-- A newsletter of, about, and for
The Firesign Theatre...
...and their loyal fans
Four-Alarm FIRESIGNal #27 (Electronic #5)
Four Alarm FIRESIGNal is produced thrice yearly, in fire sign months
(April, August and December) for the members and dear friends of The
Firesign Theatre, by Elayne Wechsler-Chaput, who can be reached by "snail
mail" at 1747 65th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11204 or by E-mail at either the
Internet-direct address email@example.com or the CompuServe address
72672,2714 (while my office still subscribes to Prodigy, I really don't
check in all that often, so please don't write me there). Electronic
FAlaFal is free of charge, and both our electronic and hard copy version
are freely reproduceable, but from now on it'll cost you to get the hard
copy one (see this issue's editorial). Printing and mailing services were
performed by Roger Snyder at The Print Shop; EFAlaFal was organized by
Jamie Schrumpf at Monrovia Communications; Richard Fish, Phil Proctor,
Davis Ossman, Fred Wiebel and Chris Palladino supplied news; Richard
Arnold, Boyd Crow and Cat Simril Ishikawa contributed other writing.
Thanks to all who participated!
No. 27 of ? TABLE OF CONTENTS AUGUST, 1995
[] THIS IS WORKER SPEAKING: Words from Elayne, Our Founder
[] RUMORS BEHIND THE NEWS: The latest on the 4or5 guys
[] TAKEN APART, STACKED UP, AND LABELLED: Archival news from Elayne;
a Call To Arms for help with an FT project; the Classifieds.
[] REVIEW: Cat Simril's review of Phil Austin's "Tales of the Old
Detective and Other Big Fat Lies," Phil's take on increasing age
(his) and the Golden Daze of radio.
[] ADVERTISEMENT: SPARKS MEDIA: More yet Different audio and
video of the 4or5. Must-haves abound!
[] EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG: Quiz #2 from Richard Arnold to
challenge the self-proclaimed FT "expert" fan. Do YOU have what
IT takes? Also: answers to quiz #1.
[] THE NATURAL SURREALIST PARTY HISTORY: FT's sojourn into "party
politics," and what happened when the hip hit the fan.
[] THEY'RE IN EVERYBODY'S EGGS: FT catch phrases appear everwhere,
at any time. Here's some of the favorite anecdotes submitted by
[] FUTURE FAIR INCORPORATED: The world's first Emergency Bozo units,
and how they, um, fared.
[] POSTMARK: DEEP SPACE -- Letters to the Editor
[] A POEM FROM PROCTOR: Phil blesses us with a play on OJ...
[] SEE YOU ON THE FUNWAY... It's a wrap! Endnotes & stuff from
Jamie, Your Electronic Editor.
This Is Worker Speaking...
Hello again, and welcome to that skeptic inside of you who still
believes that... er, I mean, welcome to all our new readers who wrote to
LodesTone/More Sugar for info or to order the EYKIW video! Our bulk
mailing this time was over 2300, and we have even more folks reading the
online version (if you've just seen the hard copy version of this for the
first time and have online access, please E-mail me for details on where
to find Electronic FALaFal)!
Unfortunately, there's a bad side to our growing hard-copy numbers,
which most of you who read last issue suspected. (To digress a moment,
speaking of our last issue, it was bulk-mailed on April 18 but there were
numerous problems with the Smithtown BMC; if you have yet to receive #26,
please send me a 32-cent SASE and I'll get it right out to you. The
employees responsible for our problems last time are long gone, and the
lovely and competent woman now in charge assures us this mailing should go
smoothly; Roger bulk mailed the hard copy version of FAlaFal #27 on August
21.) Bear with me a moment, online readers: I have decided that, as of
issue #28, the hard-copy version of Four-Alarm FIRESIGNal will be
subscription- only. Yearly subscriptions will be $5 per year, American
money or check (made out to "Elayne Wechsler-Chaput" please) or postal
money order. A certain number of complimentary copies will go to the
4or5, press folks, etc., and everyone who has given me donations in the
past year (i.e., whose names are acknowledged and thanked in this issue,
#26 and #25) has an automatic subscription through issue #30. If you're
at all interested in continuing to receive the hard-copy version of this
newsletter, please get your $5 in to me ASAP so Michael Packer and I can
make the necessary notations on the mailing list.
If you're online and wondering whether you should bother getting a
hard copy FAlaFal as well, I will tell you that we do run things such as
this issue's 2-page More Sugar spread and next issue's Chris Ward
Crosswords which I will not duplicate for EFAlaFal (although you can get
More Sugar info from LodesTone's Web page); likewise, hard copy
subscribers can always SASE me for printouts of stuff that I don't have
space to run here (like the premiere this issue of a new snippets column,
"They're In Everybody's Eggs," a rambling text piece about Bozos by Jim
Smith, and of course Jamie's "See You On The Funway" closing editorials).
For the most part, however, everything vital is found in both versions, so
it's entirely up to you.
Online folks had the advantage of knowing that I bought wholesale 100
sets of the Abkhazian Groucho Marx/John Lennon postage stamps reported on
in our last issue, and have been reselling them for $10 each postpaid as a
FAlaFal fundraiser. I want to thank Dia Allds, Richard Arnold, Stephen
Bodney, David Bogie, Michael Bonner, Mike Broida, Jeff Bulf, Chris Day,
Wayne Dernoncourt, David Gorski, Robert Heft, Keith Hopkins, David Hudson,
Taylor Jessen, James Lindberg, Kevin Luke, Harold May, Shannon McMaster,
David & Lisa McNair, Rick Moore, Steve Morris, Wayne Newitt, Tom Niccum,
Scott Nybakken, Kevin O'Brien, Charles Parsons, Bruce Prussack, Diane
Reese, Eric Schweitzer, Rick Sloane, Bruce Smith, Carl Switzky, Adam
Thornton, Theron Trowbridge and Ted White for purchasing sets and netting
FAlaFal a "profit" of $130 so far! You will all receive free FAlaFal
subscriptions through issue #30 as well. So far 58 sets have been sold,
so there are still plenty left if anyone else is interested. I'd also
like to thank Debra Kirsch and others for extra stamps, and Robert Bain,
Mike Boerger, Noel Boulanger, Wayne Davis, G. Donohue, Robert Heft, Keith
Hopkins, Louis Krasser, Mike Maimone, Mike Martina, Nicola Nelson, David
Parker, Robert Stanfield, Jerry Stearns, Theron Trowbridge and especially
David Gorski and David Weems for their incredibly generous donations,
which totalled over $435. Our outlay for this issue, between bulk
mailing, foreign mailing, rising paper costs and remails, will probably
come to about $1200, and among the donations, funds raised from stamp
sales and a generous cash influx from LodesTone/More Sugar, we're just
shy of $1000, which pleases and relieves me greatly - but, I fear, not
greatly enough to forestall subscriptions.
Roger and I thank all who were able to attend and help out at our
April labelling/bundling party (Richard Arnold, Robert Bain, Bill & Vicki
Benzel, Frank Bland, Melinda "Bob" Casino, Alan Gross, Sandy Hawkins, Mike
Maimone and Ronnie Sheeskin), as well as those who helped with this issue,
which we hope you enjoy - we have the second part of Richard's quiz,
exciting archival news, a wonderful review of Phil Austin's latest
creative endeavor, a Campoon '76 reminiscence and a poem from Proctor, in
addition to our regular news and letter column features. Our next party
will be either December 9 or 16; contact me for details as the dates
Personal stuff: I'm afraid Baby Quest has failed; thanks for all
your good wishes anyway, and if you know of any good and inexpensive
adoption agencies, we'd be very interested.
This issue is dedicated to Jerry Garcia.
Rumors Behind the News
by Richard Fish (LodesTone/More Sugar)
Here's the news from Sectors R and N --
* "How Can You Be In Two Places At Once" is re-released by Sony/Columbia
Legacy, and is listed in the Grammy Awards guide (under Legacy). Time for
some fan mail to the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences?
