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April 8, 2009

“Osiris! What has happened to your nose?”
Posted by Patrick at 06:33 PM * 69 comments

We’re home.

Comments on "Osiris! What has happened to your nose?":
#1 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 06:39 PM:

Yay! Welcome home! Glad you got home safe (though you don't say so, if you were missing any limbs I think you would have specified "somewhat the worse for wear" or something).

It's wasn't his nose, it wasn't his nose, it wasn't his nose at all!!!!!

#2 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 06:45 PM:

It's probably something to do with the law they just passed in Oregon.

Ah-TCHOO!

#3 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 07:50 PM:

Glad to see you made it back. One of the important rituals of returning from Rome is to bring back a large cheese in your luggage -- or so Gail tells me.

#4 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 08:23 PM:

Welcome back indeed. Good luck catching up!

#5 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 08:52 PM:

Welcome back.

Speaking of Osiris, does anybody remember Caleb Carr's Osiris Ascending?

#6 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 09:00 PM:

Oh! *smacks head*

I'm so glad to have caught up with the quote -before- asking... Clearly I need to get a fix...

#7 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 09:23 PM:

Fragano, no cheese, but a carefully packed and cushioned bottle of single-malt olive oil.

#8 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 09:27 PM:

xeger, #6: Thank God. I was beginning to wonder if anyone would.

#9 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 09:31 PM:

I've identified the source, but all that has done is remind me that my cultural education is woefully incomplete.

Welcome home, though!

#10 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 10:23 PM:

Teresa, should I know what 'single-malt olive oil' is?
(One of my high-school classmates - and her husband - raise alpacas and produce olive oil. The possibility of knitted olive-oil-bottle covers arises, although I don't think it's a good idea in anything that isn't easily washable.)

#11 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 10:30 PM:

P J Evans @ #10: Teresa, should I know what 'single-malt olive oil' is?

A suspiciously brownish-looking olive oil with a peaty smell, perhaps.

Welcome home!

#12 ::: Jon Sobel ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 12:13 AM:

Welcome home! Now let's rock!

#13 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 01:51 AM:

So how was your day with Johnny Madge?

#14 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 02:33 AM:

In the EU, "extra virgin" is a label intended for cold crushed olive oil. The good stuff. And it's specified as a testable standard. But it doesn't tell you where the olive oil came from.

Besides, since the standard was specified, the more industrial oil extraction processes have "improved", and some can be used while still metting the test standard for "extra virgin" oil.

And then you get the usual "bottled in italy", and Spanish companies with Italian names, and all the general shabbiness of industrial cheap food.

Fortunately, in Italy at least, you can still get olive oil produced on one farm, the olives crushed locally, where the labelling still means something.

The last time I was at my local farmers' market, I bought ostrich meat. It's local, no bending of the rules.

#15 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 03:26 AM:

I confess I had to Google for the post's title phrase. Apparently my frat brothers missed that album when they were buying the others. I do remember "Don't Crush that Dwarf" and "Bozos" and "Electrician."

#16 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 10:18 AM:

My all time favorite bit:
"Guard? I want to see my ambassador."
"Easily done-- he's in the next cell."

#17 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 02:42 PM:

"There, that's Steve Reeves." "No, that's Agnes Moorehead."

#18 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 05:55 PM:

TNH #7: Sounds very nice! Really good olive oil is a thing of wonder.

#19 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 05:58 PM:

[*]

Google tells me some, but I think I need some kind of pointer on where to start with this stuff.

#20 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 06:16 PM:

abi: The titles Linkmeister abbreviated are all pretty good: "Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers", "I Think We're All Bozos On This Bus", and "Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him". My personal favorite might well be "Everything You Know Is Wrong!"; it's also dated pretty well, because its wide-eyed Ufologists and Seekers after Truth seem to be as common as ever.[*] However, I think the canonical introduction to the Firesign Theater would have to be the very one Patrick is quoting, "How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All?"

* "Here in the New Age, there's a Seeker born every minute!"

#21 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 06:29 PM:

Oo, late me. It's really nice to have you guys back at home again! Sounded like you had a good time. Yay!

#22 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 06:54 PM:

Antelope Freeway.

One Quarter Mile.

