Post to the Host
Comments from the week of 04.04.22
I don’t subscribe to your column but my ex-husband sends them to me in batches so I’m not sure when I read this but it seems to me you once said you’d never had a therapist. Is that true, and if so, why not?
Santa Fe, New Mexico
I’ve never had a therapist, Emma. I’m all in favor of it for others but my problems are boring and the solution is simple: hard work. My main problem is narcissism and back in college when I worked in a scullery I didn’t suffer from it at all. The dirty dishes came in waves, you rinsed and slammed them into the racks and the conveyor took them through the dishwasher and you unloaded them steaming hot and carried stacks to the cafeteria line, and it was very satisfying and never did I commit introspection, ever. Narcissism is an occupational hazard for writers and the solution is for my wife to come into the room and say, “I need to put the bread pans away,” and I follow her into the kitchen and put the bread pans onto the very top shelf in the cupboard. One minute I was a writer exploring my Midwestern roots and the next minute I realize that I am useful because I am tall and can reach higher.
Thanks for the Easter humor in your last column. As a Presbyterian who has backslidden into Unitarian Universalism, I am fond of the cartoon where the two women who discovered the empty tomb of Jesus are being told by the disciples to go home because “we can take it from here.” Then, there’s the old joke about the pope getting a call from an archbishop who says Jesus’ second coming has suddenly been verified. He says the bad news is that the risen Jesus is in Salt Lake City, Utah. And for the evangelicals, there’s the cartoon depicting two church mice standing at the entrance of the home of another mouse saying, “We would like to talk to you about cheeses.”
Happy Easter in the spirit of Psalm 2:4!
Billy Frances Barclay
Cottle County, Texas
And then there’s the one about the Unitarian Ku Kluxers going around burning question marks.
In the office I used to work in, we had an older employee named Harold who was a delight to have around. He would be the first to show up, put the coffee on, and greet you with a smile. If I told him a joke, he would tell me three in return. I’m now an old guy so here’s a joke for you.
A young couple who worked together at a Chinese restaurant fell in love and got married. They just arrived in their honeymoon suite and the groom wanted to give his wife a memorable night. As they undressed, he asked her if there was something special she would like to try with him.
She responded, “Oh, I have heard that the number 69 is most enjoyable.”
The groom pulled back in disgust and replied, “How can you think of the Beef with Broccoli at a time like this?”
Have a great day.
Richard W. Hingst
I don’t get it. Is there a menu involved?
My now nearly 40-year-old daughter told me this penguin joke when she was in the second grade. I can still reliably get a laugh in retelling it:
One day a policeman is standing on a corner and a car pulls up at the stoplight with a penguin in the front seat. The cop hollers at the driver: “Hey, you need to take that penguin to the zoo!” To which the driver replies: “OK, I will.” The next day, the policeman is on the corner again when the same car pulls up to the stop light — still with the penguin in the front seat. “Hey — I thought I told you to take that penguin to the zoo,” he tells the driver. The driver answers: “I did — and today we’re going to the movies!”
Sorry to miss your show on May 2 at Red Rocks. But I will be on a long-planned camping/hiking trip in Colorado and Utah. I’m taking my brother out for an excursion to celebrate his recent retirement. Have fun at Red Rocks on the other side of the state, but I’ll be among different red rocks. Is a rebroadcast possible (I’d buy a ticket)?
John W Mitchell
Western Slope, Colorado
Be careful hiking in the mountains. I don’t think there’ll be a rebroadcast since there won’t be a broadcast. It’s only a show.
You talk of the “Sanctified Brethren.”
Ever heard of the “Exclusive Brethren”?
Another version of the brethren, except the Exclusives shun those who leave and won’t even eat with them. Left the Exclusives many years ago and got a radio and started listening to Garrison Keillor.
Anne, I grew up Exclusive and we didn’t exactly shun anybody though we did go without seeing them for a period of time but we were busy with lawn care and gardening and attending Bible conferences and the long-distance rates discouraged long phone calls. I do admit to shunning some people for political reasons though. Not proud of it but it does simplify things.
