324: Master Ninja II
by Wyn Hilty
Spotlight on the Black Moses of Soul!
“Black Moses” was a nickname for soul musician Isaac Hayes; he released a 1971 album under that title.
I feel like a band on the run.
“Band on the Run” is a 1974 hit song (and album) by Paul McCartney and Wings.
A reference to Show 104, Women of the Prehistoric Planet.
Walk like an Egyptian, conka-chonk.
A line from the song “Walk Like an Egyptian” by the Bangles. Sample lyrics: “All the old paintings on the tombs/They do the sand dance don't you know/If they move too quick (oh whey oh)/They're falling down like a domino …”
I think it’s the Blue Man Group.
The Blue Man Group is a theatrical collective whose shows consist of three mute performers in black clothes and blue face paint. They started out as street performers in New York City in the 1980s and got their own theatrical show in 1991. There are currently four Blue Man Groups performing in various cities across the country.
Oh, no, look, it’s Catfish Hunter warming up.
Jim “Catfish” Hunter (1946-1999) was a pitcher for the Athletics and later the Yankees in the 1960s and 1970s. He retired in 1979 at the age of 33. Twenty years later he died of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Sorry.
There’s no Kosugi like Sho Kosugi like no Kosugi I know.
A take on the Irving Berlin song “There’s No Business Like Show Business” from the musical Annie Get Your Gun. Sample lyrics: “There's no business like show business/Like no business I know/Everything about it is appealing/Everything the traffic will allow/Nowhere could you have that happy feeling/When you aren't stealing that extra bow …”
Dodge trucks. Ram tough.
Beginning in the early 1980s, Dodge trucks built by Chrysler used the ad slogan “Built Ram tough.”
Crystal Bernard persuasion.
A reference to the song “Crystal Blue Persuasion” by Tommy James and the Shondells.
Oh, Joe Boston. He only puts out one movie every ten years.
The band Boston is known for only releasing an album every eight or so years. After their self-titled 1976 debut album, they released Don't Look Back two years later, but it would be another eight years before 1986's Third Stage, and eight more until 1994's Walk On. Their next album was Corporate America (2002), followed by Life, Love & Hope (2013).
You’ll be a Henson rat like me.
Jim Henson (1936-1990) was a puppeteer and the creator of the Muppets, the half-puppet, half-marionette creatures who appeared on the TV shows Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. A group of rats occasionally appeared in the background of The Muppet Show; their leader was Rizzo the Rat, named after Dustin Hoffman’s character in Midnight Cowboy.
“It’s been a long time.” Since I rock and rolled?
A line from the 1971 song “Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin. Sample lyrics: “It's been a long time since I rock and rolled/It's been a long time since I did the stroll/Ooh, let me get it back, let me get it back, let me get it back/Mm-baby, where I come from …”
I love buddy films. This is just like The Last Boy Scout.
The Last Boy Scout is a 1991 film starring Bruce Willis as a detective who teams up with an ex-quarterback (played by Damon Wayans) to solve a murder.
Sounds like the Chicago Transit Authority.
Chicago Transit Authority was the original name of the band Chicago, and the title of their 1969 album; their sound featured a three-man horn section as well as guitar, bass, and keyboards. (Thanks to Matt McDonald for this reference.)
"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen." Do not take the green acid.
The Woodstock Music & Art Fair was a three-day festival in August 1969, considered to be a seminal moment in pop culture and a generational touchstone. More than 500,000 concert-goers descended upon Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York, to hear musical acts including Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Who and Jimi Hendrix. Famously, PA announcer Chip Monck warned attendees, “The brown acid that is circulating around us is not specifically too good. It’s suggested you do stay away from that.” The announcement was included on later soundtrack albums of the concert and thus passed into legend. (Thanks to Casey Scott for this reference.)
Hey, look, it’s Francis Ford Coppola.
Francis Ford Coppola is a highly respected film director known for such classic movies as The Godfather and Apocalypse Now.
All over the world!
An imitation of comedian and Denver radio personality Michael Floorwax.
Why me? Why me all the time?
An imitation of Eric Von Zipper (played by Harvey Lembeck), the outlaw biker from Beach Blanket Bingo.
Hey, look, it’s Malcolm X.
Malcolm X (1925-1965) was a radical black leader during the 1960s who preached racial pride and black separatism, as opposed to civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., who wanted to see blacks better integrated into mainstream (read: white) society. In 1965 he was shot to death during a rally; three Black Muslims were convicted of his murder.
It’s Meat Loaf!
Meat Loaf is a large singer/songwriter who peaked in the 1970s with such songs as “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.”
[Sung.] Ebony and ivory …
A line from the song “Ebony and Ivory” by Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney, which preaches racial harmony by way of the piano keyboard. Sample lyrics: “Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony/Side by side on my piano keyboard, oh lord, why don’t we?”
It’s Scott Hamilton!
Scott Hamilton is a figure skater who took home the gold medal from the 1984 Olympics. After that competition he turned professional, touring with his own skating company for 15 years before retiring.
Pearl Drops is a brand of whitening toothpaste that uses the slogan “Mmmm … it’s a great feeling.” Their ads in the 1970s & ‘80s had people passing their tongue weirdly over their teeth, reveling in their smoothness and whiteness.
Go, Charlie Brown, go!
Charlie Brown is the hapless protagonist of the comic strip “Peanuts” by Charles Schulz (1922-2000). In the 1975 TV special You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown, Charlie and Snoopy enter a motocross race together. (Thanks to Sitting Duck for this reference.)
Big Jim Seaborn?
Possibly a reference to Jim Seaborn, a hockey player with the Chicago Cardinals.
“And there’s Carrie Brown coming up fast on the inside.” And there’s Linda Ronstadt behind them on roller skates!
Linda Ronstadt is an American pop singer who hit her peak of popularity during the 1970s with such hits as “When Will I Be Loved” and “It’s So Easy.” She posed in roller skates on the album cover for Living in the USA. Jerry Brown, the onetime governor of California and presidential hopeful, dated Ronstadt for a time in the '70s. (Thanks to Bill Stiteler for spotting the Jerry Brown reference.)
William Katt, Freddie Mercury.
Blond, curly-haired William Katt is an actor best known for playing the title role in the TV series The Greatest American Hero, which aired from 1981-1983. Freddie Mercury (1946-1991) and his mustache sang lead for the British rock band Queen.
Looks like Tony Scott directed.
Tony Scott (1944-2012) directed the racing film Days of Thunder; he was known for his frenetic, fast-paced style.
This week on Then Came Bronson.
Then Came Bronson was a TV series that ran from 1969-1970. It starred Michael Parks as a young man traveling through America searching for personal meaning. According to the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, “Frank Conniff loved it.”
F.I.S.T. with Sylvester Stallone.
F.I.S.T. is a 1978 film featuring action star Sylvester Stallone as a man working his way up through the ranks of a truckers' union. It was written by schlockmeister Joe Eszterhas.
Oh, it’s a Clifford Odets play.
Clifford Odets (1906-1963) was a playwright and screenwriter who works tended to focus on the underprivileged and their struggles against the ruling class. In the 1950s he was investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee but escaped being blacklisted and continued to work in Hollywood until his death in 1963.
No, a Tom Bodett play.
The Southern-fried Tom Bodett is the longtime spokesperson for the Motel 6 chain, who utters the famous catchphrase, “We’ll leave the light on for you.”
Ossie Davis (1917-2005) was a black actor, director, and activist who found recognition late in life acting in a number of Spike Lee’s films. He was also active in the civil rights movement, delivering the eulogies for both Malcolm X (see above note) and Martin Luther King Jr.
Hey, Pippi Longstocking.