* "The Tick" is a very hip animated TV series. Extremely hip, in
they hired the entire Firesign Theatre to play characters in an upcoming
episode. Watch for "The Tick In Las Vegas," and you'll hear the boys
playing the hench-creatures of the episode's main villain, who's described
as a sort of a porpoise-gone-bad. That worked so well they've done it
again...or half of it anyway. DAVID OSSMAN and PETER BERGMAN have parts
in the final episode of (this year's?) series, called "Retirement Home."
Peter has a major part in that, and David does various voices.
* PROCTOR & BERGMAN are working on a comedy CD-ROM project, but aren't
talking about the details yet. Phil and Peter both say they're having a
ball writing and creating the concept, and an unsubstantiated rumor has it
that the product will be due out next June, if all goes well. Proctor
says the project is "...really very exciting, we're having a hell of a lot
of fun on it!"
* PETER BERGMAN has been busy with campaigns for movies -- "Desperado"
is his current project -- and worked on the promotions for the CBS-TV fall
season. He and Patricia and Lisa are well and happy and busy, but probably
not too busy to enjoy the sunsets over the Pacific from the back porch of
their Santa Monica home.
* PHIL AUSTIN is very pleased with the release of his cassette (which has
sold triple the amount expected) and the progress of the new book. He and
Oona and the dogs are headed up to Washington, where (among other things)
he'll work on the "Anythynge" script with David. [Ed. note: The
aforementioned new double-cassette release, "Tales of the Old Detective
and Other Big Fat Lies," reviewed by Cat Simril Ishikawa elsewhere this
issue, has been produced by Pat Fraley, who reports that, if you can't
find it in a store and "If you want to get one fast and simple, call 1-800
231-4261. That's a really good books-on-tape company called Audio
Editions. They published the project. The publisher, Linda Olsen, is a
big Firehead herself." I believe the cost is $16.95 plus $4.50 for UPS
shipping, and the cassettes may still be available as well from The Book
Resource (212-254-6031, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org). In addition,
Richard is trying to arrange for LodesTone to carry the tape in the near
* PHIL PROCTOR and Melinda Peterson have been touring college campuses
with Phil's daughter Kristin, who plans to enter the University of
California system upon her graduation from (what's Norwegian for "Morse
Science High?"). Phil has been very busy with various roles in the
Hollywood scene, including a crabby passenger on NBC's "The Crew," the 2nd
episode, due to air around the end of August; several roles in the
computer-animated feature "Toy Story," with megahot Tom Hanks (says Phil,
"The subtleties of the facial and body movements are astonishing for both
the toy figures and the humans, and the story and dialogue is extremely
hip. And no wonder - both the director and Andrew Stanton, the
writer/creators, are Firesign fans and asked for an autograph:); some ADR
("Automated Dialog Replacement" -- soundtrack post production work) on
"T-REX" which stars Whoopi Goldberg; the voice of Mike the Mechanic in a
new campaign for the State of California, which is intended to reduce
pollution by encouraging car owners to keep their cars in good repair.
(might work in California, but looking at some of the clunkers on the
roads around here, I dunno about Indiana!); an audition for a great part
in Jackie Chang's new movie, "Rumble In The Bronx" (Phil is up for the
part of Chang's uncle; if he gets it the movie is sure to be a scream --
he reports Chang is the "Buster Keaton of Kung Fu movies," and THAT I
gotta see!); an upcoming interview in Stereo Review on "the state of
comedy in America"; and writing the poem on O.J.Simpson which graces this
issue's back page, and which will also be appearing in the prestigious
"Saturday Review" in the near future.
* DAVID OSSMAN and Judith Walcutt are up to their ears in kids and
projects, as usual, up on lovely Whidbey Island. David has been down to
L.A. a few times recently, doing "The Tick" and so forth. Otherworld
Media (and, er, um, us here at LodesTone) have just released a new
production of which we are inordinately proud: "Goldfish" -- a 1936 short
story by Raymond Chandler, one of the earliest tales of Philip Marlowe,
the classic hardboiled detective. David wrote the script and directed;
Judith found the clearances and assembled a really wonderful cast,
including Harris Yulin as Marlowe, and Harry Anderson (Night Court/Dave's
World). It's a full hour production and now available on cassette and for
broadcast (grab b'cast opportunities quick, as NPR may pick it up
exclusively but hasn't done so yet). David's new novel, "The Ronald
Reagan Murder Case, A George Tirebiter Mystery," is finished and sent off
to the agent, seeking a publisher. I've seen an advance copy and it's
wonderful! Not only is it a great Tirebiter story, Paranoid Pictures and
all, but it's a mysterious mystery. It's hardboiled in places and
softboiled in others, but throughout it's most definitely boiled. (A
number of Otherworld productions are coming to the LodesTone Catalog as
soon as we can get them packaged.) David has also written a slim volume of
poetry, which we hope to publish on the internet soon; he has reduced the
poems to ones and zeroes and we hope to reassemble them correctly once he
faxes us the instructions ("...insert adjective A into noun B...").
* GEORGE TIREBITER has become available for a very special tour: now you
can get the original Peorgie to come to YOUR town and help you put on a
performance of "Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers!" George will
come into your town for a week or so, and work with the cast and crew
you've assembled, polish up the performance and deliver it as a stage show
and/or a live broadcast. How would YOU like to play Mudhead with the
one-and-only Peorgie? Or Bottles? Or Principal Poop? If you're
seriously interested in arranging one of these, please get in touch with
us here at LodesTone.
* The SCRIPT for "Anythynge You Want To" is still on its way... the
is mainly due to the guys getting into producing a bunch of new material,
footnotes and suchlike. David is serving as compiler and editor on this
one, and a final version is wending its way now -- we hope to have it out
in time for Christmas, anyhow. The video NICK DANGER IN THE CASE OF THE
MISSING YOLK is still on its way also. We still hope to put some
long-unavailable video with it before putting it out, but the goal is to
get it out in time for Christmas no matter what. Stay tuned...
* THE LODESTONE CATALOG has some big news -- it's greatly expanded, and
NOW PUBLISHED ON THE WORLD-WIDE WEB! Check out our site -- the URL is:
and please let us know what you think! We're still under construction in
some ways; as of this writing we haven't gotten our audio clips up yet.
And please note something very important: LODESTONE has a NEW NUMBER FOR
ORDERS! Call 1-800-411-MIND for catalog orders now. Our old number was
414-MIND; the new number is 411-MIND. Just one digit different for you,
but a world of difference for us. From now on we will own our own
800-number and not have to change it. We had some problems with the
company answering the old number, and have been trying very hard to work
these problems out and negotiate a proper settlement. Unfortunately, they
own the 414 number. They promised repeatedly that the number would be
released to our ownership as part of a general settlement, and then
reneged on that promise at the last minute. Our talks are still
continuing; results will be reported here next issue, and immediately on
our web page.
* What happened to Eric Gardner and new Firesign Tours? I don't know
all the answers. I wasn't there when things went down. But I will explain
how I see it, my opinions and nobody else's. There is a financial
catch-22. It's not 1968 anymore, and the Four or Five Crazy Guys can't
just park their Volkswagens and hole up in a studio for awhile, or tour on
a catch-as-catch-can basis. They all have families, responsibilities,
professional obligations, and bills coming in. Breaking them loose from
those long enough for them to tour, or produce new work together, requires
a certain amount of money up front. All of this has been very frustrating
and disappointing to everyone involved. We here at MORE SUGAR have no
answers so far. We'll just keep on releasing everything we can get the
rights to and find the money to package. (Anybody want to invest in a
product or two? It would speed things up!) However, the showbiz scene is
also an area when things can change suddenly, and there is always a demand
Well, that's the news from the left ventricle here in the heartland.
Gotta run -- which way's Goshen?