Dear Mr. Keillor,
After traveling for hours to see PHC in the Twin Cities, we’re so glad that you’re coming to our neck of the woods in May! We’ll be seeing you in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, only 30 miles away. Your next stop is in Wabash, which begs the question: where will you be staying in between? In some soulless hotel in Indiana? Better you should come stay with us at our farmhouse in Arpin, Wisconsin, where the water is sweet, the eggs extremely fresh, and the guest room mattress is pretty good. Also, we do understand introverts who are in the public eye, and would give you your space, if you wanted it. But perhaps you’d like to join us for a hymn sing at our little Presbyterian church, and we could sing “It Is Well With My Soul” in three-part harmony, most of the verses by heart. We could sing it in memory of your Freddy and our twin grandsons Phineas and Winston. How it still manages to be (mostly) well with our souls is a deep mystery of faith. But we celebrate it.
Truly, you are invited. And if you must decline, I still hope you’ll lead the Stevens Point crowd in a hymn of your choosing … for the grandchildren.
Rebecca (retired introvert pastor) and Jeff Niese
It’s kind of you to suggest it but I’m afraid it might be so comfortable and comforting that I’d be unable to leave. And of course my arrangers have laid out the itinerary already and I find it easier to do as I am told.
I hope it’s all right to ask about something from the late great Prairie Home Companion. I’ve wondered about this for years.
The Powdermilk Biscuits are made with “pure muesli.” But muesli is a mixture, so it’s not really pure, but I’m not totally sure the wordplay was intentional?
Muesli is almost a homonym for “mostly,” and pure mostly/mostly pure would be an oxymoron.
I have wondered if that “mostly pure” wordplay was intentional.
Thank you very much.
I don’t recall them being made with muesli; I think the phrase was “pure mostly.” But it was a long time ago.
Dear Mr. K.,
Re: “It’s going to be all right.”
I seriously doubt it.
There are times I doubt it, too, and I think it comes from reading too much. If I get outside and walk around and observe humanity, I believe we’ll survive. “All right” doesn’t mean everything will be as we wish it to be, but I do feel we live in a sea of civility.
Just thanks. Your columns give me so much light and joy that I feel a little guilty reading them for free.
Thank you so much.
Balsam, North Carolina
No time for guilt, sir. I’m having a wonderful time. I dreaded the thought of retirement and now it appears I have given it the slip. Eventually I’ll have said all I have to say and then my wife will change my password and I’ll just read the funny papers.
We were both born in 1942. Being born in March, I have already reached the big 80. Sometimes I feel my age and most times I do not. When I retired I had time for a luxurious breakfast of cheesy grits, fried eggs, toast, and fruit with my wife and time to admire the ingenuity of the birds that grace our backyard feeders. May your travels always find you on the sunny side of life.
I am not running a food shelf for birds, I think it’s good for them to work for a living, and I am avoiding cheesy grits because my wife is watching me, but I do travel around, keeping an eye on the calendar, and do shows now and then, and I avoid aerobic exercise except sometimes in the airport.
In regard to your April 6 column in which you expressed your disdain for awards, honors and prizes, I think the eminent physicist Richard Feynman, who received many honors and awards during his illustrious career, including the Nobel Prize, said it best:
“I don’t like honors. I’m appreciated for the work that I did, and for people who appreciate it, and I notice that other physicists use my work. I don’t need anything else. I don’t think there’s any sense to anything else. I’ve already got the prize. The prize is the pleasure of finding the thing out, the kick in the discovery, the observation that other people use it. Those are the real things. The honors are unreal to me. I don’t believe in honors … I can’t stand it. It hurts me.”
Redwood City, California
I think he protested too much. I think he should’ve stopped at “I don’t need anything else.”
Please assure Karen that she is not alone in having her name appropriated to describe something undesirable.
I will no longer refer to it as you, I promise. From now on, it will be a lavatory.
I was ogled by an old man when I was 8 years old when I was in public with my parents. Around the same time, I was asked on a date by a drunken man in his early 20s, again when my parents were present. Neither one of them said a word to these perverts. As I grew up and was out in the working world and in higher education environments, I was grabbed, harassed, put down in my place, yada yada. On the bright side, many men aren’t like that one bit, but I would have appreciated it if they had stood up against the bad ones. MeToo isn’t a personal attack on you, and it isn’t an attempt to ruin careers. It’s an attempt to make the world a better place for future generations, as you claim to also care about. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want you or anyone else doing this to boys, or men, or gays, or immigrants or anyone of any socioeconomic status who are likely to be told to stay in their assigned place. It would still be wrong and still intended to maintain the superiority of the patriarchy. The patriarchy may be why you feel so comfortable in church. Who knows? I wish churches would do a better job of working on love and equality. The “my dear” this young woman used to address you wasn’t necessary, but if it made you feel good, it’s because you don’t consider her higher status than you are. You have made a bit of a false equivalence there. I still like your writing on other topics.
