by Wyn Hilty
I’m Charles Kuralt, and we’re going to leave you with this shot of a flower.
Charles Kuralt (1934-1997) was a journalist with CBS for many years starting in 1957. He was best known for his show On the Road, in which he and a camera crew traveled the back roads of America, interviewing the ordinary people they encountered.
Cactus Flower with Goldie Hawn!
Cactus Flower was a romantic comedy released in 1969, starring Walter Matthau, Ingrid Bergman and Goldie Hawn. Hawn won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1970 for her work in the film.
Hey, it’s Scattergories!
Scattergories is a game by Milton Bradley, in which players have to match categories using words that begin with the same letter.
That was Art Clokey’s first study of Gumby there.
Art Clokey created Gumby, the green, lopsided claymation figure, in 1956. The television show starring Gumby, Pokey, and friends aired original episodes for seven years, from 1956 to 1963. Clokey is also the visionary behind the Christian animated show Davey and Goliath. Gumby achieved fame for a new generation on Saturday Night Live, where comedian Eddie Murphy played a foul-mouthed version of the character, with the catch phrase “I’m Gumby, damn it!” A Gumby short, “Robot Rumpus,” aired as part of Show 912, The Screaming Skull.
Yes, you too can learn to play the guitar in two easy lessons.
Probably a reference to the classic guitar instruction book How to Play Guitar in 10 Easy Lessons by Norman Monath.
Oh, this must be that grunge look from Seattle—it’s from Seattle, I’ve heard.
The grunge look became popular in the early ‘90s, when Seattle bands like Nirvana began making it big in the rock scene. Torn jeans, big boots, and flannel shirts were the style’s hallmark.
Is that a real poncho or a Sears poncho?
A paraphrase of a line in the song “Camarillo Brillo” by Frank Zappa (found on the album Overnite Sensation). The actual lyrics: “Is that a real poncho ... I mean/Is that a Mexican poncho/Or is that a Sears poncho?” The line also appears in the Zappa song "Cosmik Debris." (Thanks to Matthew Czupryna for the "Cosmik" reference.)
Richard Kiel is Eegah Templar, the Saint.
Simon Templar, the Saint, was a character created by author Leslie Charteris in 1928. He appeared in more than 50 books in English and another 40 in French. He has also been portrayed in film and television, perhaps most famously by Roger Moore (coincidentally Kiel’s co-star in the Bond film Moonraker) in the television series that aired from 1962 to 1969. Most recently he was portrayed by Val Kilmer in the 1997 film The Saint. Templar was an international man of mystery who helped innocents in trouble.
Focus ... eh ... focus, please ... he-hello?
Tom is imitating Flash Bazbo, Space Explorer, a recurring character voiced by Christopher Guest on The National Lampoon Radio Hour, a weekly show that ran on about 600 radio stations in 1974. In addition to Guest, the show featured early work by John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and many others.
I’m dead. Don’t smoke.
A reference to actor Yul Brynner (1920-1985), best known for roles in The King and I, The Ten Commandments, and The Magnificent Seven. He was a well-known smoker (having started at the age of 12), and after being diagnosed with lung cancer, he appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America and said he wished he could make an anti-smoking commercial. After he died, a portion of that interview became a PSA for the American Cancer Society that included the lines, “Now that I’m gone, I tell you, don’t smoke. Whatever you do, just don’t smoke.”
Otis Nixon is a baseball player who has played both left field and center field. He has played for such teams as the Atlanta Braves and the New York Yankees. He is known for his skill at stealing bases.
He looks like a thin William Hickey.
Actor William Hickey (1928-1997) appeared in more than 50 movies and numerous television shows, but he is probably best remembered as the withered Don Corrado Prizzi in Prizzi’s Honor (1985).
Shakin’ the bush, boss.
A reference to the famous line “Shaking it up here, boss!” from the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, starring Paul Newman as a loner on a chain gang. During a bathroom break, Newman’s character is allowed some privacy, but only if he shakes the bushes while he urinates so the guards don’t think he’s making a break for it.
Well, actually they seem to be exhibiting a sort of ineluctable defenestration ...
An imitation of William F. Buckley, Jr. (1925-2008), an American writer, editor, and television commentator best known as the founder of the conservative magazine National Review and host of the long-running political discussion show Firing Line (PBS/syndication, 1966-1999). His inexplicable European accent, aristocratic speaking style (a.k.a. “Long Island lockjaw”), and expansive vocabulary were often parodied.
Poppies will make us sleep.
A paraphrase of the Wicked Witch of the West’s line in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz: “Poppies will put them to sleep.”
Welcome to the Crypt! We’ve “dug” something up for you! Why not stick around and watch Dream On? It’s the “breast” show on TV!
An imitation of the Crypt Keeper, the decayed host of the TV horror series Tales From the Crypt. Dream On was a series that aired on HBO from 1990 to 1996. Ostensibly a comedy, it was largely an excuse to show a series of attractive guest stars having sex with star Brian Benben.
Circle Pines after dark.
According to writer Mary Jo Pehl, “Circle Pines [Minnesota] is Everytown, USA. ... When I was growing up in Circle Pines, it was a small town and had Lee and Iris’s Bar and Grill, ... the Down Under On/Off Sale, ... two rival gas stations, no stoplights, and the weekly newspaper called The Circulating Pines. ... The sign still reads—as it did all my twenty-some years there—POPULATION: 4,731.”
It’s Frederick’s of Maplewood.
Origin of “Maplewood” is uncertain, but probably refers to Maplewood, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis-St. Paul. “Frederick’s” is of course a reference to Frederick’s of Hollywood, the famous chain of lingerie stores.
The Loretta Young Show! [Hummed.] "Letter to Loretta."
Loretta Young (1913-2000) was the host of The Loretta Young Show, an anthology series that aired from 1953 to 1961. She was known for her trademark entrance through a doorway with her skirts swirling around her. The theme song to the show, called "Letter to Loretta" (the show's original title), was composed by Harry Lubin, who also wrote the theremin-heavy theme song to The Outer Limits.
I’m young and free and feeling fresh!
Probably a reference to the classic douche commercial in which a mother and a daughter take a companionable stroll while discussing feminine hygiene. The line “Mom, do you ever get that not-so-fresh feeling?” became an instant classic of euphemism and is still frequently referenced today.
I forget, can I drive a stick?
Before automatic transmissions in automobiles became ubiquitous, even in sports cars, most cars had a manual transmission, requiring the driver to change gears using a third pedal and a lever that came up from the floor of the car or was attached to the steering column. This gear shift, and by extension any car that had one, was nicknamed a “stick,” short for “stick shift.” There are still some manual transmission cars being made, but they make up less than 10 percent of the U.S. market.
It's the Flying Sub! —I think it’s a bug-eyed Sprite. So is she.
The Flying Sub, officially the FS-1, was the bright yellow two-man mini-submarine that launched from a hatch in the bottom of the main submarine in the TV series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (ABC, 1964-1968). Yes, it could fly. The Sprite was a car produced in the 1950s by Austin Healey. Due to its rather prominent headlights, it was nicknamed the “bug-eyed Sprite.” (Thanks to Neal Stidham for the Flying Sub reference.)
Honk if you love Eegah!
A variation on the classic bumper sticker. The most popular iteration seems to be “Honk if you love Jesus,” but countless versions exist, including “Honk if you love peace and quiet,” “Honk if you’re illiterate,” and one reported from Mike Nelson’s home state of Wisconsin, “Honk if you love cheeses.”
Early ‘70s TV commercials for Ultra Brite toothpaste featured good-looking guys and gals smiling broadly and then turning their head as a blown kiss hit its mark, accompanied by the jingle “Ultra Brite gives your mouth ... sex appeal!”
[Sung.] Seventy-seven Sunset Strip.
