More Than Coincidence: from “Hot Tub Time Machine” to Parallel Realities

It is Wednesday, March 31st, 2010, and my mind has been blown.  You might need to take about 20 or 30 minutes for this…

I want to preface this by letting you know that I ardently believe in the existence of one Creator of this universe.  You might not know that because I don’t use this blog for proselytizing, and I’m not a Christian, Muslim, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, nor member of any organized religion.  In fact, I don’t use this blog to expose any intimate details of my personal life – I don’t think I’ve even named my closest friends here – and my “beliefs” about God are intimate to me.  I am a private person.  But I will briefly explain the doctrine of the bible school that I attend, and what I know…

God exists here among us in everything we touch and everything we can’t touch; He uses physical bodies to speak to us face to face and lays them down when he’s done; Hell exists for the Satan that He created, and unless we give up our illusions about ourselves and submit to God, then we’ll be gettin’ down in hell too.  More importantly – our old souls must be exchanged for His soul, and it’s an operation that he likes to perform.  NOW DON’T COME EMAILING ME AND COMMENTING TRYING TO DEBATE DOCTRINE (Christians, I’m looking at you) OR TRY TO CALL ME UNINTELLIGENT FOR BELIEVING IN GOD (Atheists, I’m rolling my eyes at you).  You won’t convince me of crap else, and I ain’t ever tried to tell you what to do with your life, so save it.

Doctrine/beliefs explained.  But what does this have to do with Hot Tub Time Machine (hereafter known as HTTM)?  I hope I get there, just stay with me.

Monday afternoon, I went to go catch the matinee of HTTM just because I wanted to, and I really enjoyed it.  It was entertaining and wonderfully absurd.  It wasn’t mind-blowing, it wasn’t the funniest movie I ever saw, but it was more than just good, so my $9.50 wasn’t a total waste, which is all you can ask for these days.  There was a line in the film after the main characters realize that they’re back in the late 80’s where one of the characters makes a reference to the Terminator series and how that John Connor never would have existed if he didn’t send Kyle Reese back in time to get busy with his mom.  Something like that.

Up until that afternoon, the only Terminator film I had ever seen was Salvation (omg, Christian Bale’s on-set freakout was like DAYUM!!  somebody needs to give him a rom-com role asap before he snaps from all these intense characters he tends to play!) – someone told me that seeing the first three films was unnecessary.

They were WRONG!

OK, I liked Salvation and could follow it well enough because I at least knew the John Connor backstory a tiny bit, but even up to the end I was like, “OK, this Kyle Reese, whooooooo CARES???”  And also, I didn’t understand what the hell purpose Sam Worthington’s character would be after the climax of the movie.  I still had an appreciation for the film and storyline, though.


Back to Monday when I saw HTTM:  that evening, I decided to watch the first Terminator film online, and twenty minutes in, I was like, “OHHHHHHHH!!!!  I GET IT!!”  And by the end, I was like, “Hell, this is a pretty good conceptual film for James Cameron in the 80’s!”  Don’t get me started on Avatar, though.  That crap was trope-tastic, although pretty.

Yesterday, I watched Terminator 2.  You know, I remember when I was younger all the hype about that film, I even remember watching Arsenio Hall when Arnold Schwarzenegger was there to promote it, and the GNR music videos too.  I can see now what the fuss was all about.  But when I got to the end, I was like, “How are there two more sequels if they got rid of the chip, the hand, and the Terminators?  So this morning I watched Terminator 3 online.  Now it allllll makes sense!


I was doing a little facebooking earlier, and I came upon this on someone else’s profile:

Why do I know about half of these? IT'S NOT A TOO-MAH!!


OMG THAT’S SO AWESOME!!!!  And I was like, “I just got through with two days of wall to wall Ah-nold!”.  Christ, I can’t believe this guy is the GOVERNOR OF THE STATE THAT I LIVE IN.  I noticed that the video originated from Pajiba.com, so I went there to check out the site, and I read through some movie news, and then I clicked on their review of HTTM.  I kinda agree with the analysis.

