-- A newsletter of, about, and for
The Firesign Theatre...
...and their loyal fans
Four-Alarm FIRESIGNal #27 (Electronic #5) ============================================================================ Four Alarm FIRESIGNal is produced thrice yearly, in fire sign months (April, August and December) for the members and dear friends of The Firesign Theatre, by Elayne Wechsler-Chaput, who can be reached by "snail mail" at 1747 65th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11204 or by E-mail at either the Internet-direct address firstname.lastname@example.org or the CompuServe address 72672,2714 (while my office still subscribes to Prodigy, I really don't check in all that often, so please don't write me there). Electronic FAlaFal is free of charge, and both our electronic and hard copy version are freely reproduceable, but from now on it'll cost you to get the hard copy one (see this issue's editorial). Printing and mailing services were performed by Roger Snyder at The Print Shop; EFAlaFal was organized by Jamie Schrumpf at Monrovia Communications; Richard Fish, Phil Proctor, Davis Ossman, Fred Wiebel and Chris Palladino supplied news; Richard Arnold, Boyd Crow and Cat Simril Ishikawa contributed other writing. Thanks to all who participated!
============================================================================ No. 27 of ? TABLE OF CONTENTS AUGUST, 1995
[] THIS IS WORKER SPEAKING: Words from Elayne, Our Founder
[] RUMORS BEHIND THE NEWS: The latest on the 4or5 guys
[] TAKEN APART, STACKED UP, AND LABELLED: Archival news from Elayne;
a Call To Arms for help with an FT project; the Classifieds.
[] REVIEW: Cat Simril's review of Phil Austin's "Tales of the Old
Detective and Other Big Fat Lies," Phil's take on increasing age (his) and the Golden Daze of radio.
[] ADVERTISEMENT: SPARKS MEDIA: More yet Different audio and
video of the 4or5. Must-haves abound!
[] EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG: Quiz #2 from Richard Arnold to
challenge the self-proclaimed FT "expert" fan. Do YOU have what IT takes? Also: answers to quiz #1.
[] THE NATURAL SURREALIST PARTY HISTORY: FT's sojourn into "party
politics," and what happened when the hip hit the fan.
[] THEY'RE IN EVERYBODY'S EGGS: FT catch phrases appear everwhere,
at any time. Here's some of the favorite anecdotes submitted by Our Readers.
[] FUTURE FAIR INCORPORATED: The world's first Emergency Bozo units,
and how they, um, fared.
[] POSTMARK: DEEP SPACE -- Letters to the Editor
[] A POEM FROM PROCTOR: Phil blesses us with a play on OJ...
[] SEE YOU ON THE FUNWAY... It's a wrap! Endnotes & stuff from
Jamie, Your Electronic Editor.
This Is Worker Speaking...
Hello again, and welcome to that skeptic inside of you who still believes that... er, I mean, welcome to all our new readers who wrote to LodesTone/More Sugar for info or to order the EYKIW video! Our bulk mailing this time was over 2300, and we have even more folks reading the online version (if you've just seen the hard copy version of this for the first time and have online access, please E-mail me for details on where to find Electronic FALaFal)!
Unfortunately, there's a bad side to our growing hard-copy numbers, which most of you who read last issue suspected. (To digress a moment, speaking of our last issue, it was bulk-mailed on April 18 but there were numerous problems with the Smithtown BMC; if you have yet to receive #26, please send me a 32-cent SASE and I'll get it right out to you. The employees responsible for our problems last time are long gone, and the lovely and competent woman now in charge assures us this mailing should go smoothly; Roger bulk mailed the hard copy version of FAlaFal #27 on August 21.) Bear with me a moment, online readers: I have decided that, as of issue #28, the hard-copy version of Four-Alarm FIRESIGNal will be subscription- only. Yearly subscriptions will be $5 per year, American money or check (made out to "Elayne Wechsler-Chaput" please) or postal money order. A certain number of complimentary copies will go to the 4or5, press folks, etc., and everyone who has given me donations in the past year (i.e., whose names are acknowledged and thanked in this issue, #26 and #25) has an automatic subscription through issue #30. If you're at all interested in continuing to receive the hard-copy version of this newsletter, please get your $5 in to me ASAP so Michael Packer and I can make the necessary notations on the mailing list.
If you're online and wondering whether you should bother getting a hard copy FAlaFal as well, I will tell you that we do run things such as this issue's 2-page More Sugar spread and next issue's Chris Ward Crosswords which I will not duplicate for EFAlaFal (although you can get More Sugar info from LodesTone's Web page); likewise, hard copy subscribers can always SASE me for printouts of stuff that I don't have space to run here (like the premiere this issue of a new snippets column, "They're In Everybody's Eggs," a rambling text piece about Bozos by Jim Smith, and of course Jamie's "See You On The Funway" closing editorials). For the most part, however, everything vital is found in both versions, so it's entirely up to you.
Online folks had the advantage of knowing that I bought wholesale 100 sets of the Abkhazian Groucho Marx/John Lennon postage stamps reported on in our last issue, and have been reselling them for $10 each postpaid as a FAlaFal fundraiser. I want to thank Dia Allds, Richard Arnold, Stephen Bodney, David Bogie, Michael Bonner, Mike Broida, Jeff Bulf, Chris Day, Wayne Dernoncourt, David Gorski, Robert Heft, Keith Hopkins, David Hudson, Taylor Jessen, James Lindberg, Kevin Luke, Harold May, Shannon McMaster, David & Lisa McNair, Rick Moore, Steve Morris, Wayne Newitt, Tom Niccum, Scott Nybakken, Kevin O'Brien, Charles Parsons, Bruce Prussack, Diane Reese, Eric Schweitzer, Rick Sloane, Bruce Smith, Carl Switzky, Adam Thornton, Theron Trowbridge and Ted White for purchasing sets and netting FAlaFal a "profit" of $130 so far! You will all receive free FAlaFal subscriptions through issue #30 as well. So far 58 sets have been sold, so there are still plenty left if anyone else is interested. I'd also like to thank Debra Kirsch and others for extra stamps, and Robert Bain, Mike Boerger, Noel Boulanger, Wayne Davis, G. Donohue, Robert Heft, Keith Hopkins, Louis Krasser, Mike Maimone, Mike Martina, Nicola Nelson, David Parker, Robert Stanfield, Jerry Stearns, Theron Trowbridge and especially David Gorski and David Weems for their incredibly generous donations, which totalled over $435. Our outlay for this issue, between bulk mailing, foreign mailing, rising paper costs and remails, will probably come to about $1200, and among the donations, funds raised from stamp sales and a generous cash influx from LodesTone/More Sugar, we're just shy of $1000, which pleases and relieves me greatly - but, I fear, not greatly enough to forestall subscriptions.
Roger and I thank all who were able to attend and help out at our April labelling/bundling party (Richard Arnold, Robert Bain, Bill & Vicki Benzel, Frank Bland, Melinda "Bob" Casino, Alan Gross, Sandy Hawkins, Mike Maimone and Ronnie Sheeskin), as well as those who helped with this issue, which we hope you enjoy - we have the second part of Richard's quiz, exciting archival news, a wonderful review of Phil Austin's latest creative endeavor, a Campoon '76 reminiscence and a poem from Proctor, in addition to our regular news and letter column features. Our next party will be either December 9 or 16; contact me for details as the dates approach.
Personal stuff: I'm afraid Baby Quest has failed; thanks for all your good wishes anyway, and if you know of any good and inexpensive adoption agencies, we'd be very interested.
This issue is dedicated to Jerry Garcia.
Rumors Behind the News
by Richard Fish (LodesTone/More Sugar)
Here's the news from Sectors R and N --
* "How Can You Be In Two Places At Once" is re-released by Sony/Columbia
Legacy, and is listed in the Grammy Awards guide (under Legacy). Time for some fan mail to the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences?
