-- A newsletter of, about, and for
The Firesign Theatre...
...and their loyal fans
TABLE OF CONTENTS
[] THIS IS WORKER SPEAKING: Words from Elayne, Our Founder
[] RUMORS BEHIND THE NEWS: The latest on the 4 or 5 guys
[] TOUR REVIEWS: The Fans Speak! Unexpurgated (but grammatically
CORRECT!) reviews of The Guys' West Coast appearances. Lots of
opinons from People You Might Know! See what you missed!
[] ARTICLE: "Hamburger All Over the Information Highway,
Part II," by Niles Ritter, UseNet FAQ editor,
alt.comedy.firesgn-thtre. Oriental philosopies are secretly
concealed in the Unix operating system -- do YOU know where?
Find out who "Doctor Memory" REALLY is; fun & games with IRC.
[] The Old Same MUSH: Hallucinations, anyone? Let CatherWill
tell you all about it.
[] CLASSIFIEDS: *Your* ad here! Sales, pleas, bargains -- but
ENTERTAINMENT TRADING CO.: Cool *OFFICIAL* Firesign Theatre
goods -- tour jackets, t-shirts, hats, pickles, etc.
** ETC IS THE OFFICIAL SPONSOR OF FALAFAL **
MORE SUGAR: Audio and video tapes of Great Moments in
Firesignage. Get reel!
[] POSTMARK: DEEP SPACE -- Letters to the Editor
[] "LEGS ON SALE": Being a Personal Observation about Life in
from Phil Proctor. You can take the Rococo out of New York,
[] SEE YOU ON THE FUNWAY... It's a wrap; endnotes & stuff from
Your Electronic Editor.
Four-Alarm FIRESIGNal #24
FAlaFal is published thrice yearly in fire sign months (April, August
and December) as a public service for aficionados and dear friends of The
Firesign Theatre by Elayne Wechsler-Chaput, "The Firehead Head," from the
East Coast Derisional Hindquarters of the Natural Surrealist Party,
mailing address 1747 65th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11204, Internet login ID
email@example.com, CompuServe ID 72672,2714, and Prodigy ID PPCD02B.
FAlaFal is free of charge and freely reproduceable, and all letters,
news clippings and articles, FT-related creativity, requests for archives
lists and back issues, and any other material may be sent to me c/o the
Copywrite 1994 Pen-Elayne Enterprises; printed by Roger Snyder at
The Print Shop in NY and distributed by Entertainment Trading Company in
Electronic distribution by Monrovia Communications, Monrovia, MD.
No. 24 of ? (Late) AUGUST, 1994
This Is Worker Speaking...
The big news at Chez Chaput (aka the NSP's Eastern Regional
Hindquarters and all that), besides the fact that we're staying in the
Old Same Place thanks to our lovable but noisy landlord, is that I've
finally shifted my Yugo of a computer (well, what else would one call a
dinosaur with 512K RAM?) into high gear on the Infobahn, and am finally
hooked up to the Internet directly! For the few of you who have not yet
encountered me in the alt.comedy.firesgn-thtre newsgroup, my new handle
is firstname.lastname@example.org, which means you can reach me there in addition to
my CompuServe and Prodigy addresses, where I still check in a couple
times a week! As of now, I'm only paid up for "basic service," which is
E-Mail and the newsgroups, and so cannot participate in real-time chats
or MUSHes or the like, and probably won't until I get at least 1 meg of
RAM so Dr. Memory can help me process the info!
I have not been able to upload the Electronic version of FAlaFal
onto Prodigy yet, despite the best efforts of Comedy bulletin board
leader Karin Pfaff, but EFAlaFal co-editor Jamie Schrumpf has posted it
in the ShowBiz-Media Forum of CompuServe - Library 13, I believe -thanks
to sysop Don Devich; in the newsgroup of course, thanks to head honcho
Niles Ritter; and elsewhere in the ether of cyberspace (specifically, on
The Well's gopher server and an anonymous ftp directory called
/pub/moncomm/firesign at ftp.clark.net). Niles graciously provided us
with instructions on How To Get There From Here if you have the access:
"VIA WWW: Since the Web is a more-or-less universal access program,
I'll list all of the access points using WWW addresses (URL's), and then
spell out the protocol-specific forms later:
online_zines/falafal (all one line)
The 'http:' link is the Firesign-Theatre WWW page, which has pointers to
the other two sites, as well as local copies of back issues (when
available). The 'ftp:' site is Jamie's own FTP archive of all back issues
(when available). The 'gopher:' site has the latest edition.
"VIA GOPHER: The latest edition of FAlaFal is accessible at The WELL
(The Whole Earth Lectronic Link) using the gopher-path:
"VIA E-MAIL: send the above lines to email@example.com and you will
receive the file (in multiple parts).
"VIA FTP: Use anonymous FTP to clark.net; the issues are archived in
Thanks Niles! I'm sure all you Workers out there know far more
about all these wacky acronyms than I do...
And for everyone out there who's still sans modem, don't worry,
we'll still be putting out our hard copy version. However, the tour
reviews and letters columns will be, of necessity, truncated, abridged
and otherwise edited in this and future issues in order to keep our page
counts and costs down. The unexpurgated versions can either be gotten
from EFalaFal or by sending me a SASE. (I tried hard not to edit too
much that wasn't redundant...)
Welcome to all our new folks who listed their names and addresses on
our signup sheets during the July tour - I hope I spelled all your
information correctly (let me know if I didn't)! We've also consolidated
all our lists, so those of you who received two copies of our last issue
will only get one this time. Thanks again to all the folks who've helped
gather news, keep communication lines open and participate in this
venture (you know who you are, PP, PA, PB, DO, Jim, Niles, Roger, Jamie,
John, Michael and everyone I've inadvertently forgotten)! By the way,
people have asked if they should send monetary donations to help put
FAlaFal out. While I thank folks like Dennis Stahl and Mike Wilkinson
who have done so in the past few months (as well as those who sent other
neat stuff, including edibles and smokables), I would implore those of
you interested in keeping this newsletter going to please buy Firesign-
related merchandise from Jim Henry at ETC. Jim's the one who pays for
the printing and distribution of FAlaFal, and your patronage of his wares
will not only get you some neat stuph, but show him that you're
interested in seeing FAlaFal continue and be successful (so he'll keep
funding us!). Please check out ETC's ad elsewhere in this issue. As for
me, my only immediate need is for 29> and 52> stamps to resend the
FAlaFals which get returned to me with corrected addresses after Jim has
initially sent them out from El-Lay... And just to allay any confusion
before it starts, I'm the editor of FAlaFal, (Jamie is the co-editor of
EFAlaFal), Roger is the printer and Jim is the mailer/sponsor; please
send all relevant correspondence regarding this newsletter to me and I'll
make sure Jim gets address changes.
This issue is a little later than the planned August/Leo '94 press
date, as we were enjoying ourselves in southern California earlier in the
month. Special thanks to all assorted gathered bozos (including Proctor
& Bergman) for feting us on the 9th, and to Phil Proctor and Melinda
Peterson for the tour of their lovely home in 90210-land - I still can't
get over Melinda's beautiful garden! Also, because I've been busy doing
other things, I haven't had time to catch up on my video archives, which
I'm once again postponing until our next issue. The press archives and
miscellany archives should be updated by mid-September; so hold off until
then to send me SASEs or E-Mail me for my listing of their contents.
This issue contains bits from PP and PA - David and Peter, feel free
to write stuff for future issues should the mood strike! Next issue
should contain our zine plugs (I've had to postpone them twice for lack
of space), but won't contain the MST3K Firesign reference list mentioned
last time - that article will be running in an MST3K fan publication,
which I'll encourage all to buy! We will of course have more tour
reviews and letters! Happy reading, and I hope to meet more of you at
the upcoming NYC tour date (I'll be the one in the FT tour jacket)!
Rumors Behind the News
While The Firesign Theatre will be taking to the road this coming
October and November, no tour dates have been announced as we go to
press. Therefore, as before, Jim Henry will set up his ETC hotline,
1-800-699-ROCK (which usually contains the spiel to order Firesign
merchandise to benefit this here newsletter), with updated information
shortly before the tour commences (figure the end of September). For
those of you with online computer access, stay tuned, as always, to the
Firesign newsgroup (alt.comedy.firesgn-thtre) for up-to-the-minute
information, including NYC Firehead dinner plans! For those of you with
no online access, please send me a SASE (mark it "Tour Dates" in the
lower left corner) and, as soon as the dates are finalized I'll send out
the announcement flyer!
It would be reasonable to expect this tour to include a version of
"Anythynge You Want To," which was such a hit during the July tour, as
well as (hints David) a reworked Nick Danger piece entitled "Frame Me
Pretty," which hasn't seen the light of a stage since the "Joey's House"
shows of '79-81, and a version of "Thank You, Mr. President" with mostly
new material! As Phil P puts it, "Our hope is eventually to create new
pieces which will eventually replace all or most of the present show
which we think of actually as modular adaptations of our 'plays,' and
which can be reduced or expanded as well in tours to come."
The four (or five) also plan to appear at the 15th Annual Midwest
Radio Theatre Workshop, this year to take place the week of October
17-22; for more information on the MRTW (which cost $200 to attend last
year), contact KOPN-FM, 915 East Broadway, Columbia, MO 65201, phone
The guys are also in the process of negotiating a syndicated TV show
to start regionally in Seattle - more news as this develops, but things
are looking very upbeat overall!
The good news is, "The Firesign Theatre's 25th Anniversary Reunion
Tour: Back From the Shadows" CD is now out from Mobile Fidelity Sound
Labs (phone 707/829-0134 or 800/423-5759; fax 707/829-3746; E-Mail
firstname.lastname@example.org). Al Kossow reports that the CD "has nice liner notes..
which mention the performances on the discs were recorded at the Keswick
Theatre, Philadelphia, the Warner Theatre in Washington, and the Berkeley
Community Theatre." The bad news is, as Mark Weber found out, "Alas,
Dwarf is no longer available on CD from Mobile Fidelity, that's why it's
not in their printed catalogs or on the WWW page. I have contacted
Mobile Fidelity via email; the problem appears to be that Sony will not
renew MoFi's license to make the discs. What's worse is that the same
situation applies to all of the other original CBS FT releases which are
currently available from MoFi: Electrician, HCYB..., Bozos and Dear
Friends. These releases will also be removed from the MoFi catalog
sometime in the future. I have been unable to determine whether Sony
plans on releasing these discs themselves, or whether they feel that the
Shoes for Industry compilation is enough FT product for their catalog.
Note that Dwarf is still available on cassette, I bought a copy the other
day at my local Tower records. I'm not sure whether the cassettes will
go out of print or not."
Phil Austin details some of what he's up to via Nick Danger's letter
in this issue's "Deep Space" column. Also, completion on the PA-starring
"Down Under Danger," produced by FAlaFal mailing list maven Michael
Packer, is now set for September 15, and will air on KFAI in
Minneapolis/St. Paul on 9/17, with shipping soon after. Send $7.50 plus
$2 p&h to Michael at SPARKS Media, P.O. Box 3540, Grand Rapids, MI
49501-3540. Michael, who can also be reached at email@example.com for
those with that pesky online access, extends his "THANKS for all those
who placed ADVANCE orders, making it possible for me to complete this
production. It really came down to the support of the fans, without whom
none of this would have been possible. By the way, Side A of the dape is
'D.U.D.', and Side B will B the theme music from the program." (Michael
is also the keeper of the Firesign Audio Archives; send him a 52-cent
SASE for a listing of what he has and to inquire as to trading terms!)