So I started reading through the comments, and it started getting heavy.  Comments started off with the merits of the film and whether or not it was worth seeing in theaters (it is) and John Cusack, to the pronunciation of “Pajiba” (hellooooo!  it’s clearly puh-JEE-buh!) and the accuracy of the portrayal of the 80s.

And then this started.  I’m copying and pasting bodily, and you must read all of it.

Question. If their present-day lives suck, why do they want to preserve them so much by not changing anything in the past? Do they have a change of heart and realize that once they get back to the future they'll need to follow their dreams, or something equally lame?

Posted by: SaBrina at March 26, 2010 7:01 PM

so that Jacob’s future life isn’t altered or extinguished

They appear to be doing this to make sure the nephew's life isn't impacted, disregarding their own tarnished lives. A noble endeavor, indeed. However, a few problems: Apart from the ridiculously loose attention to detail they've apparently given to their tasks (assuming Back to the Future rules here), one would think that Jacob himself would stay in the room as to not affect the past (a la Primer). What if his actions on the dance floor prevented the "fucking of a random woman"? He would, essentially, be cock-blocking his whole life.

Surely this film must delve into these and other troubling questions associated with time paradoxes.

Posted by: pissant at March 26, 2010 7:24 PM

Here's the thing: if by their actions in the past they are preserving "the present" it is then a forced conclusion that they always traveled, i.e. the present as they know it *IS* because of their actions when they traveled to the past.

Posted by: BarbadoSlim at March 26, 2010 7:37 PM

Take that bullshit elsewhere. The simple fact that Marty McFly's mother (who was hot!) told him that her father hit George, but he then hit Marty post-time travel shows that it is possible for one to affect their own "future" ("present"?) by traveling to the past.


What, are you using Terminator rules?

Posted by: pissant at March 26, 2010 7:49 PM

Oh. If Jacob wasn't there in the past, then his presence in the new-past already alters the past. And when I read the review it seemed like Jacob's life was one with the losers. (Sorry, anybody obsessed with Second Life and living in their uncle's basement.) Maybe they should try to fix his life too?

And if none of them are the parents, why would their actions in the 80s affect the children their siblings have in the (I'm assuming) 90s? Did John Cusack introduce the parents or something? Speaking of, where ARE his parents?

Yeah... I am never going to watch this movie.

Posted by: SaBrina at March 26, 2010 7:58 PM

Oooooooooh God don't bring up Terminator, or I'm gonna have to explain the Terminator Corollary!

Woops, here we go (mostly for my amusement):

The time line in Terminator is bullshit not for the weird way the series plays out, but for the fact that upon closer inspection every act of time travel in the movie creates a sequence of subsequently impossible events. We start by moving to Terminator 1:

In T1, Arnie goes back, and Kyle Reese follows him. However, it is impossible for Kyle Reese to go back because no matter how quickly he follows Arnie into the past, it's inconsequential. Once Arnie goes back, the future timeline is "freezed". You must hit pause at the moment Arnie goes back because now everything unfolds differently after he goes back in time. As soon as Arnie enters the past, he goes and kills Sarah, completely altering everything that follows. In fact, you could even say that once Arnie kills Sarah, it is no longer necessary for him to do so in the future, in which case time just says "I'm confused" and the universe collapses.

In T2, the very second Robert Patrick goes back, you have to "freeze" Arnie from going back after him. The Liquid Terminator goes and kills John (and probably Sarah), meaning that in the future John can't actually send Arnie back in time because he's already friggin dead. Also this means that the Liquid Terminator doesn't have to go back and kill John, and once again time just throws his hands up and says "I give up" and farts everything out of existence.

So what the Terminator Corollary states is that time travel can have 1 of 2 possible outcomes. 1) Time travel is a paradox unto itself; every time you go back you have prevented the sequence of events that led to your time travel in the first place. If you go back in time and kill your dad before you're born, you're never born, you can never go back and kill your dad. 2) The only way to allow time travel to exist as it does in the movies is to account for parallel universes instantly splitting off in infinite dimensions as previous iterations of the universe collapse under uncertainty.