[Thanks Richard! Just a couple more items from me:]
* Phil Proctor, Melinda Peterson, and David Ossman are all planning to
attend this year's Midwest Radio Theatre Workshop (see back issues of
FAlaFal for details on this annual event). Also, Jerry Stearns reports,
"David Ossman has accepted as a Guest of Honor at the 1996 Minnesota
Regional Science Fiction Convention (Minicon 31). I will be producing the
usual Opening Ceremonies original radio comedy show, and David will be
writing something to perform there. More details as they are grown."
Taken Apart, Stacked Up and Labelled
Thanks to Paul Goldschmidt and Jeremy Braddock for their fine
additions to our press archives. Paul wrote a nice review of the "Back
from the Shadows" CD for the April 1995 issue of The Music Press in
upstate New York (P.O. Box 742, Binghamton, NY 13905), and gave us a nice
plug besides, and Jeremy's extensive analysis "Why You've Never Heard of
The Firesign Theatre" was the centerpiece in the second issue of his
magazine VERBIVORE (Jeremy's at 532 LaGuardia Place #573, New York, NY
10012, E-mail email@example.com). The terrific interview the 4or5 did
with Greg Catsos which appeared in OUTRE #2 is detailed in Fred Wiebel's
press release following this short archival update. And thanks to "Bud"
Banks as well for giving us a nice plug in his publication BudZine, as
well as Seth and Jerod at Factsheet Five.
For the time being, due to other commitments and a testy VCR, I am
not pursuing the specifics of Firesign video duping; maybe things will
straighten out more by December. Anyone desiring audio duping should
contact Michael Packer, whose SPARKS ad once more appears in these pages.
(Please send Michael a 55-cent SASE for his Audio Archives list, which we
are in the process of correcting for uploading online.)
Frank Bland and Taylor Jessen are currently working details out with
the 4or5 regarding starting up a "record/CD exchange service" for people
unable to locate Firesign works in local record stores, as well as people
looking to sell things from their own collections. Frank and Taylor plan
to institute this service, on either a biweekly or monthly basis, online
(via the alt.comedy.firesign-thtre newsgroup) as well as through the
mails; for more information, E-mail Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or tune
into the newsgroup. If you don't have online access, please send a SASE
to Frank at 178-60 Wexford Terrace, #6F, Jamaica, NY 11432-3023.
If you *do* have online access, I'm planning on following up FAlaFal
#26's article on the World Wide Web by gathering a list of every
Firesign-related Web site (most, but not all, of which are linked to one
another), which will be available from me via E-mail. Also available from
me via E-mail (or a 32-cent SASE) are lists of my press, miscellaneous
print, and/or video archives.
Lastly, Fred Wiebel issues the following call-to-arms to anyone
wishing to help gather archival material for the following project:
PRESS RELEASE PULL
Surrealist Artist and Mixed Medium Frederick C. (No I'm not online)
Wiebel, Jr. has shoved aside his flatulently debt-ridden and debatable
fine arts career, and forced march to worldwide obscurity, to concentrate
his creative juices on several Firesign Theatre projects this summer,
fall, and winter... God, will it ever end?
First off the pad, Wiebel has launched a titan of an article on our
Dear Friends for the spring issue (#2) of OUTRE, The World of Ultramedia
magazine called (by an Editor) "Fighting Clowns to the Rescue." This
7-page article, starting on page 69, divinely features 6 photos, some
alternate shots from the regular canon of pictures, and a unique
retrospective of the group. Culled from dozens of annoying phone calls to
The Firesign by fellow blabbermouths -- I mean, journalists Gregory (I'm
the professional, so my name comes first) Catsos, Chris (No, I'm not
online either) Palladino, and the abovementioned Fred (please answer my
calls) Wiebel, Jr., this is the first joint article smoked up by this
tragic trio. (No, we're not speaking to each other any more, don't bother
me, I'm trying to finish this thing.) If you can't find it hidden on your
local newsstands, fall in and order it directly ($6) from Box 1900,
Evanston, IL 60204. Swamp them with requests so that they'll print up an
article on TFT's movies for their sister magazine, no not a feminist
publication, FILM FAX (same address).
Also on Wiebel's not-so-secret agenda is a Firesign Theatre feature
article for DISCoveries Magazine for Record and CD Collectors called "The
8 Shoes Track Record," with the most comprehensive display of the group to
date, fall in love with, and get married to, scheduled to be printed in
the December issue. You don't want to miss this, because it will feature
more photos of the group, rare record labels and jackets, and sidebar
interviews and comments by people who were instrumental in trumpeting TFT
over the years, including your friends in the fan network, Elayne
Wechsler-Chaput, Michael Packer, and Richard Fish, if he returns my calls.
Call 1-800-334-7165 to subscribe or reserve your copy; inquiries for the
magazine can be addressed to DISCoveries Magazine, Suite 1, 922 Churchill
St., Waupaca, WI 54981. It really is a good magazine/newspaper that
features comprehensive articles and discographies, and hundreds of lists
of recordings for sale, where you can find that puzzling missing piece to
your Firesign collection. And believe me, after you read the article and
discography, you're going to have to start shopping, I know I have. I
want that "Duckman" single by the Buddies featuring Phil Austin, and I
can't find that damn, why didn't I buy it when it came out, "Dwarf" CD
Wiebel is up to his beard in over 150 pages of recent interviews
(8/94-8/95) with TFT that he has greedily assembled and generously offered
to sell to you, the little guy, in order to grace your mind and grease his
palm, and pay for all these f***ing long distance phone calls to the West
Coast, a pre-publication, hand xeroxed, limited by budget edition,
illustrated with insipid drawings and blurry in-concert photos from '74 to
'93, including the discography and anything else he can find to pad it out
with, copy of his soon to be rejected book "Backward Into The Future: An
Interactive Romp with The Firesign Theatre," for a mere $10, plus $3
postage, I'll handle it myself. A deluxe limited edition with several
color laser prints, personally imprinted with your name, number 1 to 50
and autographed by the author, in a 3-ring binder can be stolen for $25,
plus $5 postage, I love to handle it, but will wash my hands before
mailing. Wiebel hopes to have it finished, wife willing, by September.
To reserve your copies of either edition call Fred at 1-301-791-7454.
Another project that Mr. Wonderful Wiebel (Wiebels wobble, but they
don't fall down) has bothered everybody with is a series of chronologies
featuring the various aspects of the group and individual members dating
back to 1950: Recordings, Movie/TV/Video, Stage, Print, Radio, and soon
to be started Miscellaneous. The Firesign Theatre has been augmenting and
correcting the information for the last several months, along with
Firesign syncophants Chris "The Seeker" Palladino, Elayne "Fanzine Queen"
Wechsler-Chaput, Alan "Video Blimp" Gross, Michael "Sparks Media" Packer,
Mark "Lots of Photos from '74" Garland, and Gregory "Well, Not Really But
He Likes to See His Name In Print" Catsos. David Ossman has expressed an
interest in seeing the info published by More Sugar, so anyone wishing to
contribute material/information and get your name in the acknowledgements
can contact research buddy Chris Palladino at 11016 Coffman Ave.,
Hagerstown, MD 21740 and 1-301-582-0152.
CLASSIFIED: TOP SECRET
The Montage Radio Theatre Club, based in Suffolk County, Long Island (NY),
is looking for actors, writers and engineers! For more information,
please contact Bradley Arrington at (516) 632-6800.
"Tales of the Old Detective and Other Big Fat Lies"
Reviewed by C. Simril
The most important word in Austin's latest offering, Tales of the Old
Detective, is the burdensome chronological adjective. Phil meditates on,
chats and jokes with his increasing age, and those who are too young to
know or care about the old days, when radio was important. Things were
different then, he keeps telling us, and creates more and more levels of
big fat lies to keep us from knowing what it was really like when the mist
was raw, and all things were possible, as Phil left Fresno for the brave
Most of the tales are reminiscences of the old detective, as told to
the younger narrator. An Austin clone in conversation with his creation.
The first two stories, "Salad Days" and "The Age of Brass," play with
our ideas of the past. The last story, "Yesterday's News," stretches our
way of knowing earlier days into an elasticity previously found only in
the mind of Moebius. All three stories end with the image of trees
against the sunset of the past. What a final vision to behold!
The first thing the firefan notices is the absence of sound effects.
Well, there's usually one effect at the beginning; then just Austin's
voice. So this is to be different from the other Firework; and to be
listened to differently. Understood differently? The most serious work
I've ever heard from the FT, and finally, the most chilling. At the end of
the last story I have to put a big coat on in Mid-July and park myself in
front of a raging fire: just the place the Chandler-besotted FT first
created Nick Danger, mukluks up to the cellophane.
"Salad Days," you'd think from the title, is a tale of youth, or
perhaps a culinary tale. Metaphorically, a tale of the Hollywood Forest,
and the greener world in everyone's healthier past. Metaphors in bloom.
The Brass Age evokes the newly discovered "Ice Man," a mummified 4,000
year old body found in the Alps. It also plays with the ideas of people
from one "age" inhabiting another. Far from the age of reason, there are
still some tribes living technologically like we all did in the Stone Age.
What fun to play with the name of the City: Queen of the Angels, who may
also be the Queen of France, or just Queen for Day (or a utility infielder
for the Anaheim team?) She may have loved the old detective for a brass
age moment, but royalty was always a bad idea.
Side two of the first cassette begins with "X Is For Christmas," and
brings to mind Bergman's assertion that every radio show begins with a
mystery. It continues the old folktale-influenced Firesign tradition of
Animals acting like People. The murderous reindeer in this tale gives way
to the financial shrewd spiders in "The Money Hat," a man named Roosevelt
Elk who may or not be an elk, and enough changeable species to make you
want to turn into a crow. The next story, not of the old detective but
automotive visionary "C. William (Bob) Heeblehauser, A Profile," features
a car shaped like a beaver tale, brought about by Bob's Harvard discovery
that "people are animals." Is the Iacocca-like Bob as good a salesman as
Ralph Spoilsport? Like Nick Danger in the intro to Austin's previous work,
Down Under Danger, Bob's bio is a mystery wrapped in an enigma inside an
obfuscation. But hilarious.
"The Precipice of Angels" is the least humorous, and for me, most
effective of the nine. We do get a man with a funny name, Sir Jim Ashton
(as opposed to Austin) Whippie (also called Whoopie), as if Austin were
trying to entertain a young child. A boulevardiste scaling the LA streets
like so many Firejokes on Sepul Veeda and Big Tajunga Canyon with Pico and
Alvarado. "Night spider" calls a homeless person, and you remain Unseen.
The secret sport, whose secrecy he so cherishes, is like the firework
itself: esoteric, private, not for everybody... murmurings of memory
code... "I Am La Brea Man. I discover pain and boredom..." How Austin must
have loved saying "Brass Mastadon"...
And the woman who discovers him, "her eyes shielded by the darkest o
sunglasses." Throughout the 9 tales, the narrator is obsessed with how
women look. Has he ever seen one that wasn't a "knock-out?" Finally, a
woman who needs serious shades to stare at the "I" on the precipice of
angels. But the tale is exquisite. The very diagram of another world.
Austin's direction for a long time, from Roller Maidens' other world, his
Apocalypse Papers tale, Shangri-Delight in The Armenian's Paw through the
Land Down Under in Nick's latest adventure. Not a world of different
scientific laws a la the talking spiders of the Money Hat, or the
time-travelling Queen and Iceman in the 2nd story - the world of the
secret climber is like the secret trash cans labelled W.A.S.T.E.; our
reality, with an occlusion. A blindness to the man in the squirrel suit,
the woman behind the shades. A conspiracy of of the solace of blindness.
Before "The Precipice of Angels" is reached, another architectural
masterpiece called "The House of Little Men or the Futile Attempts By Men
to Control Women." Ballinger moves from Fresno to Frisco, falls in love,
makes strange friends. The densest jungle of description of any tale, as
if Austin just had to get it right, the sound and the sights and the feel
of that point in his life when he learned something important. Then,
hearing the word "keen" twice makes your eyes widen. It rings truer in
terms of experienced reality than any other Austin reverie. One hopes the
narrator's balls were not injured in his discovery of the industry of
shoes, in an earlier age, when the moon employed us all.
You do get the Austin-past throughout. The Shasta he reaches for in
the ice water quenches thirsts in the memory of many of those calendars.
LA was a lot greener 40 years ago, long before the chic of salads.
"Development Valley School Lunch Menus" amuses the grandchildren of some
fans, and remind their grandparents of magic, not candied mushrooms, hour
hour, dear friends riffs on itinerated reality. Please grampa Austin, can
we have some more gruel?
In "The Money Hat," the spiders have gone from stealing food stamps
to running Wall Street. But they're only doing it for the nuns. And
everyone likes the hat. Next to a busking Detective, on the street,
labeled: Will Amuse for Food.
Back when radio was important, it was on the news. "Yesterday's
News." Tales of the Doomed. Damned. Dead. Alliteration slide into the
tubefull tomb. Old radio drama, like the first adventures of Nick Danger,
is self-referential. It is a style of writing, of experiencing
information. Radio makes things important, such as The Firesign Theatre.
The OJ reference grounds the Tales in commonly perceived reality
circa 1995, but there are all these other worlds that occasionally
intrude. Remember when mail was delivered? Remember rivers, Nelly? There
it was. On the radio: reconstructed reality. People brought back to life
by sticking them on the radio, families who like to sleep in tubes. The
totality of their reality can be recorded. Played back, they're veritable
angels, no longer los. Heaven is on the radio, somewhere. The first show
broadcast by the FT is still beaming its way to appreciative audiences on
other worlds. Beaver hats are in the past, beaver tail cars in the future,
but which is which, Dr. Memory?
Firesignia Available Exclusively from
P.O. Box 3540
Grand Rapids, MI 49501
DOWN UNDER DANGER: A Nick Danger Adventure (Written by and Starring Phil
Austin; 1994) - Nick tackles a case involving the disappearance of the
continent of Australia, a boxing kangaroo named Jojo and more Danger than
you can shake a fist at.
1 Cassette $ 9.50 ppd
THE GEORGE TIREBITER STORY, Chapter 1 aka Another Christmas Carol
(Written by and Starring David Ossman; 1989)
1 Cassette $ 8.95 ppd
RADIODAZE, featuring "The New Adventures of Mark Time," "Max
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 $18.95 ppd
RADIOPLAY - A documentary on the making of a David Ossman radio show
(Starring David Ossman; 1989)
1 VHS Video $15.95 ppd
All programs produced by SPARKS MEDIA
Please make all checks payable to "Sparks"
Michigan residents add 6% sales tax
Everything You Know is Wrong: The Firesign Theatre Trivia Quiz
by Richard Arnold
This quiz is part of a contest sponsored by FAlaFal. See the rules in
the April 1995 issue on how you can enter, or see my Firesign Theatre
Official Rules World Wide Web page at
The deadline for submitting answers to these questions is November 1,
1995. Entries for this quiz can be sent to Richard Arnold c/o this
publication, by e-mailing Richard at email@example.com, or by mailing it
to Richard at 1303 R Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009 (no phone
calls, please). This and subsequent quizzes appearing in FAlaFal are
excerpted from a quiz Richard is developing for his World Wide Web
page. The quiz in its entirety will be posted in installments after the
publication of these excerpts. Prizes will be determined by Richard,
Elayne, and/or the 4 or 5 at the end of the quiz.
Part Two: Questions from the album
HOW CAN YOU BE IN TWO PLACES AT ONCE
WHEN YOU'RE NOT ANYWHERE AT ALL
"How Can You Be in Two Places At One When You're Not Anywhere At
All" (44 points total)
1. What climate did Babe first choose while driving his car? (1)
2. What name did staff and customers at the hotel call Babe (full
name only)? (1)
3. What was Babe's reply when Lilly Lamont asked him "Where are
you from" (full reply)? (1)
4. How did Nick get even with every cop in the city? (1)
5. With whom did Ralph Spoilsport confuse Steve Reeves? (2)
6. Complete this phrase: "...and I'll die an American, ________" (2)
7. Which pyramid opened after the hieroglyphs were deciphered? (2)
8. What was the name of the war movie? (2)
9. What was the name of the character who deciphered the
hieroglyphs, and on what famous personality was he based? (3)
10. What phrase did the crowd chant after Shickelgruber's speech? (3)
11. The Sermonette included eight separate references to what? (3)
12. When Ralph "tasted" the Yucatan Blue, from what work of literature
did he begin quoting (title and author)? (3)
13. When Ralph and Babe were watching the Roman-era movie, music
from what real movie was playing on the TV? (4)
14. The exit signs for the Antelope Freeway were a reference to what
ancient Greek mathematical concept (specific phrase)? (4)
15. The lion's "paws" in the hieroglyphs was based on an ad campaign
for what product? (4)
16. What did the names of the politicians (except for Ford) in the
"shining steel rail" routine have in common? (4)
17. According to Phil Austin, the hero Babe and his adventures were
loosely based on what work of literature (title and author)? (4)
"The Further Adventures of Nick Danger" (40 points total)
18. As described by Nick in his opening monologue, what was written
on the glass of his office door? (1)
19. What case number did Nick give to this adventure? (1)
20. What proof did Catherwood have that he had visited ancient
21. How did Catherwood return the cast from the flashback to the
present time? (1)
22. What three things did Rocky show Nick in their first meeting? (2)
23. List all aliases for Nancy (full names). (2)
24. What was the main ingredient of Loosner's Castor Oil Flakes? (2)
25. What was Catherwood's first name? (2)
26. Of the three movies that Rocky Rococo mentioned, which was
NOT a movie in which Peter Lorre appeared? (3)
27. Did Nick sit in the Waiting Room, or wait in the Sitting Room? (3)
28. When Nick said he had a "headful of ideas that were driving me
insane," he was referring to what song (title and artist)? (3)
29. What was quoted from when Nick said that "inferior people should
not be employed?" (3)
30. On which song was the Nick Danger theme based? (4)
31. Of the many Beatles references, only two quotes in "Nick Danger"
did NOT refer to songs from the White Album. Which two quotes,
and from which albums were they taken? (4)
32. What was the likely date (day, month, and year) of the Nick
Danger "broadcast," and how can this date be determined? (4)
33. What was the last line on the "Nick Danger" side of the album, who
said it? (4)
Answers to Part One:
WAITING FOR THE ELECTRICIAN OR SOMEONE LIKE HIM
"Temporarily Humboldt County" (13 points total)
1. Spaniards (1)
2. Oil (1)
3. On the banks of the Mississippi (will also accept 2 hours west of
4. Father Corona, Vespucci, Cisco (will accept alternate spellings) (1
point for each name)
5. The Tom Collins (3)
6. W.C. Fields (accept any answer with "W.C. Fields" in it) (3)
"W.C. Fields Forever" (20 points total)
7. "Range" (1)
8. He turns into an elephant and stampedes off (will accept any
answer with "elephant" in it) (1)
9. Tantric (2)
10. G-U-R-U, or "Gee, you ARE you" - (will give one point if "Love"
is the response, but does not also include "GURU") (2)
11. Good Games People Play Room (wording must be exact) (3)
12. Electric Blue (3)
13. Artful Dodge City; the Artful Dodger; "Oliver Twist" (1 point for
each of the first two answers, 2 points for the third)
14. "The Word;" The Beatles (half point if "John Lennon" was the
answer, but not The Beatles); Rubber Soul (1 point for each of the
first two answers, 2 points for the third)
"Le Trente-Huit Cunegonde" (21 points total)
15. Groovy (1)
16. Malcolm X John Lennon (wording/word order must be exact) (1)
17. Faded San Francisco Art Nouveau (wording and word order must
be exact; I will accept alternate spellings, but will deduct 1 point if
the word "faded" is left out) (2)
18. 8 million hard-bound copies of "The Naked Lunch" (will accept any
answer with "The Naked Lunch" in it) (2)
19. Secretary of Peace (will not accept "Baby" or any of the Kennedy
20. "The Naked Lunch;" William Burroughs (2 points for each answer)
21. "Do You Love Me;" The Contours/The Dave Clark Five (will accept
either band) (2 points for each answer)
22. Enola Gay; Marshall McLuhan (2 points for each answer)
"Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him" (30.5 points total)
23. Four (1: will give a half point to any answers that include "Four"
and "with the elevator boy")
24. Beat the Reaper (1)
25. Towel, Bath, Coffee, Delight, Border (answers must include all five
26. Russian and French (1 point for each answer)
27. The Black Cross (2)
28. Six (2)
29. An imminent palace coup (3)
30. Common cold, measles, pneumonia, dengue fever, and the yaws2
(half point each for Common Cold and Measles; half point for
Pneumonia; 1 point each for Dengue Fever and the Yaws)
31. Judy (3)
32. "Waiting for Godot;" Samuel Beckett (2 points for each answer)
33. The New York/New England blackout of November 1965 (will
accept any form of this answer - will deduct 1 point is no year is
given or is wrong) (4)
34. Governor general of the Eastern Sudan; Commander in chief of the
Egyptian army; lead invasion of the Sudan; Commander, South
African War; Commander in chief of the British forces in India;
Consul general in Egypt; World War I Secretary of state for war
(will accept any single or combination of the above answers)
Total points possible for the quiz: 84.5
Winner: Rick Moore <RKTHSTK@aol.com> - Congratulations, Rick!
The 1976 Natural Surrealist Party Presidential Campoon - A History
by Boyd Crow
The Natural Surrealist Party Campoon of 1976 was inspired by the
Firesign Theater album "Not Insane". Local residents recruited at a
Firesign film festival met with Joe Beets, David Ossman, and Tiny Ossman
(a remarkable performer and organizer in her own right) to become the
nucleus of the Natural Surrealist Party. David Ossman was a mighty magnet
for recruiting who lent his time and charm but refused to lead or control,
rather encouraging all of us to think, to create for ourselves.
Our first public campaigning was conducted at the Freedom Train, a
traveling patriotic exhibit, where 3000 bored standees were jarred to
their political roots by our well-dressed survey teams (How often do you
think bicentennials should be celebrated?), campaign leaflets (Not
Insane!), and impromptu press conference.
Who was George Papoon? He was Everyman, anonymous inside his paper
sack. (He was never portrayed by the same person.) George Papoon, like
most politicians, became entirely a creature of his party. He could say
anything, have been anyone, and be anywhere, appearing at a hundred places
on the 4th of July 1976 (our Bison-tennial). His history grew as the
party grew. Media loved him.
In response to the psychiatric controversy which had eliminated
Eagleton as a vice-presidential contender, Papoon declared himself Not
Insane with certification of sanity from Dr. Elmo Firesign. Papoon
enfranchised the animals with the eco-slogan "One Organism, One Vote". To
promote a wide political base, the Papoon platform was six inches off the
ground "so no one falls off".
Many of us had dual roles. With David Ossman and Joe Beets serving
as national co-chairmen, the NSP expanded to include over 200 campoons in
the U.S.A. David Ossman also portrayed George Tirebiter who became the
vice-Presidential running mate. As Boyd Crow, I developed the vital
computer mailing lists and later served as national co-chairman. I
maintained my local role as Bud Rejinsky, the northern southwest central
coastal regional spokesperson for the NSP.
The NSP brought out the best in the writers, musicians, artists,
photographers, and comedians who volunteered for this street
theater/para-political experience. Special efforts were made by the
Firesign Theater, who devoted space in their "Crawdaddy" magazine column
and KTYD disc jockeys Richard Proctor (as Senator Boron Deluxe) and Mark
Ward (as security chief).
The culmination of NSP activity was a three-day, 300-person national
convention held at the Casa de la Raza in Santa Barbara. Bribery,
assassination attempts, boisterous demonstrations, drunken extra-
terrestrials, live radio coverage and similar sordid happenings both
marred and made this great event.
Perhaps Papoon went too far. Perhaps he spent too much time on the
animal vote; as he said on election day "it takes too many rats to reach a
voting lever". Maybe his "One Man, One Channel" would have generated too
much noise. Based on votes from bacillus to whale, Papoon won the
Presidency. But the tradition-bound political establishment denied him
the Residency. Yet nothing can deny his place in history and the magical
blurring of political fact and fancy that characterized the Natural
Concerning a possible comeback, Papoon writes, "If the money was
THEY'RE IN EVERYBODY'S EGGS
Firesign catch-phrases often pop up unexpectedly in the strangest
places, everywhere from high school reunions to mass media; they're all
over the place, of course, in our beloved cyberspace. I thought I'd
gather some reports from things I've seen on the 'net and elsewhere for
your reading enjoyment. Feel free to submit more snippets as they occur!
Gary Gendel reports, "I know that Phil has been doing some voice
overs for Rug Rats on Nickelodeon, but last night's Doug, had an
interesting section. Doug was dreaming he and Patti were detectives, Doug
picks up the phone and orders a large Pizza, without anchovies..."
Mathias Thallmayer mentions, "I was over at a friend's house and caught
part of a cartoon called 'Space Ghost - Coast To Coast.' They were showing
a parody commercial for a children's lullaby CD. When it got to the screen
with the ordering info the very small print said: 'Produced by the
Cogswell Cogs Co. Offer not good after curfew in Sectors R or N.' I guess
even in cartoons they won't come up into the hills." Elsewhere on the
kidvid circuit, David MacFarlane reports, "Okay, so I've been home sick
and I was flipping around stations after watching my favourite cartoon
show (Animaniacs) when I found the Dreadful Barfing Power Rangers!! They
were in some scene where the bad guys were hypnotizing one of the girl
rangers to become the evil queen, and when they try to bring her out of
hypnosis, she falls out of the throne. To my complete amazement, one of
the bad guys said, 'Oh she's no fun, she fell right over!' Richard Arnold
adds, "I was watching the Fox show 'Encounters,' the pseudo-news-tabloid
show about UFOs, ghosts, paranormal, etc. They did a 'hard hitting' look
at Dial-in Psychic 1-900 services, or some such thing. (Actually I have to
give them credit, because they slam-dunked them as imposters: usually,
when the evidence is overwhelmingly against an unexplained cause, they
urge the viewers to keep an open mind). Anyway, the anchorwoman who
introduced the segment on Psychic Hot Lines said (I'm paraphrasing)
"Phone-in psychics are doing well now, probably because -- to quote the
Firesign Theatre -- 'there's a seeker born every minute.'"
Over in the comic book industry, much thanks to longtime FAlaFal
reader Dwayne McDuffie for entitling the centerpiece of last year's
DC/Milestone "Worlds Collide" comic book crossover story - what else -
"How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All!"
Not only is this a nice Firesign "plug," but the series is quite
well-written, enjoyable and recommended! Lots of Fireheads reside in the
world of comics, including Bob Wayne (head of Marketing at DC),
writer/editor Kim Yale and writer/artist Jim Engel, so keep checking the
funnybooks for references!
Has everybody been reading the various Internet how-to books? Lots
of Firesign fans in amongst the Workers! John V. Scialli found, "In the
book Internet Yellow Pages, there is a side bar to the entry showing this
newsgroup. Under the heading 'Don't Crush that Gopher Hand Me the Telnet'
the authors started with, 'The Firesign Theatre is one of the highest
achievements of modern American theater.'" My husband, the ever-patient
Steve, spotted a "Forward Into the Past" in the book Internet For Dummies.
Dan Fox adds, "In the same vein of FST trivia, did anyone other than me
note the Cringely column ' Notes From The Field' a few years ago? Cringe
is the bulls-eye-low-down columnist for InfoWorld (inside back cover) and
is a lot of fun. He had a column in which the week's news leaks from
inside Microsoft and IBM were brought in by none other than our own Regnad
Kcin, and Nancy. His references were all spot-on, too. I've heard him
speak and can easily believe that he's one of...... us. (Who am us,
anyway?) Peter Hansen chimes in with "I've made it a point to insert FT
references in every commercial product I've ever been involved with.
There's a particular Windows E-Mail package for Banyan VINES whose manual
is *full* of FT character names..." Daniel Dern, author of The Internet
Guide for New Users, reminds us, "I'm guilty of the FT refs in my own
book, e.g., citing 'How can you be in two places...' and 'If you lived
here, you'd be home by now' (attributed, of course) at the beginning of my
Telnet chapter, p 247. I don't remember if I got Hannah Shapero to
include 'Antelope FreeWAIS' in any of her illustrations; it was hard to
convey the joke (and the importance of including it) to a non-Firehead
over the phone. Sigh." Daniel also reports, "And while we're on the
subject, Eric Vann led a great Firesign Theatre discussion/session at the
ReaderCon science fiction convention either last summer or the summer
before that, in Massachusetts. Of course, some of the jokes I heard
initially in 1969 I didn't get until a decade later, but they were worth
And speaking of computers, Eric Johnson reports that in the PC game
"Doom", there is a file called STORY.TXT. It contains a tiny bit of plot
and background. Just enough to answer the question of how he got to where
he's at. In the first paragraph we find out why our hero is in the
Brig... "Well, Day Twenty. Only ten more, and then it's back to the old
routine. Thirty days in the Brig for punching Lt. George Leroy Tirebiter.
Not too bad for striking an officer. Creep had it coming..." And John
Scialli reports, "Sierra On-Line has a kids game, Pepper's Adventures In
Time. I just got it for my 7 year old. It fuctions largely around the life
of Ben Franklin. In the credits each programmer/designer/etc'er has a
saying after her/his name. Most are sayings from Poor Richard's . However
one Neal Gradstaff, Magical Musicman (he calls himself) has as his quote
"Live it or live with it!"
And to top things off this time, Larry Yaeger mentions, "My
undergraduate project at Purdue was the design, model construction,
computer modeling, and wind-tunnel testing of a pusher-style
sport-aerobatic aircraft called, ta-da... the 'Pushover'. And, of course,
the cover of the report, which presumably still resides in Purdue's
Aerospace Engineering Library, proudly bears the inscription: 'And so,
with the invention of the motor-operated Pushover, man and science gave
birth to life here, today, in the future'..."
FUTURE FAIR INCORPORATED
(FAlaFal reader Jim Smith reports that once, he and his friends
"actually built a couple of emergency Bozo units, with 'inflatable
KING SIZE BIG FEET' ['ONE PAIR - One Size Fits All! Soft,
Safe Vinyl'] and red foam-rubber 'Clown Nose' [both items from
a mail order place called Oriental Imports], hot-melt-glued to a
red board which says 'IN CASE OF EMERGENCY' on it. We
sent one to our friend in Maryland, and shortly thereafter
discovered that the glue we had used to hold the shoes to the
board was inferior, and the inflatable shoes had fallen off! Thus
our emergency notification to our friend," which I've reproed
Cunegonde 38, 99
"A Fare For All, And No Fair to Anybody!"
2001 Dutch Elm Street
Anytown, USA 00000-0001
Ya know, when you put on the nose, it grows. But a bozo's gotta
clone, and I don't expect that you're any different than any other bozo
when it goes to show that ya gotta go where the bozos go, <insert your
That's why I think that it's more than extra important for a bozo
like you to knows where to go tomorrow, in the City Of The Future.
(Personally, I think I'm gonna take off my shoes, sit in a tree, and learn
to play the flute! But then, I'm no bozo, unlike you, <insert your name
You know, <insert your name here>, you just can't forget that sweet
bozoette, and that's why I know that you'll believe me when I tell you
that I never lie, and I'm always right. And just what ARE your rights in
the City Of The Future, <insert your name here>? Just let me say that it
wouldn't be right to know 'em! Ha ha, I find that very amusing, <insert
your name here>. Many people ask me, what about the job displacement
offer in the City Of The Future? But that's not what I'm writing to tell
clowns like you about, <insert your name here>.
You see, <insert your name here>, I have a problem. And I'd like to
share my problem with you, so that my problem becomes your problem. It's
as simple as a bridge. Just clone the problem, like a memory. And I'm
sure you'll find it very easy to see it my way, <insert your name here>.
So what, you may ask, IS this problem of yours? I'm glad you asked,
<insert your name here>. Because I know you'll want to do YOUR part to
solve it. The problem is this: When you put on the nose, it grows. And
shoes are meant to be inflated. But in this inflationary period of ours,
I, and when I say I I mean we, and when I say we I mean us, Future Fare
Incorporated, A Fare For All, and No Fair To Anybody, bless 'em all, and
you too, <insert your name here>, didn't take the inflationary mass of our
future into account when we constructed the 47-dash-9-splat-25-ex-3 state
of the art Bozo Emergency Unit, with attached inflatable shoes and bozo
notros growing nose. And, for this reason, which I know you'll understand
was unforeseeable in the dim and murky Dark Past, the attachment of the
Posterior Wall Attachment Device (assembly 4) of the aforementioned
47-dash-9-splat-25-ex-3 state of the art Bozo Emergency Unit was, to put
it in simple bozo terms, simply insufficient. Our fully-accredited Team
of Scientolobozologists have discovered that, sometime in The Future,
after graduation, some, and let me emphasize that point, of threse
Posterior Wall Attachment Devices (assembly 4) of the aforementioned
47-dash-9-splat-25-ex-3 state of the art Bozo Emergency Units may,
perforce and in fact, fail, possibly causing breakage, both personal and
I'm sure you'll be happy to know that almost thousands of these units
are currently being used by fellow bozos, and most of them have reported
"no problem" with their 47-dash-9-splat-25-ex-3 state of the art Bozo
Emergency Unit, with attached inflatable shoes and bozo notros growing
nose. But in a few isolated, and let me emphasize that point, isolated
incidents, <insert your name here>, the Posterior Wall Attachment Devices
(assembly 4) of the aforementioned 47-dash-9- splat-25-ex-3 state of the
art Bozo Emergency Units have, in fact as well as fiction, failed, much to
the consternation of the bozos involved who, let me assure you, <insert
your name here>, have been fully compensated, both in regards to their
facial as well as pedic status. There is no cause for alarm. Your
concern is sufficient.
Let me repeat that. There is no cause for alarm. Your concern is
Having repeated that, I know that you, <insert your name here>, like
thousands of other like-minded bozos, will be able to find reasonable
alternative means of attaching the 47-dash-9-splat-25-ex-3 state of the
art Bozo Emergency Unit, with attached inflatable shoes and bozo notros
growing nose, to your wall or other handy surface, without overstressing
the aforementioned Posterior Wall Attachment Devices (assembly 4).
You may rest assured that, other than this one infinitesimally small
defect, which, if left to its own devices, shrinks to almost nothing at
the bottom of the pool, the 47-dash-9-splat-25-ex-3 state of the art Bozo
Emergency Unit, with attached inflatable shoes and bozo notros growing
nose, will perform as advertised, both in fit and function, freee to go
ahead and squeeze the wheeze, <insert your name here>, and don't forget to
inflate your shoes.
Admirably Yours and Yr Obdt Svt.
Sir Hideo Gnutt, Sr.
President and Foundry,
FUTURE FARE INCORPORATED
Postmark: Deep Space
All E-mailed letters this time, folks!
Elayne: 12 Apr 1995
I just sent the following to Jamie Schrumpf. I do not remember if I
sent you postage for #26, as I like to copy it to non-computer folk. Keep
up the great work!
"Jamie: GREAT Home Page! I am writing you from the same room I first
listened to Radio Free Oz in Summer 1966. Here is some Cyberspace
feedback which I will copy to Head Firehead Elayne. I used Prodigy World
Wide Web Browser. Your Home Page came up fine. I successfully downloaded
entire FAlaFal #26 (it used FTP). The links seemed to work fine. It was
unable to locate file with FAlaFal archive zip. Sound file worked, but I
could not get your family images. Your opening image loaded fine. It is
great to have you enhancing all the fine work Elayne has been doing
through the years. Via AOL, the USENET Newsgroup alt.comedy.firesgn-thtre
had F#26 in 4 parts and each was easily saved to disk and look complete.
Via Prodigy, the USENET Newsgroup alt.comedy.firesgn-thtre had F#26 in 4
parts and each was saved to disk, but its Newsreader was very slow in
loading and Part 4 was a little too big (just over 25k limit it said) but
file was complete. Both AOL and Prodigy were using 14400 connection. It is
difficult to tell how everything works with each service having different
software and different traffic. I do not have a direct INTERNET
connection, but thought you might appreciate some feedback. I envy anyone
who has found their 'Nancy'."
Peace, TED ALVY
[I certainly do appreciate the feedback. I'm using a straight Internet
SLIP/PPP connection and definitely want to know if things look strange on
the various services. I do answer all mail, but alas, not in as timely
a manner as I should. Please -- keep those cards and letters coming in!
* * * * * * * * *
I just downloaded some back issues while exploring the net for the
first time. I had heard that there were some Firesign Theatre files
available but never expected to run across them my first time out!
At 31 years old I'm far too young to have caught the group in their
prime, though I remember seeing the records here and there when I was a
kid. Not in my folks' collection, though. I picked up "Shoes For
Industry" while on vacation last year as an introduction and was
astonished. A lot of people have been given the title of "the American
Monty Python" (notably the original S.N.L. cast) but F.T. struck me as a
far better parallel in their surrealism and depth. Over-analyzing comedy
is usually a pretty big mistake and I try to avoid it whenever possible,
though I will say that the routines exhibit deeper and deeper layers with
each listen. I look forward to "growing up" with them as I have with
Monty Python (who I discovered when I was ten or twelve...).
Sad to say, I picked up "Shoes For Industry" about a week *after*
their Northampton, Mass. appearance--their closest appearance to where I
live in New Hampshire. Here's hoping that another tour will take place at
some point. In the meantime, I've run across some of the old LP's here
and there in used record stores and have been filling in my collection
Having grown up as an Air Force brat, listening to "Army Training
Film" always induces spasms of laughter, though one of my big faves has
to be "Young Guy, Motor Detective."
I run a small record store in Keene, New Hampshire and make a point
of carrying "Shoes For Industry" and the live MF 2-disc set. We don't
sell *huge* numbers of either, though enough to make it worth my while and
it always astonishes people when they discover that we carry F.T. The
shocked look on peoples' faces alone is worth it.
My condolences on your cat. I lost two much-beloved cats in the past
2-1/2 years and can certainly sympathize. Each of them gave me 17 happy
years (they were twin sisters and died within six months of one another)
and I have a lot of great memories but still find myself missing both of
them from time to time. Fortunately, my folks got me a beautiful little
kitty for Christmas, '93 and she's filled a void in my life that I didn't
realize was there until she showed up...
"Not to be torturing me! I'm..." JON JOHNSON
* * * * * * * * *
Hello Elayne, June 26 1995
We've not met before, but there's no time like the present. I have
recently gone online and due to outrageous serendipity, have discovered
your Firesign newsletter. I'm one of those many who came to know the 4or5
back when the earth was green and dinosaurs roamed freely.
In the summer of 1975, a friend and I found ourselves in Toronto at
the same time Proctor and Bergman were to perform at the El Macombo. We
were living in London Ont. at the time and the opportunity to see these
guys "live" was too good to pass up. Hence, to the show we did go. Upon
arrival, we discovered that a mutual friend (who must go nameless) had
accompanied Messers P and B to a meeting earlier that day at the home of
Marshall McLuhan. The professor was aware of the Firesign canon and
somehow a summit had been arranged. At this, McLuhan was the gracious host
and had passed around cigars, and to P and B's surprise, theirs proceeded
to explode when lit. One is reminded that when T. S. Eliot requested a
meeting with Groucho Marx, Groucho (who had boned up on his Murder in the
Cathedral) found that Mr. Eliot was mainly interested in discussing the
Marx Brothers' movies...
All the best, GARWOOD WALLACE
* * * * * * * * *
Hi, Elayne, July 13, 1995
New on AOL, just found yr fine publication. As a looooong time FST
lover I was thrilled to discover that you were out there...it's a small
community after all, and needs careful nurturing. As I recall the details,
it was a cold and rainy night in the winter of '69 (no joke). My family
had gone into Seattle to see some movie called "Easy Rider" and left me at
home in the suburbs with nothing but two packs of smokes and a hit of
mescaline...it was quite an evening of Buffalo Springfield LPs filled with
coded messages from The Beyond and all that kind of la-di-da, and then our
local too-hip underground FM station treated us to something called "The
Further Adventures Of Nick Danger"(!) Needless to say, my faithless
Fuddles, it was quite a ride through unexplored territory (a right! no...a
left!) and I don't believe I've ever been quite the same.
Some years later in the urban wilderness of L.A. I connected with a
dear friend who's turned me on over the years to most of his enormous
stash of Firesign radio shows and live performances, and if anyone would
be interested in swapping tapes or tales or whatnot, please let me know.
If your cashflow situation continues nasty, as whose doesn't seem to be
these days, I'll have to see what I can come up with in the way of some
Quid Malmborg in Plano, KEVIN STUDYWIN
* * * * * * * * *
Dear Elayne: 31 Jul 1995
I saw them [Firesign] live one halloween a bunch of years ago. The
highlights were (a) finding out that when Porgie was "upstairs with
Porcelynn making the bed" he was actually in the backyard toking away with
Mudhead, (b) seeing them try to do the scene with Principal Poop making
announcments in front of a crowd of 1500 Firesign Theater fans (most of
whom didn't seem to know when they were supposed to yell "Eat it Raw!"),
and (c) sitting in the front row center while they did a never-recorded
Nick Danger episode and one of the characters tore up his script; another
one looked at the first and asked, "What did you do that for?" [Grabbing
script] "It says, right here, 'tears up page'" [Grabbing it back] "No it
doesn't, it says 'Stares upstage'" [Grabbing it again] "Oh!" At that
point the second copy of the script got torn into little pieces and thrown
all over the stage (and the front row where I was sitting) and they
continued with the show.
I actually found the piece of the script with the "tears up page/
stares upstage" dialog in it.
This was about *mumble* years ago in San Francisco.
[This sounds very similar to the bit they did on "Evening at the Improv,"
which I like to call "Nick Danger and the Case of the Missing Script."
That's great that the torn script was actually a page from the real
script! -- Elayne]
* * * * * * * * *
Dear Elayne, Aug 6, 1995
(re: Down Under Danger) I hadn't realized the Australian continent
had disappeared. I have been living here since 1974, when I abandoned
temporarily Humboldt Co., but I get homesick from time to time. I think I
discovered FT in SJ on FM probably in 1971 although it seemed like deja
vu. Because I had just gotten out of the Air Force and had had all sorts
of weird highs, who knows?
During that time you heard unreal things on radio like: "Say!
That's just what you need! I got five thousand biblical figures. I got
the big ones, I got the small ones; I can carve you the Saviour himself,
soooo small, that it can be used as a rifle-sight...". This is NOT FT but
sounded like it. I got THAT album too, but damned if I can remember the
name of it. What ever happened to that guy?
Later I was transplanted to Auburn, Alabama for graduate school.
There were like-minded people there. We bought all the LPs between us and
expanded our minds in all sorts of ways. Joe, are you out there? Are you
still in the Tirebiting business, or are you a Cheereater?
I brought the Big Book of Plays with me and the first four albums,
but I never discovered any people here who were into FT. Managed to buy
the Japanese album here in 1978 but the thrill was gone Haven't listened
to the records in years. Imagine my surprise when I discovered a FT
revival. No, don't. Now I'm old and my teenagers think I'm square.
They're too busy to listen to FT...
Thank you, ROGER BUTTERMORE
Tasmanian Museum - Hobart, Australia
A Poem from Proctor
(According to NTC's Dictionary of American Slang by Richard E Spears,
1990, "O.J." stands for "Overjolt -- an overdose of drugs," as in: "She
overjolted once too often," or "If you O.J. again, you will probably
Just -- overkill,
Oriental Judge --
Ordinary jury --
Occult jinxes --
Oh, Jesus --
90210, July 1995
See You On the Funway!!!
While lounging on the deck at the Monrovia Communications estate, drinking
cool frosty one while taking in the brilliant -- as always -- sunset, I was
struck with one of those Big Thoughts that impact our gray matter on
occasion. The Thought was on one of those basic human problems with which
we are all confronted at one time or another, and as I sat there
comtemplating it (and with the aid of several more of the Miller Brewing
Co.'s fine Genuine Draft product) the idea began to make Real Sense.
So instead of the rambling, end-of-summer-here-comes-football-season piece
had in mind for this space, I offer you the following Wisdom:
Just talk with any woman who's ever lived with any man for any length of
time, and you'll hear near-apocalyptic stories of his snoring and
flatulence. In our own personal experience, which of us guys hasn't
awakened ourselves from a deep sleep with chainsaw-like sounds rending the
air, or cleared a room at work or school with the powerful biochemical
byproducts from our last meal?
But instead of being contrite or ashamed of our sonic and gaseous output,
we should be proud -- yes, proud -- of exhibiting such successful survival
traits from our distant evolutionary past.
Consider the state of our pre-tool-using ancestors in the wild: easy prey
for the cave bears and sabre-toothed tigers that stalked our crude shelters
within rock overhangs or caverns, we had neither large claws with which
to fight, nor were we fleet of foot enough to run for it. Instead, like
the apemen of "2001: A Space Odyssey," our pre-tool-using forebears were
restricted to making loud (non-flatulent) noises and waving our arms
around as a defense.
But as weak as we are when awake, we were even worse off while asleep.
The nocturnal hunters would have no problem picking off the unconscious
humans, and it doesn't do much good to come awake quickly when you're
already in some predator's mouth. The best defense in such a case would
have to be a very good offensive, and since the night stalkers have
excellent hearing and olfactory capabilities, putting up a defense that
attacks their strong points would undoubtedly provide the best chance
Consider your average jaguar or cave bear: listening intently to the
night sounds around them and testing the air with their noses, they
stealthily approach the places where they know they've gotten good meals
before. Suddenly something is very wrong; the stillness of the dark
is torn asunder by loud growling and snarling sounds, while at the same
time a powerful stench of something long-dead assaults their nostrils.
To their way of thinking, they can only figure that some other large
predator has killed some prey in the cave and is now noisily eating its
rotting remains. Since we know the big cats and bears eat only live prey,
and whatever is in there sounds awfully BIG and MEAN, our predator decides
to seek its fortunes elsewhere and ambles on to other hunting grounds,
whereupon he eats some poor cave guy otherwise blessed with a better
Meanwhile inside the first cave, the woman wakes up from a sound sleep and
upon hearing the racket and catching a good whiff of the cave air, whacks
the poor cave guy in the head with the nearest rock to get him to KNOCK IT
OFF so she can get back to sleep. At this point the cave guy decides that
what HE'D like right now is a little "action," and the protests of the cave
gal are quickly overcome by his evolutionary fervor. Nine months later
another human joins the race.
Thus was the survival of humanity guaranteed.
NEXT TIME: Cro-magnon man discovers EDLIN