822: Overdrawn at the Memory Bank
by Sheba Sullivan
“But that was before I met Aram Fingal.” A.K.A. Gomez.
Raúl Juliá (1940-1994) played family patriarch Gomez Addams in the motion pictures The Addams Family (1991) and The Addams Family Values (1993), based on the popular franchise The Addams Family. The family originally appeared in a series of cartoons created for The New Yorker magazine by Charles Addams; they appeared from 1938 to 1988. They were adapted several times for television, the most famous being the black-and-white series The Addams Family (1964-1966). The macabre family were extremely popular in all their incarnations.
“He had the most unusual eyes.” They were made of Mylar.
Mylar is an extremely strong polyester film developed by DuPont in the 1950s.
Ding ding ding ding ... [Imitates train.] –Corpsespotting.
Trainspotting is a popular hobby, particularly in the U.K. Generally it is an interest in railway transport or the active pursuit of unusual trains and locomotives. It was one of the first hobbies to have its enthusiasts stereotyped as obsessive and socially unfit.
Oh, if only she spoke French. [Kissing noises.]
A catchphrase of Gomez Addams in the Addams Family films (see previous note). Whenever his wife Morticia spoke French, it would send him into throes of uncontrollable passion and he would exclaim, “Tish, that’s French!”
This lovely Raúl Juliá pendant, available only on the Home Shopping Network.
The Home Shopping Network is a 24-hour television station, first founded in 1982 as a local cable channel in Florida. As the name implies, it directly appeals to the viewer to buy its products, which are shipped via mail order.
It’s a Raúl-bik’s cube.
The Rubik’s cube is a popular spatial puzzle and toy, invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and architect Ernő Rubik. It is a cube, each face made up of a three-by-three grid of squares, all of differing colors. These individual squares can be pivoted on their horizontal and vertical axes, the object being to get each face featuring all nine squares of the same color.
Raúl, you come right back and be in this bad movie, young man. –But I’m signed to play Archbishop Romero!
Raúl Juliá played Archbishop Óscar Romero in the acclaimed 1989 biopic Romero.
That’s the New York public TV station! What, did Pearl accidentally send us MacNeil-Lehrer Report? –Oh no, you think Mark Russell’s gonna be in this?
The MacNeil-Lehrer Report, now called the PBS NewsHour, is an in-depth public television news program that airs on PBS. The anchors were Robert MacNeil from 1975 to 1995 and Jim Lehrer from 1975 to 2011. Since 2013 it has been hosted by Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff, the only nightly news show with two women as lead anchors. Mark Russell is an American political satirist, usually incorporating musical parodies into his routines. His TV specials were a recurring fixture on PBS for thirty years, beginning in 1975.
Ah, wow, TV’s Frank! –Really come up in the world.
TV’s Frank, played by Frank Conniff, was Dr. Forrester’s amicable assistant on MST3K from Season 2 to Season 6. He would later return for a guest appearance in Show 1001, Soultaker.
He’s kind of a Dickensian character of the future sort of thing.
British author Charles Dickens (1812-1870) wrote so prolifically and created such an evocative portrayal of 19th-century British life in works like David Copperfield and Great Expectations that the adjective “Dickensian” was coined to describe the atmosphere of decaying misery conjured by his novels.
Did I imagine it, Mike, or did a chubby angel with gin blossoms just visit us?
“Gin blossoms” is slang for either a particularly ruddy example of the skin condition rosacea or the alcohol flush reaction, a common reaction to alcohol in people usually of Asian ethnicity. They are two completely separate conditions that both result in facial redness and capillary swelling (although rosacea can be exacerbated by alcohol). The name is probably applied to both because of actor W.C Fields, who had both rosacea and a legendary fondness for drink.
Still, this is easier than reading Wired magazine.
Wired magazine is a monthly periodical published since 1993. The magazine focuses on information technology, the Internet, and geek culture.
Eurgh, they’re showing us the tubby guy’s angioplasty.
An angioplasty is a minimally invasive coronary operation to widen blood vessels. A small balloon catheter is inserted and inflated, crushing the walls and removing any blockages or plaque.
SAT farms of the future!
The SAT Reasoning Test, formerly known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, is a standardized written exam given to high school seniors as part of the college preparation process; most colleges and universities consider SAT scores as one of the major criteria for acceptance. The exam is taken quietly, at desks or in cubicles, which led to the moniker “SAT farm.”
And its effect on Bugs Bunny.
Bugs Bunny is the star of the long-running series of animated shorts by Warner Brothers. The WB logo bookended the cartoons. He was created in the 1930s by a team of animators including Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, and Tex Avery and voiced by longtime WB voice artist Mel Blanc. He is one of the most popular and enduring animated characters of all time, rivaled only by Mickey Mouse.
We now return to Billy Madison.
Billy Madison is a much-maligned 1995 film starring Adam Sandler as a shiftless rich boy who must go back to elementary school in order to inherit his father’s empire.
Yes, Aram Fingal: from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
San Juan is the capital municipality of Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States in the Caribbean Sea. It has a population slightly below 400,000. It is the birthplace of Raúl Juliá.
UPS fashions of the future!
United Parcel Service, or UPS, is a package delivery service founded in 1907; today it is a multibillion-dollar corporation. The company uniform is a brown cap, shirt, and pants.
[Sung, almost mumbled.] Woke up … fell out of bed … dragged a comb across my head …
A line from the Beatles song “A Day in the Life.” Sample lyrics: “Woke up, fell out of bed/Dragged my comb across my head/Found my way downstairs and drank a cup/And looking up, I noticed I was late …”
Really, really Big Brother.
In George Orwell’s famous work of nightmarish dystopia, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), the ruling oligarchic party of Oceania uses an omnipresent image of “Big Brother” to symbolize the party and its rule. His Stalinist cult of personality dominates the society. One of the key phrases of the book is “Big Brother is watching you.” The party also uses a figure named Emmanuel Goldstein as his polar opposite, a figure of public hate and animadvert. Like much of the novel, it is left ambiguous as to whether Big Brother and Emmanuel Goldstein are real people, were once real people, or are complete fabrications.
Merv Griffin (1925-2007) was first a successful singer with his 1950 hit “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts.” He hosted a TV talk show for many years, but it was his work as the producer of the mega-hit game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! that made him one of the richest men in show business.
“Ask about his mother.” Ask if she wears army boots.
“Your mother wears army boots” is an old playground taunt with its origins in the Second World War. The phrase is generally taken to imply that the mother in question is a prostitute servicing soldiers, putting on the shoes that would be closest at hand in the morning, although it was often simply used as a jocose taunt without this implication.
The password is … fingal.
A reference to the TV game show Password (1961-1975), hosted by Allen Ludden. Players had to guess the “password” based on verbal clues or else “pass” it to their opponent to avoid a penalty. The show’s announcer would inform the audience of the password in hushed tones, even though he was likely in a soundproof booth and could have yelled it had he wanted to.
[Sung.] Imagine me and you, and you and me, no matter how they toss the dice, we’ll always be …
The upbeat lyrics to the 1967 Turtles song “Happy Together,” written by Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon. Sample lyrics: “I can’t see me loving nobody but you/For all my life/When you’re with me, baby, the skies will be blue/For all my life.”
“I need other things, Felicia …” I need you to sealcoat my driveway.
The sealcoat is the final liquid layer applied to the asphalt of a road or pavement to seal the material from water. This prevents oxidation, erosion, and damage from winter weather.
Big tanning booth.