And here's the third point; if you travel backwards in time, and can't go forward, wouldn't you be stuck in an infinite loop? Say you go back, and everything goes the same, but you'd still end up going back in time in the future to make sure the past happened? Or would this lead to infinite copies of yourself going back over and over and over again?


Posted by: D-Day at March 26, 2010 8:09 PM

p.s. the above only happened because they haven't posted the EE results yet, gorram it!

Posted by: D-Day at March 26, 2010 8:10 PM

***Alexia here – just a reminder to stay with this.  Take a break if you need to***

What, are you using Terminator rules?

Posted by: pissant at March 26, 2010 7:49 PM

Oh you BETTER believe it, sister.


"no matter how quickly he follows Arnie into the past, it's inconsequential. Once Arnie goes back, the future timeline is "freezed". You must hit pause at the moment Arnie goes back because now everything unfolds differently after he goes back in time. As soon as Arnie enters the past, he goes and kills Sarah..."

You must have watched Terminator in some alternate timeline ARE YOU OUT YOUR FUCKING MIND!?
That's the whole point, Arnie DID NOT get the Sarah as soon as he got there, man. It took him days Reese was following right behind in fact he went in almost simultaneously. The resistance knew what Skynet was planning and they avoided your scenario(of course I see your point, in fact, it would have been better if Reese arrived first).

Same goes for

Posted by: BarbadoSlim at March 26, 2010 8:17 PM

No no no slim you're missing the point.

Everything, I mean EVERYTHING, happens in the past first. When Arnie goes back in time, he's gone back before Kyle has gone back.

Let's say I put a bomb in the time machine and send it back. It doesn't matter if you go through the time machine a millisecond after me, or ten years after, the bomb has already gone off and changed what happens in the future.

The only chance you have of stopping me is that everything in the future plays out so that you can still go back in the time machine. This means that I somehow haven't screwed up how time travel is invented, and how all the events of your life lead you and me into a position to go back in time. BUT, by blowing up that bomb in the past, if I alter the future in any way (which obviously happens) I have in fact 99.9% probably stopped myself from sending the bomb back. I could've killed myself inadvertently, killed the inventor of time travel, all these possibilities. This doesn't even begin to discuss that if I've already done something in the past, why do I have to repeat it in the future?

So in terms of Terminators (and movies of that ilk), time travel is only possible if you don't consider the logical fallacies and outright impossibilities that time travel doesn't completely fuck the world up. Time moves in a line, even if it's cyclical it has a beginning, present and end. As soon as a Terminator goes back he has changed the direction of the line, preventing not just Reese from going back, but preventing the very reason he was supposed to go back.

The movie just ignores all of this stuff. So do you get it, or are we gonna duke it out all night like we have once or twice before?

Posted by: D-Day at March 26, 2010 8:32 PM

Christ, look what has begun. I tire of dealing with paradoxes.

What if you go back in time and kill your mother before you were born?

"You couldn't do that because then you'd never be born to go back and do it!"

But ya did. I'm convinced the only answer is alternate realities. Or whatever, I just prefer a universe where the Back to the Future trilogy exists.

Posted by: pissant at March 27, 2010 8:24 AM

Time moves in a line, even if it's cyclical it has a beginning,

On a more serious note: I feel this discussion is futile in that we, as three-dimensional beings, don't really understand time. At best we approximate time.

The best explanation of our ignorance I've ever seen assumed a two-dimensional world (it was the TV). Basically, if we lived in a two-dimensional world, it could be represented by a piece of paper. Take a three-dimensional being, a paperclip in this instance. It is not of this world and can insert itself (poke through the paper) wherever it likes. Now, to the two-dimensional people of that world, this is inconceivable, essentially magic. It can enter the world at one point, remove itself, and enter at another point at will, completely mind-fucking the residents of 2D Land. Not only that, but the paperclip could bend in such a way (or bend the world, depending on your perspective) and insert itself into two or more locations in 2D Land at the same time.

Anywho, all this to say that we aren't fit to negate time travel scenarios as we don't really understand time. I do, however, support the discussion of time/time travel.

But Terminator is totally possible*.

* - Possibly. See previous paragraph(s).

