619: Red Zone Cuba
by Chris Baumgartner
Hey, “Posture Pals” was the definitive last word on posture.
“Posture Pals” was a short that aired as part of Show 320, The Unearthly.
Did ancient Toastmasters make this film?
A riff on the theory that intelligent extraterrestrial beings visited Earth in prehistory and may have influenced human culture, technology, and religion. The term “ancient astronauts” was coined by Swiss author Erich Von Daniken in his popular 1968 book Chariots of the Gods?, in which he postulated that the pyramids of ancient Egypt were built with extraterrestrial assistance. In the 1970s and 1980s, “documentary” TV series such as In Search of … (Syndication, 1977-1982) hammered away at the ancient astronaut theory and raised lots of open-ended questions about what ancient astronauts may or may not have done. Toastmasters is an international organization dedicated to helping its members master the art of public speaking; at a typical meeting, members give short impromptu speeches, longer prepared speeches, practice conducting meetings, and receive feedback from their fellow members.
Professor Buehler’s Day Off.
The comedy movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) featured a day in the life of a serendipitous high school student who skips school to go on a risk-filled adventure with his friends in Chicago. It stared Matthew Broderick and was directed by John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Home Alone).
The eyes of Kenneth Mars.
The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978) was a thriller directed by Irvin Kershner (The Empire Strikes Back) that featured Faye Dunaway in the title role. Veteran actor Kenneth Mars (1935-2011) is easily recognizable in his role as Inspector Kemp in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein or as Otto, the hotel manager on Malcolm in the Middle.
I like this one, ‘cause it’s whiter.
The Clark doll experiments (1939) proved that African-American children showed a bias toward Caucasian dolls, particularly in segregated areas of the country. (The dolls were identical except for skin color). The experiment was cited during the famous civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education, as an argument that separate-but-equal schooling should be against the law.
Yes, that’s Eisenhower’s America.
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) was the Supreme Allied Commander in World War II, and president of the United States from 1953-1961, during much of the “Baby Boom” of the post-WWII era. Moderate economic conditions prevailed, which allowed more Americans to own a home, support a family, and pursue a version of the American Dream that is frequently branded as overly materialistic.
Now you’re ready to rub out Sonny Corleone.
Santino “Sonny” Corleone is a character in Mario Puzo’s 1969 novel The Godfather and its 1972 film adaptation; he is killed by a rival Mafia in a bloody, vendetta-style execution.
“Why?” Because we like you.
The Mickey Mouse Club (1955-1958) was a TV series that closed each episode with club members singing the song “Ending With Cheers,” in which the letters “M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E” were each assigned a special sentiment, with “Y” being, “Because we like you.”
It’s the Village of the Damned.
Village of the Damned (1960) was an eerie science-fiction movie adaptation of The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham. Residents of an English village were mysteriously put to sleep and their women impregnated, causing them to give simultaneous birth to nearly identical children with odd powers, possibly of extraterrestrial origin.
He’s got Patty Duke’s dad in his contact lens.
The Patty Duke Show (1963-1966) featured Patty Duke (1946-2016) in dual roles as teenager Cathy Lane and her identical twin cousin Patty; it also starred William Schallert in the dual roles of Patty’s dad as well as Cathy’s rarely seen father.
What if you’re Robert Reich?
Robert Reich was the secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton. In post-political life, he became a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, an author, a political speaker, and a blogger. He is famously short, standing 4-foot-10.
America First was an anti-war movement started in 1940 dedicated to keeping the United States out of World War II. At its peak it boasted more than 800,000 members, but it formally dissolved after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Women be different than men.
An imitation of comedian David “Sinbad” Adkins, who performed stand-up comedy in clubs in the mid-1980s, getting his big break when he appeared on the talent show Star Search. Although never a winner, he managed to reach the finals seven times. He eventually starred in his own TV sitcom, The Sinbad Show (1993-1994).
[Sung.] Wouldn’t it be loverly …
A line from the song “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” from the musical My Fair Lady.
[Sung.] Hi-yo-ta-ho Ha!
