704: The Incredible Melting Man
by Chris Baumgartner
Looks like we saved Kuwait again.
Iraq, under dictator Saddam Hussein, invaded neighboring Kuwait, a longtime ally of the United States, in 1990. Dozens of countries, led by the United States and the United Kingdom, contributed forces to the conflict, which was sanctioned by the United Nations. The retreating Iraqis set fire to hundreds of oil wells, which burned for months, causing an ecological disaster.
Edie Sedgwick, no!
Edie Sedgwick (1943-1971) was an actress who appeared in a number of artist Andy Warhol’s experimental films. She lived at the Chelsea Hotel in New York, where she once created a stir by setting her room on fire. Sedgwick suffered problems with anorexia, mental illness, and substance abuse, and died of an accidental barbiturate overdose.
Global warming is a big ruse by some liberal Pablum-puking liberals!
The epithet “Pablum-puking liberal” was coined and used by caustic entertainer and right-wing commentator Morton Downey, Jr. (1932-2001), a forerunner of Rush Limbaugh and other controversial talk radio figures. Pablum was an early brand of baby food first sold in 1931.
[Sung.] Ground control to Rosenberg.
Paraphrased lyrics from the 1969 David Bowie song “Space Oddity”: “Ground control to Major Tom.”
Mets lost today.
The New York Mets are a prominent National League baseball team; their American League counterparts (and sometimes rivals) are the New York Yankees; the two teams faced off in the famous “Subway Series” in 2000, which the Yankees won in five games.
The George Hamilton story.
George Hamilton is a famously well-bronzed actor who got his start as an MGM contract player and enjoyed a career renaissance in the late 1970s with the spoof films Love at First Bite and Zorro the Gay Blade. He and his tan regularly act as an escort for some of the world’s most beautiful and powerful women, having been spotted squiring Imelda Marcos and Elizabeth Taylor, among others.
These are so flexible, I can pick up a dime, over.
This is a line from a TV commercial for Isotoner gloves. They are now part of Totes-Isotoner.
They shouldn’t have had Phil Spector design their space capsule.
Phil Spector (1939-2021) was a famous music producer who worked with such groups as The Ronettes and The Righteous Brothers. He created the famous Wall of Sound, in which he used full orchestras to produce a richer, more overwhelming sound in contrast with the rather thin, tinny sound of many rock groups at the time. In 2003 he was charged with murdering B-movie actress Lana Clarkson, who was found shot to death in his California home. He was convicted in 2009 and sentenced to 19 years to life in prison; he died of COVID-19 related complications in 2021.
Now can you stir the tanks without killing us this time?
This refers to the 1995 Ron Howard film Apollo 13. Kevin Bacon plays astronaut Jack Swigert, who stirs the liquid oxygen tanks, triggering an explosion aboard the spacecraft. All the astronauts return safely despite the disaster in space.
The Russians! Hey Giorgi!
In a skit from the 1981-82 season of SCTV (Second City Television; NBC/CBS/CTV, 1976-1984), “CCCP1-Russian Television” took over SCTV and inserted Russian programming instead. “Hey Giorgi” was actually a promo for a sitcom, featuring “everybody’s favorite Cossack,” Giorgi, played by John Candy (1950-1994).
It’s all the same crap from Apollo 13.
See previous note.
Houston? Could you turn your radio down please?
Live radio call-in shows use a tape delay (usually seven seconds long) to prevent profanity from reaching the air, thus avoiding a hefty FCC fine. However, if a caller’s radio is still turned up when they are put on the air, what is heard is both the caller speaking in “the present” and the radio show from seven seconds ago, leading to confusion and the host saying, “Could you turn your radio down, please?”
Kind of looks like a map of Vietnam.
The country of Vietnam, which lies along the eastern coast of the Indochina Peninsula, has a fan-shaped northern section and a long, thin southern portion that curves to the west.
I just realized, I’m LeRoy Neiman!
LeRoy Neiman (1921-2012) was an American painter known for his colorful and energetic portrayals of athletes and sporting events.
[Imitating.] Well, let’s go to Picture Picture.
A reference to a feature on the long-running preschoolers’ TV show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. At least once per episode, Fred Rogers (who Mike is sort of imitating here) would go to a painting on the wall near the kitchen that was, in reality, a rear-projection screen. For the first few years, Rogers would simply speak to Picture Picture and it would display still photos or films and even communicate with the host. After 1970, Picture Picture no longer operated magically; Rogers would slide a film reel into a slot by the picture frame and operate it by wired remote to show orchestra performances, explain how crayons and other things were made, and so on.
You’re looking live at the parquet floor of NASA’s hospital.
Sportswriter and announcer Brent Musburger adopted “You are looking live at …” as a catchphrase during his years on CBS Sports’ football program The NFL Today.
I hope that’s not Rosie O’Donnell.
Rosie O’Donnell is a stand-up comedian who had a daytime talk show from 1996-2002. She is known for her left-wing politics.
I don’t think the happy clown therapy is helping.
This is probably referring to the belief that laughter can help patients heal. The best-known advocate is Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams. The doctor was portrayed by Robin Williams in the 1998 film Patch Adams.
I tried scrubbing them out.
A paraphrase of the old “ring around the collar” ads for Wisk detergent that ran from the 1960s through the 1980s, in which a frustrated housewife would lament her inability to remove the sweat stains from her husband’s collars. The wording varied, but they would usually contain something like “I’ve tried soaking it out. I’ve tried scrubbing it out. Nothing works!”
Linda Ronstadt is an American pop singer who hit her peak of popularity during the 1970s singing covers of earlier hits such as “When Will I Be Loved” (Everly Brothers) and “It’s So Easy”(Buddy Holly).
Andy Panda (not Pandy) was the star of a series of animated shorts produced by Universal Pictures and United Artists in the 1940s; he was created by Walter Lantz, the man behind Woody Woodpecker. Andy was a mischievous panda cub who had adventures with his father, Papa Panda, and his dog, Milo. In later shorts he acquired a girlfriend, Miranda Panda.
[Sung.] Delta Dawn, what’s that flower you have on.
These are lyrics from the song “Delta Dawn,” made famous after being covered by a pubescent Tanya Tucker in 1972 and the following year by vocalist Helen Reddy.
Oh, I’m in the mood for 14 ccs of Ringer’s lactate or something.
Ringer’s lactate appears frequently in the medical action show Emergency! (1972-1977). Paramedics Gage and DeSoto would be ordered to start an IV using D5W with Ringer’s lactate for nearly every case. It is basically salty water used to keep people hydrated and prevent shock. D5W is sugar water.
I’ve been jerked!
Jamaican jerk spice is a mixture of many spices, but the main ingredients are allspice and hot pepper powder. It is typically used on chicken and pork, and those meats, when “jerked,” have a distinctive brown, mottled appearance.
I’m a dried apple head. You'll find me in a shop in Door County.
Door County, Wisconsin, comprises a peninsula and islands on western Lake Michigan. It is a popular vacation destination known for its quaint shops and lodgings and its boiled fish dinners.
Keith Moon in the hospital.
Keith Moon (1946-1978) was the original drummer for the rock band The Who. He was admired by peers and fans for his powerfully energetic drumming style, and was notorious for his equally energetic lifestyle, which was not only self-destructive, but just plain destructive, leaving countless trashed hotel rooms, friends' homes, and drum sets in his wake. There are so many stories of toilets blown up by cherry bombs and televisions hurled from windows that Moon’s name has become a kind of pop-culture shorthand for the deliberate destruction of property. He died young after accidentally overdosing on sedatives in 1978.
That's some weak Kool-Aid, huh?
Kool-Aid is a flavored drink mix powder that has been popular with kids for decades. Invented by Nebraskan Edwin Perkins in 1927, seven flavors were initially available: cherry, grape, lemon-lime, orange, raspberry, root beer, and strawberry. In 1953, the brand was sold to General Foods.
Why is she running through the E-Z Mini Storage?
E-Z Mini Storage appears to be a chain of self-storage centers—I found locations in Minnesota, Florida, New Hampshire, and elsewhere.
We can repair her. She’ll be better, faster, stronger.
A reference to 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.”
He’s on Rollerblades.