Although Peter Bergman's comedy course at UCLA (mentioned last
issue) was postponed, he did helm two satellite broadcasts, coproduced by
7th Planet Productions' Ted Bonnitt, of the OZ-like "Digital Diner" on
May 26 and June 23, which also featured Pete's lovely lady Patricia (aka
"Scout"), Phil Proctor, Melinda Peterson and hosts of other talented
actors. Ted informs me he will be compiling an hour's worth of "DD" for
distribution and sales (probably through More Sugar, one of the show's
sponsors). For more information, you can write Ted at 241 Marine Street,
Santa Monica, CA 90405 or E-Mail him (or Peter) at firstname.lastname@example.org -
David Ossman has just completed a CD-ROM job in which he has a
"major role in a classic piece of literature," and plays many voices, one
(he tells me) sounding suspiciously like George Leroy Tirebiter -but
alas, no further news was available as he was "sworn to secrecy." He has
also finished his Raymond Chandler piece, as well as the History of
Comedy piece (both mentioned last issue), and his lovely and talented
spouse Judith Walcutt has completed her NPR Playhouse half-hour dramas
based on short stories by Ursula LeGuin (featuring, among others, Phil
and Melinda) and Gish Jen (featuring Rosalind Chao), which will probably
be aired in spring '95.
Phil Proctor will have appeared on the soap "General Hospital" in
late August. Phil sent me "a brief resume of the plot... as described to
us by the star, Wally Kurth -- a really nice guy and of course familiar
with the 4r5... He plays a rich, young CEO who is also a pathological
liar and bigamist, presently living a dual life with both wives on his
spacious palatial estate. Wife A, a bored blonde, lives in the East
Wing, and wife B, a volitile Brooklyn-born brunette, shares the Gatehouse
with him... I play an actor (!) who auditions to play the part of a
boorish pharmaceutical salesman at a dinner party wife B thinks she is
throwing for Wally's co-workers...
We (the actorsplaying the actors hired to play the boors) are
being paid, and handsomely, I might add, to humiliate the brunette, Lois,
played by a delightful gal named, Regina, or something -- and we get a
bonus if we really tear her up real good. When we asked Wally "why," he
couldn't answer, because he doesn't know. He just knows he has to do it.
And they say Soaps don't reflect real life!!" Phil also recently
attended a tribute to Henry Jaglom in Santa Monica, where Jaglom showed
"something from my first film: A SAFE PLACE, starring Tuesday Weld, Orson
Welles, Gwen Wells, Jack Nicholson and --ME!! I really enjoyed the
experience, but the film is hard to get because of all the non-public-
domain music Jaglom used in it." Thanks for the copy of the program from
this event, Phil! Lastly, Phil reports "Great news! Melinda got the
lead role in the South Coast Repetory Company's upcoming production of
A.R. Gurney's play LATER LIFE. It's a big break for her in the most
prestigious rep company in the southland, even if it is in Orange County:
Costa Mesa, to be exact. She starts rehearsals in about a week and will
be performing into October. Precise dates to follow." Congratulations,
Melinda - it couldn't happen to a nicer gardener and voice queen!
The Doge of St. Louis (aka Chuck Lavazzi) recently had a phone chat
with Phil Proctor and David Ossman on his radio show. Chuck reports, "I
thought it was a pretty solid two hours of quality 'talk radio,' if I do
say so myself. I had PP and DO both on-line and found just about
everything they had to say absolutely fascinating. We also had some
fairly intelligent calls from our listeners, and I broke up the
conversation segments with bits of recorded fun from TV or Not TV, Give
Us a Break, How Time Flys, Just Folks, Fighting Clowns and some stuff
from my 12 hours of tapes of the old Dear Friends show. Phil suggests we
do this again, and I heartily concur. Once he's back off the road we'll
need to chat about that. As for tapes, send me two blank 60-minute
cassettes and $3 to cover postage and the purchase of a tape mailer to
One Step Beyond, c/o FM88, 3504 Magnolia, St. Louis, MO 63110." You can
also reach Chuck via his E-Mail address of email@example.com -thanks
for the info, Chuck!
Our benefactor Jim Henry has been on the road with his Classic Rock
All-Stars - Mike Penera (Iron Butterfly), Peter Rivera (Rare Earth),
Jerry Corbetta (Sugarloaf) and Spencer Davis - and this tour will
continue through the rest of the year. On September 11, he'll be at the
Puyallup (WA) Fair with the original Wailers, the Kingsmen, Paul Revere
and the Raiders and Marilee Rush. He's also still doing merchandise for
Boeing, and it looks as though he's nailed a contract to market stuph for
the Time/Warner Cable Network - congrats, Jim!
Out of the Fog, Into the Smog
FT July Outdoor Tour Reviews
Every venue played this past July presented its own challenges, and from
all accounts, like the ones below (excerpted and gathered from the online
services and the U.S. Post Awful), the guys rose to the occasion every
time! Here's the skinny, place by place:
Mountain Winery - Saratoga, CA - July 9
Well, they started off w/ a bit from Electrician I wasn't completely
familiar with (sorry that's 1 FT LP I'm not real familiar w yet). Then
they went into "Beat the Reaper" and the mystery disease the contestant
had? Why, he didn't have health insurance! And more magic words..HMO!
Then they went into my all-time fav..Nick Danger!! A couple
references to OJ here, as in "the fires were twinkling all across the San
Fernadino Valley..I couldn't get that Bronco out of the way.." (They did
about half of Nick Danger; hey I was bummed they didn't do all of it, but
that's life. At least they did the Loosner's commercial.)
Then they did How Can You Be..., complete w/ Ralph Spoilsport...
during this bit, they made a few references to the local area; also the
bit about "CoDependent..I can rescue you!" My kid passed the metal
detectors at - High School! Also a few references to Pres. Bill &
Hillary - he didn't exhale, Bubba!, etc.
Then the intermission, where I took advantage of the free wine
samples... :) Then into Bozos, complete w/ all 4 running into the
audience w/ searchlights going..all of them wearing the noses & Phil
trying to program the computer after driving the President insane.. And
then of course Dwarf, where George talked about the new suit he'd
gotten..the ACME INTERNET suit, designed to shield you from insults on
the information highway. (Somehow, I got the impression I was the only
one that understood that joke... I hope I'm wrong!) Then into High
School Madness..where Porgie's dad implored him to "be like OJ...use your
entrenching tool" (yeah, you saw that coming a mile away)... Then the
principal spoke & said hey I sense some "teen spirit here...maybe a dead
white rock star!"...
And they finished off w/ "Back From the Shadows" after doing a
little "Toad Away". The audience gave them a warm reception after they
finished. I & about half of the crowd gave them a standing ovation.
Hey, it was great for me to finally see them live; I've been into them
since 1970, since my friend Rob turned me on to Nick Danger...let's see,
I've been into them for nearly 25 years now; in fact, the woman sitting
next to me said she hadn't heard Nick Danger in almost 20!
* * * * *
I saw The Firesign Theatre over the weekend... They were at a place
called the Saratoga Mountain Winery. It was about an hour south of San
Francisco and it really was on a mountain. After getting off the freeway
and driving through Silicon Valley for a few miles (passing the Apple
Computer Headquarters in Cupertino along the way) I had to turn off a
(not very clearly marked) side road, drive over a one-lane bridge, and
then wind up a narrow wooded road. As I got further and further up the
road there were fewer and fewer houses. At no point did I see any other
cars. There were real live deer hanging out alongside the road. It
seemed more like I was going on a camping trip in the wilderness than
going to a concert!
Finally I reached my destination at the top of the mountain. After
parking the car and walking over a hill I was at the Winery. There was
a beautiful view of the valley down below and the surrounding
countryside. Many people had gotten there early and had been picnicing
and enjoying the scenery. It would have been an enjoyable place to visit
even if The Firesign Theatre hadn't been playing.
The Mountain Winery is not actually used as a winery any more.
There is an old stone building that looks like a castle where I guess
they used to stomp the grapes. The stage and seats were all outdoors,
behind the old building and between two small hills. There were bleacher
seats on the hills and reserved seats in front of the stage. A much
smaller place than the Berkeley Community Theater where I saw them last
fall. There were maybe 300 people in the Winery audience, and there were
probably over 2,000 at the BCT. (And I must say that the Berkeley crowd
was more enthusiastic and the Saratoga crowd more "mellow"...)
The show was very similar to the 25th anniversary tour, but the
outdoor setting made it a new experience for me. For the first half of
the show it was still light out. Bozos and Dwarf were performed after
the intermission when it was dark and the stage lights became the only
source of illumination. (Dwarf just keeps getting better and better!)
Another big difference was that I got to sit right down in front this
time. Wow! In Berkeley I'd been in the back of the theater in the
It was great to be able to see their expressions as they acted out
all the familiar characters. Somehow it all made sense. They're all
really good actors, but beyond that, their faces really went well with
their voices. (Got it?)
So, I got to experience the FT on yet another level. I was once
again glad that they had gotten back together and that I had the
opportunity re-discover whatever it is that they do so well.
The percentage of young fans was even smaller than at the Berkeley
show (I don't remember seeing any pierced noses or tattoos). It was like
a Mor(s)e Science High School class reunion. I am sure that there is a
hip, young crowd out there that would really
appreciate and enjoy what the FT are doing. (WE were a hip young crowd
once, right?) Of course they wouldn't be drawn to such an out-of-the-way
(and, I might add, expensive and not very well publicized) place. I hope
that as part of their comeback the four or five crazy guys are planning
new material and looking into ways to reach their potential new audience.
But, whatever happens, I'm hooked, and I'll be lining up for tickets
next fall when they promise to come back to the Bay Area.
Humphrey's Auditorium - San Diego, CA - July 10
It's 12:45am, and we just returned from the FT show in San Diego--
our experience was much the same as the previous night's review, but it
far exceeded our expectations! After having heard the new live MF CD, I
hadn't anticipated the visual aspects to add as much extra pizazz as they
The place (a gorgeous outdoor 1200-seater where boaters anchor
nearby to eavesdrop) was nearly full and all four members told us they
were very happy with the rambunctious crowd response. Austin's parents
watched the show and, afterward, Dad was overheard proudly telling his
son, "...it's the kind of show that makes you feel good when you leave."
Phil remarked that in 25 years, nobody had ever told him THAT.
My guest and I left feeling radiant, electrified by the group's
innovation, continued relevance, versatility and the fact that, despite
the years, their voices haven't changed a whit. They happily signed
autographs for nearly an hour afterward.
* * * * *
Hey Scott! You beat me to the punch! (boy, some folks just can't
wait to get back to their machines) Scott did such a good job on the
Tour Review that I think I'll skip the formalities and just toss in my
My buddy Byron and I got to Humphries around 4pm which was way too
early for much to be happening yet, so we just wandered around the
waterfront of the harbor, complete with jumping fish and sailboats.
Humphries is a beautiful open-air stage, one side of which directly
adjoins the Harbor waterfront and the other side is encircled by a set of
relatively tasteful hotel room balconies (which were occupied by the
families of the F.T.)
