205: Rocket Attack USA
by Trey Yeatts
Now, is “Creeps” a verb or a noun in this? –I think it’s a French pancake.
A crepe is a very thin wheat pancake with origins in northern France. Crepes are often served rolled with sweet or savory fillings.
Spotlight dance on the Phantom Creep.
A spotlight dance is usually a moment in a social function (for instance, a dance) wherein a literal spotlight shines on a couple as they dance for part or all of a song.
Schaper always leaves you laughing. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.
Schaper Toys was founded in Minnesota in 1949 and is best remembered for the children’s game Cootie. Their television commercials in the mid-1970s ended with an animated cootie bug saying, “Cootie always leaves you laughing!” followed by laughter.
Ford Beebe! –Beebe! –Ford Beebe!
Ford Beebe (1888-1978) was a writer and director of many serials, including several episodes in the Flash Gordon and Lone Ranger series.
That’s the view out of the window of an HO train there.
HO scale is the standard scale used for model trains, slot-car racers, and other scale-model vehicles. The exact scale ratio is 1:87.1. Another popular scale is N scale, which is smaller than HO but not as uniform. Its ratios range from 1:148 to 1:160.
[Imitating Bela Lugosi.] This is my skull! Stick around and found out how that could have happened. Bleh.
Loads of Bela Lugosi (1882-1956) imitations going on. The Hungarian actor most famously played Count Dracula in the 1927 Broadway play and the 1931 Universal film bearing that name. He also starred in several of director Ed Wood’s low-budget flicks. However, Lugosi never said “Bleh!” as Dracula. This appears to have originated with comedian Gabriel Dell, who performed a popular Dracula impersonation on The Steve Allen Show.
Now back to my HO train, the Transylvania choo-choo. Pardon me, boy.
See previous note on HO scale. “Chattanooga Choo Choo” is a popular big band song written by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon. It was most famously performed by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra and was used in the 1941 movie Sun Valley Serenade. Transylvania is a region in Romania that has long been associated with vampires and other horror tropes, thanks to the 1897 Bram Stoker novel Dracula and many feature films. Putting these together, we get the 1974 comedy film Young Frankenstein, directed by Mel Brooks, starring Gene Wilder, and written by both. Upon the arrival of Wilder’s character in Romania, he leans out the train window and asks a shoeshine boy, “Pardon me, boy. Is this the Transylvania station?” The boy responds, “Ja, ja. Track twenty-nine. Oh, can I give you a shine?” To bring it full circle, I present a portion of the lyrics to “Chattanooga Choo Choo”: “Pardon me, boy/Is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo?/Track twenty-nine/Boy, you can give me a shine.”
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree.
These are the first two lines from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s 1816 poem “Kubla Khan,” based upon the 13th-century Chinese and Mongolian ruler Kublai Khan. Shangdu (corrupted by Western writers as Xanadu) was the Khan’s summer capital in China. This poem and its descriptions of opulence inspired Charles Foster Kane’s home in the 1941 film Citizen Kane, which was named Xanadu. The MST3K writers latched on to that reference as well—in particular, paraphrasing a newsreel narrator at the beginning of the film barking out a description of Xanadu: “Cost: no man can say!”
Mallory? –Yes, Alex? Ha, ha, ha.
Mallory Keaton (Justine Bateman) was the eldest daughter and Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox) was the eldest son on the NBC sitcom Family Ties (1982-1989).
You guys still sure that Lucas was the first one to do this?
Opening crawls, as these things are known, have been used in films and shorts dating back to the 1920s. Filmmaker George Lucas drew upon old serials such as Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers when he wrote and directed 1977’s Star Wars, which featured a famous opening crawl.
And so Peter saw the wolf coming through the woods, followed by an oboe.
Peter and the Wolf is a 1936 Russian children’s story and musical piece written by Sergei Prokofiev. Each instrument in the production represents a different character; the oboe, for example, represents the duck.
Gene Gene the Dancing Machine? Art Art ... well, you know the rest of that story.
A conflated riff. Gene Gene the Dancing Machine was a frequent performer on the variety game show The Gong Show, which aired from 1976 to 1978 on NBC (with some syndicated versions airing later). Gene Gene was actually Eugene Patton, an NBC stagehand whose occasional impromptu dancing caught host and producer Chuck Barris’s eye. There is also an old poem that goes: “Gene, Gene, made a machine./Joe, Joe, made it go./Art, Art, let a fart/And blew the whole machine apart.”
God is his copilot.
This popular bumper sticker phrase began life as the title of an autobiography written by fighter pilot Robert Lee Scott, which was published in 1943. In 1945, a big-screen version of the book was released but didn’t fare well with either critics or audiences, who saw it as yet another “flag-waving” propaganda film. By the 1970s and ‘80s, the phrase had entered Christian pop culture. It was followed in the 1990s by another phrase that began life as a book title: “What Would Jesus Do?”
Now, how do you feel about spontaneous human combustion?
So-called “spontaneous human combustion” is the phenomenon by which people are supposedly burned alive without any apparent external ignition source. There are about two hundred such cases held up by conspiracists and paranormal believer-types as examples of SHC; however, scientific evidence is decidedly against their claims. Hang on, this gets gross. Nearly every case of SHC involves someone who is elderly or otherwise infirm, with very low mobility. Nearly every case involves cigarettes. And, because of a lack of high-temperature damage to nearby objects, forensic investigators have shown that a small burn point (caused by, say, a lit cigarette) can char and split a person’s skin, allowing fat to seep from the wound, be wicked away by clothing, and consume the body in fire over a few hours without causing typical heat damage elsewhere in the room.
Oh, Professor Firefly. It’s not my size.
An imitation of Margaret Dumont in her role as rich matron Mrs. Gloria Teasdale in the 1933 Marx Brothers film Duck Soup. Groucho Marx played Professor Rufus T. Firefly in the film.
Stop, drop, and roll.
Stop, drop, and roll is a fire safety technique whereby people who catch on fire are urged to stop running, drop to the ground, and roll around until the flames are out.
An iconic scene at the conclusion of the 1964 film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb has American Air Force Major T.J. “King” Kong (played by Slim Pickens) trying to dislodge a stuck nuclear warhead from a B-52 bomber over the Soviet Union. He ends up riding the missile to the ground like a rodeo cowboy, waving his hat and shouting “Yee-hoo!”
I can see my house from here.
The punchline of an old joke about Jesus’ crucifixion: as he’s being nailed to the cross, he suddenly exclaims, “Hey, I can see my house from here!”
How fortunate. This will simplify everything.
An imitation of Bela Lugosi, and a line he spoke in Show 203, Jungle Goddess, in the accompanying Phantom Creeps short.
Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan.
Cathy Rigby is a retired Olympic gymnast and actress. In the 1970s, she broke advertising taboos and endorsed feminine hygiene products (StayFree Maxi Pads). In the 1980s, she was one of the first people to publicly address eating disorders when she discussed her own battles with bulimia. As an actress, she starred in stage productions of Wizard of Oz, Annie Get Your Gun, and Peter Pan (as the title character). She played Peter Pan on Broadway and on tour throughout most of the 1990s (a role for which she won a Tony) and went on a revival tour in 2011 at the age of 60.
Anything you say, boss.
An impression of Max, the chauffeur, butler, and all-around investigative enabler of Jonathan and Jennifer Hart on the TV mystery series Hart to Hart (ABC, 1979-1984). The show’s intro featured a narration from Max, which began with “This is my boss, Jonathan Hart ...” Max was played by Lionel Stander. Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers played the title roles: a wealthy couple who were also amateur private investigators. Because they got bored, I guess.
She’s wearing Easy Spirit shoes for jumping.
Easy Spirit is a brand of women’s shoes that debuted in the late 1980s, produced by the United States Shoe Corporation. The brand is now owned by Marc Fisher Footwear.
“Two men and another woman.” And a baby.
Three Men and a Baby is a 1987 comedy about three bachelor roommates (Ted Danson, Steve Guttenberg, and Tom Selleck) who find a baby on their doorstep, supposedly the product of one of their loins. It was directed by Leonard “Mr. Spock” Nimoy and based on a 1985 French film, Trois hommes et un couffin. In 1990, a poorly received sequel, Three Men and a Little Lady, was released. Another sequel has been threatened, Three Men and a Bride, but nothing has materialized.
We sure do have a lot of adventures, boss.
See above note on Hart to Hart.
Hey, did you guys hear the one about the traveling salesman? Heh, heh, heh.
Traveling salesman jokes, a.k.a. farmer’s daughter jokes, are classic old, slightly risqué jokes in which the salesman is warned to stay away from the farmer’s pretty daughter. Hijinks inevitably ensue.
I want to get my pen out of this guy’s throat.
A reference to the emergency procedure sometimes known as a ballpoint pen tracheotomy. If a person is choking and other efforts to clear the airways (such as the Heimlich maneuver) fail, a tracheotomy should be performed, which involves cutting a hole in the throat of the victim and inserting a tube to inject air into their trachea. If proper medical equipment isn’t available, the barrel of a ballpoint pen (with the tip and ink portions removed, obviously) can be substituted.
Yeah, Claus von Bülow.
In December 1980, heiress Sunny von Bülow slipped into a coma. Her husband, Claus von Bülow, was accused of trying to murder her by injecting her with a lethal dose of insulin. (She was hypoglycemic and had been told by doctors to follow a strict diet after two similar, less serious incidents within the past year.) Claus was found guilty in 1982, but had the conviction reversed on appeal and was ultimately acquitted in a second trial in 1985. Von Bülow now lives in London; Sunny died in 2008. The von Bülows’ story was told in the 1990 film Reversal of Fortune, starring Glenn Close and Jeremy Irons.
[Imitating Bela Lugosi.] This simplifies everything. To think I was going to identify her, what a hoot!
See above note on Jungle Goddess.
I’ve got dibs, fella.
Dibs is generally a childhood method of laying claim to something by yelling out “Dibs!” In America, at least. In most other English-speaking nations, this is referred to as “bags” and dates back to the mid-1800s. As for the origin of the word “dibs,” theories vary. Three possibilities: 1) it’s an abbreviation of the Yiddish phrase “fin dibsy,” meaning “lay claim”; 2) “dibs” derives from the word “divvy,” or divide; or 3) in the 17th-century children’s game “dibstones,” similar to the modern game of jacks, when a child captured a playing piece, he/she would call out “Dibs!”
He’s got gum. How fortunate.
See above note on Jungle Goddess.
And Jerry Mathers as the Beaver.
Jerry Mathers is an American actor best known for his title role in the TV series Leave It to Beaver (1957-1963) and the sequel series The New Leave It to Beaver (1984-1989). The opening of the original series featured a narrator introducing the main characters, concluding with “And Jerry Mathers as the Beaver …”
Mystery guest, sign in, please!
The TV game show What’s My Line? ran on CBS from 1950 to 1967, the longest-running game show in prime-time U.S. network television. A daily syndicated version ran from 1968 to 1975. A panel of celebrities would question contestants to guess their occupation; each round began with the contestant being asked to “enter, and sign in, please.” The final round of each episode involved another celebrity—a “mystery guest”—as a contestant, and the panelists were blindfolded and tasked with guessing the mystery guest’s identity, not their occupation. So technically, “mystery guests” were never asked to sign in. I should really just relax.
Kitty Carlisle (1910-2007) was an actress who appeared in a few movies during the 1930s and ‘40s, but she is best known for her regular appearances as a panelist on the TV game show To Tell the Truth (off and on from 1956-present).
Starring George Kennedy.
George Kennedy (1925-2016) was an actor who appeared in more than 200 movies and television shows, including The Dirty Dozen (1967) and all four Airport films. He won an Oscar for his work in Cool Hand Luke and also appeared in the Naked Gun film series.
Hmm. Zack Norman is Sammy in Chief Zabu. What do you make of that?
According to the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide’s list of the Fifty Most Obscure References, this is a reference to a “long-running ad in Variety. It ran forever: Don’t know if Chief Zabu ever made it past the stage where you talk about it over liver dumpling soup at Jerry’s Deli, but you might remember Zack from Romancing the Stone or his role as the woman-slapping thug in the despicable Henry Jaglom film Sitting Ducks.” In fact, Chief Zabu—the story of a New York real estate tycoon whose dreams of political power lead him to attempt a takeover of a Polynesian island—was written, produced, and directed by Zack Norman, under the pseudonym Howard Zuker. Production began in 1986, and although the film was given an R rating in 1988, it was never completed or released. The ads, however, ran continuously in Variety between 1985 and 1988. In late 2016, in light of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the movie was taken off the shelf and given a limited release in Los Angeles and a screening at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. It received mixed reviews.
