424: Manos, the Hands of Fate
by Wyn Hilty
Look—Hired 2: Electric Boogaloo.
Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo is a 1984 film about local breakdancers trying to stop a developer from tearing down their community center.
Jam Handy to the rescue. –My Jam Handy!
The Jam Handy Organization was a prolific producer and distributor of educational films, also called “social guidance” films, from 1935 through 1968. Founded by former Olympic swimmer Henry Jamison “Jam” Handy (1886-1983), numerous Jam Handy productions have found a home on MST3K, including Uncle Jim’s Dairy Farm (Show 607: Bloodlust!), Young Man’s Fancy (Show 610: The Violent Years), and A Case of Spring Fever (Show 1012: Squirm). The MST3K Special Edition DVD of Manos, The Hands of Fate includes a documentary covering the history of the Jam Handy Organization. “Jim Dandy” (a.k.a. “Jim Dandy to the Rescue”) is an R&B song written by Lincoln Chase and originally recorded in 1958 by LaVern Baker. Southern rock group Black Oak Arkansas released a popular cover of it in 1973; their lead singer, Jim Mangrum, goes by the nickname “Jim Dandy” Mandrum.
No employees were killed during the making of this film.
A paraphrase of the famous credit line “No animals were harmed in the making of this film.” The American Humane Association holds a copyright on that phrase. The practice of the AHA evaluating films for their treatment of animals dates back to the 1939 film Jesse James, wherein a horse was blindfolded and ridden off a cliff to its death. For real. The ensuing outrage and massive protests led to an agreement with the movie industry to allow the AHA to oversee animal treatment on film sets, which up until then had been largely unregulated.
I may be wonderful, but I think you’re wrong.
“I May Be Wrong (But I Think You’re Wonderful)” is a song written by Henry Sullivan and Harry Ruskin. First published in 1929, it was popularized by Doris Day’s rendition of it in the 1950 film Young Man with a Horn. The “I may be wonderful, but I think you’re wrong” riff on the song title originated with Groucho Marx, who said it in the 1930 Marx Brothers comedy Animal Crackers.
Give ‘em hell, Harry.
“Give ‘em hell, Harry” was President Harry S. Truman’s campaign slogan in 1948. As legend would have it, he was giving a speech when someone in the crowd yelled out, “Give ‘em hell, Harry!” Truman supposedly replied, “I don’t give anybody hell. I give ‘em the truth and they think it’s hell!” Give ‘Em Hell, Harry! is also the title of a 1975 biographical stage play and subsequent movie, both written by Samuel Gallu and both starring James Whitmore as Harry Truman.
“Take his prospects, for example.” Please.
Comedian Henny Youngman’s (1906-1998) most famous joke was “Take my wife, please.” His wife, Sadie, was often the subject of his one-liners (despite his lifelong adoration of her; they were married for more than sixty years), and the origin of the joke dates to the mid-1930s, when Youngman asked a theater usher to escort his wife to their seats. He said, “Take my wife, please,” and the usher laughed, thinking it was a joke. A classic bit was born.
[Sung.] I wah-wah-wah-wah-wonder …
A line from the Del Shannon song “Runaway.” Sample lyrics: “I wonder/I wah-wah-wah-wah-wonder/Why, why-why-why-why-why she ran away …”
Meanwhile, Eliot Ness and his Untouchables head for a speakeasy in Berwyn.
Eliot Ness (1903-1957) was a law enforcement operative for the Department of Justice in the 1920s. Heading up a special nine-man team known as the Untouchables for their legendary incorruptibility, he led a series of raids that ultimately helped shut down Al Capone’s mob rule in Chicago. Berwyn is a suburb of Chicago. The comment is delivered in the style of Walter Winchell, one of the narrators of the Untouchables TV show. “Speakeasy” was one of the names for an illegal drinking establishment during Prohibition (they were also known as blind pigs, juice joints, and beer flats). The name comes from the natural tendency people had of speaking quietly when talking about, or talking inside, such establishments. (Thanks to Mike Dumas for the Winchell reference.)
Oh, they’re meeting with Floyd the barber.
Floyd Lawson (played by Howard McNear) was the name of the barber on The Andy Griffith Show, which ran from 1960-1968.
Ooh, the car is so wonderful, oooh, heh-heh…
An imitation of Floyd the barber’s (see previous note) excitable speaking style.
But, ma’am, do you know that Chevrolet has a wonderful plan for your life?
Bill Bright, the founder of the Campus Crusade for Christ, wrote the tract “The Four Spiritual Laws.” The first reads “God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.”
Are you now, or have you ever been, a Ford owner?
“Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?” was how the House Un-American Activities Committee opened its interrogation of witnesses during the Red Scare of the 1950s.
How can I keep this from Gladys?
Abner and Gladys Kravitz were the Stevens’s nosy neighbors on the TV sitcom Bewitched (1964-1972). Gladys was played by Alice Pearce and later Sandra Gould, while her husband Abner was played by George Tobias. (Thanks to Allen Smalling for the correct succession of Gladyses.)
Adlai Stevenson buys a car.
Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965) was the twice-unsuccessful Democratic presidential nominee during the 1950s, losing to Dwight D. Eisenhower. He later served as the U.S. delegate to the United Nations.
“Inka Dinka Doo” was comedian Jimmy Durante's signature song.
And now let us pray. Lord?
A riff on a line from George C. Scott’s character General Buck Turgidson in the 1964 black comedy Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The actual line: “I think we ought to all just bow our heads and give a short prayer of thanks for our deliverance. Lord, we have heard the wings of the angel of death fluttering over our heads from the valley of fear.”
Check their teeth.
In horse trading, checking a horse’s teeth is a fairly reliable way of confirming its approximate age and general health. That’s the origin of the old adage “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”—in other words, if it’s free, don’t ask too many questions.
Fifth! “Third.” Oh, right. –Third.
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!
During the Red Scare of the 1940s and 1950s, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigated supposed communists working to subvert and undermine the United States government. In 1947 they held hearings into whether Hollywood had been infiltrated; after nine days, ten people who had refused to testify were blacklisted, their careers destroyed for the sin of refusing to name names of suspected subversives. (People who did testify included Walt Disney and future Republican president Ronald Reagan.) Eventually the blacklist grew to some three hundred people, including composer Aaron Copland, actor Lee J. Cobb, comedian Zero Mostel, and singer Lena Horne.
“And fifth: Keep up their enthusiasm.” Enthusiasms.