Whilst wandering around we met Jim Henry, who was busily setting up
the stands for T-shirts, the EYKIW videos and Anythyinge You Want To
tapes. They also had REAL DILL PICKLES in a barrel. Byron, professional
photographer that he is, had all his equipment in the truck, and asked
Jim and the producer Dan about photographing the Event, and wound up
getting an "ALL ACCESS" Tour pass. Byron was in seventh heaven for the
rest of the evening, clicking away here and there...
Still a full 3 hours before the Tour we hung around and were able to
meet and briefly shoot the breeze with some of the Firesign Guys. Phil
Austin was noodling around on his acoustic guitar and ran off a version
of "Hey Reagan," while Phil Proctor commiserated with me about crashes in
the operating system (he'd inherited a Mac II from Harry Anderson) and
upgrading his hard disk.
Later that afternoon we ran across the above-quoted Scott Chatfield
and his entourage from KGB FM (101> Scott modestly omitted from his
posting the fact that his radio station was single-handedly doing an all-
out promotion for this event and was probably one of the reasons why this
Tour venue played to a full house (there were even guys out on boats in
the harbor [sort of like the "tree people"] getting a free treat).
It was a real jazz meeting some of the other folks who were on the
Internet in REAL SPACE for a change (and you thought we were all just
Holograms!). Scott mentioned getting lots of good ideas from Michael
Packer about promoting the Tour, and even got some phone-in promos from
the FT guys in character on several occasions.
The tour itself was pretty much the same program as last year's Fall
tour, with some updates, such as the "O.J. Entrenching Tool" reference,
and some joking around with the Boat People watching on the sidelines.
At one point in the Dwarf episode, Tirebiter asks about Those People
Floating Out There, and Austin cracks something about, "They're in Water,
George; It was way before your time" (as in "What happened in History,
Patty, before they changed the water"). They were clearly having a good
time up there, and were close to completely cracking each other up at
several points. The FT mentioned that this was the first time they had
played to a San Diego audience, and the crowd was pretty raucous in
joining in with the old lines, and gave the Pooper a good razzing during
the Pep rally.
An interesting sidelight: I was sitting next to a couple of fellows
who were completely blind, and knew the plays inside and out. I can only
recall one time when they asked me what was actually going on onstage
(Phil Austin turning around and hitching up his robe to demonstrate the
effectiveness of a hemorrhoidal preparation), which is a testament to the
auditory and verbal nature of their humor. I would imagine the stage
playing out in their minds was at least as good as the physical one
standing before us, and they were certainly getting the same laughs out
of the show!
When the show was over, we got in our car and started the long trek
back up to LA. We had one of the FD CD's in the car and started playing
it, and I suddenly realized that I was actually listening to the
"Antelope Freeway" bit while on the Freeway! The weird part waxs that
the stereo "sound signs" seemed more real than the actual signs that were
passing by. We also had to stop momentarily for the Real Border Patrol
("may I see your passport please?"), which is always on the alert for
those illegal Canadiens. The FT made a reference to this at the very
beginning, about setting up a fence in the middle of the stage to keep
those Aliens out. Great stuff, but these days it seems more and more
that today's Satire is tomorrow's Headlines...
* * * * *
Phil Proctor told me to tell you that this show was great, so I must
say that this show was great. The show started at sundown, which
provided a beautiful backdrop on Shelter Island. There were a few people
watching the show from boats in the bay, and the FT sent a few jokes
The show started with learning a few words in Turkish, and a Rush
Limbaugh nightmare, plus a version of Beat the Reaper, where the victim's
seventh disease is "No Medical Care!" - Save us, St. Hillary!
The show also featured the 3,000th plus broadcast of Nick Danger -
Third Eye, where Rocky Rococo's perfume was Chula Vista Patchouli oil.
There were many San Diego references sprinkled throughout the
performance. There was also Ralph Spoilsport, with a virtual ride on the
virtual Antelope Freeway, and some Americans bending a little in the Doo-
Dah Room, if you get my meaning, if you catch my drift. There was also
a taste of that Fabulous Yucatan Blue.
During intermission, free pickles were available to all, and we were
treated to the FT in Bozos costumes going up and down the aisles before
they climbed back on stage. When the second half of the show started,
they performed an update version of Bozos. After Worker "core-dumped"
Dr. Memory, Dave Ossman stepped out of his "Flame-Proof E-Mail Suit" and
put on a bathrobe, and became George Leroy Tirebiter for High School
Madness and the usual Dwarf routines...
After the show, the boyz made themselves available to autograph the
merchandise. By now, Everything I Knew Was Wrong! I found myself asking
Dave Ossman questions about Eat Or Be Eaten; he just answered that he was
"not in on that project..."
The Pier Series (Pier 62) - Seattle, WA - July 21
David Ossman summed the concert, "this is the most transportation
we've ever had to deal with." Cars roared by outside the gates, planes
and helicopters brought no joy to Mark Time, and frequent fog horns
interrupted. Where's the fog, I wondered? In your eyes, Leftenent. The
guys marched us all into salute! As I left the concert, I heard a number
of people say they'd greet the next foghorn they heard with a salute; the
guys contribute another classic line to general consciousness, as their
mikes cut on and off, like a crazy monkey.
"It's like being in a transportation museum," he continued. As part
of rather timid audience participation, we were asked to make the sound
of a fog horn to intro Nick Danger. "Not the real fog horn, the sound
effect fog horn!" Come on, people, get into it! I was surprised at how
few lines were shouted out. Some folks behind me recalled that at last
year's show so many lines were shouted out that at one point Bergman
asked the audience to shut up. "I think they wanted to improvise," he
deduced. This time even the "fuck you's" to Poop were feeble, despite
Austin's "Let's get some fuckin' pep happening!" cheers to lead off
Poop's speech. I wanted to yell out "More Saccharine" but didn't.
Most of the men around me had even less hair than this feline. The
occasional aroma of cannabis that drifted by seemed more wistful than
potent. When Tirebiter finds his mescaline in the freezer, where it's
been for 20 years, "just like yours" he tells us. Capsulized. We were
given playbills shortly before the lads came on, so I was expecting quite
a different show. It wasn't until 24 hours later, I notice that it's
from last year's 25th anniversary tour...
They began with Bozos. After "government-inflicted simulation" PP
asides, "my favourite line." Imagine - they have their own favourite
lines. Do they change, I wonder. Is "fall over" forever?
Taking off from the Firesign World bootleg rather than Bozos'
unexplanatory Uh Clem, Proctor explained how he'd programmed Dr. Memory
and studied his manual to repram the doc; he was actually reading (or no,
was this another scene? whatever) the tourist map of Seattle, which I'd
been carrying around all aft., in search. That was the highlight of the
show for this hot, tired firefan.
Tons of Seattle jokes. Though I've watched Almost Live for the past
6 years, I didn't get most of them, but Puyallup Patchouli (imagine the
spelling for yourself) was euphony! Bergman ended the show by thanking
Griffy Jr for putting Seattle on the map.
Considering how hot it was, they put an amazing amount of energy
into it. Jumping around in assorted costumes. Bergman looked so
muscular, I thought he'd changed his name to Rocky permanently. But
after the show, he seemed to shrivel. They all seemed about a third
smaller. Maybe they'd sweated away a third of themselves. Walking to
the Pier from my Inn, about 4 miles, had nearly turned me into a main
dish. How could they take it, I wondered.
Some young Amish whippersnappers in line for signage behind me
complained about all the blown lines. I figured, they were obviously on
such a roll, having so much fun improvising, why not try something here,
and then nothing came out. We do that all the time, when we think of a
great thing to say after the opportunity. The only really painful flub
for me was when Proctor didn't know the king of erh... Are there enough
folk in the audience who don't know the duke? He's dead, anyway.
Well, that was my first fireconcert since '69. It was not a trip down
memory lane. They used their old routines as starting points, and
altered them at will (the 3 who lied to Peorge are now "Poop, DAD and
me"). Mudhead's off the hook! Many happy Zuni...
1990's Power, and its continuance on the Digital Diner, show the
Firebrains fully charged. I look forward to Danger Down Under, and their
continuing wonders. "See ya next year," the last thing I heard them say.
The moon, at the left corner of the theatre, the lads' left shoulder as
they left. Between the trees behind my house, over my left shoulder, the
moon watches me type this.
Jupiter shudders. Firesign's back.
CAT SIMRIL ISHIKAWA
* * * * *
The Seattle show at Pier 62 was wonderful. At the show's epilog (a
la Quinn-Martin), they played another chorus of Back in the Shadows,
thanked everyone, and explained that they didn't have time to rehearse
before the show. Props for the show were gathered at the last minute.
The effect was that the show was highly spontaneous.
Pier 62 is on Elliott Bay (full of ferry boats and other nautical
craft), next to Highway 99 (the Alaskan Way viaduct; fill in your own
joke here), in the Sea-Tac airport flight pattern, and right by a heavy
rail line. Loads o' transportation. It actually worked well into the
act. Every time the ferry boats would blow their horns, the 4-or-5 guys
would salute in whatever direction they were facing. It was especially
funny during the sword scene in Anythynge You Want To.
The topical humor made the five bits that they did (Bozos,
Anythynge, Two Places, Nick Danger and Dwarf) all the more timeless.
Nick: "The fires were just twinkling in the hills above the San
Fernandino Valley. This damn white Ford Bronco wouldn't let me pass."
etc. The pep rally scene in Dwarf was an easy lead-in to some curt
remarks about a former Seattle musician.
The whole show ran about three hours, including a 30-minute break.
You get your money's worth and more from the FT. Great staying power
considering that they daytime temps are in the 95F (35C) range this week;
their show started at 7pm and ended just after the sun set.
The most telepathic comment was from PB (I think) - to the effect
of, "Call 902010407030201060709 - the Rhode Island School of Design in
Ballard." My wife just got accepted to RISD this fall, and we are
currently living in the fashionable Seattle neighborhood of Ballard.
"In sports, it was Shoemaker-Levy 9, Jupiter 1."
Cuthbert Amphitheater - Eugene, OR - July 27
Well, I just got home from the show, and thought I'd give you a
short run-down here. All I can say is Those Guys are So Crazy!!! From
the start to the end that was the most fun I've had at any show of any
kind. As they were introduced they all came running out into the
audience incognito (Peter was an avocado). We were first in line, so we
were front row center. Peter was working his way down the front row
shaking hands. He and my son Brad shook hands, and I was thinking, "hey
great, I get to shake hands with Peter Bergman!" Heh heh, no way! He
pulled out a large plastic hand and offered it to me. They all ran up on
the stage, the audienced was all in a frenzy by now, and they started in
an incredible version of Bozos. I couldn't believe this live
performance! The crowd was so into it, saying the lines with the group.
Everyone really got off on how they incorporated local agenda as well as
current world news into the act. The O.J. jokes went over especially
well. From there they went into my personal favorite, Anythynge You Want
To. Next was How Can You Be.... After the break they came back with The
Further Adventures of Nick Danger. They introduced George Tirebiter as
Catherwood. This was the highhlight of the evening. If we (the
audience) didn't immediately respond with the proper line, they would
wait and watch until we did. It didn't take long. (I blew one line.)
After Nick Danger it was on to Dwarf; David Ossman proved his worth with
After the show I had the opportunity to talk to them. After getting
each to sign a photo, I got into a short conversation with Phil Proctor
about online services. He said he uses CompuServe; I told him I was on
Prodigy, which is now I first came in contact with you. I also mentioned
his tomato garden. He got a kick out of that...
