FSW: Advertising Edition (Ken’s Entry)

Okay…I’m an idiot. Yes, I did briefly post this Friday, wondering why everyone else didn’t post yet. And then my tiny little brain went “oh yeah, this is the week we’re waiting until Monday”

So…ummmm….sorry, and….my bad.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

What Superbowl would be complete without a car commercial, huh? So here’s my little homage to Detroit’s marketing machine, and some ideas of how they can get back on track in tough times.
_____________________________________________

FADE IN:

EXT. TEXAS PLAINS – DUSK

The sun sets over a rugged orange desert plain, scattered with scrub brush, cactus and purple rocky outcroppings. A camp of cowboys sits around a fire. One cowboy, DYLAN, square jawed handsome and rugged, crouches over a fire and pours coffee into a tin cup as he looks past the herd of cattle watching and sees distant lightning on the horizon. Acoustic guitar strums start in the soundtrack, and a male singer with a Springstein \ Mellencamp type voice and a country-rock twang starts singing.

SINGER (V.O.)

There’s a hard wind blowin’
‘Cross the world today
Storm clouds are building
And skies look gray

CUT TO:

EXT. TEXAS PLAINS – NIGHT

It’s now raining very hard in the night – a major storm. Our cowboys are on horseback herding cattle through a torrential downpour. They are just shadows occasionally lit by lightning strikes. DYLAN makes some impressive cutting moves on his horse

SINGER (V.O.)

But when things get bad
And times look rough
Americans buckle down
And get tough

Another young, but handsome cowboy, CODY, looks over the side of the cliff his horse is near when a lightning strike nearby spooks his horse. The horse rears up in and CODY is thrown over the side of the cliff (all in slow motion).

CLOSE UP ON DYLAN

DYLAN sees CODY go over the cliff, and immediately spurs his horse over in a mad gallop(all in slow motion)

SINGER (V.O.)

We don’t walk away
When we’ve got a tough fight
We grab our neighbor’s hand
And we push through the night

CUT TO:

EXT. CLIFF – NIGHT

CODY barely hangs on to a wet rocky handhold. He struggles to hang on as he sees the huge drop below, but his gloves are giving way. Just as CODY slips completely, DYLAN’s manly hand grabs his. DYLAN grimaces in determination as he hauls CODY back up from certain death.

CUT TO:

EXT. TEXAS PLAINS – NIGHT

As they stand back up on terra firma, DYLAN and CODY walk back to CODY’s horse. CODY still looks shaken, but unflappable DYALN claps him on the back, then hands CODY the reins to the horse that just threw him. CODY climbs back up, and DYALN strides back over to his own horse. They get back to the business of herding cattle in the rain.

CUT TO:

EXT. TEXAS PLAINS – MORNING

The sun starts rising over the plains in a brilliant rain-free collage of orange, red and pink. Flowers are everywhere now, in full bloom from their soaking in the night, and dripping clean raindrops on the ground. DYLAN and CODY look at each other, and confidently nod with only the vaguest hints of smiles on their lips.

SINGER (V.O.)

You know you’ll make it through
No matter how far
You’re American tough
Now buy a fuckin’ car

CUT TO:

EXT. SUBURBAN FRONT LAWN – DAY

A man, his wife, and two boys (BOTH about 8 years old), all dressed in really ugly western wear stand in front of a big black SUV. Text fades in on screen:
CHEVY TAHOE
IT TAKES HUGE BALLS TO DRIVE A VEHICLE NAMED AFTER A PLACE BEING WRECKED BY IT’S EMISSIONS

SINGER (V.O.)

We hired famous singers
And used their big hits
We made tons of commercials
Showing girls with big tits

But you bastards went out
And bought Japanese
You stuck us with thousands
Of SUV’s

CUT TO:

EXT. HIGHSCHOOL PARKING LOT – DAY

A man in his early 50’s stands in front of super-shiny red Corvette. The man is dressed like he belongs in a boy band, but his large pot belly and wind-swept toupee give him away.
More text fades in on screen:
CHEVY CORVETTE
BECAUSE NO OTHER CAR IN THE WORLD SAYS ‘RECENTLY DIVORCED, IN DENIAL, AND EASILY MANIPULATED’ THE WAY WE CAN

SINGER (V.O.)

