606: The Creeping Terror
by Wyn Hilty
The things I can do with my Spirograph.
Spirograph is a drawing toy first sold by Kenner in 1966, consisting of plastic disks with holes in them, which could be used to draw interesting spiral designs. The advertising jingle for Spirograph in the 1970s was: “I don’t believe it/I just don’t believe it/The things I can do with my Spirograph.”
These people saved with MCI.
MCI is a global communications company founded in 1968.
You know, maybe this is a doorway to another dimension, not one of sight and sound but of mind. Nah.
A reference to Rod Serling’s introduction to the TV series The Twilight Zone, which aired from 1959-1964. The introduction varied from season to season, but it always contained a phrase like the one Tom says here.
Looks like the inside of Robert Morley’s nose.
Robert Morley (1908-1992) was a British character actor who appeared in nearly a hundred movies and TV series over the course of his long career.
Tonight at the Metrodome: Monster design by Jon Lackey.
The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome is a stadium in Minneapolis that plays home to the Minnesota Twins and the Minnesota Vikings. It opened in 1982.
Oh, no: a cop.
An imitation of the character of Snake on the TV series The Simpsons.
The point of view of Helen Keller.
Helen Keller (1880-1968) was a writer and educator who was deaf and blind. As a child she was left deaf, blind, and dumb after being afflicted with a disease, which may have been scarlet fever. She was unable to communicate with the outside world until a young woman named Anne Sullivan became her teacher and taught her to read with her fingers. She ultimately learned to speak and graduated from Radcliffe College in 1904. She became a champion for the cause of educating physically disabled students. Her story was told in the play The Miracle Worker, which was made into an award-winning movie in 1962.
Darkness on the edge of town … all over town.
A reference to the Bruce Springsteen song “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” Sample lyrics: “Well if she wants to see me/You can tell her that I’m easily found/Tell her there’s a spot out `neath abram’s bridge/And tell her there’s a darkness on the edge of town.”
Wake up, little Susie.
A line from the song “Wake Up Little Susie” by the Everly Brothers. Sample lyrics: “Wake up, a-little Suzy/Wake up/We’ve both been sound asleep/Wake up, a-little Suzy, and weep/The movie’s over, it’s four o’clock/And we’re in trouble deep.”
Bob Dole was a U.S. senator from 1968-1996. He won the Republican nomination for president in 1996 after two previously unsuccessful attempts and retired from the Senate to devote himself to the campaign. However, he was defeated by incumbent Bill Clinton in the general election.
Looks like Queen Latifah’s hat.
Queen Latifah is arguably the most respected female rapper in hip-hop. She first broke big in 1989 with her album All Hail the Queen and her first hit single, “Ladies First.” She won a Grammy in 1993. She also began an acting career, appearing in a number of movies as well as the TV series Living Single. In 1999 she got her own daytime talk show, which ran until 2001.
I think a Wal-Mart has landed.
Wal-Mart is the largest chain of retail stores in the United States. The first store was opened in 1962 by Sam Walton, offering discount merchandise at low prices. Walton opened many of his stores in small towns, where they often drove local merchants out of business by undercutting their prices. By the time of Walton’s death in 1992, there were more than 1,700 Wal-Mart stores.
Oh, God, it’s far-out space nuts.
Far Out Space Nuts was a 1975 kiddie TV series that starred Bob “Gilligan” Denver as a NASA employee who accidentally gets launched into space, where he meets a friendly alien named Honk. Wacky adventures ensue. The series was produced by Sid and Marty Krofft. Also in this riff, according to the MST3K Wiki: “Tom is making strange noises. In fact he is imitating the sound effects used in Forbidden Planet (1956), when the invisible monster is inside the spaceship while the crew is sleeping.”
He’s from the planet Dreadlock.
Dreadlocks are long, matted, rope-like coils of hair that can be intentionally formed and shaped or simply result from benign neglect: not brushing or cutting hair. Dreadlocks have been found in cultures as diverse as ancient Sparta in Greece and the Maasai tribe of southern Kenya, but the style is now closely associated with the Jamaican Rastafarian movement.
Man, it’s bright. I should have brought my Ray-Bans.
Ray-Bans are a popular brand of sunglasses.
My back is killing me. I came to this planet because I heard they have Doan’s Pills.
Doan’s Pills are a brand of pain reliever that purport to relieve back pain. They are manufactured by Ciba-Geigy.
[Sung.] Indiana wants me …
A line from the song “Indiana Wants Me” by R. Dean Taylor. Sample lyrics: “Indiana wants me, Lord I can't go back there/I wish I had you to talk to/If a man ever needed dying he did/No one had a right to say what he said about you/And it's so cold and lonely here without you …”
[Sung.] This is the army, Mr. Jones …
“This Is the Army, Mr. Jones” is a song by Irving Berlin. It was the title song of his revue This Is the Army, which opened in 1942 as part of the war effort. It toured the United States and played in front of military personnel during World War II before closing in 1945.
Annette Funicello wore khakis.
A riff on a mid-1990s ad campaign for Gap clothing stores, featuring retro-hip stars from the 1950s and ‘60s such as James Dean, Gene Kelly, and Miles Davis wearing khaki trousers, accompanied by the slogan “[name of celebrity] Wore Khakis.” Actress Annette Funicello (1942-2013) got her start in the 1950s on the TV show The Mickey Mouse Club. She went on to star in a series of beach movies in the 1960s.