Extra! Extra! Fire hydrant attacked by newspaper!
In the old days, when a newspaper was “hot off the presses,” paperboys and newsstand operators would announce the latest edition by shouting the headlines. If it was a special edition (an “extra” edition, if you will), they’d shout that, too.
Hmm, it’s rare that a human interest story makes it on the front page like this. –Coincidence? Read the book.
The line “Read the book,” comes from a TV commercial for the Time-Life book series Mysteries of the Unknown. They were published from 1987 to 1991 and dealt with subjects such as UFOs, psychics, witches, Stonehenge, and more.
Hey, boss. Says here you’re dead. –[Imitating Bela Lugosi.] Rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated. Oooh, Jumble! Ooh,I love it!
See above note on Hart to Hart. The “rumors of my death ...” line is a frequently misquoted quip by author Mark Twain (b. Samuel Clemens; 1835-1910). In 1897, when one of Twain’s cousins was ill, rumors began to spread that Twain himself was sick. He sent a note to a reporter who had contacted him, stating, “James Ross Clemens, a cousin of mine, was seriously ill two or three weeks ago in London, but is well now. The report of my illness grew out of his illness. The report of my death was an exaggeration.” Jumble (and its kid version, Junior Jumble) is a long-running newspaper word puzzle that features scrambled letters along with a clue to solve the anagram and an initial question. Jumble was created in 1954 by Martin Naydel.
[Imitating Bela Lugosi.] You did the crossword, you fool. And look. Tom and Roseanne beat me out in the press again.
Comedian Tom Arnold and his wife, comedian and actress Roseanne Barr Arnold, had a notoriously stormy relationship, which was covered avidly by the tabloids, during their marriage from 1990 to 1994.
That’s my boss. Always going on about his life of danger. But look who does all the driving. We’ll be right back.
See above note on Hart to Hart.
Meanwhile, in a Frank Lloyd Wright building nearby.
The phrase “Meanwhile, back at _____,” originated with cards inserted in silent films of the early 20th century. In westerns, this was often “Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...” Once audio became a common component, the phrase was still used by narrators for films and radio and television programs. Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) was the founder of the “Prairie style” school of architecture, which strove to blend into its natural surroundings. He began his career in Chicago, but by the early part of the 20th century, he had begun work on his home/studio near Spring Green, Wisconsin, which he named Taliesin. If you live in Chicago, you may find yourself saying, “What didn’t he design?” and “How many students did this guy have?” The small Chicago suburb of Oak Park, with a mere 52,000 residents, has more than 80 homes and other buildings designed by Wright and his followers; 25 of them are by Wright himself, including his early home/studio.
Bungee jumping. Sport of fools.
Bungee jumping is an “extreme” sport, involving attaching an elastic rope to a person before they leap from a large, high, and usually fixed object. The word’s usage derives from early 20th-century Kiwi slang: “bungy,” meaning “elastic strap.” Thanks to documentaries in the mid-20th century, the practice of “land diving” by the South Pacific islanders of Vanuatu entered the consciousness of western civilization. In 1979, the first modern bungee jump was opened in Bristol, England. Guess what day? April 1.
Yes, it was juice, toast, milk, and Trix.
Trix is a brand of cereal manufactured by General Mills; it consists of multicolored, fruit-flavored shapes made from ground corn, like grape, lemon, and raspberry. In TV commercials for the cereal, the Trix Rabbit attempts to get his hands on the product with inevitable defeat ensuing approximately thirty seconds later. The ads usually end with one of the children taunting, “Silly Rabbit. Trix are for kids!” Ads for nearly all breakfast cereals show the cereal on a set table, accompanied by toast and a glass of orange juice.
Get back to your letter, you wiener. I’ll be in my office. Oh, I don’t have one. See you later. Not!
Though many trace the use of “Not!” as a negating declarative back to the late-’80s/early-’90s Saturday Night Live sketch “Wayne’s World,” it goes even farther back, to SNL’s first season and a 1976 episode hosted by Madeline Kahn. In a slumber party sketch, the female cast members and Kahn played young girls talking about boys. At one point, Laraine Newman said, “Oh, yeah. Now I really wanna get married. Not!” Its usage dates farther back, of course, but that’s the earliest appearance in popular culture I could find.
Well, the clock on the wall says it’s time for the Longines Symphonette.
“The old clock on the wall says it’s time to …” was a hokey yet commonplace line used by old-time radio announcers. The Longines Symphonette was a classical music program that aired first on the Mutual Radio Network and then on the CBS radio network from 1943 to 1957. It was sponsored by the Longines watch company, hence the name.
Yes, it’s Fibber McGee and Molly on international Morse Code. –Don’t open that closet, Fibber! –Ah!
Fibber McGee and Molly was an old radio comedy show that aired on NBC from 1935 to 1959. The two title characters, a husband and wife, were played by real-life couple Jim and Marian Jordan. A longtime running gag on the show was Fibber opening the door to his hall closet, followed by a cacophony as the overstuffed contents came cascading out. Morse code is a means of communication developed in the 1830s by American artist and inventor Samuel Morse. It works when an operator sends pulses of electrical current along cables, causing an electromagnet on the receiving end to click. The Morse alphabet is made up of a combination of dots (short pulses) and dashes (long pulses). Most people know the distress code “SOS”: three dots, three dashes, three dots.
Meanwhile, at the Addams’ house ... –Is that Raúl Juliá?
See above note on “Meanwhile …” The Addams Family is a group of eccentric and macabre characters created by cartoonist Charles Addams in 1938. They were popularized in an eponymous ABC television series from 1964 to 1966, several animated series, a sequel live-action series (The New Addams Family, 1998-1999) and a few live-action films. Two of those films starred Raúl Juliá (1940-1994) as patriarch Gomez Addams.
It’s Wheeler and Woolsey.
Bert Wheeler (1895-1968) and Robert Woolsey (1888-1938) were stars in a series of popular comedy films and shorts in the late 1920s and into the ‘30s.
That’s my boss. Always getting us into kooky situations. But I’ll be back later.
See above note on Hart to Hart.
Still shaking the bushes, boss.
In a famous scene from the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, which starred Paul Newman as a loner on a chain gang, Newman’s character is allowed some privacy for a bathroom break only if he shakes the bushes while he urinates so the guards don’t think he’s making a break for it while he’s out of sight.
[Imitating.] Be vewy quiet. I’m hunting sidekwicks.
Elmer Fudd is a character in Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes cartoons: a hunter with a speech impediment usually pitted against Bugs Bunny. He first appeared in 1940’s Elmer’s Candid Camera and was voiced by Arthur Q. Bryan from 1940 to 1959. After Bryan’s death, he was voiced most famously by Mel Blanc, but also by Hal Smith, Jeff Bergman, Greg Burson, Billy West, and others. He often said some variation of the riff above, but with “wabbits” substituting for “sidekwicks.”
You had me worried, boss. That was too close for comfort.
See above note on Hart to Hart.
Would you please turn off The Little Rascals music?
In the 1920s and 1930s, producer Hal Roach created a series of short comedy films about a group of poor neighborhood children, dubbed Our Gang. More than 220 shorts featuring 41 child actors were eventually produced. In the 1950s, many of the shorts were recycled for television and packaged under the name The Little Rascals. The Our Gang theme song, “Good Old Days,” was written by Leroy Shield and had a well-known sax solo; the repackaged Little Rascals used the same theme song.
“I told you there was something queer about this place!” Yeah, it’s Oscar Wilde’s birthplace. So what?
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was a Victorian poet and playwright best known for his stage comedies Lady Windermere’s Fan and The Importance of Being Earnest, as well as for his legendary wit. Wilde was one of the central figures in the Aesthetic movement of the late 19th century, which emphasized the importance of beauty and art. Although he had a wife and children, he was charged with “gross indecency” over his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas (who was in fact his lover) and sentenced to two years of hard labor. He died a few years after his release from prison in 1897.
Looks like a Heathkit electric chair. You don’t see those very often anymore.
Heathkits were made by Michigan’s Heath Company and included a wide range of products, such as radios, home audio systems, computers, and more. The first Heathkit was for an oscilloscope, produced in 1947. Heathkits were used for educational purposes for years, but once solid-state electronics, integrated circuits, and microchips became the industry norm, Heath ended their involvement in the kit business in 1992. There was a short-lived attempt in 2011 to restart the business, but it didn’t work out.
[Imitating Bela Lugosi.] Disk is disk.
Possibly a reference to a line from the 1978 film The Deer Hunter: “This is this.”
Be careful of my Mysto Magic Show.
Mysto Magic Sets were boxes of simple tricks and illusions (including cards, balls, and more), first produced by Mysto Manufacturing in 1909 and continuing into the middle part of the century. There were four different sets produced in all. Founder A.C. Gilbert (1884-1961) also gave the world Erector Sets.
I’m ready for my mystery date.
Mystery Date is a board game introduced by Milton Bradley in 1965 and reissued in 2005. A favorite at girls’ slumber parties, players opened a small plastic door to find out if their date was a “dream” or a “dud.” Much parodied, Mystery Date was the basis for episodes of The Simpsons (1996) and Mad Men (2012).
What is this? A dark communion wafer?
Communion, or Eucharist, is the ritual in most Christian churches meant to evoke a scene from the story of the Last Supper, the final meal that Jesus Christ shared with his disciples before he was arrested by the authorities. As he passed bread (to represent his body) and wine (to represent his blood), he said his followers should “drink/eat this in remembrance of me.” Some churches use juice in place of wine, and Mormons use water; bread is used frequently, but many sects have their own special crackers or wafers, which are sometimes sanctified. In Catholic dogma, the wine and the wafer are believed to actually become the blood and body of Jesus once they’re ingested. “Dark communion” implies some sort of evil bent on the ceremony, possibly Satanic.
Babe alert. Hot Madonna babe alert.
Madonna is a pop singer and cultural icon, a woman whose provocative lifestyle and skill at manipulating the media have often overshadowed her music. She first rose to fame in the early 1980s with such hits as “Lucky Star,” “Like a Virgin,” and “Material Girl.” Before long she had reinvented herself as a torchy platinum blonde, the first of many such transformations in her career. Other personas have included hippie, jock, British citizen, and children’s book author.
I’m still working on my blocking. Excuse me. You wanna see my Cagney?
In stage, television, and film production, blocking is the term used to describe the placement of actors on the set. James Cagney (1899-1986) was an actor famous for playing tough guys and gangsters in dozens of films.
Hmm, 1313 Mockingbird Lane. Doesn’t look scary to me.
1313 Mockingbird Lane was the street address for the Munster family mansion in the 1964-1966 CBS sitcom The Munsters.
Well, I got to third, if that counts for anything.
In the popular metaphor for sexual relations using baseball terminology, “first base” is kissing (sometimes French kissing), “second base” is heavy petting, “third base” is, um, manual or oral manipulation of the genitals, and a “home run” is actual sexual intercourse. Your results may vary.
Oh, be proud. You shot a spider. Thank you, John Goodman.
John Goodman is a portly actor who has appeared in dozens of movies and television shows, including Raising Arizona (1987), Roseanne (1988-1997), and, most pertinently, 1990’s Arachnophobia, in which he played an exterminator.
[Woman screams.] Roller coaster, of love! –Say what!
In the 1975 Ohio Players’ hit “Love Rollercoaster,” there can be heard a high-pitched scream. An urban legend arose that this was the actual death knell of a woman killed in-studio. It was, in fact, keyboardist Billy Beck (who did not die either), but the rumors gave the song buzz and even boosted airplay and sales, so the band didn’t deny them until many years later.
(Imitating Bela Lugosi) Now that I’m invisible, I’ll secretly switch their coffee with Folgers Crystals.
Folgers Instant Coffee Crystals had a popular TV ad campaign in the 1970s and early 1980s involving real coffee at famous restaurants being covertly swapped for their instant brew. Amazingly, the people in the commercial could not tell the difference.
Run, Von Ryan! Run! –Stagger, Von Ryan!
A paraphrase of a line from the 1965 World War II prison escape film Von Ryan’s Express, starring Frank Sinatra as the title character. At the end, Sinatra is racing to catch up to a train, and his fellow prisoners are shouting to encourage him: “Come on, Ryan!”
