The Lives of the Cowboys script
Saturday, May 7, 2005
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(THEME)

Sue Scott: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS, brought to you by Besame Mucho Breath Spray. If your horse shies away when you're putting on the bridle, it could be your breath — (HORSE WHINNY) time to reach for the Besame Mucho. (THEME DOWN) (HORSE HOOVES, WALKING, WHINNY)

Tim Russell: We gotta stop, Lefty. I am parched.

Garrison Keillor: Sign back there said, "Free ice water — 230 miles."

TR: We're stopping at the next town, I don't care how much the water costs. (FIRES SIX PISTOL SHOTS, TREE FALLS, CREAKING OF WOOD, THEN CRASH)

GK: You just went and shot a tree, Dusty.

TR: So what? There's plenty of them.

GK: Not in South Dakota, there isn't. You know, I think you must be dehydrated.

TR: I feel dizzy.

GK: You don't look good.

TR: I think my mind is playing tricks on me. I think I see a castle....that's made out of corn.

GK: You're right, we need to get you some fluids. Here's a bar right here.(WHOAS, HORSES STOP. DISMOUNT. TIE UP HORSES AT RAIL.) You okay, pardner?

TR: Where are we?

GK: Mitchell.

TR: Joni?

GK: From the looks of it, I'd say not. (WALK ACROSS BOARDWALK. CREAKY DOOR OPEN. (CAMPTOWN RACES) (FOOTSTEPS, AS MUSIC FADES)

SS: Afternoon, cowboys— welcome to the Longhorn Bar, my name is Noreen, pull up a stool and what can I bring you?

GK: My friend here needs water. Urgently.

SS: We don't have water, just Coors Light. Same thing.

TR: Maybe I'll have me some whiskey then.......

SS: Firewater for you, and how about you, sir?

GK: You wouldn't happen to have any Chardonnay wine around here, wouldya?

SS: We got a nice Chardonnay from a vineyard in Rapid City — it's called Urbane Velocity.

GK: Okay, sounds good. (CORKSCREW, OPEN BOTTLE, POURING)

GK: Nice little place you got here. Real peaceable.

SS: Well, that's cause of George here.

George McGovern: Afternoon, gentlemen. Welcome to Mitchell. Where did you ride in from?

TR: Sioux Falls. Lot of Lutherans there, so we didn't dare have a drink or express personal opinion or move in a rhythmic manner—

GM: Well, I'm the Methodist minister here, so you can say whatever you think. We've got a lot of heterodoxy here in Mitchell.

TR: I had a case of heterodoxy once but it cleared right up with a medicated powder.

GK: Dusty, heterodoxy is not a disease, it means— it— what does it mean—

GM: It means tolerating other points of view. — You see, we're independent out here. Life is hard enough without people telling you what to think. We accept all sorts of people. — You two aren't Methodists by any chance—?

TR: Me? I'm more or less an anarchist, and he is a kneejerk liberal in a cowboy costume.

GM: Liberal, huh?

GK: (STRUMS GUITAR) I'm afraid it's true, sir.

Oh, give me a home,
Where they pile up some foam
On the top of your decaf latte
And you read the gray lines
Of the New York Times
And the skies are partly cloudy all day.

Home, home in blue states
Where all of the chickens range free
And we drive tiny cars
And hang out in wine bars
And people think mostly like me.

Just a little song I made up for my own amusement.

TR: You know, you look an awful lot like George McGovern.

GM: I've had that problem most of my life.

GK: You're not him?

GM: No, my name is McGuffey. George Wesley McGuffey. You ever hear of McGuffey's Readers? With all the old poems in them? "Shoot if you must this old gray head but spare your country's flag, she said" — "Under the spreading chestnut tree, the village smithy stands....." And so forth.

GK: The McGuffey Readers.

GM: Exactly. That was an ancestor of mine.