Rollerblades are a brand name of inline skates, a type of roller skates where the wheels are all in one line, instead of the usual arrangement of two front and two rear wheels. They were originally developed to help ice skaters train for speed skating races, but they became popular in the late 1980s and early ‘90s when the Minneapolis company Rollerblade Inc. began marketing them to the general public.
This week on Emergency!: patient drop-off.
See above note on Emergency!
What have we got? We’ve got a lot. We’ve got a team that’s red hot.
A paraphrase of a popular cheerleading cheer. Usually called “Red Hot Team,” it goes something like this: “What we’ve got, we’ve got a lot/We’ve got a team that’s/Red Hot!”
We couldn’t get a tee time.
In the game of golf, a “tee time” is a scheduled time when players begin a round of golf, a.k.a. “tee off.”
Doctor Mod, and Doctor Groovy.
The Mods (short for Modernist) were a prominent subculture in the 1960s and 1970s U.K. They were associated with jazz and soul music; capricious, dandified fashions; and stimulant drug use. Like most subcultures, it never completely died out.
That’s Eight O’Clock Coffee, it’s all we had. Sorry.
Eight O’Clock Coffee is a brand of coffee first introduced by the A&P supermarket chain in 1859. Today it is one of the largest coffee producers in the United States, located in Maryland.
Burger King command center. –We shipped half a million French fries to Dallas …
The fast food chain Burger King was started as Insta-Burger King in 1953 in Jacksonville, Florida. Today, there are over 17,700 locations in 100 countries.
I don’t know, maybe a thousand Whoppers this morning, but, uh …
The Whopper is the signature hamburger sandwich at Burger King fast food restaurants (see previous note).
Uh, you want to talk to Ma Frickert?
Ma Frickert is a cartoon character from Hanna-Barbera’s cartoon The New Scooby-Doo Movies (CBS, 1972-1974), the second incarnation of the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! series. She was a plump, elderly woman. The character was modeled on the Jonathan Winters character Maude Frickert, a seemingly sweet little old lady with a malicious turn of phrase; Winters himself voiced the character.
Hey, how do I get this floppy out?
Floppy drives were recordable media disk drives on early home computers. Some vendors, Apple in particular, had no eject button, and the disk would become stuck in the machine when the computer crashed.
You want it when?
“You want it when?!” is the caption to a cartoon of a group of people laughing hysterically; it has been posted in countless workplaces over the years. The cartoon appears to be the work of Henry Syverson, who drew regularly for the Saturday Evening Post.
Dean Martin (1917-1995) was a singer and actor, a member of the Rat Pack of actors led by Frank Sinatra. He got his start as half of the Martin and Lewis comedy team, which propelled him and partner Jerry Lewis to superstardom. Martin was considered the epitome of 1950s cool, and his persona as a hard-drinking playboy persisted throughout his film career in the 1960s and 1970s.
Calumet Harbor means two things to these guys: stunted bullheads and Old Milwaukee beer.
Old Milwaukee is a beer produced by the Pabst Brewing Company. “There’s nothing like the flavor of a special place, and Old Milwaukee Beer” was the jingle for their popular ads, which showed male models in outdoor work clothing combining the beer with regional luxury foods. The Calumet River system is among the most polluted in the Great Lakes region. It empties directly into Calumet Harbor on Lake Michigan.
Randy “The Big Unit” Johnson was a longtime pitcher for the Seattle Mariners (1989-1998) and other teams. He stands 6’10” and could throw more than 100 mph. He won the Cy Young trophy five times, and retired in 2009.
Join me, Luke.
This is a line from The Empire Strikes Back, the first Star Wars sequel movie from 1980. Darth Vader (Anakin Skywalker) is trying to lure his son, Luke, to the dark side of the force and lead a coup d’état against the emperor.
Oh, it’s Bill Gates.
Bill Gates is the founder of Microsoft and chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He attended Harvard and has a look that has been synonymized with “geek.” He is worth billions and is the world’s leading charitable donor.
I like his Moon Boots.
Moon Boots are a brand of Italian-made nylon snow boots, bearing the words “Moon Boot” in giant gaudy lettering, that were popular in the 1980s. They come in lots of primary colors, which make them appealing to people who like to color-coordinate their winter garb. They run about $90 a pair.
Have you tried Windows 95 yet?
The Microsoft Windows 95 computer operating system software was a very popular version; it was succeeded by Windows 98. Bill Gates was the CEO of Microsoft at the time and promoted the product directly.
Hey, you got protoplasm in my peanut butter!
An imitation of the television ads for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that aired during the 1980s: “You got peanut butter on my chocolate! No, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter!”
Hit the water on the right side of the green.
Another golf reference: a golf course is scattered with various “hazards” that make the ball much more difficult to hit, compared with the grass that makes up the rest of the course. “Water hazards” are essentially small lakes, and “bunkers,” also called sand traps, are shallow pits filled with sand.
There’s your Windows 95.
See previous note.
Dad’s kind of into ham radio.
Amateur (or ham) radio is an organized group of radio enthusiasts who develop, experiment, and promote the uses of radio communication. They are licensed by the government and given many exclusive radio bands over which they can communicate. They have sometimes been invaluable in cases of national emergency when other systems have failed.
NASA’s a sucker for any very-large-array salesmen.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was established in 1958 at the height of the space race between the U.S. and the USSR. They do not run the Very Large Array (VLA) observatory in New Mexico (it is run by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, an arm of the National Science Foundation), but they use it extensively to study deep-space objects.
Employees of Paragon Cable, please welcome the president of the United States.
Paragon Cable was the largest cable provider in Minnesota during the 1980s. In 1995 it was acquired by Time Warner; the deal was finalized by 1999, and Paragon Cable was no more.
I should never have done that stint on Mork & Mindy.
The TV comedy Mork & Mindy aired from 1978-1982. It starred Robin Williams as an alien sent to Earth to study its inhabitants. The actor bears a strong resemblance to Jonathan Winters, who played Mork and Mindy’s child (!) Mearth in the final season.
I’ll see if I should swing by, pick up some Durkees.
Durkee Famous Foods Inc. is a condiment and seasoning company famous for making Durkee French Fried Onions, a vital ingredient in green bean casseroles every Thanksgiving. Sadly, in 1995 the product was sold to French’s, the mustard company, and renamed French’s French Fried Onions, which just does not have the same ring to it at all.
Are you bringing Brice?
The 1987 movie No Way Out starred Kevin Costner and Gene Hackman in a CIA/Russian mole-spy whodunit. David Brice (Hackman) was the Secretary of Defense, who had a homosexual aide.
Karen and Richard Carpenter at home.
Richard and Karen Carpenter were the brother-sister musical team The Carpenters. The duo released a string of soft-rock hits during the first half of the 1970s. Karen, who was an anorexic, died in 1983 of heart failure related to her condition.
Robert De Niro won an Oscar for his role as boxer Jake La Motta in Raging Bull, a 1980 biopic directed by Martin Scorsese. It featured some stark scenes of the boxer’s home life, mostly over his violent jealousy of his wife.
RyKrisp? Sociables? Anything?
Both popular snack crackers. RyKrisp is a brand under Ralston Purina made in Minnesota, and Sociables are made by Nabisco.
Tinker Bell, come down out of that tree.
Tinker Bell is a small, magical, flying fairy from the play/book Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie. In Disney’s animated movie version, she is surrounded by a glowing halo.
[Sung.] Way down upon the Swanee Riv—ow! Oh! Ouch!
“Swanee” is a song written by the great composer George Gershwin and Irving Caesar in 1919. It was made famous after being sung by Broadway legend Al Jolson. “Way down upon the Swanee River, far, far away …”
He’s burstin’ with flavor, too.
The phrase “bursting with flavor” has been appropriated by Oscar Mayer Big & Juicy Hot Dogs, Trident Gum, and Pringles Potato Chips—but given the timeframe of this episode they were probably referencing Starburst Fruit Chews, whose slogan was “A burst of fruit flavor, from the very first chew.”
[Sung.] From the land of blood-red water.
This is an old jingle for Hamm's beer. “From the land of sky blue waters, from the land of pines, lofty balsams, comes the beer refreshing. Hamm's.”
