417: Crash of the Moons
by Wyn Hilty
Hey, it’s my Leonard Cohen album.
Leonard Cohen is a Canadian singer/songwriter known for such hits as “Bird on a Wire.” A number of other artists have also recorded his songs, including Neil Diamond, Diana Ross, and Joe Cocker.
Nope. Probably the Muzak Corporation—they want their record back.
Muzak is a now retired brand name for background music that is piped into offices, retail outlets and other public establishments. Though a registered trademark, Muzak became a generic term for any form of innocuous instrumental background music. With origins in the early 1920s, the name Muzak was inspired by the made-up brand name Kodak; they just took the first syllable of “music” and slapped an “ak” on the end. The company changed hands many times, went into and out of bankruptcy, and was acquired by Mood Media, who announced in 2013 they were retiring the Muzak name. Fun fact: though Muzak and its ilk were often nicknamed “elevator music,” Muzak never actually provided background music for elevators.
Give in to the dark side.
A reference to the series of Star Wars movies, in which Darth Vader tempts Luke Skywalker to join him on the “dark side of the Force.”
Is that a Cross Your Heart?
Cross Your Heart is a brand of bra manufactured by Playtex.
When Anne Sexton throws a party.
Anne Sexton was an American poet who struggled with mental illness for most of her life and wound up committing suicide in 1974 despite a successful literary career.
“Well, he wanted to do it.” In the road.
A reference to the Beatles song “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” Sample lyrics: “Why don't we do it in the road?/Why don't we do it in the road?/Why don't we do it in the road?/Why don't we do it in the road?/No one will be watching us/Why don't we do it in the road?”
[Sung.] It’s a hap-hap-happy day …
A line from the song of the same name, which was featured in the 1939 animated film Gulliver’s Travels. It was written by Sammy Timberg, Al Neiburg, and Winston Sharples.
[Sung.] Oh, zip-a-dee doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay …
A line from the song “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” which was featured in the 1946 animated film Song of the South. Sample lyrics: “Zip-a-dee doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay/My, oh my what a wonderful day!/Plenty of sunshine heading my way/Zip-a-dee doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay.”
I think I’ll put on my Dan Hill album.
Dan Hill is an adult contemporary singer/songwriter known mainly for his 1977 hit “Sometimes When We Touch.”
Oh, this weighs a ton. I shouldn’t have used that Sakrete.
Sakrete is a brand of bagged concrete mix.
I think I’ll just suck back the rest of the Reddi Whip can …
Reddi Whip is a brand of canned whipped cream topping.
You’ll arrive in style in the new 1963 Corvair.
The Corvair is a car manufactured by Chevrolet. It was first introduced in 1960. It did not last long due to a combination of factors, including competition from the Ford Mustang and an attack on the car’s safety by consumer advocate Ralph Nader.
I hate these Pinter plays.
Harold Pinter (1930-2008) was a British playwright and screenwriter known for such works as The Birthday Party and The Caretaker. He is credited with having invented the school of theater known as the “comedy of menace” and is often lumped in with the absurdists.
Sure, Ken’s not anatomically correct, but …
Ken, the longtime boyfriend of the plastic fashion doll Barbie, has only a smooth curve where his manhood should be.
Do you need some Dristan?
Dristan is a brand of cold and cough medicine sold over the counter.
[Sung.] Ah, sweet mystery of life, at last I’ve found you …
A line from the song “Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life” from the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie. Sample lyrics: “Ah! Sweet mystery of life/At last I've found thee/Ah! I know at last the secret of it all!” In the film Young Frankenstein, Elizabeth (played by Madeline Kahn) breaks into the song while first having sex with the monster (Peter Boyle); at the end of the film Inga (Teri Garr) reprises the song on her wedding night with Dr. Frankenstein (Gene Wilder). (Thanks to Chris Moseng for the Young Frankenstein reference.)
Okay, okay, here, I’ll go first. Um, okay! Um, Samuel Beckett’s brother! Jayne Mansfield’s sister! John Lydon’s illegitimate son! Peggy Cass’s father! Charles Meredith Baxter Birney! The Patsy Parsons Project! Oh … oh … pass!
Samuel Beckett was an Irish minimalist playwright known best for his play Waiting for Godot. Jayne Mansfield was a busty blond actress who was a major sex symbol during the 1950s and 1960s despite never quite making it onto the Hollywood A-list. John Lydon, a.k.a. Johnny Rotten, was the driving force behind seminal punk band the Sex Pistols. Peggy Cass was a stage and screen actress known especially for her role in Auntie Mame and for her frequent appearances on quiz shows. Meredith Baxter Birney is an actress best known for playing the mother on the TV series Family Ties, which aired from 1982-1989. The Alan Parsons Project is a progressive rock band known for such early 1980s hits as “Eye in the Sky.”
