421: Monster A-Go Go
by Wyn Hilty
Hey, you got your circus on my ice! –You got your ice on my circus! –Two bad things that go worse together!
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!”
I’d like a sloe gin circus. –I’d like my circus straight up. –Now you can have both!
Sloe gin is a liqueur made from sloe, or blackthorn, plums mixed with gin and aged in a wood barrel. It is considered a “girly drink” by some because it is sweet but still packs 50 proof of alcohol. Having a drink “straight up” means that it has been shaken or stirred with ice and then poured off and served without the ice.
Wait, is this a Max Fleischer cartoon? –Looks that way.
Max Fleischer Studios was an animation studio founded in 1919. Among the cartoons it produced were Betty Boop, Out of the Inkwell, and Popeye.
Hey, Bella Abzug!
Bella Abzug (1920-1998) was a U.S. congresswoman from 1971-1977 and was known for her strong opposition to the Vietnam War, her support of women’s rights, and her fabulous collection of hats.
But they are soon returned to their lives of quiet desperation.
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation” is a line from Walden, by Henry David Thoreau.
You know, this is about when Donny and Marie come out.
Donny and Marie Osmond were a brother-and-sister musical team. They hosted their own variety show from 1976-1978, which often featured ice-skating routines, and later embarked on solo careers.
I am not a zebra!
An imitation of John Hurt in the title role of the 1980 film The Elephant Man. The actual line: “I am not an animal! I am a human being!”
She can do this cause she feels fresh. –Mm-hmm.
"Mom, do you ever feel, you know, not so fresh?" was the opening line to a classic commercial for Massengill douches, spoken, for some reason, by a young woman on a boat.
Prelude to the afternoon of a murder.
Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun is an orchestral piece by French composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918).
Unshaven, stinky, and boozed up on Rumplemintz, the hunters spray bullets into the woods.
Rumplemintz is a peppermint-flavored liqueur.
Venison! Venison! Venison!
An imitation of the protest chant “Attica! Attica! Attica!” as heard in the 1975 movie Dog Day Afternoon, starring Al Pacino. There was a famously horrible prison riot at Attica prison in New York in 1971, and 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.
Operation Desert Ice Storm.
Operation Desert Storm was the massive aerial bombardment of Iraq that began the Persian Gulf War in January 1991. It was followed by Operation Desert Sabre, a ground assault.
The Emmett Kelly girls do their famous spotlight routine.
Emmett Kelly (1898-1979) was a clown; his persona of “Weary Willie,” the tramp clown, was famous around the world from his work in a variety of circuses, but especially the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus, which he performed in for 14 seasons. His most famous routine involved him trying to “sweep” his spotlight into a dustpan.
Vomit sprays out in a beautiful Technicolor dream.
Technicolor is a film process invented in 1916 to capture and develop color. Its eye-popping results were in high demand in Hollywood from the 1930s well into the ‘60s and were used frequently in lavish musicals such as The Wizard of Oz, costume dramas such as Gone with the Wind, and animated features and shorts. “The Technicolor yawn” is a slang term for vomiting that originated in Australia in the 1960s.
This little number’s named “Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride.”
In 1925, an ad for Listerine mouthwash featured the headline "Often a bridesmaid, never a bride" over a picture of a mournful young lady. "Like every young woman, her primary ambition was to marry," it observed sagely. Alas, her halitosis prevented her as she crept onward toward the terrifyingly old age of thirty.
[Sung.] Torn between two skaters …
A paraphrase of the 1976 song “Torn Between Two Lovers,” by folk singer Mary MacGregor.
Yes, it’s Jules and Jim on ice.
Jules and Jim is a 1962 film directed by Francois Truffaut, about two men who fall in love with the same woman.
Women are pulled apart like fresh bread.
A paraphrase of a line from Spalding Gray’s 1985 play/book/monologue (and 1987 film directed by Jonathan Demme) Swimming to Cambodia.
Suddenly, mitosis takes place. The DNA strand separates in a dazzling display of color.
Mitosis is the process of cell division.
Hi, prophase! –Hi, anaphase!
Prophase and anaphase are two stages of mitosis (see previous note). In prophase, chromosomes begin to form in the nucleus; in anaphase, paired chromosomes move to opposite sides of the cell.
Hey, she’s got a saggy diaper that leaks. –I hope not.
A reference to an old Pampers campaign that expressed sympathy for any baby stuck in “a saggy diaper that leaks.”
“A circus on ice.” By Federico Fellini.
Federico Fellini (1920-1993) was an Italian film director known for such fare as Satyricon and Juliet of the Spirits.
[Sung.] Hawaii Five-O theme.
This is the theme song to the TV series Hawaii Five-O, which ran from 1968-1980.
Wipeout! [Sung.] Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na …
From the song “Wipe Out” by the Surfaris.
Elvis has staggered out of the building!
The phrase “Elvis has left the building” stems from a concert given by Elvis Presley in 1956 in Shreveport, Louisiana. Ten thousand screaming young fans crammed themselves into a building on the fairgrounds, and after Elvis’s set, although there were other performers waiting to go on, headed for the exit en masse. The host of the show, Horace Lee Logan, took the microphone and said, "Please, young people ... Elvis has left the building. He has gotten in his car and driven away. ... Please take your seats." The phrase soon became part of the Elvis mythos and was repeated at many of his later shows.
“Monster A-Go Go.” Oh, that’s a new LA club.
The Whisky a Go-Go is a club in Los Angeles, California. It was the place to see and be seen in LA in the 1960s and is credited with inventing the concept of go-go dancers. It helped launch Johnny Rivers and the Doors, among other acts.
Monster A-Go Go? I thought this was going to be Monster Go Home.
This may be a reference to Munster, Go Home, a 1966 feature film based on the TV series The Munsters.
Jeff Smith, the frugal screenwriter! "Now, don’t write in, for heaven’s sake."
