-- A newsletter of, about, and for
The Firesign Theatre...
...and their loyal fans
Four-Alarm FIRESIGNal #26 (Electronic #4)
FAlaFal is published thrice yearly in fire sign months (April, August and
December) as a public service for aficionados and dear friends of The
Firesign Theatre by Elayne Wechsler-Chaput, "The Firehead Head," from the
East Coast Derisional Hindquarters of the Natural Surrealist Party,
mailing address 1747 65th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11204, Internet login ID
email@example.com, CompuServe ID 72672,2714, and Prodigy ID PPCD02B
(please note, that last one may change if I get AOL at work). FAlaFal is
free of charge (for now) and freely reproducible, and all letters, news
clippings and articles, FT-related creativity and requests for materials
may be sent to me c/o the above addresses (note to online folks: I would
prefer hard copies of any news articles, etc. - please send those to my
"snail mail" address). Thanks to the 4or5, Richard and MS, Michael,
Frank, Jamie and Roger for their help. Copyright 1994 Pen-Elayne
Enterprises; hard copy version printed and mailed by Roger Snyder at The
Print Shop in NY; electronic distribution by Monrovia Communications,
No. 26 of ? TABLE OF CONTENTS APRIL, 1995
[] THIS IS WORKER SPEAKING: Words from Elayne, Our Founder
[] RUMORS BEHIND THE NEWS: The latest on the 4 or 5 guys
[] MORE SUGAR: Meet the new providers of Firesign audio and video
material. Well, maybe not all THAT new, but new to us! Give
'em a big hand. (No, not THAT way...)
[] ADVERTISEMENT: SPARKS MEDIA: More yet Different audio and
video of the 4or5. Must-haves abound!
[] ARCHIVES: Who's got What, and Where is It? These questions
(and more) answered at last!
[] DEAR FRIENDS: Yet even more Zines galore! Elayne reviews
whole bunches of Johann Gutenberg's spiritual descendants; all
the print that's fit for news.
[] THERE'S BEES AND SPIDERS IN THERE: A short primer on the World
Wide Web, especially as it applies to Us. Browse 'n' carouse!
[] EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG: Quiz questions from Richard
Arnold to challenge the self-proclaimed FT "expert" fan. Do
YOU have what IT takes?
[] POSTMARK: DEEP SPACE -- Letters to the Editor
[] MY FIRST TIME: "Um, well, we parked the car behind the town
water tank, and then I took off her..." NO! NOT THAT "FIRST
TIME"!!! We mean your first FIRESIGN experience! And here
they are, from all over.
[] SEE YOU ON THE FUNWAY... It's a wrap! Endnotes & stuff from
Jamie, Your Electronic Editor.
This Is Worker Speaking...
Wow - I can't believe the terrific responses we've gotten to our
last editorial outlining our financial dilemma! So far we've received
$425 in donations from our wonderful readers, which almost exactly covers
Roger Snyder's printing costs for this 8-pager, and I want to thank Ted
Alvy, Frank Bland, Jan Edward Bridge, Niles Chandler, John Clark, Mike
Dearen, Gayatri Devi, John Dryden, John Errett, Darius Firethorne, Sandy
Hawkins, Patrick Kavanagh, Danny Lieberman, James McKelvey, Marc Myers,
Kate Naughton, Ronnie Sheeskin, Tom Somer, Marc Tucker and Doug Wakil for
their generosity. Both mailing and paper costs have risen since our last
issue - near as I can calculate, the bulk mail center wants around $400
to send out almost 2000 issues, and that price will rise as we take on
500 additional readers from More Sugar's list for the August issue. We
effectively need to double this donation rate to make publishing the hard
copy version of FAlaFal cost-effective for me, especially since I'm
trying to save my money in case I'm able to have a kid soon. These are
the numbers, folks - if 2700 copies of an 8-page FAlaFal will cost me
around $900 per issue to print and send in hard copy form, and I take in
donations of at least $750 per issue from various Fireheads, I'll have no
problem swinging the rest. So far, if no angel comes through to sponsor
us, I'm leaning heavily towards taking the newsletter mostly online,
eliminating all the folks whose E-Mail addresses Jamie and I have (except
for those who specifically request a hard copy version as well), and
charging hard-copy recipients either $5 a year or $2 per issue to cover
costs. Unfortunately, that means I'd have to start keeping track of
subscriptions, and FAlaFal would no longer go out to non-paying readers,
which I really don't like, but I don't see how I can afford to do
otherwise. And your opinions expressed in our letters column are highly
appreciated and will be mulled over carefully before I make my final
decision on FAlaFal's fate next issue... I'd also like to thank those
folks who submitted fund-raising ideas and items, all of which are being
considered; thanks also to Bruce Smith for the fun food, and to Frank
Bland, Mike Dearen and Mark Razor for the cassettes they sent!
I also appreciate the help Roger and I are getting in labelling and
bundling FAlaFals for mailing - hope attendees to our second FAlaFal
party on April 8 had a good time! As you can all see, we finally have a
bulk mail permit indicia (#307) so things went MUCH faster without having
to stamp! Our next party will probably be Saturday, August 12, so if
you'd like to attend please contact me for directions and such! The hard
copy version of this issue was mailed bulk rate on 4/10 but, as some
copies of last issue (#25) didn't reach folks until three months later
(and thank goodness only one or two folks at the Brooklyn/Parkville post
office are aware of the rule of charging postage-due for returned bulk
mail; I was able to resend many issues of #25 for only 32 cents, and get
updated addresses to boot), I'm afraid I can't guarantee when they'll
have arrived in your mailbox!
No, I didn't forget all you online readers, for whose patronage I'm
exceedingly grateful (especially as Electronic FAlaFal costs me nothing
but my time to produce!), EFAlaFal hit the 'nets and the Web on April 8,
courtesy of our talented co-editor Jamie Schrumpf, who now has his World
Wide Web homepage together (more on WWW elsewhere this issue) and has
been working on an electronic mailing list; E-Mail him at
firstname.lastname@example.org for details on how to subscribe to EFAlaFal. Our
online version is also posted in the alt.comedy.firesgn-thtre newsgroup,
on the WELL, for those who can gopher there (the host is gopher.well.sf.
ca.us and we're at path 0/Publications/online_zines/falafal), and on
America Online, CompuServe and Prodigy (the last as soon as they acquire
libraries). Please note that we *desperately* need online folks with
both Internet and commercial online access - my CIS "send" functions
badly, and I'm not on AOL yet, so Jamie could use volunteers to post
EFAlaFal in the appropriate places on these services. Please get in
touch with him ASAP!
A note of relief - the situation with Jim Henry has been closed.
ETC is no longer selling Firesign merchandise; stay tuned for more news
on where to get these items as things settle. Meantime, the guys at More
Sugar introduce themselves formally elsewhere this issue, and have also
agreed to handle most of our News section henceforth; thanks guys! And
a sad note - as expected, Gypsy Doctor's condition deteriorated quickly
after the last FAlaFal, and his luck ran out on Friday the 13th of
January; we had to put him to sleep the next morning. Thanks for all
your kind words of condolence...
Rumors Behind the News
(From the offices of MORE SUGAR <email@example.com>)
* As this column is being written, on Tuesday, March 28, 1995, all Four
or Five Crazy Guys are together, in L.A., in a recording studio,
recording some new adventures of Nick Danger! These recordings are
actually four :60-second radio commercials for Pizza Hut, to be aired in
the Midwest. PBA&O are delighted and excited at the chance to have fun in
the studio. Phil Proctor reports that John Goodman and Gary Owens both
showed up for the sessions on Monday, and these are four commercials I
can't wait to hear!
* JUNE, 1995 - the Interactive Media Festival in Los Angeles has asked
TFT to perform the as-yet-not-completely-rediscovered triumph,
Shakespeare's lost interactive version of Anythynge You Want To! ("Where
the old Globe meets the Global Network"). They will be joined by The
Blue Men, the Merce Cunningham Dancers, a wagon-lit full of onstage
technology, and the audience will be wired with controllers to affect the
action and the course of the play. Two performances are scheduled for
June 7, 1995 only -- 4 pm and 7 pm - and Bob Ezrin of 7th Level, a big
computer gaming company, will be helping with production. All this
happens at the Variety Arts Center in L.A. The evening performance is
only for those attending the Festival, but tickets for the 4 pm matinee
ARE available to the public. For more info on attending any of this,
call the IMF at (415) 357-0100. It's only a 900-seat house, so if you're
thinking about going, remember what Ma Yolk said: "Order now before it's
* MORE SUGAR is preparing two new releases: the Script to Anythynge You
Want To, complete with brand new and astoundingly comprehensile notes,
footnotes, toenotes, and cornplasters; and the video Nick Danger in The
Case Of The Missing Yolk, which is newly licensed and currently bobbing
amidst the packaging works. We hope to include some additional video
items on this release; more info later on.
* The New Album is in the works, but things are not yet fully
crystallized. The working title is "The Illusion of Unity" -- but I'm
not prepared to guarantee that title will make it through the process
without change. Creative Juices are Flowing, and there are Business
Things being Considered and Negotiations being Negoshed. * Sony/Columbia
Legacy has told us they want to re-release How Can You Be In Two Places
At Once..., but we don't have a firm date yet.
* Tour Plans -- are not yet firm enough for any general announcement.
There is a lot of moving and shaking going on, but the kaleidoscope has
not settled into a definite pattern yet. Everybody wants a tour, and
hopefully a run or two in smaller theatres in larger cities. Scheduling
people and venues and money and promotion and all that kinda
stufflikethatthere has been affected more than once by other plans and
possibilities coming up. Recent feedback from fans on tour venues was
very welcome and useful! The info is in the hopper. We want to
sincerely thank all who emailed.
* Movies: Peter Bergman and John Goodman have been shooting a theatrical
PSA film to make people aware of the new Ultra Violet (UV) Index. This
will show up on 1500 screens around the country this year.
* Books: David Ossman reports finishing the manuscript of a new full-
length novel, The Ronald Reagan Murder Case, which is part of the George
Tirebiter saga. Phil Austin is also working on a book of which more to
come... Phil Proctor spoke wistfully of finding time to assemble his
legendary photos-of-American-weirdness collection into what would surely
be an amazing book. Looking for publishers... publishers... publishers,
* Everything You Know Is Wrong is now becoming available on Pay-TV. As
this goes to press the movie is actually on in Hartford, Connecticut, and
negotiations are happening for other circuits as well.