* "The Tick" is a very hip animated TV series. Extremely hip, in fact:
they hired the entire Firesign Theatre to play characters in an upcoming episode. Watch for "The Tick In Las Vegas," and you'll hear the boys playing the hench-creatures of the episode's main villain, who's described as a sort of a porpoise-gone-bad. That worked so well they've done it again...or half of it anyway. DAVID OSSMAN and PETER BERGMAN have parts in the final episode of (this year's?) series, called "Retirement Home." Peter has a major part in that, and David does various voices.
* PROCTOR & BERGMAN are working on a comedy CD-ROM project, but aren't
talking about the details yet. Phil and Peter both say they're having a ball writing and creating the concept, and an unsubstantiated rumor has it that the product will be due out next June, if all goes well. Proctor says the project is "...really very exciting, we're having a hell of a lot of fun on it!"
* PETER BERGMAN has been busy with campaigns for movies -- "Desperado"
is his current project -- and worked on the promotions for the CBS-TV fall season. He and Patricia and Lisa are well and happy and busy, but probably not too busy to enjoy the sunsets over the Pacific from the back porch of their Santa Monica home.
* PHIL AUSTIN is very pleased with the release of his cassette (which has
sold triple the amount expected) and the progress of the new book. He and Oona and the dogs are headed up to Washington, where (among other things) he'll work on the "Anythynge" script with David. [Ed. note: The aforementioned new double-cassette release, "Tales of the Old Detective and Other Big Fat Lies," reviewed by Cat Simril Ishikawa elsewhere this issue, has been produced by Pat Fraley, who reports that, if you can't find it in a store and "If you want to get one fast and simple, call 1-800 231-4261. That's a really good books-on-tape company called Audio Editions. They published the project. The publisher, Linda Olsen, is a big Firehead herself." I believe the cost is $16.95 plus $4.50 for UPS shipping, and the cassettes may still be available as well from The Book Resource (212-254-6031, E-mail email@example.com). In addition, Richard is trying to arrange for LodesTone to carry the tape in the near future.]
* PHIL PROCTOR and Melinda Peterson have been touring college campuses
with Phil's daughter Kristin, who plans to enter the University of California system upon her graduation from (what's Norwegian for "Morse Science High?"). Phil has been very busy with various roles in the Hollywood scene, including a crabby passenger on NBC's "The Crew," the 2nd episode, due to air around the end of August; several roles in the computer-animated feature "Toy Story," with megahot Tom Hanks (says Phil, "The subtleties of the facial and body movements are astonishing for both the toy figures and the humans, and the story and dialogue is extremely hip. And no wonder - both the director and Andrew Stanton, the writer/creators, are Firesign fans and asked for an autograph:); some ADR ("Automated Dialog Replacement" -- soundtrack post production work) on "T-REX" which stars Whoopi Goldberg; the voice of Mike the Mechanic in a new campaign for the State of California, which is intended to reduce pollution by encouraging car owners to keep their cars in good repair. (might work in California, but looking at some of the clunkers on the roads around here, I dunno about Indiana!); an audition for a great part in Jackie Chang's new movie, "Rumble In The Bronx" (Phil is up for the part of Chang's uncle; if he gets it the movie is sure to be a scream -- he reports Chang is the "Buster Keaton of Kung Fu movies," and THAT I gotta see!); an upcoming interview in Stereo Review on "the state of comedy in America"; and writing the poem on O.J.Simpson which graces this issue's back page, and which will also be appearing in the prestigious "Saturday Review" in the near future.
* DAVID OSSMAN and Judith Walcutt are up to their ears in kids and
projects, as usual, up on lovely Whidbey Island. David has been down to L.A. a few times recently, doing "The Tick" and so forth. Otherworld Media (and, er, um, us here at LodesTone) have just released a new production of which we are inordinately proud: "Goldfish" -- a 1936 short story by Raymond Chandler, one of the earliest tales of Philip Marlowe, the classic hardboiled detective. David wrote the script and directed; Judith found the clearances and assembled a really wonderful cast, including Harris Yulin as Marlowe, and Harry Anderson (Night Court/Dave's World). It's a full hour production and now available on cassette and for broadcast (grab b'cast opportunities quick, as NPR may pick it up exclusively but hasn't done so yet). David's new novel, "The Ronald Reagan Murder Case, A George Tirebiter Mystery," is finished and sent off to the agent, seeking a publisher. I've seen an advance copy and it's wonderful! Not only is it a great Tirebiter story, Paranoid Pictures and all, but it's a mysterious mystery. It's hardboiled in places and softboiled in others, but throughout it's most definitely boiled. (A number of Otherworld productions are coming to the LodesTone Catalog as soon as we can get them packaged.) David has also written a slim volume of poetry, which we hope to publish on the internet soon; he has reduced the poems to ones and zeroes and we hope to reassemble them correctly once he faxes us the instructions ("...insert adjective A into noun B...").
* GEORGE TIREBITER has become available for a very special tour: now you
can get the original Peorgie to come to YOUR town and help you put on a performance of "Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers!" George will come into your town for a week or so, and work with the cast and crew you've assembled, polish up the performance and deliver it as a stage show and/or a live broadcast. How would YOU like to play Mudhead with the one-and-only Peorgie? Or Bottles? Or Principal Poop? If you're seriously interested in arranging one of these, please get in touch with us here at LodesTone.
* The SCRIPT for "Anythynge You Want To" is still on its way... the delay
is mainly due to the guys getting into producing a bunch of new material, footnotes and suchlike. David is serving as compiler and editor on this one, and a final version is wending its way now -- we hope to have it out in time for Christmas, anyhow. The video NICK DANGER IN THE CASE OF THE MISSING YOLK is still on its way also. We still hope to put some long-unavailable video with it before putting it out, but the goal is to get it out in time for Christmas no matter what. Stay tuned...
* THE LODESTONE CATALOG has some big news -- it's greatly expanded, and
NOW PUBLISHED ON THE WORLD-WIDE WEB! Check out our site -- the URL is:
and please let us know what you think! We're still under construction in some ways; as of this writing we haven't gotten our audio clips up yet. And please note something very important: LODESTONE has a NEW NUMBER FOR ORDERS! Call 1-800-411-MIND for catalog orders now. Our old number was 414-MIND; the new number is 411-MIND. Just one digit different for you, but a world of difference for us. From now on we will own our own 800-number and not have to change it. We had some problems with the company answering the old number, and have been trying very hard to work these problems out and negotiate a proper settlement. Unfortunately, they own the 414 number. They promised repeatedly that the number would be released to our ownership as part of a general settlement, and then reneged on that promise at the last minute. Our talks are still continuing; results will be reported here next issue, and immediately on our web page.
* What happened to Eric Gardner and new Firesign Tours? I don't know
all the answers. I wasn't there when things went down. But I will explain how I see it, my opinions and nobody else's. There is a financial catch-22. It's not 1968 anymore, and the Four or Five Crazy Guys can't just park their Volkswagens and hole up in a studio for awhile, or tour on a catch-as-catch-can basis. They all have families, responsibilities, professional obligations, and bills coming in. Breaking them loose from those long enough for them to tour, or produce new work together, requires a certain amount of money up front. All of this has been very frustrating and disappointing to everyone involved. We here at MORE SUGAR have no answers so far. We'll just keep on releasing everything we can get the rights to and find the money to package. (Anybody want to invest in a product or two? It would speed things up!) However, the showbiz scene is also an area when things can change suddenly, and there is always a demand for talent.
Well, that's the news from the left ventricle here in the heartland. Gotta run -- which way's Goshen?