Posted by: pissant at March 27, 2010 8:40 AM

Eh whatever, good nerd off.

I will finish my convoluted, unnecessary way of thinking that time travel may just mean that when you go back, you can do anything and still just be there, sort of applying the law of conservation of mass; you can't just undo yourself.

My problem with the Terminator stuff is that someone has to go back in time AFTER someone else, when the first person is negating the future. Alternate/parallel realities allow for this kind of stuff to happen, but it's a whole other bag of theoretical bullshit.

Does anyone remember how they explained time travel in the book Timeline? In the back of my head I remember (or may be imagining) that quantum physics posited that there are infinite universes that are 1 second (or whatever unit of time) behind and ahead of this one. So when they "time travel" they're moving to a different universe that is 1,000 years behind the Big Bang? I can't remember.

Posted by: D-Day at March 27, 2010 9:16 AM

***Please take another break if you need it.  Maybe drink some juice, eat a sandwich…***

Oh man, I missed the best thread EVER. I thrive on this bullshit.

My late 2 cents (which nobody is around to collect, so I will take it with me when I go):

According to quantum theory, the forth dimension encompases both time and space, ergo the forth dimension is everything forever. The fifth dimension signifies one alternative timeline. The sixth is ALL alternative timelines (once you start getting into the seventh and on up, you're dealing with alternatives to the Big Bang, which doesn't just signify the begining of space, but time as well. There was no "before" the Big Bang, and the seventh dimension posits that there could be some unknown alternative).

So, if you went back in time and killed your father, according to quantum theory, you would just be standing there with a bloody knife (or gun, or rubber hose or whatever) after the deed is done. You wouldn't create a time paradox. You would have created a splinter reality in which your father is dead and you are never born -- and in which you now exist. You would have left your own timeline and permanently embeded yourself in another.

The reason for this is that time-travel isn't acheived by traveling through the forth dimension (time and space) it is done by traveling through the FIFTH and probably the SIXTH dimension. If you were to travel through the forth dimension ONLY you wouldn't even be capable of killing your own father before you are born, as evidenced by your existence. Within the confines of just one timeline, you already exist. What's done is done. You would fail at any attempt to change things. And really, what's the point if you're just altering some other guy's timeline?

One would hope that futuristic, war-mongering, time-travelling robots would understand this -- but what the fuck do I know? They captured Kyle Reese in the last movie and DIDN'T kill him, despite the knowledge that killing him NOW would prevent him from time-travelling LATER (when he fathers John Connor). So yeah, I guess they're retards.

Posted by: superasente at March 27, 2010 10:49 AM

This is quite the literally the most intelligent conversation anyone have or will ever have about Hot Tub Time Machine.

Posted by: D-Day at March 27, 2010 2:40 PM

So what you're kind of saying Supes is that no matter what you go back and do in terms of time travel, it only really affects yourself, right?

If the timeline splinters off every time you do something you can only screw with the specific reality you are in.

So if I went back in time and killed Hitler, I could go back and do it and feel jim dandy about myself, but there's still a reality where he lived and did all those naughty things, right?

p.s. Has anyone read anything interesting about the big bang recently? I had one of those stoner moments of clarity where I thought that the universe, which is constantly expanding, eventually hits a terminal point or a black hole just sucks everything up. As this happens and all matter, light, space, and that fun stuff condenses into one point, into one infinitely small and dense particle, it hits a point where it explodes and ta-da, big bang. So while we can see back to the big bang, there has really been infinite universes before and after, and the big bang is a sort of recycling point.

I'm sure someone has had this or a better idea, so post a link or something.

Posted by: D-Day at March 27, 2010 2:49 PM

Why would universe expansion hit a 'terminal point'?
When you drop a colored liquid into another liquid, do you sit and wait for the expanding liquid to get sucked back into itself?

There's no reason why the universe would suck back in on itself unless the center black hole got too large. I think this theory, which I've heard people say before, merely expresses peoples' desire to see closure or completion.

Entropy is entropy. Inertia is inertia. Neither reverse themselves.

Posted by: Protoguy at March 27, 2010 7:10 PM

"one infinitely small and dense particle, it hits a point where it explodes and ta-da, big bang."

