APHC Writers Meeting|
A Live Internet Event with Garrison Keillor
Saturday, October 28, 1995
Welcome to the Prairie Home Companion Writers Meeting here around the old conference table scarred with cigarette burns and coffee stains, littered with pages of rewrites from tonight's show.
You're the new writer on staff, so take your place at the table and be prepared to speak up. We old veteran writers want to hear your ideas; we burned out long ago and haven't had an original idea in years. We're just hanging on hoping PHC gets bought by Time Warner and we can get on the gravy train.
Here's the problem: radio is a goat, it eats reams of material. Shows stretch on into the future like great empty pits. Our job is to fill them.
What can we do with Guy Noir, radio private eye, sitting in his dingy office on the 12th floor of the Acme Building? Who can knock on his door next week? Should we send him somewhere? Should he fall in love? Should his old girlfriend Sugar come back? Should we shoot him? Should we get him a dog? An owl? Throw him in jail? Make him rich? Cut off his nose?
The Lives of the Cowboys, Dusty and Lefty. Dusty has moved to town and become a market researcher and is engaged to marry Loretta in a few weeks. Shall we let him do it or do we intervene? Shall the old pardners be reunited on the lonesome prairie and ride off to an adventure together (and what shall it be)? Or do we marry off Dusty and have Lefty come to town occasionally and commiserate with him?
Maurice the maitre'd at the Cafe Boeuf. What can we do with this arrogant Frenchman that we haven't done twice already? In the past, he was a supporting character in the Boeuf series, which featured an argumentative couple eating dinner, and then we moved Maurice to the front. Shall we give him a rest, make him a murmuring presence in the background, and create new characters? Shall we get him to reminisce about his years in Paris with Camus and Sartre and Edith Piaf and Catherine Deneuve? Shall we try to teach him some correct French?
In the PHC graveyard lie old series like Gloria, Adventures in Ethics, Lonesome Radio Theater, The Associate Professors, There They Were, American Duct Tape with Ernie Brower, etc. Do we try to revive any of these mastodons? Or shall we invent new mastodons? An adventure series about the Internet? We'll consider anything (except a series about writers).
You see the problem.
GK will attend the meeting, but it will be chaired by Head Writer Norman Conquest, with Guy Wire, Natalie Dressed, Sandy Beach, and Cliff Hanger slumped in their chairs around the table.
Garrison: Welcome. Take a seat. Hello everybody. The show's done, the autographs (3) are signed and now we writers face the long grim climb back up the slippery slope of Art to next week's show. Glad you joined us. Guy Wire is here....
Guy: Hi guys.
Garrison: And Ernest Money.
Ernest: Hi. That's all.
Garrison: And Sandy Beach.
Sandy: Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here. I really want to thank all of the folk's who've come online with us.
Ernest: Sandy, you don't need an apostrophe to say the plural of folk.
Sandy: Screw you, Ernest.
>Subject: Guy Noir gets a dog
Sandy: It's a beautiful idea, Heidi. I love it.
Garrison: How do you do mangy on the radio, kid? And dirty?
Ernest: You can tell from his voice. But you need a better name than Rover.
Garrison: If you ask me, a dog is a pretty slim vehicle for drama, but what do I know, I'm only the host. Heidi, do some more work on this. What else can the wonder dog do?
Ernest: He could have a lot of intuition that Guy doesn't have.
>Subject: Re: Quebec's secession & PHC
Garrison: Another dog idea?
Ernest: What if they only sabotage the restaurants by serving snails?
Sandy: Diseased snails.
Guy: This show comes on during suppertime, folks. Let's limit the amount of retching on the broadcast.
Garrison: PHC is pretty anti-Canadian so I don't know if we want to get involved in politics there. We're on the front line of defense here. We just need to watch for frostbacks.
>Subject: Re: Ingkvists, Maurice, Guy Noir, politics
Garrison: Guy Noir should marry who? I want to see a profile, Susan. Be plausible.
Sandy: I love it. Especially the Republican bashing.
Ernest: Let's send the Ingkvists to Palm Beach.
Garrison: Lake Wobegon isn't up to the writers, let's make that clear. Lake Wobegon is a town north of here and people do what they do and they don't listen to writers. Be real. But I like the Noir marriage idea. Just need some more info, Susan. Get back to me.
Guy: What is a World Cafe?
>Subject: Re: Cyber-Cowboys??
Ernest: Seems like Dusty and Lefty will have separate home pages soon.