* Other Firesign Theatre projects are on the table. Proposals are being
worked up, and financial backing is being sought for projects like a CD-
ROM version of Anythynge You Want To, a Laserdisc boxed-set of the best
of The Firesign Theatre on film and video, a special limited-edition
commemorative set of Dwarf, and reprinting the Big Book of Plays and the
Big Mystery Joke Book. TFT needs and wants help and support from
Fireheads -- we here at More Sugar are the living proof of that! Right
now the immediate needs are mostly capitalization for various individual
projects in four, five, and the low six-figures; publishers for books;
and creative help in Spreading The Word. Anybody who can be realistic
but imaginative, enterprising but cool and common sense, could help in
one way or another.
* Lastly, TFT has a new manager, Eric Gardner of Panacea - welcome!
(Thanks, Richard! Now, for Elayne's news section...)
* Phil Proctor called me towards the end of March when Dave Ossman was
over at his place in 90210-land, and I chatted with both guys on
happenings in their individual careers. Phil is doing ADR voice work for
the upcoming movies "Village of the Damned," "Free Willy 2" and "Die Hard
3," and lots of work on "Carmen San Diego" cartoon, playing characters
who speak foreign languages (so far Russian, Latin, Arabic, French,
Portuegese, Spanish, Danish and Dutch) and thugs, as well as translating
some languages for other actors, whom he then coaches. David mentioned
his novel, of course, as well as progress on post- production for
"Goldfish" (Ned Shaw is finishing the artwork and Janie Cribbs the
music), and the major news that he and Judith will be online soon - more
info to come! Although they were not funded for the American Comedy
series by CPB, Judith's NPR Playhouse pieces are set to air this month -
check local stations!
* As many of you have pointed out to me online and through postal mail,
the former Soviet republic of Abkhazia has issued "(Groucho) Marx/(John)
Lennon" stamps - as featured on the cover of Firesign's second album How
Can You Be...! Once again the 4or5 prove prescient. FAlaFal readers
have already expressed an interest in purchasing these sets, and we're
investigating bulk-ordering them (for a lot less than advertised in
places like TV Guide), possibly as a FAlaFal fund raiser.
* I was honored to be on WBAI-FM this past January 21 with "Hour of the
Wolf" host Jim Freund for a special 4-hour Firesign special, which
included a lengthy phone conversation with Dave Ossman and Jim playing
about half of "the canon," the continuing story which runs through the
first four albums. Only one technical glitch - it seemed to be the 38th
of Cunegonde forever - but we had lots of fun. I read from The Big Book
of Plays and was able to plug FAlaFal, Sparks and More Sugar. Jim wants
to do a longer special later this year, to which he has also invited me
back; thanks for all your expertise and hospitality, Jim!
(One correction and clarification from last issue: Chuck Lavazzi, aka
The Doge of St. Louis (E-Mail address firstname.lastname@example.org), has two
Firesign interviews available from his "One Step Beyond" show last year -
one with Phil Proctor and Dave Ossman from July 17 ("the interviews are
interspersed with some familiar and not-so-familiar FT material
(including stuff from the "Dear Friends" shows that didn't make it on to
the record album) as well as calls from listeners"), and the second from
October 16 with PP and Phil Austin - "separately," says Chuck, "in
relatively short interviews; the rest of the show consists of FT musical
material (including a 12-minute "Firesign Musical Montage" that I'm
rather proud of) and pledge breaks (which can be entertaining all by
themselves, if you're in the right frame of mind). Both shows are
produced by me and hosted by me and Otis Woodard," and both are available
for two blank 60-minute cassettes plus $3 (for return postage) per
interview; Chuck's correct address is One Step Beyond c/o FM88, 3504
Magnolia, St. Louis, MO 63110.)
MORE SUGAR From The Firesign Theatre:
Who Am Us (Out Here), Anyway?
MORE SUGAR From The Firesign Theatre is, formally, a division of
our Indiana corporation, Creative Audio Enterprises, Inc. CAE has an
agreement actually signed by all Four or Five which allows us to market
any products they authorize; and in return, More Sugar gives them a more
generous slice of the income than anybody has ever done. We're all major
Fireheads, and it's cheaper to operate here in the heartland -- so when
people buy Firesigniana from us, the boys themselves pocket more money
directly than from any other outlet.
WHO DO YOU TALK TO WHEN YOU CALL US AND SOMEBODY ANSWERS, "Hello,
RICHARD FISH - Our Flounder. Actor, writer, engineer, producer.
Victim of epiphanic experience upon hearing Waiting For The Electrician
in college, causing an immediate career decision to go into radio
theatre. Started a recording studio in 1975 for music, advertising and
radio theatre. Midwest Radio Theatre Workshop staff since 1986; partner
with David Ossman and Judith Walcutt in radio productions. Producer of
Back From The Shadows.
TOM DUKEMAN - The Sales Department. Musician, actor, composer,
writer, salesman, artist. AKA "The Ultimate" in his band, The Knievels.
Large Swedish type, mild-mannered despite Wagnerian horned headgear worn
on stage. Designer of artwork for Anythynge and Everything. Specializes
in graphic design, rock 'n' roll party songs, and astute negotiations.
New father in 1994, new office in 1995.
TONY BREWER - The Office Himself. Actor, writer, director,
producer. Improv theatre refugee who despises the term "Slacker,"
because nobody cuts him any. Wins prize for having the longest hair, and
for achieving more in radio at an earlier age than anybody we know since
young George Tirebiter. Actor in, and producer of, Hayward Sanitarium,
ongoing radio horror/mystery serial, 8 weeks of NPR Playhouse in 1994.
Keeps track of all the little pieces of paperwith numbers on them.
We're working hard to get out on the Internet and the World Wide
Web. Hopefully you'll be able to get a More Sugar homepage within a week
or three; it will of course link to Niles Ritter's TFT homepage, to
Elayne, and all around the place. We do have an email address
(email@example.com) and yes, the snailmail order address (611
Empire Mill Road, Bloomington, IN 47401) is our place up on top o' th'
hill here. It's a 1902 farmhouse full of studios, offices, archives, and
living quarters for Richard and two tenants.
MORE SUGAR has been maintaining an 800 number since 1993 and we can
never remember what it is. Now we've started a comprehensive audio-
theatre catalog called The LodesTone Catalog, and got an even better 800
number for that. So we're going to drop the non-mnemonic MORE SUGAR
number at the end of April, and from now on you'll be able to order any
MS merchandise by calling 1-800-414-MIND (that's 800-414-6463). Just
remember, "For one four Mind."
**Elayne's Addendum: Use the above number to request a LodesTone catalog
of your very own, or to order the following (add $4.00 s&h to each
AUDIO: Anythynge You Want To (Shakespeare's Lost Comedie) - Four
goodly Yanks on ye Bearde of ye Bard. Classickal Comick prerequisite for
all Ye Majors of ye Olde English Litte and Ye Minors of Ye New American
Trippe; once lost and now restored to us as it was. Like unto that
performed in excerpts during last summer's Toure de Farce. NOTE: This
is the restored, uncut, letterbox version, as originally produced for
broadcast, including material and performances never before released on
recordings. $10.95 per cassette
VIDEO: Everything You Know Is Wrong - Hello, Seekers! There are
8 million stories in the Naked Trailer Park, and here are Four or Five of
them. Delight in watching this sharp, clean print as Happy Harry Cox
goes to the Inter-Galactic Alien Friendship Convention, meets Art
Wholeflaffer, and finds Reebus Caneebus on the brink of a Nude Age
landmark that could become the Earth Hole Catalog. Remember, There's a
Seeker Born Every Minute!
$19.95 per VHS video
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
Crime Cabby" and "Young Tom Edison" (Written by and Starring David
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
Taken Apart, Stacked Up and Labelled
In its first incarnation, FAlaFal served largely as an archival
repository. With all the new activity in Firesign World, we haven't
highlighted this aspect of our collective endeavor as much as we probably
should have. I hope to remedy that situation with this irregular column.
* Audio - Just to remind y'all, Michael Packer (see address in SPARKS
MEDIA ad elsewhere this issue) is our official Audio Archivist - for a
list of his (our) Firesign audio cassette collection, please send him a
55-cent SASE. I am currently retyping Michael's list for online
uploading; stay tuned.
* Records - I'm thinking of starting an LP album exchange service,
sort of an open-market classified section, for folks who can't find or
have extra copies of Firesign works - any suggestions on how we might
* CDs - Frank Bland (firstname.lastname@example.org) reports, "The Compact
Disc Connection offers several FT CDs. You can access this online
catalog via telnet to 22.214.171.124. I haven't ordered from this service,
so I don't know how reliable their catalog information is. I have
connected to them, and their search capabilities are *very* good. They
list several CDs in their catalog that I've been trying to find for quite
a while. Of course you need a credit card to order. Your card isn't
charged until your order ships, and if it cannot be shipped within 10
days, your order is cancelled (no back orders). Shipping is $3.50 for
all orders under $100, free above $100. Here are the FT CDs listed in
MoB747 - BACK FROM THE SHADOWS - $31.96
SoN52736 - SHOES FOR INDUSTRY! - $19.29
MoB758 - DEAR FRIENDS - $24.78
MoB748 - FIGHTING CLOWNS - $12.88
MoB834 - HOW CAN YOU BE IN TWO PLACES... - $12.33
MoB785 - I THINK WE'RE ALL BOZOS... - $12.35
MoB762 - WAITING FOR THE ELECTRICIAN... - $12.35
* Video - For those many people among you who have asked about
Firesign video, I must confess to having put this archiving project on
the back burner for the time being due to lack of time and of course our
money situation. As you see elsewhere, More Sugar is working on this,
and we'll try to have more concrete news on this front for our next
* Press/Print - A list of my press and miscellaneous print archives
are available for a 55-cent SASE (please specify "archives") or by E-
Mailing me, for anyone who wants to see if they'd like copies of any
articles written about TFT, collectively and individually, which I've
amassed so far. If you have stuff you think I might not have, please get
in touch; I'm still missing quite a bit!
It was inevitable, I suppose, that I would have left out plugging
some worthy publications put out by FAlaFal readers in my "one-time" zine
reviews last issue. As I said then, I do not plan to make this a regular
column, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Michael Shores sent me
a copy of one of his collage zines, Death and the Maiden, and says there
are more where that came from. This one was $4 and is available from
Michael at American Living Press, P.O. Box 901, Allston, MA 02134... Also
neglected was Camera Obscura, a large one-sheet-folded-thrice- over music
review/critzine from Marc Tucker (see this issue's letters column),
available for 75 from him at 1508 Faymont, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266...
