Virtue script
Saturday, December 31, 2005
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Garrison Keillor: It's New Year's Eve, a day when we pause for a moment to think back over the year, and to summon our resolve to do better in 2006, which is perhaps more meaningful to us who know what is better and what's worse, unlike those of you who are younger and always were given the best, who grew up in the lap of luxury, your every whim catered to by your weak-kneed liberal parents—

Sue Scott (MOM, EARNEST, UPBEAT): Chipper? Daddy and I are soooo happy that you didn't flunk math that we're sending you to France for the month of January! Won't that be fun?

Tim Russell (SULLEN YOUTH): What part? I hope not Provence. I hate that.

SS (MOM): But Provence is where our chalet is.

TR (SULLEN): I know that. Gosh. You think I'm dumb??? Hello, Earth paging Mom. Come in, please.

SS (MOM): What's wrong with Provence???

TR (SULLEN): It's boring. Nothing to see but views. Why can't I go to Paris? Someplace cool? All my friends are going to Tashkent and Tokyo!!

GK: That was the upbringing of you kids in your twenties. A whole other world from how I grew up.

TR: (SWEDISH COMMAND, COW MOO. DOG BARK. CHICKEN FLURRY)

GK: A sod hut outside Jamestown, North Dakota. The radio our only amusement. (VIOLIN, JACK BENNY THEME) A radio that was powered by me pedaling on a bicycle frame (PEDALING) with the chain turning the generator so when I slowed down (VIOLIN PLAYS FLAT) —

SS (FARMWIFE): You're sloughing off again, son!

GK: So I'd pedal harder (PEDALING INCREASES, AND VIOLIN GOES SHARP) —

TR: (YELLS IN SWEDISH)

SS (FARMWIFE): Slow down, for crying out loud! (BRIDGE)

GK: That was my upbringing, and I don't resent the fact that you people had it easier. I am okay with that. You didn't choose to be born to a life of luxury and indulgence, that's just how it happened.

TR (SULLEN): Do we have to have beef brochettes every night?? Criminy.

SS (MOM): What would you rather have, darling?

TR (SULLEN): Something else. I don't care—

SS (MOM): I can have Andre fix you a stuffed chicken breast—

TR (SULLEN): Stuffed with what????

SS (MOM): Shrimp?

TR (SULLEN): I loathe shrimp. (BRIDGE)

GK: I never had shrimp until I was 21. I was a Marine Corps private stationed at Da Nang and my sergeant gave it to me— (DISTANT GUNFIRE, ARTILLERY)

TR (JOHN WAYNE): We're going over the top tomorrow, son, and before we do, I just thought you ought to know what grilled shrimp tastes like.

GK: Yes, sir.

TR (JOHN WAYNE): Grilled shrimp and a tossed salad.

GK: A tossed salad, sir?

TR (JOHN WAYNE): You've never had tossed salad, have you, son—

GK: I read about it though. I've seen pictures in magazines.

TR (JOHN WAYNE): Tonight you're going to have tossed salad. And a dry Chardonnay.

GK: Chardonnay! (CLOSER ARTILLERY) I never got to enjoy that bottle of Chardonnay because just as I was opening it — (CORKSCREW) a Viet Cong bullet blew it away. (RICHOCHET, BOTTLE BURST) That bottle of wine saved my life and I never forgot it. (BRIDGE) Every time I have a glass of Chardonnay, I burst into tears, thinking of that day forty years ago. For most of you, a glass of Chardonnay is as ordinary as Kleenex but for me, it means everything.

GK: We wish each other a Happy New Year, though of course for many of you younger people, it's always been a Happy New Year, because your parents waited on you hand and foot and you were never allowed to experience any sort of shortage or privation.

TR: Supper's all ready, Megan. Come, darling.

SS (TEEN): I'm busy listening to music!

TR: You can bring your iPod with you, darling. And your laptop. We just want you at the table. You won't have to converse or anything.

SS (TEEN): Oh….Okay. What's for supper?

TR: Our fish special today will be a halibut filet……

SS (TEEN): I'm vegan! You know that!!!

TR: Our vegan special today will be a root vegetable medley tossed in a yogurt/cardamom froth with gluten-free croutons drizzled with a smoked tofu emulsion. \

SS (TEEN): Why don't we ever have watercress???

