516: Alien from L.A.
by Wyn Hilty
“Steve broke up with you over your answering machine.” He hates your answering machine.
Riffing on lyrics from the 1984 song “Answering Machine” by The Replacements. Sample lyrics: “How do you say I'm lonely to/An answering machine?/The message is very plain/Oh, I hate your answering machine/I hate your answering machine.” (Thanks to eatatmilliways for this reference.)
Kiefer Sutherland is hot.
Kiefer Sutherland is an actor and the son of fellow actor Donald Sutherland. He has appeared in such films as Stand By Me and Lost Boys and in 2001 scored a major hit as the star of the TV series 24, which ran for nine seasons.
[Hummed.] Buh-dum-dum buh-dum-dum buh-dum-dum…
Though Tom seems to be imitating the horns from the soundtrack of Patton, he was probably thinking of Chariots of Fire, given the beach running.
What is this, high holiday? Where the heck is everybody?
A high holiday is a Jewish holy day of special observance; high holidays include Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Hey, you guys, it’s Baywatch! Whoo! Baywatch!
Baywatch is a television series about lifeguards on a resort beach that aired from 1989-2001. It starred David Hasselhoff as a veteran lifeguard who watches paternally over a string of younger, extremely good-looking lifeguards.
Hobie! Lieutenant what’s-her-name!
On Baywatch, Hobie Buchannon was played by Brandon Call and more famously by Jeremy Jackson. “Lieutenant” is probably Lt. Stephanie Holden (Alexandra Paul).
Getting dumped in about an hour.
LensCrafters is a chain of eyeglass stores founded in 1983; it promises its clients that their glasses will be ready in “about an hour.”
Saks! –Housewares is on one. Clothing is on one. Administration is on one.
Saks Fifth Avenue is a chain of upscale department stores founded in 1924 in New York City. As of 2000, the company had 62 stores in 24 states.
[French accent.] Ah, Par-ee in the springtime.
Probably a reference to the Cole Porter song “I Love Paris.” Sample lyrics: “I love Paris in the springtime/I love Paris in the fall/I love Paris in the winter, when it drizzles/I love Paris in the summer, when it sizzles …”
Howard Stern is a radio broadcaster who pioneered the craze for “shock jocks,” or radio personalities willing to do anything to shock and amuse their listeners (and annoy their critics). He has been on the air for more than 30 years, currently hosting the syndicated radio show The Howard Stern Show.
“Where’s Wanda?” Where’s Waldo?
Where’s Waldo? is a series of children’s picture books that ask the reader to find Waldo, a fellow clad in a striped shirt and hat, among an enormous crowd of people.
“No one wants me for anything.” Sports Illustrated on the phone, Kathy.
Kathy Ireland appeared in Sports Illustrated magazine’s annual “swimsuit” issue thirteen times, more than any other model; her first appearance was in 1984. She has also posed as the cover model three times; her 1989 cover was awarded "best cover" status for the swimsuit issue's 50th anniversary.
See, I’m Southern and I’m sassy! Now kiss my grits!
A reference to Florence Jean Castleberry, better known as Flo, the “sassy” waitress on the TV series Alice, which aired from 1976-1985. “Kiss my grits” was Flo’s well-known catch phrase. In 1980 the actress who portrayed her, Polly Holliday, left the show to star in an unsuccessful spinoff called Flo.
Hey, Madame Curie, can you get my fries over here?
Madame Marie Curie (1867-1934) was a French physicist who, with her husband Pierre, discovered several new elements and first identified the property known as radioactivity in such elements as uranium. This information was later crucial in the development of nuclear power—and the atomic bomb. Marie won the Nobel Prize twice: first with her husband and then later on her own. She died of leukemia caused by her repeated exposure to radioactive elements in the course of her research.
I wonder what I’d look like in a swimsuit.
See note on Sports Illustrated, above.
“Please, God.” Mother Teresa, please hold—Kathy’s on line one.
Mother Teresa (1910-1997) was a Roman Catholic nun and the founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, an order dedicated to helping the poor, particularly in India. She began working with the poor in Calcutta in 1928. In 1979 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; in 2003, six years after her death, she was beatified (the first step toward awarding her sainthood).
[Tom imitates mullah, finishes off by yodeling.] –What was that?
Tom is imitating a muezzin, who calls the Islamic faithful to pray five times a day, often from the top of a mosque. He finishes by yodeling, a form of singing that originated in the Austrian Alps.
Menahem Golan (1929-2014) and Yoram Globus were the two Israeli businessmen who ran Cannon Films during the 1980s, a production company notorious for producing some of the cheesiest films of that era. Besides Alien From L.A., the duo is responsible for Delta Force and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, among many others. In the early 1990s Golan and Globus sold the company and went their separate ways.
Paul Shaffer! –Hi, Dave.
Paul Shaffer acted as the bandleader-cum-sidekick on the TV talk show Late Night with David Letterman (later called Late Show with David Letterman), which aired from 1983 to 2015.
He looks like Clint Howard.
Clint Howard, brother of actor/director Ron Howard, is an actor who has appeared in such films as Apollo 13 (1995) and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997).
Going sideways, Mr. Saknussemm?
The video for the Aerosmith song “Love in an Elevator” begins with a sultry woman saying, “Good morning, Mr. Tyler. Going … down?” Arne Saknussemm, by the way, was an explorer in the Jules Verne novel A Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Really a darn good imitation of the sound made by lightsabers in the immensely popular series of Star Wars movies.
Ladies and gentlemen: Survivor!
Survivor is a Chicago rock band founded in 1977 and best known for its 1982 hit “Eye of the Tiger,” which was the theme song for the film Rocky III. It won a Grammy award and an Oscar nomination for best song. The band released a Greatest Hits album in 1993.
We got one! We got one! Whoo-hoo-hoo!
Possibly a reference to the 1984 movie Ghostbusters. The first ghost captured by the Ghostbusters is a luminescent green blob and spins around in the air. (Thanks to Alexander Powers-Witowski for this reference.)
Dear Mom, I landed a big part in the Golan-Globus film. They’re paying me thirty-five dollars.
See note on Golan-Globus, above.
The people of Istanbul reject you. Thank you for your interest in our country.
Istanbul—formerly known as Constantinople and before that Byzantium—is Turkey’s largest city, and its historic center of commerce and culture.
Neither rain nor sleet. What sleet? Just great ganj, man.
A reference to the unofficial motto of the U.S. Postal Service, taken from a phrase engraved on a post office building in New York City: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” The phrase is a translation from the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, who was referring to a system of mail delivery instituted by the Persians around 500 B.C. “Ganj” is short for “ganja,” the Jamaican slang for marijuana.
Cool, a DC-3! –First rolled off the assembly line in 1936. Oldest passenger plane still used for regular commercial service.
Crow is correct. The Douglas DC-3 was the most popular model of plane during the 1930s; more than 16,000 of them were made altogether.
Oh, and that’s one of the first front-wheel-drive Ford vans! Wide load, easy to ... –Shut up, Crow. Shut up.
Ford Motor Co. is one of the world's oldest automakers, founded in 1903 by Henry Ford.
Wow, that guy ran a long way! And turned white! Probably a whole different person. Well, not completely different …
An imitation of Hank Kimball (played by Alvy Moore) from the TV sitcom Green Acres (CBS, 1965-1971). Kimball was the earnest but scatterbrained county agent in the backwards farming community of Hooterville, and everything he said spiraled into a feedback loop of qualifiers and corrections until finally he completely lost track of what he was saying.
There’s your special sauce … $3.25 an hour … I’m going to shove this job …
The Big Mac, the signature hamburger of the McDonald’s chain of fast food restaurants, was advertised for years as consisting of “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.” From 1981-1990, the minimum wage was stuck at $3.35/hour, a record not broken until the wage freeze that lasted from 1997-2007.
See, that’s the beauty of the DC-3. Its Sperry gyroscopic autopilot made it quite simple for any … –Shut your cake hole.
