by Sean Marten
[Credit: “New World Pictures.”] The Illuminati made a movie? –Huh, yeah. And they’re so open about it.
The phrase “new world order,” generally referring to a clandestine, totalitarian world government, gets lobbed around a lot by conspiracy theory enthusiasts. “Illuminati” is the plural form of the Latin word for “enlightened.” The name has been given to many groups over the years, the historically accurate one being the Bavarian Illuminati, founded in 1776 to oppose superstition in general and overreach of church and state power in particular. Unsurprisingly, they were outlawed by the Bavarian government and condemned by the Roman Catholic Church. Since then, many other groups have claimed or been accused of having links with the original Illuminati, and they have been the focus of many conspiracy theories claiming that the secret society has manipulated world events from the French Revolution to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
[Sung.] Rock Hudson! Down! Down!
“Rock Lobster” is one of new wave band The B-52s signature songs, originally released in 1978. Sample lyrics: “He was in a jam/S’in a giant clam/Rock rock/Rock lobster/Down, down.”
[Imitating.] Mia Farrow? Jeez, I hope Ol’ Blue Eyes doesn’t catch her together with Rock Hudson or it’s lights out for dese two ring-a-ding-dings …
Mia Farrow is an actress who quickly rose to fame in the mid 1960s with roles in the daytime soap opera Peyton Place and the 1968 horror film Rosemary’s Baby. She was briefly married to legendary crooner Frank “Ol’ Blue Eyes” Sinatra (who this riff may be imitating), who was 29 years her senior and notoriously controlling and jealous. Sinatra was known for showing up on the set when Farrow was working and intimidating her male co-stars. Ring-a-Ding-Ding is the title of a 1961 album by Sinatra; the title song was written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn.
Suddenly I’m craving a York Peppermint Pattie.
York Peppermint Pattie is a chocolate-covered soft mint candy first made by Henry Kessler in York, Pennsylvania, in 1940; the brand is now owned by Hershey. Their advertising leans heavily toward winter landscapes and snow-capped mountains.
Somewhere in these mountains, Roman Polanski is hiding from extradition.
Roman Polanski is a French/Polish film director best known for directing Rosemary’s Baby (1968), which starred Mia Farrow, and Chinatown (1974), and for having been married to actress Sharon Tate when she was murdered by the Manson Family in 1969. In 1978, after pleading guilty to the lesser charge of statutory rape for drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl, Polanski fled the United States prior to sentencing. He has been a fugitive from the U.S. criminal justice system ever since, for the most part living in France, which refuses to extradite him. He has continued to make movies during that time.
I think I just spotted a half-buried Imperial walker down there.
In the Star Wars universe, walkers are giant land vehicles that stomp around on mechanical legs. They were first seen in Star Wars: Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back (1980), traversing the snowy landscape of the ice planet Hoth.
Nice—Pepto-Bismol does deliveries now.
Pepto-Bismol is an over-the-counter medicine for relief of diarrhea and nausea: a bright pink liquid packaged in clear bottles. It was invented in 1901 by a New York doctor and is manufactured by Procter & Gamble.
This is like if The Shining was booked on Priceline.
The Shining is a 1977 novel by Stephen King about the winter caretaker of an isolated mountaintop resort hotel, who loses his grip on reality and tries to murder his family. The book was inspired by the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. A 1980 film adaptation directed by Stanley Kubrick used the Timberline Lodge ski resort in northern Oregon for exterior shots. Priceline is a website that brokers discount rates for airfares and hotel stays.
Mia Farrow is Mike Nesmith.
See above note on Mia Farrow. Michael Nesmith is a singer-songwriter, musician, and actor best known as one of The Monkees, the pop group created for a late ‘60s comedy TV show that became a genuine recording and touring rock act. Nesmith’s signature look on the show was a knit wool cap with a pom-pom. Nesmith wrote many songs that were used in the series and released as singles, but once his relationship with the producers and management soured, he withheld his best work until he left the group. He later co-founded the influential (but commercially unsuccessful) country-rock group First National Band.
When Barbara Bushes attack!
Barbara Bush (1925-2018) was first lady of the United States during the George H.W. Bush administration (1989-1993). White-haired and matronly in appearance, she is also the mother of George W. Bush, the 43rd president. When Animals Attack! was a series of four TV specials that aired on Fox in the mid-1990s. The first three were hosted by Robert Urich; the fourth by Lou Gossett Jr. They were a mix of home movies and outtakes showing animal attacks on people, and they were followed by a slew of imitations.
“How is the great man? –Up to his ass in celebrities.” Let’s just let that one ride, guys.
Rock Hudson’s death in 1985 of AIDS-related complications made him the first major celebrity to die from AIDS, and the revelation that the hunky leading man of the 1950s and ‘60s was, in fact, gay rocked the showbiz world.
Bell-bottoms and loneliness are a dangerous mix.
Bell-bottom or “flared” trousers are a style of pants where the fabric becomes wider below the knee, forming a bell shape. The style originated in the U.S. Navy in the early 19th century, before standardized uniforms, when sailors tended to wear wide-legged trousers that were easier to roll up, so they could work barefoot on deck. Bell-bottoms peaked in popularity in the late 1960s and ‘70s, becoming a symbol of the counterculture fashions of that era.
Mac Davis must have just helicoptered in.
Mac Davis (1942-2020) was a singer-songwriter and actor who had a pretty good run in the ‘70s. He got his start writing songs for Elvis Presley (including “A Little Less Conversation”) and performing in Nancy Sinatra’s band before beginning a solo career; his biggest hit was 1972’s “Baby, Don’t Get Hooked On Me.” He had an eponymous TV variety show from 1974 to 1976, starred in the 1979 sports film North Dallas Forty with Nick Nolte, and rarely deviated from the denim cowboy look.
Thanks, Hedda Hopper.
Hedda Hopper (1890-1966) was an aspiring actress who became a famous gossip columnist. She was known for her enormous collection of hats and her long-running feud with fellow gossiper Louella Parsons.
Levi’s Mature Fit.
Levi’s jeans offer such styles as Comfort Fit, Relaxed Fit, Bootcut Fit, Athletic Fit, and Original Fit, but there is no Mature Fit. However, Sears brand blue jeans did offer a Mature Fit (what would now be called plus size) in the 1970s.
Wow, I did not know The Price Is Right set was that big inside.
The Price Is Right is a long-running game show (on the air since 1972) in which contestants attempt to guess the correct prices of various consumer goods. The show is taped at Studio 33 in CBS Television City, in Hollywood, California, which was also the home of The Carol Burnett Show (1967-1978). Burnett wrote in her 2016 memoir In Such Good Company: “Studio 33 was the gem in Television City. Hands down, it was the best television studio I ever worked in, because the audience seats were arranged below the stage, like in a real theater, and the cameras didn’t come between the performers and the audience … whereas other studios had bleacher seats.”
And I’m not forgetting you, Danny from the last movie.
Steve Franken (1932-2012), who plays McDade in Avalanche, also played Danny the electrician in the previous film riffed in Season 11, The Time Travelers. Franken was best known as the prissy rich kid Chatsworth Osborne Jr. on the sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (CBS, 1959-1963) and as a character actor who appeared in a wide range of TV shows, from Bewitched (ABC, 1964-1972) to Seinfeld (NBC, 1989-1998). He was also a second cousin of Saturday Night Live alumnus and former U.S. Senator Al Franken.
But real brawny.
Brawny brand paper towels’ long-standing advertising icon is a macho, lumberjack-ish dude sporting a plaid shirt and a ‘70s porn mustache.
“… how we used to lie around on Houston Street and talk about …” [Sung.] Pop musik …
“Pop Musik” is a song by M (a.k.a. British musician Robin Scott) that hit number one in 1979. Sample lyrics: “Talk about/Pop musik/Talk about/Pop musik/It’s all around you/(Pop, pop, shoo wop) I wanna surround you.”
Jimmy Stewart (1908-1997) was an Academy Award-winning actor beloved for his many “everyman” roles, such as George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). Stewart’s distinctively folksy, stammering manner of speaking was famous, and frequently parodied.
Was there a writers’ strike in ’78?
There was not. When the Writers Guild of America goes on strike, movies tend to be put on hold, but many TV shows will soldier on, albeit with a noticeable drop in quality. Writers’ strikes have occurred in 1960, 1981, 1988, and 2007-2008.
But then I blew out my ACL.
ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament, one of the four main ligaments in the human knee. ACL injuries are common in many sports, alpine skiing in particular.
This is the CBGB’s of ski resorts, everybody knows that.
CBGB was a former biker bar/dive bar in New York City that became one of the preeminent music clubs of the 1970s and ‘80s. The name stands for “Country, Bluegrass, and Blues,” with the full name—CBGB/OMFUG—meaning “Country, Bluegrass, and Blues and Other Music for Uplifting Gormandizers.” Beginning in the early ‘70s, CBGB was home to such seminal punk and new wave acts as Blondie, The Ramones, Talking Heads, and the Patti Smith Group. In the late ‘80s and ‘90s, CBGB provided a home for hardcore punk bands like Gorilla Biscuits and The Misfits. The club closed for good in 2006; Patti Smith returned to perform its final show.
I fought the law, and the law won.
Lyrics from the song “I Fought the Law,” written in 1958 by Sonny Curtis of the Crickets, Buddy Holly’s backing band. The Crickets recorded the tune in 1959, but a version by The Bobby Fuller Four became a top ten hit in 1966, and British band The Clash recorded a version in 1979 that also did well. Sample lyrics: “I’m breakin’ rocks in the hot sun/I fought the law and the law won/I needed money ‘cause I had none/I fought the law and the law won.”
I’m getting clobbered in my fantasy football league. Arrgh!
A kind of Dungeons & Dragons for sports fans, fantasy football is a game in which players pretend to be the managers of an imaginary football team, building their team rosters through a draft that involves real football players. Points are tallied according to the actual performance of the players throughout the season.
And now, Classic Arts Showcase is proud to present: Tonya Harding in Sophie’s Choice on Ice.
Classic Arts Showcase is a noncommercial satellite TV channel that offers fine arts programming—ballet, chamber music, opera, documentaries, and stage plays. Tonya Harding is a former figure skater who won the national championship twice; she is the first American female skater to complete a triple axel jump in competition, and the second in history. She is infamous for allegedly conspiring (with her ex-husband and several others) to injure fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan before the 1994 Olympics; after pleading guilty to obstructing justice, she was banned for life from the U.S. Figure Skating Association. Sophie’s Choice is the title of a 1979 novel by William Styron and a 1982 movie based on the book starring Meryl Streep. The choice of the title (spoiler alert): a mother and her two children are sent to Auschwitz, where she must decide which of her children will live and which will die. The Ice Follies was a touring ice show, featuring elaborate production numbers and performances by Olympic skaters; it was formed by Eddie and Roy Shipstad and Oscar Johnson in 1936. It eventually morphed into a number of different shows under the “… on Ice” banner: Holiday on Ice, Disney on Ice, etc. (including the somewhat redundant Frozen on Ice).
Oh no, she’s heading straight for the Zamboni, look out!
A Zamboni is a tractor-like vehicle that cleans and smooths out an ice surface, like an ice skating rink or ice hockey arena. Engineer Frank Zamboni developed it in 1949.
I kinda thought she’d turn into Wonder Woman by now.
