trying to kill Hitler. Total clusterfuck.

Everyone tries to kill Hitler on their first trip!
posted by quin at 8:34 AM on August 31, 2010 [17 favorites]


I'll already told willing-tell you how it will went willan on-go.

Fixed that for you.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 8:41 AM on August 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


I missed this meme too, but I really like the story. It is too bad he does not have all the letters as it would make a great book. Maybe the way to finish his unfinished novel. I also like the little bit about his daughter reading the letters to him while they drove north.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:48 AM on August 31, 2010


tommasz: how do you make your voice do that?
posted by contrarian at 9:00 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


...i still have the blaster rifle from Gamma World
posted by clavdivs at 9:08 AM on August 31, 2010


Pfft needle gun is way better.
posted by Mister_A at 9:20 AM on August 31, 2010


n00b
posted by Mister_A at 9:20 AM on August 31, 2010


445supermag, you are the man now, dog.
posted by GuyZero at 9:33 AM on August 31, 2010


So we learn that time travel is easier to find than love
posted by fallingbadgers at 9:40 AM on August 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


But many letters came from people who wanted me to correct a past tragedy. Dozens, in prison, asked me to go back in time and talk them out of committing the crime that put them away. Others (and not a few) were from people who begged me to go back and save a loved one from a tragic death. Those letters were so heartbreaking I almost couldn't read them and I felt a certain amount of shame for not anticipating the false hope I placed in so many hearts.

I know this passage was excerpted, above, once already, but I too found this really, really moving. The letters from prisoners especially so for some reason.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:52 AM on August 31, 2010


Google street view: 17, rue Dante, Nice, 2m étage, appt. D.

NICE furniture. Almost too nice.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:58 AM on August 31, 2010


So here's a thought experiment for you (which makes my head hurt...):

You're in a large and spacious helicopter, sitting on a helipad. This particular helicopter is no ordinary helicopter, however - it has the ability to move in both space and time. Your plan is to do the following: Take off, move back in time by one day, and land nearby yesterday. Then - and this is the key part - you plan to hop out of your helicopter, spend the night in a hotel or something, and wander over to the helipad the next day (ie. today), where you will climb into the original helicopter with the intention of doing the whole thing again, only this time sitting beside yourself.

The questions are these - how many copies of you are about to try to climb into your helicopter, in how many helicopters did they arrive yesterday, and what are the factors affecting these numbers?
posted by ZsigE at 10:12 AM on August 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


What's this about weapons - I thought you had to go through naked.
posted by Calloused_Foot at 10:14 AM on August 31, 2010


it's ...not comfortable Calloused_Foot. Not comfortable at all.
posted by The Whelk at 10:26 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Paging Dr. Dan Streetmentioner...
posted by zoogleplex at 10:28 AM on August 31, 2010


The Whelk: "it's ...not comfortable Calloused_Foot. Not comfortable at all."

Well, let's just say carrying the penknife was easy. The grenade, less so.
posted by Splunge at 10:30 AM on August 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


The questions are these - how many copies of you are about to try to climb into your helicopter, in how many helicopters did they arrive yesterday, and what are the factors affecting these numbers?

Zero. I can't fly a helicopter, and I couldn't find a pilot willing to take me, because I was unable to guarantee his safety.
posted by Katrel at 10:35 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm with DJ Duckie. It's a bit anticlimactic, finding out what the deal actually was. I suppose a bit like having the magician show you how he does his tricks... Plus: I feel this will signal the end of the meme's use, now that it's been stripped of its mystery. And yeah, I'd never considered what the folks who actually answered the ad would write. Very interesting, actually.

I am also very disappointed that the author does not, in fact, resemble Mullet-Man.
posted by indiebass at 10:54 AM on August 31, 2010


This is awesome! I love finally finding out the true origins of things like this. I always thought I'd be disappointed upon knowing the true origins of this, but strangely, I'm not! Even though some of the mystery is gone, I love that we get to hear about the letters people send to the PO box. The guy seems a tad out of touch with the internet ("Some guy with a bad mullet has run the ad with his picture as if it's his."--it was clear to me that somebody else joined the bad picture to the text for dramatic effect). But this doesn't stop him from starting one of the most hilarious memes on the net. I hope that some day he puts all of the letters he has on the internet, and that he can find a way to get rich off of this somehow.
posted by brenton at 11:02 AM on August 31, 2010


The questions are these - how many copies of you are about to try to climb into your helicopter, in how many helicopters did they arrive yesterday, and what are the factors affecting these numbers?