Jeff Smith (1939-2004) was the host of a cooking show called The Frugal Gourmet from 1973-1997. He also wrote a string of cookbooks under that name.
Hey, didn’t Sheldon Seymour write The Other Side of Midnight?
The Other Side of Midnight is a soap-opera novel by author Sidney Sheldon, about a beautiful French woman driven by a lust for revenge on her ex-lover, an American pilot she fell in love with during World War II.
[Hummed.] Ride of the Valkyries.
A reference to the iconic scene in Apocalypse Now, in which the flight of a group of combat helicopters during the Vietnam War is accompanied by the strains of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.” The music is now irrevocably associated with helicopters.
Um, I’ll need extra jack sauce and some ketchup.
They may have been thinking of the Jack in the Box chain of hamburger restaurants, but Jack in the Box doesn’t have a “Jack Sauce.” However, the Australian franchise of Burger King, Hungry Jack’s, offers a BBQ beef sandwich with a proprietary “Jack Sauce.”
“Observers reported that a strange object had fallen to earth.” A Coke bottle.
In the 1980 film The Gods Must Be Crazy, a man in the Kalahari desert finds a Coke bottle and decides to return it to God, whose possession he thinks it must be.
Hey, good-lookin', we’ll be back to pick you up later.
A reference to the ad campaign for Mr. Microphone, a low-power FM modulator popular in the late 1970s that made it possible for your voice to be transmitted over someone’s radio. In the commercial, a young man in a car uses Mr. Microphone to pick up a good-looking chick. The phrase was parodied in an episode of The Simpsons titled “Radio Bart.”
Traffic is heavy on the outbound 94—you might want to take an alternate route.
Interstate 94 is one of the main highways in Minneapolis and is known for its chronic congestion.
[Hummed.] The theme from MASH.
MASH was a classic 1970 movie and later a television show (which used the title M*A*S*H), which began every week with a shot of helicopters coming over a mountain range. The theme song to both was called “Suicide Is Painless.”
They’re talking to Charlie Brown’s mom.
Charlie Brown is the hapless protagonist of the comic strip “Peanuts” by Charles Schulz (1922-2000). The strip was first published in 1950 and was later turned into several successful television specials. In the specials, the voices of all the adults are heard only as a sort of muted, duck-like squawk.
So the government drives stock Chevys? –I think it’s a Biscayne.
The Chevrolet Biscayne is a model of car introduced in 1958.
Okay now, cut that out!
A possible riff on one of Jack Benny’s many signature phrases: “Now, cut that out!” Jack Benny (1894-1974) was a radio and television comedian, star of the eponymous The Jack Benny Program. He was famous for his mastery of comic timing and his ability to get tremendous laughs with a subdued reaction or a long pause.
Oh, Ray, look, it’s filled with Schlitz cans! –Oh, for crying out loud.
Schlitz is a brand of American beer.
Oh, thank goodness Les Paul is backing them up on guitar.
Les Paul (1915-2009) was a musician and guitar designer known for such 1950s hits as “How High the Moon” and “Mockin’ Bird Hill.”
Meanwhile, in a soap opera not far away …
Variations of this phrase 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 for films, radio, and television shows.
Huh. She usually keeps a bunch of M&Ms in that bowl.
M&Ms are a brand of candy-coated chocolate candies manufactured by Mars Inc. They were first sold in 1941.
[Sung.] Times like these were made for Taster’s Choice ...
This is an advertising jingle from a series of commercials for Taster’s Choice coffee that ran during the 1980s.
Burned on re-entry, huh?
A quote from the 1979 book The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe (according to mst3k.wikia.com). The book became an epic (three-plus hours) movie in 1983.
It’s a hover Bonneville.
The Pontiac Bonneville was first introduced in 1957. A new Bonneville was reintroduced in 1992.
I think this is the movie version of Darkness Visible by William Styron.
Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness is a nonfiction book by Styron chronicling his problems with crippling depression.
An imitation of comedian Frank Nelson (1911-1986), who played a succession of rude, sarcastic clerks on Jack Benny’s radio and television shows. He also appeared on I Love Lucy and Sanford and Son.
He said "Garp" and then he said "Good" and then he died.
I believe this is a line from The World According to Garp, but I was unable to confirm whether it stems from the John Irving book or the Robin Williams movie. Or both.
Robert Goulet and Martin Milner—they’re cops.
Robert Goulet (1933-2007) was a Broadway veteran and later a Las Vegas mainstay. Martin Milner is an actor who has appeared in dozens of movies and television shows, including Route 66 and Adam-12.
Could we get a Miracle-Ear or something?
Miracle-Ear is a brand of hearing aid that has been around for more than 50 years. It was invented by Ken Dahlberg.
He’s rather Dr. Bellows-esque.
Dr. Alfred Bellows was the psychiatrist concerned for Tony Nelson’s sanity on the TV series I Dream of Jeannie, which aired from 1965-1970. The part was played by Hayden Rorke.
Five! No, three, sir!
A reference to a scene in the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, in which King Arthur has difficulty counting to three. The exchange:
Arthur: Right! One ... two ... five!
Galahad: Three, sir!
"And four ..." I’m Percy Dovetonsils.
Percy Dovetonsils was a character created by television comedian Ernie Kovacs, a self-satisfied, effeminate man who wrote odes like “Leslie the Mean Animal Trainer.”
You know what, this is like The Blob. –No, it's The Thing. –No, it’s It! –Or maybe Them! –No, it’s Three Coins in the Fountain! Sort of.
The Blob is a 1958 horror flick starring Steve McQueen as the leader of a group of teenagers fighting a mysterious blob that devours everything in its path. The Thing (a.k.a. The Thing From Another World) is a 1951 horror film about a blood-thirsty alien killing scientists in the Antarctic; John Carpenter remade it in 1982. It! is a 1966 horror film about a murderous cursed statue. Them! is really a surprisingly good B-movie from 1954, about giant radioactive ants trashing Los Angeles. And Three Coins in the Fountain is a 1954 film about three American girls looking for love in Rome. (Thanks to Isaac Person for The Thing reference.)