Lastly, Moxie is a new Discordian publication, available for "the usual"
(SASE, a buck, whatever) from James Archer, P.O. Box 4230, Chandler, AZ
95244-2430... Another lapse of mine came from the fact that I'm still not
used to the idea of online-only publications, so I forgot to tell you all
about the monthly Mini-Annals of Improbable Research (Mini-AIR) from Marc
Abraham and friends. The regular edition of AIR can be gotten from The
MIT Museum, 265 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, but Marc
didn't mention how much it cost. E-Mail subscriptions can be ordered
from email@example.com (please include your Internet address in all printed
correspondence), and the World Wide Web (WWW) Universal Resource Locator
(URL) for the "Hot AIR" home page is
http://web.mit.edu/afs/athena/org/i/improb/ www/home.html ... Chances are
fairly good that many Fireheads are also fans of British comedy, and the
excellent monthly online publication Britcomedy Digest is the best
resource I've found on this subject so far, thanks to editor Melinda
Casino. If you want to subscribe, E-Mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
or check out the WWW URL at http://cathouse.org:8000/BritishComedy/
(there are tons of other places you can catch this pub, but why not ask
Melinda about them?)... For the latest news on our friends at the Duck's
Breath Mystery Theatre, including Ian Shoales, Dr. Science, Randee of the
Redwoods and everyone else, you can E-Mail DB manager Steve Baker at
DUCKSB@aol.com. The troupe is working on getting WWW home pages
together, as well as mounting a 20th anniversary show this summer at San
Francisco's Great American Music Hall (call 800/989-DUCK or the GAMH at
415/885-0750 for more info). And ask Steve about Ian Shoales' new
publication Pundit Pending while you're at it... Lastly, our friend Ivan
Stang (aka Doug Smith) has finally, like me, taken the leap of publishing
online; you can get the first SubGenius Stark Fist of Removal Online by
writing to him at email@example.com, by tuning in to the alt.slack
newsgroup, or by checking out Bill Benzel's or Jamie Schrumpf's home
pages (see WWW article elsewhere this issue)!
"There's Bees and Spiders in There!"
The World Wide Web (WWW) is often touted as the "Next Big Thing"
the Internet, and can be rather daunting to those, like me, used to only
E-Mail and newsgroup/Forum/BBS activity. WWW sites and "homepages" use
a combination of text, graphics and even sound to present information,
familiarize you with their hosts (be they individuals or corporations,
which are churning out web sites more and more lately) and lead you to
other WWW sites via hypertext, a phenomena that lets you tab (if you only
have a text- based Web "browser" like me) or click (if you have Windows
or a Mac and one of the more advanced browser programs) on highlighted
words or phrases within a WWW page's text to connect to other files,
places of interest and even, if your browser supports it, MUSHes, E-Mail
and newsgroups. Very much like a spider with tendrils and tentacles that
reach into the strangest places sometimes...
Web page URLs (Universal Resource Locators) all start with the
designation "http://" (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), then the person's
domain (address) - usually interminably long and separated into computer-
digestible language by periods, tildes and (forward) slashmarks and
ending with the name of the "html" (Hypertext Markup Language) or text
file itself. For instance, I've advertised Electronic Four-Alarm
FIRESIGNal's availability via WWW before - you can get it from Jamie
Schrumpf's homepage, which can be found at the URL:
by clicking/tabbing to "EFAlaFal", or by typing the whole Web address
above and adding the file name /fala_26.txt (for this issue) at the end.
Jamie also archives EFAlaFal back issues, and can link or "point" you to
other Firesign-related Web pages, some of the more interesting and
comprehensive of which are:
This one's Niles Ritter's Firesign homepage, and contains the
voluminous and highly educational (and fun!) Frequently Asked Questions
(FAQ) files Niles uploads monthly to the Firesign Theatre newsgroup
alt.comedy.firesgn-thtre, which he established on Usenet - including a
Hypertext Lexicon!! You can also view Niles' scanned pictures of the
group, as well as connect to Jamie's homepage (and EFAlaFal), as you can
from some of the other WWW pages mentioned below.
This text-only page belongs to Bill Benzel, who runs the Firesign
MUSH (Multiple User Shared Hallucination, a combined chat area and online
text adventure game) The Old Same Place, filled with rooms and objects
right off the records. You can get there from here!
This is Richard Arnold's fun and varied homepage, which will soon
contain his complete Firesign quiz, questions and answers, after it
finishes its run in the next few FAlaFals.
This is the new homepage of Jerry Stearns (note the capital "F" -
that's the thing about Web pages, you have to type the URL *exactly*),
who wrote last issue's Midwest Radio Theatre Workshop review, and
contains a great picture of him with David and (a bearded!) Phil P from
that workshop, as well as links to almost all the other Web pages
That's the great thing about WWW - you can link your page to
everyone else's! Tune in to the alt.comedy.firesgn-thtre newsgroup for
news on more Web pages in progress coming from More Sugar, Roger Snyder,
even me (sooner or later)!
Everything You Know is Wrong: The Firesign Theatre Trivia Quiz
by Richard Arnold
This quiz is the beginning of a four-part feature. Remaining quizzes
will cover the other three albums of "The Canon." Individual awards will
be given to the winner of each individual contest. Combined scores of all
four quizzes will be tallied, and a grand prize will be awarded to the
highest total score. Scoring is based on the relative difficulty of the
question. Questions that can be determined from one or two listenings of
the album are scored "easy" (1 point). Questions that require repeated
listenings, or at least a concentrated listening with headphones are
scored "moderately easy" (2 points). Questions that require knowledge of
hidden meanings, inside jokes, knowledge of other Firesign Theatre
albums, etc., are scored "moderately difficult" (3 points). Questions
that require general knowledge/trivia, and non-album information about
the Firesign Theatre beyond their actual recordings, or refer to a
popular culture/historic/psychological/literature/music/art or other
outside reference, are scored "very difficult" (4 points). All
judgements as to scoring of individual answers are made by Richard
Arnold, and are final. Before the publication of the quiz, he made a list
of possible alternate answers to questions that he would accept; all
other alternate answers will not be accepted once the quiz is published.
Exact wording or spelling of answers is not necessary unless
specified in the question. Individual requests for clarification of
specific questions will not be honored, as it might give unfair advantage
to the person making the request. Questions about these rules (not
individual questions) can be addressed to Richard Arnold by emailing him
at firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to: Richard Arnold, 1303 R Street,
NW, Washington, DC 20009 (no phone calls, please). The deadline for
submitting answers to these questions is July 1, 1995. Entries received
after that date will be ignored. Entries can be sent to Richard Arnold at
email@example.com or to Elayne c/o this publication. 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 the 4or5 at the end of the
Part One: Questions from the album
WAITING FOR THE ELECTRICIAN OR SOMEONE LIKE HIM
"Temporarily Humboldt County" (13 points total)
1. Who were the first "White Brothers" that the Indians encountered?
2. What did the Indians discover on their reservation in the desert?
3. Where in America did the settlers first encounter the Indians? (2)
4. Three of the first "White Brothers" the Indians encountered had a
name: what were they? (3)
5. What did one of the American settlers invent after receiving corn?
6. Who dedicated the reservation as a national monument? (3)
"W.C. Fields Forever" (20 points total)
7. Complete this phrase: "Om, Om, ______________________" (1)
8. What happens to the horse that Dr. Tim feeds sugar cubes? (1)
9. What was the name of the Ranger's companion? (2)
10. What was the cheer the members of the commune gave at sunrise? (2)
11. What was the name of the ROOM where the beginners assumed the full
Lotus position? (3)
12. What was the name of the Ranger's horse? (3)
13. The name of the town in Gaby's story is based on a character in a
Charles Dickens novel. What was the name of the town, the Dickens
character, and the novel? (1 point each for the town and character,
2 points for the novel - 4 total)
14. What famous song does the cheerleader quote, who performed the
original, and on what album does it appear? (1 point each for the
song and performer, 2 points for the album - 4 total)
"Le Trente-Huit Cunegonde" (21 points total)
15. What term(s) was used by the police to describe the woman and black
man they observed? (1)
16. What was the name of Dr. Benway's son? (1)
17. What was the style of the old lady's body paint? (2)
18. What was dropped on the resistance forces? (2)
19. The Senator was also referred to by another title: what was it? (3)
20. The name of the character Dr. Benway was taken from what work of
literature (title and artist)? (4)
21. The song the "President" sings is a parody of what song, and by what
artist? (2 points for the song, 2 for the artist - 4 total)
22. The name of the bomber plane is based on what two pop culture
references? (2 points for each reference - 4 total)
"Waiting For the Electrician or Someone Like Him" (30 points total)
23. How many people were in the elevator? (1)
24. What was the name of the game show? (1)
25. Name all "words in Turkish." (1)
26. Other than English, what two other languages were spoken in the
27. To what organization did the volunteers who assisted in the disease
outbreak belong? (2)
28. What symptom number was Jaundice? (2)
29. What technique did the man in the elevator refer to when, in
mentioning the Palace, he said that they were "cleaning it?" (3)
30. What other diseases did the protagonist ("P") guess? (3)
31. What was the name of the topless nurse? (3)
32. The title "Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him" was a
reference to what play (title and artist)? (2 points for title, 2
points for artist - 4 total)
33. What historical event also inspired the title? (4)
34. Lord Kitchner was based on what real-life political figure, and what
was his claim to fame? (4)
Postmark: Deep Space
(As expected we got a lot of feedback in response to last issue's
editorial, much of which is printed below. Some online readers wrote
immediately to have their names dropped from the hard copy mailing list;
if you're one of those, wait until the August issue comes out and I've
made my final decision, then remind me one more time!)
Dear Ms. Chaput, 30 December 1994
Just my luck. The first (and only) fan club I've ever joined (in
my 44 years) and now it looks like bad times ahead.
Unfortunately, I'm one of those modemless people and, until one of
my kids really get into computers, it's just not worth it for me to junk
my old Amiga 1000 and get a new computer.
I can't help but admire someone who likes sharing their hobbies
with other like-minded people. You try hard. You must be feeling a bit
like a fireplug instead of a firehead these days... It looks like your
survival depends on you going electronic. Then us "hard copy" people
will need to send you at least a couple bucks a year (no problem on
anybody's finances). This will weed out the "I'll join anything that's
free" folks, whom you really don't need anyway. If you're starting a
family, then the less outside hassles the better. Go electronic, and
don't worry. Us hard copy people will gladly pay for the paper,
otherwise we wouldn't be fans.
(Some good points raised, Mike, which I'll try to address in order.