A line from the song “Ride of the Valkyries” from Richard Wagner’s opera Die Walkure, which is the second of four operas comprising “The Ring of the Neibelung” series. First performed in 1870, “Ride of the Valkyries” reached a new audience in 1979 when it was used to great dramatic effect in the famous helicopter attack sequence in the film Apocalypse Now.
Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) was the supreme leader of Italy from 1922 until his execution in 1945. Mussolini helped form the National Fascist Party in 1919. He became widely known as “Il Duce” (The Leader) after his successful role in stabilizing the economy following his promotion to supreme leader by the former king of Italy. He later allied with the Nazis.
Is your speech over, Mr. Johnson? Good.
Lyndon B. Johnson (1906-1973) was the 36th president of the United States, serving from November 1963, when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, until Nixon succeeded him in January 1969.
Yeah, that’s it, baby, shake that moneymaker!
“Shake Your Moneymaker” is a 1961 blues song by Elmore James; it is also the title of a 1990 album (Shake Your Money Maker) by the Black Crowes. The Black Crowes have covered James’s song frequently in live performances, but it does not appear on the album.
[Hummed.] Theme from My Three Sons.
Tom is singing the theme to the TV series My Three Sons (1960-1972). It starred Fred MacMurray as a widowed aircraft engineer struggling to raise his three boys. The opening credits featured an animation of three pairs of pantlegs and shoes, seen from the knees down, shifting position and tapping in time to the music.
Except by Denny Dillon.
Denise “Denny” Dillon is an American comedian; she was a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live during the 1980-1981 season and had a supporting role in the HBO comedy series Dream On (1990-1996).
John Carradine for Viceroy, Sal Mineo for Viceroy.
Viceroy is a brand of cigarettes manufactured by Brown & Williamson. Sal Mineo (1939-1976) was a doe-eyed teen movie idol during the late 1950s; he was widely praised for his role opposite James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (1955).
Choo Choo Charlie was my name.
Choo Choo Charlie was an engineer who kept his train running with Good & Plenty in an ad campaign for the Hershey’s candy. The ads ran on radio in the 1950s; in the 1960s Charlie appeared in animated TV commercials as well. The jingle went: “Once upon a time there was an engineer/Choo Choo Charlie was his name, we hear/He had an engine and he sure had fun/He used Good & Plenty candy to make his train run.”
Then I joined the Crash Test Dummies.
The Crash Test Dummies are an alt.-rock band from Canada popular during the 1990s; their biggest hit was 1993’s “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm.”
Kid looks like a reporter from the Catholic Digest.
Catholic Digest is a monthly magazine for American Roman Catholics. It is published by Bayard Presse.
John makes Keith Richards look dewy.
Keith Richards is the leathery-faced guitarist and songwriter for the rock-and-roll group The Rolling Stones.
But there’s always a stop in Wausau.
Wausau is a city in central Wisconsin. The greater Wausau metropolitan area has a population of about 135,000. After the Vietnam War, the city experienced a significant influx of Hmong refugees, who settled in the area; Wausau now has one of the largest populations of Hmong immigrants in Wisconsin.
The red zone is for Cuba and un-Cuba only.
The “white zone” is a painted curb area at the airport that allows cars to pull up and offload passengers and luggage. It was featured in the Frank Zappa song “The Central Scrutinizer,” which appears on the album Joe’s Garage Act 1. Also, in a beloved bit during the opening credits of the 1980 comedy movie Airplane!, two airport public address announcers get into an escalating argument over “red zone vs. white zone.” The voice actors for that bit were, in real life, a married couple who worked as announcers for airports.
You know, I’ve got an oily Cuba zone.
The “T-zone” is the area formed by the forehead, nose, and mouth—the term was coined by the beauty industry to encourage women to moisturize, de-oil, or whatever other processes would lead them to spend more money on beauty products.
Coleman Francis is Curly Howard, in “The Fugitive.” –Hey, Moe.
Curly Howard (1903-1952), along with his brothers Moe and Shemp Howard, was one of the Three Stooges comedy team. 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 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.”
This was just after he was drained of life by the succubus.