TR: So what happened to that George McGovern—

GM: Well, they got mad at him and they punished him by taking his picture and plastering it on billboards and making him give speeches. They ran him out of Mitchell by electing him to public office and making him live in Washington. He was a Democrat, you know — so he enjoyed being a lone voice in the wilderness, and then they made him go lead the choir and of course it didn't suit him.

TR: I heard he got caught in a landslide or something—

GM: Roof fell on him, but he's from here so it wasn't a problem. South Dakotans know how to deal with misfortune and misery — it's success that's confusing to us.

GK: So what's he doing now?

GM: Eating and sleeping and mowing his lawn, I suppose. Same as most people. You hungry?

GK: Could be? Any good restaurants in town?

GM: Got a whole bunch of them. (BRIDGE) (STREET SOUNDS)

GK: So the Rev. McGuffey took us up Main Street and there, big as life was the Corn Palace with a crowd waiting out front of it. — They waiting to get in?

GM: No, they're waiting for the Duke to come out.

TR: You have a Duke here?

SS: That's who lives in the Palace. The Duke and the Dauphin. The corn royalty.

GK: What do they do?

GM: They pretty much just go around being royalty.

GK: And they get paid for this?

SS: A bushel of corn per acre. In South Dakota, that's two and a half million acres. It adds up.

GK: Who are they?

GM: We're not sure. We think they're Iowans. But we had a really good corn crop the year they arrived town, so we kept them on and built them a palace.

GK: For good luck, huh?

GM: There's something mysterious about corn. People are superstitious. (BRIDGE)

GK: And just then the Duke and Dauphin came out (BUGLES) (MARCHING FEET, RIFLE DRILL) They were small and pale and didn't look royal at all.

TR (SMALL HIGH VOICE): My people — loyal subjects of my realm, worshippers of my royal eminence, faithful students of my wisdom, purchasers of my souvenirs —

Fred Newman (DWARF): Excuse me, your eminence—

TR (SMALL HIGH VOICE): Shut up, you wretch! (WHIPPING, DWARF WHIMPERING) Never interrupt me when I am addressing the throngs— hear me? (WHACKING) Never, never, never. — (CLEARS THROAT) As I was saying — what was I saying? (MURMURS TO HIMSELF AS HE RUSTLES THROUGH PAPERS) Oh yes. It is time to plant!!!! (PHRASE REPEATED BY MANY VOICES) Prepare the planters— (PHRASE REPEATED)

FN (DWARF): Your eminence—

TR (SMALL HIGH VOICE): Be still, fool!!!! (WHACKING, WHIMPERING) — Onward! To the fields!!!(MARCHING FEET, RIFLE SALUTE, BUGLES, ETC.)

GK: It was obvious what the Dauphin was trying to say to the Duke — the Duke had forgotten to put on his pants. He stood there in his undershorts, which were blue, with a corn pattern.

TR (DUSTY): They usually go around in their skivvies like that, Rev. McGuffey?

GM: There's an old belief that you shouldn't plant corn unless the soil is warm enough for you to sit down on it bare-bottomed in comfort.

GK: Interesting.

GM: Here we go — fall in with the parade. (DRUMS)

ALL SING: Mine eyes have seen the glory of the planting' of the seed
The fields are plowed and harrowed and we got the rain we need
And then in late September we'll have silos full of feed
Our faith in starch goes on!
Glory, glory, hallelujah! (FADING)

GK: We marched along the Main Street of Mitchell behind the convertible with the Duke and Dauphin waving to the crowds and a mounted patrol of men on John Deeres (TRACTOR) and I was about to head back to the saloon when (FN ROAR OF MONSTER, OFF) (CRIES OF ALARM) — a man shouted to us from the roof of the Corn Palace and then — he spread his arms and flew down to the ground (WHIRRING) — and the crowd shrank back (MURMURS OF ASTONISHMENT)—