Pippi Longstocking is the heroine of a series of children’s books by Astrid Lindgren. Known for wearing two braids that stick straight out from her head, Pippi is a girl with superhuman strength and enormous wealth who lives alone and has many adventures with the neighbor children.
When Welcome Back, Kotter is canceled.
Welcome Back, Kotter was a TV series that aired from 1975 to 1979. It starred Gabe Kaplan as the teacher of a group of teens called the Sweathogs (one played by a young John Travolta).
That does it, Flintstone!
On The Flintstones, an animated TV show that first aired from 1960 to 1966, Fred Flintstone operated the “bronto-crane” at the quarry; his boss, played by John Stephenson, was Mr. Slate.
You killed my sister.
In the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, after Dorothy’s house crash-lands in Oz, the Wicked Witch of the West demands, “Who killed my sister? Who killed the Witch of the East? Was it you?”
Stan Lee is a writer and comic book publisher who helped create the Marvel universe and took that company from a small publishing concern to a giant media conglomerate.
Hey, it’s Chico Marx.
Chico Marx (1887-1961) was the oldest of the Marx Brothers; his Tyrolean hat and terrible Italian accent became famous in their series of films, including Duck Soup and Animal Crackers.
Hey, it’s Lucy.
In the famous “Job Switching” episode of I Love Lucy, Lucy and her friend Ethel get jobs on an assembly line at a candy factory.
Ahhh, Ricky, I got ptomaine.
An imitation of Lucille Ball on I Love Lucy (see previous note); “Ricky” would be Ricky Ricardo, her husband on the show (played by real-life husband Desi Arnaz).
Wilford Brimley, safecracker.
Wilford Brimley is a portly, grandfatherly actor who appeared in a notable series of commercials for Quaker Oats in addition to such films as Cocoon and The Natural.
I am the walrus. I think.
A line from the Beatles song “I Am the Walrus,” off their Magical Mystery Tour album. Sample lyrics: “Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come/Corporation T-shirt, stupid bloody Tuesday/Man, you been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long/I am the eggman, they are the eggmen/I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob.”
Dad? Oh. Another guy.
A reference to the portly actor Dick Van Patten, although he was not Timothy Van Patten’s father; the two were in fact half-brothers.
She’s got a Landers sister quality.
Judy and Audrey Landers were blond actresses who did a series of guest appearances on various television shows during the 1980s.
Boy, that Gideon writes a good novel.
Gideons International is a Christian organization that places Bibles in hotel rooms, hospitals, prisons, and schools. It was founded in 1899 by three businessmen and began placing Bibles in 1908.
Hey, he sounds like a Resusci Annie.
Resusci Annie is a realistic mannequin that has been used to train people to perform CPR since 1960. Her face is based on the death mask of a young drowning victim pulled from the Seine in France at the turn of the century. Since her identity was never established, romantic stories circulated in which she threw herself into the river due to unrequited love, and copies of her death mask became a popular decoration throughout Europe.
He looks like a Resusci Annie.
See previous note.
“Whatever happened to …” Baby Jane.
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is a film about a former child actress (Bette Davis) with a grudge against her wheelchair-bound sister (Joan Crawford).
It’s Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, Crow.
Ed Roth was a custom car designer known especially for his custom hot rods in the ‘60s.
On the TV show Cheers (1982-1993), the entire bar would yell “Norm!” when bar regular Norm Peterson (played by George Wendt) entered.
Hey, look on the wall. It’s Milton Berle’s netted slingshot briefs.
Milton Berle (1908-2002) was a popular comedian known as “Mr. Television” for his success in that medium. Tom Servo’s underwear collection contains “one pair of Joe Namath netted slingshot briefs.” It is also a somewhat risqué reference to the rumor that Berle was, um, generously endowed in the underwear department. (Thanks to Tonya Crawford for pointing out the reference to Berle's ... endowments.)
That’s why the lady is a tramp.
“The Lady Is a Tramp” is a song from the musical Babes in Arms. It was a signature song for Frank Sinatra. Sample lyrics: “She gets too hungry for dinner at eight/She likes the theater and never comes late/She never bothers with people she'd hate/That's why the lady is a tramp …”
“My hearing is excellent.” Because I have the Whisper 2000.
The Whisper 2000 was a hearing aid sold by mail order during the ‘90s; it claimed it would allow the owner to hear conversations up to 100 feet away. In 1996 17 states settled with the company over its claims, allowing customers to receive refunds.
“You just be sure lover boy’s on his way out of town.” I love that band!
Loverboy was an extremely popular hard rock band during the early 1980s, with hits such as “Working for the Weekend” and “Hot Girls in Love.”
Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch of the Fantastic Four, shouts “Flame on!” when he ignites.
“I’ll be seeing you.” Yeah, right, in all the old familiar places.
A reference to the song “I’ll Be Seeing You,” which has been recorded by Bing Crosby, among many others. Sample lyrics: “I'll be seeing you in all the old familiar places/That this heart of mine embraces all day through/In that small café, the park across the way/The children's carousel, the chestnut trees, the wishing well …”
And, uh, two hard-boiled eggs. [Honk.] Make that three hard-boiled eggs.
In the Marx Brothers movie A Night at the Opera, Groucho orders dinner, including repeated requests for different numbers of hard-boiled eggs.
Uh-oh, it’s Dave Lennox.
Dave Lennox founded Lennox International, which makes furnaces and other appliances. Two actors have played him in ads, Bill Tracy and Bob Tibbets.
Looks like Annie Lennox.
Annie Lennox is a Scottish singer who rose to fame as the voice of the Eurythmics, an immensely popular band during the 1980s. After the band broke up in 1990, she launched a successful solo career.
Tim, this is for the seafood lover in you.
“Red Lobster, for the seafood lover in you” is the longtime advertising jingle for the Red Lobster chain of budget seafood restaurants.
Just like Hooper.
Hooper is a 1978 film starring Burt Reynolds as a stuntman at the top of his game, dealing with an up-and-coming stuntman who worships him. In one scene, there is a massive brawl at the Palomino Club; at one point two men carry a third face down and throw him over a railing.
Yeah, or Kenny Rogers in Six Pack.
Six Pack (1982) was a movie about an itinerant racecar driver (country singer Kenny Rogers) who finds himself playing father figure to six Hollywood-adorable orphans.
Or E.T. No, wait.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a 1982 film about a lovable alien who gets stranded on earth, and a group of kids’ efforts to get him back home.
Oh, what is he, Obi-frickin’-Wan Kenobi?
Obi-Wan Kenobi is an old Jedi Knight, a master of the mystical Force, in the 1977 sci-fi film Star Wars. The part was played by Alec Guinness (1914-2000).
“My brother was that close to putting a union in that cannery.” Then he became the president ofPoland.
Lech Walesa is a Polish labor organizer who helped found Poland’s first independent labor union and who later became president of Poland in 1990, after the communist government of that country collapsed.
“You’re saying Webster killed your brother?” Emmanuel Lewis killed her brother?
Webster was a TV series about an ex-football player who adopts the orphaned son of an old teammate. The son, Webster Long, was played by the diminutive actor Emmanuel Lewis. The series ran from 1983-1989.
And they’re all here tonight on Tattletales!
Tattletales was a TV game show during the 1970s on which celebrities and their spouses competed to see which pair answered the most questions with the same answers; kind of like the Newlywed Game. It aired from 1974-1978; an updated version aired from 1982-1984.
“This is the house, on the left.” Just keep saying to yourself, it’s only a movie.
Promotions for the 1972 horror film Last House on the Left told audiences, “To avoid fainting, keep repeating to yourself, ‘It’s only a movie, it’s only a movie.’”
