The Fireland FAQ v1.4 / 10 April 1998
SECTION 0: FAQ FACTS
0.1: FAQ History
Version 0.89: Never released to the public; 2,500 pages long
The first official release, 1.0, was disseminated through direct mail and psychic transmission. v1.1 was a perhaps-misguided experiment in alternative textual cryptography where each letter of the FAQ was broken down into its component lines and curves and numbered according to length and/or width (relative to the other components). These numbers were then listed side by side in a random (determined by a nonpartisan randomizer) order. The resulting one- or two- or three- or four-digit number corresponded to a certain face from the New Jersey Municipal Missing Persons Record, so the FAQ consisted of several thousand young little abducted faces. v1.2 was never released and has since become known as “The Black FAQ” and is allegedly known to cause cardiopulmonary upsets for those prone to such symptoms due to its severe, brutal, and taboo-busting nature. I will neither confirm nor deny the existence of this version and its powerful contents.
0.2: Who was involved in the construction of this FAQ?
Most, I’d say 65%, of the information in this FAQ was extruded biomechanically from me, Joshua Allen, by parties who have asked to remain anonymous. There was once a time when I thought that a FAQ would be a bad idea, but my subsequent “retraining” and “debriefing” have since taught me differently. The other 35% was culled from oral histories, folklore, Senate hearings, ESPN, People Magazine, LEXIS-NEXIS, Gray’s Anatomy, Garry Shandling, the DSM-IV, and a whispering wind that envelops the planet with its ancient, chilling sound.
0.3: Are there any disclaimers or warnings?
0.4: What if I have questions that aren’t answered here?
The questions that are featured in this FAQ are the result of an exhaustive, three-year, NEA- and FDA-funded project called Operation Tax Shelter where supercomputers from around the world were networked and programmed to gather information from newswires, libraries, satellites, etc. After three years of processing, O.T.S. determined not only which questions were most crucial and pressing to the masses re: Fireland, but also which were the most Frequently Asked. If you have a question that is not answered here, go ahead and send us an email, but only if you’re absolutely sure you want to fly in the face of three years, 72 million dollars, and an unprecedently enormous neural network we like to call “Stinky Joey.”
0.5: What if I find an inaccuracy?
See Section 0.2. The answers were removed from my brain without the usual filters and biases of language and ethics. Any inaccuracies are entirely my neurology’s fault and can never be corrected by me.
0.6: How often will this be updated?
It is my goal to reach v2.0 by the year 2100 at the absolute latest. If there are significant improvements in processing power, artificial intelligence, cybernetics, genetic engineering, bionics, desktop publishing, food preparation and fashion design in the interim, we may be able to have the update sooner.
SECTION 1: ABOUT FIRELAND
1.1: When was Fireland born?
Halloween, 1995, on a sweatily chill night full of freakish delusions and false portents.
1.2: What type of swollen hubris brought it into existence?
Type-A, 110%, Agamemnon-slaying hubris, that’s what type.
1.3: When will Fireland die?
“Death” as we commonly think of it does not apply to Fireland. To die, one must be living in the first place, and while stalwart fans may think of Fireland as a living, breathing, ever-evolving entity, it is really much more complex than that. Fireland transcends life, and thus death, too. Our definitions and beliefs no longer apply to it, if they ever did. That being said, Fireland had a pretty close call with the Grim Reaper last week when my ISP threatened to “pull the plug” due to outstanding payments. Curse this health care system!
1.4: Will it commit suicide like the Mary Tyler Moore Show or die of old age like the Cosby Show?
It’ll probably be most like Twin Peaks: collapsing under the weight of its own convolutions, indulgences, screw-ups, cheap tricks, and lack of public interest.
1.5: How many libel cases has Fireland been involved in, either as a defendant or as an expert witness?
Four, though that doesn’t count the one where I, representing the Estate of Fireland, testified in the name of Swingline Staplers.
1.6: How many hearts were broken or passions ignited by Fireland?
Wellllll, I can’t really determine that for sure, but let me just say that a lot of honeymoon nights were celebrated in the warm glow of a 17-inch monitor tuned to this particular online station. And allow me to quote a snippet from a little Christmas card I received last year:
“…so I was searching the web for nude Pamela Anderson pictures and the search engine directed me to Fireland. I was a little disappointed to see that you had nude JOHN Anderson pictures [editor’s note: these photographs of the famed presidential candidate carousing with several unnamed and equally naked members of the entertainment, pleasure, and fishing industries are no longer available on this site.] but chalked it up to lax search engine technology. ANYWAY! I browsed around and stumbled upon your Post-It Poetry section and was so moved by one of the poems (“I had a Sunkist for brunch with my crossword puzzle.”) that I printed it out and gave it to the waitress at Felipe’s, whom I’d long admired from afar (the waitress, not Felipe, heh-heh, I’m not “that way” you know!). After her initial fainting spell due to the brilliance and romance of your words, she fell instantly in love with me (by proxy) and now we are “working on” — heh-heh — our SECOND little child!”
