October 6

I’ve posted Chapter 21 of Beaver Teeth in the sidebar. And under the Blogroll category, I’ve included an interesting link to Goon Shows, if anyone’s interested.  It’s always fascinating to me to listen to Milligan’s work as a writer, and I must say it’s influenced me for years. The core of the Goons is his writing, once you get past the considerable charm of Sellers and Seagoon and Spike himself as performers.

This was the year when not only did we not go to the Big Fair, but didn’t go to Oysterfest either.  It’s been a rocky time with our kidz and their idiot parents and they’ve moved and we’re stuck with trying to sell their house (the one we bought out of foreclosure when Dad went to jail, etc.) in a stunningly evil credit market.  I’m sure we’re not alone here, but they trashed the house and now we’ve got to put yet more money-we-don’t-have into repairing damage, a new roof, etc. It saddens me to feel our influence lessening on the twins, but what can we do?  They’re in middle school now and inevitably change was going to happen and blah and blah.  Life goes on.  Presumably.

The new Firesign Theatre box set (Box of Danger) is just released and sits happily at the moment in the top ten of Amazon comedy albums as well as number one in Spoken Word and Radio there. No reviews yet. I’m happy with the package and, as usual, haven’t really sat down and listened to all of it and probably won’t. I did rewrite and re-record the final cut (called “Scaled-Down Danger”) so at least one thing is virtually new. The company that produced it is called Shout!Factory and is headed by Richard Foos who was one of the two original guys who invented Rhino.  Very nice and very honorable people. And Taylor Jessen, who sometimes contributes to this site, production-managed the whole project for us and did a wonderful job. 

If anyone gets a minute, please make a comment to this post so I can check and see if I need to nag people because somehow I’m no longer getting my usual email notification when someone posts. And to Dana in particular, if you post a link to any pictures, I can download and put it up into a post so everyone can see it.

35 thoughts on “October 6

  1. Here is a comment to go with comment number four on the previous. I am beginning to feel impotent if I can’t come up with something exciting enough to spontaneously generate an email and send it hurling into an inbox.

    Ben Sent

  2. Phil,

    That’s well said, what you say about the “core” is “the writing”. Happily, we can still LISTEN to good writing as well as read it. I want to say, on this subject, and with all that Danger fresh in the Box, that for me, and I am certain many many more like and unlike, the core of your work with/as Firesign Theatre and on your own is the writing, and not withstanding the considerable charm of the performers. (I hope you won’t relegate that I say this to the Blah and Blah Department.)

    I smiled fondly when I saw, in your previous post, the images of you and Oona from the cover of “In The Next World, You’re On Your Own”. I am not certain of the firegraphical facts about the circumstances in which it was written and recorded, but this one, and I well remember the jouissance of my first listen to, had a different quality of story and imagination the I reveled in. The writing was “core”. I really, really liked it. And still do.

    The best of the worst of times and the worst of the best of times, times that tire and wear down the tread on men’s (and women’s) souls. Leaves you with a ‘bald’ feeling on a treacherous stretch. Still, there’s those ‘miles to go before we sleep’. Presumably.

  3. Thanks Mark and RG. Indeed, I’m not being notified and now I have evidence with which to nag Erin, my weblogger guy. Just sent off an email to him. And asked as well if there’s a way to post pictures in these comments and not just links to pictures. And if he’s having any success transferring the missing comments of earlier this year. He’s in Bakersfield so he obviously will have nothing better to do than service my every whim, what with Buck Owens being deceased and Bakersfield nightlife brought therefore to a stunned halt.

  4. And Robert – glad you like Next World. I pretty much wrote side one and David pretty much wrote side two, and then we worked together on the final script for both sides. (The baseball game is mostly me, for instance.) Phil and Peter only contributed some improvisations and weren’t part of the conception or writing or production at all. Ah, life in a Komedy Gruppe. It was a pretty big fight going on, to be sure. It’s amazing the performance side turned out as well as it did.

    And of course, who wouldn’t be struck with the interplay of tires and Robert Frost in your comment. As if Frost and Nascar were somehow intersected. (To continue at least the road metaphor.)

