by Wyn Hilty
Is Velveeta a member of the National Dairy Council?
Velveeta is a processed cheese product manufactured by Kraft Foods.
[Sung.] I was warned as a child …
A line from the song “The Woman in the Moon” from the musical A Star Is Born. Sample lyrics: “I was warned as a child of thirteen/Not to act too strong/Try to look like you belong but don’t push, girl/Save your time and trouble/Don't misbehave.”
Here in frame 54, Mr. Connally is struck by the bullet.
In 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, a local clothing manufacturer named Abraham Zapruder brought his home movie camera to film the motorcade procession. His is the only film record of the assassination and was extensively used by the Warren Commission in its investigation of the president’s death. Then-Texas Governor John Connally was riding in Kennedy’s limousine and was badly injured by the same bullet that struck the president.
Let’s go tip some cattle!
Cow tipping is apparently a favorite nocturnal sport among rural folks who have consumed between five and seven beers. Opinion is divided on just how prevalent and/or possible the practice is, but your basic cow tipping expedition goes something like this:
1. Chug aforesaid beers.
2. Find a field containing some dozing cows (which sleep standing up).
3. Climb over fence.
4. Sneak up on cow.
5. Push on cow’s side.
Now Junior Samples and Lulu Belle make their appearance.
Junior Samples (1926-1983) was a cornball comedian/country singer/harmonica player known for his long run on Hee Haw, the country-western variety show that aired from 1969-1992; Samples appeared on the show until his death in 1983. Lulu Belle (real name Myrtle Cooper; 1913-1999) was a country musician who performed for decades with her husband, Scott Wiseman (1908-1981), as “Lulu Belle and Scotty.” Later in life she became a state representative for North Carolina, serving from 1975-1978.
I’ve got to be careful of my new jeans because I got them at Pamida.
Pamida is a chain of retail stores that tend to crop up in smaller towns, where they serve as an all-purpose store, selling everything from groceries to toys to clothing.
Tonight on ESPN2: Hayloft rope swinging.
ESPN is a cable sports channel. ESPN2 began airing in 1993 as a sister station; it focused on younger, edgier sports like snowboarding and BMX racing. When that formula failed, it turned to poker, billiards, and extreme sports.
The summer of my German humiliation.
Summer of My German Soldier is a novel by Bette Green about a young Jewish girl in Arkansas during World War II, who falls in love with a German prisoner of war being held in a nearby camp.
A very special Ziffel family reunion.
Fred and Doris Ziffel were characters on the TV sitcom Green Acres, which aired from 1965-1971. The couple (played by Hank Patterson and Barbara Pepper) had an adopted “son,” Arnold the hyperintelligent pig.
Oh, the lunch counter at Tom and Rosie’s diner.
Actors Tom and Roseanne Arnold jointly invested in a restaurant in Eldon, Iowa, called Tom’s Big Food Diner. After their divorce, the restaurant closed.
[Sung.] Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say …
A line from the Christmas song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” first recorded by Gene Autry in 1949. Sample lyrics: “Then one foggy Christmas Eve/Santa came to say/‘Rudolph with your nose so bright/Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?’”
Jerry Lee Lewis joins the family for dinner.
Jerry Lee Lewis is a musician known for such hits as “Great Balls of Fire,” and also for having married his thirteen-year-old cousin, a scandal that almost ruined his career.
Susie drains the last of her Dirty Banana.
A Dirty Banana is a shake made with vanilla ice cream and several varieties of liqueur, including banana liqueur.
Back home, a Hershey’s truck has overturned and everyone’s getting all the free chocolate they want.
The Hershey Company, based in Hershey, Pennsylvania, is the largest chocolate company in the world. In addition to its trademark chocolate bar, the company makes Hershey’s Kisses, Almond Joy, Kit Kats and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, among many more.
Let my people go!
From Exodus 8:1: “And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me.”
Why, Uncle Jim’s even enrolled them in the Posse Comitatus.
Posse Comitatus is a radical anti-government movement, the forerunner of the militia movement of the 1990s. Posse Comitatus’s members believe that any form of government above the county level is illegitimate. Many of them refuse to pay taxes or obtain driver’s licenses and argue that U.S. currency is invalid because it has gone off the gold standard.
You weren’t there when we had our summer of fun—we went to Mark Two in Orlando!
The Mark Two Dinner Theater is an Equity dinner theater in Orlando, Florida.
That’s the Edvard Munch painting that wasn’t stolen.