My boss. Always rigging things so I’m the clown that takes the bullets.
See above note on Hart to Hart.
It’s Christine! –Christine?
Christine is a 1983 horror novel by Stephen King about a possessed car—specifically a red and white 1958 Plymouth Fury. The film version, released the same year, used three different Plymouth models: the Fury, the Belvedere, and the Savoy. (Only 5,300 1958 Furys had ever been made, and it was not possible to find enough of them for filming.)
How’d it get in the trees? Practice, practice.
A riff on the old joke “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice.” Part of the folklore of that venerable New York City concert hall, stories of the joke’s origin vary, but usually involve a pedestrian asking a musician for directions. Carnegie Hall’s own website quotes the wife of violinist Mischa Elman as saying her husband coined the joke while leaving the backstage door of the hall with his violin case in hand, and being approached by some tourists seeking the entrance.
He’s going to get a DWI ... driving while invisible.
“DWI” stands for “Driving While Intoxicated” and is the charge most often associated with drinking and driving. Depending on where you live, the charge might instead be “DUI” (Driving Under the Influence).
1928 Porter. That’s my mother dear. –Doesn’t she help you through everything you do? –I’m so glad she’s here. –Please.
A paraphrase of the theme song to the short-lived (it lasted one season) and oft-maligned mid-1960s NBC sitcom My Mother the Car, starring Jerry Van Dyke as a man who bought a crappy car because it was somehow the reincarnated form of his late mother. The car in the series was supposedly a 1928 Porter. As you may be able to guess, the Porter Motor Company was an early-20th-century car maker; unusually, their cars were steam-powered. The company didn’t last long, folding in 1901. The car used in the series was actually an amalgam of various cars, but it was mostly a 1924 Ford Model T with some Porter detailing. The theme song’s actual lyrics: “A 1928 Porter./That’s my mother dear./’Cause she helps me through everything I do/And I’m so glad she’s near.”
Hey, you guys. That’s James Dean there.
James Dean (1931-1955) was an actor who had lead roles in only three films—Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden, and Giant—before his untimely death in an auto accident at the age of 24. He’s the only actor to ever be nominated posthumously for two Academy Awards.
[Imitating Bela Lugosi.] Can’t touch this.
The video for the multi-platinum song “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer, released in 1990, became an MTV staple, inspiring a brief “Hammer pants” fashion craze.
Meanwhile, in another part of the world, thousands of miles away.
See above note on “Meanwhile …”
[Imitating Bela Lugosi, singing.] Casper the friendly ghost.
Casper the Friendly Ghost is a character created by Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo for a 1939 children’s book and later adapted into a series of Famous Studios animated shorts beginning in 1945. The popular theme song was written by Jerry Livingston and Mack David. More animated shorts were produced in the 1950s, ‘60s, late ‘70s, and mid-’90s, and a live action feature was released in 1995.
Now we thought it would be funny to place a rock under the tire of the car. Now here comes Fannie Flagg to help us.
An imitation of Allen Funt (1914-1999), the producer and host of the television series Candid Camera, which aired in various incarnations between 1948 and 1967. The basic premise of the show was to place unsuspecting people in embarrassing and bizarre situations and then film the wacky results. Fannie Flagg is an actress, author, and former Miss Alabama best known for her 1987 novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café which was adapted into the 1991 film titled Fried Green Tomatoes, and her many appearances on The Match Game in the 1970s.
Still shaking the bushes, boss.
See above note on Cool Hand Luke.
“The driver is gone or he’s hiding. You stay here.” [Imitating Ronald Reagan.] Welcome to Death Valley Days. –He’s almost as visible as I was when I was president. –Oooh, Mommy.
And so begins a long-running joke on MST3K. Death Valley Days was first a radio and then a television anthology series, set in the Wild West, that ran from 1930 to 1975. Each episode was introduced by a host; from 1965 to 1966 that host was Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), his final work as a professional actor before entering politics. In 1966, he ran for governor of California and won, a position he held until 1975. He ran unsuccessfully for president in 1976 and successfully in 1980, defeating incumbent Jimmy Carter. He remained president for two terms. “Mommy” was his pet name for First Lady Nancy Reagan. As for the “Almost as invisible as I was when I was president” crack, Reagan did have a reputation for a slightly less than hands-on management style. He took a total of 335 vacation days during his two terms; by contrast, George W. Bush took 879 days off. After this episode aired, saying “The driver is either missing or he’s gone …” or some variation, in a Reagan-like voice became a recurring MST3K riff. Some fans came to believe it was something Reagan was actually known for saying. Not true.
Still shaking the bushes. And get that frog out of here.
See above note on Cool Hand Luke. “Get that cat out of here” was a recurring gag in the 1983 Steve Martin movie The Man with Two Brains.
I know it’s a wooden nickel and you’re not supposed to take ‘em, but he’s gonna disprove that myth.
Wooden nickels were promotional tokens issued by banks and other institutions in the early 20th century, usually redeemable for some specific product (but not cash) or simply for commemorative reasons. The old saying “don’t take any wooden nickels” actually existed before this practice and simply means “don’t be cheated.”
Still shaking the bushes, boss.
See above note on Cool Hand Luke.
We gotta send this in to Bob Saget. It’s just priceless.
Bob Saget is a standup comedian best known for his role as the wholesome patriarch Danny Tanner in the ABC sitcom Full House (1987-1995). This was in stark contrast to his stage persona as a comedian both before and after the series, which could best be described as “rated M for Mature.” America’s Funniest Home Videos is a long-running ABC series that invites viewers to send in videos of their most embarrassing moments to compete for a cash prize. It first aired as a special in 1989 hosted by Saget, who remained the host until 1997. Funnily enough, Trace Beaulieu and Josh Weinstein went on to write for AFHV for several years in the 2000s.
Like the old saying goes, walk invisibly and carry a big stick.
A reference to the phrase “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you’ll go far.” President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) used it to describe his approach to foreign policy. He attributed it to a West African proverb (scholars dispute this) and first used it publicly when he was still vice president and speaking at the 1901 Minnesota State Fair.
Let’s get out of here, Scooby!
An imitation of Shaggy from the animated television series Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, which aired from 1969 to 1972. He was voiced by Casey Kasem, the well-known syndicated DJ. Scooby-Doo is the name of the anthropomorphic dog on the show, who was voiced by Don Messick. The show spawned several other series, television movies, videos, and even live-action films.
Crashing timbers? Isn’t that a place in the Poconos?
The Pocono Mountains are a popular resort region in northeast Pennsylvania.
All of you outta here. I gotta clean up. Now, unless you’re going to give to the Will Rogers fund, oohhh!
Will Rogers (1879-1935) was a world-renowned actor, humorist, and social commentator. He was at the height of celebrity culture when he died in a plane crash with aviator Wiley Post in 1935. After his death, the Will Rogers Institute was created to fund research into heart and respiratory diseases and promote good health. Beginning in 1936, the Institute used movie stars to promote their efforts and collect donations in movie theaters during the summer.
Puppets as politicians? Sounds like a Sid & Marty Krofft sitcom.
Sid and Marty Krofft are brothers and television producers who created a string of children’s shows during the 1970s. H.R. Pufnstuf, The Bugaloos, and Land of the Lost were among their shows. Many of the series featured their trademark large puppets.
[Sung softly.] Val-deri, val-dera ...
Often mistaken for a traditional German folk song, “The Happy Wanderer” (“Der fröhliche Wanderer”) is a German song written in the mid-1940s by Friedrich-Wilhelm Möller, with lyrics adapted from text written by Florenz Sigismund in the early 19th century. The song became very popular in the 1950s and ‘60s thanks to performances and recordings of it by the Obernkirchen Children’s Choir, a chorus of mostly war orphans conducted by Möller’s sister Edith. The choir was broadcast on the BBC, appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, and toured worldwide. Sample lyrics: “I love to go a-wandering/Along the mountain track/And as I go, I love to sing/My knapsack on my back/Val-deri, val-dera/Val-deri, val-dera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha/Val-deri, val-dera/My knapsack on my back.”
Like the New Monkees.
Not the Monkees, the 1960s’ “Pre-Fab Four”: the New Monkees. Launched by television and record producers in 1987 after the previous year saw renewed interest in the original Monkees thanks to their 20th anniversary, The New Monkees consisted of Jared Chandler, Dino Kovas, Marty Ross, and Larry Saltis. They made a syndicated television show, The New Monkees, which was cancelled after thirteen episodes, and their sole album sold abysmally. During their short tenure, the original Monkees sued the band and the producers, but the case was settled out of court.
An Exploit Film. Rocket Attack USA. But it starts in Russia.
Exploit Films was a movie production company that had only two other flicks to its name: Violent Women (1960) and Cuban Rebel Girls (1959). I’m sure either one would have been great for MST3K.
Edward Czerniuk as the commie rat.
In the 1964 film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, U.S. General “Buck” Turgidson (played by George C. Scott) says, “Mr. President, I’m beginning to smell a big fat commie rat.”
Daniel Kern did the letters.
Wow, typography humor. Kerning is the process of adjusting the spaces between letters to make them look more natural and legible.
Hey, Art Metrano! [Imitating “Fine and Dandy.”]
Art Metrano is an actor and comedian best known for his role as the antagonist Mauser in Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985) and Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986). In the ‘60s and ‘70s, part of his standup routine involved purposefully lame magic tricks (usually involving only his fingers) while he mimicked the 1930 song “Fine and Dandy” by Kay Swift. A 2007 episode of Family Guy imitated this act (with Jesus Christ in Metrano’s place), and Metrano sued for infringement. The case was settled out of court. Metrano himself was disabled in a 1989 fall in his home. He still tours, and donates his revenues toward spinal cord research. Rocket Attack USA was his first film role.
And the godless communists.
A reference to the official state atheism adopted by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in the 20th century. “Godless communists” was a common rallying cry of, shall we say, “enthusiastic” Americans during the Cold War who pushed for some constitutionally questionable actions, such as adding “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance and making “In God We Trust” the national motto (both of which were done in the early 1950s in direct response to the USSR’s rise, and during the height of the Red Scare in the United States). America’s public embrace of religion was seen as another way the country was superior to the atheistic commies.
Dietetic photography by Mike Tabb.
Tab is a saccharin-based diet soda introduced by the Coca-Cola Company in 1963. It was originally sweetened with cyclamate; when that was banned in 1969, the company switched to saccharin. It lost popularity in the early 1980s when studies of saccharin showed the potential to cause cancer in lab animals. Coca-Cola put their efforts behind Diet Coke in 1982, which is made with aspartame (brand named NutraSweet). Tab is still produced and can be found in some areas of the United States; it remains popular in several foreign countries.
Ceco, don’t be a hero. Wait a minute, that’s not right.
“Billy Don’t Be a Hero” is a hit single from 1974 by Paper Lace. Though associated with the Vietnam War, which was ongoing at the time of its release, the lyrics are actually about the Civil War.
Rick Carrier pigeon.
A carrier pigeon (or messenger pigeon, or homing pigeon) is a domesticated and trained rock pigeon used primarily in pre-radio days for ferrying notes. They were often used in wars, as far back as the 500s B.C.E. and as recently as World War II (1939-1945).
[Laughter imitating Ed McMahon.] Next in Star Search opening credit competition, Sinbad.
An imitation of former Tonight Show co-host Ed McMahon (1923-2009). Star Search was a syndicated TV talent show hosted by McMahon, in which aspiring celebrities competed for their shot at the big time. Contestants sometimes went on to actual show-biz careers, including Dennis Miller, Britney Spears, Rosie O’Donnell, and LeAnn Rimes. It ran from 1983 to 1995. Comedian David “Sinbad” Adkins performed standup comedy in clubs in the mid-1980s and got his big break when he appeared on Star Search. Although never a winner, he managed to reach the finals seven times. He then starred in sitcoms, including The Redd Foxx Show (1986), A Different World (1987-1993), and The Sinbad Show (1993-1994).
Meanwhile, I Love Lucy shows are transmitted throughout the world.
See above note on “Meanwhile …” I Love Lucy is a classic sitcom that aired on CBS from 1951 to 1957. It was produced by and starred the then-husband-and-wife team of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, who played Cuban musician Ricky Ricardo and his bumbling wife Lucy. William Frawley and Vivian Vance played their neighbors, Fred and Ethel Mertz.