    Actually, now I comes to thinks about it, David and I meant the album to be an ‘x’ – literally the x in “next” – and a literal intersection of two stories, two lines, two roads. In fact, as I remember, the X shows up in the front cover art. The Randum Koolzip story intersects with the reporter’s story. TV intersects with reality.

    N. Turd Section
    (Mark does these so much better than I do)

  5. Thanks, Phil, for posting this photo for me. It is a flower of my own creation from the eight decoy geese I just recently painted and are now floating on the water next to my boat. I like Oona’s latest photo for Chapter 21. What is it? It’s gorgeous and inspired me to create a flower of my own. This blog is a daily source of sanity for me. Thanks to you and all its contributors for making sense out of a discombobulated world.


  6. Phil,

    “x” is an interesting letter in our alphabet; itself an intersection of the Unknown (as in ‘solve for x’). Its own ancestor-letters and lineage(s) of graphic and pronunciation development are uncertain, neither completely known nor unknown, they are conjectural: Does “x” (with its various pronunciation options) derive from a Greek letter or from a Phoencian-Semitic (and latter Hebrew) letter samekh, or is a meeting of both? A meeting of both like ‘Western culture’ is: a meeting of Semitic and Greek cultures. A Tale of Two Stories, in LP days, you’d have to go from one side to the other; each side was “the next world” of the other side. I was thinking of your being a devotee of Nascar (you’d written about it on the Fireblog). And Frost references too have occurred here in the past when the Blog’s season turned to Fall. I just re-read what you wrote and it happens that there too intersection and meeting were invoked: “Devotion to comedy and Earnhardt may not be for everyone. Maybe we can promote a merger.”

    X: A Tale of Two Stories Intersecting. According to one of its dictionary definitions, “next” is “any other considered hypothetically”.

    “TV intersects with reality” gives me the x-cuse I have been waiting for to post the following quotation here. It is the epigraph to the preface of Hanns Zischler’s meticulous and devotedly researched book “Kafka Goes to the Movies” (F.K. loved movies and saw as many as he could that came his way):

    “Because in the cinematograph—this is its infinite value and advantage compared with the stage—all bothersome reality appears as if wiped away.” – Alfred Polgar (reporter, drama critic, writer), 1912

    ‘Solve for x’? He didn’t have cable and he didn’t get PBS. He wasn’t about to take a job that required a tele-course in the history of Western civilization. Toa serial gumshoe like N., used to old-fashioned means of deduction, the new math never did add up. But where there were fast women and even faster cars, there was bound to be a case of something he could open and shut.

    –X. O’Gent

  7. I just reread all of the above which was much more interesting than my previous fast read. I don’t recall what the hurry was- I was probably busy searching for a world where all bothersome reality appears as if wiped away. I seem to remember that Len wrote some good Kafka jokes.

    I wanted to mention, Phil, that if you feel you are losing touch and influence with your middle-schoolers, there is hope. At fifteen, our daughter started making all sorts of bad decisions, complete with snotty attitude and histrionics. I met Principals and EMTs. At eighteen she couldn’t wait to move away with her boyfriend. Now at nineteen-and-a-half, she is apologetic, contrite and much more reasonable. It turns out that her parents were kind, loving and the rock-solid foundation of her life. Who knew?

    So here is to the tired and tread upon… may all soon be properly inflated! I enjoyed both flowers- nice to see Dana back with a new one.

    Malcolm Wynott

  8. A fantastic and fantastical flower; the Golden Spike, the Lord of Puckoon; a flower of dux; middle schoolers awry; NeXt intersextions; and an Xegesis inclduing that Xistentialist, Mr. K. Sometimes it’s hard keeping up around here.

    Why did Franz Kafka cross the road? He was making a futile attempt to flee the horrors of Xistence.

  9. I’ve emailed the mysterious Erin and he’s told me he’s going to get five or six of his best guys right on my questions. I haven’t succeeded in getting Dana’s Beautiful Geese up on these comments and I’m thinking of setting up a Pictures from All of Us section that I’d put hers and Tigerlil’s stuff onto (and hopefully Mrs. Zen as well and everyone else interested.) Unless Erin emails me soon and tells me there’s a way to post pictures direct to the comments.

    Eggs Ackly (or however R.Crumb spelled it.)