Okay, uh … uh … Guy Roe vs. Wade! Dick L’estrange when you’re a stranger! Roy Luby shot Oswald … pass, pass!
Roe v. Wade was the name of the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States. “People are strange when you’re a stranger” is the opening line to the Doors song “People Are Strange.” Jack Ruby (c. 1911-1967) was a Dallas nightclub owner who catapulted to fame when he shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy. Ruby was convicted of the killing and sent to prison, where he died of cancer in 1967.
Uh, uh, uh, Philip Glass’s brother! Al Capp’s uncle! Oz didn’t do nothin’ for Billy Tinsman and he didn’t already have … Monty Python’s … uh, uh, pass! Pass!
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). Al Capp was a cartoonist, the creator of the comic strip “L’il Abner.” Billy Tinsman is a reference to the America song "Tin Man"; sample lyrics: "But Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man/That he didn't, didn't already have ..." Monty Python’s Flying Circus was a British sketch comedy series that aired from 1969-1974. (Thanks to Christopher Eckart for identifying the "Tin Man" reference.)
Arthur Pierson, creator of the salted nut goodie.
Pearson’s Candy is the manufacturer of the Nut Goodie, consisting of milk chocolate, creamy filling and peanuts, and the Salted Nut Roll.
Okay, okay, Rahsaan Roland Reed!
Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1936-1977) was a jazz saxophonist known for his ability to play two instruments at the same time. (Thanks to Joel Boutiere for this reference.)
The airship is pulling up to the tower now, and … oh my God, it’s burst into flames! Oh, the humanity! Oh, my God, it’s terrible. People are running everywhere …
An imitation of Herbert Morrison’s famous radio broadcast of the Hindenburg airship disaster on May 6, 1937. His actual words: “It burst into flames! Get out of the way! Get out of the way! Get this, Charlie! Get this, Charlie! It's fire and it's crashing! It's crashing terrible! Oh, my! Get out of the way, please! It's burning, bursting into flames and is falling on the mooring mast, and all the folks agree that this is terrible. This is the worst of the worst catastrophes in the world! Oh, it's crashing ... oh, four or five hundred feet into the sky, and it's a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen. There's smoke, and there's flames, now, and the frame is crashing to the ground, not quite to the mooring mast ... Oh, the humanity, and all the passengers screaming around here!”
Lego Hospital. Snaptite hernia sold separately.
Legos are a brand of children’s toy consisting of rectangular pieces that snap together to create almost anything: houses, cars, animals, people, etc. They are made by the Lego Group. Snaptite is a type of model cars.
Leona Helmsley (1920-2007), known as the “Queen of Mean” during the 1980s, was a real-estate agent turned hotel impresario. She was married to hotel magnate Harry Helmsley and took over the operation of his Helmsley Palace hotel. She became notorious for treating her employees badly and was eventually convicted of income tax evasion, for which she served 18 months in prison.
“Please try to understand.” I’m a magic man.
A reference to the Heart song “Magic Man.” Sample lyrics: “But try to understand/Try to understand/Try try try to understand/I'm a magic man.”
Everything! –You are wrong, Winky-breath.
An imitation of a long-running gag between Ed McMahon and Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show, in which Johnny would read aloud a list, Ed would opine that every possible thing must be included, and Johnny would insult him as above before continuing with the list.
You and your daughter are doomed.
A reference to Show 110, Robot Holocaust.
“59 minutes.” A CBS news magazine.
60 Minutes is a news show that has been on the air since 1968.
A reference to the 1950s television sitcom The Honeymooners, which starred Jackie Gleason as bus driver Ralph Kramden and Audrey Meadows as his long-suffering wife Alice.
He’s got an extra Y chromosome.
Males born with an extra Y chromosome suffer from what is called, pithily enough, XYY syndrome. Individuals with this syndrome are typically very tall and thin and may have behavioral problems or learning disabilities.
Goodness gracious. –Great balls of fire.
A line from the Jerry Lee Lewis song “Great Balls of Fire.” Sample lyrics: “You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain/Too much of love drives a man insane/You broke my will, but what a thrill/Goodness gracious great balls of fire.”
And this is your life.
This Is Your Life was a TV series that ran from 1952-1961, in which each week an unsuspecting celebrity would be lured to the studio and faced with people from his past, who would talk about his life. A British version of the show ran from 1955-2003.
Oh, we’re having a Mary Kay party.
Mary Kay Inc. is a cosmetics company that operates on the Multi-level marketing business model: distributors, called “beauty consultants,” earn income through direct sales to customers, and commissions on products sold to other distributors that they recruit. Top-sellers are rewarded with an iconic pink Cadillac. In 2018, Mary Kay reported wholesale earnings of $3.7 billion.