* * * * *
I went... I saw... I laughed my eyes out... (I had second row
seats!) Incredible show! (A friend of mine said it was the best he had
ever seen. And he has been a fan since watching them in the studio at
KPFA!). I talked with them after the show and they said they were
wanting to do more new stuff. I can't wait...
The show was held outdoors in the Cuthbert Ampitheatre. It was a
nice setting, with grass surrounding a concrete pit and a creek/river
running behind the stage. (The water made for a rather interesting bug
show as the sun set...) The accoustics were very good and the sound was
excellent. (Of course, having second row seets was a plus...)
Things did not start until about 7:30 or so. I was surprised that
the line was not longer at the time we arrived (about 5:45).
The show started out with the standard cheesy wait music, which
eventually drifted to some better music followed by some songs by
Firesign. They had the standard "radio station" MC, but he was from a
station that ACTUALLY played Firesign (a rarity anywhere)! After that,
there was another wait... And then, with much fanfare, the four came out
in costumes of various sorts (one was sort of a bozo-ish asparagus).
They ran through the audience, shaking hands and clowning around. They
then ran to the stage for a chorus of "Back from the Shadows Again."
They were definitely having as much fun as the audience. Phil Austin had
a hard time keeping from breaking up through the whole show. (Especially
when Peter Bergman hit himself in the nose with the prop door during the
Nick Danger sketch!)
The show line-up was the same as the other appearances. There
seemed to be some ad-libbing and the standard "local references" that any
touring comedy group seems obliged to make. There was also some new
material! They seemed to be quite eager to add whatever "spice" they
could to the older stuff. They did keep a lot of the hemp references in
their humor. (And since they were in Eugene, they knew that most of the
audience was probably stoned anyways... There was obvious pot smoking
going on through the whole ampitheatre. And no hassles from the security
folks...) I am sure they probably got their share of Oregon hemp after
the show. (Peter Bergman asked a friend of mine if there was any place
to go to party in Eugene. He said they were stuck in this "little
bumfuck hotel" and no place to go. I would have helped them find a place
after the show, but I had to work the next day... *DAMN*)
The audience was pretty keyed up... The material was great and
there was a lot of audience participation. The show was at least 2
hours... Hard to describe the rest. It was an experience...
* * * * *
I just got off the phone w my pal Robert Glass, who saw them Wed.
nite in Eugene. Since he doesn't have net access, I'm relaying his
comments about the show here.
First of all he says, "It was a great show; they looked to be in
good form & it was great seeing them again. Cuthbert Ampitheathre in
Eugene was easy to find. They did a fairly long show w/ lots of local
references during their bits. They also did a OJ knock-knock joke.
'Knock-knock? Who's there? OJ. OJ who? Great, you're on the jury!' I also
got into reciting a lot of the lyrics during all of the bits.
"I got to shake David Ossman's hand; I was wearing my 'Bear Whiz'
T-shirt & the FT was bonking everyone in the audience w/ inflatable
hammers. Ossman spotted the shirt & said, 'Oh, a Whizzer, eh?' & shook
* * * * *
Well, I made it to the Firesign Theatre's tour stop at the Cuthbert
Amphitheatre, Eugene Oregon, last Wednesday, but haven't yet had a chance
It was a *great* show! A couple of friends who'd (gasp) never heard
FT before went along with, as did my wife, and a good time was had by
all. I was surprised, actually, at how accessible my friends seemed to
find the material -- guess they're just quicker than I was when I first
heard the stuff, plus I the "interactive multimedia" nature of the live
performance sometimes helped. :-) The amphitheatre is huge, and thus
wasn't packed full by any means, but it looked to my untrained eye like
a good-sized crowd. We got terrific seats, as more than half of the
folks sat back in the grass bank along the outer edge of this fine
The show consisted of Bozos, Anythynge You Want To, How Can You
Be..., an intermission, Nick Danger and Dwarf. We'd never heard
Anythynge before, but I believe it was done in its entirety; all the rest
were (of course) cut down versions. Unfortunately, Bozos didn't seem to
work very well. It's hard to cut that piece down to 20 minutes, and it's
a little confusing as a show opener - the audience seemed a bit listless,
but of course it was obligatory to do some material from this album!
Things really started to pick up with Anythynge, which seems to be a
perfect stage piece; we were all *howling* at the "Break, wind" speech,
and the whole routine with the "throne". Having gotten the audience
involved, they stayed involved throughout the show; unlike some earlier
reports, there was a *lot* of audience participation, especially in the
2nd half with Nick Danger and Dwarf. At one point, "Nick" had to
suppress some unruly audience members with an aside of "I'll handle
this," and Principal Poop's speech was almost drowned out by shouts of
"F*** you!", "Eat it!" and "What is reality?"
The sets were appropriately minimal (except for the elaborate foley
table used for Nick Danger, which was fascinating), and the costumes were
mostly hilarious. As reportedly with other shows, Oregon cities and
events, as well as current national events, were worked into the piece -
most of this was very clever, but it did start to get a bit tiresome
toward the end. I was disappointed that the programs didn't contain more
explanatory material, for those few people who didn't know what was going
on. But I'm nitpicking here; this was *great* fun! I can't *wait* 'til
they start writing new material again, as it would be great to hear
appropriate-length pieces in their entirety in this setting - the live
performance really added a lot more than I expected to my enjoyment of
the material! More than anything else, the show reminded me of taking
four of the quickest, smartest comedians in the world, and letting them
do campfire skits all evening: the performances had that silly,
minimalist feel from my Boy Scout days, but combined with the FT
trademarked brilliant writing! It was more fun than anyone's ever been
To any FT members who get a chance to read this: thanks for
providing the highlight of my summer, and keep up the good work!
The Britt Festival - Jacksonville, OR - July 29
The end of my personal 20-year vigil : TFT - Live, Personal and
Outdoors. It doesn't get any better than that. How often do you get to
show up 2 hours before a show, have a picnic, share a bottle of wine and
sit in the company of 1,300 various and sundry like-minded strangers. As
has been mentioned by other correspondents on the tour, the audience
included Woodstock Seekers, Generation Hexers, Hackers, Hecklers,
Grannies and Babes in Arms. Incredible!
Oh, the show? You bet! A balladeer by the name of David LoVine
opened the show with some lovely Irish-style ditties. He also quizzed
the throng: "What would you say if I said 'Shoes for Industry'?" "SHOES
FOR THE DEAD!!!" thundered the crowd. Would that the audience
participation level had been that ardent for the whole show, but what the
hey... After a brief intermission, the Guys came out for Bozos. This was
the breakdown: Act I - Bozos, Anythyinge You Want To and How Can You
Be...; Act II - Nick Danger and Dwarf. All the sketches were, of
physical necessity, low tech and high concept. The costumes and props
were slight and serviceable. Watching the group perform was the
theatrical equivalent of a jazz performance; they supplied impressions of
the source material and improvised, patched and played around it. Phil
Proctor's hacker in Bozos has become the Programmer, exacting his
perverse revenge on his own creations. Lines, readings and topicalities
flew hither and yon. Polished? No. Fun? Oh, yes indeed!
As the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is located 30 miles from
Jacksonville, in Ashland, Peter Bergman mentioned that he was glad that
those of us who couldn't get in to see The Tempest (which was indeed
playing that night) still got to see some Shakespeare. He explained,
however, that Ashland had rejected Anythynge on the grounds that it was
(A) too short, (B) too funny and (C) too lacking in meaning. He further
explained that, since the show had been rejected, their performance would
be an "open rehearsal" (i.e., scripts in hand - nice ruse, fellas!).
That said, the Shakespeare segment was quite marvelous, focusing on the
"Edmund Bros./Uncle" narrative. True, there were some lapses in timing
and line pickup, but overall virtues prevailed. The gravediggers' scene
has always ranked as one of my favorite Firesign scenes (I think Mole is
one of Phil Austin's most wonderful characters), and the "Humerus" prop
was my second-favorite of the evening, after Peter's fitfully awful Marv
Albert-style newscaster Toup. Proctor either said or did something
during the piece-ending monologue that had the 3 bestrewn "corpses"
shaking with uncontrollable mirth. I wonder what it was?
How Can You Be... closed Act I. The Cruise Control and Spoilsport/
Joyce segments were just beautiful. Many topical references were
injected into Cruise Control, none of which I can remember, alas!
There's nothing I can think of to add to the mounds of acclaim that have
already been heaped upon Nick Danger and Dwarf, other than to reveal That
Which May Already Be Suspected: George Tirebiter was the voice of
Catherwood in Nick Danger! I knew it all along, but did anyone listne to
me? No, they LAUGHED! Well, I guess the worm's on the other foot now,
whatever that means. I will jump on the bandwagon and say that David
Ossman gave a sweet set of performances as the Butler and the Tirebiters.
And Peter, Phil and Phil were no slouches either!
After the show, I queued up with several dozen fellow Fireheads.
I got my trusty 20-year-old copy of The Big Mystery Joke Book signed by
the boys... I burbled "Thanks for coming up into the hills," and Austin
(who I believe was the only one to hear my mutterance) grasped my hand
firmly, shook it sincerely and thanked me very much for coming. Wow!
Thanks, guys! Come back to southern Oregon again! We had a blast!
And, as ever, thank YOU, Elayne, for helping to carry the torch!
Luther Burbank Center - Santa Rosa, CA - July 30
Sonoma County turned out to see the fabulous four--we guess perhaps
500 to 700 attended. They were wonderful and even won over my wife who
didn't expect to have a good time but then did. They revisited some of
their best material, Bozos, Nick Danger, etc. with plenty of updates and
local references to engage the audience... The audience was largely
people in their 40's to almost 50 with plenty of long hair and vests
displayed. The toking up references in the Ralph Spoilsport drug scene
were well received. It was a good warm time.
* * * * *
First one should realize that this is the first show I've ever
attended. Although a Firehead since around 1970, I'd never been to a
show. I'm sure there were shows around as I moved about the country, but
somehow I'd never found out about them. I missed the tour last year
because all I ever heard about was where the 4 or 5 HAD BEEn, never where
they were GOING TO BE. It should also be noted that this was the first
time I'd ever been to California, a place I'd wanted to visit since the
heydays of Haight-Ashbury. Add to those that we flew in from Cleveland,
Ohio, and you may be able to approximate the state of mind I was in at
The experience actually begins with meeting Phil Proctor at the
promo gig at "The Disc Jockey", a CD store in a mall outside of Santa
Rosa. It was somehow ironically fitting that the first time I saw a
member of the group I've so admired should be in that kind of rarefied
yuppie-like setting. Phil was gracious and entertaining and probably
underwhelmed by the apparent light turnout to the affair.
The Luther Burbank Center for the Performing Arts is a converted
church, complete with converted pews for seating. This too seemed
fitting. The Church of the Presumptuous Assumption. "All I have to do
is cue the organist like this...and there you see, here we are."
The opening, revisiting the Future Fair, was everything you'd
want. The singing Holy-grams, Bozos on the Funway, Clem meeting up with
Dr. Memory. Everything was as it should be, slightly updated but true to
the original. Seeing the guys perform it, with costumes and all, was a
Until after the show, I'd never heard the full version of Anythynge
You Want To. I was very familiar with the version on NOT INSANE though.