So, anyway, we didn’t see much of the Dells. We saw the House on the Rock, which was neat.
Wisconsin Dells is a city in south central Wisconsin, popular as a Midwestern tourist destination. Often known as just “The Dells,” the place became divided in 1908 into the Upper and Lower Dells when Kilbourn Dam was constructed on the Wisconsin River. The Dells is home to numerous waterparks, go carts, miniature golf courses, regular golf courses, and a host of other icons of wholesome family fun. “Ever been to The Dells? Let’s ride the ducks” came in at #7 in The Fifty Most Obscure References in The Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, referring to The Dells as “that paradise of water playlands, that miniature golf hot-bed…” Also from the ACEG: “The House on the Rock, located outside Spring Green, Wisconsin, is that state’s most popular and blatant tourist attraction. It’s a huge place built atop a sixty-foot rock, filled with bizarre stuff like massive ‘band organs’ (frightening automated music machines featuring creepy figurines); the world’s largest model whale; the world’s largest carousel; and on and on in room after room. … Spring Green is also the site of Taliesin, home of Frank Lloyd Wright. Jordan built his monstrosity partly as a conscious insult to Wright.”
Still going …
Since 1989, TV commercials for Energizer batteries have featured the “Energizer Bunny,” a pink toy rabbit sporting sunglasses and pounding a bass drum, whose exposed Energizer batteries allow him to be, as the announcer repeatedly says, “Still going … and going … and going …” long after lesser battery brands have given out.
Hey, if he landed in Sunset Strip, he wouldn’t be out of place. Am I right here?
The Sunset Strip is a portion of Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles between Hollywood and Beverly Hills, home to nightclubs, restaurants, boutiques, and the starstruck.
It looks like a Ticonderoga No. 2.
Dixon Ticonderoga produces nearly 500 million pencils a year, of which their No. 2 is the most popular.
Apparently, Dan Blocker had been there.
Dan Blocker (1928-1972) played middle son Eric "Hoss Cartwright" on the TV series Bonanza, which aired from 1959-1973.
It took about an hour—they stopped at Hardee’s on the way.
Hardee’s is a chain of fast food burger restaurants.
We push more logs before 9 a.m. than most people do all day.
“We do more before 9 a.m. than most people do all day” is an old advertising slogan for the Army.
They popped a little Dave Brubeck into the tape deck.
Dave Brubeck (1920-2012) was a renowned jazz pianist who recorded highly influential works in the 1950s and 1960s and continued to perform through the end of the 20th century.
Rose of Sharon's having a baby.
In John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, after Joad daughter Rose of Sharon gives birth to a stillborn baby, she uses her milk to feed a starving man. (Thanks to Thomas Lakeman for this reference.)
Okay guys, don’t frag me again.
“Fragging” is the act of soldiers assassinating their own commanding officer, usually because he is seen as incompetent or leading them into danger. The term comes from “fragmentation grenade” and originated during the Vietnam War, where gung-ho but inexperienced lieutenants were often put in command of platoons of battle-hardened soldiers, a combination that did not lead to confidence in leadership. It's estimated that around 900-1,000 fragging incidents took place in Vietnam, but very few were prosecuted, as they were easily concealed as battlefield errors, sabotage, or enemy actions.
Ah, the original concept for the Iwo Jima sculpture.
The Iwo Jima Memorial is a bronze statue of six soldiers raising an American flag. The sculpture is based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo taken by Joe Rosenthal and was created by Felix de Weldon. It stands in Washington, D.C.
Are we inside Television City?
CBS Television City is a television studio in Los Angeles where various TV shows are filmed.
The prices on these Kenwoods—the aliens must be insane!
Kenwood is a manufacturer of stereo equipment, particularly for automobiles.
He thought it was Boog Powell.
Boog Powell was a batter for the Baltimore Orioles for more than a decade during the 1960s and early 1970s.
“There was no trace of either Ben or Jeff.” Or Akbar.
Akbar and Jeff are two ambiguously sexed characters in the comic strip “Life in Hell,” drawn by cartoonist Matt Groening of The Simpsons fame. They first appeared in the strip in 1984 and quickly became popular supporting characters. They dress identically and always wear fezzes.
k.d. lang is a country/rock musician who has released such hit songs as “Constant Craving.” She has publicly declared her lesbianism and is an outspoken advocate of animal rights, both traits that have occasionally brought her into conflict with her country-music audience.
The title of a song by k.d. lang (see previous note).
Not since the Lincoln-Douglas debates.
The Lincoln-Douglas debates were a series of debates held in 1858 between future president Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. The two men were running for the same Senate seat from Illinois. Lincoln lost the election, but his stellar performance in the debates brought him national attention and launched the political career that would end in the White House.
Then they went on to plot the Bay of Pigs invasion.
The Bay of Pigs invasion took place on April 17, 1961. It was an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the communist government of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Plotted by the CIA and executed by about 1,500 Cuban exiles, the invasion lasted only about two days before all the exiles had been killed or captured by Castro’s forces. The invasion was a fiasco and a serious political problem for the Kennedy administration, which had authorized the strike.
[Sung.] Is she really going out with him …
A line from the 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 …”
The unbearable whiteness of being.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a novel by Milan Kundera about a love affair set against the backdrop of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. It was made into a 1988 movie starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Juliette Binoche.
You have a kind face.
