517: Beginning of the End
by Wyn Hilty
Looks like this is where Ichabod Crane takes his dates.
Ichabod Crane is the pedantic schoolmaster in the 1820 Washington Irving story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” A petty tyrant, Crane is a gangling, awkward fellow who nonetheless imagines that he can romance the wealthy daughter of a local landowner.
Bet you anything there’s gonna be a claw hanging from their door handle.
A reference to the classic urban legend “The Hook,” about a couple making out in a car when there is an escaped lunatic with a hook for one hand lurking somewhere about. Nervous, the girl insists that they leave, and the boy, disgruntled, peels out of lover’s lane—and when they get home, there’s a hook dangling from the door handle.
And the June Taylor dancers!
An imitation of Jackie Gleason on The Jackie Gleason Show, which regularly featured choreography by June Taylor. Taylor (1917-2004) was a choreographer who worked on various television shows (including Gleason's) from the 1940s to the 1960s.
I wonder what that lady saw when she screamed there. –Lou Ferrigno?
Lou Ferrigno is a bodybuilder and actor who is best known for playing the Incredible Hulk in the TV series of the same name, which aired from 1978-1982; he also starred as Hercules in the 1983 remake of the old Steve Reeves films.
Maybe she saw Bigfoot. –Bigfoot pizza?
Bigfoot, a.k.a. the Sasquatch, is a legendary ape-like creature supposed to haunt the Pacific Northwest and western Canada. What is generally considered the best evidence for its existence—a blurry film taken in 1967—has recently been debunked as a hoax, but the debate rages on. The Bigfoot pizza was introduced by Pizza Hut in 1993: two square feet of pizza cut into twenty-one slices.
Could I get some Dramamine for this credit sequence?
Dramamine is an over-the-counter anti-nausea medicine used to combat motion sickness. It works by blocking information from getting from the middle ear (which controls balance) to the medulla oblongata (which controls reflexes, such as vomiting).
Please welcome your New Richmond high school marching band!
New Richmond High School serves about 900 students in the city of New Richmond, Wisconsin, just across the border from Minneapolis.
So this is like Beginning of the End Bold Condensed font here, huh?
Bold and condensed refer to the weight and width of a font; in the days of lead type each variant of a font had to be designed and cast manually.
Do you think you could keep down some 7 Up and soda crackers?
7 Up was invented in 1929 as a patent medicine and originally called “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda.” Soda crackers, also called saltines, are square, thin crackers made of white flour, baking soda, shortening, and yeast, with a little salt sprinkled on top. Because the carbonation in 7 Up tends to induce burping, and the starch in saltines tends to absorb excess stomach acid, the combination is a mom-approved home remedy for little kids with sad tummies.
One more time!
“One more time!” is from Count Basie’s “April in Paris,” one of the jazz bandleader’s signature songs.
There's too many notes.
“Too many notes” was Emperor Joseph II’s (possibly apocryphal) remark to composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart after seeing his opera Abduction from the Seraglio.
You know, Bert I. sure doesn’t skimp on the opening.
Other Bert I. Gordon MST3K films include Show 210, King Dinosaur; Show 309, The Amazing Colossal Man; Show 313, Earth vs. the Spider; and Show 319, War of the Colossal Beast.
Jayne Mansfield (1933-1967) was a curvaceous B-movie actress who died in a car crash in 1967, when the car she was riding in plowed into the back of a tractor-trailer truck.
[Imitating.] All fighter planes.
An imitation of the odd-sounding American general seen at the beginning of Show 302, Gamera.
So why is Walter Winchell in this scene?
Walter Winchell (1897-1972) was an American journalist and broadcaster whose chatty gossip column was read avidly across the nation. He also appeared on a weekly radio news program from the 1930s through the 1950s. In his later years he became an arch-conservative, supporting Senator Joe McCarthy’s Communist witch hunt in the 1950s. He also served as the narrator for the TV drama The Untouchables from 1959-1963. His trademark was a rumpled fedora.
[Sung.] Angels of the morning … angel … Yello!
A line from the song "Angel of the Morning," written by Chip Taylor and recorded by several artists, such as Merilee Rush and Juice Newton. Sample lyrics: "Just call me angel of the morning, angel/Just touch my cheek before you leave me, baby/Just call me angel of the morning, angel/Then slowly turn away from me." (Thanks to Kenneth Morgan for this reference.)
Uh, Houston, we’ve got a problem.
"Houston, we've had a problem" is how astronaut Jim Lovell reported the life-threatening technical problems on the Apollo 13 moon mission; the phrase became even more famous after a slightly altered version (“Houston, we have a problem”) was used as the tagline for the 1995 film Apollo 13.
Executive producer Steven Bochco.
Steven Bochco is the producer behind such TV hits as Hill Street Blues, LA Law, and NYPD Blue.
You know, Bert I. did this all in one take.
More Bert I. Gordon MST3K films? Okay: Show 411, The Magic Sword; Show 414,Tormented; and Show 523, Village of the Giants.
[Sung.] How will you make it on your own?
Line from the theme song to the first season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which aired in 1970; the credits opened with a montage of Moore driving into Minneapolis. Sample lyrics: “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.”
All Sousa, all the time.
John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) was an American composer known for his military marches, which remain popular to this day; “The Liberty Bell March” saw use as the theme to Monty Python’s Flying Circus. “All ___, all the time” is a common slogan in radio.
Hmm. Must … get … Vivarin.
Vivarin is an over-the-counter caffeine pill, similar to NoDoz. One Vivarin contains 200 mg of caffeine, the equivalent of 5 cans of Coke, 2.5 Red Bulls, or about 1 venti Frappuccino.