Hey, look. That guy won a Tony.
The Tony Award recognizes excellence in Broadway theater. Its full name is The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre. They were first awarded in 1947.
Hmm. Crickets. I think I’ll name my band that.
The Crickets is the name of a musical group formed in the 1950s by Buddy Holly (1936-1959) and local Texas musician friends of his. They hit it big along with Holly but managed to continue performing after his death, though with different vocalists. Following a February 2016 concert in Clear Lake, Iowa, the site of Buddy Holly’s last show, the group announced it was their final performance.
Hey, it looks like Madison. –Yeah, I’m on State Street. –The farmer’s market. Historical society.
State Street is a famed open-air (or pedestrian) mall located in Madison, Wisconsin.
We also believe that for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows.
A paraphrase of a line from the 1953 song “I Believe,” written by Ervin Drake, Irvin Graham, Jimmy Shirl, and Al Stillman. The most famous version was recorded and released by Frankie Laine. It has also been recorded by Perry Como, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and many more. Sample lyrics: “I believe for every drop of rain that falls/A flower grows/I believe that somewhere in the darkest night/A candle glows/I believe for everyone that goes astray/Someone will come to show the way.”
And aliens are speaking on my dental work.
A reference to the old (and unconfirmed) myth that radio signals can be heard through the metal used in tooth fillings and other dental work. The most famous perpetuator of the concept was Lucille Ball, who, on The Dick Cavett Show in 1974, claimed she heard Morse Code in her head during World War II, and when she told people about it, a secret Japanese transmitter was uncovered. There’s no evidence to back her up recollections. It is also common for people suffering from paranoid schizophrenia to attribute the voices in their head to alien contact; others will claim the CIA is transmitting through their fillings.
It’s Doogie Howser, all grown up.
Doogie Howser, M.D. is a dramedy starring Neil Patrick Harris that aired on ABC from 1989-1993. It’s about a brilliant teen who got his medical license at age 14 and performed surgery at a Los Angeles hospital.
Oh, may I?
This is a line uttered by Steve Martin, playing a waiter, in the 1979 film The Muppet Movie.
“Yes, sir. Yes, sir.” Three bags full.
A line from the more recent versions of the English children’s rhyme “Baa Baa Black Sheep.” It was first published in 1744. The modern version:
Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags full;
One for the master,
And one for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.
The last two lines inspired the title of the 1976 thriller The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane.
It said, “Drink more Ovaltine.”
Ovaltine is a fortified malt and chocolate beverage invented in Switzerland in 1904 as a sports recovery drink for skiers. It is now marketed primarily to children. This riff is a reference to the 1983 film A Christmas Story, in which little Ralphie deciphers a secret message from a 1940 Little Orphan Annie radio show, only to discover that it is a “crummy commercial” for Ovaltine.
It’s an ad for Dolphin Temps.
Dolphin Temporary Services was a temp agency based in Minneapolis-St. Paul; it was founded in 1969. It is now known as Dolphin Group Companies, with six separate entities that specialize in providing staff for different areas of expertise.
Let’s check the Day-Timer now. Let's see...massage at 2:30, manicure at 4:00, bomb rush at 5:00...
Day-Timer planners were originally named Lawyer’s Day; they were created by a Pennsylvania attorney to help lawyers better manage their time.
Looks like Sam Waterston.
Sam Waterston is an actor best known for playing prosecutor Jack McCoy on the NBC series Law & Order (1990-2010) for sixteen of the show’s twenty seasons. He was also nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in 1984’s The Killing Fields.
It’ll be as if you’re on Thicke of the Night show.
Thicke of the Night is a syndicated late-night talk show that lasted for only one season (1983-1984). It was hosted by Alan Thicke (1947-2016), who had a successful Canadian talk show. After this failure, he went on to star in the long-running sitcom Growing Pains (ABC, 1985-1992) the following year.
Bye, Green Lantern. Bye.
Green Lantern is the superhero name that has been assumed by several characters in the DC Comics universe. The Green Lantern is a kind of interplanetary beat cop and member of the Green Lantern Corps, who use the force of will as the source of their power, channeled through a special ring. The first Green Lantern, Alan Scott, was created by Martin Nodell and Bill Finger in 1940. Later Green Lanterns for Earth (galactic sector 2814) include Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, and John Stewart.
But it was the little plane that could.
A reference to the children’s story “The Little Engine That Could.” The original author is unclear, but the first known print version of the tale came in 1906 as part of a sermon by Rev. Charles Wing, which was published in the New-York Tribune newspaper. The most popular version was written in 1930 by the owner of the publishing company Platt & Munk, Arnold Munk, under the pen name of Watty Piper.
The white zone is for loading and unloading of spies only. –What about the red zone?
An imitation of pre-9/11 airport announcements dictating who could park in certain areas outside the terminal. This was parodied in a lengthy gag (which probably inspired the riff) in the 1980 movie Airplane!
She’s reading for the part of Jeannie.
I Dream of Jeannie is an NBC sitcom that aired from 1965 to 1970, starring Barbara Eden as the titular Jeannie and Larry Hagman as the astronaut who found her bottle prison on a beach.
Elizabeth Montgomery here.
Elizabeth Montgomery (1933-1995) was an actress best known for her role as housewife/witch Samantha Stephens in the TV sitcom Bewitched (ABC, 1964-1972).
Kenny G in Russia here.
Kenny G (b. Kenneth Bruce Gorelick) is an adult contemporary and jazz saxophonist, whose breakthrough success in the mid-1980s made him the biggest-selling instrumental musician of the modern era. Kenny G is also the target of harsh criticism from other musicians, who deride him as a minimally talented hack and a showboat, who cleverly markets his “cheap tricks” to a musically unsophisticated audience. Jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, in particular, threatened to “maybe wrap a guitar around his head” should they ever meet backstage, after Kenny G released a single featuring his saxophone playing mixed with a classic recording of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” In response to Metheny’s widely circulated threat, singer-songwriter Richard Thompson wrote a song titled “I Agree With Pat Metheny,” which he occasionally performs in concert.
This is the real Russia, after hours. When all the lights are red.
This could be a reference to the communist government that ruled Russia from 1917-1991 (and the color most associated with them) or to the so-called “red light district,” an area where sex workers are more likely to be found. The term dates back to England in the mid-1800s, when prostitutes would put colored shades of cloth over a lamp in their windows to signal their trade.
R-O-C-K-E-T in the USA. R-O-C-K-E-T in the USA.
“R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. (A Salute to 60’s Rock)” is a 1985 song by John Mellencamp, then known as John Cougar Mellencamp.
Mind if I mooch off your fintoozler?
See previous note.
And now, funny man Yakov Smirnoff.
Yakov Smirnoff is a Russian-born comedian whose heavily accented standup act was popular in the 1980s, in the waning years of the Cold War. He frequently appeared on the NBC sitcom Night Court before starring in a syndicated show, What a Country! (1986-1987), so named after one of his trademark phrases. He also popularized the so-called “Russian Reversal,” which later became very popular on the Internet. Here’s an example: “In America, you break law. In Soviet Russia, law breaks you!” In 1992 he bought his own theater in Branson, Missouri, where he performed until late 2015. He also teaches a course called “The Business of Laughter” at Missouri State University and Drury University.
Oh, great. It’s Rip Taylor-ski.
Charles Elmer “Rip” Taylor is a comedian known for his wacky costumes, props, and extensive use of confetti. He was the host of the painfully cruel TV game show The $1.98 Beauty Show, which aired from 1978-1980. He was also a frequent celebrity panelist throughout the 1970s and portrayed Sheldon the sea genie on the Sid and Marty Krofft-produced Saturday morning show Sigmund and the Sea Monsters.
Pig Latin dates back farther than the 1700s; it works by taking the initial consonant or consonant cluster of a word, moving it to the end of the word, and adding “ay” to it. “Nix” is a slang term meaning “stop” or “cut.” It derives from the German word “nicht,” meaning “nothing.”
Try something special from the bar. This week’s special, Polynesian delights. And flaming Black Russians.
Black Russian is a cocktail made with vodka and coffee liqueur.
And finally the fintoozler.
See above note.
This is an ad for medicated Tucks.
Tucks medicated pads are pre-moistened pads soaked in a solution of witch hazel. They are used to relieve the itching and burning sensations associated with hemorrhoids.
I can’t believe this guy made it on Letterman. –Amazing. –I bet he didn’t panel.
David Letterman is a comedian and former television host. His eccentric talk show career began in 1980 with The David Letterman Show, an Emmy-winning morning program that aired on NBC for one season. In 1982, NBC launched Late Night with David Letterman, which aired after The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He remained there until Carson’s retirement in 1992, which was accompanied by a highly public kerfuffle with NBC over who would be taking over The Tonight Show. Letterman lobbied heavily for the job, but NBC went with frequent guest host Jay Leno, so Letterman decided to jump ship to CBS when his contract ended. He launched The Late Show with David Letterman in 1993 and continued there until his retirement in 2015. “I bet he didn’t panel” is a bit of insider comedian talk. On talk shows like The Tonight Show, if the standup comedian did well, they would sometimes—but not often—be invited to come sit in the guest’s chair for an unplanned conversation with the host. For Carson to do this was considered akin to a papal blessing. Comedians who were invited “to the couch” or “to panel” included Roseanne Barr, Steven Wright, Drew Carey, Eddie Murphy, Ellen DeGeneres, and ... David Letterman.
Thank you and enjoy the blintzes.
Blintzes are thin pancakes made with wheat flour that are folded over fruit or cheese fillings and then baked or sautéed.
And don’t smoke. Please, don’t smoke. Goodbye.
Yul Brynner (1920-1985) was an actor and well-known smoker. After being diagnosed with lung cancer, he appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America and said he wanted to make a public service announcement against smoking. After he died, a portion of that interview became a PSA that included the lines, “Now that I’m gone, I tell you, don’t smoke. Whatever you do, just don’t smoke. If I could take back that smoking, we wouldn’t be talking about any cancer. I’m convinced of that.”
Goodnight, my someone.
“Goodnight, My Someone” is a song from the musical The Music Man, written by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey. The musical debuted on Broadway in 1957 and was made into a film starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones in 1962. Sample lyrics: “Goodnight, my someone/Goodnight, my love/Sleep tight, my someone/Sleep tight, my love.”
In my own little corner, in my own little house, I can be...
Paraphrased lyrics of the song “In My Own Little Corner” from Cinderella, a 1957 musical written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein for television. It starred Julie Andrews; a version in 1965 starred Lesley Ann Warren and another in 1997 starred Brandy; a Broadway production opened in 2013. Sample lyrics: “I’m as mild and as meek as a mouse/When I hear a command I obey/But I know of a spot in my house/Where no one can stand in my way/In my own little corner in my own little chair/I can be whatever I want to be.”
A letter from Ed McMahon. “You may already be a winner ...”
See above note on Ed McMahon. McMahon (along with Dick Clark) was a spokesman for American Family Publishers in the 1980s. AFP sold magazine subscriptions and advertised themselves through junk mail that boldly declared, “You may have already won $1,000,000!” or some other amount. After some high-profile journalistic investigations, some state attorneys general got involved and changed how AFP conducted itself. Obviously no longer as profitable, AFP went bankrupt in 1998.
Do you have a fax machine or something?
Ah, fax machines. Before email and digital documents, papers had to be scanned and then transmitted across phone lines. The first patent for a facsimile machine was issued in 1843 (!) to Scotsman Alexander Bain. What we would consider to be the first true commercial fax machine was released in 1964 by Xerox. A unit would optically scan sheets of paper before transmitting the data over phone lines to a receiving unit elsewhere.
He’s got bad skin and he’s got a mole shaped like Nixon.
Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994) was the 37th president of the United States, from 1969-1974. He resigned on August 9, 1974, rather than face almost certain impeachment by the House of Representatives over his role in the Watergate scandal.
[Sung.] Look for the union label, when you are marching...
“Look for the Union Label” is a song written by Paula Green and Malcolm Dodds in 1975 for a contest sponsored by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. It was used in commercials for several years.
[Hushed announcer voice.] We’re on the third green at the Kremlin ...
Though not as common today, it was typical for golf announcers to speak quietly so as to not disturb the players. The “green” is the section of grass where the hole is located. In Russia, “kremlin” is used to refer to the fortified central government complex found in most cities, but to people in the West, the Kremlin is the primary government complex found in Moscow. The Moscow Kremlin’s site has been occupied by a ruling castle since the 100s B.C.E. It served as the home of the tsars during Russia’s imperial era before the communist revolution and as the seat of the Soviet government in the early 20th century.