We will return to George Kennedy in Airport ‘75.
Airport 1975 is the second film in the four-film franchise that began with Airport (1970), which is considered the first of the big-budget, big-cast disaster movies that littered the landscape in the 1970s. George Kennedy (1925-2016) was the only actor to appear in all four movies, playing the cigar-chomping, tough guy mechanic/administrator/consultant/pilot Joe Patroni.
Early in 1965, President Johnson visited Saigon. He was greeted by General Westmoreland.
Although Johnson visited Saigon in 1961 while he was vice president under Kennedy, he never went as president. He did visit Vietnam twice to meet U.S. troops during the war, but both times he traveled to Cam Ranh Bay. General William Westmoreland was the commander of U.S. military forces in Vietnam.
So, Beef N Barrel? How about Barnaby’s, then? Barnaby’s? Barnaby’s would be good. Yeah, Barnaby’s. Yep, that’d be good.
Possibly a reference to the Beef N Barrel restaurant in Olean, New York. I found any number of references to Barnaby’s restaurants worldwide (including one in Australia), but I was unable to determine which one the writers might have been referring to.
Hey, General, Midasize it, huh?
A reference to an old commercial for the Midas chain of muffler shops, where passersby urge a man to “Midasize” his noisy car.
[Sung] Rattle rattle thunder clatter boom boom boom …
This is an old advertising jingle for Midas (see previous note).
Oh, they decided to go to Shakey’s.
Shakey’s is a chain of family pizza restaurants located in a number of states, including Wisconsin and Ilinois.
It’s the Patty Duke Show!
The Patty Duke Show was a TV sitcom about “identical cousins” that aired from 1963-1966.
[Sung.] Rock rock rock rock rock & roll high school …
A line from the theme song to the 1979 film Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, about a bunch of kids who really, really want to go see a Ramones concert.
Oh, there’s Lenny Bruce over there.
Lenny Bruce (1925-1966) was a standup comedian from the 1960s whom some consider the father of modern standup comedy. His performances were known for being edgy and pushing the envelope, to the point where he was arrested several times on obscenity charges and was eventually banned from almost every comedy club in the nation.
A sullen Jack Kerouac pulls out a J in the middle of the room.
Writer Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) was, along with William Burroughs, a leader of the Beat movement. His On the Road is a classic of Beat literature, dealing with a series of trips across the country by counterculture youths.
Hey, you put your cigarette out in my Black Cow!
A Black Cow is a drink made with root beer, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate syrup.
Whoa! He’s got an action torso there.
Some kids' action figures came with springs embedded in various parts of their bodies to help them perform their patented fighting moves. These were often given the moniker "action," such as "action torso."
What is this, the Lloyd Thaxton Show? –Kinda.
The Lloyd Thaxton Show was a dance and music show, similar to American Bandstand, that aired from 1961-1968.
Not him, honey—he’s got action hips.
See previous note on action torso.
Django Rinehardt tunes up his guitar.
Django Rinehardt (1910-1953) was a well-known and highly respected jazz guitarist.
[Sung.] Here in my car/I feel safest of all …
A line from the Gary Numan song “Cars.” Sample lyrics: “Here in my car/I feel safest of all/I can lock all my doors/It's the only way to live in cars …”
The thin blue line.
The Thin Blue Line is a 1988 documentary that argued a man convicted of the murder of a Dallas police officer was railroaded by a corrupt justice system. The phrase “the thin blue line” refers to the police, who like to regard themselves as the line between society and anarchy.
Thank goodness my Allstate man was on the scene.
Allstate is an insurance company that offers auto, home, and life insurance, among other products and services.
“God!” Jump back! Kiss myself!
A paraphrase of a line from the James Brown song “(Call Me) Super Bad.” Actual 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 am a fugitive from a chain gang.
I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang is a 1932 film starring Paul Muni as a wrongly accused man who escapes a brutal chain gang. The movie was based on Robert Burns’ autobiography, I Am a Fugitive From a Georgia Chain Gang. The film helped raise awareness of the brutality of forced prison labor.
[Sung.] Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock …
A line from the song “Jingle Bell Rock.” Sample lyrics: “Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock/Jingle bells swing and jingle bells ring/Snowin' and blowin' up bushels of fun/Now the jingle hop has begun.”
No, Ravi Shankar is tuning up somewhere.
Ravi Shankar (1920-2012) was an Indian musician known for his mastery of the sitar, a stringed instrument. His association with the Beatles during the 1960s helped introduce the West to Indian music. At the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh, documented in the album and movie of the same name, a long and tedious round of sitar tuning is greeted with applause from the audience, to which Shankar responds, “Thank you … if you appreciate the tuning so much, I hope you will enjoy the playing more.”
Hey, shove Mr. Hoffa over there.
Jimmy Hoffa (1913-1975) was a labor leader who served as president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters from 1957-1971. He had well-known connections with organized crime, and in 1975 he disappeared from a Detroit restaurant where he was supposed to be dining with a couple of mob figures. He was never seen again and was declared dead in 1982. His son, James Hoffa, succeeded him as Teamsters president in 1999.
What is this, Chinese music torture?
Chinese water torture, in its classical sense, refers to dripping water on a prisoner’s forehead until it causes excruciating pain. Despite its name, it was probably never used by the Chinese, and in fact appears to have been invented by an Italian in the 16th century.
He’s listening to Books on Tape.
Books on Tape were originally invented for blind people but have become popular among the general population, particularly among drivers.
[Birdsong.] Hey, he’s good at that. He should be on Carson.
Johnny Carson (1925-2005) started his career in show business as a ventriloquist and magician; he went on to become a writer for television before landing his gig as the host of The Tonight Show in 1962, a job he held for 29 years.
Oh, he brought a bottle of TJ Swann.
