So You're Stuck in a Time Loop

Oh damn it all to hell.

What's up?

My stupid DVR is broken.

Huh. That seems like a fairly mundane problem, considering some of the other issues ripped straight from the headlines that we've faced together. Have you tried rebooting it?

Dozens of times. It fixes it for a bit, but before too long it messes up recordings again. That's why I'm trying to fix it.

Ahh. Which would explain why you've ripped the cover off it. You know that's probably going to void your warranty?

I don't care. I hate this frickin' thing.

How did it break?

I was watching a movie and I tried to pause it, and it started skipping around and froze in a completely different place, and now it won't work at all.

What movie?

Under Siege.

I see. You were trying to pause the cake scene, weren't you?

This is a pretty important moment in cinematic history for teenage boys.

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It was on TV. And, you know. For old times' sake ...

You were going to freeze frame the cake scene from Under Siege and let nature take its course.


What'd it freeze on instead of the cake scene?


Gary Busey in a dress is considered by masturbation scientists to be one of the most difficult things possible to get off to.


So you can see why I'm so ...

Annoyed? Frustrated? Blue?


Hmm. Well, let's see if I can ... lend you a hand, I guess. So you've already pulled the cover off the DVR. What else have you tried?

I've tried blowing on it.

Your ... little Gary Busey?

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No, the DVR. Like a Nintendo. I thought it might be dusty.

Dust never was actually the problem with those things. It was just taking the cartridge out and reseating it that did the trick. No, it sounds like you have a problem with the time shifter.

The what?

The device in the DVR that shifts the flow of time.

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Wait. What? Doesn't a DVR just record things and then play those back?

No. That's dumb. Every DVR contains a time shifter. It's a small piece of a dying star, which, by spinning very rapidly, allows the DVR to distort the flow of time.

That doesn't seem very likely.

Yeah, let's ask the guy with his pants around his ankles for advice on DVR maintenance.

I'm just going to pull these up now if that's OK with you.

Oh, were you waiting for my permission? Yes, please pull up your pants and any other wang-covering garments, thank you.

You're welcome. So how do I fix the DVR?

If you could somehow reverse the polarity of the time shifter ...


No, I was just fucking with you. I don't know. Try poking at it with that screwdriver.

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Isn't that dangerous?

Plastic handle, right? You should be fine. What's the alternative? You sitting there not masturbating?

You're right! Fuck Comcast! Fuck electricity!

-He starts stabbing the DVR with a screwdriver.-

Oh shit!


It's glowing! The time shifter! It's spinning out of control!

Stop stabbing it!

I can't! The screwdriver is stuck!

-The screwdriver is snagged by the time shifter, sending it dangerously out of balance.-

Get out of there!

-He doesn't. The universe is destroyed.-

Digital Vision/Getty Images

Oh damn it all to hell!

What's up?

My stupid DVR is broken!



Nothing. Have we done this one already? I swear we've done one of these before.

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I don't think so.

That's ... weird. OK. So, you've ripped off the cover of your DVR, and you're prodding at it with a screwdriver.


And your pants are off because you were trying to yank it, but couldn't because Gary Busey is looking at you.

Now that you mention it, this is all sounding really familiar.

Well, I imagine you've yanked it to Under Siege many times before.

Most definitely. But, I mean, yanking it under these specific circumstances. I'm getting a real odd sensation of deja vu.

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Well, life's weird. So. Let's get you back to yanking.

Do we have to? I'm feeling kind of ...

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Various things are flagging?


Yeah, OK. You pulls your pants up there, Mr. Manners.

Thanks. I'd still like to fix my DVR, though. This has been pissing me off for months.

And do you know anything about DVRs?

Sure. Here's the front. Here's the back. Here's the time shifter.

You know what that is?

It's the part of the DVR, forged from a dying star, that shifts time.

That's right.

-Long pause-

Wow. How did I know that?

That's a good question. You seem, if you don't mind me being blunt, like kind of an idiot who doesn't know very much.

-Long pause-

I actually do kind of mind when you are that blunt.

Sorry, man. Real Advice Talk.

OK. And when I said, "How did I know that?" I meant that that explanation is clearly insane bullshit, of the type that you usually tell me.

And yet I hadn't told you that yet. This is weird.

Well, weird or not, I'm still going to kick this stupid DVR in half.

Yeah, that's fair. Making you yank it to Gary Busey is a high crime indeed. Although I get the odd feeling that I'll regret it, I would advise you to kick the shit out of that thing.

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-He starts stabbing it with a screwdriver-

Oh shit!


It's glowing! The time shifter! It's spinning out of control!

Stop stabbing it!

I have! But the screwdriver is stuck!

-The screwdriver is snagged by the time shifter, sending it dangerously out of balance.-

Get out of there!

-He doesn't. The universe is destroyed.-

Digital Vision/Getty Images

Oh damn it all to hell!

What's up?

My stupid DVR is broken!



Nothing. Have we done this one already? I swear we've done one of these before.

No. You've helped me out of some pretty weird things, but not this one yet. Unless ...

You're trying to yank it to the cake scene of Under Siege, aren't you?

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I am. And you're about to tell me to stab my DVR with a screwdriver.

I was.

Eerie. We have done this before. All of this.

