Posts Tagged ‘The Firesign Theatre’

Spring?

March 20, 2022

The arthritic old ornamental pear stretches its gnarled limbs.

Kinda gnarly-looking, I know. Still, EarthSky says it’s the vernal equinox, so I gotta go with it.

The allergies say spring. So does the unsettled weather. The NWS has issued a red-flag warning; no, it doesn’t mean the Russians are coming, but it seems we can expect winds of 20-30 mph with gusts to 45.

Last year I rode the equinox in shorts and arm warmers, which came off midride. The year before that I got rained on. So it goes.

Tracking alongside the allergies is another seasonal affliction, the wanderlust. One former colleague will attend next week’s Bicycle Leadership Conference in Dana Point, Calif. In a couple weeks he and some others will dive into the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey. And the Cactus Cup at McDowell Mountain Regional Park outside Fountain Hills, Ariz., has already come and gone.

Some old newspaper pals from California recently took a ski trip to Aspen. The friends who blew through here with their e-bikes on Friday were headed home to Fort Collins from Tucson. I’m starting to feel like the only guy I know who hasn’t traveled further from home than he can get on two wheels and one water bottle.

It all reminded me of a bit of grumbling I recorded last March for Radio Free Dogpatch, with an assist from kindly old Doctor Firesign and Ralph Spoilsport Motors (“The World’s Biggest”). I think I’ll give this ol’ baby a spin on the freeway. …

Out in the woods

March 2, 2022

After my chores I spent a couple hours exploring on the Voodoo Nakisi.

“Hello?”

Joe Biden woke me up this morning. Either him or Fred Willard, I can’t be sure.

It was a dream, of course. We watched both of them last night — first Fred in “Best in Show,” and then Joe in “The State of the Union.”

Fred killed, and Joe had to follow him, which is bad news for any headliner, especially when that headliner is Joe.

The poor sonofabitch. He finally grabs what he thinks is the brass ring and it turns out to be Voldemort Putin’s man-tanned-and-waxed, KGB-issued butthole. In a rebooted DC Universe edition of Robert A. Heinlein’s “The Crazy Years,” just to give it an edge like Oddjob’s bowler.

Out in the woods.

And then, after a year that must have felt like the first hot lap in the Lake of Fire Criterium, he gets trotted out to recite the Laundry List of Shit That Will Never Happen for the political equivalent of Principal Poop’s pep rally from The Firesign Theatre’s “Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers.”

Over my lifetime the State of the Union has devolved from a simple constitutional requirement — see Article II, Section 3 — into a low-rent show-and-tell for a politically insane kindergarten. An excuse for eejits to dress badly and act worse while popping up and down like prairie dogs crazed on ketamine.

We were streaming this mess via PBS, which looked like CCTV from a Topeka nursing home. That outfit needs new blood worse than Dracula.

Now, I’ve had a soft spot for Joe ever since he strangled Paul Ryan in his crib during their 2012 vice-presidential debate. And I think he’s doing his level best with both hands and one leg tied behind his back.

But still, god damn, etc. After he and/or Fred woke me up this morning the song playing in my head was an old Leon Russell number, from the appropriately titled album “Carny,” called “Out in the Woods.”

Have mercy, been waitin’ on the e-bus all day

February 8, 2021

Got your brown paper bag and your take-home pay?

So, we start the week with a shot of seltzer in the snoot for Impeachy the Clown and follow it up with a squeeze to the wheeze of our local Bozos and their e-buses.

Hur-ry, hur-ry, hur-ry! It may not be The Greatest Show on Earth, but it is another episode of Radio Free Dogpatch!

Yes, it’s free! Join the expectant crowd gathering now as we stop here on [Intellectual Property Theft Street]. Live in The Future: It’s just starting now. As for The Past, well — we’ve been taken for a ride down the Mother Road before.

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: This time around I cheapskated the podcast using an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB mic (a model since discontinued) and Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack. Editing was in Apple’s GarageBand, with an assist from Auphonic. Sound effects courtesy of Zapsplat, including the background music, “Waiting Game” by Dave Miles. Special guest appearances by The Firesign Theatre and ZZ Top, who did not know they were making special guest appearances, and if you don’t tell them, we won’t either. Let’s just keep this moment of simulated exhilaration locked under our wigs.

‘The excitement is contagious. …’

March 16, 2020

Dr. Memory … paging Dr. Memory. …

I woke up singing, “Make the World Go Away.”

It wouldn’t, of course. The world is remarkably persistent. Always up in your grille with its pestilence, stock-market crashes, toilet-paper shortages, leadership vacuums, Darth Gimp boots, doctor’s appointments, and stupidity.

For, like the poor, ye have the stupid always with you.

Sometimes, a guy wants a little smart. And so, after a consultation with Dr. Memory, and in keeping with the general plague theme, we present for your listening enjoyment “Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him” by The Firesign Theatre.

If only we had a generated, veneered leader. (Hear, hear!) Our own “Fighting Jack.” (Where, where?) But nope — all we have is a pestilence (There, there).

The Peach Mint Lollipop, or ‘Hello, Sucker’

January 22, 2020

Be careful what you ask for, they say.

I asked for impeachment. And now that I’ve gotten it. …

Well, for one, it looked a lot better online.

Two, it seems several sizes too small.