A line from the famous scene in the 1987 film The Untouchables, in which Robert De Niro, playing Al Capone, beats a henchman to death with a baseball bat. Before the murder, he gives a stirring speech that begins, “A man becomes preeminent, he’s expected to have enthusiasms. Enthusiasms. Enthusiasms. What are mine? What draws my admiration? What is that which gives me joy?” (The other men call out, “Dames!” “Boozin’!”) “Baseball!” (Thanks to Jeff Megapolon for this reference.)
It’s Dr. Giggles!
Dr. Giggles is a 1992 horror flick about a homicidal maniac (played by Larry Drake) bent on avenging his mass-murdering doctor father.
Like father, like son. Think about it, won't you?
“Like Father, Like Son” is a 1967 anti-smoking PSA in which a small boy imitates his father in everyday activities. The message ends by showing the cute little boy grabbing Dad’s smokes while the announcer says, “Like father, like son. Think about it.” (“Won’t you?” wasn’t part of it.)
Visit beautiful ground zero.
The term “ground zero” refers to the point of detonation of a nuclear weapon; many people also use it to refer to Hiroshima, Japan, the site of the first nuclear bombing, and later, the site of the former World Trade Center towers.
Hey, look—poodle bites, poodle chews.
The lines “The poodle bites! The poodle chews it!” are repeated again and again in the Frank Zappa songs “Dirty Love” (1973) and “Stink-Foot” (1974).
Cousin Itt was a character in the TV series The Addams Family, which aired from 1964-1966; Itt was completely covered in long hair and spoke in a high, unintelligible squeak. The part was played by little person actor Felix Silla.
Let’s sing something from Pearl Jam.
Pearl Jam was one of the most successful alternative rock bands of the 1990s, first bursting onto the scene with their 1991 album Ten.
[Sung.] Row, row, row your boat/Gently down the stream … C’mon, sing, sing, sing, damn it, sing.
In a scene in Dirty Harry, the Scorpio killer takes over a school bus and forces the children to sing.(Thanks to Mike Dumas for this reference.)
Our Man from U.N.C.L.E. will return after this.
Our Man Flint is a 1966 spy spoof starring James Coburn as super-spy Derek Flint. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was a TV series that aired from 1964-1968. The tongue-in-cheek spy show starred Robert Vaughn as Napoleon Solo, the top agent for the United Network Command for Law Enforcement (U.N.C.L.E.), who battled the evil forces of the Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity, or THRUSH.
Slug bug! –Ow!
Slug Bug is a road game designed to keep kids amused on long car trips: the first child to spot a Volkswagen Bug and shout out “Slug bug!” or “Punch bug!” (there are a number of variants) gets to punch the other kids in the car.
Tonight, Manos gets caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse.
Possibly a riff on a typical opening narration of an episode of the TV detective series Mannix (CBS, 1967-1975).
You have any idea how you were framing back there?
In filmmaking, framing refers to the composition of the camera shot, including perspective and position.
What is he, Jeffrey Zaslow?
Jeffrey Zaslow (1958-2012) was an advice columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and later wrote for The Wall Street Journal.
If you lived here, you’d be home by now.
This is an advertising slogan used on banners and billboards by apartment complexes to taunt commuters as they sit in traffic jams.
Pigs, lies, and videotape.
Sex, Lies, and Videotape is a 1989 film by Steven Soderbergh about a young man (played by James Spader) who can only relate to women by videotaping them talking about their sex lives.
Joel, this is going to turn into a snuff film.
Snuff films, an urban legend, are purportedly movies in which one or more persons are actually killed on film. The legend dates back to a film called Snuff, released in 1976, which tacked an ending of an actress supposedly being killed onto a 1971 horror film called Slaughter; producer Allan Shackleton attempted to arouse interest in the cheaply made film by implying that the deaths in it were real. The legal system forced Shackleton to add a disclaimer to the film stating that no one had been harmed during the making of the movie, but by that point, the legend had taken on a life of its own. Even today, anti-pornography crusaders cite snuff films as the ultimate example of male oppression and exploitation of women, despite zero evidence for their existence.
Look, them blue Kentucky hills of Tennessee.
“Kentucky Hills of Tennessee” is a 1972 song by Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen. Sample lyrics: “Take me back to those old Kentucky hills of Tennessee/Where the mockin’bird is singin’ high up in the laurel tree/Let the Alabama moon shine her light on me/Way back in those old Kentucky hills of Tennessee.”
Hey, let’s just pretend we’re watching Trip to Bountiful.
The Trip to Bountiful is a 1985 film starring Geraldine Page as an old woman trying to return to the town she grew up in.
Does anybody have any Dramamine?
Dramamine is an over-the-counter anti-nausea medicine used to combat motion sickness. It is manufactured by Pfizer.
[Sung.] It’s Robin Stone, the love machine …
The 1971 film The Love Machine starred John Phillip Law as TV newscaster Robin Stone, who sleeps his way to the top. (MSTies will remember Law from Show 820, Space Mutiny, and Show 1013, Danger: Diabolik.) The theme song, “He’s Moving On,” was sung by Dionne Warwick.
Uh, Mr. Unser, we’re ready for you. Mr. Unser?
This could be any one of multiple related race car drivers: Bobby, Al, Jerry, Louis, Robby, Johnny, or Al Unser Jr.
Go Speed Racer.
Speed Racer was a Japanese animated show that first aired in the United States in 1967. Speed himself was the teenage son of a car designer who won races, solved crimes, and foiled supervillains. The theme song was “Go Speed Racer Go.”
So, Worcestershire, honey?
Worcestershire sauce is a British condiment of Indian origin, first concocted in the early 1800s.
Yes, it’s Hawaiian Tropic, for that savage buzz.
Hawaiian Tropic is a line of suntan products, including sunscreen, tanning lotion, and so forth. In the late 1970s, another brand of suntan products, Tropical Blend, used the slogan “For the Savage Tan.”
It sounds like Jerry Reed. Ick.
Jerry Reed (1937-2008) was a country musician and actor known for such hits as “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” and such films as Smokey and the Bandit.
Tastes like cherry Robitussin.
Robitussin is a brand of cough syrup manufactured by Whitehall-Robins, available in OTC and prescription formulas.
You are the driver. What would you do if this happened to you?
From faithful reader Erik Topp: “This is the narrative setup for scenarios in the video series accompanying the ‘Drive Right’ driver’s education program. It has been inflicted on unsuspecting teens as a soporific since the late 1970s.”
This isn’t Wacker Drive. We’re nowhere near Chicago. Honey!