[Thanks Richard! Just a couple more items from me:]
* Phil Proctor, Melinda Peterson, and David Ossman are all planning to attend this year's Midwest Radio Theatre Workshop (see back issues of FAlaFal for details on this annual event). Also, Jerry Stearns reports, "David Ossman has accepted as a Guest of Honor at the 1996 Minnesota Regional Science Fiction Convention (Minicon 31). I will be producing the usual Opening Ceremonies original radio comedy show, and David will be writing something to perform there. More details as they are grown."
Taken Apart, Stacked Up and Labelled
============================================================================Thanks to Paul Goldschmidt and Jeremy Braddock for their fine additions to our press archives. Paul wrote a nice review of the "Back from the Shadows" CD for the April 1995 issue of The Music Press in upstate New York (P.O. Box 742, Binghamton, NY 13905), and gave us a nice plug besides, and Jeremy's extensive analysis "Why You've Never Heard of The Firesign Theatre" was the centerpiece in the second issue of his magazine VERBIVORE (Jeremy's at 532 LaGuardia Place #573, New York, NY 10012, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org). The terrific interview the 4or5 did with Greg Catsos which appeared in OUTRE #2 is detailed in Fred Wiebel's press release following this short archival update. And thanks to "Bud" Banks as well for giving us a nice plug in his publication BudZine, as well as Seth and Jerod at Factsheet Five.
For the time being, due to other commitments and a testy VCR, I am not pursuing the specifics of Firesign video duping; maybe things will straighten out more by December. Anyone desiring audio duping should contact Michael Packer, whose SPARKS ad once more appears in these pages. (Please send Michael a 55-cent SASE for his Audio Archives list, which we are in the process of correcting for uploading online.)
Frank Bland and Taylor Jessen are currently working details out with the 4or5 regarding starting up a "record/CD exchange service" for people unable to locate Firesign works in local record stores, as well as people looking to sell things from their own collections. Frank and Taylor plan to institute this service, on either a biweekly or monthly basis, online (via the alt.comedy.firesign-thtre newsgroup) as well as through the mails; for more information, E-mail Taylor at email@example.com or tune into the newsgroup. If you don't have online access, please send a SASE to Frank at 178-60 Wexford Terrace, #6F, Jamaica, NY 11432-3023.
If you *do* have online access, I'm planning on following up FAlaFal #26's article on the World Wide Web by gathering a list of every Firesign-related Web site (most, but not all, of which are linked to one another), which will be available from me via E-mail. Also available from me via E-mail (or a 32-cent SASE) are lists of my press, miscellaneous print, and/or video archives.
Lastly, Fred Wiebel issues the following call-to-arms to anyone wishing to help gather archival material for the following project:
PRESS RELEASE PULL
Surrealist Artist and Mixed Medium Frederick C. (No I'm not online) Wiebel, Jr. has shoved aside his flatulently debt-ridden and debatable fine arts career, and forced march to worldwide obscurity, to concentrate his creative juices on several Firesign Theatre projects this summer, fall, and winter... God, will it ever end?
First off the pad, Wiebel has launched a titan of an article on our Dear Friends for the spring issue (#2) of OUTRE, The World of Ultramedia magazine called (by an Editor) "Fighting Clowns to the Rescue." This 7-page article, starting on page 69, divinely features 6 photos, some alternate shots from the regular canon of pictures, and a unique retrospective of the group. Culled from dozens of annoying phone calls to The Firesign by fellow blabbermouths -- I mean, journalists Gregory (I'm the professional, so my name comes first) Catsos, Chris (No, I'm not online either) Palladino, and the abovementioned Fred (please answer my calls) Wiebel, Jr., this is the first joint article smoked up by this tragic trio. (No, we're not speaking to each other any more, don't bother me, I'm trying to finish this thing.) If you can't find it hidden on your local newsstands, fall in and order it directly ($6) from Box 1900, Evanston, IL 60204. Swamp them with requests so that they'll print up an article on TFT's movies for their sister magazine, no not a feminist publication, FILM FAX (same address).
Also on Wiebel's not-so-secret agenda is a Firesign Theatre feature article for DISCoveries Magazine for Record and CD Collectors called "The 8 Shoes Track Record," with the most comprehensive display of the group to date, fall in love with, and get married to, scheduled to be printed in the December issue. You don't want to miss this, because it will feature more photos of the group, rare record labels and jackets, and sidebar interviews and comments by people who were instrumental in trumpeting TFT over the years, including your friends in the fan network, Elayne Wechsler-Chaput, Michael Packer, and Richard Fish, if he returns my calls. Call 1-800-334-7165 to subscribe or reserve your copy; inquiries for the magazine can be addressed to DISCoveries Magazine, Suite 1, 922 Churchill St., Waupaca, WI 54981. It really is a good magazine/newspaper that features comprehensive articles and discographies, and hundreds of lists of recordings for sale, where you can find that puzzling missing piece to your Firesign collection. And believe me, after you read the article and discography, you're going to have to start shopping, I know I have. I want that "Duckman" single by the Buddies featuring Phil Austin, and I can't find that damn, why didn't I buy it when it came out, "Dwarf" CD anywhere.
Wiebel is up to his beard in over 150 pages of recent interviews (8/94-8/95) with TFT that he has greedily assembled and generously offered to sell to you, the little guy, in order to grace your mind and grease his palm, and pay for all these f***ing long distance phone calls to the West Coast, a pre-publication, hand xeroxed, limited by budget edition, illustrated with insipid drawings and blurry in-concert photos from '74 to '93, including the discography and anything else he can find to pad it out with, copy of his soon to be rejected book "Backward Into The Future: An Interactive Romp with The Firesign Theatre," for a mere $10, plus $3 postage, I'll handle it myself. A deluxe limited edition with several color laser prints, personally imprinted with your name, number 1 to 50 and autographed by the author, in a 3-ring binder can be stolen for $25, plus $5 postage, I love to handle it, but will wash my hands before mailing. Wiebel hopes to have it finished, wife willing, by September. To reserve your copies of either edition call Fred at 1-301-791-7454.
Another project that Mr. Wonderful Wiebel (Wiebels wobble, but they don't fall down) has bothered everybody with is a series of chronologies featuring the various aspects of the group and individual members dating back to 1950: Recordings, Movie/TV/Video, Stage, Print, Radio, and soon to be started Miscellaneous. The Firesign Theatre has been augmenting and correcting the information for the last several months, along with Firesign syncophants Chris "The Seeker" Palladino, Elayne "Fanzine Queen" Wechsler-Chaput, Alan "Video Blimp" Gross, Michael "Sparks Media" Packer, Mark "Lots of Photos from '74" Garland, and Gregory "Well, Not Really But He Likes to See His Name In Print" Catsos. David Ossman has expressed an interest in seeing the info published by More Sugar, so anyone wishing to contribute material/information and get your name in the acknowledgements can contact research buddy Chris Palladino at 11016 Coffman Ave., Hagerstown, MD 21740 and 1-301-582-0152.
CLASSIFIED: TOP SECRET
The Montage Radio Theatre Club, based in Suffolk County, Long Island (NY), is looking for actors, writers and engineers! For more information, please contact Bradley Arrington at (516) 632-6800.
"Tales of the Old Detective and Other Big Fat Lies"
Reviewed by C. Simril
The most important word in Austin's latest offering, Tales of the Old Detective, is the burdensome chronological adjective. Phil meditates on, chats and jokes with his increasing age, and those who are too young to know or care about the old days, when radio was important. Things were different then, he keeps telling us, and creates more and more levels of big fat lies to keep us from knowing what it was really like when the mist was raw, and all things were possible, as Phil left Fresno for the brave new world.
Most of the tales are reminiscences of the old detective, as told to the younger narrator. An Austin clone in conversation with his creation.
The first two stories, "Salad Days" and "The Age of Brass," play with our ideas of the past. The last story, "Yesterday's News," stretches our way of knowing earlier days into an elasticity previously found only in the mind of Moebius. All three stories end with the image of trees against the sunset of the past. What a final vision to behold!
