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.

September 28






Big Blonde on the left, me on the right.  This is a detail from the Bil (that’s right, one ‘l’) Stout album cover of Firesign Theatre’s “In the Next World, You’re on your Own.”


Thanks to RobberG’s suggestion, I’ve opened a new section in the sidebar to the right with stories and I’ve started with “The Precipice of Angels.”  I hadn’t looked at it in a long time and I’ve been so much writing about the American West lately that I’d forgotten that the kind of Euro style to it works.  You’ll notice that I’ve drifted away from Good Writing.  That last sentence is, as I’m sure John McCain would say, a doozy.


It’s suddenly Summer up here on Mystery Island.  After three months of pretty constant rain, the sun is out again.  It’s been three weeks in a row of great weather.  We’re insane up here. Let the country collapse in sub-prime despair.  Let the credit cards not work. It’s nice outside.  By the way,

“You can put all the lipstick on John McCain you like,

  He’s still John McCain.”

I said that.

Nick Danger’s Snakehead Symphony

Sometimes, he doesn't smoke ???



DWIGHT: The Adventures of Nick Danger, Third Eye. Brought to you by PlusCom dot Com, the Global Interlacing network providing 24-7-360 global crisis news, keeping your unmoving butt glued to the edge of your ever-widening seat.

NICK: (Reverb) This is Nick Danger. It was the long summer of the rest of our lives. It was the time after time stopped. It was a new world and although it looked a whole lot like the old world, it was different somehow. My phone rang ?


NICK: See? Different. Like I said. I picked it up???


NICK: At least that worked.


BRADSHAW: (phone effect) Mr. Danger?

NICK: ( No REVERB) The last time someone called me Mister was before???well, you know.

BRADSHAW: You mean before the thing I know that you know too?

NICK: The thing we don’t talk about.

BRADSHAW: Yeah. Well, should I call you Mister or not?

NICK: Not doesn’t seem right. But on the other hand, please don’t call me Mister. I hate Broadway musicals.

BRADSHAW: I thought you hated crickets and owls.

NICK: They remind me of the times before the times ??? that ???

BRADSHAW: That we don’t want to remember?

NICK: That we can’t forget.

BRADSHAW: Yeah. Yeah. Where were we?


NICK: (ON REVERB) Hey. That was a good question. This guy was pretty sharp. Where were we? That was an idea, we’d call this episode ??? Dwight? You still there?

DWIGHT: Still here, boss. I’m actually on the phone, did you notice?

NICK: I thought that other guy was on the phone.

DWIGHT: You could have two phone lines. It’s radio, anything is possible.

NICK: Especially these days.

DWIGHT: You mean the days after???

NICK: Yeah ?

DWIGHT: Yeah. What did you want?

NICK: I’m thinkin’our title would be: “The Adventure of Where Were We?” Pretty good, huh?

DWIGHT: (after a pause) Gee, maybe we shouldn’t have fired those writers ???

NICK: They left of their own accord. Buddhists are nuts. They said they were heading for life as ants or grubs or something and we’d see them around. I think “The Incident” convinced them.

DWIGHT: I think you not paying them convinced them.

NICK: Grubs and ants don’t need pay. They do whatever they do for love.

DWIGHT: Whatever that is.

NICK: Love? I know what love is.

DWIGHT: No, I meant whatever they do. Come up with better titles, that sort of thing.

BRADSHAW: Hello? “Where Were We” sounds a lot like “The Way We Were.” Is Barbra Streisand here? On the phone?

NANCY: (Phone effect) Hello, Nicky? Is that you?

NICK: Nancy! (I hadn’t heard her voice in years ?)


NANCY: Oh, Nick, I’m in big trouble.

NICK: No, you’re not, Nancy. You’re just calling up to pretend you’re in big trouble. What happened, bowling league cancelled?


NANCY: This is no pretense, Nick. This is trouble, just the way you like it. You know, arson, murder, blackmail, babes in trouble ???

NICK: Sounds kind of old-fashioned, Nancy. No immolations? No detensions? No holocausts? No surgical strikes? No collateral damage?

NANCY: Sorry, Nickynickynick. It’s just me and I’m in trouble. You’ve got to get over here right away!

NICK: (pause) I, uh ??? I need gas.

BRADSHAW: (darkly) There is no gas. In general.

