103: The Mad Monster
by Trey Yeatts
Dale Van Sickel never made a bad film. –He never made a real film.
Dale Van Sickel (1907-1977) was a college sports hero who became a prolific stuntman and actor. His first onscreen role was in the Marx Brothers’ 1933 classic Duck Soup. He had small, often uncredited roles in films like Gone with the Wind, War of the Worlds, and North by Northwest, but it was his work as a stuntman in the Republic serials and on television that made his reputation in Hollywood.
Willard Scott reloaded his cheese pistol.
Willard Scott is a weatherman best known for working on NBC’s The Today Show, beginning in 1980. In 1983, he started the tradition of wishing centenarians (and older folk) happy birthdays during his segments. Fewer people know that from 1959 to 1962, Scott played Bozo the Clown on Washington, D.C., TV station WRC, and in 1963, he appeared in three commercials as Ronald McDonald, the Hamburger-Happy Clown—the first live-action appearance of the character.
Isn’t that Marty Feldman?
Marty Feldman (1934-1982) was a British comedian of small stature easily recognized for his bulging, wonky eyes (caused by Graves’ Disease). He was a member of the influential BBC sketch comedy series At Last the 1948 Show in the 1960s; later hosted his own show on ABC, The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine; and starred in the films The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, Young Frankenstein, and Silent Movie.
Guns by Vidal Sassoon.
Vidal Sassoon (1928-2012) was a British hairstylist who created influential hairstyles in the 1960s, including the popular bob, and developed hair care products that were sold by Procter & Gamble beginning in the early 1980s. He was also politically active; the son of Jewish immigrants, he fought right-wing anti-Semitic groups in Britain as a teenager and founded a research center dedicated to anti-Semitism.
Lobby. First floor. Tobacconist. Newspapers.
For many years, manually operated elevators in high-rise buildings required employees who manipulated the lever. In department stores, the operator would often announce to the elevator’s passengers what products and services were available on each floor.
Amazing. –You’ll believe a man can fly.
“You’ll believe a man can fly” was the advertising slogan for the 1978 film Superman: The Movie, based on the movie’s revolutionary visual effects.
Meanwhile, back in Mesa Verde.
The phrase “Meanwhile, back at _____” originated with cards inserted in silent films of the early 20th century. In westerns, this was often “Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...” Once audio became a common component, the phrase was still used by narrators in films and radio and television shows.
I’ll be in my trailer. Hope there’s some deli food left. And no brown M&Ms this time!
M&Ms are a brand of candy-coated chocolates manufactured by Mars Inc. They were first sold in 1941. The mention of “no brown M&Ms” refers to an infamous contract rider employed by rock band Van Halen in their heyday. Among the various technical requests they made of their venues’ operators, they asked for a bowl of M&Ms with the brown ones removed. This was not an exercise of pointless vanity but a test to see if their hosts had thoroughly read the contract. On occasions when there were brown M&Ms in the bowl, the band found that technical errors plagued the show, including one performance in Pueblo, Colorado, where the venue literally wasn’t prepared for the weight of the production. The stage setup sank through the floor, causing $80,000 in damage, and David Lee Roth trashed the dressing room. Press reports claimed he petulantly destroyed the room because of the brown M&Ms, thus beginning the legend. As Roth put it in his autobiography, “Well, who am I to get in the way of a good rumor?”
“What did you find out about the ray guns?” –Ron and Nancy?
Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) and his second wife, Nancy, were America’s “First Couple” from 1981 to 1989. Ronald was an actor for decades before he became California’s governor (1967-1975) and then was elected president in 1980.
Why did we bring that, anyway? –Who’s gonna be first? –They got it from Dennis Hopper, I think.
Dennis Hopper (1936-2010) was an actor known for his hippie ways and roles in Easy Rider (1969), Apocalypse Now (1979), and Blue Velvet (1986). In the last film, Hopper played a crazed sociopath, Frank Booth, who frequently inhaled from a portable gas tank and forced himself on women. It was often assumed that Frank was inhaling nitrous oxide, but a 2002 special edition of the film identified it as amyl nitrite (poppers).
Oh, so they’re both walking this time. –Walking on the moon.
A reference to the Police song “Walking on the Moon.” Sample lyrics: “Giant steps are what you take/Walking on the moon/I hope my legs don't break/Walking on the moon …”
How come they got Groucho Marx moustaches on their helmets?
Groucho Marx (1890-1977) was an American comedian known for his rapier wit, glasses, cigar, and heavily painted eyebrows and moustache. He was considered the leader of the Marx Brothers, with whom he appeared in thirteen films. He later hosted the radio and television game show You Bet Your Life, without the exaggerated makeup, although he did grow a neat moustache of his own.
Hey, Diana Ross is playing at Caesars Palace.
Diana Ross is a singer and actress best known for being a member of the Motown R&B group The Supremes (later billed as Diana Ross & the Supremes). She had a successful solo career and a film career, starring in Lady Sings the Blues (1972) and The Wiz (1978). Caesars Palace is a famed casino and luxury hotel in Las Vegas well known for having top performers as semi-permanent musical acts. It opened in 1966.