First of all, it's "Ms. Wechsler-Chaput" - more folks know me by the
"Wechsler" name anyway - but I prefer "Elayne." Also, just to clarify,
we're not a "fan club." Apparently reader Greg Lauscher's publication
GOLDMINE listed FAlaFal as a fan club rather than a newsletter/info
service and, while I'm grateful for the free publicity and the new
readers it brought, I've also had to go to great lengths to explain they
won't get membership cards and other goodies. As Groucho said, I
wouldn't belong to any club that would have me as a member...)
* * * * * * * * * * *
Dear Elayne, January 5, 1994
I've just recieved my third issue of FAlaFal and am saddened to
hear of the financial woes. I'd really hate to lose such a great
publication. I've been into Firesign since before they changed the water
but my Firesign roots had been dormant, buried deep beneath the ground
for many years. Partly because all my Firefriends from the old days all
seemed to move away and the 4or5 hadn't put out anything in recent years.
So imagine my suprise when I opened my local paper last year and saw they
were comming to town. I had second row seats and the best time I"d had
in years. Then a few long or short months later my first FAlaFal,
unexpected but much welcomed, arrived in the mail. So Firedom was not
dead but much alive and in cyber-space no less. But as you said, not
everyone can afford to get on the information super highway and that
shouldn't exclude them from recieving hard copy versions of FAlaFal. I
for one would be willing to pay a subscription to keep recieving
Firenews. I don't have all the answers (and not many of the questions)
but I would think that Fireheads that have the means and want to keep
FAlaFal going would more than gladly give what they can to help. I know
I'd do anything to help you... lick stamps, send stamps, write articles,
sign up new Fireheads or anything - just ask. Like Tweeny said to Mark
Time in How Time Flies "I'm only here to help you." The way I see it is,
if enough people are receiving FAlaFal and talking about the 4or5 on the
'net, that should let the boys know that there is still enough interest
out here and maybe inspire them to do a new album and tour more often.
I'm glad there are still a lot of us out here, and get a warm feeling in
my heart to hear from the new generation of fireheads on the 'net.
After hanging around in alt.comedy.firesgn-thtre and reading issues
23, 24 and 25 I've begun to realize that there is much more to the 4or5
than I ever dreamed of. I'm interested in getting as much information on
the group as possible and also getting as many recordings that were not
offered in the record stores.
I'm sending away to More Sugar for EYKIW and am staying close
contact (as close as I can) with Michael at Sparks to get some of the
recordings he has to offer. I wouldn't have knowledge of either source
of Firesign material if it wasn't for FAlaFal - thanks!
More sugar to you,
* * * * * * * * * * *
Dear Elayne, January 6, 1994
Got the FAlaFal #25 this week, and glad of it, too. Can't wait to
see if the 4 or 5 will be visiting this Great Heartland of ours, and not
just sticking to the left coast for their next tour.
For what it's worth, I'd be please to send you some dead presidents
to keep my name on your hard copy list. I can get into some of the
Internet areas for the electronic version, but it's not easy...
Ran into what must be the source for another Firesign (actually,
Proctor & Bergman) reference the other day whilst visiting my wife at the
hospital. I was looking down at the pedals at the foot of the bed. The
one on the left said "Trendelenberg", the middle one said "Up/Down" and
the one on the right indicated it was for a reverse Trendelenberg,
abbreviated as "Rev. Trendelenberg." Could this indeed be the
inspiration for the name of our beloved Rear Reverend (Rev.) Sport
Keep up the great work as the Firehead Head, et al!
* * * * * * * * * * *
Dear Elayne, January 7, 1995
[written on a postcard from Lulu & Vernon's Restaurant, "Home of Home-
With or without Lulu & Vernon's pie, there can be no free lunch: I
vote for paid subscriptions to FAlaFal, it's that good. Conversely, be
advised I don't read what a snail don't carry. (Mine is a have-not
I await your decision and hope all concerned receive their just
Check, please, GLENN GUSTAFSON
* * * * * * * * * * *
Hi There, January 8, 1995
I am interested in adding my 2 pesos worth to the funding
discussion... As a fan, I'd see no troubles in kicking in a few kopecks
a year to keep updated on the boys. Perhaps some expansion would be in
order, sort of to help in funding if you will - such as items available
only from FAlaFal. For all I care they could be vastly overpriced, for
I'd pick up an item or two knowing it was keeping the organization in the
black. Things such as "fan club only" posters, t-shirts and - be still
my beating heart - even a few CDs. For there is a TON of unavailable
items to be had, desired, and dreamed of, let alone coveted!
And now, let me delve into that territory, that of unavailable
material. First up, it is CRIMINAL that most of the Boys output is not
available on CD... myself, it would tickle me to see more from their
radio series. Plus, I'm aware that the boys have done a few commercials
and PSAs in their illustrious career... most output is available only on
old vinyl, which is to say it is unavailable to the vast majority of
folks out there. And as vinyl disappeared in about 1988, that means it's
been 7 years now. And some of those releases went out of print far
sooner than that, so some of this stuff has been unavailable for ages...
And lastly, I want to cast my vote for more video... Well, I guess I've
rambled on long enough, but I wanted to share a few thoughts with someone
close to the Boys and no doubt VERY influential as well! Thanks for
taking the time to wade through this and, should you feel inclined, I'd
love to hear from you!
RICH J. KUNKEL
(Well Rich, the main problem with offering to dupe albums and videos, as
we've noted in previous issues, is the question of copyrights and
permissions, as well as our acknowledgement that we'd like to see much of
this stuff re-released commercially. So would Sony and More Sugar, by
the way, and your suggestions [as well as those of others] on what should
be rereleased will be seriously considered! "Influential," me? Heck no,
I just run a voluntary newsletter...)
* * * * * * * * * * *
January 9, 1995
In the wake of price increases, etc. please change my subscription
to an electronic one. I will keep all your "addresses" on file in case
I need to make changes. By all means, meet your expenses - it is totally
reasonable for you to charge for printed US Mail material.
This information is too important to we fans who love Firesign - it
must get out to all of us! And the record companies have shown that they
can't be trusted to reach us with all the info we crave, certainly not
like we can reach each other. Where else could I have found out about
the other Austin and Ossman material except for the ad in Issue 25? Good
luck in all your endeavors.
* * * * * * * * * * *
January 10, 1995
My $.02 on the fate of the newsletter-->
As one who enjoys receiving it in print (so I can read it while
enjoying my favorite breakfast cereal), I would hate to see it go all
electric. HOWEVER, I also would hate to see it die, or for you to go
I work in the software industry, and we have a similar problem: how
to get needed bug fixes to customers without going broke. Our solution
(and many other companies') -- if you order the upgrade from us, you pay
shipping/handling costs (less than $10), or you can download it from all
major bulletin boards and internet services for free. This gives
everyone a fair choice.
If I want a hardcopy newsletter, then I have no problem paying for
it. (However, being cheap, I might go ahead and download it...)
I hope this helps.
San Francisco, CA
* * * * * * * * * * *
Dear Elayne: January 11, 1995
Thank you, thank you, thank you! for all of the back issues you've
sent me. I've been a fan since the early seventies and I've been looking
for something like this for years... FT information was just not
available for consumption and I was getting famished.
When I found your address in Goldmine, the issue with Frank Zappa
on the cubber, I wasted no time getting in touch with you and I'm happy
I did. Wow, did I miss a lot! Only in the last six months did I find
out about the Mobile Fidelity CD's... (The CD rights have since reverted
back to Sony/Columbia, as we mention in the news, but More Sugar will be
getting in touch with them to see about reprint rights now that MoFi's
rights have run out.)
But I feel most compelled to write about this moniker "Fireheads."
I feel this should be changed, not only because I don't like it, I think
a lot of readers are offended by it, but because it trivializes us. We
are audiophiles, we listen intently and we should be called something
that reflects this... save the "head" for the Dittos and the Dead...
SAVE YOUR SALIVA!
(As most readers know, Phil Austin mentioned a couple issues ago that he
was the one who came up with the term "Firehead" as a sort of parody of
Deadheads. It was never meant to be an actual identifier at first, but
somehow it just stuck - besides, it's convenient for me to use as my
Internet logon name!)
* * * * * * * * * * *
Dear Elayne: 1/11/95
Just finished Four Alarm FIRESIGNal #25. I can't say I was too
surprised at the news regarding the future of FAlaFal. I was rather
amazed with the quality and professionalism of FAlaFal over the past few
years. Free, no less. Which is why I never had a problem sending a few
bucks and stamps along from time to time.
The bottom line has to be what's in your best interest. And for
me, unfortunately, it sounds like the electronic route. I don't have a
computer and I'm not likely to have one for a long, long time. Of course
I am more than willing to send money and stamps or an SASE to get a "hard
copy." If that's what it takes to keep this going, so be it.
Newsletters or fanzines are labors of love that few people really
understand or sometimes appreciate. Thanks for your efforts! Do what
makes the best sense for you!
S. Dartmouth, MA
* * * * * * * * * * *
Elayne -- January 13, 1995
(This part is a tacked-on "form letter" type of thing, used to save
time [much the same reason that Janor Hypercleats leaves his fly open a
Sorry if I'm responding kind of late to your request/query/ mail-
bomb. I've been doing battle with fax machines, answer machines, RUDE
CLERKS IN STORES, America Online, and getting better hook-up to the Net
in general. I've also been fighting a really nasty cold of some foreign
nature that... well, let's just say that there are SOME ANIMALS that you
shouldn't do SOME THINGS with.
To put it bluntly, I've got a real bad case of Preacher's Lip. It's
healing now. But it was embarrassing, going through that most recent
book signing/rant looking like Darkman unmasked. The pressures of
finishing REVELATION X, and simultaneously moving the vast SubGenius
archives to a new huge office building/mansion with an ocean view -- a
tricky move, in Dallas -- actually did some damage to my health, which
normally is pretty good... CONSIDERING...
[various computer-buying talk deleted for space] At least you're
not one of my SNAIL MAIL correspondents!! There's a stack of unanswered
PERSONAL mail here that breaks all previous SubGenius Foundation records.
But I'll make up for it to 'em... the next mailing they all get from here
will be the ultimate exhortation and easy how-to for hooking up on the
digital racetrack. But GOD do I feel sorry for the poor bastards who
can't even afford a computer. My heart aches for them. I feel their
pain even if they are PERFECTLY HAPPY to stay out of this NIGHTMARISHLY
HEAD-ACHE-INDUCING REALM!! (And the funny thing is, here I am busting my
very forebrain learning computerese all over again, and in 3 years it'll
all be NEGATED by MWOWM TECHNOLOGY FROM OUTER SPACE!! Oh well, gotta kill
the meantime somehow.)