#23 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 06:55 PM:

abi #19: Google tells me some, but I think I need some kind of pointer on where to start with this stuff.

Google loves me! This I know,
For the web search tells me so;
Twitter feeds to It belong,
They are weak but It is strong.
Yes, Google loves me! (x3)
The web search tells me so.

Google loves me! He who died,
Needs my help to money hide;
419 will make me rich,
Don't complain, Ghod hates a snitch.
Yes, Google loves me! (x3)
The web search tells me so.

Google loves me! loves me still,
When I'm very weak and ill;
Magic blue pills do the trick,
Yay for risus sardonic!
Yes, Google loves me! (x3)
The web search tells me so.

Google loves me! It will stay,
Google's cache will show the way;
It's prepared a rank for me,
Number One!!! for a small fee.
Yes, Google loves me! (x3)
The web search tells me so.

#24 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 07:36 PM:

abi, I'm ditto. There are incidents and accidents, hints and allegations, but though I *think* I've figured out what is going on (Clifton, #20 confirms), details are blurry.

I get the feeling this is the USian equivalent of The Goon Show ("not a sausage!"; "a quantity I specialise in"; "I can't think of a 'thinks'") I wonder if we have a Fluorospherical (Fluorspheric?) equivalent of Bill Bryson?

I may have to give up and go read W*p*dia. <grumble, 'sno fun>

[OT: All sorts of strange little things are popping up in obituaries or memories of Tom Braden.]

#25 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 07:50 PM:

What what what what what????

Only five whats. Not too bright.

#26 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 08:01 PM:

Squeeze him again, maybe he'll pass another!

#27 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 08:17 PM:

Antelope Freeway.

One Eighth Mile

#28 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 08:29 PM:

Mez @ #24, Firesign's members say that The Goon Show was one of their influences.

They're alive and well and performing, btw; here's their website.

#29 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 08:29 PM:

Mez @ 24

I get the feeling this is the USian equivalent of The Goon Show

A reasonable first-order approximation. They did a lot of "sight gags", like the Goon Show, though Fire Sign Theater was much more into political and drug humor.

Also, the cover art of the albums was usually very good. I especially like the Robert Grossman cover for Don't Touch That Dwarf

#30 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 09:12 PM:

Antelope Freeway.
One sixteenth mile.

#31 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 09:22 PM:

Speaking of what inspired musicians... I have a question about the Talking Heads's song Once in a Lifetime.

And you may ask yourself
How do I work this?
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!

I read somewhere that it was supposed to be about a man's midlife crisis. Still, I wonder if David Byrne and/or Brian Eno were science-fiction fans. You see, one of the episodes of the Twilight Zone, titled The Parallel, was about an astronaut who goes up in orbit around the Earth and, upon landing, finds that things are not as they should be. His military rank isn't the one he remembers. No one has ever heard of President Kennedy. The astronaut's house now has a picket fence. His wife recognizes him, but, when she kisses him, she recoils as if something were 'off' about him. After concluding that he landed in a parallel Earth, he makes it back home. His words when he rejoins with his wife?

"This is my beautiful wife."
#32 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 10:02 PM:

My God, Serge -- I remember that one! I was just a kid, it was on my grandparents' TV, and I'm pretty sure it was the first Twilight Zone I'd ever seen. I loved it!

#33 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 10:36 PM:

Serge @ 31 ...
As far as I know the song was intended to be a reference to that episode...

#34 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 11:22 PM:

Michael Roberts @ 32... If you have access to the SciFi Channel, you might want to watch during the last days of the year - that's when they have a long Twilight Zone marathon. I read somewhere that it's one of the first occurrences, if not the first one, where a film used the concept of alternate realities.

#35 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 11:23 PM:

xeger @ 33... So it was indeed? Neat!

#36 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 11:40 PM:

#31: Fans of the song may appreciate Kermit the Frog's cover.

#37 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 12:51 AM:

Antelope Freeway.

One thirty-second mile.

#38 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 01:50 AM:

"Why, why this is just a bag of SH*T!"

"But it's really great sh*t!"

#39 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 02:18 AM:

Let's stand him on his head!

#40 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 02:36 AM:

By the way, Earl Cooley III @23, wow and way cool!

