204: Catalina Caper
by Wyn Hilty
Jacques Cousteau meets the Pink Panther.
Jacques Cousteau (1910-1997) was a French ocean explorer and the inventor of the Aqua-Lung, which helped him in his extensive underwater expeditions. He wrote a number of popular books about the ocean and also wrote and produced films on the same topic. The Pink Panther was a series of movies starring Peter Sellers as the bumbling Inspector Jacques Clouseau; they were known for their extensive animated credit sequences.
By this time my … –Hey, come on. Just lay off.
This is one of the writers’ favorite catchphrases: “By this time my lungs were aching for air”—a reference to the TV show Sea Hunt, which starred Lloyd Bridges as scuba diver Mike Nelson (hey!). It aired from 1958-1961.
Sorry, Charlie, only the best titles are kept.
Charlie the Tuna is the spokes-fish and cartoon mascot of the Star-Kist brand of canned tuna. Created in 1961, the TV campaign involved Charlie’s failed attempts to prove he was hip and classy enough for slaughter and consumption, only to be told, “Sorry, Charlie, Star-Kist doesn’t want tuna with good taste, StarKist wants tuna that tastes good” and “Only the best-tasting tuna get to be Star-Kist.” “Sorry, Charlie” became a popular catchphrase. The character was retired in the 1980s and revived in 1999.
Starring Tommy Kirk … why must … Spock die?
A reference to Captain James Tiberius Kirk of the TV show Star Trek, which aired from 1966-1969, and an exaggerated imitation of actor William Shatner, who played him. Mr. Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy) was his second in command. Spoiler alert: Spock died in the 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and was resurrected in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
Oh, Robert Donner. I went to his party.
The Donner Party was a 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 their number died before they could be rescued, and the survivors resorted to cannibalism to keep themselves alive. The pass where they were trapped is now named Donner Pass.
Who's this guy? JimBeggSueCaseyLyleWaggonerMikeBlodgett?
Jim Begg (1938-2008) was a character actor who appeared in several sitcoms of the 1960s and ’70s. Sue Casey is a model who became an actress in the ’40s and appeared in several films. She would be best recognized from her appearances in more than 200 commercials for products like Maxwell House and Chrysler. Lyle Waggoner is also a model-turned-actor; he starred as Steve Trevor in the ’70s Wonder Woman TV series and as a repertory player from 1967 to 1974 on CBS’s The Carol Burnett Show. Mike Blodgett (1939-2007) was an actor and writer. He starred as gigolo Lance Rocke in the 1970 Russ Meyer cult classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, and co-wrote the Tom Hanks dog movie Turner & Hooch (1989).
Who’s afraid of Venita Wolf, anyway?
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a play by Edward Albee about a bitter couple who abuse each other mercilessly in front of their dinner guests. It first premiered in 1962 and was made into a movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in 1966. Venita Wolf was a model who had guest roles in a few television shows; her only feature film was this one. She was also on the cover of the July 1967 issue of Playboy.
Special guest star, Peter Mamakos. –Oh, Little Richard. I've heard of him. He's not as famous as Peter Mamakos.
Peter Mamakos (1918-2008) was a character actor who played ethnic villains in many films and TV shows for the better part of sixty years. Little Richard (born Richard Wayne Penniman, 1932-2020) was a highly influential singer, songwriter and musician who had over a dozen hit singles in the mid-1950s. Nicknamed "The Architect of Rock and Roll," Little Richard was also a major influence on the development of Soul, R&B, and Hip-Hop. Some of his biggest hits include “Tutti Frutti” and “Good Golly Miss Molly.”
Screenplay written in crayon. –What’s ClydeWare?
Random trivia: the word “crayon” comes to us from the French in the mid-1600s; it meant “chalk pencil.” The practice of producing art with colorized beeswax dates back thousands of years. Clyde Ware (1936-2010) was a writer and director of episodic television, several TV movies, and a couple of films.
Sal Mungio: rebel without a gauze.
Rebel Without a Cause is a 1955 film starring James Dean as an alienated teenager. Sal Mineo (1939-1976) is also in that film, playing John “Plato” Crawford. Sal Mungo was an associate producer on this and only one other film, a 1962 horror film titled Trauma.
Looks like the Bullwinkle Show, doesn’t it? –[Imitating Rocky.] Here’s something you’ll really like.
The Bullwinkle Show (a.k.a. Rocky & His Friends and The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle), was an animated show about a moose and his sidekick flying squirrel that aired from 1959 to 1964. It was created by Jay Ward. Rocky was voiced by June Foray. Recurring animated introductions to different features of the program featured Rocky announcing “Now here’s something we hope you’ll really like.”
“Shalom” is a Hebrew word that usually means “peace” but is used colloquially as both “hello” and “goodbye.”
Now I’ll set fire to the Walt Whitman books; then I’ll burn the pile of Catcher in the Ryes.
Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was an American poet known best for his collection Leaves of Grass. His poetry could be startlingly erotic for the 19th century. Catcher in the Rye is a coming-of-age book written by J.D. Salinger. Both Whitman and Catcher have repeatedly been banned due to their sexual content (and, in the case of Catcher, its profanity).
C’mon, you ho-daddies! Let’s burn some books!
In surfer lingo, a “ho-daddy” is slang for a surfing enthusiast.
How do you know she’s a witch?
A line from the 1974 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Boy, these Klan meetings have really lightened up—look at that.
The Ku Klux Klan has been a couple of secret organizations over the years; the first was founded just after the Civil War as a vigilante group designed to retain white supremacy in the South by intimidating newly freed black slaves. It had disappeared within twenty years. But in 1915 the group was revived, inspired by the film The Birth of a Nation, which portrayed the original KKK as a noble band striving to protect civilization from depraved Blacks. The official uniform of Klan members was a set of white robes and a pointed white mask, used to conceal the identities of the members. The organization peaked at a membership of about 4 million in the 1920s but had once again died out by the end of World War II. There was another brief resurgence of the Klan in the 1960s in response to the civil rights movement; today its membership is probably only a few thousand, and it has fragmented into several small and competing groups.
Now that’s what I call art—scantily clad women and a Huey Lewis and the News sound on the radio.
Huey Lewis and the News is a rock band that was huge during the 1980s with hits like “I Want a New Drug.”
Throw another Beach Boy on the fire.
The Beach Boys are a surf-rock group formed in 1961 and continuing to tour—although with only a fraction of their original membership—into the 21st century. The original band consisted of Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson; Mike Love; and Alan Jardine.
And so the white Aryan youth dance around the funeral pyre.
In anthropology, “Aryan” originally referred to the groups of people who initially ventured into Europe; today, the term—if it’s used at all—is limited to Hindu and Indian people. In the late 1800s, nationalist racists in Europe and even America took the word to refer to Germanic or Nordic people, known for their white skin, blond hair, and blue eyes. These people, they believed, had a “manifest destiny” to claim land and defeat people of other races. These racist beliefs became strongly associated with Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party and the Holocaust of World War II and are still proclaimed by neo-Nazis and other white supremacists.
You know, this is pretty good sound and it was before Dolby. –Dolby Gillis?
Dolby Laboratories was founded in 1965 by Ray Dolby. Dolby has become synonymous with audio processing and entertainment, primarily because of Dolby systems found in both movie and home theaters. The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis was a TV sitcom that aired from 1959-1963. It starred Dwayne Hickman in the title role.
Meanwhile, in the dark impenetrable void, Jean-Paul Sartre was a-movin’ and a-groovin’.
The phrase, “Meanwhile, back at _____,” originated with cards inserted in silent films of the early 20th century. In westerns, this was often “Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...” Once audio became a common component, the phrase was still used by narrators in films, radio and television programs. Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) was a French novelist and playwright who advocated the philosophy of existentialism, which supported the freedom of individual beings. His most famous work is probably the play No Exit.
No exit, baby.
No Exit is a 1946 play by Jean-Paul Sartre (see previous note). It is about three people stuck in a small room together, who gradually reveal each other’s hypocrisies and lay bare their true identities; the play coined the phrase “Hell is other people.”
Oh, looks like they’re in the Night Gallery.
Night Gallery was an anthology horror series created and hosted by Rod Serling of Twilight Zone fame, Serling also wrote many of the episodes; each episode was illustrated in a painting seen at the beginning of the show. It ran from 1970-1973.
[Rod Serling imitation] This portrait: a man who smokes more than Edward R. Murrow or Lillian Hellman.
An imitation of Rod Serling (1924-1975) hosting Night Gallery (see above note). Serling himself was a heavy smoker, both on and off-camera; he died following a heart attack that occurred while on the operating table for open heart surgery at the age of 50. Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965) was a legendary radio and television broadcast newsman who had a profound influence on broadcast journalism. Like Rod Serling, an ever present cigarette was part of his on-camera image. Morrow died of lung cancer at the age of 57. Lillian Hellman (1905-1984) was a playwright and screenwriter known for such works as The Children’s Hour and The Little Foxes. A lifelong chain-smoker, Hellman attributed her raspy voice to her smoking; she died of a heart attack at age 77. (Thanks to Frank Conniff for pointing out the Rod Serling/smoking reference.)
I’m William Conrad for First Alert. When you’re heading down to the refrigerator and the power goes out …
Portly actor William Conrad appeared in a series of commercials for First Alert smoke detectors during the 1970s.
Hey, it’s Steve Higgins. –Oh, you mean the star of the Higgins Boys and Gruber as seen on the Comedy Channel?
Higgins Boys and Gruber was a 1990 TV series on The Comedy Channel. David Higgins went on to act in Ellen and Malcolm in the Middle; his brother Steve Higgins went on to become a writer and producer for Saturday Night Live, and announcer on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon; Dave “Gruber” Allen acted in Freaks and Geeks and toured with the MST3K alumni group Cinematic Titanic. Joel Hodgson created and wrote for the show. The Comedy Channel was the original home of MST3K. It was launched in 1989 and, in 1991, merged with its equally struggling competitor, Ha!, and became CTV: The Comedy Network. To avoid legal action from a Canadian broadcaster, the name was changed two months later to Comedy Central.
This must be Tommy Kirk’s Oscar. He’s so good they gave it to him before they started the film. He beat out Troy Donahue and Frankie Avalon.
Troy Donahue (1936-2001) was a blond actor who got his start in the 1950s and went on to star as a hip detective on the TV series Surfside 6; he also appeared in dozens of other TV shows and movies. Frankie Avalon was a teen idol during the 1950s and 1960s; he was particularly known for his string of beach movies during the 1960s, including Beach Party and Beach Blanket Bingo. Oscar is the nickname given to the statuette awarded for acting and other filmmaking excellence by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Theories on the naming of the trophy are legion. (In case you were wondering, no—Tommy Kirk never won an Academy Award.)
