Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Coffee And A McGuffin

Spice up your life with fresh-from-the-oven plot devices to go
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There are a thousand stories in this city, but sometimes it feels like not one of them is yours; you're just a bit-player in someone else's drama, a walk-on with one line, an annotation in the margins. Maybe someone else is bogarting the action; maybe not. But you step outside your Film Noir Home and you find the streets are mean, the people even meaner. There's a reason that they call this 'downtown'.

So you've spent the night drinking in every gin-joint in town, you've smoked your way through till dawn, and now you're looking for a coffee. Well, actually, you're looking for a whole lot more, but right now you'll settle for a coffee... maybe a chocolate croissant to go with it. There you see it, across the street, the new place just opened: The Canadian McGuffin Company. The menu looks interesting. You got your usual suspects - lattes and the likes, mochaberry, cappucinnos, frappucinnos, de-caff, half-caff, espresso, ristretto, and good, old, plain, black java. But when you ask for a muffin to go with it, Java-Jockey Joe looks at you like you've lost the plot. You don't know it yet, but actually you just found it.

Nossir, he explains. There's no muffins here, just 'McGuffins'. "What's that?", you ask. Well, a McGuffin, he explains, is the term that writers use for (often spurious) plot devices thrown into a story for the action to turn around - a Maltese Falcon or a Canada Goose, a Lost Treasure, a Secret Formula or a groundbreaking invention. Whatever it is you can bet your life it spells 'trouble' with a capital 'T' for anyone that gets mixed up with it. So they got a ready supply of McGuffins, you ask this java-jockey. Freshly baked every day, he says. Just got these here GyroBrolly blueprints in this morning. Guaranteed to get the forces of the Umbrella Industry sending paid hitmen to kill you. Or there's the HalfBakery Popularity Formula. Or the Salt-Dispensing Snow-Shoes. Or the Elvis-Kennedy Tapes. Or the Secret Identity of El Pedanto. Any one of these is bound to make your life a little more interesting - dangerous, maybe, but definitely interesting.

Well, you say, gimme a plain black coffee, medium, and a Flocking Road Cone Schematic to go.

And that's when your life gets interesting...

NB. Originally this was going to be a cafe where hack writers could purchase fresh and tasty - but fictive - plot devices with their java. But I prefer the idea of being able to buy a real-world 'McGuffin' replete with bad guys just to make your own life a little more interesting. Surely not too hard to accomplish with just a teensy bit of albeit illegal espionage and intrigue.

Guy Fox, Dec 17 2001

The Game http://us.imdb.com/Title?0119174
Same plot, different device. [phoenix, Dec 17 2001, last modified Oct 17 2004]

[link]






       Matches you up with an organised crime kingpin who's your spitting image. Employs groups of women in light, floaty dresses standing in the rain by busy roads at midnight. Mysterious suitcases you must on no account open. Shady conmen asking about the "process". Someone shoots your partner. Fill up my hip flask and scrunch the brim of my hat. Crop-sprayers cost extra.
pottedstu, Dec 17 2001
  

       McDonalds will sue you for trademark infringement. (Writers aren't in the food-service business.)
bookworm, Dec 17 2001
  

       Real-life desperados could also offload some of their more exciting problems through the cafe to bored millionaire executives who are after a bit of adrenaline.
stupop, Dec 17 2001
  

       Because of the word 'McGuffin', [bookworm]? I think the estate of Alfred Hitchcock might have something to say about that. (I believe it was Hitchcock that coined the term; it's certainly been common in writer's parlance for decades.)
Guy Fox, Dec 17 2001
  

       Also beacause of the word McGuffin, i don't think it will really take off in Scotland, since the word 'guff' means a bad smell, normally associated with flatulance.
[ sctld ], Dec 17 2001
  

       "You look like you're in trouble."
"Why?"
"Because you don't look like it."
  

       (Out of the Past)
pottedstu, Dec 17 2001
  

       "Mccoppins?" queried the puzzled McGuffins clerk, "Oh, you're in the wrong place; we're just off the lane, you see, and they're -- dare I say it -- fairly obvious as you get closer." After I'd plumbed the dupe like a conjugal visit, I made away for Mccoppin's parts. If that coffeehouse hopsing knew what I was about to do he never let on. Fat chance that! A customer that cool wouldn't feel it if he missed his last birthday.
reensure, Dec 18 2001
  

       Look, I can't talk right now. I think they're on to me. You'll find my vote in the lost property office at the main railway terminus in locker no.42. You'll find an envelope in there addressed to Mr Black. And remember, if anyone asks, you haven't seen me.
DrBob, Dec 19 2001
  

       so you buy yourselfinto an interesting story arc?
Arcanus, Mar 11 2010
  

       I'd like the dark roast and the Arc of the Covenant to go, please!
mwburden, Mar 14 2010
  

       Does it come with complementary life insurance and custard?
xxobot, Mar 15 2010
  

       a walk-on with one line, an annotation in the margins,
popbottle, Feb 27 2015
  

       Among the better cafes. Bun. Also admire this in particular: " There's a reason that they call this 'downtown'."
DadManWalking, Feb 28 2015
  
      
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