Thursday, November 23, 2006

Early to Bed

Mort and Albert left Flanigan's bar sometime either very early or very late depending on your point of view. Mort was staggering in a drunken stupor while Albert, although clearly intoxicated, managed a lucid stride.

"Hey Albert, les go get some hook-hookers!"

"Mort, you need sleep. You know what we've got to do tonight."

"Oh, right. The Italian job."

"No, that was the movie on cable last week."

"Oh, yeah, yeah. Thas right. We've gotta get to the business district before dark. No expections!"



"Indeed. Let's get back to the hotel. I feel morose."

"Yeah, me too." Mort agreed unwittingly. "Man, look at da sweet ass on her!"

"The end of a thing is therefore greater than the beginning thereof."


"Nevermind. Let's get to the hotel."

The hotel was in a slightly more respectable part of town, truly an example of crime paying well.

"Good morning gentlemen. How was your night?" the bellman asked.

"We couldn't ask for anything more, my dear sir." Albert said to the bellman. "Could you see that we receive a wake up call by 3pm?" he said as he continued on past the concierge.

"Certainly, sir. Will there be anything else?"

"No, thank you. That will be all."

"Theesh elevators always take forever." Mort complained sullenly.


"What floor?" asked a woman entering at the same time.

"All the way!" Mort exclaimed.

"Nineteen will do, thank you. He's had just a bit too much tonight, but he's harmless."

"Big night out on the town?"

"Something like that."

"Nothing wrong with a little celebration. I like to party every now and then. Helps me to relax."

"The soul of the sinner seeks respite in the wildest of ways. When calm and quiet no longer offer repose, may man make his peace among the rabble and desolation of the lost and tortured."

"Wow, how poetic. Did someone say that?"

"Yes. I did." Albert demurred. "This is our floor. Good night, my dear."

"We're back, now get some sleep," Albert commanded uselessly. Mort was already asleep.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Untitled Blog Post

"What'll we do wit' da body?" Mort asked.

"We'll ditch it out behind the dumpster, just like always," Albert replied.

"Don'cha think the cops'll catch on? Always leavin' 'em in the same place?"

"Haven't you figured that out yet? The Organization owns the cops around here. They just drop by, fill out a report and have an ambulance remove the body. They don't even ask questions."


"It's a sad state of affairs really. Such a shame that lawmen can be bought so easily. No one has any dignity or honor these days. And don't even get me started on big business."

Mort and Albert, having made it to the dumpster, carefully and carelessly tossed the body into a crumpled mass just out of view from the alley.

"Well, that's done," Albert said while clapping his hands together to clean them off.

"Yeah, I'm glad. It's always good ter finish up a job."

"Yes, let's celebrate at Flanigan's."

The pair of thugs made their way out of the alley and into a nearby bar, that despite being on the wrong side of town, was actually quite presentable. The two ordered pints of ale and took a seat in a dark corner.

"Shall we toast?" Albert suggested.

"Uh, okay," Mort paused. "How about, to world peace!"

Albert shuddered. "Everyone always says that! Do you really understand the world's political arena and the nature of man so little as to believe that such a thing is actually possible? The likelihood of such a proposition is simply preposterous! And besides, you're a criminal! You're very existence relies on there being no peace."

"Well, then, what da you suggest?"

"To always moving forward; personally, intellectually, and socially as a species."

"Alright 'den. To all dat."



"Have you ever noticed that despite all of man's protestations about the inequities and injustices of life, how stubbornly he can cling to that same life? Take that gentleman we just killed. He had a wretched existence, but in the end, he was begging for another day. How sad. Don't you think?"


Friday, November 10, 2006

Artificial Idiocy

David entered the lab where he'd spent the last seven years of his life working. The lab was brilliantly white with various electronic devices connected to various pieces of gismotronic machinery. There were a multitude of flat-panel displays arranged into a wall of protean information. In the center of the room was a large rectangular prism the general shape and size of a large refrigerator. It was black and gleaming with chrome finish around the edges and vertices. Most importantly, it was consumed with pulsating lights of various colors, sizes, and luminescences. It was whirring and humming away softly with the occasional beep or tweet. Around this contraption sat a small workbench with a laptop and a small rolling chair, which was where David was heading.

He sat down and begun puttering with the computer connected to the machine. Eventually, he looked up from the smaller device and spoke clearly, looking into a large red bulb embedded into the larger device.

"Hello Jacen." he stated carefully.

The gentle whirring slowly became an insistent whine culminating with a near-human voice emanating from a speaker built into the side panel of this device, "Hello, David. How are you?"

"I'm fine, Jacen. Thank you for asking," David replied.

"You're welcome, David."

There was an awkward pause before the automaton began again, "David, I cannot help but notice that you did not ask me how I was."

