Last week we read that famous Ray Bradbury time travel story, “A Sound of Thunder.” More on the prescience of that 1952 classic in the next post, but every time I intro this one I always say how pretty much every time travel story/movie/etc. since has ripped off or payed homage to this story.
Back to the Future? The phrase appeared here first.
The expression (and lame movie) “the butterfly effect”? Hmmm, I wonder.
Even The Simpsons, back in the ’94, showed Homer traveling back to a “time when dinosaurs weren’t just confined to zoos” and crushing various things (because he didn’t follow the advice his father gave him on his wedding day) before returning to a “changed universe.” Along the way they parody not only this story, but the novels 1984 and A Clockwork Orange, as well as referring to Carlos Casteneda, with guest appearances by Peabody and Sherman. So of course we watch it every year.
In the Simpsons’ version, Homer’s time machine is a toaster. At first it’s just a broken toaster, but Homer decides to fix it, and he ends up turning it into a time machine. When he first takes it to the cellar to fix it, he says,
“This shouldn’t be too hard to fix… with the right tools,” and then starts by whacking it with a rock.
Ok, now I can start today’s story.
This year, we have had a posse of eighth grade boys and their hangers-on clustering into a penguin mob and blocking the hallway by my room almost every morning. They aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer, especially their 7th grade hangers-on, and they like to slap and push each other and yell a lot. Not only are they annoying, the slapping and pushing is contagious if not nipped immediately in the bud. This crew has been a pain all year. When I have morning prison yard duty, I always have to break up the mob and slap my sword on lockers to get them to move out to the quad and disperse.
Finally I was just done. I went to the stick quiver (yes, it will get a post of its own soon), and pulled out the latest model. There are times when you have to blend old school and modern techniques. A student last year gave me this baby. It lights up, it makes sounds, it’s three feet long. It’s a light saber, baby. I finally had the right tool for the job.
All I had to do was hold it out in front of me, sort of like Ponyboy and Tim Shepard would hold a switchblade, and wave it gently about as I approached them slowly. It was like magic. It was like the wind scattering dry leaves. It was like a hot knife slicing through butter. It was like a magnifying glass melting plastic army men.
And they were gone. Really. Even though that was my expectation… it was sort of amazing.