Garrison: We need to figure out tonight if Dusty and Loretta are going to get married.
Guy: Maybe she should marry Guy Noir.
Sandy: I don't understand Loretta yet. It's such a guy script, the woman is a total cipher. You people don't understand women.
Garrison: One of our new writers, Marcia Law, has come in.
Marcia: I agree with Sandy. Loretta is completely marginalized in that cowboy script. I'd like to hear from some women out there and let's make our voices heard around here. Let these aging adolescents who write this garbage know that it isn't the Fifties anymore.
Ernest: Thanks for sharing.
>Subject: Re: Maurice, frustrated actor
Garrison: This is a brilliant idea.
Sandy: Maurice has never left the restaurant in three years of doing this series. The writers on this show don't know how to get people in and out of rooms.
Garrison: Sandy, please.
Guy: Tom Keith, who plays Maurice, can sing "Danny Boy". That should be good for something.
>Dusty and Loretta definitely need to get married. Then we would get to
Ernest: I don't think Dusty and Loretta should rush into marriage. Let's keep the conflict going for awhile.
Sandy: What conflict?
Marcia: Right. The woman is a blank.
Sandy: Let's begin by sending Lefty into the sunset. At the very least, does he always need to have a plug of tobacco in his cheek? It's disgusting.
Garrison: Let's hear more on this idea, folks. When is the wedding? And how about Lefty riding in and rescuing Dusty as he stands there at the altar?
Sandy: Give me a break.
Ernest: Let's get both of them back out on the plains where there are snakes and coyotes.
>True story like, who got her scarf caught in the mixer. My mom was
Garrison: Okay, thanks, Slade.
Marcia: What about the black male?
>Subject: Re: Cyber cafe, canine gear, BS hip boots
Garrison: I love the idea of a coffee machine. This is a winner. Sign up Eisenbeis.
Guy: One more thing we can explode. I'm all for it.
Marcia: This really is a one-track show, isn't it.
>Bertha's Kitty Boutique branches out into canine gear, offering
Ernest: I like a bullshit wader. Wish I had a pair right now.
Garrison: Your coffee machine idea is good, Hans. Let's work it in next week.
>Subject: Re: mutiny at Cafe Boeuf
Guy: What duck, Kyle? I think maybe you haven't been tuning in lately. Are you listening to old tapes?
Garrison: Sounds like Car Talk to me. Maybe your signals are bouncing off the silos out there. We don't kill ducks on the show.
Ernest: He's thinking of Duck Tape.
>Subject: Re: Dusty the poet
Garrison: Let's hire Kris. You available?
Sandy: Dusty a poet?
Ernest: Let's get the poet back on his horse, back on the trail. Marriage is the deathbed of romance. You can quote me.
Garrison: Let's have Dusty write a poem about the beauties of the trail and it'll persuade him to give it one more try.
Guy: The beauty of the buttes.
Marcia: You guys.
>Subject: Re: Maurice's mom visits
Garrison: Need an actress for this? Someone who can speak French that I can translate.
Sandy: You need a writer to write it.
Guy: Are you Gusties drinking a lot of beer tonight? Let us know if you need more.
>Subject: Re: Guy Noir--meditation, crystals, etc.
Guy: What is Warm River named for, Marji? What makes it warm?
Sandy: You guys are disgusting.
Garrison: I like the idea for Guy Noir, if I can figure out what marginal utility means in this case? Guy Noir is pretty marginal, and as far as cost determination, nobody ever pays him.
Ernest: Marginal meditation and a mangy dog. Like it.
Garrison: Let's hear more from you, Marji.
>Subject: Re: hire rocky terrain
Sandy: I don't get it.
>Subject: Re: France's atomic tests/radioactive Boeuf
Guy: Neon fish.
Marcia: I'd like to get this show away from violence and explosions if that's possible, David.
>Subject: Re: Guy Noir & a performance art professor
Marcia: This is a wonderful idea and I'll do everything I can to work for it within this staff.
Garrison: Why not Vicky Wesson of Vassar, who visits her vicar in West Fissure who is devastated after his vasectomy?
Sandy: Get a life.
Marcia: Right back to the gutter.
>Subject: Re: paleontology bit on PHC
Garrison: Someone did this. Maybe James Thurber.
Guy: I like the foot eaters. We haven't used that joke for months.
>Subject: Re: Drive-thru window at Boeuf
> ________ > / /----.__ TNG Lover > /_______//||[ |_ `-._ >
Guy: We did this recently.