Elmer Sperry (1860-1930) was an inventor who discovered a way of using a gyroscope as a compass. The Navy adopted his gyroscope autopilot system, known colloquially as “Metal Mike,” in its planes in the first half of the 20th century.
Hey, it’s the Blue Mosque. –No, the Blue Mosque isn’t on a hill.
The Blue Mosque, also known as the Sultan Ahmed Cami, is a mosque in Istanbul that was designed by architect Mehmed Aga and completed in 1616. It is called the “Blue” Mosque because of the color of its tile work. It is on the first hill (of seven) in the city.
Have you been to Istanbul? –This isn’t even Istanbul! –Good point.
True. The film was mostly shot in South Africa, with some scenes filmed in Namibia.
Jerry Garcia takes her bags.
The bearded, disheveled Jerry Garcia (1942-1995) was the singer, songwriter, and lead guitarist for the Grateful Dead. At the band’s live performances, Garcia was known for his meandering, interminable guitar solos.
Hey, Grizzly Adams, you waiting for a tip or something? Get outta here, you!
The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams was a 1975 movie starring Dan Haggerty as James Adams, a man who lives alone in the mountains with his pet bear. It was turned into a short-lived TV series, also starring Haggerty, in 1977; more TV movies and films followed.
“He was a …” Rodeo clown.
A rodeo clown is a rodeo performer who participates in bull riding competitions, mostly by distracting the bull to protect a rider who has been thrown, often at great risk to themselves. Rodeo clowns, who prefer to be called “rodeo protection athletes,” also provide comic relief with classic clown slapstick mixed with parodies of cowboy culture.
She looks like Cousin Itt.
Cousin Itt was a character in the TV series The Addams Family, which aired from 1964-1966; Itt was completely covered in long hair and spoke in an unintelligible squeak. The part was played by little person actor Felix Silla.
When I squint you look like Ian Anderson.
Ian Anderson is the lead singer and flautist for the rock band Jethro Tull, whose hits include “Thick as a Brick” and “Aqualung.”
Did they give her hash on the way over?
Hash or hashish is a drug derived from the oil of the cannabis sativa plant, as opposed to marijuana, which is the dried flowers of the same plant.
Well, anyway, I’ve got to go. I’ve got to finish tie dying my bedspread upstairs. Starwolf left some soy milk in the fridge. And some tofu.
Starwolf was the alternate name of Ken in the Fugitive Alien series, featured in Episodes K03, K12, 310, and 318.
Aaaah! Swimsuit issue!
See note on Sports Illustrated, above.
Saigon. Shucks. I can’t believe I’m still in Saigon.
This is a paraphrase of a line from Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 movie Apocalypse Now, spoken at the beginning of the film by Martin Sheen: “Saigon. Shit! I’m still only in Saigon.”
But they couldn’t get green cards.
A green card is given to a non-citizen who has the right to permanently live and work in the U.S. Cards given to immigrants after WWII were green; current ones look like driver’s licenses.
Hey, it’s a culture that worships John Candy.
John Candy (1950-1994) was a portly comedian who became well-known on the Canadian skit comedy show SCTV and later on Saturday Night Live.
And look, up there, Nick Bockwinkle’s belt buckle.
“Wicked” Nick Bockwinkle was a professional wrestler who made his debut in 1954 and continued his career for 25 years before retiring. He was the AWA champion for eight years, during which he was frequently photographed wearing his official championship belt complete with buckle, which was roughly the size of a man’s head.
Mr. Golan-Globus! This acting stuff is hard.
See note on Golan-Globus, above.
The original Filene’s Basement. –Where’s the store directory?
Filene’s Basement was a chain of discount department stores founded in 1908. It was sold to Syms in 2009 and the last of its stores closed two years later.
[Sung.] Has anybody here seen my old friend John …
A line from the song “Abraham, Martin, and John,” written by Dick Holler. The song has been recorded by Dion and Marvin Gaye, among others. Sample lyrics: “Has anybody here seen my old friend John?/Can you tell me where he's gone?/He freed a lot of people/But it seems the good die young …”
Janet Leigh? Why did Dad have a picture of Janet Leigh?
Janet Leigh (1927-2004) was a blond, aristocratic-looking actress who is best known for being stabbed to death in the famous shower scene in Psycho (1960). She was also the mother of fellow actress Jamie Lee Curtis.
Andy? Helen? Are you in there?
A reference to The Andy Griffith Show, a television sitcom that aired from 1960-1968. It starred Andy Griffith as a widowed sheriff in a small town. Andy’s love interest was schoolteacher Helen Crump (played by Aneta Corsaut). In one episode, Andy and Helen are trapped in a cave, and deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts) tries to come to their rescue.
Short Round, get me my stuff.
Short Round was Indiana Jones’s young sidekick in the 1984 film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The role was played by Vietnamese actor Jonathan Ke Quan.
This is Kathy Ireland for Coleman lanterns.
Coleman is a company that manufactures the familiar lanterns used by campers everywhere. It was founded in 1900 and now churns out millions of lanterns each year, in addition to coolers and other outdoorsy equipment.
Well, it was round about that time old Kathy Ireland went a-burrowin’ for safety deep in the bowels of the earth.
An imitation of cowboy singer/actor and renowned voiceover artist Rex Allen (1920-1999), whose warm, down-home tones narrated countless Disney “nature” and Western films and shorts, including The Incredible Journey (1963), Charlie, the Lonesome Cougar (1967), and Charlotte’s Web (1973). With his work on the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985), singer/narrator Waylon Jennings was kind of imitating Rex Allen.
The Hot Indiana Jones Chronicles.
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was a television series that aired in 1992-1993. Based on the phenomenally popular Indiana Jones movies, which began with 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, the series never really caught on, although it developed a loyal cult following. It featured Indiana Jones (who was played by Harrison Ford in the films) at three ages: as an old man, who narrated the episodes; as a boy of ten; and as a young man in his late teens.
Looking for Mr. Gooddad.
Looking for Mr. Goodbar is a 1977 movie starring Diane Keaton as a teacher who begins cruising bars at night, looking for guys to pick up. It was based on the novel of the same name by Judith Rossner.
Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) was an American cartoonist who lampooned the country’s obsession with technology by creating drawings of wildly over-elaborate machinery that performed some basic task like licking stamps for envelopes.
Am I in Vertigo now?!
Vertigo is a 1958 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Jimmy Stewart (1908-1997) as a detective with a phobia about heights and an obsession with a beautiful, mysterious woman. The famous poster for the film showed a man falling into a spiral design.
She’s having a meeting with Wile E. Coyote down there.
Wile E. Coyote is a character in the old Warner Brothers short cartoons, who perennially tries to catch and consume the Road Runner with various elaborate schemes, many of which result in Wile E. falling off a cliff. The character was created by Chuck Jones and Michael Maltese, making his first appearance in 1949.
If this keeps up, she’ll never make it on Down the Shore.
Down the Shore was a short-lived TV series that aired in 1992, about a group of guys sharing a townhouse on the beach. Kathy Ireland guest-starred on one episode.
A plague upon this howling! They are louder than the weather of our office.
This is a paraphrased line from the opening scene of The Tempest by William Shakespeare (the actual line is "the weather or our office").
What is this—Sad Max?
Mad Max is a 1979 movie starring the then-unknown Mel Gibson as a disillusioned cop in a dystopian world. The film spawned several successful sequels: The Road Warrior, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, and a 2015 reboot Mad Max: Fury Road with Tom Hardy in the title role.
Oh, he’s from the Orkin Army, and something happened.
Orkin is a national pest-removal company that used to run an extremely successful series of commercials featuring the “Orkin Army,” a battalion of exterminators, in 1982. The Orkin Army has since been replaced by the Orkin Man as a company icon.
Liviu Ciulei directs Our Town at the Guthrie!
