615: Kitten with a Whip
by Wyn Hilty
Oh, Anatomy of a Murder.
Anatomy of a Murder is a 1959 film starring Jimmy Stewart as a lawyer defending a man accused of killing his wife’s rapist. The famous title sequence, designed by Saul Bass, showed the names next to silhouetted body parts, accompanied by a brassy, jazzy score. Bass also did the famous titles for Psycho, which were very similar to these: stark parallel lines appearing and disappearing off the screen to reveal the credits.
Anyone else moiré-ing right now?
A moiré pattern occurs when two sets of parallel lines are overlapped, producing a kind of visual feedback.
I always thought it was Ann-Margrock.
In the first episode of season four of The Flintstones, titled “Ann-Margrock Presents,” Ann-Margret played a prehistoric version of herself, who came to Bedrock to perform a concert and stayed with Fred and Wilma.
She sang two songs in the episode, but “Twitch, twitch” is actually from a different song, “The Bedrock Twitch,” which Fred sang in the third season episode “The Twitch.”
Oh, it’s the UPC code for this movie.
The Universal Product Code (commonly known as the UPC code or the bar code) is a code placed on products so they can be identified by bar code scanners in stores. It was introduced in 1974. The first item ever scanned was a pack of Juicy Fruit gum. It cost 67 cents.
[Title: Kitten with a Whip.] Ooh, the hottest Garfield episode ever.
“Garfield” is a comic strip created by Jim Davis, about a lazy, greedy cat and his hapless owner Jon. It first appeared in 1978 and was hugely popular during the 1980s. By 2004 it was raking in up to $1 billion a year in merchandising.
Hamster who writes a strong letter to the Times.
The venerable newspaper The New York Times is often just called “the Times.”
Ha! Whip me! I feel good!
An imitation of “The Godfather of Soul,” James Brown—specifically his 1965 song “I Got You (I Feel Good).”
I hope Doodles Weaver isn’t the kitten.
Doodles Weaver (1911-1983) was a comic actor who appeared on the old Spike Jones radio program as Professor Feetlebaum (sometimes spelled Feitlebaum) and appeared in a series of silent comedy shorts for TV in the 1960s.
This is where the Pink Panther comes in.
The Pink Panther movies starred comedian Peter Sellers as the bumbling Inspector Jacques Clouseau. Sellers eventually appeared in six Pink Panther movies; several others were made after Sellers’s death in 1980. The famous theme, composed by Henry Mancini, won three Grammy Awards.
I think Jerry Lewis did a pantomime to this music in a leotard.
Jerry Lewis is a comedian and actor who got his start in the 1940s alongside Dean Martin in the Martin and Lewis comedy team. He made an enormously popular series of slapstick comedies in the 1950s and 1960s, including The Bellboy (1960) and The Nutty Professor (1963).
You know, Ann-Margret can raise a few welts on me any day. I tell you, she’s something else. Oh, man.
An imitation of comedian/actor Bob Hope's (1903-2003) typically lustful way of talking about his attractive co-stars.
Chucky is the homicidal living doll in the series of Child’s Play horror flicks; the first came out in 1988. He was voiced by Brad Dourif.
The hills are alive …
The opening line to the song “The Sound of Music,” from the musical of the same name. Sample lyrics: “The hills are alive with the sound of music/With songs they have sung for a thousand years/The hills fill my heart with the sound of music/My heart wants to sing every song it hears …”
Ann-Margret, in the Woody Guthrie story.
Woody Guthrie (1912-1967) was a folk singer best known for penning “This Land Is Your Land.” He rode the trains for a time during the Depression, and wrote several songs romanticizing the lifestyle.
I am a fugitive from a slumber party.
I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang is a 1932 film starring Paul Muni as a wrongly accused man who escapes a brutal chain gang. The movie was based on Robert Burns’ autobiography, I Am a Fugitive From a Georgia Chain Gang. The film helped raise awareness of the brutality of forced prison labor.
Oh, man, how am I going to get to the hobo gathering?
The National Hobo Convention has been held every August in Britt, Iowa, since 1900. It attracts about 20,000 tourists, and about 75 actual hobos.
Uh, ma’am? Ma’am, you forgot your hot rollers.
Hot rollers are a hairstyling device that involves hair curlers being heated individually and retaining the heat while styling hair.
Super City. You build it. Ann-Margret not included.
Super City was a building kit, similar to Lego, that was sold briefly in the late 1960s. It was too complicated for most kids, so it didn’t last long.
Oh, she’s going to go vandalize Mr. Ed’s house.
Mister Ed was a TV sitcom about a talking horse that aired from 1961-1966.
Interesting, but sexy.
An imitation of comedian Arte Johnson on the TV sketch comedy show Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (1968-1973), who would peer from a bush, dressed as a German soldier, to inform the audience that the preceding sketch was “Very interesting, but stupid!”
She’s standing on Donna Reed.
Donna Reed (1921-1986) was an actress who personified the wholesome 1950s woman. In one scene in the film It's a Wonderful Life, Reed, playing Mary Hatch, loses her bathrobe and hides briefly in a hydrangea bush.
Nobody reads the Voice anymore.
The Village Voice is an alternative weekly newspaper in New York City. Founded in 1955 (by Norman Mailer, among others), it features investigative reporting and extensive arts coverage. Like most alt-weeklies, has been hit hard by the newspaper crash; its current circulation is around 150,000, down from 250,000 at its peak.
I just have to know if the Twins lost again.
The Minnesota Twins are a professional baseball team based in Minneapolis. In 1994, when this episode aired, the Minnesota Twins’ win-loss record was a decent 53-60. In 2016 it stood at 59-103. Ouch.
Hi, I’m Ann-Margret. I’m selling candy to keep kids like me off the street.
Unsurprisingly, the “candy kids” who sell door-to-door in the summer are a scam, frequently exploiting runaways who are often abused.