TJ Swann was a brand of cheap wine popular in the 1970s, sometimes known as “soda pop” wine because it contained a lower percentage of alcohol than typical wines.
It’s Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation.
Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation is a 1962 film starring Jimmy Stewart whose plans for a relaxing beach trip are foiled when his wife invites their entire family to stay with them.
[Sung.] Dog and butterfly up in the air/He likes to fly/Dog and butterfly …
The lyrics to the song "Dog and Butterfly" by Heart, from their 1978 album of the same name.
A young Ghermazian brother scouts locations.
The Ghermazian brothers were the entrepreneurs who helped build the Mall of the Americas outside Minneapolis in the 1980s. (Thanks to Sampo for spotting this reference.)
How not to be seen.
A reference to the Monty Python’s Flying Circus “How Not to Be Seen” skit, in which the narrator of a film teaches people how not to be seen by blowing up his luckless assistants.
Oh, this is where Van Gogh painted his famous Crows in Corn.
Probably a reference to the Vincent Van Gogh painting Cornfield with Crows, one of his last works.
He’s looking for Nolan Ryan so he can clock his fastball.
Nolan Ryan was a major-league pitcher whose specialty was shattering records: number of no-hitters pitched, most strikeouts, most strikeouts in a season, and oldest player to lead the league in strikeouts. He retired in 1993 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame six years later.
Let’s see, I think I know whose woods these are—no, no. Whose woods are these anyway … no. Damn. No.
A reference to the opening line of the Robert Frost poem “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.” The actual line: “Whose woods these are I think I know.”
Now with the Wagner Power Painter, you can paint the whole forest in a day.
The Wagner Power Painter is a power sprayer aimed at the home market; it can spray paint, stain, varnish, etc. onto surfaces such as walls, exteriors, shutters, etc.
Designer Karl Lagerfeld.
Karl Lagerfeld is a fashion designer who has been associated with a number of houses over the years, most recently with Chanel.
Oh, so this is what happened to Robert Vesco.
Robert Vesco (1935-2007) was a financier who fled the country in 1973 after allegedly looting $224 million from a mutual fund (and after illegally donating $200,000 to Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign). Vesco initially went to Costa Rica but eventually wound up in Cuba, where he was thrown in jail in 1995 for a plot to defraud the country’s pharmaceutical industry. He died in a Havana hospital in 2007.
Morris “Mo” Udall (1922-1998) was a liberal Democrat who served in the House of Representatives for 30 years, from 1961 to 1991. He resigned in 1991 due to ill health and died seven years later.
Oh, that’s the Scotch eggs.
Scotch eggs are traditional British pub food, consisting of hard-boiled eggs wrapped in sausage and breaded coating and then deep-fried.
“Ruth, do you know where Portwine Road is?” Near Bourbon Street?
Bourbon Street lies at the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans and is the center of the Mardi Gras celebrations every spring.
Hey, here’s a Snickers for being a good sport.
Snickers is a brand of candy bar consisting of peanuts, nougat, caramel, and chocolate. It was first sold in 1930.
How about that Anita Ekberg, huh? I sure wouldn’t mind …
An impersonation of comedian Bob Hope. Anita Ekberg (1931-2015) was a blond Swedish actress who has appeared in more than 50 films.
“Wasn’t anyone around who saw anything? –No.” It’s New York.
In 1964, a young woman named Kitty Genovese was raped and stabbed to death near her home in Queens. Multiple people witnessed parts of the attack from their apartment windows but did nothing to intervene until her attacker was gone; newspaper headlines blared "Thirty-Seven Who Saw Murder Didn't Call The Police" (an exaggeration). The Genovese murder crystallized what many hated about New York City at the time: people's apathy about crime and reluctance to get involved in others' problems.
Snipe. Snipe. Snipe.
The snipe hunt is a type of practical joke in which a group of people take an unsuspecting victim out to the woods at night to hunt for snipe. The victim is handed a bag and told that the others will drive the snipe in his direction so that he can catch them in the bag. Then those who are in on the joke leave and wait for the victim to catch on.
Kolchak! You out there?
Kolchak was the star of two TV movies and a series. Carl Kolchak, as played by Darren McGavin, was a world-weary reporter who found himself continually tracking down agents of the supernatural.
Mentioned something about “the horror” …
“The horror. The horror” are the final words spoken by the dying Mr. Kurtz in the Joseph Conrad novel Heart of Darkness; they are also the final words of Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now, the Vietnam War-era version of Conrad’s novel.
Sky King was a TV series during the 1950s about the adventures of plane-flying rancher Sky King and his niece Penny. It aired from 1951-1962.
It’s Matthias Rust!
In 1987, Matthias Rust flew his Cessna into the Soviet Union, buzzed Lenin’s Tomb and landed in the Red Square in Moscow. He was jailed by Russian authorities for a few months before being released.
Tonight on Wings: the Beechcraft Bonanza with its revolutionary V-tail.
Wings was an aviation series that aired on the Discovery Channel from the late 1980s through the late 1990s, and was the foundation for the Discovery Wings Channel, which launched in 1999. The Bonanza is a six-seater, single-engine general aviation aircraft that’s been in production by the Beech Aircraft Corporation since 1947, the longest continuous production of any aircraft in history. It does offer a distinctive V-tail, as well as a conventional tail configuration.
Thank you, Thing.
Thing was the disembodied hand on the TV series The Addams Family, which aired from 1964-1966.
Hey, it’s Sununu going to get a haircut. Cause he spent a lot of money on planes.
John Sununu was White House chief of staff under George Bush the Elder. He was forced to resign in 1991 after controversy erupted over his use of government planes for personal business.
You speak in riddles, Sahib.
A line from the 1979 epic novel The Far Pavilions, by M.M. Kaye. The story of a British officer in India during the colonial era, it has been adapted into a television miniseries, a stage musical, and a radio drama.
He looks like Babe Ruth.