  10. Oh, and Dana …

    Ooooona’s picture is the interior of a poppy from this summer and we’re expecting a visit from NATO forces any minute to lecture us about somehow supporting the Taliban. Unless this isn’t Afghanistan and I’ve somehow lost touch with reality. By the way, the other night here on Mysterious Island the fog horns were going and I was suddenly swept back to nights spent at my Aunt and Uncle’s house up the hill in Tiburon when I was a kid. In Sausalito, you’re close enough that my memory and you guys’ reality is probably the same thing. Love those foghorns. Love those Geese. The couple we were feeding all Spring seem to have returned with thirty of their kind, and probably twelve of those are their kids. The mallards are back and demanding JimmyCrackedCorn on the lawn. These birds have got to get a life of their own.

  11. And Mark ….

    Thanks for the advice and congratulations on your daughter’s recondition. And are the Trails still thinking about moving south? Down deep, I’d rather you were in Jefferson, a State with no electoral stakes in its heart. And I know what you mean, the Zenman is deep lately. The Vile animal, or whatever the proper translation of K’s cockroach is, seems to have enlightened both him and RobbrG, Master of X.

    I’ve got to read more. I’ve had it with writing.

  12. Oh, and speaking of the Robberman:

    Thanks for bringing up NASCAR and my peculiar fascinations. My dear friend Chevychase has left several messages lately twitting me about it. (He calls me “Lugnut.”) But the Big Blonde and I have fallen out of love with the sport in a pure sense since the death of Earnhardt and the Ascendance of His Child. We like the Child as well as the Next Man (he’s the guy with his headphone set tuned to the frequency of the 88 car) but it just isn’t the same for us, just as our devotion to the Lakers ended with the end of Magic and Cooper and our devotion to the Dodgers ended in ’88 and our devotion to the Rams ended, well, badly. Fandom is an odd thing and someday I’m going to work on the story I have started about it called “The Domestic 500.”

  13. We have sold and given many, many posessions and we were really close to moving to Nevada by the Sierra Nevada, would have even done it this month, but instead I am getting the shoulder surgery here where the State of Disability Insurance and Blue Shield of CA roam. Upside… my daughter volunteered to return home, sans Romeo, and drive me around for a few weeks as I am supposed to sling and immobilize. So movement will be on hold for a while.

    Speaking of driving, are people of NAZCAR aware that what they are thrilled by is people driving rapidly in a circle, sort of an endless left turn, while burning mass quantities of fossil fuel? I’ve often wondered if it is all part of a plan to more quickly bring us to some damnable future hell. I’ll bet that if the drivers would all just turn off the garish noise makers and have a skipping race around the track, everyone would see that that is much more fun.

    Paul E. Anna

  14. When I first saw the Oona’s flower-graph I was reading a little ‘parable’ by Alexandre Vialatte (an early translator of F.K. writings into French), a ‘parable’ about reading and interpreting F.K.’s writings, in fact, in which he imagines ‘egg-balancing angels’ (“It would appear,” he begins, “that angels balance their eggs on mountains”). There is a great one-liner in this ‘parable’: “There is nothing like the surprise of philosopher who discovers an angel’s egg. He doesn’t know what to do with it.” Make that a great two-liner, or two great one-liners. The angel’s egg that Vialatte describes, “much bigger than an ordinary egg”, has an impenetrable but transparent shell. All that occurs inside the egg is observable, and what is observed is an ever-manifesting mystery of ciperable and decipherable significance, all of it subject to many interpretations. Seeing that picture, I thought I was might be looking at the radiant star-pulsing center of that angel’s egg, caught in a photographic moment of re-constellating itself. Its color, though, those horizon-twilight-to-sunset deep violets and purple, brought memory of another text, which one I remembered last night, when I found myself reversing the perspective of my view and imagining that I was looking up at its image from below—a first plenary appearance of “things striving to break through”. Such is the x-factor power of this Blog (or so I tell myself) that this text too is by F.K., a diary entry from June 25, 1914, and also about an angel, come from a precipice fearsomely tread.

