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Firesign Theatre: Lexicon, Part 3/4

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Archive-name: firesign-theatre/lexicon/part3
Last-modified: 1994/8/30
Version: 2.0

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  Side 4) The Firesign Theatre: Lexicon and Concordance File(3/4)


HCYB: How Can You Be in {TWO PLACES} at Once, When You're Not Anywhere
at All?

HEMLOCK STONES: Yet another FT detective, loosely based on Sherlock 
Holmes. Known as "Hemlock Stones, the Great Defective". His sidekick is 

Michael Rogers writes,

For those who are not devotees of Sherlock Holmes I came across
this while reading Conan Doyle a couple of weeks ago:

	"'Matilda Briggs was not the name of a young woman,
	Watson,' said Holmes in a reminiscent voice.  'It was
	a ship which is associated with the giant rat of Sumatra,
	a story for which the world is not yet prepared.'"

		-from _The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire_ (The_Doge) continues,

Actually, there are a fair number of Canonical references in
"Giant Rat"....

For example:  "Violet Dawn Dudley" refers to the fact that some
of the more interesting heroines in the Canon are named Violet ("The
Solitary Cyclist" is one example).  And then there's the frequent use
of the name "Moriarity" in various guises.  And the fact that Watson
had just returned from the Afghani wars when he met Holmes..

Bill Johnson writes,

What B+W Sherlock Holmes movie with Basil Rathbone had an
opening sequence strikingly like the one which opens the Hemlock
Stones mystery, where he is  playing his violin while his asssistant
is trying to find food, and both are  discussing a case they just 

John Burkardt answers,

>The movie you saw was "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes", starring
>Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.

>Holmes was plucking his violin, trying to find a frequency that would
>disturb flies, reasoning that if he found such a frequency, he could
>have a simple fly repeller.

>The movie was made about 1939, I believe.

HIDEO GUMP: A Japanese business man, whose son Hideo Gump, Jr.played 
the role of {YOUNG GUY}, Motor Detective!

HINDE: Refers either to the {GOLDEN HINDE} or Bob Hinde, the host of 
the show. Briefly appeared in {DWARF}, and in {EYKIW}, where we first 
meet the aliens. They have appeared in several {MST3K} episodes as well.

HOLOGRAM: A 3D cybernetic {CLONE} of someone, made popular in the play 

HOPI: Hopi Indian culture has a lot of influence on FT terms.

John V. Scialli writes:


I know that the Native Amnerikan stuff on Electrician
derived from the three or four boises from I da know (Proctor stayed 
behind with his show) spending time living amongst the Hopi in Hopiland 
(Arizona & New Amerikanexprexico). They brought back material for a 
serious documentary and information which was accurate. The legend of 
the Great White Brother is moralistic, but it is moralistic to the Hopi 
who *had* (may still be if they haven't lost hopi) welcomed the Anglo's 
arrival as a Sign, sign here. 

I bet you think the character Mudhead derived from the Archie 
comicbooks. Of course and not so. Mudhead is a very important (& my 
favorite) Kachina. Mudhead is the last Kachina during pageants. He is 
the Clown who provides comic relief. Kachina have multiple layers of 
meaning. I know the one where Mudhead is the living embodiment of the 
warning against brother-sister incest, less a baby with a bizarre head 
pop out (of the sodium shop). Phil Proctor said that at a deeper level, 
Mudhead appears at the end of ceremonies to mock what has gone on 
before. He admonishes children not to believe anything they have just 
been taught by adults and especially not to respect the opinions of 
tribal leaders, these leaders are out of touch. Phil came up with this 
great phrase, "Their leaders have heads of mud while our's
have feet of clay." Wouldn't that be a great album title "Heads of mud, 
feet of clay," huh? And what a paradocs in that it is the elders putting 
on the ceremony. Kinda like Principal Pooproctor "fuck you'ing" the kids 
back. Anyway, the high school madness plot is derived from this and
other legends. If you found Electrician too moralizing it has to do with
technique, not message. Dwarf taught the same things but infiltrated our
consciousnesses with only 10% of the effect "visible" at the time.



