Listener's Mailbag (SFX) script
Saturday, January 7, 2006


Garrison Keillor: Let's go to the Listeners Mailbag right now — Mr. Russell?

Tim Russell: Right. LB of New York City writes: "This week, Minnesota Viking wide receiver Randy Moss, who earns almost $6 million per year, was fined $10,000. for pretending to moon the Green Bay crowd after the Vikings' victory over the Packers. My question is this: how much do the performers on your show earn and have you had to fine any of them for misbehavior?"

GK: Thank you, LB. Nowadays, what with salary caps in public radio, none of our performers earn more than $6 million a year, but we have had to fine a few of them, yes. Sue Scott sometimes came out on stage and pretended to lick her index finger and put it on her rear end and make a sizzling noise —

Sue Scott: I did not. It's not true.

GK: You did, Sue. You were trying to tell people that you were a hottie and plenty of folks were offended by it.

SS: I never did anything of the sort.

GK: So we fined her ten thousand dollars and then she pretended to moon the audience and we fined her twenty thousand and there were no further problems. And there was the time when Pat Donohue got carried away after he played "Freight Train" — he lit his guitar with a cigarette lighter and he pounded it to pieces on the monitors and then he ripped his shirt off and leaped into the audience and our audience is older, particularly the ones who sit down front, and they weren't able to catch Pat so he fell to the floor and that upset him and he mooned the audience, or it looked like he did, so we fined him ten-thousand dollars and that was the end of it.

SS: I remember him doing that.

GK: There was a time when Tom Keith refused to do sound effects except foghorns (FOGHORN), even if the script called for a chicken crossing the road (FOGHORN), or a herd of zebras (FOGHORN), or water dripping (FOGHORN), and when we called him on it, he did the sound of a person mooning (RASPBERRY). That's going to cost you, Keith. Ten grand.


GK: Make it twenty grand.

TK: Make it forty. (RASPBERRY)

GK: I'll raise you fifty.


GK: And the next week our bass player Gary Raynor reached back behind him and it looked to me as if he were going to moon people, so we fined him ten grand.

Gary Raynor: I was reaching for my billfold!

GK: I couldn't tell, it looked like a mooning to me. And the week after that Rich Dworsky played "Moon River" (PIANO) and at the end of it he bent over and I saw a flash of bare skin —

RD: I was taking a bow. That was the top of my head.

GK: So he was fined ten thousand. And that was when the Federal Communications Commission decided to hold hearings on offensive material in radio and its effect on children. Tom Keith was subpoenaed and he went to Washington with his attorney, a beagle. (DOG SNIFFING, WOOF) And (TICKING) Tom sat there at the witness table and made the sound of ticking until the room was cleared by security men. Then everybody came back in and he made the sound of fire alarms. (KLAXONS) (RUNNING FEET, PANIC) And the building was cleared again. And eventually everybody came back into the building and the hearing was just about to start—

TK: Look out! Killer bees! (SWARMS OF BEES) (RUNNING FEET, PANIC)

GK: And the building cleared again, and it took an hour to calm everybody down, and get everybody seated in the hearing room again, and then he did his dentist's drill (DRILL). And the FCC had to put its head down between its knees and take a long breath, and then Tom's attorney argued that sounds are protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. (DOG ARGUMENT) The commission was incredulous.




GK: Well, you should never mention gas in front of a sound effects man. (BIG RIPE RASPBERRY) Tom let go with some ripe ones. (VOLLEY OF FARTS) And the commission found him in contempt. And he was fined fourteen million dollars. (GASP OF AWE) For a total of eleven noises. More than a million dollars per fart. That's a lot. And what did we do to help him? Nothing. (PENALTY BUZZER) We threw him to the sharks. (CRIES OF ALARM, FALLING AND SPLASH. WATER FROTHING FROM SHARKS). Which he fought off with laser swords. (SWORDPLAY) And called in choppers, of course. (CHOPPERS) And came back and declared bankruptcy. (GAVEL) And had to go live in a small motel alongside the Interstate (TRAFFIC PASSING FAST, TRUCKS, DOPPLER HORN) and watch TV at night (AUDIO) and go to his day job as a dishwasher. (DISHWASHING MACHINE, CONVEYOR, STEAM, CLUNKING) He stands in the heat and steam and rinses off the dirty plates (SFX) and runs the garbage disposal (SFX) and then he puts the racks of dishes in the dishwasher (SFX) and turns the heat up so that it'll bend the plates into interesting shapes (SFX). Every week he sets aside $25 in a savings account toward the fourteen million that he owes the FCC. And has he learned anything from this? No, not really. He wants to get back into radio so he can do submarines. (SONAR) He practices his sonar effect every night. And the klaxon. (KLAXON.

TK: Up periscope.) (PERISCOPE UP, MORE SONAR) The submarine comes up and spots a hot air balloon. (

TK: Raise bow twenty degrees. Open forward tubes. VOICES REPEAT) (SFX) There are people in the hot air balloon enjoying a lovely flight over the countryside. (TR and SS VOICES ADMIRING SCENERY. BIRDS. RUSTLE OF RIGGING) And the submarine shoots two torpedoes. (

TK: FIRE!!! REPEAT VOICES. TWO BIG WHOOSHES. FLIGHT AND BIG EXPLOSION) And blows a hole in the hot air balloon. And it falls to the ground, emitting hot air. (A LONG DESCENDING FART-LIKE EXPULSION OF HOT AIR AS BALLOON FALLS) And it lands in a feedlot. (CATTLE) And the passengers are mooned by Holsteins. (COWS, PLOPS OF MANURE. CRIES OF DISGUST.)

That is how the sound-effects mind works. Sound effects men are not drawn to inspiring stories of people of many races and religious working together for the good of their community — no they are not. They are more interested in ray guns (RAY GUN) and using ray guns to fight off Giant Cockroaches (SFX) but instead the ray gun touches off an avalanche (AVALANCHE) that sweeps down the mountain toward the old car driving along the winding road driven by a chimpanzee (CHIMP) who didn't hear the avalanche because he was listening to the radio (HIPHOP) but the avalanche misses him and hits the chicken soup factory (EXPLOSIONS, CHICKEN PANIC, SOUP FLOWING) and the soup warms up the dinosaur eggs in the ground (CRACKING) and these mutant monsters (MONSTER) rise up from the earth and terrorize the village (DISTANT CRIES OF TERROR) and dive bombers (DIVE SFX) launch cruise missiles (MISSILE FLIGHT) but the dinosaurs catch the missiles in their hands (MONSTER) and throw them into the sea and they explode underwater (UNDERWATER EXPLOSIONS) and meanwhile there's a television news crew there (EXCITED SHOUTS) and a cameraman (

TR: Watch my back, watch my back.......beautiful. Beautiful shot) and the dinosaurs turn their backs on the camera and bend over and (BIG LONG FRUITY RASPBERRY) they moon it.

That's sort of a long answer to your question, LB, and that's all the time we have for Listeners Mailbag. (BOUNCY THEME)

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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