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Firesign Theatre: Lexicon, Part 2/4

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Archive-name: firesign-theatre/lexicon/part2
Last-modified: 1994/8/30
Version: 2.0

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  Side 4) The Firesign Theatre: Lexicon and Concordance File(2/4)


DCTDHMTP: Don't Crush That {DWARF}, Hand Me the Pliers!.

DOCTOR MEMORY: The big computer that runs everything in the 
{FUTURE FAIR}, described in the FT's {BOZO} play. The Doctor was also 
mentioned in a poem on the "Dear Friends" album. He is based on an old 
SAILON LISP program written for the PDP-10 running the TOPS-10 operating 

AhClem repeatedly calls Dr. Memory "Mac" - which far predates the
current Apple computer line; but the MIT AI lab, where the Doctor
program originated, grew out of Project Mac (for Machine Aided
Cognition and/or Multiple Access Computer)

DWARF: "Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers": An FT play about 
the life of the {EVERYMAN} George {TIREBITER}. The title appears to be 
a marijuana reference.  "Dwarf" is slang for a marijuana cigarette 
which has been almost completely consumed (ie, "roach") and the 
"pliers" are pliers or any other device which can be used to hold the 
dwarf by the very end in order to consume the rest of the cigarette 
("roach clip").  Hence, "don't crush that nearly-consumed marijuana 
cigarette, hand me a pair of pliers (so that I can smoke the rest)."
This could also be tied in to Hal Roach, the famous producer of old 
silent comedies, who only recently died at the age of 100+. He is given 
a brief mention at the end of "Dwarf", when {TIREBITER}'S secretary 
indicates that Mr. Roach had left a message, along with Laurel & Hardy, 
Harpo Marx ("Honk! Honk!- he would leave his name..") The FT sometimes 
refer to a "Hot Roach Studios", which they presumably ran.

The liner notes for the "Dwarf" CD mentions that the original title
for Dwarf was "We'll be Heironymus Bosch in Jest a Minute, but Faust..."
indicating connections between the play and the man who "sold out" to
the devil, as well as the nature of interruptions as a part of life.

{ROCKY ROCOCO}, the nemesis of {NICK DANGER}, is a dwarf:

  CATHER: "Nancy, who's that ugly dwarf with his hand in your mouth?" 
  ROCKY:  "Rocky Rococo, at your cervix!"

There were also dwarf maples at the {SAME OLD PLACE}.

See also {WORDSWORTH} for a poetic reference.


EAT FLAMING DEATH: From the Jargon Lexicon of the Hacker's

   eat flaming death: imp. A construction popularized among hackers by
   the infamous CPU Wars comic; supposed to derive from a famously
   turgid line in a WWII-era anti-Nazi propaganda comic that ran
   "Eat flaming death, non-Aryan mongrels!" or something of the sort
   (however, it is also reported that the Firesign Theater's
   1975 album "In The Next World, You're On Your Own" included the
   phrase "Eat flaming death, fascist media pigs"; this may have been
   an influence).  Used in humorously overblown expressions of
   hostility. "Eat flaming death, EBCDIC users!"

EGGS: Let's just call them, the "{PHENOMENA}". {PORRIDGE BIRD}s lay
their eggs in the air. Maybe its because there are aliens in them! 

ELECTRICIAN: "Waiting for the Electrician, or Someone like 
Him". Another FT play, featured on the album of the same name. The
first of the cycle  of plays following the life of {EVERYMAN},named
P, in this case (a tribute to Kafka's "K").

The Electrician was also a mysterious character that appeared in the 
{HEMLOCK STONES} play "The Giant Rat of Sumatra", and pursued the great 
{ZEPELLIN TUBE} that was stolen by Jonas ACME. Little did Jonas
realize that the Electrician was in fact, his own ward and heir, 
young Frank Acne, Jr.!

The "Electrician" seems to be derived from a dream Peter {BERGMAN}
accounted from the Christmas Broadcast, KPFK Radio Free Oz, in 1967.
He had a dream of the electrician coming to pull the plug on the
world, making everyone live real close together. And so we are
all now "waiting for the electrician" (or someone like him),
very Samuel Beckett-like (Waiting for Godot).

See also {HUMBOLT}.

ERSATZ: As in "Ersatz Broth Coffee (The Real One!)", as advertised
on {DWARF}. "Ersatz" means "substitute" or "synthetic". John V. Scialli

  Some clarity is needed. The Coffee is Ersatz Brothers' Coffee.The
  real one. This is not just (really) a play on the words ersatz and
  real. Rather, Dan, during World War II coffee was rationed and ground
  chickory was used as a substitute. This was known by a clear
  descriptor "ersatz coffee."

Not to mention spanish fly!