Wacker Drive is a major thoroughfare in Chicago, Illinois. It is a double-tiered street, with Upper Wacker Drive for local traffic and Lower Wacker Drive for through traffic.
Hey, mister, get those hands of fate at ten o’clock and two o’clock. Now!
This was the old recommended hand position on the steering wheel; now, with air bags and power steering, the recommendation is either 9-3 or 8-4.
Look, can we drop off Tim Weisberg now?
Tim Weisberg is a jazz/rock fusion flute player known for such albums as Twin Sons of Different Mothers.
And now Herbie Manos, the hands of fate.
Herbie Mann (1930-2003) was a jazz musician famed for his flute prowess.
Good thing they’ve got a roll bar.
A roll bar is installed in convertibles to help prevent injuries if the car flips over.
“No more wisecracks.” No more brittle bon mots.
French for “good word,” a bon mot is a witty, clever remark, usually in the form of a biting response in a conversation. As Patton Oswalt (Kinga’s henchman Max in Season 11) says in his standup act, “Have you heard Oswalt’s latest bon mot? It’s all the rage in the salons.”
Manos, the Hands of Fate was filmed on location in a vacant lot.
The opening narration/disclaimer of the syndicated reallity TV series COPS (Fox/Spike, 1989-present) declares, “COPS is filmed on location with the men and women of law enforcement.”
Still holding. Adorn.
Adorn is a brand of hairspray. TV ads over the years have often touted the product’s holding power, with the slogan “For long-lasting, touchable hold.”
Maybe it’s Brigadoon.
Brigadoon is a 1947 musical about a disappearing village in Scotland that only appears once every hundred years.
Shot on location in Spooner, Wisconsin.
Spooner is a small town in northwest Wisconsin. Population: about 2,500.
I wet ‘em.
A paraphrase of a line from a Monty Python sketch: “The Visitors” in Season 1, Episode 9, which aired in December 1969 (actual line: “Oooo, I’ve wet ‘em!”). The sketch features Eric Idle’s character Mr. Cheeky, a.k.a. “Mr. Nudge,” from the beloved “Nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say no more, Squire!” sketch.
Tom Cruise is Dr. John.
Tom Cruise is one of the leading Hollywood hunks, albeit one whose reputation has suffered due to his devotion to Scientology; he has appeared in such films as Top Gun (1986) and Mission: Impossible (1996). "Dr. John" is a reference to musician Mac Rebennack, who has performed on and off since the late 1960s as Dr. John the Night Tripper; his best known composition is "Right Place Wrong Time." (Thanks to RMF for the Dr. John reference.)
You two stay with the nice man. I’m gonna go find a Ramada.
Ramada is a chain of hotels with more than 800 locations worldwide.
The master? Bobby Fischer?
Bobby Fischer (1943-2008) is considered by many to be the best chess player of all time. At the age of 15, he became the youngest grandmaster in the history of chess, and in 1972, he became the first American-born chess world champion.
“The Master doesn’t like children.” Oh, he’s W.C. Fields.
Comedian W.C. Fields’s curmudgeonly persona included a legendary hatred of children, about whom he once said, “I like children—fried” and “I never met a kid I liked.”
What is this, Final Jeopardy?
Final Jeopardy! is the last round on the TV game show Jeopardy!, in which each contestant wagers that they can answer a single question correctly.
Thy rod and thy staff discomfort me.
A paraphrase of a line from the 23rd Psalm of the Bible: “Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
He’s the guy you used to know who works at a Kinney’s Shoes and won’t leave you alone.
Kinney Shoes stores used to be widespread, but the chain is now defunct. (Thanks to Mike Dumas for correcting my spelling of Kinney's.)
You can vacation with Torgo, but don’t bring your American Express card.
In a series of commercials for Visa credit cards, viewers were warned that when visiting certain posh establishments, they shouldn’t bother to bring their American Express cards.
Uh, that’s not how you wear your Depends, Torgo.
Depend undergarments are a brand of adult incontinence products.
Been hitting the ThighMaster, Torgo?
The ThighMaster is a type of home exercise equipment that you squeeze between your thighs. It was famously hawked by Suzanne Somers.
It’s like having Joe Cocker as your bellhop.
Joe Cocker (1944-2014) was a British soul singer who formed his Grease Band in 1966 and performed such hit songs as “Feelin’ Alright” and “Delta Lady.” He scored a comeback in 1983 with “Up Where We Belong,” a duet with Jennifer Warnes that was included on the soundtrack for the film An Officer and a Gentleman. He was famous for his random full-body spasms while performing onstage.
Oh, look, honey—Torgo has a little altar to Ba’al.
Ba’al (or Baal) was a Bronze Age fertility god worshiped in Canaan. Ba’al was the son of El, the supreme god of Canaan, and his death and rebirth were celebrated as part of the society’s fertility rituals.
Looks like they had a little problem with the last fire there. Yule log got out of hand.
The Yule log is a large log ceremonially burned in the fireplace in some European countries to bring luck in the coming year.
I'm bemused by this plucky painting.
Possibly an imitation of Sister Wendy Beckett, a Carmelite hermit and art critic who hosted a series of art documentaries on the BBC in the 1990s. (Thanks to David Rose for this reference.)
It’s a Frank Frazetta of Frank Zappa.
Frank Frazetta (1928-2010) was a comic-book artist and prolific cover-art painter, known for his work on sci-fi and fantasy books. Frank Zappa (1940-1993) was a musician who fought for freedom of speech and influenced countless artists over his long career; as Kevin Murphy put it in the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, “He is one of my great heroes of American culture. … And God, was he ever funny. Sometimes embarrassingly preachy, but always calmly polemical, like an advocate for reason in a world gone mad and stupid. … But he was beautifully normal, and a brilliant rock-and-roll man, and I’ll miss him.”
Tonight on Night Gallery.
Night Gallery was an anthology horror series created by Rod Serling ofTwilight Zone fame; each story was illustrated in a painting seen at the beginning of the episode. It ran from 1970-1973.
It’s Howlin’ Wolf! [Sung.] Gonna work that wang dang doodle all night long …
Chester Arthur Burnett, a.k.a. Howlin’ Wolf (1910-1976), was an extremely influential blues singer known for such songs as “Moanin’ at Midnight” and “Smokestack Lightning.” The song here is “Wang Dang Doodle.” Actual lyrics: “We gonna romp and tromp till midnight/We gonna fuss and fight till daylight/We gonna pitch a wang dang doodle all night long/All night long …”
Someone left a cake out in the rain!