HUMBOLT: Temporarily Humboldt (Humbolt) County. (W. John Weber) writes,

In a radio show prepared by David {OSSMAN}, and heard only in Seattle 
and  Bloominton, IN, celebrating the 20th birthday of Electrician it was 
explained.  Humbolt County is an actual county in which the FT boys had 
friends, and they were fairly interested in Native American politics.  
The government (white) had declared the area Humbolt County, but the 
Indians in order to refuse the whites appelation (and I guess to remind 
them that no man really owns the  land) called it Temporarily Humbolt 


I CHING: "The Book of Changes". A Chinese fortune telling device,  
involving the tossing of coins or  (more traditionally) the dividing and  
counting of yarrow stalks,called {POOH STICKS} by some. The binary  
patterns which come up are used in looking up the corresponding pattern  
in an I CHING  dictionary of patterns. In "Return for Regrooving" on the 
{ELECTRICIAN} album, the Hippie Republic of China reported, "We threw I 
Ching... out the window!  We are now unanimous!" 

There was also a Sally I CHING who just turned 12 today on {DWARF}.

By far the most insightful translation of the I Ching is one by Richard
Wilhelm, with introduction by C.G. Jung.  In fact this is the trans used 
by FT, as the wording on the albums IS the Wilhelm wording.

The Firesign Theatre, in writing  their {EVERYMAN} plays, had a 
tradition of throwing the I CHING before  and after each of their plays. 
For example, in {BOZO}'s, the first words  we hear are "Biting 
Through...", which is an I CHING.  

The {TWO PLACES} album uses The Army hexagram, where Nick Danger says,

  NICK: Well, Bradshaw -- It's like in The Army, you know--The Great
   Prince issues commands, founds states, vests families with fiefs. 
  Inferior people should not be employed

  BRADSHAW: Nick, I can't know success, but you still put me through
  too many changes.

(This last remark refers to the fact that the "I Ching" means "Book of 

The last line of {NICK DANGER} in {TWO PLACES} may also be found in the 
Unix version documentation for ching(6), under "DIAGNOSTICS", which is 
based upon the Wilhelm translation. In fact, using "ching" we can 
determine the exact configuration that was thrown for the {TWO PLACES} 
album. In the liner notes for one of the CD's it was noted that they 
threw the hexagram "The Army", with the changing line leading to 
"Youthful folly".

The way all this stuff works is, you throw some yarrow sticks (also
called pooh sticks) or coins, and derive a set of six numerical
values, between 6 and 9. The even numbers represent the -- --
broken line, and the odd numbers represend the ------ solid line.
Also, lines which came from the numbers 6 and 9 are called changing 
lines; if there are any changing lines then they are considered
unstable, and will turn into their opposite. So, you have to
also use the hexagram resulting from flipping the changing lines.

Now, The Army is:      And Y. Folly is:       So the configuration was:

    --  --                ------                   6    (change)
    --  --                --  --                   8    (no change)
    --  --                --  --                   8    (no change)
    --  --                --  --                   8    (no change)
    ------                ------                   7    (no change)
    --  --                --  --                   8    (no change)

So, let's go to our favorite unix-box and throw the Firesign Theatre's
exact hexagram:

  $ /usr/games/ching 878886

     7.   Shih / The Army

          -- --
          -- --     above     K'un   The Receptive, Earth
          -- --
          -- --
          -----     below     K'an   The Abysmal, Water
          -- --

     The Judgement

          The Army. The army needs perseverance
          And a strong man.
          Good fortune without blame.

     The Image

          In the middle of the earth is water:
          The image of the Army.
          Thus the superior man increases his masses
          By generosity toward the people.

     The Lines

          Six at the top means:
          The great prince issues commands,
          Founds states, vests families with fiefs.
          Inferior people should not be employed.