A tanning booth is a small closet-like contraption – since replaced by tanning beds, a more coffin-like contraption -- that emits ultraviolet radiation to produce a tan, used for cosmetic purposes. Tanning booths and beds have become less popular since the 1980s, since sun tanning and skin cancer began to be linked in people’s minds, but there are still tens of thousands locations offering them in the United States alone.
“Never saw a cinema in their lives.” Never saw a Chris Farley movie. Philistines.
Chris Farley (1964-1997) was a rotund comedian best known for his appearances on Saturday Night Live and in a series of movies with fellow SNL alum David Spade. He died young from an accidental drug overdose. His films Tommy Boy, Black Sheep, and Beverly Hills Ninja were critically reviled lowbrow comedies.
He’s staying at Bill Gates’ house.
Entrepreneur, businessman, philanthropist, and Microsoft chairman/co-founder Bill Gates is one of the world’s richest people. Currently (as of 2015), he is the wealthiest, pulling ahead of Mexican telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim with a total fortune of $79.2 billion. As befits his fortune, he has a modest little 66,000-square-foot, $150 million pad on the shores of Lake Washington, in the tony Seattle suburb of Medina.
[Sung.] I hear the transpod coming, it’s coming ‘round the bend.
A reference to Johnny Cash’s 1955 elegy “Folsom Prison Blues”: “I hear the train a comin’/It’s rollin’ ‘round the bend/And I ain’t seen the sunshine/Since, I don’t know when/I’m stuck in Folsom Prison, and time keeps draggin’ on.”
[Sung.] Come, as you are, to my mall, to my atrium, yeah yeah.
A reference to pioneering grunge rock band Nirvana’s 1992 song “Come As You Are.” Sample lyrics: “Come doused in mud/Soaked in bleach/As I want you to be/As a trend/As a friend/As an old memory.”
There must be a Jack in the Box in the food court.
Jack in the Box is an American chain of fast food restaurants. In 1993, about four hundred people, mostly in the Northwest, became ill after they were exposed to the E. coli bacteria in tainted hamburger meat sold at the restaurant; three small children in Seattle died. The resulting outcry almost destroyed the company, but it seems to have bounced back.
David Bowie’s 1980 hit “Fashion” featured electronic noises and vocal beeping in the background of the song. Sample lyrics: “Listen to me, don’t listen to me/Talk to me, don’t talk to me/Dance with me, don’t dance with me/Beep beep.”
“I learned about Identicubes when I was six, stupid.” Lucy.
An impression of Desi Arnaz’s character Ricky Ricardo on I Love Lucy (1951-1957).
“You’ll find a fresh glass of cold Reconst next to your chair” ReconstD, man.
Possibly a reference to SunnyD, or Sunny Delight, an orange-flavored drink first sold by Doric Foods in 1963. It is largely made of water and corn syrup, with about 5 percent juice. It is currently produced by Sunny Delight Beverages Co., a spinoff of Procter & Gamble.
How about some Pringles, Fingal?
Pringles are a brand of potato chips developed by Procter & Gamble in 1967 and now owned by Kellogg’s. Unlike other chips, which involve slices of actual potatoes and come in bags, Pringles are machine-made: compressed potato residue and wheat starch chips sold neatly stacked in cylindrical cardboard tubes.
Just gonna bandsaw the top of your head off.
The bandsaw is a mechanized woodworking tool. It is held stationary while the object to be cut is pressed into the vibrating blade. It was first patented in 1808 by English inventor William Newberry.
“You might be interested to know that doppling comes from the German ‘doppelganger,’ meaning ‘double’ or ‘twin’.” We were gonna call it strudelganger, but ...
Strudels are a dessert pastry of Austrian origin. In German, it means “whirlpool.”
[Sung.] Beauty school dropout …
The recurring line of “Beauty School Dropout,” a song in the musical and film adaptation of Grease. It is sung to cosmetics-hairdressing student Frenchy (Didi Conn), by a haranguing Frankie Avalon. Some lyrics include: “Beauty school dropout (beauty school dropout)/Hanging around the corner store/Beauty school dropout (beauty school dropout)/It’s about time you knew the score.”
The Right Tots.
The Right Stuff is the name of a 1979 book by Tom Wolfe about the first American astronauts. The book was made into a film by the same name in 1983. A famous shot from the film, which has been endlessly imitated and parodied, is of the seven Mercury astronauts, in their spacesuits, striding dramatically toward the camera in slow motion.
That littlest sexual deviant.
Possibly a reference to The Littlest Angel, a glurge-y 1946 book by Charles Tazewell about a young shepherd boy struggling to adjust to his new life in heaven; it was made into a TV movie in 1969, with E.G. Marshall as God. Or it could be a spin on the 1935 film The Littlest Rebel, starring Shirley Temple and Bill Robinson.
“Remember not to touch anything.” You’ll grow hair on your palms.
Among various old wives’ tales told to youngsters to discourage masturbation, the threat that hair will grow on the palms of one’s hands is an all-time classic, dating back to the 19th century.
What is it, Children of the Damned Day at the brain institute here?
Children of the Damned was the 1964 sequel to the 1960 horror film Village of the Damned. In both stories, extraterrestrial interference produces telekinetic, malevolent children born to human women. The films were based on the 1957 science fiction novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham.
There’s your precious Canadian healthcare system at work.
Canada prides itself on its publicly founded universal healthcare system, as opposed to the privately funded system used by its neighbor to the south.
Get that cat outta here! –Hey, stereocats.
A gag in the 1983 comedy film The Man with Two Brains has brilliant brain surgeon Dr. Hfuhruhurr (Steve Martin) exhorting his assistants to “get that cat out of here!” (“here” being the operating theater).
Doctor Marcia Clark.
Lawyer Marcia Clark was the head prosecutor during the 1995 O.J. Simpson murder trial. During the case, she sported a short, dark perm.
Doctor Who is a British science fiction series that has existed in various incarnations since 1963. The title character, simply called “The Doctor,” is currently (2015) being portrayed by its twelfth actor. The last of a race called the Time Lords, he travels through time and space in a ship called the TARDIS, picking up and losing companions and saving the universe innumerable times. The series was on hiatus from 1989 to 2005 (barring a 1996 television movie), the span of most of Mystery Science Theater 3000’s life; however, it still attracted American fans thanks to PBS, which continued to air the old episodes. Some versions of the iconic opening sequence superimposed the current star’s head onto the time vortex tunnel.
Isn’t it weird how life imitates art, and I’m like, sleeping right now, too?
The relationship between life and art imitating each other, or mimesis, is an argument akin to “the chicken or the egg.” The first major advocate of the notion that life imitates art more than the other way around was Oscar Wilde, in his 1891 essay “The Decay of Lying.” A quote: “All that I desire to point out is the general principle that Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life, and I feel sure that if you think seriously about it you will find that it is true.”
Whistler’s Baboon in Repose.
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) was a flamboyant American-British portrait artist, most famous for his painting Arrangement in Grey and Black: The Artist’s Mother, a.k.a. Whistler’s Mother.
Hey, extreme babooning.
Extreme, or x-treme, sport is exercise characterized by perceived danger and adrenaline surges. A few examples include abseiling, snowboarding, surfing, bungee-jumping, motorsports, and hang-gliding. A sport can be ironically made extreme simply by prepending “extreme” to it; in a host segment for Show 815, Agent for H.A.R.M., Mike became a devotee of extreme rice. The popular concept of extreme sporting arose in the 1990s.