In 1994, a version of The Scream, the most famous work by Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, was stolen off the wall of the national art museum in Oslo; it was recovered unharmed several months later. Poor Munch is a frequent victim of art thefts; another version of The Scream (there are four total) was taken from a museum at gunpoint in 2004, and three other paintings were taken from an upscale restaurant in Norway in 2005.
Looks like Ivan Lendl.
Ivan Lendl was one of the dominant professional tennis players in the 1980s, for several years ranked number one in the world. Before retiring in 1994, he had racked up nearly a hundred singles titles, including eight Grand Slam titles, and earned a record $21 million in prize money.
You know, this is exactly how Leakey found Lucy.
Louis Leakey (1903-1972) was an anthropologist famous for his paleontology work in the Olduvai Gorge, an area in Tanzania. There he discovered bones that appeared to belong to a proto-human, or ape-like person. His work radically altered the body of thought about human evolution, and his conclusion that humanity originated in Africa is now widely accepted. His son, Richard Leakey, is also a well-known paleoanthropologist. That said, the hominid skeleton dubbed Lucy, after the Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” was not one of Leakey’s finds; she was discovered in 1974 by American anthropologist Donald Johanson.
This is the best Saul Bass credit sequence ever!
Saul Bass (1920-1996) was a graphic designer known for his work on movie title sequences; he worked with such renowned directors as Alfred Hitchcock, Otto Preminger, and Martin Scorsese. His films include Psycho, Casino, and The Man with the Golden Arm. He also designed a number of corporate logos, including the famous AT&T “globe.”
The big Cunha.
“The big kahuna” is a slang phrase meaning “the big cheese,” or “a very important person.” It derives from surfer slang, which in turn derives from the Hawaiian word for priest or shaman.
It’s the Exxon Valdez.
On March 23, 1989, the Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker carrying 53 million gallons of crude oil from Alaska, ran aground on a reef, spilling nearly 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound. The captain had been drinking earlier in the day, and the third mate who was on duty when the accident occurred may have been working for as long as 18 hours straight. Roughly 1,300 miles of beach were contaminated, and estimates of wildlife killed by the spill include 250,000 birds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, 22 killer whales, and billions of salmon and herring eggs. Cleanup efforts cost more than $2 billion.
[Sung.] I say Brandy, you’re a fine girl …
A reference to the song “Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)” by Looking Glass. Sample lyrics: “The sailor said ‘Brandy, you're a fine girl’ (you're a fine girl)/’What a good wife you would be’ (such a fine girl)/’But my life, my love and my lady is the sea …’”
Chutes and Ladders.
Chutes and Ladders is a board game produced by Milton Bradley; it is based on the children’s game Snakes and Ladders, which has been around since at least the 19th century and possibly long before that.
Robert Maxwell: the untold story.
Robert Maxwell (1923-1991) was a British publishing tycoon. At one point he owned several book publishing companies, a string of British tabloids, the New York Daily News, and many more companies. However, by the 1990s he was in shaky financial circumstances and used $1.2 billion he secretly siphoned off from employee pension funds and other sources in an attempt to keep his empire from crumbling. On November 5, 1991, he disappeared off his yacht, and his body was recovered from the Atlantic some time later. The official cause of death was a heart attack plus accidental drowning.
I’ll just run up to the Lido deck and see what Isaac is doing.
Isaac Washington was the bartender on the TV series The Love Boat, which aired from 1977-1986. The part was played by Ted Lange.
Wait, you forgot Tallulah Bankhead!
Lifeboat is a 1944 movie starring Tallulah Bankhead (1902-1968) as one of the survivors of a German U-boat attack. The film was directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
The crews of wine and roses.
The Days of Wine and Roses is a 1962 film starring Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick as a couple torn apart by alcoholism.
Oh, no, they forgot the piano!
The Piano is a 1993 film starring Holly Hunter as a woman who refuses to speak, and who communicates only through the music she plays on her piano. At the beginning of the film, Hunter’s new husband abandons her piano on the beach, where it is claimed by their neighbor (played by Harvey Keitel).
Tonight: love in the landing at Normandy!
On June 6, 1944, the Allied forces launched a major assault on Hitler’s forces in France with an amphibious landing on the beaches in Normandy: D-Day. Many of the beaches where the Allied troops waded ashore were heavily fortified by the Germans, and casualties were horrendous. A furious fight raged through northern France for the following two months, concluding with the liberation of Paris in August.
Hey, a counter worker from Long John Silver’s.
Long John Silver’s is a chain of fast-food fish restaurants founded in 1969. It has more than 1,200 locations worldwide.