Ethan Allen galleries. For great American homes like yours. –That’s Sears.
Ethan Allen is an upscale chain of furniture stores founded in 1932. It has more than 300 locations nationwide. “For great American homes like yours” was a slogan used to sling Sears-brand paint in the ‘90s.
Mr. Letterman? Darling?
Over the years, talk show host David Letterman was dogged by a persistent stalker named Margaret Ray who repeatedly trespassed on his property and even stole his car, claiming that she was his wife and that he was the father of her son. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent time in jail and mental institutions. In 1998 she committed suicide by kneeling in front of an oncoming train.
Oh, it’s Michael Jackson’s house.
Michael Jackson (1958-2009) was a singer and dancer who began his career as a child, performing with his brothers as the Jackson 5 in the 1960s and 1970s. He became super-ultra-mega huge as a solo pop singer in the 1980s, with hits such as “Beat It” and “Thriller.” Much was made of his eccentricities, including his fashion style of wearing only one sequined glove, his pet chimp, and his habit of sleeping in an oxygen tent to revitalize himself. In later years his eccentricities began to appear darker: his fondness for children exploded into scandal when a 13-year-old boy accused the singer of molesting him in 1993.
A little peek into Doodles Weaver’s lifestyle.
See note on Doodles Weaver, above.
Okay, we meet later and frag Shari Lewis.
“Fragging” is the act of soldiers assassinating their own commanding officer, usually because he is seen as incompetent or leading them into danger. The term comes from “fragmentation grenade,” and originated during the Vietnam War, where gung-ho but inexperienced lieutenants were often put in command of platoons of battle-hardened soldiers, a combination that did not lead to confidence in leadership. It's estimated that around 900-1,000 fragging incidents took place in Vietnam, but very few were prosecuted, as they were easily concealed as battlefield errors, sabotage, or enemy actions. Shari Lewis (1933-1998) was a ventriloquist who starred in several children’s television shows, beginning in 1960. Her most famous puppet was Lamb Chop.
Russ Meyer’s Goldilocks.
Russ Meyer (1922-2004) was a movie director who made a string of films in the 1960s and 1970s featuring women with extremely large breasts. His films include Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (generally acknowledged to be his masterpiece) and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” is a traditional fairy tale about a little blond girl who breaks into a house owned by three bears. The original version featured an old woman instead of a young girl.
Dear Penthouse Forum: I’m an average stuffed animal at a small Midwestern college …
An imitation of the type of letters frequently received at the “Penthouse Forum,” a column published in Penthouse magazine, in which readers would write in explicit letters about their “real-life” sexual experiences, most of which were wildly implausible. The magazine based on the column is now called Penthouse Letters.
We can rebuild you, John. You’ll be faster. Stronger.
An imitation of the opening narration of the TV series The Six Million Dollar Man, which aired from 1974-1978: “Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.” The narration was voiced by Richard Anderson, who played Steve Austin’s boss in The Six Million Dollar Man and is playing the role of campaign manager Grant in Kitten with a Whip.
“Ah, yes. The public image.” Limited.
Public Image Ltd. was a rock group fronted by John Lydon (formerly Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols). It debuted in 1978 and released a string of albums during the 1980s before disbanding in 1993.
Tee off on this, Oscar Goldman.
Oscar Goldman was Steve Austin’s boss on the TV series The Six Million Dollar Man (see above note).
It’s the twentieth hour of the telethon, ladies and gentlemen, and we’re halfway to our goal.
For 44 years, comedian Jerry Lewis worked diligently to raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association by hosting an annual 21-hour Labor Day telethon along with an assortment of guest stars. Over his years with the organization, Lewis raised more than $2 billion for the cause. (Thanks to Casey Scott for this reference.)
Now to put on some Pampers and watch Flower Drum Song.
Pampers are a brand of disposable diaper. Pampers inventor Victor Mills used his grandchildren as his test subjects in the ‘50s. Flower Drum Song is a musical by Joseph Fields and Oscar Hammerstein about a Chinese woman new to San Francisco who falls in love with a man her family disapproves of. It was made into a movie in 1961.
Smells like Elvis in there.
Elvis Presley (1935-1977), the King of Rock and Roll, was one of the most popular musicians from the 1950s until his death in the late 1970s. After he and Ann-Margret made Viva Las Vegas together, the two were linked romantically for a time.
Sweeney Todd is a homicidal barber who became famous as a villain in Victorian penny dreadfuls; he is best known now through Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Hi, Guy. –Mona!
In a series of commercials for Right Guard deodorant that ran in the 1970s, an everyman opens his bathroom cabinet and finds a deranged neighbor (played by Chuck McCann) on the other side, who addresses him as “guy.” The neighbor explains that they have to share the cabinet and enquires about the Right Guard stocked there. Eventually the first man would make a face like a colicky baby and plaintively call out “Mona!” to his wife off-screen. (Thanks to Basil for this reference.)
Did Johnny Hodges let himself in?
Johnny Hodges (1906-1970) was a renowned alto saxophone player. He played in Duke Ellington’s orchestra for 40 years.
Stanley Myron Handelman.
Stanley Myron Handelman (1929-2007) was a comedian and actor who was a fixture on TV variety shows. He also appeared on a short-lived TV series, Make Room for Granddaddy (1970).
“Has Lieutenant Woodman come in yet?” He’s with Mr. Kotter, sir.
Welcome Back, Kotter was a TV series that aired from 1975 to 1979. It starred Gabe Kaplan as a teacher in an inner-city high school. Kotter’s boss was Michael Woodman, the assistant principal (and later principal) of the high school, played by John Sylvester White.
L’Eggo my Eggo!
“L’Eggo my Eggo” is a longtime ad slogan for Eggo frozen waffles, used from 1972-2011 and revived in 2014.
I think Senator Kennedy might have handled this differently.