And three, it smells funny, like maybe a turtle dragged it down a toilet.

Nevertheless, here it is. And here we are, striding boldly down the runway wearing yet another fashionable edition of Radio Free Dogpatch.

 

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with a Shure SM58 microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder, then edited in Apple’s GarageBand on the 13-inch 2014 MacBook Pro. The background music is “Dramatic Climax” from Zapsplat.com. The party chatter comes from dbspin at Freesound.org with an underlay of “Buddy,” an iMovie jingle. And Nick Danger (“All Things Firesign”), Mark Time (“Dear Friends”), and Principal Poop (“Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers”) appear courtesy of The Firesign Theatre, without whom none of this would have been necessary.

Preview of coming attractions

November 13, 2019

The impeachment inquiry has gone public, but I plan to resist the temptation to follow it extensively here, like a starveling coyote trailing a garbage truck.

My reasoning is that we’ll all read, watch, and hear a lot more than we care to elsewhere. Charlie Pierce is on the case, and I urge anyone who wants the bird’s-eye lowdown on this caper, whatever that means, to become a card-carrying member of his Shebeen.

Also, I imagine that we’re all mostly on the same page here — that the White House has become the Shite House, and that it’s turds all the way down. So I plan to preach to the choir only when I have some fresh take on the revelations.

Channel surfing

November 12, 2019

TV or not TV? In this case, it’s definitely TV.

Any of yis care to weigh in with a recommendation for a new TV that’s not insane?

I’m hunting one for the mom-in-law, who needs it for the new digs. Nothing huge, probably a 43-incher or under, and preferably a model with easily navigated menus and a remote that doesn’t look like the dashboard of the Millennium Falcon. Just your basic Ralph Spoilsport model, a personal remote-controlled, picture-sized color TV, with matching brass knobs, the kind where you reach above the bar and press the button right there under the handy laminated imitation-masonite Wild West gun rack with the look of real wood, for the channel of your choice.

We’re dealing with the elderly and feeble-minded here, which is to say me, a guy who hasn’t set up a new TV in the better part of quite some time.

Thanks for the insurrection, and now back to our morning concert of afternoon showtime favorites — the Magic Bowl movement from Symphony in C Minus by Johann Amadeus Matetsky.

Where’s the fire?

April 20, 2019

Looks like the moonies are wearing orange jumpsuits these days.

(drops trou’) “In your eyes, Lieutenant Bradshaw.”*

* A tip of the peeper’s fedora to Ruth-less gumshoe Nick Danger and The Firesign Theatre.

Not insane! (Well, maybe a little)

February 13, 2018

A Firesign sampler.

Thanks to Steve O’ for sending me on a little trip down Dr. Memory Lane with his mention in comments of a KCRW podcast that looked forward, into the past, at the Firesign Theatre.

I first stumbled across the Firesigns in high school. The source of the contagion may have been my friend Bruce Gibson, who was something of an audiophile, or perhaps Dan Stephanian, who was an actual disc jockey.

The Firesigns struck me like the hot kiss at the end of a wet fist, and if I hadn’t planned to be a cartoonist I might have gone into radio instead of newspapering. Their skit “The Further Adventures of Nick Danger, Third Eye,” and far too many impromptu amateur performances of same, would provide an entrée into friendships that, like herpes, have proven impossible to eradicate.

We saw “Martian Space Party” at the Rialto Theatre in Alamosa way back in 1972, and even the actual Firesigns themselves in concert at the old Ebbets Field in Denver, circa 1977 or thereabouts.

One of our college hovels bore the sign “Ed Siegelman’s Ground Zero Equal Opportunity Apartments,” a FT reference from “Dear Friends.” And when I was assigned to build an actual show as part of a radio-production class I created an all-Firesign homage. Music, news, weather, sports and commercials, all were pulled from their tattered casebook.

Phil “Nick Danger” Austin himself even popped around the blog to try, Python-like, to squeeze a dollar or two out of the Bozos and Bozoettes who loiter around my drugstore, drinking chocolate malted falcons and giving away free high schools.

Phil’s gone now, dear friends, as is Peter Bergman. But last fall the surviving Firesigns, Philip Proctor and David Ossman, got together at the Library of Congress to perform and discuss the troupe’s work.

The Library has all their albums. I only have most of them, an oversight I intend to correct.

 

A Bozo and his bus

March 9, 2016
Come closer, folks; don't crowd the wheels. ...

Come closer, folks; don’t crowd the wheels. …

I can’t hear the name “Clem” without thinking of The Firesign Theatre classic, “I Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus.”

This is not to disrespect the Clem Smith Jr. from Rivendell Bicycle Works. The Firesigns’ Clem didn’t have much Bozo in him, and neither does this one.

In “Bozos,” Clem wasn’t clowning around when he took on a Disneyesque Audio-Animatronics President Nixon at the Future Fair. Half computer hacker, half Zen master giving koan instruction, Clem — a.k.a. Worker — demonstrated conclusively that reality has more than a little plasticity to it.

And Rivendell’s Clem is likewise on a mission — to get you out of your car, and your Lycra, too, and at a reasonable price.

I don’t have a ton of miles on it yet. Shucks, I haven’t even ridden it to Hideo Nutt’s Bolt-a-Drome yet. But it sure is a pleasant distraction from Il Douche and his prime-time infomercials.