[Whispered.] Last house on the left.
The 1965 Herschell Gordon Lewis film Color Me Blood Red had used a similar tag line: “It’s just a movie.”
“That’s some lady, huh?” No, that’s my wife.
The origins of this joke are unknown, but it probably came out of late 19th-century music hall comedies, which preceded vaudeville.
Noah Webster (1758-1843) was a lexicographer, writer, and editor who published his famous An American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828. His name has become synonymous with dictionaries.
Thank you for flying Northwest. Enjoy your stay in Fargo.
Northwest Airlines is a passenger airline based in Minneapolis-St. Paul. In 1990 three pilots for Northwest Airlines were arrested for flying drunk from Fargo to Minneapolis; no one was hurt, but the pilots were fired, lost their licenses, and served time in federal prison.
Susan Sarandon is an actress known for her roles in such films as The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Bull Durham.
Oh, are they going to sing “Matchmaker” now?
“Matchmaker, Matchmaker” is a song from the musical Fiddler on the Roof. Sample lyrics: “Matchmaker, Matchmaker/Make me a match/Find me a find/Catch me a catch/Matchmaker, Matchmaker/Look through your book/And make me a perfect match.”
Hi, Frodo. Hi, Axl. Hi, Divine.
Frodo Baggins is the hobbit hero of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic epic fantasy Lord of the Rings. Axl Rose is the long-haired lead singer for the rock band Guns N’ Roses and a superstar during the 1980s. Divine (1945-1988) was a drag queen who appeared in a number of filmmaker John Waters’ movies, including Pink Flamingos and Polyester.
Hey, Huey Lewis.
Huey Lewis is the lead singer for Huey Lewis and the News, a rock band that was huge during the 1980s with hits like “The Power of Love.”
He asked me! I’ll wear that strapless Ed Asner …
Ed Asner is an actor best known for his portrayal of crusty journalist Lou Grant, first on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977) and later on the eponymous spinoff Lou Grant (1977-1982).
Grantsburg, Wisconsin. Workers chafing under the spiked heel of capitalism.
Grantsburg is a tiny town in Wisconsin, population about 1,300.
Maxi Priest is a British reggae artist best known for his 1990 hit “Close to You.”
[Sung.] Look for the union label … Come on, everybody! Come on, Pete Seeger! Weavers, join in! Woody?
A line from a 1970s ad jingle written for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU). Full lyrics: “Look for the union label/When you are buying a coat, dress or blouse/Remember somewhere our union's sewing/Our wages going/To feed the kids and run the house.” Pete Seeger (1919-2014) was a folk singer who wrote such famous protest anthems as “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and “If I Had a Hammer.” The Weavers were a folk group (of which Seeger was a member) that tended to sing songs supporting unions and other leftist causes. “Woody” is probably Woody Guthrie (1912-1967), another folk singer best known for penning “This Land Is Your Land.”
Old black eyes is back.
Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back was the title of a 1973 comeback album by legendary crooner Frank Sinatra.
Marlo Thomas, daughter of actor Danny Thomas, is an actress best known for starring in the sitcom That Girl.
Dominus vobiscum, everyone.
“Dominus vobiscum” (“The Lord be with you”) is a form of devout salutation employed at the beginning of certain formal prayers in the Catholic Church.
It’s Studs Terkel, not working.
Studs Terkel (1912-2008) was a writer and broadcaster who was especially known for his embrace of oral history. In 1974 he published a book called Working, which relied on oral history to divine people’s attitudes toward their jobs.
I have heard the stories of the Thuggee cult.
"I have heard the evil stories of the Thuggee cult" is a line from the 1984 film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, said by the child Maharajah (Raj Singh). The Thuggees were a cult operating in India between the 13th and the 19th centuries. They worshiped Kali, the Hindu goddess of death and destruction, and had a tendency to murder travelers by strangling them with nooses. Many of their victims were well-to-do, and some Thuggees became quite rich through the practice of their religious ritual. (Thanks to Tonya Crawford for the Indiana Jones reference.)
Howard Johnson’s right!
A line from the 1974 film Blazing Saddles.
An imitation of authentic frontiersman Gabby Johnson (played by Jack Starrett, doing a fine Gabby Hayes impersonation) in Blazing Saddles (see previous note).
Delta Burke is a curvy actress best known for her role in the television series Designing Women, which ran from 1986-1993.
Attica! Attica! Attica! Attica!
There was a famously horrible prison riot at Attica prison in New York in 1971, but the chant is a reference to the 1975 movie Dog Day Afternoon, starring Al Pacino. In the film, Sonny (Pacino) tries to rile up a mob to help him escape from a police cordon around the bank he is robbing by reminding them of the riot.
Hmm, Tahitian Treat. Hope the meeting didn’t start yet.
Tahitian Treat is a fruit-punch-flavored soft drink manufactured by Dr Pepper Snapple Group.
You took the last Tahitian Treat, old man.
See previous note.
Jimmy Carl Black.
Kevin Murphy in the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide: “Jimmy Carl Black was one of the Mothers of Invention since they were substantially the Soul Giants in 1964. … He called himself ‘the Indian of the group’ because he was Native American. He played drums and dressed up in ladies’ clothes on the album We’re Only in It for the Money, and it scared me a little when I was young. I’m over that now.”
No, it’s Shawn Phillips. And Tim Robbins.
Shawn Phillips is a popular musician who released a string of albums in the 1970s, including Contribution and Faces. Tim Robbins is an actor known for his roles in films like Bull Durham and Bob Roberts. (Thanks to Ray Frost for the Shawn Phillips reference.)
You’re very nosy, kitty cat. Do you know what we do to nosy people?
A paraphrased line from the 1974 film Chinatown.
They hit Mr. Bubble! Oh, no!
Mr. Bubble is a brand of bubble bath. Its ad mascot is an anthropomorphized soap bubble.
Sunday, at Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Grove, Wisconsin!
The Great Lakes Dragaway is a racetrack located in southwestern Wisconsin, near the Illinois/Wisconsin state line.
Mighty Mikes, with action traction.
Mighty Mike was a line of battery-powered toy trucks made by Remco in the ‘60s; its box boasted of its “climb-action traction.”
A Garden Weasel!
The Garden Weasel is a gardening tool that has been advertised on television for years (it was introduced in 1976). It is a cultivator designed to break up soil and root up weeds, preparing the ground for planting. The Garden Weasel was snapped up by the owner of the Faultless Starch company, who suspected people were not going to be starching their shirts for much longer.
A reference to Show 104, Women of the Prehistoric Planet.
“Huzzah” is a Ren Fest reference that was first used in MST3K Episode 303, The Pod People.
He’s off the ramp!
A line from Minneapolis comedian Joe Keyes’ standup routine, in a bit about Jesus waterskiing without a boat.
An imitation of KITT, the talking car from the TV show Knight Rider, which aired from 1982-1986. The car’s voice was supplied by William Daniels.
I saw that in a Mapplethorpe photo.
Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) was an American photographer known for his homoerotic photographs of nude men. Some of the most controversial photos were of New York City's underground gay BDSM scene.
I’ll harm you!
“I’ll harm you!” is a line uttered by comedian Joe Besser (1907-1988) in his persona of Oswald “Stinky” Davis, a bratty character he portrayed on The Abbott and Costello Show (1952-1953).
Hey, look, Ignatz was here.
Ignatz Mouse was the brick-tossing mouse in the comic strip “Krazy Kat,” created by George Herriman. The phrasing is reminiscent of "Kilroy was here," a graffiti that became popular during World War II.
Bil Keane ransacked the apartment.