EVERYMAN: A useful term to describe the often nameless heroes of the 
FT plays. The FT's {BBOP} book describes how the hero transmutes from 
one play into the next(summarized here):

"Waiting for the {ELECTRICIAN} or Someone like Him":  The{EVERYMAN} is 
named "P" (after Phil, and in homage to Kafka's K).The play ends with 
"P" escaping from the country Enroute...

...and winding up on Ventura Blvd, in the process of buying a new car. 
{EVERYMAN}'s name is now Babe, and his story is told in "How Can You Be 
in {TWO PLACES} At Once, when you're not Anywhere At All". Babe drifts 
through many adventures, and with the help of {RALPH SPOILSPORT}, falls 
asleep to a hemp-laced version of James Joyce's Molly Bloom soliloquy 
from Ulysses...

( as a side trip, Babe and {NICK DANGER} are literally flip-sides of
each other: "Wait a minute; didn't I say that on the other side of
this record?" THAT's how you can be in two places at once!)

...and wakes up at 4AM, now named George Leroy {TIREBITER}! His story 
is now told by the {DWARF} play, as the {EVERYMAN} sees his life played 
out on various channels of the television, where he is, by turns, an 
old movie director, a political candidate,a child star, a high-school 
kid, an adult actor, an Army Officer,and a quiz-show MC. Eventually, he 
"sells out", wakes up from the TV world, regains his youth, and runs 
out to get an ice-cream bar from the truck...

...Hunger satisfied, and with nothing else to do on a beautiful Fall 
morning, George-now transmogrified into a young man named {CLEM} -- is 
amused and intrigued by the arrival of the {FUTURE FAIR} Tour Bus, as 
described in the {BOZO}S play (note that when Barney,the {BOZO}, 
reminds Clem to inflate his {SHOES},Clem replies that he no longer wears 
shoes -- as Porgie {TIREBITER} in {DWARF} did).As he wanders through 
the Fair, he asks both the {PRESIDENT}and{DOCTOR MEMORY} a question 
about the {PORRIDGE BIRD},which brings down the whole show. The fair and 
all its creations vanish, leaving only the fireworks of the departure. 
And now, the story changes,and the Future is Past, (coming full circle 
?) ...

EYKIW: Everything You Know Is Wrong! An FT play satirizing {SEEKER}S.


FALL OVER: A common phrase occurring throughout FT plays is "(s)He's
no fun, (s)he fell right over". This is tied indirectly to {FUDD'S LAW}: 
If you push something hard enough it will fall over. {NANCY} is a
real push-over. See also {TESLACLE'S DEVIANT} and {BOZO}.

Lots of people fall over in FT plays, presumably in obedience to
{FUDD'S LAW}. Among them, {BABE} in the {TWO PLACES} play,{NANCY} fell 
over in 
an episode of {NICK DANGER}, Third-eye,and Edmund's Nuncle fell over in 
the play "Waiting for the Count of Monte Cristo (or someone like Him," 
in the {NOT INSANE} album ("What,what,Dead drunk ... NAY DEAD!").

The Nick Danger reference is particularly dizzying, as the following
transcript shows:

  NANCY: [DIZZY] The whole world is spinning!
  NICK: That's lucky for us! If it were flat, all the Chinese would
        fall off!


  NICK: She's no fun, she fell right over. Wait a minute...didn't I
  say that on the other side of the record. Where am I? I better


  NICK: Oh, it's OK, they're speaking Chinese..

-- Note: the "Chinese" are on the other side of a *flat* vinyl record,
   which is spinning!

This phrase was quoted recently by the character Dr. Venckman on the 
cartoon version of "The Real Ghostbusters", in the episode titled,
'My Uncle Harold'.

In {BOZO} we hear,  "Animals without backbones hid from each other, 
or fell down."

FIREHEAD: A Firesign-Theatre Fan.

{BERZERKERS}. The FT's {BBOP} book describes them all as follows:


The five lifestyles of man in the future are, starting from top to 
bottom, though it's circular:

First the {BERZERKER}. Clue to a Berserker: Anybody who's got a 
gun.Anybody in a lime-green car with eight-foot tires, called Demon or 
Barracuda. Any Army officer, anybody in uniform. A Bobby is not a 
Berserker. But maybe he is because he carries his job, his badge. Most 
people who have jobs. There's a Berserker aspect to all of us. You can 
play softball with a Berserker. A Berserker doesn't always have to 
kill, but in the back of his mind, it's not a bad idea.