“But it’s that time of year again.” Lent?
Lent is the forty-day period leading up to Easter. It is a period of fasting and penance, during which Catholics often abstain from eating meat on Fridays and frequently give up something—like alcohol or chocolate—for the entire period. It originated from the practice of preparing for baptism at the Easter vigil.
Monkey’s been in and out of Hazelden so many times.
The Hazelden Foundation is not-for-profit organization in Minnesota that runs several alcohol and drug dependence centers across the country.
So they doppled Oliver Reed and Peter O’Toole, huh?
Two lauded actors also known for their prodigious drinking. Oliver Reed (1938-1999) was an English actor who appeared in such films as The Three Musketeers and Oliver! He was famous for his public drinking bouts; he once removed his pants during an interview, and on another occasion he was thrown off a TV talk show after trying to kiss one of the other guests, feminist writer Kate Millett. He died of a heart attack in 1999, reportedly after a massive binge at a pub in Malta. Peter O’Toole (1932-2013) was an Irish actor best known for his lead role in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia and several other roles in Becket, My Favorite Year, and The Lion in Winter. He held the distinction of being the actor most nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor without winning, at eight; the Academy finally gave him an honorary Oscar in 2002.
“Daisy still managing?” “Sort of.” How about Gatsby?
The Great Gatsby is a 1925 novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) that is considered the seminal novel of the Jazz Age; some have called it the Great American Novel. The relationship between Jay Gatsby and the married Daisy Buchanan is an important facet of the plot.
The Days of Maruba fruit and roses!
The Days of Wine and Roses is a 1962 film starring Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick as a wedded couple struggling with alcoholism. The film posits that there is no single, instant panacea for recovery and that relapse can happen at any time.
“I feel better up here. Fresh air.” Times Square.
A reference to the lyrics to the theme song of Green Acres, a TV sitcom that ran from 1965 to 1971. It starred Eva Gabor (1919-1995) as Lisa Douglas, the socialite wife of an attorney who tries to adapt to life in the rural town of Hooterville. The relevant lyrics: “Darling, I love you but give me Park Avenue/The chores/The stores/Fresh air/Times Square/You are my wife/Goodbye, city life/Green Acres, we are there.”
Hey, Babar, cut it out!
Babar the Elephant is a globally popular French children’s book character who first appeared in 1931. The book series was adapted for an animated cartoon in 1989, and again in 2010.
See above note.
Ralph Malph here.
Happy Days was a sitcom set in the 1950s that aired from 1974-1984. Ralph Malph, played by Donny Most, was a freckled, orange-haired jokester friend of Richie and Potsie; his twin obsessions were playing practical jokes and chasing girls.
She is so Pat Benatar.
Pat Benatar was an extremely popular female rock vocalist during the early 1980s, with such hits as “Heartbreaker,” “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” and “Hell Is for Children.” She has prominent cheekbones and eyelids.
“I need to speak to Wallenda Irving, urgent. Yes.” The Flying Wallenda, yes.
The Great Wallendas, or the Flying Wallendas, were an acrobatic troupe famous for forming a pyramid on the high wire. They started with a three-man pyramid and gradually worked their way up to seven men. However, their daring led to several deaths: in 1962, two died and one was paralyzed when the pyramid collapsed. Another man was killed the following year, a fourth in 1972, and founder Karl Wallenda died in 1978 when he fell from a high wire stretched between two buildings.
Embassy Suites is having a free brunch!
Embassy Suites Hotels is a chain of premium hotels owned by Hilton Worldwide.
Ooh, teppanyaki and video bar, nice.
Teppanyaki is a Japanese cooking technique that is most popular in chain restaurants outside Japan. Skilled chefs slice and cook meat and vegetables on the same iron hotplate, in front of diners. The appeal of the technique lies as much in the performance as in the results.
See note about TV’s Frank, above. An impression of Frank’s “eyukaeee” noise.
Elizabeth Clare Prophet and David Duchovny look on.
Elizabeth Clare Prophet (1939-2009) was a New Age spiritualist and leader of the Church Universal and Triumphant. She gained notoriety in the 1980s and 1990s for her predictions of impending nuclear conflict. David Duchovny is an actor best known for his portrayal of FBI agent Fox Mulder on the television series The X-Files, which aired from 1993-2002.
My lunchbox can withstand a nuclear blast.
Possibly a reference to a famous image of a metal lunchbox that was recovered after the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The contents had been carbonized; the owner, a teenage girl named Reiko Watanabe, was never found, but the lunchbox itself was relatively unscathed.
“We just lost Watson.” He came here, we wanted him.
According to his own notebooks, Alexander Graham Bell’s first words over the telephone in 1876 were to his assistant, Thomas A. Watson: “Watson, come here. I want to see you.” Watson himself remembered the wording slightly differently, as “Mr. Watson, come here. I want you.”
David Bowie in a brilliant cameo.
David Bowie is a British rock musician who rose to fame during the era of glam rock in the early 1970s, with such albums as The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Since that time his music has undergone a number of evolutions, from flirtations with soul and R&B to the dance craze of the early 1980s. He is considered one of the most influential rock musicians of all time.
“Some kind of negative energy surge.” Energy SURGE!
Surge is a caffeinated citrus drink introduced by Coca-Cola in an effort to compete with Pepsi’s Mountain Dew.
Initiate Harpo hair.
Arthur “Harpo” Marx (1888-1964) was the second oldest of the brothers in the classic comedy team the Marx Brothers, who were popular on stage and screen for thirty years. Dressed in a reddish curly wig and a trench coat, Harpo never spoke (his brother Groucho claimed he just couldn’t think of anything to say), relying on his brilliant flair for physical comedy to generate the laughs.
Must be Christmas on the Borg ship.
On the science fiction TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994), as well as the sequel series Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001), the Borg are a race of cybernetic hive mind beings that forcibly assimilate other life forms into themselves. Their best-known vessels are shaped like and called “cubes.” Their other ships are also usually symmetrical geometric shapes like octahedrons and spheres.
[Sung.] See you on the dark side of Raúl!
The 1973 Pink Floyd song “Brain Damage,” from the album Dark Side of the Moon, contains similar lyrics. Sample: “And if the dam breaks open many years too soon/And if there is no room upon the hill/And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too/I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.”
Poor dope. He figures that if he can’t see the camera, the camera can’t see him.
Quite probably a reference to the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, from Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The Hitchhiker's Guide had this to say about the Beast: "A mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you—daft as a bush, but very ravenous." The key to survival, of course, is to wrap your towel around your head. You do have a towel, don't you? (Thanks to J. Nathaniel Sloan for this reference.)
Is that you, Fester?
See note on The Addams Family, above. Uncle Fester was Gomez Addams’s older brother; in the movies starring Raúl Juliá, the part was played by Christopher Lloyd.
“Last thing I knew I was about to be killed by an elephant.” I should have wrapped him up in cellaphant!
In the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy interrogates the Cowardly Lion about his courage by asking him what he would do if he met several fierce creatures (a rhinoceros, a hippopotamus, an elephant, and a brontosaurus). This is his response to the elephant.
“Wait! Switch to analog.” It has a warmer sound.
Of the two formats, analog and digital, some sound and music hobbyists claim that analog is superior because it has a “warmer sound” or that the fidelity is better.
It’s a Viv Savage Christmas ornament.
Viv Savage is a character in This Is Spinal Tap, the Rob Reiner mockumentary about the semifictional band Spinal Tap. Played by David Kaff, he was the band’s keyboardist.