Unfortunately, they landed on Bikini Atoll in 1947.
Bikini Atoll is a small atoll in the Pacific, part of the Marshall Islands. After World War II, it was chosen as the site of nuclear bomb testing by the United States, and this decision was announced to the 150 or so natives living on the island. They were relocated to a nearby, smaller atoll, where they nearly starved to death. The government continues to give them financial restitution and, after a poorly planned relocation back to Bikini in the 1970s that led to birth defects and illness, the U.S. settled with them for $150 million. The international Nuclear Claims Tribunal awarded the islanders more than $500 million, compensation the United States has thus far declined to pay. Back on the atoll, meanwhile, more than twenty nuclear tests were conducted between 1946 and 1958.
Great plan. Look, can we just go to Red Lobster?
Red Lobster is a chain of seafood restaurants with hundreds of locations across the country. It was founded in 1968 by Bill Darden.
On his resume, Robert Reed listed this as The Tempest.
The Tempest is a play by William Shakespeare about a group of seafarers washed up on a remote island ruled by a sorceror, Prospero.
Ooh, she’s a Breck Girl.
The Breck Girl was an advertising icon for Breck shampoo, first appearing in 1937 and launching Breck’s first national advertising campaign in 1946. There were numerous Breck Girls over the years; actress Kim Basinger was even a Breck Girl early in her career.
Sounds like James Galway’s bringing up the rear.
James Galway is an Irish flute player who has enjoyed an extremely successful performing career, one of the first flautists to succeed as a soloist. He got his start in the Berlin Philharmonic in the 1970s but quickly struck out on his own.
I’m here to tell you about Mutual of Omaha.
Mutual of Omaha is an insurance company based in Nebraska. It is best known as the sponsor of the long-running TV series Wild Kingdom, which aired from 1963-1988.
And Fudge Stripes.
Fudge Stripes are a brand of cookies, consisting of shortbread covered with stripes of chocolate. They are manufactured by Keebler.
It’s a production of Blithe Spirit.
Blithe Spirit is a comic play (and later a movie) by Noel Coward (1899-1973), about a man who is haunted by the ghost of his dead wife.
Oh, Oscar, Oscar, Oscar.
An often-repeated line from the television series The Odd Couple, starring Tony Randall as Felix Unger and Jack Klugman as Oscar Madison. The show ran from 1970-1975.
We’ll leave a light on.
In 1986, the Motel 6 chain began running a series of commercials featuring Tom Bodett that used the tagline “We’ll leave the light on for you.” The campaign proved phenomenally successful, running for 15 years.
Did you bring Paxil?
Paxil, or paroxitene, is an antidepressant medication, one of the so-called serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), of which the most famous is Prozac. It is also used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder and social anxiety disorder.
And see what the boys in the back room will have.
“See What the Boys in the Back Room Will Have” is a song by Frederick Hollander and Frank Loesser. It has been performed by Diahann Carroll, Marlene Dietrich, and Della Reese, among others. Sample lyrics: “See what the boys in the back room will have/And tell them I'm having the same/Go see what the boys in the back room will have/And give them the poison they name.”
Eva Braun’s bed and breakfast.
Eva Braun (1912-1945) was the mistress and briefly the wife of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. She first met him in 1929 when she was 17 years old and began living with him in 1936. She remained with him throughout World War II and finally married him in a brief ceremony the day before the two of them committed suicide rather than be captured by Allied forces.
White Shoulders is a women’s perfume manufactured by Evian.
He looks like an Easter Island statue.
Easter Island is a small island in the south Pacific. It was inhabited by Polynesian settlers for hundreds of years, but sometime in the 16th century the civilization underwent a drastic decline due to deforestation and overpopulation on the tiny island. However, they left behind a significant cultural achievement in the numerous moai, or large stone statues, that crowd the island’s coastline. More than 800 statues have been recorded, and probably more fragments remain to be discovered. Today the island is home to about 3,000 inhabitants.
And I’m still Victor Buono.
Victor Buono (1938-1982) was a portly actor known for his work in such films as Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte. He also had a recurring role as the villainous Count Manzeppi on the TV series The Wild Wild West.
It’s Rob and Laura’s bedroom.
Rob and Laura Petrie were the main characters on The Dick Van Dyke Show, which aired from 1961-1966. The parts were played by Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore, respectively.
Looks like Liberace’s in there.
