Big Mystery Joke Book


Tom –

Notes from session Wednesday, August 21, '74. Session 10AM – 8:30 (actually 10:30 – 8:30). (On Tuesday, according to Fred, guys were in Dubbing 1 – the big concert room). So – on Wednesday, I headed there, only to discover a full orchestra performing the score for a "Born Free" episode. Most impressive. ("Preserve Tomorrow – Conserve Today." I was reprimanded at Gate for not keeping my pass. "Please retain this pass until the end of your sessions; can erase the date.")

When I arrived, PP was in studio, tuning Pana-Color Panasonic portable TV. There was a boom mike in front of it, but he had on the earphones. DO was producing; Peter was on the phone; PA was late. While they were setting levels, tuning, discussing, I was handed a copy of The Big Mystery Joke Book. This was a hard-bound copy, for their use. It's beautiful. There are fewer photos, but the book is very visual. They've utilized different type-sets for the different script types.

DO: That's the typesetter's extension of my idea. I wanted the radio scripts set to look like typewritten scripts.

The typesetting is very creative. First and foremost, entire book is set in print and spaced so as to be much easier to read than Big Book of Plays. The Introduction is set off with bold-face sub headings. "Giant Rat" and "Nick Danger" look like acting scripts. "Humboldt County" looks like those little plays in your lit book in 6th grade. (DO, when I asked about this, said "Yes. The typeset is Bodoni Text." ) There is a "Mark Time" episode; radio script as it might have been off DO's typewriter at broadcast time.

"The 100 Dollar Ben," a pageant by PB concerns Ben, Tom, George, and all those Founding Guys.

"The Year of the Rat" is a play script by DO. "Gramp's World," is a play by PP. "Rubbergon Dumm Tokyo," is a narrative featurette set in a recognizable type; maybe the type used by comic books to tell a one-page story. "Le Trente-Huit Cunnegonde," is told in story form; and PA's "Dream Play" is a poem that runs several pages, told in columns. Most interesting – beautiful, in fact. The book goes to press any time now, may be available within a couple of weeks, according to PP.

While perusing the book, overheard a wonderful piece. DO/PB were at control panel, as I said. They were waiting for PP to get right static noise from TV. On the control panel, there is a series off knobs set off under a clear plastic panel. This keeps them from being used inadvertently, but I don't know yet exactly what they do. At one point, PB tapped the polished clear plastic and mused, "I love Lucite." There was a moment of silence. Peter smiled and nudged David, repeated his new toy, "I love Lucite," both laughed. It was about then that PA arrived. Peter: Hey, Phil, have you seen the new plastic TV series? PA: No, I... PB: You know, "I Love Lucite"? They all laughed.

Meanwhile, back in the studio, Phil was still playing with the TV. This was being recorded on the two-track for convenience, also for Firesign Sound Archives. They were producing the end of Side 1. I won't explain exactly what happens, but TV was needed. They managed to capture - and used – the Overture to Buy Me That Town, the 11AM movie on Channel 5, starring Lloyd Nolan. The title fits. The character Cox (Harry Cox, grandson of earlier Harry Cox character) is continually checking his taped phone messages. One of them comes from Wholeflaffer. Another comes from Nino (PP), who is calling, it sounds like, from a steel box. PP added some Russian music to the background of this scene (it would be from the source of the phone call).

The music is off a 10-inch
33 1/3 Russian disc.

After they chose a melody they liked they discovered it was a vocal. PP translated, "I will sing a song for you my friend" – again the accidentally added material seemed to fit the theme. PP began playing with Steel Box and its Russian sounds. Apparently, "Boit" is "Box", so they figured the music is coming from the stage of the Stalinski Boit – Stalin Night Club. None of that info will be on the LP, but if anyone should ask you to justify what's happening.

"Twas indeed a strange day. The Studio phone decided to be out of order, so the operator gave out an alternate number which would ring the phone. PP / PB both were using the phone extensively, expecting some important calls. Phil got worried about the calls which had not come through, had his service try to call him. The service received the transfer number. When Phil called it, guess what – it was the Bar Association. "Have you been getting calls for Phil Proctor? That's me." It was just like vaudeville, only it was real and serious. They had been getting calls for Phil. Before the problem could be reported, however, master engineer Andy had to disconnect one of the studio phones the guys had been using – it was a bootleg patch so they could record calls for the album. Oh well – it had served its purpose.