1.7: Is it true that the man behind Fireland’s written content is in actuality dead, and has been for over two decades?
I’m getting a little tired of answering these ridiculous claims. Jessica Tandy is NOT a man and she only died a few years ago. And she really was more of a copy editor than anything else. Bless your soul, Jessica, wherever it may fly.
1.8: What role does Barbra Streisand play in Fireland’s production?
Barbra, because of her abject refusal to use “The Fireland Stylebook” (an example from p. 122: “If you can break a sentence, or even a two-word phrase, with a long parenthetical statement [extra points if you put parentheses WITHIN parentheses], readers will be impressed with your complexity and ability to juggle seven or eight ideas and/or dependent clauses at the same time.”) when ghostwriting for me, she’s been demoted to Coffee Wench, which is a thankless job around here considering how much I hate coffee and am thus forced to fling the putrid crap back in her face.
1.9: Is it true that it takes a team of 70 employees to create Fireland?
Unfortunately, this is true. I often think back fondly to the early days of this enterprise when it was just me, Cap’n Jerry the HTML Pirate, and Tommy “The Stump” Vitorelli handling security and finances. It wasn’t easy: the four-hour workdays, the Safeway-brand alcohol, the 2400 baud modem. But, dammit, we had a dream, and that dream catapulted us into success, and forced me to hire unpaid interns like mad. I now have entire teams devoted to Hairstyling, Infomercials, and Liposuction. The salad days are over, but the fix-your-own-taco bar days are here to stay.
1.10: What role did Fireland play in the presidential election of 1996?
Fireland typically takes a neutral stance on all political matters, but one of the candidates (nuh-uh! mum’s the word!) found Fireland Text Products, Inc. to be a convenient business entity to act as a temporary holder and manager of campaign contributions from … shall we say … deep-pocketed supporters that some constituents might consider unsavory and/or morally compromised. But I am not one to judge.
1.11: What does the future hold for Fireland?
I’m perfectly satisfied being the unofficial God Emperor of the Internet. But maybe that’s the problem. I’m TOO satisfied. And when you’re too satisfied, you get soft. You lose that edge. And soon enough some young upstart will appear on the scene and wipe the cyberfloor with me. So in order to avoid that scenario, I’m branching out into new avenues of media exploitation. I’ve also begun “taking an active interest” in a number a startup text-heavy websites and I think soon enough you’ll be seeing “Fireland Presents…” all over the web and will come to trust it to bring you the highest in quality, density, and sauciness. And when those 500 channels start pumping through your mini satellite dish, you just might see a little something called F-TV and you just might look at home shopping in a whole new light.
SECTION 2: FIRELAND PROPAGANDA
2.1: What exactly is Fireland Text Products, Inc.?
Oh ho ho! You must be reading this on your laptop in that cave you’ve been hiding out in! Well, if you insist: It all started in 1995 when I was sitting in a K-Mart in Des Moines, IA, using a Magnum black marker to write long, personal manifestos on the slick, lemony, tile floors. Although I was heavily fined by a manager, one of the K-Mart patrons commented on my immaculate spelling. That’s when it hit me: There’s an audience out there for my endless reams of text! But how to get that text to the widest number of people possible? After a couple of misguided attempts at TV news media coverage (about which the less said the better), I stumbled upon the idea of a website for fast, cheap dissemination, and the rest in history. Fireland Text Products, Inc. now has factories all over the world, creating top-notch writing for you to enjoy. I think my employees have done an excellent job at capturing the simple, primitive, raw nature of that original scrawl on the floor of K-Mart.
2.2: What retail stores carry these products?
Technically speaking, our text products are free to all viewers of this site. But we are currently working out a deal with WalMart to distribute hard copies to those poor folk without internet access. We’re also setting up a multi-level marketing plan, whereby anyone can become a Fireland Consultant and sell text products to their friends, neighbors, and loved ones (after a small initial investment of $10,000 for supplies, marketing materials, and instructional videos).
2.3: Are there any unsavory production practices that F.T.P. uses that we, as ethics-conscious consumers, should be aware of?
None that you should be aware of.
2.4: Could I have a brief chronology of pro-Fireland activist actions?
2.5: Precisely how many lives have been lost in the name of Fireland?
Define “precisely.” And anyway, shouldn’t we concern ourselves not with cold statistics but instead with honoring and cherishing the memories of those that are no longer with us? Those who fought the good fight, those who laid their lives down for the worthy cause of text-heavy websites? Shouldn’t we stop digging through the rotting corpses (or ashes, which is more likely considering the large amount of bombs involved) of these heroes, yes, heroes, looking for ballistics information and hidden microfilm? Shouldn’t we instead put our hands on our hearts and shirk a manly tear? I think we should.