[Sung.] Benson & Hedges jingle.
Tom is singing a bit of the musical jingle used in TV ads in the 1960s and early ‘70s for Benson & Hedges cigarettes. The ads touted their extra length.
Joe Camel says we should.
Joe Camel was a controversial cartoon mascot for Camel cigarettes from 1987 to 1997. He became the target of anti-smoking advocates, who argued that the character led kids to take up smoking because kids like cartoons. According to a 1991 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Camel’s share of the underage market went from .5 percent to 32.8 percent after the campaign began. Under pressure from the government and consumer advocates, Joe was dropped and replaced with a simple drawing of a camel.
It’s alive with pleasure.
Made by the Lorillard Tobacco Company and introduced in 1957, in the 1970s Newport cigarettes deftly skirted health and addiction issues with advertising showing active young people hiking, camping, etc., with the slogan “Alive with pleasure. After all, if smoking isn’t a pleasure, why bother?” Deep trivia: In 2013, courts awarded $35 million to the family of a Boston woman in a lawsuit claiming the company handed out free Newport cigarettes to children in low-income, mostly Black neighborhoods. The woman, who died of lung cancer, claimed she got free cigarettes from the age of 9 and began smoking at 13.
Comedian and voice talent Mel Blanc (1908-1989) performed a hit routine with Jack Benny playing a Mexican named Cy, who only spoke three words: si, Cy, and Sue.
Maybe we’ll find Conrad Janis’s skull.
Conrad Janis is a balding musician and actor who has appeared in innumerable television series and films, including Quark and Airport 1975, but he is best known for playing Mindy’s father on Mork & Mindy.
[Sung.] There’s a world going on underground ...
A line from the Tom Waits song “Underground,” from his 1983 album Swordfishtrombones. Lyrics: “There’s a big dark town/It’s a place I’ve found/There’s a world going on/Underground.”
She’s deep in left field at Wrigley.
Wrigley Field is a stadium in Chicago that has been home base for the Cubs for more than ninety years. Built in 1914, it is the second-oldest major league ballpark, edged out by Fenway Park in Boston.
[Sung.] And a-zoom zoom zoom-a zoom.
These are lyrics from the theme of the PBS television show Zoom (1972-1978). Zoom was a live-action children’s show that featured skits, jokes, short films, and fun with a multiethnic cast of kids; the gimmick was that the show was largely unscripted and based on suggestions and contributions by child viewers.
Seve Ballasteros is way off the fairway.
Seve Ballesteros (1957-2011) was a famous professional golfer from Spain, largely considered the best Spanish golfer ever. His career was cut short by a malignant brain tumor, which killed him in 2011.
My radial keratotomy surgery went haywire.
This is probably an error on the writers’ part. Radial keratotomy is a surgical procedure done with a knife to correct nearsightedness. They may be thinking of LASIK eye surgery, which is done with lasers.
You dirty rat, you killed my brother.
This is a common misquote of actor James Cagney (1899-1986). The original line is from the 1932 movie Taxi!: "Come out and take it, you dirty, yellow-bellied rat, or I'll give it to you through the door!" Cagney played gangsters in a number of movies such as The Public Enemy (1931) and White Heat (1949).
Ah, nice. Very funny article in Swank, or what?
Swank is a particularly hardcore “men’s magazine” that began publication in 1941 as a lifestyle magazine for men, similar to Esquire. In the mid-1950s it was relaunched by Marvel Comics founder Martin Goodman as an adventure fiction magazine, featuring works by Ian Fleming and Norman Mailer. In 1993, its new owners switched to flat-out porn.
Oh, no, Frankenstein wasn’t the actual monster, he was the doctor.
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 the monster is often referred to as Frankenstein, the name more properly belongs to the monster’s creator, Victor Frankenstein; the creature himself is never named.
I’m not coming back, Jim.
This refers to a Star Trek (original series) episode called “This Side of Paradise.” Spock is infected with alien spores, loses his inhibitions, and has a fling with Jill Ireland. Mary Jo Pehl’s comment, from the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide: “‘I’m not going back, Jim’ was one of our favorite catchphrases around here, until we rented the video of that Star Trek episode and were stunned to realize that Spock never says that.”
[Sung.] What a day this has been, what a rare mood I’m in.
This is a line from the Lerner and Loewe song “Almost Like Being in Love” from the 1947 musical Brigadoon. (Trivia fans take note: according to Mike Nelson’s Movie Megacheese, Mike played Jeff Douglas, one of the two tourists who stumble on the mysterious village, in his senior year’s production of Brigadoon.)
Doesn’t anybody want to sing karaoke with me?
Karaoke is a Japanese sing-along interactive entertainment that maintains worldwide popularity in bars and at parties. A karaoke machine plays remixes of popular songs with the vocals removed, and the participant sings into a microphone that blends his or her voice with the music, often with the lyrics displayed on a video screen. Karaoke was first developed in the 1960s and started spreading internationally in the 1990s.
They have Jell-O today, Steve.
Jell-O is a sweetened gelatin dessert made by Kraft Foods. The powdered gelatin that serves as a base for the product was first developed in 1845 by Peter Cooper. In the 1880s, the patent was sold to a New York carpenter who replicated the powder but added flavors to it. The first flavors available were lemon, orange, raspberry, and strawberry. The Jell-O name was bestowed upon it in 1897.
Billy Jack at Los Alamos.
Billy Jack is a 1971 film starring Tom Laughlin (who also produced, directed, and wrote) as a Native American martial artist/crack shot/Vietnam veteran who tries to protect a hippie school from local racists. Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico was the site of the development of the first nuclear bomb during World War II. It is still one of two sites in the nation that sees work on nuclear weapons, along with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
I’m actually beginning to hate Hans Geiger.
Physicist Hans Geiger (1882-1945) invented a device in 1908 that could measure nuclear radiation. It is known as a Geiger-Müller counter, or simply a Geiger counter.
Ted “Crazy Legs” Nelson. Remember I put the condom on Mr. Carter’s desk?
Crazy Legs Elroy Hirsch (1923-2004) was a star running back at the University of Wisconsin and went on to play nine seasons with the Los Angeles Rams. He retired from coaching at the University of Washington in 1987.
Oh God, Mrs. Robinson, no no.
A reference to the 1967 film The Graduate, about recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), who has an affair with an older woman, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), and then falls for her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross).
Chestnut blight is bad this year.
Chestnut blight fungus was introduced to the United States in the early 20th century and had nearly wiped out the species within forty years. It remains as active as ever, with little chance of repopulating the species on the continent, although efforts to develop a blight-resistant strain of chestnut trees are ongoing.
Think that fell off a Chianti bottle.
Chianti is a red Italian table wine named after the region in Italy where it is produced. It comes in a shorter, fatter bottle that is traditionally covered in a straw basket. People often use the empty bottles as candleholders and let the wax drip artistically down the sides of the bottle.
I’ve been following van Gogh.
Dutchman Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) is considered one of the greatest painters of all time, although he failed to sell any of his paintings during his lifetime. (They now sell for tens of millions of dollars at auction.) Van Gogh suffered all his life from bouts with mental illness, including one famous incident in which he cut off part of his own ear with a razor and entrusted it to a local prostitute, consequently spending a year in a sanatorium.
The Beatles, whew! Oh, nobody here.
The Beatles’ arrival in America on February 7, 1964, was a media sensation, and one of the notable events of the 1960s. Their flight into JFK Airport was met by four thousand shrieking fans (most of them female) and about two hundred reporters, jammed into a tiny space. Several people in the crowd were injured. The hysteria only intensified as the tour went on, and was dubbed “Beatlemania.”
Ten-hut! You maggots. Where the hell are you?
An army drill instructor is responsible for teaching new recruits how to behave in the military. This type of clipped, abusive speech pattern is an imitation of the drill sergeant portrayed by R. Lee Ermey in the film Full Metal Jacket. Ermey was a Marine Corps drill instructor in the 1960s before he served in Vietnam, and his performance has become iconic.
Yosemite Sam. Rootin’est tootin’est shootin’est varmint.
