Tim Russell (ANNC): And now, from the hushed reading room of the Herndon County Library, we bring you: Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian.
Sue Scott: Reference desk, Ruth speaking. (MAN ON PHONE) Yes-- what is your question? (MAN ON PHONE). No, I do not know about any such website, sir -- I am a librarian. I am not someone with a lot of extra time on my hands to look into that sort of thing. (DISAPPOINTED MAN ON PHONE). You're welcome. Goodbye. (HANG UP. FOOTSTEPS) A man looking for a website where animals dressed up as people sing songs and offer valuable prizes.
Fred Newman (TEEN): Oh. You should have told him to Google it.
SS: I do not use the word "google" as a verb, Kent. You know that.
FN (TEEN): Well, what do you call it when you go on line and write in a word in the Google blank and press "Go"?
SS: I don't. I go to the Encyclopedia Britannica. And when I look up Google, I find "Barney Google and his goo-goo-googly eyes," a pop novelty song of the Nineteen-Twenties.
FN (TEEN): So you don't--
SS: No, I don't. -- Do you know what today is, Kent?-- today marks one year since you came to work for me here at the Library--
FN (TEEN): Gosh. You remember?
SS: I'm a reference librarian, Kent. I keep track of facts. And this is for you-- a token of my gratitude.
FN (TEEN): Oh, wow. (UNWRAPPING) Gosh. My very own three-hole punch.
SS: Use it in good health, Kent.
FN (TEEN): Wow. Thanks, Miss Harrison. This is so cool. (THUK THUK THUK THUK). Awesome. It works.
SS: (DOOR OPENS, CLOSES, FOOTSTEPS) Oh oh, it's Mr. Parker, from the library board.
TR: Hi, Ruth. Listen. I had an idea the other day -- why don't we move all these reference books to the back of the library and put humor and detective stories and books on sports up front?
SS: Mr. Parker, I am a professional librarian. Why not leave this to me?
TR: People like that stuff. More than all these big heavy reference books you keep up here, that's for darn sure.
SS: A library does not operate on the principle of immediate gratification, Mr. Parker.
TR: Oh, what principle does it operate on?
SS: Truth. --If we moved humor to the front, where would it stop? We might as well serving beer out of a truck out front.
TR: Now you're talking.
Terry Gross: Hi.
SS: Oh my gosh. It's Terry Gross.
TG: I'm looking for a book, Miss Harrison. I wonder if by any chance you might have it.
SS: Terry Gross. I can't believe it. Here. In Herndon.
TR: Who's she?
SS: You wouldn't know, Mr. Parker. It's public radio. It's about ideas, nothing you'd be interested in. Kent--?
FN (TEEN): Yes, Miss Harrison? Oh my gosh. Terry Gross. "Fresh Air" -- I love that show.
TG: Well, thanks--
FN (TEEN): I loved that interview you did with Bill O'Reilly where you threw him out the window. Boy, that was fantastic--
TG: Well, I didn't really throw him out--
FN (TEEN): And that interview you did with Howard Stern where you got him to take off all his clothes and do a somersault.
TG: Kent, I think you're confusing me with something else.
FN (TEEN): No, I remember that. And the show where --
SS: Kent, stop blathering. This is Terry Gross. She interviews authors and artists and musicians.
TG: Well, actually I did interview Bill O'Reilly once--
SS: And occasionally she does windbags. But nothing like --
TR: I love O'Reilly. The No-Spin Zone. I bought a set of snowtires from him last year.
TG: And how did those work?
TR: I don't know. We didn't get much snow.
SS: Never mind him. He's just one more speed bump on the road to understanding. How can I help, Miss Gross?
TG: Well, I'm interviewing an author in a couple of weeks and I'm trying to read up on his earlier work. His name is Hrnrhrn. Mike Hrnrhrn.
SS: Hrnrhrn -- h-r-n-r-h-r-n. Michael. "Downloading The Future"--
TG: You've read it?
SS: The man is evil, Miss Gross. He's promoting e-books -- books you read off your cellphone. I hope you take him to the cleaners.
TG: Really? Some people think they're pretty cool.
SS: I can't believe I'm hearing you say this--
TG: I think good writing is good writing and people can get it by whatever technology suits them--
SS: I hope you haven't gone over to the dark side.