George Herman “Babe” Ruth (1895-1948) is considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time. He was one of the heroes of the Roaring Twenties, both for his unparalleled ability to pound out the home runs and for his womanizing, heavy-drinking, large-living ways.
I’m Chad, from Parke-Davis.
Parke-Davis is a pharmaceutical company and a subsidiary of Pfizer.
“Doctor Chad? Doctor Kramer.” Doctor Moe?
Probably a reference to the 1934 Three Stooges short Men in Black, which has a running gag about the Stooges being repeatedly paged over the PA system: "Calling Doctor Howard, Doctor Fine, Doctor Howard." It eventually drives the three mad, and to put an end to it they rip down the dispatcher's call board and shoot the transmitter.
Like Shrinky Dinks.
Shrinky Dinks are a children’s toy first introduced in 1973, consisting of various designs printed on a type of plastic that shrinks and thickens when heated in the oven.
Um, Doctor? Doctor, could you look at this slide here? Doctor, that polio vaccine—Dr. Salk? Um, Doctor, I think I found it … Doctor, if you’d just … ohhh ...
Dr. Jonas Salk (1914-1995) was a doctor and medical researcher who developed the first effective vaccine against polio, a devastating disease resulting in paralysis.
Dr. Salk, please, it’s definitely the polio vaccine. Ah, forget it—I’ll take credit for it.
See previous note.
Okay, let’s see. There’s my journal, this is my coin collection book, and then my book of S&H Green Stamps.
Sperry & Hutchinson were the makers of S&H Green Stamps, stamps they sold to retailers, which then gave them out to customers with purchases. The idea was that if you saved up enough stamps, you could trade them in for merchandise such as toasters and other consumer goods. The stamps were first introduced in 1896 and remained popular until the 1970s.
Well, let me see here. “Rumpletweezer the good fairy lived under the dumdum tree?!” What?!
A reference to the "Children's Stories" skit from Monty Python's Flying Circus, in which Eric Idle keeps trying to read innocent stories that go rapidly astray: "Rumpletweezer ran the Dinky Tinky shop in the foot of the magic oak tree by the wobbly dumdum bush in the shade of the magic glade down on Dingly Dell. Here he sold contraceptives, and ..."
Regular Evelyn Wood, isn’t he?
Evelyn Wood was a teacher who developed a method of reading very quickly, which she dubbed “speed reading.” Unfortunately, subsequent studies have shown that while followers of Wood’s method do indeed read faster, their comprehension decreases proportionately.
Bullwinkle is a … —Not that lesson. This lesson.
“Bullwinkle is a dope. —Not that lesson—this lesson” appears to be a line from the old Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons.
Later, over lunch with Wally Shawn …
Wallace Shawn is a writer and actor who has appeared in such films as My Dinner with Andre (1981) and The Princess Bride (1987).
Or Heinz 57.
Heinz 57 is a brand of steak sauce. The number 57, immortalized in the Heinz slogan “57 varieties,” had mystical significance to the company’s founder.
So, another Leinie?
Leinenkugel beers, produced by the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, are nicknamed "Leinies." They manufacture multiple varieties of specialty brews, including Sunset Wheat, Big Eddy Imperial Russian Stout, Summer Shandy, and Snowdrift Vanilla Porter.
Meanwhile, at LensCrafters … —Yeah, bad movies in about an hour, right?
LensCrafters is a chain of eyeglass stores founded in 1983; it promises its clients that their glasses will be ready in “about an hour.”
I’m sorry, Mr. Gower. Please don’t hit my sore ear.
Mr. Gower is the druggist for whom George Bailey works as a boy, and who George saves from accidentally poisoning a patient when he drunkenly fills a prescription incorrectly, in the 1946 movie It’s a Wonderful Life. The part was played by H.B. Warner (1875-1958).
So. It was a good Martin last night. “What up?” I love that part.
Martin was a television sitcom that aired from 1992-1997. It starred Martin Lawrence in the title role.
This is what happens when you get trapped in an Ionesco play.
Eugene Ionesco (1909-1994) was a playwright credited with inventing Theater of the Absurd. His plays are often a string of unrelated comments uttered seemingly at random.
I don’t get it—why is she changing lab coats? –She’s got a night shift at Fermilab now.
The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, or Fermilab, is a high-energy physics research laboratory. It is located in Batavia, Illinois, about 45 miles from Chicago.
[Sung.] Return to violence!
A paraphrase of the hit 1994 Enigma song "Return to Innocence," from their album The Cross of Changes.
We was too late!
A line from the “Bishop” sketch on Monty Python’s Flying Circus, in which the Bishop is always just a little too late to stop a church official from getting whacked.
Hey, look, the musical stairs from the science museum.
Soundstairs, aka “Musical Stairs,” are an interactive exhibit that plays musical notes when a person goes up or down a staircase. Using light beams, it can be adapted to any staircase – traveling exhibits have been set up in places such as the Spanish Steps in Rome and the Boston Children’s Hospital. There are five permanent Soundstair installations in science and art museums around the US, including The Science Museum of Minnesota, which locals just call “The Science Museum.” (Thanks to Todd Simmons for the Science Museum of Minnesota reference.)
Oh, he’s sneaking past Robert Fripp’s room.
Robert Fripp is a guitarist and one of the founding members of the rock group King Crimson.
Hey, would somebody get the cat off the Fender Rhodes, please?
Fender Rhodes is a brand of electric piano that made its mark in the 1960s and became extremely popular among musicians in the 1970s.
From there he looks like Skitch Henderson.
Skitch Henderson (1918-2005) was a bandleader who played with Frank Sinatra for a number of years, but he is probably best known for his stints on the Tonight Show, first for Steve Allen and later for Johnny Carson.
[Sung.] Tick tock tick/Doo doo doo do/Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping/Doo doo doo do ...
