Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Back to the What?

It's Now 2015, and STILL No "Mr Fusion"


One of the fun things about being a parent is getting to re-live certain moments of your youth with neither guilt (due to unabashed indulgence in some of the less-than-adult pursuits) nor nostalgia.  (NB: recall that the root of the word "nostalgia" is Greek meaning a pain - 'algia' - one feels when remembering one's home - "nostos").  

Had a trip down the guilt-free memory lane recently watching the 1985 movie (I hesitate to call it a classic) Back to the Future with my nine-year old.  Some of the jokes are not as funny as I remember them being, some of the plot twists (Libyan terrorists?) seem terribly dated, and the special effects often seem at a level of cheesiness that they make Kraft Dinner look downright healthy.

One thing struck me, though, and that is, it is now 2015.  The movie was released in the summer of 1985 - nearly exactly 30 years ago.  

One of the chuckle-inducing themes of the story is that the protagonist goes back 30 years to 1955, and we all get to laugh at how primitive, corny, and backwards the people in the 1950s seemed.  Gee, my parents were square, huh?  Glad that I'm not like that.  

Did The Men of Texaco really come running out to service the Chevy when it pulled in?  Did the kids really say things like "swell" and "dreamboat?"

Well, the laugh is on me, as it is now my turn.  

I am sure my own folks had the same feeling, but wow.  Was 1985 really that long ago?  It hardly seems possible.  

As I think about all the "modern" items in the 1985-era McFly household (boom boxes, Sony Walkmen, touch-tone telephones, floppy disk drives, and cassette tapes), it does in many ways seem a different world.  Who could have imagined then the iPhone or wireless internet.  Or the internet, for that matter, which in those days was still a figment of Al Gore's imagination.

I am pretty sure my son - who has lived his entire life in an era where CD technology is largely in the rear-view mirror - regards the artefacts of my youth as Indiana Jones-worthy antiquities.  He's not yet weighed in on feathered hairstyles, parachute pants, or "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," but he does at least show some appreciation for Pac Man.

At the end of the movie, Professor Emmett Brown returns from the future in a flying car powered by trash converted to energy in "Mr Fusion."  Despite all the advances of the 30 years in between Hill Valley circa 1985 and today, we still have not achieved flying cars.

Peter Thiell was, in this respect, correct.

Party on, Garth.




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