TR: I'll send right out for some, darling. (BRIDGE)

GK: That was your upbringing and mine was quite different.

SS: (OLDER) Okay, you kids, listen. We're having chow mein tonight and I know it's your favorite but your uncle Bud and aunt Wilma and the kids are dropping in for supper — unexpected — I just found out now, and I only made one recipe, so you're going to have to take small helpings. Real small.

GK: That's fine, Mother. We understand.

SS (OLDER): Just the noodles, okay? None of the chow mein.

GK: Okay, Mother.

SS (OLDER): And even so, I'm going to have to send one of you over to the neighbors for supper. You go, Carson. You're the neediest looking—

GK: Okay, mom.

SS (OLDER): The Andersons eat around 5:30 so you go knock on their door and if they don't invite you in, try the Sundbergs. Look hungry.

GK: What should I say?

SS (OLDER): Say — "I'm sorry to bother you but would you happen to have an extra sandwich that nobody else is going to eat?"

GK: This sort of upbringing makes a person grateful for life's good things. You don't grow up like that and become a demanding narcissistic person. Not that you younger people are narcissists, some of you are just fine, despite the fact that your weak-kneed progressive parents were at your beck and call day and night —

TR: I made this salad dressing especially for you, Megan, with organic sesame seeds and a double virgin olive oil and the lettuce is arugula picked fresh in Marin County by liberal arts graduates wearing all-cotton clothing.

GK: My parents weren't like that.

SS: (OLDER) We got French or ranch.

GK: We didn't have creamy vinaigrette dressing in our home. We didn't even know it existed.

SS: (OLDER) We got French or ranch.

GK: I read novels in which salads were tossed with vinegar and olive oil but I thought it was fiction.

SS: (OLDER) We got your French. Or we got your ranch.

GK: I thought tossed salads were the result of vomiting. Our idea of a green vegetable was lime jello. Because— I'm not sure if I ever mentioned this — I grew up in a little sod house, in a family of sharecroppers, milking the cows (MOOS) morning and evening and feeding the pigs (PIG) and collecting the eggs (HENS) and listening to Father read from the Old Testament (SWEDISH), usually something about suffering and the plagues, so for me to be able to come to a theater and watch a big band play jazz music, to me this is a great privilege and a pleasure. Understanding that for you, it's not the same, because you grew up over in the western suburbs, Wayzata, Minnetonka, Edina, where children didn't have to work at all.

SS (MOM): It's noon, Trent. Time to get up and I'll have James drive you downtown.

TR (SULLEN): Why do I have to get up now?

SS (MOM): Daddy arranged this summer job for you, honey, down at the brokerage firm. You're supposed to be there before your lunch break.

TR (SULLEN): I hate going down there. It's so boring.

SS (MOM): You can come home as soon as lunch is over.

TR (SULLEN): Do I have to wear a white shirt?

SS (MOM): Daddy would like it if you did…..

TR (SULLEN): I hate white shirts and suits.

SS (MOM): It's only for two weeks until we go to Jamaica.

TR (SULLEN): Not that again. Jamaica!!! I hate Jamaica!!! Everybody I know is going to Marakesh!! (BRIDGE)

GK: Quite different from growing up working on the farm (TRACTOR) driving that tractor across the fields in the hot sun and picking up hay bales and heaving them up on the hayrack (HE GRUNTS AND HEAVES) and when the duststorm rolled in and blew away the farm I hopped a freight (WHISTLE, TRAIN ACCEL) and that's how I met Woody Guthrie— (TR WOODY: This land is my land, this land is your land, From Minnesota to New Orleans, From Staten Island to San Mateo, Day-O, Day-a-a-O, Daylight come and me want to go home) and we rode in that boxcar out west to California — along with Woody Allen (TR WOODY A: If I see a sign that says delicatessen, I'm going to jump.) and Tiger Wood (GOLF SWING, KONK, FLIGHT OF BALL, OOOOHHH OF CROWD) and Natalie Wood (SS SINGS: There's a place for us, a time and place for us) and the painter Grant Wood (

TR: What's wrong with painting trees that are perfectly round!) and George H.W. Bush (TR BUSH: Boy, this whole hobo type of thing — this freight-train riding — the experience of it — it's so energizing.) and Gennifer Flowers (

SS: SINGS: And along came Bill, who's not my type at all) and — well, that's a whole other story.

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).

Available now»

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