Your Hover Buick will get you there in style. Hover Buick.
David Dunbar Buick, an entrepreneur and inventor, produced the first Buick automobile in 1899 or 1900 (historical records are uncertain). He sold the company in 1903 to the Flint Wagon Works, based in Flint, Michigan. Flint continued to produce Buicks for 95 years, until GM, which by then owned the Buick label, moved all operations to Detroit in 1998.
Gee, martial law is fun.
Martial law is when high-ranking military officials take over power from executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. Meant as a temporary measure, martial law is imposed when the normal government cannot function due to a natural disaster, war, or civil unrest.
Jimmy Jam does his thing.
Jimmy Jam and his partner, Terry Lewis, are Minneapolis musicians and producers. They toured with Prince as part of Morris Day & the Time. As producers, they have worked with Janet Jackson, Boyz II Men, and Mariah Carey.
I’m Paul Frees.
Paul Frees (1920-1986) was a well-known voiceover actor who supplied the voices for, among many others, the Pillsbury Doughboy and Boris Badenov. He was also the screenwriter for Show 415, The Beatniks. In the English dubbed version of the 1956 film The Sword and the Dragon, which became Show 617, Frees did the voice of Kalin, along with the voices of several other characters.
I am deaf, please give me money. Huh.
Deaf people handing out cards asking for money dates back to the 1800s; one man claims he was making $1K in a weekend at Chicago’s O’Hare airport.
File on Dalton Trumbo, sir.
Dalton Trumbo (1905-1976) was a novelist and screenwriter best known for Spartacus (1960) and Roman Holiday (1953). He also wrote Show 201, Rocketship X-M. He was one of the Hollywood Ten: ten men, mostly screenwriters, who refused to answer questions during that era's communist witch hunts before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947 and were subsequently blacklisted until 1960, although he continued to work using front men and pseudonyms. He won two Academy Awards during the time he was blacklisted.
[Sung.] This is the army, Audrey Ames …
A parody of the song “This Is the Army, Mr. Jones” from the musical This Is the Army. Sample lyrics: “This is the Army, Mister Jones/No private rooms or telephones/You had your breakfast in bed before/But you won't have it there anymore.”
God, your hair smells wonderful.
A popular line of shampoos and conditioners during the 1970s went by the cumbersome if memorable name “Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific.”
It was some David Copperfield stunt.
David Copperfield is a well-known magician and illusionist who has starred in a series of television specials since the 1970s. Among his more famous stunts: making the Statue of Liberty disappear and walking through the Great Wall of China.
“I know it’s hard to believe, Miss Ames.” But I’m Koko Taylor.
Koko Taylor (1928-2009) was a Chicago blues musician, considered by many to be the finest female blues vocalist of her generation. She won heaps of awards over the course of her career, which spanned from the late 1950s until her death in 2009.
[Hummed.] Arnold Ziffel’s theme.
This is the theme of the pig Arnold Ziffel from the TV show Green Acres (1965-1971).
Hey—Arnold Ziffel’s father.
Fred Ziffel (played by Hank Patterson, who appears as Dave in Beginning of the End) was the old farmer on Green Acres who claimed Arnold Ziffel as his son (see previous note). Patterson also played Henry in Show 309, The Amazing Colossal Man, and Hugo the janitor in Show 313, Earth vs. the Spider.
Then I caught Letterman.
David Letterman was a late-night talk show host known for his offbeat sense of humor. He hosted Late Show with David Letterman (previously Late Night with David Letterman) from 1993 until he retired in 2015.
An imitation of Grandpa (played by Al Lewis) on The Munsters, a TV sitcom that aired from 1964-1966. "Hoiman" would be a reference to Herman Munster, the clan patriarch, played by Fred Gwynne.
My next guest: Rose Marie!
Rose Marie is an actress who is best known for her role as Sally Rogers on The Dick Van Dyke Show, which ran from 1961-1966. She was a frequent guest on talk shows during the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s and a regular on The Hollywood Squares.
Andrew Jackson?! –Old Hickory!
Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) was the seventh president of the United States, from 1828-1836. He was almost the sixth, but the election was thrown to the House of Representatives, which gave the job to John Quincy Adams. His nickname, “Old Hickory,” was a reference to his toughness; an inveterate duelist, he had a bullet permanently lodged in his chest from one duel. (He won.)
Hey, now she’s on the Abbott and Costello Show set.
(Bud) Abbott and (Lou) Costello were a comedy team from the 1930s through the 1950s. They got their start in vaudeville and soon made the leap to radio, TV, and film. From 1952-1953 they had their own TV series, The Abbott and Costello Show, in which they played unemployed actors and roommates.
Oh, man. I should have taken home ec or gone into teaching or nursing like all the other girls. Pushing twenty-one and I’m still not married.
“Home ec” is short for home economics, a curriculum of food preparation, household budgeting, child rearing, and careers like clothing and interior design that was pushed heavily for young women in high schools, colleges, and trade schools following World War II. The general idea was to give young women attending college the sense that they were pursuing a career path, when the “career” they were actually training for was being a housewife. Home economics is on full display, and riffed mercilessly, in the short The Home Economics Story, which aired with Show 317, The Viking Women and the Sea Serpent.
Man, I miss those kind of phone numbers.
Alphanumeric phone numbers, which used 2 letters and 5 numbers, date back to the days of telephone exchanges with switchboard operators. They were used from 1930-65.