Suddenly, Ivan tells a salty joke involving an elephant and a ladder. I can’t repeat it, but the punchline is, “What, and give up show business?”
You really want to know the joke? Okay. Specifics vary, but here’s one version. A man visits the circus and sees a worker climbing a ladder to insert a firehose in the rectum of each elephant. When he removes the hose, the elephants invariably douse him with a stream of watery fecal mixture. The visitor asks, “Why don’t you quit this horrible job and look for something, anything else?!” To which the worker replies, “What, and give up show business?”
George Johnson Jr. says, “Da.”
George Johnson (not Jr.) is a guitarist and singer best known for his work with his sibling, Louis, in the group The Brothers Johnson, a somewhat popular and influential 1970s R&B and funk group.
Looks like Boy George. –Yep. Same costumes.
George O’Dowd, a.k.a. Boy George, is a flamboyant British new wave singer. His band Culture Club scored two major successes in the early 1980s with the songs “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” and “Karma Chameleon.” The band broke up in 1986 but reunited in 1998, and then broke up again in 2002 and reunited again in 2011; they did a 40-city tour in the summer of 2016. George has also had a successful solo career in Britain.
But I didn’t think Moscow believed in tears?
Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears is a 1980 Russian film that won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Fish or Go Fish is a card game played with a standard deck of playing cards. Once seven cards are dealt to each player, they take turns asking their opponents if they have any of a certain card; “Give me your aces,” for example. If the person being asked has no aces, they will say, “Go fish,” after which the asker must pull a card from the undealt pile, or pool. The winner is the player who runs out of cards or matches up the most ranks when the pool is emptied.
You mean an actor becoming president? –William Shatner will direct.
See above note on Ronald Reagan. William Shatner is an actor who most famously played Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise on Star Trek (1966-1969), Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973-1974), and in seven feature films. Shatner directed 1989’s Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, which was critically and commercially lambasted.
“We have no time.” For sergeants.
No Time for Sergeants is a 1954 novel by Mac Hyman about a rural rube who’s drafted into the Army during World War II. In 1955, an hour-long version appeared on TV and a Broadway play was launched; both starred Andy Griffith as the bumpkin, Will Stockdale. A film version was released in 1958, again starring Griffith. In 1964, a television series was produced with Sammy Jackson in the lead role, but it aired opposite Griffith’s eponymous show and was soundly trounced in the ratings. It lasted only one season.
Whoa, Peach Blow Fizz make Tor woozy.
A Peach Blow Fizz is a cocktail involving gin, lemon juice, cream, sugar, soda water, and mashed up peaches–although strawberries are often used instead, and it's still called a Peach Blow Fizz. Tor Johnson (1903-1971) was a Swedish wrestler and “actor” who was often a staple of Ed Wood’s films. Tor appeared in several MST3K episodes, including Show 320, The Unearthly.
The fat drunken Russian pig asks for a Long Island Iced Tea.
Long Island Iced Tea is an alcoholic beverage made with vodka, gin, tequila, rum, triple sec, sour mix, and cola. It looks and tastes remarkably like iced tea, thus the name. The drink’s minute quantity of mixer versus its high volume of distilled spirits gives it an alcohol concentration of approximately 22 percent, making it a popular choice among bar-brawl, arrest, vomit, and hangover enthusiasts.
Dear Penthouse. I never thought I’d be writing you, but I met this college girl from Minsk.
Penthouse is a men’s magazine founded in 1965 by Bob Guccione. It started out as a softcore porn magazine, moved briefly to hardcore in the 1990s, and returned to softcore in 2005 after suffering significant circulation and ad losses. The most widely known feature of the magazine is the letters section, which told stories of “true” sexual encounters and often started with phrases like, “I never thought this would happen to me, but ...” The letters proved so popular that they were spun off into their own magazine.
Watch it. Hey, hey, that’s not Scotchguarded, please.
An accidental discovery, Scotchguard was created by 3M scientists in 1952. It’s used to protect fabrics and furniture from stains.
Would you like to kiss the nice man, lady?”
An imitation of Spanish ventriloquist Señor Wences (Wenceslao Moreno, 1896-1999) doing one of his best known characters, Johnny—a simple face drawn on Wences’ hand.
A placebo is a non-active “medication” that is given to some patients in a medical study, to compare against the results from patients who received an actual, active medication. Some of the patients receiving the placebo report measurable improvement, leading to the term “placebo effect.”
Let’s go get some chow. Hey, good idea. Go over to Rudy’s, maybe?
Rudy’s Redeye Grill is a popular dining spot in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.
[Imitating Bob Dylan.] Sundown in the union! Uhhhnnn! –Thank you, Bobby.
Bob Dylan is the folk singer’s folk singer, a counterculture icon who got his start in the cultural revolution of the 1960s. His song “Union Sundown” appears on his 1983 album Infidels. Sample lyrics: “Well, it’s sundown on the union/And what’s made in the U.S.A./Sure was a good idea/’Til greed got in the way.”
Hope I can sell this Doctor Doctor spec script.
Doctor Doctor is a sitcom that aired for a brief stretch on CBS, from 1989 to 1991. It starred Matt Frewer (a.k.a. Max Headroom) as a Rhode Island doctor and the wacky antics and patients that ensued at his practice. A “spec script” is a script written independently of the show’s producers because the writer “speculates” that they might want it. Spec scripts are very rarely purchased.
The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory is the best-known mental health and personality test. It was developed in 1939 and has been used by government and private organizations ever since to assess the true nature of potential employees’ mindsets. In 1989 it was revised and became known as the MMPI-2.
[Pot inhale sound.] Fat Freddy’s Cat.
Fat Freddy’s Cat is an orange feline that appeared in 1969 in Gilbert Shelton’s underground comic strip The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, which was about three hippies who traveled the country, got high, and sometimes, horrifically, had to get a job. The cat proved popular and often got its own adventures and strips.
A corruption of the famed “Hi-keeba!” from Show 104, Women of the Prehistoric Planet.
I asked for extra cheese! I want three dollars off!
Domino’s Pizza is a chain of pizza delivery stores located nationwide and founded in 1960. Beginning in 1973, they offered the “30-Minute Guarantee,” stating that the pizza would arrive at the specified address within a half-hour or the pizza was free. By the mid-1980s, this was reduced to $3 off. In 1993, after settling two multimillion-dollar lawsuits related to accidents caused by speeding Domino’s drivers, the guarantee was dropped.
Bill Bixby? What are you doing here?
Bill Bixby (1934-1993) was an actor who most famously played Tom Corbett in the ABC sitcom The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (1969-1972) and Dr. David Banner on the CBS TV series The Incredible Hulk (1977-1982).
Nice shoes. Hush Puppies, huh? I like you.
Hush Puppies is a brand of footwear usually characterized by their brushed suede exterior and casual look. They were first produced in 1958. The name of the shoe was originally going to be “Lasers” but changed after a trip to the South by sales manager James Muir. He ate a fried cornball called a “hush puppy” and asked after the origin of the name. He was told that the snack was sometimes tossed to barking dogs to quiet them. “Barking dogs” ... a slang term for sore feet. Ta-da.
Let me see here. There was an old hermit named Dave who lived by himself in a cave, this doesn’t prove anything.
“There was an old hermit named Dave/Who lived by himself in a cave …” are the opening lines of a series of dirty limericks, with many variations of wording among them. Dave, and his cave, are also referenced in many other limericks that are ostensibly about other characters.
Well, I like your dickey.
A dickey (or “dickie”) is a false shirt usually worn underneath an outer coat or vest.
“Join us …” was the phrase of choice spoken by the Voice of the Evil Force in the horror films The Evil Dead (1981) and Evil Dead II (1987), both directed by Sam Raimi. “Join us,” often accompanied by “we’re a fun group,” became a bumper sticker-level MST3K catchphrase.
Tania? Surely you mean Patty Hearst?
Patty Hearst is the granddaughter of tycoon publisher William Randolph Hearst. In 1974 she was kidnapped and brainwashed by a militant guerrilla group, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and adopted the new name of “Tania.” After she helped the group rob a bank at gunpoint, she was arrested and charged with bank robbery. Despite testimony that she was a victim of brainwashing, she was convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison; President Jimmy Carter later commuted the sentence and she was released after 22 months; she was pardoned by President Bill Clinton on January 20, 2001, his last day in office.
Limey, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
“Limey” is a slang term, often derogatory, for English people, though the term originated with the British navy in the 1870s. In order to stave off scurvy (brought on by a lack of vitamin C) on ocean voyages, the navy would provide lime juice to its sailors, sometimes mixing it with water or rum. The riff is a paraphrase of the final line from the 1942 classic film Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Bogart’s character is speaking to a French official and says, “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Ivan attempts to sell Amway products to his unwitting guests. –Vitamins, floor cleaner.
Amway is a multilevel direct marketing company that was founded in 1959. Over the decades, the group has been accused of being a criminal pyramid scheme, and many cases went to court around the world, but none proved successful, though in 2010 Amway settled a class action lawsuit in California, without admitting wrongdoing, for $56 million. In many media portrayals, Amway is depicted as being cultlike and their agents as annoying and fanatical.
We turn you over now to Mike Wallace in the field.
Television reporter Mike Wallace (1918-2012) was a correspondent on the newsmagazine 60 Minutes from the time it went on the air in 1968 until 2008. From 1961 to 1963, he was the original host of the then-syndicated documentary series Biography; later versions of Biography ran on the A&E Network and other cable channels.
I’m standing in a shotgun shack in another part of the world. But this is not my beautiful wife and ... –Okay. –Huh?
A collection of snippets from the 1980 Talking Heads hit “Once in a Lifetime.”
This used to be a comedy club, but then Kip Addotta let loose and the audience went way down.
Kip Addotta is a comedian who frequently appeared on the syndicated game show Make Me Laugh and also produced several comedy songs (“novelty music”), the most famous of which is “I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus.”
Tell Laura I love her, bye.
“Tell Laura I Love Her” is a teen tragedy-steeped pop song written by Jeff Barry and Ben Raleigh that was a top-ten hit for singer Ray Peterson in 1960. Sample lyrics: “He saw a sign for a stock car race/A thousand dollar prize it read/He couldn’t get Laura on the phone/So to her mother Tommy said/Tell Laura I love her, tell Laura I need her/Tell Laura I may be late/I’ve something to do, that cannot wait.”
Look, you’re getting on that plane and we’ll always have Paris. [Imitating Woody Allen.] I’ve always wanted to say that. –Thank you, Woody.
A paraphrase of another line from the aforementioned Casablanca. Woody Allen is a nebbishy comedian/actor/writer/director whose most famous films include Annie Hall (1978), Manhattan (1980), and Broadway Danny Rose (1985). Allen’s 1972 movie Play It Again, Sam is a de-facto homage to Humphrey Bogart that ends with Allen’s character in a situation nearly identical to the ending of Casablanca. After delivering the famous Bogart lines verbatim, he concludes with, “It’s from Casablanca. I waited my whole life to say it.”
No, after you. –No, after you. –No, you go first. –I insist. –Age before beauty. –Ladies first. –C’mon.
Though in 1941 The New Yorker magazine called it “an apocryphal incident,” the story goes that in 1939, glamorous writer and socialite Clare Booth Luce held a door open for writer and rapier wit Dorothy Parker, saying, “Age before beauty.” Parker supposedly responded, “And pearls before swine.”
[Russian accent.] I kind of like that Sting guy. He did that song about us and our children? He didn’t have to do that.
The famous pop singer Gordon “Sting” Sumner achieved worldwide fame as lead singer of the band The Police and later as a solo artist. This riff specifically references Sting’s 1985 song “Russians,” which mused about the concept of “mutually assured destruction” (by nuclear weapons). Sample lyrics: “There is no monopoly on common sense/On either side of the political fence/We share the same biology/Regardless of ideology/Believe me when I say to you/I hope the Russians love their children too.”
Say, do I look like Roddy McDowall?
Roddy McDowall (1928-1998) was an actor who appeared in Show 706, Laserblast. He started as a child actor in movies like My Friend Flicka and Lassie Come Home, and then achieved his greatest fame playing various apes in the Planet of the Apes films, most famously as Cornelius.
Begin the Beguine? All right, thank you very much. –They even have Cole Porter there.