Ted Kennedy (1932-2009) was a senator from Massachusetts, in his last years one of the few old-school liberals in Congress. He had a fairly messy personal life, dogged by rumors of drinking and womanizing. In 1969 his car went off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, drowning the young woman who was his passenger; the scandal almost ended his political career.
The V.C. kept coming. I couldn’t keep them off me.
“V.C.” is short for Viet Cong, the Western name for the rebel army opposing the government of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Their actual name was the National Liberation Front.
My parents were Manx.
Manx are a breed of cat originating from the Isle of Man. They are distinctive for lacking tails.
“Then Barney stumbled into my room.” Baby Bop too.
Baby Bop is a small green dinosaur who appears on the kiddie TV show Barney & Friends, which aired for many years on PBS. See note on Barney, below. (Thanks to Casey Scott for this reference.)
Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, right?
Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus is a self-help book by counselor John Gray, about the difficulties men and women have in maintaining relationships.
Sorry, a little bit of the King slipped out there.
See note on Elvis Presley, above.
The Gestapo were the secret police force of Nazi Germany, charged with investigating treason, espionage, sabotage, and other “tendencies dangerous to the state.” It operated without judicial oversight and thus was subject to tremendous abuses of power. The word “gestapo” has come to mean any brutal police force.
Well, let me show you something in the Ruth Buzzi line of leather and PVC.
Angular comedian Ruth Buzzi is best known for her appearances on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, which aired from 1968-1973.
An imitation of Floyd Lawson, Mayberry’s town barber on the TV sitcom The Andy Griffith Show (CBS, 1960-1968). In his first appearance, the character was portrayed by Walter Baldwin. In every subsequent episode, he was played by Howard McNear (1905-1969), who brought a trademark vocal style to the part. The character was based on a man named Russell who cut Andy Griffith’s hair at the barber shop in his hometown of Mt. Airy, North Carolina, on which Mayberry was based.
“Someday I’ll be rich and famous.” I’ll be the prize Pulitzer.
The Pulitzer Prize is an annual award given for excellence in print journalism, including books. It was established in the late 19th century by newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer. In 1987, Roxanne Pulitzer published a tell-all autobiography called Roxanne: The Prize Pulitzer in the wake of her bitter divorce from Pulitzer heir Peter. The book was made into a TV movie in 1989. (Thanks to Rosemary for the Roxanne Pulitzer reference.)
“So long, Jody.” Bye, Buffy.
Jody and Buffy were two of the children on the TV show Family Affair, which aired from 1966 to 1971. (The third child was a teenage girl named Cissy.) The show starred Brian Keith as Bill Davis, a carefree swinging bachelor who suddenly found himself in custody of three orphans, whom he cared for with the assistance of his supercilious valet, Mr. French.
Suzy Chapstick was arraigned today …
Skier Suzy Chaffee starred in an ad campaign for Chapstick lip balm in the 1970s in which she was dubbed “Suzy Chapstick.”
There’s a thing on Fabio!
Fabio Lanzoni, known mononymically as Fabio, is a male model known for his flowing blond locks and muscular physique. He became famous in the 1980s and '90s posing for a series of romance novel covers and went on to appear in movies and TV shows, often playing himself.
“She looked a little like …” Dee Snider.
Dee Snider was the lead singer for the heavy metal band Twisted Sister, known chiefly for its song “We’re Not Going to Take It.”
Oh, Adam Sandler.
Adam Sandler is a comedian and actor who has enjoyed amazing success with a series of fairly lowbrow, feel-good movies, including The Wedding Singer (1998) and Mr. Deeds (2002). He got his start on Saturday Night Live, where he appeared from 1991-1995. Despite critics’ almost universal hatred for Sandler, his films have grossed more than $2.5 billion at the box office.
Oh, please, God, make it happen again. Maybe this time Sue Lyon. Joey Heatherton! Oh, please, please, please.
Sue Lyon was an actress and sex symbol in the 1960s, who got her start playing Lolita in the 1962 film of the same name. Joey Heatherton was a popular singer/actress/Vegas mainstay during the 1960s, whose persona as a purring sex kitten carried her on a crest of popularity through the decade. She was particularly well known for touring with Bob Hope on his USO shows. However, in the 1970s she fell out of vogue and began to have increasing drug and health problems. She was arrested for possession several times and has largely disappeared from the public consciousness.
Hey, someone stole my banana-seat bike!
Banana seat bikes were children’s bikes with long seats and high handlebars, popular during the 1960s. They were meant to look like “chopper” motorcycles.
Carl Stalling’s in his house.
Carl Stalling (1891-1972) was a composer who worked as the musical director for Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes cartoons from 1936-1958.
Hey, something good!
Three Warner Bros. shorts starring Sylvester the Cat won Oscars—a record for a featured Looney Tunes character.
Oh, that’s right, I rented the spare room to Elmer Fudd.
Elmer Fudd was also a Looney Tunes character, a hunter usually pitted against Bugs Bunny, although he appeared with Sylvester in a few cartoons.
There’s a rabbit boiling on the stove for you.
In the 1987 film Fatal Attraction, Glenn Close breaks into Michael Douglas’s house after they have a one-night stand and kills his family’s pet rabbit, cooking it on the stove.
“God knows what I might do to you if you ever bruise me.” Did you ever read The Burning Bed?
The Burning Bed is a nonfiction book by Faith McNulty, about a battered woman who killed her husband by setting him on fire while he was sleeping. It was made into a TV movie starring Farrah Fawcett in 1984.
Ann, move. I wanna see Sylvester.
Sylvester was most often paired with the much smarter Tweety Bird.
“You do remember Barney, don’t you?” He loves you, you love him?
Barney the big purple dinosaur is a staple of kiddie programming, much to the dismay of many parents. His kids’ show, Barney and Friends, has aired on PBS since 1992. Barney’s signature song goes, “I love you/You love me/We're a happy family/With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you/Won't you say you love me too.”
“That was the truth.” [Edith Ann raspberry.]