    “I paced up and down my room from early morning until twilight. The window was open, it was a warm day. The noises of the narrow street beat in uninterruptedly. By now I knew every trifle in the room from having looked at it in the course of my pacing up and down. My eyes had traveled over every wall. I had pursued the pattern of the rug to its last convolution, noted every mark of age it bore. My fingers had spanned the table across the middle many times. I had already bared my teeth repeatedly at the picture of the landlady’s dead husband.
    Toward evening I walked over to the window and sat down on the low still. Then, for the first time not moving restlessly about, I happened calmly to glance into the interior of the room and at the ceiling. And finally, finally, unless I was mistaken, this room which I had so violently upset began to stir. The tremor began at the edges of the thinly plastered white ceiling. Little pieces of plaster broke off and with a distinct thud fell here and there, as if at random, to the floor. I held out my hand and some plaster fell into it too; in my excitement I threw it over my head into the street without troubling to turn around. The cracks in the ceiling made no pattern yet, but it was already possible somehow to imagine one. I put these games aside when a bluish violet began to mix with the white; it spread straight out from the center of the ceiling, which itself remained white, even radiantly white, where the shabby electric lamp was stuck. Wave after wave of the color—or was it light?—spread out toward the now darkening edges. One no longer paid any attention to the paster that was falling away as if under the pressure of a skillfully applied tool. Yellow and golden-yellow colors now penetrated the violet from the side. But the ceiling did not really take on different hues; the colors merely made it somewhat transparent; things striving to break through seemed to be hovering above it, already one could amost see the outlines of a movement there, an arm was thrust out, a silver sword swung to and fro. It was meant for me, there was no doubt of that; a vision intended for my liberation was being prepared.
    I sprang up on the table to make everything ready, tore out the electric light together with its brass fixture and hurled it to the floor, then jumped down and pushed the table from the middle of the room to the wall. That which was striving to appear could drop down unhindered on the carpet and announce to me whatever it had to announce. I had barely finished when the ceiling did in fact break open. In the dim light, still at a great height, I had judged it badly, an angel in bluish-violet robes girt with gold cords sank slowly down on great white silken-shining wings, the sword in its raised arm thrust out horizontally. “An angel, then!” I thought, “it has been flying toward me all day and in my disbelief I did not know it. Now it will speak to me.” I lowered my eyes. When I raised them again the angel was still there, it is true, hanging rather far off under the ceiling (which had closed again), but it was no living angel, only a painted wooden figurehead off the prow of some ship, one of the kind that hangs from the ceiling in sailors’ taverns, nothing more.
    The hilt of the sword was made in such a way as to hold candles and catch the wax drippings. I had pulled the electric light down; I didn’t want to remain in the dark, there was still one candle left, so I got up on a chair, struck the candle into the hilt of the sword, lit it and then sat late into the night under the angel’s faint flame.” (Translation by Martin Greenberg with the assistance of Hannah Arendt)

    Dana’s Decoy Duck Mandala in sequitur with Oona’s flower-graph shows a “metamorphosis” similar to what K. alludes to here (using “metamorphosis” as Canetti used the word—also resonant with K.’s singular use of it, in the quotation (posted elsewhere) about the vocation of the writer).

    What Vialatte’s ‘parable’ calls angel eggs may well be words themselves. “An entire book can come from a single broken word,” Valere Novarina wrote.

    And Phil, yeah: it’s never the same when it’s no longer the same.

  15. Speaking of x s = . Phil, there is, for me, the continued verbal and aural pleasures of your “long sentence” as I have previously called it. Tired of writing, you say, yet re-treaded nonetheless. Moving to the moon “with everything we have”, you can go through more than a few rotations of tires, I guess. But listen: there’s revivifying moonlight aplenty here in your experiment with Nineteenth Century Narrative, however deep dark the night in which it may reach to us, we can still read in the dark, very much so. The Mark Harman new translation of Das Schloss, The Castle, based on the restored text, includes as appendix a translation of Malcolm Pasley’s postscript to the German critical edition. Pasley concludes with comments about F. K.’s “light and sometimes unconventional punctuation”. He writes: “When a continuous sequence of the hero’s experiences and thoughts is narrated, this is done in a single sentence. Divided by commas only, so as not to interrupt the flow…[this] punctuation serves not so much to clarify the grammatical structure of his sentences as to convey the predominantly oral quality of his narrative style. He is known to have judged his own stories above all by the effect they had when read aloud. “Readers would do well,” remarks one critic, “to try and restore to his language the sound pattern which he gave it, and not to remain content with the poor substitute of silent reading.”” So much for “I’ve had it with writing”. (A frequent conclusion of writers, I know, and a frequent self pronounced eulogy over their day’s year’s life’s effort.) However, if the feeling persists, there is this 2 cents from Borges, I came across just today in something I was reading: “I sometimes think good readers are rare birds, more brooding and singular than good writers.” More reading may make you even more tired.