“Begin the Beguine” is a 1935 song by Cole Porter, made popular by Artie Shaw and his orchestra when they recorded it in 1938; it was one of the classics of the swing era. Porter (1891-1964) was a composer who wrote many classic songs and musicals during the first half of the 20th century. His musicals include Kiss Me Kate and Anything Goes; hit songs include “I Get a Kick Out of You” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”
The Dark One awaits them at the Robot Holocaust!
A reference to Show 110, Robot Holocaust.
Next! –I was in Fantasticks and Oklahoma! I have a two minute song prepared ... –Thank you. Next! –Oh, damn. –I was in The Odd Couple and The Good Doctor and I had a small part in Legs Diamond, but then, who didn’t? –Hold the rest. I think we’ve found our Gigi.
The Fantasticks is a 1960 musical written by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones as a kind of “star-crossed lovers” tale with a twist. Oklahoma! is a 1943 musical written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, based upon a 1931 play, Green Grow the Lilacs. The 1955 film version won multiple Academy Awards. The Odd Couple is a 1965 Broadway play written by Neil Simon. In 1968, it was adapted into a film starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau (who returned for a 1998 sequel) and then into a successful ABC TV series starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman (1970-1975). The Good Doctor is a 1973 play by Neil Simon set in 19th-century Russia, which is essentially about Anton Chekhov. Legs Diamond is a 1988 musical by Peter Allen about a Depression-era mobster. It was a flop, both commercially and critically. Gigi is a 1944 novel by French author Colette about a Parisian girl being prepared to become a courtesan. It spawned various adaptations. In 1951, Audrey Hepburn starred in a successful Broadway play based on it. In 1958, a musical film version was released that is considered the last of the great MGM musicals. In 1973, it was unsuccessfully mounted as a Broadway musical. A revival in 2015 did no better, closing in two and a half months.
Gimme those! SAG, AFTRA, Equity. Very impressive. You sing? Drive? Standard? Automatic? That's good.
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) was a labor union of film and television actors founded in 1933. The American Federation of Television & Radio Artists (AFTRA) was also a talent labor union, founded in 1952. In 2012, SAG and AFTRA merged to become SAG-AFTRA, representing more than 150,000 members worldwide. The Actors’ Equity Association, generally referred to simply as Equity, is an American labor union that represents live theatrical performers. It was formed in 1913 and boasts more than 49,000 members.
“I am not amused.” –Queen Victoria?
Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom (1819-1901) reigned for more than 63 years and gave her name to the Victorian Era, an extended period marked by prosperity, the transition from an agrarian to an industrial society, and the transition from a monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. Victoria is often believed to have said, “We are not amused,” (using the royal “we,” meaning “I”), but there is no evidence she ever actually said it. In fact, the phrase caught on during her reign, and both she and her family refuted the claim.
He’s mad. Don’t you think? Do you think he’s mad? I think...you know him; do you think he’s mad? –[Imitating Jack Benny.] Oh, Rochester... –I think he’s mad.
The Jack Benny Program (on radio: 1932-1955; on TV: 1950-1965) starred comedian Jack Benny (1894-1974) as a version of himself and Eddie Anderson (1905-1977) as Rochester, who served as Benny’s valet and chauffeur. Benny was famous for his mastery of comic timing and his ability to get tremendous laughs with a subdued reaction or even a long pause. Anderson was the first African-American to have a regular role on a national radio show, and his popularity on the program eventually rivaled that of Benny himself.
[Choral warbling, evocative of 2001: A Space Odyssey.]
In the 1968 classic Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey, György Ligeti’s “Requiem for Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, 2 Mixed Choirs and Orchestra” is used to announce the presence of the smooth, black Monolith, an instrument of both science and destruction used by an intelligence far beyond our own.
The general is asking for hamburgers instead of chili peppers. They burn his gut. He’d really like a hamburger and some French fried potatoes.
Callbacks to both Show 202, Sidehackers (“Chili peppers burn my gut”), and Show 203, Jungle Goddess (“What I wouldn’t give for a hamburger and some nice French fried potatoes”).
The general now calls the soldiers “spinach chins.” And they pause and say, “Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.”
“Spinach chin” was a term of derision used by Moe Howard of The Three Stooges for a bearded man in the 1949 short Malice in the Palace. “Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk” was one of Stooge Curly Howard’s (b. Jerome Horwitz; 1903-1952) trademark vocalizations in the shorts.
The general scratches his belly and thinks his shirts are clean but his officers stink. Guerrilla girl, hot and sweet, a military man would love to meet.
Paraphrased lyrics from The Police’s 1980 song “Bombs Away.” Actual lyrics: “The general scratches his belly and thinks/His pay is good but his officers stink/Guerrilla girl, hard and sweet/A military man would love to meet.”
[More 2001 choir.]
See above note on 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Still shaking the bush.
See above note on Cool Hand Luke.
What’s that story about the bear again?
It’s not so much a story as a rhetorical saying: “Does a bear shit in the woods?” Another example would be, “Is the pope Catholic?” It’s a verbose way of saying, “Duh.”
This is one hell of a sand trap. It’s only a par 3 on this thing, too.
In golf, a sand trap is pretty much what it says; a large ditch or pool filled with sand to provide an obstacle in the path to the putting green. One theory on the origin of golf course sand traps holds that they evolved from sheep bedding down behind sand dunes near early courses, which dug out natural hollows over time. Par is the preset number of strokes (or hits) allocated to each player for a hole for the purposes of scoring. If, for example, a hole has a par of three and a player gets the ball into the hole after four strokes, his score is +1.
Now limbo! How low can you go? Well, we already know how low she can go.
The limbo is a dance originating in the West Indies in which the dancer bends backwards to walk under a bar that is made progressively lower as the dance goes on.
Somebody played right through this sand trap and didn’t rake it.
It’s considered impolite to go thrashing your ball out of a sand trap without raking the sand back neatly into place when you’re done.
Lot of Ansel Adams-esque scenery in this, isn’t there?
Ansel Adams (1902-1984) was a photographer famous for his black-and-white photographs of natural landscapes, particularly mountains.
That must mean “pull” in Russian.
Skeet shooting is a targeting sport wherein small clay discs are fired into the air, to be blasted out of existence by shotguns. The shooter cues their launch by saying, “Pull!”
Okay, I’m gone. Let me know which gulag you’re in.
In western countries, “gulag” is the generic name used for Russian (or other communist nations’) prisons. In the Soviet Union, however, Gulag was the government agency that oversaw all the forced labor prison camps. Even though these camps were dissolved by the end of the 1950s, the term entered the western consciousness in 1973 with the publication of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago.
Oh, I hate to shoot a butt like that.
According to an interview with Josh “J. Elvis” Weinstein (KTMA and Season One’s Tom Servo, Mad Scientist Dr. Laurence Erhardt, and KTMA’s Gypsy), this wasn’t based on anything in particular. It was a line he came up with during a writers’ session and Joel loved it, so they kept using it.
See above note on 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Just shakin’ the bosses, sir. Bushes, I mean, boss.
See above note on Cool Hand Luke.
The grass is greener on the red side of the fence.
A corrupted version of the old proverb “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” meaning that someone else’s stuff always seems better than what you have. The saying seems to have evolved from an old Latin proverb: “Fertilior seges est alieno semper in arvo,” meaning “The corn in another man’s ground seems ever more fertile and plentiful than our own.”
Trim-Jeans Theatre presents. [Humming The Great Escape theme.]
Trim-Jeans Theatre was a sketch on Monty Python’s Flying Circus, in which audience members can watch TV while losing weight thanks to their “slenderizing garments.” The song they’re humming is the theme to the 1963 film The Great Escape, which was one of the films mentioned in the skit (“A cast of thousands losing well over fifteen hundred inches!”).
Kinch? LeBeau? Can you hear me?
U.S. Army Air Corps Staff Sergeant James “Kinch” Kinchloe (played by Ivan Dixon) and Free French Air Force Corporal Louis LeBeau (played by Robert Clary) were characters on the CBS World War II prison camp sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, which aired from 1965 to 1971. Yeah, I don’t know how it lasted that long, or ever got on the air in the first place.
If this follow spot keeps up with me, I’m going to have to do a number! Let’s see, one of my Julie Garland (sic) favorites, uh ... [Sung.] By the light ... I’m not doing two shows. Definitely not doing two shows.
“Follow spot” is another name for a spotlight, a stage lighting tool that projects a powerful beam onto a performance space and moves to follow a performer across the stage. Judy Garland (1922-1969) was a singer, dancer, and actress best known for her role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939). She struggled with an addiction to sleeping pills and barbiturates throughout most of her career; her premature death at the age of 47 was due to an accidental overdose of barbiturates. “By the Light of the Silvery Moon” is a song written by Gus Edwards and Edward Madden. It was first published and performed in 1909, and was featured in the Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland film Babes on Broadway. Rooney and Garland also recorded the song later as a duet, and Garland as a solo.
Look at this fresh borscht.
Borscht is a staple of Eastern European cuisine: a sour soup that features beets as its main ingredient, giving it a deep red color; it is usually garnished with sour cream.
Nice sour cream and beets. Mmmm.
See previous note.
This is gonna get me into Theta Chi for sure, dude.
Theta Chi is, in fact, an actual college fraternity, founded in 1856.
Take this, you damn dirty Red apes!
A paraphrased famous line from Planet of the Apes (1968), co-written by The Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling and starring Charlton Heston as an astronaut thrown thousands of years into the future, who lands on a planet to find it ruled by talking apes. Spoiler alert: It’s Earth. Actual line: “Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!”
And that’s for making fun of Nixon in the kitchen. And here’s a little present for Mister Stalin, courtesy Uncle Sam.
See above note on Richard Nixon. In the summer of 1959, then-Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev toured the American National Exhibition at Sokolniki Park in Moscow; while color video cameras rolled, they viewed an example of a modern American kitchen, stocked with the latest appliances. An impromptu debate unfolded, with Khrushchev both dismissing the new technology and boasting the Soviets would soon surpass it. Reporter William Safire, who was present, described Nixon’s handling of the “kitchen debate” as “tough-minded but strong-willed,” and many believe it led to Nixon’s Republican presidential nomination the following year. Joseph Stalin (1878-1953) was the premier of the Soviet Union during most of World War II and into the ‘50s, preceding Khrushchev. He was part of the revolution that overthrew the tsars and consolidated power and suppressed his opposition when he succeeded his aging mentor (Vladimir Lenin, who died in 1924). His regime is one of the most brutal in world history. Some historians say between 15 million and 20 million people died under his reign. This includes political prisoners, prisoners of war, prisoners in the gulag system, some ethnic cleansing, and a massive famine, perhaps deliberately engineered to keep certain classes in line. Uncle Sam is a personification of American ideals, dating back to the War of 1812. Meatpacker Samuel Wilson supplied many of the soldiers, and his barrels and crates were stamped “U.S.,” leading some workers to say the supplies came from “Uncle Sam.” (An “Uncle Sam” is mentioned in the 1775 lyrics of “Yankee Doodle,” but it’s not believed to be a reference to the nation.) Prior to the War of 1812, drawn personifications of the country included “Columbia” (akin to “Lady Liberty”) and “Brother Jonathan” (a top hat-wearing high-society type). “Uncle Sam” existed primarily as an abstract concept until 1917, when J.M. Flagg’s famous World War I recruitment poster debuted. It showed Sam as a distinguished elderly chap with white hair and a goatee, a top hat, and an overall red, white and blue theme. This image has persisted ever since.
That’s for shaking your shoe in the UN.
Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971) was the Soviet premier who succeeded Joseph Stalin in 1953. He was removed from power by old-guard members of the party in 1964. Several of the tensest confrontations of the Cold War (the 1956 Hungarian revolution, the 1961 Berlin Crisis, the Cuban Missile Crisis) took place during his premiership. In 1960, during a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, Khrushchev became enraged after a Philippine delegate accused the Soviet Union of swallowing up Eastern Europe. He banged on the table with his hand as he spoke and then switched to his shoe. Decades later, his granddaughter claimed he had taken his shoes off earlier because they were new and uncomfortable, so they came readily to hand when looking for something to add a little emphasis.
Klink? Get over here, you idiot.
Colonel Wilhelm Klink (played by Werner Klemperer; 1920-2000) was the inept commander of the German POW camp on the CBS sitcom Hogan’s Heroes (1965-1971).