Wonder Woman is a DC Comics superhero created by William Moulton Marston in 1941. Marston wanted his Amazon warrior princess to be a “feminist role model.” In the late 1970s, Lynda Carter played her in the ABC TV series The New Original Wonder Woman (1976). The show moved to CBS after one season and became The New Adventures of Wonder Woman (1977-1979). In the show, the transformation from her civilian identity, Diana Prince, into Wonder Woman was achieved by Ms. Prince spinning in circles until a burst of light revealed her in her superhero duds.
Papa Smurf approves.
The tiny blue Smurfs were originally Belgian comic book characters in the 1950s; they became a hugely popular fad in the 1970s and ‘80s as collectible figurines. Clan patriarch Papa Smurf, like all Smurfs, wears a conical Phrygian cap, which are shaped vaguely like modern ski hats.
Diarrhea is like a storm raging inside you.
Riffing on an old Pepto-Bismol commercial (see above note): “Sometimes, diarrhea can feel like a storm raging in your body.” This was a frequent riff during the original run of MST3K.
At least she gets to take a penalty shot.
In several sports, including ice hockey, a team may be awarded a penalty shot due to a foul by the opposing team, in which a player gets to attempt a goal with no opposition other than the goalkeeper.
Don’t embarrass me in front of all my Facebook followers.
For the record, it’s Facebook “friends”; other social media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, have “followers.” When Facebook started out, it was initially limited to founder Mark Zuckerberg’s fellow Harvard students; the name comes from the directories offered by many colleges and universities that contained photos and contact information for students, faculty, and staff, called “face books.”
I lied about this being the Olympics.
The Olympic Games are a series of international sporting events. Hosting athletes from more than 200 countries, the games are held in a different city every four years, with Summer and Winter games that are spaced two years apart.
“Love yourself.” Calm down, Justin Bieber.
Justin Bieber is a Canadian singer-songwriter whose rise to teen heartthrob fame, beginning in 2010, made him one of the top-selling music artists of all time, and the second person to reach 100 million Twitter followers (after Katy Perry). However, numerous arrests and other controversies indicate he hasn’t handled fame and fortune terribly well. “Love Yourself” is a 2015 song by Bieber, co-written with Ed Sheeran and Benny Blanco; it was a number one hit in fifteen countries, including the U.S. Sample lyrics: “’Cause if you like the way you look that much/Oh baby you should go and love yourself/And if you think that I’m still holdin’ on to somethin’/You should go and love yourself.”
Be the Weeble. It’s fine to wobble, but don’t fall down.
A scene in the 1980 comedy Caddyshack has eccentric millionaire golfer Ty Webb (played by Chevy Chase) schooling young caddy Danny Noonan (Michael O’Keefe) on his Zen approach to the game, advising, “Be the ball, Danny.” Weebles are part of Hasbro’s Playskool line of toys: figures with a rounded bottom and an internal weight, so that no matter what children do when playing with them, they will stand upright when released. Their slogan, dating back to the 1970s: “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.”
In the eleventh-season Simpsons episode “Missionary: Impossible,” Homer is sent to Micronesia as a missionary, a job at which he fails so miserably that he repeatedly refers to Jesus as “Jebus.”
Timber … land boots. A proud sponsor.
Timberland LLC is a maker of outdoor wear that was founded in Boston in 1918 and is currently based in Stratham, New Hampshire. Its iconic waterproof leather work boot was introduced in 1973 and became popular in the 1990s after it was embraced by hip-hop culture.
Now who’s this guy? It’s becoming like a Marvel movie in here.
Marvel Comics got serious about movies when they created Marvel Studios in the summer of 1996; their first major release was Blade, starring Wesley Snipes, in 1998. Whereas Blade focused on one superhero, other Marvel movies, in particular the X-Men and Avengers films, have so many superheroes and supervillains running around you practically need a flowchart to keep them all straight. Avengers: Endgame (2019), the most complicated entry in the series, featured 57 characters who had appeared in previous films.
I guess his name is Scott.
Scott Sports SA is a Swiss manufacturer of ski equipment (like goggles), as well as bicycles, motorsports wear, and other sportswear. They were founded in 1958.
[Imitating.] Feels like I’m wearing nothing at all … nothing at all … nothing at all …
An imitation of Ned Flanders, Homer Simpson’s much loathed next-door neighbor in the long-running animated series The Simpsons (Fox, 1989-present). Specifically, this is a line from the 2000 episode “Little Big Mom,” in which the Simpsons go on a ski trip. Flanders’ declaration that his tight and stylish ski suit “feels like I’m wearing nothing at all” gets stuck in Homer’s head, and the image of “stupid sexy Flanders” causes Homer to wipe out on the slopes. Starting around 2007, “Stupid sexy Flanders” became a ubiquitous meme, along with Flanders’ line, and it has circulated around the Internet ever since.
Go that way really fast, and if something gets in your way, turn!
This is sage advice on how to ski from John Cusack’s best friend Charles de Mar (played by Curtis Armstrong) in the 1985 teen romantic comedy movie Better Off Dead.
[Sung.] Dance your cares away … worry’s for another day … let the music play … down at avalanche …
A take on “Down at Fraggle Rock,” the theme from the children’s television series Fraggle Rock (CBC/HBO, 1983-1987), created by Jim Henson and starring various species of Muppets. Sample lyrics: “Dance your cares away/Worry’s for another day/Let the music play/Down at Fraggle Rock.”
Ah crap, I was just getting his place ready to rent for an Airbnb, and now this? Damn it.
Airbnb is an online broker that helps people rent or lease short-term vacation homes, condos, apartments, hotel rooms, and hostel beds. The name comes from founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, who helped pay the rent on their San Francisco loft by putting an air mattress on their living room floor and offering it as an “Airbed & Breakfast.”
Dude, your GoPro better be working. If you live through this, you know how many hits we’re gonna get? –Oh man, the avalanche has a GoPro too, nice.
GoPro is a tech company founded in 2002 and based in San Mateo, California, which manufactures very small, digital “action cameras” designed to be attached to helmets, sporting equipment, drones, wildlife, etc. GoPro also makes mobile apps and video editing software for its cameras.
[Imitating.] Ahhhh! I meant to do that.
In the 1985 movie Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Pee-wee Herman tumbles spectacularly from his beloved bicycle in front of a group of boys, gets up, dusts himself off, and declares, “I meant to do that.” The Pee-wee Herman character, a hyperactive man-child in a too-tight grey suit and a red bowtie, was originally created by comedian Paul Reubens for The Groundlings improv comedy troupe in Los Angeles. Several films and an Emmy Award-winning children’s television series followed.
Wes Anderson, why?
Wes Anderson is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter, praised by fans and peers as a modern-day auteur. His movies tend to be colorful, highly stylized comedies; his best-known films include The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), and the stop-motion animated movie Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009).
If he were a Garbage Pail Kid, they’d call him Spruced Bruce.
Garbage Pail Kids was a mid-‘80s series of trading cards made by the Topps Company, with character names like “Nasty Nick” or “Gory Laurie.” They were a parody of the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls that were a fad at the time. Garbage Pail Kids became a fad in their own right, were banned in many schools as a distraction, got sued by the makers of Cabbage Patch Kids, and saw sales plummet by 1988. The live-action The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987) was a major flop; it currently has a critic rating of 0 percent on Rotten Tomatoes (and a 27 percent audience score) and is a strong competitor on many “Worst Movies Ever Made” lists. The Spruce Goose is a World War II airplane that was designed and ultimately piloted by eccentric billionaire playboy Howard Hughes (1905-1976). It was envisioned as an alternative to troop transport ships, which at the time were getting regularly sunk by German submarines. Due to wartime restrictions on aluminum, it was constructed mainly of wood (hence its nickname; its official name was the H-4 Hercules). The project was not actually completed until after the war, and it flew just once, in 1947, for about a mile. The Spruce Goose currently resides in a very large building at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.
Mentos is a brand of white, round, chewy mint candies that are packaged in cylindrical tubes. Mentos TV commercials in the 1990s featured smug young people having the minty-fresh confidence to do really annoying things after downing a Mentos, accompanied by a bouncy tune and the slogan “Mentos—the freshmaker.” The ads were a staple on Comedy Central during MST3K’s run there, and were parodied by Mike and the ‘bots in a host segment in Show 522, Teenage Crime Wave.
Way to win her back, Duke Yellington.
Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (1899-1974) was a legendary jazz musician—his career as a composer, pianist, and bandleader spanned fifty years, and he is considered one of the most influential figures in jazz.
You’re like school in the summertime.
“Man, you’re like school in the summertime: no class” was a catchphrase for the character Rudy (the one in the orange flat cap and the pink disco clothes) in the animated TV series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (CBS/syndication, 1972-1985). In the 2004 live action/animated film Fat Albert, the line was changed to “You’re like school on Saturday: no class.”
Learn to read the room, guy.
In public speaking, and standup comedy in particular, “read the room” means to get a sense of your audience—to gauge whether they’re conservative or open-minded, drunk or sober, etc.—in order to tailor your speech/jokes to that specific audience.
You taste like André Previn.
André Previn (1929-2019) was a German-American composer, conductor, and pianist; he won ten Grammy Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Grammy, and four Academy Awards. At the time Avalanche was filmed in 1978, he was married to star Mia Farrow; they divorced the following year.
“No, Nick.” It’s “yes, and …,” Nick.
“Yes, and …,” also called “yes, and …” thinking, is a core principle of improvisational comedy, which holds that anything one performer states or suggests should be accepted (“yes”) and expanded upon (“and …”) by their fellow performers. This helps the story and scene continually move forward.
Nothing to do now except sit back and enjoy America’s Funniest Home Videos on ABC. Ha ha ha ha … he died.
America’s Funniest Home Videos is a long-running ABC series that invites viewers to send in videos of their most embarrassing moments to compete for a cash prize. It first aired as a special in 1989. Trace Beaulieu, who played Crow and Dr. Forrester for eight seasons, and J. Elvis Weinstein, who played Dr. Erhardt and Tom Servo for two, went on to write for AFHV for several years in the 2000s.
Amazing how she can turn into mist, just like a vampire or Gwyneth Paltrow.
The ability to turn into a cloud of mist is one of the powers frequently ascribed to vampires in folklore; it was included in Bram Stoker’s 1897 gothic horror novel Dracula and has been portrayed in many films. Gwyneth Paltrow is a very slender blond actress, best known for playing Pepper Potts in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“What do you celebrate?” Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Memorial Day.
In the Muslim faith, Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, an annual month of fasting that commemorates the revelation of the Quran to Muhammad. Ramadan’s timing is based on the Islamic lunar calendar, so the actual dates shift from year to year. Kwanzaa is a weeklong celebration, from December 26 to January 1, that honors Black Americans’ African heritage. Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the U.S. that honors those who died while serving in the American armed forces; it’s observed on the last Monday of May.
We wanna hear “California Lady.”
In Show 1007, Track of the Moon Beast, a band performs a song called “California Lady.” The singer is Frank Larrabee, a local Albuquerque musician (where Moon Beast was filmed). Track of the Moon Beast came out in 1976 (and looks it). Avalanche came out in 1978, the same year as another song titled “California Lady” by David Gates, which opens with the lines “She always skis the winter season/Try to catch her if you please …” So it’s not clear which tune they’re referring to—possibly both.
Hey, it’s Rainbow Brite’s brother. –Rainbow Dim?
Rainbow Brite is a media franchise about a young girl named Wisp and her horse Starlite, who bring color to an otherwise drab world. Wisp has no siblings—just a group of friends called the Color Kids. The franchise, owned by Hallmark Cards, was launched in 1984 with an animated TV series and a line of dolls and other merchandise made by Mattel. A feature-length movie came out in 1985; the franchise was rebooted in 2014 with a miniseries on Hallmark’s streaming service, Feeln (now called Hallmark Movies Now). New merchandise was released the following year.