Garrison: NO, I think Maurice was thinking about it. A consultant recommended it. I like it. But it would have to be a slow drive through. Cars honking in the drive. French food takes time. Sauce isn't quick.
>Subject: Re: We need to see Maurice outside the Cafe
Ernest: That's a good idea, running into Maurice at an embarrassing place.
Marcia: Maybe at a health club.
Garrison: A Cuban-Chinese restaurant, eating sloppy rice.
Sandy: Does Maurice have a past?
Ernest: Does he have a girlfriend?
Garrison: I think so. But we've never consummated anything. She's always on the verge of arriving and then she never does.
Guy: Does this reflect personal experience of some sort?
>Subject: Re: Scandinavian restaurant competes w/Cafe Boeuf
Ernest: We beat on the Scandinavians hard enough as it is. They're getting flat heads from it.
>Subject: Re: Cowboy Noir
Garrison: One problem is that (ahem) I play Guy Noir and I play Lefty. So there are certain strategic problems.
Sandy: Get another actor to play Guy Noir.
Garrison: Then we'd have to fire one of the writers.
Sandy: Fire Ernest.
Ernest: How'd I know you were going to say that?
Garrison: I'm going to rule out your idea, Eric, on the grounds that we never cross over between segments --- i.e. Dusty doesn't go to the Cafe Boeuf, Maurice doesn't flack for Guy's Shoes, and so forth. It's too incestuous.
Ernest: I just got hired last week.
Sandy: Some books don't take long to figure out.
>Subject: Re: Pop Beloved/little match girl kicked off welfare
Garrison: Dave, I'd love to bring back Bob, but the last I heard he was at work on a book and you don't want to interrupt a writer who's working.
Guy: That's why we're available tonight for this discussion.
Garrison: I could try playing Pop Beloved.
Marcia: Let's talk to your son first. He works for the show doesn't he? I thought I heard his name on the credits.
>Subject: Re: Seasonal Affective Disorder
Garrison: What's the other personality?
Ernest: His charm is that he has not that much personality to start with.
Sandy: His other personality could be GK's personality, since you're playing the role. The dour Scot, choleric, locked in your office, unable to communicate with people. Hard to do on radio, but worth a try.
Garrison: No comment.
Ernest: I've only been working here a week. Don't look at me.
>Subject: Re: from pair in Anoka--Guy Noir's brother, Pinot
Garrison: I like the Mickey Merlot scam. The Utah wines. Except maybe make it Iowa wines.
Ernest: Margaret Margaux could come in here.
Garrison: Funny idea.
Guy: My sediments exactly.
Sandy: Puns are a childish form of humor. Freud said that, I think.
Ernest: You need to think Jung.
>Subject: Re: Loretta puts her writing career before Dusty
Garrison: Good. I like her becoming a writer and Dusty reading it and seeing his intimate life spilled out for public view.
Ernest: I like it too. So it gets Dusty back on the trail.
Sandy: What intimate life?
Garrison: Chris Forth plays Loretta on the show and unfortunately she can't do the next two shows, I believe. Sue Scott is back, who played Guy Noir's girlfriend Sugar. You see what the limitations are. We may not see Loretta again until January. But a good idea, Beck and Nikki.
Guy: Do they have a comedy major there at Vassar?
>Subject: Re: second comment about s.a.d. & Guy Noir
Sandy: You're kidding.
Ernest: I think I've heard of it. You watch it out of a Bay Window.
>Subject: Re: make Loretta jealous
Garrison: Do you know any crazy things from personal experience, Alishia? I've never been jealous myself, so I wouldn't have the background for this.
Sandy: I'm for it. Let's get Sue Scott in there next week as a cool, cowgirl who can out-ride and out-rope both of the boys and that gets Dusty's interest.
Ernest: A barrel racer.
Guy: Thundering hooves and whoops. Great. The show's been awful quiet lately.
>Subject: Re: Dusty meets the in-laws
Garrison: We haven't decided if he's going to marry her or not. The problem right now is that Loretta (Chris Forth) will be disappearing for couple weeks. Maybe more.
Sandy: This is the sort of thing an executive producer would have thought about a month ago.
Ernest: We can bring in some in-laws without having Loretta there. And they can be real jerks.
Guy: Loud affable people. Minnesotans. Talking in broad Os and As --- "Oh boy. Oh gosh. Okey dokey. Real good. Bye then." They can say, "Bye then" a lot. Does anybody anywhere in the country say this except Minnesotans? They're dumber than trout, if you ask me.