Liviu Ciulei (1923-2011) was a Romanian film and theater director who from 1980-1985 was the artistic director of the Guthrie Theater, a performing arts center in Minneapolis that first opened in 1963. In 2006, it moved to a new location and the old building was demolished. Our Town is a play by Thornton Wilder about life in the small town of Grover’s Corners. (Thanks to Sampo for the Ciulei/Guthrie reference.)
Home Alone 3: The Destruction of Jared-Syn.
Home Alone (1990) was a phenomenally successful film about a young boy accidentally left behind when his large family goes on a trip, and his various ploys in defeating a couple of burglars intent on ransacking the family home. It spawned three theatrical and two made-for-TV sequels. Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn was a 1983 fantasy film produced during the brief revival of 3-D in the early 1980s.
It’s Donald Pleasence.
Donald Pleasence (1919-1995) was a bald actor who got his start on British TV and became forever identified with two roles: as the evil genius Ernst Blofeld in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice, and as Dr. Sam Loomis in the series of Halloween horror films, the first of which was released in 1978.
“Atlantis, where else?” Can we go to CNN Center? Can I meet Ted Turner? Are the Braves playing?
Atlanta, Georgia, the state capital, is home to the news network CNN (or Cable News Network), which was founded in 1991 by entrepreneur Ted Turner. Turner owned the Atlanta Braves baseball team from 1976-2007, which has gone from being a bit of a joke among sports fans to one of the hottest franchises in the league.
Do you have Pearle Vision here?
Pearle Vision is a nationwide chain of eyeglass stores that was founded in 1961 by Dr. Stanley Pearle.
[Sung.] Let’s start at the very beginning …
This is the opening line to the song “Do-Re-Mi” from the musical The Sound of Music. Sample lyrics: “Let's start at the very beginning/A very good place to start/When you read you begin with A-B-C/When you sing you begin with do-re-mi …”
Me prize jujubes.
Jujubes are a type of gelatin candy that were first produced sometime before 1920. They were a staple of movie theater snack bars throughout the 1950s and 1960s. They survive today under the brand name Jujyfruits, which are still found in movie houses today. Jujyfruits are manufactured by the Hershey Company.
Do you have any Pert Plus?
Pert Plus is a brand of shampoo plus conditioner that is manufactured by Procter & Gamble. It comes in a number of different varieties: Light, Medium, Deep, Dandruff Control, etc., etc.
Whoa, that’s a switcheroo.
Switcheroo is an old magic trick in which the magician passes two objects rapidly between his hands. It involves no sleight of hand—merely lots of dexterity and practice.
You wore that seashell bikini, didn’t you?
That was actually model Paulina Porizkova, in the 1987 swimsuit issue.
If Gandalf had one of those vehicles, he’d never have died at the hands of the Balrog.
Gandalf is the ageless wizard in J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy trilogy The Lord of the Rings. In the first book, The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf confronts a creature deep under the earth in the mines of Moria, called a Balrog; Tolkien describes it as a being of shadow and flame. He falls into an abyss with the Balrog and disappears, presumed dead.
Whoa, it’s a Samurai.
The Suzuki Samurai is a lightweight 4x4 that in 1988 became notorious for having a tendency to roll over in accidents. The attorneys general of several states sued the company for misleading advertising boasting about the safety of the car. More than 200 people have died and more than 8,000 have been injured in accidents involving Samurai rollovers; however, Suzuki has settled all cases thus far out of court and has avoided admitting any wrongdoing, despite evidence that the company knew of the car’s tendency to roll over as early as 1985.
Would you get in over there, please, Stanley?
An imitation of Oliver Hardy (1892-1957), half of the comedy team Laurel & Hardy, which made a string of movies during the 1920s and ’30s. Hardy, a stout man, played a bossy, fussy character opposite Stan Laurel’s thin, gentle incompetent.
They’re in Schlepcar!
The Schlepcar was a purple talking dune buggy on The Krofft Supershow, a live-action Saturday morning kids' show that aired from 1976-1978. The Schlepcar could turn into Wonderbug, the superhero car.
[Hummed.] “Theme from The Avengers.”
Tom is humming the theme from the British “spy-fi” series The Avengers, which ran from 1961 to 1969. Specifically, this is the theme that was used from 1965 onward; composed by Laurie Johnson, it was based on “The Shake” dance craze of the 1960s.
We are Devo!
Devo was a geek-rock proto-new-wave band that hit its peak of popularity in the 1980s. Their first album, released in 1978, was titled Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! Drummer Alan Myers was known for wearing clear goggles.
“You’re crazy.” Well, you’re stupid.
A possible riff on an old W.C. Fields line, from his 1934 movie It’s a Gift:
Rich Guy: You’re drunk!
Fields: And you’re crazy. But I’ll be sober tomorrow, and you’ll be crazy the rest of your life.
Hey, do they have any Ray Stevens tapes here?
Ray Stevens is a musician/comedian known for his novelty songs such as “The Streak” and “Ahab the Arab.”
And a pack of Marlboro Box if you got 'em.
Marlboro box means Marlboro cigarettes that come in a cardboard box as opposed to a soft pack.
Whoa-oa-oa, don’t ride the wild mouse, it’s not saaaaafe!
The Wild Mouse is a type of roller coaster manufactured by Reverchon. It is easily assembled and disassembled, and therefore is popular among traveling carnivals and fairs.
[Sung.] Chicks and ducks and geese better scurry …
A line from the song “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” from the musical Oklahoma! Sample lyrics: “Chicks and ducks and geese better scurry/When I take you out in the surrey/When I take you out in the surrey with the fringe on top!”
[Sung.] There’s a world going on underground …
A line from the Tom Waits song “Underground.” Sample lyrics: “There's a world going on underground/They're alive, they're awake/While the rest of the world is asleep …”
Not since Tracy and Hepburn.
Spencer Tracy (1900-1967) and Katharine Hepburn (1907-2003) were actors who starred together in a number of classic films in the 1940s and 1950s, including Adam’s Rib (1949) and Desk Set (1957). They played beautifully off each other, becoming known for their sparkling repartee and on-screen clashes. They also were romantically involved from 1942 until Tracy’s death, although they never married (Tracy, a Catholic, was separated from his wife but never divorced her).
“What’s it look like?” It’s a matte painting.
In filmmaking, matte paintings are backgrounds that are created as a kind of special effect, sometimes at the same time the actors are being filmed and sometimes as a post-production effect. For most of the past century of filmmaking, they were hand painted on glass, which was placed in front of the camera while an unpainted section framed the actors. More recently, matte paintings have been produced after filming on computers.
I’ll meet you by the Great American Hot Dog Experience in an hour.
There were mall food court restaurants called the Great Hot Dog Experience owned by a Minneapolis company, but A&W bought them in 1997 and the name is no more.
“I don’t even know your name.” It’s Ted Nugent. The Nuge.
Ted "The Nuge" Nugent is a hard-rock guitarist known for such hit albums as Cat Scratch Fever and Double Live Gonzo. He is equally well known for his right-wing political views, pro-gun advocacy, strong anti-drug stance, and love of hunting. In 2001 he was re-elected to the board of directors of the National Rifle Association.
And in sport, Oceania scored another victory over Manchester United.
Oceania is one of the three superpower blocs in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), comprising the Americas, Great Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, and southern Africa. The other two are Eurasia and Eastasia. Manchester United is an extremely famous pro soccer team based in Manchester, England. (Thanks to Terry Somerville for the Oceania reference.)
[Sung.] Once I had a love, and it was a gas …
The first line from the song “Heart of Glass” by the band Blondie. Sample lyrics: “Once I had a love, and it was a gas/Soon turned out, had a heart of glass/Seemed like the real thing, only to find/Mucho mistrust, love's gone behind.”
Come on, productions of Godspell are punishable by death. –Good.
Godspell is a musical based on the Gospel according to St. Matthew. It first opened off-Broadway in 1971. The show ran off-Broadway for three years and finally made it to Broadway in 1976, where it ran for more than 500 performances.
Guys, it’s Tad from All My Children!