The first thing the firefan notices is the absence of sound effects. Well, there's usually one effect at the beginning; then just Austin's voice. So this is to be different from the other Firework; and to be listened to differently. Understood differently? The most serious work I've ever heard from the FT, and finally, the most chilling. At the end of the last story I have to put a big coat on in Mid-July and park myself in front of a raging fire: just the place the Chandler-besotted FT first created Nick Danger, mukluks up to the cellophane.
"Salad Days," you'd think from the title, is a tale of youth, or perhaps a culinary tale. Metaphorically, a tale of the Hollywood Forest, and the greener world in everyone's healthier past. Metaphors in bloom. The Brass Age evokes the newly discovered "Ice Man," a mummified 4,000 year old body found in the Alps. It also plays with the ideas of people from one "age" inhabiting another. Far from the age of reason, there are still some tribes living technologically like we all did in the Stone Age. What fun to play with the name of the City: Queen of the Angels, who may also be the Queen of France, or just Queen for Day (or a utility infielder for the Anaheim team?) She may have loved the old detective for a brass age moment, but royalty was always a bad idea.
Side two of the first cassette begins with "X Is For Christmas," and brings to mind Bergman's assertion that every radio show begins with a mystery. It continues the old folktale-influenced Firesign tradition of Animals acting like People. The murderous reindeer in this tale gives way to the financial shrewd spiders in "The Money Hat," a man named Roosevelt Elk who may or not be an elk, and enough changeable species to make you want to turn into a crow. The next story, not of the old detective but automotive visionary "C. William (Bob) Heeblehauser, A Profile," features a car shaped like a beaver tale, brought about by Bob's Harvard discovery that "people are animals." Is the Iacocca-like Bob as good a salesman as Ralph Spoilsport? Like Nick Danger in the intro to Austin's previous work, Down Under Danger, Bob's bio is a mystery wrapped in an enigma inside an obfuscation. But hilarious.
"The Precipice of Angels" is the least humorous, and for me, most effective of the nine. We do get a man with a funny name, Sir Jim Ashton (as opposed to Austin) Whippie (also called Whoopie), as if Austin were trying to entertain a young child. A boulevardiste scaling the LA streets like so many Firejokes on Sepul Veeda and Big Tajunga Canyon with Pico and Alvarado. "Night spider" calls a homeless person, and you remain Unseen. The secret sport, whose secrecy he so cherishes, is like the firework itself: esoteric, private, not for everybody... murmurings of memory code... "I Am La Brea Man. I discover pain and boredom..." How Austin must have loved saying "Brass Mastadon"...
And the woman who discovers him, "her eyes shielded by the darkest o sunglasses." Throughout the 9 tales, the narrator is obsessed with how women look. Has he ever seen one that wasn't a "knock-out?" Finally, a woman who needs serious shades to stare at the "I" on the precipice of angels. But the tale is exquisite. The very diagram of another world. Austin's direction for a long time, from Roller Maidens' other world, his Apocalypse Papers tale, Shangri-Delight in The Armenian's Paw through the Land Down Under in Nick's latest adventure. Not a world of different scientific laws a la the talking spiders of the Money Hat, or the time-travelling Queen and Iceman in the 2nd story - the world of the secret climber is like the secret trash cans labelled W.A.S.T.E.; our reality, with an occlusion. A blindness to the man in the squirrel suit, the woman behind the shades. A conspiracy of of the solace of blindness.
Before "The Precipice of Angels" is reached, another architectural masterpiece called "The House of Little Men or the Futile Attempts By Men to Control Women." Ballinger moves from Fresno to Frisco, falls in love, makes strange friends. The densest jungle of description of any tale, as if Austin just had to get it right, the sound and the sights and the feel of that point in his life when he learned something important. Then, hearing the word "keen" twice makes your eyes widen. It rings truer in terms of experienced reality than any other Austin reverie. One hopes the narrator's balls were not injured in his discovery of the industry of shoes, in an earlier age, when the moon employed us all.
You do get the Austin-past throughout. The Shasta he reaches for in the ice water quenches thirsts in the memory of many of those calendars. LA was a lot greener 40 years ago, long before the chic of salads. "Development Valley School Lunch Menus" amuses the grandchildren of some fans, and remind their grandparents of magic, not candied mushrooms, hour hour, dear friends riffs on itinerated reality. Please grampa Austin, can we have some more gruel?
In "The Money Hat," the spiders have gone from stealing food stamps to running Wall Street. But they're only doing it for the nuns. And everyone likes the hat. Next to a busking Detective, on the street, labeled: Will Amuse for Food.
Back when radio was important, it was on the news. "Yesterday's News." Tales of the Doomed. Damned. Dead. Alliteration slide into the tubefull tomb. Old radio drama, like the first adventures of Nick Danger, is self-referential. It is a style of writing, of experiencing information. Radio makes things important, such as The Firesign Theatre.
The OJ reference grounds the Tales in commonly perceived reality circa 1995, but there are all these other worlds that occasionally intrude. Remember when mail was delivered? Remember rivers, Nelly? There it was. On the radio: reconstructed reality. People brought back to life by sticking them on the radio, families who like to sleep in tubes. The totality of their reality can be recorded. Played back, they're veritable angels, no longer los. Heaven is on the radio, somewhere. The first show broadcast by the FT is still beaming its way to appreciative audiences on other worlds. Beaver hats are in the past, beaver tail cars in the future, but which is which, Dr. Memory?
Firesignia Available Exclusively from
P.O. Box 3540
Grand Rapids, MI 49501
DOWN UNDER DANGER: A Nick Danger Adventure (Written by and Starring Phil Austin; 1994) - Nick tackles a case involving the disappearance of the continent of Australia, a boxing kangaroo named Jojo and more Danger than you can shake a fist at.
1 Cassette $ 9.50 ppd
THE GEORGE TIREBITER STORY, Chapter 1 aka Another Christmas Carol (Written by and Starring David Ossman; 1989)
1 Cassette $ 8.95 ppd
RADIODAZE, featuring "The New Adventures of Mark Time," "Max Morgan: Crime Cabby" and "Young Tom Edison" (Written by and Starring David Ossman; 1989)
1 Cassette $ 8.95 ppd
AN AUTOBOZOGRAPHICAL EVENING - A one-man show including Firesign video bits and a special prepared version of "Poems for Two Voices" (Starring David Ossman; 1986)
1 VHS Video $15.95 ppd
RADIOPLAY - A documentary on the making of a David Ossman radio show (Starring David Ossman; 1989)
1 VHS Video $15.95 ppd
All programs produced by SPARKS MEDIA
Please make all checks payable to "Sparks" Michigan residents add 6% sales tax
Everything You Know is Wrong: The Firesign Theatre Trivia Quiz ============================================================================
by Richard Arnold
This quiz is part of a contest sponsored by FAlaFal. See the rules in the April 1995 issue on how you can enter, or see my Firesign Theatre Official Rules World Wide Web page at
The deadline for submitting answers to these questions is November 1, 1995. Entries for this quiz can be sent to Richard Arnold c/o this publication, by e-mailing Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mailing it to Richard at 1303 R Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009 (no phone calls, please). This and subsequent quizzes appearing in FAlaFal are excerpted from a quiz Richard is developing for his World Wide Web page. The quiz in its entirety will be posted in installments after the publication of these excerpts. Prizes will be determined by Richard, Elayne, and/or the 4 or 5 at the end of the quiz.
