by Wyn Hilty
It’s a song about how loose their slots are.
Because Indian reservations are sovereign territory, in 1988 they legalized gambling on tribal land, and casinos sprouted like mushrooms.
Ah, one of the lesser Estevezes.
The Estevezes are an acting family headed by Martin Sheen (birth name Ramon Estevez). Sheen has four children, all of them actors: Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Ramon Estevez, and Renee Estevez. His younger brother, Joe, who appears in Werewolf, has been in dozens of movies but never attained the fame of his brother and nephews.
Well, so far the star power consists of Charlie Sheen’s uncle.
See previous note.
[Chanted.] Not last night but the night before, twenty-four robbers come knocking at my door.
A traditional jump rope chant that has many variants and dates back at least to the early 19th century in Great Britain; the following seems to be the most popular: “Not last night but the night before/Twenty-four robbers came knocking at my door/I asked them what they wanted, and this is what they said:/Spanish dancer do the splits, the twist/The turnaround and touch the ground/And out the back door.”
Aw, the poor thing has TMJ. Look at that.
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, also known as the jaw bone. TMJ disorder occurs when pain is felt in the joint, making it difficult to talk, chew, or perform other normal activities.
I knew it had Tony Zarindast’s stink all over it.
Tony Zarindast is an Iranian director (b. Mohammad Zarrindast) who is still making films. In 2012 he directed Golden Cage starring, yes, Joe Estevez. In addition to co-writing and directing, Zarindast also plays the security guard who gets turned into a werewolf.
Featuring the Bulgarian Women’s Choir rendition of “Jingle Bells.”
The Bulgarian Women’s Choir is a folk music ensemble from the former Soviet Union that became popular in the West during the 1990s. They employ a bizarre yodelish method of singing drawn from traditional Bulgarian music. “Jingle Bells” is of course a traditional Christmas carol that was originally intended as a Thanksgiving holiday song; it was written in 1857 by a minister named James Pierpont.
There’s just too much Zarindast in this movie already.
See previous note.
Yeah, okay, Leif Erikson.
Leif Erikson (or Ericson, or Ericsson, or Eriksson …) was an Icelandic explorer in the 11th century who discovered a fertile land he called “Vinland”; its precise location is unknown. In 1963 archaeologists found the remains of a Viking-style settlement on Newfoundland, which has led to speculation that Erikson actually discovered North America hundreds of years before Christopher Columbus’s famous expedition.
The Canadian slang term “hoser,” roughly meaning “loser,” was popularized by the Bob and Doug McKenzie characters (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, respectively) during the “Great White North” segments of SCTV, which ran on Canadian and U.S. television between 1976 and 1984.
This is where Billy Jack should come riding up.
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.
Never put Marshall Tucker in charge of your dig.
The Marshall Tucker Band is a Southern rock band, with songs like “Can’t You See” and “Heard It in a Love Song” hitting the charts in the 1970s. None of the members is named “Marshall Tucker.” The name was printed on a key to a rehearsal space they rented—it turned out the real Marshall Tucker was a blind piano tuner who had used the space previously.
Rock ’em, sock ’em archaeologists!
Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots by Marx was a popular kids’ game in the 1970s and 1980s. Two plastic robots, the Red Rocker and the Blue Bomber, duke it out in a boxing ring; a blow to the chin causes their head to pop up, winning the round. The game was invented by Chicago-based toy design firm Marvin Glass and Associates.
Brooks & Dunn finally have it out.
Leon Brooks and Ronnie Dunn are a pair of country musicians who perform under the name Brooks & Dunn. They were wildly popular during the 1990s, with hits such as “Brand New Man” and “My Next Broken Heart.”
This is a production of Road House in the Park.
Road House is a 1989 movie starring Patrick Swayze as a bouncer in a dive bar; it was one of the writers’ favorites. Barefoot in the Park is a Neil Simon play (and later a film) about two newlyweds who move into their first apartment.
Rat Patrol should’ve hung it up after the war.
The Rat Patrol was a TV series about World War II Allied soldiers, driving around the North African desert in Jeeps thwarting Rommel; it aired from 1966 to 1968.
The Man with the Yellow Hat arrives to calm things down.
In the series of Curious George children’s books by Margret and H.A. Rey, the little monkey’s best friend is the Man with the Yellow Hat, a tall, lanky fellow, with a yellow suit to match, who first brings George home from the jungle.
In the course of the fight, they’ve stomped all over the Ark of the Covenant.
In the Book of Exodus, the Ark of the Covenant is a chest containing the original stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments, which Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai. It was made of wood covered with gold. When the Babylonians captured Jerusalem and looted the great Temple, the Ark disappeared, and it is generally believed that it was destroyed. Indiana Jones chased after it in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Louis Leakey in Every Which Way But Loose.
Louis Leakey (1903-1972) was a paleoanthropologist famous for his work in the Olduvai Gorge, an area in Tanzania. There he discovered bones that appeared to belong to a proto-human, or ape-like person. His work radically altered the body of thought about human evolution, and his conclusion that humanity originated in Africa is now widely accepted. Every Which Way But Loose is a 1978 film starring Clint Eastwood as a trucker/prize fighter with a pet orangutan.
Vanessa Redgrave for Banana Republic.
Vanessa Redgrave is an austere British actress who has appeared in such films as Isadora (1969) and Julia (1977). Banana Republic is a chain of upscale casual wear stores owned by the Gap. It started as a largely catalog operation in 1978 and employed a somewhat kitschy safari motif; when Gap bought the stores in 1983, it phased out the jungle theme.
This is the Mir of archaeological digs.
Mir was a Russian space station in orbit around the Earth. The first bits of it were launched back in 1986, and it was slowly assembled over the next ten years. In 1997 a couple of widely publicized disasters aboard the station (a major fire, a collision with a cargo ship, etc.) contributed to the Mir’s reputation as an aging, unreliable spacecraft. In 2001 the station was de-orbited and broke up upon re-entering the atmosphere.
Well, quite a bit of red tempera paint, anyway.
Tempera paint is a permanent, fast-drying paint, historically made from pigment mixed with egg yolk. Use of tempera paint dates back to ancient Egypt; it was the primary medium until about 1500 C.E., when it was replaced by oil paints. Paintings made using tempera paints are also called “tempera,” and there are examples from the first century C.E. that are still in pretty good shape.
There’s just so much litter on the highway!
Iron Eyes Cody (1904-1999) is remembered as the crying Indian in the 1970s PSA commercials about littering, but he was actually an Italian-American named Espera Oscar de Corti. He arrived in Hollywood calling himself Tony Cody in 1927 and claimed to be of Cherokee-Cree ancestry; throughout his career he made a living playing American Indians in Hollywood, and was active in Native American causes in his personal life. He married a Native American woman and adopted several Indian children. His true origins were revealed in 1996 by a New Orleans newspaper, but Cody went to his grave denying it.
I’m Martin Sheen’s brother—does that help?
See note on Martin Sheen, above.
Laura Dern prototype.
Laura Dern is an actress (daughter of actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd). In Jurassic Park, Dern plays a paleontologist; when we see her at a dig she’s wearing a blue shirt, a tan hat, and sunglasses.
[Sung.] O-Cedar makes your life easier …
“O-Cedar makes your life easier” is the slogan/jingle for the O-Cedar line of cleaning products manufactured by Freudenberg Household Products.
No shoes. He was killed for his Nikes.
In the 1990s there were several high-profile incidents of teens and adults being robbed of and even killed over their high-end designer sneakers—specifically Nike’s Air Jordan line. In 1991 a boy in Philadelphia was shot and killed for his sneakers; five years later the same thing happened to a man in Houston.
It’s Steven Tyler’s skull!
Steven Tyler is the lead singer for the rock band Aerosmith. He is known for his flamboyant style and large mouth (and, in the early days, his habit of bringing a bottle of Jack Daniels onstage with him).
[Sung.] Ave maria …
A line from “Ave Maria,” written by Franz Schubert in 1825. It uses the words from the traditional Latin prayer, which reads (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.”
We’ve come to the conclusion dem bones, dem dry bones, sir.