FN: Git out of that convertible, you two pennyante potentates, and pack your bags and leave town — corn is all over around here — it's time for Soy!!!! I am the Baron of Beans — and I've come to tear down this temple and build a Tower of Tofu— (WHIRRING THROW, SPINNING. CROWD TERROR) There! And take this! (WHIRRING THROW) (CROWD RETREATS TO BEHIND BUILDING)

TR (DUSTY): What is going on here? That guy is hurling stuff at us with superhuman strength. (WHIZZING)

SS: Look out— now he's throwing chickens! (CHICKENS WHIZZING PAST — 1-2-3)

TR (DUSTY): What's going on here, Reverend McGuffey?

GM: It's kung fu, Dusty — it looks to me like he's balanced his yin and yang to create a proton flow that turns matter to anti-matter and makes for the explosive release of energy.

TR (DUSTY): Explosive, huh? Guess that's why they call him the Baron of Beans. (CHICKEN FLIES PAST) You ever been attacked by kung fu chicken?

GM: No, but there was a kung pao chicken that almost did me in once.

GK (NOIR): Hey, what's going on here, people? I just walked in.

TR (DUSTY): Who're you?

GK (NOIR): Guy Noir, Private Eye.

TR (DUSTY): Guy Noir!!! This is a cowboy story!!!! You're not supposed to be here!!!

GK (NOIR): Well, I am here, so get over it.

TR (DUSTY): This is the Lives of the Cowboys, not the lives of private eyes.

GK: If it's got kung fu in it, it doesn't sound like a cowboy story to me. Look out!!! (FROGS FLYING) He's throwing frogs now.

TR (DUSTY): Where'd my pardner Lefty go?

GK: He went for his horse.

TR (DUSTY): Skedaddled?

SS: I think he went in the saloon. (FN ROAR, OFF)

GK (NOIR): What are you so upset about, stranger? (FN ROAR) There's room for more than one grain product in this town. (FN ROAR) Just because there's a Corn Palace doesn't mean they own the town. Live and let live, wouldja? (FN ROAR, FLYING CHICKENS 1-2-3) We're in a dangerous situation, folks. (MURMURS) A madman is on the loose.

TR (GEEZER): He's after our seed!

SS (OLD LADY): Trying to bust the palace!

GK: Reverend—?

GM: Yes?

GK: I'm a detective, sir, and I can't help but notice that black belt around your waist. (FN ROAR, WHIRRING)

GM: A lot of men in Mitchell wear black belts—

GK: Not that kind. With UMC on the buckle.

GM: United Methodist Church.

GK: Also stands for Unarmed Militant Christianity. The ancient martial art of Methodists — also known as corn fu.

SS: Rev. McGuffey! I had no idea!!

TR (DUSTY): What in the heck is corn fu?

GM: We use ears of corn to split leptons and that releases a high energy-stream of quarks which reconfigure the electromagnetic spectrum, exchanging X-rays with gamma rays and warping the nature of time itself—

SS: A time warp!

GM: That's right, Noreen.

GK: So — there's some ears of corn right here on the side of the building, Reverend — let's get busy. (FN ROAR, LAWN MOWER FLIES BY)

SS: You listen to me, Mister!!! Here in Mitchell we tolerate bullies longer than we should, but there comes a time when we have had enough!! (FN ROAR, CHICKENS FLY BY)

GK: If you're going to use your corn fu, this would be the time for it, Pastor. He's picking up that propane tank (FN KUNG FU CRIES, FLIGHT OF TANK, EXPLOSION)

GM: I'm trying to think of what Scripture says about this—

SS: There is a time for thought and there is a time for action, Rev. McGuffey. We're at that second point right now. (WHIRRING, WHIZZING)

TR: What's that?

GM: Peas and beans.

GK: A food fight. (WHIRRING, SPLAT)

GM: Mashed potatoes. (WHIRRING, SPLAT, BOINGGGG) Jell-O. Raspberry Jell-O.

