Comedy, damn it.

Backstory: I used to work for this guy in NYC.  Used to call him “sir”.  Then he retired and bought a beard.  We share a similar sense of gallows-slash-dark humor (eventually, maybe, you’ll hear the unfortunate tale of “Concerned Wife and The Rental Car.”)  What first began as a tweet from his end turned into a full-scale riff on the way to a party, followed by a serious, “Uh, maybe this could work?” kinda thing when he learned that McSweeney’s was holding a contest for the same.  We agreed; there were no funnier, smarter motherfuckers to be found anywhere on the face of the planet.  Who better suited?  So here we go.

I recommend Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis or this track as you read along. Or something by The Mars Volta featuring Flea…

——

GAME NIGHT: Your favorite childhood games and actors in one place – a blockbuster movie…

This column, co-authored by Thomas McKenzie and Brandon Brewer, will feature selected scenes of satirical scripts from “blockbuster movies” based on card games, board games, etc. Basically, just a few scenes from each of these scripts will blow “Battleship” out of the water. Since we both came of age in the 80s and 90s, we’ll inadvertently focus on people of the same generation.

EXAMPLE COLUMN:

SELECTED SCENES FROM: UNO

by

Thomas McKenzie

and

Brandon Brewer

MUSIC CUE: A few quick strums of an acoustic guitar, followed by somber trumpet music.

FADE-IN

EXT. DESERT – DAY

A 1969 Chevelle El Camino, seen from the air, speeds through the desert, kicking up dust. It’s Le Mans Blue, but the color is barely noticeable under a heavy coating of dust and grime. This car has been in the desert a long time.

INSERT SHOT – EXTREME CLOSE UP – CAR INTERIOR

A brown, dirty, gnarled hand grasps a shift knob. The knob is a chrome skull with red LED eyes. The hand slams the shifter forward.

INSERT SHOT – EXTREME CLOSE UP – CYCLE BOOT ON ACCELERATOR

Cycle boot floors the accelerator pedal

INSERT SHOT – EXTREME CLOSE UP – WRAP-AROUND SHADES

The cloud of dust trailing the El Camino noticeably expands, as seen out the rear window, over the shoulder of the driver.

MUSIC CUE: The acoustic guitar chords come back, and the Spanish guitarist really starts laying down the jams with the trumpet player. (The trumpet player is probably Flea.)

————————————

INT. MEXICAN CANTINA

The El Camino driver, with wrap-around shades still on, slowly approaches the bar.  The plank floor creaks as he makes his way to a bartender in a dingy, sweat-stained shirt, slowly polishing a glass with a dirty rag.

EL SALVAJE CARDA

El Hefe sent me.

(Carda is Danny Trejo!)

BARTENDER

Who are you, amigo?

El Salvaje Carda silently pulls what looks like a playing card from the vest pocket of his sleeveless denim jacket, and flips it to the bartender.

INSERT SHOT – EXTREME CLOSE UP – CARD SLOWLY FLIPPING THROUGH AIR

The card lands in front of the bartender.  He looks down, notices the “invitation” and jerks his head toward a door near the end of the bar that leads into the back room of the cantina.  Carda sniffs the air, walks that way.

——————————-

INT. SMOKE-FILLED BACK ROOM OF CANTINA

Five desperados and the questionable hero, El Salvaje Carda, are clutched around a table in the back room of this cantina, somewhere south of the border in a town that hope worked very hard to forget.  Each man guards his cards with all the grace of a feral dog.  Scattered behind them stands a wall of broken women cooling themselves with tattered fans, remnants of femininity for tired whores with hems hiked high and hearts pulled low.  Their eyes are dead from the inside, for no matter which way this wicked game plays out, one — maybe all of them — will be forced to take a shift beneath the slobbering, fumbling stench of the winner.  These are bad men — gunfighters, murderers, cattle rustlers, horse rapists and claim jumpers, each of them steely-eyed and dangerous, coiled snakes with nothing to lose.  The air is thick with tension and cigar smoke, which hangs over the table like wraiths at a wake.  Beads of sweat glisten like little stars of fear.  It’s the hero’s turn.

He takes a shot of whiskey, slams the glass down and calls his cards as he lays them down.

EL SALVAJE CARDA

Well, I’ve got this reverse, so back to me, and here’s another reverse so back to me again, and then I’ve got this …

From every direction telegraphs the menacing click of hammers and the death rattle hasp of oiled steel clearing worn leather.  The men stand almost as one. Chairs are knocked back. El Salvaje Carda is looking at the barrels of five peacemakers.  A gleaming revolver appears in his left hand, now pointed at the black heart of the man to his left.  He holds his remaining card aloft, his voice no more than a whisper.

EL SALVAJE CARDA

You didn’t let me call Uno.  I believe those are the rules.

EL ROJO

Lying pendejo!  You going to die!

WHORE #1

Let him play his card, you dogs!

One of the desperados backhands the Whore #1.  (It’s Maria Conchita “Predator 2-era” Alonso.  She’s looking good.)  Eyes wide with shock, she swipes a hand over her now-bleeding lower lip before spitting blood and saliva in the general direction of the desperado that slapped her.

EL PEÓN

Mannnnn — you said you were going to win this game and get me outta here!

El Peón is, of course, Shasta McNasty-era Jake Busey.  His character is being held hostage and is chained to a rickety wooden chair in the corner of the smoky back room.  El Salvaje Carda is playing for El Peón’s life.  We don’t know why.

Close-up of Carda’s eyes shows him calmly scanning the room.

DESPERADO #2

Well… Why don’t you lay down your card, “Uno.”

Close-up on Carda’s hand as he once again does the slow motion card flip.  Before the card hits the table, Carda is firing off shots and hitting the trigger with the side of his hand to spin the cylinder.

EL SALVAJE CARDA

Rojo!  Verde!  Azul!  Skip!

Carda is screaming the names of the other players as he guns them down before they can retaliate.  He’s that fast.  He knows these bad men somehow.

EL PEÓN

Yeah!!!!

Dead desperados are spread around the room as the gun smoke wisps away toward the dirty overhead lamp shining above the card table.

WHORE #1

Señor Carda!  Mira!

A single desperado steps forward from the shadows in the corner of the room.  His sombrero obscured his face in shadow since the game began.  He steps forward into the shaft of light, then uses the barrel of his pistola to push back his hat, revealing him to be Al Leong (the long-haired Asian actor who was a bad guy / martial arts expert in so many action movies in the 80s and early 90s).

EL SALVAJE CARDA

Amarillo!

Carda practically whispers the name, reverently. The look of simultaneous disgust and recognition on Carda’s face is such that there’s no mistake in assuming there’s a long-standing grudge between these two men.

EL CABALLERO AMARILLO

You should have spent more time playing cards and less time playing beer pong.

It’s now obvious.  Carda and Amarillo were college buddies.

EL SALVAJE CARDA

Why do you say that, old friend?

Amarillo nods toward the last card from Carda’s Uno hand, resting on the table in front of where Carda’s chair was before all hell broke loose.

EL CABALLERO AMARILLO

You saved a wild draw four card until the end. Don’t you know how to count, amigo?  You should have drawn five times with your pistola!  You were playing against five of us.  One of which is a martial arts expert.

Amarillo jerks the thumb of his free hand toward his chest.

EL PEÓN

Get us out of here, Carda!

 -30-

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