Okay, let’s see, let me start this here. Dear Abby: I’m an elderly woman who doesn’t enjoy sex anymore. I found that in the …
“Dear Abby” is a syndicated newspaper advice column. It was originally founded by Pauline Phillips and is now written by her daughter, Jeanne Phillips.
And this is a ship arriving too late to save a drowning witch.
Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch is a 1982 album by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.
Next to the TCBY.
TCBY is a chain of frozen yogurt shops that was founded in 1981 in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Whoa, got enough Maybelline on there, skipper?
Maybelline is a brand of moderately priced cosmetics sold in grocery stores and drugstores worldwide.
I’m having a Montclair moment.
Montclair is a brand of cigarettes; I believe the phrase “Montclair Moment” comes from their advertising, but I have as yet been unable to confirm this.
Bring back the Boston rag.
A line from the Steely Dan song “Boston Rag.” Sample lyrics: “Bring back the Boston rag/Tell all your buddies/That it ain’t no drag/Bring back the Boston rag.”
Vladimir Horowitz (1903-1989) was an internationally acclaimed concert pianist. Born in Russia, he became an American citizen in 1944. He was renowned for his flawless technique and enormous repertoire.
“I’ve put you and Bobby into grave peril.” I don’t care.
A reference to Show 306, Time of the Apes.
[Imitating.] And keep reaching for the stars.
“Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars” was how syndicated DJ Casey Kasem signed off his American Top 40 radio show every week.
“Please try to understand.” I’m a magic man.
See note on “Magic Man,” above.
Oh, it’s the Mall of America.
The Mall of America is the second largest shopping mall in the United States (after the King of Prussia Mall outside of Philadelphia) and one of the largest in the world. It has more than 500 stores, an aquarium, a bowling alley, a full-scale amusement park including a roller coaster, and other attractions too numerous to mention. It is located in Bloomington, Minnesota, just outside Minneapolis.
[Lightning.] Frau Blücher!
Frau Blücher is the creepy housekeeper in the 1974 film Young Frankenstein. In the film, the mention of her name is always accompanied by a flash of lightning, a crash of thunder, and the neighing of terrified horses. The part was played by Cloris Leachman.
They’ve got him in a Weber grill!
Weber is a brand of backyard grills; they make both charcoal and gas grills, but the rounded shape of their classic charcoal grill is the best known.
It’s you, Sergeant Schultz.
John Banner (1910-1973), who plays Bavarro in Crash of the Moons, also portrayed Sergeant Hans Schultz on the TV sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, which aired from 1965-1971.
I wonder what the king is doing tonight?
A line from the song of the same name from the musical Camelot. Sample lyrics: “I wonder what the king is doing tonight?/What merriment is the king pursuing tonight?/The candles at the court, they never burned as bright/I wonder what the king is up to tonight?”
Moms Mabley (born Loretta Mary Aiken, 1894-1975) was a Black vaudeville performer who became very popular on 1960s TV variety shows such as The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and The Ed Sullivan Show. Billed as "the funniest woman in the world," the foul-mouthed and man-chasing Moms character was played much older than Aiken's true age (at least at first). Mabley was one of the first openly gay comedians, coming out as lesbian in 1921, at age 27.(Thanks to Christopher Brame for this reference.)
Well, Vladimir, does this clip need any setup?
See note on Vladimir Horowitz, above.
Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a bad film it is.
“Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a relief it is!” is an old advertising jingle for Alka-Seltzer.
Looks kind of like an Everlasting Gobstopper.
Everlasting Gobstoppers are a kind of jawbreaker that change color and flavor as you suck on them. They are made by Wonka. They are named after the fictional candies in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, which really did last forever.
[Sung.] Like a circle in a spiral/Like a wheel within a wheel …
A line from the Dusty Springfield song “Windmills of Your Mind.” Sample lyrics: “Round like a circle in a spiral like a wheel within a wheel/Never ending on beginning on an ever-spinning reel/Like a snowball down a mountain or a carnival balloon/Like a carousel that's turning running rings around the moon.”
[Sung.] The weather started getting rough … The tiny wheel was tossed …
A paraphrase of the classic theme to the TV sitcom Gilligan’s Island. Sample lyrics: “The weather started getting rough/The tiny ship was tossed/If not for the courage of the fearless crew/The Minnow would be lost; the Minnow would be lost.”
They’re on a Tilt-a-Whirl station.
The Tilt-a-Whirl is a venerable carnival ride first produced in 1926. It is made by Sellner Manufacturing of Minnesota.
Well, they shouldn’t have bought that furniture at Office Max, you know?
Office Max is a chain of nearly 1,000 stores that sell office supplies, computer stuff, and furniture.
I’m comin’, Lizabeth!
A reference to the TV series Sanford and Son, which aired from 1972-1977. When Fred Sanford (played by Redd Foxx) wanted to manipulate his son, he would fake a heart attack and call out to his dead wife, “It’s the big one! I’m comin’, Lizabeth!”