“Contact.” Uh, wait, no. Uh, Yahtzee.
Yahtzee is a popular dice game from Milton Bradley/Hasbro.
“I will simulate a presence to threaten them.” Carol Channing.
Carol Channing is an actress best known for her role as Dolly Gallagher Levi in the Jerry Herman musical Hello, Dolly!
Who loves ya, baby?
“Who loves ya, baby?” was the widely repeated catchphrase of lollypop-consuming detective Kojak, played by Telly Savalas (1922-1994) on the television program Kojak (1973-1978).
Someone beat up George Will! –Yes!
George F. Will is a syndicated newspaper columnist of a conservative bent. He has twice won the Pulitzer Prize for his commentary. He also appears as a political commentator on ABC.
In about an hour? I don’t think so!
LensCrafters is a chain of eyeglass stores founded in 1983; it promises its clients that their glasses will be ready in “about an hour.”
Clara Barton’s getaway car.
Clara Barton (1821-1912) was a nurse and social activist who is best remembered for having founded the American Red Cross in 1881, as a result of her experiences trying to get medical supplies to wounded soldiers during the Civil War.
Look, it’s the aged Pee-wee up there.
Pee-wee Herman is a character created by comedian Paul Reubens. Essentially an overgrown kid in a too-short suit and bow tie, Pee-wee was featured in two movies, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and Big Top Pee-wee. He also acted as the host of a very successful children’s show, Pee-wee’s Playhouse. That show was canceled in 1991 following Reubens’s arrest on charges he indecently exposed himself during a showing of an X-rated film in an adult theater.
But who’s he … who’s he tryin’ to do, uh, Jimmy Stewart? Uh, James Cagney! No, no, no, no … wait, wait … uh, John Kenneth Galbraith! No, no, Ram Dass! Terry “Hulk” Hogan, maybe?
Jimmy Stewart (1908-1997) was a beloved, lanky leading man known for his roles in such films as It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) and Rear Window (1954), among other credits too numerous to mention. James Cagney (1899-1986) was another respected actor, these days best known for his roles in crime pictures like Scarface, The Public Enemy, White Heat, Angels with Dirty Faces, and Taxi!, although he was a gifted dancer and performer in other roles, like that of George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy. John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) was a celebrated economist and author of Canadian-American background, serving in the administrations of several Democratic presidencies. Ram Dass, born Richard Alpert, is an American spiritualist, hippie, and philanthropist known for his association with Timothy Leary and the 1971 book Be Here Now. Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea is an actor, 1980s icon, businessman, and wrestling personality. His idiosyncrasies (bottle-blond moustache and hair, red bandana, towering height, bellowing self-aggrandisement) were extremely popular with wrestling fans.
Listen: the call to script rewrites. –Very sacred.
Adhan, the Islamic call to prayer, occurs five times a day. Led by the muezzin, all worshippers turn to face Mecca and recite the correct prayers.
Well, pop on a fez and eat some couscous, I guess.
A fez is a style of hat that became popular during the Ottoman era and is still worn in Turkey (and by Shriners); it is a brimless cylinder with a flat top and a tassel. Couscous is a staple food of North Africa and the Middle East: steamed wheat that serves as a base for meat or vegetable stew.
Appearing tonight: Slayer!
Californian tongue-in-cheek thrash metal band Slayer is one of the bigger acts in the genre. It was founded in 1981 by Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman.
[Sung.] You must remember this, this movie really sucks.
This is sung to the tune of “As Time Goes By,” the 1931 song written by Herman Hupfeld for the musical Everybody’s Welcome. It was used as the leitmotif of the 1942 film Casablanca.
Because it’s FLY soup, sir, that’s why.
One of many punchlines to the classic setup line, “Waiter, waiter, there’s a fly in my soup.”
Hey, the maitre d’ is Ted Baxter.
Ted Baxter, played by Ted Knight, was the dense, shallow anchorman on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977).
[Sung.] Falling in love again …
“Falling In Love Again (Can’t Help It)” is a 1930 German song roughly translated into English. It is famous for being performed by Marlene Dietrich in the 1930 German film Der Blaue Engel (The Blue Angel).
Ishtar was a notorious Hollywood flop, a 1987 road movie about two lounge singers (played by Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty) who get mixed up in a CIA plot in Morocco. It cost $55 million and only took in $12.7 million at the box office.
And come to my BVM one-woman show.
In Christianity, the Blessed Virgin Mary is sometimes abbreviated as “BVM.”
You once said I was a warped, frustrated …
A reference to the 1946 film It’s A Wonderful Life. George Bailey (James Stewart) preaches to Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore), the town plutocrat, referring to him as “a warped, frustrated old man.” Later, when Bailey is at his most desperate, Mr. Potter throws these words back in his face: “Look at you. You used to be so cocky. You were going to go out and conquer the world. You once called me ‘a warped, frustrated old man.’ What are you but a warped, frustrated young man?”
Wow, Tom Wolfe with a thyroid problem.
Tom Wolfe is a prominent journalist and author known for such works as The Right Stuff and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. He is known for dressing all in white, including a jaunty white hat.
“Come back to my place any time.” Getting a karaoke machine.
Karaoke is a Japanese sing-along interactive entertainment that maintains worldwide popularity. Tracks of popular songs are played without the lyrics, and the person using the machine supplies the singing. It was developed in the 1960s and started spreading internationally in the 1990s.
David Brenner (1936-2014), of the lengthy face, was an American comedian, author, and actor best known for his frequent appearances on The Tonight Show.
These are all the people writing scripts for Parker Posey.
Parker Posey is an American actor best known for her roles in small-budget independent films and Christopher Guest mockumentaries.
“Maybe I had to put up with it out there, but not in here.” I’m going to get a Glock and mow these people down.
The Glock Safe Action Pistol is a line of modern semi-automatic pistols designed and produced by Austrian handgun manufacturer Glock Ges.m.b.H. It was introduced in 1982 and is primarily used by police and military forces.
What’s that? Kill myself? Okay. Not a problem.
Backmasking (or “backward masking”) was the controversy du jour for quite a while in the late 1970s and into the 1980s. Many Christian groups believed rock musicians were placing satanic messages in their songs by recording “evil” instructions and then reversing the audio before inserting it into the track. Accusations of this nature flew at Led Zeppelin, ELO, Styx, Ozzy Osbourne, and many more. No satanic intent on the part of these mainstream artists was ever uncovered. One mother even sued Judas Priest in 1990 after her son committed suicide, claiming that the phrase “Do it” was backmasked into the song “Better By You, Better Than Me.” The case was dismissed.
This is sexual harassment, and I’m going to take it!
A popular 1980s and ’90s PSA featured a woman being harassed by her boss. She responded by telling him, "We’re talking about sexual harassment here, and I don’t have to take it."
Man, kids are tuning in right now to watch Barney.
Barney the Dinosaur is a costumed character on the Barney and Friends children’s TV show. He is big, soft, and purple, and he loves you. He was voiced originally and most often by Bob West.
[Sung.] So I sing you to syntho-sleep, after the techno-love.
Engelbert Humperdinck (real name Arnold Dorsey) was a popular singer in the 1960s with such hits as “Release Me” and “There Goes My Everything.” The above lyrics are from his song “After the Lovin'”: “So I sing you to sleep after the lovin'/With a song that I wrote yesterday/And I hope that it’s clear what the words/And the music have to say …”
“Frankly, I’m bored.” That’s why you kept saying William Hurt’s name!