An imitation of Yosemite Sam, the diminutive gunslinger known from dozens of appearances in Warner Bros. animated shorts, wherein he squared off primarily against Bugs Bunny. Sam and his huge red mustache first appeared in 1945’s Hare Trigger.
Cat Stevens is on the scene.
Cat Stevens (b. Steven Demetre Georgiou) is a folk musician. He had a number of early 1970s hits such as “Wild World” and “Peace Train.” In 1977 he became a Muslim and changed his name to Yusuf Islam after nearly dying in a drowning accident.
We now return to Enos. –Great show.
The single season of Enos ran on prime-time TV in 1980 as a spinoff of The Dukes of Hazzard. It starred Sonny Shroyer as the gentle, doofusy cop Enos Strate, who was hired to work for the LAPD. He is partnered with a streetwise Black cop named Turk Adams (Samuel E. Wright).
You’ve met Lydia.
A signature song for Groucho Marx, “Lydia the Tattooed Lady,” written by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburgit, first appeared in the 1939 Marx Brothers movie At the Circus. Sample lyrics: “Oh Lydia, Oh Lydia/Now have you met Lydia/Lydia the tattooed lady/She has muscles men adore-so/And a torso even more-so/Oh, Lydia, Oh Lydia/Now have you met Lydia …”
An imitation of Dig’em, the baseball cap-wearing frog mascot for Kellogg’s Honey Smacks (formerly Sugar Smacks).
[Sung.] Tell me, where do the children play-ee-ay-ee-ay-ee.
A version of the wobbly chorus in the song “Where Do the Children Play?” by Cat Stevens. It appears on his 1970 album Tea for the Tillerman.
The Gambinos are one of the major Mafia families in New York City. They reached their height of power during the 1960s under Carlo Gambino (1902-1976), who ruled the family with an iron fist until his death from a heart attack; Mario Puzo partially based the character of the Godfather on Carlo.
I am a fugitive from the pajama game.
The Pajama Game was a Broadway musical from the 1950s that was turned into a 1957 movie starring Doris Day. Workers at a pajama factory rise up against the man, and sing about it. 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 in the Deep South.
[Sung.] Only love, only love, of all the dreams you treasure.
A line from “Only Love Pads the Film,” a song from Show 202, The Side Hackers.
Caution, filling is hot.
McDonald’s apple pies famously carry a warning (the wording varies) cautioning customers about the high temperature of their filling.
There’s a hellfire and brimstone watch for Steele, Mille Lacs, and Goodhue counties.
These are all counties in southeastern Minnesota, surrounding or near Minneapolis.
This makes me thirsty for a Corona.
Corona Extra beer is sold in clear glass bottles. It is brewed in Mexico by Modelo Brewery.
Houston? Put Mr. Woodman on, Kotter has a nosebleed.
Mr. (Michael) Woodman was the school principal on Welcome Back, Kotter, a TV series that aired from 1975 to 1979. It starred Gabe Kaplan as a teacher in an inner-city high school. Woodman was played by John Sylvester White (1919-1988).
It’s the Brute Man.
A reference to Show 702, The Brute Man.
What’s the matter, don’t you like it?
Another reference to Show 702, The Brute Man.
Half the fun of having stumps is red goo shoes.
A play on the advertising slogan “Half the fun of having feet is Red Goose shoes.”
I swiped a MoonPie and they caught me.
MoonPie brand snacks are two graham-flavored cookies dipped in chocolate with a layer of marshmallow frosting between them. They were created in 1917 and come in three flavors: chocolate, vanilla, and banana.
Geez, this is sitcom noir.
Film noir is a genre of movies that evolved during the 1940s. Noir (French for “black”) refers both to the stark, gloomy visuals of the films and to their moral content: flawed heroes, scheming femme fatales, corrupt cops, and cynical, disillusioned storylines.
The gin game.
The Gin Game is a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by D.L. Coburn about two old people who review their lives during a card game. It was a Broadway hit that starred Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn.
“Ah, baby!” You’re the greatest!
“Alice/Baby, you’re the greatest!” was a catchphrase of Jackie Gleason’s character Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners.
This is still better than Mrs. Doubtfire.
Mrs. Doubtfire was a Robin Williams movie from 1993. Williams’ character dresses up and applies makeup to appear as an old woman so he can work as his kids’ nanny after his divorce.
I’m going to squeeze one of those, and let the juice drip down my body.
The 1980 film Atlantic City starred Susan Sarandon as a young woman who works at the seafood buffet at a casino and Burt Lancaster as an aging ex-mobster. In one scene, Lancaster watches through a window as a topless Sarandon rubs lemons on her hands and arms to get rid of the smell of seafood.
She’s the Cracked magazine guy.
The Mad Magazine wannabe Cracked even ripped off the idea of having a melon-faced mascot on all their covers. Their character’s name was Sylvester P. Smythe, as opposed to Mad’s Alfred E. Neuman.
She looks like a Killer Klown from Outer Space.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space was a campy, low-budget horror movie from 1988. A group of aliens who look like maniacal circus clowns cause trouble when their spaceship lands in a small town.
Look harder, Sinbad.
In Show 505, The Magic Voyage of Sinbad, Sinbad gets help and guidance from a magical woman known as the Princess of Lake Ilmen.
[Sung.] Lay me down in the tall grass and let me do my stuff.
Lyrics from the song “Second Hand News,” by Fleetwood Mac. It is on their 1976 album Rumours.
I love my go-go boots.
Go-go boots appeared in the 1960s. They don’t have a high heel, so you can dance in them, and they are tall and tight, to flatter your legs.
Just pick your lemons and leave, Clara Peller.
Clara Peller was an elderly actress in the 1980s who starred in a famous series of advertisements for the fast food chain Wendy’s, in which she repeatedly asked, “Where’s the beef?”—a question that quickly became a catchphrase. Peller died in 1987.
[Sung.] Skyrockets in flight, afternoon delight.
The Starland Vocal Band was a soft-rock group known primarily for their one big hit, 1976’s “Afternoon Delight.”
An Ulster Hound.
The Ulster Hound is the stuff of Irish folklore and mythology: in the kingdom of Ulster, a gigantic hound was killed by the boy-warrior Setanta. There’s a lot more to the story (Setanta took the dog's place as the king's guardian and trained another hound, etc.), but that's the gist of it. It has also been linked to the "black dog" legends of northern England, which is where Arthur Conan Doyle got his inspiration for The Hound of the Baskervilles.
The 1972 Sam Peckinpah film The Getaway starred Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw as a married couple involved in a bank robbery.
Oh God, we forgot our coffee discount at Burger King.
See above note.
No bad dogs, my ass.
Legendary dog trainer Barbara Woodhouse (1910-1988) had the theory that there were "no bad dogs." Her popular 1982 dog training manual was titled No Bad Dogs the Woodhouse Way.
Folks, I’m with the DNR. I’m investigating the theft of some lemons from this grove.
The majority of states in the United States have a Department of National Resources branch, which do things like manage public lands, run the state parks, enforce environmental regulations, and manage fisheries and wildlife areas.
Ah, Benjamin gets to the church a little late.
See above note on The Graduate. At the end of the film (spoiler alert), Benjamin races to stop the wedding of the girl he loves and arrives at the church after the ceremony has already begun. Not to be denied, he pounds on the glass window of the loft, screaming her name and interrupting the vows.
I just hope he eats the Crypt Keeper while he’s there.
The Crypt Keeper was a puppet that was used to host the HBO series Tales from the Crypt. He was a wisecracking, living dead guy voiced by former Star Search champion John Kassir. The opening sequence of the show takes a brief tour around the outside of the crypt.
He forgot to take his apricot facial off.
In an apricot facial, the ground-up pit of the fruit is used to exfoliate the skin.
Another victim of the great Honey Dijon Disaster.
Possibly a riff on Boston's Molasses Disaster of 1919: a giant storage tank full of molasses burst, flooding the streets with an (estimated) 35 mph wave of the sticky goo. Twenty-one people died and 150 were injured. Honey dijon is a popular salad dressing, made with Dijon-style mustard, honey, and mayonnaise. It can also be used as a marinade for fish or chicken, or as a dressing for pasta salad.
Oh, I should have brought a Kleenex.