The role of Tad Martin on the soap opera All My Children (first aired in 1970) has been played periodically since 1982 by actor Michael Knight. He has won two daytime Emmy Awards for his portrayal of the character.
Is the water warm enough, Wendy?
A paraphrased line from the song “Computer Blue” by Minneapolis musician Prince, off his classic album Purple Rain. Sample lyrics: “Wendy?/Yes Lisa/Is the water warm enough?/Yes Lisa/Shall we begin?”
[Sung.] Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head …
A paraphrase of a line from the Beatles song “A Day in the Life.” Actual lyrics: “Woke up, fell out of bed/Dragged a comb across my head/Found my way downstairs and drank a cup/And looking up I noticed I was late …”
“You don’t know what outer space is.” Until you’ve taken Nyquil with Sudafed—wow!
The over-the-counter medicines Sudafed and Nyquil contain chemicals such as pseudoephedrine and dextromethorphan, which some people (mainly teenagers) use to get high.
Well, I hung out with Warhol …
Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was an American artist who was a central figure in founding the Pop art movement. He became famous for his multicolored portraits of pop culture icons like actress Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s soup cans. He was also known for making bizarre films, collecting a group of eccentric hangers-on and wannabes in his New York studio (one of whom shot him in 1968), and turning the process of creating art into a business.
Well, I saw Sizzle Beach, U.S.A. once.
Sizzle Beach, U.S.A. is a 1986 T&A movie revolving around three women trying to make it in L.A. Notable only for a young Kevin Costner in a small role.
Exene Cervenka is a punk musician who was one of the founding members (in 1977) of the seminal SoCal punk band X.
No, I think it’s Vanity.
Vanity (real name Denise Matthews) is a musician who made it big in 1982 with the group Vanity 6, with the hit song “Nasty Girl.” The group, consisting of Vanity, Brenda, and Susan, was a spinoff from the Minneapolis-based Prince empire. Vanity left the group in 1984, but she never again attained the same success as her first single. In the 1990s she became a born-again Christian and abandoned the rock scene.
It’s taken kind of a Dickens-esque turn, huh? –Really, it’s so Dickens-esque it’s almost Dickensian.
British author Charles Dickens (1812-1870) wrote so prolifically and created such an evocative portrayal of 19th-century British life in works like David Copperfield and Great Expectations that the adjective “Dickensian” was coined to describe the atmosphere of decaying misery conjured by his novels. The phrasing sounds like it resulted from an argument in the writers’ room.
On the TV sitcom Cheers, which aired from 1982-1993, the character Norm Peterson (played by George Wendt) was traditionally greeted on his entrance to the bar with the cry of “Norm!”
Hey, it’s a Nelson. It's Gunnar, I think.
Matthew and Gunnar Nelson are twins who make up the core of the rock band Nelson, which achieved fame in the early 1990s with pop hits such as “(Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection.”
Hey, Edgar Winter, table for two, please?
Edgar Winter is an albino blues/jazz/experimental musician. He has frequently performed with his older brother, musician Johnny Winter. His best-known song is “Frankenstein,” which hit number one in 1973.
You got them little fish crackers?
Goldfish cheese-flavored snack crackers have been manufactured by Pepperidge Farms for more than 50 years.
This, to me, is good TV.
An imitation of Jack Perkins, the erudite former host of A&E’s Biography. Mike Nelson parodied him in The Mystery Science Theater Hour.
Kind of a weird Days of Our Lives.
Days of Our Lives is a daytime soap opera that has been on the air since 1965. It follows the lives and loves of the residents of the fictional town of Salem.
Oh, I know—it’s Abel Gance’s Napoléon.
Napoléon is a 1927 silent film about the French emperor and general. It was written and directed by French filmmaker Abel Gance (1889-1991). To give the finale of the film more dramatic impact, Gance shot the action using three side-by-side cameras, and the final reels were projected simultaneously onto three side-by-side screens in movie theaters. Gance’s idea is now considered a precursor to the widescreen format, which wouldn’t become mainstream until the early 1950s. (Thanks to Cameren Lee for catching the three-screen thing.)
I’m Boy George.
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; George has also had a successful solo career in Britain.
Mr. Rogers in Cabaret.
Fred Rogers (1928-2003) was the much-loved host of the long-running children’s show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which aired on PBS from 1968-2001. His gentle manner and casual cardigan sweaters became familiar icons to several generations of children. Cabaret is a musical set in 1920s Berlin, during the Nazi Party’s rise to power. It was made into a film in 1972 starring Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey.
This Week with David Brinkley! Oi!
David Brinkley (1920-2003) was a television journalist who hosted the news program This Week with David Brinkley from 1982 until his retirement in 1997. He was known for his clipped delivery and his sardonic wit.
Test your sex appeal!
Penny arcade “Love Tester” machines have been around for more than a century. They involved depositing a coin in the slot and gripping a handle, then watching a sequence of lights flash and bells sound until one level of love was selected at random (levels ranged from something like “Blah” to “Hot Stuff”). Later machines became somewhat digital, and some models measured skin conductance to derive a more “scientific” conclusion.
Miranda Richardson hands her an ugly coat.
Miranda Richardson is a British actress who has appeared in such films as The Crying Game (1992) and Sleepy Hollow (1999).
“Couldn’t stand wearing that dress another minute.” Stuarts. I can see why.
Stuarts was a chain of discount clothing stores for women. It went under in the mid-1990s.
A scene from The Children’s Hour.
The Children’s Hour is a play by Lillian Hellman (1905-1984) set at a girls’ school, where a mischief-making student accuses her headmistresses of being lesbians. It was made into a film starring Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine in 1961.
“Why would you want to come to a place like this?” It’s a planned golf community.
Planned golf communities are housing developments built on or around golf courses—a popular option for well-to-do retirees.
She must be going to visit William Burroughs.
William S. Burroughs (1914-1997) was a writer of experimental novels, of which the most famous is Naked Lunch. He became one of the seminal voices of the Beat generation in the ‘50s. He was also addicted to heroin, a theme that featured in many of his works.
[Sung.] One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble …
A line from the song “One Night in Bangkok,” from the musical Chess, which was released as a single by Murray Head. Sample lyrics: “One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble/Not much between despair and ecstasy/One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble/Can't be too careful with your company …”
Divorced? Bankruptcy? Harassed by creditors?
This appears to be an imitation of the many ads for attorneys that air on late-night TV.
Welcome to the Renaissance Festival!
Renaissance Festivals (or Faires) are an entertainment phenomenon that began in Southern California in the 1960s and spread first to the rest of California and then the nation. There are now more than 60 Renaissance Festivals across the United States, attempting to give visitors the flavor of the Renaissance (often Renaissance England). Generally they feature a number of vendors selling swords, leather mugs, jewelry, and so forth; singers, dancers, and comedians performing; a “court” complete with king, queen, and courtiers; and rides and games for both children and adults. As proved in scathing host segments in Show 703, Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell, the MST3K gang has an intense dislike of Renaissance Festivals. Specifically, Kevin Murphy had this to say in the Sci-Fi Channel episode guide for Deathstalker: “'Creative anachronism’ my sorry Irish ass. A Ren-fest is nothing more than an excuse to be lame, smelly and fat, just like XFL fans, only worse. I'm betting most of these clowns couldn't spell 'Renaissance' if you threatened their tender vittles with hot iron. I hope someday they live out their wish to know what it was like back then by contracting plague. Too harsh? You go to a Renaissance festival and get back to me.”
[Sung.] Don’t tell my heart/My achy breaky heart …
A line from the song “Achy Breaky Heart” by country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, a favorite among line dancers everywhere during the 1990s. Sample lyrics: “But don't tell my heart/My achy breaky heart/I just don't think he'd understand/And if you tell my heart/My achy breaky heart/He might blow up and kill this man.”
It looks like Ballets Trockadero.
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo is an all-male, all-drag ballet company based in New York City.