An imitation of British actor John Hurt in his role as John Merrick in the 1980 film The Elephant Man, directed by David Lynch. Though not a direct quote from the movie, the character frequently remarks on the kindness of those who help him.
What Beauty fed the Beast.
A possible paraphrase of the final line in the film King Kong (1933 and 2005): “It wasn’t the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast.” Or it might be a reference to the traditional fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, and its many adaptations.
That’s the last time I eat Norwegian.
Boiled pigs feet, codfish soaked in lye, and raw fish that’s been allowed to ferment for three months or so … these are just a few of the culinary delights you’ll find on a traditional Norwegian menu. Bon appetit!
Earth girls are greasy.
Earth Girls Are Easy is a 1988 sci-fi spoof starring Geena Davis and Julie Brown as girls who encounter a group of hairy aliens in their backyard.
Oh, wait, it’s Lent—I swore off girls. Oh, well.
Lent is the 40-day period leading up to Easter. It is a period of fasting and penance, during which Catholics often abstain from eating meat on Fridays and frequently give up something—like alcohol or chocolate—for the entire period. It originated from the practice of preparing for baptism at the Easter vigil.
I can’t believe I ate the whole thing. –You ate it, Ralph.
A reference to an old Alka-Seltzer commercial featuring a man bemoaning, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing,” and being reproached by his smug wife, “You ate it, Ralph,” who then recommends Alka-Seltzer to take the sting out.
Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!
An imitation of the robot B9 on the TV series Lost in Space, which ran from 1965-1968. The part was played by Bob May. (Thanks to Martin Bush for correcting the name of this robot.)
He celebrated with a Chesterfield.
Chesterfield is a brand of cigarettes first manufactured in 1873 by the Drummond Tobacco Company. Currently Chesterfield is manufactured by Philip Morris.
This is the classic exclamation uttered by Homer Simpson on the animated TV series The Simpsons, which first aired in 1989. Actor Dan Castellaneta, who supplies the voice of the character, has said he borrowed the phrase from a comedian named James Finlayson, who appeared in a number of Laurel & Hardy shorts. In 2001 the expression made it into the Oxford English Dictionary, thus becoming enshrined in the English language.
Ah, the Menendez brothers come home.
In August 1989, brothers Lyle and Erik Menendez shot and killed their parents, Jose and Kitty Menendez, in their Beverly Hills mansion. At first the two brothers claimed they had been at the movies when their parents were killed; later, they admitted to the killings but claimed they were acting in self-defense after years of physical and sexual abuse. Prosecutors argued the true motive was Jose Menendez’s $14 million fortune. The first trial ended in a hung jury; at the second trial the two young men were convicted of first-degree murder. In 1996 they were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Did you bring home your longtime companion?
Longtime Companion (1989) is a film about the lives of a circle of gay couples and their friends in the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It was the first major theatrical release to address the epidemic.
The young couple keeps a lot of booze on hand. –Lucy.
Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball) was the main character on I Love Lucy, the iconic 1951-1957 sitcom. Desi Arnaz played Ricky Ricardo, Lucy’s husband on the show and in real life (until they divorced in 1960, anyway).
Hey, get a load of this clear beer. You had this yet?
Clear Beer was a non-colored beer manufactured by Miller in the 1990s. It was part of the “clear” fad of the times that included Crystal Pepsi. However, while Pepsi simply omitted the caramel color that gives cola its traditional brown hue, Miller eliminated the natural color of beer by extensive processing, which many drinkers complained left the beer tasteless. The fad did not last long.
Aren’t you glad you used Dial?
The longtime slogan for Dial soap was “Aren’t you glad you used Dial? Don’t you wish everyone did?”
Starman is a 1984 film starring Jeff Bridges as an alien who comes to Earth and falls in love with a human woman (played by Karen Allen).
It’s Bess Myerson.
Bess Myerson (1924-2014) became famous in 1945 as the first Jew to win the Miss America pageant. She faced considerable prejudice after her win, with many longtime sponsors refusing to have anything to do with her. She ultimately became an activist for Jewish rights.
Well, at least we’re not hearing Bruce Willis make snide comments.
In the film Look Who’s Talking (1989), Bruce Willis supplies the voice of the baby Mikey.
Meanwhile, in a Kurosawa film …
Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998) is considered possibly the greatest Japanese filmmaker of all time. In films like Ran (1985) and The Seven Samurai (1954), he made Japanese film accessible to the West.
They’re just downwind from Los Alamos.
Los Alamos National Laboratory was the site of the development of the first nuclear bomb, during World War II. It is still one of two sites in the nation that sees work on nuclear weapons, along with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Well, this is a very interesting situation, now…
An imitation of iconic American actor James Stewart (1908-1997), and a nearly verbatim reading of a line from It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), wherein George Bailey (Stewart) discovers a nude Mary Hatch (Donna Reed) hiding in a bush after losing her bathrobe. (Thanks to Derek Anderson for this reference.)
Oh, it’s a clothes encounter of the third kind.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a 1977 film written and directed by Steven Spielberg about humanity’s encounter with UFOs.
When Tom Wolfe’s wife does the laundry.
Tom Wolfe is a journalist and author known for such works as The Right Stuff and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. He is known for dressing in white.
Can I borrow some Downy?
Downy is a brand of laundry detergent.
Hah-hah-hah! Chairy, no!
