Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Caffeinated Inc. Episode 02: What's in a Name?

Caffeinated Inc. (pronounced fully - "Caffeinated Incorporated") was the Gathering's weekly sitcom in the first two years of our existence. To that end, these scripts predate the Year of the Rabbit I'm celebrating here, but are indicative of the sort of approaches the Gathering took toward expressing the Christian faith. They also formed the basis for my blogged novel, Magik Beans. I was the primary writer, but the characters and sometimes dialogue took shape in a improv-to-script approach I shared with co-stars Blaine Kehl and Marcia Hamm.  I'll be posting all of our initial seven episodes in subsequent updates.


(SCENE opens on CARL working on the accounts for the shop, and ALAN eating potato chips, reading a book.  There are a few people at a nearby table.)

CARL:  Quit that.

ALAN:  Quit what?

CARL:  Quit chewing so loud.

ALAN:  I’m just chewing.  I’ve got my mouth closed. . .

CARL: Well it’s really loud, and its annoying me.

(ALAN nods and tries to chew slower, which only increases the length of the crunch.)

CARL:  You’re doing it again!

ALAN:  Well I have to chew! 

CARL:  Can’t you just put it in your mouth and let it dissolve?

ALAN:  Okay, I’ll try.

(Puts a chip in his mouth and makes sucking noises.)

CARL:  For the love of God. . . !

(Walks over, takes the chips, smashes them against the counter,  pulls out a blender, tosses the chips in, pours in ALAN’S latte and frappes the whole mess, pours it into a cup and hands it back to ALAN.)

ALAN:  Thanks.  Could I get a straw?

(CARL glares at him.  ALAN shrugs his shoulder and begins spooning the mixture into his mouth contentedly.  CARL returns to doing the accounts.)

ALAN:  How come you’re so tremulous today?

CARL:  How come I’m so WHAT?

ALAN:  Tremulous. . . agitated.  Pissed off. . . you know.

CARL:  Well why don’t you just say pissed off?

ALAN:  Because it makes some people tremulous if you say pissed off.

CARL:  Well it pisses me off when you say tremulous!

ALAN:  No, you were already tremulous when I noticed you were pissed off.

CARL:  Well you’d be tremulous too if you had to do the accounts for this place!

ALAN:  When does Sarah get back?

CARL:  Not soon enough.  I mean, she volunteers to do this, and then takes off to see her parents, so I still end up doing it.

ALAN:  Well, I’m holding to my pledge of support.  This is my fifth latte today.

CARL:  Yeah, I know.

ALAN:  Makes me jumpy. . . I get home after hanging out here with you, and I’m all ebullient.  Maybe I should switch to decaf.

CARL:  Ebullient?

ALAN:  Excited, effervescent, uh. . . spazzing out.  You should read more

CARL:  Whatever.  And why don’t you just drink tea?

ALAN: Oliver Wendell Holmes said that  “The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce.”  I need that stimulation.

CARL:  That’s a matter of opinion.

(JASMINE enters, carrying a portfolio.)

JASMINE:  I’m looking for uh. . . a Carl?

CARL:  That would be me.  You must be Jasmine.

JASMINE:  Yep.  (Pulls out sketches from her portfolio and places them on the counter.)  Here they are.

ALAN:  (Looks at papers on the counter.)  What are these?

CARL:  Those?  Sketches for a logo for the store.  You did quite a few.

JASMINE:  I took a few liberties with some ideas and thoughts I had. . . Once I get going, you know, I just. . . create.

ALAN:  (reading) “Coffee Shop.”  That’s great. 

JASMINE:  Yeah, if you’re Superstore.  (to CARL) I was thinking.  You really ought to rename the place.

CARL:  What’s wrong with the name it has?

JASMINE:  “Coffee shop?”  It’s pretty generic.  Here on Whyte, you’ve got to have a catchy, trendy name or you won’t last long.

CARL:  It worked for Peter.

ALAN:  Yeah, it seems wrong to change the name, what with Peter leaving Carl the shop in his will.

JASMINE:  Oh, I didn’t know this was a family business. . .

CARL: It’s not.  The shop was left to me by my former boss when he was shot in a drive by.