I beat out Dom DeLuise and James Coco for this role—now beat it.
Dom DeLuise (1933-2009) was a chunky comic actor known for his roles in such films as Blazing Saddles and The Cheap Detective. James Coco (1930-1987) was another portly actor who appeared in Murder By Death and The Dumplings.
An original Red Skelton! That’s incredibly valuable!
Red Skelton is a television comedian and host of The Red Skelton Show, which aired from 1951-1971. He was also a painter, and his works (mostly of clowns, although he painted other subjects as well) have sold for as much as $80,000 a pop.
[Red Skelton imitation.] Good night, and may God bless. This painting is blue. Don’t work blue, it’s such a waste.
“Good night, and may God bless” is how Red Skelton (see previous note) ended each broadcast of The Red Skelton Show. In show-biz lingo, standup comedy in particular, “work blue” means to include profanity and/or sexual or adult content in your act. A lot of old-school performers were critical of younger comics who worked blue. The phrase came from the golden age of vaudeville: performers at the Orpheum circuit of theaters might receive a written list of questionable items to be eliminated from their act, which would arrive backstage in a blue envelope.
Sims Security. I’m the one who cracked that crime at One Potato Two. I beat out Al Molinaro and Jesse White for this role.
Sims Security was a private security firm that was active in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area when MST3K was being made. They provided a lot of mall cops. One Potato Two is a food court staple that serves baked potatoes loaded with various toppings. Al Molinaro (1919-2015) was an actor best known for his roles as Murray the cop on the TV sitcom The Odd Couple (ABC, 1970-1975), and restaurateur Al Delvecchio on the sitcom Happy Days (ABC, 1974-1984). Jesse White originally became famous for his role in the Jimmy Stewart vehicle Harvey, but he is best known to TV viewers as the lonely Maytag repairman, a role he played in countless commercials from 1967 to 1988.
Oh, that’s a “Family Circus.” From Hank Ketcham’s Bil Keane collection.
A reference to the comic strip “Family Circus,” created by Bil Keane. The strip, drawn in a circle rather than the usual rectangle, is about the cute exploits of several small children and their long-suffering parents. Hank Ketcham, meanwhile, was the creator of the comic strip “Dennis the Menace.”
It’s kind of like a Ruben.
Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) was a Flemish painter of very large women—from whence comes the adjective “Rubenesque.”
You mean Paul Reuben, from Pee-wee Herman?
Paul Reubens is a comedian known for his child-adult persona of Pee-wee Herman. He starred in two movies and ultimately got his own show, a children’s television series that ran from 1986-1990. The show was wildly popular and critically acclaimed, but it came to a premature end following Reubens’s arrest in 1991 for indecent exposure in an adult theater. Reubens has since continued acting under his own name.
Oh, he broke Tommy’s Oscar. I did the same thing to his Pulitzer.
The Pulitzer Prize is an award for journalistic, literary, and musical achievement. It was started in 1917 by publisher Joseph Pulitzer, and the prizes are awarded each year by Columbia University.
Oh, relax—they’ll just think it’s a Rothko now.
Mark Rothko (1903-1970) was a painter who pioneered the movement of color field painting—most of his paintings are just huge rectangles of various shades floating in space.
A Mondrian, perhaps.
Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) was a painter known for highly formalized and symmetrical works that consist of blocks of color separated by thick black lines.
Boy, that’s a big whistle! You know how to whistle, don’t you? You just put your lips together and cut to the boat.
A reference to Lauren Bacall’s famous line in To Have and Have Not: “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and ... blow.”
Koyaanisqatsi: life out of balance.
Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance is a 1983 film scored by minimalist composer Philip Glass and having no plot whatsoever—just a series of compelling visual images set to Glass’s music.
Fire Island is a resort island off the coast of New York. It has earned a reputation as a gay-friendly travel destination.
NEA denies Bil Keane grant.
See note on “Family Circus,” above. The NEA is the National Endowment for the Arts, the government agency in charge of doling out taxpayer dollars to deserving artists, which has turned it into a lightning rod for conservative critics offended by some of its grant choices.
It looks like Brutus and Popeye after Slim-Fast.
Bluto was Popeye’s arch-nemesis and his chief rival for the hand of the strangely rubbery Olive Oyl in the series of short cartoons. He first appeared in the cartoons in 1932, but for a time, thanks to some copyright confusion over who owned the rights to the Bluto name, he was called Brutus. Slim-Fast is a weight-loss product consisting of a diet plan in which you consume two Slim-Fast shakes plus a “sensible dinner” every day. The product line has since branched out into snacks and bars and whatnot.
And Olive’s standing right behind them.
See previous note.
“Don Pringle.” Heir to the potato chip fortune.
Pringles are a brand of potato chips developed by Procter & Gamble in 1967 and now owned by Kellogg’s. Unlike other chips, which involve slices of actual potatoes and come in bags, Pringles are machine-made: compressed potato residue and wheat starch chips sold neatly stacked in cylindrical cardboard tubes.
“I never saw so many trying to cover so much with so little success.” Thank you, Winston Churchill.
“Never in the field of human combat has so much been owed by so many to so few.” British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, on the performance of the RAF pilots during World War II.
My corn is as high as an elephant’s eye.
A reference to the song “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” from the musical Oklahoma! Sample lyrics: “There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow/The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye/An’ it looks like it’s climbin’ clear up to the sky.”
He saw Big Jake.
A reference to Show 202, The Sidehackers. (Thanks to TheSynapZe for this reference.)
Love, exciting and new.
“Love, exciting and new” is the opening line to the theme song for TV’s The Love Boat, which aired from 1977-1986. Sample lyrics: “Love, exciting and new/Come aboard. We’re expecting you/Love, life’s sweetest reward/Let it flow, it floats back to you.”
I think the Forum will be good for me.
The Forum was a personal growth seminar that was popular in California in the 1980s. It was a simplified and streamlined successor to the EST movement of the 1970s and was run by the same group, Werner Erhard and Associates. (Thanks to William Johnson for the Forum reference.)
He sounds like Curt Gowdy, doesn’t he?
Curt Gowdy (1919-2006) was a sports broadcaster who for years acted as the host of American Sportsman, a TV fishing show.
Or Hugh Hefner.
Hugh Hefner, a.k.a. “Hef,” (1926-2017) was the founder of Playboy magazine and one of the last bastions of the 1960s bachelor lifestyle.
Excuse me—I’ve gotta go invent the Walkman. After this.
The forefather of the iPod and other digital personal music players, the Walkman was introduced by Sony in 1979. The original Walkman was a portable stereo cassette player about the size of a Stephen King paperback. By allowing the user to take music of their choice virtually anywhere—listening privately, through lightweight headphones—the Walkman brought about a paradigm shift in the role music plays in people’s lives.
And so I want to join the Forum.
See previous note.
Hey, was she in the movie David and Lisa?
David and Lisa is a 1962 film about a young couple who find love in a mental institution.
With me and Edie Sedgwick and Rod LaRod?
Edie Sedgwick (1943-1971) was an actress who appeared in a number of artist Andy Warhol’s experimental films. She lived at the Chelsea Hotel in New York, where she once created a stir by setting her room on fire. Rod LaRod was Warhol’s boyfriend for a time.
Hey, we’re done with the Forum. We’re Druids now.
See above note on the Forum. Druids were the elite class among the ancient Celts (who lived in Britain, Ireland, and Gaul), acting as priests, judges, and teachers. The earliest known reference to Druids dates to the third century B.C.
Little Richard? I hate impressionists! –Oh, you’re thinking of Rich Little.
Rich Little is probably the country’s most famous impressionist, or a performer who imitates other people’s voices. He even had his own variety show in the 1970s and has appeared as a guest on numerous TV shows, including The Tonight Show and The Ed Sullivan Show. He boasts that he can do more than 200 voices.
Prince, I hope you’re watching this.
Prince (1958-2016) was one of the seminal musical talents of the 1980s; in particular, his albums 1999, Purple Rain, and Sign o’ the Times were phenomenally successful. He was based in Minneapolis.
Hey, get the funk out of my face.
“Get the Funk Out of My Face” is a 1976 disco song by the Brothers Johnson.
Hey, look, it’s Alan Sues.
Alan Sues (1926-2011) was an actor and comedian who is best known as a regular performer on the skit comedy show Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, where he appeared from 1968-1972.
I think I know a bright young singer who’s hopped up on goofballs right now. –Can I see him? –Yes. And his head’s about ten feet tall.
Today this phrase is strongly associated with The Simpsons’ Chief Wiggum, but it goes much further back. Many people think it dates back to Dragnet and Sergeant Joe Friday, but Friday actually said, “Do the youngsters know what these goofballs are made of, son?” (in the 1952 episode “The Big Seventeen”). The phrase is used (twice) in the 1965 Perry Mason episode “The Case of the Silent Six,” and has appeared in print dating to about that time as well. The slang term “goofball” was used to mean marijuana in the 1930s, but by the 1950s it had come to refer to barbiturates. “Hopped up,” meaning high, dates to the 1920s.
A reference to the Our Gang (a.k.a. Little Rascals) shorts that is frequently misattributed to Eddie Murphy. Eugene Lee, who played Porky from 1935 to 1939, was friends with Buckwheat (played by Billie Thomas), and he often said, “O-tay, Buttwheat.” Thanks to Murphy’s popular parodies of Buckwheat on Saturday Night Live in the early 1980s, many people erroneously attribute the line to him.
Great, next we’ll see Sly Stone with the Up With People.
Sly and the Family Stone was a pivotal funk band in the 1960s, known for such hits as “Everyday People” and “Hot Fun in the Summertime.” Up With People was an extremely upbeat and wholesome touring musical act founded in 1965. Money woes forced it to close its doors in 2000, but it reopened four years later and continues to perform, although on a smaller scale.
Ike Turner with the Cowsills—they’ll all be in casts.
Ike Turner, along with his wife Tina, performed a popular R&B act in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1975 Tina divorced Ike, claiming that he had abused her, and launched a stunningly successful solo career. The Cowsills were a band that formed in the early 1960s: Bill, Bob, Barry, and John (and, later, siblings Susan and Paul and mom Barbara). They were quite popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s; the TV show The Partridge Family was based on them. Their most famous song was probably “The Rain, the Park and Other Things.”
James Brown and the Starland Vocal Band, maybe?
James Brown (1933-2006), the godfather of soul, was a renowned musician and spirited stage performer. The Starland Vocal Band was a soft-rock group known primarily for their one big hit, 1976’s “Afternoon Delight.”
Yeah, George Clinton with the Ray Conniff Singers.