Bil Keane (1922-2011) was the creator of the comic strip “The Family Circus.”
Or Billy did it. –Billy did it.
Keane periodically published cartoons that looked as if they were drawn by a small child, claiming that they were drawn by “Billy,” the seven-year-old son in the strip.
Dr Pepper lip gloss. Mmm.
The cosmetics maker Bonne Bell makes Lip Smackers lip gloss with the flavor of Dr Pepper, the popular soft drink.
Then Came Bronson. The van years.
See note on Then Came Bronson, above. Michael Parks, the star of Then Came Bronson, rode a Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle on the show.
Tonight? Oh, I was gonna watch my dad’s show.
Eight Is Enough starred half-brother Dick Van Patten as family patriarch Tom Bradford. The writers’ mistake is understandable; Dick was 31 years older than Tim.
Looks like the set for Graffiti Bridge.
Graffiti Bridge is a Prince film, a sequel to Purple Rain. The bridge in question was located in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, home of Best Brains. It was torn down in the early ‘90s.
Oh, I think it’s a Janet Jackson video. Rhythm Nation.
The music video for the Janet Jackson song “Rhythm Nation” was set in an industrial factory: steam, exposed pipes, machinery, and walkways.
I stopped for a Heath Bar—want a bite?
Heath Bars are a candy bar consisting of English toffee covered in milk chocolate. The Heath Bar is named after its creator, L.S. Heath, who first marketed it in 1914.
“We’ve had a break-in.” They were dressed as plumbers.
During the bad old days of the Nixon White House, there was a team of shadowy operatives known as the Plumbers (because they were in charge of stopping leaks). They included E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy. In 1972, a group of Plumbers were caught breaking into the Democratic national headquarters, located in a little hotel called the Watergate.
Hey, this looks like the end of Easy Rider, doesn’t it? –Good.
Easy Rider is a 1969 film about two counterculture bikers (Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson) in search of America. At the end of the movie (spoiler alert), the main characters are shot to death by a couple of country boys in a pickup truck.
McCloud, you’ve wrecked three vans. Good job.
An imitation of Sgt. Grover (played by Ken Lynch) on the TV series McCloud.
I’m the guy with the snake on my face.
Harry, the Guy with the Snake on His Face (played by John Candy) ran the adult book and video stores in Melonville on the Canadian sketch comedy show SCTV.
What’s this? The end of Master Ninja? Tune in tomorrow, same ninja time, same ninja station.
An imitation of the announcer from the 1966 TV series Batman, starring Adam West. The announcer would close each episode by urging viewers to tune in again, “same bat time, same bat channel.”
Is it curtains for Van Patten?
The announcer on Batman was voiced by executive producer William Dozier.
You killed him. Hail Dorothy!
“Hail Dorothy!” is what the guards and monkeys shout after she disposes of the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.
I can see clearly now the rain is gone.
A line from the Johnny Nash song “I Can See Clearly Now.” Sample lyrics: “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone/I can see all obstacles in my way/Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind/It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)/Sunshiny day.”
A line from the animated TV series The Simpsons, from the episode “Saturdays of Thunder.”
Yes, it’s the sporty Cutlass Supreme. Wide tracking Pontiac.
The Oldsmobile Cutlass was a midsize car introduced in 1966; the “Supreme” was the high-end version. “Wide Track” was Pontiac’s ad slogan throughout the ‘60s; it basically meant their wheels were set a few inches farther out than other cars.
Big hand for the little lady.
A Big Hand for the Little Lady is a western about a high-stakes poker game starring Henry Fonda; it’s based on an earlier TV movie with Walter Matthau.
The wizard’s not in.
In The Wizard of Oz, the palace door guard looks through a small window at Dorothy and her friends and snaps, “The Wizard says go away!”
The mediocrity of the long-distance runner.
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner is a 1962 film about a young man sentenced to a British reform school who finds solace in running.
Oh, no, it’s Jim Fixx! Sorry, bad joke.
Jim Fixx was a fitness expert whose 1977 book The Complete Book of Running helped start America’s love affair with jogging. In 1984, he died of a heart attack while running, a fact that many people find ironic.
You know, his brother was the bionic boy.
The Bionic Boy was a 1976 made-for-TV movie starring Vincent Van Patten (Dick’s son) as a young boy injured in a landslide who gets various bionic parts. It was a pilot for a TV series that never went anywhere. He is not Timothy’s brother, however; since Timothy and Dick are half-brothers, Vince is actually Timothy’s nephew.
Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF!
UNICEF is the United Nations Children’s Fund, an international organization that works to protect children around the globe. It was originally founded to help children in the aftermath of World War II. “Trick or Treat for UNICEF” is an annual fund-raiser that began on Halloween 1950. Basically, instead of collecting candy, kids collect money for UNICEF. It’s been rumored that maybe, just maybe, some of the kids participating wouldn’t necessarily be 100% opposed to getting some candy, too. (Thanks to Lynn Knott for the "Trick-or-Treat" reference.)
Say, you know how to whistle, don’t you?
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.”
From reader Ken Diggs: “Chic jeans--pronounced "chick" insted of "sheek" as you might expect--was a popular women's jeans label in the ’80s. This brand was famous for having, like, 30 different sizes, and they advertised that there is a Chic jean to fit ANY woman. Nice lookin' jeans actually.”
The Stephen King book club.
Stephen King is a horror novelist known for works like The Shining and Salem’s Lot. He has sold more than 350 million copies of his books worldwide.
How do you like our little film? Something seems a little … fishy!
An imitation of the Crypt Keeper, the decayed host of the TV horror series Tales From the Crypt. The character was a puppet voiced by John Kassir, who also played the raccoon Meeko in the Disney film Pocahontas.
Are those Skylon Air Max? Thought so.
The Air Skylon is a brand of running shoe produced by Nike, which also produces another line of running shoes called the Air Max.
Charles Moffett feared not. Puma?
Charles Moffett was a well-known jazz drummer who accompanied such musicians as Ornette Coleman and Prince Lasha. Also a reference to a couple of lines in Show 206, Ring of Terror: “Lewis B. Moffitt feared not,” as well as "Puma?" (Thanks to Tom Carberry for this reference.)
Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him.
A line from Act V, Scene 1 of Hamlet, in which Hamlet is reminiscing over the skull of his former jester, which is often misquoted as “Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him well.” The line (in part): “Alas, poor Yorick!—I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is!”
Oh, they’re doing Blood Simple.
Blood Simple is a 1984 film by Joel and Ethan Coen, about a rich man who hires a killer to do away with his wife and her lover. In one scene in the film, a man buries another man alive in a freshly plowed field.
“Webster, you …” Thesaurus!
Although Webster wrote several children’s textbooks in addition to his famous dictionary, he never compiled a thesaurus; that was left to Peter Mark Roget.
No tears and no hearts breaking, no remorse.
A line from the Steely Dan song “Haitian Divorce.” Sample lyrics: “O/No hesitation/No tears and no hearts breaking/No remorse/O/Congratulations/This is your Haitian divorce.”
“Now I’ve got it, Webster.” It was you behind the dictionary capers!
See note on Noah Webster, above.
“No flak, no unions.” No tears and …
See previous note on “Haitian Divorce.” At the time (1976), Haiti’s ruler, Papa Doc Duvalier, encouraged “divorce tourism”; people could come to Haiti for a weekend trip and a quickie divorce.
I’m not dead yet!
A line from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, from a scene in which John Cleese is trying to dump his protesting elderly relative on the plague cart.
Dirt man. In color.
The Rat Patrol was a TV series set in North Africa during World War II, which aired from 1966 to 1968. At the beginning of every episode, the show bragged that it was being broadcast “In Color!”