     4.   Meng / Youthful Folly

          -- --     above     Ken    Keeping Still, Mountain
          -- --
          -- --
          -----     below     K'an   The Abysmal, Water
          -- --

     The Judgement

          Youthful Folly has success.
          It is not I who seek the young fool;
          The young fool seeks me.
          At the first oracle I inform him.
          If he asks two or three times, it is importunity.
          If he importunes, I give him no information.
          Perseverance furthers.

     The Image

          A spring wells up at the foot of the mountain:
          The image of Youth.
          Thus the superior man fosters his character
          By thoroughness in all that he does.


An interesting sidelight; note the reference to Ken, Keeping Still.
If any of you have read the FT's Big Mystery Joke Book, the last
play is one called "The Dream Play, (for Monkey, Dreamer, Mudhead
and Snake)" written by Phil Austin. It starts out with the Dreamer

   Once upon a time, when time was nothing like it is today, 
   you must imagine that you sat still, upon the side of a
   mountain called Keeping Still. You have clear eyes and
   they are very strong and they see a great land and beyond
   it a great sea and above it a great sky...

I'm pretty sure that "Ken" is actually K'en, which was the name of
one of the characters Phil {PROCTOR} played in {DWARF}.

Unforturnately, we don't know the changing lines for the other hexagram
thrown for {BOZO}s, "Biting Through", so we cant get the exact
judgement. In any case, this is what we get with all the changing lines
activated (we'll ignore the changed hex, since it could have been
any of the 63 others):

%  /usr/games/ching 966969

     21.  Shih Ho / Biting Through

          -- --     above     Li     The Clinging, Flame
          -- --
          -- --     below     Chen   The Arousing, Thunder

     The Judgement

          Biting Through has success.
          It is favorable to let justice be administered.

     The Image

          Thunder and lightning:
          The image of Biting Through.
          Thus the kings of former times made firm the laws
          Through clearly defined penalties.

     The Lines

          Nine at the beginning means:
          His feet are fastened in the stocks,
          So that his toes disappear.
          No blame.

          Six in the second place means:
          Bites through tender meat,
          So that his nose disappears.
          No blame.

          Six in the third place means:
          Bites on old dried meat
          And strikes on something poisonous.
          Slight humiliation. No blame.

          Nine in the fourth place means:
          Bites on dried gristly meat.
          Receives metal arrows.
          It furthers one to be mindful of difficulties
          And to be persevering.
          Good fortune.

     ()   Six in the fifth place means:
          Bites on dried lean meat.
          Receives yellow gold.
          Perseveringly aware of danger.
          No blame.

          Nine at the top means:
          His neck is fastened in the wooden cangue,
          So that his ears disappear.

Now *there's* something to chew on!   :-)

Final note: Peter {BERGMAN} remarks that as far as he can remember, 
there was no particular hexagram for the other two albums. 

ITNWYOYO: In the Next World You're On Your Own. An FT album.

ITWABOTB: I Think We're All {BOZO}S On This Bus. One of the 
cornerstones of FT philosophy and viewpoints, and the fourth in the 
FT's {EVERYMAN} cycle of plays.



JOE SWINE: "Ok, swami whatever-your-name-is, we'll be back to this  
Christ-consciousness racket in just a minute.".  Definitely Joe Pine,
a radio/tv interview show host.  An early version of Wally George and  
Morton Downey. From {DWARF}.


Kali Yuga: From "TV or Not TV", "Umperor Kali Yuga" is a play on the 
Roman Emperor Caligula and the hindu term Kali Yuga. Bongo sez:

Kali Yuga is a hindu term for the age just (thankfully) coming to an 
end, in a system that (more or less) defines human spiritual receptivity 
as a cyclical function emcompassing multiple thousands of years. 

In such a system, Kali Yuga is considered the darkest age, which some 
believe bottomed out about 500 or 600 A.D.  As we are now supposedly on 
the ascendant cusp exiting the age,  "watching Kali Yuga pass" is a 
nicely poignant pun on the times in which we live.