George Clinton was one of the founders of Parliament/Funkadelic, a soul/funk band that was huge during the 1970s. Clinton went on to have a solo career, although he occasionally toured with his old bandmates. Ray Conniff (1916-2002) has been dubbed “the epitome of supermarket music”; his singers were a group of 25 men and women whose voices substituted for traditional instruments in Conniff’s music.
You know, he’s so hopped up I think he’s thinking he’s at the Apollo or something.
The Apollo Theater is a performing-arts venue in New York City that has served as a showcase for emerging black and Latino performers. Its Amateur Nights, which have been held since 1934, launched the careers of Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, and Michael Jackson, among others.
I like him. Hey, it’s Ron Howard’s brother!
Clint Howard, brother of actor/director Ron Howard, is an actor who has appeared in such films as Apollo 13 (1995) and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997).
Ben! –Ben! –Ben!
Gentle Ben is a children’s novel written by Walt Morey and published in 1965. It inspired the 1967-1969 CBS series of the same name that starred the aforementioned Clint Howard as a boy named Mark who has adventures with a large black bear named Ben (played by Bruno the Bear).
Looks like Cousin Itt with a bob.
Cousin Itt was a character in the TV series The Addams Family, which aired from 1964-1966; Itt was completely covered in long hair and spoke in an unintelligible squeak. The part was played by little person actor Felix Silla.
Those dancers are standing on Dumpsters. Would that make them white trash?
Dumpster is a brand name in America for a “mobile garbage bin,” those big metal trash containers that require large trucks to lift off the ground and empty the contents. Dumpsters were first sold by the Dempster Brothers (you see how they got “Dumpster” from that?) in 1936, who also developed the mechanical system for emptying them (called the Dempster Dumpmaster). These days, “Dumpster” is used worldwide as a brand eponym for all such garbage containers. Interesting side note for “white trash”: a journal entry by English actress Fanny Kemble in 1833 states that it was used by black slaves in the South in regard to white servants.
[Sung - to the tune of "Scuba Party."] The Nazi Party! [Spoken.] Everybody!
The tune Little Richard is singing (and Tom is riffing), “Scuba Party,” and the song heard over the opening and closing credits, “Never Steal Anything Wet,” were both written by Jerry Long, and both titles were considered as titles for the movie, until the producers decided on Catalina Caper instead. The National Socialist German Workers’ Party was a racist, anti-communist, fascist political group founded in Germany in 1920. Adolf Hitler did not start it; his mentor Anton Drexler did, and its first leader was journalist Karl Harrer. Hitler rose to power within the group in 1921, and by the early 1930s, they had become the largest party in the German parliament and Hitler had been appointed chancellor. Things went downhill from there.
You know, I’m feeling like we’re at the dance thing in Laugh-In, kinda.
Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In was a sketch comedy series that ran from 1968-1973. A regular segment on the show featured lots of go-go dancing, with snappy quips painted on the bodies of bikini-clad girls, frequently interrupted for quick jokes and one-liners.
You were great! Now leave. Out the back door.
In the days of Jim Crow laws and segregation during the early to mid-20th century, Black performers, even if they were headliners, were often given substandard accommodations, paid less, and forced to come and go through the kitchen or back doors at entertainment venues.
Well, it’s just us, Timmy. When you graduate from Pat Boone University...
Pat Boone is a whiter-than-white singer popular among born-again Christians and others who hate rock & roll.
[Jacques Cousteau imitation.] So Falco leaves the Calypso.
Albert Falco was the chief diver aboard Jacques Cousteau's boat, the Calypso (see above note). (Thanks to reader Fred Boughter for this reference.)
Hey, you got puke on my radio! Well, you got radio on my puke!
An imitation of the television ads for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that aired during the 1980s: “You got peanut butter on my chocolate! No, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter!”
Petticoat Junction was a TV sitcom about life at a hotel near the small town of Hooterville, the same town that factors in to the sitcoms The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres. Petticoat Junction aired on CBS from 1963 to 1967.
Carol? Carol? Carol? Carol? –Harvey?
A reference to The Carol Burnett Show (1967-1978). Carol Burnett is a comedian and actress who became successful on Broadway before transitioning to television in 1959 on The Garry Moore Show. Harvey Korman (1927-2008) was a featured performer on Burnett’s program, known for breaking character during scenes with costar Tim Conway, who frequently ad-libbed his lines. He also played the scheming Hedley Lamarr in the 1974 comedy classic Blazing Saddles. (Thanks to Sampo for this reference.)
[Imitating Ned Beatty.] I got your stick, Mr. Luthor.
An imitation of Ned Beatty as Otis, the bumbling henchman to arch-villain Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) in the 1978 film Superman: The Movie and its 1980 sequel. While Otis has no basis in the Superman comics, Luthor certainly does and has usually been depicted as bald after his first appearances in DC’s Action Comics in 1940 (when he briefly had red hair). Over the decades, he has been a scientist, an industrialist, and even the president of the United States. (Thanks to reader TServo2049.)
I'm all hurtin' and hot and hurtin' and stuff.
A reference to an old commercial for Bactine, a first-aid treatment developed in 1947. In the ad, a little boy with an owie says “It’s all hot and it hurts and stuff.”
Now, guys, just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale.
A line from the theme song to the TV series Gilligan’s Island, which aired from 1964-1967. Sample lyrics: “Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale/A tale of a fateful trip/That started from this tropic port/Aboard this tiny ship.”
Crete, ancient civilization.
Crete is the largest of the Greek Islands, with the largest population (624,000). It was once the home of the earliest known civilization in Europe, the Minoans, from around 2700 to 1420 BC.
Mykonos. Modern civilization.
Mykonos is a tiny island off the coast of Greece.
Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft, and Dom DeLuise in Boatniks 2.
Mel Brooks is a comedian and filmmaker known for such films as The Producers and Blazing Saddles. Anne Bancroft is an actress (coincidentally married to Brooks) known for her roles in The Miracle Worker (for which she won an Oscar) and The Graduate. See note on Dom DeLuise, above. Also, see note on The Boatniks, above.
Trust a guy with a dumb Crayola hat.
Crayola was founded as an industrial pigment company named Binney & Smith by Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith in 1885. In 1900, they began making school writing utensils and developed dust-free chalk. In 1903, they started producing wax crayons, and the brand name “Crayola” was devised by Edwin’s wife, Alice, using the French word “craie,” meaning “chalk,” and “ola,” from “oleaginous,” or oily. Since their introduction, more than 400 different colors of crayons have been produced.
Your son? What is this? Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? –It's not your son, George.
See above note. In the play/movie, the characters George and Martha talk about their “son,” who is gradually revealed to be a mutually agreed upon fiction.
Hey, it’s filled with M&Ms. Long ones.
M&Ms are a brand of candy-coated chocolate candies manufactured by Mars Inc. They were first sold in 1941.
Let’s see here: You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees … What the—?
This is a line from the poem “Desiderata,” written in 1927 by Max Ehrmann. Sample lines: “You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars./You have a right to be here./And whether it is clear to you or not, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”
See previous note.
It’s a Howard Johnson place mat.
Howard Johnson is a chain of restaurants and hotels instantly recognizable from highways across the nation thanks to their distinctive orange roofs.
It’s the William Burroughs figurehead!
William Burroughs (1914-1997) was a writer of experimental novels, of which the most famous is Naked Lunch. He became one of the seminal voices of the Beat generation in the ‘50s.
“One for the genuine, one for the duplicate.” One for the little girl who lives down the lane.
The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane is a 1976 movie thriller starring Jodie Foster (see below note) in her first lead role, and Martin Sheen. Both this riff and the title of the film are referencing the 1731 British nursery rhyme “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep,” which concludes with the lines:
One for the Master,
One for the Dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.
(Thanks to Steven Carter for the film reference)
Jodie Foster is an actress who got her start as a child, appearing in wholesome family fare like Freaky Friday and Candleshoe during the 1970s. After a break to attend college (and a brief period of unwelcome notoriety as the object of would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley’s obsession), she began her career anew in such movies as The Accused and The Silence of the Lambs.
Then Donald goes in where the others have been.
In the 1967 World War II movie The Dirty Dozen, the Dozen have a sixteen-point plan (in rhyme!) to attack a large gathering of Nazi elites at a chateau; the fifteenth point is “Franko goes in where the others have been.”
And then return that shirt to Robin Williams.
Robin Williams (1952-2014) was an actor and comedian who got his start on the TV series Mork and Mindy and later appeared in a variety of movies both serious and comic. He was known for wearing wildly colored shirts.
“It’s expected one will try to cheat him.” Like Nixon.
Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994) was the 37th president of the United States, from 1969-1974. He resigned on August 9, 1974, rather than face almost certain impeachment by the House of Representatives over his role in the Watergate scandal.
Ahoy, matie! –Hello, Betty!
“Betty” is a slang term for an attractive woman. Theories on its origin include ‘40s pinup legend Betty Grable, Archie Comics’ Betty Cooper, and The Flintstones neighbor Betty Rubble.
Turn to what? –The Comedy Channel!
See above note.
Hello. Hello. Hiya, Shoil. Hello.
A reference to the TV sitcom Laverne & Shirley, which ran from 1976-1983, and the two “wacky neighbor” characters, Leonard Kosnowski (Michael McKean) and Andrew Squiggman (David Lander). “Hello” is an imitation of Squiggy as he and Lenny barged into the girls’ apartment. “Hello, Shoil” is an imitation of Laverne De Fazio (Penny Marshall) as she greeted her roommate, Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams).
Only the best looking girls get to be starfish.
See above note on Charlie the Tuna.
Hey, how are things in the Fatherland?
“Fatherland” is a common slang term meaning “homeland” used by the natives of dozens of countries. However, given the blond-haired, blue-eyed denizens in the film, I’m going to bet they’re referring to Germany.
“This must be Don Pringle.” I understand your ruffles have ridges.
See above note on Pringle's potato chips. “R-R-R-Ruffles have ridges” is a longtime advertising slogan for Ruffles potato chips. They are manufactured by Frito-Lay.
McHale, what the hell are you doing?
McHale’s Navy was a TV sitcom about a group of bumbling misfits aboard a PT boat in World War II. It starred Ernest Borgnine as Lt. Commander Quinton McHale. The show aired from 1962-1966.
That guy looks like Ralph on Green Acres, doesn’t he?
Ralph Monroe was the female carpenter on the TV sitcom Green Acres, which aired from 1965-1971. The part was played by Mary Grace Canfield.
Tad. Jean. Tad. Tom. Paul. Bob. Carol. Ted. Alice.
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice is a 1969 film starring Natalie Wood and Robert Culp as a sophisticated couple who have their lives changed by a therapy group.