77 Sunset Strip was a TV series starring Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as a wisecracking detective. It aired from 1958-1964.
[Sung.] How will you make it on your own?
A line from the theme song to the first season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which aired in 1970. The exact wording: “How will you make it on your own?/This world is awfully big, girl this time you’re all alone/But it’s time you started living/It’s time you let someone else do some giving.”
Oh, no, she’s chasing down Emmett Kelly!
Emmett Kelly (1898-1979) is probably one of the world’s most famous clowns. His hobo persona, known as “Weary Willie,” was familiar to audiences around the world from his performances for Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. One of his most famous routines involved Kelly attempting to sweep up a spotlight with a broom. (Thanks to Jacob Churosh for the tip about the spotlight routine.)
I’m with Allstate—who are you with?
Allstate is an insurance company that offers auto, home, and life insurance, among other products and services.
Ach, mein Gott, the schwannstucker!
A paraphrase of Teri Garr’s famous line from the Mel Brooks/Gene Wilder movie Young Frankenstein. The entire exchange:
Dr. Frankenstein: For the experiment to be a success, all of the body parts must be enlarged.
Inga: His veins, his feet, his hands, his organs would all have to be increased in size.
Dr. Frankenstein: Exactly.
Inga: He would have an enormous schwannstucker!
Dr. Frankenstein: (pause) That goes without saying.
Which way to 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.
Hey, funny, I was driving a stick too.
See note on stick shifts, above.
You had a root beer and a side of fries with that?
Before drive-through fast food ruled the landscape, there were drive-ins. Diners would park their cars and remain inside, while waitresses, called “car-hops” and often wearing roller skates, would take their order and deliver the food to the car, usually on specially designed trays that attached to a partially rolled-down window. Sonic Drive-In still operates this way.
Say, could you give me a lift to Stephen Jay Gould’s house?
Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) was a world-famous paleontologist, known especially for his essays on evolution. His books include Ever Since Darwin and The Panda’s Thumb.
Jim Morrison, the Paris years.
Jim Morrison (1943-1971) was the lead singer for The Doors. In 1971 he moved to Paris after some trouble with the law (he was convicted of indecent exposure in Florida for allegedly exposing himself onstage; he was posthumously pardoned in 2010). There he grew a full, black beard and gained quite a bit of weight—soon after he was found dead in his bathtub. The official cause of death was given as a heart attack, although there has long been speculation that drugs somehow contributed; his wife, Pamela Courson, reportedly died of a heroin overdose three years later.
Oh, he’s doing tai chi on her.
Tai chi is a Chinese martial art that emphasizes slow, graceful, controlled movements; many people use it simply as a healthful form of exercise.
Saved by the ‘Vette.
The expression “saved by the bell” comes from the sport of boxing, when a boxer is barely still on his feet, but is given a respite when the bell rings signaling the end of the round. Many believe the expression (along with “dead ringer” and “graveyard shift”) came from Victorian era “safety coffins,” some of which featured an aboveground bell attached to a string in the coffin, to signal in case a person is buried alive, but this has been dismissed as a linguistic myth. “’Vette” is short for Corvette, a sports car made by Chevrolet beginning in 1953. In the movie, Arch Hall Jr. is driving the very popular 1961 Corvette.
There was a Poco song on the radio.
Poco was a country-rock band founded in 1968. The group disbanded in 1984 before making a comeback five years later.
Is she really going out with him?
A line from the Joe Jackson song of the same name. Sample lyrics: “Is she really going out with him?/Is she really gonna take him home tonight?/Is she really going out with him?/’Cause if my eyes don’t deceive me/There’s something going wrong around here …” (Thanks to Kurt Steidl for this reference.)
Crate & Barrel?!
Crate & Barrel is the chain of upscale yuppie housewares stores; it has dozens of locations around the United States.
William Faulkner (1897-1962) was a novelist who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1949. Among his best-known works are The Sound and the Fury and the Snopes trilogy.
Glenn was fifty feet tall!
A reference to Show 319, War of the Colossal Beast.
Let’s not forget where we parked Supercar.
Supercar was a British TV series that aired from 1961 to 1962. In the series, Supercar was an experimental vehicle that could travel in the air, on land or under the sea. Test pilot Mike Mercury traveled in the car in search of adventure.
[Sung.] Oh, to live on Shadow Mountain.
A paraphrase of lyrics from the Neil Young song “Sugar Mountain.” The actual lyrics: “Oh, to live on sugar mountain/With the Barkers and the colored balloons.”
Whirlybirds! –Blue Thunder! –M*A*S*H! –Apocalypse Now! –Dispatches!
A big whopping series of references to TV shows and movies involving helicopters: Whirlybirds (1957-1959) was a syndicated TV show about the owners of a helicopter company. Blue Thunder (1983) was a movie starring Roy Scheider, about an experimental police helicopter; the next year it was made into a TV series. M*A*S*H was of course the classic 1970 movie and later the television show, which began every week with a shot of helicopters coming over a mountain range. Apocalypse Now (1979) has a famous sequence in which a fleet of helicopters launches a massive attack against a Vietnamese village to the strains of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.” Dispatches is a memoir by journalist Michael Herr about his experiences covering the war in Vietnam. Herr also wrote the narration for Coppola’s Apocalypse Now.
Richard Nixon leaving the White House.
At noon on August 9, 1974, Richard Nixon officially resigned as president of the United States, to avoid certain impeachment by the House of Representatives over the Watergate scandal. He had announced his resignation the night before in a nationally televised address. As he was preparing to board the Marine One helicopter for the last time, he turned and gave his classic two-fingered “V for victory” salute.
[Sung.] The M*A*S*H theme.
See note about helicopters, above.
Now, there should be a Ram Charger up there.
Ads for the Dodge Ram Charger frequently showed it parked in unspeakably rugged terrain to emphasize its ability to travel anywhere.
Oh, for a shoulder-mounted anti-aircraft gun. –Oh, you mean a Stinger. –Whatever.
Stingers entered the public consciousness in the 1980s during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, when the Reagan administration cheerfully handed over a thousand or so of them to the rebel fighters who would later become the Taliban. The wording of the comment sounds like it resulted from an argument in the writers’ room.
Surprise! I am Jose Greco!
Jose Greco (1918-2001) was a world-famous Spanish flamenco dancer. He appeared in international dance tours, movies, and television shows. His 1977 autobiography was titled The Gypsy in My Soul.
Is that a Bell Huey? Whoa, flashback’s kicking in. Danang.
Many Vietnam veterans have experienced a phenomenon known as “flashbacks,” a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder in which the survivor of a traumatic event finds him- or herself reliving it. Bell Hueys were the mainstay assault helicopters used by U.S. forces in Vietnam; Danang is a city in central Vietnam.
The Old Indiana Jones Chronicles.
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was a television series that aired in 1992-1993. Based on the phenomenally popular Indiana Jones movies, which began with 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, the series never really caught on, although it developed a loyal cult following. It featured Indiana Jones (who was played by Harrison Ford in the films) at three ages: as an old man, who narrated the episodes; as a boy of 10; and as a young man in his late teens.
It’s Lawrence of Pasadena.
Lawrence of Arabia is a movie from 1962, starring Peter O’Toole in what is probably his most famous role. It is based on the writings of T.E. Lawrence (1888-1935), a British scholar-soldier who became the leader of a group of Arab guerrillas that harassed the Turks during World War I. At one point he was captured and tortured by the Turks, an experience that left him scarred for life—both physically and psychologically. He died in a motorcycle accident in England in 1935.
Oh, this is a Kodak moment.
“Kodak moment” is a catchphrase, taken from an old Kodak advertising campaign, that has come to mean any event that should be preserved as a photograph for all time. Even today, the slogan on the Kodak Web site is “Share Moments. Share Life.”
[Sung.] They took the whole Cherokee nation ...