What was performed appears to be a hybrid of the two, again fitting as it
was the Luther Burbank Center. The performance had the gusto of an
earnest yet amateur Shakespeare company. I loved it.
As with Bozos, the How Can You Be... section was appropriately
topical and true to the album in spirit. Peter IS Babe. Proctor IS
Ralph Spoilsport. My favorite was Nick Danger, with George Leroy
Tirebiter (Dave Ossman) playing the role he made famous, Catherwood.
Although more abridged than I would have really liked (I wanted to see
more of Rocky Rococco), the setting, with the radio sound effects table,
was fabulous. At one point it seemed that Proctor had accidentally
slammed the prop door in his face, cracking up Austin and Ossman.
Whether that was planned or not matters not at all. It was a nice touch.
The final piece, Dwarf, was definitely Ossman's vehicle, and he drove
it very well. George Tirebiter was never so real to me. Old George
becoming the young Peorgie, becoming Lt. Tirebiter, becoming old George
again. The nods to virtual interactive TV and the "flame-proof suit for
sending E-mail" fit well. It was Ossman's portrayal of
Tirebiter that truly impressed me.
After the show, I did the typical fan thing, stood in line to get
autographs. All the guys were friendly, I found out Peter Bergman's from
the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights (and his 83-year-old mother still
lives there), we met Dave Ossman's kids and mother. I'm not good at the
fan thing, I didn't even mention to Phil Proctor that we'd exchanged E-
Hamburger All Over the Info. Highway
Part II - By Niles Ritter (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Those of you who communicate on the Internet with a Unix style
computer may have many Firesign Theatre references in your own standard
operating system. For example, the games/program "ching" provides an
online access to Wilhelm's translation of the I-Ching, which was the one
used by the Firesign theatre prior to each of their albums.
As proof of this, a little research based on some comments in the
liner notes of one of the newly released CD's of their old albums (see
the Lexicon for more details) indicates that the exact hexagram the FT
threw prior to the "Nick Danger"/HCYB album was the sequence 878886,
which is "The Army", with changing line leading to "Youthful Folly." If
on the command line of your favorite unix-box you give the command:
/usr/games/ching 878886 you will see the exact hexagram the FT read,
which includes the following commentary on the changing line (6):
Six at the top means:
The great prince issues commands,
Founds states, vests families with fiefs.
Inferior people should not be employed.
By coincidence (?), the Unix Manual pages for ching(6) actually quotes
these very lines, which makes us suspect that FT fans go deep into the
legions of hackers responsible for the development of Unix...
Dr. Memory is based on an early "Eliza" type psychiatrist program
that ran on a PDP-10. The consensus of the alt.comedy.firesgn-thtre
newsgroup experts is that this program was written in Lisp language, and
compiled using the SAILON LISP compiler for the DECSystem10, running
TOPS-10 operating system... DOCTOR programs still abound---for example,
the Emacs editor, which is written in LISP, has a doctor function built
into the distribution. Here's a sample session (which sounds just about
as strange as Firesign Theatre's Dr. Memory):
I am the psychotherapist. Please, describe your problems. Each
time you are finished talking, type RET twice.
> Hello, Dr. Memory.
How do you do? What brings you to see me?
> My name is Ken.
Why do you say your name is ken?
> Well, because it is.
Can you elaborate on that?
> My parents named me Ken.
Tell me something about your family.
> My father was a jelly doughnut.
You seem to dwell on your family.
> Hey, you asked.
Is it because of your plans that you say hey I asked?
"IRC" stands for Internet Relay-Chat. This is sorta like USENET, but
real-time! Unlike USENET, things you post appear immediately as part of
a dialog, and then immediately scroll up into the void. But don't
despair, others who are in the same "Hot Tub," will respond immediately.
Real-time serious conferences are conducted here, as well as private
simulated-sex channels with whomever you just met in another channel!
Also unlike USENET, an IRC channel will go away when the last person
leaves the channel; UseNet newsgroups will last indefinitely....
One of these days in the near future we may announce a live meeting
of the "fireheads" over on an IRC channel. It would be even better if we
can get the FT themselves "wired" in, and watch the sparks fly in
The very first thing you need to do to get wired-in is to get a
personal computer and some communication software. As a guide, there are
a zillion books out there now with names like "The (Macintosh/PC)
Internet Starter Kit" which have a lot of the basic communication
software needed for exploring the net.
In addition to a computer (preferably with 8 Megabytes or more of
RAM), you will need a modem, which connects your computer to the phone.
Modems differ radically in transfer rates, so I would suggest that at the
very least, get a 2400 Baud modem, or better 9600 or higher.
Next, you will need to find a host machine you can log onto with
your modem, that is directly connected to the internet. Some people use
CompuServe, but that is fairly limited. America Online offers some
additional services like UseNet, but again isn't a full feed. You might
be better off trying one of the full-service groups like netcom.com or
delphi.com, which give full-internet connectivity for about the monthly
charges of cable-tv (about $18-20/month), with usually a dollar/hour
In the next world, you're on your own. Good Luck! See ya on the
Addendum - The Old Same Place MUSH
by "CatherWill" (email@example.com)
Has life been a little heavy of late? Indigestion gotcha down in
the dumps? Do you have a whole carton of Fantasics at your disposal and
suddenly find there's not a match in the house? In short, are you down,
Friends? I mean, *REALLY* down?
Well, then, what you need, Dear Friends, is a healthy dose of
escape. A savage journey to the heart of a virtual dream, if I may borrow
a phrase. A really *GOOD* trip!
What's this? you ask! A really *GOOD* trip? But it's the '90s and
the President of the United States *IS* named Rodham!
Well, Friends, try a little piece of this Multi User Shared
Hallucination, that's right, MUSH, for short, and this one ain't
cornmeal. If you have Internet access and can use TELNET or a WWW browser
like LYNX or MOSAIC, this could be the answer to some of life's little
Join Malmborg, Pa Yolk, Hemlock Stones, Catherwood and a soon-to-
swarm swarm of bees and wannabees as they laugh it up in the virtual Old
So lock up your knife and take the dirt road to the Infobahn of
your choice. For a fully ZIPPED and UUENCODED packet of destructions
just tear the cover off this empty book of matches and send it to
firstname.lastname@example.org. Your emailbox will then be visited by a brown-
shoed knight in the dead of square and, at the very least, you'll know
the aroma of a virtual pickle!
CLASSIFIED: TOP SECRET
FOR SALE TO HIGHEST BIDDER: Surplus copy of Big Mystery Joke Book, found
in a used book store. Bids can be sent to Andrew Conway, 289 Surrey, San
Francisco, CA 94131. Bids may be any combination of cash or trade. The
book will be sold to the *most interesting* bid received by September 30,
1994. You can also contact Andrew via the Internet at
email@example.com - thank you!
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DON'T FORGET Postage and Handling Charges ($5.25 per order) and 8.25%
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To order, print this part of the file legibly, stick your name and
address on it, check off what you want (include sizes, colors and
quantities) and send w/ check or money order to ETC - or add credit card
info on the page and fax it to 213/876-1697. To order by phone, call Jim
Henry, FAlaFal's #1 Angel, at 1-800-699-ROCK! (Please be aware that, due
to volume, Jim may have to reprint popular items and your requested item
may be back-ordered, so please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.)
MORE SUGAR (TM)
from The Firesign Theatre
c/o Duplicating Plus
611 Empire Mill Road
Bloomington, IN 47401
AUDIO: Anythynge You Want To (Shakespeare's Lost Comedie) - Four goodly
Yanks on ye Bearde of ye Bard. Classickal Comick prerequisite for all Ye
Majors of ye Olde English Litte and Ye Minors of Ye New American Trippe;
once lost and now restored to us as it was. Like unto that performed in
excerpts during this summer's Toure de Farce. NOTE: This is the
restored, uncut, letterbox version, as originally produced for broadcast,
including material and performances never before released on recordings.
1 Cassette $8.50
VIDEO: Everything You Know Is Wrong - Hello, Seekers! There are 8
million stories in the Naked Trailer Park, and here are Four or Five of
them. Delight in watching this sharp, clean print as Happy Harry Cox
goes to the Inter-Galactic Alien Friendship Convention, meets Art
Wholeflaffer, and finds Reebus Caneebus on the brink of a Nude Age
landmark that could become the Earth Hole Catalog. Remember, There's a
Seeker Born Every Minute!
1 VHS Video $19.95
DON'T FORGET Shipping and Handling ($4.00 per order)
To order by mail, print out this page, stick on your name and address and
mail with check or money order! To order by credit card, call
1-800-934-1612 (Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery from here too)
Postmark: Deep Space
Elayne, May 6, 1994
Thanks for posting FAlaFal -- I was surprised to discover so many
fellow "Fireheads" out there! I loved FT right from "Electrician" and
we're still laughing at Nick Danger... even though it's the 90s, my
Firesign albums are now CD's, and I gave away the black light posters a
long time ago!
It's good to hear "the guys" are back together and touring. Hope
they build a whole new following! Keep up the good work and please keep
posting on CIS!
Shoes For Industry... PHIL MACKESY
Vancouver, B.C. CANADA
* * * * * * * * * *
Dear Elayne, May 6, 1994
I hope you remember me. You sent me a wonderful note back at the
end of March, right after you added me to your FIRESIGNal mailing list.
I meant to answer then, but I was really busy, and stayed that way, and
I never got back to it. Having just finished exams, though, I finally
have a chance.
First of all, I want to say thank you for sending me #22. I loved
it. I was dreadfully sorry to have discovered the tour so soon after I
missed it--I would have gone for sure if I'd only run across
alt.comedy.firesgn-theatre in time to hear about it. Oh, well.
The newsletter contained a couple of other surprises for me, though,
in the letters section. One was from one Joshua Benton, here in New
Haven, who seemed (from his story about his introduction to FST) to be
around my age. I checked my school directory, and sure enough he's a
freshman here! Haven't gotten in touch with him yet, though. The other
letter was a short one from a Rusty Crump, in Mississippi. Now, there
was a Rusty Crump who taught art at my high school, and although that was
in Boston, it can't be all that common a name, and I can't help wondering
if it was the same man. I keep meaning to call up the school and find
out. Imagine, I could have been there for three years with a Firesign
fan around, and I never knew it!
Anyway, thank you for the newsletter and the note and for generally
being so all-around terrific. I look forward to the August newsletter.
As I mentioned before, I won't be here by then, but when I know my
address I will be letting you know. Now that I've discovered this thing
I'll be hanging on for dear life!! Are you still accepting (or
interested in) introduction-to-FST stories? I have a pretty good one I
could write up and e-mail you.
Hope to hear from you, MATTHIAS FERBER
New Haven, CT
(Rusty, was this you? Never figgered you for a New Englander...)
* * * * * * * * * *
Dear Elayne and friends, May 8, 1994
I finally got around to writing you a letter. You're a voice in the
wilderness to me. I thought I was the only FireFiend (look, a new name!)
until my good wife Betsy showed me a copy of FACTSHEET FIVE with a note
about the old "Sparks" zine. Ever since, I've been with you.
It was back in '74 when some of my old high school friends played
for me EYKIW. I was on my first leave from the USAF and I thought the
Gov't. training film was the funniest thing I'd ever heard, very close to
some of the training films I saw. Eventually I bought all of the
Firesign Theatre albums I could find. But it seemed nobody else had ever
heard of them. I couldn't even find any references to them in book on
American humor. Thank god I found you people!