Raúl Juliá and William Hurt starred in the 1985 film Kiss of the Spider Woman, based on the 1976 novel of the same name by Manuel Puig. Juliá plays a revolutionary imprisoned in a Brazilian jail with William Hurt’s character, an openly gay man who is pledged parole in exchange for drawing out revolutionary information from Juliá’s character. Something of a relationship dawns between them during the film.
They could spice things up, maybe invite Thing to watch.
See note on The Addams Family, above. Thing is the disembodied hand that works for the family as a servant of sorts.
Y’know, if only she would have turned into a cold beer, it would have been perfect.
A reference to an old joke expressing this exact sentiment.
Oop, his Epilady’s beeping.
Epilady is a brand of electric hair removers first introduced in 1986.
“You had me fooled.” You replaced my coffee with Folger’s Crystals!
A reference to an old advertising campaign for Folger’s Crystals, in which the narrator would explain that they had “secretly switched” the fine coffee normally served with Folger’s—and, of course, everyone loved it.
We’ll return to Days of Our Fingal, after this.
Days of Our Lives is a daytime soap opera that has been on the air since 1965. It follows the lives and loves of the residents of the fictional town of Salem.
“Here’s looking at you, kid.” Here’s looking at U Thant. –Here’s looking at ubiquitous. –Here’s looking at Ulysses.
U Thant (1906-1974) (pronounced “uːˈθænt”: that is, U as “oo” and Thant with an audible “th” fricative) was the third Secretary-General of the United Nations, from 1961 to 1971. “U” in Burmese is an honorific approximately equivalent to “Mr.,” one of many in the language. Ulysses is the Latin name for Odysseus, the Greek hero and star of Homer’s poem The Odyssey, the tale of Odysseus’ extended journey back from Troy to his wife Penelope and son Telemachus in Ithaca. It was also used as the title of James Joyce’s experimental novel Ulysses, which was set in modern times but drew a number of parallels with the older work and its main characters.
Of all the public television stations in the world …
See note on Casablanca, above. Seeing Ilsa again after many years, Rick wearily says, “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.”
Hey, don’t bogart that, man.
Humphrey Bogart, who played Rick Blaine in Casablanca (see note on Casablanca, above, which will become something of a motif tonight), had his name ushered into immortality in this piece of smoking slang. “To bogart” is to indulge excessively in a joint or cigarette intended for group use. It is thought to come from his mannerism of keeping a cigarette in his mouth even during speech. The phrase is also sometimes used to mean “to bluster/bully.”
Bite my five and a quarter floppy.
Five and a quarter inch floppy disks were introduced in 1976 to replace the previous eight-inch format. They were widely used throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s. Starting around 1986, the three and a half inch floppy began to take over the industry; in addition to being a more convenient size, it was housed in a rigid plastic casing, unlike its more fragile, “floppy” predecessors.
And get lost, Cat Stevens.
English folksinger-songwriter Cat Stevens converted to Islam in 1977 after a near-drowning incident, changing his name to Yusuf Islam and publicly retreating from the music industry until 1990.
Angus Young and his brother Malcolm were the founding members of Australian rock & roll group AC/DC. At the height of AC/DC’s popularity, he wore his hair long, curled, and shaggy.
Now she’s Joan Blondell again.
Joan Blondell (1906-1979) was an American actress who worked primarily in the latter half of Hollywood’s “golden era” and sporadically from the 1950s onward. She is best known for roles like Aunt Sissy in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Violet in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, and cameos in her later years.
Where do you want to go today?
“Where do you want to go today?” was the core slogan for a massive ad campaign for Microsoft. The $100 million campaign ran from November 1994 through December 1996, but was only moderately successful.
“Quit or retry?” I’ll take quit for twenty-five, Alex!
This is the kind of phrasing you would find on 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. “Alex” is the host of the program, Alex Trebek.
“Fingal, can’t you do something about the heat?” Well, some like it hot, and some sweat when the heat is on.
A reference to the lyrics of the 1985 Power Station song “Some Like It Hot,” primarily sung by Robert Palmer. Sample lyrics: “Some like it hot, but you can’t tell how hot till you try/Some like it hot, so let’s turn up the heat till we fry.”
Your new back yard!
This is the kind of phrasing used in game shows, upon revealing prizes won by contestants.
This is what happens when you have to put off-season Santas to work.
Santa Claus, or Father Christmas, is the name given to the figure associated with Christmas celebrations in most Western countries. During the Yuletide season, it is common for malls and shopping centers to hire a man dressed up as Santa to entertain children.
Oh, blessed Saint Humphrey.
See note on Humphrey Bogart, above. Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957) was a Hollywood leading man who practically defined the film noir genre. In his early roles he was typecast as a heavy, but after successes in High Sierra, The Maltese Falcon, and Casablanca, he became one of the biggest cinema stars of all time. Some other notable roles include The African Queen, To Have and Have Not, The Caine Mutiny, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Big Sleep, Key Largo, and The Barefoot Contessa.
The ooga-booga tribe!
The ooga-booga tribe seems to have its origin in the original 1933 version of King Kong, in which the “African” natives of Skull Island chanted “Ooga-booga!” as they offered up Fay Wray as a sacrifice to the giant ape. Since then, the phrase has been used to designate any painfully stereotypical primitive tribe, usually clad in grass skirts and bone necklaces and thirsting for the heroes’ blood. While chanting “Ooga-booga!”
The fiends! They’re bombing rattan shops!
Rattan palms produce a very workable wood fiber that is used extensively as a construction material, especially for furniture and canes. The rattan cane, in particular, is infamous as an instrument of corporal punishment. More recently, medical researchers have used rattan to construct artificial bone by heating rattan chips in a furnace with carbon and calcium.
Oh, she’s trying to impersonate Ingmar Bergman, isn’t she?
See note on Casablanca, above. Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007) was a Swedish writer/director/producer/actor who was one of the most highly respected filmmakers of the 20th century, for such works as Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), Wild Strawberries (1957), The Seventh Seal (1957), Persona (1966), Cries and Whispers (1972), and Scenes from a Marriage (1973). Fellow Swede Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982), however, played Ilsa in Casablanca. She also had numerous roles in several Hitchcock films and starred in For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), Gaslight (1944), and Anastasia (1957). Her final appearance was a biopic miniseries on the life of Golda Meir called A Woman Named Golda (1982).
“Fingal …” I’ve got a fever for the flavor of Fingal.
A reference to an advertising slogan for Pringles chips in the 1980s, “I’ve got a fever for the flavor of a Pringle.”
Damn trendy cigar bars.
In the 1990s, after smoking bans started being applied to the traditionally smoky havens of bars, pubs, and saloons, cigar bars began opening, specifically targeting disgruntled smokers. Cigars also became trendy among the hipster crowd during that era, contributing to their popularity.
He’s a Village People.
The Village People was a popular disco group of the 1970s. They were known for their costumes—a construction worker, a policeman, a Native American, a GI, a biker, and a cowboy—and the hit song and dance “YMCA.”
What sounds like a paraphrase of the song “Jenny (867-5309)” by Tommy Tutone. Sample lyrics: “Jenny I’ve got your number/I need to make you mine/Jenny don’t change your number/Eight six seven five three oh nine.”
Varicose veins are a common medical condition, caused when veins fail to properly circulate blood, engorging painfully and visibly. This most frequently occurs in the legs. It is disfiguring but rarely life-threatening.
He cracked the code to scrubbing bubbles. –Scrubbing bubbles!