Under the Berserkers are the {ZIPS}. The archetypal Zip is the 1930's 
guy with the thin moustache. Zips have always been concerned with hair. 
We're exhibiting Zip tendencies in having rather fancily cut 
moustaches. We're all prone to these various aspects. There's a Zip in 
everyone's kip, is the World War One English expression. Zips love new 
products. Zips are often found inside new headphones. They've got zip, 
pep. Zzzzzip! Zip me up! Most actors are Zips. There's a category 
called Hip Zip, which David invented yesterday.

B.O.Z.O. is the Brotherhood of Zips and Others. Bozos are people who 
band together for fun and  profit. They have no jobs. Anybody who goes 
on a tour is a Bozo. Why does a Bozo cross the street? Because there's a  
Bozo on the other side. It comes from the phrase *vosotros*, meaning  
others. They're the huge, fat, middle waist. The archetype is an Irish  
drunk clown with red hair and nose, and pale skin. Fields, William  
Bendix. Everybody tends to drift towards Bozoness. It has Oz in it.  
They mean well. They're straight-looking except they've got inflatable  
shoes. They like their comforts. The Bozos have learned to enjoy their  
free time, which is all the time.

(###"*vos otros*" is a multilevel pun on the spanish noun, *bosotros*, 
meaning clowns, "the 'b' and the 'v' being the same" -- ed.)

Now, the {BOOGIES}. You see a bunch of Boogies around you. That's our 
lifestyle. There are more spades in this class than any other. But the 
world is changing. There are now getting to be a lot of spade Zips. And 
spade Bozos. Boogies don't differentiate between grass and alcohol. 
People who work in post offices are generally Boogies. They take it 
easy. They don't Zip. They're not Bozos because they don't clone. They 
boogie around rather than hanging around one another. They Boogie.

The other class is the {BEANERS}. The Beaners live outside the Law of 
Gravity. They have more color television sets than anybody in the 
world. They're always appearing either on or with you color TV. They 
watch themselves on color TV. Beaners are very concerned with their own 
refuse, which they leave piled up around their house, but always in 
use. They're always going to use it. Hundreds of old pickup trucks. All 
Indians are Beaners. They don't care. Why should they? Beaners can't 
tell lies. They fear no one. "Don't point your finger at me Daddy-o, I 
cut it off!" Pico and Alvarado are Beaners. We love the Beaners.

Most youth is Bozo-like now [early 70's]. That's why people get so 
upset when Berzerkers come into a Bozo gathering. 'Cause Bozos never do 
anything to anybody. Bozos keep having rock festivals. They create 
marijuana free-areas. Grass has moved into Bozodom.

The Berserkers and Zips run things now. Why does a Zip pay taxes? 
Because he likes to fill out the forms. Berserkers run things by 
telling you the Beaners are going to get you. Those desperate Beaners 
may strike at any time! All politicians are Berserkers.


Update for the 90's:

During the late 70's the youth began drifting into {ZIP}ness, with the 
disco-era, and the general populace, in definite {BERZERKER} mode,began 
the Reagan years....

The use by former {PRESIDENT} George Bush, referring to some other 
politicians as "Bozos" may not have been influenced by the FT, but it 
might as well have been. Bush himself, like most politicians,was a 

Clinton has been showing definite {BOZO} tendencies in the way that he 
{CLONES}, {BOOGIE}ness with his non-inhaling experiments,{ZIP}ness with 
Cristophe, but to date only a few {BERZERKER} tendencies...

But remember: it's all cyclical!


FOLEY: Sound Effects Techniques. See {SFX}.

FOOD: Let's Eat! Here are just some of the many foodstuffs
discussed in Firesign Theatre lore:

   Nick's Swell {PIZZA} with no {ANCHOVIES}
   A mighty {HOT DOG} is our lord!
   {RAT} IN A BOX (Mouse on a stick Yum!)
   Silverberg won't go over Pork Chop Hill
   HAMBURGER All over the highway in Mystic Conn.
   Louie's Wipe Out Pumice Hamburgers 
   GROAT CAKES  (Heavy on the 30-weight Mom!)
   {CORN} ! Now we can make tortillas/whisky !
   {EGGS} Let's just call them, the "{PHENOMENA}".
   {BLUE MOSS} Now you too can be an alien! 
   {RAT IN A BOX} Guts in a Cup! (Yum!) Mouse on a Stick (Wow!)
     French-Fried Fleas and Beer-battered Ticks
    	Squirrel Squares from Road-Ready Flatsnax
   {LOOSTNERS} Caster-oil flakes
   {OCTOBER BLIND} The Duck-flavored coffee!
   More {SUGAR} !
   Arnie's Whole Beef Halves (We deliver everywhere):
      Admirable Bird's Deep Fried Chicken Fingers 
      Mrs. Smith's Deep Disk Sheep Dip Cherry Stone Pies
      How about some of that old Phillipino Creamy 
      (coming in shorts & quarts)?
      Tubs of Slaw (sorry only one tub per family)
   Sleepy Joes at House of Bad Brains de Chicanos from Outer Space
      Red beans and reds!
   P.J. Probe wines - with Weal Meat Fwavor
   Billy Jack Dog Food ("Us old folks like it, too!")
   CLAM CAKES, unless they get too damp.
   The nicest PECARRY PIE in all of Lompoc.
   "Beans...last of the Beans."
   "I'm so sick of Chinese Food!"
   Oil Beer
   Coke ("I understand it comes in bottles in this country.")
   Uncle Siggy's Peruvian Cocoa Powder
   One fancy ale ("comin' up......he forgot the glass!")
   A taste of fabulous YUCATAN BLUE.
   Laughing Cow Cheese 
   Maraschino Cherries