“Bet you’ve never been to a place like this before.” Well, Chili’s gets pretty nuts.
Chili’s Grill & Bar is a chain of “family restaurants” serving mid-priced meals such as ribs, fajitas, steaks, buffalo wings, and so forth.
Looks like a Peter Greenaway set.
Peter Greenaway is an eccentric British film director whose oeuvre includes The Belly of an Architect (1987) and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989).
Tina Turner demands a table.
Tina Turner, along with her husband Ike, performed a popular R&B act in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1975 Tina divorced Ike, claiming that he had abused her, and launched a stunningly successful solo career.
Hey, it’s Candy Slice.
Candy Slice was the punk rocker character, loosely based on real-life rocker Patti Smith, created by comedian Gilda Radner (1946-1989) on the TV sketch comedy program Saturday Night Live, which first aired in 1975.
[Sung.] The farmer in the dell, the farmer in the dell …
A line from the traditional song “The Farmer in the Dell” (author unknown). Sample lyrics: “The farmer in the dell/The farmer in the dell/Hi-ho,the derry-o/The farmer in the dell.”
Sarah, get me Mount Pilot.
On The Andy Griffith Show, which aired from 1960 to 1968, Mount Pilot was a city near Mayberry where the characters would go when they wanted some excitement. Sarah was the unseen phone operator on the show.
Cathy Smith, no!
Cathy Smith was a backup singer/groupie/drug dealer who served 15 months in prison for injecting comedian John Belushi with the mixture of cocaine and heroin that killed him.
Hmmm. Now let’s go burn down the Chelsea Hotel.
Edie Sedgwick (1943-1971) was an actress who appeared in a number of artist Andy Warhol’s experimental films. She lived at the Chelsea Hotel in New York, where she once created a stir by setting her room on fire.
Live the good life in the offworld colonies.
A paraphrase of a line from the 1982 film Blade Runner. The actual line: “A new life awaits you in the offworld colonies. The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure …”
I think they’re in Funkytown. –[Sung.] Funkytown …
A line from the song “Funkytown” by Lipps. Sample lyrics: “Won’t you take me to Funkytown/Won’t you take me to Funkytown [repeat ad infinitum].”
Tonight, Sam Giancana sings Pagliacci!
Sam Giancana (1908-1975) was the top Mafia boss in Chicago from 1957-1966. He had worked for legendary Chicago gangster Al Capone and was known for his close friendships with the Hollywood glitterati. He was gunned down in his home in 1975, soon after his return to the U.S. after seven years abroad. Pagliacci is an 1892 opera by Ruggero Leoncavallo (1858-1919), about a troupe of traveling actors and a husband’s jealousy that ends in violence.
Hey, Archie Rice.
Archie Rice is the main character in The Entertainer, a 1960 film starring revered British actor Laurence Olivier (1907-1989), re-creating his stage role as a third-rate performer in a failing show at a dying seaside resort.
Oh, I thought we were beyond Thunderdome. –Yeah, me too.
Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome is a 1985 film starring Mel Gibson as the eponymous anti-hero, forced to go up against Tina Turner and her chain-mail dress in the arena known as Thunderdome.
Now batting, Kirby Puckett!
Kirby Puckett (1960-2006) played center field for the Minnesota Twins from 1984 until glaucoma ended his career in 1995.
You can’t have any pudding until you eat your meat! How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat!
A paraphrase of a spoken-word line from the end of the song “Another Brick in the Wall,” from the famed Pink Floyd rock opera The Wall. Actual phrase: “If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding/How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?”
Wow, Evening at the Improv’s really changed.
An Evening at the Improv was a TV series that showcased standup comedians. It aired from 1982-1996.
Bloodfist 9: The Reckoning.
Bloodfist is a series of movies about kickboxing, which began with the original Bloodfist in 1989. The ninth installment—Bloodfist 2050—appeared in 2005. The first eight films in the series starred martial artist Don “The Dragon” Wilson; the ninth starred Matt Mullins.
This is where all those new wave bands went when the wave was over.
The new wave movement of rock music followed closely on the punk movement of the 1970s, but was generally considered more polished and professional than the do-it-yourself bands of the original punksters.
Your T-zone is a mess.
The “T-zone” is the area formed by the forehead, nose, and mouth—the term was coined by the beauty industry to encourage women to moisturize, de-oil, or whatever other processes would lead them to spend more money on beauty products.
Wasn’t he on Golden Girls?
Golden Girls was a TV sitcom about a group of elderly women who lived together in Miami; it aired from 1985-1992.
It’s the cover of Tommy.
Tommy is a 1969 rock opera by British rock band The Who, about a young boy who is deaf, dumb, and blind but who nonetheless plays a mean game of pinball. The cover of the album features a metallic silver grid.
Hey, it’s the band Rush!
Rush is a Canadian progressive rock band known for its impressive technical artistry, although some have criticized the band for being emotionally empty. It was formed in 1968, remained popular throughout the 1990s, came back from a hiatus in the early 2000s, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.
We represent the Lollipop Guild … oh, I’ll catch you later.
A reference to the song “The Lollipop Guild” from the 1939 film musical The Wizard of Oz. Sample lyrics: “We represent the Lollipop Guild/The Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild/And in the name of the Lollipop Guild/We wish to welcome you to Munchkin Land.”
Well, night life ain’t no good life, but it’s my life.
A paraphrase of the song “Nightlife” by Willie Nelson, also recorded by Ray Price and B.B. King. Sample lyrics: “When the evening, the evening sun goes down/You gonna find me somewhere hanging around/The night life, people, it ain't no good life/But it's my life, yeah …”
Ah, it’s a Theatre de la Jeune Lune production.
The Theatre de la Jeune Lune was an oddball theater company based in Minneapolis. It was originally founded in France in 1978 and settled permanently in the United States in 1985. It closed in 2008.
Doug Henning goes undercover underground.
Doug Henning (1947-2000) was a hippie magician with long hair and a drooping mustache who became famous in the 1970s with a successful Broadway show. He died early, at the age of 52, from liver cancer.
And the Danny DeVito entourage arrives.
Danny DeVito is a diminutive actor and director who came to fame playing irascible dispatcher Louie De Palma on the TV series Taxi, which aired from 1978-1983. He has also appeared in and directed many films.
[Sung.] Rough clowns, out in the street/I want to bite and kiss you …
A paraphrase of the song “Rough Boys” by The Who. Sample lyrics: “Tough boys/Running the streets/Come a little closer … Tough boys/Come over here/I wanna bite and kiss you …”
World champion gymnast Kurt Thomas made the wonderfully bad movie called Gymkata in 1985, in which he defeats the bad guys with the help of randomly placed gymnastics equipment. “Gymkata!” became an MST3K catchphrase, usually associated with any movie’s attempt to portray martial arts, as a kind of alternative to “Hi-keeba!”
Joe Mantegna is an Italian-American actor who has acted in such films as Godfather Part III (1990) and Homicide (1991); he is also known for playing Fat Tony on the animated TV series The Simpsons.
I hate spunk!
A famous line from the pilot for the TV sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which aired from 1970-1977. The full exchange:
Lou Grant: You know, you’ve got spunk.
Mary: Well, thank you.
Lou Grant: I hate spunk!
Paul Westerberg to the rescue!
Paul Westerberg was the front man for the 1980s band The Replacements. After leaving the band, he went on to a solo career, but he never again achieved the heights he did with his original band.
But you are the wind beneath my wings.
A reference to the Bette Midler song “Wing Beneath My Wings,” which was the theme to her movie Beaches. Sample lyrics: “Did you ever know that you're my hero/And everything I would like to be?/I can fly higher than an eagle/For you are the wind beneath my wings.”
Joel Grey in Death Cabaret 5.
Joel Grey is a singer and actor who has appeared in numerous films and stage musicals. He is best known for his role as the Master of Ceremonies in the film and stage versions of Cabaret (see above note). Death Wish V: The Face of Death is a 1994 film starring Charles Bronson (1921-2003) in his fifth and final appearance as vigilante Paul Kersey.