Years ago I was reading a short story - I can't remember the title,
but it was about giant intelligent rats living in the South Pacific
islands. I guess that's where the Giant Rat of Sumatra came from. Can
you find out the title and author? Is anybody still publishing the
Firesign Theatre play books? How can I find copies of the video the
Theatre did with Don Adams, The Madhouse of Dr. Fear, and the one shown
on USA network, J-Men Forever? One last question: was the Theatre
responsible for the inspiration for the Church of the SubGenius? This
has never been answered to my satisfaction, even though I'm an ordained
minister in said organization (my congregation is "Our Lady of the Full
Metal Jacket"). What a scam, what a scam...
Tell the guys that they helped me get through my six years in the
USAF without killing myself and see if they could swing down here to
Macon, GA on their East Coast Tour. Thanks for your help and have some
I call myself, CHRIS MILLER
(Ooh, lots of good questions... I have no idea which book you mention
that features news on the Giant Rats of Sumatra, but I suppose there must
be more than a few. Any researchers out there? I imagine the guys at
More Sugar are hoping to bring out The Madhouse of Dr. Fear and J-Men
Forever on commercial video depending on how sales go for Everything You
Know Is Wrong; as mentioned in #22, I have been asked by Phil Proctor not
to offer those items for free taping any more. And I thought I'd already
acknowledged the connection between Firesign and the SubG - yes indeed,
Doug "Ivan Stang" Smith's first mailing list, in fact, was drawn in part
from his Campoon activities, and Doug was instrumental in the start-up of
* * * * * * * * * *
Dear Elayne, May 9, 1994
I just received FAlaFal #23 as I was preparing to write this letter.
Seems like that happens a lot...
Since I haven't seen an updated copy of the Audio Archives for
awhile, I don't know whether or not you've got a copy of a radio show I
found recently. Or maybe it was a commercial release. The LP cover is
labelled The Stars and Stripes and You 1917-1918. It is from someone
called Dr. R.C. Raack, and was engineered by William F. Malloch. It is
subtitled "a tragical-comical History of The War to End All Wars, being
a montage of songs, speeches, vaudeville routines, faked 'actuality'
reports and pro and anti-war poetry and prose recorded mostly in the USA
during 1917-1918," and is based on part 2 of The Magnificent Nonsense,
first broadcast on KPKF-FM. David Ossman is featured, reading from the
writings of John dos Passos (from USA), and Phil and Anna Lee Austin
contribute voices. The catalogue number of POX 101/2 and the disc bears
a 1971 date. There's an 8-page lyric sheet included, which I can try and
reproduce if you like. I'm also sending a cassette copy to Michael.
(Thanks for the present; yes, I'd love the lyric sheet!)
That's good news about the coming availability of much TFT video
(and audio). I like passing tapes around, but it's better knowing that
the artists are receiving some compensation for their work. Now, what
about a commercial release (on CD?) of the entire Dear Friends radio
show? (It probably won't happen as long as compilation CDs are coming
My first experience with the group's records resembles that of a lot
of your other readers'. In 1971, I was enrolled as an engineering
student at Carnegie Mellon U., which also happens to be an excellent
drama and find arts school. The techies and the dramats congregated
together to absorb How Can You Be... and Bozos (which was probably close
to being an ideal situation). The first album I bought, however, was
Dwarf and I vividly recall listening to it for the first time while
experiencing mescaline (also for the first time). "No, that's my
mescaline." Right? I fully agree with some of the remarks in the
current FAlaFal about TFT's material being able to reprogram one's brain
or make you aware of new layers of reality that you hadn't seen before.
And I spent many years following the trail of obscure (and not so
obscure) references, and re-educating myself. I literally cannot imagine
who I would now be if I hadn't experienced this. (I might or might not
love Chandler, Fields, Mozart, Lewis Carroll and so on, but it goes
deeper than that.) Although I am somewhat ambivalent about the use of
mind-altering chemicals these days, I do try hard to turn some of the
younger students I've gotten to know onto TFT's records. Easier with
them than with folks my own age who don't have the time, and who already
know what they like, anyway.
By the way, the local oldies radio station has started announcing
their noon program with a bit of the "Let's Eat!" speech.
Like one of your letter writers, I'm still "getting" a new joke or
reference each time I listen to one of the albums, but these insights
tend more and more to involve the amazing craft that went into writing
and producing them. Like a good piece of music, ideas are subtly
introduced which are developed more fully later on.
Recurring motifs give a kind of thematic unity to several of the full-
length works. Material is restated in altered form at the end of a
piece, accelerated and compressed so that the ideas pile up on one
another. And so on.
I think I'm actually going to miss Dick Nixon. I'd just listened to
Bozos for the first time in ages shortly before he died. Been in a lot
of conversations about the rehabilitation of his image.
Got to go...
Cheers, DON LEIGHTY
(Interestingly, while the mainstream TV news media seemed to beatify
Tricky Dick, most other sources I read, including political mags, Comic
Relief mag and a great sonofabituary by Matt Groening in his comic book,
remember history a little more accurately, thank Grid.)
* * * * * * * * * *
Elayne: May 10, 1994
Got the new FIRESIGNal yesterday... May 9th, but it could have
arrived over the weekend... the mailroom here is closed on Saturday.
Great issue, and I immediately placed an order with SPARKS for "Down
Under Danger" and with More Sugar for "Everything You Know" and
"Shakespeare's Lost Comedie." I probably should have inquired before
ordering, but More Sugar indicated this was a new version of "Lost
Comedie" with previously unreleased material. They say it is an "uncut"
version... I assume this means it is similar to the Rhino release of a
decade ago... but with additional material that was removed from that
album. Anyhow, I decided to order one, since I was already ordering the
video, and I'll report back after they arrive.
Haven't seen the FIGHTING CLOWNS CD in any of the stores yet, but
I'll keep on looking. Meanwhile, the plans for a live CD and another
Finally, it's always interesting to see one's letter in print, and
you included mine in the FIRESIGNal this time... a little
overenthusiastic perhaps, but well-intentioned.
Keep up the good work, keep in touch, and "Keep 'Em Flying!"
* * * * * * * * * *
Dear Elayne, 5/25/94
At the very beginning of our e-relationship, I commented that the
fireboys seem to re-interpret their work, in the Big Book of Plays, on
the CD liner notes (you said you'd send me the notes from thier last CD
at some point) and when they were on the radio, mid-production of their
seminal quadrology. You said I should ask them about that, if they
really did change what they meant by those lines over time. So I'm
it was the 71st of october in city h. We called oureselves The 3
Scourges: fellow english teacher dan peterson, japanese despite the name,
and our friend from manchuoko we called "manny" who always knew what to
do. Petersen was from a suburb of san jose, and giantophile to the day,
wanted a good place to hear the world series (giants lost to pittsburg,
so we all routed for orioles.). Manny suggested the town stadium (we
could pretend we were at pit stade) so there we went, but couldn't tune
in FEN from tokyo - too far we from Big Town and other sources of
english. City h creates its own. I suggested we go back to my boss's
house and borrow his shortwave. Agleed. But while searching in vain for
the dissapearing series, a maleman arrives: package for a cat-san, its
bozos. vinyl intact! This is sunday afternoon.
This seems to have nothing to do with reality at all.
"Put it on cassette and let's hear it back at the stadium through
the car speakers," suggested Manny. We let boss-man tape it for us so we
could hear it first in best acoustics, and drive back to the theatre of
sports. A particularly momentry entry into the capitol of civic sweat.
Porridge bird better zen than rolling around on the outfield of laughter,
with the celestial doggie, we noticed a monkey. grey-brown beast in the
cheap seats, looking amused. It was one of those moments. You are
seeing an alteration of reality, but three of you are seeing it.
And then another one walks in through the entrance. We walked
towards it. Outside was autumn's excuse for a jungle, and an army of
monkeys. You gonna eat me or what, I worried. They tasted a shoelace.
Nah. What were they... an abandoned attraction for the stadium was the
monkey show left to fend for themselves? Left me a lifelong concern for
such. We called shitty hole (what it's actually called in nihongo) and
were told it would be taken care of. Some humans lost face; monkeys
found new homes testing new diseases. Yes and so, we put the cassete on
again... CAT SIMRIL ISHIKAWA
N. Vancouver, BC CANADA
* * * * * * * * * *
Elayne, May 28, 1994
Thanks! I got the newsletter downloaded, and read it the other
night. Good stuff! Lots of info in there. Thanks for the hard work. I
lived out in Seattle up till 1991, so used to hear of sightings of the
Guys occasionally up there. Then I moved to New Jersey (a logical
progression. Not.) and now I'm near Detroit. I have a pet Spam named Uh,
Clem. Back when I worked at the Seattle Times, everyone on the staff was
into TFT. We would wander the halls quoting lines from Bozos. We
answered the phone "I want to order an anchovy, hold the pizza".
Waiting here in the sitting room, LORI A. JENSON
* * * * * * * * * *
Dear Ms. Chaput, 6-1-94
Please put me on the list of mailing 4 the 4-Alarm FIRESIGNal. To
partially defray your expense & as a taoken of my regard for the
EXCELLENT WORK YOU ARE ENGAGED IN
a [check mark] for dollars (= 3 into 125) is in the envelope that
surrounded this missive. Sorry it couldn't be more but tites are timed,
Woe be to those who've not found, in their head of heads, the
columns that alight in the unique convolution that is Theatre. Early
exposure to the FT solution caused the mirrored Moebius lobes of my
BrainniarB to adhere edgewise. The resultant topology enflasked me a la
Klein and I've been an airborne insect misplaced by one planet ever
since. But YEA, an happier ("happier" is, of course, not the right word.
But then... what is?) one! My urgent FRANX! to those 4 or 5 strange
beings and whatever well they crawled out of. For they, like the
erstwhile snail of puzzle lore, took one day less than everyone thought
it should - to reach the light. LOU PICIULLO
* * * * * * * * * *
Yo, Elayne! Jun 1, 1994
[Jamie Schrumpf posted the following on the newsgroup:] "Glad to
have you aboard. I'm sure that Elayne would love to have a succinct
written account of your photographic adventure with the Guys for the next
Golly, well... the studio was in Hollywood... he walks again by
Sunset. Both Phils and Peter were already there, in the latter stages of
preparing "Hot Shorts" for release. I asked soon after I arrived if it
would be alright for me to take some pictures, and I got permission, as
well as some "casually posed" candid shots. While I was there, I got to
see most of "Hot Shorts", which unfortunately, I have not seen since; I
hope it eventually got released in some format OTHER than CED video disk!
Before long, Phil A. began to exhibit a pronounced droop; Phil P. asked
him to sign an 8x10 glossy for me, and it took him half an hour to do it!
Then he put his head down on the console and dozed peacefully. This was
definitely NOT the Firesign Theatre that one sees onstage! This was a
much more serene, calm, scrupulously careful evening, intense but yet
Pete and Phil P. continued watching the playback with great care,
looking for minor flaws in either the video or soundtrack, so skillfully
crafted by Fred Jones. The soundtrack quality was superb - I could
actually feel the concussion in the air when the playback got to the
prerecorded gunshot. Phil P. said, rather suddenly, "What was THAT?" At
first, no one but Fred seemed to have noticed what he was talking about.
Fred backed up the tape, and reviewed it frame by frame, and - surprise!