Wladziu Valentino Liberace (1919-1987) was a flamboyant entertainer who enjoyed his greatest success in the 1950s, when he had his own television series. His trademark was the elaborate silver candelabrum perched on top of his piano.
Indiana nerd and the temple of dork!
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a 1984 film starring Harrison Ford as the intrepid adventurer; it was a sequel to the wildly successful 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark.
“So?” Soo. –Si.
From the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide: "This is a reference to a bit from The Jack Benny Show, performed by Jack and Mel Blanc. It would go a little something like this: 'What's your name?' 'Cy.' 'Cy?' 'Si.' 'What do you do?' 'Sew.' 'Sew?' 'Si.'"
What happened was just this. The wind began to twitch.
A line from the song “Munchkin Land,” from the 1939 movie musical The Wizard of Oz. Sample 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.”
This is where they kneel down with Kissinger.
Henry Kissinger was the secretary of state under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and was one of the major architects of Nixon’s Vietnam War policy. After Nixon made the decision to resign the presidency in the wake of the Watergate scandal, in a famous moment he asked the Jewish Kissinger to kneel with him in prayer.
Cadavers for Algernon.
Flowers for Algernon is a 1966 novel by Daniel Keyes about a mentally disabled man who is chosen as the subject of an experiment to increase his intelligence. The experiment works, but soon he feels his newfound intelligence slipping away.
Come on, it’s just a Jaycees haunted house!
The Jaycees, a.k.a. the United States Junior Chamber, is a nonprofit group founded in 1920 to help give young people the skills they need to succeed in business. They also do a great deal of charity work.
The wall is covered with Issey Miyake clothing.
Issey Miyake is a Japanese clothing designer known for his high-tech designs.
Steve Allen, P.I.
Steve Allen (1921-2000) was the original host of the Tonight Show, appearing from 1953 to 1957. “P.I.” is probably a reference to Magnum, P.I., a TV detective series that aired from 1980-1988.
I know, we’ll throw Gatorade at them!
Dumping a cooler full of Gatorade on top of a coach’s head is a tradition in football, a practice evidently started by a couple of players for the New York Giants back in the 1980s. It is referred to as “The Dunk.”
Okay, Mr. Villechaize, come along, we’ll get you back to your room here.
Hervé Villechaize (1943-1993) was an undersized actor who became famous for the line “De plane! De plane!” on the TV show Fantasy Island, which he appeared on from 1978-1983. He became depressed and worked very little after leaving the series, ultimately killing himself in 1993.
Wonder what he scores on the Myers-Briggs inventory?
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a personality test developed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, during the 1940s. The test ranks people according to certain characteristics, such as introvert/extrovert, sense/intuition, thinking/feeling, and so forth. It is often used in leadership training seminars, marriage counseling and such, but it is not well regarded in academic circles.
Claussen kosher ladies. Never cooked. Always crisp.
Claussen is a brand of pickles produced by Kraft Foods. They boast that their pickles are never cooked and always kept cold so they have a “crisp crunch.”
Went a little too far with the dermabrasion.
Dermabrasion is a cosmetic surgery procedure in which the surgeon scrapes off the outer layers of skin with a motorized brush or burr; it is used to diminish the appearance of scars and fine wrinkles.
Comedian Jackie Mason has had tremendous success on Broadway with a string of one-man shows. He has also appeared in TV shows and movies, including The Ed Sullivan Show and The Jerk.
This is one of Jeff Smith’s weirder shows.
Jeff Smith (1939-2004) was the host of a cooking show called The Frugal Gourmet from 1973-1997. He also wrote a string of cookbooks under that name.
Long before Peter Billingsley, there was this guy.
Peter Billingsley is an actor and producer who got his start as a child actor; his most famous role is as Ralphie Parker in the 1983 classic A Christmas Story.
Ty-D-Bol really works.
Ty-D-Bol is a toilet cleanser/disinfectant manufactured by Sara Lee Corporation. It was developed in 1958 by Harry O’Hare Sr.
We all dress like Shirley Valentine.
Shirley Valentine is a 1986 play by Willy Russell, a one-woman show about a British housewife who jets off to Greece, where she finds romance. In 1989 it was made into a movie starring Pauline Collins.
The secretary will disavow any knowledge of our actions.
A paraphrase of 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.”
“The first thing we do …” Let’s kill all the lawyers.
“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers” is a line from the William Shakespeare play Henry VI, Part 2.
Arrrrh … I dreamed I went to Manderley … arrrrh, Jim boy.