Opening line to the song “Indian Reservation” by Paul Revere and the Raiders, which hit No. 1 on the Billboard chart in 1971. A sampling of lyrics: “They took the whole Cherokee nation/Put us on this reservation/Took away our ways of life/The tomahawk and the bow and knife.”
This is going to prove a lot to the Royal Geographic Society.
The Royal Geographic Society was founded in England in 1830 to promote exploration and mapping of unknown parts of the world (unknown to white European men, that is). Explorers have included such luminaries as Livingstone and Stanley (of the immortal line, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume").
Howard Hughes (1905-1976) was a reclusive, eccentric, and very wealthy manufacturer, aviator, and film producer. During World War II, he became obsessed with designing a wooden airplane—the Spruce Goose—which flew only once for a distance of one mile. In 1950 he went into complete seclusion. Hughes died in 1976, apparently without leaving a will bequeathing his vast estate. A number of people came forward with wills that were ultimately declared false by the courts; the 1980 film Melvin and Howard told the tale of one such incident.
No means no, Eegah.
“No means no” is a slogan dating back to the days when acquaintance rape, or date rape, became a major societal issue. Its meaning is that when a woman says no to sex, she is not “being a tease” or “playing hard to get,” but rather—hard as this may be for some men to believe—does not want to have intercourse with them.
It’s under a big W.
A line from the 1963 film It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. In the movie, the last words of a dying convict (played by Jimmy Durante) spark a mad race for the $350,000 he has hidden “under a big W.”
Oh, it's a Tampax commercial.
Tampax is a brand of tampons manufactured by Procter and Gamble.
Brian Jones was a founding member of the Rolling Stones. He died in 1969 at the age of 27, three weeks after leaving the band; the cause of death was drowning.
Johnny Winter and ...
Johnny Winter is a blues-rock guitarist who’s been cutting albums since 1968; he is brother to fellow blues musician Edgar Winter. In 1970, reflecting the addition of guitarist Rick Derringer and other new members, Winter’s band was renamed “Johnny Winter And,” releasing one studio album and one live album under that name.
He’s like a Cabbage Patch Elvis.
Cabbage Patch Dolls were a ludicrous fad that took off in 1983, although the dolls had been around since 1979. Designed by sculptor Xavier Roberts, the soft, pudgy-faced dolls with their hanks of yarn hair were highly sought after by children and adults alike, leading to mob scenes, pulled hair, tears, and recriminations at toy stores. Alas, the craze only lasted a few years, and by 1986 the dream was largely over; the company that produced the dolls filed for bankruptcy two years later. Cabbage Patch Dolls are now made by Mattel, and they continue to sell reasonably well, if no longer spectacularly. Elvis Presley (1935-1977), the King of Rock and Roll, was one of the most popular musicians in the world from the 1950s until his death in the late 1970s. He was a teen idol in the late 1950s, helped usher in the era of rock and roll, became a movie star, created an enormous and opulent home at Graceland in Memphis, developed problems with drug abuse, and finally died of a heart attack at the age of 42.
Dah-dum. Dum-dum-dum-dum ...
This is the famous theme to the 1975 movie Jaws, about a killer great white shark. It was composed by John Williams.
Ooh, look—she’s dressed for a Benny Hill audition.
Benny Hill (1924/25-1992) was a chubby English comedian whose skit comedy show (unimaginatively dubbed The Benny Hill Show) reigned on British television for 20 years, beginning in 1969. The series was characterized by risque humor of the burlesque-show variety, high-speed chases, and lots of curvaceous women in skimpy bikinis.
Harry Connick Jr.?
A pianist and singer who participated in (some say precipitated) the swing and big-band revival of the early 1990s. His big break came when he scored the 1989 film When Harry Met Sally. He has since gone on to act in several movies, most notably Copycat (1995) and Independence Day (1996). He is married to former model Jill Goodacre.
An animated show that has had a number of incarnations, the first beginning in 1964. The show was about the adventures of Jonny, a young blond boy who travels the globe with his dad, his tutor, his dog, and his Indian sidekick Hadji. The most recent iteration of the show, which launched in 1996, incorporated computer animation as part of the virtual-reality Questworld.
Can I have some money for some Chuckles?
Chuckles are round, fruit-flavored jelly candy that come packaged in long, narrow trays. A vending-machine staple.
I’ve got it—he looks like the bat from Ferngully.
Ferngully (official title: Ferngully: The Last Rainforest) was an animated movie released in 1992. The sidekick and comic relief of the fairy heroine was a bat named Batty, voiced by Robin Williams. The movie exploited growing concern over the fate of the rapidly disappearing rainforest—not quite as good as actually doing something about the rapidly disappearing rainforest, but better than nothing. Many have noted a striking similarity between characters and plot elements in Ferngully and the 2009 blockbuster Avatar.
Rat Patrol—in three or four colors.
Rat Patrol was a TV series set in North Africa during World War II, which aired from 1966 to 1968. At the beginning of every episode, the show bragged that it was being broadcast “In Color!”—a convention later parodied in the brilliant if short-lived Leslie Nielsen series Police Squad!
Hey, the Schlepcar.
The Schlepcar was a purple talking dune buggy on The Krofft Supershow, a live-action Saturday morning kids' show that aired from 1976-1978. The Schlepcar could turn into Wonder Bug, the superhero car.
It looks like Sheltering Sky meets the Archies.
The Sheltering Sky is a legendarily slow-paced movie released in 1990 and starring Debra Winger and John Malkovich. In it, a married couple wanders lethargically around Africa. The Archies is the pop band based on the animated TV series of the 1960s, which was the TV cartoon version of the Archie comics characters first introduced in 1941. Their biggest hit was probably 1969’s “Sugar Sugar.”
On their way to Thunderdome.
Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985) was the third in the series of Road Warrior movies starring Mel Gibson. It is chiefly memorable for Tina Turner’s chain-mail costume and the theme song performed by Ms. Turner, “Don’t Need Another Hero,” which became a radio hit.
[Sung.] Welcome to the jungle ...
Opening lyric to the Guns ‘N’ Roses song of the same name, from the album Appetite for Destruction.
Put a wallet under her tongue!
There is an outdated belief that a person having an epileptic seizure is at risk of “swallowing their own tongue” and suffocating. Conventional wisdom dictated that the correct response was to hold the person down and force an object such as a wallet or spoon into their mouth to prevent this. Doctors now advise that, while the person may bite their tongue, “swallowing” their tongue is impossible, and forcing objects into the mouth of someone in the midst of a seizure can lead to injury. The correct response is to roll the person onto their side, keep them at a safe distance from nearby objects, and let the seizure run its course. When seizures are induced in a clinical setting, a mouth guard is applied to prevent tongue-biting.
Oh, this is a real Lucy and Viv situation right here.
A reference to the television show I Love Lucy, which aired from 1951 to 1957. In a typical episode, Lucy Ricardo (played by Lucille Ball) and Ethel Mertz (played by Vivian Vance) would get themselves hopelessly entangled in some hairbrained scheme to satisfy Lucy’s lust for fame and showbiz.
It’s a switcheroo!
Switcheroo is an old magic trick in which two objects are passed rapidly back and forth between the magician’s hands without dropping them. It involves no sleight of hand—merely considerable dexterity and practice.
[Sung.] Got a groovy thing goin’, baby …
“We’ve Got a Groovy Thing Goin’” is a 1965 song written by Paul Simon and recorded by Simon & Garfunkel; it was released on their 1966 album Sounds of Silence. Sample lyrics: “Oh, baby, baby/You must be out of your mind/Do you know what you're kicking away?/We've got a groovy thing goin', baby/We've got a groovy thing.”
Hey, you know, if this was a Mountain Dew ad, wouldn’t they be waterskiing on roller skates being pulled by horses off of cliffs?