“Macarthur Park” is a song that has been recorded by Richard Harris and Donna Summer, among others. Sample lyrics: “MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark/All the sweet, green icing flowing down.../Someone left the cake out in the rain/I don’t think that I can take it/’cause it took so long to bake it/And I’ll never have that recipe again …”
Sounds like Gene Krupa’s out here.
Gene Krupa (1909-1973) was a jazz drummer credited with making drums a solo instrument in the big band sound.
Okay, let’s see here: wet naps, flashlight, revolver … good.
Wet naps are pre-moistened towelettes sold in plastic containers or individual foil packets. The disposable papers are used to wash skin when no source of running water is available. They contain a mild astringent/soap/water mixture. Like “Kleenex,” any brand of similar product tends to be called “wet naps,” but the actual Wet-Nap brand is owned by Nice-Pak Products, with origins as a “folded fingerbowl” served with meals at Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets, starting in 1963.
“What could have done it?” Ozzy Osbourne?
Heavy metal musician Ozzy Osbourne famously bit the head off a bat thrown onstage by a fan during a concert. He later claimed he had thought the bat was a rubber toy.
I got your Magic Fingers going.
Magic Fingers, a staple of low-budget motels, is a contraption that makes a bed vibrate.
What is he expecting? A big on-off switch?
An impression of comedian Jerry Seinfeld.
Van Gogh’s self-portrait. Really.
Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) was a Dutch painter whose works became astoundingly popular after his death, fetching record amounts at auctions and featuring in touring exhibitions. He painted more than 30 self-portraits, including several that show him wearing a hat.
[Sung.] I want a lover with a slow hand …
A paraphrase of a line from the Pointer Sisters song “Slow Hand.” Actual lyrics: “I want a man with a slow hand/I want a lover with an easy touch …”
I’m just as God made me, ma’am.
In This Is Spinal Tap, when band manager Ian Faith calls a desk clerk (played by Paul Benedict) a “twisted old fruit,” the clerk replies, “I’m just as God made me, sir.”
Turn it off! Turn it off!
In the 1979 film Hardcore, which stars George C. Scott as an American businessman who discovers that his daughter has been acting in porn films, he is overcome while watching one of her movies and cries out, “Turn it off! Turn it off!”
God, I look like Jack Klugman.
Jack Klugman (1922-2012) was an actor best known for his portrayal of the slob Oscar Madison on TV’s The Odd Couple, which aired from 1970-1975.
Oh, it’s Senator Packwood.
Oregon Senator Bob Packwood served in the U.S. Senate from 1969 to 1995. He resigned after the Senate Ethics Committee recommended his expulsion due to a series of explosive sexual harassment charges, in which at least two dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct ranging from kissing to forceful groping.
She’s a Breck Girl.
The Breck Girl was an advertising icon for Breck shampoo beginning in the 1930s. There were numerous Breck Girls over the years; actress Kim Basinger was even a Breck Girl early in her career.
Well, I must go cut off my left ear now.
On Christmas Eve 1888, Vincent Van Gogh (see above note) had a nervous breakdown and sliced off part of his own left ear with a razor. (A news story at the time claimed he delivered the ear to a local brothel and asked one of its employees to keep it for him, but this may be apocryphal.) He spent two weeks in a sanatorium recovering.
Then I have my answer. I'm walking on air.
This is a paraphrased line spoken by the adulterous Elliot (Michael Caine) in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986). The exact quote: “I have my answer. I have my answer: I’m walking on air.”
[Sung.] Something new is coming to town and George the Milkman's bringing it 'round...
In 1978 Kellogg’s introduced Graham Cracko’s cereal with a musical jingle that sang: “Something new is coming to town and George the Milkman's bringing it ‘round.”
“The nearest phone is at the crossroads.” [Sung.] “Crossroads.”
From the classic blues song “Crossroads” (a.k.a. “Cross Road Blues”) by Robert Johnson, which has been recorded by many artists, including Eric Clapton. Sample lyrics: “I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees/Asked the Lord above for mercy, save me if you please.”
“It won’t help to get mad.” Get Glad!
“Don’t get mad—get Glad!” is an old advertising slogan for Glad trash bags.
You know, Torgo wobbles, but he won’t fall down.
“Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down” was an advertising slogan for Weebles, a children’s toy introduced in the early 1970s. Roughly egg-shaped, the Weebles were little people who—as advertised—always came back to an upright position after being slammed about.
He could fill out jodhpurs like regular pants.
Jodhpurs are tight-fitting, ankle-length pants worn mostly for horseback riding; the classic style has extra width in the thigh area to allow for free leg movement in the saddle, while modern jodhpurs are made from stretchy fabric and are close-fitting all the way to the waist. The short riding boots usually worn with jodhpurs are also called jodhpurs.
I’ll always have Torgo.
A tweak of Humphrey Bogart’s line “We’ll always have Paris,” from the classic 1942 film Casablanca.
Little Debbie? –Snack cakes!
Little Debbie is a brand of snack cakes that includes such products as oatmeal creme pies, cream-filled cupcakes, brownies, and many, many more.
Debbie knows it’s Prince spaghetti night.
In the early 1950s, the Prince Co., a pasta manufacturer, coined the advertising slogan “Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti day.” The ad campaign was an effort to expand the pasta market beyond its then-largely Italian base.
Its name’s Mephisto, can we keep him?
Mephisto, or Mephistopheles, is the name of the devil in the German legends of Faust.
Kids worship the darndest things.
TV host Art Linkletter had a segment on his TV variety series House Party (1952-1969) called “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” At the end of each show, Linkletter would interview a child so the audience could laugh at its adorable utterances. In 1957, Linkletter wrote a book under the same title. From 1998-2000, Linkletter co-hosted a show with comedian Bill Cosby also called Kids Say the Darndest Things; Cosby later produced his own collection of kids’ sayings.
“In a big place? Where, Debbie?” The Northwest Territories.
The Northwest Territories are a territory of northern Canada, located between the Yukon and Nunavut territories. (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
Wait a minute. I think she wants us to follow her, Laura!
On the old Lassie TV show (1954-1972), Lassie was always dragging her owners off to rescue Timmy from abandoned wells or bears or escaped convicts. (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
Ladies and gentlemen, tonight, at the Copacabana, Jules Podell proudly presents Pat Benatar and Tricia Nixon!
Jules Podell was for decades the manager of the Copacabana, a restaurant/nightclub in New York that drew crowds of celebrities both to its stage and to its audiences. Martin and Lewis performed there, as did Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Lucille Ball, Connie Francis, Nat King Cole—the list goes on and on. Pat Benatar was an extremely popular female rock vocalist during the early 1980s, with such hits as “Heartbreaker” and “Hit Me with Your Best Shot.” Tricia Nixon is the oldest daughter of disgraced president Richard M. Nixon.