A succubus is a mythical female demon who sleeps with men and drains them of life.
Boy, they don’t call John Carradine “The Voice” for nothing. –Oh, to be blessed with an instrument like that.
“The Voice” was in fact one of many nicknames assigned to crooner Frank Sinatra.
He’s trying to sneak into China.
The Great Wall of China was originally built more than two thousand years ago by Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of China during the Qin (Ch’in) Dynasty using slave laborers, criminals, and conscript soldiers.
Shake it. Whoa, get down now, boogie man, play that funky music.
“Play That Funky Music” is a 1976 song written by Robert Parissi and recorded by his band Wild Cherry. It hit number one on the charts and came in at number 75 in Billboard’s Greatest Songs of All Time. Sample lyrics: “Yeah, they was dancin’ and singin’ and movin’ to the groovin’/And just when it hit me somebody turned around and shouted/Play that funky music white boy/Play that funky music right.”
[Sung.] Drink Night Train, go to the basketball game, throw up under the bleachers ...
Night Train Express, usually abbreviated to Night Train, is a low-end fortified wine produced by E&J Gallo Winery (although the label is strangely silent on that point). It contains 17.5 percent alcohol by volume. Like other fortified wines, Night Train is favored by the homeless, students, and others looking for a cheap drunk.
Moe’s gonna kill me, ow ow ow.
See note on Curly Howard, above.
Lord be with you.
A paraphrase of lines from the Roman Catholic Mass, specifically the Anglican form of the Roman Rite. The priest recites “The Lord be with you,” to which the worshippers respond “And also with you.” In 2008 the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops changed the text: now the response to “The Lord be with you” is “And with your spirit.”
[Sung.] This is my country.
“This Is My Country” is a popular patriotic song written in 1940 by Don Raye and Al Jacobs. It is often played by marching bands at patriotic events. Sample lyrics: “I pledge thee my allegiance/America the bold/For this is my country/To have and to hold.”
So it’s martial law in Rat’s Ass, Missouri.
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.
Damn tire changers!
A riff on Show 418, Attack of the (the) Eye Creatures, and that movie’s grumpy old man continually trying to assassinate those “dang smoochers on my property.”
Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier are in there already.
The film The Defiant Ones (1958) is about two escaped prisoners, one black and one white, who are shackled to each other and must work together to elude their pursuers.
Snausages ... Ow! My area! Thanks, now I’m barren.
Snausages are a bite-sized dog treat shaped like tiny cocktail weenies. They are available in several flavors: beef, beef and cheese, and bacon and cheese.
[Sung.] Running down the road, trying to loosen my load, I’ve got Coleman Francis on my mind.
The Eagles’ 1972 hit song “Take it Easy” was written by Jackson Brown and his neighbor and Eagles founding member Glen Frey. It was their first hit single and charted at number 12. Sample lyrics: "Well I’m a-runnin’ down the road, tryin’ to loosen my load/I’ve got seven women on my mind/Four that want to own me, two that want to stone me/One says she’s a friend of mine."
Wub wub wub wub wub.
See note on Curly Howard, above.
Anyone for tiramisu?
Tiramisu (Italian for “pick me up”) is a popular dessert item. There are many variations, but it’s basically layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers alternated with layers of a very fluffy, custard-like mixture of eggs, sugar, and mascarpone cheese flavored with cocoa.
Buford Pusser, walking dense.
Walking Tall (1973) starred Joe Don “Mitchell” Baker as bat-wielding Sherriff Buford Pusser. Pusser is a wrestler who moves to Tennessee with his wife. He becomes a victim of the graft and corruption he finds all around him, runs for sheriff, and proceeds to take revenge. With a bat.
Do you provide a service of some sort?
The TV game show What’s My Line? (CBS, 1950-1967) involved a panel of celebrities trying to guess contestants’ occupations. They did this by asking many questions similar to this one and using the process of elimination.
Alan Hale Jr. played Jonas “The Skipper” Grumby on the TV series Gilligan’s Island (1964-1967).
He’s a regular Mycroft Holmes.