An imitation of Edith Ann, a character created and performed by American actress and comedian Lily Tomlin on the skit comedy show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (she also played Edith Ann elsewhere, including voicing the character in two animated specials in 1994). Edith Ann is a precocious and philosophical five-year-old girl, who espouses monologues about her home life and the adult world from an oversized rocking chair (designed to make Tomlin appear child-sized). She would end her proclamations with “And that’s the truth …” followed by a big “raspberry.”
“You need a lot more help than I can give you.” You need Joel Hyatt.
Joel Hyatt is an attorney, the founder of Hyatt Legal Services, a low-cost law firm. Hyatt appeared in the firm’s television commercials, with the tagline, “I’m Joel Hyatt, and you have my word on it.”
“Every dirty little mind in town.” Oh, Prince.
Prince (1958-2016) was a Minneapolis musician who was one of the seminal musical talents of the 1980s; his 1980 album was titled Dirty Mind.
Possibly a reference to the Coasters song “Along Came Jones.” Sample lyrics: “I plopped down in my easy chair and turned on Channel 2/A bad gunslinger called Salty Sam was chasin' poor Sweet Sue/He trapped her in the old sawmill and said with an evil laugh/’If you don't give me the deed to your ranch/I'll saw you all in half!’”
You turned off Doodles Weaver!
See note on Doodles Weaver, above.
Yes, I saw it. I love Doodles Weaver.
See note on Doodles Weaver, above.
“Is Cathy there?” She’s trying on a bathing suit and saying “Aack” right now.
“Cathy” was a comic strip by Cathy Guisewite about a young woman who is perpetually overweight and eternally frazzled. It ran from 1976-2010.
You know, Endora’s never done anything for me.
Endora was Darrin Stephens’s impossible mother-in-law on the TV sitcom Bewitched, which aired from 1964-1972. The part was played by a flamboyant Agnes Moorehead.
This line is one of the catchphrases from the Jim Carrey movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.
[Sung.] Star Trek incidental music.
Titled “Ruth,” this music was composed by Gerald Fried and used in romantic moments in the Star Trek episodes “Shore Leave” and “This Side of Paradise.”
He’d never touch you, picture. You’re dirt.
A reference to Show 522, Teen-Age Crime Wave.
“You’re so physical.” Let me hear your body talk.
A line from the Olivia Newton John song “Let’s Get Physical.” Sample lyrics: “Let's get physical, physical/I wanna get physical, let's get into physical/Let me hear your body talk/Your body talk, let me hear your body talk …”
It’s probably the Senate Ethics Committee dropping by unannounced. Again.
The predecessor to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics was created the year after this movie was released; the actual Ethics Committee was born in 1977.
Is Colonel Sanders back from the dead or what?
Colonel Harland Sanders was the man who, in 1940, came up with the famous “original recipe” and founded Kentucky Fried Chicken. His title was purely honorary.
Oh, she was eating a Clark Bar, and …
Clark Bars are a type of candy bar sold as far back as 1886. They are manufactured by Necco.
The crawling eye!
A reference to Show 101, The Crawling Eye.
“Of course, Cathy!” Is trying on a bathing suit and saying “Aack!”
See note on “Cathy,” above.
“That girl!” Marlo Thomas.
That Girl was a television series that aired from 1966-1971. It starred Marlo Thomas as Ann Marie, an aspiring actress struggling to make it in New York City.
Pinchas Zukerman is an Israeli violinist and conductor.
“Right.” You’re bloody well right.
A line from the song “Bloody Well Right” by Supertramp. Sample lyrics: “You say it all depends on money/And who is in your family tree/Right, you’re bloody well right/You know you got a right to say …”
It’s just Oscar. I’ll get the Fleischmann’s out.
Fleischmann’s is a brand of margarine made by Oscar Mayer.
The young Gladys Kravitz chronicles.
Gladys and Abner Kravitz were the nosy neighbors on the television sitcom Bewitched, which aired from 1964-1972. Gladys was played at various times by Sandra Gould and Alice Pearce. 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 10; and as a young man in his late teens.
She looked like Pebbles.
Pebbles Flintstone was the young daughter on the animated TV series The Flintstones, which aired from 1960-1966. She was voiced by Jean Vander Pyl, who also supplied the voice of Wilma Flintstone.
You have the mark of the beast on you.
The “mark of the beast” is a term from the book of Revelations in the Bible. It is a mark placed on the hand or forehead of those who follow the Antichrist. One view of Revelations is that the “mark of the beast” referred to the image of the Roman emperor on coins; the Greek word charagma also meant a mark stamped on a coin.
Who are you, Lovejoy? Leave me alone.
Lovejoy was a BBC TV series about an antiques dealer (played by a young Ian McShane) who continually stumbles onto mysteries.
I’ll have to get her her own Princess phone.
The Princess phone was introduced in 1959 by the Bell System, back when the entire American phone system was owned by a mega-monopoly. As such, there were very few choices when it came to styles of phones. Marketed to women, the Princess phone was slim, compact, and with its light-up dial serving double duty as a nightlight, intended for ladies’ bedside tables.
She’s calling Bob Woodward.
Bob Woodward is the famed journalist known for his role in uncovering the Watergate scandal for the Washington Post, which ultimately forced President Richard M. Nixon to resign. He won the Pulitzer Prize for that coverage. Since then he has written a number of nonfiction books.
Nurse Ratched is the head of the mental hospital ward in the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. Starched, repressive, and forbidding, she serves as the antagonist in the book. The role was played in the 1975 film by Louise Fletcher, for which she won an Oscar.
“Well, she was …” A flibbertigibbet, a will o’ the wisp, a clown.
A line from the song “Maria” from the musical The Sound of Music. Sample lyrics: “How do you solve a problem like Maria?/How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?/How do you find a word that means Maria?/A flibbertigibbet! A will o' the wisp! A clown!”
I can take Ken Norton in four.