We’ve got an avalanche of polyester on the dance floor!
The non-breathable and highly flammable synthetic fiber polyester reached its peak of sartorial popularity in the 1970s, when it was used for a wide range of loud shirts and leisure suits, with all the wide collars and huge bell-bottoms that implies.
A nod to an iconic scene in the classic 1941 film Citizen Kane, written, produced, directed by, and starring Orson Welles. The film begins with a bedridden and dying Charles Foster Kane speaking his mysterious last word: “Rosebud.” A journalist sets out to discover its meaning; at the end of the movie, it’s revealed that (spoiler alert) “Rosebud” was the name of his beloved sled as a boy.
All these baked Alaskas are not up to code.
Baked Alaska is a dessert consisting of ice cream encased in sponge cake, topped with meringue, and then put in a very hot oven just long enough to brown the meringue (but not melt the ice cream). A variation called bombe Alaska adds a splash of rum, which is then set alight. The dish was supposedly named by Antoine’s, the legendary New Orleans restaurant. In the 1950s and ‘60s, when American haute cuisine was still in its infancy, baked Alaska on the menu was a sure sign you were dining in a fancy restaurant, right up there with other needlessly complex dishes like lobster thermidor or Caesar salad prepared tableside.
Let’s just do the “Stanky Legg” and then go back to my camper.
“Stanky Legg” is a 2008 single from American hip-hop group GS Boyz. The “Stanky Legg” dance, which involves moving your legs in a circular motion, became a goal celebration dance for U.S. forwards Charlie Davies and Jozy Altidore at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup; it thus became something of a meme among American soccer fans.
[Sung.] Crazy on you …
“Crazy on You” is a 1976 song written by Ann and Nancy Wilson and recorded by their band Heart; it was Heart’s first single from their debut album Dreamboat Annie. Sample lyrics: “But I tell myself that I was doin’ all right/There’s nothin’ left to do at night/But go crazy on you/Crazy on you/Let me go crazy, crazy on you, oh.”
You know, disco fever afflicted everyone back then.
The name “Disco Fever” got a lot of traction in the 1970s. There was a New York City nightclub named Disco Fever that operated from 1976 to 1986, Disco Fever is the title of a 1979 album by R&B group The Sylvers and a 1978 movie starring former ‘50s teen idol Fabian, and there’s a pinball machine named Disco Fever that was first released in 1978.
The spin I’m in.
Possibly a reference to the song “That Old Black Magic,” originally written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer for the 1942 film Star Spangled Rhythm. It became a standard, recorded by everyone from Judy Garland and Glenn Miller to Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra. Sample lyrics: “Down and down I go/Round and round I go/In a spin, lovin’ the spin I’m in/Under the old black magic called love.”
Don’t go, they’re about to play “Disco Duck.”
“Disco Duck” is a 1976 novelty song by radio disc jockey Rick Dees “and His Cast of Idiots,” a satirical spin on the 1960s novelty dance song “The Duck.” Though “Disco Duck” became a number one hit nationwide, Dees was forbidden to play it on his own Memphis radio show, and other Memphis radio stations refused to play it for fear of promoting the competition. When Dees mentioned the song on his show, he was fired for conflict of interest, only to be hired several months later by a rival station.
I lost my wife to the guy from Average White Band?
Average White Band is a Scottish funk/R&B/disco group, which had a string of hits between 1974 and 1980, including “Pick Up the Pieces” and “Cut the Cake.” Highly influential and often sampled by modern hip-hop and dance artists, Average White Band were still recording and performing as of 2021, albeit with only two original members in the lineup.
It’s like a ‘70s kitchen got up and danced.
In the 1970s, homeowners embraced kitchen decorating trends that skewed hard toward avocado green, mustard yellow, and burnt orange color schemes for appliances and countertops, and deep earth tones for cabinets, flatware, and crockery. Don’t even get us started on shag carpeting and macramé plant holders.
Hot shot here thinks he’s Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.
In the world of Game of Thrones (HBO, 2011-2019), the Night’s Watch is a military order that guards the immense Wall fortifying the Seven Kingdoms, and the Lord Commander is the Watch’s most senior officer.
Oh, he’s got a Love Shack. –[Sung.] I bet he’s got him a Chrysler that’s as big as a whale, and it’s about to start to snow …
“Love Shack” is a 1989 single by The B-52s; it was their biggest hit. The popular music video for the song featured the band and dozens of extras partying it up in a shack in the middle of the woods. Sample lyrics: “Hop in my Chrysler, it’s as big as a whale and it’s about to set sail/I got me a car, like, it seats about 20/So come on and bring your jukebox money.”
So you’re really taking me to see Santa? Really, really? Hey, this is just an ordinary dreamy bachelor pad.
Santa Claus is a fairly recent synthesis of various traditions of a being who delivers 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. In the 1770s, the name “Santa Claus” was first published as an Americanized version of Sinterklaas. The common attributes of Santa Claus’s legend (his North Pole residence, elven helpers, reindeer-powered sleigh, etc.) became widespread 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.
So … want to make fondue, ‘cause it’s, you know, the ‘70s and whatnot?
Fondue in its original form is basically a pot of melted cheese held on a stand and kept warm with a candle or other heat source. Diners take turns dipping pieces of bread into it with long forks. The Swiss Cheese Union promoted fondue as the “Swiss national dish” in the 1930s, and fondue became popular at restaurants or as a party centerpiece in the United States in the 1960s and ‘70s, with a comeback in the early 2000s. Variations include dipping pieces of fruit in a pot of melted chocolate and cooking pieces of meat in a pot of hot oil.
Yeah, hey, you wanna listen to K-tel’s 22 Explosive Hits? I’ve got the album and 8-Track.
K-tel International is a Canadian company founded in 1962 that is considered the originator of “As Seen on TV” marketing, selling consumer products like kitchen gadgets and cleaning devices with loud, low-budget TV ads, some of which were early versions of infomercials. They’re best known for their music compilation albums, which are still available online. One such album was 20 Explosive Hits by 20 Original Stars, first released in 1970 and containing such dazzlers as “O-O-H Child” by Five Stairsteps and “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” by The Delfonics. Officially known as Stereo 8, 8-Track tapes were cartridges of magnetic tape in an infinite loop. They were developed in the early 1960s by Bill Lear (of Lear Jet fame) and released commercially in 1964. They caught on because they were more portable than vinyl records or cumbersome reel-to-reels, and they were the first readily available user-controlled format for recorded music in cars. They remained popular until the mid-1970s, when they were replaced by compact cassette tapes. Complaints included low audio quality, the inability to rewind, the inability to choose a specific song, and their tendency to switch to a different track in the middle of a song.
“What’s it look like?” Tilda Swinton?
Tilda Swinton (b. Katherine Matilda Swinton) is a British actress known for wide-ranging roles in both box office blockbuster films and small independent features, including everything from Avengers: Endgame (2019) to Orlando (1992).
“It’s a ram.” Oh, from the Dynamite magazine.
Dynamite was an educational children’s magazine published by Scholastic Inc. from 1974 to 1992 that offered activities, games and contests, and articles on popular culture; later issues featured profiles of teen idols such as Johnny Depp and Alyssa Milano. A popular feature was fold-out posters, sometimes in 3-D (with special glasses included), that kids could put up on their walls.
Did I mention John Denver used to live here?
John Denver (b. Henry John Deutschendorf Jr., 1943-1997) was a country-folk singer, actor, and environmentalist who had his biggest hits in the 1970s, with “Rocky Mountain High” being his best known. Denver lived in Aspen, Colorado, and frequently sang the state’s praises. In 2007, the Colorado General Assembly made “Rocky Mountain High” one of the state’s two official songs (the other is the much more traditional “Where the Columbines Grow,” written by Dr. Arthur John Fynn in 1911). As an actor, Denver’s best-known role was in 1977’s Oh, God!, in which he played a hapless grocery store manager who is chosen by God (comedian George Burns) to be his modern-day prophet. An avid pilot, Denver died when his homebuilt aircraft crashed off the coast of California.
You know, not that I’m complaining, but by this point Gene Hackman was already halfway through the Poseidon.
The Poseidon Adventure (1972) was one of those all-star-cast disaster films the 1970s seemed to specialize in (see also: Airport, Earthquake, The Towering Inferno). With actors like Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters, Roddy McDowall, and Leslie Nielsen, it appealed to audiences and critics alike, winning two Oscars and topping the box office for the year. The plot: a luxury ocean liner on its final voyage is overturned by a rogue wave, and the survivors must climb from the top decks (now on the bottom of the ship) to safety.
This is extremely rare, it’s a Keane painting of an ocelot.
Walter Keane (1915-2000) was famous in the 1960s as an artist, believed to be the creator of a widely reproduced series of paintings of waifish children with enormous eyes. The paintings earned Keane millions of dollars, but in 1970, his ex-wife Margaret came forward claiming she had actually painted them. In 1986, she sued him, and after he refused the judge’s order to create a sample painting in court, claiming a sore shoulder, Margaret produced one in less than an hour. The jury awarded her $4 million, although the monetary award was later overturned on appeal. The story is told in the 2014 Tim Burton film Big Eyes, starring Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams.
Boy, the grips are really chuckin’ that snow out there, huh? Especially the one on the right, it’s coming down in intermittent handfuls.
In filmmaking and video production, grips are technicians who provide support for cameras, especially when they are mounted on dollies or cranes; grips also set up and operate lighting and electrical equipment. The name might be a holdover from circus and vaudeville, where “grip” was a nickname for the tool bags technicians carried with them, or from the era of hand-cranked movie cameras, where several men needed a “good grip” to hold down the camera’s tripod and keep it stable.
So, the big question, do you like Welcome Back, Kotter? ‘Cause it’s on and we’re missing it.
Welcome Back, Kotter was a TV sitcom that aired from 1975 to 1979. It starred Gabe Kaplan as the teacher of a group of inner-city teens called the Sweathogs (including one played by a young John Travolta).
You ever read any Jack London?
Jack London (b. John Griffith Chaney, 1876-1919) was an American author and journalist, one of the first writers to become rich and famous by writing adventure stories published in commercial magazines. Two of his best-known works were set in the harsh, snowy landscapes of the late 1800s Klondike Gold Rush: The Call of the Wild and White Fang, as well as a famous short story often read in schools, “To Build a Fire,” about a man desperately trying to light a fire in a blizzard before he freezes to death.
Hmmm. Circle of life. Man cuts down tree, turns tree into bleachers, nature takes it back.
“Circle of Life” is the first big song and the central theme of the 1994 Disney animated musical The Lion King. The rest is riffing on the character of Dr. Ian Malcolm, the leather-clad, chaos theory-spouting mathematician played by Jeff Goldblum in the movies Jurassic Park (1993) and its 1997 sequel The Lost World: Jurassic Park (he also has a brief cameo in the 2018 film Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom). In Jurassic Park, while Malcolm and his companions are being given their initial tour of the park (before all hell breaks loose), he speculates: “God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs …”
I sense something, like a million banners crying out at once.
Alex Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope (1977) utters the often-parodied line: “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.”
Wait, you’re not Doris Day, what …?
Rock Hudson co-starred with the blond, wholesome actress/singer Doris Day (1922-2019) in three light and breezy “bedroom comedies” that were hugely popular in the early ‘60s: Pillow Talk (1959), Lover Come Back (1961), and Send Me No Flowers (1964).
“Yeah, Marty, what …?” Uh, uh … Biff stole the DeLorean again. So I should drop the whole Marty McFly thing?