Part Two: Questions from the album
HOW CAN YOU BE IN TWO PLACES AT ONCE
WHEN YOU'RE NOT ANYWHERE AT ALL
"How Can You Be in Two Places At One When You're Not Anywhere At All" (44 points total)
1. What climate did Babe first choose while driving his car? (1) 2. What name did staff and customers at the hotel call Babe (full
name only)? (1)
3. What was Babe's reply when Lilly Lamont asked him "Where are
you from" (full reply)? (1)
4. How did Nick get even with every cop in the city? (1) 5. With whom did Ralph Spoilsport confuse Steve Reeves? (2) 6. Complete this phrase: "...and I'll die an American, ________" (2) 7. Which pyramid opened after the hieroglyphs were deciphered? (2) 8. What was the name of the war movie? (2) 9. What was the name of the character who deciphered the
hieroglyphs, and on what famous personality was he based? (3) 10. What phrase did the crowd chant after Shickelgruber's speech? (3) 11. The Sermonette included eight separate references to what? (3) 12. When Ralph "tasted" the Yucatan Blue, from what work of literature
did he begin quoting (title and author)? (3) 13. When Ralph and Babe were watching the Roman-era movie, music
from what real movie was playing on the TV? (4) 14. The exit signs for the Antelope Freeway were a reference to what
ancient Greek mathematical concept (specific phrase)? (4) 15. The lion's "paws" in the hieroglyphs was based on an ad campaign
for what product? (4)
16. What did the names of the politicians (except for Ford) in the"shining steel rail" routine have in common? (4) 17. According to Phil Austin, the hero Babe and his adventures were
loosely based on what work of literature (title and author)? (4)
"The Further Adventures of Nick Danger" (40 points total) 18. As described by Nick in his opening monologue, what was written
on the glass of his office door? (1)
19. What case number did Nick give to this adventure? (1) 20. What proof did Catherwood have that he had visited ancient
21. How did Catherwood return the cast from the flashback to the
present time? (1)
22. What three things did Rocky show Nick in their first meeting? (2) 23. List all aliases for Nancy (full names). (2) 24. What was the main ingredient of Loosner's Castor Oil Flakes? (2) 25. What was Catherwood's first name? (2) 26. Of the three movies that Rocky Rococo mentioned, which was
NOT a movie in which Peter Lorre appeared? (3) 27. Did Nick sit in the Waiting Room, or wait in the Sitting Room? (3) 28. When Nick said he had a "headful of ideas that were driving me
insane," he was referring to what song (title and artist)? (3) 29. What was quoted from when Nick said that "inferior people should
not be employed?" (3)
30. On which song was the Nick Danger theme based? (4) 31. Of the many Beatles references, only two quotes in "Nick Danger"
did NOT refer to songs from the White Album. Which two quotes, and from which albums were they taken? (4) 32. What was the likely date (day, month, and year) of the Nick
Danger "broadcast," and how can this date be determined? (4) 33. What was the last line on the "Nick Danger" side of the album, who
said it? (4)
Answers to Part One:
WAITING FOR THE ELECTRICIAN OR SOMEONE LIKE HIM
"Temporarily Humboldt County" (13 points total) 1. Spaniards (1)
2. Oil (1)
3. On the banks of the Mississippi (will also accept 2 hours west of
4. Father Corona, Vespucci, Cisco (will accept alternate spellings) (1
point for each name)
5. The Tom Collins (3)
6. W.C. Fields (accept any answer with "W.C. Fields" in it) (3)
"W.C. Fields Forever" (20 points total)
7. "Range" (1)
8. He turns into an elephant and stampedes off (will accept any
answer with "elephant" in it) (1)
9. Tantric (2)
10. G-U-R-U, or "Gee, you ARE you" - (will give one point if "Love"
is the response, but does not also include "GURU") (2) 11. Good Games People Play Room (wording must be exact) (3) 12. Electric Blue (3)
13. Artful Dodge City; the Artful Dodger; "Oliver Twist" (1 point for
each of the first two answers, 2 points for the third) 14. "The Word;" The Beatles (half point if "John Lennon" was the
answer, but not The Beatles); Rubber Soul (1 point for each of the first two answers, 2 points for the third)
"Le Trente-Huit Cunegonde" (21 points total) 15. Groovy (1)
16. Malcolm X John Lennon (wording/word order must be exact) (1) 17. Faded San Francisco Art Nouveau (wording and word order must
be exact; I will accept alternate spellings, but will deduct 1 point if the word "faded" is left out) (2)
18. 8 million hard-bound copies of "The Naked Lunch" (will accept any
answer with "The Naked Lunch" in it) (2) 19. Secretary of Peace (will not accept "Baby" or any of the Kennedy
20. "The Naked Lunch;" William Burroughs (2 points for each answer) 21. "Do You Love Me;" The Contours/The Dave Clark Five (will accept
either band) (2 points for each answer)
22. Enola Gay; Marshall McLuhan (2 points for each answer)
"Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him" (30.5 points total) 23. Four (1: will give a half point to any answers that include "Four"
and "with the elevator boy")
24. Beat the Reaper (1)
25. Towel, Bath, Coffee, Delight, Border (answers must include all five
26. Russian and French (1 point for each answer) 27. The Black Cross (2)
28. Six (2)
29. An imminent palace coup (3)
30. Common cold, measles, pneumonia, dengue fever, and the yaws2
(half point each for Common Cold and Measles; half point for Pneumonia; 1 point each for Dengue Fever and the Yaws) 31. Judy (3)
32. "Waiting for Godot;" Samuel Beckett (2 points for each answer) 33. The New York/New England blackout of November 1965 (will
accept any form of this answer - will deduct 1 point is no year is given or is wrong) (4)
34. Governor general of the Eastern Sudan; Commander in chief of the
Egyptian army; lead invasion of the Sudan; Commander, South African War; Commander in chief of the British forces in India; Consul general in Egypt; World War I Secretary of state for war (will accept any single or combination of the above answers)
Total points possible for the quiz: 84.5
Winner: Rick Moore <RKTHSTK@aol.com> - Congratulations, Rick!
The 1976 Natural Surrealist Party Presidential Campoon - A History ============================================================================
by Boyd Crow
The Natural Surrealist Party Campoon of 1976 was inspired by the Firesign Theater album "Not Insane". Local residents recruited at a Firesign film festival met with Joe Beets, David Ossman, and Tiny Ossman (a remarkable performer and organizer in her own right) to become the nucleus of the Natural Surrealist Party. David Ossman was a mighty magnet for recruiting who lent his time and charm but refused to lead or control, rather encouraging all of us to think, to create for ourselves.
Our first public campaigning was conducted at the Freedom Train, a traveling patriotic exhibit, where 3000 bored standees were jarred to their political roots by our well-dressed survey teams (How often do you think bicentennials should be celebrated?), campaign leaflets (Not Insane!), and impromptu press conference.
Who was George Papoon? He was Everyman, anonymous inside his paper sack. (He was never portrayed by the same person.) George Papoon, like most politicians, became entirely a creature of his party. He could say anything, have been anyone, and be anywhere, appearing at a hundred places on the 4th of July 1976 (our Bison-tennial). His history grew as the party grew. Media loved him.
In response to the psychiatric controversy which had eliminated Eagleton as a vice-presidential contender, Papoon declared himself Not Insane with certification of sanity from Dr. Elmo Firesign. Papoon enfranchised the animals with the eco-slogan "One Organism, One Vote". To promote a wide political base, the Papoon platform was six inches off the ground "so no one falls off".
Many of us had dual roles. With David Ossman and Joe Beets serving as national co-chairmen, the NSP expanded to include over 200 campoons in the U.S.A. David Ossman also portrayed George Tirebiter who became the vice-Presidential running mate. As Boyd Crow, I developed the vital computer mailing lists and later served as national co-chairman. I maintained my local role as Bud Rejinsky, the northern southwest central coastal regional spokesperson for the NSP.
