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A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor

Post to the Host
GK responds to queries on topics from childbearing to potato salad, with a little bookstore fetish in between.

Send your own post to the host.
Here's your chance to ask GK your most pressing questions—about the writing life, the radio life, Lake Wobegon, Guy Noir, whatever you like. Also, feel free to send feedback about the show. Honest comments and criticism are always welcome!


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Dear Mr. Keillor,

My brother went to your reading in Milwaukee and afterward stood in line to get a copy of your book signed for me, and you wrote, "To Rita, Good for You." What were you thinking of?

Rita
Milwaukee

Rita, it was an all-purpose compliment, and your brother didnít go into a lot of detail about you, but Iím sure it was richly merited. Good for me, too. I am motoring happily toward the end of the season and just finished a new book, called HOMEGROWN DEMOCRAT, and am looking forward to next weekendís show at Wolf Trap. Sure wish I could go see the big circus parade in Milwaukee though, with the 16-horse teams pulling the historic bandwagons with the bands blazing away on top of them. Itís the greatest parade in America. I am going to take my daughter to see it as soon as possible ----- she loves horses ----- and good for us both when I do.

Dear Garrison,
As a Methodist to a Lutheran, I have a pressing question. I work in church communications and one of the things I'm helping folks do is the incorporation of multimedia and digital storytelling into their worship services. Mass communication has changed from oral to written to digital and I'm trying to teach my folks how to do all three. Of course, traditional folks don't care to have a bunch of electronic gadgetry on their holy ground. Any suggestions on how to bridge the gap?

Billy
Dardanelle, Arkansas


Billy,
I have no idea what digital storytelling is ---- do you mean holding up fingers to indicate numbers? Or simply words on a screen? How this fits into the worship service I can't imagine and am not sure I want to find out. There is nothing like sitting and listening to someone with a message in their heart. That isn't old-fashioned, it's just common sense. If the Lord has spoken to you, if Scripture has spoken to you, then you ought to be able to tell the rest of us. Multimedia is for advertising. The church doesn't need advertising, it needs witnessing, and that's ordinary people saying what's in their hearts. Just like I did right now.

Mr. Keillor,
It seems that Lake Wobegon is full of not so above average inhabitants. Is there anyone hailing from your little town who really made a name for themselves? Certainly every town has its most famous citizen.

Amanda Calvert
St. Louis


Amanda,
We've produced many distinguished people but their accomplishments were equaled by their humility and so they didn't get the acclaim that went to the horn-honkers and flag-wavers. We did produce Wilbur Scott, the first man to fly solo the length of the Mississippi, and Rusty Hintges, the country-western singer, and Deloyd Magendanz, the daredevil snowmobiler, and Hector Timmy, the inventor of the grommet, and Willis Coates, who explored the Lower Rawalpindi archipelago, and Forrest Bunsen, the founder of Magnetic Christianity, but the real cream of Lake Wobegon were all the public servants who came out of there, folks in the Armed Services and Foreign Service, teachers, nurses, the list is long indeed. Those are the ones we're truly proud of. The anonymous achievers who do their duty without much ado.

Mr. Keillor -
As long-time fans (more than 20 years), my husband and I have become so disillusioned with your political satire that we stopped listening to the broadcast. A little bit of political satire, evenly spread, is fine. A lot, flowing in pretty much one direction, however, became tiresome. We love everything else about the show and hope to become regular listeners again.

Marcia
(Conservative Republican)
Richmond, VA.