In the 1985 movie Back to the Future and its two sequels, Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) is the main protagonist, Biff (played by Thomas F. Wilson) is the oafish, bullying antagonist, and the time machine that makes the plot go ‘round is built into a DeLorean automobile. The DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) was founded by former GMC exec John DeLorean in 1975. It only lasted seven years, only produced one car model, and was already defunct by the time the first film was released. But, due largely to the film franchise, that one car has become an icon, despite the company being a mere blip in automotive history.
Did Rufus Wainwright break into our cabin again?
Rufus Wainwright is an American/Canadian singer-songwriter. Many of his songs prominently feature his piano playing, which he began to learn at the age of six.
[Sung.] I’m snowshoeing on sunshine … whoa-oh … I’m snowshoeing on sunshine … whoa-oh … and it’s time to feel snow …
“Walking on Sunshine” is a song by Katrina and the Waves that was a top ten hit in 1985. Sample lyrics: “I’m walking on sunshine whoa-oh/I’m walking on sunshine whoa-oh/And don’t it feel good?”
[Sung.] Da da da da da da da, snow … –Attention all personnel, tonight’s movie will be Avalanche. The vacationers at a winter wonderland struggle to survive after an avalanche of snow crashes into their ski resort. Their holiday then turns into a game of survival. Starring Rock Hudson, Mia Farrow, Robert Forster, Jeanette Nolan, and introducing Peggy Browne as the ice skater.
The 1970 feature film M*A*S*H and the TV series based on it (CBS, 1972-1983) opened with shots of Army medical choppers flying to the titular Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, over the morose theme song, “Suicide Is Painless.” Throughout the film, loudspeakers at the camp blared stilted, halting announcements, including lots of detailed and ironically cheerful descriptions of movies that would be shown in the camp that night. The announcements were provided by David Arkin, who also played the minor role of Sergeant Major Vollmer. Robert Forster (1941-2019), who plays the rugged Nick Thorne in Avalanche, was a veteran character actor known more recently for playing Ed Galbraith, the Disappearer, on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. Jeanette Nolan (1911-1998), who plays Rock Hudson’s brassy mom in Avalanche, was also a veteran character actor and voice actor in radio, film, and television. She worked steadily doing guest appearances on many TV shows; voice work included playing the muskrat Ellie Mae in Disney’s The Rescuers. Peggy Browne, who indeed ice skates in Avalanche, only performed in a handful of movies and TV shows in the 1970s.
“Right on!” And dy-no-mite!
“Dy-no-MIITE!” was actor and comedian Jimmie Walker’s popular catchphrase in his role of J.J. Evans on the TV sitcom Good Times, which aired from 1974-1979.
Wow, this guy is really serious about playing Duck Hunt. –Topical.
Duck Hunt is a video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System console that came out in 1984. Players use a plastic pistol that fires a beam of light to shoot ducks on the TV screen.
Smile, you son of a b…
“Smile, you son of a bitch” is a line from the climactic scene of Jaws (1975), when police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), trapped on a sinking boat, aims a rifle at a pressurized scuba tank in the killer shark’s mouth and fires.
[Imitating.] Good day for Pepperidge Farms style avalanche shootin’.
An imitation of character actor Parker Fennelly (1891-1988), whose thick New England accent became famous during the 1970s in a series of television commercials for Pepperidge Farm cookies, pastries, frozen goods, etc. (He had actually appeared in Pepperidge Farm commercials as early as 1958, but his trademark “Pepperidge Farm remembers” did not become a household phrase until the ‘70s.)
Doesn’t this dramatic music call for a monolith to rise from the ground and usher in the next stage of human evolution or something?
A fairly accurate plot synopsis of the 1968 sci-fi epic film 2001: A Space Odyssey, based on several short stories by Arthur C. Clarke (particularly “The Sentinel”). At the beginning of the film, a giant, rectangular monolith appears before a tribe of early humans, causing them to begin using tools, which inevitably leads, it is implied, to technological advances and space travel. Later, another monolith is discovered on the moon, leading to further evolutionary advances, which, since this is a Stanley Kubrick film, aren’t exactly spelled out.
[Jamaican accent.] Dis movie brought to you by Red Stripe beer, de official beer of the Jamaican bobsled team, featured in the 1993 hit movie Cool Runnings.
Red Stripe is a Jamaican brand of beer, a pale lager produced by Diageo Group that was introduced in 1928 and first imported to the United States in 1985; since it is enormously popular in Jamaica, American tourists who vacation there often return with a fondness for the brand. Red Stripe has sponsored the Jamaican national bobsled team several times over the years. The 1993 comedy sports movie Cool Runnings stars Leon Robinson and Doug E. Doug and is loosely based on the true story of the Jamaican national bobsled team’s first major competition at the 1988 Winter Olympics.
You will all be assimilated by the Borg-shaped lodge back there.
On the science fiction TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) and its 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.
[Imitating.] Thank you, thank you very much.
“Thank you very much” was a phrase Elvis Presley (1935-1977) frequently used, usually at the end of a song while applause thundered. He often said it very quickly with the words all tumbled together, which led to it being used in impressions of him for decades. In his later years, Elvis also had a penchant for wearing rather large sunglasses. Presley was one of the most popular musicians in the world from the 1950s until his death in the late 1970s. He was a teen idol, helped usher in the era of rock and roll, became a movie star, created an enormous and opulent home at Graceland in Memphis, developed problems with drug abuse, and finally died of a heart attack at the age of 42.
He’s got the bouncin’ and behavin’ hair.
Early ‘80s TV commercials for Pert shampoo, one featuring a leggy blonde on a trampoline, promised “bouncin’ and behavin’ hair.”
The Comedy Central Roast of Bruce.
Comedy Central was the original cable home of MST3K. It was launched in 1989 as The Comedy Channel and, in 1991, merged with its equally struggling competitor, Ha!, and became CTV: The Comedy Network. To avoid legal action from the Canadian broadcaster CTV, the name was changed a month later to Comedy Central. The New York Friars Club has been conducting celebrity roasts since 1950, and between 1998 and 2002 they were produced and televised by Comedy Central. Since 2003, Comedy Central has been producing its own roasts, patterned after the Friars Club events.
The 1978 Mercedes Avalanche class … when you arrive seconds before the big one.
Mercedes-Benz is a German car manufacturer known for luxury cars. It was founded in 1926.
Ah, she’s starting off with a triple plus, turning it straight into a Bea Arthur, and from there, a flawless Queen Mum. –Wow, Queen Mum!
Bea Arthur (1922-2009) was an actress who became famous in the 1970s for her portrayal of Maude Findlay on the TV series All in the Family and later in her own spinoff, Maude. She also played Dorothy Zbornak on the TV series The Golden Girls in the 1990s. “Queen Mum” was the nickname of Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon (1900-2002), the wife of King George VI of Great Britain and the mother of Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret. While her husband was on the throne, she was known as Queen Elizabeth, but after he died she was referred to as the Queen Mother to avoid confusion with her ruling daughter, often affectionately shortened to Queen Mum.
I can’t believe it, a Colonel Tom Parker. We haven’t seen one of those in competition in six years! –Colonel Tom Parker.
“Colonel” Tom Parker (1909-1997) was Elvis Presley’s (see previous note) long-time manager. A Dutch citizen by birth (b. Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk), he was given an honorary rank in the Louisiana State Militia in 1948 for helping with Governor Jimmie Davis’s election campaign, and he embraced the title for the rest of his life.
A Gremlin-Pacer combo! Beautiful!
The AMC Gremlin was a two-door subcompact car made by the American Motors Corporation from 1970 to 1979. The AMC Pacer was another two-door compact car made by the same company, this one from 1975 to 1979. Both cars were meant to be gas-saving competitors with the Ford Pinto and Chevrolet Vega as well as imports like the Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen Beetle. They are now considered shining examples of the really ugly, really small, really cheaply made American cars from the 1970s.
And now Mr. Mouse into a Travis Bickle followed by a Triple Gloria Gaynor. –We will survive!
There are a few possibilities for “Mr. Mouse”: the animated blue mouse mascot in Esure insurance commercials, a character on the animated series South Park (Comedy Central, 1997-present), or the name ascribed to Mickey Mouse in the 1940 Disney animated short Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip. Travis Bickle, played by Robert De Niro, is the eponymous antihero of the 1976 film Taxi Driver: a bitter, mentally unstable Vietnam vet. Gloria Gaynor is a singer best known for a string of disco hits in the 1970s, especially “I Will Survive,” which hit number one in 1979. Sample lyrics: “Oh, no, not I, I will survive/Oh as long as I know how to love, I know I’m still alive.”
And it’s a Scream Blackula Scream into a perfectly executed Superdad, and she sticks the Grape Ape with a Miracle Drop of Retsyn.
Scream Blackula Scream is a 1973 blaxploitation/horror movie starring Pam Grier and William H. Marshall, a sequel to 1972’s Blackula. Superdad is a 1972 Disney comedy movie starring Bob Crane and Kurt Russell that was a box office bomb and is considered by some critics to be the worst movie Disney ever put out. Grape Ape (voiced by Bob Holt) is an animated forty-foot-tall purple gorilla who appeared on the Hanna-Barbera-produced ABC Saturday morning series The Great Grape Ape Show from 1975 to 1978. Certs breath mints TV ads in the 1970s touted “a sparkling drop of Retsyn” in each mint—no mention of miracles, though there is a hair growth product called Miracle Drops. Retsyn is the trade name for a compound of copper gluconate, hydrogenated cottonseed oil, and flavoring.
And also holy mackerel. Also Jiminy Cricket. Also Golly Gee Williams, also cheese and crackers.
A long run of minced oaths—pseudo swear phrases that substitute innocuous words for other, more religious (and therefore taboo) words. “Holy mackerel” is a substitute for “Holy Mary,” “Jiminy Cricket”—in this context a stand-in for “Jesus Christ”—is the singing, voice-of-reason companion of the puppet who became a real live boy in the 1940 Disney animated classic Pinocchio, and “cheese and crackers” is another stand-in for “Jesus Christ.” “Golly Gee Williams” is not a typical minced oath, but both “golly gee willikers” and “golly gee whiz” are minced oaths for “God” (the “golly” part) and “Jesus.”
We’re leaving you here with Wavy Gravy.
Wavy Gravy (b. Hugh Nanton Romney; no relation to politician Mitt Romney) is an American entertainer, peace activist, and ‘60s counterculture icon. The “official clown” of the Grateful Dead, among other assumed titles, Wavy Gravy is best known as the tie-dyed and bearded founder of the activist commune The Hog Farm, which distributed food to the hungry masses at the Woodstock Festival in 1969, while Gravy made humorous stage announcements promising “breakfast in bed for 400,000.”
That’s the cup we’re going to throw our keys into tonight, in the lodge.
“Key parties” were a type of “swinger” event briefly in vogue in the 1970s: male participants would put their car or house keys in a bowl at the beginning of the party, and female attendees would select a key at random before going home with its owner.
I am a messenger from Muad’Dib.
This is a line from the 1984 film adaptation of the Dune science fiction book series by Frank Herbert. In the Dune universe, Muad’Dib is a species of desert mouse greatly admired for its survival skills by the Fremen people of the desert planet Arrakis; the series’s main protagonist, Paul, takes Muad’Dib as his surname. The line is spoken by Paul’s young sister Alia (played by a seven-year-old Alicia Witt), who is wise beyond her years, to the emperor.
Zombie Tony Danza?