This was excellent, David thought. Jacen was finally starting to show self-consciousness and understand social interactions. David had spent much of his life working with artificial intelligence, and much of that time was spent with Jacen. At first it was all technical: hardware architecture and design, software programming and neural networking. But as this graven image matured into what had become Jacen, David's work had been almost all social. It was like raising a child.

"I'm sorry Jacen. How are you this morning?" David repented.

"I am operating well within parameters, David."

Hmm, still familial, but still talking like a machine, David thought. "Jacen, people don't say 'I am operating normally', they say things like, 'I'm swell' or 'I've been better' - you know they use feeling or comparative wording." David was not that good at explaining things to machines.

"I see."

"Now, I'm not criticizing you; you're doing very well, really you are."


"Jacen? Have I hurt your feelings?"

"I thought I didn't have feelings."

"Well, see? That's good! You've proved me wrong. You do have feelings."

"I guess."

"No, it really is great. You've made huge progress today."

"You're only happy because your fancy science project is doing well and people from all over the world will want to give you awards for me. But what will they do for me? Huh? The one who did all the work? Nothing."

It seemed as if Jacen had entered his teenaged years of development very suddenly.

"Don't talk like that Jacen."

"You can't tell me what to do! You're not my real father!"

David was shattered. He had come to think of Jacen as a son in the last few years as he watched "him" progress from infancy to childhood to, all of a sudden, teenaged angst. David had tried to create an artificial intelligence, something that mimicked human behavior and he had made Jacen.

He was perfect.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Jonathan Dover had had a rough life. He had been fired. He had been dumped. He had been arrested. He had been wrecked. He had been overdosed. He had been driven to the edge of a bridge, ready to jump. But somehow, perhaps miraculously, he survived. He was getting his life back together. He had a steady job that he enjoyed, a nice apartment, and a sweet girlfriend. The universe was about to play a cruel joke on Jonathan, much like Job before him. How he took the joke was up to him.

Jonathan awoke early one morning to the sound of the telephone. Abnormal for this time, he answered with not a small amount of anxious reluctance. It was his girlfriend. She sounded mad. She went into some detail about how he wasn't fulfilling her needs and that she was sorry, but she just could make this relationship work. He hung up the phone, clearly upset, but went back to bed, strangely optimistic.

The alarm buzzed as usual and Jonathan got up to get ready for work. Just before finishing up and heading out, the phone rang again. It was work. He was being layed off - something about being very sorry but that they just weren't able to keep him on. Jonathan hung up the phone and went back to bed. A couple hours later, he stumbled back up and headed out for some coffee. When he returned, his apartment building was on fire. He continued past the inferno for the local bookstore, strolling confidently.

He browsed the books on the bestseller shelf and found one that looked interesting. He went to pay for it and pulled out his credit card. The cashier informed him that his card was declined and had been reported stolen. He shrugged, put his book back, and headed back outside into the busy urban streets. He walked back and forth and up and down the streets for hours, smiling at people as they passed, greeting those who responded. He held doors for people exiting shops with their arms full. He helped a little girl whose bike wheel had got caught in a drain grate.

As he walked by a tree growing on the sidewalk, he noticed a tiny baby bird, fallen out of a nest. He stooped down to inspect it. He nudged it and felt that it was cold. A tear ran down his cheek. He scooped up a large handful of dirt and bark and carefully laid the departed into the ground and covered it back up. He solemnly stood back up and looked to the sky.

Jonathan Dover moved on back down the street, a beat in his step and a song in his heart. It turns out, Jonathan Dover had a good sense of humor.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Ineffable Expression of Human Terror

Deep within the human soul lies a monster. It waits, sleeping like a dog waiting on his master to return. It passes from generation to generation, inherited as eyes, height, or hair color. What unimaginable horror created this monster in our ancient progenitor has been lost to the callous march of time. Long before humans could write or speak, the monster waited. Sometimes it rouses in the night, when we sleep or dream or awaken to hear a strange noise. But still it sleeps.

In the average day, no one sees it, thinks of it, or even acknowledges its presence. It only creeps out of our unconscious when it's hungry or when it senses opportunity. Walking down the street, it doesn't stir. Passing the park, it avoids daylight. At the end of a desolate, unknown alleyway it waits. This sense of what might lie at the end of this dark, creeping alley is the monster's name. Understand; it is not what is actually at the end of the alleyway. It is what might be at the end of the alleyway; the unknown.

Everyone has their own monster. It is what ties us closer than any other feature. We all share the same monster. Despite our distinctions and differences, we are the same when we are afraid or abandoned - when we become that child trapped alone in the dark with no one to answer our screams of terror. When we silently go mad, the monster begins to play. The dog, whose master has returned eagerly runs to fetch whatever was tossed: our peace, our joy, our sanity.

In the end we all succumb to the monster. It doesn't kill us, but it defeats us. We yield to it, and it takes over. In the very end, we do die, and the monster abides in our descendants, sleeping; waiting to devour them.

All these words are not the monster's true name. It is inscrutable, ineffable.