LANGERHANS: As in The Far-flung Islets of Langerhans:
The Rocket Man  writes:

  Well, the Islets of Langerhans aren't on any map.
  In 1869, Paul Langerhans, a German pathologist, described 
  cells in the human pancreas which secrete insulin.  These 
  cells became know as the 'Islets of Langerhans'.
  Diabetes is a disorder where the Islets of Langerhans do 
  not properly supply the body with insulin.

LEPRECHAUNS: Posed the {PORRIDGE BIRD} question to {EVERYMAN}. And 
just look at the havok THAT recked!

LOMPOC: Another town in Southern California. Also used by W.C.Fields:

Cat writes:

The reason Fields used Lompoc, aside from the fact that it was fun to
pronounce, was that it was the capitol of the temperence movement in the
US, and you know W.C. Field's tolerance for temperence; at least that 
was the surmise of David Ossman when he visited Lompoc in 1970, and 
reported back to the other Crazee Guys on their radio show at the time. 
Dave said it was actually pronounced lom-poke, but he may have been high 
on pork at the time.

LOOSTNERS: Caster-oil flakes. One of {NICK DANGER}'s sponsors. "With
real glycerin vibra-fome!"

LOS ANGELES: A city featured in many Firesign Theatre terms. The
FT got their start in Peter Bergman's Radio Free Oz on KPFK in 
Los Angeles. Here are some LA related terms:

  {RALPH SPOILSPORT}    - Ralph Williams
  {JOE SWINE}           - Joe Pine ("Ok, Swami..")
  {YUCAIPA HEAP}        - Yucaipa/Uriah Heep hybrid.
  George {TIREBITER}
  {PICO} and {ALVARADO} 
  {ANTELOPE FREEWAY}    - "one five-hundred-twelfth mile"
  Mulholland Drive
  {SAN FERNANDINO}      - San Fernando

LOVE IN: A 60's phenomenon whose name and event was coined and
created by Peter Bergman. The first one occurred in Echo Park in
{LOS ANGELES} with 40,000 people.

LUPINO: Ida Lupino, an old Hollywood actress. See Ralph {BUNCHE}.


MARK TIME: A space-adventurer from the Circum-Solar Federation,
serialized by the FT in their "Dear Friends" album, and also a
ride in the {FUTURE FAIR}. His side-kick is {BOB BUNNY}.


MOUSE: Deacon E. L. Mouse, one of the characters in {DWARF}, serving
under pastor Rod Flash. He was apparently named after a pet beetle
that Phil {AUSTIN} had of the same name.

MUDHEAD: {PORGIE} {TIREBITER}'s friend in the movies. Motivated
by Jughead and Archie, and by Henry Aldrich, the old radio show.
Speculation: Starting with the second film, Henry's pal was a certain 
"Dizzy" Stevens.  The connection between Dizzy and Jughead is via
baseball: "Dizzy" Dean was a renowned  pitcher, and "Mudhead" was
one of the nicknames of an early black baseball great.

This may also be a reference to the Zuni mudheads.


MST3K: Mystery Science Theatre 3000. A TV series on the Comedy Channel
which often makes references to obscure Firesign Theatre phrases,
including loose shoes, {SHOES} for industry, hi i'm joe beets, dear
friends, sit in a tree and learn to play the flute, as well as the

Hal Broome writes:

This time on Mystery Science Theater 3000; the "experiment" was
a Jack Palance stinker called THE OUTLAW, and the robot's line was:

"Don't crush that {DWARF}, hand me the pliers".

There was sort of an albino-type dwarf ("a negative of Herche V.")
which received this line.  The whole movie seemed an Italian rip-off
of the GOR series (a feminist S.F. series -- NOT!).