DWIGHT: Nick? Get to some kind of cue and I’ll throw in the title.

NICK: Ok, Dwight. Uh, hold on Nancy. Uh, Ok, baby, I’ll be there right away.

BRADSHAW: Bo-ring.

DWIGHT: Welcome to Nick Danger, Third Eye! Tonight’s creepy episode: “The Way We Were!”
NICK: No! “Where Were We?”
BRADSHAW: Babs? Babs?



VOICE ONE: I’m so global I want to wear a death’s head and nail spikes in trees.

VOICE TWO: I want to spread disease by phone ??? all over the world!

VOICE THREE: I want to own your water rights ??? and sell them to myself!

VOICE FOUR: I want to make you feel bad about everything horrible that’s happening every minute!

AUSTIN: Pluscom dot com is cinching you tighter to people whose names you can’t even pronounce.

VOICE: Globalization, that’s the name of the game.

DWIGHT: Pluscom dot Com is a Global Interlacing Scheme designed to build bigger homes for executives, bigger jail cells for accountants and bigger divorce settlements for executive’s wives. And now, back to Nick Danger, or, as we like to call him, “Babs!”


NICK: It was a Thursday, I think, and Thursday is a humorless day. Around here, we call it Ashcroft Day, and we call it that without much of a sense of humor. I couldn’t stand listening to any auto sound effects, so I just walked around the block and found Nancy’s stingy apartment. It was a humorless building in a rundown section they call Irony Town. And they call it that without ??? uh, ???


NICK: Uh, yeah. Irony. Thanks, Al.

BRADSHAW: You’re welcome. Don’t mind me. I’ll just stay on the phone. I’ve got unlimited minutes and no roaming.

NICK: Nancy lived above a greasy restaurant that looked like a drawing of a restaurant called “The Krusty Krab.” I climbed the drawing of the stairs ???


NICK: I walked the walk ??? I talked the talk. I did the hoochy coochy and then I let it rock. I swiggled to the right, I skwaggled to the left, I yah, yah, yah, yah, yah-yahed till the hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm-hmm. I was feelin’ good. What was that smell? Mmmm. Crabbie Patties! Yum.


NANCY: (Behind the door) (frightened) Who’s ??? there?

NICK: Nancy, is that you? Open the door.

NANCY: I ??? can’t, Nick. I’ve lost the will.

NICK: That will was worthleth, Nanthy. The Old Man left you nothing.

NANCY: He left me this door! But he left it closed. If I open it, I’ll have nothing left of him ???

NICK: I see. What if you just stopped making your voice sound as if you were behind a door?

NANCY: Can you do that?

DWIGHT: It’s Radio, darling. You can do anything you like.

BRADSHAW: Hey, am I in this scene yet?

NANCY: (in the clear) Hi, Nicky. Long time no see.

NICK: Are we ??? speaking Chinese?

NANCY: What?

NICK: China, Nance. The next big market. The next big thing. There are ducks in China who wear uniforms of flight attendants and have plastic explosives shaped like little wings pinned to their lapels. There are geese with bombs. What happened to a world where we received news two weeks late and left our doors open? What happened to party lines and wig socials? What the hell happened?

BRADSHAW: Criminals, Nick, that’s what happened. Certain Global Bigwigs got a lot of money together.

NICK: They bred money?

BRADSHAW: No, they got it by selling shares in Wig Socials and not paying dividends on party lines.

NICK: You mean ??? they made money by betting on globalization? I see, when the world was flat and you could leave your doors unlocked, people lived with what was directly around them.

NANCY: Am I still in this scene?

DWIGHT: Why not?


NANCY: Oh, Nick. I’ll leave my door unlocked for you.

NICK: Then we’d have to go back and start the scene over, Nancy. It’s Radio, there’s never as much time as you think there is.

BRADSHAW: (counting) Four minutes, twenty-two seconds and counting. I suggest we move to my scene.

NICK: Well, that’s a problem, Al. It’s easy enough for me to say ??? “I drove down to police headquarters to see Lt. Alvin Bradshaw ???”
BRADSHAW: Now we’re talkin! That sounds great!

DWIGHT: Well, then comes the hard part, Al. Without writers, you see ???

BRADSHAW: What? What?