“Dem Bones,” a.k.a. “Dry Bones” and “Dem Dry Bones,” is a well-known spiritual dating back to the early 20th century. Sample lyrics: ”The foot bone connected to the leg bone/The leg bone connected to the knee bone/The knee bone connected to the thigh bone/The thigh bone connected to the back bone/The back bone connected to the neck bone/The neck bone connected to the head bone/Oh, hear the word of the Lord!”
“Skinwalker.” Texas skinranger.
Walker, Texas Ranger was a television series that aired from 1993-2001. It starred martial artist Chuck Norris as Cordell Walker, a Texas lawman who fought crime with his partner, Jimmy Trivette.
It might just be the Bumpuses’ dogs, we’re not sure.
The Bumpuses are the annoying hillbilly neighbors in the series of Ralph Parker stories written by Jean Shepherd; they were featured in the 1983 film A Christmas Story. The Bumpus family has a herd of rambunctious hounds, and on Christmas morning the dogs get into the house and eat the Parkers’ turkey.
[Yodeled.] “Return to Innocence.”
Tom is ululating the chorus to Enigma’s 1994 hit song “Return to Innocence,” off their album The Cross of Changes. The chant was sampled from the Taiwanese aboriginal group Ami’s “Jubilant Drinking Song.” They sued, and Enigma settled out of court. (Thanks to Brandon Dove for this reference.)
Pure Moods was a compilation series of New Age music albums that were heavily marketed with direct-response TV ads. The first track on the original 1994 release was “Return to Innocence” by Enigma (see previous note), followed by such high-orbit New Age artists as Deep Forest, Enya, Jean Michel Jarre, and Vangelis. A total of nine compilation albums were released between 1994 and 2004.
They just heard that Sawyer Brown broke up.
Sawyer Brown is a country-western band known for such early 1990s hits as “The Walk” and “Some Girls Do.”
Winnie-the-Pooh is a small, round teddy bear, the best friend of Christopher Robin in the children’s books by A.A. Milne. He was named after a toy owned by Milne’s son, the original Christopher Robin Milne. He also appeared in a series of Disney films based on the books.
I’m sorry I broke your Hanson tape.
Hanson is a pop rock band that gained a huge following among preteen girls with their 1997 hit “MmmBop.” None of their subsequent albums lived up to the success of their 1997 chart topper, though. The band consists of three brothers from Tulsa, Oklahoma: Isaac, Taylor, and Zachary Hanson. (Thanks to Melanie Weaver for correcting my mistake on their first names.)
I heard it in a love song. Gotta go.
A line from the Marshall Tucker Band song “Heard It in a Love Song.” Sample lyrics: “I ain’t never been with a woman long enough for my boots to get old/But we’ve been together so long now they both need resoled/If I ever settle down, you’d be my kind/And that’s a good time for me to head on down the line/Heard it in a love song/Can’t be wrong.”
[Weeping.] I just heard “Goodbye England’s Rose.”
“Goodbye England’s Rose,” a.k.a. “Candle in the Wind 1997,” is an Elton John song recorded after Princess Diana’s death in a car crash in 1997. Sample lyrics: “Goodbye England’s rose, may you ever grow in our hearts/You were the grace that placed itself where lives were torn apart/You called out to our country, and you whispered to those in pain/Now you belong to heaven, and the stars spell out your name.”
[Sung.] Can’t be wrong …
Another line from “Heard It in a Love Song” (see previous note).
Chia Pets are small clay figurines in the shape of animals. Used as planters, the chia sprouts grow in such a way as to look like the “fur” of the animal. They are manufactured by Joseph Enterprises and were first marketed in 1982.
And the litter on the highway—it’s just everything!
See note on Iron Eyes Cody, above.
“Legends have to begin somewhere.” Like the Keebler elves.
The Keebler elves are an assortment of tiny characters who supposedly bake all of Keebler’s cookies in a hollow tree. They are headed by a harassed fellow named Ernie.
So they hired the Frito Bandito.
The Frito Bandito was the advertising mascot for Frito brand corn chips from 1967-1971. A small cartoon Mexican bandito with a thick, stereotypical accent, he constantly plotted to steal people’s chips. Frito eventually pulled the character under pressure from Latino activist groups.
Man, they’re establishing the hell out of this building here.
In filmmaking and television production, an “establishing shot” is a static, usually short long shot that shows the location where the rest of the scene will take place.
Time to do a Jenny Garp.
Jenny Fields is the mother of T.S. Garp in The World According to Garp; she conceives her son while working in a hospital, choosing an unconscious and dying soldier to be the father. Glenn Close played the role in the 1982 movie.
The Ford Ranger. The official truck of The English Patient.
The Ford Ranger was a compact pickup truck manufactured by Ford. It was first introduced in 1983 and was for years one of the best-selling trucks in the U.S. It was discontinued in 2012. The English Patient (1996) starred Ralph Fiennes as a soldier in World War II who was severely burned in a plane crash; he tells the story of his war service and his lost love to the nurse who is tending him. The film won nine Oscars, including Best Picture.
Ah, nothing like a warm V8.
V8 is a beverage made of blended vegetable juices. It was first produced in 1933 and is now manufactured by the Campbell Soup Company.
Man, he makes Ted Danson look like Gavin MacLeod.
Ted Danson is an actor who is best known for playing bar owner Sam Malone on the long-running TV sitcom Cheers. He has famously luxuriant hair. The balding Gavin MacLeod played Captain Merrill Stubing on The Love Boat, a TV romantic comedy that ran from 1977-1986.
Okay, we’ll be transferring you to the Ho-Chunk Hospital for Yamaglanchis.
The Ho-Chunk Nation is a tribe of Native Americans in Wisconsin.
Here—some litter I picked up off the freeway. Does that make you feel better?
See note on Iron Eyes Cody, above.
No, no, no, I don’t think this case calls for Minoxidil.
Minoxidil is a hair-growth drug, first marketed under the brand name Rogaine. Originally developed to treat high blood pressure, the drug became a best-seller once it was discovered to regrow hair.
Oh, sorry, I thought you were Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. is an actor who has had lengthy and well-publicized battles with drug abuse. In 1996, while under the influence, he wandered into a neighbor’s house and was discovered asleep in a spare bedroom.
[Sung.] Ee-o-eleven …
A line from the song “Ee-O Eleven,” performed by Sammy Davis Jr. in the 1960 Rat Pack movie Ocean’s 11.
Well, I’d better get back to my Bruce Jenner shift.
Bruce Jenner is an American former athlete and current television personality. As a track star in the 1970s, he won a gold medal in the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics and later became famous as a spokesperson for Wheaties cereal. He also had a mercifully short-lived dramatic acting career, most notably in a six-episode stint on CHiPs in 1981. He married Kris Houghton in 1991, who was formerly married to lawyer Robert Kardashian, making Jenner stepdad to a brood of Kardashian siblings and an onscreen participant in the reality television series Keeping Up with the Kardashians (E!, 2007-present). Kris Jenner filed for divorce in September 2014. Changes in Jenner’s appearance led to tabloid speculation about his gender identity, and in June 2015, Jenner came out as a transgender woman, adopting the name Caitlin Marie Jenner. The following month, a documentary TV series about Jenner's transition, I Am Cait, debuted on the E! network.
Snausages are a bite-sized dog treat shaped like tiny cocktail weenies. They are available in several flavors, including beef, beef and cheese, and bacon and cheese.
As a recuperating werewolf, I’m very pleased with my Craftmatic adjustable bed.
Craftmatic is a brand of adjustable bed whose commercials are a staple of late-night TV.
[Growling.] Someone’s trying to start their Plymouth Duster.
The Plymouth Duster was a smallish “muscle car” that was produced from 1970-1976.
Well, it’s either Ashford or Simpson.
Ashford & Simpson were a successful husband-and-wife songwriting team during the Motown era, working particularly closely with Marvin Gaye. In the 1970s and 1980s they also recorded their own songs, including such singles as “Solid” and “Found a Cure.”
Quick! Apply intravenous Nair!
Nair is a brand of hair removal products made by Church & Dwight.
Not Bob Vila, no!