2.6: How can I show my support for Fireland, preferably in a financial manner?
An excellent question, and quite possibly the Most Frequently Asked. It’s been so hard to keep up with potential contributors that we’ve recently set up an automated phone system to handle your inquiries. Simply dial 1-888-FIRELAD and the easy-to-understand instructions (se habla espanol!) will take you quickly to where you want to go. But here’s a simple guide to refer to while on the phone:
SECTION 3: FIRELAND FUN FACTS
3.1: Has Fireland ever “sold out”?
No way. Absolutely not. Knuckling under to some corporate sponsor goes against the spirit of independence and irreverence that Fireland was founded on. You can’t reach the pinnacles of achievement like we have by making compromises, and I think another great example of a company that has kept its renegade spirit is Microsoft, which has created top-notch products, at very affordable prices, year in and year out.
3.2: What were sections of Fireland that never saw the light of day?
Fireland is in a constant state of update and evolution; it takes full advantage of this fabulous multimedia world we find ourselves in. So there are countless ideas that didn’t make the cut because when it comes to putting content on Fireland, I serve up only the best. I don’t know how many times something has come across my desk that seems perfect at first glance: overlong, bloated, self-indulgent, almost stomach-churning in its twisted disobedience of grammar and structure. But if it doesn’t hit me here [I’m pointing to my heart, and, by extension, my soul, as I type these words], then it won’t go online. But just for trivia’s sake, here’s a small sampling of pieces that I’ve rejected over the years:
3.3: What sections of Fireland were censored by both the U.S. Government and a secret international organization known only as “The Dark Finger”?
3.4: What were some other titles you came up with before “Fireland”?
3.5: What exactly was the case of The Commonwealth of Ireland v. Fireland?
Oh, this was a ridiculous suit brought against me by some unneighborly “barristers” on the other side of the Atlantic. Not to be unsportsmanlike or anything, but what it boiled down to was a cheap attempt at cutting into the equity of F.T.P. Ireland felt that 7/8’s of the law was ownership, etc., but I decided to show my respect for the country by crossing the judge’s palm with a not insignificant amount of their national color and that little snag was squashed as firmly as the others.
3.6: Isn’t it true that Fireland is completely composed of phrases from the works of famed technothriller author Tom Clancy, cut up and rearranged in a new and unlitigatable fashion?
That old chestnut has been around as long as I can remember. It all started when Tom and I were exchanging dead-baby jokes over Everclear martinis on the hull of a P-22 destroyer (Tom always said he felt far more at home at sea than on land and that he was, in fact, half fish. I jokingly called him “Mer-man” once and he chuckled that warm and insightful chuckle that has won him an international following, and the nickname stuck). The conversation moved to sampling in hip-hop music and its relative merits. I thought that sampling might be the only way to create fresh and vital art in this fin-de-siecle culture, but Tom saw it akin to thuggish vandalism. “Why don’t we just glue pages from Huckleberry Finn into pages from Moby Dick and call it “Moby Finn” and be heralded as geniuses?” And I said: “No, you just don’t get it, Mer-man. We call it “Huck Dick” and THEN be heralded as geniuses.” Anyway, this charming tete-a-tete made its way into countless highbrow academic journals and some naysayers have tried to sully that innocent chat by linking me with creative plagiarism. It’s offensive, but really not worth getting upset about.
3.7: Does Fireland have an official motto and/or theme song?
There is an official motto, though it’s never been printed here. It only exists because it was a requirement of the Application for Statehood (which is still being reviewed, but keep an eye out soon for Firelandland!), and it is this: “Vestrum excrucibo.” There have been many flattering offers to write and perform a Fireland theme song, but I have had to politely reject each one because of my commitment to a text-heavy environment and I don’t know how to put sounds on a website anyway.
SECTION 4: GENERAL AND UNSORTED QUESTIONS THAT ARE FREQUENTLY ASKED
4.1: Is there a God, and if so, does he approve of amateur pornography?
I didn’t believe in God until yesterday afternoon when He appeared in the passenger seat of my car as I raced down the highway. He said: “CHANGE STATIONS. NOW.” And I don’t mean to offend any die-hard fans, but I was listening to Zeppelin. Then God was all: “YOU REALLY SHOULD SLOW DOWN.” So I brought it down to 55 and asked Him if he had enough legroom and if not he should pull the lever and move the seat back. He did so and then I asked Him about the amateur pornography thing and God says to me: “KID, EVERY DAY YOU SHOULD CREATE A LITTLE AND DESTROY A LITTLE.” Then He was gone and I took that to mean a great big Yes.