The Fitzgerald Theater
Saint Paul, MN
The Lives of the Cowboys
SS: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS......brought to you by Oh Susannah bandanas.....made in Texarkana, Louisiana, from the skins of bananas. (HORSES HOOVES, RIDING ALONG)
TR: Why are we coming back to Yellow Gulch, Lefty? We were here just a week ago. I thought we were headed for Santa Fe.
GK: Got a message from Roxie at the Belly Up Saloon. Said to come quick: Big Messer's back in town.
TR: But we already dealt with Big Messer. You showed him up in a spelling duel and ran him out of town.
GK: Well, he's back and he's barricaded himself in the town library. Won't let anybody in until he gets another crack at me.
TR: Where's the town marshall? Why doesn't he deal with this?
GK: He's got heart problems and doesn't want any trouble. Giddup. (HORSES TROT) Town looks sort of deserted. Whoa. Whoa. (HORSES WHINNY, SLOW TO WALK, STOP. SFX) Huh. Saloon looks empty. (DOOR OPEN, PIANO PLAYING CHOPIN FUNERAL MARCH) Why the lugubrious music, Roxie? What happened to Camptown Races?
SS: Big Messer came back, Lefty. And he's holed up in the library and he's burning the books, one by one, waiting for you.
TR: Guess you'll have to go spell him down, pardner. Meanwhile, Roxie, how about you bring me a big glass of rotgut whiskey with a spoonful of sand and a couple of polluted ice cubes.
GK: Okay. Well, I guess I better go face Mr. Messer before he burns all the books. (FOOTSTEPS) (DOOR OPEN, CLOSE) Hot sun out here. (FOOTSTEPS ON GRAVEL) There's the library. (FOOTSTEPS) Shades pulled and the door's locked. (FOOTSTEPS, CROWD MURMUR) Excuse me, folks. Step back. Don't want you to get hurt.
SS (OLDER): He's burned Louisa May Alcott, Aristotle and Jane Austen, and Balzac is next.
SS (OLDER): That's what I said. Balzac.
FN (MESSER, OFF): You people talking about me out there?
TR (OLD): You gotta stop him, Lefty. Before he gets to Herman Melville. I've tried six different times to read Moby Dick and I intend to keep on trying.
GK: Well, I am going to stop him before he gets to Edward Hoagland.
SS (OLDER): Edward who?
GK: Hoagland. Author of the best novel I read all year. Called "Children Are Diamonds". Couldn't put it down. Sat in a hotel in Wichita two days and two nights, reading it.
FN (MESSER, OFF): What author is that you're gonna stop me before I can burn his books?
GK: Hoagland. H-o-a-g-l-a-n-d.
FN (MESSER, OFF): Hoagland.....Hoagland.....here's Homer. (GUNSHOTS) L. Ron Hubbard. (GUNSHOTS)
GK: Close but no cigar, Messer. What you shooting up the books for? People in Yellow Gulch need their library. Desperately.
FN (MESSER, OFF): Don't talk to me about desperation. You showed me up in a spelling duel last week and made me the laughingstock of this town and I want a rematch.
GK: Fine. Come on out where I can see you and we'll go at it again.
(DOOR OPEN, FOOTSTEPS ON GRAVEL)
FN (MESSER): Ha ha ha ha ha. Now I got you right where I want you. Nobody but nobody messes with Big Messer and gets away with it. You are about to go down to the depths of defeat. You are going to regret ever setting foot in this town. When I am done outspelling you, you are going to have to go settle in Schenectady or Poughkeepsie or Wilksbury.
GK: Wilkes Barre. (SPELL)
FN (MESSER): Let me see your hands. Both hands. Turn em over. And your shirt cuffs. Want to make sure you don't have words written on em.
GK: I don't need to cheat. Messer. I've been a champion speller since the fourth grade. I have wasted a good deal of my life and told my share of lies and broken the hearts of numerous women, but through it all I have written extensively, both prose and poetry, in which one would search in vain for misspellings.
FN (MESSER): Well, you are just about to meet your superior. Your nemesis. Might we say, your scourge. The avenger. Ha ha ha ha ha. And here's the rules. Best two out of three. And the loser has to strip buck-naked and run down Main Street on all fours singing "Moon River"----- okay?
GK: Okay. I don't look forward to seeing you do that.
FN (MESSER): Ha!!! I'll flip the coin. (FLICK) Heads. (SLAP) And it is heads. And I'll go first. Psoriasis.
GK: Psoriasis. P-s-o-r-i-a-s-i-s.
FN (MESSER): Wrong. Ha! Psoriasis is spelled i-a-s-u-s.
GK: Is not.
FN (MESSER): Is so.
GK: Where's a dictionary?
FN (MESSER): I burned it. This is the authority right here. The Samuel Colt Unabridged Dictionary. (SPIN CYLINDER) Your turn.
FN (MESSER): Indigenous. That's easy. I-n-d-i-j-a-n-u-s.
GK: Wrong. Indigenous is spelled----
FN (MESSER): The Samuel Colt Unabridged (SPIN CYLINDER) says my spelling is correct. Looks like you got your back to the wall, Mister. If I were you, I would start removing my clothing now. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Let me see----my turn-----
GK: What you looking at your shirt cuff for, Messer?
FN (MESSER): Never you mind. (CELLPHONE)
FN (DEEP): Sorry. Excuse me. ---- Hello? Messer speaking. ----Oh, hello, Darling. ---- Yes, I'm on my way. ----- A quart of skim milk and a blueberry yoghurt and a box of seedless raisins. You got it. —No, I'm not at the saloon, I'm at the library — Yeah, Darling— Your brother and his wife. Coming for dinner at 7. Got it. See you. (CLICK) (TO LEFTY) I gotta go. I'll deal with you later.
GK: ...Sounds to me like you found yourself a new trail boss, Big Messer.
FN (DEEP): Don't push it.
GK: So you marry her? Or you still renting?
FN (DEEP): I'll be back. Don't you worry. (HORSE WHINNY AS HE MOUNTS, GIDDUP. HORSE GALLOPS AWAY)
SS (OLD): Thank goodness he's gone. Elizabeth Berg is safe. Maeve Binchy. Judy Blume.
GK: Don't forget Roy Blount.
(BRIDGE, TIME PASSING) (OUTDOOR AMBIANCE)
TR (DUSTY): So---- you ran Big Messer off again?
GK: I guess so.
TR (DUSTY): Did he burn a lot of books at the library?
GK: He just scorched them, didn't really burn them.
TR (DUSTY): I used to read, you know.
TR (DUSTY): Louis L'Amour and Zane Grey.
GK: Westerns, huh?
TR (DUSTY): I read that Riders of the Purple Sage until the binding fell apart. That's what led me into the cowboy life. Otherwise I would've become a radio program director.
GK: I think you make a better cowboy than a program director.
TR (DUSTY): I was about to go into public radio and then Zane Grey turned me toward life on the dusty plains.
GK: You were thinking out of the box.
TR (DUSTY): I've thought about writing a book about it.
GK: You keep thinking about that, Dusty. Let's ride. (GIDDYUPS, HORSES WHINNY, BREAK INTO TROT) (THEME)
SS: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS.....brought to you by Oh Susannah bandanas and hankies.
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).