(chorus)

We lost our private jets
Cause no one bought Corvettes
The UAW
Has us totally screwed
We know we’re making trash
But man, we need the cash
So get American tough
And buy our fuckin’ cars

(bridge)

Now we know your money’s tight
And times have gotten lean
But we still run this company
Like it’s 1913

Becoming more efficient
Just ain’t in our plan
We’ll just pump you full of guilt
Until you buy American

CUT TO:

EXT. BEACH – DAY

A charcoal gray Chevy Malibu sits in front of the sand, waves carrying surfers crash in the background. A guy and a girl, both in their twenties, exit the Malibu wearing bathing suits and sunglasses, and run down to the beach. Text fades in:
CHEVY MALIBU
YES, WE KNOW NO ONE WHO LIVES IN MALIBU WOULD EVER BE SEEN DEAD IN THIS CAR. BUT YOU PROBABLY KNOW PEOPLE WHO’D BE IMPRESSED BY JUST THE NAME, AND THINK IT MUST SOMETHING REALLY EXOTIC. JUST DON’T EVER THEM SEE YOU DRIVING IT.

SINGER (V.O.)

(back to verse)

Some people want a hybrid
Then go out and buy a Prius
But buy an eco-friendly foreign car
Is just like pissin’ on Jesus

Stop worrying ‘bout tomorrow
Life can be an endless Summer
Just speed up global warming
And buy a big ol’ Hummer

CUT TO:

EXT. WHEAT FIELD – DAY

A blue Chevy Volt sits in front of a field of waving wheat. Text fades in on screen:
COMING SOON – CHEVY VOLT
STILL WON’T BE OUT FOR OVER A YEAR, AND WILL PROBABLY HAVE PROBLEMS EVEN THEN. BUT IF YOU BUY ONE OF OUR CARS NOW, YOU CAN ACT SMUG LATER ON BECAUSE YOU BOUGHT FROM A COMPANY THAT MAKES GREEN CARS (IF THIS THING EVER DOES GET TO MARKET)

SINGER (V.O.)

(back to chorus)

We lost our private jets
Cause no one bought Corvettes
The UAW
Has us totally screwed
We know we’re making trash
But man, we need the cash
So get American tough
And buy our fuckin’ cars

Please buy our fuckin’ cars

(this keeps repeating through the end, fading out a little each time)

The screen fades into closeup of a waving American flag, then the Chevrolet logo fades up.
Titles fade up on the screen over the logo:
CHEVROLET
ALL AMERICAN
AND IF YOU DON’T BUY A CAR FROM US YOU’RE A GOD-HATING TERRORIST FAGGOT DOUCHEBAG…AND EVERYONE WILL KNOW IT

FADE TO BLACK.

Friday Night Sketch War: Learning Something New About History Edition

Another tough topic, though not nearly as painful, or likely to make a grown man cry and jump on a couch, as Oprah. Again, we had three warriors enter the fray. They acquitted themselves well.

Three solid sketches on a beyatch of a topic. Next week’s topic: first dates.

If you want to play along, write a sketch and send a link to it to sketchwar at dreamloom.com. And be sure to come back next Friday when we’re hoping to have a few new competitors.

FSW: The Truth About Harry

Quick point of order: Peter is a bastard for coming up with this week’s theme, Learning something new about history. May a thousand beetles crawl into his closet and take up residence in his favorite sneaker. The left one, not the right one.

Come back on Saturday for the recap, where I give you links to the (hopefully) better sketches on the theme.

The Truth About Harry

INT. BAR – NIGHT

A dark, quiet hideaway where men go to get drunk. MICHAEL early 40s and reedy, with the wild eyes of a hunted man, and Peter, late 20s and not crazy, sit nursing scotches. A BARTENDER wipes glasses at the other end of the bar.

MICHAEL

Truman was a Freemason.

PETER

What?

MICHAEL

Haberdasher is a code word for Freemason.