   What about the varied menu at Vince Ptomaine's Leg of
   the Crow Restaurant?

   And who can forget the bite-sized individually
   wrapped portions of genuine meat, as advertised
   by Kim Clock?  

FOUR OR FIVE CRAZY GUYS: The Firesign Theatre.

FUDD'S LAW: "If You Push Something Hard Enough, It Will {FALL OVER}".
A Law Enunciated by the FT in the {WALL OF SCIENCE} segment of 
{ITWABOTB}. The full name is "Fudd's First Law of Opposition", and
was enunciated by Sir Sidney Fudd.

Here are some other FT Rules, with references:

   1. If you give the people a light, they'll follow it anywhere. {POOP}

   2. If you push something hard enough, it'll fall over. {ITWABOTB}

   3. If you dig a deep enough hole, everybody'll want to jump into it.


FT: The Firesign Theatre.


FUTURE FAIR: From {BOZOS} -- The FUTURE FAIR was an amusement park 
which looked fondly back to the future.  (The movie title "Back to the 
Future" may have been influence by this). "A fair for all and no fare 
for anybody!" The motivations for this fair are numerous: the 1933
Chicago Worlds Fair, with its "Hall of Science" (see {WALL OF SCIENCE}),
and the 1939 World of Tomorrow Worlds Fair in New York, with its
"Futurama" display.

FTAEBGB: (Faster,Further) Than Anyone's Ever Been Gone Before!
Lots of people are always breaking the limits in FT plays. 

In {HEMLOCK STONES} Sumatran {RAT} episode, after installing the 
{ZEPPELIN TUBE} into their yacht, Violet Dudley, says, "Whoo! that's 
faster than anyone's ever been gone before!

For example, in {NICK DANGER}, "Cut 'Em Off At the Past" episode, we 

 CATHERWOOD:  "I'll be gone for thousand years!"
 NANCY:       "Gee, that's longer than anyone's ever been gone before."
 CATHERWOOD:  "But to you it will seem only a moment.  Very well,
              my dear:  Forward Into The Past!"  <fading>
 NANCY:       "I hope he gets back before all this dry ice melts."



GOLDEN HINDE: A series hosted by Bob {HINDE}. "Welcome to the 
wonderful world of Snails and adventure as we board the Golden Hinde".
Based upon a TV show from the '50's.  A guy and his wife and family 
would travel all over the world, and then show the home movies theytook,  
with their narration. This has been quoted several times in {MST3K}.

The `Golden Hind' was the ship in which, in 1577-1580, Francis Drake
sailed around the world.  Originally, the ship was named the `Pelican',
but while he was travelling, Drake changed the name in honor of
his patron, Sir Christopher Hatton.  Hatton's crest was a golden
hind.  (A "hind" is a sort of female deer, more specifically
a female three years or older; especially a female red deer.)

GOON SHOW: A British comedy show from the 50's which had great
influence on the Firesign Theatre. They were British surrealists 
comprised of Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe (Peter
Bergman worked for a while with Spike Milligan while in England).
A number of FT terms are references to Goon Shows:

Michael Packer writes:

   Two FT pieces payed tribute to the
   Goons; "The Giant Rat Of Sumatra" an "By The Light Of The
   Silvery...".  George L. Tirebiter's voice was lifted
   directly from a Goon Show character.  One of the "Unclaimed
   Melodies" (The Spanish Suitcase) is the title of a Goon
   script.  Lastly, the phrase "It's great to be alive in
   1985", originally from the Goon Show entitled "1985",
   appeared in altered form on P & B's "TV Or Not TV".  

GORGONZOLA: A fearsome {CHEESE}-monster! Mentioned by {BRADSHAW} on a 
{YOUNG GUY} Motor-Detective radio show, and elsewhere. See also 

User Contributions:

according to FT, what were the 6 types of people, by how they responded in a crisis?
(bozos, berserkers, ...)

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