A line from the Steve Miller song “Fly Like an Eagle.” Sample lyrics: “Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin'/Into the future …”
[Sung.] Oh, what a lucky man he was …
A line from the song “Lucky Man” by Emerson Lake and Palmer. Sample lyrics: “He had white horses, and ladies by the score/All dressed in satin, and waiting by the door/Oh, what a lucky man he was …”
Oh, man, he got my Compuserve magazine and Computer Gamer Weekly!
Compuserve magazine was a monthly publication of Compuserve, the online community (similar to AOL, by whom it was eventually bought). I was unable to locate any references to a magazine called Computer Gamer Weekly, but there are any number of magazines with somewhat similar names.
The call is coming from within the laboratory!
A classic urban legend dating back to the early 1960s tells of a teenage babysitter who is taunted by repeated calls from a madman; when she reports the calls to the phone company, the operator traces the call and tells her frantically to get out of the house: “The calls are coming from inside the house!” The 1979 movie When a Stranger Calls is based on this legend.
What a day. I invented Gainesburgers and I didn’t even mean to!
Gainesburger is a brand of soft, crumbly dog food that looks something like raw hamburger, only drier.
Blame it on the bossa nova.
A reference to the Eydie Gorme song of the same name. Sample lyrics: “Blame it on the bossa nova with its magic spell/Blame it on the bossa nova that he did so well/Oh, it all began with just one little dance/But then it ended up a big romance …”
Kiss that Nobel goodbye.
Established in the 1895 will of Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, and first awarded in 1901, the Nobel Prizes are international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural or scientific advances.
I was just trying to help.
An imitation of Droopy, the basset hound with drooping jowls (get it?) and a slow, deadpan delivery that appeared in 24 MGM theatrical shorts between 1943 and 1958, and in various other cartoons and later reboots. Created by Tex Avery, Droopy was based on the character Wallace Wimple from the radio comedy Fibber McGee and Molly, and was voiced by Bill Thompson (who also voiced Wallace), as well as Don Messick, and occasionally Tex Avery himself. The scientist in this scene has a definite Droopy-esque look about him.
It’s The Group.
The Group is a 1963 novel by Mary McCarthy that follows eight women who graduate from Vassar College in 1933 through their struggles with marriage, sex, careers, children, money, and family crises. It was made into a movie starring Candice Bergen in 1966.
I’m in love, Jim!
A reference to the Star Trek episode “This Side of Paradise.”
This is like Vanity Fair by Sam Peckinpah.
Vanity Fair is a satirical novel by William Thackeray about a scheming, socially ambitious young woman. Sam Peckinpah was a notoriously violent film director known for such movies as The Wild Bunch (1969) and Straw Dogs (1971).
From the Thomas Dolby song “She Blinded Me with Science.” Sample lyrics: “When I’m dancing close to her/Blinding me with science – science/I can smell the chemicals/Blinding me with science – science/Science!”
[Ringing noise.] Duracell. The copper-top battery.
In a series of commercials for Duracell batteries, each commercial would end with an animation of the “copper top” swinging closed with a dramatic chinging noise.
Is it the Bangles? –The Go-Go’s? –The Lark Quartet?
The Bangles were a girl band during the 1980s who hit it big with songs like “Walk Like an Egyptian” and “Manic Monday.” The Go-Go’s were also a girl band during the 1980s with a punk/new wave sound. And the Lark Quartet is an all-female classical quartet regarded as one of the leading ensembles in the world.
[Screaming girls.] The Beatles!
The Beatles’ arrival in America on February 7, 1964, was a media sensation, and one of the notable events of the 1960s. Their flight into JFK Airport was met by four thousand shrieking fans (most of them female) and about two hundred reporters, jammed into a tiny space. Several people in the crowd were injured. The hysteria only intensified as the tour went on, and was dubbed “Beatlemania.”
No one’s going to tell you you need Clearasil.
Clearasil is an over-the-counter acne treatment. I believe this was an old tagline for a commercial, but I have been unable to confirm this.
Hey, a whole bottle of Sea & Ski!
Sea & Ski is a brand of sunscreen lotion.
“They want answers.” Please phrase it in the form of a question.
On the television game show Jeopardy!, contestants are admonished to phrase their answers “in the form of a question.”
“This is just a theory.” But I’m Coco Chanel.
Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel (1883-1971) was a fashion designer who ruled Parisian fashion for almost sixty years. She was known for her innovative designs, which included bell-bottoms, turtlenecks, trench coats, and the famous “little black dress.”
“I gave him an injection of the antidote my brother and Nora developed.” John Lilly called for the prescription.
John Lilly is a scientist who pioneered the isolation tank and did a great deal of work with dolphins. He also experimented with LSD and other drugs and ultimately—like Timothy Leary—abandoned the mainstream scientific community to explore altered states of consciousness.
“What are you trying to say?” I’m Coco Chanel!
See previous note.
“It’s conceivable …” Inconceivable!
A line from the 1987 movie The Princess Bride, spoken by actor Wallace Shawn.
[Sung, progressively louder.] John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt/That’s my name too/Whenever I go out/The people always shout/There goes John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt! La-la-la-la-la-la-la …
A paraphrase of the old scouting song “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.” Actual lyrics: “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt/His name is my name too/Whenever we go out/The people always shout/There goes John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt/Dah dah dah dah, dah dah dah …”
[Sung, progressively louder.] Whenever I go out/The people always shout/There goes John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt! La-la-la-la …
See previous note.
So the army’s on maneuvers on Maple Street, huh?
"The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" is an episode from the first season of The Twilight Zone in which the residents of an average middle-class street become consumed with paranoia after losing power. They become convinced that an alien invasion is imminent and eventually turn on each other, with the fabled "twist" being that the electricity really was cut by aliens, who then sat back and watched the Earthlings destroy themselves.
And in Econoline vans.
Econoline is a model of van manufactured by the Ford Motor Company.
Hey, they’re gonna frag the director! –Good.