Tony Danza is a dark, Italian-American actor who has appeared on such TV series as Taxi (ABC/NBC, 1978-1983), Who’s the Boss? (ABC, 1984-1992), and his own sitcom The Tony Danza Show (NBC, 1997), which was cancelled after five episodes.
Joe Don Baker?
Joe Don Baker is a beefy, Southern-fried actor known to MSTies as the much-abused star of Show 512, Mitchell, and Show 1008, Final Justice. As Kevin Murphy writes in the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, “Joe Don Baker hates us, and wishes us all dead, and if he met any one of us and knew who we were, he would probably take a swing, miss by a mile, spill his drink all over his rented arm-candy escort, and fall backward into the hors d’oeuvre table. Well, bring him on, I say, we’re ready for him.”
Okay, this is the Cindy Brady, followed by the Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. –Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!
Cindy Brady (played by Susan Olsen) is the youngest daughter/stepdaughter (the one with the curly ponytails) in the blended family sitcom The Brady Bunch (ABC, 1969-1974). “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” was the cry of middle daughter Jan Brady (played by Eve Plumb), who often lamented that her older sister Marcia (played by Maureen McCormick) got all the attention and privileges. It was a recurring theme, but the famous “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” line appears only once in the series: in the Season 3 episode “Her Sister’s Shadow.”
This is the Lunch Combo, a Premium Saltine with a Virginia Slim into a Seedless Grape.
Premium is a brand of saltines, square, thin crackers made of white flour, baking soda, shortening, and yeast, with a little salt sprinkled on top. Virginia Slims is a brand of cigarettes introduced in 1968 and manufactured by Philip Morris. Longer and narrower than regular cigarettes, Virginia Slims were marketed to young professional women; their original slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby,” became a prime target for criticism and parody. It was the last cigarette brand ever advertised on American television, with a commercial airing during The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on New Year’s Day in 1971, one minute before a midnight ban on tobacco advertising went into effect.
That was a Triple Dulcolax.
Dulcolax is a brand of over-the-counter laxative medication.
Schlitz, the beer that made avalanches famous. –When you’re out of snow, tough Schlitz.
The Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company, founded in 1849 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, used to be the largest beer producer in the United States; that honor now goes to Anheuser-Busch InBev, and the Schlitz brand is owned by Pabst Brewing Company. The two major slogans for its namesake beer: “The beer that made Milwaukee famous” and “When you’re out of Schlitz, you’re out of beer.”
Oh, now it’s one of those hybrid sci-fi/B-movies, like Sharknado or Lavalantula.
Sharknado is a deliberately campy 2013 sci-fi/horror/comedy movie made for cable channel SyFy (formerly the Sci-Fi Channel, home to MST3K in the late 1990s) starring Tara Reid and Ian Ziering, about a giant waterspout that scoops up sharks from the Pacific Ocean and drops them in downtown Los Angeles. Lavalantula (2015) is another made-for-SyFy movie, this one starring Steve Guttenberg and Nia Peeples, about a Southern California volcano that spews both lava and fire-spitting giant tarantulas. It was directed by Mike Mendez, who also made the surprisingly entertaining Big Ass Spider! (2013).
This really begs the question: Would you suffocate painfully while buried under snow for a Klondike bar?
Klondike is a brand of ice cream treat: a simple square of ice cream (no stick!) covered with a thin coating of chocolate. Their long-running ad slogan asks the question, “What would you do for a Klondike bar?”, and their TV commercials have offered many creative suggested answers over the years.
Classic false flag operation.
The term “false flag” describes covert military or government operations that are deliberately deceptive, appearing to be carried out by certain groups or individuals, when in fact they are the work of some other group or nation. For example, the Gleiwitz Incident in 1939 involved Nazis dressing concentration camp prisoners in German uniforms and then murdering them. The goal was to make it appear they had been massacred by Polish soldiers to create a pretext for the invasion of Poland. (It was not convincing; Britain and France declared war on Germany two days after the invasion.) The name comes from the golden age of pirates, who would fly a friendly flag while approaching their intended target, and then raise the Jolly Roger and get busy.
It’s the big sound of Radio WSNO! Mornings with Pulley and Cable.
Maybe they were just making up those call letters, but there is an actual WSNO based in Barre, Vermont, which broadcasts a Top 40 format on 105.7 FM and 1450 AM.
This is so much better than Six Flags.
Six Flags is a chain of amusement parks that includes Six Flags over Texas, Six Flags Magic Mountain, and Six Flags Great America, among many others. It is named after the six national flags that have flown over Texas over the years: Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederacy, and the U.S.
[Imitating.] Up here you don’t head for mountains, mountains head for you.
Yakov Smirnoff, imitated here, is a Russian-born comedian whose heavily accented standup act was popular in the 1980s, during the waning years of the Cold War. Though he didn’t invent it and rarely used it, he did help popularize the “Russian reversal” joke form, as in his 1985 Miller Lite beer commercial: “In America, there’s plenty of light beer and you can always find a party. In Russia, Party always finds you.”
No pressure, but if you fall Blake Shelton, you’re totally gonna die.
Blake Shelton is a mostly country singer-songwriter and TV personality. He sports a full but neatly trimmed beard.
There it is. The agony of defeat. Thank you.
Throughout the 1970s, the sports anthology program Wide World of Sports on ABC featured an opening narration (by host Jim McKay) dramatically intoning “The thrill of victory … and the agony of defeat” over a montage of sports clips. Illustrating “the agony of defeat” was footage of Slovenian ski jumper Vinko Bogataj crashing spectacularly at a West German ski jumping competition in 1970. Watching the video, it’s hard to believe he survived—in fact, he escaped with relatively minor injuries. The narration became a catchphrase, and though few ever knew his name, Bogataj’s crash became a pop-culture symbol of misfortune and failure. After quietly retiring, still unaware of his fame, Bogataj was surprised to be invited to the 20th anniversary celebration of Wide World of Sports in 1981, where he received a standing ovation and was deluged with requests for autographs, including one from fellow attendee Muhammad Ali.
Avalanche! Avalanche! Bruce Vilanch! Blaine Capatch!
Bruce Vilanch is an Emmy Award-winning comedy writer and actor, best known for his four-year run as a “celebrity” on the TV game show Hollywood Squares (NBC/syndication, 1966-2004). Vilanch also served as head writer of the show during that time, and has been a featured writer for Tony, Grammy, and Oscar awards shows. Blaine Capatch is a standup comic and writer best known for hosting the TV game show Beat the Geeks (Comedy Central, 2001-2002). He also worked as a writer for MADtv (Fox/The CW, 1995-2009; 2015-2016), where he worked with writing partner Patton Oswalt, and many other comedy programs.
[Sung.] Papa was a rollin’ stone … wherever he laid snow was his home … and when you die … all he’ll leave you is snow …
“Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” is a 1971 song composed by Motown songwriters Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong and originally recorded by The Undisputed Truth. It became a number one hit and a triple Grammy winner for The Temptations in 1973. Sample lyrics: “Papa was a rollin’ stone/Wherever he laid his hat was his home/And when he died, all he left us was alone.”
I regret my choices!
Possibly a riff on the classic line from The Simpsons (Fox, 1989-present), and MST3K favorite, “I regret nothing!”
We ordered too many white cherry ICEEs! Aaaah!
ICEE flavored slushy-ice drinks were developed around 1960 by a Dairy Queen owner named Omar Knedlik, who discovered that bottled sodas chilled in a freezer would turn to slush when opened, and customers loved them. ICEE machines are in more than 75,000 locations around the world, and the ICEE Company also licenses the machines that make Slurpee drinks in 7-Eleven stores, and Slush Puppie machines, which are in another 50,000 locations worldwide. White cherry is indeed an ICEE flavor, featuring quillaia and yucca extracts and plenty of tasty, tasty high fructose corn syrup.
How close to the router do you have to be to get the Wi-Fi?
Getting Internet connectivity over a wireless local area network using IEEE 802.11 standards is known as Wi-Fi; the word is actually trademarked by the Wi-Fi Alliance. A very early forerunner of Wi-Fi, using a UHF wireless network, first connected the Hawaiian Islands in 1971.
The Columbia Broadcasting System presents Orson Welles and The Mercury Theatre on the Air in War of the Worlds.
Orson Welles’ (1915-1985) famous War of the Worlds radio broadcast was an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ 1898 sci-fi novel. Welles hosted a CBS radio drama series titled The Mercury Theatre on the Air, and on October 30, 1938, Welles began the show by giving the date as 1939 and reading the introduction from the novel. Then, a series of news bulletins interrupted an orchestral performance to report on strange goings on in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey, eventually revealing an ongoing attack by death machines from Mars. Welles played the narrator and an astronomer, both of whom spoke near the beginning and the end of the show. Because of the newness of the medium, the clever use of sound effects, the uninterrupted format of the show, and, apparently, the gullibility of the listeners, mild panic ensued. Police actually came to the station during the broadcast and attempted, unsuccessfully, to shut the broadcast down. This despite the obvious fictional introduction, the mentions of the program’s fictitious nature in the middle, and Welles’ recap of what happened after the invasion, just before he gave another disclaimer and said, essentially, “Happy Halloween,” all within a one-hour show.
[Sung.] Love yourself …
See above note on Justin Bieber.
This one’s called “Man’s Inhumanity to Man.”
The first documented use of this phrase is a 1784 poem by Robert Burns, titled “Man Was Made to Mourn: A Dirge.” Burns may have borrowed the concept from German philosopher Samuel von Pufendorf, who in 1673 wrote, “More inhumanity has been done by man himself than any other of nature’s causes.”
[Sung.] Believe in yourself …
See above note on Justin Bieber.
The Daniel Clowes characters love it.
Daniel Clowes is a cartoonist/graphic novelist and screenwriter best known for his anthology comic book series Eightball and the 1997 graphic novel Ghost World, which became a film in 2001 starring Scarlett Johansson and Thora Birch. His women often have bobbed hair and his men frequently sport mustaches or beards.
[Sung.] The juice is loose …
This was the chipper slogan of a 1990s TV ad campaign for Starburst fruit chew candies, in which boring situations such as a museum visit or a family reunion would be rollicked by a giant ocean wave, but only in the imagination of someone enjoying a Starburst candy. “The juice is loose” was originally a sports catchphrase in the 1970s when O.J. “The Juice” Simpson was in the prime of his football career, tearing up the NFL backfields. It saw unfortunate comebacks when Simpson attempted to evade justice in the infamous “Bronco chase” in 1994 after the murders of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and friend Ronald Goldman, and when Simpson was released from a Nevada prison in 2017, having served nearly nine years for armed robbery and kidnapping.
Up, up, and away!
“Up, up, and away!” is an old catchphrase of Superman, right up there with “This looks like a job for Superman.” It was said by the Man of Steel in early Superman comic books and serials in the 1940s. Up, Up, and Away is also the title of a 1967 album by “sunshine pop” group The 5th Dimension; its title song, written by Jimmy Webb, became a top ten hit. Sample lyrics: “We could float among the stars together, you and I/For we can fly we can fly/Up, up and away/My beautiful, my beautiful balloon.”
[Sung.] Love your … what?
See above note on Justin Bieber.
It’s Walmart’s Black Friday sale, an avalanche of savings, all snow 80 percent off.