It’s on here with Velcro. Gimme a hand, bubby.
Velcro is the brand name of a specific type of hook-and-loop fastener system developed by Swiss engineer Georges de Mestral in the 1940s. He came up with the idea after a walk with his dog when he found tiny burrs stuck to his clothes and the dog’s fur. Due to the ubiquity of the fastener in ensuing years, Velcro has nearly become a genericized trademark for any such device, regardless of origin. But Velcro is still the brand name, so it must be capitalized. The extensive use of Velcro in the space program led many to believe that NASA had invented it, and it was incorrectly touted as a “spinoff technology” of the space program.
No, let me help you. It’s a childproof bomb. You have to push down and turn.
Child-resistant packaging developed in the 1960s and ‘70s and began to seep throughout the culture in the ‘70s thanks to Congress’s passage of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act. Child-resistant caps on medicines, however, bore the brunt of the criticism since many of the people who used those drugs were old, sick, disabled, or otherwise found them difficult to manage. The “push down and turn” container itself was invented in 1967 by Dr. Henri Breault.
A reference to the Warner Brothers series of animated shorts starring Wile E. Coyote (usually silent but occasionally voiced by Mel Blanc) and the Road Runner (vocalized by Paul Julian). They first appeared in 1949’s Fast and Furry-ous, which set the template for every short that followed. Out in the desert, the hungry Coyote tries to catch the quick bird. Frequently, he will order parts and contraptions from the ACME Corporation to achieve this aim. Invariably, these devices will fail and the Coyote will smite himself upon the mountainside or the desert floor. Or blow himself up.
Then Tanya and Bob took up residence with a man named Topper.
“Topper” refers to a series of books, movies, and a TV show with that name. Author Thorne Smith first published Topper in 1926, about a ghost couple who haunt a stuffy bank president named Cosmo Topper. A sequel was published in 1932. In 1937, Cary Grant starred as one of the ghosts in a film based on the first book; two sequel films followed (without Grant). On television, a series based on the novels aired from 1953 to 1955 and a TV movie was broadcast in 1979.
[Reading sign.] Hazlet? This must be a Twilight Zone episode. –[Imitating Rod Serling.] Submitted for your approval ...
The Twilight Zone is an anthology TV series created by Rod Serling that aired on CBS from 1959 to 1964. Its stories delved into the realms of science fiction, horror, psychological drama, and even comedy while commenting on human nature and sometimes current events and politics. A feature film was released in 1983. Two “revival” series were produced: one from 1985 to 1989 and the second from 2002 to 2003. Rod Serling (1924-1975) was the producer, frequent writer, and host of the original Twilight Zone. He later co-wrote the screenplay for 1968’s Planet of the Apes and produced, hosted, and frequently wrote for the 1969-1973 NBC anthology series Night Gallery. The phrase “Submitted for your approval ...” is often attributed to Serling as his standard setup in the opening scene of Twilight Zone episodes, though he only used it three times.
Life was simpler in Grover’s Corners.
Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, is the fictional town depicted in the 1938 play Our Town, written by Thornton Wilder.
It’s the new 1953 Buick Special. Handles like a dream. You’ll arrive at the apocalypse in style.
The Buick Special is a car model produced by General Motors first in 1936, and then off and on until 1977.
No one will be admitted during the breathtaking car parking sequence.
Advertisements for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic Psycho used the slogan “No one … BUT NO ONE … will be admitted to the theatre after the start of each performance!” The phrase was copied frequently in ensuing years, often by campy horror director and producer William Castle.
And before that the Spanish-American War. And the Battle of 1812 (sic).
The Spanish-American War in 1898 was fought over the Spanish colonies in America gaining independence from Spain. The U.S. got involved when a ship sent to support U.S. citizens in tumultuous Havana, Cuba, was sunk—the origin of the famous slogan “Remember the Maine.” It’s unclear whether the Spanish had anything to do with the ship’s sinking—it may have been the result of an internal explosion—but papers at home whipped the public into a frenzy, despite President McKinley’s opposition to declaring war. The War of 1812 was a three-year conflict between the United States and the United Kingdom. In Europe, Britain was involved in the Napoleonic Wars and faced a shortage of sailors for their navy. This led to the practice of impressment, wherein British vessels detained and boarded American merchant ships to capture men they believed to be deserters. This, coupled with the disruption of American trade and the assistance the British provided to enemy Native Americans, led to a declaration of war by Congress. In 1814, the British invaded Washington, D.C., and burned down the White House and the Capitol Building. This turned British public opinion against the effort, and since they were already weary of war and their economy was in the toilet (trade embargoes and such), the U.K. and the U.S. negotiated a peace treaty in late 1814. Thanks to the slow communication of the day, several battles took place after the treaty was signed, including the famed Battle of New Orleans.
See you later. –Not!
See above note on “Not!”
It’s Art Metrano! [Humming “Fine and Dandy,” Metrano style.]
See above note on Art Metrano.
Mr. Sanford? Mr. Sanford?
A reference to Fred Sanford (played by Redd Foxx), the irascible father on the NBC sitcom Sanford and Son, which aired from 1972 to 1977.
Oh, man. This is definitely ... We’ve tapped into a different movie here. I can almost believe that last scene with Art Metrano.
See above note on Art Metrano.
It’s Tom Bodett.
Tom Bodett is an NPR contributor who was hired as a spokesperson for Motel 6’s radio ads in 1988. The famous tagline, “We’ll leave the light on for you,” was actually an ad-lib.
It says George Miller was actually funny on Letterman last night.
George Miller (1942-2003) was a comedian known for his jokey delivery and frequent appearances (56 altogether) on the aforementioned David Letterman’s shows. Letterman, in fact, paid for all Miller’s medical bills stemming from leukemia, which eventually led to his death.
The general is calling a local tobacconist to see if they have Prince Albert in a can. They say “yes,” and the general says, “Well, you better let him out before he suffocates.” He then switches lines to a local bowling alley and asks if they have ten-pound balls. They, of course, reply, “Yes,” and he says, “How did you get to the phone so quickly?”
These are, of course, a pair of popular phone pranks from back in the days before *69 and caller ID. Prince Albert is a brand of pipe tobacco initially produced by RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company in 1907. By the 1930s, Prince Albert was the second biggest moneymaker for RJR, but after the decline of pipe smoking, the brand was sold to John Middleton Inc. in 1987. Despite popular belief, it was not named for the husband of Queen Victoria, nor for their son, who was also Prince Albert (before he became King Edward VII).
Who’s this artist? –John Cage, I think. –John Cage. I got this album.
John Cage (1912-1992) was an avant-garde musician and composer best known for his “piece” 4’33”. Yes, that’s how long it lasts, but it contains no music. Instead, musicians are supposed to keep their instruments quiet and allow the audience to hear whatever natural ambient sound happens to occur.
A Duracell commercial.
Duracell is a manufacturer of batteries and smart power systems.
I finally get my stereo tuned up and it’s this new wave crap. If something better comes on, I can tape over this.
New wave is a genre of music born in the late 1970s alongside punk rock, though new wave typically used electronic instruments. For much of its history, punk and new wave were conflated in many people’s minds. Pioneering new wave acts include Talking Heads, The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen, Human League, and Gary Numan.
Philip Glass is a minimalist composer known for his operas (Einstein on the Beach) as well as his film scores (Koyaanisqatsi, A Brief History of Time).
I think it’s quadraphonic, too.
Quadraphonic sound was an early version of surround sound. Introduced commercially in 1970, quadraphonic systems used four speakers instead of the usual two used in stereo sound systems, and were meant to play recordings mixed specifically for quadraphonic systems. Various attempts were made to broadcast quadraphonic audio over FM radio stations in the 1970s as well. Plagued by all kinds of technical problems and compatibility issues, quadraphonic sound was a commercial failure, but it laid the groundwork for the 5.1 surround sound systems that are widely used in home theaters today.
Let’s see if I can tune some “lite” FM here.
Ah, radio. Before you kids had your iPods or whatever, you could wrap a wire around a quartz crystal, tie a transistor to it, plug on a battery and listen to the Beatles. AM (Amplitude Modulation) radio was developed in 1906 by Reginald Fessenden. Before Reggie, any radio broadcaster was using that entire part of the spectrum instead of an individual setting. FM (Frequency Modulation) radio was developed by Edwin Armstrong in 1933. While AM radio can have greater range than FM, FM has the capacity for greater sound quality. That’s why most music stations are on the FM side of the dial. “Lite” refers to a music format also known as “easy listening.” Kenny G, John Tesh, and Celine Dion are just a few of the artists you can find on a typical “lite” station.
Do not try to adjust your sets. We will control what is boring.
A reference to the famous opening narration of the TV anthology series The Outer Limits, which aired from 1963 to 1965: “There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We can reduce the focus to a soft blur, or sharpen it to crystal clarity. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to ... The Outer Limits.” There were two reboots of The Outer Limits: on Showtime (1995-2000), and the Sci-Fi Channel (2001-2002).
This guy must be at a self-service silo. –Number four, gas is prepay after 9 p.m.
Before the advent of credit card readers on gas pumps, the only way gas stations would let you buy fuel (particularly after peak hours) was if you paid ahead of pumping. This prevented “drive offs”: people pumping gas and leaving without paying.
Four rubles back on a gas-it-yourself with cash.
The ruble is the unit of currency used in Russia and several other Eastern European and former Soviet republics. In 2017, it took about 56 rubles to equal a single U.S. dollar.
That rocket’s run by reel-to-reel. It wasn’t until the ‘70s that they were run by 8-track.
Reel-to-reel is a format of magnetic tape used to store audio recordings. It was the standard in studios for many decades until the digital age. The standard compact cassette is a miniaturized version of reel-to-reel tapes. Eight-track tapes, officially known as Stereo 8, were cassettes of magnetic tape in an infinite loop. They were developed in the early 1960s by Bill Lear (of Lear Jet fame) and released in 1964. They caught on because, until then, the only means of owning music were vinyl records or large and cumbersome reel-to-reels, and neither of those were terribly portable. They were popular until the mid-1970s, when standard compact cassettes finally replaced them as the desired form of totable audio entertainment. Complaints included low audio quality, the inability to rewind, the inability to choose a specific song, songs switching in the middle of play to a different track ... actually, it’s a wonder they were ever popular.
[Imitating Slim Pickens.] One forty-five caliber handgun. Two packages of chewing gum. One extra prophylactic. One hundred dollars ...
A paraphrase of a famous scene in the 1964 Cold War satire Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Slim Pickens (b. Louis Burton Lindley; 1919-1983) played Major T.J. “King” Kong, and as he prepared his crew for the world after they dropped their atomic payload, he read off the contents of their survival kits: “In them you’ll find: one forty-five caliber automatic; two boxes of ammunition; four days’ concentrated emergency rations; one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills; one miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible; one hundred dollars in rubles; one hundred dollars in gold; nine packs of chewing gum; one issue of prophylactics; three lipsticks; three pair of nylon stockings. Shoot, a fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.”
They’ve got more of an annoying beep than us. –And they’ve got AV geeks at the controls.
“AV geeks” refers to the “audio-visual” clubs predominant in American high schools from the 1960s into the ‘80s. Students would be tasked with taking projectors and such to classrooms showing films. Often, the participants in such clubs fit the stereotypical notion of “geeks.”
Hey, they invented Asteroids. Check it out.
Asteroids was an arcade game that debuted in 1979 at the beginning of the arcade craze. It featured simple vector graphics: an arrowhead-shaped spaceship fires dots at small, medium, and large asteroids and the occasional UFO, which fires back.
Look, I haven’t got time for the pain.
Ads in the 1980s for ibuprofen-based pain reliever Medipren used this as its slogan, as well as covers of “Haven’t Got Time for the Pain,” a 1974 song written and recorded by Carly Simon. The pill was first produced in 1986 by Tylenol makers Johnson & Johnson, but its sales paled in comparison to then-new Advil, and Medipren was withdrawn in the early ‘90s.
Is it bigger than a breadbox? Is it known for its work in the theater?
“Is it bigger than a breadbox?” and “Are you known for your work in the theater?” were both typical questions on the TV game show What’s My Line? (see above note). Famously, the breadbox question was asked multiple times by Steve Allen on the show; he initially asked it while trying to figure out the size of an item manufactured by one of the guests. The second question was asked during the “Mystery Guest” segment of the show, where the panel tried to figure out not what the guest did, but rather who they were.