Let’s see, just hook up that nitrous oxide to the air intake shaft. Then we can do some serious dental work in there. –What’s he gonna do? Take out their fillings and serve them really cold drinks? –Maybe it’s helium and they’ll all sound like the Munchkins.
Munchkins are the small people who reside in Munchkinland in L. Frank Baum’s classic children’s book The Wizard of Oz (and the 1939 film, too, natch). In the film, the Munchkins’ singing voices were dubbed by professional singers with the recording sped up slightly, accounting for that odd, high-pitched effect.
Just give him a headbutt. Give him a headbutt. He’s just wearing spandex on his head.
Spandex (also known as Lycra or elastane) was developed by DuPont’s Joseph Shivers in 1959. The name originates with the fiber’s elasticity: “spandex” is an anagram of “expands.”
That’s for Bryant Gumbel. That’s for Gene Shalit. And that’s for dressing up like Carmen Miranda. God, that was dumb.
Bryant Gumbel is a journalist best known for co-hosting NBC’s The Today Show for fifteen years, primarily in the 1980s. Gene Shalit is the longtime film, theater, and art critic on The Today Show. He has famously wild, dark, curly hair. Carmen Miranda (1909-1955) was a Brazilian dancer and singer popular in the 1940s and ‘50s who is best remembered for wearing piles of fruit on top of her head.
Those are all Bob Mackie creations, aren’t they?
Bob Mackie is a fashion designer known for spectacular and outrageous outfits that have clung to the bodies of some of America’s most famous divas, including Diana Ross, Cher, Madonna, and Bette Midler. He has also worked in costume design on films, television shows, and stage plays.
I’ve never seen so much lava lamps in my life.
Lava lamps are an icon of 1960s culture, featuring a diamond-shaped glass tube filled with colored water and a waxy ooze that, when heated by a light bulb, flows around the lamp in undulating patterns that are extremely fascinating to people under the influence of mind-altering chemicals. They are manufactured by Haggerty Enterprises.
Hope he remembers what level he parked on. I’m in the Moon Man lot.
At the various Walt Disney theme parks—Disneyland, Walt Disney World, etc.—the parking lots are designated not by letters or numbers but by the names of Disney characters: the Goofy lot, the Mickey lot, the Pluto lot, and so on.
It’s the moon car. And it’s filled with evil Michelin men. –What a goofy-looking vehicle.
The Michelin Man is an advertising figure for Michelin tires; designed in 1898, he is intended to look as if he is made out of a stack of tires. His given name is Bibendum, which first appeared in 1908. Want to know why he’s white? Before 1912, rubber tires were beige or grey-white. Modern tires are black because carbon is added to the rubber to strengthen them.
They better hurry. They got to get that back to the amusement park. It’s an E ticket ride, you know.
An “E ticket” (or “E coupon”) comes from the Disney theme park admission system that allowed the holder of the ticket to ride or see the newest or most popular attractions. The system was revamped and E coupons abandoned in 1982. People still refer to especially thrilling/prestigious/expensive experiences as “E ticket rides”; astronaut Sally Ride famously labeled the space shuttle one in 1983.
Is it just me or do those guys look like the crash dummies? –You could learn a lot from a dummy. Buckle up.
The spokesdummies Vince and Larry were two crash test dummies used in an extensive public service announcement campaign for seat belt use throughout the 1980s. The slogan used at the end of each PSA was “You could learn a lot from a dummy. Buckle up.”
That thing’s really gonna come in handy when Alan Shepard gets to the moon. It’ll make a swell golf cart.
Alan Shepard (1923-1998) was an astronaut and the first American in space. A decade later, he commanded the Apollo 14 mission to the moon and was the fifth person to walk on its surface. He was the first person to play low-gravity golf on the moon when he smuggled golf balls and a six-iron head aboard. He attached the driver head to the handle of his lunar sample scoop and hit two balls “miles and miles and miles,” as he put it.
Get in the Hershey’s head kiss of death.
Hershey’s Kisses are small, foil-wrapped, flat-bottomed teardrop-shaped chocolate candies made by Hershey. They were first made in 1907 and got their name from the way the molten chocolate is placed on the conveyor belt during production.
Kinda looks like an electric razor. –Even our name says “Merry Christmas.”
In a 1970s animated holiday season television commercial for Norelco electric razors, the line “Even our name says ‘Merry Christmas’” was used and the name intentionally misspelled on screen as “Noëlco.”
You know, that constant heat sounds a lot like a Chevy horn.
Chevy is the short name for automaker Chevrolet. It was founded in 1911 and bought by General Motors in 1917.
It’s a big rock candy mountain.
“Big Rock Candy Mountain” is a song recorded by Harry McClintock in 1928, who claimed to have written it decades before when he was a train-hopping hobo. His version was a tad more risqué than the popular ones released by Burl Ives in 1949 and by Dorsey Burnette in 1960.