Hey, I just became a Mormon!
Mormonism, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is a Christian offshoot religion founded in the 19th century by Joseph Smith. In the olden days, Mormons practiced polygamy and moved to Utah to enable them to follow their out-of-the-mainstream lifestyle; ultimately, under severe pressure by the federal government, the church repudiated the practice. Polygamy is still practiced, however, by some small, isolated Mormon splinter groups.
I know you've been hanging around with that Dave Del Dotto guy.
Dave Del Dotto was a financial guru and TV huckster in the 1990s. He pitched something called the "Cash Flow System," which purported to teach you how to make tons of cash in real estate. In 1995, Del Dotto settled a suit filed against him by the FTC for deceptive business practices. (Thanks to Paul Johnson for this reference.)
It’s the Pueblo!
The USS Pueblo was a U.S. Navy cargo ship that, in 1968, was captured by the North Koreans, accused of being a spy ship. The crew was released upon the United States admitting the ship had been spying and apologizing; however, the U.S. retracted the admission once the crew was safe. The ship remains in North Korean custody to this day.
“Very interesting.” But stupid.
“Very interesting, but stupid” is a catch phrase from Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, which cast member Arte Johnson, helmeted as a German WWII soldier, would poke his head out and utter periodically.
And remember something else, too: an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. Now get out.
This is part of Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion, which reads in toto: “An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”
Okay, Daddy Warbucks.
Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks was the bald millionaire adoptive father of Little Orphan Annie in the comic strip of the same name.
Should I go put the horse’s head in my bed again?
A reference to a scene in The Godfather, in which a movie producer who has refused to grant the Mafia a favor awakens to find the head of his prize racehorse in his bed. Animal-rights groups protested the scene, but director Francis Ford Coppola defended it, saying that the horse had not been killed for the movie but rather had been delivered from a dog-food factory.
Hi, Kaiser Wilhelm, you kooky monarch.
Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859-1941) was the third and final emperor of Germany and the leader of that nation during World War I. After Germany lost the war he was forced to abdicate and lived out the remainder of his life in Holland.
Eat all the fruit, throw away the rind …
A line from the song “Headin’ Out to Eden,” which was performed on the Star Trek episode “The Way to Eden.” Sample lyrics: “Gonna live like a king/On whatever I find/Eat all the fruit/And throw away the rind/Yea brother, yea/Steppin’ into Eden/Yea brother.”
[Sung.] Headin’ out to Eden …
See previous note.
Nice analogy. I knew I hired you for something, Rod McKuen.
Rod McKuen was a poet, composer, and singer who was immensely popular during the 1960s. His critics derided him as simplistic and sentimental, but he remained a guru to the flower child generation and was extremely successful as a songwriter and serious composer.
Wow—this is the weirdest Lamaze class I’ve ever seen.
Lamaze is a method of controlling pain during childbirth, with the goal of achieving a more “natural” birth as opposed to the heavily medicated births that were common in the first half of the 20th century. It emphasizes using patterns of breathing to keep pain manageable.
It’s all blue and wet and stuff!
See above note on Bactine.
When ESPN merges with the Playboy Channel. Now get underwater!
ESPN is a sports network that launched in 1979 as the “Entertainment and Sports Programming Network,” founded by Bill and Scott Rasmussen and Ed Eagan. In the ensuing decades, the network has been a go-to place for sports coverage and news, often overshadowing the broadcast networks for certain special events. The network (and its many sister channels) have been largely owned by Disney (with an 80 percent stake) since 1996. The Playboy Channel (now Playboy TV) is a premium adult cable channel started in 1982 by the men’s magazine of the same name.
“Remember, breathe through your mouth.” Not through your hands.
“Melts in your mouth, not in your hands” is the longtime advertising slogan for M&Ms chocolate candy.
By this time my lungs … Sorry, sorry, that was me. Sorry.
See note on Sea Hunt, above.
Make some Jacques Cousteau jokes instead, will ya?
See note on Jacques Cousteau, above.
Say, I hear Ivan Tors is casting a new adventure show in the Keys with a dolphin.
Ivan Tors was the producer of the TV series Flipper, along with a number of other nautical-themed shows.
What happens if I see a leviathan?
“Leviathan” is a Hebrew word that appears in the Old Testament, referring to a sea monster. (There were three giant monsters in all: Leviathan the sea monster, Behemoth the land monster, and Ziz the sky monster; only the first two have survived as common terms.) That meaning holds today, though sometimes it has been used to refer to whales (for example, in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick); in fact, in modern Hebrew the word means “whale.”
Time to impress some people. Then I’ll go out and start a line of clothes called Polo.
Polo is a line of clothing made by Ralph Lauren.
I look like Phil Harris, don’t I?
Phil Harris (1904-1995) played the hard-partying bandleader on The Jack Benny Program on radio for many years and later had his own long-running radio show along with his wife, actress Alice Faye. He later enjoyed fame in animation, voicing Baloo the Bear in Disney’s The Jungle Book (1967) and Little John in Robin Hood (1973).
“I know this Borman guy.” He’ll cast us in Excalibur.
Excalibur is a 1981 film version of the King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table legend directed by John Boorman and starring Nigel Terry and Helen Mirren. (Thanks to H. E. Randar for the John Boorman reference.)
The line, yeah, right. The rabbit goes around the hole, but then it comes out the other ... oh.
A riff on a mnemonic device, or memory trick, used to teach people how to tie a bowline knot. Imagining the end of the rope as a rabbit, one rhyming variation goes like this: “Up through the rabbit hole, round the big tree; down through the rabbit hole and off goes he.”
Meanwhile, on Bruce Wayne’s stately yatcht ... Yacht. Pardon me.
See above note on “Meanwhile ...” On the campy TV series Batman, Bruce Wayne’s mansion was always referred to as “stately Wayne Manor.” Tom is imitating the announcer from the series, who was voiced by executive producer William Dozier. Tom’s mispronunciation of the word “yacht” as “yatcht” is a callback to an old Monty Python’s Flying Circus skit about a man named Raymond Luxury Yacht. The relevant dialogue:
Interviewer: Good evening. I have with me in the studio tonight one of the country’s leading skin specialists—Raymond Luxury Yacht.
Raymond: That’s not my name.
Interviewer: I’m sorry—Raymond Luxury Yach-t.
Raymond: No, no, no—it’s spelt Raymond Luxury Yach-t, but it’s pronounced Throatwobbler Mangrove.
Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight.
A line from the Steven Sondheim song “Comedy Tonight,” from the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Sample lyrics: “Nothing with kings, nothing with crowns/Bring on the lovers, liars and clowns/Old situations, new complications/Nothing portentous or polite/Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight.”
The Jacques Tati of the boating world.
Jacques Tati was a French comic actor best known for his series of Monsieur Hulot films.
Monsieur Hulot in Catalina.
See previous note. (Thanks to Lynn Knott for this reference.)
He didn’t come out of his tuck in time. The Russian judge gives him a three.
A reference to Olympic scoring for diving. Russian judges are often considered to be especially strict.
In the 1975-1976 season of Saturday Night Live, the show ran a popular series of sketches that parodied the then-recent film Jaws. The segments began with a knock or a ringing doorbell. The resident of the apartment would go to the door and ask who was there. The unseen person on the other side would mumble things like “Candygram,” “Pizza delivery,” and so on, until the door was finally opened, when Chevy Chase in a foam shark suit would promptly lean inside and “eat” the resident, accompanied by the ominous John Williams theme. On occasion, the shark would actually admit that it was a “land shark.”
I am Death.
Possibly a reference to the personification of death as depicted in Western culture, frequently named the Grim Reaper. It is usually depicted as a cloaked skeleton wearing a hood and carrying a scythe. Also possibly a reference to a passage in the Bhagavad Gita, a 2,000-year-old Hindu scripture. Chapter 11, verse 32 reads, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds,” which was famously quoted by physicist Robert Oppenheimer upon seeing the first test of a nuclear weapon in 1945.
Have you ever read our Watchtower?
The Watchtower is the official magazine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, an apocalyptic Christian sect known for proselytizing door to door.
You’re soaking in it.
“You’re soaking in it” was the slogan in a series of commercials for Palmolive dish soap that aired from 1966 to 1992, in which maternal beautician Madge the manicurist (played by Jan Minor) informs her shocked clients that they’re soaking their hands in Palmolive liquid soap.
Water fuzz? –Yet some call them water pigs.
“Fuzz” is a slang term for police that dates back to the 1920s. The origins are suitably fuzzy. Some say it’s a corruption of “force”; others say it’s a corruption of “fuss,” because the police make a fuss over nothing; still others say it’s a period term for “incompetent” or “soft.” “Pig” as a derogatory term for police goes all the way back to the early 1800s in the United Kingdom, and as far back as the 1500s, it was a term for just about anyone who was widely unpopular.
Spinner! Paddlefoot! Quick, Clutch is in trouble!
Clutch Cargo was a 1959 animated TV series that attempted to eliminate the time and expense of drawing lip movements by simply filming the voice actors’ lips through a megaphone and superimposing them onto the animated characters, with truly bizarre results. Spinner was Clutch Cargo’s young ward and Paddlefoot was their dachshund.
Water Fuzz. They’re wet, they care. Tonight’s episode: Death Ahoy. –Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of death! –Tinker, tailor, soldier, dead man. –Michael row your murder ashore. –Heh. Hallelujah.
A much ridiculed (by MST3K, anyway) technique for naming an episode of a TV mystery or detective show was to replace a word in a common phrase or title with either “death” or “murder.” “Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum” is a line from the stereotypical pirate anthem “Dead Man’s Chest,” written by Robert Louis Stevenson for his 1883 novel Treasure Island. Stevenson only included the chorus in the novel; other writers have expanded on his work and written full versions of the song since then. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is an award-winning 1979 BBC miniseries, based on a 1974 novel of the same name by John le Carre, starring Sir Alec Guinness as a high-ranking British intelligence officer; it was shown on PBS stations in the United States in 1980. A 2011 film adaptation stars Gary Oldman. The title comes from a children’s nursery rhyme/counting game with origins that date back to 1475: “Tinker, tailor/Soldier, sailor/Rich man, poor man/Beggar-man, thief.” That verse is also the title of a 2016 song by American rock band Radiohead. “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” is a traditional spiritual. There are a number of variations, but all contain the line “Michael row the boat ashore, hallelujah.” (Thanks to @bookworm1225 for the miniseries/novel reference.)
No, Timmy, no no! Darn fool kid. –Skippy’s in trouble!