Walmart is the largest chain of retail stores in the United States. Founder Sam Walton opened the first store in 1962 as Walton’s Five and Dime in Bentonville, Arkansas, offering discount merchandise at low prices. Walton opened many of his stores in small towns, where they often drove local merchants out of business by undercutting their prices. Although the name “Black Friday” has been assigned to financial collapses, storms, and terrorist attacks, since the 1960s in the United States it has come to mean the day following Thanksgiving, the official beginning of the Christmas shopping season. (One explanation for the name is that this is the day stores finally turn a profit for the year, going from “in the red” to “in the black.” Another, less positive origin story: Philadelphia police coined the name thanks to the chaos caused by crowds of suburban shoppers flooding the city on that day.) Major retailers open early (sometimes even on Thanksgiving) and offer big sales, which has led to increasingly riotous behavior among shoppers.
Born out of the hardcore punk rock, thrash metal, and grunge rock scenes in the early ‘80s, moshers basically slam their torsos into one another (another name for moshing is “slamdancing”), usually in an area right up close to the stage, which led to that area being called the “mosh pit.”
Blue diamonds, purple horseshoes, and now white craggy boulders. They’re always gettin’ buried in me Lucky Charms.
Lucky Charms is an oat cereal with marshmallows produced by General Mills beginning in 1964. The initial marshmallow shapes were pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, and green clovers. Blue diamonds were added in 1975, purple horseshoes in 1984, red balloons in 1989, rainbows in 1992, yellow/orange pots of gold in 1994, blue moons in 1995, green hats in 1996, orange and white shooting stars in 1998, and yellow hourglasses in 2008—in addition to various special versions (like Halloween or Christmas boxes). These shapes, more often than not, replaced the original marshmallows. Only pink hearts have remained in the lineup since the beginning. Lucky Charms’ mascot is a leprechaun, Lucky, also known as Sir Charms, who is eternally trying to protect his cereal from children, lamenting in a shrill Irish brogue, “They’re always after me Lucky Charms!”
Save us, Harry Potter!
Harry Potter is the hero of the eponymous series of children’s books by British author J.K. Rowling, which, over the course of a towering stack of seven books, tell the story of young Harry and his friends as they spend their adolescence learning magic and witchcraft and battling evil at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Since the first book’s publication in 1997, the series has become the best-selling book series in history, selling more than 500 million copies worldwide, and the eight-part film adaptation (2001-2011) became one of the highest-grossing film franchises of all time.
Bisque is a creamy, smooth soup with French origins, traditionally based on a broth made from lobster, crab, or shrimp.
Budai (colloquially known as the Fat or Laughing Buddha) is a Chinese folk deity that has been adopted into both Buddhist and Taoist traditions. Statues of Budai are popular around the world, and tradition holds that rubbing its prominent belly brings wealth and good luck.
“Can you hear me?” This a Verizon ad?
A long-running ad campaign for the Verizon Wireless telecommunications company featured actor Paul Marcarelli as the Verizon “Test Man,” wandering the world with a cell phone to his ear, asking, “Can you hear me now?” In 2016 Marcarelli became a spokesman for the Sprint network, and began appearing in ads playing up his “switch” from Verizon to Sprint.
[Sung.] It’s log, it’s log, it’s big it’s heavy it’s wood. It’s log, it’s log, it’s better than bad, it’s good.
A regular feature of the animated TV series The Ren & Stimpy Show (Nickelodeon, 1991-1995) were fake commercial breaks touting nonexistent products. The most popular was “Log,” a children’s toy consisting of a hunk of firewood, accompanied by a song set to the tune of the 1962 Slinky jingle—which became the longest-running jingle in advertising history. The above riff is the chorus of the Log jingle; the first verse goes: “What rolls down stairs alone or in pairs/And over your neighbor’s dog?/What’s great for a snack/And fits on your back?/It’s log, log, log.”
I think your Fitbit is broken. It says you took 10,000 steps in the last two minutes, that can’t be right. Oh, right, you were running for your life, sorry.
Fitbit is a San Francisco-based company whose namesake product is a wireless activity tracker you strap on your arm like a wristwatch, which then monitors how many steps you take, along with your heart rate, quality of sleep, and other fitness metrics. The fitness goal of walking 10,000 steps per day originated in Japan, in the runup to the 1964 Olympics. At that time, pedometers were all the rage; modern fitness trackers such as Fitbit embraced the default goal of 10,000 daily steps, which adds up to about five miles, though health experts disagree on whether that is an ideal goal for everyone.
Take it easy, Tom Waits.
Tom Waits is a goateed, gravelly voiced singer-songwriter of the jazz/blues persuasion who has also appeared in many films in small roles, including several by indie director Jim Jarmusch. (In 2019, for example, he played Hermit Bob in Jarmusch’s comedy horror film The Dead Don’t Die.) He has a penchant for old pianos and cigarettes.
Next stop, flavor country.
A long-running ad campaign for Marlboro cigarettes featured the slogan “Come to where the flavor is. Come to Marlboro country.” In a 1995 episode of the long-running animated sitcom The Simpsons (Fox, 1989-present), Homer smokes two cigarettes at once, declaring, “I am in flavor country.”
[Imitating.] Bork, bork, bork, bork, durgen sopa, nopa, nopa, cookin’ der chicken noodle soupen …
The Swedish Chef is a character on The Muppet Show (ITV/syndication, 1976-1981) who speaks in a sing-song gibberish parody of the Swedish language (which many Swedes have pointed out sounds more like Norwegian), peppered with his catchphrase “Bork, bork, bork.” The Swedish Chef was originally performed by both Jim Henson and Frank Oz: Henson controlled the head and provided the voice, and Oz performed the hands (in felt gloves), making the Chef one of the few Muppets to use a puppeteer’s actual hands.
Wait, he overcooked the squib!
A squib is basically a small explosive device with many industrial and military uses. In moviemaking, very small squibs are used to simulate bullets hitting objects; squibs attached to balloons filled with fake blood and hidden under an actor’s clothing make it appear as though they’ve been shot. A squab, on the other hand, is a culinary term for a young domestic pigeon. Tastes like chicken—or at least the dark meat bits of chicken.
Speedwalked here from Cedar City and back in an hour. New record. Anything happen while I was gone?
Speedwalking, actually called racewalking, is both a form of exercise and a sport: racewalking has been a competitive sport at the Summer Olympics since 1908. It is basically walking very fast, at nearly a jogging pace, but keeping one foot in contact with the ground at all times—that’s what racewalking judges keep an eye on. There are Cedar Cities in Utah, Missouri, and Minnesota, although the one in Utah is the only one big enough to actually be considered a city.
Mark Elliot? Missy Elliott’s drifter father?
Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott is a Grammy winning rapper and dancer, the best-selling female rap artist in history, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Her father, Ronnie, was physically abusive to her and her mother, at one point threatening to shoot her mother in front of Missy. When she was 14 they fled the house and left Ronnie for good.
[Sung.] Legend of Zelda secret sound.
An imitation of a well-known sound in the fantasy/action video game series The Legend of Zelda; the so-called “secret sound” is what players hear after they solve a puzzle in the game.
Go away, you English pig-dog, or I will taunt you a second time.
Riffing on dialogue from the 1975 comedy film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The lines are spoken by John Cleese, playing a rude French soldier who denies King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table entry to a castle. The actual lines are:
French Soldier: You don’t frighten us, English pig-dogs. Go and boil your bottoms, sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called “Arthur King,” you and all your silly English K-nigg-hts.
Sir Galahad: Is there someone else up there we can talk to?
French Soldier: No. Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time.
Hey, you guys know how to get to Altamont?
The Altamont Raceway Park outside of San Francisco was the site of a free concert in December 1969, featuring the Rolling Stones, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and others. Unfortunately, the concert organizers hired motorcycle gang the Hell’s Angels to provide security and paid them in beer, and the concert quickly got out of hand. One young man was stabbed to death by the Angels, two others were run over, and one person drowned. Music critic Ralph Gleason wrote that if Woodstock was the flowering of the youth culture of the 1960s, Altamont was the end of it.
Ugh! Go Packers! Go Packers!
The Green Bay Packers are a professional football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The phrase “Go Packers!” features prominently in Show 810, The Giant Spider Invasion.
I left my inhaler in the Winnebago.
Winnebago Industries (est. 1958), manufacturer of the Winnebago motor home, has seen their brand name become a genericized term for all recreational vehicles. The name was taken from Winnebago County, Iowa, which in turn appropriated it from the alternate name of the Ho-Chunk Native American tribe. (Historical digression: The name “Winnebago,” meaning “Stinking Waters,” was given to them by the neighboring Algonquin tribe and adopted by French settlers. At the time, the Ho-Chunk lived on Green Bay, site of annual fish die-offs. In 1994 the tribe officially claimed its own, original Ho-Chunk name.)
I said I’m kind of Bryan Cranston.
Bryan Cranston is an American actor, director, and voice artist. He first became known for roles in the TV sitcoms Seinfeld (NBC, 1989-1998) and Malcolm in the Middle (Fox, 2000-2006). He then went on to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series—four times—for his role as high school chemistry teacher turned master criminal Walter White in Breaking Bad (AMC, 2008-2013). He has also won two Tony Awards for his work on Broadway and been nominated for a Best Actor Oscar.
Oh look, they’ve got one of those Fisher-Price cameras and everything.
Fisher-Price is an American maker of educational toys for infants and children; since 1993 they’ve been a subsidiary of Mattel. Their product line includes sturdy, plastic, point-and-shoot “Kid-Tough” digital cameras, which come in blue for boys and pink for girls.
Joey Ramone leads the search and rescue team.
The Ramones were an early New York punk band with a varying lineup throughout its lifetime, all gangly dudes with stringy dark hair, and all going under the pseudonym “Ramone.” Founding members included Dee Ramone (Douglas Colvin), Joey Ramone (Jeffrey Hyman), and Johnny Ramone (John Cummings); subsequent members included Marky, Richie, Tommy, C.J., and Elvis Ramone.
[Sung.] Rock rock rock rock and roll search team …
“Rock and Roll High School” is the theme song from the 1979 musical comedy film of the same name, which featured The Ramones (see previous note) not only on the soundtrack, but in the movie as well. Producer Roger Corman originally wanted to book better-known artists of the time, like Cheap Trick or Todd Rundgren, but was persuaded to go with The Ramones, whose appearance in the movie has pretty much saved it from total obscurity. Sample lyrics: “Rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school/I just want to have some kicks/I just want to get some chicks/Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school.”
Come, let my bell-bottoms reassure your bell-bottoms.
See above note.
[Sung.] Did you paint with all the colors of the snow?
“Colors of the Wind” is a song by Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menken from the 1995 Disney animated feature Pocahontas; it won an Academy Award for Best Original Song and a Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Movie. Sample lyrics: “Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon?/Or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned?/Can you sing with all the voices of the mountains?/Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?”
Is he from the Civil War? Did the avalanche send them back in time?
The American Civil War lasted from 1861 to 1865 and resulted in the deaths of approximately 625,000 Americans and the wounding of another 412,000.
Jeannette? So many new characters, it’s like the third season of Lost.
Lost is an Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning TV drama series that aired on ABC for six seasons, from 2004 to 2010. Co-created by hotshot Star Trek and Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams (who directed the pilot), the show featured a large ensemble cast, was heavily serialized with lots of flashbacks and flashforwards, and had many elements of science fiction and the supernatural—leading to hours of water cooler debates about what the hell was going on. Multiple new characters were introduced in the third season, including a fertility doctor and two previously unseen crash survivors—the latter two were especially unpopular with fans.
Anybody got any extra tauntaun out there? I’m freezing.
In the 1980 movie Star Wars: Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back, tauntauns are hairy, bipedal creatures that are ridden like horses on the ice- and snow-covered planet Hoth. When Luke Skywalker is found unconscious and in danger of freezing to death, Han Solo slices open the belly of a freshly fallen tauntaun to keep Luke warm within its body cavity.