[Sung.] The house began to twitch/The hinges to unhitch …
Paraphrase of a line from the song “Munchkin Land” from The Wizard of Oz. Actual lyrics: “It really was no miracle. What happened was just this/The wind began to switch/The house to pitch/And suddenly the hinges started to unhitch.”
Say the secret word, and Bill Cosby rips your show off.
An imitation of comedian Groucho Marx in his role as the host of the TV and radio game show You Bet Your Life, which aired from 1947-1960 on all three major radio networks at one time or another, and from 1950 to 1961 on NBC-TV (so it was on TV and radio simultaneously for ten years). Each episode had a “secret word,” and if a contestant unwittingly said the word, a small duck would drop down from the ceiling with a hundred-dollar bill in its beak as a reward. In 1992 comedian Bill Cosby launched his own version of the show; it lasted for less than one season.
[Sung.] At Casino Royale …
Casino Royale is a 1967 James Bond spoof starring David Niven as the suave super-spy. In 2006 a serious version was released starring Daniel Craig.
[Sung.] Andersen, that’s me!
A line from the song “I’m Hans Christian Andersen,” as performed by Danny Kaye in the 1952 musical film Hans Christian Andersen. Sample lyrics: “When I have a moment free/When I'm not otherwise occupied/As a purple duck or a mountainside/Or a quarter after three/I'm Hans Christian Andersen, Andersen, that's me.”
It’s going to be a banner day!
See note on John Banner, above.
See note on John Banner, above. Also a reference to the rap song “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer. Sample lyrics: “Can’t touch this/Break it down/Stop Hammer time.”
I’m Eleanor Roosevelt.
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was the wife of President Franklin Roosevelt and served as First Lady from 1933-1945.
Yeah, yeah, and I guess the moons sing “Ring Around the Rosie.” Get out! Get out!
“Ring Around the Rosie” is a classic children’s rhyme of indeterminate origin, which was first published in 1881. There is a long-standing tradition that this innocent children’s rhyme refers to the Black Death, but this is apocryphal. The complete rhyme: “Ring around the rosie/A pocket full of posies/Ashes, ashes/We all fall down.”
Where are my gummi bears?
Gummi bears are a soft, chewy, bear-shaped candy invented by German sweetmaker Hans Riegel. They are manufactured by Haribo. The success of gummi bears spawned many, many imitators, including gummi fish, gummi worms, and gummi frogs, to name a few.
Uh, Vladimir, if you get to an issue that’s relevant, let us know.
See note on Vladimir Horowitz, above.
She blinded me with science!
From the Thomas Dolby song “She Blinded Me with Science.” Sample lyrics: “It's poetry in motion/She turned her tender eyes to me/As deep as any ocean/As sweet as any harmony/Mmm—but she blinded me with science/She blinded me with science!”
Inna godda davida, baby.
“Inna Godda Davida” is a lengthy song by Iron Butterfly.
Bob Saget, ladies and gentlemen, Bob Saget.
Bob Saget is an actor best known for playing talk-show host Danny Tanner on the TV series Full House, which aired from 1987-1995.
I see nothing!
An imitation of Sergeant Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes (see above note).
I married a Nazi.
Probably a reference to the TV sitcom I Married Joan, about the ditzy wife of a judge. It aired from 1952-1955.
Poor sap—thinks he’s on Hogan’s Heroes already.
See above note.
They’re landing on the planet of Magic Rocks.
Magic Rocks were invented by two brothers, James and Arthur Ingoldsby, in 1940. They come in little kits that contain an envelope of liquid sodium silicate and some colored rocks that are water-soluble metallic salts. When you mix the sodium silicate with water and drop in the rocks, pretty crystalline spires sprout from the rocks.
Zorro painted mein house!
Zorro is a fictional hero in 19th-century Spanish California, who protects the people from the tyranny of their Spanish masters. He traditionally dresses in black and carries a whip and a sword, with which he carves his trademark "Z" into walls, trees, and sometimes bad guys. He was created by pulp writer Johnston McCulley in 1919. (Thanks to Joel Boutiere for this reference.)
Bavarro and Bavarro and Bavarro creeps …
A paraphrase of the famous speech from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth: “To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow/Creeps in this petty pace from day to day/To the last syllable of recorded time …”
Mel Torme (1925-1999), a.k.a. the “Velvet Fog,” was one of the 20th century’s most respected jazz vocalists, with a smooth, resonant voice. He was also a prolific composer, writing more than 300 songs during his career.
Let’s do London Bridge and show ‘em how it works.
London Bridge is a children’s rhyming game in which two children stand with their arms raised and hands clasped while singing “London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down/London Bridge is falling down/My fair lady.” As they sing, kids pass one by one under their arms. When the song ends, they lower their arms and “capture” whichever kid is passing through at the time.