An impression of Paul Reubens’ Pee-wee Herman character. On the children’s show Pee-wee’s Playhouse (1986-1990), Chairy the armchair was one of his puppet chaperones.
I should’ve gone to DeVry instead of Harvard.
DeVry University is a system of technology-oriented schools aimed at high school graduates and working adults. Harvard University is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the United States.
Meanwhile, Opie and his therapist go fishing.
Opie Taylor was the young son of Sheriff Andy Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show, which aired from 1960-1968. The part was played by Ron Howard.
Son, you and I should really check out the Village folk scene.
The “Village” in question is Greenwich Village, a residential area located on the southern part of the island of Manhattan. It was originally founded by Dutch settlers in the 17th century and was gradually absorbed by the city of New York as it expanded. It is known for its artists, its rebels, and its bohemian lifestyle. The neighborhood was critical in the development of the folk music scene in the 1960s, home to numerous nightclubs whose very names have become iconic symbols of ‘60s folk music: The Bitter End, Café Wha?, and The Bottom Line, just to name a few.
Hey, he’s a matryoshka doll—there’s six more of him inside.
Matryoshka dolls are one of the most popular Russian souvenirs, consisting of a series of progressively smaller dolls, each “nesting” inside the next.
He’s part of the really big brother program.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a mentoring organization founded in 1904.
A riff on “O Canada,” the Canadian national anthem. Cannabis is one of the botanical terms for marijuana.
[Sung] Go tell Aunt Rhody … huh?
A line from the traditional children’s song of the same name, which is also sometimes called “The Old Grey Goose Is Dead.” Sample lyrics: “Go tell Aunt Rhody/Go tell Aunt Rhody/Go tell Aunt Rhody/The old grey goose is dead.”
Yoo-hoo is a chocolate-flavored drink popular among the kiddie set.
Suddenly it’s Wild Strawberries.
Wild Strawberries is a 1957 Ingmar Bergman film about a professor facing the emptiness of his life.
I’m the pirate king! Huzzah!
Possibly a reference to the song “I Am a Pirate King” from the 1879 Gilbert & Sullivan operetta The Pirates of Penzance. “Huzzah” is an olde English exclamation, similar to “hurray,” that has been around since Shakespeare’s time.
Euell Gibbons has got to cut back on the pine nuts.
Euell Gibbons (1911-1975) was an environmentalist and health-food advocate who lived in the woods, living off the land. He was known for experimenting with things like pine needles to see if they were edible. He died of a gastric ulcer at age 64.
Harvey Fierstein: kosher game warden.
Harvey Fierstein is a famously raspy-voiced actor who has appeared in dozens of films and TV shows.
You know, making Allan Sherman an action hero was not a good idea.
Allan Sherman (1924-1973) was a song parodist known best for his rendition of “Hello Muddah Hello Faddah.”
Kill kill kill kill …
An imitation of the iconic theme from the Friday the 13th movies.
Hey, he’s making his own broth.
Possible reference to Gravy Train brand dog food, the advertising for which has for decades touted the product’s main feature: just add water, and it “makes its own gravy.”
Look up there—it's Phyllis's daughter.
Probably a reference to the TV show Phyllis, which aired from 1975-1977. The title character's daughter, Bess, was played by Lisa Gerritsen. (Thanks to Sampo for this reference.)
“Martin received an urgent message from Barney.” [Sung.] I love you …
“I love you/You love me/We're a happy family” are the opening lines to a song by Barney the big purple dinosaur, the host of a long-running kids’ show on PBS.
“From Mrs. Brown.” [Sung.] She’s got a lovely daughter …
“Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” is the title track to the 1968 movie musical of the same name. It was performed by Herman’s Hermits.
[Sung.] I’m in love …
A line from the Elvis Presley song “All Shook Up.” Sample lyrics: “I'm itchin' like a man on a fuzzy tree/My friends say I'm actin' wild as a bug/I'm in love—I'm all shook up.”
Angel Sheriff—this fall on NBC.
The National Broadcasting Company, or NBC, is an American television network; founded in 1926, it is currently a subsidiary of Comcast. They’ve never run a show titled “Angel Sheriff,” but hey, the night is young. NBC did air Highway to Heaven, which starred Michael “Teenage Werewolf” Landon as an angel on probation.
And The Red Skelton Show.
The Red Skelton Show was a TV sketch comedy series that aired from 1951-1971.
And dome homes.
“Dome home” is another name for a geodesic dome, a spherical structure supported by interlocking triangles. They were popularized in the 1950s by inventor and architect Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller (1895-1983). Known for his concern with sustainable living, Fuller hoped these domes would become widely used as housing, but they never caught on in a big way; however, a number of commercial domes have been built, including the Tacoma Dome in Washington state (built in 1983) and the most famous of all, the Spaceship Earth dome at Epcot Center (built in 1982).
From a Hoover floor model.
Hoover is a brand of vacuum cleaner that has been around since 1907.
And Maria taught the Von Trapp children how to sing.
A reference to the musical The Sound of Music, which was based on the lives of the actual Von Trapp family.
Trini Lopez puts on an impromptu performance.
Trini Lopez is a Mexican-American singer/songwriter and actor. His hits include “If I Had a Hammer” and “Kansas City.”
I thought Dave Van Ronk was gonna be here.
Dave Van Ronk (1936-2002) was a folk/blues guitarist whose better-known songs include “Cocaine Blues” and “He Was a Friend of Mine.”