Ken Norton was a heavyweight boxer in the 1970s who famously fought Muhammad Ali three times. The third time Ali claimed he would KO Norton within five rounds; the fight lasted 15 before the judges gave it to Ali.
[Sung.] Smooth operator … smooth operator …
A line from the song “Smooth Operator” by Sade. It was the British band’s fourth single but their first U.S. hit. Sample lyrics: “No need to ask/He's a smooth operator, smooth operator, smooth operator, smooth operator.”
Do we have any Chex mix?
Chex mix is a traditional Middle America snack mix containing Chex cereal, nuts, bagel chips, pretzels, margarine, and spices. Recipes for Chex mix began appearing on Chex cereal boxes as far back as 1952; recipes for “TV snack mixes” became popular as television became more widely available.
Sam, are you scheming?
A reference to Samantha Stephens, the housewife/witch on the TV series Bewitched. The role was played by Elizabeth Montgomery.
Avon calling. Avon calling. Avon calling. Avon calling. Avon calling.
“Ding-dong, Avon calling” is an advertising slogan for the direct-sales cosmetics company that dates to the 1960s.
It’s the cast from Bernice Bobs Her Hair.
“Bernice Bobs Her Hair” is a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a young woman in the 1920s learning to be more modern. It was made into a TV movie starring Shelley Duvall in 1976.
He’s got to get back to the set of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a 1968 movie about a magical car. The film was based on a children’s book written by Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond novels. Fleming was apparently inspired by a series of racing cars built by Count Louis Zborowski, which were nicknamed Chitty Bang Bang.
“You’ve been such a buddy to the buddy.” Comin’ through the rye.
A reference to the poem “Coming Thro’ the Rye” by Robert Burns. Sample lines: “Gin a body meet a body/Coming thro' the rye,/Gin a body kiss a body -/Need a body cry?”
Well, I gave her Femiron, if that’s what you mean.
Femiron is a dietary supplement for women.
“Give us this day our daily dread.” Irie, mon.
“Irie” is a Jamaican word used by Rastafarians; it means “excellent” and is often used as a greeting.
From 1957-62, John Forsythe starred on a TV show called Bachelor Father, in which he played a rich California attorney raising his orphaned niece.
“Thieves, Mr. Stratton, please.” We’re gypsies and tramps.
A reference to Cher's number-one hit song “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves.” Sample lyrics: “Gypsies, tramps, and thieves/We'd hear it from the people of the town/They'd call us Gypsies, tramps, and thieves/But every night all the men would come around/And lay their money down.”
Neil Bush is the son of former President George Bush and the younger brother of George W. Bush. He is the black sheep of the family; in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he presided over the collapse of the Silverado Savings and Loan, which cost taxpayers roughly $1 billion. And in 2003 he embarrassed his brother with a highly publicized and nasty divorce battle that included infidelity and rumors of voodoo.
Scenes for young actors, here.
Scenes for Young Actors is a book by Lorraine and Stephen Cohen featuring short scenes taken from plays like Uncle Vanya and The Crucible, meant for use in acting classes.
Offer void in Ohio.
Various states are excluded from TV offers. Pre-‘90s, Nebraska was often out of luck: the Strategic Air Command was there, so it was a good place for call centers, and in-state contests were verboten.
Why, thank you, Rocky.
A reference to the sidekick squirrel on The Bullwinkle Show, which aired from 1961-1973. The character was voiced by June Foray, who also voiced Cindy Lou Who, Lucifer the Cat in Cinderella, and many more.
Possibly a reference to the 1974 film Freebie and the Bean, about two San Francisco police detectives, played by Alan Arkin and James Caan. (Thanks to Michael Gilstrap for this reference.)
“No pain, buddy.” Not with new Aleve.
Aleve is an over-the-counter painkiller that bills itself as the solution for minor arthritis pain.
She looks like a Dodge Neon.
The Dodge Neon is an economy car manufactured by Chrysler.
You know, these guys are about as intimidating as Chad and Jeremy.
Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde were a dreamy folk-rock musical duo popular in the 1960s, with hits such as “A Summer Song” and “Willow Weep for Me.”
“Love.” Soft as an easy chair.
A line from the Barbra Streisand song “Evergreen,” also known as the theme to her film A Star Is Born. It won an Oscar, a Grammy, and a Golden Globe. Sample lyrics: “Love, soft as an easy chair/Love, fresh as the morning air/One love that is shared by two/I have found with you.”
[Sung.] Sunday, Monday, happy days …
A line from the theme song to the sitcom Happy Days, which aired from 1974-1984. For the first two seasons it was only used in the closing credits; the opening credits used “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and His Comets. Sample lyrics: “Sunday, Monday, happy days/Tuesday, Wednesday, happy days/Thursday, Friday, happy days/Saturday, what a day/Rockin’ all week with you …
Oh, no, Edith Prickley’s nude!
Edith Prickley was the leopard-print-loving station manager on SCTV, a Canadian comedy show. The part was played by Andrea Martin.
And so it came to Joe Pass, in the ruby days of Caesar Augustus …
Joe Pass (1929-1994) was a well-known and respected jazz guitarist who worked with Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson. Also a reference to Luke 2:1 in the Bible: "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed."
I still think Charades would have been fun.
Charades is a game in which one player acts out a word or phrase, and the other players try to guess what it is. It has its roots in a French riddle game of the 18th century, which turned into the familiar parlor game in the 19th century.
What is she, rolfing herself?
Rolfing, also known as structural integration, is a form of massage whose advocates say can heal all sorts of health problems.
Say, old brick, would you grab me a G&T?
G&T stands for gin & tonic, an alcoholic cocktail consisting of gin and tonic water, usually garnished with a wedge of lime.
[Sung.] Happy birthday, Mr. Senator …
An imitation of actress and sex symbol Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy in 1962. She famously had been sewn into her dress for the occasion.