Bob Vila was the bearded, genial host of the home-improvement TV series This Old House from 1979-1989.
Now what we’re doing here, Bob, is getting killed by a werewolf.
An imitation of Norm Abram, the master carpenter on This Old House (see previous note).
“Silver bullet.” There’s a Coors Light in your gun?
Coors Light is a brand of lower-calorie beer introduced in 1978 and manufactured by the Coors Brewing Company. It is known as the “Silver Bullet.”
If it’s Martin, shoot to kill! Then I can be in Spawn!
See note on Martin Sheen, above. Spawn is a 1997 movie based on the comic book by Todd McFarlane; it starred Martin Sheen as the villainous Jason Wynn.
Somehow Janet Reno is behind this.
Janet Reno was the attorney general of the United States under President Bill Clinton, the first woman to hold that post. She was the subject of controversy for her handling of several crises, specifically the storming of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, which killed 80 people, including children; and the bitter custody battle over the young Cuban boy Elian Gonzalez.
An imitation of Clint Howard on Gentle Ben, a 1967-1969 CBS series about a boy named Mark (Howard) who has adventures with a large black bear named Ben (played by Bruno the Bear). (Thanks to Katherine Simpson for this reference.)
Oh, Travis Bickle moved out to the suburbs.
Travis Bickle, played by Robert De Niro, is the eponymous antihero of the 1976 film Taxi Driver: a bitter, mentally unstable Vietnam vet.
[Hummed.] “Mork & Mindy theme.” Mork and Mindy!
This is the theme song to the TV sitcom Mork & Mindy, which aired from 1978-1982. In the opening credits of the first season, there was a shot of Mindy's Jeep pulling up outside a similar house. (Thanks to Laura Carruba for this reference.)
Aloha and welcome to Hawaii. This of course is the Pearl Harbor Memorial …
The USS Arizona Memorial is a World War II memorial in Pearl Harbor, Oahu, located in the harbor over the sunken remains of the battleship, which went down in 1941 during the Japanese attack that precipitated the United States’ entry into the war.
Turns out there are small parts and small actors.
“There are no small parts, only small actors” is a show-biz saying generally attributed to method-acting teacher Konstantin Stanislavsky, although its precise origin is unclear.
Dictator for life Santa.
“Dictator for life” is how Julius Caesar’s final title, dictator perpetuo, is usually translated. He had it for less than two months before being killed. Santa Claus is a fairly recent synthesis of various traditional figures who deliver gifts the night before Christmas. Claus is based primarily on the Dutch gift-bringer Sinterklaas, who was in turn derived from the 4th-century historical figure Saint Nicholas of Myra. (Sinterklaas, rather than elves, has “Black Pete” to assist him, which leads to the [unfortunate, to American eyes] tradition of dressing up in blackface.) In the 1770s, the name “Santa Claus” was first published as an Americanized version of Sinterklaas. The basic attributes of Santa Claus’s legend (his North Pole residence, elven helpers, reindeer-powered sleigh, etc.) became widely known after the 1821 publication of Clement Clarke Moore’s poem “Old Santeclaus” and the 1823 publication of ”A Visit from St. Nicholas” (a.k.a. “The Night Before Christmas,” also probably written by Moore). The famous image of Santa Claus as a jolly, chubby man with a full white beard and red clothing with white trim comes from the mid-1800s art of famed cartoonist Thomas Nast. Nast’s illustrations later influenced depictions of Sinterklaas and England’s Father Christmas.
Fidel Castro, house mother.
The magnificently bearded Fidel Castro (1926-2016) was the longtime socialist leader of Cuba. After his revolutionary army took power from dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959, he began cutting rents for the poor, nationalizing industries, accepting aid from the Soviet Union, and in general getting up the nose of the stridently anti-Communist United States.
The average white man.
A riff on the name of Scottish funk/R&B/disco group Average White Band, which had a string of hits between 1974 and 1980. Highly influential and often sampled by modern hip-hop and dance artists, Average White Band were still performing as of 2016.
This is a strange remake of Jane Eyre.
Jane Eyre is an 1847 novel by British writer Charlotte Bronte. It follows the exploits of a young governess named Jane Eyre, who falls in love with the father of her charge. Unfortunately, her new love, Edward Rochester, hides a terrible secret. The novel has been adapted for film and television many, many times, including a 2006 BBC production starring Ruth Wilson in the title role.
Come on! The Sheltering Sky moved quicker than this movie!
The Sheltering Sky is a legendarily slow-paced movie released in 1990, It starred Debra Winger and John Malkovich as an artistic couple who wander lethargically around Africa.
“I can’t wait to find out what your book is about.” Just another Windows guide.
Microsoft Windows, produced by the Microsoft Corporation, is the dominant PC operating system. The first version was introduced in 1983 and has gone through numerous updates in the decades since. As of 2015, the most recent update, Windows 10, had just been released.
Um, did you know your grandpa smells like Beefaroni?
Beefaroni is a canned macaroni product made by Chef Boyardee, consisting of macaroni and beef in a tomato sauce. It and other Chef Boyardee products are popular with children.
He’s a Rent-A-Center Andy Garcia.
Rent-A-Center is a national chain of rent-to-own furniture stores. It was founded in 1986 and is based out of Plano, Texas. Andy Garcia is a Cuban-American actor known for his roles in such films as The Untouchables (1987) and Ocean’s Eleven (2001).
Hi, Minnie Pearl!
Minnie Pearl was the stage name of actress Sarah Colley (1912-1996), who toured with the Grand Ole Opry from 1940 to 1991. She wore a trademark elaborately decorated straw hat with a dangling $1.98 price tag. She retired from performing in 1991 after suffering a stroke.
“Yeah. I’ll take a walk.” Over to Kirk Douglas’s house.
Kirk Douglas is a tough-guy actor known for his cleft chin and his roles in such classics as Paths of Glory (1957) and Spartacus (1960).
It’s the actual skeleton of a pushmi-pullyu.
The pushmi-pullyu is a fictional animal from the Dr. Dolittle series of children’s books written by Hugh Lofting. It looks like an antelope with two heads, one on either end of its body, and has a tendency to try to walk in two directions at once.
[Sung.] Tonight’s the night … gonna be all right …
A line from the Rod Stewart song “Tonight’s the Night.” Sample lyrics: “Tonight's the night/It's gonna be all right/Cause I'm in love with you girl/Ain't nobody gonna stop us now …”
Is that Douglas Wilder there?
L. Douglas Wilder was the first elected black governor in the United States, becoming governor of Virginia in 1990. He served until 1994, when he became the host of a short-lived radio show. In 2005 he was elected mayor of Richmond, a post he held until 2009.
Man, I’m really falling behind on my Penthouses here.
Penthouse is a men’s magazine founded in 1965 by Bob Guccione. It started out as a softcore porn magazine, moved briefly to hardcore in the 1990s, and returned to softcore in 2005 after suffering significant circulation and ad losses.
The skeleton of Carly Simon, maybe.
Carly Simon is a singer/songwriter of the folk variety, whose biggest hit was 1972’s “You’re So Vain.” (The song has been the subject of much speculation over who it was addressed to; popular guesses included Mick Jagger, Warren Beatty, and Simon’s ex-husband James Taylor.)
I left some Arthur Treacher’s back at the desk.
Arthur Treacher’s is a fast-food chain of fish and chips restaurants, similar to Long John Silver’s. The chain is named after an old British character actor known for playing butlers.
Ah, room-temperature Tott’s.
Tott’s is a cheapish sparkling wine from California.
Rejected for the Supreme Court, Robert Bork struggles to make ends meet.
Robert Bork (1927-2012) was a legal scholar and the former attorney general of the United States under President Richard Nixon. In 1987 he was nominated by then-President Ronald Reagan to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. He was attacked by civil rights and abortion rights organizations as a hard-right extremist, and the Senate ultimately voted to reject his confirmation; the vacancy was eventually filled by Anthony Kennedy. Bork became famous for his bizarre goatee during the televised confirmation proceedings.
PBR me, ASA die.
“PBR me, ASAP” is an old slogan for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.
From the land of sky-blue murder.
“From the land of sky-blue waters” is an old advertising jingle for Hamm’s Beer.