You just described a black hole, which does the opposite of "ta-da".

Posted by: Protoguy at March 27, 2010 7:12 PM

I'm not a physicist, but what about Lost rules? I.e., one-timeline, in which the time travel is already factored in? You try to kill Hitler, and you will fail, because Hitler didn't die. This obviously denies the many worlds interpretation, but it's a still a (seemingly?) paradox-free way of looking at time travel.

Also, from what I recall from astronomy class, the Big Cruch (D-Day's theoretical anti-Big Bang) is almost certainly not going to happen, because the rate in which the universe expands isn't slow enough to get caught in the gravity of the centre. Like, with our solar system, every time the Earth rotates, it drags on the turns and slows down a little bit, and is subesquently pulled closer to the Sun; we will plummet into the Sun before it expands. The cosmic version of this would be, essentially, the Big Cruch; the rate of expansion is slow enough that the gravity from the centre can grab it and slow it down just a bit, until finally it slows it down to the point where it's pulled rapibly and inexorably back together. However, the universe isn't slowing down, so it won't be pulled inwards, and everything will fizzle out and die in a fabulous display of entropy.

Again, though, that's just what I recall from astronomy. If it's inaccurate, please, by all means, correct me.

Posted by: kyle at March 27, 2010 8:08 PM

The center black hole was what I was mostly referring to; I know I may have certainly used some less than technical lingo.

It's tough to keep up with astronomy and astrophysics, I remember the Big Crunch but was just thinking about looking into some more technical aspects.

Juuuuuuuuust throwing out the ideas fellas.

Posted by: D-Day at March 27, 2010 8:41 PM

So, if you went back in time and killed your father, according to quantum theory, you would just be standing there with a bloody knife (or gun, or rubber hose or whatever) after the deed is done. You wouldn't create a time paradox. You would have created a splinter reality in which your father is dead and you are never born -- and in which you now exist. You would have left your own timeline and permanently embeded yourself in another.

See, I reject this because this explanation creates a reality where the plot of Back to the Future doesn't make sense. I have devoted too much time to that series* to allow that to happen.

* - The NES video game? Are you fuckin' kidding me?

Posted by: pissant at March 28, 2010 11:46 AM


My brain.  It can’t contain…

The Observable Universe

This is a map of the visible universe within 14 billion lightyears.  And you thought you looked so fly in your facebook profile photo.

I started thinking of the universe, the illusion of time (you were aware that time is an illusion we’ve created for ourselves, right?), God, parallel creations and realities, dimensions, dark matter and the Hydron Collider, black holes, creation, brane and string theory, HOLY SHIT!!  LITERALLY!!

I’ve never had a problem reconciling science with God, because if there’s a God, then He created everything that science is based on.  I personally accept that I am not entitled to know the answers to everything concerning the existence of God, and I accept the same when it comes to dark energy and dark matter.  Dinosaurs existed – their bones are right there.  You may ask me, “But how can you believe in God and the scientific fact that the universe is billions of years old?”  My answer is, “I DON’T GIVE A HELL!!  IT DOESN’T MATTER TO ME AND I GOT BILLS TO PAY!!  Didn’t I just get through telling you that time is an illusion?”

I think that “pissant” said it best:  “…I feel this discussion is futile in that we, as three-dimensional beings, don't really understand time. At best we approximate time.”  When I think of time as a measured span within eternity, I think of time as a straight line and eternity as a point with lines coming out the x, y, and z axes.  And I think of that starburst as God.  When I think of the scientists doing their science-y stuff with that collider overseas to try to see the origins of our universe and yearning to discern dark matter, I think of them trying to peer at a physical manifestation of God and His substance.

What’s my point in all this?  I don’t think I have one, it’s just these past couple-and-a-half days have been so randomly connect-the-dots that I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I started with HTTM and ended here writing this epically long blog post.  I wasn’t even trying, I promise.

My butt hurts.


  1. I love you...but oh. my. god. my ass hurts from sitting for an hour reading that.

  2. Girl. By the time I finished, my butt had fallen asleep!