The NSP brought out the best in the writers, musicians, artists, photographers, and comedians who volunteered for this street theater/para-political experience. Special efforts were made by the Firesign Theater, who devoted space in their "Crawdaddy" magazine column and KTYD disc jockeys Richard Proctor (as Senator Boron Deluxe) and Mark Ward (as security chief).
The culmination of NSP activity was a three-day, 300-person national convention held at the Casa de la Raza in Santa Barbara. Bribery, assassination attempts, boisterous demonstrations, drunken extra- terrestrials, live radio coverage and similar sordid happenings both marred and made this great event.
Perhaps Papoon went too far. Perhaps he spent too much time on the animal vote; as he said on election day "it takes too many rats to reach a voting lever". Maybe his "One Man, One Channel" would have generated too much noise. Based on votes from bacillus to whale, Papoon won the Presidency. But the tradition-bound political establishment denied him the Residency. Yet nothing can deny his place in history and the magical blurring of political fact and fancy that characterized the Natural Surrealist Party.
Concerning a possible comeback, Papoon writes, "If the money was right...."
THEY'RE IN EVERYBODY'S EGGS
Firesign catch-phrases often pop up unexpectedly in the strangest places, everywhere from high school reunions to mass media; they're all over the place, of course, in our beloved cyberspace. I thought I'd gather some reports from things I've seen on the 'net and elsewhere for your reading enjoyment. Feel free to submit more snippets as they occur!
Gary Gendel reports, "I know that Phil has been doing some voice overs for Rug Rats on Nickelodeon, but last night's Doug, had an interesting section. Doug was dreaming he and Patti were detectives, Doug picks up the phone and orders a large Pizza, without anchovies..." Mathias Thallmayer mentions, "I was over at a friend's house and caught part of a cartoon called 'Space Ghost - Coast To Coast.' They were showing a parody commercial for a children's lullaby CD. When it got to the screen with the ordering info the very small print said: 'Produced by the Cogswell Cogs Co. Offer not good after curfew in Sectors R or N.' I guess even in cartoons they won't come up into the hills." Elsewhere on the kidvid circuit, David MacFarlane reports, "Okay, so I've been home sick and I was flipping around stations after watching my favourite cartoon show (Animaniacs) when I found the Dreadful Barfing Power Rangers!! They were in some scene where the bad guys were hypnotizing one of the girl rangers to become the evil queen, and when they try to bring her out of hypnosis, she falls out of the throne. To my complete amazement, one of the bad guys said, 'Oh she's no fun, she fell right over!' Richard Arnold adds, "I was watching the Fox show 'Encounters,' the pseudo-news-tabloid show about UFOs, ghosts, paranormal, etc. They did a 'hard hitting' look at Dial-in Psychic 1-900 services, or some such thing. (Actually I have to give them credit, because they slam-dunked them as imposters: usually, when the evidence is overwhelmingly against an unexplained cause, they urge the viewers to keep an open mind). Anyway, the anchorwoman who introduced the segment on Psychic Hot Lines said (I'm paraphrasing) "Phone-in psychics are doing well now, probably because -- to quote the Firesign Theatre -- 'there's a seeker born every minute.'"
Over in the comic book industry, much thanks to longtime FAlaFal reader Dwayne McDuffie for entitling the centerpiece of last year's DC/Milestone "Worlds Collide" comic book crossover story - what else - "How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All!" Not only is this a nice Firesign "plug," but the series is quite well-written, enjoyable and recommended! Lots of Fireheads reside in the world of comics, including Bob Wayne (head of Marketing at DC), writer/editor Kim Yale and writer/artist Jim Engel, so keep checking the funnybooks for references!
Has everybody been reading the various Internet how-to books? Lots of Firesign fans in amongst the Workers! John V. Scialli found, "In the book Internet Yellow Pages, there is a side bar to the entry showing this newsgroup. Under the heading 'Don't Crush that Gopher Hand Me the Telnet' the authors started with, 'The Firesign Theatre is one of the highest achievements of modern American theater.'" My husband, the ever-patient Steve, spotted a "Forward Into the Past" in the book Internet For Dummies. Dan Fox adds, "In the same vein of FST trivia, did anyone other than me note the Cringely column ' Notes From The Field' a few years ago? Cringe is the bulls-eye-low-down columnist for InfoWorld (inside back cover) and is a lot of fun. He had a column in which the week's news leaks from inside Microsoft and IBM were brought in by none other than our own Regnad Kcin, and Nancy. His references were all spot-on, too. I've heard him speak and can easily believe that he's one of...... us. (Who am us, anyway?) Peter Hansen chimes in with "I've made it a point to insert FT references in every commercial product I've ever been involved with. There's a particular Windows E-Mail package for Banyan VINES whose manual is *full* of FT character names..." Daniel Dern, author of The Internet Guide for New Users, reminds us, "I'm guilty of the FT refs in my own book, e.g., citing 'How can you be in two places...' and 'If you lived here, you'd be home by now' (attributed, of course) at the beginning of my Telnet chapter, p 247. I don't remember if I got Hannah Shapero to include 'Antelope FreeWAIS' in any of her illustrations; it was hard to convey the joke (and the importance of including it) to a non-Firehead over the phone. Sigh." Daniel also reports, "And while we're on the subject, Eric Vann led a great Firesign Theatre discussion/session at the ReaderCon science fiction convention either last summer or the summer before that, in Massachusetts. Of course, some of the jokes I heard initially in 1969 I didn't get until a decade later, but they were worth wading for."
And speaking of computers, Eric Johnson reports that in the PC game "Doom", there is a file called STORY.TXT. It contains a tiny bit of plot and background. Just enough to answer the question of how he got to where he's at. In the first paragraph we find out why our hero is in the Brig... "Well, Day Twenty. Only ten more, and then it's back to the old routine. Thirty days in the Brig for punching Lt. George Leroy Tirebiter. Not too bad for striking an officer. Creep had it coming..." And John Scialli reports, "Sierra On-Line has a kids game, Pepper's Adventures In Time. I just got it for my 7 year old. It fuctions largely around the life of Ben Franklin. In the credits each programmer/designer/etc'er has a saying after her/his name. Most are sayings from Poor Richard's . However one Neal Gradstaff, Magical Musicman (he calls himself) has as his quote "Live it or live with it!"
And to top things off this time, Larry Yaeger mentions, "My undergraduate project at Purdue was the design, model construction, computer modeling, and wind-tunnel testing of a pusher-style sport-aerobatic aircraft called, ta-da... the 'Pushover'. And, of course, the cover of the report, which presumably still resides in Purdue's Aerospace Engineering Library, proudly bears the inscription: 'And so, with the invention of the motor-operated Pushover, man and science gave birth to life here, today, in the future'..."
FUTURE FAIR INCORPORATED
(FAlaFal reader Jim Smith reports that once, he and his friends "actually built a couple of emergency Bozo units, with 'inflatable KING SIZE BIG FEET' ['ONE PAIR - One Size Fits All! Soft, Safe Vinyl'] and red foam-rubber 'Clown Nose' [both items from a mail order place called Oriental Imports], hot-melt-glued to a red board which says 'IN CASE OF EMERGENCY' on it. We sent one to our friend in Maryland, and shortly thereafter discovered that the glue we had used to hold the shoes to the board was inferior, and the inflatable shoes had fallen off! Thus our emergency notification to our friend," which I've reproed below. Enjoy!)
Cunegonde 38, 99
"A Fare For All, And No Fair to Anybody!"
2001 Dutch Elm Street
Anytown, USA 00000-0001
Ya know, when you put on the nose, it grows. But a bozo's gotta clone, and I don't expect that you're any different than any other bozo when it goes to show that ya gotta go where the bozos go, <insert your name here>.
That's why I think that it's more than extra important for a bozo like you to knows where to go tomorrow, in the City Of The Future. (Personally, I think I'm gonna take off my shoes, sit in a tree, and learn to play the flute! But then, I'm no bozo, unlike you, <insert your name here>.)