I recently had soft dome tweeters installed.
The soft dome tweeter was invented in 1967 by audio pioneer Bill Hecht after people at audio shows kept prodding at his inflexible dome tweeters, often cracking them.
I want to hear “Puff the Magic Dragon” again.
“Puff the Magic Dragon” is a song by Peter, Paul & Mary. Despite persistent rumors, the song’s authors have consistently denied that it is about smoking marijuana. Sample lyrics: “Puff, the magic dragon, lived by the sea/And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honalee …”
“I feel no pain.” And an island never cries …
A paraphrase of lines from the 1965 song “I Am a Rock,” written by Paul Simon and recorded by the folk duo Simon & Garfunkel, appearing on their 1966 album Sounds of Silence. Sample lyrics: “Hiding in my room, safe within my womb/I touch no one and no one touches me/I am a rock, I am an island/And a rock feels no pain/And an island never cries.”
I’ve been to the mountaintop, and I have dug it, baby.
A reference to Martin Luther King Jr.’s last speech, made on April 3, 1968. At the end, he talked about the possibility of dying; the next day he was murdered. His actual words: “Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind.”
Payne Stewart: holy man.
Payne Stewart (1957-1999) was a professional golfer known for his habit of wearing knickers and a cloth cap on the course. He died in a plane crash in 1999.
“About love and loyalty …” Poems and prayers and promises.
A line from the 1971 song “Poems, Prayers & Promises” by John Denver. Sample lyrics: “And talk of poems and prayers and promises/And things that we believe in/How sweet it is to love someone/How right it is to care …”
Will Durant, J.D.
Will Durant (1885-1981) was a historian who, with his wife Ariel Durant, wrote the epic eleven-volume The Story of Civilization. He was known for producing sweeping works concentrating on the larger vistas of human history, and his works were aimed at the layman rather than at academics. Perhaps because of this, his work has frequently been subject to criticism from other historians.
Forrest Gump is a 1994 movie starring Tom Hanks as a man with less-than-average intelligence who happens to be present at many of the great moments in recent history. In the book the film is based on, Forrest is more of an autistic savant.
An imitation of Jeffrey Tambor’s character, Hank Kingsley, saying his signature catchphrase on the 1990s HBO sitcom The Larry Sanders Show.
Shave and a haircut, two bits?
The tune for the couplet “Shave and a haircut, two bits” originated in an 1899 song called “At a Darktown Cakewalk”; in 1939 the same seven notes were used in a song called “Shave and a Haircut—Shampoo.” Over the years the phrase mutated into the form it is known by today.
Tonight, on medical senator.
Medical Center was a TV drama set in a hospital in Los Angeles. It aired from 1969-1976 and starred James Daly and Chad Everett.
Watch, next someone’ll spill a mai tai on the white carpet.
A mai tai is a cocktail made from rum, curacao, and lime juice, along with other ingredients depending on which recipe you use. The founder of Trader Vic’s, as well as his main rival, claims to have invented it.
Midget’s bucket? Billy Barty’s bucket?
Billy Barty (1924-2000), who plays the imp in Show 806, The Undead, was a prolific actor who also crusaded for societal acceptance of little people. He founded Little People of America in 1957 to work toward that goal. He appeared in more than 80 films and TV series during his lengthy career.
“I’m dying in a rush.” [Sung.] And I’m hooked on a feeling.
A line from the song “Hooked on a Feeling,” originally recorded by B.J. Thomas and famously covered by Blue Swede. Sample lyrics: “I'm hooked on a feeling/I'm high on believing/That you're in love with me …”
We must pray to Vaal.
In “The Apple” episode of the original Star Trek TV series, surfer-type natives lived an idyllic life enslaved to a giant machine god, Vaal.
It’s only my two-hundred-year-old VSOP; could you save me a little?
VSOP stands for “very superior old pale”; it is a grade of cognac indicating that the brandy has been stored in a cask for at least four years before being sold.
[Sung.] She’s the top, she’s the Mona Lisa …
A paraphrase of the song “You’re the Top” by Cole Porter. It was the breakout song from the 1934 musical Anything Goes. Sample lyrics: “You're the Nile/You're the Tower of Pisa/You're the smile on the Mona Lisa/I'm a worthless check, a total wreck, a flop/But if, baby, I'm the bottom you're the top!”
They’ve got to go pick up Goober.
Goober Pyle, played by George Lindsey, was a mechanic at Wally’s Filling Station on The Andy Griffith Show. His name was originally Goober Beasley, but was quickly changed to Pyle.
Hey, a Hoppity Hop!
A Hoppity Hop is a large rubber ball with a handle on the top, designed for kids to sit on and bounce. In Britain they are called space hoppers and in Italy, pon-pons. It was a popular toy during the 1970s and 1980s and is still sold today.
Suddenly it’s Pow Wow Highway.
Powwow Highway is a 1989 film about two Cheyenne on a road trip to get a relative out of jail. It was based on the novel by David Seals.
How would you like it if somebody picked your apples?
A reference to the talking apple tree’s line in The Wizard of Oz (1939): “How would you like it if someone came along and picked something off of you?”
I think I hear a giant sucking sound.
In 1992, as the country was debating the wisdom of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), businessman and presidential candidate Ross Perot came out against it during one of the presidential debates, saying, “There will be a giant sucking sound [as jobs go] south.”
Typical road trip with a headliner.
Many of the MST3K writers were standup comics working in clubs all around the Midwest, and it was common for standups to travel together cheaply. If someone who was headlining was among them, they’d be the person most likely to have annoying ego issues.
Yes, OSHA recommends rolling up your window.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a section of the Department of Labor, charged with ensuring workplace safety. When OSHA was created, about 14,000 U.S. workers died on the job every year. Today that number has dropped to about 4,000.
Welcome to Mexico! [Sung.] Mariachi music.
A representation of “Jarabe Tapatío,” better known as “The Mexican Hat Dance.”