    –Dr. Freudulent

  16. Hey Phil, the Box of Danger arrived from Amazon.ca in the mail two days ago. Love the package, it looks great, and feels…respectful, if that makes any sense. It’s a wonderful addition to my collection of FT media.

    I hope all is well with you. Unfortunately I am rather brain-dead tonight and can’t think of anything else to say, but I wanted to respond to your request for comments, and let you know that Box o’ D is in the house.


  17. Hey Randy:

    Glad to hear that Amazon’s tentacles reach into the Far North. Brain-deadness has inhabited my cranium as well, but thanks for checking in and buying the box. It’s fun to have something in the marketplace right at the time that no one in America feels like buying much of anything. Ah, well. Usual FST luck.


  18. Richard:

    Hope, hope, hope. I see we’ve dropped into the twenties in comedy albums but are still number one in spoken word.


  19. RG:

    Egg-balancing angels. That is so beautiful. Bebop Locolobo traverses the desert in a luminous green egg. Which came first? The luminescence or the view it reveals?

    I can’t remember when or where I suddenly realized that commas solved most problems for me. When I write for a magazine, the editor usually likes to break up a lot of my longies into shorties, which is usually (in the case of The Bark article recently) ok with me, since I tend to look at magazine writing as basically collaborative, like movie-making.

    I guess I should post the Bark article (The Imaginary Dog Awards) and I’ll put it into a new category called … uh, … Short Stuff. Not great, but I’ve had it with being clever. Enough is enough.

    (Posted up now, but it’s my original submission, without editorial improvement. Lightweight, to be sure, but a hit with several dogowners I know personally. There’s nothing like being able to occasionally write something that human people can access. I’m starting work on another piece for The Bark on camping with multiple dogs. The magazine (often called “The New Yorker of dog magazines”) is quite nice and stunningly literate. Cameron Woo, the editor, started it originally as a xeroxed handout at the public dog park in Berkeley. He and I did a reading together at a huge bookstore in Seattle earlier this year (I’m part of a book they published called “Howl.”) His brother Roger turns out to run the charitable Russell Foundation in nearby Gig Harbor. It’s a small, small world, after all.)

    Not a Cockroach

  20. Phil,

    It is, isn’t it? “Ah, imagination, ah dog food” is meant to remind one of the last line of Melville’s “Bartleby The Scrivner”? Right? Say it is, pleeaaase. I knew it. This portends, then, that one future final night in camp under the Big Tent Stars one lucky dog will receive the “I Prefer Not To” Award. I am reminded, as well, of the still shocking petroleum based expose that “Dogs Flew Space Ships”. Control over the imaginations of those prone to imagination, then, is but a routine exercise of their powers, even in a boat, with a goat. Their combined stares seem to say. “Who owns who?” And, by the way, speaking of losing, do you know Paul Krassner’s story about being the winner of The Slow Bicycle Race? That’s the way to win. It was your more recent mention of your contribution to “Howl” that prompted me—or was it, probably it was, the distant control of my imagination by a dog, which prompted me to reference and associate F. K.’s “Investigations of a Dog”. Which, in turn, following my dog-controlled nose of imagination, led to the Canetti quotation about the writer as a dog.

    This is a beautifully balanced angel’s egg, itself, with a luminous desert view in the civilizational dark that keeps us star struck until dawn. It seems, consistent with their individual and collective share of responsibility for human civilization, that your dogs past/present have been responsible for many many well instances of your well imagined glow-in-the-egg prose with its well-placed commas. Their bark is as big as your write. ‘Cry French fry, and let slip the dogs of imagination!’