In the late 1970s, the AMC theater chain used to show an animated ad for their snack bar called “Snack Canyon,” in which a group of penguins stumble across Snack Canyon and revel in all the treats available there.
It’s the Land of Dairy Queen, and the river of chocolate is coming right for you.
A reference to an old advertising jingle for the Dairy Queen chain of restaurants: “In the land of Dairy Queen, we treat you right!” Commercials for the chain in the 1970s featured close-ups of sundae toppings as though they were mountains and, yes, rivers of chocolate and fudge.
Isn’t that lava? I guess they’d be cooked but their hands would be clean. Pumice action.
Lava soap is a heavy-duty hand cleaner originally developed by the Waltke Company in 1893. Currently, it’s manufactured by WD-40. The soap contains ground pumice to act as an abrasive in cleaning the skin.
Acme Coyote Transfuser.
In the world of Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes shorts, Acme is the fictional corporation that manufactures just about everything. Most famously, their name appeared on the side of nearly every contraption Wile E. Coyote ever used to try and catch that Road Runner. In reality, “Acme” became a popular prefix for company names in the 1920s, as alphabetized phone directories were first printed and they strove to be listed as close as possible to the front of the book. As for why the name was used in Looney Tunes, it’s unknown. In Greek “acme” means “the prime,” so perhaps it’s ironic. It could be an acronym for “A Company that Makes Everything.” Or it could be named after the Acme Company, which made a line of highly regarded animation stands.
Hey, it’s Bill Bixby as Lou Ferrigno.
Bill Bixby (1934-1993) played Dr. David Banner on the CBS TV series The Incredible Hulk (1977-1982). Whenever someone made him angry (and you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry), his clothes ripped, he put colored contact lenses in and became a green-skinned Lou Ferrigno. Ferrigno is a former bodybuilder, Mr. America, and Mr. Universe (times two) who has become known for cameoing as himself in various films and TV shows.
I could’ve had a V8.
V8 is a beverage made of blended vegetable juices. It was first produced in 1933 and is now manufactured by the Campbell Soup Company. In the 1980s, Campbell's ran a series of commercials in which people regretted their beverage choices, exclaiming in chagrin, "I could've had a V8!"
Hair designs by Shemp Howard.
Shemp Howard (1895-1955), along with his brothers Curly and Moe, was an off-again, on-again member of the comedy trio the Three Stooges. Shemp was a Stooge until 1930, when Curly replaced him; he returned in 1946 after Curly had a stroke and remained with the group until his death nine years later.
[Sung.] Rock-a-bye monster, on the little bed ... –When you wake up, some townsfolk will be dead.
A paraphrasing of the lyrics to “Rock-a-bye Baby,” an English lullaby first published around 1765. Various theories exist as to the lyrics’ meaning, with the most popular labeling it a political commentary on King James II’s infant son, who, rumor had it, was actually someone else’s baby, smuggled into the royal nursery in desperation when the king needed an heir to the throne.
Looks kinda like Fred Travalena now. –Kinda. He’s growing hair. My God, he’s turned him into Abe Lincoln! –The rail splitter. –Wow.
Fred Travalena (1942-2009) was a Vegas mainstay, known as the Man of a Thousand Faces for his impersonations of public figures. He was a regular on television comedies and game shows throughout the 1970s and ‘80s. Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) was the sixteenth president of the United States, who guided the nation through the Civil War (1861-1865) and was assassinated shortly after its end by disgruntled Southerner John Wilkes Booth. He was nicknamed “The Rail Splitter” during the 1860 campaign after some of his supporters displayed portions of a fence Lincoln had supposedly constructed thirty years prior. This gave Lincoln the appearance of being a hard worker and not a soft white collar lawyer.
Isaac Asimov. –Lecherous scientist. –Amish farmer. Quaker Oats man.
Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) was a highly respected science-fiction novelist and science writer best known for his Foundation trilogy. Along with Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, he was considered one of the “Big Three” of science fiction. The Amish are a conservative Christian sect found predominantly in North America; there is a large population of Amish in Pennsylvania. They are known for their plain, old-fashioned manner of dress and their rejection of much modern technology, including electricity and cars. The logo on the Quaker Oats canister, painted by Haddon Sundblom around 1940, is of a man dressed in traditional Quaker garb, who somewhat resembles Benjamin Franklin. While some people have believed him to be William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, who was a leading Quaker, the company has stated that he is simply meant to be a generic Quaker gentleman.
Dr. Cornelius from Planet of the Apes.
Planet of the Apes is a 1968 film co-written by Rod Serling and starring Charlton Heston as an astronaut trapped on a world where apes are the rulers and humans are the slaves. Cornelius was a scientist chimpanzee featured in the first three films. He was played by Roddy McDowall in films one and three and by David Watson in film two.
A cure for baldness at last. I’m calling it “Helsinki Formula.”
Helsinki Formula is a brand of “scalp health” products, including shampoos, cleansers, and baldness aversion creams.
Now Bingo is his name-o.
“Bingo” (also titled “Bingo Was His Name-O” or “There Was a Farmer Who Had a Dog”) is an English folk song that dates back to the late 1700s.