[Imitating Frankenstein’s monster.] Rrrr! Rrrr!
Frankenstein is an 1818 novel by Mary Shelley about a scientist who transgresses the laws of God by bringing a dead man back to life. It has been adapted to film countless times, with the most famous being the 1931 version starring Boris Karloff. Although in the novel the creature is sensitive and articulate, teaching himself to speak and read, in the movies he usually communicates with grunts and roars.
Oh, look, they’ve entered the Magic Kingdom.
The Magic Kingdom is the longtime nickname of Disneyland. There is also a Magic Kingdom theme park in Orlando, Florida that opened in 1971. An old-fashioned drawbridge leads to Sleeping Beauty’s castle and the entrance to Fantasyland at Disneyland. It does work, but has only been used twice in the park’s history.
They’re on the set of Old Gringo.
Old Gringo is a 1989 film about a schoolteacher kidnapped by rebels during the Mexican Revolution. It starred Jane Fonda, Gregory Peck, and Jimmy Smits.
Again, she’s on to me. Spassky himself would have fallen for that one.
Boris Spassky is a Russian chess player who famously lost the chess world championship to Bobby Fischer in 1972. It was the first time in 24 years that a non-Soviet had won the title.
[Sung.] Happy trails to you …
A line from the song “Happy Trails,” which was the theme song for Dale Evans and Roy Rogers; it was written by Evans. Sample lyrics: “Happy trails to you, until we meet again/Happy trails to you, keep smilin' until then/Who cares about the clouds when we're together?/Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.”
Saigon. 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.”
Cinnamon crispanos—where can I get some cinnamon crispanos?
In the 1980s, Taco Bell sold fried, cinnamon sugar-dusted tortilla chips called Cinnamon Crispas—basically their version of churros.
But I don’t want to run with the bulls! No!
Every year in Pamplona, Spain, between July 7 and 14, the “running of the bulls” is held, in which people and bulls run a marked-off course through the town. Deaths are relatively rare, but injuries are not. Between 50-100 people are injured annually; however, between 1910 and 2016, only 15 were killed.
Out of the way, Skipper.
A reference to the Skipper on the TV sitcom Gilligan’s Island, which aired from 1964-1967. The part was played by Alan Hale Jr. His actual name, rarely mentioned on the show, was Jonas Grumby.
Whoa, little buddy!
Skipper's little buddy, Gilligan, had only one name on the show. During a cast reunion, the show’s creator revealed his first name was actually Willy.
Well, a hundred and ten dollars for a bottle of Seven Crown—that seems reasonable.
Seven Crown is a brand of blended whiskey made by Seagram’s, known mostly for the drink 7 and 7: Seven Crown mixed with 7 Up.
Oh, no, it’s Imogene Coca!
Imogene Coca (1908-2001) was an actress and comedian best known for playing opposite Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows, which aired from 1950-1954. After that classic show went off the air, she got her own short-lived series, The Imogene Coca Show.
Dad! Mom! Laurence Olivier! Mildred Natwick!
Laurence Olivier (1907-1989) was an actor who appeared in more than 80 movies over the course of his long career. He appeared in many classic films, including Wuthering Heights, Rebecca, Pride and Prejudice, and Hamlet. Mildred Natwick (1905-1994) was an actress who appeared in such movies as The Court Jester and The Trouble with Harry; she also played one of the Snoop sisters in the TV series of the same name.
Oh, geez, it's Cantinflas.
Cantinflas, a.k.a. Mario Moreno-Reyes (1911-1993), was a wildly popular Mexican comedian from the 1930s through the 1970s. (Thanks to Christopher Brame for this reference.)
Stacy Keach, all cleaned up.
Stacy Keach is a tough-guy actor who has appeared in more than 100 movies and TV series over the course of his career, including Mike Hammer, Escape from L.A., and American History X. In the mid-‘80s he had some drug issues, including an arrest for cocaine possession.
He’s smoking a Slim Jim.
Slim Jims are a brand of beef jerky snack marketed primarily to teens and manufactured by ConAgra Foods. They are made from a mix of “beef head meat,” chicken, 30 spices, lactic acid, and liquid smoke.
Wow, Amy Grant has really crossed over!
Amy Grant is a singer who began her career in the tiny subgenre of Christian pop music. She became its biggest star, revolutionizing the genre, and when she crossed over to performing straight pop in the 1980s, it was the subject of much controversy among some Christians, who considered her something of a traitor.
[Sung.] Jesus loves me, this I know/Cause the Bible tells me so …
A line from the song “He Loves Me.” The lyrics were taken from an 1860 poem by Anna Bartlett Warner; the tune was written two years later by William Bradbury. Sample lyrics: “Jesus loves me this I know/For the Bible tells me so/All of us to Him belong/We are so weak, but our God, He is strong.”
Isotoners are a popular brand of gloves. The most famous Isotoner glove in history is the one used to help acquit O.J. Simpson of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.
Well, Señor Wences liked it.
Señor Wences (real name Wenceslao Moreno; 1896-1999) was 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.
[Sung.] Heart and soul ...
A reference to the song by the same name, written by Hoagy Carmichael. The Cleftones recorded a popular cover version in 1961 that was used in American Graffiti. (Thanks to Sampo for this reference.)
Man, I love Chi-Chi’s.
Chi-Chi’s is a chain of inexpensive Mexican restaurants. The first location opened in Minneapolis in 1975, but there are no restaurants left in the US; there are still some in other countries.
Hey, sopapillas! They got sopapillas, come on!
Sopapillas (pronounced “soap-ah-PEE-yahs”) are an item of Mexican cuisine: a small fried pastry that ideally puffs up like a pillow and can be served either sweet or savory.
Number nine, we are standing still.
Lines from the enigmatic song “Revolution 9,” from the Beatles’ White Album.
Every day I sit in here Charlie gets stronger and I get weaker.