TG: Miss Harrison, I love books as much as anybody! I adore books! Just as I love going into a club and hearing live music. But that doesn't mean I have to be opposed to CDs, does it?
SS: So you've been drinking the Kool-Aid--
TG: Miss Harrison--
TG: Who is that man lurking in the corner?
SS: Who? -- Oh-- Him--
TG: The guy with the black hornrims.
SS: He's an author. His name is Preston Folded.
TG: I thought so. --Is there an office I can go hide in?
SS: What's the problem?
TG: He was a guest on my show a couple of years ago and -- the interview went for an hour and 45 minutes and we edited it down to three and even so it felt a little long.
SS: Which book was he promoting?
TG: It was called -- The Incredible Flatness of Being.
SS: Oh yes. The New York Times referred to it as "Ambien between two covers". They said, "Don't read this book standing up unless there are cushions around you"--
TG: Too late-- here he comes. (FOOTSTEPS)
Garrison Keillor: Oh, hi. Terry. Good to see you again. Hey, thanks for the interview.
TG: You're welcome. Good to see you.
GK: I didn't get a chance to hear it but people told me it was very good.
TG: Glad they liked it.
GK: I take it you didn't use the passage about the car trip from Minneapolis to Williston, North Dakota, and back.
TG: No. We had to cut that. Though it was beautiful, in its own way -- very evocative-- it had a sort of...incantatory quality...all the names of the little towns and the names on the mailboxes and the weather reports and --
GK: I didn't hear the show myself, but people said that you gave more time to David Sedaris.
TG: Yeah. I guess we did. His story about how the elastic band on his underwear snapped at the National Book Awards and he had to reach down and pull it up and then the spotlight hit him when they announced he'd won the lifetime achievement award. It was hilarious.
GK: Oh. Well. I don't care. I was just curious. So our whole conversation about flatness-- that all wound up on the floor, huh?
TG: Well, that was also the show that Ira Glass was on.
GK: Ira Glass. The name is familiar.
TG: "This American Life" --
GK: Oh, right. The quirky little reality show. What was he doing there?
TG: Well, he'd just done a show on bridges. And he was talking about that.
SS: I loved that show. They did the Brooklyn Bridge and dental bridges and musical bridges and Beau Bridges and Bridget Bardot and then this wonderful essay on international understanding.
GK: Oh really. So you went with that rather than what I had to say about geological formations. Oh well. Anyway I was meaning to give you a call. I have a new book coming out in the fall. It's called The Four Seasons: A Year of My Life and Thoughts.
SS: Oh my gosh, look out there-- a woman running naked across the parking lot--
GK: Where? (KONK, GK PASS OUT, BODY FALLS)
TG: I'm impressed, Miss Harrison. I never saw anybody hit an author before. I always wondered how it was done.
SS: It's just a little move we learn in biblio-tai-kwan-do -- it's called Making The Elephant Lie Down In The Tall Grass. He'll wake up in a little while. No harm done.
TG: Well, thanks, Miss Harrison.
SS: You're welcome.
TG: How can I repay you?
SS: Well, I have a book I'm writing, called Untamed Heart. The scene is a Scottish horse farm. An attractive young heiress in riding britches-a brooding, mysterious horse trainer, and the wild stallion they both love. I just know that my publisher would be awfully happy if he knew that I was going to be on "Fresh Air with Terry Gross."
TG: I'm sorry, Miss Harrison. I don't do those kinds of deals. And besides -- I'm writing my own book entitled Untamed Heart.
SS: You're what??
TG: It's my story, Miss Harrison. For thirty years I've listened to other people's stories, and now I get to tell my own
SS: Oh my gosh, you're taking off your clothes-- (GLISS, POOF) I can't believe it-- one moment, a mild-mannered public radio talk-show host -- and the next moment, a glamorous six-foot model in a black silk dress slit up the side and a feather cape and stiletto heels.
TG: Nice talking to you. See you around. (SLOW WALK, HIGH HEELS)
SS: Now that's what I call a woman of mystery.
FN (TEEN): Here, Miss Harrison, I found that book by Mike Hrnrhrn she was looking for--
SS: Never mind, Kent. She's gone. She's left the building.
TR: Join us next time for the adventures of Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian.