-- A newsletter of, about, and for
The Firesign Theatre...
...and their loyal fans
Four-Alarm FIRESIGNal #30
FALaFal has been 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 email@example.com, ElayneWC@aol.com or firstname.lastname@example.org (first two addresses preferred). Electronic FAlaFal is free of charge, and the hard copy version costs $2; both versions are freely reproducible. Printing and mailing services were performed by Roger Snyder at The Print Shop; EFAlaFal was organized by Jamie Schrumpf at Monrovia Communications; thanks to Richard Arnold, Frank Bland, Joey Cavalieri, Richard Fish, Fred Wiebel and all letter writers for their participation this issue!
No. 30 of 30 AUGUST-- oh, okay, SEPTEMBER, 1996
[] THIS IS WORKER SPEAKING: Words from Elayne, Our Founder
[] RUMORS BEHIND THE NEWS: The latest on the 4 or 5 Crazy Guys, from
Richard Fish at More Sugar
[] CH-ANGING WITH THE TIMES: Fred Wiebel's news about the FIREZINE
and other great offers
[] REVIEW: The Big Internet Broadcast -- A Bland Review, by reader
[] REVIEW: Minicon 31, by Jerry Stearns. Dave Ossman's
improvisational brilliance drives stong men (and women) to weep
[] REVIEW: e.e. cummings's "Love Is A Place", by Cat Simril Ishikawa
[] EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG: Answers to The Firesign Theatre
Trivia Quiz #4 by Richard Arnold
[] POSTMARK: DEEP SPACE: Letters to the Editor
[] SEE YOU ON THE FUNWAY: It's a wrap! Endnotes & stuff from
Jamie, Your Electronic Editor. (And this time I _mean_ endnotes!)
This Is Worker Speaking...
"If you don't have any time, why did you volunteer?"
A friend of mine just asked me that about yet another non-paying
writing project on which I'm supposed to be working while I wrap up this
run on FAlaFal, complete two apazines (including finishing the second
chapter of a story I'm doing for one, which is going to serve as backstory
to a comic book I'm writing), finish a comic script and start plotting
another. And I didn't have a good answer for him. I never do. The best
I can muster is, "It seemed like a good idea at the time."
When the "FIRESIGNal" portion of INSIDE JOKE threatened to get so
huge as to overwhelm my little comedy newsletter back in '83 or so, I
followed Dave Ossman's suggestion to branch it off into a separate
publication. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I didn't much think
about the extra workload-- activity among the 4or5 was kind of slow at
that point, I knew I'd only be putting it out three times a year, and I
had the archival situation (mostly the press kit and videos) under control
at the time. And for the most part, it truly was a labor of love. I was
also delighted to learn, once Four-Alarm FIRESIGNal got underway, that it
paid for itself-- in fact, during FAlaFal's first run (#1 through #19)
Firesign fans were so grateful and generous that I was often in the black,
an almost unheard-of situation for a small press out-of-pocket zine.
And of course there was the added bonus of getting to know the 4or5
themselves during trips out to El-Lay and environs wherein I babysat Phil
Proctor's daughter Kristin (who's now in *college*, and I'm still shaking
my head at where the time's gone) and visited the old Pyro Playhouse
offices and partied with friends and family. I also had the pleasure of
David's company on a few occasions which saw him travel to New York City,
including hosting him at my old Apartment Third-Eye one memorable weekend.
Quite heady stuff for a li'l ol' fangirl whose first exposure to Firesign
(and, perhaps not coincidentally, the first time mind-altering substances
actually had an effect) had been at a friend's house in 1981. As I was
fond of remarking back then, "I play a mean game of catch-up."
And when I decided to lay FAlaFal to rest in '89 (and INSIDE JOKE the
year after that), it too seemed like a good idea at the time. As I'm sure
it did to Michael Packer, who'd been helping me with our steadily-growing
mailing list and wanted to take a crack at keeping the torch lit.
Unfortunately, the timing wasn't the best it could have been, and Firesign
as a concept was pretty much at its low point then. When they later
regrouped in Seattle for that memorable one-night show four years later,
Michael and I found ourselves in a state we hadn't expected to recapture--
enthusiasm-- and made plans for him to turn the reigns back to me. It
seemed like a good idea at the time.
And the past four years and eleven issues have seen much growth in
Firesign fandom. For one thing, there's the Internet-- one of the most
perfect and logical places for Firesign fans to be. I'm grateful to
Niles Ritter for helping start the alt.comedy.firesgn-thtre newsgroup
upon which I stumbled during my first forays onto Usenet, as well as for
maintaining the group's copious Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) files,
which will certainly need updating now with the demise of FAlaFal. I'm
equally grateful to all those, especially Jamie Schrumpf, who convinced
me that it might be a good idea to create and maintain an online version
of the heretofore hard-copy-only newsletter. Jamie's done a stellar job
as online editor and keeper of the mailing list, and deserves much
applause for his efforts. If not for our online presence, I don't think
we would have survived nearly as long, and certainly word of upcoming
events, merchandise, etc. would not have gotten out as quickly and easily.
Although I shouldn't slight Roger Snyder's professional efforts in
printing our hard-copy version since issue #22. Roger contacted me after
the FT appearance at the Beacon Theatre in late '93, and has not only
given me much-needed price breaks on my print runs but has taken total
charge of our bulk-mailing efforts through the Smithtown center, thus
saving me a bundle on postage costs as well.
Which have grown exponentially as the word's gotten out. Jim Henry
may have had certain shortcomings in the Firesign merchandising
department, but he helped shore up the mailing list by having signup
sheets at every Firesign venue during their 25th anniversary reunion tour,
and our master list is up to about 2500 people now (not including all the
online folks on Jamie's mailing list or who "hit" on his Web page or pick
up FAlaFal from browsing the newsgroup or CompuServe). Because of this
surge, I was forced with issue #28 to go subscription-only on the hard
copy as, despite Roger's money-saving measures, I just wasn't receiving
enough donations any more to keep FAlaFal out of debt otherwise. I *am*
grateful, though, that many fans came through when I needed them during a
particularly difficult period, and once more thank all of you. And I'm
pleased to still receive donations now and again, the latest being from
long-time reader Keith Jones-- thanks Keith! (Oh, and a quick plug:
don't forget, I'm still selling the Abkhazian Groucho Marx/John Lennon
stamp sets at $10 each ppd-- at this point I don't think I'm going to
recoup all the money I've spent on FAlaFal, but they're neat stamp sets
anyway and I hope people will continue to buy them.)
I've met so many terrific folks through doing this newsletter that I
just know I'm going to leave out too many important names if I continue my
thank-yous much longer. But I didn't want to forget Doug "Ivan Stang"
Smith, who helped get the ball rolling for me by introducing me to Dave;
Alan Gross, our video archivist who's always been a great source of
encouragement for me; Richard Fish, whose success with LodesTone is well
deserved and whose news columns are always delightful to read; one of my
current gurus, Cat Simril Ishikawa, to whom I don't pay nearly enough
e-mail attention; Chris Ward, for all his cool crosswords through the
years (have fun in Peru, Chris!); Jerry Stearns, for always keeping me
updated on his audio happenings; Joey Cavalieri, for completely surprising
me with the "Mark Time" strips; Bill Benzel, whose Old Same Place section
of TinyMUSH I never get to visit enough; Michael Packer, whose name bears
mentioning at least a thousand more times but whom I'll thank here for
maintaining the audio archives; EVERYONE who's contributed to this
newsletter by writing articles and letters, by attending labelling/
bundling parties, by visiting me here in NY and during my vacations, and
with your kind words of support; Fred Wiebel, Chris Palladino and Mark
Garland, into whose capable hands I now pass the torch; and of course
Phil Austin, Peter Bergman, David Ossman and Phil Proctor, without whom
none of this would have been necessary.
I'm currently juggling many commitments, both professional and
personal. With any luck, the comic book readers among you may see my name
pop up in a credit box or two next year. The rest of you will almost
certainly see contributions from me in Firezine, on the newsgroup, and in
our Thursday evening IRC chats. Right now it's all I can do to keep my
head above water. For the better part of ten years this newsletter has
been a pleasure to publish, and I need to let it go before it becomes a
burden instead. I figure "30," journalistic shorthand for "the end," is
a good place to bow out. It seems like a good idea at this time.
See you in the funny papers.
Rumors Behind the News
by Richard Fish (More Sugar)
This column starts with a major apology to all Fireheads and especially to
the all-too-soon-to-be Former Firehead Head, Elayne, on accounta it's so
late. I can only plead vast piles of work, and hope that this will be
mistaken for a medical condition.
Having gotten nearly 8 hours' sleep for the first time in too long, then,
First order of biz is heartfelt thanks from all Four or Five to Elayne
Wechsler-Chaput, as she retires from the editorship of this publication.
Elayne is truly a Dear Friend of the highest degree, and her enormous,
devoted, self-imposed efforts over the years have earned her the deep love
and respect of The Firesign Theatre. We here at More Sugar
enthusiastically join in! All the guys wanted to say something special in
this column, and I hope this will stand well in place of the several pages
I could write on the subject.
Collectively, me hearties, it be true that the rumors be hind o' the news:
The 30th Anniversary Firesign Year is here! The group first put up their
collective dukes in the waning months of '66, and really began making
widely-noticed airwaves in '67.
A FIRESIGN THEATRE EVENT will be held in late October at the Museum of
Television and Radio in Los Angeles. Plans are not completely final as of
this writing, and I've been unable to find out all the details yet. But
anybody in range of LaLaLand ought to mark their calendars, and call the
Museum for the latest info. Their number is: (716) 546-6783
THE FIRESIGN THEATRE'S PINK HOTEL BURNS DOWN will be out for Christmas.
It will be offered on cassette, for sure, and if we can find an investor
with a couple of thousand, we can bring it out on CD. This will be a
great collection of rare and previously-unreleased Firesign comedy, and
the list includes:
"INTERNATIONAL YOUTH ON PARADE" (February 1967) TFT's first
recorded comedy sketch!
"SERGEANT PRESTON" (September 1969)
"EXORCISM IN YOUR DAILY LIFE" (October 1967) from the very first
Firesign Theatre "Magic Mushroom" live broadcast.
JACK POET VOLX-WAGGIN ads - Firesign classics from the Summer of
Love "OVER THE EDGE" (May 1976) with Ed Edmunds and George Tirebiter, from
"Radio Laffs of 1940"
A CLOSER LOOK (1979) TFT;s own hard-hitting news magazine for NPR.
"THE PINK HOTEL BURNS DOWN" (August 1981) the last album project
a never-before-released interactive story, at least a decade ahead of its
time - as usual.
"THE GIANT RAT OF SUMATRA, or By The Light Of The Silvery"
(November 1967) - the very first performance, live from the stage of the
Release date for PINK HOTEL is now set for November 22. We'll be
announcing the product first on our Web Page
(http://www.lodestone-media.com) and in our catalog.
A COMPANION FOR ANYTHYNGE continues to grow, and get more involved and
exciting. The creative juices are flowing and I'm moving to higher
ground! At this point we're looking at a Spring 1997 release, I think. I
will not attempt to describe the bubbling in detail, but we've already
gotten in some very funny tape. For now, though, you can sit here in the
waiting room, or wait here in the sitting room....
An Official Firesign Theatre Web Page is being discussed. The guys are
fascinated with the pages various people have up on the Web now, and we
hope to develop a central TFT site which can link them all, and give the
guys a chance to put some stuff out into cyberland, collectively and
The Tick - The Movie, and Rugrats - The Movie have both been announced.
No word on TFT participation at this early stage. How about sending some
email or making some phone calls to the producers asking about TFT?
Websites are there! Try these addresses:
For websites on Rugrats, start at:
PHIL AUSTIN is holed up on Fox Island, finishing his new novel, "Beaver
Teeth" and looking for a publisher. He and David Ossman have been working
enthusiastically on the Companion project of late.
DAVID OSSMAN has been wrapped up in the Otherworld stage production of
e.e. cummings' poetry, and of course that info has been already spread
around on the newsgroup. Of note is Cat Simril Ishikawa's review, which
appears later in this newsletter.
PHIL PROCTOR continues his whirlwind, publishing "Planet Proctor"
* Traveling to Rochester, NY to see wife Melinda play the part created by
Ruth Hussey in Lindsay Krause's "State Of The Union." He delights in the
name of the original 1945 director, the one and only (I have no doubt)
* Recording voices for "Spiderman" - watch for the Son Of The Red
next season, "I bring dad back from the vortex," says Phil, "and the
ungrateful bastard turns me into Electro, and I take on all the other
* Also doing voices for "Rugrats" - his character of Howard has been
reintroduced, and a new season has been ordered.
* Doing ADR voices for the live-action version of "101 Dalmatians"
Disney. Phil isn't sure which of his voices will make the final print,
but he reports that Glen Close is delightful as villainess Cruella DeVille.
* Also doing ADR for Tom Hanks' new picture "That Thing You Do,"
scheduled for Thanksgiving or Christmas release.
PETER BERGMAN is, of course, deep into Radio Free Oz on the Web
(http://www.rfo.com) and is planning to start offering the Planet Proctor
columns there soon. Other projects are still under wraps as of this
writing, but stay tuned for more info - best place to keep up will
probably be the Radio Free Oz website.
That's More Sugar for now - look for this column to continue (on time!) in
the new FIREZINE, which Fred Wiebel and Chris Palladino are putting
Ch-anging with the Times
[Okay folks, here's the scoop on what happens to Firesign Theatre fandom
apres FAlaFal. Take it away, Fred Wiebel!]
CALLING ALL BORN-AGAIN BOZOS, CLOSET FIREHEADS, FIRESIGNTISTS, DEAR
FRIENDS, FANS AND EVERYBODY ELSE:
THE FIRESIGN THEATRE HAS A NEW MAGAZINE COMING OUT SOON, "FIREZINE,"
WE'RE LOOKING FOR SUBSCRIBERS AND SALES AGENTS.
The 4 or 5 Krazy Guys have selected -- well, reluctantly agreed to allow --
Frederick C. Wiebel, Jr. to edit their new magazine, "Firezine" The
Official Magazine Of The Firesign Theatre. Much more than a newsletter or
fanzine, it will be a conduit for the group to release new, unpublished,
and archival written material filling up the rain barrels of their minds
without any place to spill over. Also included will be interviews and
articles dealing with the people, places, events and recordings produced
over the Firesign's 30 year history, unlimited future, and their
individual lives and careers as well.
The magazine will continue the columns you've come to know and love
through the years carried in FAlaFal and other newsletters, and have a fan
forum as well, so keep those cards and letters coming. Although a
"Firezine" newsletter will be posted on the Internet, no original Firesign
material will be posted on-line in toto (or in Dorothy for that matter).
Every issue will be a limited edition collector's item.
The format will be a 5 1/2" X 8 1/2" full color cover magazine with
least 20 pages, a mini poster centerfold, news, current releases,
interviews, articles, rare photos, fan letters, ads for only Firesign
products, and numerous surprises we can't think of or talk about yet.
We're shooting for an initial run of 1,000 to 2,000 copies, with a cover
price of $3, and back issue price of $5, depending on availability. Once
sold out no more will be printed.
Subscription rates will be $10 for 5 issues. Anyone subscribing between
9/96 and 7/97 will receive all 5 issues. The first 500 subscribers will
receive a personally autographed form letter from Phil Austin, and other
The publishing schedule will be:
#1 - November 1996, around Thanksgiving
#2 - January 1997, around New Year
#3 - March 1997, around The Ides Of March
#4 - July 1997, around The 4th of July
#5 - September 1997, around Labor Day
We've committed ourselves to 5 issues at this time and if "Firezine"
proves successful we will continue it indefinitely. With your support and
contributions spiritually, materially and financially "Firezine" can only
get better and better. "Firezine" will be constantly upgraded as interest
rises. The guys in the group are very excited about the prospects of their
own "Firezine" magazine and are very cooperative with our efforts. Let's
show them how much we care about Firesign Theatre by subscribing today and
purchasing the products offered in the magazine. By all of us networking
and participating together great things can be accomplished.
Here's what the lineup for "Firezine" looks like so far!!!
FIREZINE #1 will feature Peter Bergman on the cover, profile him and tie
in with the 30th Anniversary of Radio Free Oz, the new RFO.NET website,
"The Big Internet Broadcast of 1996", Bergman's CD-Rom game for Palladium
Interactive, Bergman centerfold, current status of the latest Firesign
Theatre projects like "The Compendium for "Anythynge You Want To", "The
Pink Hotel Burns Down" compilation, news, etc.
There will be a large section of other related Firesign material as well:
Austin's "Ed Woodpecker, Private Eye" Chapter 1
Ossman's unpublished "The Adventures of George Tirebiter"
Bergman's monologue from "Nutscape"
Proctor's story of his summer vacation trip to England, news spottings
and other rants,
Firesign Theatre Campaign '96 political commentary
George Tirebiter campoon speech
Austin's NASCAR report, believe it or not!
Plus: Fred Wiebel Jr.'s editorial comments, Chris Palladino's "Collector's
Corner" search for Bergman's 1956 "Attention Convention" 45, with
interview of Buddy Zelman, the producer of it, fan letters, special
interviews, Firesign product ads, call for material, etc.
FIREZINE #2 is already in the works featuring David Ossman on the cover,
profiling his career and containing an actual pamphlet of his poems!,
Ossman centerfold, Firesign news, reviews of scheduled product releases,
Austin's second chapter of "Ed Woodpecker, Private Eye", Bergman talks
about his CD-Rom game, Proctor's observations, an interview with Richard
Fish of More Sugar, Firesign product label, plus Wiebel's editorial,
Palladino reports about Ossman's announcer work for Warner Bros. records,
including 45 RPM promos introducing records by the Fugs, and his writing
the liner notes to "The Best Of Bill Cosby" LP.
FIREZINE #3 will be an all Firesign Theatre blast with the entire group on
the cover, profiling their career, Firesign center fold, yearly wrap-up,
etc. David Ossman interviews the group, transcribed from his Audiola
program; Austin's 3rd and possibly final chapter of "Ed Woodpecker,
Private Eye"; plus a Wiebel editorial, Palladino's report on "Nick Danger
Case #666" 1969 promo EP.
FIREZINE #4 will feature Phil Austin on the cover, profile his career,
report on the progress of Austin's epic novel "Beaver Teeth", plus regular
FIREZINE #5 will feature Phil Proctor on the cover, concentrate on his
career in the movies, commercials, and recordings, plus regular features.
"Firezine" will also be offering a new approved Firesign Theatre
product line available nowhere else, to help raise funds for the zine.:
"STILL WAITING FOR THE ELECTRICIAN" - David Ossman's Audiola 25th
Anniversary program where he interviews the group and plays cuts from
Limited Edition Cassette Tape... $15
"WEPM 1340 AM FIRESIGN FESTIVAL" - Fred Wiebel hosts and interviews
guys separately over a 3 day period, with Bergman reminiscing about Radio
Free Oz and talking about RFO.Net, Proctor commenting on life in LA, and
the movies, Austin reading from his novel in progress "Beaver Teeth", and
Ossman reading his poetry and from his novel "The Ronald Reagan Murder
Case", and George Tirebiter campaign speech.
Two 90 min. Cassette Tapes... $15
"GEORGE TIREBITER 1996 CAMPAIGN POSTER"
Full Color, 11" x 17"... $ 5
"ED WOODPECKER, PRIVATE EYE POSTER" - Limited Edition, Signed and
by the artist
Full Color, 11" x 17"... $10
"BIG INTERNET BROADCAST OF 1996 - SOUVENIR BOOKLET" - Review of
performance, interviews with Peter Bergman, 4 pages of full color
photographs, full color cover.
Limited Edition, signed and numbered... $10
"PETER'S DIGITAL DINER" - Cardboard Cut Out
Full Color, 3 1/2" x 10"... $ 4
Information, sales inquiries, letters for the first issue or subscription
requests (send checks or money orders for $10) should be sent to
THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF THE FIRESIGN THEATRE
PO. BOX 585
HAGERSTOWN, MD 21741-0585
FOR FIRESIGN THEATRE PRODUCT CALL 1-800-411-MIND
Review: The Big Internet Broadcast -- A Bland Review
by Frank Bland
Elayne has asked me and others to post reviews of "The Great Internet
Broadcast of 1996" to this here newsgroup. I'm only too happy to do so, and
I hope I don't bore you terribly. Please forgive me if I misspelled some of
the names...I didn't have a program to refer to.
"From the mind of paranoid generals spring jewels."
-- Peter Bergman on the Department of Defense's role
in the creation of the Internet.
Only three of the four or five were present for the show, as Phil Austin
did not appear. The whole evening was presented as a variety show in the
grand tradition, with The Internet as the central theme. Appropriately
enough, this show was performed on the day of and the day after three
federal judges declared that they couldn't censor the Internet.
"Pete's Digital Diner," featured at the Radio Free Oz website
(http://www.rfo.net), was used to link the bits together. Personally,
I haven't been thrilled thus far with the offerings at Radio Free Oz on the
net, with the exception of the Digital Diner. Pete's treatment of current
events is funny and refreshing, and many of the bits he's used at the
website were featured in the show. We were also introduced to Digital Diner
waitress, Dixie, who offered up an unusual bill of fare lampooning various
cultural and political icons (at one point, Pete ordered the "Bob Dole
Sacrificial Lamb -- roasted slowly all summer, thoroughly chewed up in the
fall, and entirely passed by the 5th of November.")
The evening's festivities also included several musical selections. The
first was a little tune with a poignant political theme, as the evening's
keyboard accompanist, Mike (I can't spell his last name, though it's very
similar to a certain herbal remedy), presented "Bill Clinton's Moving
Further To The Right." Mike performed this clever tune in a style
reminiscent of Barry Manilow.
The musical portion of the program also included a local favorite, host
of WNYC's "Spinning On Air," David Garland. David sang a strange little
ditty about (and accompanied on) furniture. The final musical number
(discounting the show's finale) was an odd but fun burlesque tribute to
bald men (and dedicated "To Peter Bergman and others of his ilk")
performed by Cece Loveheart and John Simon.
One of the many highlights of the evening was the wonderful Edie McClurg,
who expanded on her RFO role as "Mrs. Marv Mendenhall, Suburban Guru." For
those of you not familiar with Mrs. M., she is the epitome of suburban
housewifedom, who is blissfully ignorant of just how screwed up her family
really is. Edie really knocked me out with her performance as faded
movie star, "Dot Duncan," reminiscing about her days in Hollywood. Edie's
delivery was perfectly manic and demented as she gave us a thumbnail of
her life, alternately breaking up with and being "bucked up" by various
Now, on to the main event...
Although I've been a fan of FT for close to twenty years now, June 14th at
the Knitting Factory was my first opportunity to see them live. Though I
was incredibly excited about the chance to see the guys, my excitement was
somewhat tempered by mild misgivings about the "Internet" theme of the
show. I just wasn't confident that they could pull the thing off. Well, I
was pleasantly surprised: the show, with very few exceptions, was an
absolute joy from beginning to end -- so let's start at the beginning.
The program kicked off with a piece called "The 75th Anniversary of the
Discovery of the Internet." This piece had certain elements of "Bozos," as
The description bore a striking resemblance to the "Motor Operated
Pushover" in presentation.
Professor Emanuel Archetype (David Ossman) showed off his "Steam Driven
Internet" to his nephew Frank Acne (Phillip Proctor), who latched onto
the idea and brought it back to his Yale roommates. These kids then
demonstrated just how to make the Internet "deliver" everything from
espionage to pizza, via hypertext-style links.
This bit served as an introduction to the evening and was pulled off
marvelously. Loaded with computing/Internet puns and 20th Century cultural
"icons," it culminated in a celebratory speech by Frank, 75 years later (or
today, if you will), peppered with FT album titles (the speech, that is,
not Acne) that gave the audience a chance to play along by shouting out the
lines. This really broke the ice.
This bit was followed up by an appearance by George Leroy Tirebiter (David
Ossman). As the perennial candidate for Vice President on the Natural
Surrealist Party ticket, George reiterated and expanded on the well-known
Surrealist platform by explaining the plan to extend citizenship to the
great apes (with the help of "Cheetah," played by Proctor).
For me, Phil Austin's absence was most sorely felt during the recreation
of the "Gravedigger" scene from "Anythynge You Want To." While David
Ossman did a great job as "Mole," I couldn't help longing for Phil's
treatment of this part, a la Spike Milligan's "The Famous Eccles" from
"The Goon Show." Still, Proctor delivered an admirable soliloquy (as
usual) as "Abdicated Edmund," and Melinda Peterson was quite seductive
with the sexual innuendo in her part as Marie.
Next came the intermission. While we in the live audience were smokin' and
stokin' the radio and net crowd were treated to a prerecorded episode of
"Jack Hatchett: Dick In Dogtown," called, "When Clowns Collide." This piece
had quite a surreal feel, reminiscent in style of "The Three Faces of Al,"
and as Jack Hatchett, M.C. Gainey was excellent. Proctor was once again
featured in a villainous role, this time as Rex Havoc, who seemed to get
quite a kick out of picking off clowns left and right. Bergman appeared in
various roles, including Jack's nemesis, Hat Jacket. Having been entirely
unimpressed with Jack Hatchett's doings at the RFO site, I was pleased by
the quality of this piece. The writing (by Hank Rosenfeld and Ted Bonnitt)
was perfectly Firesignic in style, and the production (also by Bonnitt) was
This was followed up by another prerecorded piece featuring Johnny and
Zippy, two hobo bozos, in a short bit I couldn't quite figure out. I'm not
even sure at this point whether there was any Firesign involvement in it at
The second half of the live portion of the show started with David
resurrecting Ben Bland in "Ben Bland's Internet Graveyard Matinee." Ben's
plugging of his new sponsor, "Gates of Hell: A Timeless Homestead Or a
Hopeless Timeshare," was a lot of fun, and he went on to bring back the
depression bit from "Just Folks..." Ben is one of my all-time favorite
Ossman characters, not only because he's a kinsman, but also because I
think he's about the only one of us who'll be able to make it on his own in
the next world.
The high point of the evening for me, though, was a reinvention of the
"High School Madness" epic from "Dwarf," as "Potato Salad Gone Bad." The
guys did an incredible job of "rebooting" this classic in netspeak:
Porgie: "Let's look for a mirror site and we'll take a shortcut through
Mudhead: "Allreet! On the way we can stop off at email@example.com and
download some T&A!"
Porgie: "Some what?"
Mudhead: "That Louise Wong's got a homepage she shows her Yahoos on!"
To top the whole bit off, as Proctor finished delivering Principal Poop's
speech, someone in the crowd shouted, "What is virtual reality?!"
I wasn't terribly pleased with the next bit about a "camp for adults"
(featuring Peter Bergman and Patricia Stallone). The acting was okay, if
not outstanding, but the whole idea was kind of ho-hum.
This bit, though, was followed up by a truly inspired Firesign tribute to
beat poetry. David's contribution evoked a feeling of nostalgia for the
whole beat scene. He was followed by Peter with a short and upbeat beat
update, keeping with the Internet theme. Phillip finished it off with his
"Ode to O.J.," which was fun to read when it appeared in FAlaFal, but
absolutely dynamite to hear in person. It just goes to show that poetry is
almost always better when spoken aloud.
Phillip and Melinda followed this with a so-so bit that was a lampoon of
those "Get Rich Quick" infomercials. Then, to finish the evening, The RFO
Players presented a musical tribute to a particularly patriotic article of
swimwear entitled, "It's a Brand Name Flag."
So, there you have it. To sum up, I'd say that the entire evening was a
delight. The pacing was great, as was the acting, and Fred Newman was a gas
on mouth sounds and Foley. There was enough Firesign nostalgia to keep the
audience involved, and enough fresh material to interest everyone. The show
was structured in such a way that the evening fairly flew by -- I, for one,
was sorry to see it end. The cast was gracious enough to join members of
the audience in the bar after the show for a little chit-chat, and were all
very pleasant and personable. All in all, I can safely say that I haven't
had a more enjoyable evening of entertainment in a long time.
Thanks for listening.
Review: David Ossman at Minicon 31
by Jerry Stearns
Dave Romm and I have been producing the opening ceremonies at Minicon, the
Minnesota Regional Science Fiction Convention, doing live original radio
scripts for sixteen years. Science Fiction comedy radio, for our show
SHOCKWAVE, on local community station, KFAI.
For Minicon 31 (M-31) the circumstances were right to finally invite a
Science Fiction Audio writer as a Guest of Honor, so I was the convention
liaison for David Ossman. Besides his work with the Firesign Theatre
which could be argued is all SF, fantasy, or alternate universe stories
hešs produced numerous other audio works of SF, such as the 50th
Anniversary Production of "War of the Worlds," and the "Curve of Wonder"
series of three stories. I am grateful to Minicon for this opportunity to
present and promote SF on Radio.
The script I had written for our annual presentation took a scene from the
Firesign album, "Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers", that
introduces George Tirebiter, an Ossman character. It's a scene from a TV
show, sort of like "This Is Your Life." The scene does not include much of
the program, so we were able to take it in any direction we wanted to go.
Our first read-through was Thursday evening - a couple of hours as we begin
to find characters, and create sound effects and musical accompaniment.
Friday afternoon we arrived in the Great Hall to do our first on-stage and
technical rehearsals. They were not nearly ready for us a condition I
have come to expect at Minicons. So we went down to a nearby room to do
rehearsals without a sound system. We could do some stage blocking and
timing work, though. From David I learned some more about doing this kind
of production setting a downbeat for the beginning. David is cool and
unperturbed by unexpected changes in the events.
Friday evening we introduced the Guests as part of the opening ceremonies,
after which David went behind the curtain to change. We begin the show
with the audience unsuspecting. And then we get to the scene from Dwarf,
"winner of the Academy's coveted 'Good Sport Award' in 1956 for Excellence
in Hollywood, meet George Leroy Tirebiter."
And David comes out in a fine grey pinstripe suit. I go on reading Austinšs
part in the script, and David improvises all around anything in the
script. He always comes back to cue lines, but Išm never sure how hešs
going to get there. (I consider getting involved with an improv troupe.)
We perform several pieces, including one original piece from the history
of George Tirebiter ("Nomads from Neptune", written by Brian Price) and
one chapter from Ossmanšs "U.S. Mean Time," the upcoming sequel to "How
Time Flys." We also do an episode from my series of "Vince Washburn, New
All in one hour.
It's not our best show ever, but it was lots of fun to do, and unusual.
Brian Price acts as production supervisor behind the scenes, which helps
Later one of our actors, Jane Yolen (famous fantasy and children's book
writer) says to me, "You didn't tell me he wasnšt going to stick to the
script!" Well, he did... and he didnšt.
Saturday we all hang around the Dealers' room a lot, selling LodesTone
stuff and the tapes and t-shirts that David and Judith brought with them
("Time Capsules," introduced at Minicon). People stop by to buy a tape and
get it autographed or have a talk with David. He's so easy with people, he
can get into an interesting conversation with anybody. I buy him a copy of
Terry Pratchett's "Small Gods," because he's never read anything by the
funniest fantasy writer in Britain.
We also did two panel discussions dealing with SF on Radio, which were a
little unfocused. We had asked that David be able to do an autographing
session and a reading. They got left off the official schedules, but I
pushed around until they were arranged. So he did a reading from the
second Tirebiter novel-in-progress: "The Flying Saucer Murder Case."
(Which is really good. I'll buy one.)
And we sat at a table in the foyer while people brought by their old
Firesign albums around to be signed.
Around all of this, I got a chance to talk to Judith Walcutt, and with
Orson and Preston Ossman quite a bit. A real treat for me. They are
wonderful funny kids, and Judith is interesting and genuine. And since
I'd brought them all here, and they could stay a while with an old friend
of Judith's, it was a treat for them, too, from Minicon.
Sunday night Fish and DO and I go to dinner near the hotel, and they
advise me on a script idea I've been thinking about. Then they show me the
new Firesign project, "The Annotated Anythynge" script. I am overwhelmed
to be asked my opinion on it.
During the week following Minicon, I took David down to the Pavek Museum
of Broadcasting where I do occasional work. And then we went to the
University of Minnesota campus where I'd arranged for him to do the first
presentation of a radio theater workshop. We both got paid for doing it,
which is good. And I see new sides of David that I like, and can learn
from. I did the next three workshop sessions, ending in a live
performance that went on the air in June.
My thanks to David for all the work and friendship, to Judith for being so
appreciative, and to Orson and Preston for accepting me so readily and
playing with me sometimes.
Tapes are available of the Minicon 31 show "Coming to a Galaxy Near
and of the workshop production. Tapes of the "War of the Worlds" are
available from LodesTone.
Having an Audio Guest for Minicon was so successful, that we've invited
another one for next year. Minicon 32 will feature Tom Lopez, of the ZBS
Foundation, creator of Ruby, the Galactic Gumshoe and the various
adventures of Jack Flanders.
Review: e.e. cummings' "Love Is A Place"
by Cat Simril
Since his original radio play in 1964, David Ossman has been
milling forth the life and balloons of e.e. cummings. Latest incarnation was
at sweet-smelling new Whidbey Island Centre for the Arts Sept. 6 & 7.
Biographically elegant and compelling, Love is a Place thought sometimes as
theatre, often as radio. The artist of the word was continually yanked
forth. A chorus of autobiography and firesign-like thought competed with
the life of e.e. and his mind. e.e.'s life as cabaret with melodious young
jack and his 3 new words of Turkish.
The strongest part of the play for me were the interviews, e.e.
TONIGHT, with little jack severensess brought in to great effect. it
deconstructed TV as e.e. had opened doors into the written word.
Cummings thought of himself as much painter as poet, and some
illustrations from his paintings, or photos from his photographer father
would have heightened the play. And after wonderful evocations of his
beloved family, and occasional biographical scene-mates, the absence of
the women in e.e.'s life is felt in a play called "Love is a place." The
play makes me think the "love" in question is e.e.'s love of words, and the
lavishness of their textures. The women who inspired those words are
There is a numinous moment near the play's end that evokes
something Ossman did on the radio in 1968, one of the great moments in
history of the medium. There is such an echo of all of the work he's done
since 1964 in this. An older man, a veritable Tirebiter, looking back on
his life and his creations and how they came into existence. But from those
analysis and those recollections a greater being emerges. You laugh your
way into an expanded state of being, sometimes like fire.
Good work, Ossie.
Everything You Know is Wrong: Firesign Quiz #4 Results
by Richard Arnold
This is the last portion of the contest "Everything You Know is Wrong:
Firesign Theatre Quiz." It lists the answers to the fourth and final quiz.
For those of you with Internet access, I encourage you to visit the answer
page on the World Wide Web, for follow-up information and extra tidbits
about some of the more difficult and controversial questions. The Web Page
And now the answers to Part Four of The Firesign Theatre Quiz, "I THINK
WE'RE ALL BOZOS ON THIS BUS:"
1. Fun's Where the Fair's at (1)
2. Like sitting in a big hand (1)
3. "If You Push Something Hard Enough, It Will Fall Over" (answer
4. Because someone told him not to (1)
5. Why does the Porridge Bird Lay His Egg in the Air (deduct 1/2 point if
"His" is not included in the answer, or if "Egg" is plural) (1)
6. "It Comes In, It Must Go Out" (answer must be worded exactly) (1)
7. Nancy (1)
8. "Forget it" (2)
9. "I must go where the Bozos go" (wording does not need to be exact) (2)
10. The fiery balls of the walking Catfish (wording does not need to be
11. A Bozoette at school (deduct 1/2 point if "at school" is not
the answer) (2)
12. (A fine miniature boxcar of) Industrial coke (2)
13. In the Late Devouring Period (2)
14. Gypsy (2)
15. 1875 (2)
16. In the little Phelmish village of Gotterdam (alternate spellings
17. Barney (2)
18. Dutch Elm Street (3)
19. The Terminal Bus (will award only 2 points if the answer is "The
Output;" will award 4 points if both answers are given) (3)
20. 7:01 (3)
21. Richard Nixon (3)
22. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln; Disneyland (will not accept "The
Hall of Presidents" or "Walt Disney World") (2 points for first
answer, 1 point for second, 3 points total)
23. 9 Hours, 1 minute, 44 seconds (time must be exact) (3)
24. "Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers" (will also except
description or quotes of the scenes in "Dwarf" where shoes are
mentioned, if, in the opinion of the judge, it demonstrates
knowledge that the descriptions/quotes come from that work) (3)
25. The program (MAC) executed the instruction "Close B Clothes Mode on
Deputy Dan" during its confrontation with Clem's clone (will accept
variations of this answer, provided it mentions the "Close B"
26. No motivation for Clem's actions can be determined from "I Think
We're all Bozos On This Bus" (3)
27. "How Time Flys" by David Ossman (only the title is necessary
four points. Award 1 point bonus if "David Ossman" is also given.
Will award 2 points if "Dear Friends" is given instead of "How Time
28. "The Further Adventures of Nick Danger" from "How Can You
Be in Two
Places At One When You're Not Anywhere At All" (either title
sufficient for four points. Award 1 bonus point for both titles) (5)
29. Isaac Asimov (4)
30. "...biting through;" the I Ching (2 points for each answer; 4
31. Found etched on a cigarette lighter (4)
32. New York, 1939; Chicago, 1933 (1 point for each answer; 4 points
33. An Eliza "doctor" program (will accept a description of the program
in lieu of the program name, if, in the opinion of the judge, it
demonstrates knowledge of the program) (4)
Total points possible for the quiz: 85 (including bonus points)
I am pleased to announce the winner of Quiz 4 is Gary Russel
(firstname.lastname@example.org), who scored 82 of a possible 85 points, for a
96.5% average. Congratulations, Gary! As did all our other individual
quiz winners, Gary gets his choice of SPARKS! MEDIA audio tapes from our
own Firesign audio archivist, Michael Packer!
And now the winner of the GRAND PRIZE -- awarded to the highest score of
all combined quiz scores is (drum roll, please):
Rick Moore (RKTHSTK@aol.com)!
Rick, the winner of Quiz 1, entered all four quizzes,
and scored highly in each. A man with a real FireHead on his shoulders!
Way to go, Rick! As the Grand Prize winner, Rick will receive Elayne's
extra copy of THE FIRESIGN THEATRE'S BIG MYSTERY JOKE BOOK-- would you
like that autographed by the 4or5, Rick?
How did YOU do? If you want to know, visit my "Winners" Web Page at:
with a list of all entries and final scores. Or you can email me at
Postmark: Deep Space
[Since this is our last letter column, I thought I'd bracket it with
goodbye essays from Cat Simril Ishikawa and Alan Gross. I have been
grateful for all your feedback on this newsletter-- yes, even the
negative commentary-- and am touched by your good wishes, although there
are those who claim I've been touched for some years now. -- Elayne]
Doing Them Now, For The Final Time
by Cat Simril Ishikawa
It started as an Inside Joke. The urge to laugh comes from deep within.
From the Oz Film Festival to the Steampowered Internet, the Firesign
Theatre has always played with our perceptions - why is this "reality"
and that "fantasy?"
Hard questions for the hardwired.
We need a place to sit down in a comfy chair and take off our shoes.
(Don't Get a Job - Hang out at Bob's?) Too much hamburger on that
highway. We've all been able to hang out at Elayne's Falafal Parlour
since 1984 because she has done such a superb job of making everyone
From handwritten notes and pictures of Yolks to 3 Faces of promos and Zach
looking back; the Editrix mid-group and mid-toke; Macbeth living in your
time; Red Badge and Rocky No Anchovies; the Hall of Science; Enter Eat -
Exit Rhino (premature); Austin and Proctor on top of Rich, Hollywood
Stars; Ossman in aquile; Pass the Indiana U. class, Please; words for the
uncrossed; Radio Movies screen taste; Bergman and Krassner promoting their
website years before the web is invented; Orson's debut startles termites;
Nick Danger feeds days; Tirebiter tells tales; hiatus and triumphant
return in the 93rd summer, tours to promote and review; stuff to sell; FAQ
to unveil; MUSH debugged; MRTW plugged; we're bugged to take tests; Big
Fat Lies lose weight; Stone takes a Lode off and Takes Off; Deep Space
fills up with letters and the pen'd ultimate Mark Time points the
direction Elayne is fireheaded.
Like the Firesign Theatre endlessly evolving and re-inventing themselves,
The Firehead is off to tickle comic new worlds into existence. Thanks for
it all, El. You have to stop laughing, sometime, but there's no end of
things to laugh at.
* * * * * * *
Elayne-- June 4, 1996
Thank you for issue 29 - been meaning to chip in for a long time,
and appreciate being retained on your list... I sure understand where
you're at. Me, too, in a way. TFT is magnificent, but I haven't played
anything for a long time. But, always in my heart, as are you and your
zines. I keep your INSIDE JOKE in my archives. You've given many
moments of pleasure. It's been nice hearing of your phases and stages,
your progress, etc. So, as you move on, I send my best wishes. If you
guys ever pass through this part of the heartland, you have an invitation
to a place to stay.
As Dave would say, Cheers! KEITH JONES
* * * * * * *
Elayne, August 1, 1996
Finally, after spending days reviewing all four quizzes and
calculating the total scores, I have a winner. Two actually.
I had a LOT of fun putting this quiz together, and I owe a lot of
thanks to you for pushing me into this at the beginning. I think the final
result is far superior to anything I would have come up with on my own.
Knowing it would be published, and real FireHeads out there would be
seeing it and judging it, made me work to make it challenging, fun, and
most of all fair. Thanks for including it in the newsletter.
And thanks to you for all your hard work on behalf of the
newsletter. You really kept the home "Firesigns" burning during the lean
years when the Guys were doing little in the public eye. You have been
like a Mother Superior to the little gang of unruly boys who hang out in
the newsgroup and the IRC channel, keeping us in line, and handing out the
virtual spleefs. I for one appreciate it, and even though this is your
last issue of FAlaFal, I fully expect to continue enjoying your wit and
warmth in the future in those other venues.
But, the quiz contest is done. Back to the Real World. I will
happily go Back to the Shadows once again, and just be another fan who
drops FT lines in crowd scenes to see who notices and throws out the
occasional pithy comment in the newsgroup.
Best O Luck to you in your comix career. See you on the funway.
Back to the (infosuper)highway, which is already in progress...
* * * * * * *
Dear Elayne, 10 August 1996
I just finished issue #28 that my sister loaned me yesterday.
What a great newsletter! And I thought TFT fans were a secret society.
Please add me to your e-mail list, although I plan to send some cash
anyway. I'm sorry that I missed #1 through #27.
In response to George McLaughlin's letter, my wife, my sister, and
I use Firesign quotes almost daily. We have a friend in New Jersey who
drops bits into regular conversations to see if anyone is listening to
him. We do the same to see who recognizes the bits. Those that do
usually crack a big smile! I hope that you feel better now, George. [So
give him the antidote.]
So don't hide arms, get side arms.
ERIC S. NOTKIN
* * * * * * *
Hi Elayne! 12 August 1996
My wife Leslie and I spent the day with David and Judith (and
Orson & Preston) last Saturday. They graciously invited us over to escape
the "mild" heat of Woodinville. I'm going to be engineering the sound
system for David's performance at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts
on September 6 and 7. Details as follows:
"love is a place, an e.e. cummings cabaret"
by david ossman
music by little jack melody and his young turks
Who: David Ossman (and two actors to be announced)
Little Jack Melody and his Young Turks
Where: The Brand-New Whidbey Island Center for the Arts
Langley, Washington (on Whidbey Island)
When: Friday, September 6 and Saturday, September 7, 8:30 PM
Tickets: $12.00. For reservations, call WICA at (360) 221-8268
David and I have tentatively agreed to work together on some
upcoming projects, both live and recorded so this should be fun! We're
kicking around an idea of producing "Comedy On Hold" programs for
PP is supposed to be coming up to visit them this week and I'm
hoping to get together with him and David for some brainstorming.
Just wanted to drop you a note and say hi and fill you in on the
Take care! WAYNE NEWITT
* * * * * * *
Elayne, August 13, 1996
Sorry for the long time it's taken me to respond to #29. I was
away on a combined familial obligation and vacation for several weeks
this summer and the experience was so depressing that, since returning, I
haven't felt much like attending to anything except the absolutely
necessary. If that weren't bad enough, like you my interest in Firesign
When I first read about FAlaFal I was very excited. It had been
years since I had an opportunity to share my enthusiasm for Firesign with
anyone. Naturally, I also was curious about their more recent work and I
had hoped that FAlaFal could serve as a guide in sorting out the good
from the bad. Unfortunately, though I was of the opinion that FT had
pretty much lost their edge many years ago (an opinion I still hold,
based - admittedly - on the very few things they've done over the past 15
years that I've had the time, money, and inclination to check out), I was
dismayed that there was rarely a negative word to be said in FAlaFal
about anything FT had done. I guess that's the price of seeking FT's
input and involvement in the effort. In any case, I never felt that I
could trust the zine to provide me with anything but news about upcoming
projects that I was not inclined to purchase without critical guidance
Of course, my opinion of FT's current work can still be changed.
Though I seldom have the patience to listen to audio recordings any more,
I do still hold some hope for a flash of the old brilliance in FT video
projects (and I expect to get a copy of Eat Or Be Eaten very soon).
Still, I'm not holding my breath.
Oh well... I'll be looking for issue #30 very soon. In the
meantime, good luck on your future endeavors, whatever they might be.
Best! PAUL KAZEE
* * * * * * *
Hello, 18 August 1996
I wish I had a neat story about how I got into the 4 or 5 guys. I
can still remember it as if it happened a while ago but I haven't
forgotten it yet. We were sitting in a McDonalds in a local mall eating
ice cream cones when (since deceased) father started to talk of a story
about the plague, which he said was by someone named Firesign. I presumed
this to be an (American) Indian storyteller of some sort. He said he had
this at home, and sure enough, deep in the old shoe box of forgotten
tapes, I found a copy of "Electrician." Later, I found another tape with
only the first 30 minutes of what I later found out was "Everything You
Know Is Wrong!" (someone forgot to turn over the tape, or label it, or
stack it neatly.) In high school, before it was stolen, I found another
fan, who was able to get me copies of even more of the albums, as well as
some of the video tapes (I was surprised to find out later that they also
made Nick Danger records. My friend also got me into Zippy the Pinhead,
thus corrupting me completely. Last I heard of my friend, he was caught
drunk trying to take the shortcut through Frogtown without a license,
something he seemed to be on the way to making a Korea of. But enough of
that.) Later, while here at Kent State, using my new email/'net account, I
found the newsgroup by accident, and have been here ever since.
Yeah, not very interesting, but seeing as how you're retiring from
this, I thought I'd write in while I had the chance. While it seems an old
cliche, and it is an old cliche, between Falafal, the various pages in the
curiously ever growing Firesign web, and the newsgroup, it's been nice to
find that I'm not the only FST fan out there (Kent State seems
mysteriously devoid of them, maybe they went to Korea too.) I'm sure the
new FIREZINE will be great (even though I hate the term "zine"), and I
hope we manage to avoid "Joel-Mike" type arguments over which was better,
I think I'll miss this newsletter.
CARL "HasNoName" STONE
Kent State/Ravenna, Ohio
* * * * * * *
It is with great sadness that I type out this farewell to a good
friend and extremely dedicated and diligent editor of this hot publication
(after all, it is about the FIREsign Theatre). Elayne, you were always
there and worked hard to keep alive the spirit of the 4 or 5 Krazy Guys,
and you established and maintained an important communications link
between the members of The Firesign Theatre and their various branches of
interest. What are we going to do without you?
For those of you who do not know, Elayne did more than just edit
and publish Four-Alarm FIRESIGNal. She maintained records, corresponded
with numerous fans as well as group members, and was the keeper of
various archive materials including video and audio tapes. She was
always willing to share these materials with other fans, and she and her
husband Steve hosted parties to help send out this newsletter and share
the "Firesign experience."
Now that Elayne is passing the torch, I sincerely hope that she
has a chance to rest and recuperate and enjoy the projects that she is
now pursuing. I also hope that she continues to be a contributor to
FIREZINE, as her energy and devotion are an integral part of the spirit
of The Firesign Theatre.
GOOD LUCK ELAYNE (AND STEVE TOO!!)
Yours in Bozohood, ALAN GROSS
See You on the Funway!
And so now our teary farewell brings you to me: the little guy (I lay the
asphalt). This is the eighth EFAlaFal that I've done with Elayne since June 1994, and it is to be our last after what seems like no time at all. I
remember it all as if it were only yesterday...
(Flashback wavyness begins)
I had seen Elayne's initial offering of FAlaFal in a CompuServe forum (I
think it was the Comedy Forum) in December 1993, and I dropped her a line to
ask her to send me a copy and told her how I had first heard the 4or5 guys
on a bus trip in high school. Elayne wrote back to thank me for the letter,
and we started an on-again, off-again correspondance about TFT wherein I
made the innocent suggestion that she create an on-line version that could
be distributed to the various services. (This was pre-BigTimeWeb, boys and
Elayne was all for it, but her on-line/computer experience was not
excessive, and she didn't think she could find the time to spend gaining
the aforementioned experience to put the thing together. I innocently
offered to do it for her if she would just send me the text files that she
used for the hard copy version. Elayne said that sounded good, and that
we'd give it a tryout for the next issue.
Sure enough, come late March 1994 there appeared in my e-mailbox a note
from Elayne warning me of the morass that was soon to descend upon me.
And descend it did: I got several files containing the most vile
WordPerfect for DOS 5.1 text that I had ever beheld. Elayne had dumped
her hard copy files to text format, but there was just some little
_something_ about WP 5.1 that we never did fully figure out, but which
insisted on leaving blanks at the end of many of the lines -- and these
innocent-looking blank spaces caused all kinds of heartbreaking glitches
when viewed under various operating systems (Unix being the worst, with
the Mac OS close behind).
After about 4or5 (is that destiny or _what_?) hours of doing nothing but
trying to get out -- and _keep_ out -- those nasty little spaces (and
their "=20" poltergeists under Unix and Mac), I finally had a finished
product to deliver. The First Electronic Version of FAlaFal (soon to
be universally beloved as EFAlaFal!) was on the air.
(Flashback wavering ends)
The rest is history: the struggle to maintain the mailing list in the
very teeth of those 15-hour free AOL accounts that never wrote to let me
know to change/delete their addresses; the gradual quickening of interest
in the e-version of the newsletter and the onslaught of email posts to the
Letters section; and finally, the triumphant entry of EFAlaFal onto the Web
and the vast network of Firesign-related pages that it both imitated and
And now, in this final incarnation of EFAlaFal, Elayne's mastery of the
media is complete: for this issue I received some of the most pristine
copy I have ever beheld, formatted most nicely. It took me only about 15
minutes to cut'n'paste the articles (titles and all) into the body of the
newsletter. I had only to wait for the final news column and Cat's review
of e.e. cummings to complete the beast. In fact, writing this column has
taken longer than it did to put the rest of EFAlaFal together.
I hope that some incarnation of EFAlaFal will continue. I've had several
offers from readers to keep up my end of the production, but that
requires someone up front to gather the information and send it on down,
and I haven't heard if The New Guys are willing to do so. They have the
new FIREZINE to put together, so you'll all just have to wait and see
what happens. Regardless of the Future, I'll still be keeping the archived
issues on my site at the Same Old Place.
But whatever happens, it's been fun. I've gotten email from Phil Proctor
on occasion, which was a kick (I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!), and I
feel I've done just a little to help out The Cause. The Firesign Theatre
is America's premier comedy troupe: England's Monty Python is defunct,
and Canada's Second City is a high-turnover training ground for new
talent. Only our own dear Firesign Theatre has maintained its identity
(more or less) over the decades and kept its cutting-edge (shucks, you
might as well say surreal) humor flowing.
If this were Japan, they'd have been named a National Treasure by now.
So keep the faith, and give the New Guys your support (I'm counting on
this plug to get me a free copy of FIREZINE from them). I've had a
great time, and I thank you all.
Take care, and yes -- See You On The Funway!