When you complain about being ogled, you refer to an act of looking that is rather indefinable. As for being “put down in my place,” you’re referring to something that happens every day to practically everyone.” The way to defeat the “superiority of the patriarchy” is to be better than they are — look at Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson who was manhandled by a gang of U.S. senators. Most people watching that debacle saw her classiness and character and smarts in clear contrast to the craven fools (including Marsha Blackburn) who went after her. Your insult about my churchgoing being connected to patriarchy is just stupid; one reason I go to church is to hear the preaching of our rector Kate and our associate Julie. The cashier at the grocery who addressed me as “my dear” did so out of her own lightheartedness and it had nothing to do with status. If anything, it suggested equality, two strangers having a casual encounter on a Sunday and she tried to make it more human. If I had addressed her as “my dear,” which I would never have done, you’d have a point, but you don’t.
Dear Mr. Keillor,
I don’t guess you will ever see this, but I hope you do, because I want you to know that having read That Time of Year, I think you are a gift from the gods. So keep it up, keep writing. Your words are like cool rain on a summer day.
I’m not here to sell books but you might like my new novel, Boom Town, and I have another book coming out in a few months, A Salad of Ballads. And after that, who knows? The gods will have something to say about that.
Do you use profanity and obscenity in your personal life? You don’t have to answer that, I’m just wondering. I grew up evangelical, Swedish Baptist, and I find it horrifying to hear children cursing in public. What is happening in this country?
Brooklyn, New York
I agree, Carl. And it’s not just underprivileged kids, I hear New York children enrolled in expensive private schools, some named for saints, nine- and ten-year-olds using words I associate with vicious criminals. It’s like seeing them throw bricks through windows. Children in Utah, I’m sure, are very nice, and Maine and New Mexico, but I don’t live in those places. As for me, no, I don’t. Two pals of mine do, and I still flinch when they do, but I don’t say anything.
I feel I know you, having read so much of your writing, so I venture to ask: did you move to New York so you could hang out with famous people?
St. Paul, Minnesota
No, Brooke, I did not. I live in New York to please my wife who loves the city. She came here as a teenager, to be a classical violinist, which meant she was poor and had to live in a fifth-floor walkup with two roommates and sleep on a couch, and she learned to cheer herself up by walking around the city for hours. I stayed in Minnesota when I was broke, because then I could go live in my parents’ basement if necessary. So she’s a true New Yorker. I’m a tourist. In New York you do run into famous people. I once stood in a line next to Al Franken. I met Alec Baldwin once at a recording studio in Midtown where I was recording a book and he was recording a podcast; we conversed for a few minutes, he’s a very nice guy. Same with Louis C.K. whom I ran into and whom I’m a fan of. And David Sedaris, ditto. And once, eating lunch at the Café Luxembourg, a woman ran over and kissed me on the cheek and it was Meryl Streep. That made me the center of public attention for perhaps ten minutes. But mostly I sit at a table in our apartment and write and no celebrities come up there. Why would they?
IT IS PUBLISHING DAY. BOOM TOWN, A Lake Wobegon Novel is released.
Lake Wobegon is having a boom year thanks to millennial entrepreneurship—AuntMildred’s.com Gourmet Meatloaf, for example, or Universal Fire, makers of artisanal firewood seasoned with sea salt. Meanwhile, the author flies in to give eulogies at the funerals of five classmates, including a couple whom he disliked, and he finds a wave of narcissism crashing on the rocks of Lutheran stoicism. He is restored by the humor and grace of his old girlfriend Arlene and a visit from his wife, Giselle, who arrives from New York for a big love scene in an old lake cabin.
Available via garrisonkeillor.com (Book, mp3, cds/not yet available)
Available via Amazon.com (Book, Kindle, Audible)