Possibly references to Timmy, who became the young, danger-prone companion to rescue-prone collie dog Lassie in Season 4 of the American TV series Lassie (CBS/syndication, 1954-1973), and Skippy, the marsupial hero of the 1968-1970 Australian TV series Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, which was sometimes referred to as the “Australian Lassie.”
He just ate.
A reference to the old wives’ tale (or, more accurately, old mothers’ tale) that one should not go swimming until at least thirty minutes after eating. From the 1930s through the ‘50s, no less an authority than the Red Cross taught that doing so could lead to cramps and, therefore, drowning. Practically speaking, waiting a while after you eat may prevent vomiting, especially if you like to perform belly flops, but your increased risk of drowning is statistically nil.
Along about that time, the old Duke boys got a little trouble coming their way in the form of Mr. Skinman.
An imitation of the folksy narrator from the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard, which ran from 1979 to 1985. The narrator, dubbed “The Balladeer,” was played by country-music artist Waylon Jennings, who also performed the show’s theme song, “Good Ol’ Boys.”
“Colors” is a 1988 rap song by Ice-T, the theme from the cop/action movie of the same name, which stars Sean Penn and Robert Duvall.
Must..get...back...to Rylos V!
Rylos is the name of the “good guy” homeworld in the 1984 film The Last Starfighter, about a trailer park teen (Lance Guest) who beats a video game and gets whisked into space by the Music Man (Robert Preston) and recruited to defend the Star League against Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada.
Yes, it’s synchronized swimming on ESPN. The wet network.
See note on ESPN, above.
Help me, Cecil! Help me! –I’m coming, Beany boy!
Beany and Cecil were originally puppet characters on the children’s TV show Time for Beany; Beany was the nephew of a sea captain and Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent was his best friend. The characters later starred in their own animated TV series. Joel Hodgson has cited Beany and Cecil as one of the shows from his childhood that he drew upon while creating MST3K.
I will kill him!
An infamous line from the 1984 David Lynch film Dune, which was based on Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel. It was uttered by Sting, who played the wild-eyed na-Baron Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen. It became a favorite of MST3K.
I’m going to give you such a water-wedgie, you’re not gonna ever forget. –An aqueous snuggie!
Joe Besser (1907-1988) was a comedian who is remembered principally for two roles: the bratty character Oswald on the old Abbott and Costello Show, and his brief stint as a member of the Three Stooges comedy team in the 1950s. One of his signature lines as Oswald and a Stooge was “I’m going to give you such a pinch!”, which TV’s Frank often imitated. “Snuggie” here does not refer to the sleeved blankets that became popular in 2008-2009, but is an alternate term for a “wedgie,” the forceful pulling of one’s underwear up and well into one’s crack.
I had him, Charlie. I’m telling you, I could have killed him. They took my thumbs, Charlie.
See note on The Pope of Greenwich Village, above.
Well, I started in theater and moved on to summer stock and now I’m in this film. Why?
Summer stock theater is a summer-based series of stage productions. It began as an off-season venue for professional stage actors; more recently, summer stock has become a repository of just-starting-out performers.
We’re gonna get a bigger boat, right?
A reference to the 35th most famous line in cinema history, according to the American Film Institute. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” was said by Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) to Captain Quint (Robert Shaw) after he first spotted the great white shark in the 1975 classic Jaws.
She’s got a Rorschach swimsuit.
The Rorschach inkblot test, developed by psychologist Hermann Rorschach, is a diagnostic tool that was used widely in the 1940s and 1950s. It fell into disfavor because many clinicians felt it was too subjective, although in recent years it has enjoyed renewed popularity. The test consists of a series of abstract shapes, or inkblots, on cards; the subject reports what images he or she sees in the blots.
Yeah, he doesn’t shop at Members Only or Wards.
Members Only was a brand of poly/cotton windbreaker jackets that were very popular in the 1980s. Montgomery Ward was a chain of lower-scale department stores; the chain closed in 2000 after 128 years in business.
When in Rome. Or Athens. –What does that mean?
A reference to the modern perception of homosexuality developing and being accepted in ancient Greece. The most accepted form was pederasty, the practice of adult men having sex with young boys; this was also seen as a kind of mentoring relationship, in which the older man was expected to shepherd the younger into adulthood. In ancient Greek culture, homosexuality among adult men was, in itself, not discouraged; rather, it was the need for one of the duo to take on the “passive” female role, which was seen as inferior to the active male role.
What did you say your name was? Yeah, I’m casting Caligula this summer, so come on down.
Caligula is a notoriously un-erotic 1979 epic about the depraved Roman emperor. It was produced and masterminded by Bob Guccione, the entrepreneur behind Penthouse magazine.
Hey, she’s got a shaggy diaper that leaks.
A reference to an old Pampers campaign that expressed sympathy for any baby stuck in “a saggy diaper that leaks.”
Hey, it’s Ed Begley Jr.!
Ed Begley Jr. is a blond actor who has appeared in more than 100 TV shows and movies, including his well-known role as Dr. Victor Ehrlich on the TV show St. Elsewhere.
A reference to Show 104, Women of the Prehistoric Planet.
This must be what they mean by five easy pieces.
Five Easy Pieces is a 1970 film starring Jack Nicholson as an oil rigger who returns home to see his dying father and confronts his past as a classical pianist.
Looks like the cast of Zoom.
Zoom was a kids’ show that aired on PBS in the 1970s. A new version of it aired from 1999 to 2005.
[Sung.] Come on and zoom zoom zooma zoom. Come on and zoom hey! zooma zoom.
From the theme to the TV series Zoom (see previous note).
Woof, woof, woof, woof... –Arsenio –My posse! –Hall! [Blows kiss]
Arsenio Hall is an actor and talk-show host best known for his late-night talk showThe Arsenio Hall Show, which aired from 1989 to 1994. The audience frequently raised fisted hands and pounded the air while saying, “Woof, woof, woof ...” A section of the audience was even set aside for the “Dog Pound,” and the people who sat there were usually the butt of jokes during the monologue.
Shirts by the Renaissance Festival!
Renaissance Festivals (or Faires) are an entertainment phenomenon that began in Southern California in the 1960s and spread first to the rest of California and then the nation. Generally they feature a number of vendors selling leather mugs, swords, jewelry, and so forth; singers, dancers, and comedians performing; a “court” complete with king, queen, and courtiers; and rides and games for both children and adults.
And King John who invites you to come down and see Robin Hood and Little John; two never-was actors performing bad skits.
In stories of English folk hero Robin Hood, Prince John (later King John) was the antagonist in versions dating to the 16th century (the earliest versions of the legend refer to a “King Edward,” either I, II, or III, meaning the stories dated to between 1272 and 1377). The real-life King John briefly and unsuccessfully attempted a coup while his older brother, King Richard, was captured during the Crusades; despite this, he remained Richard’s heir, and ultimately became king, reigning from 1199 to 1216. Robin Hood tales first appeared in writing in the 1400s and detailed the adventures of a yeoman (Robin, dubbed “Hood” because he was an outlaw) as he stole from the wealthy (giving to the poor came later, around the early 17th century). Little John (the name’s a joke because he has always been described as quite large) was Robin’s second-in-command, who led the band of marauders known as the “Merry Men.” Historically, few scholars today believe Robin Hood existed; they instead say the tales are an amalgam of romanticized stories about bandits, turning the bad guys into good guys.
Bee-Gees go bad...er.
The Bee-Gees were a rock group popular in the late 1960s; after experiencing a dip in their popularity in the early 1970s, they hit it mega-big with their contributions to the soundtrack of the movie Saturday Night Fever—“Stayin’ Alive,” “How Deep Is Your Love,” and “Night Fever”—each of which hit number one and helped launch the disco craze of the late 1970s. After the end of the 1970s the group faded into obscurity once again.
Tune in, turn on, throw up.
“Tune in, turn on, drop out” was a popular slogan in the 1960s counterculture. It was coined in a 1966 speech by drug guru Timothy Leary, who was urging young people to “turn on” through LSD and drop out of mainstream society.
"[Sung] There's a whole world waiting for me..." [Sung] While the girls prance around in their BVDs.
BVD is a brand of men’s underwear, first produced in 1876. Trivia note: “BVD” stands for “Bradley, Voorhees & Day.”
Lyrics by Aldous Huxley.
Aldous Huxley was a British novelist best known for his dystopic novel Brave New World (1932), which looked forward to a future where psychological conditioning trained people to accept their places in a rigid caste system.
“Sieg heil” is German for “hail victory” and was often said by Germans as they saluted Hitler or other Nazi leaders. It was often chanted at the enormous rallies the Nazi Party staged.
We’re picking up The SportsChannel.
SportsChannel was a group of regional cable sports networks that launched in 1979, was a joint venture with NBC starting in 1988, and shut down in 1998.
One Adam-12, see the man whose shins were stolen. –I had to see the man, see the man corner of Wilmont and Crowley.
“One Adam-12” was how the police dispatcher opened her bulletins on the TV cop show Adam-12, which ran from 1968-1975. The part was played by Shaaron Claridge, who worked as an actual dispatcher for the Los Angeles Police Department. The series starred Kent McCord and Martin Milner, who was a dead ringer for the blonde guy in this scene.
This is the classic exclamation uttered by Homer Simpson on the animated TV series The Simpsons, which first aired in 1989. Twenty years before that, it was often said by the Skipper (Alan Hale, Jr.) on the 1960s sitcom Gilligan’s Island. Actor Dan Castellaneta, who supplies the voice of the character, has said he borrowed the phrase from a comedian named James Finlayson, who appeared in a number of Laurel & Hardy shorts. In 2001 the expression made it into the Oxford English Dictionary, thus becoming enshrined in the English language.
Dibs. I call dibs. She's mine. Back off, you clowns. Come on, you. I’ll take you all on.
Dibs is generally a childhood method of laying claim to a desired item or position by yelling out “Dibs!” In most English-speaking nations, this is referred to as “bags” and dates back to the mid-1800s. As for the origin of the word “dibs,” theories vary. Two leading thoughts: 1) an abbreviation of the Yiddish phrase “fin dibsy,” meaning “lay claim,” and 2) it derives from the word “divvy,” meaning “to divide.”
Well, you’ll do nicely. Let’s go have little Marty Milners.
Martin Milner (1931-2015) played Tod Stiles on the early ‘60s series Route 66. His biggest role came in 1968 when he began playing LAPD Officer Peter Malloy on the police drama Adam-12, a sister show to Dragnet. The show provided Americans with their first realistic glimpse of police procedures and jargon. It lasted until 1975.
“Don’t tell me you’re a drag too.” No, just a drag queen. Mardi Gras…
Mardi Gras (French for “Fat Tuesday”) is a costume-heavy celebration that consumes much of New Orleans (and other places too) every year in March. It is observed to celebrate the final consumption of fatty foods before the fasting common in Lent in some branches of Christianity.