NANCY: Also known as Melanie Haber, Audrey Farber, Susan 
Underhill,and... Betty Jo Bialowsky! {NICK DANGER}'s old college beau, 
in "Cut 'em off at the Past!". Her name is a {BEATLES} reference.
Tom Teslacle names his "Automated Pushover" after Nancy, based on
{TESLACLE'S DEVIANT}, a corollary to {FUDD'S LAW}, in {BOZO}.
Also, in British Slang Nancy is a prostitute or loose woman. "Comes in 
and goes out like anything!"

NASI GOERING: An FT song. Also a type of dutch food, apparently:

        Nasi Goreng..."A Spicy Dutch Treat"
        Indonesian Rice, vegetables and pork, with a fried egg and

NICK DANGER: A private-eye, made popular in the FT play,"Nick Danger, 
Third Eye", on the {TWO PLACES} album, and in the video episode, "The 
Case 0f the Missing {YOLKS}". His Japanese counterpart is {YOUNG GUY}, 
Motor Detective! He is tied to George {TIREBITER} via {ANCHOVIES},
which George doesn't like on his {PIZZA}s. He is also tied to {BOZO}s
when the Whisperin' Squash suggests to {CLEM} that he could "Cut Em'
Off at the Past". Parts of the "Cut 'Em Off at the Past" episode are
conjectured to have been influenced by Philip K. Dicks 1962 novel,
_The Man In The High Castle_, which also used the {I CHING}.

NOT INSANE: The reason you should have voted for {PAPOON}, rather than 
those other {BERZERKERS} and {BOZO}S. He's not insane! Refers also to 
the FT's album of the same name. Crazy {ROCKY} also said, "I'm not
insane!" in the {YOLKS} video. 

The 1960 Lenny Bruce album "Togetherness" contains a bit called "Our 
Governers."  On it, Lenny does a surreal take on a supposedly real 
comment made by "Gov. Long" (probably Earl Long of Louisiana).  The gov. 
apparently said, on the campaign trail, "I'M NOT A NUT!!!!!!--which 
Lenny really admires as a political slogan, adding: "I DON'T WET THE 

Also: George McGovern's original 1972 running mate, Thomas Eggleton, who 
was dropped from the ticket when revelations of earlier psychiatric 
analysis came out.  The comments at the time referred to the fact that 
whatever had been wrong with him had been cured...thus he was now 
diagnosed as "Not Insane". 


OIL: A famous prayer in {TWO PLACES} goes:

 "...annointed with oil on troubled waters? oh Heavenly Grid,
 help us bear up thy *Standard, our *Chevron flashing
 bright across the *Gulf of Compromise, standing
 *Humble on the *Rich Field of *Mobile *American Thinking?
 Here in this *Shell, we call Life..."

which has 8(*) oil-company references in it.

In {HEMLOCK STONES} there was also Pignut Oil (not {PIG NITE}), and 
Boyle M. Owl and his Bowel Oil Company.

OM: OM MANE PADME HUM; An ancient (Sanskrit) buddhist mantra. Referred 
to in {NICK DANGER}. The phrase "Om mane padme hum" translates from 
Sanskrit as  "Hail to the jewel in the lotus".  Related to the chant 
"Namu Myoho Renge Kyo", used in some Japanese buddhist sects."Myoho 
Renge Kyo" is the title of the Lotus Sutra, tranlated into Chinese by 
Kumarajiva and then transliterated into Japanese. Loosely translated, 
"Nam Myoho Renge Kyo" becomes "Hail to the Mystic Law(jewel) of the 
Lotus Sutra"

OSSMAN: David Ossman, one of the FT members.

OXNARD: A real place on the California coast, home of the {YOLK}s. 
{ROCKY ROCOCO} is thought to be responsible for everything bad that 
happens there. (In the FT video, "The case of the missing {YOLK}s").

OZ: The land of {BOZOS}. Refers to Radio Free Oz, on Pacifica-sponsored 
KPFK radio in Los Angeles, where the FT used to broadcast their show. 
David {OSSMAN} is also referred to sometimes as Oz.

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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