I hope he doesn’t soil his ninja robes!
See note on the Crypt Keeper, above.
Have you learned the plot? Enjoy!
See note on the Crypt Keeper, above.
No, no, that’s the Rosetta Stone, don’t!
The Rosetta Stone is a stone with writing on it in three languages: hieroglyphic Egyptian, demotic Egyptian, and Greek. It was discovered in the town of Rosetta in 1799; in 1822, a scholar named Jean-Francois Champollion used the Rosetta Stone to finally unlock the meaning of the difficult hieroglyphic language.
Rock, paper, scissors.
Rock, Paper, Scissors is a popular children’s game in which each child forms one of three shapes with their hand: rock, paper, or scissors. Paper beats rock, rock beats scissors, and scissors beats paper. A similar game was played in China around the 3rd century BCE.
I was just reaching for the Snickers bar in the glove box, boss.
Snickers is a brand of candy bar consisting of peanuts, nougat, caramel, and chocolate. It was named after the Mars family’s favorite horse.
Here, buddy, this is for Dom DeLuise.
Dom DeLuise (1933-2009) was a chunky comic actor known for his roles in such films as Blazing Saddles and The Cannonball Run.
Hey, Little John!
In the traditional tales of Robin Hood, the outlaw leader meets a man named Little John on a bridge. When neither will give way to the other, they agree to fight with quarterstaffs to settle the dispute. Little John defeats him, and the two wind up fast friends.
Well, are you digging this theme?
See note on the Crypt Keeper, above.
Kunta Kinte is a character in the Alex Haley novel Roots, a Gambian man who is brought to America as a slave. In the miniseries, he was played by LeVar Burton and John Amos.
No, I was really dead, Tim. I’m the Reanimator.
Re-Animator is a 1985 horror flick about a medical student who discovers a way of bringing dead tissue back to life. It was based on the H.P. Lovecraft story "Herbert West—Reanimator." (Thanks to Tonya Crawford for mentioning the H.P. Lovecraft story.)
Reading Of Mice and Men.
Of Mice and Men is a short novel by John Steinbeck about two drifters, one of whom is very strong but a bit slow in the head, who get jobs on a ranch in California during the Depression. Things go tragically awry.
“Take my hand!” I’m a stranger in paradise!
A line from the song “Stranger in Paradise,” from the musical Kismet. It has been recorded by multiple artists, most famously by Tony Bennett. Sample lyrics: “Take my hand/I'm a stranger in Paradise/All lost in a wonderland/A stranger in Paradise.”
Next week on Mannix.
Mannix was a television series starring Mike Connors as Joe Mannix, a private eye in Los Angeles who indulged in frequent car chases, shootouts, and fistfights. It aired from 1967-1975.
Hey, look, Bud Cort’s up at the top of the cliff playing a banjo.
Bud Cort is an actor best known for his performance as Harold in the film Harold and Maude. At the end of the film, he plays a banjo and dances along the top of a cliff.
Matt Houston. In color.
Matt Houston was a TV series about a rich Texas oilman with a magnificent mustache (played by Lee Horsley) who solved crimes for fun. The show aired from 1982-1985. See note on Rat Patrol, above.
[Sung.] Those magnificent men in their flying machines …
Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines is a 1965 adventure/comedy about an international air race. The theme song was written by Ron Goodwin.
Timothy Van Patten is Sky King.
Sky King was a radio and TV show about the adventures of plane-flying rancher Schuyler "Sky" King and his niece Penny. The radio version ran from 1946-1954, and the TV show aired from 1951-1962.
Brought to you by Nabisco.
From 1955-1962, Nabisco sponsored the TV series Sky King (see previous note).
Enjoy Red Wing shoes.
Red Wing Shoes is a Minnesota-based shoe company that makes athletic shoes and work boots.
I like to watch.
“I like to watch” is a line from the 1979 movie Being There, starring Peter Sellers as a simple gardener who becomes a celebrity.
What is this, the Dating Game?
The Dating Game was a TV game show created by Chuck Barris, in which three bachelors would compete to win the favors of an unseen woman. It ran from 1965-1986. There have been a couple of other incarnations since the original went off the air.
[Sung.] “Spanish Flea.”
“Spanish Flea,” performed by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, was played to introduce the bachelors on The Dating Game.
The blustery southern Senator Beauregard Claghorn was a character on the radio program The Fred Allen Show. He was famously parodied by the Warner Brothers cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn. The role was played by Kenny Delmar.
“Garden party?” You think Rick Nelson’ll be there?
The 1972 Rick Nelson song “Garden Party” is based on an incident when Nelson was booed off the stage at Madison Square Garden. It was his last Top 40 hit.
A line from “Garden Party”: “I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends.”
Xanadu: stately home of Charles Foster Kane. Cost: no one can say.
This phrase (and variations thereof) was one of the writers’ favorites. It is an imitation of the newsreel narrator from the 1941 film Citizen Kane; Xanadu is the name of Kane’s palatial home in the film.
Looks like a Paul Klee painting.
Paul Klee (1879-1940) was a Swiss painter whose small, abstract works are difficult to pigeonhole in one art movement or another. They have elements of Cubism and many were heavily influenced by his love of mosaics.
Oh, the military’s wearing Zubaz now.
Zubaz are a brand of weightlifting shorts and pants. Introduced in 1991, they quickly became popular for their bright colors and flashy designs.
Not Sybil Danning, but an incredible simulation.
Sybil Danning is the platinum blonde veteran of many a dreadful B-movie, including Chained Heat and Battle Beyond the Stars. The origin of the phrase appears to be from Beatlemania, a stage show that features four cast members impersonating the Beatles and playing their most famous songs. The show’s slogan: “Not the Beatles, but an incredible simulation!”
Say uncle. –David McCallum.
David McCallum, who plays the villainous Castile in Master Ninja II, played Illya Kurakin in the TV series The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which aired from 1964-1968.
She’s Skeletor’s sister! Shellytor.
Skeletor was the skull-topped arch-enemy on the animated TV series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, which aired from 1983-1985.
Get Noel Harrison to do it.
Actor and singer Noel Harrison played sidekick Mark Slate in the Man From U.N.C.L.E. spinoff series The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.
David Eisenhower is the grandson of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the husband of Richard Nixon’s daughter Julie.
Who’s winning the Dodger game?
The Dodgers are Los Angeles’ professional baseball team. They were known as the Robins until the 1930s.
She kind of looks like Stevie Nicks in that. –I wouldn’t recognize her without a big bottle of Wild Turkey, though.
Stevie Nicks, singer for the band Fleetwood Mac, is famous for her ethereal, floaty dresses.She had well-publicized problems with cocaine and alcohol before entering rehab in 1986.
Greasy kid’s stuff.
In the ‘60s, Vitalis hair tonic ran ads in which one man would ask another in disdain, “Are you still using that greasy kid stuff?”
“Johnny.” Be good.
A reference to the Chuck Berry song “Johnny B. Goode.” Sample lyrics: “Deep down Louisiana close to New Orleans/Way back up in the woods among the evergreens/There stood a log cabin made of earth and wood/Where lived a country boy named Johnny B. Goode.” The “country boy” in Chuck Berry’s famous song “Johnny B. Goode” was originally a “colored boy”; Berry changed the lyrics to appeal more to white audiences.
She threw on a dashiki and blew my ninja mind.
A reference to the 1970s blaxploitation film Ghetto Freaks, about a black man in New York City who seduces white women into being his love slaves. A line in the trailer intones, “A sweet funky black chick is all he wanted, but a freaked-out white chick in a dashiki blew his mind.” (Thanks to Matthew Woelfle for this reference.)
