Saturday, December 31, 2006
Garrison Keillor: How did Fred Newman get into the sound effects business? This is the question more and more people are asking. A grown man who did after all go to Harvard (FN ECHOES IN HARVARD ACCENT: HARVARD...HARVARD...HARVARD) who makes his living woofing and dripping and clucking and honking (WOOF, DRIPPING, CLUCK, HONK) what happened there? What's the story? Well, I'll tell you Fred grew up in the South and he was a reader and not interested in doing stuff that most boys did, so he learned to make the sounds (GUNSHOT) so his parents would think he was normal he'd go off in the woods (COONHOUNDS) and make it sound like he was coonhunting (GUNSHOTS) and that he was having a beer (POP TOP, GLUGGING) or frying up some okra (SIZZLING) and that he was picking his banjo (BANJO) and throwing a knife into a tree (SFX) and eating his grits (SFX) and doing normal southern stuff chasing a pig (SFX) or watching stock-car racing on TV (RACE) but Fred gave up sound effects when he went north and he went to Harvard (FN ECHOES) he didn't need to pretend about coonhunting or the banjo anymore, he wanted to fit in to that Harvard life (FN HARVARD MURMURS) living in Lowell House doing the things that Harvard men do rowing on the Charles (OARS) and playing tennis (SFX) and lacrosse (SFX) and soccer (SFX) and playing Renaissance instruments like the sackbut (SFX) and the shawm (SFX) and the lute (SFX) and Morris dancing (SFX) and it was Fred's dream to go to medical school and to become a urologist. Yes, a urologist.
Fred Newman (TO A PATIENT): Here is the bladder, and as you can see the urethra runs down through the prostate, and right there is where your problem is. Now let me show you this (FADING)
GK: But one day his Daddy came up from Georgia and looked around Fred's room at Lowell House and didn't like what he saw
FN (DAD): What in the Sam Hill is going on here? What're you doin playing lacrosse? What kind of a game is that? That's no American game.
FN: But Dad
FN (DAD): Don't you "but Dad" me I want you to go out for football. None of this sissy stuff. You go out for football or else I ain't paying for Harvard.
FN: But Dad
FN (DAD): You go out for football or else you can enroll at a junior college and have a career in retail sales! (SLAM DOOR) (BRIDGE)
GK: So Fred went out for football and he became a punter. (FN P.A.: Coming in... to punt for Harvard...No. 13...Newman) This was the year that Harvard played Alabama and Fred did a lot of punting that afternoon from deep in his own end zone (FN CADENCE, CRUNCH OF BIG LINEMEN, FLIGHT OF BALL, LINEMEN RUSHING) and Harvard had no defensive line and (PUNT) Fred got the punt off just as (CREAMING OF FRED) he was hit by three 250-pound linemen (REF'S WHISTLE) and there was a penalty on the play (REF ON P.A.: ROUGHING THE KICKER. FIRST DOWN, HARVARD) (ROAR OF CROWD) Fred had gotten Harvard it's first first-down all year...
FN: Where am I?
GK: You just got off a great punt and you drew a Roughing the Kicker penalty. You did great.
GK: You'll be okay. Give him some oxygen. (OXYGEN VENT)
GK: Harvard was down by six touchdowns and the only way they could move the ball was by attracting roughing the kicker penalties (CADENCE) the ball was snapped and those big palookas ran over the Harvard line (FLUTTER OF BALL) (ONRUSHING LINEMEN) and Fred got the ball and he stepped forward and (PUNT) kicked a magnificent high high (CREAMING OF FRED) punt that flew straight and true for sixty yards and (REF'S WHISTLE) there were red flags all over the field. (REF: ROUGHING THE KICKER. FIRST DOWN)
GK: Okay we got em right where we want em. First down on Alabama's 35 yard line. It's 49-to-zip but let's put some points up there, Fred? Okay? (FRED) Think you can do it? Kick the field goal? (FRED)
GK: Fred had no interest in football. Zero. Football and Harvard were only a means to his goal, which was to become a great urologist.
FN (TO PATIENT): Okay. I'm going to just have a little look-see into your bladder and check out that prostate, and I'm going to just insert this little tube with a camera at the endyou'll just feel a little pressure now here we go (LONG SQUORT) there that wasn't so bad, was it
GK: That was Fred's dream, and it sort of went up in smoke that day at the 35-yard-line let's look at it in slow motion here's the snap from center (SLOW FLUTTERING) and here come the Alabama linemen (SLOW GRUNTING, STOMPING) and the snap from center is a little high and Fred reaches way up for it and then he sees the linemen coming (SLOW MOTION CRY OF HORROR) and he turns and runs the wrong way (SLOW MOTION HORROR, RUNNING) and a thousand pounds of Crimson Tide lands on him (WHOOMP, SQUASH) and when he came to in the locker room (FRED) he had no interest in urology again. Nor in lacrosse. He wanted to live a quiet life in the country (SLOW WALKING, BIRD SONG) no sackbuts, please, no tennis, no soccer, nothing sudden or forceful, just a peaceful life, with a field of cotton waving in the breeze, Fred and his dog (SFX) and a six-pack (POP TOP). Fry up a couple of Moon Pies (SIZZLE). And tune in to a radio show from the Ryman Auditorium (BANJO).