So that's my deal, and thanks to all who have been helping out so
mightily, especially with advice. Wait, what am I saying?? Especially
I'm finally in the '90s. Wanted to let you know I'm doing the email
miracle, so you can send the newsletter to me that way if it's easier.
I'm working on doing a similar thing with the Stark Fist... "build" it on
alt.slack and then turn it into hard copy. Dunno what to tell you, re:
charging or not charging for FAlaFal. I know just how you feel... you
got into this for many reasons, but small business administration wasn't
one of 'em. I say, make 'em all pay if they want the printed version.
The SubGenius Foundation has almost gone out of busines MANY times
because we weren't charging enough, giving too much away, etc.
I'm still doing THE HOUR OF SLACK -- 15 cities (though not Dallas).
Found an incredible improv radio crew at WCSB in Cleveland, Brain Rot
Radio Theater/Einstein's Secret Orchestra, and whenever I'm in Cleveland
we do several hours of radio improv together which I'm very proud of. In
fact, I think the 4 or 5 guys would be very proud of us. Then there's
alt.slack, which is worth checking out these days. A lot of us old-
timers are up to speed on Internet now. Philo, Nenslo, Hellswami
Satelite Weavers, it's a regular party. SirWill1 (I see his name in your
newsletter) is also very active on it.
Hey, I PLAYED NICK DANGER ON STAGE! Every summer I preach at a big
Pagan festival in western NY, called Starwood, sponsored by a group
called A.C.E. in Cleveland. Robert Anton Wilson and Tim Leary are other
frequent guests. I got to know Bob Shea a bit at these gatherings before
he died (a real shame, he was a great guy). Anyway, at last year's
Starwood we did a full-out "radio play" performance of the first Nick
Danger mystery. That is, we stood at microphones and performed as if for
radio, with taped and physical sound effects, though we had a live
audience. (The only props we really needed were a paper bag and a
pickle.) I was cast as Nick mainly because I LOOK sort of like Nick
Danger these days, with real long hair. Jeff Rosenbaum of A.C.E. played
Bradshaw and various narrators, I forget the name of the guy who did
Rocky Rococco, but he was really good, and my SubGenius radio pal Rev.
Bleepo Abernathy (Bill Kates of K-rock there in NYC) did Catherwood. The
guy who runs Llewellyn Press did the organ music. "Nancy" was played by
Lisa Lefkort of A.C.E. and/or Princess Wei R. Doe of the Church of the
SubGenius -- she did a GREAT job even though she'd hardly ever heard the
original album. I can't say as how I make a particularly good Nick
Danger, because I am apparently utterly unable to lose my Texas accent
completely. One thing was astonishing, though. I was fooling with the
tape of our version, and tried running a tape of the original Firesign
performance along with it through my mixer, switching back and forth.
THE TIMINGS WERE ALMOST IDENTICAL. For long stretches they were in
almost perfect sync. A weird effect... I ran a little of that mix tape on
HOUR OF SLACK to confuse everybody. After the actual performance, one
woman came up to us and said she really loved all our old albums. She
thought we WERE TFT!! What was more rewarding was that quite a few young
folks who had never heard of TFT were blown away by the play, so
hopefully we turned on a few people to the phenomenon. (Hey, wasn't I
the one who originally told you to check out this great comedy group
called Firesign Theatre?) (ED. NOTE: Actually, that may have been my
friend Jill, but you were the one who first put me in direct contact with
But the best part of all was when my daughter discovered the book
of TFT radio plays I had sitting around the house while preparing for the
show. Tevis is 13 and had never seen a radio script. She was enthralled
by the whole concept. While I was out of town, she and one friend took
a tape recorder and did the entire Nick Danger piece themselves, reading
all the parts. They had NEVER heard the original album. (I learned a
long time ago not to try to get my kids to listen to stuff -- it "takes"
much better if I act like I don't WANT them to hear something; THEN they
HAVE to hear it!) These two little girls did a hell of a performance,
considering they'd never heard the album, although there were some odd
interpretations -- such as Catherwood being played as an old Texas
redneck. By a 13 year old girl.
Incidentally, you might mention to your readers that the Canadian
CD going around called BOB'S MEDIA ECOLOGY is a total rip-off and
unauthorized by us in any way. I don't want Firesign fans to mistake
that idiot for any real SubGenius radio thing.
See ya on the flip-flop!
Rev. IVAN STANG
(aka Doug Smith)
* * * * * * * * * * *
Thanks for mentioning "Joe Hampton's Mosquito Magazine" in FAlaFal
#25. I've been plugging along wtih my newsletter for over eleven years
and, after a recent 7-month hiatus, I am back for the long haul. As you
know, it can be frustrating, time-consuming and expensive putting out a
newsletter (though mine is not as extensive as yours), so I really
appreciate your efforts.
I was a big Firesign fan when I was in high school and they were in
their prime. My friends and I used to recite passages from Bozos and
Don't Crush That Dwarf on a daily basis. I only saw TFT once and that
was at Carnegie Hall in 1974 after the release of The Giant Rat of
Sumatra. I attended the concert with a friend of mine, Chris Wilde, who
has since passed on. Chris was Phil Proctor's godson and he had a lot of
Firesign and Proctor & Bergman posters and rare memorabilia. Having been
a fan for years and owning all of their albums, it's good to see them
having a resurgence in the '90s.
Keep up the good work, Elayne.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Hello from the SW corner of the US of Hay! January 13, 1995
I've been a Firesign Theatre fan since the early '70's, have bought
most of their albums and a couple of the CD's. After not hearing much
about them for a couple of years, I was delighted to be able to attend
their performance in San Diego several months ago on the 25th Anniversary
tour. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, especially with the extent
of audience participation that occurred.
Your newsletter arrived yesterday, and I was very happy to get it.
Please don't throw in the towel yet--this is the first I ever heard that
there IS such a thing as a newsletter and any kind of fan association.
It's wonderful! I'll send in a contribution for the newsletter shortly.
Cheers, and keep up the good work!
BOB VAN KEUREN
San Diego, CA
* * * * * * * * * * *
Elayne, January 17, 1995
I just received Four-Alarm FIRESIGNal #25 in the post. In answer
to your plea for opinions on the future of FAlaFal, I have this to say:
Fiscally-wise speaking, It is obvious that all-electronic is the way to
go. One thing I should mention, however, is that I tried to get #25 from
the alt.comedy.firesgn-thtre newsgroup and, as I access it through AOL
which has message-length limits, I lost about the last fourth of it. If
I were to be able to access it in this way, each issue would have to be
presented in two parts. I would be more interested ih a "plus" on my
Anyway...thanks for letting me share your memories, and I hope to
be a worthy torchbearer for the future... or is that Tirebiter?
* * * * * * * * * * *
Dear Elayne, 1/23/95
Verbally urinating for money all over issue #25 was a cheap and
childish trick. And it worked perfectly. I was moved to tears, as I'm
sure many readers were, but mostly I was moved to another room. A room
wherein perhaps lay the future of FAlaFal. It was... the kitchen!
That's where I'd left the checkbook the last time I'd used it. It was
time to use it again, and I have. Enclosed is a modest check which I
hope is the seed for future "luv" gifts. By the way, everyone sending in
a "luv" gift will receive at some additional charge an assortment of
extra straws from Three Finger Micky's.
Thanks for all your efforts over the years to keep the Fire
burning. It has helped to keep youth alive in one '60s survivor Boomer.
Just let us, we, they know what it is you need and you'll have it in a
flash. Keep up the very good work!
Sincerely and with my very best wishes,
* * * * * * * * * * *
Elayne, January 27, 1995
Issue #25 has the most delicious incense smell. What gives? What
kind of stamping and mailing party were you having. I remember you
making a request for smokables in one of your early newsletters.
Remember it makes you weak and silly. All in all not a bad thing.
(=gasp= Found out! I must confess, unlike our President, I never admitted
to not inhaling...)
My personal preference is to hold reading material in my hands. I
can survive with e-mail but if I had my druthers... I confess to a
fondness for collectables also. I still have all my back issues and what
memorabilia I did not send to you or Michael Packer I hold dear. I
want you to know that I will support you in this, whichever way you
decide (or are forced) to go. Subscription, donation, E-mail, whatever.
Shoes for Industry!! Forward into the Past!! Not to be Torturing
BUT PLEASE!!!! DO NOT PARK AND LOCK IT!!!!!
Los Angeles, CA
* * * * * * * * * * *
For years my friend John has been telling me about his friend Alex
in Maine who is a fellow Firesign fan. In fact, Alex tipped us off about
the tour. He called to say they were playing Boston, I called
Ticketmaster and found out about NYC. Last week at John's wedding, I met
Alex and his wife and we spent a lot of time talking FT. As it turned
out, he hadn't heard much of the post-CBS albums. So, over the past
couple of days I made him some copies. It's funny that meeting an old FT
fan caused me to go thorugh all those later albums: Fighting Clowns, Eat
or Be Eaten, Lawyer's Hospital and Three Faces of Al. Like most others,
I generally stay with "the classics." Three Faces is my fave of the
bunch, and now I'm mad that I bought it on CD for my brother-in-law when
it came out but on vinyl for me, as I had no CD then. It's long been
deleted. It was also fun listening to the live side of Lawyers and
flashing back to Town Hall. The 4or5 seem to bum on that tour but at
least in NYC it was a good theatre. They did an interesting first set of
mostly new stuff - "Hot Tub," "Presidents, "Joey Demographico" - better
than expected. I thought it might be more short sketches a la P&B shows.
The second set was beyond wonderful, as "Ben Bland's All-Day Midday
Matinee" rolled through new and mostly "classic" material and left me
with my brain no longer the boss.
On FAlaFal - do whatever you find necessary to keep it going. I'm
sure all of us Bozos trust you to do the right thing. It's always a
pleasure getting a new FAlaFal, so please persevere...
Shoes for Industry, PAUL ANTONUCCI
Long Branch, NJ
* * * * * * * * * * *
Elayne, March 7, 1995
Sorry I have been so long in getting back to you. I've finally
finished reading the three EFAlaFals. I must say, they left me with a
warm, fuzzy feeling inside. I am now really kicking myself for not being
able to see them when they were at the Beacon last time they were here -
I was OFFERED tickets, but I had a job I couldn't get out of.