NANCY: I see what you mean. Just hearing people repeat “What? What?” will get pretty old after awhile.

BRADSHAW: Like you, little lady.

NICK: That’s pathetic. Maybe you’re right, Dwight. Maybe we need some real writers. What happened to Noir, what happened to Irony?

NANCY: Ironing? What happened to ironing? No one irons anymore, it’s all drip-dry.

DWIGHT: This is going nowhere.

NICK: “I headed for Nowhere ???”

NICK: See, this isn’t so hard.

DWIGHT: I don’t know, “I headed for Nowhere” sounds like Buddhists writing.

BRADSHAW: Hey, I’m still in my office, but Blootwurst just walked in and he’s wearing a saffron robe and holding a begging bowl.

BLOOTWURST: (OFF MIC) I’m begging for some writers. We’re in deep trouble, Chief.

NANCY: Nick, you’ve got to do something. I imagined there was no door, but now I’m imagining worse. I’m imagining an elephant-headed dude with sixty arms waving bloody knives! I’m scared!

DWIGHT: These aren’t just Buddhist writers, Nick. I sense a certain ???

NICK: Globalization? Yeah, I see what you mean.

BRADSHAW: Hey, six fifteen. Time for the old prayer rug. Which way is Mecca from FunFun town?


DWIGHT: Oh, heavenly Father of Broadcasting, bless this program, give me more lines and an increased paycheck ???

NANCY: Oh great Hollywood God, give me parts I can no longer play, help me avoid doing voiceovers for Pluscom dot com on PBS ???

BRADSHAW: Oh Great Snakehead, direct global dollars into my pockets, grace my investments in Brazil ???


NICK: (REVERB) Omigosh. Nothing on Radio is ever simple. It was time to say Goodbye. Hey, shut up everybody!



DWIGHT: Oh, yeah. End of the show.

BLOOTWURST: Thank the Dear Lord.

NICK: I thought we’d borrow a trick from Young Guy, Motor Detective and end the show with a letter from the Letter Bag.

BLOOT: I’ll open it up ???


BRADSHAW: Hey, there’s a bunch of sound effects in here ???

DWIGHT: Here’s a letter, Nick. The only letter we got ???

NICK: Well, this letter’s from the Austin Family in Hollywood California. “Dear Nick, ever since 9/11 we have become upset with reality and especially reality shows. We have solved this problem by just watching SpongeBob on TV. If we something with letters and words or numbers crawling at the bottom of the screen, we just turn to Spongebob. He lives in a pineapple, under the sea, absorbent and yellow and porous is he ???

BRADSHAW: (UNDER NICK)) In trading today, the Chinese Goose egg
Index fell precipitously to 129. 89 (ETC)

DWIGHT: (UNDER NICK) CNN reports Nick Danger episode to come to end, detainees at Guantanamo switch radio to listen to Young Guy Motor Detective .. (etc)

NANCY: This program brought to you by Pluscom dot com, and hoping I’ll meet Mr. Pluscom soon and that he’ll like an older woman with some experience???

NICK: Well, thanks Mom and Pop Austin. Sounds good to me. And tune in again next month. Surely we’ll find some writers by then. This is Nick Danger sayin ??? so long, little Rookies and ???. What the hell is this third eye actually good for, anyway?


If you can stand anymore of me, check out FST weblog (Ed Woodpecker Chapter Three is now up) at:Fireblog


You tell me ???


Hello again and hello again. I’m Billy Flamnigan and it’s time once again for us to settle down together and move on with your quest to turn out expensive and valuable art canvases at home in a half an hour or so, canvases that have the real look and feel of the kind of collectible Art of the Insane that usually has clowns in it, although I’ve pretty much made my reputation on not falling for the clown gambit because I see it as a cheap trick and one suitable only for aging actresses or lounge singers or others who need desperately to get on TV with paintings that are not authentically insane, only cute or affecting. There’s nothing like a crying clown , is there? Well, don’t get me started. They all look like they have knives to me.