An imitation of comedian Frank Nelson (1911-1986), who played a succession of rude, sarcastic clerks on Jack Benny’s radio and television shows. He also appeared on I Love Lucy and Sanford and Son.
Geez. Her guy Friday.
His Girl Friday is a 1940 film starring Rosalind Russell as a reporter and Cary Grant as her editor/ex-husband.
Herman Badillo (1929-2014) was a U.S. congressman from New York from 1970-1977; he was the first Puerto Rican to serve in Congress. He also served as deputy mayor of New York City under Mayor Ed Koch.
Tomatoes like Brahms!
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was a German Romantic composer, known for his symphonies and songs. In the ‘70s, a woman named Dorothy Retallack claimed that plants flourished with Muzak and withered to the strains of Led Zep. A million science fair experiments were born.
Wow! Suddenly salad!
Suddenly Salad is a pasta salad mix made by Betty Crocker.
I never promised you a rose garden.
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden is a semi-autobiographical novel by Joanne Greenberg about a teenage girl battling schizophrenia. In 1977 it was made into a movie starring Kathleen Quinlan.
We’re working overtime to keep Dom DeLuise fed.
Dom DeLuise (1933-2009) was a chunky comic actor known for his roles in such films as Blazing Saddles and The Cheap Detective. In addition to his acting, he was a talented chef and the author of several books about cooking.
Now it’s bagel dogs.
Bagel dogs are hot dogs wrapped in bagel dough. They seem to have been invented sometime in the ‘70s, whereas bagels date back to the 17th century.
[Sung.] That’s my mother dear, she helps me through everything I do …
A line from the theme song to the dreadful 1965 sitcom My Mother the Car. Sample lyrics: “As a car/She's my very own guiding star/A 1928 Porter/That's my mother dear/'Cause she helps me through everything I do/And I'm so glad she's near.”
Three jerks and a Jill.
Four Jacks and a Jill is a 1942 movie musical about four musicians searching for a new singer for their band. It starred Desi Arnaz and Ray Bolger. There is also a South African folk rock band by that name.
Gabe Kaplan’s performing.
Gabe Kaplan is an actor best known for his role as Gabe Kotter in the TV sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter (1975-1979). He is also a highly successful professional poker player.
Oh, that wouldn’t stop a kid on a Big Wheel!
Big Wheels are a brand of tricycle that have been around for more than 40 years. They are made of brightly colored plastic and boast a front wheel that is much larger than the two back wheels.
Toughest job you’ll ever love … ehhhh!
“The toughest job you’ll ever love” is the unofficial slogan for the Peace Corps.
Suddenly it’s turned into Topper.
Topper is a 1937 movie (and later a TV series) about a pair of mischievous ghosts, played by Constance Bennett and Cary Grant in the film and by Robert Sterling and Anne Jeffreys in the TV show. The film and TV show were based on a pair of books, Topper and Topper Takes a Trip, by Thorne Smith.
Somebody turn down the Albert Glasser music! I can’t concentrate!
Albert Glasser (1916-1998) was one of the most prolific B-movie music composers. Scoring somewhere around 200 films in his career, he scored 135 movies between 1944 and 1962 alone—including Earth vs. the Spider—and he scored at least 35 features for which he wasn’t credited. He also scored 300 television shows and 450 radio programs. From the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide: “Notes played loud—that’s Albert Glasser.”
Hey, it’s a Star City.
From 1981-1997, the state of Minnesota designated some small cities as “Star Cities,” after they completed an economic development program. The cities got a sign announcing their status.
This was no boating accident!
“This is not a boat accident,” often misquoted as above, is a line from the 1975 movie Jaws.
Twenty-four when I saw Dylan at the Bitter End.
The Bitter End is a nightclub in New York City’s Greenwich Village, the site of many legendary musical performances during the 1960s and 1970s. Dylan played there regularly, along with Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell.
Yeah, terrible. Martinis?
Martinis are a genre of alcoholic cocktail made with gin (or sometimes vodka) and vermouth and usually garnished with olives or lemon rind. They were first served in the late 1800s.
Women on the verge of an atomic breakdown.
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is a 1988 film by Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, about an actress who is trying to track down her unfaithful boyfriend.
Coincidence? Read the book.
An often-repeated line in TV commercials for the Time-Life book series Mysteries of the Unknown, which were published between 1987 and 1991.
Slug bug! Ow!
Slug Bug is a classic 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.
Wait, this isn’t a stick shift! Ahhhh!
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 lever that came up from the floor of the car or that was attached to the steering column. This gearshift lever, and indeed any car that had one, was called a “stick shift.”
[Imitating.] He’s not deaf, they’re talking about wheat over here!
An imitation of writer-director-actor Woody Allen, whose 1975 film Love and Death includes multiple lines about wheat.
I was in Fury, so I know that.
Fury was a TV show that ran from 1955-1960. It starred Peter Graves as Jim Newton, the owner of the Broken Wheel Ranch.
You like Fiddle Faddle?
Fiddle Faddle is a snack similar to Cracker Jacks but introduced 70 years later: caramel or toffee-covered popcorn mixed with peanuts.
Hey, an Indian-head penny!
The Indian on the Indian head penny, produced from 1859-1909, was based either on the designer’s daughter or a statue of Venus (stories vary). Either way, the male face on the coin is actually female.
Hey, Diane Arbus! Why don’t you take a picture? You’ve got a camera!
Diane Arbus (1923-1971) was a photographer who got her start in fashion but who became renowned for her portraits of people on the fringes of society: strippers, nudists, transvestites, dwarfs and other similarly marginalized groups. Her work is disturbing, not least because it is impossible to tell whether the photographer is sympathetic or condescending toward her subjects. Arbus committed suicide in 1971.