You know, <insert your name here>, you just can't forget that sweet bozoette, and that's why I know that you'll believe me when I tell you that I never lie, and I'm always right. And just what ARE your rights in the City Of The Future, <insert your name here>? Just let me say that it wouldn't be right to know 'em! Ha ha, I find that very amusing, <insert your name here>. Many people ask me, what about the job displacement offer in the City Of The Future? But that's not what I'm writing to tell clowns like you about, <insert your name here>.
You see, <insert your name here>, I have a problem. And I'd like to share my problem with you, so that my problem becomes your problem. It's as simple as a bridge. Just clone the problem, like a memory. And I'm sure you'll find it very easy to see it my way, <insert your name here>.
So what, you may ask, IS this problem of yours? I'm glad you asked, <insert your name here>. Because I know you'll want to do YOUR part to solve it. The problem is this: When you put on the nose, it grows. And shoes are meant to be inflated. But in this inflationary period of ours, I, and when I say I I mean we, and when I say we I mean us, Future Fare Incorporated, A Fare For All, and No Fair To Anybody, bless 'em all, and you too, <insert your name here>, didn't take the inflationary mass of our future into account when we constructed the 47-dash-9-splat-25-ex-3 state of the art Bozo Emergency Unit, with attached inflatable shoes and bozo notros growing nose. And, for this reason, which I know you'll understand was unforeseeable in the dim and murky Dark Past, the attachment of the Posterior Wall Attachment Device (assembly 4) of the aforementioned 47-dash-9-splat-25-ex-3 state of the art Bozo Emergency Unit was, to put it in simple bozo terms, simply insufficient. Our fully-accredited Team of Scientolobozologists have discovered that, sometime in The Future, after graduation, some, and let me emphasize that point, of threse Posterior Wall Attachment Devices (assembly 4) of the aforementioned 47-dash-9-splat-25-ex-3 state of the art Bozo Emergency Units may, perforce and in fact, fail, possibly causing breakage, both personal and scientifick.
I'm sure you'll be happy to know that almost thousands of these units are currently being used by fellow bozos, and most of them have reported "no problem" with their 47-dash-9-splat-25-ex-3 state of the art Bozo Emergency Unit, with attached inflatable shoes and bozo notros growing nose. But in a few isolated, and let me emphasize that point, isolated incidents, <insert your name here>, the Posterior Wall Attachment Devices(assembly 4) of the aforementioned 47-dash-9- splat-25-ex-3 state of the art Bozo Emergency Units have, in fact as well as fiction, failed, much to the consternation of the bozos involved who, let me assure you, <insert your name here>, have been fully compensated, both in regards to their facial as well as pedic status. There is no cause for alarm. Your concern is sufficient.
Let me repeat that. There is no cause for alarm. Your concern is sufficient.
Having repeated that, I know that you, <insert your name here>, like thousands of other like-minded bozos, will be able to find reasonable alternative means of attaching the 47-dash-9-splat-25-ex-3 state of the art Bozo Emergency Unit, with attached inflatable shoes and bozo notros growing nose, to your wall or other handy surface, without overstressing the aforementioned Posterior Wall Attachment Devices (assembly 4).
You may rest assured that, other than this one infinitesimally small defect, which, if left to its own devices, shrinks to almost nothing at the bottom of the pool, the 47-dash-9-splat-25-ex-3 state of the art Bozo Emergency Unit, with attached inflatable shoes and bozo notros growing nose, will perform as advertised, both in fit and function, freee to go ahead and squeeze the wheeze, <insert your name here>, and don't forget to inflate your shoes.
Admirably Yours and Yr Obdt Svt.
Sir Hideo Gnutt, Sr.
President and Foundry,
FUTURE FARE INCORPORATED
Postmark: Deep Space
All E-mailed letters this time, folks!
Elayne: 12 Apr 1995
I just sent the following to Jamie Schrumpf. I do not remember if I sent you postage for #26, as I like to copy it to non-computer folk. Keep up the great work!
"Jamie: GREAT Home Page! I am writing you from the same room I first listened to Radio Free Oz in Summer 1966. Here is some Cyberspace feedback which I will copy to Head Firehead Elayne. I used Prodigy World Wide Web Browser. Your Home Page came up fine. I successfully downloaded entire FAlaFal #26 (it used FTP). The links seemed to work fine. It was unable to locate file with FAlaFal archive zip. Sound file worked, but I could not get your family images. Your opening image loaded fine. It is great to have you enhancing all the fine work Elayne has been doing through the years. Via AOL, the USENET Newsgroup alt.comedy.firesgn-thtre had F#26 in 4 parts and each was easily saved to disk and look complete. Via Prodigy, the USENET Newsgroup alt.comedy.firesgn-thtre had F#26 in 4 parts and each was saved to disk, but its Newsreader was very slow in loading and Part 4 was a little too big (just over 25k limit it said) but file was complete. Both AOL and Prodigy were using 14400 connection. It is difficult to tell how everything works with each service having different software and different traffic. I do not have a direct INTERNET connection, but thought you might appreciate some feedback. I envy anyone who has found their 'Nancy'."
Peace, TED ALVY
[I certainly do appreciate the feedback. I'm using a straight Internet SLIP/PPP connection and definitely want to know if things look strange on the various services. I do answer all mail, but alas, not in as timely a manner as I should. Please -- keep those cards and letters coming in! --Jamie]
* * * * * * * * *
I just downloaded some back issues while exploring the net for the first time. I had heard that there were some Firesign Theatre files available but never expected to run across them my first time out!
At 31 years old I'm far too young to have caught the group in their prime, though I remember seeing the records here and there when I was a kid. Not in my folks' collection, though. I picked up "Shoes For Industry" while on vacation last year as an introduction and was astonished. A lot of people have been given the title of "the American Monty Python" (notably the original S.N.L. cast) but F.T. struck me as a far better parallel in their surrealism and depth. Over-analyzing comedy is usually a pretty big mistake and I try to avoid it whenever possible, though I will say that the routines exhibit deeper and deeper layers with each listen. I look forward to "growing up" with them as I have with Monty Python (who I discovered when I was ten or twelve...).
Sad to say, I picked up "Shoes For Industry" about a week *after* their Northampton, Mass. appearance--their closest appearance to where I live in New Hampshire. Here's hoping that another tour will take place at some point. In the meantime, I've run across some of the old LP's here and there in used record stores and have been filling in my collection where possible.
Having grown up as an Air Force brat, listening to "Army Training Film" always induces spasms of laughter, though one of my big faves has to be "Young Guy, Motor Detective."
I run a small record store in Keene, New Hampshire and make a point of carrying "Shoes For Industry" and the live MF 2-disc set. We don't sell *huge* numbers of either, though enough to make it worth my while and it always astonishes people when they discover that we carry F.T. The shocked look on peoples' faces alone is worth it.
My condolences on your cat. I lost two much-beloved cats in the past 2-1/2 years and can certainly sympathize. Each of them gave me 17 happy years (they were twin sisters and died within six months of one another) and I have a lot of great memories but still find myself missing both of them from time to time. Fortunately, my folks got me a beautiful little kitty for Christmas, '93 and she's filled a void in my life that I didn't realize was there until she showed up...
"Not to be torturing me! I'm..." JON JOHNSON
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Hello Elayne, June 26 1995
We've not met before, but there's no time like the present. I have recently gone online and due to outrageous serendipity, have discovered your Firesign newsletter. I'm one of those many who came to know the 4or5 back when the earth was green and dinosaurs roamed freely.