Today, we’re going to discuss subject matter, because that’s where the real insanity factor can come into play even if you can’t paint a lick or even if you lick your paints. And if you do lick your paints, don’t do it to the cinnabar, that stuff will take your tongue and mail it to Taiwan on a stick, if you get my drift. What shall I paint, you says to yourself, rolling your eyes to the ceiling. See? There’s an insane metaphor I just came up with and what am I going to do? I’m going to turn it into high-priced, collectible tramp art of the insane. I’ve got my canvas, we showed you last week how to pee on it, and here it’s a pretend week later, although it’s only a TV half-hour, which you can tell by the awful smell here in the studio, if you were here, which you aren’t. And lucky for you, too.

First I’m going to do the eyes, because the ceiling will be orange and I like to get the orange stirred up good – let’s just stir it up with this stick – eyes are round and I’m using a color – doesn’t matter which, they’re pretty much all the same – and put in those dots, whatever they’re called, eyeballs or something. Now we throw the orange from over here. Looks just like Taiwan to me. Those smudges might be palm trees, might be ducks and that’s the kind of insane ambiquity we want. I’ll do the stick with this color, that’s a wonderful color, that one, I suppose it has a name ? Who cares really? Painting in the stick is a little harder and I’m going to use my palette ??? you caught me there, you think I mean my palette knife and that I’ve made a mistake and that’s where you’ll be as wrong as a doorknob on a doughnut. I’m going to take my entire pallete, with my thumb right through the little hole for the thumb, and put it right here ??? and swirl it around here ??? and sit on it ??? and swirl my elegant buttocks around and take a look ??? stand back, not too far back or I’ll be off camera and that wouldn’t be much of a TV show would it?

Looks as surreal as if Tristan Tzara himself had swirled his butt on it and it’s worth a lot more to some collector who himself is insane to be collecting ??? Art of the Insane.

Well, see you next week, when we’ll discuss the kind of expensive and collectible Folk Art made of bottles and slag that you can turn into a drive-in chapel or grotto and sell postcards and live like a prince in a small airstream trailer on the grounds. Bye-bye.

Winter Thoughts

This site started as an experiment in writing and over the last few months of 2002, about twenty people participated with stories, poems, doggerel, jokes and thoughts. We’ve all now built up quite a bunch of writing and it’s all here on the Blog of the Unknown, nothing erased, nothing edited. As well,there’s a swelling list of “Members” and I can access info as to the fact that now a posted article and its discussion responses are getting around two thousand reads. Granted, a lot of that is us reading our own stuff, but ???

I’m really pleased with this Blog and only sorry that I sometimes don’t have the time for quick responses and frequent submissions. As soon as I solve the computer problems for two houses a thousand miles apart and a lot of camping and travelling inbetween, I’ll be better, I’m sure.

Oona has contributed most of the graphic art so far, with Tigerlily weighing in recently with that beautiful shot of the snow street. Zdim has put up some wonderful links. We could use more of these things, although I’ll let everyone know if we reach some memory limits on this site. As I say, it’s free, it’s an experiment and I don’t know if this could all go away any minute or not.

These are the people who have weighed in most often with the most stuff: Robert G. Margolis, Mark Trail, Mr. Muckle, Zenlen, Zdim, Bernard (or is it Berard?) Flapdoodle, Bernie Splim, Tigerlily and Richard Brown.

These are people whom we hope will let us know more: Zusty, Susie Tanner, the Catman, Katie Wafer, Tom O’Neill, Chris Heilman, Woofless, Redundo Caloriepeter, Randy, and Clancy.

And to anyone who chances upon this site, please feel free to post anywhere and everywhere on a Blog of the Unknown entering its second year.

If anyone wants to look at the first two chapters of my story Ed Woodpecker, Private Eye, here’s the link to the Firesign Theatre Blog wherin they lie: Fireblog

This blog is about writing and art and not much more.

Happy New Year from me and Big Blonde Bombshell and the current crop of canines: Waddell (the Xmas Miracle Pup,) Bodie, Noodle and Callie. As I write this, I’m on Mystery Island, the sun goes down at four-thirty, the winter ducks are out on Bitch Bay, the gray squirrel haunts the birdhouses, our house is sinking three inches in places into the bottomless Puget Sound, I’ve mostly fixed the current leaks in the moss-enhanced roof, there’s still enough wood for weeks before I ask Mark (The Self-Chopping Woodman)to chop some more, which won’t be necessary because any time now we’re going to have to head South and try to earn some money in Fabulous Hollywood. The skiing at Crystal Mountain has been fun, like spring with powder and sun. New storm coming in tonight and hopefully we’ll get at least one more day. The Bombshell has new skis and a bunny suit that makes her look even more like Ursula Andress than she currently does. Life is as good as I thought it would be, although I didn’t much think about it when I had the chance, but then we all probably think that about ourselves, and here’s to us. Thanks to all of you, you’ve been such fun, I hope we go on forever, all of us.