He looks just like one of the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz.
The flying monkeys are the henchmen of the Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
Hey, it’s William S. Burroughs.
William Burroughs (1914-1997) was a writer of experimental novels, of which the most famous is Naked Lunch. He became one of the seminal voices of the Beat generation in the 1950s.
Mr. Mooney. –Gale Gordon.
Gale Gordon (1906-1995) was an actor best known for playing Lucille Ball’s foil in her later sitcoms The Lucy Show (where he played the banker Theodore J. Mooney), Here’s Lucy, and Life with Lucy.
Hey, it’s Colonel Potter. Harry Morgan.
Colonel Sherman T. Potter was the commanding officer at the 4077th on the M*A*S*H TV show (1975-1983). He was played by Harry Morgan, who is also remembered for playing Detective Bill Gannon on Dragnet (1967-1970).
[Sung.] Four blind fools.
A corruption of the three-hundred-year-old English nursery rhyme “Three Blind Mice.” It’s possible that the lyrics date as far back as 1609, and some choose to interpret it as a cunning political allegory relating to the execution of three Protestant bishops by “Bloody” Queen Mary I of England, with the difficulty being that the bishops were not blinded but burned at the stake.
Like the Pentagon.
The Pentagon is the world’s largest office building, located in Arlington, Virginia, containing the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense. Ground was broken for construction on September 11, 1941 (whoa), and it was opened in 1943.
Next comes the Ghost of Christmas Present. –Christmas present? For me?
In the Charles Dickens novella A Christmas Carol (1843), the Ghost of Christmas Present leads Scrooge through various tableaus of his contemporaries to show how his dickishness impacts them.
What’s the matter, boy? Skippy? –I’d say Skippy is what he was eating.
Skippy is a brand of peanut butter first sold in 1933. It is currently produced by Unilever.
Hey, he looks okay. Or as okay as he ever will. –I bet his breath is terrible, though. –But his mouth is cleaner than yours or mine.
This refers to a long-standing legend about the cleanliness of canine mouths versus humans’. While no thorough and definitive research has been done on the subject, what research that has been done shows that, mathematically, there are often fewer bacterial colonies in cultures from dog mouths but the strains of bacteria are more virulent than human cultures. More simply, remember that dogs wipe themselves with their tongues. Not quite so clean.
[Imitating.] Duh, tell me about the rabbits again, George.
Of Mice and Men is a short novel by John Steinbeck about two drifters (George and Lennie), one of whom is very strong but a bit slow in the head (Lennie), who get jobs working on a ranch in California. Lennie has a love for soft things (including rabbits) but doesn’t know his own strength. Things go tragically awry.
She wants to be Judy Garland in the worst way, doesn’t she? –I think so.
Judy Garland (1922-1969) was a singer, dancer, and actress best known for her role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939). She struggled with an addiction to sleeping pills and barbiturates throughout most of her career; her premature death at the age of 47 was due to an accidental overdose of barbiturates.
Hey, that looks just like the front of the Munsters’ house. –Without the charm.
The Munsters was a TV sitcom that aired from 1964-1966 about a wacky family of famous monster ripoffs (vampires, wolf man, Frankenstein monster). Their home was located at the innocuous address of 1313 Mockingbird Lane.
I want you to meet my brother, Fred Gwynne.
Fred Gwynne (1926-1993) played Herman Munster on the aforementioned sitcom. He also appeared in Car 54, Where Are You? and My Cousin Vinny.
Cheese it! It’s Alan Brady.
Alan Brady was the egotistical TV star portrayed by Carl Reiner on the sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966).
Is this Of Mice and Men or Flowers for Algernon, Joel? –Neither. Just keep watching. –Sorry.
See above note on Of Mice and Men. Flowers for Algernon is a 1966 novel by Daniel Keyes about a retarded 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. It was later made into a film titled Charly, starring Cliff Robertson.
Seat belts save lives.
See above note on crash test dummies.
The captain has turned off the “no smoking” signs, so feel free to roam about the swamps.
A reference to the good old days when you could smoke on airplanes and pilots would make announcements like this one, saying it was okay for passengers to leave their seats.
Do not disobey ape law.
See above note on Planet of the Apes.
In the 1969 Rankin/Bass animated special Frosty the Snowman, whenever the magic hat was placed upon the snowman’s head, he would awaken and say, “Happy birthday!”
Did I just see a chuck wagon roll through there?
Purina Chuck Wagon was a brand of dog food popularized by a series of commercials in the 1970s and ’80s featuring a tiny frontier-era chuck wagon driving through the house being chased by the dog. Believe it or not, there was also a video game titled “Chase the Chuck Wagon” released for the Atari 2600 in 1983.
Little Buddy! –Skipper! –Keep talking. Little Buddy!
See previous note.
Little House in the Swamp. Well, Wilbur’s fed.
Little House on the Prairie was an NBC drama that aired from 1974-1983. It starred Michael Landon as the father of the Ingalls clan living in Minnesota in the late 1800s. It was based on the popular series of children’s books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
What’s granny smokin’? –I think it’s Borkum Riff, you guys.