Meanwhile, on ESPN …
See note on ESPN, above.
Gee, what a nice guy.
Possibly a reference to Madeline Kahn’s classic line in the 1974 Mel Brooks film Blazing Saddles.
I paid five bucks for that at Wards—please.
See note on Montgomery Ward, above.
And I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.
Beginning in the 1960s, General Mills ran a series of commercials for its Cocoa Puffs cereal featuring Sonny the Cuckoo Bird, an animated bird in a striped shirt who squawked, “I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs! Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!”
I’m kind of kooked out about that little fish and everything and it’s all hot and it hurts and stuff.
See note on Bactine, above.
“His name is Angelo.” And he’s a teenage mutant ninja turtle.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are a quartet of tongue-in-cheek superheroes created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. They started out in comic books and eventually graduated to their own animated series and even a live-action movie. The turtles are named Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello, and Raphael.
So, did you call Harry Callahan yet?
Harry Callahan is the eponymous star of the Dirty Harry movies; the part was played by Clint Eastwood.
Angelo Dundee (1921-2012) was a famed boxing trainer who worked with the likes of Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.
Oh, he’s from paid programming. This Carol Burnett thing isn’t gonna last forever, you know.
Angelo in this scene is played by Lyle Waggoner, who was a regular from 1967 to 1974 on CBS's The Carol Burnett Show, and starred as Steve Trevor in the ' 70s TV series Wonder Woman.
I should have brought Vicki Lawrence.
Vicki Lawrence is an actress and comedian who was also a regular on The Carol Burnett Show (see above note). She later got her own series, Mama’s Family, which aired from 1983-1990.
Quick, get a pen down his throat! Trach him!
If a person is choking and efforts to clear the airways fail (such as the Heimlich maneuver), a tracheotomy should be performed, which involves cutting a hole in the throat of the victim and inserting a tube to inject air into their passages. If proper medical equipment isn’t available, the barrel of a ballpoint pen (with the tip and ink portions removed, natch) can be used for this purpose.
Possibly a reference to the 1967 Elvis Presley musical film Clambake. It’s often regarded as the cheesiest of the King’s films.
“Who’s minding the store?” Jerry Lewis.
Who’s Minding the Store is a 1963 film starring Jerry Lewis as an inept shoe clerk. 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.
“I’ve decided to accept your invitation.” To the beheading?
Invitation to a Beheading is a novel by Russian/American author Vladimir Nabokov that was originally published in serial form in 1935-1936; the English translation was first published in 1959. (Thanks to Eileen and Michael McCormack for this reference.)
Yeah, he took a shell in ‘Nam.
The Vietnam War was an extended conflict in the Southeast Asian region known as Indochina. The United States first got involved in 1950, when President Harry Truman sent the first group of military advisers along with $10 million worth of military equipment to aid anti-communist forces. By 1953 aid to the government of South Vietnam had increased to $350 million to counter the influence of the Soviet Union and China, which were assisting the communist North Vietnam. The number of American soldiers in the country escalated under each subsequent president until the Paris Peace Accords were signed in 1973. In 1975, despite billions of dollars and millions of deaths, the North overran the South and the two nations became one under a communist government. In the end, more than 60,000 American and allied soldiers were killed, more than one million South Vietnamese soldiers and civilians were killed, an estimated one million North Vietnamese soldiers and civilians were killed and an estimated 500,000 civilians in neighboring Cambodia and Laos were killed.
“Aren't you going to introduce me to your playmate, Don?” Miss January, this is everybody. This is this.
The Playboy Playmate is the model who appears in the centerfold spread (so to speak) of Playboy magazine. As the magazine was published monthly, recalling these “Playmates of the Month” (the official title) as “Miss January,” “Miss February,” and so on became shorthand. The first featured model in the inaugural issue, published in 1953, was Marilyn Monroe; however, she was titled “Sweetheart of the Month.” In the next issue, January 1954, Margie Harrison was the first to be called “Playmate of the Month.”
Meet the daughter of Satan.
Satan (a.k.a. the Devil) is the personification of evil, primarily featuring in Christian and Islamic traditions. He is most often described as a “fallen angel” of God, though his initial job seems to have been as a prosecutor of sorts, sent by God to test men’s faith.
“What about Lakopolous?” He’ll thrash us from top to bottomus.
In the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her companions have this exchange:
Dorothy: Your Majesty, if you were king, you wouldn't be afraid of anything?
Cowardly Lion: Not nobody! Not nohow!
Tin Woodsman: Not even a rhinoceros?
Cowardly Lion: Imposerous!
Dorothy: How about a hippopotamus?
Cowardly Lion: Why, I'd thrash him from top to bottomus!
He saw it on Ted Koppelus.
Ted Koppel is a veteran newsman and the longtime host of ABC News Nightline, which first aired in 1980.
Hey, wait. He’s got salvage rights.
In the old days, recovering a ship and its cargo after a shipwreck was the right of any other ship that happened along. Nowadays, salvage is regulated and performed by specialized ships and crews.
Nice. Better than that tarpon I caught in Bimini.
Tarpon is a large fish that lives in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans; they’re considered a prize game fish because they’re big and put up a spectacular fight. Bimini is a chain of islands in the Bahamas, about 50 miles east of Miami, Florida.
That’s for you, Moe and Larry. Spinach chins.
The Three Stooges was a slapstick comedy trio that performed for five decades in the 20th century. They got their start in a vaudeville act called Ted Healy & His Stooges. The first lineup included mainstays Moe Howard (Moses Horwitz; 1897-1975) and Larry Fine (Louis Feinberg; 1902-1975). “Spinach-chins” sounds like the kind of insult that Moe would heap upon his comrades, but in fact he used it once against a bearded man (played by regular Stooges foil Vernon Dent) in 1949’s Malice in the Palace.
Crazy Popper, Crazy Popper, the slap-happiest game ever.
“The slaphappiest game ever” was the slogan for the action/card game Hands Down, made by Ideal Toys, which was popular in the mid ‘60s. Based on the children’s card game Snap, players would draw cards and try to be the first slap down one of the plastic hands on the “Slap-O-Matic.”
Get him girls, he hit Buddy!
Paraphrasing a line from the from the 1974 Mel Brooks western-spoof movie Blazing Saddles, in which a line of male chorus dancers say: “They hit Buddy! Come on, girls!”
This looks like a strange version of Lysistrata.
Lysistrata is a comic play written by the ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes, about a group of women who resolve to end war by withholding sex until the men agree to make peace.
The hicks are up in arms. They’ve left their fields and barns. They’re marching on the farms because the kids don’t drink enough milk.
A chant from a 1960s commercial for Hershey’s Instant, a chocolate powder mixed into boring, bland old milk. Actual wording: "The cows are up in arms, they’ve left their fields and barns, they’re marching from their farms because the kids won’t drink enough milk."
[Sung.] When you’re a Jet you’re a Jet all the way …
A line from the “Jet Song” from the musical West Side Story (see above note). Sample lyrics: “When you're a Jet/You're a Jet all the way/From your first cigarette/To your last dyin' day …”
[Sung.] There ain’t nothing like a dame … We got sunlight on the sand...Nothing looks like a dame …Nothing cooks...
Two lines from the song “There Is Nothing Like a Dame” from the musical South Pacific. Sample lyrics: “There is nothing like a dame. Nothing in the world. There is nothing you can name that is anything like a dame. There are no drinks like a dame. And nothing thinks like a dame. There are no books like a dame. And nothing looks like a dame. And nothing acts like a dame. Or attracts like a dame …”
Oh, this must be on the way to the Greenwich Village Halloween party.
Every year on Halloween there is a huge parade through Greenwich Village to celebrate the holiday; participants and spectators alike dress in wild costumes and have a blast. The parade has been held annually since 1973.
I hope I get it. I really hope I get it.
A reference to the song “I Hope I Get It,” from the 1975 Marvin Hamlisch/Edward Kleban musical A Chorus Line.
For some inexplicable reason, a deep-seated call from nature causes these lemmings to follow each other off the edge of the high cliff.
The 1958 Disney documentary White Wilderness is notorious as the origin of the “lemmings commit suicide” legend. During filming, the photographers deliberately drove the lemmings en masse over the edge of a cliff. It is true that lemmings will sometimes fall off a cliff or into a lake or river during mass migrations, but these can safely be classed as accidents, not furry suicides.
And now Red in the silent spot. Red’s a fisherman, and …
A reference to The Red Skelton Show, a TV sketch comedy series that aired from 1951-1971. The “Silent Spot” was a regular feature on the show, a brief skit without words that showcased Skelton’s skill at pantomime in a variety of roles.
She hit Big Jake.
A reference to Show 202, The Sidehackers.
Hey, it’s Gloria Estefan and the Catalina Deus Ex Sound Machina.
Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine is a Latin band based out of Miami. The group was very popular in Spanish-speaking countries but did not become well-known in the United States until its early 1980s hit “Conga.” In 1990 the band’s tour bus was involved in an accident and Estefan broke a vertebra in her back. Her recovery was long and painful, but eventually she returned to performing with the band. “Deus ex machina” is a term from Greek drama referring to a god introduced to resolve the plot at the end of the play.
Is that Deney Terrio?
Deney Terrio was a dancer and host of the TV series Dance Fever from 1979 to 1985. He won fame as the man who taught John Travolta his famous disco moves for the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever.
Yeah, he’s the guy who taught John Travolta to dance.
See previous note.
It’s to raise money for the National Front.
The National Front is an extreme-right political party in Great Britain with ties to the neo-Nazi movement. It was founded in 1967 and won a whopping 3 percent of the vote during the 1970s, but has done slightly less well in the years since. In 1990 the group claimed only about 3,000 members.
It’s the Keep Mandela in Prison dance.
Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) was a black activist in South Africa during the period ruled by apartheid, the institutionalized system of racism. He was one of the leaders of the African National Congress, a black-liberation group. From 1962-1990 he was imprisoned on charges of sabotage, treason, and conspiracy. During his many decades in prison he became a cause celebre among the international anti-apartheid community. In 1990 he was released, and four years later he became president of post-apartheid South Africa.
They want to play Sun City, I guess.
A reference to the anti-apartheid song “Sun City.” Sun City was a luxury resort located in South Africa during the height of apartheid, and “Sun City,” recorded by a group of musicians calling themselves Artists United Against Apartheid, became an anthem for the anti-apartheid movement, with the lyrics “I ain’t gonna play Sun City.”
P.W. Botha, back in office.
P.W. Botha was the prime minister (1978-1984) and then (1984-1989) president of South Africa during the time of apartheid. He was a fervent supporter of white supremacy.