Kleenex is a brand of facial tissue made by Kimberly-Clark. It was introduced in 1924 and has become an informal brand eponym for all such products.
Hey, hum “Seasons in the Sun,” that should dislodge it.
A reference to the mellow 1974 song “Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks. Sample lyrics: “We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun/But the hills that we climbed were just seasons out of time …”
Wow! Won that little scanning contest, but it cost me.
Scanners is a 1981 horror flick by David Cronenberg about a group of people with terrifying telekinetic powers; it starred Jennifer O’Neill and Stephen Lack. There are two famous instances of scanner “duels” in the film. The first ends with the weaker scanner’s head exploding, and the second at the climax leaves one dead after a protracted fight.
He’s Pillsbury cinnamon glaze man.
The animated character Poppin’ Fresh is also known as the Pillsbury Doughboy. He has been used in ad campaigns for Pillsbury’s refrigerated premade dough since the mid-1960s.
This is basically the same story as Frosty the Snowman.
Frosty the Snowman is a TV animated special from 1969 about a magical snowman who comes to life but must get to the North Pole before he melts. It is based on a popular song of the same name from the ‘50s.
[Sung.] I’ll stop the world and melt with you.
These are lyrics from the song “I Melt with You,” by the British New Wave band Modern English. It is on their 1982 album After the Snow.
Don’t mess with the timpani, honey; I had it tuned for the Mahler.
Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) wrote some of the greatest orchestral symphonies of the late Romantic era. Some are very bombastic, with lots of percussion; the Resurrection Symphony, for example, calls for two players on eight timpani, along with snare drums, a bass drum, cymbals, triangle, glockenspiel, bells, and assorted other oddments requiring a total of seven musicians.
Airto? Is that you?
Airto Moreira is a jazz percussionist from Brazil. He is featured on notable recordings by Miles Davis and played in the bands Weather Report and Santana.
“I’m a doctor.” Not a belly itcher.
This is part of an old taunt associated with youth baseball. It goes: “We need a pitcher, not a belly itcher. We need a catcher, not a belly scratcher.”
Honey, Seinfeld’s on.
Seinfeld was a television sitcom starring comedian Jerry Seinfeld that aired from 1990-1998. It was consistently one of the top-rated shows throughout its run—not bad for a show that purported to be about “nothing.”
Look, darling, we’re gonna leave her out for the polar bears anyway.
Historically, senilicide, or the killing of the elderly, was a practice occasionally resorted to by the Inuit, Yupik, or Aleut peoples in times of famine or hardship. This is commonly visualized in popular culture as “being put on an ice floe” or “left to the polar bears,” but generally they were simply left behind when the tribe moved on. Sometimes it took the form of assisted suicide: when the elderly tribal member felt they were becoming a burden, they would request to be put to death. In either case it was a relatively rare occurrence, and it is a thing of the past; the last recorded case took place in 1939.
Buford Pusser, Eating Tall.
Walking Tall (1973) starred Joe Don “Mitchell” Baker as bat-wielding Sheriff Buford Pusser. Pusser is a wrestler who moves to Tennessee with his wife. He becomes a victim of the graft and corruption he finds all around him, runs for sheriff, and takes revenge. With a bat.
I hope she’s not using the lemons like Susan Sarandon.
See note on Atlantic City, above. Sarandon was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her role in the film.
Well, let's see here. Fire, start. Start, fire. Fire, start.
Firestarter is a 1980 novel by Stephen King about a man and his young daughter, both with psychic abilities, on the run from a mysterious government organization. The father can influence people’s behavior telepathically, and the daughter is a pyrokinetic: a firestarter. It was made into a film starring Drew Barrymore in 1984.
But I did get the lead in the Coleman Francis Story.
The cult filmmaker/actor Coleman Francis (1919-1973) can be seen in Show 621, The Beast of Yucca Flats; Show 609, The Skydivers; and Show 619, Red Zone Cuba.
Until Captain Kangaroo.
Captain Kangaroo (played by Bob Keeshan) was the host of the long-running children’s show Captain Kangaroo, which aired from 1955-1984.
I don’t follow you my friend, no way.
A reference to the “made-for-TV hippie” from Show 614, San Francisco International.
Sounds like a Jew’s harp with a whammy bar.
A Jew’s harp is a primitive musical device made of metal. You pluck it and modulate the sound with your mouth. A whammy bar is used to apply vibrato to guitar strings.
Hey, could you guys snag me some Diet Coke while you’re out?
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.
He’s going to steal back his snow-blower.
In the 1994 Paul Newman movie Nobody’s Fool, a stolen snow-blower is a running joke.
Couldn’t they just put “ibid” up on the screen, please?
“Ibid.” is an abbreviation of the Latin word “ibidem,” meaning “the same place.” It is usually seen in research papers when the same source is referenced for two different citations.
Ah yes. Meanwhile her baby is discovering the wonders of goofballs.
Goofballs is a slang term for illegal drugs, specifically downers.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps at its petty pace from day to day until the last syllable of recorded time.
This is a paraphrase of a line from the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare, Act V, Scene 5: “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow/Creeps in this petty pace from day to day/To the last syllable of recorded time.”
Wonder what Colin is up to tonight.
Probably a reference to General Colin Powell, who served as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton and as Secretary of State under George W. Bush. The bipartisan respect Powell had earned serving under both Republican and Democratic presidents was tarnished in the runup to the Iraq War, when in 2003 he addressed the United Nations to make the U.S. case for invading Iraq with what is now wholly discredited testimony, an experience he later referred to as “painful,” “terrible,” “devastating,” and a permanent “blot” on his otherwise impressive record.
There's pudding in the melting man to make him moister.
The line of Super Moist cake mixes made by Betty Crocker famously boasts that it has, "As Always ... Pudding in the Mix!" The powdered instant pudding mix incorporated into the cake mix is thus supposedly the secret of Betty's incredibly moist cakes. (Thanks to Daisy for this reference.)
Oh, we saw that in Cape Fear.
Cape Fear was a thriller movie from 1962 that starred Robert Mitchum as a psychopathic ex-con. He terrorized the lawyer who put him in jail and stalked his family. It was remade in 1991 with Robert De Niro in Mitchum’s part.
Houston, we have a problem. We’re so lost.
This refers to the famous line delivered by astronaut Jim Lovell during the failed Apollo 13 moon mission after an explosion on board crippled their ship (see above note on Apollo 13). In the Hollywood movie version, they changed it slightly (from “we’ve had a problem” to “we have a problem”).
“Perry’s with her.” The Fridge?
William “The Refrigerator” Perry was a professional football player best known for his long tenure with the Chicago Bears (1985-1993) and for his gargantuan size (6’2”, 382 pounds).
Don’t talk about our baby, Martha.
This is delivered in the voice of actor Richard Burton (1925-1984), who appeared in a 1966 movie version of the Edward Albee play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? along with his real-life wife, Elizabeth Taylor (he played George; she played Martha).
Meanwhile, on Martha’s Vineyard …
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 for films and radio and television shows. More recently, it was used in the various Superfriends animated series of the late 1970s. Narrator Ted Knight would say, “Meanwhile, back at the Hall of Justice ...” or “Meanwhile, at the Legion of Doom ...” The island called Martha’s Vineyard is a playground for its ultra-rich residents and wealthy tourists. It sits just south of Cape Cod. It was used as the location for the movie Jaws.
That person looks a lot like Bonnie Franklin from a long way off.
Bonnie Franklin (1944-2013) played the red-headed killjoy and divorced mother Ann Romano on the long-running (1975-1984) TV series One Day at a Time.
[Sung.] Some enchanted evening, you may meet a redneck, you may see a redneck, across a bingo hall.
“Some Enchanted Evening” is a song from the 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific. Sample lyrics: “Some enchanted evening/You may see a stranger/You may see a stranger/Across a crowded room …”
You grabbed the one-hitter.
A one-hitter is a small, unfiltered pipe for smoking marijuana that holds just enough for a hit or two. It is often called a bat because of its shape.
Did you have your stigmata again?