“Fragging” is the act of soldiers assassinating their own commanding officer, usually because he is seen as incompetent or leading them into danger. The term comes from “fragmentation grenade,” and originated during the Vietnam War, where gung-ho but inexperienced lieutenants were often put in command of platoons of battle-hardened soldiers, a combination that did not lead to confidence in leadership. It's estimated that around 900-1,000 fragging incidents took place in Vietnam, but very few were prosecuted, as they were easily concealed as battlefield errors, sabotage, or enemy actions.
See above note.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1929-1994), popularly known as Jackie O, was the wife of President John F. Kennedy. After his assassination in 1963, she married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, a longtime family friend, in 1968.
Oh, this is like It Happened One Night, except it makes me want to kill myself.
It Happened One Night is a 1934 romantic comedy starring Claudette Colbert as a runaway heiress and Clark Gable as the man who falls for her.
Luckily the Schwan’s guy came.
Schwan’s is a gourmet frozen food delivery service; you can see their trucks on the road at various places throughout the nation.
Tom Arnold, road repair.
Tom Arnold is a writer, producer, and actor. He is perhaps best known, however, for his stormy marriage to comedian Roseanne Barr, whose show he worked on as a writer, and whose demands on the network helped to get his failed sitcoms on the air.
Dear Easy Rider magazine: I never believed your stories were true!
Easyriders magazine is a motorcycle magazine that, in addition to motorcycles and busty babes, feature “true tales of the road.”
She stalls, then kills. Black Widow.
"She mates and then she kills" was the tag line for the 1987 thriller Black Widow, which starred Debra Winger as a federal investigator on the trail of a suspected serial killer (Theresa Russell).
Beetle Bailey: The Motion Picture.
Beetle Bailey is the eponymous star of a comic strip that is syndicated to some 1,800 newspapers. He first appeared in 1950.
“You realize there’s over five million people in the city?” And this is one of them.
A reference to the famous tag line from the TV series The Naked City: “There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.”
“We’ll need an air gun and a tranquilizer dart.” A string and a picture of Eve Arden.
Eve Arden (1908-1990) was an actress best known for her title role in the TV series Our Miss Brooks, which aired from 1952-1956.
You like Jell-O with fruit suspended in it?
Jell-O is a sweetened gelatin dessert made by Kraft Foods. It is often made with grapes, slices of banana, or other fruits mixed in.
“What would be his radius of danger within an hour?” Reykjavik.
Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland. As of 2000, its population stood at just over 100,000.
The caisson is making its way past us now. The riderless horse float is made of ten thousand carnations, and clowns are pouring out of the casket. Lovely sight.
Most likely a reference to the Tournament of Roses Parade held in Pasadena, California, since 1890 (in which all floats must be made of flowers). It is televised with usually insipid commentary by morning news anchors and talk show hosts. A caisson is a type of two-wheeled horse-drawn wagon.
This sounds like a classic circus march, but I was unable to identify the exact tune. It's at 1:15:14 if anyone wants to take a stab at it.
Hey, it’s the Good Humor cop!
Good Humor is a brand of ice cream treats first marketed in 1920. The “Good Humor Man” became an American institution, as kids across America lined up during the summers to buy ice cream from the men who drove the trucks with the tinkling bells.
A Dreamsicle is a frozen treat on a stick consisting of ice milk surrounded by a sherbet shell.
Abbott and Costello in Buck Privates.
Buck Privates is a 1941 film starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello as a couple of guys who enlist in the army in order to avoid prison.
“The city of five million people became a huge tomb.” Like St. Paul?
St. Paul, Minnesota, is one of the Twin Cities; the other is Minneapolis.
The festive jitneys ran down the streets of Manila.
A "jitney" is a colloquial term for a share taxi, which is halfway between a taxi and a bus, and is a common form of public transportation in developing countries. Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, actually uses "jeepneys," which are converted U.S. military surplus Jeeps left over from World War II.
But right now we’ll join the auto show at McCormick Place.
McCormick Place is an events center in Chicago.
Isaac Hayes is Truck Turner. Wakka-chukka-wakka-chukka …
Truck Turner is a 1974 film starring blaxploitation actor Isaac Hayes in the title role as a bounty hunter who accidentally kills the man he’s been sent to hunt down, resulting in a price being put on his head. "Wakka-chukka" is an imitation of the music heard in classic 1970s blaxploitation films, such as the theme to Shaft (also composed by Hayes). Also a possible nod to the 1972 album and song titled "Waka/Jawaka" by rock composer and friend of the show Frank Zappa.
[Sung.] Hello … –Hello … –Hello … [All.] Hello!
A classic Three Stooges routine, in which they pop out from behind one another, each saying hello in turn.
Watch out for ... the first draft!
Probably a reference to the 1991 movie Backdraft, about two brothers who are Chicago firefighters.
Darkness on the edge of town. –Cute.
A reference to the Bruce Springsteen song “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” Sample lyrics: “Well if she wants to see me/You can tell her that I’m easily found/Tell her there’s a spot out `neath abram’s bridge/And tell her there’s a darkness on the edge of town.”
Hey, Outer Limits is starting!
The Outer Limits was a sci-fi/horror anthology show, similar to The Twilight Zone, that aired from 1963-1965. Its opening credits featured a visual of an oscilloscope, accompanied by a foreboding narrator, who warned viewers: "There is nothing wrong with your television set. We control the horizontal. We control the vertical."
Hey, that guy’s got an action torso.
See above note.
Listen: Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time.
See note on Billy Pilgrim, above. In the novel Slaughterhouse Five, Billy is “unstuck in time,” traveling back and forth between his birth and death and all points between.
It’s his twelve-step program! Cause it’s steps and …
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a self-help system for alcoholics that relies on a twelve-step program and the support of other alcoholics to help people quit drinking. It was founded in 1935 by a stockbroker and a surgeon. By the end of the 20th century, AA had about two million members, most of them in the United States and Canada.
Ladies and gentlemen, KMOJ radio presents Bootsy Collins!
