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October 26, 2006 | 14 Comments

Post to the Host:
When casting each show, how do you choose between Tom Keith and Fred Newman as the sound effects man? They're both so wonderful. Or are sound effects people in such demand that it's simply a choice of who's available?

John P.
Elfin Forest, CA

A few years ago Tom Keith told us that he wasn't interested in traveling with the show anymore. Somehow the airport drill got to him. Go figure. The rest of us love traveling, it's like a class trip where you get to stay in hotels and ride on buses, but Tom felt otherwise, and so we called up Fred who had been on the show years ago promoting his book "Mouth Sounds" and we asked him to do the road shows. Which in fact is about half the season. And that's the current operating procedure. We are always looking for new talent, though, and if you have a child waiting in the wings who can do the difficult helicopter flutter or the nearly impossible pterodactyl charge, then we'd like to know about it.

And is there really a town in California called Elfin Forest? If so, do you all live in tiny cottages with thatched roofs?


When we saw the two live broadcasts on TV, we were fascinated with how Fred Newman responded to your hysterical tales with even more hysterical sound effects. The Tanglewood story with the gigantic lobster was particularly impressive. Now when we listen on NPR, we giggle just imagining how things look in person as you hover over Fred and he tries to figure out what some great imaginary creature --perhaps a pterodactyl after all -- might sound like if he were helplessly suspended from a deflating air balloon. But our big question: Is it all spontaneous -- we think it is -- or does he know in advance where you might be going with your story?

Mr. Keillor,

I have really enjoyed your shows for at least 10-12 years now. Both sound effects men are good. I am glad that it worked out where one does the road shows and the other does the home programs in Minnesota.

Maybe you all could add a sketch with similiar wording done in Bullwinkle and Rocky e.g. "Next time will Boris...etc..." I know you get the idea. Maybe a sketch to other old radio shows like Fibber McGee and Molly or Father knows best. By the way Mrs. Jane Wyatt and June Allison have passed away. Go! Guy Noir.

Here is a joke, "What kind of a fish brain surgery? A brain Sturgeon."

Well, take care and keep some fresh coffee on.


Clarence J. LaFuentes II
Franklinton, Louisiana

Perhaps you can have sound effects special guests, or a sound effects contest. The sound effect riffs are wonderful and would love to see more of them.

Yes, Garrison, there is a place in California named Elfin Forest, and if you searched the forest deeply, you might find a tiny cottage or two with thatched roofs

It's not an incorporated town, and I think John P. would agree it's as much a way of life as a place. California is not all the zoned out beach cyphers one sees in Malibu.

I'd tell you where to find Elfin Forest, but I live in Ramona, CA, which is much the same as Elfin Forest(the Ramona Cafe is a real life Chatterbox), and I don't want people to find where it is, either.

So sorry, both places would offer low hanging fruit for a lot of monologues!


As I recall, "elfin forest" was another name for chapparal. In California this meant a "forest" of scrub oak and manzanita, maybe 5 to 7 ft. tall, and near impossible to walk though and hard to cut a trail through.

The Elfin Forest is a real place, near one of your other favorite places...San Luis Obispo!

santa barbara (a.k.a "Paradise")

For Christine in Paradise,

Elfin Forest is surely not anywhere near SLO, unless there's yet another one in California.

But I'm still not going to say where Elfin Forest is for both my sake and John P's.



I live in San Diego, (same county as Ramona) and I thought the Elfin Forest was down here, not up on the Central Calif. coast. Perhaps there is more than one Elfin Forest? I suppose there's a giant mountain (as opposed to an elf-sized book)of info I can still learn about this big state.

No need for snide remarks. I live in Florida, but I rode my bicycle down Elfin Forest Road a few years ago while visiting a friend in Escondido. "Elfin Forest" is a commonly used name for old growth chaparral. Now, the idea of chaparral forming a "forest" seems strange to people like you and me who grew up where a forest was something taller than a two-story house, especially when we've heard the description of chaparral as too high to see over, too thick to get through, and too low to provide any shade. But if you'd ever had the pleasure of hiking down a trail through an "elfin forest", you'd stop laughing. It's a beautiful habitat, really does live up to its name, and it's often easy to believe that elves might be there.


Sorry, Elfin Forest is nowhere near San Luis Obispo, but it is near Ramona! Actually, it's an unincorporated area in north-central San Diego County. The scrub oak and manzanita description mentioned by Jim is a good description of the landscape in that vicinity.

By the way, I agree with Tom Keith about traveling. It's fun for fun, but when it's for work, it's work!

Geez, people, you're almost pinpointing the location of Elfin Forest! John P. I'm sure likes it the way it is --- well tucked away! Too many people find out where it is and it'll be overrun!

And then they'll come after Ramona!

John D.

The "Real" Elvin Forest is now gone. It was RV Park in north county San Diego.
It was home three types of residents. First was your regular RVers who would set up their camp on a friday and leave on a sunday evening. The second were "Week Enders" who kept their RVs hooked up and in there slot and drove up their cars to the park on the weekend (my father had one of these in the late 70's). he last type of resedents were those who live in their double wides all year long.
It had a nice lake and boats run by a nice guy named Al. in the lake was an island were Al kept Thoses were good times. last I heard in the 80's bad rains washed out the lake. and i drove past last year 2005 and just the sign remained.

33 Deg 04'24.73" N
117 Deg 09'49.32" W


A few comments on the history of Elfin Forest to set the record straight:

- The founding of Elfin Forest dates back to when Ponce de Leon and crew passed through here looking for the fountain of youth. After drinking much of said lake with boats with no beneficial effect, they decided to move on. Rumor has it the the hills around Elfin Forest still abound with buried treasure.

- Earlier, both Charlemagne and Alexander The Great passed through here (not necessarily together) but apparently decided that the area was not worthy of encampment much less settlement.

- Teddy Roosevelt and The Rough Riders passed through here and spent a few glorious weeks hunting wild peacocks in the warm November sun.

- Elfin Forest was the original site of what would become known as the Yalta Accord. Apparently, Churchill was concerned about the lack of an ample supply of champagne.

- Jimmy Carter's brother, Billy, first experimented with planting peanuts here only to discover that the climate was too arid.

- Ronald Reagan's son, Ron, spent lots of time of effort trying to establish the first Elfin Forest Ballet Company, only to meet abject failure.

I could on and on but I shan't

Yes, there is a real Elfin Forest. Not on any maps, thank goodness. The elves here are real - you can visit them at our garden festival on April 21, 2007. The theme is "Hidden Treasures in the Valley of the Elves."

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