Stigmata refers to marks or injuries on a person's body that correspond to the wounds made when Jesus was crucified: hands or wrists and feet. St. Francis of Assisi was the first recorded stigmatic. Many cases have been deemed deliberate frauds; others cases of unconscious self-infliction or hysteria.
I’m going to go listen to some ELO.
Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) was a British progressive rock group, active from 1970 to 1986. Hit singles included “Livin’ Thing,” “Telephone Line,” and “Don’t Bring Me Down.”
We’re missing the beginning of Hee Haw.
Hee Haw was a syndicated country variety show hosted by Buck Owens and Roy Clark. The show featured cornpone humor and appearances by virtually every major star in country music, including Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Loretta Lynn. It ran from 1969-1992.
I wanted to talk about the Jim Varney film.
Jim Varney (1949-2000) was an actor, comedian, and writer best known for his portrayal of the bumbling Ernest P. Worrell on commercials and in a series of movies.
The general is still dead.
A reference to one of the first catchphrases to emerge from the debut season of Saturday Night Live (NBC, 1975-present). At the time, Spanish dictator Francisco Franco was on his deathbed but lingered for quite a while, leading to weeks of media reports saying, in effect, “Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still alive.” Once he finally died, SNL’s Weekend Update news parody segment featured Chevy Chase saying—for weeks—“Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.”
She’s a strange cross between Barry and Cindy Williams.
Actor Barry Williams played oldest son Greg Brady on The Brady Bunch. Cindy Williams (no relation) played Shirley Feeney on the sitcom Laverne & Shirley.
Didn’t she sit behind the Sweathogs?
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. The kids in Kotter’s class were known as the Sweathogs. This may refer to actress Helaine Lembeck, who played student Judy Borden in fourteen episodes.
How long does it take to check a double-wide?
A double-wide is a variety of mobile home, made by putting two single-wide mobile homes together. The pre-built houses can be trucked in and assembled on-site because a single-wide can fit on a semi-trailer. By the way, the name “mobile home” isn’t referring to mobility, but to Mobile, Alabama, the site of the first company to build prefab houses: Sweet Homes, founded by machinist James Sweet in response to the post World War II housing shortage. (Deeper trivia: the 1974 Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Sweet Home Alabama” is a re-working of a 1951 radio jingle for the company that sang “Sweet Homes, Alabama…”)
I hope no one disturbed my back issues of Crawdaddy!
The magazine Crawdaddy! boasts that it was the first to hire music critics to cover the rock scene. It started in 1966 and continues online. The name comes from the Crawdaddy Club in England, where the Rolling Stones had their first shows.
I’m going to make up a pitcher of sloe screws, put some Hungry-Man dinners in the oven, and fall asleep on the couch until they burn.
A sloe screw is a cocktail made from orange juice and sloe gin. Hungry-Man dinners are a brand of precooked frozen dinners from Conagra Brands. They claim larger portions than the average size TV dinner.
Do pork rinds need to be refrigerated?
Pork rinds are a snack food consisting of strips of pig skin deep-fried in lard.
There’s got to be a Jell-O shooter left.
See note on Jell-O, above. Popular with college-age binge-drinking enthusiasts, Jell-O shooters (a.k.a. Jell-O shots) involve substituting rum or vodka for some of the water used to make Jell-O, resulting in a sweet, colorful, semi-viscous slime infused with alcohol. Because the gelatin absorbs some of the alcohol, it is slower to enter the bloodstream, making it easy to underestimate how drunk one is actually getting. So Jell-O shots are colorful and semi-viscous going in and coming back out. While he may not have invented Jell-O shots per se, songwriting satirist Tom Lehrer explained in the liner notes of his box set The Remains of Tom Lehrer that in 1955, while in the Army, he and a buddy skirted a military base ban on “alcoholic beverages” by mixing vodka with orange Jell-O to produce an alcoholic … non-beverage. Said Mr. Lehrer: “It was a very nice party.” (Thanks to Thomas Mossman for the Tom Lehrer reference.)
From the Rhoda Morgenstern line of clothing.
Rhoda was a TV sitcom (1974-1978) starring Valerie Harper as Rhoda Morgenstern. Rhoda was a spinoff of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, on which Harper played the same part from 1970 to 1974.
I’ve got to go yodel groceries.
“Yodel groceries” is one of many, many euphemisms for vomiting.
Honey? North Dallas Forty was really good, didn’t yer think? Honey?
The 1979 movie North Dallas Forty, which starred Nick Nolte, is based on a semi-autobiographical novel written by Peter Gent, a former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver. It is a dark, unflattering, satirical look at pro football.
Honey, you don’t mind if I put on Eat a Peach, do you?
The Allman Brothers Band, consisting of Duane and Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks, and Jaimoe Johanson, released several blues-rock albums in the early 1970s. Their 1972 album Eat a Peach is considered a rock classic and contains the song “Blue Sky.”
Is someone eating the tuna wiggle?
Tuna wiggle is a kind of simple tuna casserole; ingredients vary, but apart from tuna it often includes noodles, some kind of canned soup like cream of chicken or cream of mushroom, milk, and sometimes more exotic ingredients like crushed potato chips or water chestnuts.
The 8-track ate Flirtin’ with Disaster!
Officially known as Stereo 8, 8-track tapes were cassettes of magnetic tape in an infinite loop. They were developed in the early 1960s by Bill Lear (he of Lear Jet fame) and released in 1964. They caught on because, until then, the only means of owning music were vinyl records or cumbersome reel-to-reels, and neither of those was terribly portable. They were popular until the mid-1970s, when standard compact cassettes finally replaced them as the desired form of totable audio entertainment. Molly Hatchet is a Southern rock band that formed in 1975; its hit albums include Flirtin’ with Disaster and Double Trouble Live.
Come on, mollify him with a Mickey’s big mouth.
Mickey’s fine malt liquor is a legendary bad boy party drink in the upper Midwest. It has 5.6 percent alcohol to get you messed up faster. It is cheap, and it comes in the coolest bottles. They look a bit like hand grenades, with an extra-wide mouth, and include funny puzzles under the cap. It is brewed by Miller in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Whoa, almost lost her On-Cor entrees.
Wisconsin-based On-Cor makes family-size frozen pre-cooked dinners. They helped pioneer the TV dinner market starting in 1958.
Give me the number for 9-1-1.
911 is the nationwide U.S. police emergency phone system, designed to make it easier for people to reach police, fire, and medical personnel in an emergency. The first 911 call was placed on February 16, 1968, in Haleyville, Alabama. It was officially designated as the nationwide emergency phone number in 1999.
Are there any tickets left for 38 Special?
38 Special is a southern rock band that had hits in the late 1970s and ‘80s such as “Hold On Loosely” and “Caught Up in You.” They featured guitarist Donnie Van Zant.
Hang on, I’m gonna fix you a bullhead omelet.
Bullhead catfish live and feed in the muddy bottom of lakes and rivers. They have poisonous spines and require careful cleaning before eating.
The Kelvinator’s coming to attack her.
Kelvinator is an old company known for its cooling systems. It was founded in 1914 to sell household appliances; many a grandma’s kitchen had a still-running Kelvinator refrigerator right up into the 21st century. Today it sells commercial refrigeration systems.
Yan can cook.
Yan Can Cook is a TV cooking show featuring master chef Martin Yan. Shown on public television since 1982, Yan Can Cook has gained a cult following beyond the foodie crowd thanks to Yan's manic enthusiasm, tenuous grasp of English, many catchphrases (including an excited “Oh, look at that!” at moments of breathless drama, such as a pot of water boiling), and his ability to furiously chop vegetables while looking at the camera instead of his hands. Yan, a native of China, has authored several books and has his own line of kitchen tools.
Yes, you’ll still be able to play the piano.
Besides the obvious joke that Melty just lost his arm, it’s probably a reference to the old chestnut about a man in the hospital, removing bandages from an injury. “Will I be able to play the piano?” he asks the doctor. “Yes.” “That’s funny. I couldn’t before!”
“Got Milk?” is an ad campaign run by American dairy farmers and processors featuring pop culture icons with a milk mustache. The “Got Milk?” slogan was launched in 1993 and finally replaced in 2014 by their new slogan, “Milk Life.”
Whoa, did they have a racehorse tied up to the wall?