I’m in love, Jim.
A reference to the Star Trek episode “This Side of Paradise.”
Ah, the young Peter Graves 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. Peter Graves (1926-2010) was an actor and TV host best-loved for his role as Jim Phelps on Mission: Impossible, which aired from 1966-1973. He stars in Show 517, Beginning of the End.
El Kabong will kill it!
A reference to the old Quick Draw McGraw Show; El Kabong was the Zorro-like character occasionally portrayed by Quick Draw. El Kabong’s signature move: clobbering people with his ever-present guitar.
Only Tom Paxton can save us now.
Tom Paxton is a folk singer and songwriter known for such works as “The Last Thing On My Mind” and “The Marvelous Toy.”
Ah, years later Pete Townshend would perfect this.
Pete Townshend is a rock guitarist best known for his work with the Who, although he has also had a very successful solo career. Along with his signature “windmill” arm movements while playing guitar onstage, Townshend achieved a certain notoriety for smashing his guitar to splinters at the end of a performance.
You know what would work for him now? Kind of a low-rise pump rather than those Birkenstocks.
Birkenstock is a brand of sandal with a legendary reputation for comfort and an inalterable association with hippies.
Timothy Leary and Estelle Parsons get down.
Timothy Leary (1920-1996) was a psychologist and a professor at Harvard University when, in the early 1960s, he began experimenting with psilocybin, a hallucinogenic drug synthesized from a particular variety of mushrooms. He gradually came to believe that psychedelic drugs possessed “consciousness-expanding” properties and advocated their use among general society. In 1963 he was dismissed from Harvard for his controversial views, and on his own he began experimenting with LSD, touring and lecturing to spread his ideas. Conservatives regarded him with horror (Richard Nixon called him “the most dangerous man in America”), but the counterculture of the 1960s embraced him and put many of his ideas into practice. Estelle Parsons is an actress who has appeared in several dozen movies and TV shows over her long career, including Roseanne and The Lemon Sisters.
Boy, these Huey Long fundraisers are great.
Huey Long (1893-1935) was a populist politician and demagogue who rose to power first as a U.S. senator and later as the governor of Louisiana. He did a great deal for the rural poor of his state (often at the expense of the wealthy and powerful, who hated him to a man), but he was also known for his ruthless tactics and his willingness to destroy those who got in his way. He had his eye on the presidency, but in 1935 he was gunned down by the son of one of his enemies.
You can see why the British Invasion was so easy.
The “British Invasion” refers to a period of time in the mid-1960s when a string of British rock bands achieved widespread popularity in the United States. Led by the Beatles, the invasion included such bands as the Rolling Stones, the Animals, and Herman’s Hermits.
This dance is a tribute to the treble clef.
In written music, a clef (French for “key”) is a symbol that shows the pitch of the written notes. The treble clef is the most common, since many of the best-known and most widely used instruments—such as the violin, saxophone, and guitar—use the treble clef.
Sponsored by Thom McAn.
Thom McAn is a brand of leather footwear sold in your finer Kmarts nationwide.
And, as ever, the Baptists remain on the sidelines.
Baptists are a group of Christian churches and denominations that put a great emphasis on the rite of baptism. They are known as a plain-living and stoic people who often oppose such activities as going to movies and dancing. Old joke: Why don’t Baptists make love standing up? They’re afraid someone might think they were dancing.
This was the unsuccessful pilot for Soul Train.
Soul Train is a pop music television program with an African-American slant, featuring dancers wiggling away to the latest hits. It first aired in 1971 with longtime host Don Cornelius.
Will the monster marry Susan? And what about their baby? Tune in tomorrow and find out.
An imitation of a typically melodramatic soap opera announcer. It was a standard convention of radio and television soap operas in the old days for an announcer to review key unresolved issues in the plot and encourage viewers to “tune in tomorrow …”
It's Marty on his date.
Marty (1955) is an Oscar-winning film starring Ernest Borgnine as Marty Piletti, an unmarried Bronxbutcher. Pressured by his family, he goes to a dance and meets Clara, a plain schoolteacher, and they spend the evening on a date.
Hey, David Carradine!
David Carradine (1936-2009) was an actor best known for his portrayal of Kwai Chang Caine on the TV series Kung Fu, which aired from 1972-1975. He has appeared in more than 200 films and television shows over the course of his career.
It’s Oskar Schindler and the Boston Pops.
Oskar Schindler (1908-1974) was a German industrialist famed for having saved the lives of 1,300 Jews during World War II (1939-1945). His story was told in the 1993 film Schindler’s List. The Boston Pops Orchestra was founded in 1885 as an adjunct to the Boston Symphony, with the aim of presenting lighter works. It is known for playing popular music as well as classical works.
I’ve got the music in me.
A reference to the song of the same name, which has been recorded by numerous artists. Sample lyrics: “When something gets in my way I go round it/Don't let life get me down/Gonna take life the way that I found it/I got the music in me.”
Come on, take me to Funkytown.
A reference to the song “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc. Sample lyrics: “Won't you take me to Funkytown/Won't you take me to Funkytown [repeat ad infinitum].”
Patty likes to rock and roll, a hot dog makes her lose control.
A line from the theme song to The Patty Duke Show, which aired from 1963-1966. Sample lyrics: “Where Cathy adores a minuet/The Ballet Russes, and crepe suzette/Our Patty loves to rock and roll/A hot dog makes her lose control/What a wild duet!”