Scrubbing Bubbles is a brand of bathroom cleaner manufactured by S.C. Johnson. Commercials for the product feature anthropomorphic talking bubbles. They are sometimes puppets, sometimes animated cartoons.
[Sung.] It’s raining men, hallelujah!
A reference to the 1982 Weather Girls song “It’s Raining Men.” Sample lyrics: “It’s raining men! Hallelujah!/It’s raining men! Amen!/I’m gonna go out to run and let myself get/Absolutely soaking wet!” The song was written in 1979 by Paul Jabara and Paul Shaffer (yes, that Paul Shaffer). (That Paul Shaffer?!?)
Ready for our game of Battleship, sir.
Battleship is a popular game manufactured by Milton Bradley. It was invented by Clifford Von Wickler in the early 1900s, but he failed to patent the idea. In 1931, Milton Bradley distributed “Broadsides,” which was the same thing, and in 1967, it produced the now-famous version of the game. Two cases (one red, one blue) contained plastic grids in which plastic ships were placed. Hits were scored with red pegs, misses with white pegs. In 1977, Electronic Battleship was released, which included an on-board computer that scored hits and misses. In 1989, this was followed by Electronic Talking Battleship. In almost all advertisements for the game, someone fires a shot and a player shouts, “You sank my battleship!”
See, these guys, they were rejected from Men Without Hats.
Men Without Hats was a Canadian 1980s New Wave group, known for their 1982 hit “The Safety Dance.” The name was devised in a prosaic, un-New Wavey way: they didn’t wear hats during the winter months, a fairly unusual practice in their chilly hometown of Montreal.
Fat guy’s marathon? 26.2 feet.
The technical distance of a marathon, which has varied slightly throughout history, has been 26.2 miles (or 42.195 kilometers) since 1924. It is said to be the approximate distance run by the Greek messenger Pheidippides. Legend holds that he scurried the twenty-five miles from Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory over Persia in the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C.E., dropping dead shortly after arrival.
Just gotta relax with my Gameboy for a minute.
Entertainment company Nintendo’s second foray into handheld consoles (after the Game & Watch) was the Gameboy in 1989. It was a phenomenal success, and the line was followed by more advanced models.
Oh, I get it, ‘cause they’re wearing hats! Good, Mike! –Sherlock.
See previous note on Men Without Hats. Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887. Holmes was well known for his great deductive skills and genius. Today, calling someone “Sherlock” sarcastically questions their intelligence.
It’s a hologram of the effectiveness of Liquid-Plumr.
Liquid-Plumr is a drain cleaner manufactured by the Clorox Company.
So this is public television, huh? Suddenly I feel like beating the crap out of Fred Rogers.
Fred Rogers (1928-2003) was the longtime host of the PBS children’s show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which aired from 1966 to 2001. He was a longtime supporter of state-funded public works, especially PBS. In 1969 he appealed to the Senate Subcommittee on Communications to not cut funding for PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This was largely successful, as by 1971 PBS funding had increased from $9 million to $22 million.
Uh, love is a battlefield?
See note on Pat Benatar, above.
Ah, yes, Mr. Geffen is expecting you.
David Geffen is an American record, theater, and film producer who founded Asylum Records and Geffen Records. He is also the “G” in Dreamworks SKG, having a hand in such films as Little Shop of Horrors, Risky Business, and Beetlejuice.
Hey, don’t do that thing with your finger when you shake my hand.
Rubbing one’s index finger against the other person’s palm while shaking hands is generally considered a sexual proposition.
[Sung.] You can’t always get what you want …
The Rolling Stones’ 1969 song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” used a harmonic choir for backing vocals.
Here’s some more commandments I forgot!
In the Hebrew Bible, God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses after he spent forty days and nights on Mount Sinai. He then ferried them to the Israelites. These ten tenets are the foundation for most Western religions. A rough abridgement of the Ten Commandments: “1. I am the Lord thy God and thou shalt not have any strange gods before me. 2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. 3. Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. 4. Honor thy Father and Mother. 5. Thou shalt not kill. 6. Thou shalt not commit adultery. 7. Thou shalt not steal. 8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. 9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife. 10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.”
[Sung.] You can’t always get what you want …
See previous note on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and its choristers.
“Keep me posted, will you, Tooby?” Or not to be.
A reference to Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy (Act III, Scene 1) in the William Shakespeare play Hamlet. The full line: “To be, or not to be: that is the question:/Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer/The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,/Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,/And by opposing end them?” It is possibly the best-known speech in all of Shakespeare.
Could Woody Allen bring a lawsuit against these people? –I don’t think Woody’s gonna be bringing too many lawsuits against anyone, frankly.
Woody Allen is a nebbishy comedian/actor/writer/director whose most famous films include Annie Hall (1977), Manhattan (1980), and Broadway Danny Rose (1985). His 1972 film Play it Again, Sam was an affectionate parody of Casablanca. It was based on an earlier Broadway play written by Allen. In 1992 he was caught up in a scandal revolving around his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn, the Korean-born adopted daughter of his long-term lover Mia Farrow. She was 22; he was 57. Allen and Previn married in 1997.
“… you’re in for a bumpy ride.” Now All About Eve? Why don’t they just have the Bowery Boys come through the movie?
In the 1950 classic film All About Eve, Bette Davis plays Margo Channing, a melodramatic theater actress whose life is invaded by Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), a manipulative, disingenuous fan who has acting ambitions of her own. On the night of a party, Margo says, “Fasten your seatbelts, you’re in for a bumpy night.” The Bowery Boys were a comedy troupe with several film hits in the 1940s. They began as the Dead End Kids and went through several name and lineup changes before they achieved success as the Bowery Boys. Huntz Hall and Leo Gorcey are the best-known members.
Now Sinatra shows up?
Frank Sinatra (1915-1998) was a legendary crooner and actor in such films as The Manchurian Candidate, From Here to Eternity, The Man with the Golden Arm, Guys and Dolls, On the Town, Suddenly, and, frankly, many more.
Aaagh, Hitler! Or a guy in a car.
Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), painter, amateur architect, leader of Nazi Germany during World War II (1939-1945). He was particularly associated with the Volkswagen car and company in popular consciousness, which was founded in Nazi Germany in 1937 and openly supported by Hitler as an economical, reliable people’s car.
Santa Claus is the mythical figure who delivers toys to children at Christmas; the origin of the legend is thought to lie in stories about St. Nicholas, a fourth-century Christian saint. (“Sinterklaas” is the Dutch name for St. Nick.)
[Sung.] Da dum da dum da dee, da dum da dum da crap!
See note on “As Time Goes By,” above.
Wendy’s is a North American fast food franchise, founded in 1969 in Columbus, Ohio.
[Sung.] Da da da da da suck, da da da da go away, da da end end end end!
See note on “As Time Goes By,” above.
Wipe your windshield clean with Rain-X!
Rain-X is a producer of car surface care products, generally known for their products that repel water.
Thank you, Floyd the PERVERT.
Floyd Lawson was Mayberry, North Carolina’s barber on the TV sitcom The Andy Griffith Show from 1961 to 1967. In his first appearance, the character was portrayed by Walter Baldwin. In every subsequent episode, he was played by Howard McNear (1905-1969), who brought a trademark vocal style to the part. The character was based on a man named Russell, who cut Andy Griffith’s hair at the barber shop in his hometown of Mt. Airy, North Carolina, on which Mayberry was based.
