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THE NEW PALS CLUB WEB-LOG
improbable-looking limestone karsts in Guilin

Monday, September 08, 2008

from memory
My prepared cutting for theater auditions in recent years has been a composite speech taken from various utterances of a character named Slanthead Elder in H. Allen Smith's novel, Mister Zip (written before the US Postal Service launched its ZIP code campaign with the psychotic-looking little mailman who can still be seen, in plywood form, in select post offices around our country). Slanthead is a sidekick and confidante of the earnest young TV cowboy who gives the book its name, and from time to time he dispenses opinions to Zip, who thinks there is such a thing as The Real West:

There ain't no West. I was what you call a real cowboy, thirty years ago, up in Wyomin'. Now, you take back in the 1880s, maybe they was a west that's a little like they got it in books and movies. But come to think, not much like.

You know how we got it now -- about all you got to do with cattle is herd 'em a little, and rustle 'em, and unrustle 'em, and drive 'em through the pass. Hell's fire, boy! You oughtta see what a real cowboy's gotta go through with them critters!

First place, a cow's the dumbest animal in the world. Mean. Ornery. A mule ain't in it fer bein' stubborn. One a the worst jobs a real cowboy has on a ranch is pullin' the bog. The stupid critters get sunk in the bogs and got to be hauled out, so you get some ropes on 'er, and two or three fellas on horses start pullin', and eventually you drag the son-of-a-bitch out. And what does she give you in the way a gratitude? In-verryibly, she tries to kill you! Tries to kill the men what saved her stinkin' life!

And the doctorin' you got to do! A critter has almost always got some kind a disease, and if she does have a short spell of health, why, then the bugs are at 'er and you got to fight them, and if you lay your hat down on the ground, she'll walk right over and crap on it, and all the time you're not playin' nurse-maid to these dumb bastards, you're workin' like a section hand, workin' in the hay-fields, fixin' fence, hoein' crops, and, so help me, hangin' out the warsh for the missus o' the ranch!
Elder has other choice speeches that would have made my selection too long for most directors. He holds forth on how stupid the other cowboys were ("That's all they got to talk about -- what's the shortest way to town.") and, when he gets drunk enough, Ole Hitler ("He's got a cave big as a soundstage back there in the hills, with slave labor turnin' out adam bombs like Gineral Moders makes Shivverlays!"). I left some out, so as not to ruin the entire book in advance. Just another service for you, the discriminating reader!
ps: No matter what I try, the text in this post looks larger than all my other posts. Goodbye, consistency. I hardly knew ye.

2 comments:

Susan de Guardiola said...

C'mon, you ought to make an audio file of this! Much more fun for us!

Kip W said...

It's been years since I had a good microphone. I don't think I have any mikes in the house any more, alas.