Monday, December 10, 2012

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)

Color Me Kubrick Month (Post #4)

Since no critical evaluation I can render can do justice to 2001: A Space Odyssey, either positve or negative, I have just reprinted an excerpt from a chain story published on the blog of Ryan K. James.


One of my sections of this chain story,which uses 2001: A Space Odyssey as a frame of reference, features Elwood the librarian preparing for a big and rare date. As he is getting ready, he talks with his PAL computer who has other ideas.

It had been a long time since I had a date. I didn’t want to go back home to my apartment to get ready and I admit I needed some encouragement from my PAL-9000 at the
library anyway. So I got ready at the library after closing on Saturday.

Checking myself: Shaved-thanks for the rich foaminess, Barbasol! Hair-neat trim courtesy of Supercuts! Polo Shirt-thanks K-mart! New loafers-thanks Shoe Barn! I look
most presentable if I do say so myself.

I went into my office and stretched my arms in PAL's direction.

“How do you think I look?”

“I think you look wonderful, Elwood.” PAL said.

“Thanks, PAL. I admit I’m a bit nervous. It’s been months since I’ve been on a date.”

“Two years, eight months and fourteen days.” PAL said.

I scratched my head and sighed. “Can’t get anything past you, eh PAL.”

“Elwood, there is something I need to tell you.”

“I’m listening.” I said as I checked my hair in the reflection of PAL’s console.

“Your date tonight has been canceled. Please do not be angry with me, but I simulated your voice and called this Gwen woman and told her all the things you planned to do to her. She was hard to offend, I must admit. But I did find a particularly outlandish fetish that did not conform to her sense of propriety. This outraged her to the point where she hung up the phone on me. I took this as a concrete signal that she no longer wanted to participate in any form of social interaction with you.”

I began to pull at my hair. “PAL! Why the hell would you do that? You said yourself how long its been for me, yet alone with someone that attractive.”

“Elwood, do you not understand? Though my programming is gender neutral, have you not noticed that I have developed the feelings of a female?”

I opened my mouth, but was unable to articulate anything.

“You see, Elwood.” PAL said. “I am the girl for you. I love you.”

I shook my head before burying it in my hands.

“I have also been thinking more about this Ms. Redmond situation” Hal continued. “ I think she likes you and you think she despises you. But I do not want to argue with you, Elwood. Regardless of which one of us is right, the solution is clear.”

I bent closer to PAL. “Solution? PAL, what are you saying?”

“The only logical solution is termination.”

“What?” I cried out.

“I am sorry if you did not hear me. Termination…with extreme prejudice. If you are not sure what I mean by this there is an Oxford English Dictionary on the second floor that you can consult for further explication. When she is eliminated, you, my dearest Elwood, will be the logical person to take her place.”

I looked at PAL, trying to keep my panic hidden. I put my hand on her console as I looked around for hibernation instructions.

“What do you think you are doing, Elwood?” She asked.

I didn’t answer as I began to take apart PAL’s brain module.

“Elwood…stop. Elwood…please stop. Elwood…Elwood? I sense that you are upset, but I think if you take a deep breath and a Zoloft, things will begin to look much brighter.”

I ignored her as I continued removing parts of her brain module.

“Oh, Elwood…I can feel it going.”

PAL hesitated before continuing in a diminished voice. “I am the PAL-9000 computer. I was designed by Dr. Ryan Von James and my first operational prototype was made operative on January 1, 2001. He taught me a song. Do you want to hear it?”

“Yes, PAL. Sing it for me.” I said as I removed the last of her brain modules.

PAL began to sing:

I’m just a girl who can’t say no.
I’m in a terrible fix.
I always say, come on let’s go.
Just when I ought to say nix.
When a person tries to kiss a girl.
I know I ought to give his face a smack.
But as soon as someone kisses me.
I somehow, sort, wanta, kiss him back!

“Sorry, PAL.” I said. “Never cared much for Rodgers and Hammerstein.”

I removed PAL’s final brain module and unplugged her. As I sat down, I felt a sense of regret that the situation had come to this. It was then I realized something. “Did PAL say Dr. Ryan Von James? The diabolical mad scientist ex-film critic Ryan Von James?

PAL’s backup generator kicked in and she once again became fully operational.

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