Ticking Away

…the moments that make up a dull day…

Spoiler Alert: I discuss the end of the 2003 video game) Prince of Persia: Sands of Time and some parts of the 1993 movie Groundhog Day

I’ve been pondering a thing, so far, thankfully, only a speculative thing.

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (2003), the (unnamed) Prince has an adventure with the princess Farah, and they fall in love. But the whole thing takes place during a wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey alternative probabilistic bubble thing. He kills the boss and POP!, he’s back before anything happened.

But he must stop the wibbly-wimey! So he races to the princess and after all that hurry takes a really long time to explain it all, because classic Arabian Nights, that’s how they roll.

Done with his story, he returns the pivotal magic knife that can rewind time and also cause so much trouble. But first, he steals a kiss from her, and before she can take offense, he rewinds time.

The end.

What are the ethics regarding time-kisses? Are they freebies? Is it abuse of power? Is it a violation of the one time-kissed? (Have you been time-kissed before? I’m time-kissing you right now.)

What about time rape? Time murder? Time child sexual abuse? Time-science-experiments-on-human-test-subjects? Time-genocide? Time-nuclear-first-strike? (Time-kissing is not a joke.)

If it didn’t actually happen, is this unethical?

How about time-seduction?

Groundhog Day (1993, Bill Murray). Phil Connors (Murray) discovers he is stuck in a time loop, waking up in the morning and it’s the same day, every day. He remembers everything from prior iterations. No-one else does.

And that’s how he gets Nancy (Marita Geraghty) into the sack in one night. One morning he asks her details from her childhood. Next iteration, he’s Nancy’s long lost childhood friend, and Nancy spends the day trying to remember who Phil was, but gosh he is sweet. A last minute marriage proposal seals the deal. Let the good times roll.

Rita Hanson (Andie MacDowell) wasn’t so easy, and required practice and skill. It’s okay. Phil’s got time.

Phill would run the night step by step. The right drinks, the right interests. If something didn’t get a positive response try again and change it. The right restaurant, the right song, the right ice cream…It gonna be a hot night tonight.*

Except…Phil gets frustrated. Each misstep requires another thing to remember and another time repeating the very same day. This is something us video-gamers know all too well, and we complain when resume-points are too sparse, or are poorly spaced (say, right before a complex leap). More recent games often have frequent resume points, or allow someone to save anywhere.

What if instead of a time-loop, Phil had a magic watch that could turn back time, even for only a moment? Groundhog Day starts looking a lot creepier. Except it’s Bill Murray. But even Bill Murray could get pretty creepy rewinding time and fixing his last goof. And at that point you only have to do each thing the number of attempts it takes to get it right, not the whole evening.

Phil might, by extracting information and then mastering each approach, be able to get anyone in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to do anything. The Idle Thumbs crew picked up on this manipulating her through time thing with the Prince’s stolen kiss. (Incidentally, NSFW: lots of casual swearing).

I don’t yet know what to think about all this. It’s an incomplete thought with a number of open ports. And it’s turning into a weird day between Paris and Ryukyu and… stuff.

But for now I have one last thought: There’s a distinct contrast between taking action on time branches that get cancelled (e.g. the Prince’s time kiss, seducing Nancy) and using information from canceled time branches to facilitate acting on this one (e.g. seducing Nancy.)

Yeah. Time manipulation features a lot of divide-by-zero.

More on this later.

* If we’re going to be true to crew and company, I could have used this song, but we ain’t bustin’ ghosts here.


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