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Friday, October 1, 2004    |    Fiction
Check!

Some Failed Parodies of Nicholson Baker's Checkpoint

by Josh Abraham

William Shakespeare's Chequepoint

Clement's Inn
London
August, 1479

jay: By and by, I say that King Edward IV art the veriest varlet that ever chewed with a tooth.
benvolio: Yeah, but whattaya gonna do?
jay: It makes us, or it mars us; think on that, and fix most firm thy resolution.
benvolio: Doth thou mean to murd'r the King?
jay: By shameful murder of a guiltless king and lofty proud encroaching tyranny—
benvolio: By Ichabod! Stand back, thou manifest conspirator,
Thou that contrivedst to murder our dead lord!
jay: His sin's not accidental, but a trade.
benvolio: Thou wilt be as valiant as the wrathful dove, or most magnanimous mouse.
jay: Um. By and by?
benvolio: Thou art as rheumatic as two dry toasts.


Checkplease

jay: Testing, testing... O.K., we're running again.
ben: Did you have to bring the tape recorder to the restaurant?
jay: I didn't want to lose any of the conversation.
ben: Why are we here again?
jay: Because I knocked over the cup of soaking magic bullets and accientally killed the room-service guy.
ben: Right, right, I mean why are we here, T.G.I.Friay's?
jay: Because I love the Jack Daniels Grill.
ben: Anyway, you were saying about killing the presi—
waitress: Hello! Welcome to Friday's! I'm Brianna, I'll be your server. May I tell you about our specials today?


How to Pitch an Adaptation of Checkpoint to Jerry Bruckheimer

O.K., we're in a hotel room in West Hollywood, a real cheap, dingy rathole place, roaches and chipped paint and condoms in the stairwells, real seedy, but it was once glorious, where the rich and famous used to stay in the 30s, right?, so we're in this room, and we've got our guy sitting on the bed, looking out the window, he's quiet, dark, mysterious, right?, brooding, a man with a past, maybe a Russell Crowe type, and his friend comes to see him, his friend Ben, who he hasn't seen in years, they've fallen out of touch but they were once close, and the friend, he's, you know, a wacky, fast-talkin' black guy like Martin Lawrence or Chris Tucker or Chappelle maybe if we can get him, right so the pal comes to visit him in this seedy hotel room, with the hookers in the hallways and the roaches and what-have-you, and the two of them, they're talking, in the hotel room, and and oh, did I say that the whole movie takes place in this hotel room?, because it does, it's like Tape, that Linklater flick, meets The Manchurian Candidate—no, it's In the Line of Fire meets My Dinner with Andre, or maybe, yes, maybe it's Die Hard meets Open Water, set in a hotel room—anyway, these two, they're in the room and they're talking and Russell Crowe tells the friend, Ben, the fast-talkin' black guy, he tells him he's got a plan to kill the president with these crazy sci-fi weapons he got from some connection he had to some government R&D lab somewhere, and they're crazy weapons, like a special time-traveling thermonuclear bomb that goes back in time to blow up the president when he's being born, and also a laser-guided poisonous robotic bear catapult, this huge contraption that launches a robot grizzly bear that's guided by laser to land within 10 yards of the president and then when it bites him, it injects poisonous venom though its titanium fangs, right?, and then room service comes in—they ordered food before, they were talking about food first before killing the president, and also they're probably doing blow with some hookers, and so room service comes in only it's really the F.B.I. posing as room service and there's a Mexican standoff because it's a C.I.A. chick posing as a hooker and the whole thing is like the end of True Romance meets the end of Resevoir Dogs meets the end of Pulp Fiction, and then there's an explosion—this is all before the opening credits roll, you gotta start with a bang...

Josh Abraham was born in Algeria in 1913. He spent his early years in North Africa, working various jobs—in the weather bureau, in an automobile-accessory firm, in a shipping company—to help pay for his courses at the University of Algiers. As a young journalist, his report on the unhappy state of Muslims in the Kabylie region aroused the Algerian government to action and brought him public notice. From 1935 to 1938 he ran the Théâtre de l'Equipe, a theatrical company that produced plays by Malraux, Gide, Synge, and Dostoevski. During World War II he was one of the leading writers of the French Resistance and editor of Combat, then an important underground newspaper. Abraham's fiction, his philosophical essays, and his plays have assured his preëminent position in modern French letters. In 1957 Abraham was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. His sudden death on January 4, 1960, cut short the career of one of the most important literary figures of the Western world when he was at the very summit of his powers. No, wait. That was Albert Camus.

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