Oh, sure, take advice from longtime bachelor Lee Van Cleef.
While clearly meant to refer to his character, in real life Lee Van Cleef was married three times and had four kids.
Here’s your paper moon, buddy.
Paper Moon is a 1973 film about a Bible-peddling scam artist who finds himself lumbered with a young child; it starred father-and-daughter team Ryan and Tatum O’Neal.
Lord Bond. Not bad.
Of the actors who have played Bond, only Sean Connery and Roger Moore have been knighted.
“John Peter McAllister.” That’s my name too.
The old scouting song “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” may trace its origins to the 19th-century Swedish vaudeville song “Yon Yonson.”
I’m also an Amway salesman—go on.
Amway is a multilevel direct marketing company that was founded in 1959. Over the decades, the group has been accused of being a pyramid scheme and many cases went to court around the world, but none proved successful.
Okasa’s a good cop!
See note on T.J. Hooker, above.
“News of my death was somewhat exaggerated.” Ooh, Lee Van Cleef and Mark Twain unite.
In a note to a friend in 1897, American author and humorist Mark Twain wrote the following: “The report of my illness grew out of his [a cousin's] illness; the report of my death was an exaggeration.” The quote is often rendered as “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”
You were the worst James Bond.
See note on George Lazenby, above. Unless you include obscure choices like Barry Nelson, who played the spy in a 1954 CBS production of Casino Royale, this sadly seems to be the consensus judgment.
The man in the crowd with the multicolored mirrors on his hobnail boots.
A line from the Beatles song “Happiness Is a Warm Gun.” Sample lyrics: “The man in the crowd with the multicolored mirrors/On his hobnail boots/Lying with his eyes while his hands are busy/Working overtime …”
[Six million dollar man sound effect.] Hiiiiiii-keeeeebaaaa.
The sound effect used on The Six Million Dollar Man TV show to indicate that Lee Majors was running very very fast in slow motion. Also a reference to Show 104, Women of the Prehistoric Planet.
Very interesting, but cuckoo.
An imitation of comedian Arte Johnson on the TV sketch comedy show Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (1968-1973), who would pop out of a bush dressed as a German soldier to inform the audience that the preceding sketch was “Very interesting, but stupid!”
Hey, look, Brian Jones is in that.
Brian Jones (1942-1969) was a founding member of the Rolling Stones. He died in 1969 at the age of 27, three weeks after leaving the band; the cause of death was drowning.
Man, that looks like the Brady house, doesn’t it?
The Brady Bunch was a TV series that ran from 1969-1974. It revolved around the adventures of a large step-family. The split-level Brady house was the quintessence of late 1960s/early 1970s décor.
Whoa, bad luck—two on a star.
“Three on a match is bad luck” is an old military superstition widely spread after WWI by a shrewd match manufacturer who wanted people to use a lot more matches.
Boy, you know, Malcolm Forbes really knew how to throw a party.
Malcolm Forbes (1919-1990) published Forbes magazine and was known for lavish parties; his 70th birthday party in 1989 was especially legendary, costing about $2.5 million.
Hey, Larry Bird’s dad.
Larry Bird was a star player for the Boston Celtics for 13 years, starting in 1979. His fair hair and droopy mustache were well-known among NBA fans.
Oh, he shot a Wacky Wall Walker onto the side of that helicopter.
Wacky Wall Walkers were a fad product during the early 1980s. Shaped vaguely like an octopus, they would stick to walls and slowly “walk” their way down to the floor without falling off.
No, it’s a Martin and Lewis, or a John Astin and Martin.
Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were a phenomenally successful comedy team during the 1950s, starring in a string of movies that included Sailor Beware and Living It Up. John Astin is an actor best known for his role as family patriarch Gomez Addams on The Addams Family TV series, which aired from 1964-1966.
Tetris. For Game Boy.
When Nintendo released its portable game machine Game Boy in 1989, the addictively simple game Tetris was packaged with it, after a legal battle arcane enough to give you migraines. The game itself was created in the mid-1980s by a Russian programmer.
I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.
An old Alka-Seltzer commercial featured a man moaning, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing,” and being reproached by his smug wife, “You ate it, Ralph,” who then recommends Alka-Seltzer to take the sting out.
Edward James Olmos! Almost.
Edward James Olmos is a Hispanic actor known for his parts in Miami Vice and Battlestar Galactica, among many others.
Your father, your brother Vincent, and your aunt Joyce are here to bail you out. Get out of here.
See notes on Dick Van Patten and Vincent Van Patten, above. Joyce Van Patten is actually Dick Van Patten’s sister, which would make her Tim’s half-sister.
McCloud was set in New York City in the ‘70s, a time when crime was arguably at a high point in the city.
Michael, this is KITT I need to be on the set of St. Elsewhere by four.
William Daniels, who supplied KITT’s voice on Knight Rider, also played the fussy, uptight Dr. Mark Craig on the TV series St. Elsewhere (1982-1988).
I didn’t want Ted Turner to hear this, but he wants to colorize The Second Hundred Years—what do you think?
In the 1980s, media mogul Ted Turner announced plans to use “colorization” technology to add color to the classic black-and-white films in his library—films that included It’s a Wonderful Life, The Maltese Falcon, and Casablanca, to name a few. There was an immediate uproar, with many in the entertainment industry arguing that adding color would bastardize the original vision of the filmmakers. Turner went ahead with his plans, but colorized movies never really caught on. The Second Hundred Years is a 1967 TV show starring Monte Markham in a dual role as a defrosted c. 1900 gold prospector and his grandson. (It aired in color, in 1967.) (Thanks to Chris Eckart for the Monte Markham reference.)
“In and out. And nobody killed. Now who does that sound like?” Gordon Liddy?
G. Gordon Liddy was the special counsel for President Richard M. Nixon’s re-election campaign in 1972, the Committee to Re-elect the President, or CREEP. On June 17, 1972, five men were arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate in Washington, D.C.; the resulting scandal led to Nixon’s resignation to avoid being impeached. Liddy and E. Howard Hunt, a former White House aide, were accused of masterminding the burglary; Liddy was convicted of burglary and conspiracy and served four years in prison.
“Who?” That’s what I’m asking! Third base!
A reference to an old Abbott and Costello routine, titled “Who’s on First?” A recording of the routine is preserved in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
“They call themselves freedom fighters.” The contras?
The contras were the armed opponents of Nicaragua’s Sandinista government during the 1980s. They received tremendous amounts of help from the CIA, which, under the Reagan administration, opposed the left-leaning Sandinistas. Reagan continually referred to the contras as “freedom fighters,” memorably comparing them to the United States’ founding fathers. When Congress refused to appropriate any more money to aid the contras, Reagan’s men turned to other sources, which led to the Iran-contra scandal of 1986-1987.
“Led by a girl named Serena.” Oh, it’s the groovie goolies.
Sabrina and the Groovie Goolies was a short-lived 1970 animated series about a rock band of monsters; it was a spinoff of Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
“You know Castille.” Oh, I love his soap.
Castile soap is a term for soap based on vegetable oil, often olive oil; it is named after the Castile region of Spain.
Everyone was there. Yoko brought a walrus and there was magic in the air.
Another line from the Ricky Nelson song “Garden Party” (see above note). Sample lyrics: “Yoko brought a walrus/There was magic in the air/Over in the corner/Much to my surprise/Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan's shoes/Wearin' his disguise.”
He’s driving around in his fabulous new Aston Martin!
See note on Aston Martin, above. In the novel Goldfinger, Bond drives an Aston Martin DBIII; for the film version he upgraded to a DB5. (The car seen here is a DB5 as well.)
Could these have come from ancient astronauts?