Mycroft Holmes is seven years older than his brother, the great fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, created by Arthur Conan Doyle. He appears in two stories, “The Greek Interpreter” and “The Bruce-Partington Plans.” Sherlock considers him brilliant, but fat and lazy.
US Air needs to update a bit.
US Airways is a discount airline acquired by America West in 2005. It continues to rank at the bottom of consumer surveys.
Suddenly it’s The Best Years of Our Lives.
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) is a movie about World War II veterans returning home to find their world has significantly changed.
Buddy Hackett (1924-2003) was a nightclub comedian and actor who had a huge show in Las Vegas for many years, where he was one of its most successful entertainers. He was known for his vaguely off-color comedy routines.
It’s Petey the Plane! –Hey, Petey!
A reference to Show 609, The Skydivers.
My nose gear feels mushy.
A reference to Show 614, San Francisco International, and pilot David Hartman’s repeated assertion, as he stalls for time in a tense hostage situation, that the nose wheel of the airliner he’s captaining feels “mushy.”
[Hummed] Dah, da da da …
A reference to Show 612, The Starfighters.
Look, a soccer team.
The amazing and true story of the crash and survival of a planeload of Uruguayan soccer players into the remote Andes mountains, and their survival by extreme means, including cannibalism, was dramatized in the 1993 movie Alive.
I can’t handle the truth.
“You can’t handle the truth!” was shouted by Jack Nicholson in the movie A Few Good Men (1992).
Hey, quit bilocating.
Bilocation is an alleged psychic phenomenon: the state of being or ability to be in two places at the same time.
[Sung.] You can take Salem out of the country but, DING, you can’t take the country out of Salem.
This was an advertising slogan for Salem cigarettes.
I think we’re being watched by a Winslow Homer painting.
American landscape painter and printmaker Winslow Homer (1836-1910) is best known for his paintings of ocean scenes.
Alive with pleasure.
Made by the Lorillard Tobacco Company and introduced in 1957, in the 1970s Newport cigarettes deftly skirted health and addiction issues with advertising showing active young people hiking, camping, etc., with the slogan “Alive with pleasure. After all, if smoking isn’t a pleasure, why bother?” Deep trivia: In 2013, courts awarded $35 million to the family of a Boston woman in a lawsuit that claimed free Newport cigarettes were handed out to children in low-income, mostly black neighborhoods; the woman, who died of lung cancer, claimed she got free cigarettes from the age of nine and began smoking at thirteen.
“Their sugar mill was taken away.” Now it’s a NutraSweet mill.
NutraSweet (aspartame) is an artificial sweetener, discovered in 1965. It is often contained in “the blue packet” at restaurants.
“Guess I’m a dreamer.” Montreal.
“I’m a dreamer … Montreal” is a line from the Marx Brothers movie Animal Crackers (1930).
Ah, I know—this is the Gomer Pyle exhibit at Filmwaysland.
Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. was a TV series starring Jim Nabors as the title character; it aired from 1964 to 1970. It was a spinoff of The Andy Griffith Show, which had featured Pyle as a character for two seasons while the actor who played Floyd the Barber was ill. Filmways is a TV and film production company founded in 1958; it was the company behind Green Acres, Petticoat Junction, and The Beverly Hillbillies, among others; today the company is owned by MGM. Disneyland is a world-famous theme park resort in Anaheim, California.
Full Metal Curly.
See note on Curly Howard, above. The 1987 movie Full Metal Jacket, directed by Stanley Kubrick, followed a squad of Marines through training for combat in Vietnam under a tough drill sergeant, played by R. Lee Ermey.
We’ve got the gravel pit till noon, and then the Sandinistas are scheduled.
The Sandinista National Liberation Front is a socialist political party in Nicaragua, who overthrew the government in a violent coup in 1979. The U.S. supported various opposing groups known as the Contras throughout the 1980s (this was the period of the Iran-Contra scandal). In 1990 the Sandinistas lost control of the government to an opposing party in democratic elections, but they remained a strong political power in Nicaragua.
Hey, Van Cliburn.