Ahhh, these DTs, get these bugs off me! Oh wait, I’m a bug …
Delirium tremens (DTs) are a very real, potentially deadly condition caused by withdrawal from severe alcohol addiction. Hallucinations of frightening animals, reptiles, or insects are common, particularly visions of insects crawling on, underneath, or out of one’s skin.
He’s a maniac, and he’s dancing like he’s never danced before.
This is a paraphrase of the song “Maniac,” performed by Michael Sembello on the soundtrack to the 1983 movie Flashdance. Actual lyrics: “Just a steeltown girl on a Saturday night, lookin' for the fight of her life .../She's a maniac, maniac on the floor/And she's dancing like she's never danced before.”
Keanu Reeves has it out with Ed Begley Jr.
Keanu Reeves is a handsome leading man who has appeared in more than 50 movies and TV shows over his career, but he is perhaps best known for his role in The Matrix. Ed Begley Jr. is a blond actor who has appeared in more than 100 TV shows and movies, including his well-known role on the TV show St. Elsewhere.
[Sung.] Sheer energy …
This is from an old advertising jingle for Sheer Energy pantyhose.
I know what happens. Now pig’s blood is gonna be dumped on his head.
A reference to the climactic scene in the 1976 film Carrie (based on the Stephen King novel of the same name), in which a group of malicious teenagers dumps buckets of pig’s blood over school outcast Carrie (Sissy Spacek) at the prom. The consequences are not good.
Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.
An imitation of Elvis Presley (1935-1977), the King of Rock and Roll, who was one of the most popular musicians 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. “Thank you very much” was a phrase Elvis frequently used, usually at the end of a song while applause thundered. He often said it very quickly with the words all tumbled together. This, of course, led to it being used in impressions of him for decades.
Oh no, he’s choking! Someone give him the Heimlich maneuver!
The Heimlich maneuver is a technique for saving a choking person by forcing air out of the lungs to dislodge the object that is blocking their airways. It was pioneered in 1974 by American physician Henry Heimlich, although in 2003 Heimlich’s colleague Edward Patrick claimed he had actually developed the maneuver.
You know, this monster was up for a part in Naked Lunch.
Naked Lunch is an experimental novel by Beat Generation poster boy William S. Burroughs (1914-1997). The book is about (as much as it can be said to be “about” anything) the hallucinogenic stream of consciousness of a heroin addict. In 1991 the book was made into a movie directed by David Cronenberg and starring Peter Weller and Judy Davis.
Chris Isaak is a pop singer and actor best known for his early ‘90s hit “Wicked Game.”
John. Marsha. John. Marsha. John. Marsha. John. Marsha.
A reference to the Stan Freberg song "John and Marsha," which in itself is probably a reference to an ad campaign that ran during the 1950s for Snowdrift shortening.
Oh, no! In the Heart of the Beast Puppet Theatre is here!
In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre is a nonprofit community theater group in Minneapolis.
Marisa Tomei is an actress best known for her role in the 1992 film My Cousin Vinny, for which she won an Oscar.
People melt in your mouth, not in your car.
“Melts in your mouth, not in your hands” is the longtime advertising slogan for M&Ms chocolate candies.
Well, that was good. Now for the people in the Oldsmobile.
Oldsmobile was an auto manufacturer founded by Ransom Olds in 1897. The brand was sold to General Motors in 1908. Due to shortfalls in sales and profitability, GM phased out the Oldsmobile brand in the early 21st century; the final vehicle was assembled in 2004.
And the Beta Kappa Chi float wins the homecoming parade.
The writers may have meant to toss off the name of a random college fraternity, but Beta Kappa Chi is actually a scholastic honors society that, well, honors achievements in mathematics and natural science. It was founded in 1923 by the science faculty and students of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.
He’s doing his Walter Brennan impression, dagnabbit.
Walter Brennan (1894-1974) was a character actor known for playing elderly rural folk.
Bulls won! Whoo!
In 1992 and 1993, after the Chicago Bulls won the NBA championship, the city saw widespread rioting as the fans got a little overenthusiastic in their celebrating. (In 1992 alone, the damage was estimated at $10 million.) The year 1996 saw similar but tamer disturbances.
Jackson Pollock disapproves.
Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) was an American painter known for his famous “drip” technique that he used to create his best-known works.
Unsafe at any speed.
Ralph Nader is a consumer-safety advocate and perennial unsuccessful presidential candidate. In 1965 he published a book titled Unsafe at Any Speed, which criticized the safety of the automotive industry, targeting GM in particular. The book led to the passage of the 1966 National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, which gave the federal government the authority to set safety standards for automobiles.
These kids with their chinos …
Chino is a cotton twill fabric; trousers made from it are called chinos. The light brown khaki color is the most popular, but chinos come in many shades, usually natural earth tones.
Why can’t I get this vending machine to work? I just want a Clark Bar.
Clark Bars are a type of candy bar first sold as far back as 1886. They are manufactured by Necco.
Jeez, it’s like a Brazil nut. There’s no getting into it!
The Brazil nut is the edible seed of the South American Brazil nut tree. The dried seeds are covered in a dark, hard shell that is notoriously difficult to crack compared to other varieties of nuts. The fruits containing the seeds can be up to six inches in diameter and weigh as much as 4.5 pounds. They are a hazard in populated areas because they’re so heavy and hard; when they fall they bonk people on the head and can even break car windshields.