Mountain Dew is a sweet, caffeinated soft drink that uses “extreme” sports—skiing, snowboarding, bungee jumping—in its ads in an effort to convince teenage boys that by drinking Dew they too will lead lives of excitement and danger.
Welcome to Death Valley Days.
Death Valley Days was a radio, and then a television anthology series, set in the Wild West, that ran from 1930 to 1975. Each episode was introduced by a host; from 1965 to 1966 that host was Ronald Reagan, his final work as a professional actor before entering politics. However, this recurring riff is actually a reference to a moment in the “Phantom Creeps” short in Show 205, Rocket Attack USA, when a character says, “The driver is gone or he’s hiding” in a very Ronald Reagan-like voice. Some fans came to believe that “The driver is either missing or he’s dead” was something that Ronald Reagan was actually known for saying. Not true. (Thanks to Satellite News for this reference.)
The endless bummer.
The Endless Summer is a classic documentary about surfing from 1966; it is credited with helping to start the surfing craze of the 1960s. In 1994 a sequel was made, The Endless Summer II.
To be with the hu-man. To live like the hu-man.
A reference to Show 107, Robot Monster.
And don’t touch my Soup Starter. It’s gotta cook for a while.
Soup Starter was an ‘80s grocery item: a canister of freeze-dried “Fixin’s For Real Homemade Soup,” to which you would add water and cook down for a while.
When Edward Albee dabbles in beach movies.
Edward Albee is a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who is considered one of the finest of the 20th century. His best-known work is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, a dark play about an all-night verbal brawl between husband and wife. The play was made into a 1966 movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, then husband and wife themselves. The film version was nominated for thirteen Academy Awards; it won five.
He borrowed that top from Audrey Hepburn.
Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993) was an actress who rose to international fame in a series of movies in the 1950s and ‘60s. She was known for her impeccable fashion sense, and while she dressed in many different styles in various movies, from down-to-earth to Cinderella-fancy, one of the looks she was most identified with was the gamine, with her boyishly short hair and tomboy clothes.
Fortunately he remembered to bring the Isley Brothers.
The Isley Brothers, consisting of Ronald, Rudolph and O’Kelly Isley, were an early R&B group whose classic hits include “Shout,” “Twist and Shout,” and “It’s Your Thing.”
He’s got kind of a MIDI Silvertone working there, huh?
MIDI stands for musical instrument digital interface; it is a protocol that allows musical instruments to "talk" to each other in order to layer music, achieving the same effects in performances as they could in the recording studio. Silvertone is a brand of guitars that has been around since 1949.
He went on to do music for Sergio Leone.
Sergio Leone (1929-1989) was an Italian film director of “spaghetti westerns.” He is best known for introducing a young Clint Eastwood to the world in such films as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and A Fistful of Dollars. The scores to Leone’s films often included whistling, most famously in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the theme for which (written by composer John Morricone) became eternally associated with Eastwood and with westerns in general.
I'd be in the Museum of Modern Art.
The Museum of Modern Art in New York City is one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the world, with more than 150,000 pieces of art and hundreds of thousands of books, films, periodicals, and papers regarding the arts available to patrons.
He makes Debbie Boone sound like Hound Dog Taylor.
Debbie (or Debby) Boone is a whiter-than-white Christian singer, the daughter of that other whiter-than-white Christian singer Pat Boone. Her 1977 single “You Light Up My Life” was a huge seller and her most successful song ever. Hound Dog Taylor (1917-1975) was an influential Chicago bluesman known for his raw-edged guitar playing.
Now, is she Billie Jo, Betty Jo or Bobbie Jo?
Billie Jo, Betty Jo, and Bobbie Jo are the three buxom lasses seen swimming in the water tank at the beginning of every episode of the CBS sitcom Petticoat Junction, which aired from 1963 to 1970. (Thanks to Allen Smalling for the correct dates.)
[Chanted.] Eegah, Eegah, bonk bonk on the head!
A reference to a line from a particularly irritating episode of Star Trek: “Miri,” in which the Enterprise officers beam down to a planet where a plague has killed every adult but left the children alive.
[Sung.] Archie’s here, da-da da-da-da ...
A line from the theme song to the animated TV show The Archies.
A reference to a line from the Peter Falk/Alan Arkin movie The In-Laws: “Serpentine, Sheldon, serpentine!”
You’re here, and he’s got the traveler’s checks there.
In the early 1990s, American Express ran a series of commercials for their new “traveler’s checks for two” feature: checks that could be signed by either of two parties. They illustrated the need with various scenarios of couples who were on vacation together but off on separate excursions: “You’re here, but he’s got the traveler’s checks there.”
Archie’s in the Gaza Strip!
See notes on The Archies, above. The Gaza Strip is a small slice of land that is a perennial source of conflict between Israel and Palestine. The Palestinians want self-rule over the Gaza Strip and the West Bank; Israel keeps going back and forth on its agreement to allow self-rule.
[Sung.] This is my country ...
A line from the song “Sing a Song of Peace (This is My Country)” by composers Michael and Jill Gallina. Sample lyrics: “This is my country/Land of my birth/This is my country/Grandest on Earth.”
[Sung.] Born free ...
A line from the theme song to the 1966 movie Born Free. It won an Oscar for Best Song in 1967.
“Roxy!” Music! “Roxy!” And elsewhere!
Roxy Music was a British band that was big in the ‘70s; it featured musicians Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno. Roxy & Elsewhere is an album by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.
He is this close to being Dom DeLuise.
Dom DeLuise is a chunky comic actor who has acted in a number of movies and TV shows. He was a regular on The Dean Martin Show and has been in a number of Mel Brooks’ movies, including Blazing Saddles and History of the World Part I.
Visit Cave of the Mounds, Dodgeville.
Cave of the Mounds is a national landmark about 20 miles outside Dodgeville, Wisconsin: a series of limestone caverns featuring elaborate mineral formations.
Eegah, I woke up, you weren’t here. I hate that.
“I woke up, you weren’t here. I hate that” is a line from the 1987 Glenn Close/Michael Douglas film Fatal Attraction.
A reference to Show 417, Crash of the Moons.
[Sung.] The doggone girl is mine ...
A line from the Michael Jackson song “The Girl Is Mine.”
What’s he saying? Shimmy shimmy coco pop?
Two plausible sources have been suggested for this riff. Chris Kee proposes that it is a reference to Little Anthony & the Imperials' 1969 hit "Shimmy Shimmy, Ko Ko Bop." Sample lyrics: "Shimmy shimmy ko-ko-bop/Shimmy shimmy bop/Sittin' in a native hut/All alone and blue/Sittin' in a native hut/Wonderin' what to do/Along came a native girl/Did a native dance/It was like paradise/Put me in a trance." Paul Marchello suggests that it refers to the 1988 Tom Hanks movie Big, in which Hanks, a child magically transformed into a grown man, recites a rhyme to convince his best friend of his identity: "Down down baby, down down the roller coaster/Sweet sweet baby, sweet sweet don't let me go/Shimmy shimmy coco pop, shimmy shimmy rock/Shimmy shimmy coco pop, shimmy shimmy rock ..."
Oh, no, this guy went to the Torgo school of fondling.
A reference to Show 424, Manos: The Hands of Fate.
Mmm, smell Love’s Baby Soft.
Love’s Baby Soft is a perfume made by Revlon that was popular among teenage girls in the 1970s.
Scent of a woman.
Scent of a Woman is a 1992 film starring Al Pacino as a contrary blind man.
“Smell all you want.” But take all you smell.
A variation on the classic all-you-can-eat buffet injunction: “Take all you want, but eat all you take.”
Tish, that’s French!
A line from The Addams Family.
Eegah like get caught in rain.
A paraphrase from the song “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes. The actual lyrics are: “If you like pina coladas/And getting caught in the rain ...”