Van Cliburn (1934-2013) was a virtuoso American pianist. In 1958 he won the first ever international Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, at the height of the Cold War, a feat that was so celebrated that on his return to New York he was honored with a ticker tape parade.
A riff on MST3K uber-catchphrase “Hi-keeba!”, which originated in Show 104, Women of the Prehistoric Planet.
Castro doesn’t stand a chance.
Fidel Castro (1922-2016) was the longtime socialist leader of Cuba. After his revolutionary army took power from dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959, he began cutting rents for the poor, nationalizing industries, accepting aid from the Soviet Union, and in general getting up the nose of the stridently anti-Communist United States.
It’s the Shining Path fantasy camp.
Shining Path is a Maoist movement in Peru dedicated to violent revolution. It was founded in 1980. Because of its brutal tactics, it is widely considered a terrorist organization.
Les Steckel begins training camp.
Les Steckel is a former U.S. Marine who served in Vietnam. He replaced the legendary Bud Grant as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings in 1984. His season record was 3-13. He was not invited to return.
We do more before noon than most people do before ten!
The U.S. Army’s recruiting slogan in the 1980s was “We do more before 9 a.m. than most people do all day,” often with the “Be All You Can Be” music behind it.
It was nice of Mrs. Dimmock to let them use her back yard.
In the 1969 film What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice?, Geraldine Page plays Mrs. Marrable, a widow who murders a succession of housekeepers for their money and buries them in the back yard. Ruth Gordon plays Mrs. Dimmock, who poses as her latest housekeeper to discover the truth. (Thanks to J.H. for this reference.)
Hey, where Tom Arnold lives now.
Actor/writer/producer Tom Arnold is the former husband of standup comedian and actress Roseanne Barr.
Yahtzee is a popular dice game from Milton Bradley/Hasbro.
Hey, it’s Fee Waybill.
Fee Waybill is the lead singer of the ’80s rock group The Tubes. They had a respectable hit with “Talk To Ya Later.”
Maybe play some freeze tag?
In freeze tag, if you’re “It” and you tag someone, that player must remain “frozen” unless freed by another untagged player. When everyone is frozen, the game is over.
It’s the ghost brigade.
Ghost Brigade (1993) was a supernatural thriller starring Martin Sheen set in the Civil War. A voodoo entity begins raising the dead of both armies in an attempt to conquer the world.
[Sung.] From the shores of Albuquerque …
A reference to the U.S. “Marines’ Hymn,” which begins, “From the halls of Montezuma/To the shores of Tripoli/We fight our country’s battles/In the air, on land, and sea …”
This is the Cuba-Bemidji border.
The small lakeside town of Bemidji, Minnesota, sports a pair of giant statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. You can’t miss them.
Yes, that’s really Castro.
See note on Fidel Castro, above.
Good evening, Mr. Doobie Brother.
The Doobie Brothers are an American rock band that enjoyed their greatest success in the 1970s, and as of 2016 continue to record and tour. Specifically, this is probably a reference to bearded vocalist Michael McDonald, who was lead singer from 1975 through 1987, and has returned to perform with the band regularly on various tours and reunions.
That’s Castro, you know.
See note on Fidel Castro, above.
That’s either Castro or Stuart Margolin.
See note on Fidel Castro, above. Emmy Award-winning actor Stuart Margolin is probably best known as Evelyn “Angel” Martin, ex-con and stoolie, on the TV series The Rockford Files (1974-1980).
My Florsheims are getting muddy.
Florsheim is a respected men’s leather dress shoe company based in Wisconsin.
[Sung.] Hey hey, we’re the Monkees.
Crow is singing the title theme from The Monkees TV show (1966-1968). Sample lyrics: “Hey hey, we’re the Monkees/And people say we monkey around/But we’re too busy singing/To put anybody down.”
Was it a good idea to invade the Bay of Pigs again so soon after the last time?
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.
Coleman got the bunny cliff.
In the sport of snow skiing, a “bunny slope” is a particularly easy and relatively safe slope for beginning skiers to get the hang of things.
The Mounds View Junior High School production of The Guns of Navarone.