Hey, could we turn down the Percy Faith?
Percy Faith (1908-1976) was a bandleader known for his lush orchestral arrangements. Famous songs include “Moulin Rouge” and “Theme From a Summer Place.”
“I’m a writer.” Of the purple sage.
Riders of the Purple Sage is the best-known novel by prolific Western writer Zane Grey. Originally published in 1912, it tells the saga of a young Mormon woman who defies her church elders to find true love. It has been filmed several times.
Yeah, Richard Clayderman, I love him.
Richard Clayderman is a French pianist known for his arrangements of popular songs such as “Yesterday” and “The Sound of Silence.” He is extremely popular in Asia, but in the West he is generally regarded as elevator music.
“My modern man-made werewolf.” The very model of a modern man-made werewolf.
A variation on the song “A Modern Major General,” from the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta The Pirates of Penzance. Sample lyrics: “I am the very model of a modern major general/I've information vegetable, animal and mineral/I know the kings of England and I quote the fights historical/From Marathon to Waterloo in order categorical.”
Well, he’s no Richard Jewell, but …
On July 26, 1996, a security guard at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, noticed a suspicious backpack near a sound tower during a concert. The guard, a man named Richard Jewell, alerted police and helped try to evacuate the area. When the bomb inside the backpack went off, one person died and more than a hundred others were injured. Days later, the FBI leaked information that it considered Jewell a suspect in the bombing. Jewell was hounded by law enforcement and reporters for nearly three months before he was cleared of suspicion; he later sued and settled with a number of media organizations. In May 2003, white supremacist Eric Rudolph was arrested and charged with the bombing and a raft of other crimes; two years later he pleaded guilty to all charges and accepted four life sentences in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.
Hey, it’s Neil Young!
Neil Young is an influential singer/songwriter. For a time in the early ‘70s he played with the band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and he has frequently recorded with the California garage-rock band Crazy Horse. Although commercial success has sometimes eluded him, he has amassed a devoted cult following.
[Sung.] I’ve been a miner for a … heart of … gold …
A line from the Neil Young song “Heart of Gold” (see previous note). Sample lyrics: “I want to live/I want to give/I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold/It’s these expressions I never give/That keep me searching for a heart of gold …”
Oh, man, four runs to the border in one night.
Taco Bell’s slogan in the mid-‘90s was “Make a run for the border.”
Hey, Merle Haggard’s looking pretty good these days.
Merle Haggard (1937-2016) was a country-western singer/songwriter, known for such songs as “Mama Tried” and “Okie from Muskogee.”
[Sung.] Hey, zip-a-dee doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay …
A line from the song “Zip-a-dee-Doo-Dah,” which was featured in the 1946 Disney film Song of the South. Sample lyrics: “Zip-a-dee doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay/My, oh my what a wonderful day!/Plenty of sunshine heading my way/Zip-a-dee doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay.”
Man, it’s been a hard day. Time for a Frisco burger in front of The X-Files.
A Frisco burger is a hamburger made by the fast-food chain Hardee’s, consisting of a hamburger patty on sourdough bread, with bacon, Swiss, tomato, and mayonnaise. The X-Files was a TV series about two FBI agents investigating the paranormal; it aired from 1993-2002.
Now this clown’s got Bryan Ferry hair! What’s going on?
Bryan Ferry is a British musician who rose to fame during the 1970s as the lead singer for Roxy Music. He has also had a successful solo career.
Hello, Dolly. This is Louis, Dolly.
An imitation of jazz legend Louis Armstrong’s performance of the title song of the musical Hello, Dolly!
Great, King Timahoe here’s going to drive himself home.
King Timahoe was an Irish setter belonging to then-President Richard Nixon; he was a gift from the White House staff. Timahoe was one of three dogs Nixon had in the White House; the other two were named Pasha and Vicky. Checkers, the subject of his (in)famous 1952 speech, died in 1964. (Thanks to Mark Goldfinger for this reference.)
Look at those high gas prices. What are they, in Port-au-Prince?
Port-au-Prince is the capital city of the island nation of Haiti; population, about 3 million.
[Sung.] Oh the mighty brontosaurus/Don’t you have a message for us?
A line from the song “Walking in Your Footsteps” by British band the Police. Sample lyrics: “Hey there mighty brontosaurus/Don't you have a message for us/You thought your rule would always last/There were no lessons in your past.”
“Paul?” I enjoyed your letter to the Philippians.
The Epistle (or letter) to the Philippians is a part of the New Testament written by St. Paul. It consists of a letter he sent to the Christian church at Philippi, in Macedonia.
An American werewolf in traffic.
An American Werewolf in London is a 1981 horror/comedy starring David Naughton as a hapless tourist who gets bitten by a werewolf while hiking the moors in England.
“So, Paul, what do you think?” Could the Colossians stand another letter?
The Epistle to the Colossians is another section of the New Testament written by St. Paul (see previous note). It consists of a letter meant to counter false teachings by a group of spiritualists attempting to incorporate some aspects of Eastern philosophy into Christianity.
They’d better have another one of these jackets at Chess King.
Chess King was a men’s clothing retailer that was very popular in the 1980s.
Get out before my dog tells me to shoot the president!
David Berkowitz, alias “Son of Sam,” committed a series of murders in New York City during the late 1970s. After his capture, having killed six people and wounded seven, Berkowitz told police he had received his instructions to kill from his neighbor Sam, delivered via Sam’s demonic black Lab, Harvey. John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981 to win the affections of actress Jodie Foster. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was confined to a federal psychiatric hospital, where he remains to this day. (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
This is like the time I hit that reporter with Piltdown Man’s thighbone.
The Piltdown Man was the name given to some bone fragments recovered from a gravel pit in East Sussex, England, in 1912. Originally thought to be the remains of an early human, they were exposed in 1953 as a hoax.
Flagstaff. I can’t believe I’m still in Flagstaff.
This is a paraphrase of a line from Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 movie Apocalypse Now, spoken at the beginning of the film in voiceover by Martin Sheen: “Saigon. Shit! I’m still only in Saigon.”
[Hummed.] “The End.”
The Doors’ epic song “The End” was used in the opening sequence (and again at the end) of Apocalypse Now (see previous note).
Oh, weasels ripped my flesh again!
Weasels Ripped My Flesh is a 1970 album by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.
A word of advice: never have sex with Flo-Jo.
Florence Griffith Joyner (a.k.a. Flo-Jo; 1959-1998) was a women’s track and field star. She set world records in the Olympics in the 1980s and became a media darling, with much attention paid to her long and immaculately manicured fingernails. She died young from an epileptic seizure, and there has been speculation that drug use (specifically steroids) contributed to her death.
It’s the Red Shoe Diaries all of a sudden.
Red Shoe Diaries was a soft-core TV show on the cable network Showtime. It starred David Duchovny as a man striving to come to terms with his fiancée’s death by investigating other women’s sexual fantasies (?!). It ran from 1992-1999.
Roh. Rat ras ranrastic.
An imitation of Scooby-Doo, the anthropomorphic dog who first appeared in the animated TV series Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, which aired from 1969-1972. He was voiced by Don Messick. The show spawned several dozen series, TV movies, videos, and live-action films.
I got mono!
Mono is short for mononucleosis, a contagious viral infection that can be spread via saliva, earning it the nickname “the kissing disease.” Mononucleosis can cause flu-like symptoms, including sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue. The infection tends to burn itself out, requiring little treatment, and most adults acquire an immunity to it by age 40.
He’s doing iron grrrr yoga.
Iyengar yoga, named after its founder, B.K.S. Iyengar, is a form of hatha yoga that encourages its practitioners to use props to help stabilize them; it is thus appealing to older students and those with physical limitations. (Thanks to Lijesh Krishnan for this reference.)
You know, the antidote to being a werewolf just might be Imodium A-D.
Imodium A-D is an over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medication. It is manufactured by McNeil Consumer Healthcare.
[Indian singing.] “Return to Innocence.”
See above note.
Bacon, bacon, bacon!
An imitation of ads featuring a POV shot of dogs searching their homes for Beggin’ Strips dog treats.