#41 ::: Allen Baum ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 02:52 AM:

"Unhappy Macnam, unhappy Macnam...." is one of the first of those memorable lines that comes to my mind, more proof of geeky-ness, I suppose.

But we still use "He's no fun, he fell right over" quite a bit around here.


#42 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 03:16 AM:

"no anchovies, you've got the wrong number, I spell my name "Danger"

#43 ::: Rob T. ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 03:54 AM:

Serge @ #34: I think It's a Wonderful Life might actually be the earliest "alternate reality" presentation on film. In a fantastic rather than sf-nal context, to be sure, but they've clearly got the concept down.

(I just had a vision of George Bailey/Jimmy Stewart traveling among alternate worlds and encountering other versions of himself, prompting him to ask, "Who am us, anyway?")

#44 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 09:44 AM:

Jon Meltzer @ 36... Beautiful wives with pistols. Nuns.

#45 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 09:53 AM:

Rob T @ 43... True, there is George, but I do wonder that the void of his absence didn't create new opportunities for others to step in and take History elsewhere. I guess that's why it's not quite a story of alternate realities.

#46 ::: Rich McAllister ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 01:15 PM:

It's actually the Antelope Valley Freeway, but most of the exit signs just say California 14...

http://www.westcoastroads.com/california/images005/i-005_nb_exit_159_02.jpg

While I'm at it, here's the Google street view of the intersection of Pico and Alverado. Not responsible. Park and lock it.

#47 ::: Brother Guy ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 04:53 PM:

In the mid 1970s I actually saw Proctor and Bergman, half of the Firesign Theatre, performing "TV or Not TV" live at a jazz club on Boylston St, Boston (Paul's Mall, I think). Very funny.

The opening act was for the comedy duo was an obscure reggae band from Jamaica called Bob Marley and the Wailers.

#48 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 05:33 PM:

Antelope Freeway

one-sixty-fourth of a mile.

#49 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 05:59 PM:

n=6
1:
Antelope Freeway
One 2^-n of a mile
n=n+1
goto 1

OK? Are we now done with the asymptotic approach to the Antelope Freeway?

#50 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 06:09 PM:

distance_from_AF = 1/132;
for (n=7; distance_from_AF > 0; n++)
    distance_from_AF = 2^(-n);

#51 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 11:49 PM:

I have a tape I made off of KFML of P&B livecasting from Ebbets Field in Boulder. Apart from KMYR for the first one, KFML was where I first heard all their albums up to "The Giant Rat of Sumatra." I didn't really realize who they were until I bought a 45 with an excerpt from "Dwarf" at a thrift shop for a quarter (thus answering the eternal question in the affirmative).

And I'll never forget the night I first saw this on "Night Flight." (Now available on DVD!)

I never understood why the signs to Antelope Freeway weren't coming faster and faster. Oh well. It's a great album, though. Even if it's been years since I recited it. My favorites these days seem to be the Holmes and Shakespeare jobs, but I've been thinking of ripping "Everything You Know Is Wrong" some time soon.

#52 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 12:09 AM:

#51: The car is going slower and slower.

J-Men Forever on DVD? Oh, I am so there.

#53 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 02:20 AM:

Speaking of their video work, did any other fans see their Hot Shorts collection from the mid-'80s?

They took bits out of various old movies, including a lot of Republic serials, and redubbed them with new storylines, a la What's Up, Tiger Lily?. The results were a bit hit-and-miss, but the couple best ones were hysterical, such as 'Heaven is Hell!' in which Californian health-food nuts take over Heaven and force everyone to eat health food until the angels finally revolt.

#54 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 02:56 AM:

Oh, here we go, thanks to the great VCR in the sky, I bring you 'Heaven is Hell'. (I'd forgotten about the blackface schtick, though. Hmmm.)

#55 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 06:52 AM:

Brother Guy! Pleasure to see you here.

#56 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 07:03 AM:

No one's explained the entry title. I doubt I'll get this precisely right, for reasons to be explained later, but:

Osiris!
Odysseus, my friend! What has happened to your nose?
I have just returned from Rome.
Ah! What news of my father?
(fades out)

#57 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 10:07 AM:

Clifton, I liked "Toy Wars," even though the footage was mostly familiar from J-Men. ("Pilot to Kid, Pilot to Kid..." "But if it's a toy detector, isn't it a toy too?") I think J-Men was better because they didn't simply redub one chapter without editing it.