Now, if I may add my .02 about the newsletter and how to continue
it: I really admire your conviction to distribute it gratis for whoever
wants it. But the reality of it is, one could go broke quickly doing it
that way. The e-mail version is great - if you've got the equipment. I
really think that if you elect to continue the newsletter that you should
charge for it. There is no reason you should shoulder the financial
responsibility for materials and postage, not to mention the time, effort
and talent you put into it. I don't doubt that we fireheads have the
cash and the desire. How else could we afford merchandise, tickets and
CD re-releases? BTW, I've never seen the non-electronic version, but
just from the text, I'd still subscribe.
I agree with your premise that information should be free - it's
just its presentation and transmission that cost. The people who have
computers aren't exactly getting it for free either - there's hookup
time, access time, and download time - not to mention the cost of having
all the equipment.
I know what you are going through. For the past year, I was the
editor/writer of my brewclub newsletter. Every month, I would try to
cajole articles out of people, write up the rest, compose it, print,
staple, label, stamp, stuff and mail 175 newsletters. And then wait a
month to get reimbursed. I really didn't mind the work - I would have
done it forever were it not for club politics. Currently, I do a
newsletter for a beer distributor. For my efforts, I get free beer. It
has a circulation of 1200 - and I don't have to mail it.
What's the point? The point is, it's not the work. I love putting
out a monthly publication. But I don't love it enough to do it at a
deficit (financial or chronological) when I can't afford to...
Thanks for everything!
Long Island, NY
* * * * * * * * * * *
Dear Elayne, March 7, 1995
So many of the Magic Mushroom plays from 1967 involved quests. Did
the members of the Firesign Theatre think of themselves as on a quest at
the time? I don't mean the quest to be the "Beatles of comedy," or the
general "we can change the world" charge that was part of that era, 'cuz
Everyone was on that one.
CAT SIMRIL ISHIKAWA
(I'm looking forward to one, or more, of the 4or5 tackling the answer[s]
to this one in our next issue! Boys?)
* * * * * * * * * * *
Thanx for the latest FALaFal, an always welcome addition to my
mailbox. Money troubles again, eh? Well, that's the lot of doing stuff
from the heart; believe me, after reviewing music in the independent/
alternative press for the last ten years (which started with my own crit-
zine, Camera Obscura, now past its 40th issue, and has extended to
numerous rags - none of which pay a dime), I'm more than familiar with
the situation... I'd hate to see FAlaFal go under. Like you, and like a
lot of people involved in the arts and in the small press, I do what I do
because: 1) I love doing it, 2) I like the hookup with like-minded
people, 3) I like the communication and 4) I'm going to do what I goddamn
well feel like doing, so fuck the rest of it, basically. Hopefully, you
have enough people out there who can likewise afford a few bucks to help
out - although, things are indeed getting rougher and rougher (blame it
all on the assholes who sat around eating jello and watching Geraldo
while their politicians were voting in NAFTA and GATT to cut everyone's
throats - lovely concept, citizenship; too bad hardly anyone takes the
reins of its responsibilities and lets these vampires, so rightly the
butt of Firesign satire, drag us back to divine-rights souvereignity).
The "Dear Friends" column continues to be a great "Utne Reader" for
us FAlaFal purveyors, sort of a creme de la creme overview. I find the
new Factsheet Five such a dim echo of the Gunderloy days (and I have to
say I wasn't all that fond of Gunderloy - I think it was his odd idea
that there is such a thing as anarchy that effected him - but his FS5
sure had a lot more heart and exactly the right spirit; yeah, the present
incarnation is okay, and I'll probably avail myself of it again one day,
one way or the other, but I've yet to justify putting down the shekels
for it whenever I happen across an issue - it just doesn't read like the
old zine), but it's still pretty much, as you say, indispensable. (As
both Mike Gunderloy and current F5 publisher Seth Friedman are FAlaFal
readers, I'm keeping neutral on this one...)
Oh yeah, I thought I'd put my two cents on the FT tour, which Don
Fields and I caught here in L.A. In a phrase, both it and the audience
were a bit disappointing. Half the audience was irritatingly eager to
show the other half just how much the fan they were and damn near made
the thing into a Rocky Horror midnight revival, incessantly memory-
parroting the entire show. Bozos indeed. And the group was pretty good,
although Austin seemed jaded, tired and not altogether into it (perhaps
because our show was the last stop of the tour, if what I was told is
correct). Proctor and Bergman were passable to good, but Ossman was
consummate. Watching and listening to him, you really couldn't miss the
contrast between the true professional and the talented others. His
mannerisms, phrasings, vocal affectations and everything else were those
small works of art that a connoisseur of comedy always hopes to find (and
does find in the persons of people like Ossman, the Greaseman, Jeff
Dunham, Margaret Smith and so on). To be honest, I was hoping for some
new material. In fact, I was hoping for a lot of new material but, alas,
such as not to be.
This too was a tad disappointing, as the comedian who is still doing
the same schtick 25 years later is usually doing it in the low-rent
borscht belt and not often well-received. Yes, it was nice to see and
hear the "hits," but one couldn't help but get the impression that the FT
may just not be as creative as they used to be, or as motivated. I guess
perhaps we're all feeling the effect of a lot of the dispiriting state of
affaairs lately. Who knows? But I certainly don't regre that I was able
to see them (even at the outrageous prices: once Ticketron gets through
reaming you, EVERY event is grossly expensive!). Perhaps, should they
decide to do this sort of thing again, the next tour will have less the
feel of greed and more of art...
MARC S. TUCKER
Manhattan Beach, CA
(Well, speaking as a fan who had never seen FT live before '93, I was
delighted to be treated to an updated rendering of the "hits," and it
seems as though that's what the majority of showgoers preferred, from all
accounts. However, stay tuned to our news section; the boys will
certainly be writing and performing new material in addition to the well-
loved "oldies" in the future!)
BONUS FOR ONLINE SUBSCRIBERS: "MY FIRST TIME"
(I thought it would be cool to start a discussion on
alt.comedy.firesgn-thtre about the first time various folks remembered
listening to Firesign. Here's a sampling of the responses I got - I'll
start 'em off...)
It was '81 or '82 and I was at my friend Jill Zimmerman's house,
smoking marijuana for about the fourth or fifth time in my life. For
whatever reason, pot had never affected me previously - maybe my body
just hadn't built up any sort of "recognition" or whatever. Anyway, Jill
had been bugging me for awhile to listen to Firesign, and she'd put on
Side 1 of "How Can You Be..." when suddenly I realized what the hell that
Beatles lyric in "Day in the Life" meant by "somebody spoke and I went
into a dream."
Pretty cool - my first actual high and my first taste of Firesign,
at precisely the same moment. I remember thinking, quite clearly, "My
god, there's people out there who THINK LIKE I DO!"
I've never stopped being amazed by this since then.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeff Markel)
Gee, Elayne, you are VERY youthful!!! [Ed. Note: I'm 37, really!]
My circumstances were almost identical, 'cept for the year, which was
probably 1970, right after Dwarf came out. I even remember the ads for
_Zachariah..The First Electric Western_ though of course it never played
anywhere that was accessable to me...
From: email@example.com (Richard Arnold)
Sophomore year, University of Maryland, 1978. (Alright, now you
know: I'm not one of the "oldies.") I was touring Europe with the UM
Chorale, singing our way through several countries on the Continent.
Another member of the group -Steve Crane (not the author) - and I became
friends on this trip, and he was trying to tell me about this group that
did really wild comedy. He threw out a few lines ("Ever since the sun
took LSD, it's been a fundamentally BETTER sun;" "Faded San Francisco Art
Nouveau, must be an oldie"), and describing the wind at the end of
"Temporarily Humbolt County" turning into a long toke on a joint.
Upon hearing these descriptions, I thought Steve was crazy as a
loon, but somehow we became friends anyway. Later that summer, he came
over to my apartment with "HCYBITPAO," two fat joints, and a six pack,
and said "Are you ready for something completely different?"
I remember being completely confused by Side One of HCYB, until
Ralph smokes the Yucatan Blue and transmogrifies into Mollie from James
Joyce's "Ulysses." I was hooked! When the Beatles references on Nick
Danger came up on Side Two, it only reinforced it for me: I had to have
EVERYTHING this group put on record.
To this day, when I call Steve on the phone, I say "Hiya keedo,"
which he automatically replies "Shoes for Industry, compradree."
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John V. Scialli)
September 1970 start of freshman year of college. Lee Robbins, an
eccentric artist type (now director of a major NY Hospital's Emergency
department) used to go through New York City garbage and street sellers
and such looking for..garbarge and stuff. He had paid 50 cents for a
strange looking album (Electrician) with strange Russian handwriting on
the back, starting "Dear John,". This turns out to have been an album
given by Proctor as a gift to the actor John Randolph (Jack Nicholson's
father in Prizzi's Honor amoung many, many fine character roles) who was
godfather to PP's daughter and a sort of mentor for PP when he was coming
up in NY Theatre [so how come Randolph tossed it or hocked it? PP never
Lee always put on strange records as background to hemp sampling
(knot tying, roping, braiding, etc.) parties. A bunch of us were
partying when "Railroad's comin' through..right now!" and BAM! there was
mass confusion as the train screamed through our conversation and made
grown men weep. What the fuck was that??? we wanted to know. Lee, man,
start that thing from the beginning and this time we'll listen. And we
haven't stopped yet (weeping).
From: email@example.com (Roger S.)
I don't remember my first time, but my first times were from a
little radio station in upstate NY. It was mostly conventional (and
later when almost all country) but had weekend nights (and for some
period of time most nights) a ~10 to2am show that played a lot of what
you didn't hear elsewhere. I got my first exposure to Steeleye Span,
Pentagle and the like (some of my favorate music to this day), Jethro
Tull, etc. some offbeat classical, and TFT.
I think this was mostly Bozos (this would have been early 70s), with
some of the earlier albums, though this is hazy because Bozos was the
first album I found and certainly listened to it a lot.
Unlike lots of others, my early FT experiences had nothing to do
with drugs of any sort, and I have never listened to TFT under the
influence of anything stronger then sleepyness or deprivation. (That is
often enough, when I'm driffting and listen to music I will often "see"
dancing notes on staffs). TFT was always naturally trippy enough for me.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Eli McIlveen)
Well, as for me, I actually grew up with it. My mum had a copy of
'Dwarf' in the record cabinet, which one day I threw on 'cause it looked
interesting. I have no idea how old I was at the time - probably ten or
twelve or so - so, naturally, I didn't get even half of the most obvious
jokes. However, I knew immediately that I liked it.