A paraphrase of the opening line of Daphne du Maurier’s romantic novel Rebecca, which was made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Also an imitation of Long John Silver, the scurvy pirate in the Robert Louis Stevenson adventure novel Treasure Island.
Dating at the College of St. Catherine.
The College of St. Catherine is a Catholic women’s college in Minneapolis-St. Paul. It was founded in 1905 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.
It looks like President Bush! –I’m telling you, honey, Barbara’s got eyes like an eagle.
George H.W. Bush was the forty-first president, serving from 1989-1993. After a series of government appointments, he was nominated as Ronald Reagan’s vice presidential candidate. He won election after Reagan left office, but he lost to Bill Clinton four years later. His wife and first lady was Barbara Bush.
“Dean and Sondra have had time to get into the jungle.” You think they’ll bungle?
“Bungle in the Jungle” is a song by Jethro Tull. Sample lyrics: “Let's bungle in the jungle/Well, that's all right by me/I'm a tiger when I want love/But I'm a snake if we disagree.”
Never wear a Speedo.
Speedo is an Australian manufacturer of swimwear, specializing in swimwear for athletes. Its trademark short, tight men’s briefs were introduced at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne and quickly became popular worldwide.
Hey, he's got an Ugly Stik!
The Ugly Stik is a line of fishing rods manufactured by Shakespeare Fishing Tackle. (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
The new Banana Republic mature form expands with you.
Banana Republic is a chain of upscale casualwear stores owned by the Gap. It started as a largely catalog operation in 1978 and employed a somewhat kitschy jungle motif; when Gap bought the stores in 1983, it phased out the safari theme.
Here’s your towels, Hartley.
See note on Elliot Carlin, above.
Uh, let’s see … which room had the rumaki?
Rumaki is an appetizer, consisting of chicken livers and water chestnuts wrapped in bacon.
The trademark catchphrase of Fozzie Bear, one of the Muppets on The Muppet Show, which aired from 1976-1981. (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
I shouldn’t let Brian Epstein dress me.
Brian Epstein (1934-1967) was the manager of the Beatles, credited by many as the man who made their stunning success possible. He died young of an accidental drug overdose in 1967, and after his death the band rapidly started to unravel, ultimately breaking up in 1970.
The lion’s looking at me, Hartley.
See note on Elliot Carlin, above.
Look at that up there—it’s a coelacanth on the wall.
The coelacanth is a prehistoric fish that can grow as large as two meters long and 175 pounds. Its fossils are found widely from the Devonian period up to the end of the Cretaceous, at which point it was believed to have gone extinct—until a fisherman pulled one from a river in South Africa in 1938.
Welcome to my production of Tru.
Tru is a one-man show about the author and socialite Truman Capote, written by Jay Presson Allen.
Mammy! Mammy! I’d walk a million miles …
A reference to Al Jolson’s signature tune, “My Mammy.” Sample lyrics: “Mammy, my little Mammy/I'd walk a million miles/For one of your smiles/My Mammy! Oh oh oh …”
During my 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.
I’ve got a GED.
GED stands for General Educational Development—the standardized test for people who never graduated from high school; passing the GED is equivalent to earning a high school diploma.
The Roger Maris museum.
Roger Maris (1934-1985) was a right fielder for the New York Yankees in the 1960s. He is best remembered for having broken Babe Ruth’s record for most home runs in a single season, an achievement that had stood for thirty-four years. Maris held the record until 1998, when it was superseded by Mark McGwire.
And so does Hilton Kramer.
Hilton Kramer (1928-2012) was a cultural critic who served as the art critic for The Nation and later for The New York Times. In 1982 he founded The New Criterion magazine and served as its editor in chief.
It’s called Captain Eo.
Captain Eo is a short film starring Michael Jackson and Anjelica Huston. It debuted at Epcot Center in 1986.
This your drunk, Hartley?
See note on Elliot Carlin, above.
Is that Alf on the wall back there? –I hope so.
Alf was a TV sitcom about a wisecracking alien that moves in with a suburban family (the letters ALF stood for “Alien Life Form”). It aired from 1986-1990.
Except for Minnie Pearl.
Minnie Pearl was the stage name of actress Sarah Colley (1912-1996), who toured with the Grand Ole Opry beginning in 1940. Her trademark entrance line was “How-dee!” She retired from performing in 1991 after suffering a stroke.
The Mugwumps were …
The Mugwumps were a group of dissident Republicans who bolted the party in the presidential election of 1884. They voted for the Democratic candidate, Grover Cleveland, rather than support the Republican nominee, the corrupt James “Slippery Jim” Blaine. Cleveland was subsequently elected.