Borkum Riff is a popular brand of pipe tobacco made in Denmark since the 1960s.
I guess it’s not Borkum Riff.
See previous note.
It’s Shirley Temple! –If she starts tap dancing, you guys, I’m gonna lose it, I swear.
Shirley Temple is an actress (and former U.S. ambassador) who rose to prominence as a child star in the 1930s thanks to her insufferable cheerfulness, tap dancing, singing, and so on.
Sleep tight. Don’t let the wolfman bite.
A variant on the old nursery rhyme: “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite,” which dates back to the early 20th century.
Looks like he’s inside the doctor’s heart in that movie Fantastic Voyage.
Fantastic Voyage is an Academy Award-winning 1966 sci-fi film starring a tightly jumpsuited Raquel Welch (sigh) as part of a group of scientists shrunk down and injected into an important scientist to remove a blood clot.
[Sung.] Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed. Poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed. Then one day he was shooting at some food ... –And up from the swamp came a big ugly dude. –Wolfman, that is. –Black teeth. –Gnarled face. –Well, the next thing you know, ol’ Jed’s really scared. The kinfolk said, “Jed, get away from there!” Said, “My cabin is the place I ought to be!” So he loaded up his drawers and he told his family. –Good one, Crow. –Um, Servo. –Ahem. Over here. –Oh yeah, sorry. Good one, Servo. You, too, Crow. –Thanks, Dad. –I didn’t do anything.
A paraphrasing of the theme song to The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-1971).
I’ll have a Shirley Temple to go, please? –The kid’s history.
See above note on Shirley Temple. As for the drink, it’s a nonalcoholic cocktail made with ginger ale, orange juice, and grenadine and garnished with a cherry. The most popular origin theory is that it was invented by a bartender in the 1930s to serve the still-too-young-to-drink actress.
She’s stoned. Whistler’s Mother is stoned. –Looks like Popeye finally got that operation he always wanted.
Arrangement in Grey and Black: The Artist’s Mother, also known as Whistler’s Mother, is a famous painting by James McNeill Whistler of his mother, Anna Whistler, sitting in profile. It was painted in 1871. Popeye the Sailor Man is a character created by E.C. Segar in 1919 for the Thimble Theatre comic strip. Beginning in 1933, Popeye became an animated character, thanks to the artistry of Fleischer Studios and the voice work of Billy Costello and Jack Mercer.
How about a little ball, Scarecrow?
A paraphrase of the Wicked Witch of the West’s line in The Wizard of Oz: “How about a little fire, Scarecrow?”
Clothing from the Junior Samples collection.
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.
Li’l Buddy. –Skipper.
See above note.
Oh, I better cut down on those Shirley Temples.
See above note.
I’ve seen better dog acts on the old Sullivan show.
The Ed Sullivan Show, which aired from 1948-1971, was originally titled Toast of the Town until 1955. It was a variety show hosted by entertainment columnist Ed Sullivan. It was one of the most popular shows on the air throughout its run, which totaled nearly eleven hundred episodes.
[Imitating.] Tell me about the rabbits again, Joel.
See above note on Of Mice and Men.
Maybe Johnny Cash? –Harvey Fierstein. –Gino Vannelli. –Lenny Schultz? –Shhh. –Robin Williams.
Johnny Cash (1932-2003) was a country-western singer known for his black garb and his sympathy for men in prison, for whom he frequently performed. Harvey Fierstein is a famously raspy-voiced actor who has appeared in dozens of films and TV shows. Gino Vannelli is a Canadian singer/songwriter whose hits include “People Gotta Move” and “I Just Wanna Stop.” Lenny Schultz is a famed comedian who made frequent improv and nightclub appearances and performed on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Late Night with David Letterman. Robin Williams (1951-2014) was an actor and comedian who got his start on the TV series Mork and Mindy and later appeared in a variety of movies both serious and comic.
Oh, it’s more of a Shirley Temple.
See above note.
What is Hollywood producers?
A reference to the TV game show Jeopardy!, in which the contestants are supposed to frame their answers “in the form of a question”; the show has been on the air in various incarnations since 1964.
Dagwood Bumstead is the husband of Blondie and has appeared in the famous Chic Young comic strip of that name since the early 1930s. He has also appeared in comic books, a TV series (1968-1969; played by Will Hutchins), a long-running film series (1938-1950; played by Arthur Lake), and a long-running radio series (1939-1950; also Lake).
You know, I never can understand these "Far Side" comics. There’s a caveman and a bear and, uh ...
"The Far Side" is a comic created by Gary Larson that ran in nearly two thousand newspapers at its peak. It was characterized by surrealistic humor, anthropomorphized characters (often cows), heavyset women with horn-rimmed glasses & beehive hairdos, cavemen, and many other staples. It lasted fifteen years, from 1980 to 1995.
Joel? What did he do wrong, anyway? –He was the one out of five doctors who didn’t choose Bayer, Crow. –Oh.