PETER

No, haberdasher is a code word for “guy who sells belts and socks.”

MICHAEL

C’mon! All the evidence is right in front of you and you just won’t see it.

PETER

Enlighten me, oh wise one.

MICHAEL

Yeah, the Illuminati got their start in the Enlightenment, but we don’t have to go that far back. (Beat) So what do you think Truman was doing at Yalta while Roosevelt was negotiating with Stalin?

PETER

What do I think Truman was doing at Yalta?

MICHAEL

Yeah.

PETER

I think Truman was asking himself how the hell he ended up in Yalta when he never went to Yalta.

MICHAEL

What do you mean?

PETER

I mean, Roosevelt went to Yalta, not Truman.

MICHAEL

Are you sure? I read somewhere that Truman and Churchill ganged up on Stalin at the conference.

PETER

A, that was Potsdam, after the war. And B, if you thought that, why would you imply he was off doing God-knows-what instead of negotiating the peace?

MICHAEL

Exactly. See, if Truman was at Potsdam, it’s not too far to conclude that he was working in the shadows at Yalta, right? Behind the scenes, pulling the strings.

PETER

(To the bartender)

Excuse me, can I get whatever he’s drinking?

MICHAEL

I’m serious.

PETER

You think the Vice President of the United States spent a month out of the country, in the middle of a war, and no one knew it?

MICHAEL

See how impossible that sounds? Only the Freemasons could have pulled something like that off.

Peter stares for a second. He opens his mouth to talk…then shakes his head.

MICHAEL (CONT’D)

But he wasn’t there for a month, just a few days. The Freemasons smuggled Truman over in their secret submarine–

PETER

–What?

MICHAEL

Their submarine. The Nautilus.

PETER

Like from the book?

MICHAEL

Which book is that?

PETER

Um…20,000 Leagues Under the Ocean? Sea. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The Verne.

MICHAEL

I knew you weren’t completely ignorant. Right. Jules Verne. He was too proud to let his work go unnoticed.

PETER

You’re saying Jules Verne built the Nautilus. A real submarine. And then he wrote about it.

MICHAEL

Yeah, and it got him kicked out.

PETER

(Playing along, now)

I didn’t know. So, the Masons kicked him out.

MICHAEL

The Illuminati. It was their sub. They just leased it to the Freemasons. Anyway, they got Truman to Yalta two days ahead of Roosevelt and he and Churchill divvied up Germany. Roosevelt thought he was so tough with his big stick…

Peter winces at this latest bit of stupidity from Michael…

MICHAEL (CONT’D)

…but it was Truman who really talked softly.

PETER

You know that was Teddy not…oh, nevermind.

MICHAEL

Then Howard Hughes flew him back home in the Spruce Goose right before Roosevelt showed up. The rest of the conference was just for show. Same with Potsdam. And once Truman gave Einstein the plans for the A-bomb–

PETER

–What?!?

MICHAEL

Scary, isn’t it? The New World Order is coming, man, and you can’t stop it.

The bartender comes toward our boys.

BARTENDER

Closing time, gents.

PETER

Okay, I’ve had my fill for the night, anyway. Michael. Seriously. You need help.

MICHAEL

I know. That’s why I keep writing on my blog and mailing out the newsletter. I can’t stop them alone.

PETER

(Sad for his friend)

Yeah. That’s what I meant. Um, I’ve gotta go. I’ll see you around, okay?

MICHAEL

Sure man. Next time drinks are on me.

Peter exits quickly. Michael downs the rest of his drink and gets up to go.

BARTENDER

Mr. Howard, I’m afraid we can’t let you leave.

A hidden door behind the bar slides open and reveals a huge Masonic crest. Two men in monk’s habits step out behind two serious looking pistols.

BARTENDER (CONT’D)

You know too much.

BLACKOUT:

Friday Night Sketch War: Oprah Edition

Yours truly – like many before him – fell under the spell of one Ms. Oprah Gail Winfrey’s hypnotic powers. I thought to myself did I, “oh, Oprah would make a great theme for Sketch War. So many topics. So many sketch ideas. This will be great!” She’s ephemeral. Like a ghost, or Duke Nukem Forever, just when you think you’ve got a firm grasp on her she disappears.