Garrison: Like your idea, Dennis. Like to hear more.
>Subject: WRITERS MEETING.
Garrison: This is turning into a productive meeting. Let's summarize. A coffee machine for the Cafe Boeuf. A mangy dog for Guy Noir. Play out the Loretta-Dusty romance a little longer, without prejudice as to whether they marry or not. Get some jealousy in there. Get him to write an ode to the plains and fall in love with the cowboy life again.
Ernest: Get Maurice out of the Cafe and into some other situation, to see what he's like.
Guy: Guy Noir's brother Pinot.
Sandy: That's not pronounced Peanut.
Guy: It's not?
Garrison: Speaking of that, we're going to take a five minute break and come back for a wrap up. Thanks to all who logged in. Good ideas.
Ernest: Thanks to all the loggers.
Garrison: Back in a minute.
>Subject: Tales of the Filthy Rich
Guy: Mr. Keillor is the only one here with the background for this.
Garrison: I don't know anything about excessive wealth. Hard-earned wealth cautiously invested, yes. Windfall profits, no.
Sandy: I saw you sitting in first class on a flight to LA once.
Garrison: It was a mileage upgrade.
Ernest: I have a lot to say about the rich, don't know if you'd care to hear it or not.
Garrison: Fire away.
Ernest: They have no sense of responsibility to society as a whole. They make a shitload of money off the system and then don't want to pay taxes. The biggest whiners in the country. Every time this show bashes Republicans, I sit backstage and bang on the wall with my fist and yell, ALL RIGHT. We ought to do it more often.
Garrison: Thanks for the advice. You want to answer the mail?
>Subject: Re: Sketches written by people from towns under 2,000
Garrison: Orlando doesn't have less 2000 population, does it?
Guy: Less than 2000 literate population.
Garrison: I don't know, Dennis. Let's see the material first.
>Subject: Re: the e-mail clog here at MPR
Garrison: We have a primitive e-mail system here at the Fitzgerald, Chuck. We write the replies onto shingles with old woodburning kits and ushers run them over to MPR headquarters where they're entered onto the computer by elderly typists. Be patient. What does Moose refer to?
Marcia: The e-mail system isn't the only thing that's primitive here.
Ernest: Would you be offended if I fart?
>Subject: Re: more cowboy stuff
Ernest: I couldn't agree more. Keep the guy single.
>So. How about if Dusty almost gets hitched. He moves to town, he buys a pair
Ernest: I'm with you.
>This is too much for Dusty, who practically needs CPR. He gets on his horse
>And then what? Dusty and Lefty could become cowboy poets for an episode. They
Garrison: Okay, this is rapidly degenerating.
Sandy: I'll say.
>As for Guy Noir, maybe you could use him to parody classic detective films. I
Garrison: Thanks, Cris. I like the cowboy story line.
Sandy: Why do we need to beat up on vegans? This is pretty old stuff.
Garrison: Good about the Guy Noir. We'll go to the Thalia when we get to New York in November and catch some old flicks.
Guy: You're right about getting Maurice out of the cafe and into America. I've tried to do this and my stuff keeps getting turned down.
Garrison: You're lucky it was.
>Subject: Re: Lady McBeth & Guy Noir
Ernest: I like that. If only we had someone on the staff who'd read Shakespeare's book.
Guy: I've got a boxful of Cliff's Notes under my bed at home.
Ernest: What was the title of it?
Sandy: Love's Labors Lost, in your case, pal.
Garrison: I'm an English major, and I've read both of his books.
Guy: Incongruity is our middle name, Katinka. Incongruity is the stuff and substance of our lives. Thanks for noticing that.
>Subject: GOOD NIGHT
Garrison: It's 9:30 CDT here and we're supposed to go over to our technical director's house for a PHC party so this is going to be it from the Writers Conference Room. Thanks to all who logged in. There was a lot of good stuff there and we'll try to steal it as artfully as we can, and if you want to submit more ideas, please do. We'll do another conference soon.
Ernest: I need a beer.
Garrison: We just need to iron out some technical wrinkles here, and our MPR technical staff, Loren Lovhaug and Gerry Abraham and John Pearson and Katy Reckdahl, will do that, and we'll go over all these story lines again.
Sandy: If you're going to have any more beer, I wish you'd leave the room, or at least lean the other way.
Garrison: Glad you are interested in the nuts and bolts of the show. Hope you liked tonight's. Thanks again. Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.
Guy: Let's get out of here.
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).