KMOJ is a radio station in Minneapolis. Bootsy Collins is a funk bassist and singer who backed up James Brown and played with Parliament/Funkadelic before launching a solo career in the 1970s. His most successful song was probably 1978’s “Bootzilla.”
It’s Major Dad, look.
Major Dad was a TV sitcom that aired from 1989-1993. It starred Gerald McRaney as a no-nonsense, hard-headed Marine.
They finally realized the monster had tickets to see Loggins and Messina at the Arie Crown Theater.
Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina had eight albums together as a successful duo in the 1970s before starting their own solo acts. In 2005 the two reunited for another tour. The Arie Crown Theater is a performance space in Chicago, Illinois.
Oh, they’re stopping at the Billy Goat for a cheezeborger.
The Billy Goat Tavern is a famous restaurant in Chicago, Illinois. It was immortalized in the “cheezeborger, no fries” skits on Saturday Night Live during the 1970s.
With a Coke? –No, Pepsi.
In the Billy Goat Tavern skit on Saturday Night Live (see previous note), "No Coke. Pepsi" was a recurring gag.
Laszlo Kovacs, my butt—this is great photography!
Laszlo Kovacs (1933-2007) was a cinematographer whose credits include Easy Rider, Paper Moon, and, oddly enough, Show 812, The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies.
[Sung.] There goes John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt!
See above note.
Hey, Friedkin ripped off the train sequence for French Connection from this movie!
The French Connection is a 1971 crime flick directed by William Friedkin about a couple of narcotics detectives in New York who stumble on an international drug smuggling operation. There is a famous sequence in the movie in which Gene Hackman chases after a train in a car.
Mmm! Cookie! Mmm!
An imitation of the Cookie Monster, a Muppet on the children’s TV show Sesame Street. Cookie Monster was created for a 1966 cereal commercial that never aired, but the Muppet was used the following year in an IBM film and on The Ed Sullivan Show. In 1969, he appeared in commercials for Munchos chips and in the first episode of Sesame Street. He had a hit song with “C Is for Cookie” in 1971. Frank Oz portrayed Cookie until 2000, when David Rudman took over.
Yep, my kind of town, Chicago is. –You bet. –Now, Chicago, that’s the Windy City, right? –Uh, it’s the city by the lake, or the city of big shoulders, or the city that works?
Chicago, Illinois, is a city of many nicknames. It earned the sobriquet the Windy City not for its weather but for its insufferable boosterism in the late 1800s. “The city by the lake” refers to its position on the shores of Lake Michigan. “City of big shoulders” comes from the Carl Sandburg poem “Chicago” (in which he also dubbed Chicago the less-flattering “Hog Butcher for the World”). “The city that works” apparently traces back to a 1971 Newsweek profile of then-Mayor Richard Daley.
Yeah, every time I aim a Wham-O Air Blaster at a sidewalk, I get scared.
The Wham-O Air Blaster was a toy gun popular during the 1970s that shot a burst of compressed air (or, if you were of an experimental bent, whatever you shoved into the barrel before pulling the trigger).
Laverne and Shirley in the National Guard!
See note on Laverne and Shirley, above.
The Bookmobile is called in. –Man, I hope they still have Curious George.
Curious George, an inquisitive monkey, is the hero of a series of children’s books by H.A. Rey.
My brother and I look like wood ticks ready to pop.
A paraphrase of a line from the 1983 movie A Christmas Story. The actual line: “My kid brother looked like a tick about to pop.”
[Train whistle.] [Sung.] There’s a little hotel called the Shady Rest at the Junction …
A line from the theme song to the TV series Petticoat Junction. Sample lyrics: “There's a little hotel called the Shady Rest at the junction/(Petticoat Junction)/It is run by Kate, come and be her guest at the junction/(Petticoat Junction).”
Oh, would you look: all the canned peaches you could want!
Possibly a reference to A Boy and His Dog (1975), the post-apocalyptic film starring Don Johnson as a young man roaming the wasteland with his telepathic dog, searching for women and canned goods to trade—especially peaches.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini. Amen.
This is the Latin version of the Catholic Benedictus. Translated, it reads “Blessed who comes in the name of the Lord.”
In the director’s cut they eliminated the narration.
A reference to the 1982 film Blade Runner. Director Ridley Scott later released a director’s cut version in which he eliminated the voiceover narration by Harrison Ford that had been added at the studio’s insistence to help keep audiences from being confused.
It’s American Gothic on a rampage.
American Gothic (1930) is a well-known painting by American artist Grant Wood (1892-1942). It depicts a salt-of-the-earth couple standing in front of their Midwestern home, the man holding a pitchfork. The painting has become an icon of hardscrabble Americana.
Turned out to be an alien snipe hunt—go figure.
See note on snipe hunts, above.
This was a test. Had this been an actual movie, you would have been entertained.
The Emergency Broadcast System was used from 1963 to 1997 in the United States. It was designed as a warning system to be authorized for use by the president in case of an impending war, nuclear attack, or similar crisis. The messages broadcast during the test varied, but were along the lines of "This is a test. If this had been an actual emergency, you would have been instructed to turn to one of the broadcast stations in your area."
Phil Silvers tries to flee the set.
Phil Silvers (1911-1985) was a comic actor, the veteran of many a TV series and film, but he is probably best known as con master Sergeant Ernie Bilko on The Phil Silvers Show, which aired from 1955-1959.
It says, “Sell the house, sell the car, sell the kids, I’m never coming back”?
In the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, Lieutenant Willard (Martin Sheen) reads aloud a letter from Lieutenant Richard Colby (Scott Glenn), the last man sent to find Colonel Kurtz, to his wife: “Sell the house. Sell the car. Sell the kids. Find someone else. Forget it. I’m never coming back. Forget it.” (Thanks to Mark Howk for this reference.)
You make the call!
“You Make the Call” was a series of ads that IBM ran during Monday Night Football in the 1980s, in which they would air a clip of a difficult football play and challenge viewers to decide what call the referees should make, before revealing what the call actually had been.