Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Best New Weekly Feature, Week Three

Maybe you're detail oriented and a regular reader. If you are, there's a small chance that yesterday you said to yourself: Hey, where's Brigham's weekly Firearm commentary? It's supposed to come out on Tuesdays, just like the Firearm did. Well, get this. By issue four of volume one, Andrew and I were beginning to realize that it was rather difficult, an relatively expensive, to put out a Firearm every week. So we went biweekly. Or bimonthly? We never really got the terms straight. Also, we started publishing new issues on Wednesday. This was probably because one night we couldn't get the paper done in time for a Tuesday, so we said "That's it. The Firearm is moving to Wednesday." It's not like we expected anyone to mind, pretty much anytime we gave a repeat reader a new issue they'd say, "Hey, all right. You're still doing this?"

Volume One, Issue Four

Issue Four was the first truly great issue of the Firearm. That's what people told us, and that's what Andrew and I felt in our hearts. Just read the thing. Three and a half years ago, these were funny, funny jokes.

From the Editor: Like I said above, we went biweekly. Or was it bi-monthly?

Arts and Letters/Linguistics News: You don't have to know a lot about Mormons or Provo to know that Mormons, especially those in Provo, often substitue really dumb words like "flip", "fetch", and "freak" for the real F word. And they use these fake swears like crazy, every Cougar probably had a roommate that said "fetch" so much it became far more vulgar than any conventional swear. And making fun of Mormon fake swears is one of the easiest ways to joke about BYU. So that's what I did in this article. Actually, the summer previous I had invented my "perfect" Mormon swear, and the Firearm seemed the perfect forum to release it into the world. Anyway, my invented word was "futch", a slight modification on the word "fetch", but the results are really, really gross. In fact, before writing this article, I had probably never heard the word "futch" uttered out loud, but after the article, when I started hearing people say futch, I just couldn't believe how bad it sounded. (True Story: one night I was trying to sleep as some people [let's call them complete strangers whom I had never met and never did meet] were running around on the courtyard of the apartment complex where I lived. At first I was pretty mad that they wouldn't shut up, but then I realized they were yelling things like "get away from me you futcher!" From that point, I was too proud to sleep.) Also, regarding the final paragraph of the article, this was back in 2001 when people didn't know "sheezy" from "shizzle." How far we've come!

Letter From Logan/Waiting for Death: An Andrew masterpiece. Everyone loved this article. My parents still talk about it. Pretty much everything in this article is true (I won't say what isn't, but a couple things are made up.) During that fall, Andrew kept having to go up to his family home in Logan when his parents were out of town to care for the family's dying dog. Andrew recently told me that this article really changed things between him and his Mom, it taught her that he didn't love animals as much as she thought he did.

Corrections & Clarifications: Jerusalem Center. BYU has a magnificent campus in Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives. I got to spend a few days there while visiting Israel one Christmas (previous to 2001). Each semester, a group of students would get to go study there in Jerusalem, it was a major get to get to go to the Jerusalem Center (presuming, of course, that you were a person who wanted to study in Jerusalem.) As a student at the Jerusalem Center, you got this special backpack (seen here) with the Jerusalem Center logo on it to use while in Israel, and then you got to walk around with it when you returned to Provo, being all "Hey, look at me, I studied at the Jerusalem Center!" (If I seem bitter it's only because I didn't get one of the backpacks when I was in Israel.) Anyway, Fall 2001 the Jerusalem Center was closed down (for reasons you might be able to figure out) and no one got to go . . . this article was a little joke about keeping the old Jerusalem Centersuperiority thing going on despite the closing down of the center. After this issue came out two dudes I barely knew cornered me at a Banana Republic to tell me how awesome they thought this article was. Thanks, dudes!

Volume One, Issue Five

Our second truly great issue.

From the Editor: Another attempt to get someone to email us. Pretty much no one ever did.

Local News / Crisis in Apartment 120: I was really into this article when I wrote it, I just loved the concept of it, the amplification of the bizarre experience of walking into your living room and finding people you don't know sleeping there amplified into a peace of real panic news. The article also features a shout-out to Downey, Idaho, the pond the Barnes family crawled out of when we evolved. And I name one of the characters "Dan Lund", after a High School friend. 120 was our real apartment number, things like this made people say that The Firearm was about the Avenues (the apartment complex where Andrew and I lived.)

Survivor / Maize: A common thing to happen around the Firearm Offices was for me to have a bunch of articles written that I was trying to choose between and for Andrew to have no ideas and to be next to refusing to write. So sometimes I'd lend him one of my ideas. This time I lent him the idea of writing a Heart of Darkness sort of piece about someone getting lost in a Corn Maze (corn mazes: SO SO popular around BYU at Halloween time). If you're asking me (are you? I don't know, but at least you're reading) Andrew knocked this one out of the park. Quite possibly my absolute favorite article by Andrew.

Ward Announcements / Break the Sabbath: Just a little jab at the tendency for things to get a little rowdy and un-Sabbathy on a Sunday night around BYU. On fast Sundays most wards have a dinner activity called a "Break the Fast," so that's where the catchy title for this one came from. Come on, it's catchy. Admit it.

Love Is: A comic by Matt Lemmon. Matt, an aspiring cartoonist at the time (maybe he still is now, but mostly he talks about the songs he's working), drew this perfectly based on instructions I gave him. I was pretty amazed/very pleased when it came in the mail. Because BYU students don't have a lot to talk about, back then the boys and girls used the school open debates and the newspaper opinion page to argue over whether or not capri pants were stupid. Boys would say "Capris are stupid!" Girls would say "No, they're cute!" Back and forth, on and on. My take? If there is love, you will shut up and let her wear whatever stupid capris (even if they have beaded tassles) she wants.