[Sung.] How do you do, oo-ooh ...
A line from the 1972 hit song of the same name by the Dutch pop duo Mouth & MacNeal. (Thanks to Dean Bros. for this reference.)
Uh … movie! Sounds like … uh …
In the guessing game Charades, a person acting out a word, title, person, etc., is not allowed to speak and therefore performs various pantomimes and hand gestures to get people to guess the first word, second word, etc., giving clues about what it may sound like, and so on.
I am William Burroughs. –I am William Burroughs. –I am William Burroughs. –I’m Rose Kennedy.
A riff on the TV game show To Tell the Truth, which was on the air in various forms from 1956-1991, again from 2000-2001, and revived yet again in 2016. The show features three contestants claiming to be the same person, someone with an interesting story or profession, and a celebrity panel must determine who’s telling the truth. Each contestant introduces themselves in turn by the same name. William Burroughs (1914-1997) was a writer of experimental novels, of which the most famous is Naked Lunch. Along with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, he became one of the seminal voices of the Beat generation in the ‘50s. Rose Kennedy (1890-1995) was the matriarch of the Kennedy clan, the mother of John, Robert and Teddy Kennedy, along with several other children. Rose lived to be 104, and despite the many tragedies in her life maintained a wicked sense of humor. Reportedly, when she was asked by the press why her daughter-in-law Joan lived in Boston while her son Teddy lived in Virginia, Rose responded, “Who’s Virginia?”
I’ll make the daiquiris.
A daiquiri is an alcoholic cocktail consisting of white rum, lime juice, and simple syrup, shaken with cracked ice and strained into a chilled cocktail glass. There can be a few variations, but if sweet fruit juice and a blender are involved, you’re doing it wrong.
Oh, great. Dinner’s a Duraflame log.
Duraflame logs are manufactured firelogs made of sawdust and wax; they are designed to light easily without kindling and burn for several hours.
Norman? Who’s the girl, Norman? Who is she?
An imitation of “Mother” from the Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho (1960).
It’s Wilfrid Hyde-White. [Imitating.] Oh, yes, she seems a very nice girl. Capital. Smashing.
Wilfrid Hyde-White (1903-1991) was a British character actor best known for his portrayal of Colonel Pickering in the 1964 film My Fair Lady.
Uh-huh, yes, she’s Catholic.
“Catholic” refers to the practices and doctrines of the many Catholic churches, including the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Catholic Church.
My three skulls!
A take on the TV series My Three Sons, which aired from 1960 to 1972.
[Sung.] My Three Sons theme.
This is the theme to My Three Sons (see previous note).
Well, about that time old Coyote had a hankerin’ for some grubs.
An imitation of cowboy singer/actor and renowned voiceover artist Rex Allen (1920-1999), whose warm, down-home tones narrated countless Disney “nature” and Western films and shorts, including The Incredible Journey (1963), Charlie, the Lonesome Cougar (1967), and Charlotte’s Web (1973).
And talking like Loretta Lynn.
Loretta Lynn is one of the classic country & western singers. Known for honky-tonk songs such as “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind),” she had a string of hits during the early 1970s playing duets with Conway Twitty. Her autobiography, Coal Miner’s Daughter (also the title of one of her songs), was made into a 1980 movie starring Sissy Spacek, who won a Best Actress Oscar for her performance.
He also says the word rayon, which is weird.
Rayon is a manufactured fiber first produced in 1880s France as an alternative to silk. It is made by extracting cellulose from wood pulp.
An aperitif is a (usually) alcoholic cocktail served before a meal to stimulate the appetite. It can be anything from champagne to gin, as long as it’s dry, not sweet.
You tried Crystal Pepsi? Some people will drink anything.
Crystal Pepsi was an infamous marketing blunder in the early 1990s. Introduced in 1992, Crystal Pepsi was an entry in the brand-new “clear cola” category, which never really took off. Consumers were less than enthralled with the taste—one fan compared it to “flat 7Up”—and Pepsi yanked the product after only a short time on the market.
Put lime in coconut, drink all up.
A paraphrase of Harry Nilsson’s song “Coconut.” The actual lyrics: “You put the lime in the coconut and drink them both up.”
Come on, soup good food!
A paraphrase of the old Campbell’s slogan “Soup is good food.”
Sarah T., portrait of a teenage alcoholic.
Sarah T.—Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic was a 1975 TV movie starring Linda Blair. In leadenly earnest fashion, à la an ABC Afterschool Special, it addressed the problem of teen drinking.
No, honey, I need some ReNu. My contacts are killing me.
ReNu is a line of contact-lens-care products manufactured by Bausch & Lomb.
This Cubist. Heavy Braque influence.
Cubism was an art movement dating to the early 20th century. Its two main founders were painters Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, who developed the style while working together in Paris, between about 1907 and 1914. Cubism attempted to show the same object from several different points of view simultaneously, resulting in a fractured and often nearly indecipherable image.
In time before born live man sail sea.
A reference to the Beatles song "Yellow Submarine," off the Revolver album. Sample lyrics: "In the town where I was born lived a man who sailed to sea/And he told us of his life in the land of submarines/So we sailed up to the sun till we found the sea of green/And we lived beneath the waves in our yellow submarine."
That’s what she thinks. It’s actually Sandra Dee.
Sandra Dee is an actress best known for playing Gidget in the 1959 movie of the same name. She has acted in a number of other movies, most of them during the 50s and 60s. Her name became known to a later generation from the song “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee” in the musical Grease.
“Where have you seen these before?” The Keith Haring exhibit.
Keith Haring (1958-1990) was an artist known for active, colorful paintings of dancing little people drawn in simple, thick black lines; they were 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.
A phrase from the campy TV series Batman, which aired from 1966-1968. At the end of each episode, the viewers were encouraged to tune in next week: “Same bat-time, same bat-channel.”
And where will his seed find purchase?
Probably a reference to a line in the 1987 film Raising Arizona: "Edwina's insides were a rocky place where my seed could find no purchase."
How come this clown knows more than Richard Leakey?
Richard Leakey is a physical anthropologist and paleontologist known for his groundbreaking work on human fossils in East Africa. Leakey has made extensive and sometimes controversial contributions to our understanding of human evolution.
[Sung.] Eegah with the laughing face ...
A paraphrase of the song “Nancy With the Laughing Face,” which was written for Frank Sinatra by comedian Phil Silvers. “Nancy” was Sinatra’s then-infant daughter Nancy Sinatra, who would grow up to sing the classic 1960s anthem “These Boots Were Made for Walking.”
Today, ladies and gentlemen, Eegah is 400 years young.
A paraphrase of the Today show’s Willard Scott, who every Tuesday and Thursday wishes happy birthdays to centenarians, referring to them as “100 years young.”
Crime time after prime time is on, can we watch it?
“Crime Time After Prime Time” was a late-night lineup of syndicated shows that aired on CBS; it included Silk Stalkings and Forever Knight.
The Big Sleep! No, Six Pack! Long Day’s Journey into ... oh, pass.
The Big Sleep (1946) was a detective movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It was based on the Raymond Chandler novel of the same name (Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner wrote the screenplay). Six Pack (1982) was a movie about an itinerant racecar driver (Kenny Rogers) who finds himself playing father figure to six Hollywood-adorable orphans. And Long Day’s Journey into Night (1962) is the film version of the autobiographical play by Eugene O’Neill.
I want to sleep with the woman, get it? Do I have to put on my Marvin Gaye album or what?
Marvin Gaye (1939-1984) was one of the all-time great Motown artists. He scored dozens of hits in the Top 10, including “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “Sexual Healing,” and “Let’s Get It On.” Gaye was shot and killed by his father (who had reportedly abused him throughout his childhood) one day before his 45th birthday.