Hey! Hey, it’s Ike! Say hi to Ike, everyone! Hi, Ike! –I like him.
“Ike” was the nickname of President Dwight D. Eisenhower; his campaign slogan in 1952 was the very famous (and successful) “I like Ike.”
Boy, the Joads are armed to the teeth!
In the novel and film The Grapes of Wrath, Tom Joad’s family loads up their vehicle and drives to California to seek work during the Great Depression.
[Chanted.] We’re not afraid of big old bugs … Army guys like gentle hugs.
A cadence chant or Jody call is a call-and-response song sung by soldiers to keep the pace while marching or running.
Is this a snipe hunt?
The term “snipe hunt” derives from the actual snipe, a bird that is notoriously difficult to shoot; this is also the origin of the term “sniper.”
Defending countries, blah, rhubarb.
“Rhubarb” is one of the words background extras mutter to simulate conversation in TV shows and films.
Observational humor is a type of comedy that forgoes the typical setup/punch line structure of joke telling in favor of longer, more conversational bits that point out the little absurdities in everyday life. Masters of the form include Jerry Seinfeld and the late George Carlin.
“Garryowen” is an Irish tune used as a marching song by George Custer’s 7th Cavalry; it was featured prominently in the film Little Big Man.
Bad Lieutenant is a 1992 film starring Harvey Keitel as a corrupt New York cop trying to go straight.
Oh! Oh, Mr. Kot-tare!
An imitation of Freddie “Boom Boom” Washington, one of the students on Welcome Back, Kotter. The part was played by Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs.
What would Mitchell do right now, huh?
A reference to Show 512, Mitchell.
Gladys! Quit bugging the Stephens!
An imitation of Abner Kravitz from the TV sitcom Bewitched (1964-1972); Gladys and Abner Kravitz were the Stephens’s nosy neighbors. Gladys was played by Sandra Gould and later Alice Pearce, while her husband Abner was played by George Tobias.
Bernard Herrmann music out there.
Bernard Herrmann (1911-1975) wrote the famous screeching violin music for the Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho, among many other scores.
I think we should wait for the sanctions to take effect!
After the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the UN imposed economic sanctions on Iraq. The Gulf War started a few months later; critics said the sanctions had not had time to work.
We’re gonna get Raid, right? We’re gonna get a whole lot of Raid, right?
Raid is a brand of household insecticide. The famous animated ads for Raid, a campaign that has run for decades, were originally produced by Tex Avery and voiced by Mel Blanc.
Exterminate with extreme prejudice.
“Terminate with extreme prejudice” is a line from the 1979 film Apocalypse Now.
Oh, this is a bug hunt, man!
“It’s a bug hunt” is a line from the 1986 film Aliens.
Sometimes you can’t hear the pincer with your name on it.
A combination of two idioms: “You don’t hear the one that gets you” and “A bullet with your name on it.”
[Sung.] When you wish upon a star …
A line from the song “When You Wish Upon a Star” from the Disney musical Pinocchio (1940). It was performed by Jiminy Cricket (voiced by Cliff Edwards). Sample lyrics: “When you wish upon a star/Makes no difference who you are/Anything your heart desires will come to you.”
America responds to the new Robert Urich/Faye Dunaway sitcom!
It Had to Be You was a 1993 TV sitcom starring Dunaway as a busy executive and Urich as the carpenter she hires to renovate her office; inevitably, they fall in love. The series lasted a whopping four episodes before being yanked by the network.
Al Bundy takes command!
Al Bundy was the reluctant patriarch on the TV series Married … with Children, which ran from 1987-1997. The part was played by Ed O’Neill.
[Sung.] John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt/That’s my name too … oh my God!
A paraphrase of the old scouting song “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.” Actual lyrics: “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt/His name is my name too/Whenever we go out/The people always shout/There goes John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt/Dah dah dah dah, dah dah dah …”
Insects trained by Russ Weatherwax.
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 the Thin Man movies and Old Yeller.
One weekend a month my ass!
“One weekend a month, two weeks a year” was a longtime slogan for the U.S. Army National Guard, meant to indicate the time commitment required of a guardsman. Interestingly, “One weekend a month my ass!” became the Guard’s unofficial slogan during the Iraq War, when many members found themselves serving up to two years in a foreign country—considerably longer than they had been led to believe.
Yeah, that oughta hold the little …
A reference to a very old urban legend about a children’s radio host (usually attributed to one Uncle Don Carney, who broadcasted from 1928-1947) who once signed off a show by saying, “There, that ought to hold the little bastards.” In fact, the tale goes back to the 1930s, has been attributed to numerous radio figures on numerous dates (a reliable tell of an urban legend), and no recording or any other proof exists. The story was being debunked in articles about Uncle Don as early as 1935, yet it persisted, in part thanks to a re-creation of the event, promoted as authentic, that was released on an album of radio and TV “bloopers” in the 1950s. Carney denied it from the beginning, but it haunted him for the rest of his long career. The Simpsons made reference to the legend in the episode “Krusty Gets Kancelled.”
Hi, anyone for Nutter Butters?
Nutter Butter is a brand of sandwich cookie that is shaped like a peanut and has a peanut butter filling. It was introduced in 1969 by Nabisco.