Dear Marcia,
The show is what it is and it's not to everyone's taste. I am a strong proponent of turning shows off that one finds offensive. I've made a lifetime practice of it. Peace and quiet is a beautiful thing. Richmond is a beautiful city, full of delightful places, and nobody who lives there is in need of entertainment. As for political satire, it is usually directed at the party in power, which would seem to be the Republicans right now. Satire doesn't particularly interest me at the moment, though: I fear for my country and don't find our situation humorous. The torture of Iraqi prisoners by decent young American soldiers ---- what can one say about this? Unspeakable. Simply unspeakable. So I stick to what I know, which is this show, and Lake Wobegon, Guy Noir, the cowboys, and so forth. Every week, without fail, we get bitter letters from Republican listeners complaining about our liberal bias and "Bush-bashing". It doesn't matter if the show has zero political content. People love to be angry at somebody. That's fine. But I recommend the peaceful life. I'm quite content without ever having seen "Friends" or "American Idol" or "The Sopranos" or "Sex And The City" or practically any other big TV hits of the past twenty years. I recommend you give up our show and try reading Dickens. "David Copperfield". Magnificent book.

Garrison

Dear Mr. Keillor,
Those lovely oriental rugs that you have onstage for all your performances: when did you start using them? Are they for soundproofing? We've dragged our oriental through eight moves in thirty years and no place seems like home til we've laid it down. Could this be your reason too? (I love the red shoes.)

Martha


Martha,
Those rugs (or rugs exactly like them) have been around the show for twenty years and they do help cut down on clomping and deaden the sound of my big feet tapping when I sing. And they make us feel at home on the road. And they look great under the lights, all those warm browns and golds.

G.K. -
It appears you have been adding more and more activities to your schedule lately; Rhubarb tours, book tours, European tours, et al. Do you find yourself more aware of time as the years go by and thus,try to live more fully? Isn't it hard to be away from your family so much?

Enquiring minds want to know...

T.B.

T.B.,
The European tour was for fun, and the book stuff is business, but the purpose of the Rhubarb tours and the solo shows is to learn the craft of performance, which if you donít keep working at it, you start to feel flat and feel that youíre cheating people. Itís good to walk out alone on a stage in front of a big crowd and take a deep breath and start talking. It is intense exercise, especially for a writer. I did this tonight in downtown Little Rock and had a good outing and so (one hopes) the show next Saturday will be a little looser. Last Saturday in Duluth was better as a result of having done St. Louis and Spokane the week before. If I spend the week sitting at a desk, which ordinarily I do, itís harder to do the show.

Mr. Keillor:
I am wondering about the silence on the part of primary NPR journalists and long-standing hosts of other shows in regards to Bob Edwards' dismissal from "Morning Edition." Won't you weigh in on this? Is everyone at NPR under contract to not speak out? Are the other hosts not allowed to have a voice in this? It is the most distressing thing that has happened in my lifetime of listening to NPR and there seems to be a wall of silence and carefully scripted letters on the part of administration.

Linda Watson


Linda,
I don't work for NPR and I haven't spoken up simply because I'm ignorant about what goes on at NPR and because it's natural for programs to change and because I suspect that this could be a great thing for Bob Edwards. Bob has been on the morning shift for a quarter-century and it's a tough shift. He's a hero. I hope he takes some time off and writes a book and enjoys his mornings. Bob will be on PHC on May 29, acting in a Guy Noir drama, and I'll bet you when he's introduced he gets a huge ovation.

Dear Garrison,
One of my favorite monologues was the one where you talked about what you do when you get a chest cold. After rubbing Vicks Vapo-Rub on your chest and neck, a thick woolen athletic sock is wrapped around the neck (with the heel in front pointing down) and the sock is secured in back with a big safety pin. Then you get in bed with a good book and don't move for days, while someone who loves you brings hot chicken broth.

I grew up in Minnesota and remember how nice it was to get sick and follow this home remedy.

Dottie


Dottie,
I was driving along the coast of California a few weeks ago and smelled eucalyptus and immediately remembered the comfort of Vicks. School was stressful for someone who wasnít very smart and a cold came as a great comfort. Now that I am older and am the principal and not the pupil and thus able to conceal my inadequacies better, I donít enjoy illness nearly so much. Itís the luxury of children. By the way, the joke show forgot to include:

Knock knock.
Whoís there?
Eucalyptus.
Eucalyptus who?
Eucalyptus hair too short.

That is all.



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