There is a popular vulgar expression: I’ve got to pee like a racehorse. It stems from racehorses being injected with the drug Lasix before a race, which prevents bleeding but also acts as a diuretic.
Oh great, now the acid kicks in.
Acid refers to the illicit drug LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide, a hallucinogenic drug whose usefulness in psychiatric treatment has been the subject of much debate. It was first synthesized by Albert Hofmann in 1938. It is a Schedule 1 controlled substance internationally.
I should send this in to “Life in These United States.”
Readers Digest magazine runs a regular feature called “Life in These United States,” in which readers send in humorous anecdotes that exemplify the American condition.
Just as I suspected, Lloyd’s extra smoky.
Lloyd’s Barbeque Company makes microwavable barbequed meat meals. They are owned by Hormel.
“What’s so funny?” Ah, Caroline in the City last night.
The sitcom Caroline in the City starred Lea Thompson. It played on every girl’s fantasy of being a young, pretty, financially independent woman living in Manhattan with a cushy job and a great social life. It ran from 1995 to 1999.
Steve 2: Electric Boogaloo.
Remember the robot dance? This refers to the film Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo; breakdancers try to stop urban redevelopers in this dippy 1984 sequel.
[Sung.] Come to my window.
This is a line from Melissa Etheridge’s hit song “Come To My Window,” from her 1993 album Yes I Am.
Give her a wire monkey and see how she reacts.
In 1966 psychologist Harry Harlow performed a series of experiments with baby rhesus monkeys in which he separated them from their biological mothers and put them in cages with either a “mom” made out of cloth or one made out of wire. Even when the wire “mom” had a bottle attached so the monkeys could nurse, the babies preferred the tactile comfort of the cloth “mom.” This and other maternal-separation and isolation experiments were controversial, since they left the monkey subjects severely disturbed, and are often cited by animal liberation activists. In Show 602, Invasion USA, Dr. Forrester runs an experiment on Crow to see if he bonds with a Dr. Forrester doll or a wire monkey with a baby bottle; Crow desperately prefers the wire monkey.
Honey, where’s the Cheez Whiz?
Cheez Whiz is a brand of spreadable cheese in a jar. It first appeared in 1953 and is sold today by Kraft. It is processed to allow it to stay fresh for long periods.
Nell Fenwick was the love interest of Dudley Do-Right. Dudley is a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, constantly battling his arch-nemesis, Snidely Whiplash. He made his first regular animated appearances in 1961 as part of The Bullwinkle Show, and eventually got a show of his own. Nell was in love with Dudley’s horse (named Horse), not Dudley.
You always were a good judge of men, Deathstalker.
A line from Show 703, Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell.
Ah, Sullivan’s Travels, of course.
Sullivan’s Travels is a comedy-drama movie from 1941 that starred Veronica Lake and Joel McCrea. McCrea plays a movie director who gets a reality check after deciding to see what hobo life is like.
Hobo dinner again?
Several recipe sites list a hobo dinner as hamburger, potatoes, carrots, and onion cooked together.
The answer to whatever happened to Jethro Tull.
Jethro Tull is a British prog-rock band that started in the 1960s. Distinguished by the flute playing of bearded lead singer Ian Anderson, the band is known for such concept albums as Aqualung and Thick as a Brick.
[Sung.] Trailer for sale or rent, rooms to let fifty cents.
These are the opening lyrics to the song “King of the Road,” a country hit in 1964 for Roger Miller. “Trailer for sale or rent/Rooms to let, fifty cents … I’m a man of means by no means/King of the road.”
Actor and writer Harvey Fierstein has a famously rough, gravelly voice. He is famous for being an early openly gay Broadway actor. He acted in such shows as Hairspray and Torch Song Trilogy, which he also wrote.
He’s going to meet up with Indestructible Man.
In Show 409, Indestructible Man, Butcher Benton is killed at a power station.
The melting man approaches the giant barber shop.
The red-and-white-striped barber pole dates back to when barbers performed minor medical procedures, including bloodletting. The striped pole evolved from their practice of hanging long, blood-soaked strips of bandages outside their doors, both to dry and as a form of advertising their services. They also would place bowls of their clients’ blood in their shop windows; grossed-out customers apparently talked them into the poles as a less visceral means of attracting business.
I know this guy once who put a penny on the track and the train derailed.
The show Mythbusters addressed this urban legend in 2005, and pronounced it busted. The only thing that will happen when a train hits a penny is that the penny will get flattened. That’s why the pennies get put there in the first place, of course—people (usually teenagers) hoping for a cool souvenir. Unfortunately, the pennies aren’t the only things that get flattened: a number of people have been killed by trains while pursuing this pastime.
In color. –A Quinn Martin production.
Quinn Martin (1922-1987) was a prolific television producer in the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s; his series included The Untouchables and The Fugitive. For 21 years, he always had at least one series running on network TV and at times as many as four at once. The phrase “A Quinn Martin production” was flashed onscreen in all of Martin’s shows. The opening credits for his show The F.B.I., which aired from 1965-1974, featured an announcer intoning, “The FBI—in color!”
Ahead is the Alien 3 set, to the left Robocop and Terminator 2.
This refers to a typical tour guide speech delivered in movie studio back lot tours. All three movies were made at different studios (Fox, MGM, and Orion, respectively). Alien 3 (1992) is the second sequel in the horror/sci-fi franchise starring Sigourney Weaver. Robocop (1987) starred Peter Weller as a murdered policeman who is brought back to life as a cyborg in a futuristic Detroit. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) was a blockbuster action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a cyborg who comes back through time to protect a young boy from being killed by one of his fellow Terminators.
The Western Avenue L comes through here.
The Chicago transit system is commonly known as the L, short for “elevated”; large portions of the train tracks are elevated above the roadways, as opposed to New York’s subway system. Although there is no L train running along Western Avenue, there are many lines that stop at Western.
Watch out, he can do the 440 in ten seconds.
The 440 is an obsolete track and field race. The world record is something like 44 seconds. It is now known as the 400 meter.
[Sung.] Oh yes, they call him the streak.
This is from the 1974 song “The Streak” by Ray Stevens. Stevens is a musician/comedian known for his novelty songs.
[Sung.] Fuzzy dice and bongos, fuzzy dice.
Fuzzy dice and bongos appear in the music of Frank Zappa in at least two songs, “Dog Breath, in the Year of the Plague,” and “The Uncle Meat Variations.” This tune is from the latter. Both songs appear on the 1969 album Uncle Meat.
Das Boot is an epic 1981 film about the crew and conditions of a German U-boat in the later part of World War II. It stars Jürgen Prochnow.
This all sounds like music that was rejected by Wonder Woman.
Noted TV composer Charles Fox wrote the disco-esque theme music to the TV series The New Adventures of Wonder Woman (1975-1979). Among his other gems were the themes from Love, American Style; Happy Days; and The Love Boat (with Paul Williams).
Hey, Yo-Yo Ma, give it a break!
Yo-Yo Ma is an award-winning cellist who began performing at the age of five and attended Juilliard when he was nine. He has won multiple Grammies and performed all over the world.
Gooeyness of the long distance runner.
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner is a 1962 film about a young man sentenced to a reformatory who finds solace in running; it was based on a 1959 short story by Alan Sillitoe.
I’m not the NRA.
The National Rifle Association, or NRA, is a national organization dedicated to promoting gun ownership. It is a powerful lobbying group, successfully and fiercely resisting any and all gun control measures. In 1998, the NRA launched an ad campaign that featured pictures of well-known members such as Charlton Heston (recently elected president of the organization), actor Tom Selleck, and Congressman Steve Largent, accompanied by the slogan “I am the NRA.”
Picks up a spare.
A spare is a 10-pin bowling outcome. Each player gets two ball rolls to knock down all 10 pins. If the first roll knocks all 10 down, it is a strike (20 points + bonus), if all 10 go down on ball 2, it is a spare (10 points + bonus).
They turned Barefoot in the Park into an action movie.
Barefoot in the Park is a Neil Simon play, written in 1963, about two newlyweds who move into their first apartment after the honeymoon. In 1967 it was made into a film starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.
Come on, it’d be like shooting Jell-O.