I also saw a fairly funny Commando Cody redub, possibly also on Night Flight, that sounded like it could have been Proctor & Bergman, but had no credits. ("Don't forget to steal his hat.")

KFML used to have a weekly show with an improv group from Boulder called High Street, who would make up a new sound track for a movie on one of the Denver stations. They finally had to stop, most likely because they also made up new sound tracks for the ads. There's such a thing as going too far, especially in the 70s.

#58 ::: moe99 ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 10:11 AM:

Shadow Valley Condoms. If you lived here, you'd be home now.

#59 ::: Luke McGuff ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 04:23 PM:

Antelope Freeway.

One one hundred twenty eighth mile.

(Xopher @49 & 50: That's the last distance given on the record.)

#60 ::: rams ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 07:08 PM:

Polyunsaturated ghee!

Oh,TOO bad -- you didn't beat the Reaper...

#61 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 07:51 PM:

Re: "Hang this up in your time machine" -- Bah!

Some of the stuff there represents basic scientific knowledge, but a good deal of it is stuff that just wasn't practical until it was enabled by multiple other technologies, and in some cases social changes.

F'rex, it's one thing to build a single electric motor or generator as a demonstration -- large-scale production is a little trickier, especially if ironworking is handwork from a guilded profession... and working copper is likely a different guild ("whitesmithing"). Radio needs all of the above plus better precision, expert glasswork (eventually), and probably other stuff I can't think of offhand.

Even a glider needs pretty strong materials (q.v. Leonardo da Vinci), and powered flight needs lightweight IC motors.... (Even today, battery weight is a major restriction for any electric vehicle, let alone an aircraft!)

Similarly, atomic power is useless until you can (1) build large generators, and (2) refine metals that are not only radioactive, but toxic, fragile, and insanely flammable. (Not to mention the reputation you'll get when all your workers die horribly.)

A formula like C20H26O2 doesn't even come close to defining a single compound, the speed of light is useless until you get into space, and talking about germ theory before its time is a likely route to the heretic's pyre....

Heck, if you go back far enough, the wheel is only useful if you've got plains or paved roads, and suitable draft-beasts!

#62 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 07:59 PM:

Whoops, that should have gone in the Open Thread, sorry.

#63 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 11:10 PM:

For those who are still wondering where to start, I just discovered that if you don't mind exploiting a quirk of Amazon's pricing scheme, you can buy two of the classic albums listed above as MP3s for $1.98 each:

Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers and I Think We're All Bozos On This Bus are each composed of two tracks, one for each side of the original LP, which are priced at Amazon's standard $0.99/track. If you can access the Amazon MP3 store and can afford $3.96, that's a fine introduction.

#64 ::: Allen Baum ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 12:25 AM:

A friend of mine went Caltech in the late 60's, I think. He had a Heathkit FM receiver kit (remember them?) which he never had time to put together.

One night in a frenzy he assembled it, connected it to speakers, turned it on, and heard "this is Radio Free OZ" - at which point his jaw dropped as he tried to contemplate exactly what kind of receiver he had built.

(the connection here is that he just happened to tune into Firesign Theater's weekly radio program. He claims to still have tapes he made of those programs - I should bug him to digitize them)

#65 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 01:33 AM:

Allen - at that URL that Linkmeister posted above, the Firesigns mentioned that they're looking for tapes of some of those old shows; if he has, he should contact them and check if he has any shows they're missing.

#66 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 08:52 AM:

Perhaps the titles of Firesign albums are ancestral to the names of ships in Iain M. Banks's Culture stories.

#67 ::: Falconer ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 02:01 PM:

Chester Allen Arthur climbs to the top of the Lincoln bedroom, thrusts his device at the Japanese, and cries, "Give me them, or I'm going over there!"

#68 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 08:30 AM:

That blood-red hair and white, white skin made her the envy of all the German missionaries.

#69 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 10:31 AM:

Every Thursday night, there's a Firesign chat which can be found via Facebook. I've enjoyed listening. Sometimes one of the two or three guys remaining drop in and answer questions.

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