[Imitating.] Swee’Pea’s tryin’ to tell us somethin’s …
An imitation of Popeye the Sailor Man, a character created by E.C. Segar in 1929 for the “Thimble Theatre” comic strip, which had already been running for ten years. He soon became the main focus of the comic. Beginning in 1933, Popeye became an animated character, thanks to the artistry of Fleischer Studios and the voice work of Billy Costello and Jack Mercer. Swee’Pea is an infant who was depicted as Popeye’s ward in the earlier comic strips, but became the ward of Popeye’s girlfriend Olive Oyl in the animated cartoons.
He’s got kind of a spritz cookie cutter on his chest there.
Spritz cookies (from the German spritzen, meaning “to squirt”) are a kind of soft cookie dough piped through a cookie press and baked.
We secretly switched her …
A reference to an old advertising campaign for Folger’s Crystals, in which the narrator would explain that they had “secretly switched” the fine coffee normally served with Folger’s—and, of course, everyone loved it.
“Professor Newton …” You make cookies.
Fig Newtons are a brand of cookies made by Nabisco.
When in the Ukraine, visit Chernobyl.
Chernobyl is a small city in northern central Ukraine. In 1986, in what was then the Soviet Union, one of the nearby nuclear reactors blew, killing thirty people immediately and contaminating an enormous area of land with radioactivity. Hundreds of thousands of people had to be evacuated, and no one knows what the final human cost will be. It is considered the worst nuclear accident in history.
Looks like the land of Dairy Queen gone wrong.
A reference to an old advertising jingle for the Dairy Queen chain of restaurants: “In the land of Dairy Queen, we treat you right!”
So why are you dressed as Liberace’s chauffeur?
Liberace (1919-1987) was a flamboyant performer known for his elaborate costumes, candelabra, and performances on his custom grand piano. His syndicated TV series The Liberace Show aired from 1952-1969.
Jeez! And the women who love them.
A reference to the venerable self-help book Men Who Hate Women & the Women Who Love Them by Susan Forward and Joan Torres.
She’s dressed for her Rumplemintz ad.
Rumplemintz is a peppermint-flavored liqueur.
Pigs! In! Space!
“Pigs in Space” was a beloved recurring sketch on The Muppet Show, a puppet variety show that aired from 1976-1981. Each skit began with a portentous announcer intoning the above words.
You know, Rocky’s got all the facial expressions of Troy Tempest.
Troy Tempest was the pilot on the Supermarionation show Stingray, which aired from 1963-1965. (In other words, he was a puppet.)
Sybil Fawlty was hotel owner Basil Fawlty’s wife on the British TV series Fawlty Towers, which aired from 1975-1979. The role was played by Prunella Scales.
It’s a paint-by-number Kandinsky up there on the wall.
Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) was a Russian-born painter and one of the leading lights of the abstract art movement of the early 20th century. Paint-by-number kits were a hobby popular in the 1950s; they consisted of preprinted, color-coded canvases that the hobbyist filled in with paint; at the end, you would have a picture of The Last Supper or some other scene.
Now it’s garbage.
A line from the 1968 film The Odd Couple, starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. The full exchange:
Felix: That’s not spaghetti! That’s linguini!
Oscar [throws plate across room]: Now it’s garbage.
My first lobotomy kit. By Sony.
Sony Corporation is a consumer electronics company founded in 1946 and based in Japan. It is one of the largest corporations in the world.
[Sung.] My suzerain …
A paraphrase of the Chuck Berry song “My Ding A Ling.” Actual lyrics: “My ding a ling, my ding a ling/Won’t you play with my ding a ling?”
[Sung.] William Tell Overture.
This is the overture to the opera William Tell by Gioachino Rossini, known to generations of kids as the theme to The Lone Ranger.
Thelma and Louise: 1999.
Thelma & Louise is a 1991 film about two women who embark on a crime spree and bond a lot.
Friends are visiting from Europe.
This appears to be a reference to a series of shampoo commercials done in the 1970s starring Polish actress Rula Lenska. (Thanks to TServo2049 for identifying this reference.)
Not since Fire Maidens of Outer Space has there been such a ladder scene. So compelling …
A reference to Show 416, Fire Maidens of Outer Space.
Super City. You build it. –By Marx.
Louis Marx & Co. was one of the biggest toy companies of the 20th century, churning out action figures, ride-on toys, Yo-Yos, and its famous snap-together playsets. It was founded in 1919.
[Sung.] Climb every cheap set, till you find a plot …”
Sung to the tune of “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” from the 1959 Rogers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music, and its 1965 film adaptation. Sample lyrics: “Climb every mountain/Search high and low/Follow every byway/Every path you know.”
[Sung.] Star Trek fight music.