There was a single black frame in the ORIGINAL footage of one of the old
movies, a closeup of a Nazi commander-type. In moments, Fred was on the
phone to the video duplicator, with the time index and frame number of
the black frame, which was replaced with a clone of the previous frame.
"Hot Shorts" would actually be of BETTER quality than the original film
In the end, Peter was beginning to look sleepy too, but Phil P.
remained alert, ever the gracious, attentive and mannerly host, sending
me on my way with a smile, my autographed glossy and a photocopy of the
forthcoming promo piece for "Hot Shorts" when it was time to go. I got
the distinct feeling that he is the powerhouse of the group when it comes
to keeping things moving, and making sure that the details have all been
tended to. My enduring appreciation goes out to Phil, Phil, Pete and
Fred for allowing me to visit them at work. I will always have fond
memories of that evening.
Santa Clara, CA
* * * * * * * * * *
Dear Head Firehead: June 2, 1994
Thanks again for sending me the FAlaFal... I have been a Firesign
Theatre fan for at least 23 years. I will never forget the night that I
met them 12 or 13 years ago. It was in a small venue called the
Bacchanal, and about a half hour before the show. I recognized Phil
Proctor standing next to me at the bar. I asked him if he was Phil
Austin! It was for me an embarrassing slip because I knew who he was,
but I got the name wrong anyway. Phil was very friendly, and I told him
that I had all my FT records out in the car, and I asked if I could get
them autographed after the show. He told me to wait until after the show
and just go backstage, and he would sign them.
The show was hilarious. (As it should have been.) After the show
I waited for the place to clear out. I went out to my car to grab a
stack of about 20 albums and my Polaroid camera. There was no problem
going back in as they were milling around the bar themselves. You have
probably already read my post by now on this encounter, so there is no
need to repeat it.
Anyhow, I am glad to have found this Newsgroup. What a delight it
is to squeeze the wheeze or to cut the cheese with a few other Bozos. So
let the air out of your shoes and stand on the Yellow rubber line. Your
future is about to begin.
Sincerely, BRUCE W. SMITH
Spring Valley, CA
* * * * * * * * * *
Dear Elayne, June 9, 1994
Get this: Brush with fame. Years ago I worked with Peter Bergman
on a screenplay. I was a junior exec at a film studio in LA and was
working with a producer who was friends with Bergman. Bergman was
brought in to doctor a script (it got made, not with Bergman's draft,
however, total bomb, can't even remember the title) and I was brought it
to help Bergman along. He was very nice, bought me breakfast one morning
(WOW, and he had... and I had... oh, get on with it!), and we laughed
like loons over his old Firesign stories. I told him how much I liked J-
Men and he said they were in some sort of lawsuit with USA Cable about it
but he'd try to get me a copy of his copy. Never happened. Shortly
after that I went to work on my own scripts, quit the job, and lost
contact. But for a few weeks there I'd hear him on the phone, or just
listen to him rattle on in my office and I'd suddenly feel like adjusting
my volume knobs "with the look of real wood" and wondering if the fox
passed one. Very bizarre. And very fun.
Los Angeles, CA
(For readers' info, David was one of the writers on the late, lamented
Adventures of Brisco County Jr.)
* * * * * * * * * *
(Dear--crossed out) (Dearest--crossed out) June Eleventh,
Darling Nabby, Nineteen-Etc.
Number Twenty-Three just caught up with me (you will note that I
recently moved)... Nice to find out that Everything You Know Is Wrong is
available on video! You can be sure I'll be ordering a copy toot sweet!
Now, let's hope that More Sugar will make the elusive Martian Space
Party available soon! And, as I hoped, new audio is coming out - Joy in
In case Kerry White (and you) still haven't seen the Eat or Be Eaten
video, I consider it to be a true "companion" piece, rather than just a
video version of the audio. There are only a few pieces on both
productions - they both follow the same basic theme (the kudzu vine) but
go off on different tangents... the highlight for me of the video is
Austin's hilarious parody of Dr. Gene Scott, one of the most bizarre
televangelists to ever gracd what the great Ernie K. liked to call the
"orthicon tube"... also, since nobody asked, let me say that I find I go
against popular opinion - I really liked the Eat or Be Eaten album, and
found it closer in spirit to the "classic" FT albums than some of their
Rhino Records material... in fact, the only real complaint I have against
Eat or Be Eaten is the damn thing was so short!
And I find I concur with Harold May - Roller Maidens From Outer
Space is also my personal favorite...
As long as people are talking about FT references... there's
something that has puzzled me ever since I was a young sprout back in
Indiana - and it has once again raised its shrouded head in agony. I
recently saw a made-for-TV movie starring Charlton Heston as Sherlock
Holmes (what wonderful casting, eh? at least he wasn't playing "Doghouse
Reilly" again). At the end of this masterpiece, Holmes and Watson take
off in search of - you guessed it - The Giant Rat of Sumatra! Now, I'm
not a big Sherlock Holmes buff, but I know this Giant Rat reference has
popped up in at least half a dozen other Holmes parodies that I've seen,
all of which were produced after 1974. So, are these indeed true FT
references, or did The Boys crib this from some other source? Huh? Hoo
Hah? (For the record - I know that the Monty Python troupe filmed the
"Life of Brian" movie in Sumatra, and none of them ever reported coming
across any giant rats...)
Your obt. svt., DENNIS STAHL
P.S. Do you like horses?
(How? Like, for breakfast? I've heard it "tastes like chicken"... The
many references you've heard to the Giant Rat of Sumatra were indeed
taken from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's story, "The Adventures of the Sussex
Vampire." Holmes had mentioned to Dr. Watson that his adventure with the
giant rat of Sumatra was "a story for which the world was not yet
prepared," and said no more about it.)
* * * * * * * * * *
Dear friends: June 26, 1994
How utterly incisive to receive your utterances thusly. Had it not
been for the eagle eye of my wife, Hope, your penny dreadful publication
probably would have been lost to the recycling bin!!!, unseen and unread
by me (the little guy of the house). At first glance it did sort of look
like another incendiary notice from our Homeowner's Association. What?
Well, clang dem bells, I've got you now Firesignal and be assured I
will be hounding you for more FT from Heater & Hellmouth, which by the
way is not all that far from sunny Fort Stinkin' Desert, California. So
much TF, so little water.
In 1974, when just a mere prat, I caught on da fire and have been
smoldering ever since. As many of you already know, this kind of comedy
isn't for everyone (my own dear mother has threatened to disown me if I
ever mentioned them again!). Fellow feathered firefriends have been few
and far between in these foul times. But I have kept the fate, uh faith,
with my stalwart compendium [BUZZ BRACKETT] who's helped me blaze new
inroads into Firesign territory yet undreamed! Which way is Goshen? By
the late '80s I was sure I had it all. But my thirst for the four Gobs
and my hunger for the Eight Shoes was voracious and unquenchable! Each
further and infrequent acquisition led me on, and on and on and on... But
lately I'd just about given up hope of anything new. Then came last
year's aptly-named "Back From the Shadows" tour.
Cathartic barely describes my feelings for that Berkeley event. I
had trouble breathing from beginning to end from sheer excitement!! I
remember just before the second half of the show four rather large
vegetables wandering around the isles. This big bungling artichoke
moseyed on up to us and asked, "Why is everyone so quiet tonight?" How
as fans could we explain the awe, the unreality of that spectacular
evening? The warmth of spirit of the audience and the waves of love and
joy emanating from those four or five crazy guys up there on that stage
were like nothing I'd ever experienced before! Very heavy. I came to
realize that night there really are a whole bunch of us out there
somewhere. Fireheads as far as the eye could see! And although we are
definitely different, we're also a satisfied and happy lot.
So what else can I say but thank you Peter, David, Phil & Phil for
all that you've done and are still doing. Know now that you are all
dearly appreciated by us all, whoever we am anyways.
Succinctly yours, SCOTT J. ROCKWELL
(A "satisfied and happy lot?" I thought we were a superstitious and
cowardly lot! I always get those mixed up...)
* * * * * * * * * *
Dear Elayne; June 29, 1994
My hard-boiled congratulations on the successful resurrection of
your gutty newsletter. (Who is this guy "Henry" and what horrible
compromises did you have to make in the name of journalism? My hat would
be off to you if I had a back-up hat. A dame like you can't be too
careful these days, a word to the wise.)
Now, to business. Enough beating around the bush. My hackles was
got up when I read that your lapdog Scialli reviews my latest "Down Under
Danger" without even mentioning the main point, which is that this dame
Adrian Guilford, the actress who plays Frankie, is really good. It's the
first time anyone ever heard a Nick Danger show without Phil Proctor
playing all the female parts and I think she's a find. Mike Packer, who
was the big cheese for the production, did a good job - especially
finding Adrian - that's what I think, but of course you don't pay me for
reviews. This guy Scialli must be rolling in dough. What did you have
to give up to get a high-class, psychologically qualified guy like this
to review for you? I shudder to think. (It's not unusual. Eskimos
shudder to keep warm.)
Now, I'm gonna respond to Chris Ward's letter. Like all of us
courageous citizens who read your rag, Elayne, I've enjoyed following
this guy's "career" as he has toppled into the depths of some Terry and
the Pirates plot in the Far East, obviously set up by the CIA. (I see
him now, sipping a clear liquid in a white suit with a big fat man
slumped under the slow ceiling fans in some South Seas dive, worryin'
about the safety of his operatives on the Chinese Mainland.) I gotta be
honest, Chris. It's sad to say, but everybody's little buddy Phil Austin
is the one responsible for the term "Firehead."
Here's the story, straight from the gut: See? FST was in the lobby
of the Wiltern Theatre in LA a month before the tour last year, givin' a
press conference about the reunion nad I was watchin' everything. I meet
this guy from somethin' called "Entertainment Tonight" and they get the
cameras rolling and Austin, I ain't afraid to say it, just made the whole
thing up on the spot. He told these tv guys, in all seriousness, that
there was these rapid, dangerous FST people callin' themselves
'Fireheads' camping out in the parking lots at FST shows and dealing bad
acid. When I talked to Austin about it, his reply was:
"My good man, this was simply a reference to, and joke about, the
Grateful Dead, to whom I had been enslaved for a couple of years previous
in order to write a screenplay called 'The Dead Sell Out' for Edward
Pressman Films. The fact that the term has achieved some sort of
grounding in real life only confirms my belief that we FST fans are a
kind of alternate reality in ourselves. But it was only a joke." (God,
he's annoying lately.)
In answer to other letters, yeah, I gotta admit, I'm with this guy
Harold May, about Austin's "Roller Maidens from Outer Space." Those
babes on the cover, whew! Mike Grantham, at MFSL, has gried to get the
original tapes out of Epic/ Columbia/Sony with no success as yet, but
that don't mean that there ain't a few heads to lean on, if you get my
Now, Elayne, for the affecting part. Cat Simril Ishikawa mentions
one of my favorite memories as well. Taj Mahal was rolling in the
asteroids that night in '69. While I was talkin' to Austin (his dime, I
always call him collect) I asked him about the Catman's query:
"Yeah, that's a pretty good definition of the Antelope Freeway, that
it's 'dreamed anew'," Austin said. "Unlike it, FST is four individuals
with completely different views of the elephant, although each of us
hangs securely onto a foot of the beast. In other words, you'd have to
ask each of us individually to get a good answer to that question."
Typical Austin. (Sometimes I wonder why I bother.)