Basic-H from Shaklee. For all your liquid needs.
Basic-H is an all-purpose organic cleaning solution manufactured by Shaklee Corporation.
[Sung.] Good morning, good morning, we’ve talked the whole night through ...
A line in the song “Good Morning,” from the classic Gene Kelly musical Singin’ in the Rain.
This movie isn’t healthy for children and other living things.
A paraphrase of an anti-war slogan from the Vietnam War era: “War is not healthy for children and other living things.” It has since become a pop-culture catchphrase, with all sorts of variations depending on the user’s political inclinations (e.g., “The Drug War is not healthy for children and other living things”).
They’re in a saggy cave that leaks.
A reference to an old Pampers campaign that expressed sympathy for any baby stuck in “a saggy diaper that leaks.”
And there’s hardly any rat in it.
The “Dead Bishop” sketch on the classic BBC series Monty Python’s Flying Circus featured a woman (played by Terry Jones) who offered her son Klaus (Eric Idle) his choice of desserts, all of which involved rats. The full exchange:
Klaus: What’s for afters?
Mother: Rat cake, rat sorbet, rat pudding, or strawberry tart.
Klaus: Strawberry tart?
Mother: Well, it’s got some rat in it.
Klaus: How much?
Mother: Three. Rather a lot, really.
Klaus: I’ll have a slice without so much rat in it.
Hollywood Hot Tubs 3! –With Kelly Monteith.
Hollywood Hot Tubs was a T&A flick that came out in 1984. In 1990, it was followed by a sequel,Hollywood Hot Tubs 2: Educating Crystal. Hollywood Hot Tubs 3 appears to be a figment of the MST writers’ imaginations. Kelly Monteith is an actor who has starred in two eponymous TV series: one in Britain and one in the United States.
Patience my ass, I’m gonna kill something.
A paraphrase of a popular poster in the 1970s, especially in workplaces: two cartoon vultures sitting in a tree, with the caption “Patience my ass, let’s kill something.”
Oh, please become Sweeney Todd, oh, please become the demon barber of Fleet Street ...
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a musical by Stephen Sondheim that was first produced on Broadway in 1979. Todd is a decent barber who was unjustly imprisoned for years after a corrupt judge developed a hankering for his wife. Driven mad by his confinement and the death of his wife, Todd vows vengeance on the judge and ultimately on the world. He takes to cutting patrons’ throats with his straight razor, and his downstairs neighbor, Mrs. Lovett, puts the resulting corpses to good use in her meat pie shop. Mrs. Lovett became a signature role for actress Angela Lansbury, who originated the part on Broadway. In 2007 Tim Burton directed a film version starring Johnny Depp as Sweeney and Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett.
Have you seen Andalusian Dog?
Un chien andalou (The Andalusian Dog) is a 17-minute film from 1929, made by masters of surrealism Salvador Dali and Luis Buñuel. One of the most famous shots in the movie (which also includes scenes of severed hands, grand pianos, dead donkeys, live priests, and ants) is a horrifying close-up of a woman’s eyeball being sliced open with a razor. (Buñuel said in a mid-1970s interview that he used a dead calf’s eye.)
[Sung.] I have often walked down this street before ...
A line in the song “On the Street Where You Live,” from the musical My Fair Lady. Sample lyrics: “I have often walked down this street before/But the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before/All at once am I sev’ral stories high/Knowing I’m on the street where you live.”
They’re on a collision course with wackiness.
A frequent MST3K riff with possible origins in the 1989 misfit buddy cop movie Collision Course, which starred a pre-Tonight Show Jay Leno and Pat “Karate Kid” Morita as mismatched cops in Detroit trying to find a stolen Japanese turbocharger. Or something.
[Sung.] Red roses for a blue lady ...
A line in the Wayne Newton song by the same name.
[Chanted.] Eegah-shaka, eegah eegah eegah-shaka ...
A paraphrase of the classic chorus “Ooga-shaka, ooga-shaka, ooga-ooga-ooga-shaka” from the song “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede.
[Sung.] I can't stop this feeling ...
A line from “Hooked on a Feeling” (see previous note).
Papa, don’t preach.
“Papa Don’t Preach” was a song on Madonna’s 1986 True Blue album. Hard as it is to believe now, the song engendered some controversy, on the grounds that it endorsed teen pregnancy. It was her fourth number one hit.
[Sung.] Warden threw a party at the county jail ...
The opening line to the song “Jailhouse Rock,” which was the theme song to the 1957 Elvis movie of the same name. The song is also strongly associated with the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers.
A poem, by Henry Gibson.
Henry Gibson is a comedian who catapulted to national fame on the TV series Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In (1968-1973). The line “A poem ... by Henry Gibson,” with which he introduced his Southern blank-verse poems, became a popular catchphrase.
Johann Strauss the Younger (1825-1899) was an Austrian composer known especially for his waltzes, of which “The Blue Danube” is the most famous.
First blade lift hair, second one cut clean.
A paraphrase of the slogan for Norelco razors: “The first blade lifts the hair; the second one cuts clean.”
“Try these.” They’re toasted.
Lucky Strikes cigarettes began using the slogan “It’s toasted” in 1917, promoting the fact that their tobacco was heat-cured rather than sun-dried, which supposedly gave it superior flavor. In the series debut of the TV drama Mad Men (AMC, 2007-2015), about slick Madison Avenue advertising executives in the 1960s, “It’s toasted” was used as a dodge around the then-new health concerns about smoking.
I’ve got a Flowbee in here too.
The Flowbee Precision Home Haircut System is a combination vacuum cleaner and hair trimmer; the idea is that the suction lifts the hair while the trimmer cuts it to precisely the desired length. The Flowbee was famously mocked in the Wayne’s World movie, with the line “It’s sucking my will to live!”
It’s a giant gila monster!
A reference to Show 402, The Giant Gila Monster.
He’s starting to look like Markie Post.
Markie Post is a blond actress best known for playing attorney Christine Sullivan on the TV series Night Court (1984-1992). She also had a regular role on the series The Fall Guy (1981-1986).
Oh, he’s calling all the animals to help him.
Tarzan, the king of the jungle created by pulp author Edgar Rice Burroughs in a series of novels, had the ability to call on various beasts to help him when he needed them.
Eegah like so much he buy company.
A paraphrase of the classic Remington slogan coined by owner Victor Kiam: “I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company.”
Eegah’s gonna do Whip-Its!
“Whip-Its” are small canisters of nitrous oxide used for whipped cream cans (hence the name). They are popular among young teenagers, who use them as inhalants. (When breathed in, nitrous oxide—a.k.a. “laughing gas”—gives the user a brief high.)
“Roxy!” You don’t have to wear that dress tonight!
A line from the song “Roxanne” by the Police.
I like Ike.
“I like Ike” was a campaign slogan for Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower during his successful 1952 run for the presidency of the United States. It has become one of the all-time classic political slogans.
Me look like Anthony Michael Hall.
Anthony Michael Hall was a member of the Brat Pack, the group of young actors who appeared in a number of teen movies made by John Hughes during the 1980s. His best-known films include The Breakfast Club and Weird Science. Hall usually played awkward, geeky teenagers.
No, more like Sandra Bernhard.
Comedian Sandra Bernhard is an actress and writer who is to some extent famous for being famous. She has appeared in a number of movies (including The King of Comedy and Hudson Hawk) and had a well-publicized friendship with Madonna. She also appeared for several seasons on Roseanne.
Foam side, Edge side.
Edge shaving gel ran commercials in the 1980s featuring a young man who would shave half his face with regular foam and the other half with Edge shaving gel. As he held a microphone to his cheeks, the announcer would scrape each side with a credit card. Sure enough, the Edge side was quieter.
“This is loaded with perfume.” Yeah, it’s probably Giorgio.