Photographed by Danny DeVito.
Danny DeVito is a diminutive actor and director who came to fame playing irascible dispatcher Louie De Palma on the TV series Taxi, which aired from 1978-1983.
Coen brothers, isn’t it?
Brothers Joel and Ethan Coen have directed such films as Raising Arizona and Fargo, although the dolly shot feels more like a Sam Raimi film.
His voice coach was David Duchovny.
David Duchovny is an actor best known for his portrayal of FBI agent Fox Mulder on the TV series The X-Files, which aired from 1993-2002. He has a characteristic understated, monotonal delivery.
[Sung.] Love, soft as a werewolf pelt …
A paraphrase of the song “Evergreen,” the love theme from the film A Star Is Born. Sample lyrics: “Love, soft as an easy chair/Love, fresh as the morning air/One love that is shared by two/I have found with you.”
[Sung.] Ziggy played guitar …
A line from the 1972 David Bowie song “Ziggy Stardust.” Sample lyrics: “Ziggy played guitar, jamming good with Weird and Gilly/The Spiders from Mars/He played it left hand, but made it too far/Became the special man, then we were Ziggy's Band.”
Reggie Mantle, no! –But Veronica …
Reggie Mantle is a character in Archie Comics who plays bass in The Archies, the teen gang’s garage band. He has a perennial crush on Archie’s girlfriend Veronica and often plays practical jokes on Archie.
Got some WD-40 back here.
WD-40 is a brand of penetrating oil spray used to stop squeaking hinges and remove rust, among other common household uses. It is manufactured by the WD-40 Company.
It’s Eddie Vedder!
Eddie Vedder is the hirsute lead singer for the rock band Pearl Jam.
Sinead O’Connor flees Prince’s house.
Sinead O’Connor is an Irish singer known for her powerful wailing voice and her shaved head. Prince (1958-2016) was a flamboyant Minneapolis-based musician. In 1990, O’Connor’s cover of a Prince-penned song, “Nothing Compares 2 U,” became a worldwide hit. Prince, however, was upset because he had planned to have another artist cover the song. He invited O’Connor to his Los Angeles house for a meeting, which did not go well: blows were exchanged, O’Connor spat on him, and she walked out. Relations remained frosty thereafter.
I was playing Miss Havisham in the school play when I was attacked by a werewolf!
Miss Havisham is a character in the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations. Miss Havisham is a bitter and reclusive old woman, clad in the decaying remains of a wedding dress, which she has worn ever since she was jilted on her wedding day years earlier. As her revenge, she has raised a girl named Estella to be a plague on men: beautiful, cold, and heartless, Estella breaks the hero Pip’s heart.
[Sung.] You get a lot of dirt with werewolves/You get a lot of clean with Tide.
This is a take on a jingle for Tide detergent from the early 1980s: “You get a lot of dirt with children/You get a lot of clean with Tide.” (Thanks to Mad Molly for confirming the lyrics.)
Can’t you see what I’m trying to tell you? I love you.
A line from the 1933 Marx Brothers movie Duck Soup, spoken by Groucho Marx to straight woman Margaret Dumont.
Butterfly kisses gone horribly wrong. –Butter-DIE kisses.
“Butterfly Kisses” is a sappy 1997 song by Bob Carlisle, written for his daughter. It hit number one on the Billboard charts and won a Grammy.
He’s reading So You Think You’re a Werewolf. –By Tom and Virginia Wolf.
Tom Wolfe is a journalist and novelist known for his impeccable white suits and his embrace of New Journalism, a personalized style of writing that has attracted equal numbers of fervent acolytes and detractors. His works include The Right Stuff, about the early American space program, and The Bonfire of the Vanities, a novel about the empty glamour of the 1980s. Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was an English novelist and essayist; her works include A Room of One’s Own, now considered a classic of feminist polemics, and the novel To the Lighthouse. She struggled with depression for many years before finally committing suicide in 1941.
Oh, John Grisham’s prose is just beautiful! I’m overcome!
John Grisham is a lawyer and novelist known for his best-selling legal thrillers, many of which have been turned into movies. His works include The Firm, The Pelican Brief, and The Client. Though immensely popular, his books are not generally held in high critical esteem.
Oh, man, if only I had some Pamprin!
Pamprin is a pain reliever specifically marketed as relief for menstrual discomfort.
Bill Walton! No, Tom Waits. No, the lead singer from the Spin Doctors. Oh, Zachary Taylor! That’s it.
Bill Walton was a professional basketball player in the 1970s and 1980s, known for his shaggy red hair and beard, about which he said, “It’s the only beard in the history of Western civilization that makes Bob Dylan’s beard look good.” Tom Waits is a goateed, gravelly voiced singer-songwriter of the jazz/blues persuasion. Chris Barron is the lead singer for the Spin Doctors, a band briefly popular in the early 1990s; their biggest hit was 1991’s “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong.” Zachary Taylor (1784-1850) was the twelfth president of the United States; he died in office in 1850 and was succeeded by Millard Fillmore.
He’s becoming a were-Daniel Stern.
Daniel Stern is a comic actor known for his parts in such films as Home Alone (1990) and City Slickers (1991). He is also known for his voiceover work, especially as the narrator of the TV series The Wonder Years (1988-1993).
Oh, my scoliosis! Ow!
Scoliosis is a medical condition wherein a person’s spine takes on an S or C shape. Severe cases can lead to compromised lung capacity and heart function.
She’s got a neck like a Masai warrior.
The Masai are a tribal group living mostly in Kenya and Tanzania. The stereotypical image of a Masai warrior is of a tall, thin man dressed in red (the official tribal color) and holding a spear. Mike and the bots may be referring to the practice of neck stretching, in which a person wears multiple metal rings around his/her neck to stretch the muscles and produce an elongated neck, which is considered aesthetically desirable. This is not, however, a Masai practice; it is found among the South Ndebele tribe of South Africa and the Padaung people of Burma.
It’s a Maurice Sendak creature.
Maurice Sendak (1928-2012) was a children’s author and illustrator best known for his 1963 picture book Where the Wild Things Are, in which a boy named Max encounters various large and furry creatures with claws and fangs.
Zira, I think you should put Taylor back in his cage.
In the 1968 film Planet of the Apes, Zira is one of the apes who assists Dr. Zaius, and Taylor is the human character played by Charlton Heston.
Hey, it’s Don Imus! –No, not scary enough.
Don Imus is a longtime radio talk-show host known for his irreverent and crude humor. His show, Imus in the Morning, has aired sporadically for more than thirty years. Imus went off the air in 2007 following a controversy over his characterization of a women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos,” but soon returned to the airwaves. His show is now syndicated on Cumulus Media.
So werewolves are basically Jackson Browne.
Jackson Browne is a singer-songwriter who hit the height of his popularity in the late 1970s and early 1980s. His biggest single was probably “Running on Empty,” from the 1977 album of the same name. In 1992, tabloids reported that Browne had beaten his then-girlfriend Darryl Hannah, but no charges were filed, and Browne has denied the reports.
Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!
This is the opening line for the long-running sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, which has been on the air since 1975. It has been used every season but one (1981-82). In the first season, many episodes began with Chevy Chase pratfalling as President Gerald Ford and saying the traditional opening line. Those pratfalls led to years of back problems and painkiller addiction for Chase.
I am the greatest!
Boxing champion Muhammad Ali said, “I am the greatest,” and he said it a lot—most famously in a poem/speech in 1964.
He’s almost as hairy as Robin Williams.
Robin Williams (1951-2014) was a hirsute actor and comedian who got his start on the TV series Mork & Mindy and later appeared in a variety of movies both serious and comic.
And now back to Kung Fu.
Kung Fu was a TV series starring David Carradine as a Shaolin monk in the Wild West. It aired from 1972-1975.
De Niro. Snipes. The Fan.
The Fan is a 1996 thriller starring Robert De Niro as a knife salesman with an unhealthy obsession with a professional baseball star (played by Wesley Snipes). (Thanks to Michael Gilstrap for correcting that in the film Snipes plays baseball, not football.)
Oh, sorry, I was becoming Judd Nelson there.