Although rarely seen today except in hotels, elevator operators in department stores would often announce the products on the floor upon opening the door. Notions were typically sewing paraphernalia, like buttons, pins, material, and hooks.
Hear no movie, see no movie, be no movie.
“See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” is a Japanese idiom embodied by three monkeys miming the appropriate action for preventing each (hands over eyes, hands over ears, hands over mouth). There is a fourth part to the proverb, “Do no evil,” that is usually excluded. The exact meaning is disputed. The most common interpretations are that it represents wilfully ignoring evil when it threatens you (“burying your head in the sand”), or that it expresses that the best way to avoid spreading evil is to carefully filter what you say, look at, and listen to.
Sir, the brisket.
Brisket is a cut of beef that comes from the lower chest of cattle. Generally a tough cut of meat, brisket is usually slow cooked to tenderize it, and slow cooking with wood smoke is a popular method. Corned beef and pastrami are usually made with brisket.
Watchtower, damn it!
The Watchtower is the official magazine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, an apocalyptic Christian sect known for proselytizing door to door.
Bring out your dead!
A reference to the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). An early scene has a corpse-carter (Eric Idle) repeatedly calling “Bring out yer dead!” while locals dump their deceased family members on his wagon. This was based on a genuine practice in 14th-century Europe, when the Black Death ravaged the continent.
Let me get you some juice and an Aleve.
Aleve is a trade name for naproxen, an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug and painkiller.
“Fingal?” Would you like to mingle? Maybe a slice of Danish kringle?
See note on kringle, above.
Finally. I killed my virtual pet.
Virtual pets were a craze of the 1990s that still enjoy relative popularity today. They were small electronic devices that had to be managed by the owner, simulating the attention and care a real pet needed. If it was neglected or ignored, a virtual pet could “die” and need to be reset. The most popular were Tamagotchi and Digimon.
Ha-haaah, Fang! Ha-haaah!
An imitation of comedian Phyllis Diller (1917-2012), who often made jokes about her husband, “Fang;” he was based on her real-life first husband, Sherwood Diller.
I’m fartin’ Monopoly cards!
Monopoly is a board game published by the Parker Brothers, probably the most popular game of its type in the world. Players move their pieces around the board, “buying” and “selling” property until one player establishes a monopoly and bankrupts the other players. Besides the property cards, there are two other kinds of cards in the game: Chance and Community Chest. It originated as a game called “The Landlord’s Game” in 1904 by Elizabeth Magie, who intended it to satirize the negative traits of land monopolies.
Yeah, whatever. Scram, Flowbee.
The Flowbee is a vacuum cleaner attachment that is used for cutting hair, first developed and marketed in the 1980s via many a late-night infomercial.
He sounds like Barney. –I love you.
See note on Barney, above.
And George said he’d tell me about the rabbits, so ...
An impression of either Lon Chaney Jr. or John Malkovich as Lennie in the 1939 or 1992 version of Of Mice and Men. John Steinbeck (1902-1968) was a Nobel Prize-winning author known for his works about rural laborers. Of Mice and Men (1937) is the story of itinerant laborers George and Lennie (who is mentally slow and dreams only of tending rabbits), who inadvertently get caught up in a murder and become the targets of a lynch mob.
They’re juicing Jerry Garcia.
Jerry Garcia (1942-1995) was the singer, songwriter, and lead guitarist for the Grateful Dead. He was known to be a prolific drug user, especially of heroin. In the years before his death he was seeking rehabilitation.
You know, she looks like a Grey with a wig on. –Yeah. Someone should buy her a nose.
“Grey” is the usual epithet for the stereotypical image of the alien in popular culture: a grey-skinned, small, bulbous-eyed, flat-nosed, megacephalic creature. There have been regular reported “sightings” since the 1960s. Since at least the late 19th century, similar creatures and extraterrestrials have made frequent appearances in science and fantasy fiction.
Winston Churchill’s mobbed-up brother Vito.
Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was a British statesman who is best known for serving as prime minister of the United Kingdom during the Second World War and for coining the phrase “iron curtain” to describe the division between Eastern and Western Europe during the Cold War. Born into the Marlborough nobility, he had a chequered political career, falling into and out of favor until Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigned in 1940 and he succeeded him. He served a second term in peacetime from 1951 to 1955, which ended at his retirement.
I’ll put on a robe and pretend I’m Frangelico.
Frangelico is a hazelnut-flavored liqueur originally developed by monks in northern Italy about three hundred years ago; its bottle shape suggests a monk with folded arms.
Hack. Pier 1 promised that would work.
Pier 1 Imports is an American furniture and home decor retailer. It was founded in 1962 and currently maintains roughly one thousand stores throughout North America.
“I’ve come for Fingal, Rick.” Fingal Rick? What is that, some kind of Rhine wine?
Most German wines are produced in the west of the country, along the Rhine river. The most popular varieties for export are Riesling and Gewürztraminer.
Oh, Rolf, no!
In the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical and film The Sound of Music, the eldest von Trapp child Liesl is secretly seeing the young soldier Rolf (“I Am Sixteen Going On Seventeen”). Rolf joins the Austrian Nazi Party, estranging himself from Liesl. During the von Trapps’ escape, he is a member of the search party that hunts for the family in the Abbey cemetery. He spots them and, after a confrontation, gives them away to the other soldiers.
I wish my brother George were here.
Liberace (1919-1987) was a flamboyant musician known for his elaborate costumes, candelabra, and performances on his custom grand piano. His syndicated TV series The Liberace Show aired from 1952-1969. He would often mention and yearn for his elder brother, who appeared on the show as a violin accompanist. This phrase became particularly associated with Liberace in popular culture.
He died protecting the Cointreau.
Cointreau is a French brand of triple-sec liqueur. It is usually drunk as an aperitif or a cocktail ingredient.
You know, Eraserhead was easier to follow than this movie.
Eraserhead is a 1977 short black-and-white film directed by bizarro filmmaker David Lynch, who would later go on to great fame with the TV series Twin Peaks and films such as Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart. Many of the techniques Lynch is known for were pioneered in this film.
Is that James Joyce back there? –It is! –Riverrun.
James Joyce (1882-1941) was an Irish writer, best known for Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and the stream-of-consciousness novels Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. He wore a distinctive moustache, goatee, and round glasses. In later life he also acquired an eye patch for his left eye. “Rivverun” is the opening word of the impenetrable Finnegans Wake. It is a looping, recursive book: the last chapter ends mid-sentence, and the second half of the sentence begins the book. The book’s final sentences are: “Finn, again! Take. Bussoftlhee, mememormee! Till thous-endsthee. Lps. The keys to. Given ! A way a lone a last a loved a long the”. The book opens with “riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.”
His lava lamp’s out of control.
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. Lava lamps are still sold; they are made by Lava Lite in the U.S. and Mathmos in the rest of the world.
You know what? It’s Taz! Blaughhuahhuahablaaugh!
An impression of Taz (the Tasmanian Devil), a character in the old Warner Brothers cartoons. He was a whirling, snarling, perpetually starving critter, voiced by Mel Blanc.
Molière looks on.
Molière, born Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (1622-1673), was a French dramatist, satirist, and playwright. One of the pioneers of his age, he was a formative influence on modern French theater and entertainment. He is somewhat famous for being one of the first people recorded collapsing and dying onstage (although he actually died slightly later, in the hospital). He wore his hair long, dark, and flowing, which was the height of men’s fashion in the 17th century.
“Fingal, you are mine!” With béarnaise sauce.