Hey, guys, look, it’s the beginning of Bonanza. –Watch the map burn a hole in the middle and there come the Cartwrights. –They went digital.
Bonanza was a TV western that aired from 1959 to 1973 on NBC. The opening credits began with a shot of a map bursting into flame and the lead cast riding their horses in the resulting hole. The name of the family on the show was “Cartwright.”
[Imitation of TV Frank’s guyuck-ayeee noise.]
According to Frank Conniff, the noise (sometimes spelled “eeyukakee”) was just something goofy he made up.
Hey, it’s Clutch Cargo.
Clutch Cargo was a 1959 animated TV series that attempted to eliminate the time and expense of drawing lip movements by simply filming the voice actors’ lips through a megaphone and superimposing them onto the animated characters, with truly bizarre results.
It’s Harry Connick Jr., red alert. Benny Goodman in Moscow. Groovy.
A pianist and singer who participated in (some say precipitated) the swing and big-band revival of the early 1990s, Harry Connick Jr.’s break came when he scored the 1989 film When Harry Met Sally. He has since gone on to act in several movies, most notably Copycat (1995) and Independence Day (1996). Benny Goodman (1909-1986) was a jazz and swing bandleader known for playing the clarinet. In the 1930s, he became known as the “King of Swing” and the “Rajah of Rhythm,” thanks to his albums and his live appearances on radio programs. He helped spread the Jitterbug craze across the nation and frequently performed with the greatest musicians of the day (Gene Krupa, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, etc.). Benny Goodman in Moscow is a 1962 live album recorded during Goodman’s tour of the Soviet Union, at the height of the Cold War. It was the first time an American jazz band had been invited to tour that country.
Remember that good stuff I told you about earlier? Well, forget it. Now, Simply Red.
Simply Red was a British pop group that formed in 1985, led by Mick Hutnall and his shock of bright red hair. Their biggest hits include “Holding Back the Years,” “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye,” and “If You Don’t Know Me by Now,” that last one a cover of a song that was a number-one hit for Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes in 1972.
Your member-supported apocalyptic station.
A paraphrase of statements frequently heard between shows on both PBS (Public Broadcasting System) and NPR (National Public Radio). “Members” refers to the people who send in money during the oft-maligned pledge drives (and at other times, of their own free will).
Hey, it’s Toody and Muldoon! And they’ve got Glenn Super in the car! –[Imitating.] Oooh, oooh!
Comedian Joe Ross (1914-1982) starred in sitcoms such as The Phil Silvers Show and Car 54, Where Are You? His shtick usually involved grunting “Ooh! ooh!” before he called on someone or said what he was thinking. On Car 54 (1961-1963), Ross played Officer Gunther Toody; his partner was Officer Francis Muldoon (played by Fred Gwynne). Glenn Super (1951-2001) was a standup comedian known as “Mr. Bullhorn” for his tendency to use said implement to emphasize his punchlines.
Even Rod Steiger must die.
Rod Steiger (1925-2002) was best known for his Oscar-winning performance as Police Chief Bill Gillespie opposite Sidney Poitier in the 1967 film In the Heat of the Night. In 1964, he was nominated for an Academy Award for his title role in The Pawnbroker.
Now back to Clutch Cargo.
See above note on Clutch Cargo.
You want me to hold the chicken? You just want wheat toast? That’s a number thirteen.
A few paraphrased lines from a famous scene in the 1970 Jack Nicholson movie Five Easy Pieces. At a roadside diner, Nicholson’s character Bobby locks horns with a by-the-book waitress who refuses to make any menu substitutions. Some of the relevant dialogue:
Bobby: I’d like an omelet, plain, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast, no mayonnaise, no butter, no lettuce. And a cup of coffee.
Waitress: A number two, chicken salad sand. Hold the butter, the lettuce, the mayonnaise, and a cup of coffee. Anything else?
Bobby: Yeah, now all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast, give me a check for the chicken salad sandwich, and you haven’t broken any rules.
Waitress: You want me to hold the chicken, huh?
Bobby: I want you to hold it between your knees.
Bob, Jerry’s waiting for you in his office.
On the sitcom The Bob Newhart Show (CBS, 1972-1978), comedian Bob Newhart played Chicago psychiatrist Bob Hartley, and Peter Bonerz played Jerry Robinson, D.D.S., an orthodontist with an office on the same floor. They spent a lot of time in each other’s office.
Slim-Fast? One delicious shake in the morning and my hair falls out in the evening.
Slim-Fast is a weight-loss product introduced in 1977, consisting of a diet plan in which you consume two Slim-Fast shakes plus a “sensible dinner” every day. The product line has since branched out into snacks and bars and whatnot.
“... fire every Nike you have.” Yeah, Adidas, too. Tretorn, Keds, Red Ball Jets, the whole shebang.
Named for the Greek personification of winged victory, Nike is a major manufacturer and supplier of athletic equipment and sportswear in the United States. It was founded in 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports; the name was changed to Nike in 1978. (Of course, Nike was also a line of surface-to-air missiles used by the United States during the Cold War, also named after the goddess.) Adidas is a German shoe and sportswear manufacturer, founded by Adolf “Adi” Dassler in 1949. The name came from his nickname and the first three letters of his last name. Tretorn is another shoe and sportswear manufacturer, this one founded by Henry Dunker in 1891 Sweden. Keds is an American brand of shoes introduced in 1916 by U.S. Rubber (which later became Uniroyal). Red Ball Jets was a model of sneaker made by Red Ball Inc. from 1951 to 1971.
Remember, don’t play in refrigerators. They don’t open from the other side.
Possibly a reference to the Very Special Episode of Punky Brewster that aired on January 19, 1986. Titled “Cherie Lifesaver,” the plot revolved around Punky’s friend Cherie nearly suffocating due to getting trapped in an old refrigerator during a game of hide and seek. It is probably the best-remembered episode among people who watched the show as children. Modern refrigerators close with a magnetic latch that can be opened from the inside, as mandated by a 1956 law; the law was prompted by several children’s deaths.
Hey, look. A Trident. –Sugar free?
Yes, Trident is a model of missile launched by submarine. It’s also a sugar-free gum introduced in 1964 that popularized the tagline, “Four out of five dentists surveyed recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum,” and numerous variations thereof. (The fifth dentist, in case you were wondering, recommended no gum at all.)
That’s a Nike. –And a Ked. –That's a Tretorn. –There's a Red Ball Jet.
See previous note.
Air Jordan. There it goes.
Air Jordans are a line of athletic shoes manufactured by Nike; they are named after legendary basketball player Michael Jordan. First introduced in 1985, demand for them led to huge crowds, occasional riots, muggings, and even some deaths in the mid-1990s when Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to NBA victory. The shoes remain incredibly popular today, even though Jordan retired in 2003. Nike also sells an Air Jordan line of athletic apparel.
There’s your Red Ball Jet. –It’s an Oxford. –It’s shaped like a sabertooth tiger whistle.
See above note on Red Ball Jet. Oxford is a type of shoe wherein the laces are threaded through the top part of the shoe (a.k.a. the vamp). They’re usually made of leather and quite plain.
It’s Harry Truman.
Harry Truman (1884-1972) was the 33rd president of the United States. He was President Franklin Roosevelt’s third vice president (after John Nance Garner and Henry Wallace) and succeeded to the office when Roosevelt died just a few months into his fourth term. Truman’s two-term administration oversaw the end of World War II, the post-war boom, the beginning of the Cold War, and the Korean War.
Attention. Zack Norman is dead. –Stop the presses. It worked.
See above note on Zack Norman.
[Imitating Dr. Strangelove.] Of course, women will be chosen for their sexual prowess ... –Und animals will be bred und slaughtered ...
An imitation of Peter Sellers in the title role of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Dr. Strangelove, a former Nazi scientist, is outlining a plan for the survival of the human race after a nuclear holocaust and suggests digging great shafts into the Earth where mankind would live.
In the meantime, enjoy Jerry Lewis and Tony Curtis in Boeing Boeing!
Jerry Lewis started out as a classic vaudeville comedian and rose to fame with comedy partner Dean Martin in the 1940s and ‘50s. The pair split in 1956, and Lewis went on to become a box office draw in the late ‘50s and ‘60s with films like The Nutty Professor. Lewis also served as chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association from 1952 until 2011, hosting their annual 24-hour telethon on TV. Tony Curtis (b. Bernard Schwartz; 1925-2010) was an actor famous for starring roles in 1959’s Some Like It Hot and 1960’s Spartacus. He was also the father of actress Jamie Lee Curtis. Boeing Boeing (a.k.a. Boeing (707) Boeing (707)) is a 1965 film starring Curtis as a journalist who juggles three stewardess girlfriends and Lewis as his goofy friend who screws it all up.
Charlton Heston starring in Airport ‘79. Damn you all to hell! –George Kennedy pops the clutch and tells the world to eat my dust.
Charlton Heston (1923-2008) was an actor and political activist who appeared in such movies as The Ten Commandments (1956) and Planet of the Apes (1968). He was also a longtime spokesman for the National Rifle Association. “Damn you all to hell!” is Heston’s famous line from the climactic scene of Planet of the Apes. The Concorde ... Airport ‘79 was the fourth and final film in the Airport disaster film series (see above note on George Kennedy). Heston was not in it, but he did star in Airport 1975, the second film in the series. Eat My Dust was a 1976 low-budget, tongue-in-cheek action movie produced by Roger Corman and starring Ron Howard. The tagline for the film: “Ron Howard pops the clutch and tells the world: Eat My Dust!”
Hey, Clutch? –Spinner? Paddlefoot?
Characters from the aforementioned Clutch Cargo (see above note). Spinner was Clutch’s “young ward.” Paddlefoot was his dog.
There’s a severe storm warning for Wright and Jackson County and parts of Carver County. All of New York is in this warning.
Wright, Jackson, and Carver Counties are all counties in Minnesota. Wright County is just northwest of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, Carver County is southwest of it, and Jackson County is on the Minnesota-Iowa state border.
The only people that are left are Harry Belafonte, Inger Stevens, and that other guy.
Harry Belafonte is a singer and songwriter known as the “King of Calypso” because he led the influx of Caribbean-influenced music in the 1950s with songs like “The Banana Boat Song.” Inger Stevens (1934-1970) was a Swedish-born actress best known for her role in the ABC sitcom The Farmer’s Daughter (1963-1966). Stevens was, at one time, romantically linked to Belafonte, with whom she starred in the 1959 science-fiction movie The World, the Flesh and the Devil.
And remember, Bill Diehl Oldsmobile out in the beltline.
“Bill Diehl” probably refers to journalist and longtime Minneapolis radio fixture Bill Diehl, who voiced commercials for Lindahl Oldsmobile (a Minneapolis dealership) primarily in the 1970s. Oldsmobile was an auto manufacturer founded by Ransom Olds in 1897. The brand was sold to General Motors in 1908. Due to shortfalls in sales and profitability, GM phased out the Oldsmobile brand, with the final vehicle assembled in 2004.
A pirouette is a ballet maneuver wherein the dancer whirls about on one leg.
So I call and I get Fiji. I say AT&T would’ve given me credit. They say you’re not dealing with AT&T and I say I am now.
A paraphrase of a 1988 commercial for telephone service provider AT&T. AT&T was founded in 1885 as the American Telephone and Telegraph Company. By 1939 AT&T had a near-total monopoly on phone service in the U.S.: it controlled 83 percent of telephones, 98 percent of long-distance service, and 90 percent of phone manufacturing. In 1982, after the federal government brought an antitrust suit against the company, AT&T split off its local telephone divisions into separate companies (known as the “Baby Bells”), but continued to offer long-distance service. The breakup presaged the “telephone wars” of the 1980s and 1990s and loosed a barrage of advertising that had many consumers longing for the days of monopolies.
See above note on Clutch Cargo.
Turning the Big Apple into applesauce.
“Big Apple” is a nickname for New York City. It first appeared in a 1909 book by Edward Martin, which said other cities see New York as greedy: “It inclines to think that the big apple gets a disproportionate share of the national sap.” In the 1920s, New York Morning Telegraph sportswriter John J. Fitz Gerald used the term frequently, first in reference to horseracing and then in relation to New York City itself. Fitz Gerald has been credited by NYC mayors for coining the term, and in the 1970s, it was fully adopted for tourism purposes.
Just a regular day in the Big Apple.
See previous note.