Tonight, in the Hollywood Palace!
The Hollywood Palace was a TV variety show that aired from 1964-1970. Hosted by a different guest every week and broadcast from the El Capitan theater in Los Angeles, the show featured such performers as the Rolling Stones and the Jackson 5 (in their first national television appearance).
Let’s look at Mr. Owl.
Possibly a reference to the long-running series of ads for Tootsie Pops, in which a cartoon owl was asked, “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?”
It’s Meow Meow Kitty!
Meow Meow Kitty was one of the characters in the Neighborhood of Make Believe, from the children’s TV show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968-2001).
I slapped Ann B. Davis once.
Ann B. Davis (1926-2014) was an actress best known for playing housekeeper Alice Nelson on the TV series The Brady Bunch, which aired from 1969-1974. (The Brady Bunch, of course, starred Bloodlust’s Robert Reed as Mike Brady.)
[Sung.] Whe-he-he-he-here is love?
Probably a reference to the song “Where Is Love?” from the musical Oliver. Sample lyrics: “Where is love?/Does it fall from skies above?/Is it underneath the willow tree/That I've been dreaming of?/Where is she?/Who I close my eyes to see?”
I could make play suits for the children!
In The Sound of Music, the governess, Maria, makes a set of play clothes for the Von Trapp children from a set of curtains. (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
Not the Ming spittoon!
The Ming dynasty that ruled China began in 1368 and lasted until 1644. It is renowned for its decorative porcelain, which characteristically emphasized blue and white designs. Ming vases have sold for up to $10 million apiece.
Damn you all to hell!
A famous line from the 1968 film Planet of the Apes.
Now fly, monkeys, fly!
“Fly, monkeys, fly” is a line from the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz.
[Hummed.] Wicked Witch theme.
This is the theme for the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz.
Brian Benben is an actor best known for his lead role on the HBO series Dream On. Ostensibly a comedy, the show was largely an excuse to showcase a series of attractive guest stars having sex with Benben.
Soul Train is a pop music television program with an African-American slant, featuring dancers wiggling away to the latest hits. It first aired in 1971 with longtime host Don Cornelius.
"Tony?" I lied.
A reference to Arnold Schwarzenegger's line in the 1985 movie Commando: "Remember, Sully, when I promised to kill you last? I lied." (Thanks to Bill Hiers for this reference.)
John Steinbeck in Of Mice and Murder.
John Steinbeck (1902-1968) was a Nobel Prize-winning author known for his works about rural laborers, such as The Grapes of Wrath and Tortilla Flat. Of Mice and Men, originally published in 1937, is a story of two itinerant laborers, one of them mentally slow, who inadvertently get caught up in a murder and become the targets of a lynch mob.
Rail, rail against the dying of the …
“Rage, rage against the dying of the light” is a famous line from the Dylan Thomas poem “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.”
It would be ironic if the tree of death got Dutch elm disease.
Dutch elm disease is a fungus that attacks elm trees, killing them sometimes within a month. It is spread by the elm bark beetle, which carries the fungus spores on its shell.
Cagney and Lacey—the attractive years.
Cagney and Lacey (1982-1988) was a TV show about two policewomen (played by Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly). Both Gless and Daly got quite stout when they grew older.
The Snoop Sisters—the early days.
The Snoop Sisters was a 1972-1974 TV series starring Helen Hayes and Mildred Natwick as two mystery writers who find themselves trying to solve real-life crimes.
Where angels go, trouble follows.
Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows is a 1968 film about a group of Catholic schoolgirls on a trip from the East Coast to the West Coast. It starred Rosalind Russell and Stella Stevens.
Come on, we have to find the secret to bock beer.
Bock beer is a type of lager originating in Munich, a strong beer with plenty of malt.
“Oh.” Mein papa.
“O Mein Papa” is a song from the German musical Feuerwerk (Fireworks). An English-language version recorded by Eddie Fisher was a number-one hit in 1954. Sample lyrics: “Oh, my papa, to me he was so wonderful/Oh, my papa, to me he was so good/No one could be so gentle and so lovable/Oh, my papa, he always understood.”
Hey, boulya’s done.
“Boulya” is a slang term for crack cocaine.
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Amongst our weaponry are …
A line from the “Spanish Inquisition” sketch on the BBC comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The full line: “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise … surprise and fear … fear and surprise … Our two weapons are fear and surprise … and ruthless efficiency … Our three weapons are fear, surprise and ruthless efficiency … and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope … Our four … no … Amongst our weapons … Amongst our weaponry are such elements as fear, surprise … I'll come in again.”