According to the FragranceWholesale.com Web site, Giorgio perfume, manufactured by Giorgio of Beverly Hills, is “a romantic, sharp, floral fragrance” that “possesses a blend of rose, gardenia, sandalwood, orange flower, jasmine, carnation, lily of the valley and hyacinth.”
Between love and Fred Flintstone lies ... Obsession.
A takeoff on the Obsession perfume commercial: “Between love and madness lies ... Obsession.” Fred Flintstone was the animated star of The Flintstones, an animated TV show that first aired from 1960 to 1966. Loosely based on The Honeymooners, a sitcom starring Jackie Gleason, the initial series was followed by a heap o’ TV movies and a 1994 live-action film starring John Goodman.
I didn’t know Senator Packwood was so tall.
Oregon Senator Robert Packwood served in the U.S. Senate from 1969 to 1995. He resigned his office in 1995 after the Senate Select Committee on Ethics recommended his expulsion after a series of explosive sexual harassment charges, in which more than two dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct ranging from kissing to forceful groping.
Except for some cheese-filled Combos.
Combos are hollowed-out pretzels containing various flavors of soft fillings. Varieties include Cheddar Cheese, Nacho Cheese, and Pepperoni Pizza.
Turn it off!
A line from the 1979 film Hardcore, starring George C. Scott as an American businessman who discovers that his daughter has been acting in porn films. The line is spoken by Scott while watching one of his daughter’s artistic efforts.
I hate to think what Camille Paglia would say about this.
Camille Paglia is a controversial academic feminist who came to public attention with the publication of her first book, 1990’s Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson. She proposed the theory that the rational, Apollonian, linear, scientific (read: male) Western civilization was profoundly threatened by what she termed the “cthonic,” dark, untamed, Dionysian nature of women. She later incited a storm of protest when she wrote an essay about what she described as “the wild, infectious delirium of gang rape”; one critic offered to strip her naked, tie her up and toss her into a frat house so she could experience the infectious delirium firsthand.
Help me, Spock.
A reference to the original Star Trek series, which aired on NBC from 1966 to 1969. It followed the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. Leonard McCoy and the rest of the crew of the USS Enterprise as it explored the galaxy. “Help me, Spock!” is a line from the episode “The Savage Curtain,” in which powerful rock beings seek to understand good and evil by teaming Kirk and Spock up with facsimiles of Abraham Lincoln and ancient Vulcan philosopher Surak and then pitting them against four facsimiles of evil characters from history. One is of the first Klingon emperor, Kahless the Unforgettable, who apparently was a professional impersonator in his spare time, because he imitates both Surak and Lincoln in attempts to draw Kirk and Spock out from hiding.
The Chianti is gone.
Chianti is a red Italian wine named after the region in Italy where it is produced.
[Sung.] Rag doll, Daddy’s little cutie.
A paraphrase of the song “Rag Doll” by Aerosmith. The actual lyrics: “Rag doll, livin’ in a movie/Hot tramp, Daddy’s little cutie.”
The dingoes took my baby!
A reference to the infamous Lindy Chamberlain murder case. Chamberlain was convicted in 1982 of having murdered her infant daughter Azaria while on a camping trip in Australia with her husband Michael and their children; her husband was convicted as an accessory. The convictions were later thrown out. Chamberlain claimed at the time that her daughter had been stolen by a dingo, a kind of wild dog; the government of Australia accused her of instead having cut her baby’s throat in the family car, despite a preponderance of evidence that the murder could not have taken place in that way. The phrase “The dingoes got my baby!” entered popular culture after the movie A Cry in the Dark, starring Meryl Streep as Chamberlain, was released in 1988.
If you prick Eegah, do he not bleed?
A paraphrase of a line from the William Shakespeare play The Merchant of Venice. The line is spoken by Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, about the essential humanity of Jews: “If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”
Bill Clinton legs.
President Bill Clinton, who held office from 1992-2000, was known for going jogging while wearing upsettingly tiny shorts that revealed his pale, fleshy legs.
Take off the pith helmet.
A pith helmet is a cloth-covered, lightweight helmet made of cork or pith (a plant fiber). Also called a “safari helmet,” its main purpose is to shade the wearer from the sun. They are associated with Europeans in tropical climates, particularly British colonials.
Top o’ the dune, Ma!
A paraphrase of the classic line from the 1949 Jimmy Cagney film White Heat: “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!”
[Sung.] Oh you pretty Chitty Bang Bang/Chitty Chitty Bang Bang we love you.
A line from the song “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” from the 1968 movie of the same name. The film was based on a children’s book written by Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond novels.
Goldurn smoochers on my property!
A reference to Show 418, Attack of the Eye Creatures.
What’s this? Eegah ogling our allies? Cro-Magnon conniptions?
An imitation of the announcer from the 1966 TV series Batman, starring Adam West. The announcer, who was voiced by executive producer William Dozier, led into commercial breaks with similarly portentous phrases.
Over to your right, the Robot Monster set.
A reference to Show 107, Robot Monster.
[Sung.] "The Pink Panther Theme."
The instrumental song “The Pink Panther Theme” was written by Henry Mancini for the 1963 film The Pink Panther, which starred comedian Peter Sellers as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau. It became a top-ten single in 1964, won three Grammy Awards, and was nominated for an Academy Award. The tune was also used as the theme for the many Pink Panther animated shorts, which found their way onto television as The Pink Panther Show in the 1960s and ‘70s.
Run, Von Ryan!
Von Ryan's Express was a 1965 film starring Frank Sinatra as an American prisoner of war who organizes an escape attempt from a German prison camp.
Here, have some Irish soda bread.
Soda bread is made using baking soda instead of yeast—buttermilk mixing with the baking soda creates carbon dioxide, which makes the bread rise. A staple in Irish cuisine, most Americans only sample “Irish soda bread” once a year, on St. Patrick’s Day, which is usually enough.
[Sung.] Torn between two lovers ...
A line from the 1976 song of the same title, by folk singer Mary MacGregor.
Stay alive! Whatever may occur, I … –I covered that one earlier.
See note on Last of the Mohicans, above.
And as we left the Clam Flowage Desert, somehow we knew that we would return, hunting for the mighty ...
This was a line used in many episodes. The writers explained it thusly in the MST Episode Guide: “This is not actually from anything, but rather suggestive of those achingly depressing fishing shows that pullulate on Sunday morning television.”
What is this, a prehistoric Endless Love?
Endless Love is a 1981 film starring Brooke Shields, a melodramatic movie about angst-ridden teenage love.
Criminy, I lived next to Palm Springs all this time, didn’t even know it.
Palm Springs, California, is a resort city in the desert about 100 miles east of Los Angeles. It has long been a favorite spot for retirement or vacation homes among show business luminaries and ex-presidents, from Chevy Chase to Dwight Eisenhower.
Why do they have a statue of Pat Nixon?
Pat Nixon (1912-1993) was the wife of disgraced President Richard Nixon, who resigned in 1974 after the Watergate scandal. During her tenure as First Lady, she took up volunteerism as her personal cause, much as fellow Republican First Lady Nancy Reagan would embrace the “Just Say No” campaign against drugs.
Look out, there's a Foley artist!
Foley artists are sound technicians that specialize in creating noise effects to make the film seem more realistic. Typical effects include walking on various surfaces to simulate the sound of footsteps and hitting or smashing various objects to simulate the sound of blows for a fight scene.
Econo Lodge—but why?
Econo Lodge is a chain of inexpensive hotels found across the United States.
Jerry Garcia designed it.
In his last few years, Jerry Garcia (1942-1995), the singer, songwriter and lead guitarist for the Grateful Dead, took to designing ties. The first were produced in 1993; they are still sold today.
Hello! I’ve got your Girl Scout cookies!