At the time I think I was also listening to a lot of the Frantics on
the radio (Canadian comedy troupe; did a great weekly radio series and a
slightly less great tv adaptation) and such-like. I know Monty Python
also figured large. Lots and lots went sailing over my head, but it
worked its way straight into my subconscious.
I didn't hear much else from them until I got to university about a
year and a half ago (yes, I am yet a mere prat - second-generation FT
fan, that's me) and tuned into the campus station. One morning, midway
through my first, disastrous term, someone played 'Don't Crush That
Dwarf' in its entirety, prefacing it with something to the effect that he
didn't know if anyone at all had heard of these people.
I phoned in and said I actually had the album; Adam (for that was
his name) said "Wow!" and also mentioned that he'd heard about a reunion
happening. I said "Wow!" and mentioned that all I knew was that they had
a quiet but rabid following.
Little did I know...
Now I volunteer at that same campus station, and have been known to
play FST, the little that I have of it. To date I've only been exposed
to 'Two Places' - I continually kick myself for not snapping up 'Bozos',
'Marx & Lennon', and some others I spotted at various used vinyl stores
long ago... I've been doing production work for a so-called experimental
comedy show (no, it's "an experiment in audio landfill") here at CKMS-
FM... As it is, it's a very ad hoc and scattered thing, but it's been a
great learning experience. We hope to do something bigger, something
more integrated and elaborate soon.
I was also cheered to find that my school's library has a copy of
the Big Book Of Plays, next to a couple of books of Goon Show scripts...
(also a book of David Ossman's which I haven't gotten around to
requesting since it's in Storage.)
From: email@example.com (Dana Netz)
... it was late 1971 or early 1972... I was in Tech School, just
after Basic Training for the US Air Force... a couple of the "long hairs"
(somehow or another they managed to keep their hair just a little longer
than everyone else... I *knew* they were up to something...) would gather
in their room and listen to these outrageous comedy albums... I'm trying
to remember (it's been such a long exposition, you know) but it seems
like the first album that I heard was "Dwarf"...
.... what gathered me in was the fact that these 4 or 5 guys were
doing *stories*, true radio theatre, not just snippets, like stand-up
comedy... here it was, for all to enjoy, the history of the Future!!!..
.... what truly hooked me, tho, was the continuity from album to
album... blew me away when I snapped that when George Tirebiter ordered
a pizza, he got Nick Danger...
.... and finally, what has kept me going is the large number of
Fireheads that I run into on a routine basis.... I'll rip off something
like "where's the dead cat?" an out of the blue someone will come back
"it's in the soap" and I'll know that I'm not alone...
.... in closing, let me pass on that I've got another generation
hooked, now... I started my daughters on "Nick Danger" and just the other
nite I played "Temporarily Humbolt County" for my oldest, the Indians
Rights activist... afterward, I flipped it over and listened to the
second side for the first time in a long time... lotsa memories in those
old, scratched vinyls...
From: DGXV60A@prodigy.com (Harold May)
My first time was in my cousin's loft apartment in Ypsilanti,
Michigan. I was visiting during winter break of my freshman year in
college, 1970-71. Everybody else was smoking, and I was probably getting
a second-hand high, when they put on "How Can You Be..."
I knew I wanted to hear more of this... but it was a couple of years
before I got into my study of Firesigniana more fully... in 1972, when I
bought an 8-track of "Not Insane"... and '73, when a friend loaned me a
copy of "Dwarf." By '74 I was buying every album I could get my hands
on. I think I had 'em all by the summer of '75....
Many long nights were spent during those years, listening through
headphones in the dark, conjuring up strange images and speculating on
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Frank M. Bland)
My first exposure to TFT was at the age of 19 in the Autumn of 1982
and I have been exposing myself to them regularly ever since. I was
working for the Harmony Hut record chain in Philadelphia when a co-worker
introduced me not only to Firesign, but also to The Mothers of Invention
(I had been a Zappa fan for a while, but had never heard any of the
Dave Queppet, for that was his name, loaned me all of the FT albums
up to and including EYKIW, as well as PA's "Roller Maidens," and I was
hooked. I had cruised the comedy bins religiously since my mother gave
me several Flip Wilson LPs for Christmas when I was twelve, but I never
had the guts to buy a FT release. I immediately ordered all I could get
my hands on from the record store where I was working. Thank goodness
this was during the long overdue demise of the 8-Track as an
entertainment medium. On the other hand, remembering the constant
tweaking my 8-Track player required to play only two tracks at a time,
some of the multiple-track effects may have been interesting.
Anyway, that was nearly 13 years ago. This is now. I have moved
from endless tape loops through groovy LPs and onto smaller, cleaner-
burning CDs. A particularly interesting upshot of the CD is the
length/format issue. It took the guys a few albums to get the hang of
recording for LPs. Now that the predominant medium is a disc that
doesn't have to be turned over, and which can store more information, it
will be interesting to see what they come up with. Although "Eat Or Be
Eaten" was produced during the CD era, it was recorded with the LP format
From: email@example.com (Matthew Quirk)
I was just a young tadpole up in the frigid north country of
Marquette Michigan. It was 1984. I was in 8th grade, and after three
years of orchestra I finally went up to Mrs. Norton (Our Director) and
asked her, "What is the name of the person playing first Bass?" She
responded correctly, "No, What is the name of the person on Second Bass."
and, having learned of my love of old radio comedy, she loaned me a tape
of "Nick Danger, Third Eye" which I listened to until it was devoured by
my tape deck six years later.
I went out to get a replacement and discovered as much of the rest
of the lexicon that was available on CD... The rest is geography.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Bill Knox)
The first time I heard Firesign was in 1977 (I forget the month).
I was in the Navy and stationed on Guam. I worked second shift and I had
just gotten back to the barracks after work so it was after midnight. I
smoked a joint with my roommate and was walking down the hall and a
friend named Terry (sorry, it's been awhile and I forget his last name)
pulled me into his room and jammed some headphones on my head.
I spent the next 3 hours listening to some of the funniest stuff I
had ever heard. He gave me a strong dose of Waiting for the Electrician,
How Can You Be, Don't Crush That Dwarf, Bozos and Giant Rat back-to-back,
non-stop. It was GREAT!!!
The only album I have never got a chance to hear that I am AWARE of
was Phil Austin's "Roller Maidens from Outer Space". Anyway, I lost
almost all the albums when the Navy shipped my stuff back and I've only
been able to replace Electrician and Bozos (sigh). I would kill for TV
or Not TV and How Time Flies!!!! and of course to hear Roller Maidens.
From: email@example.com (David Razler)
First time? 1970, also first year of high school - turned on by
computer freaks freaking on DEC rap on Bozos.
Didn't inhale for two more years - didn't need it - I thought like
that anyway. Found Firesign wonderfilled both with and without -
especially because when they're working on 20 different levels at the
same time you actually CAN miss something when running chemically
enhanced as well as missing it 'cause you ain't.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Richard Sloane)
I remember it was in the early 70's, I was just a kid. My family
was over visiting some friends of theirs who had an older teenager--kinda
a weird guy, what I remember was that he was a BIG fan of Dr. Demento's.
He also had one of the first Wankel rotary engine Mazdas, a red-
white-and-blue job. The old folks, of course, were incredibly boring, so
he says "I got something I want you to hear." It was Dwarf, and I
remember "This is nothing but a bag of SHIT!" "But it's really great
shit, Mrs. Presky!" It was a bit too weird for me at the time, but a
coupla years later I was hooked on "HCYB", so was my brother, and to this
day we pay good money to long distance companies to go over some of the
From: fh988@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Thomas E. Shepard)
Ah yes, I remember my "first time" fondly. It involved several
female acquaintances, some handcuffs and a steaming plate of grote
clusters... (oops, sorry wrong newsgroup)
But seriously, I don't quite remember the first time I heard the
FST, my recollections of my younger years are a little fuzzy (and I
thought it would only affect my short-term memory, HA!), but I do
remember how I first heard of the FST. The first edition of the Rolling
Stone Record Guide has a very good overview of FST work prior to 1979.
The author of the review, Greil Marcus, describes FST as a mutant hybrid
of James Joyce, Monty Hall, Douglas McArthur and Flash Gordon, needless
to say that description alone peaked my interest back in 1978 to search
out their albums. Marcus also described 'Dwarf" as being probably the
greatest comedy record album ever made. The book also had reproductions
of the album covers for 'Dwarf", EYKIW and "Two Places". Unfortunately,
don't look for this in later editions of the Guide, the review got cut
after the first edition.
From: email@example.com (Jeff Muller)
Sometime during my sophomore year of HS: 1973-74. I don't recall
exactly but I think I purchased "HCYBITPAO" because it was in a sale bin.
I had seen FT's records before when browsing but knew nothing about them.
Loved Nick Danger right away. Side One was funny at times but I couldn't
figure it out!! (Why were they speaking Chinese? And why didn't he just
turn the air back to Tropical Paradise?) After sharing the LP with a
friend who shared his Led Zep's with me, we started reciting lines at
school. A couple of interns (ya know, COLLEGE guys) overheard us and
proceded to share bits & pieces of their wisdom (hey, they were COLLEGE
guys). We asked them, more than once, what Side One was about and they'd
just kinda chuckle and say, pö"Keep listening..." I did although it was
a few years before I 'd get another album.
Best Firesign moment in Real Life: One day at work a fellow
Firehead had received a paper cut on his nose (don't ask). I actually
got to use, for real, "What has happened to your nose?" Turns out he'd
just come back from someplace called Rome...
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Joe Hartley)
I dismember my first time as well. It was in the spring of '79 and
I was a senior in high skool. I went off for a weekend to the college
I'd chosen to go to in the fall to spend a weekend with a sucker -- er,
a volunteer named Mark who put me up on the floor of his dorm room.
His roommate, Dale Lutes, worked at the campus radio station and had
me listen to a few things, like Tom Lehrer and "Nick Danger". It was
quite the evening, to say the least. I ended up becoming good friends
with Dale (otherwise known as Dan Natale), until we both were asked to
leave. I've seen him a few times in the intervening years, but have
always appreciated him taking that time to warp my head a little more!
From: email@example.com (TarlaStar)
Where was I?...Well it was 1972...I was dating the ever perfect Jay
Piz, and he was introducing me to the works of Carlos Casteneda.
