Time Traveler Convention Report


Well, no time travelers showed up. Were we surprised? Well, quite frankly, no. In fact, I didn’t even bother to go look for them at 10:00 PM with the rest of the crowd — which means that I missed the Delorean. Instead, I was inside stacking chairs and turning Walker from a lecture hall to a dance hall. But it was still one heckuva party.
The speakers were generally pretty excellent. In the middle of his speech, Dr. Farhi got a call from Albert Einstein, who is apparently living in the center of the universe. Apparently he got a nice place in exchange for three autographed copies of his first manuscript. The gymnastics coach and his twin brother did a cute little trick, pretending to travel through time. One walked on his hands and gave a little spiel before leaving the room — and as soon as he left, his twin brother instantaneously came through the back door and proceeded to walk on his hands and start the same spiel verbatim. I thought it was pulled off very well.
Following the twins’ stunt, Professor Alan Guth came up and gave his lecture on relativity and basically explained to us why no future time travelers were going to show up. And then he talked about wormholes, and I felt a little vindicated for my silly quote in the New York Times. Apparently, for pulling something out of my ass, I wasn’t that far off one of the leading theories. Maybe that physics degree I have is worth something after all.
After Guth came Joe Gibbons, a comedian claiming to be a time traveler. As he explained it, time traveling wasn’t that exciting. “They asked me to tell some funny stories about time travel,” he said, “and, well, there just aren’t any.” The final speaker of the night was Erik Demaine, who I have blogged about before. He talked about retroactively changing things – which he said was a kind of time travel. His speech got cut off at 10:00 PM when we sent everyone outside to “look for time travelers” while we set up for the bands.
I was amazed at how smoothly it appeared to go off. I was in charge of the guestlist and letting people in at the beginning of the convention, passing out blue wristbands to people on the list. Things got a little harrowing at times — primarily when the guy not on the list who claimed to have invented a time machine insisted that I let him in. We put him on the waitlist (so he eventually got in) but he wouldn’t leave the front of the line until Sargeant Vossmer came over and got him to move. The other big highlight of the bouncing duties came when “Theodore Logan” claimed to be from the future. Even with the Keanu Reeves getup he was wearing, at first I didn’t process the joke. I asked him to prove it. “Wyld Stallions!” he said.
“Go put yourself on the waitlist,” I responded.
Oh, and apparently it made the Weekend Update on SNL today. I’m really hoping The Daily Show mentions it on Monday.


5 responses

  1. I had already read the article in the NY Times, but I was flipping through the Economist, and I saw the convention featured as well… boy, everyone loved your idea.
    And typical, even in the future, people still haven’t learnt how to RSVP to tell you they can’t make it.

  2. Direct report on the Time Traveler Convention
    Sadly, Erin reports that no time travellers showed up at the Time Traveler Convention (the NY Times article on the convention is here), although she did have this experience…

  3. Was this your idea? To answer my own question: No, it wasn’t.
    It seems you stole the idea off an Australian “artist” called Christian DeVitri (aka the Destination Day Bureau) who initially stole it off an subversive organisation called the Central Bureau.
    Originality and intellectual property count for so little these days. Pity.

  4. I hate to quote myself, but it’s just like I wrote in my book: “There’s nothing new under the sun.” – Me

  5. An accusation of theft is rather inappropriate, don’t you think? Can you not accept that frequently in the course of human events, two or more individuals simultaneously (or nearly simultaneously) come up with very similar ideas. Witness the telephone, whose “official” inventor was decided by a mere 2 hour earlier arrival at the patent office.
    Fortunately, there are no patents awarded for events. Therefore, none of us owns any intellectual property on the concept of a time traveler convention or a destination day. No ownership means no theft. Even if you were able to patent the concept
    As for originality, as far as I know none of the TTC organizers had heard of Destination Day until after the Time Traveler Convention had been widely publicized and one of the Destination Day organizers wrote to say that they had already had a similar event. A link to destination day is now included on the main TTC web page, which most likely has dramatically increased the number of visitors to that site (since the TTC was covered extensively in worldwide news media, including print, television, and online publications).
    Some might say the success of an event should be measured by the people in attendance and the extent to which the world is made aware of it, rather than whether it happened to be the first of its kind. In the special case of time traveler events, who was first seems like it would be a particularly uninteresting way to decide which event to attend.
    You are free to believe whatever you like, but you should just be aware that by making accusations at those whom you have never met and could not possibly have any way of proving whether what you are asserting is true, you are only making yourself look bad.
    Also, that winged toaster at the bottom of the studiorobot web page looks a lot like a certain screensaver I had back in the eighties. Perhaps you’ve seen it?