See above note.
Maybe it was a rider in his contract that he would be in the film, but he wouldn’t act.
A rider adds specific details to a standard contract. Riders have a certain pop-culture fame thanks to performers, particularly rock stars, adding outlandish riders to the contracts between themselves and concert promoters. The most notorious rock band rider was Van Halen’s “no brown M&Ms” demand: their rider stipulated that, among the foods provided backstage, there be a bowl of M&Ms with all the brown ones removed. The band claimed they did that to check whether the promoter was paying attention to the contract, the theory being that if they ignored the brown M&Ms requirement, they might also ignore other, more important stipulations regarding stage safety or backstage security. Singer David Lee Roth claimed in his autobiography that one promoter that failed the M&Ms test also ignored the weight requirements of their equipment and staging, which did $80,000 worth of damage to the venue.
Well, if we put throw-up powder on him, he’ll probably disappear.
No elementary school would be complete without gallon buckets of vomit-absorbing powder. It holds hundreds of times its weight in water and can be swept up once it has dried.
Karl Wallenda has burst into flames.
Karl Wallenda (1903-1978) died spectacularly on camera while performing his high-wire tightrope walk between two high-rise towers in Puerto Rico. He founded the Great Wallendas troupe, which still performs death-defying high-wire stunts as The Flying Wallendas.
You know immolation is the sincerest form of flattery.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” is an aphorism written by English cleric Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832).
Dorf, security guard.
Actor Tim Conway (1933-2019), known for his comic turns on such television series as McHale’s Navy (ABC, 1962-1966) and The Carol Burnett Show (CBS, 1967-1978), produced a series of eight mock instructional videotapes in which he stars as a dim and diminutive Scandinavian named Derkus Dorf. The tapes flog a single sight gag: Conway is standing in a hole up to his knees, with shoes attached at ground level, giving the appearance he is only about four feet tall. Titles include Dorf on Golf (1987) and Dorf Goes Fishing (1993).
Boy, the sheriff is like an underground tire fire.
Tire fires are a real toxic mess. They can burn for years. Some tire yards are buried to prevent this and other issues like mosquito breeding, but what remains is still flammable and very toxic.
[Sung.] Intro to “Blue Moon.”
The Marcels were a doo-wop band who recorded a cover version of the classic ballad “Blue Moon” in 1961. The opening line “Bomp-badda-bomp …” is a classic.
Ruining my shirt, this is a J. Crew.
J. Crew is a retail and catalog purveyor of upscale casual clothing for both men and women. It was founded in 1983 as a catalog venture and expanded to retail in 1989. Today there are nearly 200 J. Crew stores.
Boy, that thing they say about cellular phones? It’s true.
The telco market has been under the magnifier for years over the radiation effects of cell phones. It is non-ionizing radiation, which can produce localized heating of brain tissue. Various health organizations have issued cancer warnings, but they have been criticized for having little conclusive evidence.
Me? I’m soaking in me.
“You’re soaking in it” was the slogan in a series of commercials for Palmolive dish soap that aired from 1966 to 1992, in which maternal beautician Madge the manicurist (played by Jan Miner) informs her shocked clients that they’re soaking their hands in Palmolive liquid soap.
Man, it would really hurt to splash on Sea Breeze right now.
Sea Breeze is a brand of astringent used for cleaning your face.
I’m melting … But you knew that.
A take on the Wicked Witch’s famous line in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
It’s best to just let the Ebola virus just run its course.
The Ebola virus causes a disease in primates and humans that involves a high fever, a rash, and severe hemorrhaging; mortality rates range from 50 to 90 percent. There was a major outbreak of the disease in Zaire in 1995 that killed hundreds of people.
Maybe if I could just keep down some saltines and ginger ale.
Because the carbonation in ginger ale tends to induce burping, and the starch in saltine crackers tends to absorb excess stomach acid, the combination is a mom-approved home remedy for little kids with sad tummies.
His irritable bowel syndrome is really acting up today.
Also called “spastic colon,” irritable bowel syndrome is a gastrointestinal problem that involves bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and/or constipation.
In a moment the results of that trial.
On the TV series Dragnet, announcer John Stephenson would intone at the end of each story that the bad guys had been tried in court in L.A. “In a moment, the results of that trial.” After the final commercial break, the announcer would tell you the charges each was convicted on, and the sentences they received. Justice done, roll credits.
Dawn in the Serengeti.
This refers to an early TV ad campaign for Busch Gardens. Busch Gardens are amusement parks owned, as you might guess from the name, by Anheuser-Busch. There are two in the United States: one in Tampa Bay, Florida, with an African safari theme, and one in Virginia, with a European theme. There was an earlier one in Van Nuys, California, that closed in 1979, and a very short-lived one in Houston that closed in 1973 only two years after its grand opening. Sadly, free beer is no longer offered at the parks.
Ted Nelson was found alive, and of normal size. There was no Melting Man.
A reference to Show 421, Monster A-Go Go.
He was pitching guards last night and won three bucks.
Pitching pennies is a petty gambling game. Players bounce a penny off a wall. If one player hits the other player’s penny, he gets to keep both coins.
This is what it looks like behind Chili’s.
Chili’s Grill & Bar is a chain of casual dining restaurants with a Southwest American theme, offering fajitas, ribs, burgers, etc. Founded in Texas in 1975, the chain has over 1,600 locations in 32 countries.
[Sung.] Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay.
“Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” won an Oscar for best song in 1947. It appears in the Disney film Song of the South. Disney never released Song of the South on home video in the United States because its benign depiction of slave life on a plantation proved too controversial.
It’s the Cat in the Hat factory.
Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904-1991) was a prolific author and artist best known for his children’s books, including The Cat in the Hat (1957). The cat wore an oversized stovepipe hat that was red and white striped.
I have been to the proletariat zones.
“I went into the proletarian zones” is a line from the film version of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, starring John Hurt.
I’m Garrison Keillor with The Writer’s Almanac, stay well, do good work, and don’t melt.
Garrison Keillor is a writer and radio personality. His five-minute radio show The Writer’s Almanac is a showcase for writers and poets, both present and past. It is less well-known than his two-hour radio variety show A Prairie Home Companion (from which Keilor retired as host in 2016). Keillor’s traditional signoff for The Writer’s Almanac is: “Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.”
Jeez, now I have to hose Buzz Aldrin or somebody off the building here.
NASA astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin was the second man to walk on the moon. He flew on Apollo 11 with Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins.
Blooming space program with loud report. Light and get away.
“Place in iron pipe or wooden trough, light fuse and get away, explodes with loud report” was a safety notice printed on many fireworks of the 1970s and ‘80s. Blooming may refer to devices like the blooming ground flower or to skyrockets, which were often named after palm trees and flowers.
Cape Kennedy was renamed Cape Ted Nelson, and quickly renamed Cape Kennedy again.
In 1963, Cape Canaveral in Florida was renamed “Cape Kennedy” as a memorial to assassinated president John F. Kennedy. The name change was inconvenient and unpopular with the inhabitants, and it had reverted to Cape Canaveral by 1973. The name derives from Cabo Cañaveral (meaning Cape Canebrake), a name given to the head by Spanish explorers around 1525; it was appearing on maps by 1564.
I learned that it’s good to have Saltines around your house.
Saltines is another name for soda crackers. In 1801, they were first produced by the Josiah Bent Bakery in Massachusetts. They gained popularity over the years and were later manufactured under the name “Saltines” by Nabisco until the name became a genericized trademark in the early 20th century.
Jonathan Demme?! Eh, who cares.
Jonathan Demme (1944-2017), who the credit identifies as playing “Matt,” went on to direct the Talking Heads movie Stop Making Sense (1984) Married to the Mob (1988), and The Silence of the Lambs (1991), which became one of only three films to win Academy Awards in all five major categories, including Best Director.
Right now, I’m learning that even though this movie is about eighty minutes long, it feels like Berlin Alexanderplatz.
Berlin Alexanderplatz is a 1980 movie originally made for German television that, at 15½ hours, is one of the longest narrative films ever made. It tells the story of a petty criminal, recently released from prison, who finds himself pulled back into a life of crime when his girlfriend, a prostitute, is murdered.