Sitting on his leopardskin (fake) bedspread and smoking several fat
hooters, we turned the radio on...The world changed as we knew it. There
was so goddamned much mind blasting going on at that time, one barely
knew which way was up.(but they're coming down!) I think about all the
stuff that I was learning about then and my head almost explodes...well,
it gets real hot anyway. I ended up rearing another generation of FST
lovers. As I've stated previously, my oldest son keeps threatening to
name my first grandchild "MalcolmXJohnLennon" (it's either that or
"Bluto"). The younger (13) is just getting to the age where he sorta
understands the references, but he still gets his friends over and sits
in front of the stereo listening just as avidly as I did once. There is
a joy in sharing a sense of humor with your children. There is also a
joy in sharing it with a small group of people. If everyone liked and
knew about FST it wouldn't be as much fun. I love the surprise of
quoting FST in a situation and having someone respond, it's the old "in-
crowd" stroke. I still dig it.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Steve Premo)
I don't remember the first time I heard Firesign. I was in Junior
High, I think, which would make it around 1968 or '69, and I was a big
fan of Radio Free Oz. (I still have an OZ button.) It was mainly Peter
Bergman's show, but Firesign would appear from time to time and do
sketches. I remember one in particular in which the boys were up in a
balloon. I remember the lines,
"We're off course!"
"Where are we?"
"Thank God! I thought we were lost!"
Then, at some point during a broadcast, there was discussion about
the second Firesign Theater album being in the works. They said they'd
gotten feedback that the first album was lacking in music, and that they
were putting some songs on the second one. I went right out and had the
local store order the first album, Electrician, which neither I nor
anyone I knew had ever heard of. I proceeded to turn all my friends on
to it, and got HCYBITPAOWYNAAA as soon as it was released.
From: email@example.com (Kirk Haverkamp)
My first time? Oh boy, let's see--It was out in the outhouse, with
my mother -- no wait, that's from Falwell v. Flynn...
Anyway, the first time I heard FT was Christmas, 1971. I was a
sophomore in high school at the time. My older sister was in college and,
knowing my interest in comedy, on visits home had been telling me about
stuff like "Beat the Reaper" and "Returned for Re-Grooving."
At Christmas, an older brother of mine, a college graduate and a
certified guitar-playing, war-protesting, San Francisco hippie, gave me
a package that was obviouly a record. I unwrapped it and was baffled by
an album cover depicting what seemed to be a bunch of foreigners on a the
balcony of some sort of monument, under a pair of black and white photos
of two people, one of which I gradually recognized was John Lennon. (I
had yet to experience the Marx brothers) "That's the group I was telling
you about!" my sister said excitedly, "That's the Firesign Theatre!"
After carefully studying both sides of the cover and the inside, my
instinctive reaction was that the whole thing looked just a little too
weird -- more of this long-haired, hippie nonsense my siblings were
always trying to suck me into, like those damn books about those dwarves
("They're hobbits!") with the hairy feet and the ring my sisters were
always trying to get me to read.
Anyway, I went ahead and played the "HCYB" side and found it
pleasantly bizarre, but not all that funny. When I played it again the
next day, I started to laugh. The third playing was funny as hell. I
found this pattern repeated with other FT albums, as I gradually added
"Bozos," "Dwarf" and "Electrician;" the jokes went by so fast that you
had to listen several times before you could catch them. Unlike other
comedy albums, which grew stale with repeated listenings, I found that FT
only got better with time.
One of my biggest frustrations was trying to turn on other high
school kids to the group. Most of them just didn't seem to have the
patience to get into something that didn't smack them right over the head
with obvious humor. To make matters worse, Cheech and Chong were just
beginning to come into vogue and you can imagine the frustration of
trying to explain to a bunch of teen-aged stoners why "Ralph Spoilsport"
was preferable to "Dave's not here." In the summer of '72 I attended
Culver Military Academy and tried to play HCYB for my C&C-fan roommate,
whose reaction was "This is supposed to be funny?" So it's nice to be
vindicated by history--at least, the last time I checked, there weren't
any Cheech and Chong newsgroups. So there.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org ("George Tirebiter")
My first time, like so many first times, was disappointing. I was
in high school. It was an all boys' Catholic school run by sadistic
British monks. The caning, the Latin, the whole bit. Needless to say,
the atmosphere wasn't conducive to hilarity. Anyway, in my senior year,
a guy transferred in from another school because of what was called in
those days a drug problem which his parents thought would be amenable to
some monkish discipline. (He later left my school because of the
selfsame problem. Last I heard, he had gone off to South Dakota to
become an apprentice medicine man). Our common room had a record player
and we'd listen to music during breaks. It was a great era: Jimi,
Cream, the Airplane etc. One day, P. put on Don't Crush That Dwarf. The
jocks and incipient frat boys that were in my class booed it down. Most
of them are now suburban insurance salesmen and all around cretins. I
tried to get into FT but it just wasn't possible in that environment to
fully grok what these guys were about.
Fast forward to first few weeks of college: As far as I can
remember, there were no rules where I went to college (U. of Toronto), so
it was a big change for me. Also, college had more than one gender which
was very interesting. Immediately I fell in with the wrong crowd and
spent the next few years majoring in applied narcotics. FT was very
popular with our gang. We would sit up all night listening to just about
every album that we could find. A lot of my friends were smart and well
read (if somewhat undermotivated like myself) and we would try to figure
out every single reference.
In about '72 or '73, Proctor and Bergman came to the old El Macombo
club. Any hogtown denizens know if it's still there. We got there early
to sit up right in the front. After the show, we accosted them and
invited them back to the dorm for some of the Lebanese blond hash that
was so plentiful and fragrant then. I think the hash wasn't nearly as
enticing as the shameless flirting of my buddy's pneumatic girlfriend.
He ended up storming off in a huff, but Peter Bergman came with us back
to her room where we goofed for hours. For a funny guy, he's very
It was clear that he was trying to make serious comments about
society with the comedy. It was great to try out our theories of
different references and see if we were right. Some other time I will
discuss the Malmborg in Plano stuff. With some of them, he claimed that
they were just goofing and hadn't intended some of the allusions we read
Nonetheless, I think it's the depth of there material that creates
resonances that weren't even intended at the time.
To this day, I don't know if Bergman made it with J. But she had a
pelican you could do Shakespeare from.
From: email@example.com (Chris England)
first off: i'm one of those second-generation fans you mention. i
was raised on the stuff, so i never really HAD a first time with FT.
i've been making ruthless (painfully avoided) allusions to FT since i was
and now, in college, i've been fairly successful in introducing it
to an increasing the number of new fans, sort of like introducing a virus
into the works. i'm glad i stumbled upon this group...
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tom Nelson)
My first FT experience wasn't enhanced with chemicals either, but in
retrospect maybe should have been. In the fall of '70, I was a young 2nd
Lt in the field artillery stationed at Ft Carson in Colorado. I was on
duty as a "safety officer" for a 155mm howitzer battery (a group of 6
rather large guns). My job was to make sure that the shells fired by the
cannon fell somewhere in the "impact zone" rather then on I-70 or
downtown Colorado Springs. During one of many lull in the action I was
lounging in a jeep listening to a radio that my driver had brought along.
We channel hopped a bit and came across the latter part of "Temporarily
Humbolt County" The juxtaposition of this piece with my current endeavor
(helping to blow up bits of Colorado) fit in pefectly with my angst. The
fact that the subject was the American West from an historic perspective
and my background as a American history major was also interesting.
Anyway, three days later when I finally got off duty, I called the radio
station to try to find out the name of the group. Since I had only heard
part of the recording and the DJ had not identified the artist, the
conversation was a little strange to say the least. After some back and
forth, the identity of the FT was revealed and, as they say, the rest is
See You On the Funway!!!
I started out to tell you my own first-time Firesign story, and was
pretty well into it when I started thinking, "You know, Elayne does a
GREAT job filling this newsletter to the ABSOLUTE tippy-top with Firesign
info. What can I add?" I don't know the 4or5 personally, I haven't gone
to any of the recent concerts, and I don't work (in my real job) with
anyone else who can quote lines from the albums. In fact, I get the
STRANGEST looks when people say "It's nice out," and I reply "Yes, I
think we ought to LEAVE it out." As you might imagine, I have a rep for
eccentricity around the office.
But I do love the Guys, and I think that they are a TRULY IMPORTANT
voice in American comedy today, even if you never see them on any of
those "comedy" shows that are everywhere on cable TV these days. In
fact, I believe their importance is best demonstrated by their NOT being
on these shows. "You may know them by the company they keep" has
probably never been better illustrated than in this case.
So I figured, heck, I'll just write something of a more
philosophical nature -- namely, whatever comes to mind as I squirm before
the keyboard, lit by the soft glow of a 17" cathode-ray screen.
It's not as easy as it sounds.
And so my first thought is that it is now early April, and Spring
has sprung here at the Monrovia Communications estates. My wife's pony
has gone into heat, much to the consternation of the geldings in the
paddock; the dogwood buds are swelling ominously, like miniature versions
of that favorite old popcorn that came in the foil pan with the handle
and grew to amazing heights before exploding; and the weeping cherry
outside my front window has just blossomed into gossamer, fairy-lace
Unfortunately, all of these wondrous signs of the rebirth of the
planet are right now being whipped by vicious hurricane-force winds that,
as the temperatures drop into the mid-20s tonight, will lash Spring with
zero- degree wind chills like a vengeance-crazed Captain Bligh would have
flogged Mr. Christian if he'd got his hands on him. There will most
likely be nothing left of the flowers tomorrow, though I imagine the pony
will survive, as ponies always have.
Spring always tricks and depresses me. You get those first couple
of really nice days where the temperatures get into the 70's, the skies
are blue and full of puffy white clouds, and your thoughts begin to turn
to warm summer days and nights with frosty-cold Rolling Rocks on the deck
under the stars. Then the schizophrenic nature of the season reasserts
itself, and suddenly you're facing gray, rainy, 40-degree weather for
days on end, and the previous weather is only a tantalizing memory.
But this, too, shall pass -- and the Glory that is April will return
with soft sunshine and warm breezes again. The flowers will continue to
bloom, the trees will fill out, and the midnight songs of the mockingbird
on my chimney will fill my nights with a mixture of dread and admiration.
Commuting to work will once more be an enjoyable early-morning cruise
through the countryside instead of an icy voyage across the Ninth Circle
of Hell; maybe I'll even be able to put the T-top down on the Camaro
And then the famous Washington humidity will return, perhaps as
early as May, and the days will be steamy; car interiors, saunas; and the
sun deck unbearable till the evening comes. The sweat will pour from my
brow, and my shirt will cling to my back after a two-minute stroll across
the parking lot.
Man, I can't wait.
Have a great summer, wherever you are. I know I will