A reference to a line in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now: “Every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker, and every minute Charlie squats in the bush, he gets stronger.”
I’m not in the mood to drink anymore; could you get me a Diet Coke?
Introduced in 1982, Diet Coke quickly became the best-selling diet soda in the country. Today it is the third most popular soda on the market, surpassed only by Coke and Pepsi.
Hope you like Annie Green Spring—that’s all they had.
Annie Green Springs was a brand of cheap wine—similar to Boone’s Farm—that was popular in the 1970s.
Safe as I’ve ever been!
Spoken in the tone of David Byrne as he sang “Same as it ever was!” in the 1981 Talking Heads hit song “Once in a Lifetime.”
“Thanks for caring.” The United Way.
"Thanks for caring" was the tag line for commercials for the United Way, the well-known charity. (Thanks to Sampo for this reference.)
“I made up my mind.” [Sung.] I’m keeping my baby …
A reference to a line from “Papa Don’t Preach,” 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. Actual lyrics: “Papa don't preach, I'm in trouble deep/Papa don't preach, I've been losing sleep/But I made up my mind, I'm keeping my baby …”
It’s Motel 6 from now on.
Motel 6 is a chain of budget motels. When Motel 6 was founded in 1962, the room rate per night was $6—the equivalent of $47 today. You can still get a room there for about $50. Well done.
“Good-looking kids …” [Sung.] Bugsy Malone …
Bugsy Malone is a 1976 “gangster” movie in which all the mobsters are played by children. It starred Scott Baio and Jodie Foster and was scored by Paul Williams, including the title song. Sample lyrics: “He's a sinner/Candy-coated/For all his friends/He always seems to be alone/But they love him/Bugsy Malone.”
Oh, hi, guys! Look, Jody! Gentleman callers!
In the Tennessee Williams play The Glass Menagerie, the fragile, isolated Laura refers to her old high-school acquaintance Jim as her “gentleman caller.”
Come here! Wham! Zot! Pow!
On the ‘60s TV show Batman, punches and kicks during fight scenes were often obscured by cartoonish words such as “Boff!”, “Pow!”, and “Zap!”—thus averting criticism that the show was too violent.
Not since the Who were here has this happened.
In 1967, Keith Moon, drummer for The Who, ran amuck at a Holiday Inn in Flint, Michigan, at his birthday party. Damages ran to $24,000, and the Who were allegedly banned from Holiday Inns for life. (Whether or not the ban was real, it was symbolically lifted in 1999 in a TV show that aired on VH-1.)
That’s for the tax reform bill, that’s for GATT, and for NAFTA …
The tax reform bill is probably the one signed by Reagan in 1986, which dramatically lowered taxes for rich people. GATT is the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, originally signed in 1947. It is designed to help govern trade between countries by regulating tariffs and resolving trade disputes. GATT now boasts more than 100 member countries. See also note on NAFTA, above.
That’s a nice Montrachet—go right to your head, though.
Montrachet is a type of French wine produced in Burgundy. Montrachet vineyards were first planted in the Middle Ages. Unlike other vineyards in Burgundy, they produce mostly chardonnays—some of the most expensive in the world.
Dizzy Gillespie’s on their tail.
Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993) was a jazz trumpeter and one of the main developers of the bop style of jazz in the 1940s and 1950s. He played with Cab Calloway’s band for a time, but for most of his career he played with various small bands that he organized. His trademark was a special trumpet with the bell bent back at a 45-degree angle, the result of an accident in which someone fell on his trumpet—Gillespie decided he liked the sound better that way.
I’m hoping for Appropriations, although as a freshman I have no power. You have to understand how …
The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations is the largest committee and, because it controls the pork, the most powerful.
Mannix was a television series starring Mike Connors (1925-2017) as Joe Mannix, a private eye in Los Angeles who indulged in frequent car chases, shootouts, and fistfights. It aired from 1967-1975.
Hey, good-looking, we’ll be back to bump you off later.
A reference to the ad campaign for Mr. Microphone, a low-power FM modulator popular in the late 1970s that made it possible for your voice to be transmitted over someone’s radio. In the commercial, a young man in a car uses Mr. Microphone to pick up a good-looking chick, saying, “Hey, good-looking, we’ll be back to pick you up later.” The ad was parodied in an episode of The Simpsons titled “Radio Bart.”
Viva Las Vegas …
“Viva Las Vegas” is the theme song to the 1964 Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret film of the same name, about a race-car driver in Vegas.
Please, God, I’m only 17.
“Please, God, I’m Only 17!” is a cautionary essay about the dangers of reckless driving. It was originally written by IRS employee John Berrio and frequently ran in Dear Abby and Ann Landers’ columns.
Hello, sir. I’m the devil—god of hellfire and all.
Probably a reference to the famous shouted first line of the song “Fire” by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown: “I am the god of hellfire!”
“Just want to verify what we already know.” Cubs suck.
The Chicago Cubs are a professional baseball team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are a team of notorious losers: their World Series victory in 2016 was their first in 108 years and their first World Series appearance since 1945. Nevertheless, they continue to enjoy loyalty from their hometown fans.
Well, once more into the breach.
A line from Act III, Scene 1 of the William Shakespeare play Henry V: “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;/Or close the wall up with our English dead.”
One ring to rule them all and in the darkness bind them.
A paraphrase of a line from J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy The Lord of the Rings. The complete rhyme: “One ring to rule them all/One ring to find them/One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them/In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie.” In the black speech of Mordor, the One Ring’s inscription reads “Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul,
ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.”
When in Universal City, ride the Kitten with a Whip ride.
Attractions that have actually existed at the Universal Studios theme parks: Creature From the Black Lagoon: The Musical and Kang and Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl.
Why wasn’t there more Doodles Weaver in this movie?
See note on Doodles Weaver, above.
Yeah! Doodles, Doodles, Doodles, Doodles, Doodles!
See note on Doodles Weaver, above.