Béarnaise sauce, typically served with steak, is a creamy sauce made with clarified butter, egg yolks, white wine vinegar, and herbs.
[Whistled.] The Good, the Bad and the Ugly theme.
This is the famous theme to the spaghetti western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, written by composer Ennio Morricone. (Thanks to Paul Castaldi for correcting the composer's name)
“You are being terminated.” With extreme pork chops.
Captain Willard (played by Martin Sheen) is ordered to “terminate, with extreme prejudice” Colonel Kurtz by one of his superiors (the character’s only line) at the beginning of the 1979 Francis Ford Coppola film Apocalypse Now. This is taken in military parlance to mean assassinate.
“Fingal!” Der Bingle! Kris Kringle! Pat Hingle!
“Der Bingle” was one of crooner Bing Crosby’s (1903-1977) nicknames, awarded him by his many devoted German fans. Kris Kringle is the third name of the Santa Claus/Father Christmas/Kris Kringle holy trinity. The name comes from “Christkind,” a Central European gift-bringing mythological figure. It is also another name for Secret Santa, the ritual of organized, anonymous gift exchanging in workplaces and schools in the Christmas season. Pat Hingle (1924-2009) was an American actor most famous for playing Commissioner Gordon in the four Batman films produced between 1989 and 1997.
[Sung.] You must remember this, my liver has been pierced.
See note on “As Time Goes By,” above.
I should probably marry the ketchups before I die.
To “marry the ketchup” is restaurant-diner slang for topping up leftover tomato ketchup bottles with other unused ketchup after each round of customers, regardless of how much condiment is left. This is a poor hygiene practice. The same ketchup will build up and remain in the bottle for years, or possibly eternity.
Oouhp! It’s the big one!
A reference to the TV series Sanford and Son, which aired from 1972-1977. When Fred Sanford (played by Redd Foxx) wanted to manipulate his son, he would fake a heart attack and call out to his dead wife, “It’s the big one! I’m comin’, Lizabeth!”
T-zones, graphically portrayed.
The “T-zone” is the area formed by the forehead, nose, and mouth—the term was coined by the beauty industry to encourage women to moisturize, de-oil, or whatever other processes would lead them to spend more money on beauty products.
[Sung.] One less cake to bake him, twelve less eggs to fry.
A play on the lyrics to “One Less Bell to Answer,” written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, about the difficulty of recovering after a breakup. It was a hit for The 5th Dimension in 1970. Sample lyrics: “One less bell to answer/One less egg to fry/One less man to pick up after/I should be happy/But all I do is cry.”
“Fingal!” I got spurs that jingle jangle jingle.
A reference to the song “(I Got Spurs That) Jingle Jangle Jingle” by country western star Tex Ritter. Sample lyrics: “I got spurs that jingle jangle jingle/As I go ridin’ merrily along/And they sing, ‘Away, too glad, you’re single’/And that song ain’t so very far from wrong ...”
Vertigo is a 1958 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Jimmy Stewart (1908-1997) as a detective with a phobia about heights and an obsession with a beautiful, mysterious woman. The famous poster for the film showed a man falling into a spiral design, created by legendary credit sequence designer Saul Bass.
“Electrons don’t dance, Fingal. They don’t make love.” They’re Lutherans.
Lutherans are a branch of Protestant Christianity that follow the teachings of 16th-century reformer Martin Luther. Early Lutherans frowned on dancing and other secular, depraved activities; modern Lutherans are considerably more relaxed.
Hey, hey, hey. HAL, why don’t you go on break, huh?
HAL 9000 is the name of the homicidal computer in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. His bland, pleasant voice (supplied by stage actor Douglas Rain) belied his human-like drive to survive. Legend has it that the name HAL was derived from IBM, then the chief manufacturer of computers (the letters H-A-L come directly before the letters I-B-M in the alphabet), although author Arthur C. Clarke has denied this.
[Hummed.] Da dum da dum da dum.
See note on “As Time Goes By,” above.
You know what would have saved this movie? Surf music. Surf music makes anything good. See what I mean?
Surf music is a style of pop music that arose from the surf culture of Southern California in the early to mid-1960s. Surf music comes in two basic flavors: guitar- or saxophone-heavy instrumentals, as exemplified by guitarist Dick Dale, or harmony-rich ballads, as exemplified by The Beach Boys.
[Sung.] Ave Mariaaaaaa …
A line from “Ave Maria,” written by Franz Schubert about 1825. It uses the words from the traditional Latin prayer, which read (in translation, and in part): “Ave Maria! Ave Maria! maiden mild!/Listen to a maiden’s prayer!/Thou canst hear though from the wild/Thou canst save amid despair.”
Pond’s fortifying cream diminishes tiny lines while you sleep.
Pond’s Cream is a brand of facial creams and beauty products that has been owned by Unilever since 1987.
Mike, I think she really is Billy Squier!
Billy Squier was a popular rock musician in the early 1980s, with hits like “The Stroke” and “Everybody Wants You.” His popularity quickly waned, although he continued to release albums into the 1990s.
Ooh. Eating Raoul.
A title drop joke of the 1982 dark comedy Eating Raoul. A married couple, the Blands, having trouble making ends meet, stumble on the idea of killing swingers for their money and selling the remains to a dog food manufacturer. A love triangle develops between the two and their accomplice, Raoul. This complication is resolved by the title.
You know, if Raúl was Scott LeDoux, he’d be on the floor now.
Politician Scott LeDoux (1949-2011) was a retired professional heavyweight boxer (“The Fighting Frenchman”), Minnesota state boxing commissioner, and executive director of the Minnesota Combative Sports Commission.
Sooo, I guess PBS means “public boinking system,” huh?
The Public Broadcasting Service is a nonprofit television and radio broadcaster in the United States. It was a major source of funding for Overdrawn at the Memory Bank.
“I’m thinking of getting a place.” Fried or broiled?
The plaice is a flatfish usually found in the Atlantic and seas of Europe and North America; it is a popular catch for the dinner table.
Let me show you this really hard FreeCell game.
FreeCell is a variant of solitaire that became popular in the computer world after Microsoft included it in its Windows operating system. In the game, you deal the cards into eight columns, with the goal being to move all the cards onto four “foundation” piles by suit.
I guess this movie was kinda like watching Casablanca, while having a small child use your groin as a punching bag.
See note on Casablanca, above.
But I hate this movie, it’s on AMC every week!
The AMC cable channel (which originally stood for American Movie Classics) started out showing classic films such as John Wayne oaters and Marx Brothers comedies. Along with fellow classics network Turner Classic Movies, it was active in helping to preserve older films, particularly silver nitrate prints made before 1950. Starting in 2002, the network began airing more recent films and also started offering original programming, some of which (Mad Men, Breaking Bad) has enjoyed high critical and popular acclaim.
Wait, wait, I was working on a project with the UN to provide emergency aid to … oh well, never mind.
The United Nations is a major international organization for diplomacy and world policy. One of its most visible functions is resolving conflict and relieving food-health problems in the developing world. Usually this is achieved through cooperation with national governments and subsidiary organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Food Programme. The UN was founded in 1945 as a successor to the League of Nations, which was fatally wounded when it was unable to prevent the Second World War.
You know, if I was gonna scroll up a cinema, I’d scroll up, uh, I dunno, Dirty Dingus Magee.
Dirty Dingus Magee is a comedy-western film from 1970 starring Frank Sinatra as the eponymous bandit and George Kennedy as Hoke Birdsill, a recently appointed sheriff.