We all struggled this week and weren’t able to bring our usual B-games. Still, there are a few chuckles to be had. Next week, in what is hopefully an easier topic, Peter’s selected learning something new about history.

If you want to play along, write a sketch and send a link to it to sketchwar at dreamloom.com. And be sure to come back next Friday when we’re hoping to have a few new competitors.

FSW: Oprah’s Favorite Things

Holy crap. I swear, when I thought of Oprah last week, I had visions of sketches writing themselves. So many ideas filled my head: Oprah as a cruel taskmaster; Oprah as an international spy; Oprah giving hitmen assignments with envelopes under their seats. Those ideas? They don’t work. Nothing worked. I was going to do a dinner party where Steadman was the butler? Crap. Everything crap.

Then I realized I really needed to take Oprah *out* of the sketch.

This isn’t comedy gold, but I think it’s alright. As for the products mentioned…thank you Wikipedia!

Peter’s sketch is up already – and is both funny and disturbing. I credit him for reminding me that Oprah permeates our culture. Of course, I won’t be crediting him when I have nightmares tonight. No word yet from anyone else, but come on back for the recap this weekend.

Oprah’s Favorite Things

INT. LIVING ROOM – DAY

MAYBELLE and her guests JO, JOLLY, and AMY sit in the cleanest, classiest, brightest doublewide in town. JOSH GROBAN’S “NOEL” plays in the background. The women are all in their late-30s to late-40s and well turned out. A careful observer might notice they’re all wearing the same RACHEL PALLY SWING TURTLENECK AND SAILOR PANTS. The truly observant might see the matching UGG BOOTS and TOYWATCH CRYSTAL WATCHES. That observer would be very much like these women if she knew the significance of that.

JO

These cookies are fantastic, Maybelle.

MAYBELLE

Thanks, Jo. I found the recipe in last month’s “O” and just whipped them up in my KitchenAid Artisan Mixer.

JOLLY

The cookies are good, but this sorbetto is to die for. Ciao Bella?

MAYBELLE

Of course! Is there any other?

The ladies all laugh. Amy picks up a dog-eared book. It’s a copy of KEN FOLLET’S “THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH”. She flips through it.

AMY

Jack’s dreamy.

The ladies all sigh.

MAYBELLE

Oh, oh! It’s time!

Maybelle picks up a remote and mutes the music. She turns up the TV. OPRAH’S THEME MUSIC plays. Jolly mans a SONY NOTEBOOK. Jo and Amy have pencils, paper, and BLACKBERRIES ready.

OPRAH (O.S.)

These are my favorite things…with a twist! Today, we’re going to learn how to have the thriftiest holiday ever!

MAYBELLE

Uh-oh…

OPRAH (O.S.)

In a time of such economic trouble and uncertainty, I can’t in good conscience give away lavish gifts. Instead I’m going to show you some do-it-yourself gift ideas for the holidays.

Jo’s cellphone rings. She answers and immediately pulls the phone from her ear. We hear…

STEFFI (O.S.)

There’s nothing under my goddamn seat! No gift basket! Nothing here!

(muted, to someone at her location)

No! No, I will NOT calm down! I didn’t ride 13 hours on a Greyhound bus for macaroni frames and hugs!

Sounds of a scuffle, coming through the phone and the TV. Then silence. Maybelle turns off the TV.

AMY

“Gratitude boxes?”

JOLLY

Great. What am I supposed to wear for the next year? This turtleneck?

JO

I love you guys.

MAYBELLE

Can it, Jo.

JO

No, I mean it. If Oprah thinks we should cut back, maybe we should. I’m still paying off my Dell 30″ Wide-Screen LCD TV.

JOLLY

That was from 2004!

JO

I know. Ricky had to take an extra shift just to keep us from losing the Taurus.

AMY

I hate Scrabble!

JOLLY

I don’t understand you guys. Just because Oprah says we should cut back, you’re going to cut back? That makes no sense. I mean, if she told you to buy something useless, would you?