“He has faith in regimental firepower because he’s seen it work.” [Sung.] Faith, faith, faith, baby …
A line from George Michael’s “Faith,” one of the biggest hits of 1988. Sample lyrics: "Oh but I need some time off from that emotion/Time to pick my heart up off the floor/And when that love comes down/Without devotion/Well it takes a strong man baby/But I'm showing you the door/'Cause I gotta have faith."
Guests of the Beginning of the End stay at the beautiful Capitol dome.
An imitation of announcers on talk shows long past, who would plug a hotel and sometimes an airline near the end of the program.
Aunt Beatrice “Bee” Taylor was Sheriff Andy Taylor’s sister on The Andy Griffith Show, which aired from 1960-1968, and its sequel series Mayberry R.F.D. (1968-1971). The part was played by Frances Bavier.
And this is the 1910 Fruitgum Company.
The 1910 Fruitgum Company was a bubble-gum pop band in the late 1960s whose hits included ‘Goody Goody Gumdrops” and “Indian Giver.”
“I feel secure the Illinois National Guard can handle this situation.” Just like they handled the Chicago convention.
In 1968, the Democratic National Convention was held in Chicago, Illinois. It was targeted by anti-war protesters opposed to the conflict in Vietnam; then-Mayor Richard Daley, unsympathetic to their cause, called out the Illinois National Guard to maintain order. A riot followed in which more than two hundred people were injured, half of them police.
Go in peace and sin no more.
This is roughly what a priest tells a penitent after confession and absolution in the Catholic Church.
[Hummed.] Indiana Jones theme.
This is the famous theme to the Indiana Jones movies, starting with Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981. It was composed by John Williams.
Well, no more lunches at Milda’s Café, huh?
Milda’s Café is a restaurant in Minneapolis known for its hearty meals, especially its pasties.
Dear Abby, I’m an elderly woman who doesn’t enjoy sex … whoa! This came to the wrong place!
“Dear Abby” is a syndicated newspaper advice column. It was originally founded by Pauline Phillips and is now written by her daughter, Jeanne Phillips.
Yes, nothing gets tobacco juice out of your clothes.
Grasshoppers are said to spit “tobacco juice” as self-defense. The brown liquid is actually a mixture of saliva, stomach acids, and grass.
Our road trip to Peoria has been canceled.
Peoria is a city in central Illinois, about 160 miles from Chicago. You’re talking roughly a 2.5-hour road trip. It has stood in for the quintessential middle American city since vaudeville, in quips such as “Yes, but will it play in Peoria?” (popularized by Groucho Marx).
Robert Frost (1874-1963) was an American poet known for his evocation of the New England countryside in poems like “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.”
How about chlordane with a tiny drop of Retsyn?
Chlordane is a type of pesticide that was used in the United States for forty years until it was discovered that it was a long-term health hazard; the EPA banned it in 1988 and carefully monitors its presence in drinking water to this day. Certs breath mints advertise being made with a “drop of Retsyn.” Retsyn is the trade name for a compound of copper gluconate, hydrogenated cottonseed oil, and flavoring. (Thanks to JT for the Certs reference.)
Oh, no, New Petitions Against Tax. Again? God!
“New Petitions Against Tax” is a subhead that has appeared in an amazing number of prop newspapers in old films, many of which became MST3K episodes. Besides Beginning of the End, those include Show 423, Bride of the Monster; Show 522, Teenage Crime Wave; Show 801, Revenge of the Creature; Show 804, The Deadly Mantis; Show 808, The She-Creature; and Show 809, I Was a Teenage Werewolf. Another recurring subhead that Joel/Mike and the bots often point out is “Building Code Under Fire.”
There’s your answer! A fine Pilsner!
Pilsner is a type of beer originating in Czechoslovakia in the 19th century, where it quickly gained in popularity over the heavy, dark beers then common in Europe. It is traditionally served in tall, slender glasses with wide mouths.
Lee Marvin in The Bridges of Madison County.
Lee Marvin (1924-1987) was an actor who generally played heavies; he appeared in many a war film, including The Caine Mutiny, The Dirty Dozen, and The Big Red One. The Bridges of Madison County is a novel by Robert James Waller about a brief affair between an itinerant photographer and a lonely housewife. It was made into a film starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep in 1995.
Hey, General, where you going? –I’m going to Decatur! I’m gonna shoot that paper-hanging son of a bitch!
This is a paraphrase of a line from a speech by General George S. Patton (1885-1945); it was famously depicted in the 1970 film Patton. Patton was the commander of the Third Army in World War II; his men helped defend France in the Battle of the Bulge and subdue Germany at the end of the war. He was known as “Old Blood-and-Guts.” The full quotation: "Sure, we want to go home. We want this war over with. The quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards who started it. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we can go home. The shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo. And when we get to Berlin, I am personally going to shoot that paper-hanging son of a bitch Hitler just like I'd shoot a snake." Decatur is another city in Illinois.
All quiet in the western suburbs.
All Quiet on the Western Front is a 1929 novel by German author Erich Maria Remarque, about the horrors of World War I as seen from the point of view of a group of German soldiers in the trenches. It was made into a movie starring Louis Wolheim in 1930.
The Jack Benny Program!
The Jack Benny Program was a wildly successful radio show starring comedian Jack Benny that aired from 1932-1955. A TV version ran from 1950-1965.
Henry Mitchell is the father of Dennis the Menace (see following note), from the Hank Ketcham comic strip of the same name. On the TV version he was played by Herbert Anderson. (Thanks to Joe Klemm for this reference.)
“He can keep the menace at bay.” That’s Dennis the Menace.