Please, God, I’m only 17.
“Please, God, I’m Only 17!” is a cautionary essay about the dangers of reckless driving that was reprinted seemingly every other week in both the “Dear Abby” and “Ann Landers” newspaper advice columns. It dates back to at least the 1970s.
Check this out. Da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da …
This is the famous cancan music written by Jacques Offenbach for his opera Orpheus in the Underworld.
Hey, Meals on Wheels.
Meals on Wheels is a national organization that delivers food to those in need—often the elderly or disabled.
We’re from the set of Combat! Can we help?
Combat! was a TV series that followed a squadron of American infantry during World War II. It aired from 1962-1967.
Then Broderick Crawford arrived.
Broderick Crawford (1911-1986) was an actor who appeared in more than 100 movies and TV shows over his career, including classics like All the King’s Men and Born Yesterday.
He tampered in God’s domain.
A reference to Show 423, Bride of the Monster.
It didn’t work when we shot James Beard, either.
James Beard (1903-1985) was a chef and author credited with being the “father of American gastronomy.” For years he ran a cooking school out of his New York apartment and wrote many books and articles on cooking.
[Sung.] Here we come ...
A line from the theme song to The Monkees, which aired from 1966-1968. Sample lyrics: "Here we come, walkin'/Down the street/We get the funniest looks from/Everyone we meet/Hey, hey, we're the Monkees/And people say we monkey around."
Look, we have some Susan Powter tapes we want you to look at.
Susan Powter was an infomercial queen back in the early 1990s, a workout guru whose motto was “Stop the Insanity!” She had several books on the best-seller list and even did her own talk show for a year.
An imitation of Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle on the TV series Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., which aired from 1964-1970.
Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds attack.
Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds were a soft rock group in the early 1970s known mainly for their hits “Don’t Pull Your Love” and “Fallin’ in Love.”
You fragged yourself, you knucklehead.
See note on fragging, above.
You were there … and you … and you …
A reference to the last scene in The Wizard of Oz, in which Dorothy awakens from her adventure and realizes that all the farmhands leaning over her appeared in Oz as well.
‘Twas Buford killed the beast.
A paraphrase of the final line in the film King Kong (1933 and 2005): “It wasn’t the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast.”
What the … hey, this is pleather!
Pleather is a polyurethane fabric used as a sort of artificial leather in clothing. It has been around since the 1970s, but it became trendy in the 1990s.
Five dollars in here and a pass for Cheap Skate Roller Rink.
Cheap Skate Roller Rink is a roller-skating rink in Coon Rapids, Minnesota.
Look at that—dang monster’s from RadioShack.
RadioShack is a chain of electronics stores based in Fort Worth, Texas. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2015.
Richard Kimble, man on the run.
The Fugitive was a TV series that aired from 1963-1967. It starred David Janssen as Dr. Richard Kimble, a man unjustly convicted of murdering his wife (who was named Helen, not Mary) and forced to flee capture by the police while striving to prove his innocence and hunt down the real killer—the mysterious “one-armed man.”
He slides like Ron Santo.
Ron Santo (1940-2010) was the third baseman for the Chicago Cubs during the 1960s and early 1970s. After he retired he worked as a broadcaster for the Cubs.
Maybe his beeper went off.
In the Dark Times before smartphones, people who were—or imagined themselves to be—just too darn important to ever be out of touch would use a little device originally called a beeper and later known as a pager. A small box that could be clipped onto your belt, early beepers made a noise to indicate the user had a message waiting for them at their office or phone service. Later models had a numeric display so the user could see the phone number of the person trying to reach them. They would then have to locate a (gasp!) landline telephone. Hard MST3K Trivia: in the KTMA days, an early version of Tom Servo was an excitable, non-verbal little bot named “Beeper.”
Ray Manzarek on organ.
Ray Manzarek (1939-2013) was the keyboardist for the rock band The Doors.
Just keeps thinking about those two scoops of raisins, huh?
Kellogg’s Raisin Bran cereal has long touted that each box contains “two scoops” of raisins. Their advertising has thus far neglected to educate the public on the volume or weight of a “scoop.”
Somewhere in the black hills of Dakota there lived a young man named Rocky Raccoon.
A paraphrase of a line from the Beatles song “Rocky Raccoon.” Actual lyrics: “Now somewhere in the black mountain hills of Dakota/There lived a young boy named Rocky Raccoon/And one day his woman ran off with another guy/Hit young Rocky in the eye …”
When the agents reached the Spahn Ranch, Manson and his followers were nowhere to be seen.
On the night of August 9, 1969, Los Angeles was rocked by a string of seven horrific murders, among them a young actress named Sharon Tate, who at the time was eight months pregnant by her husband, director Roman Polanski. The murders were committed by members of the “Manson Family,” a counterculture group living on the Spahn Ranch and led by the charismatic Charles Manson, apparently because they were hoping to start a race war. Ultimately, five members of the “family” were convicted of the crimes, including Manson. They were sentenced to death, but the following year the sentences were commuted to life in prison. One, Susan Atkins, died in 2009; the others are still behind bars. (Thanks to Todd Berryman for correcting my spelling of the Spahn Ranch.)
This is Andy Warhol’s Driving.
Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was an American artist who was a central figure in founding the Pop art movement. He became famous for his multicolored portraits of pop culture icons like actress Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s soup cans. He was also known for making bizarre films, collecting a group of eccentric hangers-on and wannabes in his New York studio (one of whom shot him in 1968), and turning the process of creating art into a business. Specifically, this is a riff on Warhol’s 1963 experimental film Sleep, which featured a single shot of a man sleeping, for five hours and twenty minutes.
[Sung.] I’d walk a million miles for one of your smiles, mammy …
A reference to singer/actor Al Jolson (1886-1950). Specifically, an imitation of his performance of his signature song, “My Mammy.”
I guess he wanted a Manwich, huh?
Manwich is a brand of canned sloppy joe mix made by Hunt’s, and made famous by the 1970s slogan “A sandwich is a sandwich but a Manwich is a meal.”
Listen—he sounds like Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (1929-2000) was an outrageous rock musician during the 1950s—prone to such gimmicks as emerging from a coffin onstage and adopting a bizarre, large-than-life persona a couple of decades before those became acceptable to a rock & roll audience. He's best known for his hit “I Put a Spell on You.”
Oh, God, no. No, it’s not possible. Oh, the humanity! Ahhh!
A reference to radio reporter Herbert Morrison’s (1905-1989) recorded eyewitness account of the catastrophic fire and crash of the airship Hindenburg in 1937, which has become a classic piece of audio history. Captured in the recording were both Morrison’s accurate observations and his emotional reactions to what he was witnessing, including a tear-choked “Oh, the humanity!” At the time, Morrison thought everyone on board had died, which was the source of his outburst; in fact, 62 of the 97 people on the airship survived.
Now, this guy won’t be eaten because the monster hates Cajun food. Blackened.
Cajun cuisine, popularized by Louisiana chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author Paul Prudhomme (1940-2015), involves relatively simple but spicy dishes that feature onion, bell peppers, celery, rice, shrimp, and pork sausage as key ingredients. Blackening involves fish or other meat dipped in butter, dredged in spices, and then seared on a very hot cast iron skillet, creating a black crust on the outside. Blackening was a regional and fairly obscure technique that became wildly popular nationwide in the 1980s, thanks again to Prudhomme.
Become a huge Larry Storch fan. Follow him around the country seeking his autograph. He’d be an expert on Larry Storch, able to answer any question about Larry Storch.
Larry Storch is an actor and voiceover artist known for his role as Corporal Randolph Agarn on the TV series F-Troop (1965-1967), and as the voice of Koko the Clown.
He’s a closet Luddite, this guy.
In the 19th century in England, as increased mechanization was proving a problem to skilled craftspeople, there arose a group known as the Luddites. Made up chiefly of aforementioned skilled craftspeople, the groups rioted and smashed textile machinery that was threatening their livelihood. They were named after their (probably mythical) leader Ned Ludd. They were perceived as enough of a threat to the existing order that many of them were hanged or transported to penal colonies overseas.
Another frustrated IBM PC user.
International Business Machines Corporation, or IBM, is a huge American/multinational corporation that makes and sells computer hardware, software, and consulting services for businesses of all sizes. They were an early marketer of the personal computer, and software and components that were compatible with their products dominated the marketplace in the 1980s. Although IBM PCs were very successful, not everybody was in love with them, or IBM’s marketing strategies. Though competing Apple products were more expensive and proprietary, they enjoyed a reputation of being vastly more user friendly than IBM machines.
Hey, hey, take it easy! Roger Corman needs to use this set later.
Roger Corman is the director of countless B-movies, including Show 806, The Undead.
The Jack Nicholson courteous driver school.
In 1994, actor Jack Nicholson got P.O.ed at another driver and hammered on the roof and the windshield of the person’s Mercedes with one of his golf clubs. When asked if he’d used a wood, Nicholson replied, “No, a 5-iron. You think I’m crazy?”
After his release, Stacey Koon gets a job at Cray Computer.
Stacey Koon was one of the four LA police officers who assaulted motorist Rodney King in 1991, a beating that was tape-recorded by a bystander and that shocked the nation. His acquittal by a jury of Simi Valley residents touched off the Los Angeles riots of 1992. The officers were then brought up on federal charges of violating King’s civil rights and were convicted. Koon was sentenced to 30 months in prison. Cray Inc. is a company that makes supercomputers used by scientific laboratories and so forth.
Forgive me, Bradford, for I have failed.
A number of religions have a tradition of verbally confessing one’s sins. In the Catholic Church, the ritual of confession involves making the sign of the cross and saying to the priest, “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been [X] days since my last confession. I accuse myself of the following sins.”
Not quite as pithy as “Either these curtains go or I do,” but still, it was the best he could do.
According to some sources, Victorian poet and playwright Oscar Wilde’s last words were “Either those curtains go or I do.” Other versions give conflicting accounts of his last words: “Either that wallpaper goes or I do,” or “I suppose I shall have to die beyond my means.”
Keep watching the skies! And watch what you eat, but eat all you take!
A reference to the 1951 film The Thing from Another World, in which Ned “Scotty” Scott begs us all to "Watch the skies, everywhere, keep looking! Keep watching the skies!"
I've been to one state fair, a rodeo, and that's the stupidest thing I've ever seen.
A paraphrase of a line from the 1964 film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb: "Well, I've been to one world fair, a picnic, and a rodeo, and that's the stupidest thing I ever heard come over a set of earphones." (Thanks to Kurt Steidl for this reference.)