A Brief Thanksgiving Respite from Insanity

Drawing by Oona
Starting with this drawing by Oona

Tonight on the McNeil News, Pinky the Poet read a poem by a woman whose name I didn’t hear because The Bombshell was on the phone and I was frying something good on the stove. I didn’t hear much of the poem either, but I did notice that it had something to do with a football game in Newton. I remembered, frying, that I had been to a football game in Newton, Massachussetts.

In the Fall of 1958 I was seventeen and a freshman at a little college in Maine, three thousand miles from California, and not a little lonely. A guy in my dorm – we’d hardly met – kindly invited me down to his family’s house for Thanksgiving. His name was Paul Riseman and he lived in Newtonmass, as everyone called it. (All towns in Massachussetts are called that: Concordmass, Bostonmass, Worcestermass. To a Westerner like me, it was as if the East assumed that it contained so many towns – and so many miniscule states – that each would naturally contain duplicates of all the others. I saw this as a tribute to a population density we in Fresno could barely imagine.) Practically the first thing we did upon arrival in Newtonmass was to attend the Big Game, the Newtonmass High School Homecomingorthanksgiving Game. It was huge, it was monumental, we played someone I can’t remember, maybe Brookline High, although Brookline was a long world away from Newton, as I was to learn. (Paul’s roomate, Pete Karofsky, was from Brookline and Pete was the second nicest guy at Bowdoin.) Anyway, there I was, the Oddity from California, cheering Newton on, bundled up, surrounded by new friends, the moon rising above the red and white of the frosty stadium, the game on the line, a big steaming turkey waiting back at the cutest house I’d ever been in, the world before me.

Today I spent the morning in the recording studio, readying the Firesign Theatre for its Thanksgiving broadcast on NPR. I updated the hoary FST classic that I wrote maybe thirty years ago called “Thanksgiving or Pass the Indian, Please,” and we cracked off the best performance of it I can remember. There was a guy in the control room I hadn’t met before, thin, gray-pony-tailed, cargo pants, filmaker kind of guy and he shook my hand and told me he’d laughed like a loon through the whole thing, but what had struck him was this: when he’d heard the line “This first one was different, why did the first one have to be different?” he’d momentarily thought he was next to hear “Why is this night different from all other nights.” For a moment, we both considered the Jewish place in the Great Harvest Plenty Festival and I didn’t think of my answer until tonight.

The Risemans are my answer, the whole 1958 family of Risemans. And Newton High kicked someone’s butt that night at the Homecoming Thanksgiving game at the high school, the red leaves falling, the big moon rising, the ball spinning high above the frosty field, over the imagined graves of all our imaginary ancestors.

Snow Falling on Bebop

Alright, this is the Hilarious Man himself, Bebop Loco, baby. I am, the cold one, the icy one, the man without noone and nobody because I’m too far north, little ones. I have strayed north to the Far North, beyond even Fresno which is the farthest up a person of the desert can even imagine. I am Bebop, Sweeties, Radionow from the Radionorteno and something white, beyond the whiteness of the USA and the sameness of the whitened people of Funfuntown who still outnumber those of us who avoid the gaze of the Basilisk, who cruise the darkened peoples in a luminous green egg that glows with the power of the Virgin of Clothing, found in a cloak, in a thread, in a stitch. In a word, the snow is falling down on me and its beauty knocks me right over and I am liying down in the drifts and waving my arms like the angels of the southern cities and I look up at the flakes falling on Bebop and I am Bebop Lobo, Darlings, the midnight lonewolf, and I will track you down and drag you north with me and we will ski the hills of the white people in the frozen air. We will toboggan down the whiteness, we will schuss the slush and we will wrap up in down and warm in front of the fire which will remind us of the desert down away, hot and wonderful and glowing like the luminous green egg in the land of the Mexican Wolf, with his eyes bugged out, a chain swinging from his drapes, his bebop hat atop his head, keeping off the snow.