Officially known as Stereo 8, 8-track tapes were cassettes of magnetic tape in an infinite loop. They were developed in the early 1960s by Bill Lear (of Lear Jet fame) and released in 1964. They caught on because, until then, the only means of owning music were vinyl records or cumbersome reel-to-reels, and neither of those were terribly portable. They were popular until the mid-1970s, when standard compact cassettes replaced them as the desired form of totable audio entertainment. Complaints included low audio quality, the inability to rewind, the inability to choose a specific song to go to, songs switching in the middle of play to a different track ... Actually, it’s a wonder they were ever popular.
Hey, they grew up to be Jim and Tammy Bakker!
Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were televangelists during the 1960s and 1970s. By the 1980s they had built the PTL Network, a theme park called Heritage USA, and a satellite network. They lived lives of the utmost conspicuous consumption, paying themselves millions of dollars out of the money their operations pulled in. However, in 1987 revelations of sexual mischief destroyed their empire; fellow religious broadcaster Jerry Falwell referred to Bakker as a “cancer”; and in 1989 Bakker was convicted on fraud and racketeering charges (with much of the evidence supplied by Falwell). He served five years in prison, during which time Tammy divorced him. She later married church builder Roe Messner and died in 2007 after an 11-year battle with colon cancer that had spread to her lungs.
Here comes Carmine Ragusa again.
Carmine Ragusa, a.k.a. “The Big Ragu,” was the Italian singer with a crush on Shirley on the TV sitcom Laverne and Shirley, which aired from 1976-1983. The part was played by Eddie Mekka.
See note on Laverne and Shirley, above.
Do the Jerk! The Idiot! The Moron! –The Potato Up the Butt Dance! The Dickweed!
The Jerk was one of several dance crazes from the 1960s; it was immortalized in the 1964 song “The Jerk” by The Larks as well as the 1966 song “Cool Jerk” by The Capitols. The Jerk was performed by bringing the hands up to face level and crossing them at the wrists. The arms would then be swept outward in time to the music, but not gracefully. Yes, your arms were supposed to jerk outward and inward. “The Potato” refers to the Mashed Potato, a popular dance in the early 1960s performed to songs such as “Mashed Potato Time” and “(Do the) Mashed Potatoes.” It was performed by positioning one foot far behind the other and swiveling the raised heel of the rear foot.
The white male reality! The Donald Hollinger!
Donald Hollinger was Marlo Thomas’s boyfriend on the TV series That Girl, which aired from 1966-1971. The part was played by Ted Bessell.
Do the That Girl!
See previous note.
It’s just one big sunny, fun-filled Bataan Death March.
The Bataan Death March was a forced march of American and Filipino prisoners of war during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in World War II. Of the 70,000 prisoners who set out on the march from the Bataan Peninsula to a POW camp, only 54,000 arrived; the rest died on the way or escaped into the jungle. After the war, the Japanese commander in the Philippines was executed for his role in the march.
Why did the Titanic have to sink and this didn’t?
The Titanic was a luxury passenger ship that sank on its maiden voyage in 1912, killing about 1,500 people on board.
You know what’s the difference between the Titanic and this? The Titanic had talent.
See previous note.
Like give you some bennies, yellowjackets, or goofballs.
Slang for various kinds of drugs: bennies stands for benzedrine, which is an amphetamine; yellowjackets are nembutal, a barbiturate, which comes in a yellow capsule. See note on goofballs, above.
How about (something) with straight razors and nitrous oxide in the tanks?
Nitrous Oxide is a colorless, non-flammable gas that is used as a mild anesthetic and analgesic in dentistry and minor surgery. Its euphoric effects have led to recreational use and the nickname “laughing gas.”
It’s a stick of dynamite. You’ll get to throw it at me.
You know what dynamite (trinitrotoluene) is, but did you know who invented it? Alfred Nobel (1833-1896), a Swedish chemist. After his brother Ludvig passed away, a French paper erroneously published Alfred’s obit and talked smack about him for being a “merchant of death.” Nobel wanted to be remembered better than that, so he established the Nobel Prize, awarded to worthy folks in several fields every year—most notably the Peace Prize, given to the person or organization deemed to have best advanced the cause of amity among nations and peace among men.
Now, for every one of these you find, we donate a penny to Jerry’s Kids.
For decades, every year on Labor Day, comedian Jerry Lewis hosted a telethon to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). It was first broadcast in 1966. During the telethon, Lewis referred to children with muscular dystrophy as “Jerry’s Kids.” In 2011the MDA abruptly removed Lewis as chairman of the organization and as host of the telethon. For most of its history, the MDA Labor Day Telethon lasted for 21 hours; however, due to the changing landscape of both television and viewing habits, the telethon was reduced to six hours in 2011 and three hours in 2012.
He’s not even my son, you know—he’s Marty Milner’s kid.
See note on Martin Milner, above.
Meanwhile, in Gotham’s harbor, the Exxon Valdez.
Gotham City is the fictional setting for the adventures of DC Comics superhero Batman. On March 23, 1989, the Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker carrying 53 million gallons of crude oil from Alaska, ran aground on a reef, spilling nearly 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound. The captain had been drinking earlier in the day, and the third mate who was on duty when the accident occurred may have been working for as long as 18 hours straight. Roughly 1,300 miles of beach were contaminated, and estimates of wildlife killed by the spill include 250,000 birds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, 22 killer whales, and billions of salmon and herring eggs. Cleanup efforts cost more than $2 billion.
Look, there’s bobby pins down there, and Band-Aids, and there's a lot of hair in the drain.
Band-Aid is a brand of adhesive bandage invented in 1920 and manufactured by Johnson & Johnson. It’s become a brand eponym for all adhesive bandages.
“What do they got?” That we ain’t got? –Courage.
A line from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, spoken by the Cowardly Lion (Burt Lahr).
Charlie Sheen in Navy SEALS—a Golan-Globus production.
Navy SEALS is a 1990 film starring Charlie Sheen as Lt. Dale Hawkins as the head of a SEAL team assigned to rescue a plane crew taken hostage by Middle Eastern terrorists. Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus are two Israeli businessmen who founded Cannon Films, a production company notorious for producing some of the cheesiest films of the 1980s. Besides Show 516, Alien from L.A., the duo is responsible for Delta Force and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, among many others. In the early 1990s Golan and Globus sold the company and went their separate ways.
Look, it’s Dino, Desi, and Billy. –Hey, Sinatra got them a gig.
From reader Kevin Stafford: “Dino, Desi & Billy was a group of well-connected young men from Beverly Hills who recorded songs in the ’60s. The group was composed of Dean Martin Jr., Desiderio Arnaz IV, and William Hinsche.” Frank Sinatra (1915-1998) was a legendary crooner and actor who was famously buddies with Dean Martin Jr.'s dad.
Oh, they got sandwiches. Oh, wait—he got that pistol from the Man from Glad.
The Man from Glad was an advertising icon first conceived in 1963. Dressed in a white suit, he would come rushing in to save people from various food-related disasters.
Is it safe?
A line from the 1976 conspiracy/thriller film Marathon Man, starring Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier, based on the 1974 novel of the same name by William Goldman. Olivier plays a Nazi war criminal, in New York to retrieve diamonds he stole during World War II. Believing Hoffman’s character has information on the diamonds’ whereabouts, he kidnaps Hoffman and tortures him by drilling his teeth without anesthetic, calmly repeating the question “Is it safe?” which Hoffman doesn’t understand. The line came in at #70 in the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest Movie Quotes of All Time, and has been referenced often in pop culture, especially in song and album titles.
Tell your friends, dude.
“Tell your friends” is a line from the 1989 film Road House.
Old black water, keep on rolling.
A line from the song “Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers. Sample lyrics: “Old black water, keep on rolling/Mississippi moon, won't you keep on shining on me.”
Any resemblance to a real action sequence is purely coincidental.
A paraphrasing of the well-known disclaimer that appears at the end of nearly every motion picture. Usually it reads something like, “All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.” It became standard issue thanks to legal action associated with the 1932 movie Rasputin and the Empress. In the film, Russia’s Princess Natasha (a proxy for real-life Princess Irina Alexandrovna) is raped by Rasputin. Irina sued for libel and was awarded nearly $130,000, plus a $1 million out-of-court settlement from MGM.
“Oh, Arthur!” Once you get caught between the moon and New York City?
A paraphrase of a line from the theme to the movie Arthur, sung by Christopher Cross. Actual lyrics: “When you get caught between the Moon and New York City/I know it's crazy, but it's true/If you get caught between the Moon and New York City/The best that you can do/The best that you can do is fall in love …”
They took my thumbs! They … Oh, no, wait, they’re still here.
See note on The Pope of Greenwich Village, above.
“I wanna know, what’s it all about?” Alfie?
A line from the song “Alfie” written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for the 1966 romantic comedy movie of the same name, starring Michael Caine. Versions of the song were hits for Cilla Black in England and Dionne Warwick in the US, but the version actually used in the American release of the film was sung by Cher. Sample lyrics: “What's it all about, Alfie?/Is it just for the moment we live?/What's it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?/Are we meant to take more than we give/Or are we meant to be kind?”
“The temptation’ll be too much for him.” And the Four Tops and the Spinners.
The Temptations are an R&B group formed in 1960 and known for such hits as “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” The Four Tops are a Motown group that performed with their original lineup for four decades; the group, with a slightly different lineup, continues to perform today. Their hits include “I Can’t Help Myself” and “Reach Out I’ll Be There.” The Spinners are a soul band that were popular during the 1960s and 1970s with such hits as “Sadie” and “Rubberband Man.”
“What’s the play?” It’s Twelfth Night.
Twelfth Night is a play by William Shakespeare, a comedy of mistaken identity in which everyone falls in love with the wrong person.
These kids today, with their loud music and hula hoops, fax machines, I don't know...
Circular bands that can be thrown, rolled, gyrated about the hips, and more have been made for many centuries. In 1957, Wham-O founders Richard Knerr and Arthur Melin took the idea of Australian exercise hoops, made from bamboo, and made their own version with plastic tubing. More than twenty-five million were sold in just four months; it is one of the great marketing success stories of the mid-20th century.
For those of you following along in the Syd Field screenplay workbook, that last scene was the plot point setting up the third act. Now this.
Syd Field (1935-2013) was the “guru of all screenwriters,” according to CNN. He taught screenwriting at the University of Southern California and has written several books on screenwriting that are used as standard texts by hundreds of schools. Amusingly, his actual screenwriting credits are few and far between (a handful of TV episodes, a short film), but his fingerprints are all over Hollywood to this day. Field taught the “three-act” structure, in which the plot is set up in the first half hour (the first act), the second act focuses on the main character’s struggle to achieve his/her goal, and the third act is the climactic struggle and aftermath, in which the protagonist either does or does not achieve the goal.