And: at what point will the cries of "shotgun" overwhelm the sound of the rotor?
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 11:06 AM on August 31, 2010


Zero. I can't fly a helicopter, and I couldn't find a pilot willing to take me, because I was unable to guarantee his safety.

You should have come with me if you want to live.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:10 AM on August 31, 2010


You're waiting for a helicopter. A helicopter that will take you far away. You know where you hope the helicopter will take you, but you can't be sure. But it doesn't matter because you'll be together.
posted by elizardbits at 11:15 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Really, all you need to do to time travel is walk around this block in Australia. Warning: not all of your past selves will be as agreeable as hers.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:12 PM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Don't do it without having first set up your own fail-safe helicopter.

Beware, link is a spoiler for the movie Primer
posted by Fezboy! at 12:27 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hope that some day he puts all of the letters he has on the internet, and that he can find a way to get rich off of this somehow.
posted by brenton at 11:02 AM on August 31 [+] [!]


1. Write fake time travel classified ad.
2. Post the letters to the internet.
3. ????
4. Get rich off of this somehow!

Hmm, only slightly better than the underpants gnomes' business plan...
posted by 445supermag at 12:53 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


The helicopter lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its rotors trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping. Why is that, Leon?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:04 PM on August 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'll tell you about my mullet.
posted by Trochanter at 1:05 PM on August 31, 2010


I go forward in time constantly. I tried going backwards for a while, but I had to gave it up. Turned out there was no future in it.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 1:09 PM on August 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


I have only done this once before.

Once, before, huh? How was it? Good drugs? Lotsa pussy? Hey, Bob, you do the job? D'ju find out the "big info"?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:26 PM on August 31, 2010


Time travel is so tomorrow.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:02 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought this was going to be from that guy who used to send out time-travel spam, looking for someone with time-travel technology so he could fix the Big Thing that had ruined his life.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:29 PM on August 31, 2010


I'm one of those people who sits through the end of movies, all the way until the very end of the credit rolls, partly because I learned to do this while working at ILM

Hah, my girlfriend worked there and we got to see a screening for some movie in the little theatre they have inside. Tripped me out that every single person sat through the whole credit reel. It was sort of agonizing.
posted by cj_ at 3:44 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


*Mr.Doodley, watching Jane Seymour predict the future for Mr. Big in "Live and Let Die" (filmed in 1972): "Tell him to quit screwing around with that small change drug horsecrap and just bet on the Dolphins to go all the way!"*
posted by toodleydoodley at 3:51 PM on August 31, 2010


Joey Michaels, that was filmed in Paris, France. (Unless there's time travel involved and in the future Australia is exactly like France, and she's just throwing us off the scent of her capabilities. Hmm. I ALWAYS knew the singing budgie was underestimated.)
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:25 PM on August 31, 2010


In college I used to be responsible for filling in the classified columns with random stuff so they'd all match in length and use up the right amount of space. But I pretty much only ever wrote poems about beer. I weep for all my lost opportunities now!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:16 PM on August 31, 2010


DU: "Maybe it's All You Zombies? Pretty sure that opens in a bar, though."

Yep, that opens in a bar. Not "By His Bootstraps", either.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:11 PM on August 31, 2010


Can't you all see that he had to kill the time traveling version of himself (the one who placed the ad), then created the linked cover story to prevent the truth from being revealed? The story is only now being told as we've caught up to his present. It's all so simple! Wake up sheeple!
posted by spacely_sprocket at 10:34 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm one of those people who sits through the end of movies, all the way until the very end of the credit rolls, partly because I learned to do this while working at ILM

My mom worked for ILM when I was a kid, and she does this at every single movie! Interesting.
posted by mollywas at 4:40 AM on September 1, 2010


I think the poster, 445supermag, got it right: this is a story about a work of fiction; its about literature (in its broader sense, if you may). It is a powerful message, it ceartainly rings bells and is quite well constructed. It has an intention, which it acheived, an intended readership, which it has clearly reached; it is inserted into a society that can regard the work as different and valuable (and react to it); it has a means for diffussion and for acheiving the suspension of disbelief, and a metaforic aesthetic quality to it. It really isn't a joke, just as Kafka wasn't really joking, or Borges (they said they were, but they really weren't).

That's why these are the only words he's written that will outlive him (unless he writes more like these --not really like this; just in this same style).
posted by omegar at 5:22 AM on September 1, 2010


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