A reference to older advertisements for Bayer aspirin, which stated that “four out of five doctors recommend Bayer.” Bayer AG is a German pharmaceutical company that, in 1897, developed synthetic acetylsalicylic acid. In 1899, they began selling it around the world as Aspirin (which comes from “acetyl” and the German word for salicylic acid, “spirsäure”). In several nations after the end of World War I, thanks to reparations, Germany lost trademark status on the word “Aspirin” (and “heroin,” too).
Oh, chill out, Mister Salty.
Mister Salty was a brand of thin pretzel stick snacks produced by Nabisco from the 1960s into the 1980s. The mascot was a twisted pretzel snack that wore a sailor’s cap.
Lurch was the name of the Frankenstein’s monster-esque butler on the TV series The Addams Family, which aired from 1964 to 1966. Ted Cassidy (1932-1979) played Lurch in the series, which was based on the macabre cartoons drawn by Charles Addams. “You rang?” was pretty much the only line of dialogue he ever had. The show was later made into a series of feature films, in which Carel Struycken played Lurch.
Teflon? –Microwave milkshakes? –Room air fresheners?
Teflon is the brand name of the chemical polytetrafluoroethylene, accidentally invented by Roy Plunkett in 1938. It is most often used in nonstick cookware.
Tell that to the NFL.
The National Football League (NFL) is an association of professional football teams in the United States. It was founded by eleven teams in 1920; today it encompasses thirty-two teams and is one of the most successful and popular sports in the world, with an average attendance per game topping sixty thousand fans.
They want to know if we have Prince Albert in a can. –Let me take it. I love that bit.
Prince Albert is a brand of pipe tobacco initially produced by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in 1907. By the 1930s, Prince Albert was the second biggest moneymaker for RJR, but after the decline of pipe smoking, the brand was sold to John Middleton Inc. in 1987. Despite popular belief, it was not named for the husband of British Queen Victoria, nor for their son, who was also named Prince Albert (before he became King Edward VII). If you’re over a certain age, you may know that this brand name served as the inspiration for a popular telephone prank played on hapless store clerks. The caller would ask, “Do you have Prince Albert in a can?” to which the victim would answer, “Why, yes. Yes, I do.” Then the prankster would retort, “Well, you’d better let him out!” Applause.
Who’s he calling? –The SPCA. –What’s the SPCA, Crow? –The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Actors. –Oh. –Good one, Servo. –Nice setup.
A corruption of the name for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, founded in 1866 to ... well, you know.
Who’s calling Hemingway?
Ernest “Papa” Hemingway (1899-1961) was a man’s man’s author who wrote intensely muscular stories and novels about war, bullfighting, fishing, and other testosterone-laden activities. In 1961, depressed and anxious after a series of electroshock treatments, he killed himself with a shotgun at his Idaho house.
Better than Lorenzo Lamas.
Lorenzo Lamas (son of Fernando) is a beefy actor best known for his role in the syndicated series Renegade (1992-1997).
Is Dave there? When’s he gonna be back? Is there going to be beer?
A reference to a famous bit from stoner duo Richard Marin and Tommy Chong’s debut album Cheech & Chong (1971). The track was titled “Dave,” and it was essentially a pot-infused version of “Who’s on First?”, featuring Dave (voiced by Marin) trying to persuade the guy voiced by Chong to let him into his own apartment, though Chong’s character couldn’t be convinced that the man on the other side of the door was actually Dave.
Kinda like a big, dumb Andy Griffith, isn’t he? Well, a big Andy Griffith. –Andy Griffith. –Huh? –Just plain ol’ Andy Griffith. –Yeah.
Andy Griffith is an actor, comedian, songwriter, etc., best known for his role in The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968) and Matlock (1986-1995). He first rose to fame in 1953 with his monologue as a hick trying to figure out a sport new to him (“What It Was, Was Football”), the 1955 teleplay No Time for Sergeants (as well as the 1958 big-screen version), and a dramatic role in the 1957 drama A Face in the Crowd.
I’m prescribing a Weed Eater and some Turf Builder, Pedro. Oh, and a lawnmower. Take this to a hardware store.
Weed Eater was a garden/lawn trimmer company started in 1971 by inventor George Ballas. Ballas was inspired to create a high-speed nylon trimmer after a trip through an automated car wash. They are owned by Husqvarna AB. Turf Builder is a brand of grass seed produced by Scotts Miracle-Gro Company.
That last scene was blocked like a bad high school play.
In stage, television, and film production, blocking is the term used to describe the placement of actors on the set.
A pair of Wellies and we can use your head as a composter.
“Wellies” is short for “Wellingtons,” a type of rubberized rain boots introduced in the late 1800s and popularized by the Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley.
It’s the original Sid and Nancy.
Sid Vicious (1957-1979) was an English punk musician and a member of the influential group Sex Pistols. He was engaged in a mutually self-destructive relationship with Nancy Spungen (1958-1978). Vicious found her dead body in their shared apartment, killed by a single stab wound, courtesy of a knife owned by Vicious. He was arrested and charged with murder, but died of a heroin overdose before a trial could begin. The 1986 movie Sid and Nancy told the whole sordid, tragic story, with Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb playing the doomed title couple.