Mayberry. After hours.
Mayberry, North Carolina, was the fictional small-town setting for The Andy Griffith Show, which aired from 1960 to 1968, and Mayberry R.F.D., which ran from 1968 to 1971. The town was based on Mount Airy, North Carolina, Andy Griffith’s hometown.
No shirt, no shoes, no script.
A reference to signs that read “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” that used to frequently be posted at the doors of restaurants, grocery stores, and department stores. Theories on their origin seem to fall into two camps. The first and most likely has them originating at beachfront shops (perhaps Atlantic City) in order to discourage people strolling into the store straight from the shore and tracking in sand. The second theory relates to an anti-hippie backlash from square shop owners in the early 1970s.
Okay, uh. Hello muddah, hello fadduh, here I am at, uh, Catalina...no, that's not...
A take on the 1963 Allan Sherman novelty song “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (A Letter from Camp)”. Actual lyrics: “Hello Muddah, hello Fadduh/Here I am at Camp Grenada/Camp is very entertaining/And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining.”
Zack Norman as Sammy in Chief Zabu.
According to the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide’s list of the Fifty Most Obscure References, this is a reference to a "long-running ad in Variety. It ran forever: Don’t know if Chief Zabu ever made it past the stage where you talk about it over liver dumpling soup at Jerry’s Deli, but you might remember Zack from Romancing the Stone or his role as the woman-slapping thug in the despicable Henry Jaglom film Sitting Ducks.” In fact, Chief Zabu—the story of a New York real estate tycoon whose dreams of political power lead him to attempt a takeover of a Polynesian island—was written, produced, and directed by Zack Norman, under the pseudonym Howard Zuker. Production began in 1986, and although the film was given an R rating in 1988, it was never completed or released. The ads, however, ran continuously in Variety between 1985 and 1988. In late 2016, in light of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the movie was taken off the shelf and given a limited release in Los Angeles and a screening at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival.
I’m watching you, crayon head.
See above note on crayons.
Hopping down the bunny trail.
A line from the children’s song “Peter Cottontail.” Sample lyrics: “Here comes Peter Cottontail. Hoppin’ down the bunny trail/Hippity, hoppity/Easter’s on its way …”
Hey, it’s Charlie’s Angels. Plus a smart one.
Charlie’s Angels was a T&A series that aired from 1976-1981. It featured a revolving cast of beautiful women who worked as private eyes under the direction of the unseen “Charlie.” Kate Jackson, who played Sabrina Duncan from 1976-1979, was usually referred to as “the smart one.”
Oh, it’s McMillan and Wife and Wife and Wife.
McMillan and Wife was a TV series that aired from 1971-1976. It starred Rock Hudson as San Francisco Police Commissioner Stewart McMillan and Susan Saint James as his wife, Sally, who always wound up tangled in his cases.
Oh, peach daiquiri, so that’s what I drank last night. Hmm. Tasted pretty good.
A daiquiri is an alcoholic cocktail consisting of white rum, lime juice, and simple syrup, shaken with cracked ice and strained into a chilled cocktail glass. There can be a few variations, but if sweet fruit juice and a blender are involved, you’re doing it wrong.
Nice spit take, dude.
A spit take is a comedy shtick where someone taking a sip of a beverage reacts to hearing or seeing something by spitting the beverage out. Comedian and early TV star Danny Thomas is often credited with popularizing the spit take, and the Cinematic Titanic crew performed a spectacular synchronized quintuple spit take, in response to a character uttering the “n-word,” in the live DVD for the movie East Meets Watts.
"I don't have time for games." And I haven’t got time for the pain!
Ads in the 1980s for the ibuprofen-based OTC pain reliever Medipren used the slogan “When you haven’t got time for the pain,” as well as covers of “Haven’t Got Time for the Pain,” a 1974 song written and recorded by Carly Simon. The pill was first produced in 1986 by Tylenol makers Johnson & Johnson, but its sales paled in comparison to then-new Advil, and Medipren was discontinued in the early 1990s.
When you’re a Jet you’re a Jet all the way.
See note on the “Jet Song,” above.
It’s a Catalina Army Knife.
A Swiss Army Knife is a tool resembling a standard pocket knife, though it carries many other devices, including scissors, a corkscrew, screwdrivers, etc. First produced in Switzerland in 1897, it was called “Offiziersmesser” (“Officer’s Knife”), and dubbed the “Swiss Army Knife” by American soldiers during World War II who had trouble pronouncing the name.
Wow, this Main Street USA parade is really getting thin.
Main Street USA is the first area people see on walking in Disney parks, including Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, several international Disneyland parks, and the original Disneyland in Anaheim, California. They are themed around a small town in the 1890s-1920s, and are based on Walt Disney’s hometown of Marceline, Missouri. All of the parks’ parades start on Main Street.
Ha ha ha, hi folks!
An imitation of the annoying, high-pitched squeak emitted by Disney’s Mickey Mouse.
He’s not Mickey, that’s Nicky.
See previous note.
He’s running into the Haunted Mansion! –Ohhhh. [Imitating.] –I am your ghost host.
The Haunted Mansion is a ride at Disneyland (where it first opened in 1969), Walt Disney World, and Tokyo Disneyland. Voiced by Paul Frees, the invisible host of the ride introduces himself thusly: “Welcome, foolish mortals, to the Haunted Mansion. I am your host—your ‘ghost host.’”
[Jerry Lewis-esque whining] Oh, lady! –Oh! –Waaaahhhh! [and so on].
Jerry Lewis (born Joseph Levitch) is a comedian who rose to fame thanks to his partnership with Dean Martin (1917-1995) in the 1940s and ‘50s and then in a lengthy string of his own zany films, including 1961’s The Ladies Man, in which Lewis famously belted, “Lady!”
Don’t snag on me! Don’t snag on me! –Eat it, boy! Eat it!
Snagging or snicker-snagging is the bullying practice of holding a victim down while dangling a glob of spit above them. Usually, the spit is sucked back in by the bully just before it falls. The Urban Dictionary website actually credits MST3K with bringing the phrase “snicker-snag” into the popular vernacular.
[More Jerry Lewis-esque noises followed by an imitation of Dean Martin.] No, Jerry. Jerry, no. You got me all wet, boy.
The aforementioned Dean Martin, after his lucrative yet contentious partnership with Jerry Lewis, had a successful movie and music career on his own, in films such as Rio Bravo and with songs such as “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head.” His membership in the so-called Rat Pack (which included Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford) made him even more popular. In 1965, he launched The Dean Martin Show on NBC, where it remained until 1974. Beginning in that year, he hosted occasional TV specials titled The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast. These raucous affairs were broadcast until 1984.
Take a rest, friend. You’ve provided enough comic relief. Thank you, Corky the water clown, for making us laugh at love … again.
Corky the Waterskiing Clown was a perennial attraction at Cypress Gardens in Florida, which closed in 2009. “Thank you Neil Simon for making us laugh about falling in love … again” was an advertising tagline for the 1977 film The Goodbye Girl.
FBI. Pratfall division.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation was founded in 1908 as the Bureau of Investigation and has spent most of its history investigating and prosecuting serious crimes and threats within the United States. Director J. Edgar Hoover spent most of his fifty-year tenure beefing up the FBI into a professional force; however, Hoover also abused his authority to illegally spy on “subversives,” including Martin Luther King, Jr., the NAACP, anti-war protestors, and even Albert Einstein.
Hey, cool, a Bon Jovi poster.
Bon Jovi was an immensely successful pop-metal act during the 1980s with such songs as “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.”
Kinda like a peashooter, isn’t it?
A peashooter is usually a tube (or straw) through which someone could blow a pea, spitball, etc. The term is also applied to any firearm with presumed weak firepower.
I’m Iggy Pop.
Iggy Pop is widely considered the godfather of the punk movement due to his work with seminal 1970s band The Stooges. After that band broke up, he struck out on a solo career.
The script’s in Braille now.
Braille is a system of raised dots standing for letters that allows blind people to read; it was invented in 1821 by Louis Braille, a blind French musician and teacher.
Oh, the pain, the pain. Stealing art …having fun –Shaving my head … –Didn’t I tell you that? –Oh, you promiscuous, manly robot monster? –Kill him. Kill him.
An imitation of Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris) from the campy TV sci-fi series Lost in Space (CBS 1965-1968). Originally cast as a villain, Dr. Smith soon became a sympathetic character and comic relief in the series, with most of the conflicts resulting from his harebrained schemes gone awry. Dr. Smith’s relentless cowardice resulted in frequent emotional breakdowns, wherein he would either hide behind other characters and howl “We’re doomed!” or confess his shortcomings and whimper, “Oh, the pain …” Robot Monster is the film featured in Show 107.
Hmm, musical newspaper from Japan. And look: Zack Norman as Sammy in Chief Zabu. It says right there.
See above note.
Well, there’s that Louis Nye lookalike contest.
Actor and comedian Louis Nye (1913-2005) played Sonny Drysdale on the TV series The Beverly Hillbillies, which aired from 1962-1971. He also guested on many other top-rated shows of the 1970s and ‘80s.
Hey, it’s a skinhead! Get Geraldo!
In 1988, trash-TV mainstay Geraldo Rivera was doing a show on teenage hatemongers when a brawl broke out, and in the melee Geraldo got his nose broken by a skinhead wielding a chair. It was the most famous moment in the history of the Geraldo Rivera Show, which aired from 1987-1998.
Dork shack. –Geek shack. –Dork shack, baby, yeah, that’s where it’s at.
A paraphrase of a line from the song “Love Shack” by the B-52’s. Actual lyrics: “The Love Shack is a little old place/Where we can get together/Love Shack baby! Love Shack baby!/Love Shack, that's where it’s at!”
Got a movie that’s as long as a whale. –It's about to set sail.
Another line from “Love Shack” (see previous note): “Hop in my Chrysler/It’s as big as a whale/And it’s about to set sail!”
A plot hole that's as big as a whale.
See previous note.
Huzzah! King John invites you to the Ren Festival. See three hundred years crammed into one place. Meet the people you snagged on in high school. Bring your own tights or wear some of our own.
See note about the Renaissance Festival, above.
This was harder than a Werner Herzog film to figure out.
Werner Herzog is a German film and opera director, as well as a screenwriter, producer and actor. Many of his films involve heroes with impossible dreams: Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) and Fitzcarraldo (1982) for example. Other Werner Herzog film titles include Stroszek (1977) and Woyzeck (1979).