This is the music that famously played during an exciting action sequence on the TV series Star Trek, which aired from 1966-1969. It was originally composed by Gerald Fried for the episode "Amok Time," and its official title is "The Ritual/Ancient Battle/2nd Kroykah."
Take us to the river! Drop us in the water!
A reference to the song “Take Me to the River” by the Talking Heads. Sample lyrics: “Take me to the river, drop me in the water/Take me to the river, dip me in the water/Washing me down, washing me down …”
Next, on Nick at Nite.
Nick at Nite is the nighttime identity of the children’s cable network Nickelodeon; it specializes in reruns of classic sitcoms like Bewitched and I Love Lucy.
Alfred. To the Batcave.
In the DC Batman comics, Alfred Pennyworth is Bruce Wayne’s butler; the Batcave is where Batman hides all his cool stuff so no one will discern his secret identity.
Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.
A line from the Styx song “Mr. Roboto,” off the Kilroy Was Here album.
“They’ll only advise.” [Sung.] For you …
A take on the song “I Only Have Eyes for You,” which has been recorded by Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, among many others. Sample lyrics: “Are the stars out tonight?/I don’t know if it’s cloudy or bright/Cause I only have eyes for you, dear/The moon may be high/But I can’t see a thing in the sky/Cause I only have eyes for you.”
Jeez, the Paris peace talks were easier than this.
The Paris peace talks were a series of negotiations that took place between 1968 and 1973 in an effort to end the Vietnam War. The talks were fraught with difficulties (it took participants eight months to agree on the shape of the conference table around which the talks would be held), frequently interrupted by one side or another, and punctuated by bombing sorties. The Paris Peace Accords that finally emerged from the talks marked the end of the war.
Oh, the cookies are done. Toll House.
The chocolate chip cookie was invented in the 1930s by Ruth Wakefield, who ran the Toll House Restaurant in Massachusetts. Today, Nestle makes Toll House semi-sweet chocolate pieces for use in baking chocolate chip cookies.
It’s the extermination room at the FantaSuites.
A riff on FantaSuites, a former chain of “theme room” hotels in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Indiana; you could check into the Caesar room, the Space Odyssey room, the Jungle room, and so forth. The only one left is in Greenwood, Indiana. The MST3K Amazing Colossal Episode Guide's comment: “Bring your own sheets.”
Un yellyman ... un yellyman ...
This is from a 1971 comedy album called A Child's Garden of Grass, a collection of skits about marijuana done as a parody of those instructional albums for kids that taught etiquette and good citizenship. The track called "Meditation" gives instructions for meditating, including a "personal mantra" of "Un yellyman." (HUGE thanks to David Matthews for this reference.)
Trinka trinka trinka doo.
An imitation of comedian Jimmy Durante (1893-1980). "Inka Dinka Doo" was Durante's signature song; he wrote the music, and the lyrics were by Ben Ryan. He first performed it in the 1934 film Palooka, and it was a major hit record for him that year. He went on performing the song for the rest of his career.
I’m coming, you great cow!
An imitation of Monty Python alum John Cleese, in his role as long-suffering and henpecked husband Basil Fawlty in the classic British sitcom Fawlty Towers (BBC2, 1975-1979).
[Sung.] As long as he needs … huh?
“As Long As He Needs Me” is a song from the musical Oliver! Sample lyrics: “As long as he needs me/Oh, yes, he does need me/In spite of what you see/I'm sure that he needs me.”
Look out—here comes Craig T. Nelson.
Craig T. Nelson is an actor best known for his portrayal of the title role on the TV sitcom Coach, which aired from 1989-1997.
[Sung.] Because I’m bad, I’m bad …
A line from the Michael Jackson song “Bad.” Sample lyrics: “Because I'm bad/I'm bad—come on/You know I'm bad/I'm bad—you know it!”
S’all right in there? –S’all right.
An imitation of ventriloquist Senor Wences’s most famous routine, talking to Pedro, a head in a box.
An imitation of animated Mountie Dudley Do-Right; his girlfriend was named Nell. (Thanks to Blake Maddux for this reference.)
[Sung.] Lady love ... I once ...
Probably a reference to the Lou Rawls song "Lady Love." Sample lyrics: "My lady love, I once was lost/But now with you I'm found/You got the love I need/And I want to stay around." (Thanks to Joel Boutiere for this reference.)
[Sung.] Gypsies, tramps and thieves …
A line from the Cher song of the same name. Sample lyrics: “Gypsies, tramps, and thieves/We'd hear it from the people of the town/They'd call us Gypsies, tramps, and thieves/But every night all the men would come around/And lay their money down.”
All right! Dear Penthouse: I’m a …
The adult magazine Penthouse has a regular feature called the "Penthouse Forum," in which readers write in to share their “true” tales of fabulous sex.
S’all right? S’okay.
See note on Senor Wences, above.