I’m Tom Bodett, and we’ll leave a pyre on for you.
In 1986, the Motel 6 chain began running a series of commercials featuring Tom Bodett that used the tagline “We’ll leave the light on for you.” The campaign proved phenomenally successful, running for 15 years.
Great hotel. Really convenient to the mouth of hell.
The concept of a hellmouth, or an entrance to hell presented as the gaping maw of a monster, first appeared in Anglo-Saxon art in the early ninth century C.E. It was popular during the Middle Ages and was revived during the Protestant Reformation, when there was a certain enthusiasm for showing members of the opposing sect vanishing into its horrifying depths.
And in a moment, the results of that trial.
“In a moment, the results of that trial” was the tagline on the TV series Dragnet, just before the final commercial break and the wrap-up, telling us what sentence the baddies received so we could end the episode on a nice glow of civic confidence.
He’s doing Macbeth!
Macbeth, or “the Scottish play,” as it is known among superstitious theater folks, is a play by William Shakespeare about the efforts of a man and his ambitious wife to get him crowned king of Scotland. It was first performed about 1605.
It was Callahan! The big one! He did this to me!
In the 1971 film Dirty Harry, Scorpio the killer (an over-the-top Andrew Robinson) hires a man to beat him up and then claims that Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) did it.
Itsy bitsy spider goes up the water …
A paraphrase of the classic children’s song “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Actual lyrics: “The itsy bitsy spider/Crawled up the water spout/Down came the rain/And washed the spider out/Out came the sun/And dried up all the rain/And the itsy bitsy spider/Crawled up the spout again.”
[Sung.] Torgo … I just met a fellow named Torgo …
A paraphrase of the song “Maria” from the musical West Side Story. Actual lyrics: “Maria, I’ve just met a girl named Maria/And suddenly the name will never be the same to me/Maria! I’ve just kissed a girl named Maria/And suddenly I’ve found how wonderful a sound can be.”
Marilyn Quayle in Baby Doll.
Marilyn Quayle is the wife of politician Dan Quayle, who served as vice president of the United States from 1989-1993 under George Bush the Elder. She wore her hair in a distinctive, ‘60s-style flip that attracted a certain amount of derision. Baby Doll is a 1956 film written by Tennessee Williams, about two feuding cotton gin owners, in which one attempts to seduce the virgin teenage bride of the other. The title role was played by Carroll Baker.
Listen, you guys, that’s it. This is not for your eyes. I don’t care. –What is it? What’s going on, Joel? –Shame on you, Dr. Forrester! Have you no sense of decency?
Senator Joseph McCarthy (1908-1957) was a Republican U.S. senator from Wisconsin infamous for his usually groundless claims and investigations into suspected Communist activities in the government (capital “c” communists, meaning official party members). Many of the people he accused had their lives ruined, and at least one committed suicide. In 1954 he held a televised series of hearings investigating suspected Communists in the Army. During a heated exchange with the Army’s chief legal counsel, Joseph Welch, McCarthy accused a young lawyer who worked in Welch’s office of being a Communist. Welch famously retorted, “Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?” Most historians agree this was the moment that brought McCarthy down. McCarthy was censured by the Senate shortly thereafter and served the remainder of his term a mere shadow of the posturing peacock he had been; he drank himself to death a few years later. Later intel releases from Russia showed that, of the hundreds of people McCarthy accused, only nine had any dealings with the Soviet Union.
Oh, it’s the latest episode of the Taster’s Choice saga.
In 1987, a series of commercials for Taster’s Choice coffee aired in Great Britain, starring British actors Sharon Maughan and Anthony Head as two people who really love their coffee. The soap-opera style spots featured the chance encounters and growing romance of the couple. The two actors also appeared in an American campaign in 1990 and even got their own romance novel.
Hello, Siegfried! Hello, Roy! Hello, Siegfried! Hello, Roy!
Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn are German-born former entertainers known for their illusions and Las Vegas show featuring white tigers. In 2003, Horn was critically injured by one of their tigers during a show. In 2009, after more than five years hiatus, they staged a final performance and retired.
Who is looking at Maggie the Cat?
Maggie the Cat is the heroine of the Tennessee Williams play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which was made into a movie in 1958; the role was played by Elizabeth Taylor.
I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
An imitation of Otto (played by Kevin Kline) apologizing after knocking out Archie (played by John Cleese) in the 1988 comedy A Fish Called Wanda.
It looks like a really cheap Robert Bly workshop.
Poet Robert Bly’s 1990 book Iron John spawned the men’s movement of the 1990s, in which men gathered for “workshops” to beat drums and explore their relationships with their fathers.
Oh great, Torgo’s giving him a snuggie.
“Snuggie” here does not refer to the popular sleeved blankets, but is an alternate term for a “wedgie,” the pulling of one’s underwear up and well into one’s crack as a cruel practical joke.
That was Manos, the Hands of Fate on Music Through the Night.
Music Through the Night is a late-night classical music program produced by Minnesota Public Radio.
[Sung.] So kiss a little longer …
A line from the 1980s jingle for Big Red chewing gum. Sample lyrics: “So kiss a little longer/Laugh a little longer/Stay close a little longer/Longer with Big Red …”
Some delicious A.1., my pet?
A.1. is a brand of steak sauce manufactured by Kraft Foods.
Hey, this is Polo!
Polo is a brand of men’s perfume made by Ralph Lauren.
The love vigilantes.
Spoken in the distinct style of ABC-TV announcer Ernie Anderson (1923-1997), specifically his much beloved way of saying “The Love Boat.” (Anderson’s son is film director Paul Thomas Anderson.) “Love Vigilantes” is a 1985 song by British rock band New Order.
It’s the makeout county line.
Macon County Line is a 1974 film starring a couple of young actors you’ve never heard of as brothers who find themselves hunted by the law after their car breaks down in the Deep South.
Stephanie, bring me some coffee and a Pop-Tart. And bring your steno pad.
Pop-Tarts are a brand of ready-made pastries that you heat in the toaster. They are manufactured by Kellogg’s.
It’s a Moody Blues song.
The Moody Blues are a British classical rock band known for such hits as “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Nights in White Satin.”
Come on, Satan, pick up. I know you’re there.
Satan (a.k.a. the Devil) is the personification of evil, primarily featuring in Christian and Islamic traditions. He is most often described as a “fallen angel” of God, though his initial job seems to have been as a prosecutor of sorts, sent to test men’s faith.