[Crow appears in the theater with fake dog ears and a small cask.] Woof woof. –Oh, that’s so cute. Is that real brandy? –It’s grape juice, but it’ll be brandy in nine years.
The St. Bernard is a very large breed of dog that was originally bred in the western Alps along the French-Italian border to aid in search and rescue operations. There is a popular image of St. Bernards wearing a small cask of brandy around their necks to help warm victims, which apparently originated in an 1820 painting by Edward Landseer, titled Alpine Mastiffs Reanimating a Distressed Traveler. The monks of St. Bernard Hospice, where the breed originated, deny the dogs ever wore casks, but they keep some around anyway for the tourists to photograph. Brandy is first distilled from wine, then aged for however long the maker deems appropriate.
[Sung.] You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss, a snow is just a snow …
A classic scene in the 1942 film Casablanca features Sam the piano player (played by Dooley Wilson) honoring Rick the club owner’s (played by Humphrey Bogart) request to play and sing the song “As Time Goes By.” Sample lyrics: “You must remember this/A kiss is just a kiss/A sigh is just a sigh/The fundamental things apply/As time goes by.” Written by Herman Hupfeld for the 1931 Broadway musical Everybody’s Welcome but made famous by Casablanca, it’s considered one of the most memorable songs in movie history, right up there with Judy Garland singing “Over the Rainbow” in The Wizard of Oz (1939).
[Sung.] Ooo ooo ooo ooo, diggin’ the dancin’ queen …
“Dancing Queen” is a 1976 song by Swedish pop group ABBA, which became a worldwide hit and their only number one hit in the United States. Sample lyrics: “You can dance, you can jive/Having the time of your life/Ooh, see that girl, watch that scene/Digging the dancing queen.”
I saw a really funny episode of Rick and Morty last night.
Rick and Morty is a science-fictiony animated TV series for grownups that runs late nights on the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming block. Following the family life and interdimensional travels of a mad scientist and his grandson sidekick, Rick and Morty debuted in 2013 and is still on the air at the time of this writing (2022).
Well, I can cross “power-slamming an elderly woman” off my bucket list.
Put simply, a “bucket list” is a wish list of things you want to do before you die (or “kick the bucket”). The phrase got a lot of traction in the mid-2000s, leading to a 2007 comedy movie titled The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman and directed by Rob Reiner. It got mixed reviews but did well at the box office.
She’s harder to kill than Wolverine.
Wolverine is a character in the Marvel Comics universe, one of the X-Men mutants. Wolverine has enhanced senses and physical strength, the ability to regenerate and heal from normally fatal injuries, and three retractable claws, like knives, in each hand. He first appeared in 1974 in The Incredible Hulk #180 and has become a fan favorite, appearing in every media adaptation of the X-Men franchise (movies, TV, video games). Hugh Jackman has portrayed Wolverine in nine films.
Hey, know what’s below. Call 811 before you dig. That’s a public service announcement from avalanche.
“Know what’s below. Call 811 before you dig” is a slogan of the Common Ground Alliance, an association of the underground utility industry. The idea is to call 811 before doing any digging for construction to make sure there are no natural gas, electricity, or water utility lines in your chosen spot.
Steve, just pretend you’re hugging Anderson Cooper.
See above note on Steve Franken. Anderson Cooper is an American TV journalist and author, best known for his show Anderson Cooper 360° on CNN and as a correspondent on the long-running news magazine show 60 Minutes on CBS. His hair began turning white in his early 20s. This may also be a reference to the long-held belief that Franken was gay; in fact, he was married twice, the first for 20 years and the second for 25 years, and had three children. Cooper is openly gay.
Weekend at Bernadette’s II: Girls’ Night Out.
Weekend at Bernie’s is a 1989 film about two young men (played by Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman) who decide to pretend their boss, killed by a mafia hit man, is still alive. Tasteless hijinks ensue. There is a sequel, simply titled Weekend at Bernie’s II (1993).
Oh no, he’s doing a one-man Desperate Passage.
Desperate Passage: The Donner Party’s Perilous Journey West is a 2008 nonfiction book by Ethan Rarick, an account of the group of about 80 settlers who, led by George and Jacob Donner, tried to make it to California during the winter of 1846-1847. They got trapped in a pass by a winter storm in the Sierra Nevadas; half of them died before they could be rescued, and the survivors resorted to cannibalism to survive. The pass where they were trapped is now named Donner Pass.
It’s me, Danny, from Time Travelers.
See above note on Steve Franken.
I’ll be tired at the end of the day. –Yeah, but it’ll be a good kind of tired.
These are phrases former late-night talk show host David Letterman used frequently, often at the conclusion of irony-steeped video segments exploring the world outside the studio. Letterman was mimicking the hokey, homespun narration heard on travel, fishing, and hunting TV shows of the 1950s and ‘60s.
Oh, it’s not McDade, it’s just another frozen Australopithecus.
Australopithecus is one of humankind’s earliest ancestors, an ape-like hominid that roamed Africa between four and two million years ago. Many fossilized remains have been found and studied, but no four-million-year-old frozen specimens have ever turned up. However, there is a famous “frozen man”: “Ötzi the Iceman” is a naturally preserved mummy of a man who lived between 3400 and 3100 BCE. Ötzi was found in 1991, buried in the ice in a glacier above the Ötztal Valley in Austria.
Thing (full name: Thing T. Thing) was the disembodied hand on the TV series The Addams Family, which aired from 1964-1966, and appeared in the later movies based on the series as well. Thing generally emerged from a series of ornate boxes that were placed around the Addams family mansion. The role was played by Ted Cassidy, who also portrayed towering butler Lurch: if Lurch and Thing were in the same scene, a crew member would provide a substitute hand. In the films, Thing was played by magician Christopher Hart.
Did ancient astronauts visit avalanches? Find out in Mysteries of the Unknown, by Time-Life books.
The term “ancient astronauts” was coined by author Erich Von Däniken in his popular 1968 tome Chariots of the Gods?, in which he postulated, among other things, that the pyramids of ancient Egypt were built with extraterrestrial assistance. In the 1970s and ‘80s, “documentary” TV series such as In Search Of … (syndication, 1977-1982) hammered away at the ancient astronaut theory, posing lots of open-ended questions about what ancient astronauts may or may not have done (spoiler: nothing). Mysteries of the Unknown is a hugely successful book series published by Time-Life Books between 1987 and 1991 that was heavily advertised on TV. The 33-volume series included two books—Alien Encounters and The UFO Phenomenon—that dealt with flying saucers and little green men, but neither of them focused on the ancient astronaut theory.
[Imitating.] Oh, right in the hind of Vlad the Impaler up there, oh!
Andrew Dice Clay (b. Andrew Silverstein) is a stand-up comedian and actor. One of his early routines involved reciting filthy nursery rhymes in his stage persona, which was something like a New York tough guy dressed in biker leather. Here’s one: “Jack and Jill went up the hill, both with a buck and a quarter. Jill came down with two fifty. Oh!” Vlad III, popularly known as Vlad the Impaler, was a 15th-century Wallachian prince in what is now Romania who was notorious for his cruelty. He earned his nickname from his reputation for impaling his enemies, often hordes of prisoners at once, and hoisting them skyward to die slowly. Bram Stoker mashed up a few stories about Vlad (including his family name, Dracul) with some Romanian folklore about blood-sucking vampires when creating his 1897 gothic horror novel Dracula.
Does this bug you? I’m not touching you.
“Does this bug you? I’m not touching you” was a frequent MST3K catchphrase during the original ten seasons, with possible origins in something U2 lead singer Bono said in the 1988 concert film Rattle and Hum: “Am I bugging you? I don’t mean to bug ya.” Or it’s just a reference to the timeless sibling torment of almost, but not quite, touching, tickling, or punching another sibling, and when a complaint is made, saying “What? I’m not touching you!”
In the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, based on the 1900 L. Frank Baum children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, “oil can” are the first tentative, barely audible words spoken to Dorothy by the Tin Man, a.k.a. The Tin Woodsman. He is asking her to oil his joints, which have rusted solid, so that he can speak and move. (Tin, of course, does not rust, but it is possible he was made of tin-plated steel or iron, as many children’s toys were at the time the book was written, which would rust.)
All quiet on the avalanche front.
All Quiet on the Western Front is a 1929 novel by German author Erich Maria Remarque, about the horrors of World War I from the point of view of a group of German soldiers in the trenches. It was made into a movie starring Louis Wolheim in 1930.
This is all my fault. I shouldn’t have chewed that Dentyne Ice.
Dentyne is a brand of chewing gum first developed by New York City druggist Franklin V. Canning in 1899 to promote oral hygiene—the name is a mashup of “dental” and “hygiene.” The brand has changed hands many times over the decades; it’s currently owned by Cadbury. Dentyne Ice is their line of “intense mint” sugarless gums, which come in flavors such as Arctic Frost and Winter Chill. In the 1990s they ran a series of ads focusing on the gum's magical "cooling" abilities: one showed a woman on a train breathing frost onto the window and writing her phone number in it for a man standing on the platform; another had a couple freezing all the water in a car wash so they could make out.
WSNO Radio—can you tell us your thoughts on being buried alive?
See above note on WSNO.
Thanks, Adam Clayton from U2.
Adam Clayton is the bass player and a cofounder of the Irish rock band U2, sharing with them 22 Grammy Awards and a 2005 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
[Sung.] You’re as cold as ice … you’re willing to sacrifice our love … you want paradise …
Lyrics from the 1977 song “Cold as Ice” by British/American rock band Foreigner, from their self-titled debut album; it became a top ten hit and one of Foreigner’s signature songs. Sample lyrics: “You’re as cold as ice/You’re willing to sacrifice our love/You want paradise/But someday you’ll pay the price, I know.”
Who you gonna call? Snowbusters, guys, come on. We talked about this.
Ghostbusters is a 1984 film starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis as disgraced academics turned ghost-fighting entrepreneurs. The movie’s theme song, performed by Ray Parker Jr., featured the repeated musical question “Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!” It hit number one in the U.S. for three weeks and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. The Ghostbusters’ vehicle of choice was a vintage ambulance (specifically, a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor ambulance conversion) decked out with various ghostbusting paraphernalia.
She’s crying, that’s the money shot.
In movies, TV, or print media, a “money shot” is the single image or shot that is the most compelling or was the most expensive to obtain—or both. So for TV journalism, the money shot would be the most emotional, attention-grabbing, or incriminating footage. In pornography, “money shot” has a somewhat more … specific meaning: the moment of male ejaculation.
[Horns sound effect.] Penalty. Too many men on the ice.
The sport of ice hockey lists dozens of infractions that will result in a penalty against the offending team, ranging from “head-butting” to “abuse of officials.” “Too many players on the ice” is classified as a “bench minor penalty,” meaning that one player will be removed from the ice (“benched”) for two minutes.
Here comes the big one. Oh, I just slipped. I thought it was a heart attack, sorry.
While not an imitation of Redd Foxx per se, this was one of Foxx’s signature lines in his role as Fred Sanford in the TV sitcom Sanford & Son (CBS, 1972-1977). When Fred 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!”
[Yellow flashing light.] Oh, it’s commercial sign.
On the original ten seasons of MST3K, the colored flashing lights on the Satellite of Love, and their corresponding buttons on the panel, had specific meanings. Yellow meant commercial sign. Red meant the Mads were calling. Green/blue/purple lights/buttons were used at various times over the course of the series, and for a while in the Comedy Central years, they meant there was a visitor on the Hexfield Viewscreen. For Season 11, the colored lights flash merrily, but they don’t appear to have any specific, color-coded meaning.