[Sung.] Takin’ care of business …
A line from the song of the same name by Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Sample lyrics: “Taking care of business every day/Taking care of business every way/I've been taking care of business, it's all mine/Taking care of business and working overtime.”
Take that, Perry White!
Perry White was the editor of the Daily Planet, the newspaper where Clark Kent worked in the Superman comic books. (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
Wow, I wonder if he knows he’s beating the crap out of Carl Sandburg.
Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) was an American poet, essayist, and novelist who lived in Chicago for much of his life and wrote many poems about that city.
So, do you think Jerome Robbins choreographed this whole thing?
Jerome Robbins (1918-1998) was one of the 20th century’s most celebrated choreographers. He divided his time between Broadway musicals and ballet, and is probably best remembered for his groundbreaking choreography for West Side Story, for which he won a Tony and an Academy Award.
Sit there. It’s a Comfo-rest. Got it from an old prune named Linkletter.
Art Linkletter (1912-2010) was a TV host known for such shows as People Are Funny and The Art Linkletter Show. He was perhaps best known for his segment “Kids Say the Darnedest Things.”
And Donner and Blitzen!
Donner and Blitzen are two of Santa’s reindeer, first mentioned in the 1823 poem “A Visit From Saint Nicholas.” They were originally named Dunder and Blixem, but their names mutated over the years to the form familiar to all today.
The Lockhorns in the 25th century.
Leroy and Loretta Lockhorn are a married couple who hurl hurtful barbs at each other every day in the syndicated newspaper comic strip “The Lockhorns.” The series was created in 1968 by Bill and Bunny Hoest. Also a reference to the TV show Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, which ran from 1979-1981.
When the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars …
A line from the song “Aquarius” from the musical Hair. Sample lyrics: “When the moon is in the Seventh House/And Jupiter aligns with Mars/Then peace will guide the planets/And love will steer the stars/This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius …”
Oh, the Count from Sesame Street.
Count von Count is one of the Muppets on the PBS kids’ show Sesame Street. His sequences always focus on a number for the day. He is voiced by Jerry Nelson.
Ooh, my Steinway!
See note on Vladimir Horowitz, above. A Steinway is a type of piano.
[Sung.] The Benny Hill theme.
This is the theme to skit comedy show The Benny Hill Show, which ran on British television for 20 years, beginning in 1969. The official title of the piece is "Yakety Sax"; it was performed by Boots Randolph.(Thanks to Shawn Clay for supplying the title.)
Oh, oh, this is like that Perfect Strangers/Family Ties/Full House episode where they get locked in the basement.
Perfect Strangers was a sitcom about a straight-laced guy and his wacky immigrant cousin; it ran from 1986-1993. Family Ties was a sitcom about a couple of ex-hippies trying to raise a house full of conservative children. And Full House was a sitcom about a talk-show host and his three daughters that ran from 1987-1995.
Take over, Chewie.
A reference to Chewbacca, the Wookiee copilot of the Millennium Falcon in the series of Star Wars movies.
They’re landing on Bald Mountain.
Night on Bald Mountain is a tone poem composed by Modest Mussorgsky, a Russian composer. Several versions of the work exist, including the famous rearrangement by Rimsky-Korsakov. The piece is supposed to depict a witches’ sabbath.
You know, we shouldn’t sublet to Axl Rose.
Axl Rose was the lead singer for the rock band Guns n’ Roses and a superstar during the 1980s. He was also known for throwing things at his fans, abusing other rockers, and generally behaving like a dog that’s not quite housetrained.
I’m just practicing my glissando.
See note on Vladimir Horowitz, above.
[Sung.] There’s got to be a morning after …
A line from the song “The Morning After,” recorded by Maureen McGovern. Sample lyrics: “There's got to be a morning after/If we can hold on through the night/We have a chance to find the sunshine/Let's keep on looking for the light.”
So, Bunn-o-Matic working yet?
Bunn-o-Matic is a manufacturer of coffeemakers.
Everything you touch you destroy.
From the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide: “A reference from Frank Conniff’s actual life; his brother said that to him once.”
“Please understand.” I’m a magic man.
See note on “Magic Man,” above.
Klink, get that idiot out of here!
Colonel Wilhelm Klink was the inept commander of the German prison camp in the television series Hogan’s Heroes, which aired from 1965-1971. The part was played by Werner Klemperer.
How’s the little nipper, Martha?
An imitation of Richard Burton in his role as George, speaking to his wife Martha (Elizabeth Taylor), in the 1966 movie Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Adapted from the 1962 Edward Albee play about an all-night verbal brawl between husband and wife, the film won five Academy Awards.
Sophie’s Choice is a 1979 novel by William Styron and a 1982 movie based on the book starring Meryl Streep. Among the story’s many complicated and dark themes is a mother and her two children sent to Auschwitz, where she must make the choice of the title: which of her children will live and which will die.
