ERNIUS: Gleaming the Cube. It's on Cineview at nine.
BERTUS: Ahh, Gleaming the Cube. Gay title from the 80-90s? Or gayest title? "Jobbing the rim" sounds no better or worse to me.
ERNIUS: Not a good title for sure. Especially since it was about skateboarding.
BERTUS [hoists a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon]: Here's not to skateboard tribute movies. How do you spell "full body shudder"?
ERNIUS [purses lips and hoists matching can]:
BERTUS: I saw Taken and wanted to write a dissertation in film studies about how Chinese take out boxes are deployed in modern films. Since they are the only prominent prop in the first shot we have of Liam Neeson.
ERNIUS [hoists his Pabst again]: Segue alert!
BERTUS: And now I wonder how "gleaming" has been used. Well… not really. It's the Pabst talking.
ERNIUS [hoists his Pabst a third time, drones]: Here's to using the gleam!
BERTUS: The former, really. What's the deal with Chinese take out boxes? Should I call the NAACP?
ERNIUS: An intriguing premise. [He looks down at his Pabst without moving his head. Sadness blooms across his face.]
BERTUS: "Chinese take out boxes are the quintessential 'pathetic bachelor about to face dramatic challenge' trope." Reactions? Examples? Rebuttals? Pabst?
ERNIUS: As is spoiled milk in the carton… that pours out lumpy. Haphazardly arranged in the fridge next to the take out box.
BERTUS: Ahh, wisdom. Primal imagery.
[They both raise empty cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, crossing arms at the elbow.]
BERTUS: One tired eye glaring at the alarm clock is also pretty good. The mighty morning hand slamming down on Old Man Time, futile, flaccid. Snooze!
ERNIUS: Here's to snoozing against fate! [Pabst finds its way heavenward.]
BERTUS: Wow, yeah, Chinese take out and curdled milk. A terrible duo of pitiful bachelorhood, but rife with potential for our pathetic hero!
ERNIUS: Potential disease, maybe.
BERTUS: I want a short film about a bachelor so effed up that he pours his milk and stale Chinese food tumbles out, then dejec–– de-jec-ted-ly goes to scoop his Chinese take out and comes up with curdles.
BERTUS: And then he wakes up to a shrill alarm clock, the one eye glare, and he is someone else.
ERNIUS: Zing! Go on….
BERTUS: But he finds the dream so depressing and true to what he actually is, that he goes to buy a gun. Pulls out cash at the pawn shop. [He gulps at an empty can of Pabst.] And it is Monopoly money.
ERNIUS: You're a bastard. Let me get some Pabst.
BERTUS: Finally he purchases a gun. Takes it home. … Are you listening?
ERNIUS: Dude, I'm getting Pabst. I'm not deaf!
BERTUS: So our man fires his new, well, new used gun up into his head at his throat and…
BERTUS: And it is just a "BANG!" gun.
ERNIUS: I repeat: You're a bastard in the skin of a man.
BERTUS: So he goes out to eat. Orders Chinese food.
ERNIUS: Take out?
BERTUS: Nope. Eats it in the store.
ERNIUS: His act of heroism?
BERTUS: He finds it actually palatable, really tasty, and decides his life is not bad after all.
ERNIUS: Here's to Pabst! And Chinese food, take out or not.
BERTUS [accepts a cold can of Pabst Blue Ribbon]: The awesome thing is that we could actually make that.
ERNIUS [swallows a mouthful of Pabst and juts out his tongue]: Chinese food?
BERTUS: No, I mean this short film. You or I could be his dream self.
ERNIUS: And I or you could be his waking self.
BERTUS: With the assist. [They tap their cans of Pabst together.] You know, Pabst won a blue ribbon.
ERNIUS: Yes, in 1892, I think.
BERTUS: Props to blue ribbons! [They tap their cans of Pabst together.]
ERNIUS: I think the ultimate absurdist comic ending would be that, as he walks out of Chinee Takee Outee, his dream self lingers behind him, a hired assassin become incarnate, and stalks behind him for the kill shot. Then, fade to black. Chinese Take 'im Out!
BERTUS: Now who's the bastard, you bastard? But it's brilliant!
ERNIUS: And for a final shot: his gravestone is a giant Chinese take out box.
BERTUS: A moment of silence. … And then more Pabst.