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"My friend from Michigan says if you pushed all the Great Lakes together they'd be as big as the Mediterranean. I say, why bother?"
March 17, 2010 8:19 PM   Subscribe

Scans of all three issues of Army Man Magazine, the legendary late 80s humor zine put together by future Simpsons' writer George Meyer (an excellent New Yorker profile of Meyer) which also included material from Jack Handey, John Swartzwelder, Bob Odenkirk, among many others. Another contributor, Ian Frazier, talks about Army Man in a Believer Interview. Sadly the scans are small (but the jokes are still big) and of poor quality. For a non-eyestraining introduction, Maud Newton transcribed a good bit of material and posted it at the end of an appreciation of Army Man on her blog.
posted by Kattullus (25 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite

 
Absolutely amazing magazine, and a great post.
posted by Damn That Television at 8:26 PM on March 17, 2010


God thank you so much.
posted by chinston at 8:38 PM on March 17, 2010


Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you. And thanks to the tireless Maud Newton.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 8:38 PM on March 17, 2010


I wrote up a few jokes... well, because I should be working, so it was irresistibly procrastinational.
I went to the nursery to buy some garden gnomes for my pal Tom's birthday. You know, the kind with beards, smoking pipes and pushing little wheelbarrows. The lady said: "Gee, we don't sell many of these." I was too much of an asshole to just admit that I like them, so I said the gnomes were for the set of a play I was doing.

Later, I felt guilty for the lie so I rented a theater and put on a play, with the garden gnomes prominently displayed. Like a jerk, I forgot to invite the lady from the nursery. But it all paid off, because my play just won a Pulitzer Prize.

Pet Peeve
If there's one thing that really honks me off, it's the hopelessness and futility of the human condition.

Question
If they can put a man on the moon, why can't they put a drinking fountain on the moon?

You Men
Here's some free advice: Never go on a blind date with a "dynamite lady."
posted by Kattullus at 8:41 PM on March 17, 2010


Sweet Heavens this is so great. Thanks a lot.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:43 PM on March 17, 2010


I think this is kind of a weak post. Meyer has said in various places, including the Ortved book on The Simpsons, that if he’d wanted Army Man circulated this widely he’d have done it by now. You can barely read the damned scans. The New Yorker piece was just atrociously written.

Yes, of course: Army Man, leitmotif of underground American comedy, forgotten classic, etc. Except it was never forgotten and was only ever a tiny zine for the delectation of a few friends. This would describe many a zine, I expect. The point is it isn’t news and it isn’t actually all that interesting, let alone funny.
posted by joeclark at 9:22 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Really wish some readable scans would turn up. My excitement at stumbling onto those scans a few months ago was quickly dashed.
posted by anazgnos at 9:25 PM on March 17, 2010


future Simpsons' writer George Meyer

He was and is a lot more than a writer. And since the New Yorker article brings up his siblings, I'm going to tell this story: I had a passing acquaintance with one of the younger of his sisters. She had many wonderful traits, and among them was very fine hair, just below the shoulder, and it contained every shade and hue of medium blond. A year later I spot that same beautiful hair, from behind, across a room, in a different part of town, but on a slightly shorter and clearly different person.

So I walk up to her, tap her on the shoulder and say, "Are you a sister of George Meyer's?"

Sigh. These are the glories upon which my legend will be built.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:32 PM on March 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, was she?
posted by kenko at 9:47 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Funny post.
posted by humannaire at 10:18 PM on March 17, 2010


Well, was she?

I'm thinking it was Meyer himself?
posted by sallybrown at 10:24 PM on March 17, 2010


I first heard about "Army Man" from one of Robert Anton Wilson's books. Like others, I'd enjoy these digitized issues more if they were fully readable. Or maybe that's the point -- having to strain to read the jokes, let alone understand some of them, is a joke on us -- a meta-joke, as it were.

Here's one that I remember RAW quoting: If you hear a ringing in your ears, pick up the phone and answer "Hello".
posted by e-man at 10:27 PM on March 17, 2010


I think this is kind of a weak post.

Take it to MeTa, funsucker.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:30 PM on March 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Neat post.

I thought the New Yorker piece was pretty interesting when I first read it (it was the first time I had heard of a contemporary person (since the 70s) doing yoga, and I was fascinated by Meyer's penchant for Moon mission collectibles) and it's one of those NYer articles I *really* remember, and still pull out and read from time to time, but I kind of wonder if Army Man is more of a quaint cultural artifact.

The humour is kind of Smothers Brothers-dated, and has been eclipsed by the Simpsons and Adult Swim. Or maybe I've gotten older and my tastes have changed... I still like Bob Newhart, though.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:04 PM on March 17, 2010


Well, was she?
posted by kenko


I'd hoped it would be obvious in context, that yes, it was indeed his sister.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:30 PM on March 17, 2010


I really admire John Swartzwelder. Be a creative force for some of the best comedy writing ever for DECADES and still have people think you're not real or a group of writers and all the stories about you are myth? That's talent.
posted by The Whelk at 12:21 AM on March 18, 2010


Boy that owes a *lot* to the prose writing of Steve Martin. A lot a lot.

I don't mean that as a criticism, because Steve Martin is brilliant, and he's influenced pretty much all American humor. But man is this similar.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:21 AM on March 18, 2010


ts; dr
posted by Sukiari at 1:54 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


George Meyer and I were phone pals for a time; cracking up the funniest man in America was a particular thrill.

And since you mention it, StickyCarpet, he does have pretty hair.
posted by Scram at 2:26 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Haters drink your Hatorade(TM), this post is gold.
posted by pickingoutathermos at 3:09 AM on March 18, 2010


Another contributor, Ian Frazier, talks about Army Man in a Believer Interview.

There's also a Believer Interview with George Meyer.

Meyer has said in various places, including the Ortved book on The Simpsons, that if he’d wanted Army Man circulated this widely he’d have done it by now.

He did. The issue of The Believer containing the above interview with George Meyer (September 2004) came with a reprint of Army Man #1.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 4:51 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


My opinion remains unchanged, and it gets expressed here.
posted by joeclark at 5:30 AM on March 18, 2010


My opinion is expressed here:

joeclark is a great deal of fun at parties.
posted by sfts2 at 6:06 AM on March 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Hey, Fuzzy Monster's Meyer interview link is really, really good.
posted by mediareport at 6:09 AM on March 18, 2010


That is a great interview. I like that it delves a little bit into the thought processes at work in the writing of the show. This part, in particular, was good:
GM: All of our inside jokes are fairly obvious, if you’re paying attention. We’ll slip in references to “golden showers” or “glory holes,” stupid things that are only there to make us laugh. We had a “chloroform” run for a while. We just thought chloroform was funny, so we tried to include it in as many episodes as possible. Somebody was always pulling out a rag soaked in chloroform and using it to render somebody unconscious for no good reason. We get these crazes every now and then. There was a period when we were obsessed with hobos. Specifically, hobos and their bindles. In the boxing episode, Homer was fighting a hobo who kept turning to check on his bindle. [Laughs] Stuff like that is basically about wasting the audience’s time for our own amusement.

BLVR: There’s a special place in my heart for the train-riding, spongebath-loving hobo from the “Tall Tales” episode.

GM: Oh, yeah! That one had my personal favorite internal gag that nobody outside of the show will ever see. At one point, the hobo is spinning a yarn, and Lisa interrupts with a story of her own. The hobo snaps, “Hey, who’s the hobo here?” And in the script, his dialogue note is “[ALL BUSINESS].” [Laughs] I love the idea that a hobo would be “all business.”
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:23 AM on March 18, 2010


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