Judd Nelson is an actor who got his start in a series of teen flicks in the 1980s, including The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire.
A soufflé (from the French word for “breathe”) is an extremely fluffy, lightly baked cake. They are notoriously hard to make, as they tend to collapse on themselves in the final moments of baking. That made soufflés a sitcom staple in the 1950s and 1960s: housewives were forever baking a soufflé, and any slamming door or other loud noise would cause it to collapse. Comedy gold!
“You know what I really want to do?” Is baby be friends with you.
A paraphrase of the Bob Dylan song “All I Really Want to Do.” Sample lyrics: “I ain’t lookin’ to compete with you/Beat or cheat or mistreat you/Simplify you, classify you/Deny, defy or crucify you/All I really want to do/Is baby be friends with you.”
Isaac Mizrahi in the role of a lifetime.
Isaac Mizrahi is a fashion designer who has appeared in a number of films and TV series. The 1995 documentary Unzipped follows Mizrahi throughout the development of his 1994 line.
Yeah, let’s go with orange Jheri curls.
Jheri curls are named after beauty products manufacturer and hairstylist Jheri Redding. Worn largely by African-Americans, Jheri curls are a high-maintenance, chemically dependent “wet look” hairstyle that peaked in popularity in the 1980s.
Because it’s after Labor Day and you’re wearing white!
Traditionally, it is a fashion faux pas to wear white shoes before Memorial Day and after Labor Day, a convention some extend to cover all white apparel. In many circles the tradition is considered obsolete.
[Sung.] I don’t know how to love him …
A line from the song by the same name, from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. Sample lyrics: “I don’t know how to love him/What to do, how to move him/I’ve been changed, yes really changed …”
Try believing in ESL for a while.
ESL is an educational term meaning English as a second language.
Better than the new bigger Cheez-Its.
Cheez-Its are a brand of cheese-flavored snack crackers. They come in a variety of styles, including “Big” Cheez-Its. They are manufactured by Kellogg’s.
You can’t handle the truth, dearie.
“You can’t handle the truth” is a famous line from the 1992 film A Few Good Men, spoken by Jack Nicholson.
Stoppen de talking und start with de chalking.
Upon insertion of a quarter, a pool-themed pinball game from 1981 called Eight Ball Deluxe instructed the player to “stop talking and start chalking.” (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
The color of horny.
The Color of Money is a 1986 film starring Paul Newman and Tom Cruise as a pair of pool hustlers.
Play some Well-Tempered Clavier, man.
The Well-Tempered Clavier is a collection of preludes and fugues for the keyboard composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. They were released in two batches, the first in 1722 and the second in 1744.
“You’re a hustler.” No, I was in Hustler.
Hustler is a porn magazine first published in 1974. Generally considered more hardcore than Playboy and Penthouse, Hustler has also become known for heavy-handed political satire and the outing of a number of sexual indiscretions by public figures, including several politicians.
The Uzbekistani Tracy and Hepburn.
Uzbekistan is a central Asian country, formerly part of the Soviet Union. The largely Muslim country has a population of about 27 million people. Spencer Tracy (1900-1967) and Katharine Hepburn (1907-2003) were actors who starred together in a number of classic films in the 1940s and 1950s, including Adam’s Rib (1949) and Desk Set (1957). They played beautifully off each other, becoming known for their sparkling repartee and on-screen clashes. They also were romantically involved from 1942 until Tracy’s death, although they never married (Tracy, a Catholic, was separated from his wife but never divorced her).
Willie Mosconi (1913-1993), considered the greatest pool player of all time, served as a technical advisor for the classic 1961 pool film The Hustler. Mascarpone is a type of cheese. (Thanks to S.S. for this reference.)
Certs breath mints bragged in commercials about being made with a “drop of retsin.”
J.D. Salinger writes more than this guy.
J.D. Salinger (1919-2010) was an American author chiefly famous for one work, the 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye. He did not publish anything from 1965 until his death in 2010.
Man, Cher has really let herself go.
Cher (born Cherilyn Sarkisian LaPierre) is a singer and actress who has appeared on various television shows and in films. She has been the subject of outlandish rumors about the plastic surgery she has had done, thanks to her seemingly eternal youth. In 1988, for instance, a French gossip column published a rumor that she had had some ribs removed to look thinner, which spread like wildfire. Cher sued the publication and was examined by physicians, who confirmed that she had had her nose, breasts, and teeth worked on, but not her ribs. But the whispers have never quite gone away.
Now they’re playing the soundtrack from Ken Burns’ Civil War.
The Civil War is a highly regarded PBS documentary by filmmaker Ken Burns that aired in 1990. Its iconic theme song, “Ashokan Farewell,” was written by Jay Ungar.
Fast Eddie Felson’s sex change operation was a big success!
“Fast Eddie” Felson is the name of Paul Newman’s character in The Hustler (see previous note) and its sequel, The Color of Money. (Thanks to S.S. for this reference.)
Wait, wait … oh, no. Is my beer freshness-dated? Oh, no! I think it might be skunky!
Freshness dating is a relatively recent innovation among beverage makers. One of the first to use it was the Boston Beer Company, back in 1985. Pepsi famously followed suit in 1994, with a major ad campaign proclaiming its commitment to freshness.
[Sung.] Around the world I've searched for you …
This is the first line from the theme song to the 1956 film version of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, starring David Niven. Sample lyrics: “Around the world I’ve searched for you/I traveled on when hope was gone/To keep a rendezvous ...” (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
The Ramones were an early New York punk band made up of assorted members throughout its life, all going under the pseudonym “Ramone.” Founding members included Dee Dee Ramone (Douglas Colvin), Joey Ramone (Jeffry Hyman), and Johnny Ramone (John Cummings); subsequent members included Marky, Richie, Tommy, and Elvis Ramone.
Who adjusted the flame so high on my Zippo lighter?
Zippo Manufacturing Co. made the lighters that American G.I.s carried into battle during World War II (along with their government-issued ration of cigarettes); their name has become largely synonymous with lighters, and many of their products have become collector’s items.
Frederic Remington’s Guernica.
Frederic Remington (1861-1909) is probably the best-known figure in Western art. His 19th-century representations of cowpokes, Indian braves, bucking broncos, and so forth helped create the Western iconography of the United States; ironically, Remington was a chubby, sedentary type who spent almost all his life back East. Guernica is a black-and-white mural by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso representing the 1937 bombing of Guernica, Spain, by German and Italian planes at the request of the Spanish nationalist government. It was one of the first such attacks on a civilian population, serving as a brutal harbinger of the deaths to come in World War II; casualties are uncertain, but probably somewhere around 300 people were killed.
Hey, look, it’s the angel of Sitting Bull.
Sitting Bull (c. 1831-1890) was a Lakota chief and holy man best known for his overwhelming victory over the U.S. forces led by General George Custer in the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876.
Wyclef Jean is a Haitian hip-hop artist, the lead rapper and singer for the band The Fugees.
Rasta is short for Rastafarian, a follower of the Jamaican religious movement Rastafari. It began in the 1930s thanks to Marcus Garvey, a “back to Africa” advocate, and Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, whom Rastafarians revere as a reincarnation of Jesus Christ (also known as “Jah”). Dreadlocks and the spiritual use of marijuana are strongly associated with the faith.
So, any given Bennigan’s bathroom on any Friday night.
Bennigan’s is a chain of casual dining restaurants that was founded in 1976. By the 1980s it was one of the best-known “fern bars” in the United States.
I’m turning into a werewolf, plus my irritable bowel syndrome is acting up, too …
Also called “spastic colon,” irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal problem characterized by bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and/or constipation. Since it has no known organic cause and appears to be related to stress, many people believe the condition is psychosomatic.
I’m still the best!
A paraphrased line from the aforementioned pool movie The Hustler.
Newsies is a 1992 movie musical about a newsboys’ strike at the turn of the 20th century. Starring Christian Bale and Bill Pullman, the movie was not a success, although it has since gained a cult following on TV and DVD.
Gabby Hayes, werewolf.