Bill Buckner is a former professional baseball player who played for a number of teams, but is sadly remembered for making an error that cost the Red Sox the 1986 World Series.
Michael Franks was a popular singer/songwriter in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In addition to his own set of albums, he has written songs performed by the Carpenters and Patti LaBelle, among others.
Yul Brynner! Sort of.
Yul Brynner (1915-1985) was a bald actor best known for his work in such films as The King and I and The Magnificent Seven.
An imitation of singer/actor Al Jolson's signature song, “My Mammy,” which he performed in blackface.
Oh, you can see the zipper.
A common complaint about the costume in cheesy monster movies.
The black and red Moses of soul.
A variation on one of the writers’ favorite lines—“Ladies and gentlemen, Jam Productions is proud to present the Black Moses of Soul!”—which first appeared in Show 405, The Being from Another Planet. "Black Moses" was a nickname for soul musician Isaac Hayes, best known for the theme from Shaft. Hayes released an album in 1971 with that title. (Thanks to RMF for the Hayes reference.)
An imitation of the faux snoring of the Three Stooges’ Shemp Howard, who took on the third Stooge role after his brother Curly’s stroke.
I mean, who can afford Lancôme makeup, huh?
Lancôme Paris is a cosmetics company that sells a full line of beauty products: skin care, makeup, perfumes, etc.
One of these days, Alice … –Alices.
Jackie Gleason used this as a running gag on the 1950s TV sitcom The Honeymooners, constantly threatening to send his long-suffering wife Alice “to the moon!”
Women who lunch. And the Manos who love them. Next Donahue.
“Ladies Who Lunch” is a song from the Stephen Sondheim musical Company. This is also a take on the plethora of self-help books bearing titles like Women Who Love Men Who Hate Cats Who Love Women, the granddaddy of them all being Men Who Hate Women & the Women Who Love Them by Susan Forward and Joan Torres. Phil Donahue was for 27 years the host of The Phil Donahue Show, also called just Donahue, a daytime talk show that was the forerunner of all the tabloid talk shows that would infest the networks in the 1990s and beyond. Both Oprah Winfrey and Sally Jessy Raphael modeled their shows after Donahue's.
You know, the scene is strong enough for a Manos, but made for a womanos.
The longtime slogan for Secret deodorant is “Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.”
And now back to We Married Manos.
This could either be a reference to the 1950s sitcom I Married Joan, starring Joan Davis as the ditzy wife of a judge, or the 1980s show I Married Dora, starring Elizabeth Peña as a housekeeper from El Salvador who marries her employer in order to stay in the U.S.
“Silence!” Is golden! “Silence!” Is golden!
The folk proverb “Speech is silver, but silence is golden” (usually used with the first half lopped off) dates back to at least the mid-19th century.
But first, funny man Morty Gunty.
Morty Gunty (1929-1984) was a well-known New York City comedian and actor in the 1960s. He appeared as himself in the 1984 Woody Allen film Broadway Danny Rose.
“Maybe we should spare the child.” And spoil the rod.
“Spare the rod and spoil the child” is a proverb that traces its origins to the Old Testament: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son.”
Die, die, my darling.
Die! Die! My Darling! is a 1965 film about a young woman stalked by her dead fiancé’s mother (played by screen legend Tallulah Bankhead). The film also goes by the name Fanatic.
Hey, then swing your partners to and fro, take her by the arm and do-si-do. Promenade.
An imitation of a square dance caller.
This is like the Russian parliament.
In December 1992 there was a brawl among dozens of parliamentarians over a bill to strip then-President Boris Yeltsin of most of his powers. The bill failed, but tensions between Yeltsin and parliament continued to rise, peaking the following year when the parliament attempted to remove him from office and Yeltsin had the Russian army fire shells at the parliament building in Moscow.
Next on ESPN: full contact nightgown wrestling.
ESPN is a cable sports channel.
Designing Women: the lost episodes.
Designing Women was a television sitcom about a group of women who ran an interior decorating business. It aired from 1986-1993.
And now the Manos women’s guild will re-enact the battle of Pearl Harbor.
In the Monty Python skit “The Batley Townswomen’s Guild Presents the Battle of Pearl Harbor,” the women simply roll around in the mud clawing at each other.
You know, this was the alternate ending to Beaches.
Beaches is a 1988 film starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey as two friends who share a conflicted friendship over many years.
I see London, I see France, I see everybody’s underpants!
A popular playground taunt that has been tormenting grade-school children for decades.
You know, this isn’t Lysistrata. I like it, but it isn’t Lysistrata.
Lysistrata is a comic play by the ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes, about a group of women who resolve to end war by withholding sex until their men agree to stop fighting.
It’s the Wilson Phillips breakup.
Wilson Phillips is a female pop trio consisting of sisters Carnie and Wendy Wilson (daughters of Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson) and Chynna Phillips (daughter of John and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas). They hit it big in the early 1990s but broke up after the release of their second album. The trio got back together for a new album released in 2004, had their own reality show in 2012, and have performed occasionally.
[Sung.] Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman …
A line from the Tammy Wynette song “Stand By Your Man.” Sample lyrics: “Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman/Giving all your love to just one man/You'll have bad times/And he'll have good times/Doing things that you don't understand …”
You know what this movie really needs? –What’s that? –Marc Singer. –Oh, yeah!
Marc Singer is a hunky actor best known for his title role in the 1982 film The Beastmaster.
Pow. Boff. Smack. –Biff.
The campy ’60s TV series Batman often put up colorful title cards with words like “KAPOW!” and “BAM!” during fight scenes. (Thanks to Lewis Micbee, a.k.a. Rev. Marcus Burkhard, for this reference.)
Torgo, you’re the laziest man on Mars.
A reference to Show 321, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.
Keep away from me! Keep away!
An imitation of Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris), the mincing, villainous stowaway/saboteur on the TV series Lost in Space, which aired from 1965-1968. (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
Does this bug you? Does this bug you? I’m not touching you.
“Does this bug you? I’m not touching you” is an often heard MST3K catchphrase with possible origins in something U2 lead singer Bono said in the 1988 concert film Rattle and Hum: “Am I bugging you? I don’t mean to bug ya.” Or it's possibly just a reference to the timeless sibling torment of almost, but not quite, touching, tickling, or punching another sibling, and when a complaint is made, saying "What? I'm not touching you!" (Thanks to Andrew Ollmann for the timeless sibling torment.)
I just remembered—“Family Circus” was really funny today.