Dennis the Menace is the freckled, overall-sporting, slingshot-carrying neighborhood terror in the comic strip of the same name, created in 1950 by Hank Ketcham. In 1959 it was turned into a TV show starring Jay North. Dennis Mitchell was based on Dennis Ketcham, cartoonist Hank Ketcham’s 4-year-old son.
Looks like the Sun King’s bell on top of their TV.
Louis XIV (1638-1715), known as the Sun King, was king of France from 1643 until his death in 1715. Louis XIV furniture and architecture is highly distinctive in appearance, featuring inlays, heavy gilding, curlicues and other elaborate motifs, and in general a lot of fooferal.
“It reaches ear-shattering proportions.” Sounds like Mariah Carey.
Mariah Carey is a soprano pop singer who hit it big in the early 1990s with hits like “Vision of Love” and “Someday.”
Then I wet ‘em.
A paraphrase of a line from a Monty Python sketch: “The Visitors” in Season 1, Episode 9 of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which aired in December 1969 (actual line: “Oooo, I’ve wet ‘em!”). The sketch featured Eric Idle’s character Mr. Cheeky, a.k.a. “Mr. Nudge,” from the beloved “Nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say no more, Squire!” sketch.
In the pre-digital era, newspaper offices were filled with men and women pounding away on typewriters; the content they generated was known as copy. When a story was written, the reporter would hold the pages in the air and yell “Copy!” It was then retrieved by the “copy boys,” whose job was to transfer the stories from one part of the newsroom to another: from the reporters to the editors to the printers.
The Cubs don’t win the pennant! The Cubs don’t win the pennant!
An imitation of sports broadcaster Russ Hodges’s famous cry at the end of the Giants-Dodgers tiebreaker game for the National League championship in 1951. Bobby Thomson hit a home run at the very end of the game, sparking Hodges’s heartfelt outburst: “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!” The Chicago Cubs, on the other hand, are a perennial loser team: their World Series victory in 2016 was their first in 108 years and their first World Series appearance since 1945. Despite this dismal record, they enjoy a legion of devoted fans.
Meanwhile, at the Boy Scout Jamboree at Pottawattomie Park …
The Boy Scout Jamboree is a national gathering of Boy Scouts held every four years and generally attended by thousands of scouts. Pottawattomie Park is a park in North Side Chicago.
Cricket lighter, just a dollar forty-nine.
Cricket lighters were the first disposable lighter, originally made in France in 1961. They are manufactured by Swedish Match.
They got Jiminy! Get ‘em!
See note on Pinocchio, above.
We were pinned down near Elgin. –Aurora was pretty bad.
Elgin is a city in Illinois, northwest of Chicago; it was the home of the now sadly defunct Elgin Watch Company. Aurora is a suburb to the west of Chicago; Wayne’s World was set there.
This is Flying Officer Jim Cavanaugh. The Dan Ryan’s covered with tobacco juice—you might want to try an alternate route.
Flying Officer Jim Cavanaugh was a Chicago police officer who supplied helicopter traffic reports for WGN Radio during the 1970s and 1980s. The Dan Ryan Expressway is a north-south highway running through the city of Chicago; it opened in 1962.
Let’s all welcome Bob Hope, ladies and gentlemen!
Comedian Bob Hope (1903-2003) was well-known for his military performances for the United Services Organization (USO), a tradition that began in World War II and continued through Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf. In 1997 Congress made Hope an “honorary veteran” in recognition of his efforts to support the troops over the years.
Damn Nazzi grasshoppers.
The odd pronunciation of “Nazi” here is an imitation of General Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott) in the film Dr. Strangelove.
The Orkin Army will storm the beaches of Lake Forest.
Orkin is a national pest-removal company; they began running an extremely successful series of commercials featuring the “Orkin Army,” a battalion of exterminators, in the early 1980s. Lake Forest is a city on Lake Michigan, north of Chicago.
No grasshoppers were hurt in the making of this film, huh?
“No animals were harmed in the making of this film” is an end credit disclaimer made available to films whose treatment of animals has been monitored and approved by the American Humane Association. The AHA has been monitoring the treatment of animals in film for more than sixty years.
I don’t believe it! They’re using Hannibal’s surprise!
In the third century B.C.E., a Carthaginian general named Hannibal led his forces against the Roman Empire in the Second Punic War. In the winter of 218 B.C.E., he took his forces, including a number of war elephants, across the Alps in horrendous weather in order to take the Romans by surprise. He then won a series of decisive battles against the Roman forces and was able to maintain a military presence in Italy for more than a decade.
They control the cement business!
Construction is one of the most common areas of “legitimate business” that organized crime gets into, and Chicago is notorious for being mobbed up.
Do not covet thy neighbor’s manservant.
The Tenth Commandment says, “Neither shall you covet your neighbor's wife, and you shall not desire your neighbor's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor's."
Stamp all fires dead out.
“Put all fires dead out” is a camping safety tip, found in scouting magazines, USDA tip sheets, and the like.
Hey, hey, I want a Chicago-style hot dog.
A Chicago-style hot dog consists of a frankfurter served with mustard, onion, pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, chopped tomatoes, peppers, and celery salt. And no ketchup! They are generally acknowledged to have originated at Fluky’s hot dog stand in the late 1920s.
In Grant Park, on Lake Shore Drive.
Grant Park, which runs down the shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago (along, yes, Lake Shore Drive), was carved out as public land in the 19th century.
Yes … yes … come on, baby, comb that hair … Boy, I wish I was a tub of Dippity-Do.
Dippity-Do hair gel was introduced in the ‘60s. It came in two colors—green for regular strength and pink for extra strength.