Yes, I like green eggs and ham. Thank you. Thank you, Sam-I-am.
Green Eggs and Ham is a 1960 children’s book written and illustrated by Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. It focuses on a character named Sam-I-am as he attempts to get someone to eat the titular green eggs and ham in various offbeat situations.
Maybe you better read him Go, Dog. Go! That’s it, Pedro.
Go, Dog. Go! is a children’s book written by Phil Eastman in 1961.
From here to there. From there to here.
A line from Dr. Seuss’ One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, published in 1960.
This Dr. Seuss. God, he kills me.
Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904-1991) was a prolific author and artist best known for his forty-four children’s books, including How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Horton Hears a Who, and The Cat in the Hat.
Hey, it’s Wishbone from the old Rawhide show.
Rawhide was an NBC western series that aired from 1959 to 1965. It starred Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates and featured a theme song that has outlasted memories of the show itself (mostly thanks to 1980’s The Blues Brothers). George Washington Wishbone (played by Paul Brinegar) was the cook.
He’s doing his Cagney. [Imitating.] You dirty rat. You’re the man who murdered my brother. You dirty rat. I’m gonna rip your head off like an all-day sucker.
An impression of James Cagney (1899-1986) in the 1932 film Taxi! As a matter of fact, Cagney didn’t say the line this way. The real line was: “Come out and take it, you dirty, yellow-bellied rat, or I’ll give it to you through the door!”
Jim never drinks coffee at home.
A paraphrased line from the 1980 comedy Airplane!, which was itself a nearly note-for-note remake of Zero Hour!, a 1957 film. The line itself is a reference to a series of commercials for Yuban coffee that aired in the 1970s, which dealt with insecure wives who didn’t understand why their husbands wanted a second cup of coffee at a neighbor’s house, but never at home.
Nobody loves me. Everybody hates me. I think I’ll go eat worms.
“Think I’ll Go Eat Worms” is a children’s song with self-deprecating, gross-out lyrics set to the tune of “Polly Wolly Doodle.”
This was no boating accident. This was a shark.
A paraphrased line from the 1975 film Jaws, spoken by Richard Dreyfuss’ character, Dr. Matt Hooper: “This was no boat accident!”
Mulch, Turf Builder, leaf bags? Hmmmm. Maybe I’ll just remove this evidence from the scene.
See above note on Turf Builder.
“Ashton.” –Ashton. We all fall down.
“Ring Around the Rosie” is a classic children’s rhyme of indeterminate origin, which was first published in 1881, though some version of the song has existed since the late 1700s. There is a long-standing tradition that this innocent children’s rhyme refers to the Black Death, but this is apocryphal. The complete rhyme: “Ring around the rosie/A pocket full of posies/Ashes, ashes/We all fall down.”
Platypus or a jackalope. You know, weird.
The jackalope is a mythical animal created by youngster Douglas Herrick in 1932 Wyoming. He had studied taxidermy by mail and decided to combine various animal features for sale to tourists, the jackalope being a rabbit with antlers on its head. Wyoming trademarked the word “jackalope” in 1965, and the town of Douglas, Wyoming, was named “Home of the Jackalope” by the state. The myth received new life in 1980 when Ronald Reagan, in a press tour of his California ranch, showed the reporters a mounted jackalope head, claiming he bagged the beast himself.
Do you think I look like Victor Mature?
Victor Mature (1913-1999) was an actor who appeared on stage and screen for forty-five years. He was in My Darling Clementine, The Robe, Samson and Delilah, and The Monkees’ psychedelic film Head.
It’s kinda like an early music video, isn’t it? –Before they invented action. Or Paula Abdul.
At the time of this episode, Paula Abdul was best known as a musician and choreographer with hit singles “Forever Your Girl,” “Straight Up,” and “Opposites Attract” (with MC Skat Cat!).
Sit a spell. Take your shoes off.
A reference to the previously mentioned Beverly Hillbillies and the end credits reprise of the theme.
Spare the whip and spoil the wolf.
A paraphrasing of a famous adage on parental technique, usually incorrectly attributed to the Bible and the Book of Proverbs. The biblical phrase is, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” The more popular saying comes from Samuel Butler’s 17th-century mock heroic poem Hudibras.
That’s Tom Waits’ mom.
Tom Waits is a goateed, gravelly-voiced singer-songwriter of the jazz/blues persuasion who has also appeared in many films in bit parts.
It was the way he was treated in Doonesbury that got him really mad.
Doonesbury is a political comic strip by Garry Trudeau that has been published since 1970. Trudeau has a long history of angering public figures (most often conservatives) by parodying them in the strip.
Zelda drove me.
Zelda Fitzgerald (1900-1948) was a novelist and wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald. She wrote one semi-autobiographical novel, Save Me the Waltz, while she was in a mental hospital; always of fragile mental health, she was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. She died when the hospital where she was a patient caught fire.
Is that Mel Blanc?