The comic strip “Family Circus,” created by Bil Keane, is drawn in a circle rather than the usual rectangle; it is about the cute exploits of several small children and their long-suffering parents.
[Sung.] Never steal anything wet … Say, who’s the new guy?
A line from the theme song to Show 204, Catalina Caper. Never Steal Anything Wet was originally going to be the title of the film (Scuba Party was another candidate), but they went with Catalina Caper instead. Kind of a lateral move, really.
Oh, I hope she doesn’t make like Jenny Fields.
Jenny Fields is the mother of T.S. Garp in The World According to Garp; she conceives her son while working in a hospital, choosing an unconscious and dying soldier to be the father. Glenn Close played the role in the 1982 movie.
[Sung.] I don’t know how to love him …
A line from the song by the same name, from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. Sample lyrics: “I don't know how to love him/What to do, how to move him/I've been changed, yes really changed …”
[Sung.] Sandy Frank, Sandy Frank ...
Sandy Frank is a film producer who imported many Japanese films to the U.S., including the Gamera series. The “Sandy Frank Song” is from Show 306, Time of the Apes.
We return to Girl Talk with Virginia Graham.
Girl Talk was a talk show for women in the 1960s hosted by Virginia Graham, one of the first talk show hosts. (She hosted several other talk shows as well during her long career.) She was the host of Girl Talk from 1963-1969.
She’s my sister! She’s my daughter! She’s my sister!
In a crucial scene of the 1974 film Chinatown, Jack Nicholson learns that thanks to an incestuous liaison, Faye Dunaway is both sister and mother to Belinda Palmer.
The movie has kind of a Ken Russell feel to it, I’d say.
Ken Russell (1927-2011) was a film director known for his gothic, over-the-top films, which include Tommy (1975) and Altered States (1980).
Carol Brady was the mom on the TV series The Brady Bunch, which aired from 1969-1974. The role was played by Florence Henderson (1034-2016).
The Maidenform woman. You never know where she’ll turn up.
“The Maidenform woman. You never know where she’ll turn up” was the tagline for a series of advertisements for Maidenform bras that ran during the 1970s. The campaign was phenomenally successful, boosting sales by as much as 200 percent. The ads continued to run until the mid-1980s.
Freddie Mercury (1946-1991) was the flamboyant lead singer for the British rock band Queen.
All my bags are packed. I’m ready to go.
The opening lines to the John Denver song “Leaving on a Jet Plane”; Peter, Paul & Mary’s cover of the song hit number one in 1969. Sample lyrics: “All my bags are packed/I’m ready to go/I’m standing here outside your door/I hate to wake you up to say goodbye.” (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
Jimmy Hoffa. The last known photo.
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 mobsters. He was never seen again and was declared dead in 1982. His son, James Hoffa, succeeded him as Teamsters president in 1999.
He used to go out with all these women and now they’re all here. Kodachrome.
A paraphrase of the Paul Simon song “Kodachrome.” Sample lyrics: “If you took all the girls I knew when I was single/And brought them all together for one night/I know they’d never match my sweet imagination/And everything looks worse in black and white/Kodachrome.” (Thanks to reader Brian Johnston for this reference.)
“There’s been enough trouble.” Right here in River City.
A line from the musical The Music Man: “You got trouble, folks! Right here in River City. Trouble with a Capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for pool.”
The amazing Technicolor poncho.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a musical by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, a retelling of the biblical story of Joseph and his “coat of many colors.”
All right, now let’s see: the rabbit comes out of the hole, goes around the tree … okay.
A paraphrased variant of a mnemonic for tying a bowline knot.
He’s got Earl Campbell thighs.
Earl Campbell was a well-known running back for the Houston Oilers from 1978-1984. The phrase is probably also a play on the 1974 Kim Carnes song "Bette Davis Eyes." (Thanks to Brad Watson for the song reference.)
Oh, my dogs are barking today, let me tell you.
A line said by John Candy, talking about his feet, in the 1987 comedy Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.
Oh, no, not liturgical dance.
Liturgical dance is dance as a form of worship during a religious ceremony.
Yes, dear. I'm doing it, dear.
This is a line from the classic British TV show Fawlty Towers, spoken by John Cleese, who played hotel owner Basil Fawlty.
They’re rolfing him to death.
Rolfing, also known as structural integration, is a form of massage whose advocates say can heal all sorts of health problems.
Does this make you cry? Huh, baby? You gonna cry?
A riff on a scene in the 1983 comedy movie A Christmas Story, in which neighborhood bully Farkus taunts the story's hero, Ralphie, a bit too much. It doesn’t end well. For Farkus. For Raphie it ended up being a pretty good day. (Thanks to Andrew Ollmann for correcting the identity of Farkus.)
You know, I love my Craftmatic pole. That was the most comfortable sleep I’ve ever had.
Craftmatic is a brand of adjustable bed whose commercials are a staple of late-night TV.
Dear Eveready: I was tied to a post all night and left my flashlight on. The battery was …
Eveready is a brand of batteries.
Paws and punch in the fellowship hall.
A riff on “bars and punch,” the ubiquitous refreshments served at church and school social functions in the Midwest.
[Sung.] Smoke on the weirdo …
“Smoke on the Water” is a 1973 song by the band Deep Purple. Sample lyrics: “Frank Zappa and the Mothers/Were at the best place around/But some stupid with a flare gun/Burned the place to the ground/Smoke on the water, fire in the sky.”
An imitation of Bela Lugosi in the title role of the 1931 horror classic Dracula.
The new pope has not been chosen.
Traditionally, when the college of cardinals meets to elect a new pope to head the Catholic Church, they burn the ballots in a stove in the Sistine Chapel. Black smoke issuing from the chimney indicates that no new pope has been chosen; white smoke means one has. Even non-Catholics became familiar with this tradition in 2005, when the college met to elect John Paul II’s successor, and again in 2013, when Pope Francis was chosen.
Oh, this is gonna be just like in The Grifters.
In the 1990 movie The Grifters, con artist Lilly Dillon (played by Anjelica Huston) is tortured by having her hand burned with a cigar.
[Sung.] Charred finger …
A paraphrase of the song “Goldfinger” by Shirley Bassey (see above note).
The Jamaican wings are ready.
Chicken wings, also called Buffalo wings, are a ubiquitous tavern and party snack: unbreaded, fried chicken wings coated with an often-spicy sauce and traditionally served with celery and/or carrot sticks and blue cheese or ranch dressing. Origin stories vary, but the best known claims they were created at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, in 1964. The “Jamaican” reference probably has to do with the Jamaican “jerk” style of seasoning and cooking meat, which leaves it with a distinctive burnt and mottled appearance.