They’ve got a picture of Russ Bender.
Russ Bender (1910-1969) was a B-movie actor in the 1950s and 1960s. He appeared in several MST3K episodes, including Show 309, The Amazing Colossal Man, and Show 311, It Conquered the World.
Bruce Geller called.
Bruce Geller (1930-1978) was a screenwriter and television producer best known for creating Mission: Impossible (1966-1973), which starred Peter Graves.
Look, we’ll move the Loop to Schaumburg.
The Loop is the central downtown area of Chicago, roughly the area bounded by the circuit of elevated trains that circles the area. Schaumburg is a northwest suburb of Chicago.
[Radio whine.] Oh, that’s my Darjeeling.
Darjeeling is a high-quality variety of tea, generally considered one of the world’s finest. It is grown in the Darjeeling district of India.
A tennis ball, an accordion, and a picture of Don Ameche.
Don Ameche (1908-1993) was a screen and radio actor who played leading men in the 1930s and 1940s but moved to radio in the 1950s after his career began to lag. In the 1980s his career enjoyed a revival in such films as Trading Places (1983) and Cocoon (1985), for which he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.
“Whatever you need, we’ll get.” Oh, then a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue.
Johnnie Walker is a popular brand of Scotch whisky. It sells several varieties under various color labels; Johnnie Walker Blue is its finest blend, each bottle nestled in a silk-lined box and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. As I write this, a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue goes for about two hundred bucks.
[Sung.] I sing whenever I sing whenever I sing …
A reference to Show 402, The Giant Gila Monster.
Savages. Worse than British soccer fans.
In Great Britain, passions for the sport of soccer (or football, as it is known everywhere else in the world but the U.S.) run so high that rowdy behavior on the part of fans is fairly commonplace, leading to the term “football hooligans.” Old joke: I went to the riot the other night, and a football game broke out.
[Sung.] The night Chicago died …
A line from the Paper Lace song “The Night Chicago Died.” Sample lyrics: “I heard my mama cry/I heard her pray the night Chicago died/Brother what a night it really was/Brother what a fight it really was/Glory be!” The night in question refers to a fictional shootout between police and Al Capone’s gang.
I know what you’re thinking, grasshopper. Did I fire six shots or—
This is a paraphrase of the famous line from the 1971 film Dirty Harry, starring Clint Eastwood. The full line: “I know what you're thinking: Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I've kinda lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”
Louis, I think this is going to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. I’m Peter Graves.
The famous last line of the 1942 film Casablanca is “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” See note on Biography, above.
A reference to Show 303, Pod People.
[Soldier whistling.] The Von Trapps have escaped!
The Von Trapps were the singing family portrayed in the musical The Sound of Music. At the end of the musical (spoiler alert), the family flees across the mountains into Switzerland to escape the Nazis.
Well, it looks like you were having a pretty good time for yourself out in Peoria last night, eh, Hoppy?
See note on Peoria, above.
Byron Allen is the host of the syndicated TV show Entertainers with Byron Allen, which interviews actors, athletes, and other celebrities.
I have my rights! I have my rights!
“I have my rights! I have my rights! It was Callahan!” is a line from Dirty Harry.
One moment. [Hold music.]
“The Girl from Ipanema” was written about Helô Pinheiro, a teenage girl who walked by the songwriters in Rio de Janeiro’s Ipanema district every day.
I’m getting the piña colada song.
A reference to the song “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes. Sample lyrics: “If you like piña coladas/And getting caught in the rain ...” Holmes himself hates piña coladas, commenting once that they taste like Kaopectate.
Start with the Shedd Aquarium.
The Shedd Aquarium is a fabulous indoor aquarium in Chicago, the second largest indoor aquarium in the world. It boasts more than eight thousand animals, including sharks, otters, dolphins, and beluga whales.
I’m Peter Graves!
See note on Biography, above.
Well, good morning, you’ve got the Loop here. It’s gonna be a nice day today. We’re gonna get bombed—you probably heard about that.
WLUP 97.9 FM is a Chicago radio station that plays classic rock. Its nickname, based on its call letters, is “The Loop.”
They’re scraping the grills at the Billy Goat at this very moment.
The Billy Goat Tavern is a beloved restaurant in Chicago, immortalized in the “cheezeborger, no fries” skits on Saturday Night Live during the 1970s.
It's "Sweet Lorraine."
“Sweet Lorraine” is a 1972 song by Uriah Heep, famous for its Moog synthesizer solo.
So where’s the razzmatazz? I don’t see it.
The Frank Sinatra song “My Kind of Town” has the lyrics “My kind of town, Chicago is/My kind of razzmatazz/And it has, all that jazz …”
I’ve got to have those Glengarry leads.
An imitation of Jack Lemmon in the David Mamet film Glengarry Glen Ross.
Damn Tandy equipment!
Tandy Corporation was the parent company of Radio Shack. In the 1970s and 1980s Radio Shack offered a line of personal computers under the Tandy name: the TRS-80, the Tandy 1000, and the Tandy 2000. Tandys became obsolete in the early 1990s with the advent of superior graphics and sound cards in rival PCs.
It’s a long Kathleen Battle aria.
Kathleen Battle is a soprano opera singer known particularly for her roles in Mozart operas. She has something of a reputation for being difficult to work with; in 1994 the Met cancelled its contract with her, citing “unprofessional actions.”
This is what it sounds like when grasshoppers cry.
“When Doves Cry” is a 1984 hit song by Minneapolis musician Prince (1958-2016). Sample lyrics: “Maybe you're just like my mother/She's never satisfied (She's never satisfied)/Why do we scream at each other?/This is what it sounds like when doves cry.”