The Girl Scouts is an organization for girls that raises much of its funding through annual sales of cookies. The sales have been held since 1937.
She looks like Stockard Channing.
Stockard Channing is an actress who has appeared in numerous films, ranging from Grease (1978) to Six Degrees of Separation (1993). Her most recent role has been as the First Lady on the TV series The West Wing.
I’m gonna kill you last.
A paraphrase of a line from the 1985 Arnold Schwarzenegger film Commando. The entire exchange:
Sully: Here’s twenty dollars to get some drinks in Val Verde. It’ll give us all a little more time with your daughter.
Matrix: You’re a funny man, Sully. I like you. That’s why I’m going to kill you last.
It looks like Gregg Toland photographed this.
Gregg Toland (1904-1948) was a legendary Hollywood cinematographer best known for his work on Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941). His other films included The Grapes of Wrath and Wuthering Heights.
A reference to the famous line in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), in which Jack Nicholson hacks his way through a door with an ax, sticks his face into the jagged hole, and says maniacally, “Here’s Johnny!” The line itself is a reference to Ed McMahon’s traditional introduction of Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.
Oh, it’s a U.S. Homes home.
U.S. Home is one of America’s largest home builders, and specializes in “active adult” communities.
Ray Bolger, no!
Ray Bolger (1904-1987) was a venerable Hollywood actor who got his start in vaudeville. His talent for singing and dancing led to his most famous role: the Scarecrow in the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz.
Take one caveman, a buffet and a swimming pool, and you’ve got Caveman A-Go Go.
A reference to Show 421, Monster A-Go Go.
Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965) was an American statesman and diplomat who served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations for the four years before his death. He is remembered chiefly as the witty Democratic candidate for president in 1952 and 1956. He once said of Richard Nixon: “The kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree and then mount the stump to make a speech for conservation.”
The dumb blue line.
“The thin blue line” is a phrase referring to police officers as the barrier that stands between civilization and chaos. Filmmaker Errol Morris used the phrase as the title of his 1988 documentary about the murder of a Dallas police officer.
Ready, steady, bite me.
Ready Steady Go! was a British pop and rock music TV show that aired Friday nights from 1963 to 1966 on the ITV network. A more hip and informal answer to the BBC’s Top of the Pops, the show featured audience members as dancers and lots of artist/audience interaction. Countless pop stars of the day performed, from Jimi Hendrix to Burt Bacharach; their biggest ratings score was a 1964 interview and performance session with the Beatles.
Is this The Third Man all of a sudden?
The Third Man is a 1949 film directed by Carol Reed and written by novelist Graham Greene. It starred Joseph Cotten as a pulp writer who comes to postwar Vienna to see an old friend, Harry Lime (played by Orson Welles), only to discover that Lime is dead. The climactic scene is a chase through the ancient sewer tunnels beneath the city.
Oh, Eegah’s a mall walker.
Mall walking is a relatively recent phenomenon popular among seniors, who go regularly to local shopping malls and walk through them briskly for exercise. There are even special shoes designed specifically for mall walking.
Hey, Richard Speck is there!
Richard Speck (1941-1991) was convicted in 1967 of murdering eight student nurses in a townhouse on the south side of Chicago. He died in prison in 1991 of an apparent heart attack.
It looks like The Grifters meets Quest for Fire.
The Grifters (1990) is a dark little film, directed by Stephen Frears, about a trio of con artists (played by John Cusack, Anjelica Huston, and Annette Bening). Quest for Fire (1981) is a fantasy film about three prehistoric warriors on a quest for a flame to replace the fire their tribe has lost.
Snoop Sisters, me hate ’em.
The Snoop Sisters was a TV series starring Helen Hayes and Mildred Natwick as two mystery writers who find themselves trying to solve real-life crimes. It ran from 1972-1974.
And hate George Gobel.
George Gobel (1919-1991) was a comic actor who was best known for his role as the mayor on the 1980s TV series Harper Valley P.T.A.
Hey, it’s Wilma Flintstone’s mom.
Wilma Flintstone was the wife of Fred Flintstone on the 1960 animated TV series The Flintstones; she was voiced by Jean Vander Pyl. Wilma’s mother, Pearl, was voiced by Verna Felton.
Hello … Mr. Giant, sir, with the stick … upstairs … he-hello?
See above note on Flash Bazbo.
I’m sorry, Gary, I had the wrong page of the Hudson street map.
Hudson Map is a Minneapolis-based company that produces city street guides and maps of Minnesota and Wisconsin. It was founded in 1892.
Abner, I saw a giant! –Come to bed, Gladys.
Gladys and Abner Kravitz were the nosy neighbors on the TV sitcom Bewitched, which aired from 1964-1972. Gladys would frequently witness Samantha Stephens performing magic, but could never prove what she’d seen and was therefore never believed. She was played first by Alice Pearce and later by Sandra Gould, while her husband Abner was played by George Tobias.
The only lyric to the instrumental song “Tequila,” originally recorded by a group of studio musicians (later dubbed the Champs) in about ten minutes in 1957. It won a Grammy for Best R&B Song in 1958.
This band has more personnel changes than Menudo.
Menudo was originally a teen music group formed in Puerto Rico. However, it has now had more than 30 members, as each one is forced out of the group at the age of 16. By the late 1990s, there were no longer any Puerto Rican members. Former member Ricky Martin enjoyed a successful solo career.
Quit bogarting that joint, Floyd.
Silver screen icon Humphrey Bogart also had his name ushered into immortality with this piece of smoking slang. To “bogart” is to indulge excessively in a joint or cigarette intended for group use. It is thought to come from Bogart’s mannerism of keeping a cigarette in his mouth even while talking. The phrase is also sometimes used to mean “to bluster or bully.” The 1968 song “Don’t Bogart Me” by the blues/rock group Fraternity of Man, featuring the lyrics “Don’t bogart that joint, my friend/Pass it over to me …,” appeared on the soundtrack of the 1969 road movie Easy Rider.
[Sung.] Together forever and ever ...
A line from the song "Together Forever" by pop idol Rick Astley. (Thanks to Neal Bonenfant for this reference.)
Hey, how come I don't get Foley?
See note on Foley artists, above.
The Hat Squad.
The Hat Squad was an extraordinarily unsuccessful 1992 TV show about three adopted brothers who work as policemen. The gimmick: all three wear hats.
Oh, it’s looking like Altamont all over again.
Altamont was a free concert held at the Altamont Raceway Park near San Francisco in December of 1969, featuring the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and others. Unfortunately, the concert organizers hired the Hell’s Angels to provide security and paid them in beer, and the concert quickly got out of hand. One young man was stabbed to death by the Angels, two others were run over, and one person drowned. Music critic Ralph Gleason wrote that if Woodstock was the flowering of the youth culture of the 1960s, Altamont was the end of it.
Just push him in the pool—he’s probably got tubes in his ears.
Small metal or plastic tubes are often inserted surgically into the eardrum of a child who suffers from frequent ear infections. The tubes help equalize the pressure on either side of the eardrum, thus reducing the chance of infection. Traditionally, children with tubes in their ears have to wear earplugs while swimming, although medical opinion now appears to be divided on this point.
At your Lincoln-Mercury dealer.
Lincoln-Mercury is Ford Motor Co.’s luxury-car division. “At your Lincoln-Mercury dealer” is a common phrase heard in car commercials.
We’re all out of Chex mix.
Chex mix is a traditional Middle America snack mix containing Chex cereal, nuts, bagel chips, pretzels, margarine, and spices.
He tampered in God’s domain.
A reference to Show 423, Bride of the Monster.
“It says so in the book of Genesis.” By Phil Collins?
Phil Collins was the drummer and lead singer for the British rock group Genesis. After a string of successful records made with the band and on his own, Collins left the group in 1995. He won an Oscar in 2000 for his work on the Disney film Tarzan.