Bob Packwood goes a-courtin’.
Oregon Senator Robert Packwood served in the U.S. Senate from 1969 to 1995. He resigned his office in 1995 after the Senate Select Committee on Ethics recommended his expulsion due to a series of explosive sexual harassment charges, in which more than two dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct ranging from kissing to forceful groping.
Hey, Jondor, has my latest Ted Nugent bow-hunting magazine come yet?
Ted 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.
Look, John the Baptist!
John the Baptist is a Christian saint and is regarded as a prophet by Muslims as well. Christians consider him the forerunner of Jesus Christ. In the New Testament he is a preacher who encourages his followers to confess their sins and be baptized. According to the Gospels, he was imprisoned and beheaded by King Herod.
I think it’s Charlie Callas.
Charlie Callas (1924-2011) was an actor and comedian who appeared in The Snoop Sisters and High Anxiety, among many others.
Next year, let’s just go to Branson, Missouri.
Branson is a city in southwestern Missouri. Starting in the 1930s, the city began consciously to position itself as a tourist attraction; it is now considered the “family-friendly Las Vegas” because of its many attractions, which are located along a neon-lighted “strip.” It is particularly known for its musical acts, which consist largely of country and bluegrass. Featured acts include Ray Stevens and The Osmonds.
[Sung.] The night they invented champagne …
A line from the song “The Night They Invented Champagne,” from the musical Gigi. Sample lyrics: “The night they invented champagne/It's plain as it can be/They thought of you and me/The night they invented champagne/They absolutely knew/That all we'd want to do/Is fly to the sky on champagne …”
It turns out Rosebud was a sled. And The Crying Game? The chick had a … –Hey! Hey!
“Rosebud” was the enigmatic last word of Charles Foster Kane in the movie Citizen Kane. It was in fact the name of the sled he owned as an innocent boy. The Crying Game is a 1992 film about a guilt-ridden IRA terrorist who becomes involved with the girlfriend of a slain soldier; the woman (spoiler alert) is actually a transsexual man.
Chivalry, in case a woman comes by.
Sir Walter Raleigh (1554-1618) was a popular English courtier during the reign of Elizabeth I. A famous though apocryphal story has him laying his cloak over a mud puddle so that the queen might cross it without dirtying her shoes.
The defiant debs.
The Defiant Ones is a 1958 film starring Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier as two escaped convicts who, chained to each other, must learn to work together to evade capture. Both Curtis and Poitier were nominated for Best Actor Oscars for their work in the film.
Oh, this is the Osterman weekend.
The Osterman Weekend is a novel by Robert Ludlum about a TV reporter who discovers that his weekend guests may be KGB agents. It was made into a movie starring Rutger Hauer in 1983.
Visit the La Brea Tar Pits.
The La Brea Tar Pits are a tourist attraction in Los Angeles, an open pit where asphalt bubbles to the surface from the large petroleum deposits under the L.A. Basin. The pits have proved a treasure trove of preserved fossils from the prehistoric era, including mammoths and saber-toothed cats.
An imitation of Señor Wences (real name Wenceslao Moreno; 1896-1999), a Spanish ventriloquist who made frequent appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. He was known for his comic banter with a hand puppet named Johnny and a puppet hidden in a box who went by the name of Pedro. He died in 1999 at the age of 103.
Let me baptize you just once!
See note on John the Baptist, above.
Robert Reed is Buford T. Pusser in Prancing Tall.
Walking Tall is a 1973 film loosely based on real-life sheriff Buford Pusser, played by that slab of Southern-fried meat, Joe Don Baker himself. It spawned two sequels with Bo Svenson in the Baker role as well as a short-lived TV series, also starring Svenson.
Reduce, recycle, reuse.
“Reduce, reuse, recycle,” also known as the three R’s, is one of the central slogans of the environmental movement.
The Kraut is a lonely hunter.
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter is an autobiographical novel by Carson McCullers, about the lives of a group of people in a Southern town who become involved with a deaf-mute named John Singer. In 1968 it was made into a movie starring Alan Arkin.
[Hummed.] "On, Wisconsin!"
This is the fight song of the University of Wisconsin, Kevin Murphy's alma mater. (Heartfelt thanks to Neal Stidham for this reference.)
Damn the torpedoes, please.
“Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” is a famous order given by Union Admiral David Farragut during the Civil War battle of Mobile Bay, when his ships began to falter while entering a heavily mined area (mines at the time were called torpedoes). On his orders, the ships succeeded in entering the bay and the Union fleet won the battle, shutting down the Confederacy’s last major port on the Gulf of Mexico.
He’s a regular Sacagawea.
Sacagawea was an Indian woman married to a French-Canadian trapper, Touissant Charbonneau, who was hired to act as an interpreter for Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition. Sacagawea accompanied her husband on the journey. She wound up serving as a de facto guide for the explorers and helped them deal with the Indian tribes they encountered en route to the Pacific.
[Sung.] Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles …
A line from the German national anthem, “Das Lied der Deutschen” (“The Song of the Germans”). The tune, written by Joseph Haydn, was used as the anthem from 1922 through the end of the Nazi era; the current government uses the third verse of the song as its anthem. Sample lyrics: “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles/Über alles in der Welt …” (Germany, Germany above all/Above all else in the world …”).
Look at this—Lucas McCain’s armoire.
Lucas McCain was the main character of the TV western The Rifleman, which aired from 1958-1963. The part was played by Chuck Connors.
I’m the NRA.
“I’m the NRA” is an advertising slogan for the National Rifle Association, the powerful gun lobbying group.
Scooby-Doo: the motion picture.
Scooby-Doo was the name of the anthropomorphic dog who first appeared in the animated TV series Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, which aired from 1969-1972. He was voiced by Don Messick. The show spawned several dozen series, TV movies, videos, and live-action films.
I think I’ll settle in with some Erma Bombeck.
Erma Bombeck (1927-1996) was a humorist who had a popular syndicated newspaper column for decades. She tended to write about the stresses of family life, including raising children.
Maybe a little schnitzelbank for dinner?
“Schnitzelbank” is an old German drinking song. Sample lyrics: “Ist das nicht dein schnitzelbank?/ Ja, das ist mein schnitzelbank/ Ohhhh, du schoene/Ohhhh, du schoene/Ohhhh, du schoene/Schnit-zel-bank!” (“Isn't that your carving bench?/Yes, that is my carving bench/Oh, you wonderful carving bench!”)
Those darn Menendez boys.
In August 1989, brothers Lyle and Erik Menendez shot and killed their parents, Jose and Kitty Menendez, in their Beverly Hills mansion. At first the two brothers claimed they had been at the movies when their parents were killed; later, they admitted to the killings but claimed they were acting in self-defense after years of physical and sexual abuse. Prosecutors argued the true motive was Jose Menendez’s $14 million fortune. The first trial ended in a hung jury; at the second trial the two young men were convicted of first-degree murder. In 1996 they were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
A reference to Show 424, Manos, the Hands of Fate.
No cookies, not now, not ever, never!
A reference to an old skit on The Andy Williams Show (1969-1971), called the “cookie bear” skit, in which a guy in a bear suit would try various tactics to get Williams to give him a cookie. Each skit ended with Williams shrieking, “No cookies! Not now, not ever, never!”
[Sung.] But a cave is not a home …
A reference to the Luther Vandross song “A House Is Not a Home.” Sample lyrics: “A chair is still a chair, even when there's no one sittin' there/But a chair is not a house and a house is not a home/When there's no one there to hold you tight/And no one there you can kiss goodnight …”
Ladies and gentlemen, Spalding Gray!
Spalding Gray (1941-2004) was a performance artist whose works consisted of him sitting at a table and telling a story in a long monologue. His works included Swimming to Cambodia, Monster in a Box, and Gray’s Anatomy. He committed suicide in 2004.
See note on Al Jolson, above.
Linc. Julie. Over there.
Linc Hayes and Julie Barnes (played by Clarence Williams III and Peggy Lipton, respectively) were two of the hip young police narcs on the TV series The Mod Squad, which aired from 1968-1973. (The third was Pete Cochran, played by Michael Cole.)
We didn’t steal no bike, neither.
A reference to Show 514, Teenage Strangler.
David Letterman is a late-night talk show host known for his offbeat sense of humor. His eccentric talk show career began in 1980 with The David Letterman Show, an Emmy-winning morning program that aired on NBC for one season. In 1982, NBC launched Late Night with David Letterman, which aired after The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He remained there until Carson’s retirement and a highly public kerfuffle with NBC about who would be taking over The Tonight Show. NBC went with frequent guest host Jay Leno, and Letterman decided to jump ship to CBS when his contract ended. He started The Late Show with David Letterman in 1993 and remained there until he retired in 2015.