Armed with a Lady Thuringer.
The Lady Derringer is a line of small handguns designed to appeal to women: simulated ivory, carved handgrips, and so forth. They are manufactured by the American Derringer Corp. Thuringer is a type of smoked sausage. (Thanks to Erik Topp for the Thuringer reference.)
Is he Poopdeck Pappy or something? –Arrrrrrrr ...
Poopdeck Pappy was Popeye’s father in the series of short cartoons by the same name.
Whoa! That’ll make your shamrock shake!
A Shamrock Shake is a mint-flavored, green-dyed milkshake sold at McDonald’s each year for St. Patrick’s Day.
Lemme get my shillelagh.
A shillelagh (a.k.a. cudgel) is a short (about two feet long) club/walking stick traditionally carried for self-defense in Ireland.
[Sung.] “Theme from The Mod Squad.”
A rendition of the jazzy, brassy “Theme from The Mod Squad,” composed by Earle Hagen; the opening title sequence featured the principal characters running breathlessly through a dark, rain-soaked alleyway. Just who or what was chasing them remains a mystery to this day. The Mod Squad was a TV police drama that aired from 1968-1973 on ABC: the story of three young, groovy troublemakers recruited by the police to help solve crimes by going undercover into situations where the hopelessly ungroovy cops could never venture. The show seems laughably dated today but was innovative in its time; it portrayed an African-American character on equal terms with his white counterparts and addressed controversial social issues such as abortion, war protests, and racism.
Whatever may occur, I will find you!
An oft-quoted line from the 1992 film The Last of the Mohicans, spoken by Daniel Day-Lewis.
Hmmm, I need Campho-Phenique.
Campho-Phenique is an over-the-counter product used to treat cold sores, along with other minor injuries. It is manufactured by the Bayer Corp.
[Sniffing.] I smell patchouli.
Patchouli is a fragrant herb in the mint family that is commonly used to make perfume. It was extremely popular during the 1960s and to some extent has become associated with the counterculture of that decade.
An imitation of the sound effect used on the TV series The Six Million Dollar Man (1974-1978) whenever title character Steve Austin (Lee Majors) ran in slow motion, to indicate that he was actually running very, very fast.
Middle-distance runner Suzy Hamilton.
Suzy Favor Hamilton is a professional runner who has competed in the Olympics and was ranked top in the U.S. for several years. (Thanks to Joel Boutiere for this reference.)
Hold it—I think you’re gonna like this picture. –Love that Bob.
This was the opening line from every episode of the sitcom The Bob Cummings Show (a.k.a. Love That Bob; 1955-1959), which was about a photographer.
She’s giving her the hairy eyeball.
“Hairy eyeball” is a colloquial phrase meaning to squint suspiciously at someone.
Looks like the Mrs. Khrushchev club here.
Nina Petrovna Khrushchev was the second wife of Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971), who led the Soviet Union from 1953-1964. The couple married in 1924; Khrushchev’s first wife had died of typhus several years before. The couple remained together until his death in 1971; Nina lived for thirteen more years.
Oh, and it’s a scrum for Kathy!
In the game of rugby, a scrum (short for scrummage) is a way of returning a ball to play: the players pack closely together with their heads down over the ball and basically scramble for it. It looks like a big pile-on, which is why the word “scrum” is also used to describe a gaggle of reporters who gather outside an event or meeting for an impromptu press conference.
Whoa, and here comes Kid Creole in hot pursuit.
Kid Creole & the Coconuts is a retro band that plays a combination of funk, big band, and swing. Bandleader Kid Creole is actually musician August Darnell.
[Hummed.] “Yakety Sax.”
“Yakety Sax” by Boots Randolph was often used during sped-up chases on the British skit comedy show The Benny Hill Show, which ran on British television for 20 years, beginning in 1969.
A reference to the famous balcony scene in William Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet.
Janet Jackson’s stomach stand-in.
Janet Jackson is a singer and actress from the musical Jackson family, which produced Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5. At the 1993 Video Music Awards, she performed in jeans and a leather bra; her abs were the star of the show.
Oh, no—Bronson Pinchot.
Bronson Pinchot is an actor best known for his turn as Balki Bartokomous on the TV sitcom Perfect Strangers, which aired from 1986-1993.
I hate that Structure store.
Structure was a chain of mall men’s clothing stores. They rebranded under the Express name in the early aughts and Sears bought the rights to the old brand.
She walks like Jim McMahon.
Jim McMahon is a former pro football player who played quarterback for six pro teams, including the Chicago Bears, the San Diego Chargers, and the Green Bay Packers, before retiring in 1996. He was known as “the punky QB.”
In disgrace, the Franklin Mint.
Franklin Mint makes collectible coins, plates, dolls, etc. They often promote some recent pop culture icon or event, captured in a “limited edition” coin or plate.
She’s a regular Sonny Spoon.
Sonny Spoon was a short-lived 1988 TV series that starred Mario Van Peebles as a private detective/con man who specialized in bilking criminals.
“Hello, babe.” Big Bopper.
J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson (1930-1959) was a pop singer and DJ who had a big hit in 1958 with “Chantilly Lace,” which begins with a spoken-word “Hello, baby.” The Big Bopper, along with Buddy Holly and Richie Valens, died in a plane crash on February 3, 1959, a.k.a. “The day the music died.”
“Scream all you want.” But eat all you scream.
A variation on the classic all-you-can-eat buffet injunction: “Take all you want, but eat all you take.”
I’m Woody Harrelson, aren’t I?
Woody Harrelson rose to fame as the sweet, naïve bartender Woody Boyd on the long-running TV sitcom Cheers, on which he appeared from 1985-1993. Since then he has acted in many films.
“I know it’s disappointing, but …” I’m not Mark Hamill.
Mark Hamill is an actor who became a Hollywood immortal with his portrayal of Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars series of films. He later went on to become a successful voice actor, supplying the voices for a number of cartoon characters.
Hey, Count Chocula, clear the shot, will you?
Count Chocula is a chocolate-flavored children’s cereal that was introduced in 1971. The Count himself, bearing a strong resemblance to Bela Lugosi’s Count Dracula, appeared in animated commercials for the cereal; he was voiced by Larry Kenney. He was followed by a series of “monster” cereals—Frankenberry, Boo Berry, and Fruit Brute—but Count Chocula remained the most popular.
Maybe they’ll run into Spinal Tap down there.
In the 1984 mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, the hapless heavy metal band gets hopelessly lost in a maze of corridors on their way to the stage for a concert in Cleveland.
She’s walking like Sherman Hemsley.
Sherman Hemsley was an actor who is best known for playing the irascible George Jefferson, first on the ground-breaking sitcom All in the Family (where he appeared from 1973-1975) and later on the spinoff The Jeffersons (which ran from 1975-1985).
Heckraiser, Part 2.
Hellraiser was a 1987 horror film about a man who discovers a gateway to hell. The sequel, which came out in 1988, was actually called Hellbound: Hellraiser II. The original film spawned several theatrical and straight-to-video sequels.
Tonight, kids! Something really scary!
An imitation of Count Floyd (Joe Flaherty), who hosted Monster Chiller Horror Theater on the Canadian late night sketch comedy show SCTV.
Oh, suddenly it’s the end of Highlander. –The series, or the … –One or two? –Any of 'em, who cares?
Highlander was a 1986 film about a race of immortals living among humans. It starred Christopher Lambert and Clancy Brown. Several terrible film sequels followed, and in 1992 it was turned into a TV series starring Adrian Paul as the title immortal. The series ran for six years and drew a respectable cult following. Note, however, that the first film ends with an epic blue-lit swordfight in front of a wall of windows.
There can be only one!
A famous line from the 1986 film Highlander (see previous note).
Nobody beats Midas. Nobody.
This was the slogan for the Midas chain of muffler and brake repair shops from the mid-1970s to the early ‘90s.