In the summer of 1975, a friend and I found ourselves in Toronto at the same time Proctor and Bergman were to perform at the El Macombo. We were living in London Ont. at the time and the opportunity to see these guys "live" was too good to pass up. Hence, to the show we did go. Upon arrival, we discovered that a mutual friend (who must go nameless) had accompanied Messers P and B to a meeting earlier that day at the home of Marshall McLuhan. The professor was aware of the Firesign canon and somehow a summit had been arranged. At this, McLuhan was the gracious host and had passed around cigars, and to P and B's surprise, theirs proceeded to explode when lit. One is reminded that when T. S. Eliot requested a meeting with Groucho Marx, Groucho (who had boned up on his Murder in the Cathedral) found that Mr. Eliot was mainly interested in discussing the Marx Brothers' movies...
All the best, GARWOOD WALLACE
* * * * * * * * *
Hi, Elayne, July 13, 1995
New on AOL, just found yr fine publication. As a looooong time FST lover I was thrilled to discover that you were out there...it's a small community after all, and needs careful nurturing. As I recall the details, it was a cold and rainy night in the winter of '69 (no joke). My family had gone into Seattle to see some movie called "Easy Rider" and left me at home in the suburbs with nothing but two packs of smokes and a hit of mescaline...it was quite an evening of Buffalo Springfield LPs filled with coded messages from The Beyond and all that kind of la-di-da, and then our local too-hip underground FM station treated us to something called "The Further Adventures Of Nick Danger"(!) Needless to say, my faithless Fuddles, it was quite a ride through unexplored territory (a right! no...a left!) and I don't believe I've ever been quite the same.
Some years later in the urban wilderness of L.A. I connected with a dear friend who's turned me on over the years to most of his enormous stash of Firesign radio shows and live performances, and if anyone would be interested in swapping tapes or tales or whatnot, please let me know. If your cashflow situation continues nasty, as whose doesn't seem to be these days, I'll have to see what I can come up with in the way of some assistance...
Quid Malmborg in Plano, KEVIN STUDYWIN
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Dear Elayne: 31 Jul 1995
I saw them [Firesign] live one halloween a bunch of years ago. The highlights were (a) finding out that when Porgie was "upstairs with Porcelynn making the bed" he was actually in the backyard toking away with Mudhead, (b) seeing them try to do the scene with Principal Poop making announcments in front of a crowd of 1500 Firesign Theater fans (most of whom didn't seem to know when they were supposed to yell "Eat it Raw!"), and (c) sitting in the front row center while they did a never-recorded Nick Danger episode and one of the characters tore up his script; another one looked at the first and asked, "What did you do that for?" [Grabbing script] "It says, right here, 'tears up page'" [Grabbing it back] "No it doesn't, it says 'Stares upstage'" [Grabbing it again] "Oh!" At that point the second copy of the script got torn into little pieces and thrown all over the stage (and the front row where I was sitting) and they continued with the show.
I actually found the piece of the script with the "tears up page/ stares upstage" dialog in it.
This was about *mumble* years ago in San Francisco.
[This sounds very similar to the bit they did on "Evening at the Improv," which I like to call "Nick Danger and the Case of the Missing Script." That's great that the torn script was actually a page from the real script! -- Elayne]
* * * * * * * * *
Dear Elayne, Aug 6, 1995
(re: Down Under Danger) I hadn't realized the Australian continent had disappeared. I have been living here since 1974, when I abandoned temporarily Humboldt Co., but I get homesick from time to time. I think I discovered FT in SJ on FM probably in 1971 although it seemed like deja vu. Because I had just gotten out of the Air Force and had had all sorts of weird highs, who knows?
During that time you heard unreal things on radio like: "Say! That's just what you need! I got five thousand biblical figures. I got the big ones, I got the small ones; I can carve you the Saviour himself, soooo small, that it can be used as a rifle-sight...". This is NOT FT but sounded like it. I got THAT album too, but damned if I can remember the name of it. What ever happened to that guy?
Later I was transplanted to Auburn, Alabama for graduate school. There were like-minded people there. We bought all the LPs between us and expanded our minds in all sorts of ways. Joe, are you out there? Are you still in the Tirebiting business, or are you a Cheereater?
I brought the Big Book of Plays with me and the first four albums, but I never discovered any people here who were into FT. Managed to buy the Japanese album here in 1978 but the thrill was gone Haven't listened to the records in years. Imagine my surprise when I discovered a FT revival. No, don't. Now I'm old and my teenagers think I'm square. They're too busy to listen to FT...
Thank you, ROGER BUTTERMORE
Tasmanian Museum - Hobart, Australia
A Poem from Proctor
(According to NTC's Dictionary of American Slang by Richard E Spears, 1990, "O.J." stands for "Overjolt -- an overdose of drugs," as in: "She overjolted once too often," or "If you O.J. again, you will probably die.")
Just -- overkill,
Oriental Judge --
Ordinary jury --
Occult jinxes --
Oh, Jesus --
90210, July 1995
See You On the Funway!!!
While lounging on the deck at the Monrovia Communications estate, drinking a cool frosty one while taking in the brilliant -- as always -- sunset, I was struck with one of those Big Thoughts that impact our gray matter on occasion. The Thought was on one of those basic human problems with which we are all confronted at one time or another, and as I sat there comtemplating it (and with the aid of several more of the Miller Brewing Co.'s fine Genuine Draft product) the idea began to make Real Sense.
So instead of the rambling, end-of-summer-here-comes-football-season piece I had in mind for this space, I offer you the following Wisdom:
Just talk with any woman who's ever lived with any man for any length of time, and you'll hear near-apocalyptic stories of his snoring and flatulence. In our own personal experience, which of us guys hasn't awakened ourselves from a deep sleep with chainsaw-like sounds rending the air, or cleared a room at work or school with the powerful biochemical byproducts from our last meal?
But instead of being contrite or ashamed of our sonic and gaseous output, we should be proud -- yes, proud -- of exhibiting such successful survival traits from our distant evolutionary past.
Consider the state of our pre-tool-using ancestors in the wild: easy prey for the cave bears and sabre-toothed tigers that stalked our crude shelters within rock overhangs or caverns, we had neither large claws with which to fight, nor were we fleet of foot enough to run for it. Instead, like the apemen of "2001: A Space Odyssey," our pre-tool-using forebears were restricted to making loud (non-flatulent) noises and waving our arms around as a defense.
But as weak as we are when awake, we were even worse off while asleep. The nocturnal hunters would have no problem picking off the unconscious humans, and it doesn't do much good to come awake quickly when you're already in some predator's mouth. The best defense in such a case would have to be a very good offensive, and since the night stalkers have excellent hearing and olfactory capabilities, putting up a defense that attacks their strong points would undoubtedly provide the best chance for survival.
Consider your average jaguar or cave bear: listening intently to the night sounds around them and testing the air with their noses, they stealthily approach the places where they know they've gotten good meals before. Suddenly something is very wrong; the stillness of the dark is torn asunder by loud growling and snarling sounds, while at the same time a powerful stench of something long-dead assaults their nostrils.
To their way of thinking, they can only figure that some other large predator has killed some prey in the cave and is now noisily eating its rotting remains. Since we know the big cats and bears eat only live prey, and whatever is in there sounds awfully BIG and MEAN, our predator decides to seek its fortunes elsewhere and ambles on to other hunting grounds, whereupon he eats some poor cave guy otherwise blessed with a better digestive system.
Meanwhile inside the first cave, the woman wakes up from a sound sleep and upon hearing the racket and catching a good whiff of the cave air, whacks the poor cave guy in the head with the nearest rock to get him to KNOCK IT OFF so she can get back to sleep. At this point the cave guy decides that what HE'D like right now is a little "action," and the protests of the cave gal are quickly overcome by his evolutionary fervor. Nine months later another human joins the race.
Thus was the survival of humanity guaranteed.
NEXT TIME: Cro-magnon man discovers EDLIN.
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