George “Gabby” Hayes (1885-1969) was a gimpy character actor who played sidekick to some of the top Western stars of the 20th century, including Roy Rogers, Randolph Scott, and John Wayne. His sidekicking career spanned two decades and included such films as The Frontiersmen (1938) and Man From Oklahoma (1945).
Directed by Jackie Chan.
Jackie Chan is a Hong Kong martial artist who achieved worldwide fame in a series of action movies featuring death-defying stunts (Rumble in the Bronx and Supercop, among others).
Basquiat is in danger!
Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) was a Haitian-American artist who got his start as a street graffiti artist in New York City. Before his early death from a drug overdose, he enjoyed international success as part of the “neo-expressivist” group of artists that included Julien Schnabel and David Salle. After Basquiat’s death, Schnabel directed a film biography of his friend called Basquiat (1996).
Made it, Ma! Top of the Farmers Bank!
A paraphrase of the classic line from the 1949 Jimmy Cagney gangster film White Heat: “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!”
[Sung.] Where the streets have no name …
A line from the U2 song of the same title. Sample lyrics: “I want to feel sunlight on my face/See that dust cloud disappear without a trace/I want to take shelter from the poison rain/Where the streets have no name.” In the video for the song, there is a dramatic shot of Bono standing on a rooftop with his arms outspread. (Thanks to Erik Topp for pointing out the video reference.)
“… before we lose him like we lost Tommy and Vic.” Lucy.
A likely reference to Lucille Ball and her onetime, Cuban-born husband Desi Arnaz.
Meanwhile, Slash is still trying in vain to sink a ball.
Slash (a.k.a. Saul Hudson) was the lead guitarist for Guns N’ Roses during its heyday. He was known for his wild mane, his top hat, and his blistering guitar solos.
They have the greatest Pad Thai here. We’ve got to try it.
Pad Thai is a noodle dish with origins in Thailand. Ubiquitous as street food in Thailand and other Asian countries, Pad Thai is made with rice noodles stir fried with tofu, eggs, tamarind pulp, fish sauce, dried shrimp, palm sugar, shallots, and chile peppers. It is usually garnished with lime wedges, bean sprouts, and chopped peanuts.
“Wait!” There’s more!
Phrases such as “But wait! There’s more!” were coined by PriMedia, the geniuses behind the TV ad campaigns for Ginsu Knives.
Oh, lovely. It’s two for one brain hammers tonight, Martha.
A brain hammer is a drink made from peach schnapps, Irish cream, grenadine, and rum.
Leland Sklar, survivalist.
Leland Sklar is a session bassist known for his long hair and wild white beard.
He’s got movements like Anthony Kiedis.
Anthony Kiedis is the lead singer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He is known for his hyperkinetic, twitchy style of dancing onstage.
[Hummed.] “Under the Bridge.”
“Under the Bridge” is a 1992 song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, one of their biggest mainstream hits. Sample lyrics: “Under the bridge downtown/Is where I drew some blood/Under the bridge downtown/I could not get enough/Under the bridge downtown/Forgot about my love.”
The death of Oliver Sacks.
Oliver Sacks (1933-2015) was a neurologist and author known for such books as Awakenings, about patients suffering from sleeping sickness, and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. Several of his books have been adapted for film or stage. (At the time the episode aired, he was still alive and kicking; he passed away 17 years later.)
Fellow Freemen, brother militia men, come to my aid.
The Montana Freemen were a militia group who held off the federal authorities for nearly three months in 1996 at their ranch in Brusett, Montana. They were charged with passing millions of dollars’ worth of bogus checks and with threatening to kill a federal judge; they in turn argued that they were not subject to the U.S. government’s authority. Fourteen of the Freemen were ultimately convicted and received varying sentences ranging up to 22 years.
She has to rest up for her match with Minnesota Fats tomorrow.
Minnesota Fats was a character in the 1961 film The Hustler, played by Jackie Gleason. A real-life pool hustler, Rudolf Wanderone, later played under the name.
Oh God of battles, oh …
A line from the William Shakespeare play Henry V: “O God of battles! steel my soldiers’ hearts;/Possess them not with fear; take from them now/The sense of reckoning, if the opposed numbers/Pluck their hearts from them.”
I passed my tapeworm.
“Tapeworm” is the common name for cestoda, a parasitic flatworm that can live in the digestive tracts of mammals, including humans, when they are adults, and in other parts of mammals’ bodies when they are juveniles. Humans can get tapeworms from eating undercooked meat.
Freddy Krueger. Hellraiser. Paul.
Freddy Krueger is the baddie from the Nightmare on Elm Street film series; the role was played by Robert Englund. Hellraiser is another series of horror films, although the bad guy (played by Doug Bradley) is actually known affectionately to his fans as Pinhead. (Clive Barker, the creator of Hellraiser, hates the name and prefers to call him the Hell Priest.)
That fiend Rick Baker tackled him and did this to him!
Rick Baker is the leading special effects makeup man in Hollywood, the winner of seven Academy Awards. His films include An American Werewolf in London, Men in Black, and Planet of the Apes.
Starring Resusci Annie.
Resusci Annie is a realistic mannequin that has been used to train people to perform CPR since 1960. Her face is based on the death mask of a young drowning victim pulled from the Seine in France in the late 19th century. Since her identity was never established, romantic stories circulated in which she threw herself into the river due to unrequited love, and copies of her death mask became a popular decoration throughout Europe. Dr. Forrester used a Resusci Annie as a ventriloquist dummy during the invention exchange in Show 404, Teenagers from Outer Space.
Still, she’s more emotive than Gillian Anderson.
Gillian Anderson is an actress best known for her role as Dana Scully on the TV series The X-Files, which aired from 1993-2002.
Well, can you help me get these Bugles off my fingers?
Bugles are little horn-shaped corn chip snacks made by General Mills.
She learned English from the wild and crazy guys.
In the early years of Saturday Night Live, Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd appeared in a series of running skits as Georg and Yortuk Festrunk, “two wild and crazy guys” with thick, vaguely Czechoslovakian accents.
Cinematography by Haskell Wexler’s cat.
Haskell Wexler (1922-2015) was a highly respected cinematographer known for his work on such classic films as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (for which he won an Oscar) and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
And Jimmy Carter comes in to negotiate an agreement.
Jimmy Carter was the 39th president of the United States, serving from 1976-1980. Although his presidency is not considered particularly distinguished, he has achieved worldwide renown, particularly since leaving office, as a diplomat and negotiator. He brokered a historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, known as the Camp David Accords, in 1978 and negotiated a cessation of North Korea’s nuclear program in 1995. In 2002 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in international diplomacy.
Is she suddenly in Philip Marlowe’s office? –Sort of bimbo noir.
Philip Marlowe is a fictional detective created by author Raymond Chandler. He first appeared in the 1939 novel The Big Sleep, which was later made into a movie starring Humphrey Bogart as the hardboiled P.I. His name has become synonymous with noir detective fiction.
Just swinging by to see Flounder and Bluto and Pinto.
Flounder, Bluto, and Pinto, played respectively by Stephen Furst, John Belushi, and Tom Hulce, are three of the Delta Tau Chi members in the 1978 film National Lampoon’s Animal House.
Poor girl—last guy she dated turned out to be the Loch Ness Monster.
The Loch Ness Monster is a legendary creature, thought by some to be a surviving dinosaur, that supposedly inhabits Loch Ness in Scotland. Numerous sightings, including several photographs, have been reported, although the most famous photo, taken in 1934, has since been revealed as a hoax. Several scientific expeditions have uncovered no hard evidence.
Oh, his apartment is right next to Monument Valley.
Monument Valley, located on the border between Utah and Arizona, has been the location of innumerable movie shoots. Director John Ford, in particular, located so many of his Westerns there that he has had a lookout point named after him. Stagecoach, The Eiger Sanction, and Mission Impossible: II all shot scenes in Monument Valley, among many others.
It’s Fruit Brute! –Hey! –Brute!
Fruit Brute was the cartoon werewolf mascot of the cereal that bore his name, one of the series of “monster”-themed cereals produced by General Mills (others in the line were Count Chocula and Franken Berry). Fruit Brute was manufactured from 1975-1983.