[Sung.] A double murder’s waiting for you …
This is a take on the longtime jingle for Wrigley’s Doublemint gum, which has been running commercials featuring identical twins for decades. Actual lyrics: “A double pleasure’s waiting for you/A double pleasure from Doublemint gum.”
2-Calorie Quest was a flavored carbonated water manufactured by Seagram’s in the 1990s.
Go tell Frankenberry!
Frankenberry is a fruit-flavored children’s cereal with a Frankenstein's monster mascot, in the same line as Count Chocula. (See note on Count Chocula, above.)
I’m Adam Ant!
Adam Ant is a new wave musician and actor who first made it big in 1980 with the release of his album Kings of the Wild Frontier; his biggest hit was 1982’s “Goody Two Shoes.”
“What, Charmin?” Just squeeze me.
“Please don’t squeeze the Charmin” was the longtime advertising slogan for Charmin brand toilet paper, designed to suggest how irresistibly soft the product was. The line was spoken by “Mr. Whipple,” played by actor Dick Wilson in more than 500 commercials.
The problems of two second-rate actors don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy underworld.
A paraphrase of Humphrey Bogart's famous line from the end of Casablanca (1942): “The problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”
We’ll always have batholith.
Another reference to Casablanca (see previous note); the original line is “We’ll always have Paris.” A batholith is a large mass of igneous rock, produced by volcanic activity. Well-known batholiths include Enchanted Rock in Texas and the Sierra Nevada Batholith in California.
Now, who’s my love interest? Was it the Australian guy? Oh, I know—Marc Singer’s gonna be in this movie.
Marc Singer is an actor best known for his role as the Beastmaster in the 1982 film of the same name and as Mike Donovan in the alien-invasion miniseries V.
Look—Eddie Van Halen.
Guitarist Eddie Van Halen, founder of the band that bears his name, is widely considered one of the most talented rock guitarists of all time. Van Halen was one of the most popular bands of the 1970s and 1980s and is considered the forerunner for many of the heavy metal bands that followed.
You can tell she’s British by her teeth.
Though a recent report from the World Health Organization stated that British children actually have better dental health than children in France, Spain, and the U.S., the stereotype that Brits have bad teeth prevails. One theory holds that the British simply don’t worry so much about orthodontics or whitening teeth as their American counterparts.
An imitation of the guards’ chant outside the Wicked Witch of the West’s castle in The Wizard of Oz.
[Imitating.] We’re on our way to the eighteenth tee!
An imitation of actor and avid golfer Bob Hope.
Excuse me … sorry … didn’t know this was a read-through, I’m sorry.
Early in the production of a play or movie, a read-through—also known as a table-read—is when the entire cast assembles and each member reads his or her lines out loud, to get a feel for the script.
“Trust aliens?!” Hey, they’re guest workers.
“Guest workers” is used as a polite euphemism for illegal immigrants who come to a country to find jobs; the phrase is derived from the German word “Gastarbeiter,” coined to describe the many Turkish immigrants that poured into that country after World War II (1939-1945).
Coming around again. Oh, and by the way, could someone get me a bucket? I’m feeling queasy.
In the Mr. Creosote segment in the 1983 film Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, an enormously fat man keeps vomiting into a bucket during his meal in a classy restaurant.
Are they on Captain Ron’s boat? –Oh, never say that again.
Captain Ron is a notoriously bad 1992 film starring Kurt Russell as a one-eyed, maniacal sailor in the Caribbean.
Patti LaBelle as Amadeus.
Patti LaBelle is an R&B singer and actress best known for her iconic disco song "Lady Marmalade." Amadeus is a crowd-pleasing 1984 film about composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, based on the play of the same name.
It was patterned after the Métro in Paris—or “Le Métro” in French.
The Métro de Paris is the urban transit system, largely underground, in Paris, France. It first opened in 1900 during the World’s Fair.
Papa, don’t preach.
“Papa Don’t Preach” was a song on Madonna’s 1986 True Blue album. Hard as it is to believe now, the song engendered some controversy on the grounds that it endorsed teen pregnancy. It was her fourth number one hit.
It looks like Gracie Allen is buried there.
Gracie Allen (1895-1964) was an American comedian who, along with her husband George Burns (1896-1996) made up the comedy team Burns & Allen, where she played the scatterbrained comedian to Burns’s straight man on both radio and television. They are both interred in the marble-clad Freedom Mausoleum in Forest Lawn in Glendale.
Old man—toys in the attic, you know.
“Toys in the attic” is an old euphemism for crazy, or, at the very least, feeble-minded, as in an elderly person with senile dementia.
A reference to Show 417, Crash of the Moons.
A rendition of the super-low, spoken-word key lyric in the 1985 song “Oh Yeah” by Swiss electronic band Yello. The song became a kind of musical shorthand for the 1980s, popping up in numerous TV shows, commercials, and movies; most famously, it was used extensively in the films Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) and The Secret of My Success (1987). A late ‘80s TV commercial for Twix candy bars was a flat-out re-creation of the use of the song in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, although it used a cheaper soundalike rather than the actual song.
Robert Fulghum thinks he knows everything.
Robert Fulghum is the author of Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, a collection of short ruminations on life first published in 1986. (Thanks to Gordon Vincent for this reference.)
[Sung.] She’s a maniac, a maniac …
A line from the song “Maniac” from the soundtrack of the 1983 movie Flashdance, which starred Jennifer Beals as a steelworker with dreams of becoming a dancer. The song was performed by Michael Sembello. Sample lyrics: “She’s a maniac, maniac on the floor/And she’s dancing like she’s never danced before …”
Wall Drug is a pharmacy/tourist trap in the tiny town of Wall, South Dakota. It employs some third of the town’s residents to tend to the free ice-water well, the bucking bronco, the fiberglass jackalope, the miniature Mount Rushmore, the animatronic bears, and, as an afterthought, the pharmacy. For years it blanketed the nation’s highways with signs advising motorists of how far they were from Wall Drug, and visitors and fans of the store put up many other signs at various locations throughout the world, advertising the distance to Wall Drug. Most of the signs outside South Dakota no longer exist.
Oh, Mrs. Lockhorn …
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.
Bottom of the world, Ma!
A paraphrase of the classic line from the 1949 Jimmy Cagney film White Heat: “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!”
He’s the best.
A line from Show 303, Pod People.
Here’s your Interplak.
The Interplak Dental Water Jet is a home dental hygiene appliance made by Conair that shoots a thin stream of water to clean between teeth and stimulate the gums. (Thanks to Gary Shogren for this reference.)
Yes, you blew the deal, yes …
An imitation of the absurdly exaggerated French accent of Inspector Jacques Clouseau, as played by Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther movies.
Get into the cyclonic cooking thing!
In microwave ovens, “cyclonic” means the microwave’s inverter rotates inside the oven’s walls, helping cook the food more evenly.
Minnie Pearl! –How-dee!
Minnie Pearl was the stage name of actress Sarah Colley (1912-1996), who toured with the Grand Ole Opry from 1940 to 1991. Her trademark entrance line was “How-dee!” She retired from performing in 1991 after suffering a stroke.
“I had this really weird dream.” That I was in a Golan-Globus film.
See note on Golan-Globus, above.
“That I went to Africa.” With Shaft.
Shaft in Africa (1973) was a blaxploitation film starring Richard Roundtree as John Shaft, a Los Angeles private detective who tries to break up a modern-day slave trade in West Africa. It was the third film in the Shaft series.
I’ve become Conrad Janis.
Conrad Janis is a balding musician and actor who has appeared in innumerable television series and films, including Mork & Mindy and Airport 1975.
And Santa’s coming.