MAYBELLE

You watch a lot of shows on that LG HDTV refrigerator at your place?

JOLLY

Sometimes!

JO

Look, I can’t keep up anymore. I think Oprah’s right. This year, I’m giving out handmade gifts.

AMY

Me too.

MAYBELLE

So am I. Jolly?

JOLLY

Alright. Fine. Let’s put something else on. I don’t feel like talking much right now.

Maybelle picks up the remote and clicks away. She stops and we hear…

ANNOUNCER (O.S.)

Doors open at midnight Thursday with low-low prices throughout the store. Don’t be late for the After Thanksgiving Sales Event at Wal-Mart!

The women look lustfully at the TV, and then each other.

MAYBELLE

I’ll bring the coffee. Amy, bring lawn chairs.

BLACKOUT:

Friday Night Sketch War: Horrible Holidays Edition

The battle continues apace; tonight we’re joined by a new warrior. Fresh-faced and unscathed from previous battles, will Peter Rogers kill or cower, fight or flee?

This week’s theme is brought to us by one of our legion of fans: horrible family holidays.

Next week, in honor of the orgy of food and retail shopping, the theme will be…Oprah!!!

If you want to play along, write a sketch and send a link to it to sketchwar at dreamloom.com. And be sure to come back on Friday for fun, fun, fun!

FSW: Chinatown Christmas

Blogging buddy @tjonsek suggested this week’s theme in comments: horrible family holidays. I didn’t have to reach too deep into my bag of painful, poorly suppressed memories to pull this sketch out. Still rubs me raw.

You know of course that comedy often requires painting in broad strokes and exaggerating. Comedy in real life is much more subtle because people aren’t caricatures. That’s good, right? I mean, it would *suck* if there were actually people like these in the real world. Can you imagine actually having a mother like Miriam? Can you imagine the psychic damage that would do? Can you imagine how twisted that would make someone?

Come back later for a recap with links to the other sketches and information on submitting for next week. And if you’ve got a theme you’d like to see us try out for next week, leave it in comments here, or on one of the other blogs when their sketches are up.

Chinatown Christmas

INT. CAR – DAY

The rain is pouring from the leaden sky in buckets on an unseasonably warm Christmas day. NOAH, late 20s, attentively pilots a sturdy SUV through heavy New York traffic. His father GERRY, 50s and balding, rides shotgun offering “helpful” tips. In the back sit MIRIAM, the matriarch of the ROSEN clan, looking older and feebler than her mid-50s warrant, HANNAH, Noah’s college-age sister, and in the middle, BECKY. With her perky nose, blond hair, and blue eyes, Noah’s fiancee looks as out of place as a slice of ham between two pieces of marble rye.

MIRIAM

Hop Kee is good. You liked Hop Kee last time, right Gerry?

GERRY

That’s the one with the Hot and Sour I like–

MIRIAM

–No. That’s Congee. Hop Kee’s the one where the hostess always gives you the extra shrimp roll, like I’m not supposed to know she’s flirting?

NOAH

Ma, we’re going to Wo Hop, right?

MIRIAM

Yeah, yeah. I was just saying, Hop Kee’s good too. You should ever decide to come back and visit, we could go there, nu? It’s just down the street.

NOAH

Ma, we’re visiting right now.

Miriam pats Becky on the knee.

MIRIAM

And we’re so glad the two of you are here. Aren’t we glad, Gerry?

GERRY

Yeah, sure.

(on traffic)

You want the right lane. It’s clearer. You can get around two, maybe three of these

(yelling, as though the other drivers can hear)

slowpokes!

Noah moves aggressively to the right and accelerates. He is his father’s son.

BECKY

Hannah. What are you taking next semester?

HANNAH

Sight and Sound Studio and Documentary, the Femme Fatale in the films of Roman Polanski, and Spanish.

GERRY

My little baby’s going to be a big filmmaker someday.

HANNAH

Dad…

GERRY

Going to walk down that red carpet.

HANNAH

Dad…

MIRIAM

Muriel Goldstein’s boy wanted to be in pictures. But he’s still waiting tables, waiting to be a star. Breaks poor Muriel’s heart. He could have gone to Columbia Medical School, but that wasn’t good enough for him.