    One Imagination under Dog. Here’s a Big Gulp toast to it!*

    *(A Shardonay, perhaps, made from the finest “little shards of stillborn acceptance speeches”. Bad human joke. No dog’s to blame.)

    Borzoi OComma

  21. I see, a shaggy dog story, which is different from a shagging dog story. Those might appear in a publication, but it wouldn’t be “Bark.” Or “Down, Boy.”

    Ah! Champagne! The soda pop of wines! Champagne always makes for a corking good story as well.

    And finally, I’d like to thank the Academy and all those I stepped on and clawed my way past to get this imaginary award. I couldn’t have done it without all the little people, who worked like dogs, but dressed like wombats. As I stand triumphant before you, I am both humbled and filled with pride, and I pledge to use the avalanche of clout that comes with this imaginary statuette to accomplish the work that I’ve always dreamt of. I will now make the most expensive, useless piece of crap anyone’s ever seen!

    You like me! You really like me! It’s not just the french fries!

    R. Sonwells


    Is it dogs, then, who, in actuality, ‘domesticated’ us, we humans? Are they in four-legged animal form the ‘better angels of our nature’, the smiling anima to aid our uncivilized, then civilized, and then over-civilized animonsities? I don’t know if there exists an etymology that supports this inference or that lives in some language as a trace of this occurrence. In Arabic, “kalb” (with a kaf) is “dog” and “qalb” (with a qaf) is “heart”. “An indication, nothing more,” as the Great Detective might say. Or is it rather the ‘dog-effect’ on the imagination that perhaps effected me so as to imagine such an etymology. Curiously, for this reader at least, the famous ‘first murder’ story omits any mention of a dog. So no help there. But perhaps that was when, right after that legendary ‘first murder’, dogs intervened in human kind, to companion us in the millennial wandering that has ensued, and without all the usual complications that occur when angelic agents are recognized to be involved. If unanswered questions, if emptiness and silence were going to lead to murder, then maybe the humanizing influence humans most needed was not human at all.

    Neither theoretically sound nor empirically documented enough to become an episode of “Nature” on PBS, yes, I know (the imagination often is not), but surely it merits a treat and belly rub.

    ToothLess LaDreque

  23. I have a dog that I have to give an incontinence pill to. I have a cousin named Buster who had a lobotomy but it didn’t take and he just got out of prison. He tried to rob an Indian casino with a toy gun. Swear to God it is all true. Enough sharing for one day.

    Lazlo Money

  24. I want to explain. The reason I took the oath of veracity above is that the previous statements are true. I didn’t want you to think I was making things up just so I could be a bigshot on the Internet and people would like me.

    Clearly yours,

    Orville Achiever

  25. I’ve given it time to make sure that it’s real and it is. Sarah Palin gives me a boner.

    I’m about to finish a book that I’ve really enjoyed called “The Shipping News.” I’m sure that anyone literate read this fifteen years ago but it is still pretty good right now anyway if you didn’t.

    We have Indian Summer, Pomo Summer around here, and I can’t believe how many birds are playing on the front lawn since I put out the sprinkler. A pair of woodpeckers even. I think they were dry.

    Otto Body

  26. That’s interesting because Gov. Palin gives me a sharp pain behind the eyes and a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. It’s all in the eye–and some other parts–of the beholder, I guess.

    I still haven’t read The Shipping News yet, but I did sell quite a few copies in my bookseller days. And I lot of people I respect, including my wife and my best friend have vouched for it. Someday I’ll read it, and a huge stack of others, but I’m saving this treat for my dotage, which should be here any day now.

    Heddy Aiken


    Who’s this Palin chic, anyway?

    I didn’t know Michael had a sister . . .?

    She’s a lumberjack and she’s OK . . . .

  28. Returning home, I watched CNN for a while to get really depressed and a misguided motivation. After a certain period of time, my Father and I were driven bugeyed with all the Christmas Specials and commercials on the tube, but that’s what the mute button is for and interspersing naps. This expression, over-and-over again, “be off good cheer,” with great searching, was never found and really given up for lost. I don’t know. It could have just wondered off or never got off the tilt-a-whirl, dizzy son-of-a-bitch.

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