Mounds View is a small town near St. Paul, Minnesota. The Guns of Navarone (1961) is a World War II action thriller starring Gregory Peck and David Niven.
It’s the Battle of the Network Stars.
Battle of the Network Stars was an annual television special that ran from 1976-1984. It featured teams of actors competing in various events.
I’m guessing that job at Denny’s doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?
Denny’s is a budget chain of restaurants found across the length and breadth of this fair land. It was first founded in 1953 by Richard Jezak and Harold Butler as Denny’s Doughnuts in Lakewood, California.
Charo could have planned this invasion better.
The beautiful and exciting Charo is a singer, actress, and flamenco guitarist originally from Spain. She was a regular on The Hollywood Squares during the 1970s and appeared frequently on The Love Boat. She now performs regularly in Las Vegas.
[Sung.] Cockles and mussels, alive, alive-o.
This is the chorus from the Irish folk song “Sweet Molly Malone” by James Yorkston.
The A-Team was a TV series that aired from 1983-1986. It starred George Peppard as the leader of a group of unjustly convicted veterans who try to evade the MPs while helping people with their problems. Despite spectacularly violent gun battles and frequent explosions, no one ever seemed to get hurt.
Castro lives above a hardware store.
See note on Fidel Castro, above.
Wow, can you imagine being Castro and seeing that force swarming up at ya?
See note on Fidel Castro, above.
By some dreadful miscalculation, they’ve taken over the Old Course at St. Andrews.
St. Andrews is a venerable golf course in Scotland. The original course consisted of twenty-two holes, which was shortened to eighteen in 1764, thus creating the first modern golf course. The Old Course is still available for play, hosting the Open Championship in 2005.
This is smart. They’re running right up Castro’s driveway. –Castro’s out raking leaves.
See note on Fidel Castro, above.
This movie helped people work through their feelings about the Bay of Pigs.
See note on Bay of Pigs, above.
And thus, the Battle of Door County raged on.
Door County, Wisconsin, comprises a peninsula and islands on western Lake Michigan. It is a popular vacation destination known for its quaint shops and lodgings, and its boiled fish dinners. The “battle” may be a reference to the “Battle of Egg Harbor,” which took place, very tongue in cheek, in 1825, when a flotilla of several fur traders were sailing boats back from Mackinac Island and decided to race to see who could land in the then-unnamed harbor first. Soon hardtack biscuits and then eggs were pelting between the boats as they jockeyed for advantage; as legend has it, the harbor takes its name from this epic clash. Egg Harbor today is a small resort village in the heart of Door County. (Thanks to MC for the Egg Harbor reference.)
He’s practically begging to be fragged.
“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.
Laura Petrie, revolutionary.
Laura Petrie was the wife of Rob Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show, a sitcom that ran from 1961-1966. The part was played by Mary Tyler Moore (1936-2017). She was known for her flashy capri pants, which caused quite a storm of controversy when they first made an appearance.
They captured the Frito Bandito.
The Frito Bandito was the advertising mascot for Frito brand corn chips from 1967-1971. A small cartoon Mexican bandito with a thick, stereotypical accent, he constantly plotted to steal people’s chips. Frito eventually pulled the character under pressure from Latino activist groups.
Oh, that Patty Hearst is at it again. Tania …
Patty Hearst is the granddaughter of tycoon publisher William Randolph Hearst. She was kidnapped and brainwashed by a militant guerrilla group, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and adopted the new name of “Tania.” After she helped the group rob a bank at gunpoint, she was arrested and charged with bank robbery. Despite testimony that she was a victim of brainwashing, she was convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison; President Jimmy Carter later commuted the sentence and she was released after 22 months.
Hey, Tony, you bring back The Book of Questions?
The Book of Questions is a four-volume set of books by biophysicist and entrepreneur Gregory Stock. Each is a collection of hypothetical situations that raise and examine moral and ethical questions.
I think the phrase “ugly American” is unfair, how about you?