NOAH

Barry Goldstein failed high school biology. Three times.

MIRIAM

I’m just saying–

HANNAH

–You’re just saying I’m going to fail, aren’t you ma?

MIRIAM

Of course not, dear. I just think you could get a law degree first, and then try with your moviemaking. Is it too much to ask that one of my babies doesn’t go hungry?

NOAH

Ma! I’m not going hungry. I’m doing just fine.

GERRY

(on traffic)

You’re taking the Cross Island?

NOAH

Yeah, that’s the way I always go.

GERRY

Well, that’s a fine way, I guess, but the Van Wyck’s faster. But you’re driving. Don’t mind me.

(beat)

The middle lane’s open.

MIRIAM

Becky!

Becky jumps. Her attempt to become invisible failed.

BECKY

Yes, ma’am?

MIRIAM

Don’t call me ma’am, dear. Just call me Miriam. Or mom. Is it too soon for that?

BECKY

No, ma’am. I mean Miriam. I mean…

GERRY

You’re spooking the poor girl, Miriam.

MIRIAM

What? I just told her to call me ‘mom’. I’m welcoming. Who’s spooking?

HANNAH

You are. I don’t even want to call you ‘mom’ most of the time.

GERRY

The turn for the Van Wyck is coming up if you change your mind.

BECKY

How much longer?

EXT. STREET – DAY

The buckets of rain have turned to barrelfuls. Gerry, Miriam, and Hannah stand under Gerry’s huge umbrella, trying to stay dry, as they talk to Noah through the window.

GERRY

You know where the garage is, right? Two blocks down and one over. You sure you don’t want me to park it?

NOAH

No, that’s alright. You three go in and get us a table. Becky and I will be back in a few.

GERRY

You want the umbrella, at least?

NOAH

Uh, it looks like it’s clearing up.

Lightning splits the sky.

INT. CAR – DAY

Noah rolls up the window and pulls from the curb.

NOAH

I figured you could use a few minutes to catch your breath before dinner.

BECKY

Thanks. How do you do it?

NOAH

What?

BECKY

Not be crazy?

INT. RESTAURANT LOBBY – DAY

There’s a small crowd at the front desk. Miriam pushes her way to the front.

MIRIAM

Excuse me? Excuse me?! Can we get some help, please?

HOSTESS

How many?

MIRIAM

Excuse me?

HOSTESS

How many in your party?

MIRIAM

Five.

HOSTESS

20 minutes.

Miriam ponders for a second and then…

MIRIAM

Come on. Let’s go to Hop Kee.

HANNAH

But Noah and Becky are expecting us to be here.

MIRIAM

We talked about both. He’s a smart boy. He’ll figure it out.

INT. RESTAURANT – DAY

Hop Kee. Noah and Becky are soaked through. Miriam, Gerry, and Hannah sit in front of many plat
es of demolished food.

NOAH

I thought we were meeting at Wo Hop?

MIRIAM

We talked about both, nu?

BLACKOUT:

Friday Night Sketch War: Autumn Edition

A two-man grapple in Sketch Stadium this week, as Coyote challenges Ken. Last week’s secret ingredient was autumn. In Battle Autumn, whose cuisine sketch reigns supreme?!

Next week’s theme, provided in comments by @tjonsek, is horrible family holidays.

If you want to play along, write a sketch and send a link to it to sketchwar at dreamloom.com. And be sure to come back on Friday for fun, fun fun. 

FSW: Leafer’s Paradise

Autumn. A wide open theme. Could have gone so many ways, that I expect we’ll get some nice variation this week. Let’s hope so! Come back later for a recap with links to the other sketches and information on submitting for next week.

And if you’ve got a theme you’d like to see us try out for next week, leave it in comments here, or on one of the other blogs when their sketches are up.

Leafer’s Paradise

EXT. RURAL ROAD – DUSK

A lone luxury sedan drives over rolling hills in the golden sunset, the millions of brightly colored autumn leaves glowing in shades of red and orange. Perfect foliage.