Santa Claus is a fairly recent synthesis of various traditional beings who deliver gifts the night before Christmas. Claus is based primarily on the Dutch gift-bringer Sinterklaas, who was in turn derived from the fourth-century historical figure Saint Nicholas of Myra. (Sinterklaas, rather than elves, has “Black Pete” to assist him, which has led to the [unfortunate, to American eyes] Dutch tradition of dressing up in blackface. The increasing multiculturism of Dutch society is leading to mounting pressure to do away with Black Pete.) In the 1770s, the name “Santa Claus” was first published as an Americanized version of Sinterklaas. The commonly known attributes of Santa Claus’s legend (his North Pole residence, elven helpers, reindeer-powered sleigh, etc.) became widespread after the 1821 publication of Clement Clarke Moore’s “poem “Old Santeclaus” and the 1823 publication of ”A Visit from St. Nicholas” (a.k.a. “The Night Before Christmas,” also probably written by Moore). The famous image of Santa Claus as a jolly, chubby man with a full white beard and red clothing with white trim comes from the mid-1800s art of famed cartoonist Thomas Nast. Nast’s illustrations later influenced depictions of Sinterklaas and England’s Father Christmas.
[Sung.] Tan don’t burn/Get a Coppertone tan.
“Tan, don’t burn. Use Coppertone” is an old advertising slogan for Coppertone suntan lotion, first used in 1955.
An imitation of Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle, whom he played on The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
Lorenzo Lamas is Renegade.
Renegade was a television series starring Lorenzo Lamas as an unjustly accused man on the run from the law. It aired from 1992-1997.
She’s smiling like a baleen whale.
Baleen is a family of about fifteen species of whales, including blue whales and humpback whales. They are characterized by the baleen plate, a bristly structure made from keratin inside their mouths that they use to filter tiny krill and other food from seawater.
And she lived happily ever after, if you call doing an occasional guest shot on Down the Shore living happily ever after. I wouldn’t.
See note on Down the Shore, above.
Oh, Golan-Globus. They produced Lonely People with Jill Clayburgh and Barbara Hershey. Did you see that, Mike?
The title of the movie is actually Shy People (1987), a film about the clash between country folk and city folk.
Well, I knew you couldn’t see it because you were watching Beaches for the hundredth time.
Beaches is a 1988 film starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey as two friends who share a conflicted friendship from childhood and into adulthood.
Hey, Crow, the video store called—they have that copy of Men Don’t Leave they’ve been saving for you.
Men Don’t Leave is a 1990 film starring Jessica Lange as the widowed mother of two sons.
Say, Mike, the video store called and said your copy of The Lemon Sisters is way overdue.
The Lemon Sisters is a 1990 film about three friends trying to make it as an entertainment trio in Atlantic City.
Hey, Crow, how’s your new deluxe collector’s edition of For the Boys holding up?
For the Boys is a 1991 film starring Bette Midler and James Caan as entertainers during World War II.
Say, Mike, how’s your exclusive limited laserdisc edition of Yentl?
Yentl is a 1983 film starring Barbra Streisand as a Jewish girl who disguises herself as a man in order to study the Torah.
You know, that’s a good point, Tom. By the way, could you do me a favor and not leave your copy of Mystic Pizza, the director’s cut, lying around?
Mystic Pizza is a 1988 film starring Julia Roberts, Annabeth Gish, and Lili Taylor as three teenage girls working in a pizza parlor in Connecticut.
Yeah, Tom, and keep your platinum edition of The Four Seasons in your own room.
The Four Seasons is a 1981 film about three couples who get together regularly throughout the year; it stars Alan Alda and Carol Burnett, among others.
Oh, sure, Crow, no problem, as long as I don’t have to trip over Places in the Heart and the rest of your complete Sally Field collection.
Places in the Heart is a 1984 film starring Sally Field as a widow trying to run a cotton farm.
I wouldn’t talk, Mrs. Nelson. I saw you take Steel Magnolias off of Crow’s Sally Field shelf.
Steel Magnolias is a 1989 film about a group of friends hanging out at a local beauty parlor; it starred Sally Field, Dolly Parton, and Shirley MacLaine, among others.
Yeah, well, I know you own the autographed script of The Goodbye Girl.
The Goodbye Girl is a 1977 romantic comedy starring Marsha Mason and Richard Dreyfuss.
Oh, oh really? Well, you know, I’d lecture you on love, little man, but I know you want to get back to your novelization of Late for Dinner.
Late for Dinner (1991) is a film about two young men who are cryogenically frozen in the 1960s and thawed in the ‘90s.
Great, Nelson—aren’t you due at the Walker for that special screening of Six Weeks?
Six Weeks (1982) is a film about a mother (Mary Tyler Moore) whose daughter is dying from leukemia. The Walker Art Center is a center for the performing and visual arts in Minneapolis.
No, I went there and there was a little sign saying it was canceled because you and your pals were there for the Cousins seminar.
Cousins is a 1989 film about two married people (played by Ted Danson and Isabella Rossellini) who fall in love.
Yeah, Mike, well, you set your alarm for 3 a.m. so you can watch Irreconcilable Differences.
Irreconcilable Differences is a 1984 movie about a young girl (played by Drew Barrymore) who sues to divorce her bickering parents.
Tennis player John McEnroe won seven Grand Slam single and nine double titles, but is best remembered for his hot temper and frequent outbursts on the court.
Okay, all right, all right, yeah. Well, when I got up to watch it, you were there crying over the end of Don’t Tell Her It’s Me.
Don’t Tell Her It’s Me is a 1990 film about a lonely cartoonist (played by Steve Guttenberg) whose sister sets him up with a beautiful woman.
Yeah, well, you started a support group because you were so traumatized by Dying Young.
Dying Young is a 1991 film starring Julia Roberts as a young woman who falls in love with a man suffering from a terminal illness.
Ooh, that’s Campbell Scott, right? –I wouldn’t know.
Campbell Scott plays the young man suffering from leukemia in Dying Young (see previous note).
Okay, okay. Well, your dream is to open a theater so you can have midnight showings of Stella.
Stella stars Bette Midler as a vulgar woman who sacrifices everything for the sake of her daughter. It is a remake of Stella Dallas.
Yeah? Well, you want to start a Herb Ross film festival.
Herbert Ross (1937-2001) directed such films as Steel Magnolias (see above note) and Boys on the Side (1995).
Okay, yeah, well, you paid thousands of dollars for the lobby cards of Always.
Always is a 1989 movie starring Richard Dreyfuss as a ghostly firefighter trying to protect his lover, played by Holly Hunter.
Yeah, well, you bought some of the costumes from Not Without My Daughter.
Not Without My Daughter is a 1991 film starring Sally Field as an American woman trying to leave Iran with her daughter against the wishes of her Iranian husband.
All right. You called your aunt to go see Mermaids.
Mermaids is a 1990 film starring Cher as a mother in the 1960s trying to deal with her conflicted religious daughter (played by Winona Ryder).
You rented a safe deposit box to keep your treasured copy of Savannah Smiles.
Savannah Smiles (1982) is a movie about a young girl who runs away from her parents and hides in the trunk of a car belonging to a couple of crooks, who wind up being pursued for “kidnapping” her.
Savannah Smiles … oh, cute little girl. Okay, uh, you started a fund drive for a monument for Ice Castles.
Ice Castles is a 1988 tear-jerker about a blind ice skater, played by Lynn-Holly Johnson.
Yeah? Yeah? You want a piece of me? Yeah? You sleep with a copy of Madame Sousatzka under your pillow every night, smart boy.
Madame Sousatzka is a 1988 film starring Shirley MacLaine as an eccentric piano teacher in London.
Uh, you throw parties where everyone has to dress like a character from Fried Green Tomatoes!
Fried Green Tomatoes is a 1991 film about a troubled wife who befriends an old woman in a nursing home.
Okay, okay, okay, okay … you quote freely from Rich and Famous.
Rich and Famous (1981) is a film starring Candice Bergen and Jacqueline Bisset as two college friends whose relationship changes and endures over the years.
So, guys, how many times have you seen Forever Young?
Forever Young is a 1992 film starring Mel Gibson as a pilot who is cryogenically frozen in the 1930s and defrosted in the 1990s.