Mel Blanc (1908-1989) was a voice actor best remembered for voicing nearly every Looney Tunes character. He also appeared as various characters in The Jack Benny Program radio and television series.
Hope your car seats are Scotchguarded.
Another accidental discovery, Scotchguard was created by 3M scientists in 1952. It’s used to protect fabrics and furniture from stains.
Peas and carrots. Peas and carrots.
Along with “rhubarb” and “watermelon,” “peas and carrots” is one of those phrases that background extras are often told to mutter among themselves as a way to simulate conversation in television shows and films.
Looks like Hoyt Axton, you guys. –Is he gonna kill us with a cat named Kalamazoo?
Hoyt Axton (1938-1999) was a country-western singer/songwriter whose best-known works were generally those covered by other bands, including “Joy to the World,” covered by Three Dog Night, which hit Number 1 on the charts. He also released “Della and the Dealer” in 1979, which includes the line, “It was Della and a dealer and a dog named Jake/And a cat named Kalamazoo.”
Helicopter spin. Do a helicopter spin. –It’s an illegal hold.
Probably refers to the professional wrestling move where one wrestler lifts his opponent onto his shoulders and spins violently around in a circle until they both crash onto the mat.
It’s a chivaree.
A chivaree (or shivaree or charivari) is a traditional raucous surprise performance given in honor of newlyweds and followed by a party.
And stop calling me Shirley. –Ba-boom.
A paraphrase of a famous line from the 1980 satire Airplane!
A nice zinfandel? Maybe a bordeaux. –What goes with scientists?
Zinfandel is a type of wine-producing grape that usually makes a red wine but can be used to make the pink-colored White Zinfandel, which bests red wine sales by sixfold. Bordeaux is any wine produced in Bordeaux, France. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Shiraz would go great with human flesh.
A ComfoRest adjustable bed with safety belts. Dad’s doing research for Art Linkletter. –It’s all starting to come together now.
ComfoRest is a brand of adjustable mattresses made by a Minneapolis-based company. It is not, however, the brand famously touted by Art Linkletter (1912-2010), who was a TV host known for such shows as People Are Funny and The Art Linkletter Show. He is perhaps best known for his segment “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” His adjustable bed of choice was the Craftmatic adjustable bed.
Maybe a tawny port. Oh, wait! I’ve got a bottle of Smothers Brothers wine right here.
The Smothers Brothers are a comedy act featuring real-life siblings Tom and Dick Smothers. They often played folk songs which devolved at some point into squabbling over which one their mother liked best. They hosted The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour on CBS from 1967 to 1969, but the show grated on the network for its embracing of the so-called “counter culture” and using the Vietnam War as a frequent target of criticism. They’ve operated the Remick Ridge Vineyards since 1974.
What’s behind door number three?
Let’s Make a Deal is a television show that originally ran from 1963-1976. It has come and gone in various incarnations; the current version has only been running since 2009. The basic format of the show is that a contestant is given a product that contains a check with an unknown amount of money; he or she has to decide whether to keep the item or trade it for an unknown object behind one of three curtains or doors. (According to the famous “Monty Hall problem” of game theory, the contestant should always trade; a helpful tip from your friends here at TAMST.) Monty Hall is the best-known host of the show. He started in 1963 and continued in that role in most versions until 1991.
I’ve gotta know what’s behind that door. Carol Merrill, tell us what she’s won. –The wolf or the man.
Carol Merrill was a model who appeared on Let’s Make a Deal during its original run (see previous note).
Mystery Date was a board game produced by Milton Bradley in 1965, a favorite at girls’ slumber parties. Players opened a small plastic door to find out if their date was a “dream” or a “dud.”
It’s a wolfman! Compliments of Speigel catalog! Chicago, Illinois, 60609.
Spiegel is a catalog company that was started by German immigrant Joseph Spiegel in 1865. During the 1970s, they provided many prizes for game shows, and the announcer would tag these prizes by saying, “Spiegel. Chicago, 60609.”
So this is how the other half lives. The human half. –His human half really likes the flaky golden crust, but the wolf in him really enjoys the seven vitamins and minerals.
A reference to a series of commercials in the 1980s for Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats. In them, adults were eating the cereal and saying something to the effect of, “As an adult, I appreciate the fiber,” etc. Then, the adult instantly becomes a small child who will say something like, “But the kid in me loves the great taste.”
This is all wrong. Stop, drop, and roll. Always. –I thought it was duck and cover. –No, it’s tuck and roll. Wait.
Stop, drop, and roll is a fire safety technique whereby people who find themselves on fire are urged to stop running, drop to the ground, and roll around until the flames are out. “Duck and Cover” was a widely viewed film during the 1950s in which an animated turtle named Bert purported to tell children how to survive a nuclear attack. “Tuck and roll” is a combat tactic used to confuse or evade enemy fire. The person runs, dives forward, and rolls onto his back before springing up into a firing position.
Tomorrow’s another day.
In 1939’s Gone with the Wind, “Tomorrow is another day!” was the last line of the film, spoken by Scarlett as she vowed to rebuild her life and get Rhett back.