VANESSA (V.O.)

Oh, Marcus! It’s beautiful. You were right, this was the perfect weekend to drive up. Sorry I doubted you.

MARCUS (V.O.)

No worries, babe. I checked the almanac, the National Weather Service, and had the boys in accounting run some numbers based on the last 20 years, factoring in warming trends. I knew this would be the peak weekend.

VANESSA (V.O.)

I just wish we could have skipped work and had an extra day. But anyway, this place I booked should be perfect. The Double-A Guide gave it three coffee cups.

MARCUS (V.O.)

You mean the Triple-A Guide.

VANESSA (V.O.)

Uh-oh.

INT. HOTEL LOBBY – NIGHT

RUPERT and MAGGIE stand behind the desk. He’s in his 50s, balding, and looking rumpled-casual in a button-down shirt. She’s in her 30s and crisply turned out. The door opens and MARCUS and VANESSA stroll in with too many bags for a weekend trip. He and she are both in their 30s, decked out in the flannel, cashmere, and special boots they bought just for this weekend.

MAGGIE

Good evening, and welcome to Hearth House. Are we the Pithbottoms?

VANESSA

Yes, we are. I’m Vanessa and this is Marcus. Your inn is beautiful, really.

Maggie taps at her computer.

MAGGIE

Thank you. Let’s see, we have you for three nights, checking out Sunday morning, and you wanted to do two of our foliage tours, one tomorrow and then the special Leaves & Lakes Tour on Saturday. How fun!

RUPERT

Will you be dining in the restaurant this evening?

MARCUS

Honey?

VANESSA

Sure. Sounds good.

(to Marcus)

Doesn’t he look like Bob Newhart? You think he’s like him?

(to Rupert)

Aren’t you chilly? Maybe you should put on a cardigan?

Rupert gets this a LOT. He rolls his eyes and gives the couple a withering look.

MARCUS

Yes, yes! Now I see it.

RUPERT

Maybe later, ma’am. Right now, let’s just get you two finished with check-in.

Maggie taps a bit more, Rupert shuffles some papers.

MARCUS

(to Vanessa)

Doesn’t she remind you of that Gilman Girl?

VANESSA

(to Marcus)

Who’s that?

MARCUS

You know, Laura Gilman, from that show you like?

VANESSA

Oh you mean–

MAGGIE

–Okay, we’re almost done. Will you be keeping this on your American Express?

MARCUS

Actually, I’d like to put it on this Visa, instead.

Vanessa looks at Marcus questioningly while he hands his card to Maggie.

MARCUS (CONT’D)

(to Vanessa)

Double miles.

The wind outside kicks up. Rupert and Maggie look at each other and hurry up the process. She drops the card in her haste and both get looks of abject terror at the delay. The wind picks up more. Just as Maggie runs the card through the reader, the front door FLIES open and a mass of dead leaves blow into the lobby, propelled by a whipping wind.

MAGGIE

If I could just get you to sign here?

Maggie and Rupert look at each other with a mixture of relief and amused resignation.

VANESSA

Wow, that was some wind. Hope it doesn’t effect the leaves too much.

EXT. RURAL ROAD – DAY

A van drives through a vast wasteland. I mean, like Tunguska AFTER the event. Dead, gnarly trees as far as the eye can see beneath a leaden sky. Swirling piles of leaves gather in little eddies.

TOUR GUIDE (V.O.)

On the right, you’ll see a stand of Vermont maples, renown for their beautiful, deep red leaves in autumn.

BLACKOUT

Friday Night Sketch War: Reconciliation Edition

In the battle of the sketches, he who comes first gets trampled by those who follow. But those who follow trip on the landmines of the first. Don’t you ever forget that.

Next week’s theme, picked by me again ’cause I wasn’t smart enough to ask anyone else to do it, will be autumn. For the boys in Chicago, it might seem a bit late, but for those of us who do NOT live on the shores of the coldest lake in the universe, it seems about right.

If you want to play along, write a sketch and send a link to it to sketchwar at dreamloom.com. And be sure to come back on Friday for fun, fun fun.