SFX, September 14, 2013

The Fitzgerald Theater

Saint Paul, MN

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Listen (MP3)

GK: Our sound effects man Mr. Fred Newman is a big man on our show - the finest SFX man in public radio today. They call him in to do SFX for All Things Considered. Ira Glass.

He is responsible for taking our show places that few radio shows ever go ----- Fred has taken us into the stratosphere in a rocket (SFX) that ejected us at 100,000 feet (SFX) for a free-fall into the atmosphere and then the parachute opened (SFX) and we drifted to earth in the Pyrenees among a herd of goats tended by aboriginal herdsmen who spoke no English (SFX) and who seemed hostile until Fred pacified them with nitrous oxide. (SFX)

Fred has taken us deep down under the earth to listen to glaciers moving, to lava flow, to incipient volcanoes. To geysers deep underground.

Fred has taken us deep undersea to visit the world of the humpback whales, and their strange breeding habits that include singing the hits of Barry Manilow.

Fred makes sound effects look easy but it's not. (HEARTBEAT) It's a high pressure job. He looks at that script and he sees at the bottom of the page the words "Orangutan flying biplane over volcano and is attacked by a California condor" and he starts to sweat...
(FN: Oh my gosh. How am I supposed to do that? What sound does a condor make? Is that a bird or what?) And the story is going along and the audience is looking up in anticipation (FN SWEATING) and I say, What is that? A bird? A plane? Or is it an orangutang----- and I point at Fred and (ORANGUTAN FLYING BIPLANE OVER VOLCANO AND ATTACKED BY CONDOR) and then there's a humpback whale (SFX) and a Welshman (SFX) who is playing bagpipes (SFX) and a sandpiper (BIRD) and a bag full of chickens (SFX) and a tub of chocolate that a naked Czech woman dives into (SFX) and a chimp playing checkers (SFX) and it all goes fast and when the show is over (FN: Cut---- ECHOES, REPEAT IN SERIES) and Fred goes back to his dressing room, he is soaked in sweat. (EXHAUSTION) He pours himself a glass of chokecherry juice (SFX) and his personal valet Chuck is there ("Your coat, master. Your hat. Your gloves.") and he gets in the car that whisks him to the airport (SFX) and he boards the evening flight to Paris (JET TAKEOFF) and sits in seat 2B, and if it's not 2B, he won't fly. It must be 2B. (FRENCH WAITER) And the flight attendant opens a bottle of champagne (SFX) and another show is done. Next week, another impossible script, with a flood of weird sound effects, but now is no time to think of that. Now is time to savor the wine. And the lamb flambee (TORCH) and the crème brulee and a young woman named Renee who's a big fan (LADY: I couldn't believe it was you. I love you on that show. Do a pterodactyl for me, would you.) (FN: Later darling.) and he looks forward to the next week...

GK: Driving his Lamborghini through the little towns of Provence (FAST CAR, CURVING ROAD) and boarding his yacht in Monte Carlo (BOAT HORN) and diving to explore the underwater depths (SCUBA) and there---- there----- is a humpback whale (SFX) and Fred speaks to him in his own language (SFX) and the whale responds (SFX) and Fred tells him a joke about Moby Dick (SFX) and the whale laughs and laughs (SFX) ----- laughs so hard he chokes (SFX) ---- and Fred slips the air hose into the whale's blowhole and it's ticklish and the whale sneezes (SFX) and the force of the sneeze blows Fred out of the water and into the air where an orangutan is flying a biplane low over the water (SFX) and Fred lands on the wing just in time to fight off the condor attacking from above (SFX) (FN FIGHTS WITH BIRD) and that's a week in the life of Fred.

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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