An imitation of Rod Serling as the narrator of In Search of Ancient Astronauts, a 1973 TV “documentary” about the possibility that space aliens visited the Earth thousands of years ago, helping the Egyptians build the pyramids and the like.
Shaken, not stirred.
In the James Bond series of films, Bond famously drinks his martinis “shaken, not stirred.” However, the first person to say this phrase in the films was not Bond himself; it was Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman) in the 1962 film of the same name.
Oh, he must be president of the Audubon Society.
The Audubon Society is a conservation organization that helps preserve wildlife and wildlife habitats, especially birds. The founder of the society was named George Bird Grinnell.
Xanadu, stately home of … oh, forget it.
See note on Citizen Kane, above. Xanadu was based on Hearst Castle, on the Central Coast of California, although the film used photos of Oheka Castle in Long Island, NY.
Wait a minute—it’s Bryan Ferry, taking pictures.
Bryan Ferry is a British musician who rose to fame during the 1970s as the lead singer for Roxy Music. He has also had a successful solo career.
She’s reading Little Drummer Girl.
The Little Drummer Girl is a novel by John le Carré about an actress who gets caught up in an Israeli spy plot.
Oh, I’ve seen this show. It’s The Master, with the James Bond nobody remembers.
The Master was the actual name of the TV series when it aired in 1984. See note on George Lazenby, above. Lazenby only played Bond once; he was replaced by Sean Connery for one final film and then by Roger Moore.
See note on Bryan Ferry, above.
Microsoft service, could you hold for an hour?
Microsoft is one of the most dominant tech companies in the PC biz, although it is reviled as frequently as it is admired for what its critics call monopolistic practices. I have never heard that its tech support was better or worse than any other company, although tech support in the industry as a whole is pretty dismal.
Oh, shut up, Mr. Bond.
See note on George Lazenby, above. Lazenby was actually offered a multi-picture contract to play Bond but quit after one film on the advice of his agent.
“Munich ’72 taught us that.” Oh, we remember that—that was at the Olympics.
At the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany, there was a terrorist attack by the Palestinian group Black September that left 11 Israeli athletes and coaches dead. The games were suspended for a day, but after that they went on, although the surviving Israelis returned home rather than competing.
What kind of pet would Space Ghost have?
Space Ghost was a cartoon superhero who fought supervillains in space during the ‘60s. In the ‘90s he hosted a talk show on the odd little show Space Ghost Coast to Coast.
Oh, that’s a monkey. –Oh, yeah. –Trick question.
The 1960s version of Space Ghost did indeed have a pet monkey, Blip.
Look at all the things he can do with his Spirograph.
Spirograph is a drawing toy first sold by Kenner in 1966, consisting of plastic disks with holes in them, which could be used to draw interesting spiral designs. The advertising jingle for Spirograph in the 1970s was: “I don’t believe it/I just don’t believe it/The things I can do with my Spirograph.”
Oh, no, it’s Queen Latifah again.
Queen Latifah is one of the most successful female rap artists of the 20th century. She has also acted in a number of films, including Jungle Fever (1991), and hosted a short-lived talk show, The Queen Latifah Show (1999). She has a fondness for regal headdresses, as is befitting a queen.
Music by Zamfir.
Gheorghe Zamfir is a Romanian musician who markets himself as “Master of the Pan Flute.” He has recorded a number of albums of panflute music, which were extensively advertised on television.
This guy’s got a knife in his didgeridoo.
The didgeridoo is a wind instrument used by the Aborigines of Australia, generally considered the oldest wind instrument in existence. It looks like a long, hollow stick, which is sometimes painted with symbols. "Didgeridoo" is an English term for the Aboriginal instrument; tribal names vary and include yirtakki, gunbarrk, and ngarrriralkpwina.
Wilkinson Sword is a U.K. brand of razors and other sharp things; the company started out in the 18th century as a maker of, yes, swords.
I bet Holiday Inn has a policy on this kind of stuff.
Holiday Inn is a chain of inexpensive family hotels originally founded in 1952. The chain was named after the 1942 film of the same name. It was originally suggested as a joke by the hotel’s architect, but it stuck.
Oh, I see you’re using the Danish counter. I thought it was wise considering the terrain.
A paraphrase of an exchange between Inigo Montoya and the Man in Black during their famous duel in the 1987 film The Princess Bride. The relevant dialogue:
Inigo: You are using Bonetti’s defense against me, ah?
Man in Black: I thought it fitting, considering the rocky terrain.
See note on Garden Weasel, above.
Bruce Lee press-on nails.
Bruce Lee (1940-1973) is considered by many the greatest martial arts star ever immortalized in film, for his performance in such films as Enter the Dragon and Game of Death. His first film appearance was as a henchman in the James Garner film Marlowe; he accidentally leapt to his death off a building while trying to kill Garner. Lee Press-On Nails, by Lee Pharmaceuticals, are a brand of artificial women’s fingernails. They were advertised in heavy rotation on TV during the ‘80s.
Oh, man, and Designing Women’s on in half an hour!
Designing Women was a television sitcom about a group of women who ran an interior decorating business. It aired from 1986-1993.
Jump back! Erase myself!
A paraphrase of the James Brown song “Super Bad.” Sample lyrics: “Sometimes I feel so nice, good Lord!/I jump back, I wanna kiss myself!/I've got soul, huh, and I'm super bad, hey!/I said I'm super bad …”
Where has my little dog gone?
A line from the children’s song “Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone,” written by Septimus Winner in 1864 under the original title “Der Deitcher’s Dog.” The entire song: “Oh where, oh where has my little dog gone/Oh where, oh where can he be/With his ears cut short and his tail cut long/Oh where, oh where can he be?”
Please, it’s Shake ‘N Bake, and we helped.
A reference to the old Shake ‘N Bake commercials, in which a woman would tell her husband that they used Shake ‘N Bake to make dinner, and her little daughter would pipe up, “And I helped!”
I’m missing All My Children.
The soap opera All My Children ran on ABC for 41 years, from 1970-2011.
Come on, everybody, sing. [Sung.] Get a bucket of chicken … Finger lickin’ …
“Finger-lickin’ good” is the longtime slogan for Kentucky Fried Chicken. In 1972 they used a jingle, performed by Barry Manilow, that ran “Get a bucket of chicken, have a barrel of fun.”
It’s the Colonel!
See note on Harland Sanders, above. Sanders did serve briefly in the Army, but his rank is that of “Kentucky colonel,” an honorary title bestowed by the governor.
[Southern accent.] Now why didn’t you eat my chicken?
See note on Harland Sanders, above. Sanders was actually born in Indiana but moved to Kentucky in his early 30s. In ads for his restaurants he had a notable Southern accent.
The Stan Freberg song “John and Marsha” uses only those two names to tell an entire story, in a parody of soap opera dialogue.
“Poor little rich girl.” The Gloria Vanderbilt story.
Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story was a 1987 TV movie about the heiress to the Woolworth fortune. Gloria Vanderbilt was the daughter of American railroad heir Reginald Vanderbilt, and on his death she inherited a $5 million trust fund, which was the subject of bitter and prolonged legal squabbling among her relatives. As an adult, she became most famous for her line of designer blue jeans.
Ken Berry is a sitcom actor—he played Captain Parmenter on F Troop and Vinton Harper on Mama’s Family, among others.
You ever see Food of the Gods, buddy?
Food of the Gods is a 1976 B-movie about mysterious goo that makes animals grow huge; it was directed by MST3K favorite Bert I. Gordon and starred Marjoe Gortner. It was loosely based on an H.G. Wells novel.
Well, you’re in it now, up to your neck.