Kerry White asks a good one and I can answer it: the soundtrack of
EYKIW is exactly the same as that of the original record, with the
exception of the obvious excisions. We shot the film miming to playback
of the record. EOBE, record and video, are two different projects with
much different scripts.
And finally, Doug McIntosh asks if the Quad master was used to make
the BOZOS MFSL CD. Hell, no. And too bad, too. I agree with Doug. It
was one of the best mixes I was ever involved in - in spite of the
unfortunate adventure at the time, the one I call the 'Case of the Porky
Pie' which was coincidental with my sordid affair with that dame in the
long tight green satin dress and the cigarette holder shaped like a
cigarette and the long black hair with bangs that looked like an
aviator's hat. To hear BOZOS on quad - or any four-channel device
(especially while shacked up with a dame like this dame I was talking
about) - is to "... get a whole new picture of the world of the Shadows."
(Austin said that last part. I wouldn't have the nerve to say shit
like that in public.)
And sign it; NICK DANGER
P.S. By the way, Austin tells me he's just been informed that a
collection of his stories - "Tales from the Old Detective, and Other Big
Fat Lies" - will be published by Audio Partners sometime before
Christmas. Pat Fraley is producing and Austin will read the stories
himself. He also says his book has changed its title. Now it's called
Beaverteeth. (Why, I can't imagine.)
(Thanks to Mssrs. Danger and Austin for taking the time to surprise me
with this delightful and entirely unsolicited follow-up to some of the
questions thrown out here on the FAlaFal letters page! That's real jake
of youse guys dere!)
* * * * * * * * * *
Hi. July 5, 1994
My name is John, and I belong to a comedy improv troupe called
Newmyn's Nose. We operate in the NYC area. [just vaguely plugging] :)
Anyhoo, I just wanted to leave a 5-in-the-morning message (via the
Internet) to let everyone know that the younger generation (I and my
compatriots are in our early 20's), if properly exposed to The Firesign
Theatre (our Director is showering me with tapes), can appreciate, if not
the full-blown EMOTIONS of the time, then certainly the incredible
quality and jam-packed fullness of Firesign creations. The amount of
a) Social references
b) drug-induced puns
c) Obscure references
(anything from MIT hacker jargon to Greek lit)
d) "theatre of the Mind"
combined into innocent sounding radio plays is truly un//d (that's
Unparalleled). Monty Python got there, but in a different way and in a
different vein (and medium). Marx brothers? Damn straight. But who now?
Maybe us... eventually.
"Anaconda Freeway: 1/128th of a mile..." JOHN OLINYK
* * * * * * * * * *
Dear Friend Elayne, July 10, 1994
Thanx for (fire)signing me up for yer newsletter. There's a dual
signifigance to the first issue I got, since it's from April (I, like
Phil Austin, am a Hostile Aries) and #23 (my lucky number!) (And yes, I
have read ILLUMINATUS!)
I've been a Firehead (Dangerite? Asphalt Arab?) since the very
early Seventies, when an older, hipper friend down the street played me
Dwarf. It was the strangest non-rock album I'd ever heard (by
comparison, strangest ROCK album was THE YES ALBUM), but it hooked me
immediately and I returned to it (and the prior/subsequent vinyl outings)
often. (I was also somewhat disappointed to recently discover, via the
FAQ file, that "don't crush that dwarf, hand me the pliers" is nothing
more than doper slang for roaches and clips -- and I'd always taken it
for fine surrealism. *sigh*)
Had the good fortune to catch FT live at Town Hall in New York City
around 1981 (just before David left for a while). Of course, it was the
most fun being in the audience (throwing out classic lines non-stop!),
but the guys put on a great show, including bits from "How Can You Be..."
and an all-new Nick Danger (in which Nick solved the mystery by ripping
up the bad guy's script!)
I also noticed you thanking Jackie "The Joke Man" Martling in the
April issue. I'm a BIG fan of the Jokester, having seen -- and stumped!
-- the guy eleven times over the past five years. (In Martling's own
words, I have enough of his "I Stumped Jackie the Joke Man" T-shirts to
outfit an army!) I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Jackie is a
Firehead, even though his finely-tuned dirty sense of humor is
diametrically opposed to FT. He's very much a Crazee Guy, a pisser in
concert, and a helluva nice cat.
Oops, gotta go -- they're stealing Frank's Spad, dad!
(And don't forget: IBM's Micro Channel Architecture is proof that
there ARE bozos on this buss...) ROBERT PAYES
West Caldwell, NJ
* * * * * * * * * *
Thanks for the latest issue of Four-Alarm. Like the previous issue
it was very enjoyable and there are parts of it that I have read over and
over. I especially liked the letter from the guy who talked about the
philosophies in the Illuminatus! trilogy and how they could be applied to
The Firesign Theatre. You said that guy puts out his own zine? Please
print the address for it in the next issue if you can. It was fun seeing
my own letter in print. You did an excellent job of editing it down to
a concise, readable version. I hope that other Fireheads enjoyed reaidng
what I had to say. The best part of the zine, though, is the news about
the guys themselves and what they are up to. Thanks for keeping me
informed... and for helping to keep the flames of the Firesign burning.
Peace, JOHN SULAK
San Francisco, CA
(As mentioned in our editorial, I have a column all prepared plugging
Phil Snyder's zines as well as lots of others I've received, which I hope
to run next issue!)
Legs On Sale
by Phil Proctor
I confess, I don't trust this town.
Sure, I live in Los Angeles; but of course, I'm not from Los
Angeles. Nobody is. Not really. Not originally. If you think of our
country as a big dustpan, this is where everything is swept. It's the
end, the edge, the left coast. So this is where I ended up, becoming
just another ingredient in the Big Orange Shake, to go.
And if you go and shake the letters of Los Angeles up, like a good
quake could, they spell "Legs On Sale," or since we're still going
through hard times here, "Sale On Legs," which just means, really, that
Reality has caught up with Realty.
Legs are indeed useless here, unless they're long and tan and
shapely, because "these streets weren't made for walkin'." Try it.
You'll drop dead of carbon monoxide poisoning before you get three blocks
if you're not run over, or arrested for "walking without wearing a car."
LA has one of the largest populations of cars in the country,
resulting in many households that contain more cars than people. Even in
the poorest neighborhoods, you'll see a lone car on the front lawn
instead of a stone deer, and sometimes a bumper crop of tires, which grow
really well in smog.
You'll also see more classic cars in primo condition here than
anywhere else, matched by an equal number of well-preserved people, fresh
out of a body shop - people who originally came out here for the same
reason - to be in the movies; and after they made movies, they made
babies, leaving the achingly beautiful children who populate the city
But dial 411 to get a babe's phone number and you'll hear another
reason why I have to confess I hate this town, as the operator asks:
"What city, please?"
Where the hell are we, anyway?
The fact is, we're a fractured city, home to almost a half a hundred
communities much like Mr. Richter predictered, but it's not St. Andreus's
fault. No. The really awful secret that no one will willingly confess
is - it's not a city at all, it's a BACKLOT!
Everything is temporary. There are no basements. I've seen with my
own eyes an entire Beverly Hills mansion bulldozed to the ground by one
hardhat in a John Deere. I've sat in a Hollywood theatre, marvelling at
the Reality of SurroundSound during a storm scene, until I realized that
we were being rained on. Why? Because like a film set, the theatre roof
was really designed just to keep the sun out.
Just go away for a long weekend, and as you drive back from the
airport, you'll notice that your local art deco gas station is now a two-
story Tinker Toy mall with a sign advertising a Chinese Food Nails
Tanning Pet Grooming Salon; and Wolfie's Trendy Pub and Micro Brewery?
Like in an episode of the Twilite Zone, it's been magically transformed
and now occupying the exact same space is another cut-rate going-out-of-
business Distressed Jeans Boutique run by Ari and Mustafah.
Half your favorite haunts are toast! But not just leveled, no -
rebuilt, replaced, re-cast, re-surfaced - and in concrete, no less;
changed as easily as a starlet's nose by doctors of plastic masonry.
Yes, L.A. is a false front, designed to be shamelessly refaced by hungry
displaced scenic designers who know that everything, like them, be it
stars, buildings, businesses or TV series, is here today, gone tomorrow.
It's just a mirage in the desert, but an illusion so convincing,
cameramen call the place "Los Angles." Shoot in the valley (before
someone shoots you) and you're in a small Midwestern town. Or, you need
cows? Horses? Wide open spaces? Head towards the mountains, and it's
the Wild West.
Even though many studios are leaving town for more authentic, or
simply safer, locations, I wouldn't be surprised that if the Big One
hits, camera crews all over town will be out on the streest, screaming,
And when that happens, I confess, I will be, too - rolling out of
here, singing a song I wrote to the tune Allan Sherman made famous about
that boy's letter from camp.
Hello Mother, put your feet up
To make room for
Your son "Pheel-Up."
'Cause I'm leaving in a hurry -
It's goodbye to quakes and "Hi" sub-zero worry.
So long free-ways, I'm not payin'
For the concrete they've been layin',
All the traffic's at a standstill
Since the quake reduced the offramps to some landfill!
Real estate was just improving
But not now, since earth is moving
We're all fleeing for the East
'Cause soon, the left coast will be called - "The Least."
First the rainstorms, then the riot,
Then the fires, then some quiet -
Then the tremblor kicked our kiester
6.8 upon the scale of Meester Reechter.
So I'm walking, driving, flying,
No more shaking, no more crying,
New York City, have some pity,
Welcome me again,
Be-cause I'm moving back! Let's pack!!
(The above piece will appear in the next issue of the Saturday Afternoon
Journal, available in October at fine local bookstores...)
See You on the Funway...
The second edition of EFAlaFal is under our belts and boy, are we
stuffed! (Excuse me while I loosen my belt a notch and kick back in the
Barcalounger here at Monrovia Communications' international
headquarters.) Events moved much more quickly this time, now that we
have Elayne on the Internet -- after a little practice with Qmodem (the
Giant Rat of DOS comm programs -- but I mean that in a *good* sense),
Elayne was zipping files down the Infobahn to me faster than Ralph
Spoilsport can cash a "good faith" check. As Elayne gets better,
hopefully I won't become superfluous.
We are working on a WWW version of EFAlaFal, complete with
(hopefully) neato graphics submitted by you, the FT faithful (yes, YOU
over there with the pie on your tie!), and judged by me, the Arbiter of
Good Taste (for this zine, anyway). Well, Elayne will get to look at
them, too, I guess. (Ow! Elayne -- quit twisting! That hurts!)
So send 'em on to me, or email me with directions on how to find
'em. You should keep them small, about 3 in. X 4 in. max -- no full-
screen pics, please. Remember, this has to go on a WWW page with text
(if you don't know what a WWW page is, then you probably don't have the
equipment to view this version of EFAlaFAl), so keep it in mind.
Heck, *I* don't have a SLIP or PPP account either, so I won't be
able to fully appreciate my own masterpiece. That never stopped
Beethoven from composing, so I don't see why I shouldn't give it a go --
I'll depend on you all to let me know how it looks.
On a serious note: I'd like for everyone to observe a moment of
silence for Elayne's beloved cat Gypsy Doctor, a fixture at Elayne's side
for these past 11 years, and who may not be there for FAlaFal #25.
Here's to you, Gypsy Doctor -- may you find the Door into Summer,
and may the catnip grow wild.