JASMINE:  That’s this shop?  Talk about negative energy!  Have you ever thought about having someone do a Feng Shui reading for the place?

CARL:  (sarcastic) Oh, yeah, sure. . . he’ll be by later today.

ALAN:  Really?  I’ve always wanted to find out more about that stuff. . .

CARL:  You’re making me tremulous again.  Can we focus on the sketches?

JASMINE:  Sure.  Go ahead, take a look.  Don’t look too hard though.  The one that grabs your attention right away, that’s the one that reflects you.

CARL:  Shouldn’t it be the one I think will catch people’s attention best?

JASMINE: (A little hurt)  They will ALL catch attention.  That was my job, to create catchy designs.  Your job is to figure out which image best reflects you.

ALAN:  Yeah. . . like Antoine de Saint-Exupery said in ‘Flight to Arras.”  “We say nothing essential about the cathedral when we speak of its stones. We say nothing essential about Man when we seek to define him by the qualities of men.”

CARL:  Fantastic.  Write it on the board.

ALAN:  Considering your mood, why don’t you call it “Pissed Off Coffee Stop?”

CARL:  No, maybe I could call it “Murderous Crazy Man!”

ALAN:  But that has nothing to do with the shop. . . How about Grabba Java?

CARL:  How about “come visit me in jail?”

ALAN:  Oh yeah.  (pause) It doesn’t necessarily have to do with coffee you know.  Look at Starbuck’s.  I thought it was going to be a Dirk Benedict theme store.  You know, Battlestar Galactica memorabilia.  What a let down.  Mind you, they had a nice bookstore attached.  That’s what you need, is a bookstore in here.

CARL:  (mock agreement) Yeah, and then you’d be in here all day. No, I want it to be plain that it has to do with coffee.  I mean, the name of a store should reflect the product sold.  Especially when you’re an independent establishment.  If we were a franchise like Starbuck’s, I could call the store Murderous Crazy Man and people would come.

JASMINE:  Well, what are coffee words?  

ALAN:  Beans. . .Mr Bean, Mr. Potato Head, No. . . Uh, Brew, Brew Crew, Brew for You, Uh. . . Stews and Brews, Punky Brewster. . . Klatsch Act,  um, Perc. . . Central Perc, (CARL glares at him on this one) Perculation Station, there’s No Limitations to our Perculations,

CARL:  That’s a little long.

ALAN:  I was thinking of it more as a mission statement.

JASMINE:  Focus.

ALAN:  Right.  Salutations and Perculations. . .

CARL: Too Charlotte’s web.

ALAN:  What?

JASMINE: That’s what the spider always said.  You should read more.

(CARL snickers)

ALAN:  Okay, how about Perculation Stimulation?

CARL:  Would I write that before, or after, the triple X’s?

ALAN:  Picky. . . how about “the Frisky Goat?”


ALAN:  According to legend, coffee was discovered by an Arab goatherd in east Africa who noticed that his goats became frisky after chewing the berries from certain wild bushes. You should read more.

CARL:  Frisky goats eh?  That guy had too much time on his hands.

ALAN:  I wonder how you can tell if a goat was frisky?

CARL:  I don’t know. . . none of this is quite right.  It should be catchy, but not too catchy.  Trendy but not Spice Girls trendy.   Something to do with coffee, but not. . . I don’t know.  

ALAN:  Well, I feel the need to be caffeinated. . . another latte?

JASMINE:  Caffeinated. . . hold it.  Caffeinated, limited. . . Caffeinated. . . I really like that. . . Caffienated

ALAN: . . .and Constipated. . . (They look at him, incredulous.)  What?  Coffee will do that.

JASMINE:  No! (goes back to brainstorming) Caffienated Infatuated?  Caffienated. . .

CARL:  Incorporated!

JASMINE:  (Goes to the Logos with a black jiffy marker.)  “Caffienated, Inc.”

CARL:  “Caffienated Inc.” Feels right. . . feels ‘me.’

ALAN:  Isn’t there a Soul Asylum song by that title?

CARL:  No, that’s “Frustrated Incorporated.”

ALAN:  That would reflect you better. 

CARL:  Caffienated Inc. . .

ALAN:  Well, it will always be “the Frisky Goat” to me.  Can I get that latte?

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