Slug bug, anybody?
Slug bug, or punch bug, as it is sometimes called, is a classic road game designed to keep kids amused on long car trips: the first child to spot a Volkswagen Bug and shout out “Slug bug!” or “Slug buggy!” (there are a number of variants) gets to punch the other kids in the car.
You can’t blow up a Cocoa Puff. There’s no way.
Cocoa Puffs is a chocolate-flavored kiddie cereal manufactured by General Mills.
“What’s your reading?” The Beauty Myth.
The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women is a book by feminist scholar Naomi Wolf about the unrealistic standards of beauty pushed by the mass media.
“It’s a plot, a trick!” [Sung.] A female trick …
A reference to the song “Do-Re-Mi” from The Sound of Music. Actual lyrics: “Doe, a deer, a female deer/Ray, a drop of golden sun/Me, a name I call myself/Far, a long, long way to run …”
Yeah, disavow this, Mr. Secretary.
A reference to the statement that ended the tape-recorded instructions on Mission: Impossible every week. The actual line: “As usual, if any of your IM team is killed or captured, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.”
Okay now, Mrs. Webb. We’re going to turn around up here, okay? No, no, no, Mrs. Webb!
From reader Mike Dumas: "This is from a classic standup comedy routine by Bob Newhart, in which he plays a harried driving instructor. It was featured on his chart-topping 1961 album The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart."
Devo. New traditionalists.
Devo was a geek-rock proto-new-wave band that hit its peak of popularity in the 1980s. New Traditionalists was the title of a 1981 album by the group.
Fort Apache, the Bronx. By Marx.
Fort Apache, the Bronx is a 1981 movie starring Paul Newman as a police officer in the crime-riddled heart of the Bronx in New York City. See note on Marx, above.
Your USC Trojans!
The Trojans is the name of the football team at the University of Southern California.
Suddenly it’s a Guns n’ Roses concert.
Guns n’ Roses was a rock band popular in the 1980s. Reviled by some for their violent, ugly imagery, and praised by others for the same reason, it was an enormously successful band, churning out such hits as “Welcome to the Jungle” and ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine.”
Horowitz is visibly shaken.
See note on Vladimir Horowitz, above.
America’s crummiest home videos.
America’s Funniest Home Videos is a long-running ABC series that invites viewers to send in videos of their most embarrassing moments in order to compete for a cash prize. It first aired as a special in 1989. Funnily enough, Trace Beaulieu (Crow, Dr. Forrester) and Josh Weinstein (Dr. Erhardt, KTMA & Season 1’s Tom Servo) went on to write for AFHV for several years in the 2000s.
[Sung.] Who will answer … Who will answer …
The title lyric of the 1966 song “Who Will Answer,” written by Luis Aute and Sheila Davis and performed by Ed Ames. The song was a Top 40 hit, with music critics praising its musical diversity and lyrics addressing topics such as nuclear war and religious discontent. Sample lyrics: “If the soul is darkened/By a fear it cannot name, /If the mind is baffled/When the rules don't fit the game/Who will answer? Who will answer? Who will answer?”
Frank Sinatra (1915-1998) was a legendary crooner and actor in such films as The Manchurian Candidate.
She walks like a flying monkey, that one.
The flying monkeys are the henchmen of the Wicked Witch of the West in the film The Wizard of Oz.
It’s a cardboard cutout Klan meeting.
The Ku Klux Klan has been a couple of secret organizations over the years; the first was founded just after the Civil War as a vigilante group designed to retain white supremacy in the South by intimidating newly freed Black slaves. It had disappeared within twenty years. But in 1915 the group was revived, inspired by the film The Birth of a Nation, which portrayed the original KKK as a noble band striving to protect civilization from depraved Blacks. The official uniform of Klan members was a set of white robes and a pointed white hood, used to conceal the identities of the members. The organization peaked at a membership of about four million in the 1920s but had once again died out by the end of World War II. There was another brief resurgence of the Klan in the 1960s in response to the civil rights movement; today its membership is probably only a few thousand, and it has fragmented into several small and competing groups.
What about the MC5?
The MC5 were a proto-punk band in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Hailing from Detroit and boasting of links to the White Panthers (a radical revolutionary group), the band was known mainly for its live album Kick Out the Jams. The group broke up in 1972 but has been cited as an influence on many later bands.
As the World Turns … Curly Neal to show you how.
As the World Turns was a TV soap opera that ran on CBS from 1956 to 2010. Curly Neal is a former basketball player best known as a featured ballhandler on the exhibition basketball team the Harlem Globetrotters.
Oh, I hate it when John Banner waxes philosophical.
See note on John Banner, above.
Thank you very, very, very, very much.
Possibly a reference to John Cleese’s portrayal of Robin Hood in the 1981 film Time Bandits.