Light hand and get away.
“Light fuse and get away” is a common warning on fireworks.
Boy, she’s reading him the riot act, huh? Let me tell you.
The Riot Act was passed by the British Parliament in 1714, giving local authorities the power to disperse any group of twelve or more people with the threat of jail. Authorities were required to read the proclamation aloud before dispersing a crowd, and the term “reading the riot act” has come to mean giving a stern warning or reprimand.
The most dangerous game.
The Most Dangerous Game is a 1932 film starring Joel McCrea and Fay Wray as shipwrecked yacht passengers trapped on a mysterious island whose owner (played by Leslie Banks) hunts humans for sport. It’s based on a 1924 short story by Richard Connell.
It’s Mary Kay-K-K.
Mary Kay is a cosmetics company whose “consultants” sell beauty care products independently, much like Avon Ladies. The company racked up $2.5 billion in retail sales in 2000. Top salesladies can earn themselves a pink Cadillac or other car from the company. The Ku Klux Klan, or KKK, has been a couple of secret organizations over the years; the first was founded just after the Civil War as a vigilante group designed to retain white supremacy in the South by intimidating newly freed black slaves. It had disappeared within twenty years. But in 1915 the group was revived, inspired by the film The Birth of a Nation, which portrayed the original KKK as a noble band striving to protect civilization from depraved African-Americans. The organization peaked at a membership of about four million in the 1920s but had once again died out by the end of World War II. There was another brief resurgence of the Klan in the 1960s in response to the civil rights movement; today its membership is probably only a few thousand, and it has fragmented into several small and competing groups.
Julia Roberts was one of the world's biggest movie stars during the 1990s, particularly after the box office smash Pretty Woman (1990).
He tampered in God’s domain.
A line from Show 423, Bride of the Monster.
A Creamsicle is a frozen treat on a stick made by Popsicle: ice cream with a sherbet shell.
It’s like they’re walking into a John Waters film.
John Waters is a bizarre filmmaker who has directed such cult masterpieces as Pink Flamingos (1972) and Hairspray (1988).
Surprise, surprise, surprise!
An imitation of Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show and later on Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
Boy, Russ Weatherwax really topped himself with this dog.
Brothers Frank and Rudd (not Russ) Weatherwax were legendary Hollywood dog trainers. They trained Pal, the original Lassie, in addition to Pal’s successors. They also trained the dogs that played Asta in theThin Man movies and Old Yeller.
[Sung.] At Beneficial …
The beginning of an old advertising jingle for the Beneficial Finance Company: “At Beneficial (honk, honk) you’re good for more.”
Oh, thank you very much! A shot in the face, how nice!
An imitation of playwright and actor Noel Coward, as channeled by Eric Idle in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983). (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
Meanwhile in Toledo …
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.
[Sung.] Riders on the storm …
A line from the 1971 Doors song of the same name. Sample lyrics: “Riders on the storm/Into this house we’re born/Into this world we’re thrown/Like a dog without a bone …”
Well, that’s when we were at Nye’s, and then Lou sang “Fernando,” and then Gary—oh, he sings so good...
Nye’s Polonaise Room in Minneapolis was a “celebrated old-school joint featuring traditional Polish cuisine, kitschy decor, and live polka music.” Opened in 1950, Nye’s became a retro-hip hot spot in the 1980s and ’90s; it finally closed in 2016. “Fernando” is a 1976 song by ABBA. Sample lyrics: “Can you hear the drums Fernando?/I remember long ago another starry night like this/In the firelight Fernando …”
Do you like Barry Manilow songs?
Barry Manilow is a singer/songwriter who enjoyed a string of hits in the 1970s, including “Copacabana” and “Mandy.”
McNuggets, you know, they make me so gassy, all that grease and all.
Chicken McNuggets are fried chicken bits served at McDonald’s fast food restaurants.
So my aunt and uncle, they celebrated their twentieth anniversary, and my uncle wanted to sing “Sunrise, Sunset” and he wanted me to sing it, and I haven’t sung that since Cindy’s wedding, and she never thanked me for that … well, she’s really busy and all.
The song “Sunrise, Sunset” is from Fiddler on the Roof, a successful Broadway musical that was made into a movie in 1971. Sample lyrics: “Is this the little girl I carried?/Is this the little boy at play?”
Joan Kennedy was the first wife of the late U.S. Senator Teddy Kennedy; they were married from 1958 until their divorce in 1982. They had three children together: Kara Anne, Ted Jr., and Patrick Joseph Kennedy.
I ain’t gonna play Sun City.
A line from the song “Sun City.” Sun City was a luxury resort located in South Africa during the height of apartheid, and “Sun City,” recorded by a group of musicians calling themselves Artists United Against Apartheid, became an anthem for the anti-apartheid movement.
Titles by Keith Haring.
Keith Haring (1958-1990) was an artist known for painting colorful dancing little people outlined in simple, thick black lines; his art was particularly popular with children. He derived a large part of his inspiration from the bold forms of street graffiti. Haring died of AIDS at the age of 31.
[Sung.] Faded photograph …
A line from the song “Traces” by Classics IV. Sample lyrics: “Faded photograph/Covered now with lines and creases/Tickets torn in half/Memories in bits and pieces/Traces of love long ago/That didn't work out right/Traces of love …”
He went on to do Torgo at Disney World.
Walt Disney World is a world-famous family resort near Orlando, Florida.
Ben Vereen is a Broadway actor, dancer, and singer who has also appeared in a number of TV shows and movies.
They all wanted to be Dean Martin’s Golddiggers, you know.
The Golddiggers were a troupe of beautiful women who appeared on The Dean Martin Show, which aired from 1965-1974. They also appeared on a summer spinoff series, Dean Martin Presents the Golddiggers (1968-1973).
[Sung.] Sing around the campfire …
A jingle from a famous ad for the Campfire Girls that ran in the 1960s. The sing-along in the ad was led by well-known opera singer Patrice Munsel.
Whoa, these two. Like Allen and Rossi, they stole the show.
Marty Allen and Steve Rossi were a comedy team in the 1950s and ‘60s, making numerous appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show and even starring in several movies, including The Last of the Secret Agents.
If you’d like to contact Harold P. Warren, look in the Yellow Pages for the Fertilizer Corporation of Texas.
Harold Warren, the auteur behind Manos, was an insurance and fertilizer salesman from El Paso. He never made another movie.