[Sung.] Wonder woman …
A line from the theme song to the Wonder Woman TV series starring Lynda Carter, which aired from 1975-1979. Wonder Woman wore unbreakable gauntlets on her wrists, which she used to deflect bullets.
He’s kind of the Euro Chuck Wepner.
Chuck Wepner is a former heavyweight boxer who in 1975 challenged reigning champ Muhammad Ali for the world heavyweight title. Although he lost the fight by a TKO in the 15th round, he had unexpectedly managed to knock down Ali in the ninth, becoming the only boxer to do so while Ali held the championship.
That blood came off like a Ralph Steadman drawing.
“Gonzo artist” Ralph Steadman is a British illustrator known for his wild, splattered caricatures. He is best known in the U.S. for illustrating numerous works by Hunter S. Thompson, including his most famous book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
The Comanche are a Native American tribe. Their territory once covered most of present-day northwest Texas, eastern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, and western Oklahoma. The Comanche were fierce warriors with a strong horse culture.
And Congress enacted the Pop Rocks labeling law.
Pop Rocks are a kind of candy that come in small paper packets; when eaten, they “pop” and fizz in the mouth. Although the fizzing effect was perfectly safe, achieved by incorporating small pockets of carbonation in the candy, rumors quickly spread on playgrounds across the nation that eating Pop Rocks while drinking soda would make your stomach explode.
She has Dilbert boss horns.
“Dilbert” is a comic strip by Scott Adams about the foibles of working in an office; it has been published since 1989 and is one of the most successful comic strips of its time. In the strip, the nameless boss, referred to as the “pointy-haired boss,” has a bizarre hairstyle somewhat resembling that of Bozo the Clown.
Look, there’s a little bottle of Mrs. Butterworth’s on his night table.
Mrs. Butterworth’s is a brand of syrup that comes in a distinctive woman-shaped bottle. It is manufactured by Pinnacle Foods.
Well, now, now, maybe she turned into Eddie Van Halen, see?
Guitarist Eddie Van Halen, founder of the band that bears his name, is widely considered one of the most talented rock guitarists of all time. Van Halen was one of the most popular bands of the 1970s and 1980s and is considered the forerunner for many of the heavy metal bands that followed.
She’s meeting Maynard G. Krebs.
Maynard G. Krebs was the goateed beatnik sidekick on the TV series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, which aired from 1959-1963. The part was played by Bob “Gilligan” Denver.
He’s become a were-Amish guy.
The Amish are a conservative Christian sect found predominantly in North America; there is a large population of Amish in Pennsylvania. They are known for their plain, old-fashioned manner of dress—eschewing jewelry and other adornments—and their rejection of much modern technology, including electricity and cars.
It may be a little spirit-gummy when I first kiss you.
Spirit gum is a mixture of alcohol and resin that is used as an adhesive. It has a long history in the theater, used for affixing stage makeup such as false beards, mustaches, and wigs.
I stand corrected. She’s not a werewolf—she merely joined the cast of Cats.
Cats is a stage musical by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics supplied by poet T.S. Eliot (from his collection Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats). It opened in London in 1981 and ran for nearly 9,000 performances before closing in 2002. Its New York production, which ran from 1982-2000, was one of Broadway’s longest-running shows. The cast was dressed entirely in leotards and fake fur.
Mr. and Mrs. B.O. Plenty.
Bob Oscar “B.O.” Plenty is an ex-criminal and friend of policeman Dick Tracy in the comic strip of the same name. His wife, Gravel Gertie, is another ex-criminal. Their daughter, Sparkle Plenty, married Tracy’s son.
[Sung.] Pow Wow, the Indian boy, loved all the animals in the woods …
A line from the theme song to “The Adventures of Pow Wow,” a cartoon segment that ran on Captain Kangaroo during the 1950s. Sample lyrics: “Pow Wow, the Indian boy/Loved all the animals and the woods/Pow Wow was a friend of all the animals in the woods/If there was any trouble he would help them if he could.”
[Sung.] We will, we will rock you … Tusk!
“We Will Rock You” by Queen. Sample lyrics: “You got mud on your face/You big disgrace/Kickin’ your can all over the place/We will we will rock you …” “Tusk” is a reference to the 1979 Fleetwood Mac song of the same name. (About a squillion people pointed out that I missed the “Tusk” reference, although reader J.T. got there first. My bad.)
[Sung.] Well, they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles and they ran through the places where a rabbit wouldn’t go.
“The Battle of New Orleans,” recorded most famously by Johnny Horton. Sample lyrics: “Well, they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles/And they ran through the bushes where the rabbits couldn’t go/Ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch ’em/Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.”(Thanks to Mad Molly for the artist info.)
[Sung.] Gypsies, tramps and thieves/We heard it from the people of the town … Tusk!
“Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” by Cher. Sample lyrics: “Gypsies, tramps, and thieves/We’d hear it from the people of the town/They’d call us Gypsies, tramps, and thieves/But every night all the men would come around/And lay their money down.”
[Sung.] High on a hill lived a lonely goatherd/ Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo …
“The Lonely Goatherd” from The Sound of Music. Sample lyrics: “High on a hill was a lonely goatherd/Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo/Loud was the voice of the lonely goatherd/Lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo.”
[Sung.] Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, right down Santa Claus Lane … Tusk!
The Christmas carol “Here Comes Santa Claus,” first performed by Gene Autry. Sample lyrics: “Here comes Santa Claus!/Here comes Santa Claus!/Right down Santa Claus Lane!/Vixen and Blitzen and all his reindeer/Are pulling on the reins.”
[Sung.] Give it away, give it away, give it away now! Give it away, give it away, give it away now!
“Give It Away” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Sample lyrics: “Realize I don’t want to be a miser/Confide with sly you’ll be the wiser/Young blood is the lovin’ upriser/How come everybody wanna keep it like the kaiser/Give it away give it away give it away now …”
[Sung.] I’ve got a pair of brand-new roller skates/You’ve got a brand-new key … Tusk!
“Brand New Key” by Melanie. Sample lyrics: “Well, I’ve got a brand-new pair of roller skates/You’ve got a brand-new key/I think that we should get together/And try them out you see …” (Thanks to Matthew Czupryna for correcting the Melanie reference.)
[Sung.] Admiral Halsey notified me/He had to have a berth or he couldn’t get to sea …
“Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” by Paul and Linda McCartney. Sample lyrics: “Admiral Halsey notified me/He had to have a berth or he couldn’t get to sea/I had another look and I had a cup of tea and butter pie/The butter wouldn’t melt so I put it in the pie.”
[Sung.] And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon/Little boy blue and the man in the moon …
“Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin. Sample lyrics: “And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon/Little boy blue and the man in the moon/‘When you coming home, dad?’ ‘I don't know when/But we’ll get together then/You know we’ll have a good time then.’”
[Sung.] In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it …
“Easter Parade,” by Irving Berlin, from the musical of the same name. Sample lyrics: “In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it/You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade/I’ll be all in clover and when they look you over/I’ll be the proudest fellow in the Easter parade.”
[Sung.] One night in Bangkok makes a strong man crumble …
“One Night in Bangkok” from the musical Chess. Sample lyrics: “One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster/The bars are temples but the pearls ain’t free/You’ll find a god in every golden cloister/And if you’re lucky then the god’s a she/I can feel an angel sliding up to me …”
[Sung.] Chicks and ducks and geese better scurry/When I take you out in my surrey …
“The Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” from the musical Oklahoma! Sample lyrics: “Chicks and ducks and geese better scurry/When I take you out in the surrey/When I take you out in the surrey with the fringe on top!”
[Sung.] We were merely freshmen …
“The Freshmen” by the Verve Pipe. Sample lyrics: “For the life of me I cannot believe/We’d ever die for these sins/We were merely freshmen/Hey yeah, hey yeah, hey yeah …”
[Sung.] Oh, Susanna, oh don’t you cry for me/Cause I come from Alabammy with my banjo on my knee! Tusk!
The traditional song “Oh! Susanna,” written by Stephen Foster. Sample lyrics: “Oh, Susanna/Oh don’t you cry for me/For I come from Alabama/With my banjo on my knee.” (Thanks to Mad Molly for the Foster info.)