By George, Higgins, I think we’ve got it.
A reference to the song “The Rain in Spain” from the musical My Fair Lady. Sample lyrics: “By George, she's got it! By George, she's got it!/Now, once again, where does it rain?”
[Hummed.] McHale's Navy theme.
This is the theme to McHale’s Navy, a TV sitcom about a group of bumbling misfits aboard a PT boat in World War II. It starred Ernest Borgnine as Lt. Commander Quinton McHale. The show aired from 1962-1966.
Dilbert’s a scream today.
“Dilbert” is a comic strip about the foibles of working in an office; it has been published since 1989 and is one of the most successful comic strips of its time. It appears in 65 countries in 25 different languages.
“It’s 70 degrees, Ed.” Cooler near the lake.
“Cooler near the lake” is a weatherman’s phrase familiar to anyone who has experienced summer in Chicago.
I’m hiding from the lion! It’s got these women scared stiff!
The two bronze lions guarding the Michigan Ave. entrance to the Art Institute are a Chicago landmark. Since 2012 they roar at you if you sit on them.
Olga bras are on sale.
Olga is a brand of lingerie founded in 1950 by Olga Smith. It produces underwear for all shapes and sizes, but it is particularly known for its focus on full-figured women and its underwire bras.
Righty, tighty …
“Righty tighty, lefty loosey” is a helpful mnemonic for using a screwdriver.
All right! Playing Tull out the window, man! Whoo!
Jethro Tull is a British prog-rock band started in the 1960s. Distinguished by the flute playing of lead singer Ian Anderson, the band is known for such concept albums as Aqualung and Thick as a Brick.
When Brian Eno ruled Chicago.
Brian Eno is a British keyboardist and composer known as the father of ambient music, labeling it “as ignorable as it is interesting.”
If they wanted to rev up the grasshoppers they should have just played some Marvin Gaye.
Marvin Gaye (1939-1984) was one of the all-time great Motown artists, known for sexy, sexy songs like “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 forty-fifth birthday.
I’m still Paul Frees.
See note on Paul Frees, above.
“Michigan Boulevard is full of them! They’re everywhere!” They’re on a shopping rampage!
Michigan Avenue (not Boulevard) in Chicago is home to the Magnificent Mile, a high-end retail district.
Well, would you look at that—they dyed the river green!
Every year, in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, the city of Chicago dyes the Chicago River—which flows through the heart of the city—green. The same two families have been in charge of the operation for 50 years.
That Dick Daley!
Richard J. Daley (1902-1976) was mayor of Chicago from 1955-1976. He was also a major player in Democratic circles, running one of the last great political machines in the country. His administration was also marred by a number of corruption scandals, although Daley himself was never implicated. His son, Richard M. Daley, was also mayor from 1989-2011, breaking his dad’s record for longest-serving Chicago mayor.
We’re in the famous Loop now, Harry. –I wonder why they call it that?
See note on the Loop, above. The name of the Loop derives from an old streetcar loop that circumnavigated the area in the late 19th century. Major buildings in the Loop include Willis Tower, the Sullivan Center, and the Richard J. Daley Center.
Ha! Wacker! Look at that! Wacker! Wacker.
Wacker Drive is an odd double-decker street running along the Chicago River, named after the head of the planning commission at the time it was built.
“They’re coming down the street!” Getting the funniest looks from everyone they meet!
A paraphrase of the theme song to The Monkees TV show, which aired from 1966-1968. Sample lyrics: “Here we come/Walking down the street/We get the funniest looks from/Everyone we meet/Hey, hey we're the Monkees …”
Yeah, as soon as Marconi here is ready.
Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) was an Italian engineer who invented a practical method of wireless telegraphy, better known as radio. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1909 for his achievement.
Top of the Wrigley Building, ma!
A paraphrase of the classic line from the 1949 Jimmy Cagney film White Heat: “Made it, ma! Top of the world!” See above note on the Wrigley Building.
Hey, I’m just going to the observation deck! Aaahh!
Up through the ‘50s, the Wrigley Building did have an observation deck; admission was 5 cents and threw in a stick of Wrigley gum.
Oh, Jiminy, shut that off!
See note on Pinocchio, above.
Hey, Johnny LaRue's Street Beef!
"Johnny LaRue's Street Beef" was a recurring skit on the Canadian sketch comedy show SCTV. LaRue (played by John Candy) would go out in search of "man in the street" interviews, and be unable to find anyone to talk to. (Thanks to Joshua Munn for this reference.)
Wow, Chicago thought the alewives smelled bad.
Alewives are a species of fish—silver in color and about four inches long. They are a foreign species to the Great Lakes, and one that has unfortunately thrived. In the 1970s, dead alewives kept washing up on the shores of Lake Michigan, creating a horrible stench; scientists solved the problem by introducing Chinook salmon, which ate the invasive fish (and were quite tasty themselves).
This guy caused the whole thing—he’s got to be doing hard time in Joliet right now.
Joliet is a city in Illinois, located southwest of Chicago. From 1858 to 2002 it played host to the infamous Joliet Prison, a maximum security facility whose most infamous inmates were child killers Leopold and Loeb.
[Sung.] Hey, Mr. Arnstein, here I am!
A line from the Barbra Streisand song “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” from the musical Funny Girl. Sample lyrics: “Hey, Mister Arnstein, here I am!/I’ll march my band out/I will beat my drum/And if I’m fanned out/Your turn at bat, sir.”