A well-known line said by Gregory Peck, playing an American spy, to David Niven’s British explosives expert in the film The Guns of Navarone.
A reference to Show 104, Women of the Prehistoric Planet.
And the digger and the dealer and the dog as well.
A paraphrase of the Hoyt Axton song “Della and the Dealer.” Actual lyrics: “If that cat could talk, what tales he'd tell,/About Della and the Dealer and the dog as well/But the cat was cool/And he never said a mumblin' word.”
Hey, sounds like Chicago’s in the back of the van.
Chicago was a popular rock band during the 1970s and 1980s, known for such hits as “Saturday in the Park” and “Hard to Say I’m Sorry.” They are often referred to as the “rock and roll band with horns.”
You get up that rope, Seeger!
An impression of Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley (Louis Gossett, Jr.) in An Officer and a Gentleman (1982). One of the officer cadets, Casey Seeger (Lisa Eilbacher), has trouble with the wall section of the obstacle course.
Watch now, as they go up the roof a celebrity will stick his head out.
A reference to a recurring gag on the campy TV series Batman (1966-1968). As the dynamic duo "climbed" a wall with their Bat Ropes, occasionally someone would spot them and open a window for a chat. Celebrities who appeared in these cameos included Jerry Lewis, Dick Clark, and Sammy Davis Jr. (Thanks to Randy J. for this reference.)
Where did he get this thing? Hudson Hawk?
At the end of the legendarily bad 1991 caper film Hudson Hawk (spoiler alert), Bruce Willis and Andie MacDowell escape from a castle in a glider contraption that looks much like the one in the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci.
A reference to Show 301, Cave Dwellers. In that film, Ator manages to construct a hang glider in about two minutes out of—I dunno, sticks and fresh deerskin?
Come on, hurry. I’ve got to get this tux back to Gingiss.
Gingiss Formalwear was the source for proms and wedding parties everywhere for many years, but they went bankrupt in 2003.
Dudley Do-Right is a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, constantly battling his arch-nemesis, Snidely Whiplash. He made his first regular appearances in 1961 as part of The Bullwinkle Show, and eventually got a show of his own. In 1999 the character was adapted into a live-action movie starring Brendan Fraser.
Oh, Dave, Shaggy wants his beard back.
Shaggy was a scruffy, goateed character on the Scooby-Doo animated TV series, which first aired in 1969. He was voiced by Casey Kasem, the well-known syndicated DJ.
On the original Star Trek series, Leonard Nimoy suggested the Vulcan nerve pinch as a more appropriate fighting move for the cerebral Spock than a karate chop.
Hey, a shot in the dark!
A Shot in the Dark is a 1964 film starring Peter Sellers as the bumbling Inspector Jacques Clouseau, the second in the Pink Panther series.
[Sung.] James Bond theme.
The famous theme to the James Bond films was composed by Monty Norman (although there has been some controversy about this fact, with composer John Barry claiming he actually wrote the theme). Courts have repeatedly sided with Norman on the issue.
Lose the tux, will you? It’s starting to smell like Fritos.
Fritos are a brand of corn chip manufactured by Frito-Lay. Other things that have been claimed to smell like Fritos: dog paws, human feet, dirty towels, and babies. The reason: the presence of proteus bacteria and their yeasty scent.
Oh, I’ve got a headache this big.
A series of TV ads for Excedrin pain reliever in the ‘80s had the sufferer say, “I’ve got a headache this big, and it’s got Excedrin written all over it.”
And this time it’s personal.
“This time, it’s personal” is the often parodied tagline of 1987’s Jaws: The Revenge.
Time Tunnel. In color.
The Time Tunnel was a short-lived 1966 TV series about two young scientists who become “lost in time,” each week showing up at some important historical event (the sinking of the Titanic, the siege of Troy, etc.). The tunnel itself looked like a receding spiral. See note on Rat Patrol, above.
This sounds like the beginning of the theme song to The Time Tunnel.
Hey, an RF cable. Thanks, Tim.
RF, or radio frequency, cable is an older kind of cable that carries a composite video and audio signal; it has largely been replaced by S-video cable.
Give and go!
Give and go is a sports move that involves one player passing off the ball to a teammate, repositioning himself, and then getting the ball back and taking his shot.
“Start the executions.” Without me.
Start the Revolution Without Me is a 1970 film starring Gene Wilder and Donald Sutherland as two sets of identical twins who swap identities on the brink of the French Revolution.
Blondes have more guns.
“Is it true blondes have more fun?” was a slogan for Clairol in the ‘60s.
My Thom McAns!
Thom McAn used to have hundreds of retail stores around the country, but is now sold only in stores like Kmart and Sears.
[Sung.] What goes up … must …
A line from the 1968 song "Spinning Wheel" by Blood, Sweat & Tears. (Thanks to David Morris for this reference.)
Ha-ha, Silly String!
Silly String was a novelty created by inventor Julius Samann in 1969. It is a non-toxic foam that comes in an aerosol can and sprays out in a “string” form when fired at an unsuspecting victim. It has come to be a Halloween tradition in some parts of the United States; several cities, including Hollywood, California, have banned it on that holiday due to its popularity and ookiness.
“You’ll never know.” [Sung.] Just how much I …
A line from the song “You’ll Never Know”; Frank Sinatra and Dick Haymes recorded popular versions of it. Sample lyrics: “You'll never know just how much I miss you/You'll never know just how much I care/And if I tried, I still couldn't hide my love for you/You ought to know, for haven't I told you so/A million or more times?”
In 1985, world champion gymnast Kurt Thomas made the wonderfully bad movie Gymkata, in which he defeats the bad guys with the help of randomly placed gymnastics equipment.
“That was nice work.” If you can get it.
“Nice Work if You Can Get It” is a George Gershwin song, originally from the Fred Astaire film A Damsel in Distress.
Ryder rents, loser transports.
Ryder is a brand of rental trucks used for moving household goods and whatnot. The company was founded in 1933 as a concrete hauling company; it had one truck, a $35 Model A Ford.
A reference to Show 104, Women of the Prehistoric Planet.
Ow. Be careful, I’m wealthy.
An imitation of millionaire Thurston Howell, played by Jim Backus, on the sitcom Gilligan’s Island.
I don’t think U-Haul recommends that.
U-Haul, like Ryder, supplies rental trucks for do-it-yourself movers. It launched 12 years after Ryder, renting trailers out of gas stations.
“I should have known better.” With a girl like you.
A line from the Beatles song “I Should Have Known Better.” Sample lyrics: “I should have known better with a girl like you/That I would love everything that you do/And I do, hey hey hey, and I do.”
Oh, guests of Master Ninja fly Air America.
Air America was a secret airline operated by the CIA that supplied covert operations in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. It flew photo reconnaissance missions, dropped off and extracted American military personnel, delivered food to Laos, and ran search-and-rescue missions looking for downed American pilots. In 1990 Mel Gibson made a movie called Air America based on the CIA airline’s exploits.
One Adam-12, stop the movie.
“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.
“There’ll be a bus to pick you up in a moment.” And it’ll take you on a tour of the stars’ homes.
Multiple bus tours in LA offer narrated sightseeing trips past various tourist sites in Hollywood and celebrities’ homes in Beverly Hills.
You taste just like Monte Markham.
See note on Monte Markham, above.
Jeez, you need the universal translator to understand that guy.
A sci-fi trope, the first universal translator appeared in the 1945 Murray Leinster novella “First Contact.”
[Sung.] Whoo! Jump back! Kiss myself!
See note on “Super Bad,” above. The use of “bad” to mean “good” in the song “Super Bad” is known as “linguistic reclamation” or “reappropriation.”