And now, as an incredible bonus, I have an amazing announcement to make. My old Firearm Editor-In-Chief, Andrew Berthrong, just mailed me his own thoughts on Issues 4 and 5. This is what he had to say (as you can see, our stories pretty much match up)(also, it's clear that Andrew was excited to be writing these comments and full of ideas, as he should have been) (also, if Andrew reads what I wrote above [who knows what he reads these days] he'll realize that he is wrong about "Dan Lund", but his guess isn't too outrageous):

Issue 4

I wrote all the "From the Editors" as if to a large, tightly packed,
though invisible, audience and, as I reread them, they tend to show
it. I seem to suggest, especially in the 5th, that these are a
tentative sort of people who reverence the hands behind the text with
a detestable shyness. I was, it turned out, either dead on or
embarrassingly wrong, but even that huge space for error did not
matter. We were not ever contacted. (That is a lie, but it suited me.)

Both issues currently under inspection share a common format: The
short, pleading smile of the "From the Editor," then two medium-length
Brigham pieces sandwiching a longish, somewhat unfocused Andrew.

Brigham's linguistic news, normally a rather dull subject, was
whopping success. People instantly took to 'futch' in a big way,
saying things like, "Hey guys: 'Futch!'" or maybe just, "Futch,"
context-free. But to us: like a baby's first step. Somehow.

"Waiting for Death", you'll be surprised to know, wasn't a letter at
all, and, in fact, there is nothing all that lettery about it from the
get-go or in the end-all--it wasn't addressed to anyone, nor did it
ever see the inside of an envelope. Oh the things the public will
believe! But actually my mother did kind of take it as a letter to
her, an irreparable misunderstanding for which I am still paying.
After a childhood spent caring for pets, it shocked her into a still
current bereavement that my previous animal-loving sensibilities might
have died with that dog. Or killed it. She has not, I don't think,
ruled out that possibility. But it should be understood that I wrote
that piece when I was hopped up on Hardy, and for those of you who've
read Tess know how gray things are afterwards. Incidentally, the times
in that story are all invented, all lies. Ha!

And finally Brigham's "Jerusalem Center" occupies a special place in
my gall, ever since a roommate returned from there, noticeably
altered, subscribing to "The Modern Archeologist" and pontificating
generally. Brigham can probably speak more to what motivated this one.

How Issue 5 started has already been discussed, so on to new territory:

Brigham's "Crisis in Apartment 120" contained the only (to my
knowledge) clue as to our whereabouts, and a significant clue at that.
How many 120s could there be in Provo? Certainly any self-respecting
zealot (I intentionally avoided "stalker") worth her (indulge me)
soft-soled shoes and binoculars could have tracked us down, but our
luck no doubt consigned us to the adoration of half-witted Columbuses
(he did, after all, miss India by quite a little bit) we never saw or
heard from in any of those delightfully freaky ways. Here Brigham also
mastered the art name grafting, a method by which he would fuse the
names of two different Provoites together into one, both as a sort of
compliment and also, I think, as a bit of taunting. Thus we have "Dan
Lund," (Dan Hoopes + Dave Lund), both intriguing people in their own
ways, but not to be taken completely seriously. But then none of us
are to be.

"Maize," a simple word play that still gives me immense pleasure, was
conceived somehow but now I can't remember how some (forgive me). It's
a pretty straightforward story, albeit full of silliness. It will
surely surprise you to know that prior to writing it I had never
before entered a corn maze. So the staggering detail and accuracy is
inexplicable. Of course, I committed one small oversight (I have since
been in one of those mazes) by suggesting that anyone has spent more
than twenty minutes wandering about such a field, past which each step
is one towards more and more absurdity until cheating becomes noble,
an ethical obligation. The story, now that I think of it, may hint at
that descent but for entirely different reasons.

"Break the Sabbath" is probably Brigham's (and perhaps The Firearm's)
first gloves-off, deep-cutting social commentary. Note his use of the
word 'biggie', clearly a self-reference, as if to say, "Here I am. I
am not scared of writing gloves-off, deep-cutting social commentary,
and to prove it I will write the word 'biggie.'"

"Love Is . . ." was Matt Lemmon's only acceptable contribution (Brigham says: HA! Good one, Andrew!) to The Firearm. People those days were wearing funny looking pants and so we
really gave it to them for it, but also we liked the idea of being
champions of love under the most dire circumstances. Matt was the only
one we knew who could capture both derision and affection with the
deft stroke of the pen, and who would dare say he failed? Heaven help
us all if he did.

In both issues, as in all our issues, the bottom right corner solicits
meaningful human interaction. It's hard to say how much either of us
we really wanted it on those terms, but, luckily, we never had to

Bravo, my Editor-in-Chief. I'm going to have to be a little more eloquent next week before the public demands

Don't get it? Check out:

Firearm Post One
Firearm Post Two


Anonymous said...


Sara said...

Reading "The Firearm" makes me feel so creatively limited, so amateurish in my artistic endeavors. But as to the issues themselves, I have to say that Andrew's article on his dog is very Poe-esque. "Black Cat," anyone?

Anonymous said...

this is like the best thing you've ever posted and your blog. i'm so glad that i have material to use when i read like you.