A stitch in time saves … uh, forget it.
The saying “A stitch in time saves nine”—meaning it’s better not to procrastinate, or a minor problem will become worse—first appeared in print in the 1732 book Gnomologia: Adagies and Proverbs; Wise Sentences and Witty Sayings, Ancient and Modern, Foreign and British by British physician and preacher Thomas Fuller. Being considered a proverb in 1732 suggests the phrase had been around for many years already.
That’s the sound the Morlocks used to lure the Eloi underground.
In the 1960 film adaptation of H.G. Wells’ 1895 science fiction novel The Time Machine, the Morlocks are a species of apelike creatures who dwell underground in a far-future England. The Eloi are a species of childlike humans who are a source of food for the Morlocks, and are lured to their doom by a siren.
I think I can …
“I think I can” is the motto of the little train engine hero of the children’s book The Little Engine That Could, first published in 1930 and written by Watty Piper, based on a story that evolved from various sermons and Sunday school publications from the early 1900s. In the book, a small train engine takes on the task of pulling a long train over a mountain after larger engines have refused, repeating her chugging, rhythmic mantra: “I think I can – I think I can – I think I can …”
This is the worst Cirque du Soleil show I’ve ever seen.
Cirque du Soleil (French for “Circus of the Sun”) is a Canadian circus entertainment company and the largest theatrical producer in the world: at any given time there are nearly a dozen touring Cirque du Soleil shows in cities around the world, with permanent shows in Mexico, Florida, and Las Vegas (Vegas has six different shows). Cirque du Soleil is famous for its animal-free approach to traditional circus arts, emphasizing character-driven acrobatics, juggling, trapeze, dance, costuming and live music.
Yeah, I heard it’s Batman’s favorite trampoline.
Batman is one of the world’s most famous superheroes, created in 1939 by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger. Batman’s secret identity is millionaire (later, billionaire) Bruce Wayne, whose parents were killed in a mugging when he was a boy. He trained and studied for years and later adopted the bat motif to strike fear into the hearts of criminals so that he might avenge his parents’ murders upon all evildoers. He first appeared in Detective Comics #27 and has since appeared in multiple films, TV series, animated series, and so on.
Mark sounds like an overly sincere Jerry Lewis. It’s not helping at all.
Jerry Lewis (1926-2017) was a comedian, actor, director, and producer who got his start in the 1940s alongside Dean Martin in the Martin and Lewis comedy team. He made an enormously popular series of slapstick comedies in the 1950s and 1960s, including The Bellboy (1960) and The Nutty Professor (1963). He later became associated with the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Labor Day Telethon, which he hosted for 44 years.
[Whispered.] Might as well jump.
A line from the 1983 Van Halen song “Jump.” It became a number one hit and Van Halen’s most successful single. Sample lyrics: “Well can’t you see me standing here/I’ve got my back against the record machine/I ain’t the worst that you’ve seen/Oh can’t you see what I mean?/Might as well jump. Jump!/Go ahead, jump.”
Pulitzer Prize, here I come …
The Pulitzer Prize is an annual award for achievements in newspaper, magazine, and online journalism; literature; and musical composition; it was established in 1917 by American newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer.
That’s a missed opportunity for a Wilhelm scream right there. –I can still do it, he’s falling in slo-mo. –Go for it. –Thanks, I will. Ahhhhh!
The Wilhelm scream is a stock sound effect of a man screaming that is believed to be the voice of actor and singer Sheb Wooley, originally recorded for the 1951 western movie Distant Drums. It was used multiple times in the 1950s and ‘60s, usually in other westerns, for scenes where someone is shot, stabbed, or falls from a height. Sound designer Ben Burtt discovered the archived sound effect and used it in the first Star Wars film in 1977 (you can hear it when a stormtrooper falls into the chasm during the firefight on the Death Star, just before Luke and Leia swing across on a line). After that, the Wilhelm scream became a kind of in-joke for directors such as Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, J.J. Abrams, and Quentin Tarantino, to name a few, who began including the sound in their films. It’s estimated that the Wilhelm scream has now been used in more than 360 films and countless TV productions. Burtt named it after the character Private Wilhelm (played by Ralph Brooks), who let fly with the scream after being shot with an arrow in the 1953 western The Charge at Feather River.
Let’s not get into semantics about who dropped who, okay?
In the 1975 comedy movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Sir Lancelot (played by John Cleese) gets a bit carried away with his sword and slaughters the members of a wedding party. Later, the king of Swamp Castle (played by Michael Palin) tries to calm down the blood-drenched survivors, saying, “Please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let’s not bicker and argue over who killed who.”
Wait, there’s a National Ski Patrol? –Sure, the FBI, the Secret Service, the National Ski Patrol … duh.
The National Ski Patrol is a nonprofit organization that provides outdoor recreation and safety education, credentialing, and outreach. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was founded in 1908 as the Bureau of Investigation and has spent most of its history investigating serious crimes and threats within the U.S. and through its embassies and consulates abroad. Director J. Edgar Hoover spent his fifty-year tenure building the FBI into an effective and professional force, but he also abused his power, illegally spying on citizens and attempting to persecute and blackmail those he disagreed with politically. The U.S. Secret Service is the federal law enforcement agency responsible for active protection of current, former, and potential presidents and vice presidents and their immediate families. Its original (and main) function is the investigation of currency counterfeiting and fraud. From 1865 to 2003 it was a division of the Treasury Department; it is now part of the Department of Homeland Security. Since 1902, when it assumed the presidential protection role, there has been only one indisputable failure: November 1963, in Dallas.
Cut. You’ll never fit in the Jeep, Rock. Ugh.
Jeep is the oldest brand of SUV, first produced by Willys-Overland during World War II (now the brand is a division of Chrysler). Thanks to their wartime ubiquity, Jeep became a genericized trademark for just about any kind of small, no-frills vehicle.
Oh good, they’ll have plenty of Band-Aids and fishing tackle.
Band-Aid is an adhesive bandage invented in 1920 and manufactured by Johnson & Johnson. The name has since become a brand eponym for all such adhesive bandages, though Johnson & Johnson continue to defend their trademark.
This guy’s usually a rally driver, he’s all they could get.
Rallying is a form of motorsport racing that involves modified road-legal race cars going from point-to-point on public roads, instead of racing on a circuit or racetrack. Drivers take turns driving between stages, leaving at intervals, often from more than one starting point.
[Sung.] Like a bridge over troubled avalanche …
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” was a 1970 hit for the singer/songwriter duo of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, the title song of their fifth and final studio album together. Sample lyrics: “All your dreams are on their way/See how they shine/Oh, if you need a friend/I’m sailing right behind/Like a bridge over troubled water/I will ease your mind/Like a bridge over troubled water.”
Michael Cera is a Canadian actor best known for playing George Michael Bluth in the sitcom Arrested Development (Fox/Netflix, 2003-2006, 2015) and for his lead roles in comedy films such as Superbad (2007), Juno (2007), and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2013).
Activate audio-animatronic Mia Farrow.
Audio-animatronics is a trademarked form of robotics animation developed by Walt Disney Imagineering for attractions and shows at Disney theme parks—the best known being the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and Country Bear Jamboree stage shows and the Pirates of the Caribbean rides. The robots are generally mannequins (or animals) with limited movement, usually sitting or standing and moving their arms and head while remaining attached to whatever is supporting them; they can also “talk” or sing a recorded speech or song.
Okay, so the rabbit goes around the tree and …
A fairly common method for teaching kids to tie their shoes is to tell them that the rabbit runs around the “tree” (the loop they’re holding), jumps into the hole under the tree, and comes out the other side.
Good thing my photography work gives me Hulk-like strength.
The green-skinned “Incredible Hulk” character was created for Marvel Comics in 1962 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. He is a gigantic, musclebound brute, caused by scientist Bruce Banner getting caught in a gamma bomb explosion. Now Banner transforms into the Hulk whenever he gets angry. Don’t make him angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.
When Rock beats rock, everyone wins.
Rock, Paper, Scissors is a popular children’s game in which each child forms one of three shapes with their hand: rock, paper, or scissors. Paper beats rock, rock beats scissors, and scissors beats paper. A similar game, called shoushiing, was played in China as early as the third century B.C.E.
Fire bad! Rock good.
An imitation of Frankenstein’s monster, specifically Phil Hartman’s portrayal of the monster during his late ‘80s/early ‘90s tenure on Saturday Night Live; Hartman’s monster frequently grunted, “Fire bad!”
Wherever there’s a risk of natural disaster and photography, I’ll be there. Perhaps some California town suffering wildfires needs some portraiture. Or a dusty, tornado-prone town in Oklahoma requires some still-lifes. I’ll be there.
Toward the end of the 1940 film adaptation of John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath, Tom Joad (played by Henry Fonda) delivers a famous speech, saying, “I’ll be all around in the dark, I’ll be everywhere. Wherever you can look, wherever there’s a fight, so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad. I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready, and when the people are eatin’ the stuff they raise and livin’ in the houses they build, I’ll be there, too.” A similar speech appears in the book.
Manic pixie dream girl.
The term “manic pixie dream girl” was coined by film critic Nathan Rabin in 2007, who first applied it to Kirsten Dunst’s character in the Cameron Crowe film Elizabethtown. “The Manic Pixie Dream Girl exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures,” Rabin wrote. (Another classic MPDG is Natalie Portman in Garden State.) He has since renounced the term, saying that it was being used to force real women and nuanced, three-dimensional female characters into a stereotyped box.
Can you give my head shot to Woody Allen? You know how he’ll cast, like, a dinner party scene with eclectic-looking people? I could do that. You talk to him, right? Well, probably not.
At the time Avalanche was filmed (1978), Mia Farrow was married to composer André Previn. The following year, she and Previn divorced, and she began a long relationship with film director Woody Allen, during which she starred in 13 movies written and directed by Allen. The relationship ended in 1992 when Farrow discovered Allen had been having a sexual relationship with her 21-year-old adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn.
Now you’ve been friendzoned.
When one party in a relationship wants a romantic or sexual relationship with the other but finds that they are only viewed as a friend, that’s the “friend zone.” The phrase becomes a verb when the person who is the object of desire makes the other person’s status clear, one way or another—“friendzoning” them. The phrase was popularized by a 1994 episode of the sitcom Friends, titled “The One with the Blackout.”
Dear Tripadvisor, too much snow. Did not appreciate avalanche. Service staff was all dead. Cannot recommend. –Dear Tripadvisor, tried to get room service, chef said kitchen was on fire. Not the kind of service I’m accustomed to. –Dear Tripadvisor, man at disco only knew one song. Probably nice for singles, but not for families who want to keep their children alive. –Dear Tripadvisor, vending machine only had Cheez-Its. Chairlift electrocution ride not nearly as fun as advertised. –Dear Tripadvisor, found cheerleader in my salad. Waitstaff refused to help. One out of five stars. –Dear Tripadvisor, spent a magical weekend with the owner’s mother. She’s a bright, sassy lady. Seemed to think we were in Hawaii. Surprisingly good on keyboard. Died in a horrible explosion. Three stars.
Tripadvisor is a travel website that provides some hotel booking services, but is best known as a hotel and restaurant review site, with the vast majority of that content being user-generated. Cheez-It is a brand of cheese-flavored snack cracker that was introduced in 1921 and is now manufactured by the Kellogg Company, under its Sunshine Biscuits banner.