You know what this reminds me of? There was a Bill Murray movie, called Ghostbusters II, in which ...

No. That's not right.

No, it is. Anyways, in Ghostbusters II, Bill Murray is forced to repeat the same day again and again until he can finish army boot camp.

That's, amazingly, somehow even less right.

Whether it's right or not is beside the point!

Is it?

The point is, somehow we've trapped ourselves in a causality loop, where our actions are perpetually causing the universe to be destroyed.

That sounds ... bad?


How do we stop it?

Well, we have to be careful. Until we know what's causing the universe to get destroyed, we shouldn't act rashly. For now, let's behave as we normally would.

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-Long pause-

But wouldn't we have done exactly that the first time through the loop? Most times through the loop, in fact? Times when we didn't have deja vu and didn't know we were in a universe-destroying causality loop? Wouldn't doing the exact opposite of what came naturally be a billion times smarter?

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You're right. That makes way more sense than what I just said. So then. What are you really inclined to do right now?

Pull my pants up to conceal my shame?

Then there's the answer. You keep your pants down and you keep yanking it.

I'm not sure I'm too comfortable with that.


All right.

In the meantime, if we fail, we have to see if there's a way to send a clue into the next loop to help us understand what's happening here.

Like a note?

A trans-chrono-planar-scalar-psuedo-inter-blog-note? That'd be a pretty impressive bit of engineering for someone with multiple Ph.D.s, much less for someone softcocking in his basement.

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Wait. I've got it! The deja vu! That sensation we're having of events we've already lived through. Obviously, our minds are capable of picking up resonances across the chrono-loops. If we could trigger an artificial form of deja vu ...


OK. If you notice the universe getting destroyed, like if it starts to vibrate or smoke or whatever, I want you to concentrate really hard on what's causing it to explode. You've got to think of something really simple. A clue we could pick up on and use later.

Got it.

OK then. So, uh, how you doing there?

This is pretty challenging.

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Well, just keep at it. You're doing good! The universe hasn't destroyed itself yet.

I know, but ...

Are you close?

Just stop looking.

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Oh God.

There you go!

No. Not what I meant. I'm giving up. I concede. This is just not happening.

-He tries to pull his pants up, tripping on them. He stumbles forward into the DVR.-

Oh no!

-His pants are sucked into the DVR's time shifter, followed by various parts of him in close proximity to his pants.-


-The universe is destroyed.-

Digital Vision/Getty Images

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Oh damn it all to hell!

What's up?

My stupid balls are broken!

What? Like ... because your wife's a shrew or something?

What? No. I'm sorry. I meant my DVR is broken. Man, that's weird. Why did I say "balls"?

It does seem odd. What also seems odd is the fact that I'm sure we've done this before.

It does feel like it, doesn't it?

You were yanking it to Under Siege, weren't you?

No. I was ... yanking it to Spaceballs.


I know. That doesn't seem like me.

Have you taken your DVR apart yet?

That's weird that you'd know that. I was actually just taking it apart and ...

And what?

And ... I was dangling my testicles into it.

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That also doesn't seem like me. In case you were asking.

I wasn't.

I am going to stop that now.

Watch how much I don't stop you.

What's going on here? This is one of the weirdest situations you've helped me with yet.

Indeed. Hmmm.


I wonder if your sudden fascination with balls isn't some sort of clue.

OK, that's not fair. I'm hardly fascinated with them. You're putting balls in my mouth ... WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

Hmmmmmmm ... that's it! This feeling of deja vu we're having. The active time shifter, whizzing away just inches from your genitals. We're about to have an accident with time.


That's why we feel like we've done all this before. We have done all of this before. Somehow, we're about to cause the universe to collide with causality at right angles.

That doesn't sound good.

No, it doesn't. And your sudden, salivating interest in testicles is the key.

I'm not salivating.

Balls are how we got into this mess. Or, how we get out of it. What if you got your balls caught in the DVR's time shifter? That would cause the universe to explode!

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Why would I do that?

I don't want to speculate too much about what or why you do things in your spare time, because I'd prefer sleeping at night. But tell me I'm wrong. Go have a look at the time shifter. What's it look like?

There's a chunk of burnt skin and hair in there.


Yeah. I am shifting around all sorts of uncomfortably right now. So what do I do?

Well, let's just quietly pull your pants up.

Let's just do that, yes.

And now ... maybe ... maybe unplug the DVR?

That seems pretty smart.

-he unplugs the DVR-

How does that feel?

It feels good. It feels like we haven't tried this yet.

I think you're right. I think we've made it out of the loop!

Oh thank God! And every part of me is still intact!

Nice one! Man, I wonder how long we've been stuck in there. Hours? Days? Go check the time.

-He checks the time on his phone-

Oh shit. We're two weeks in the future.


How the hell did that happen? Oh my God. Work! What do I do now?

Congratulations on completing this guide! You are now no longer trapped in a time loop! Should you desire any further advice, please consult our guide, So You've Lost Your Job Because You Were Yanking It to Under Siege for Two Whole Weeks.

Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and just a tremendous Star Trek: TNG nerd. Join him on Facebook or Twitter where, if you ask nicely, he might be convinced to share some of his Data/Spot slash fiction.

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