Panic at the Corn Palace


The RV isn’t what I expected it to be.  I imagined that we would be listening to music, reading books, watching videos and taking naps.  But there has been none of that.  Jim hasn’t even cracked open his “Deadwood” CDs. Dan attempted to play the radio, but abandoned it.  We owe postcards to followers but the movement keeps us from writing them.  It is noon. This must be Souix Falls, South Dakota.  No, it’s not. We’re in Mitchell.

CBC Network News wants to interview us live via Skype at 1:15 pm.  We select the Corn Palace, a public auditorium made primarily of corn stalks, to serve as our set. I phone the Corn Palace’s director and he assures me that there is WiFi.  But I’m finding there’s none, and so I panic.

Doris, the doe-in-the headlights receptionist, doesn’t know what WiFi is, so she’s unable to help us. Even Martin – a techno whiz, who insists on remaining detached from what we do for the sake of directing the film objectively, isn’t able to access the service.  Finally, Dan figures out that the antenna on my computer has been shut off by accident.  We’re in business, I think, for a minute. 

Things I don’t need to have happen to us happen in rapid succession. First the light isn’t right for the computer to pick up our images. I discover an email from a CBC network representative that suggests we were supposed to be interviewed an hour earlier than I planned. Jim decides that the way he can cool me down is to Skype his friend John Gleeson. Gleeson answers the video call, appears on the screen and, to pay sick respect to our predicament, dons a cowboy hat.

I’m not looking for humor. I am looking for Valium. You don’t need to know what happens next, but I’ll tell you.

Dan decides it’s time to check his email.  Jim decides he wants a photo of himself with a girl in a corn cob costume. I can’t talk any longer because my vocal chords are shot. A guy rolling a noisy trash can disturbs the relative peace. I check my computer’s battery life and it’s running on empty.

Now high as a kite, I get the call from CBC and the guy on the other end says we’re on in two minutes. The guy sees Dan and me on camera, Mike’s urn and a mailbox made of corn that I placed in the shot as scenery, and I tell him that Jim is off with the corn cob.  He then asks, “Would you get him, please?” with typical Canadian calm.

Well, in any case, the interview goes smoothly. Once it’s over I collapse with relief.  The producer calls me and says, “We just love you guys. Can you do this again?”  Of course we can I tell her, not really certain that I mean it. 

Till Next Time,

Vic Zast