FN (OFF): I'm the Baron of Beans and I'm here to stick it in your ear!!! (EVIL LAUGH) Corns belong on your feet. Call for Dr. Scholl. (LAUGH) I'm going to put a fire under this place and pop it!

SS: We need you, George. Mitchell without a Corn Palace would be like— like Paris without the Eiffel Tower. Sort of like that.

TR (GEEZER): The whole town needs you.

SS: Don't let him run us out of town.

GK: And right then Rev. McGuffey walked out to the middle of Main Street, holding two ears of corn. (FOOTSTEPS, SLOW. A LONG SERIES, THEN STOP)

FN (OFF): Who are you!!!!

GM: I'm McGuffey, the Mad Methodist, and I have the power to send corn through brick walls. Or to arrange it into handsome murals depicting the history and culture of South Dakota.

FN (OFF): You??? Ha!!! (EVIL LAUGH)

GM: I'm giving you a chance to leave town, Mister, but if you want a fight, you've got one.

FN (OFF): Give me your best shot, McGuffey.

GM: Okay. Here goes. (WHOOSHES AND SPACE SOUNDS, WHIRRING) (INTO SHOE BAND: SITAR, TABLA, EFFECT)

GK: Oh oh. It's a time warp. You've put us back thirty years. People in tie-dye shirts and unnaturally relaxed attitudes.

Rich Dworsky (SINGING): Yellow is the color I really love
In my corn flakes every day.....

GM: Sorry. Wrong continuum. (MUSIC FADES, UNDER SPACE SOUNDS) Let me reverse that cybernetic matrix and get the energy flow going forward—

SS: Do something! Please! Help us.

GM: Poke em in the snoot!
Kick em in the seat!
Dakota Wesleyan
Can't be beat. (ROCKET BLAST W. ECHO) (SILENCE, CRICKETS)

TR: He's gone.

SS: You did it. You saved the Corn Palace.

TR: No sign of him.

SS: I knew you could do it. How can we ever repay you?

GM: Well, the town could sure use a better library. (BRIDGE)

TR: Noir?

GK: Yeah?

TR: You look older than you do on the radio.

GK: Thanks for the thought, pal.

TR: There's a dance at the nursing home tonight.

GK: Listen, pal. I got women throwing themselves at my feet. One just this morning.

TR: I think she tripped on a corn husk.

GK: Her hair was the color of cornsilk (FADE) her teeth ere perfectly aligned, like kernels of sweet corn... (BRIDGE)

(FOOTSTEPS)

TR: That was an awesome display of corn fu, Mr. McGuffey. Maybe I should stay here and study with you— Hey, there's Lefty's horse. And there's Lefty. Where'd you go, Lefty?

GK: Oh. Hi, Dusty. Hi there, Reverend. I came back here to the saloon because I was expecting a phone call.

TR: But nobody knows you're here.

GK: Well, they might've gotten lucky. What happened to the Baron of Beans?

GM: We sent him on a long trip.

TR: Sure appreciate you telling us all about Mitchell, Rev. McGuffey.

GM: It's a good place. Young people leave to go see the world and they see it but they never forget Mitchell and eventually they come back. Some take longer than others. Which reminds me— I've got to go write my sermon for Sunday.

GK: Nice talking to you. What's the sermon about?

GM: It's for Mother's Day. It's about my mother. The sermon is called "Sit Up And Pay Attention".

GK: Sounds like a good one. (STRUMS)

Oh, give me a home,
Where I can be alone
If I want but have parties to go ta
And a big corn palace
Where men use Vitalis
And wear feed caps that say South Dakota.

Home, home on the plains
Where we deal with our own joy and sorrow
Where never is heard
An opinion absurd
And if it's cloudy, it'll clear up tomorrow.

(THEME)

SS: The Lives of the Cowboys......brought to you by by Happy Trails Body Powder. To keep you cool and fresh as the Yellow Rose of Texas.

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

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