“The Ugly American” is an epithet applied to the stereotypically brash, rude, demanding, egotistical American abroad. It is derived from the title of a 1958 novel by William Lederer and Eugene Burdick. Amusingly, the title character was ugly only in the physical sense; his behavior was the opposite of what the phrase has come to imply.
It’s Mel Blanc.
Mel Blanc (1908-1989) was a renowned Warner Bros. voiceover artist who worked on many of their classic animated shorts. His characters included Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Pepe le Pew, and others.
The stinky-stank redemption.
The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 movie starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman as inmates serving life sentences in a state prison in Maine. Robbins’ character (spoiler alert) eventually escapes after digging a hole through the wall of his cell.
You just couldn’t lose money on a Bay of Pigs movie at this time. The country was Bay of Pigs crazy.
See note on Bay of Pigs, above.
With ya, brother. Bay of Pigs. Right on.
See note on Bay of Pigs, above.
Nelson Ackerman Eddy (1901-1967) was a popular singer with an opera-like baritone quality.
The loons, Norman, listen to the loons!
A line from the film On Golden Pond (1981), starring Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn.
The Bridges of Madison Cuba.
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.
It’s Nixon! –Just wait till Bebe hears about this.
Bebe Rebozo (1912-1998) was a Cuban-American banker who was a close friend of disgraced President Richard M. Nixon for forty years. Rebozo was never a policy adviser to Nixon, but Nixon frequently visited him and played golf with him. It was at Rebozo’s house in Key Biscayne that Nixon was first informed of the Watergate break-in, and Rebozo was with Nixon the night he decided to resign the presidency. Rebozo continued to defend his friend against criticism even after Nixon resigned.
His face was tempered by war.
A reference to President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, in which he said that his was a generation that had been “tempered by war”; Kennedy, of course, authorized the Bay of Pigs invasion.
The Cubans in this movie sound like the grown-ups on Peanuts.
“Peanuts” is a comic strip created by Charles Schulz (1922-2000). The strip was first published in 1950 and was later turned into several successful television specials. In the specials, the voices of all the adults are heard only as a sort of muted, duck-like squawk.
Michelle Shocked is an alternative folk singer who was popular on college radio in the late 1980s.
You seen this woman? Goes by Mary, a.k.a. “The Virgin.”
According to Christian dogma, Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, was a virgin when she conceived the son of God.
I’ve never seen Curly so down.
See note on Curly Howard, above.
The Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is the Puritan minister who commits adultery with Hester Prynne in the 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. While he torments himself over his guilt, he is perfectly happy to let her carry the disapproval of the community by keeping his identity a secret.
Is this a bad time to ask for a Cuba Libre?
A Cuba Libre is a cocktail, also known as a rum and coke with a lime wedge.
My last smoke is a menthol. Ick.
Menthol cigarettes were introduced in 1924 by several brands. An additive derived from peppermint oil stimulates the cold sense of the tongue, which gives the false impression of cooling.
Mentos, a brand of chewy mint candies, ran a series of commercials in the 1990s featuring people having the guts to do really annoying things after downing a Mentos. The jingle went, in part, like this: “Fresh goes better, Mentos freshness, fresh goes better with Mentos, fresh and full of life!” Mentos was a big advertiser during MST3K’s Comedy Central years, and the ads were parodied in a host segment in Show 522, Teen-age Crime Wave, complete with a song: “Mystos.”
Missed me, missed me, now you have to kiss me.
A schoolyard taunt, called out when one child tries to hit another child (like with a ball) but fails.
I’m George Takei.
George Takei played Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu on the original Star Trek television show (1966-1969).
I’m dying in a rush.
A reference to Show 615, Kitten with a Whip.
Curious George goes to Cuba.
The adventures of the inquisitive monkey, Curious George, and his friend, the Man in the Yellow Hat, are the subject of a series of children’s books by H.A. Rey.
“Must be midnight.” We’re gonna let it all hang down.
A line from the song “After Midnight,” written by J.J. Cale and popularized by Eric Clapton. Sample lyrics: “After midnight, we’re gonna let it all hang down/After midnight, we’re gonna chugalug and shout …”
[Peanuts grownup talk.]
See above note.
“Somebody get me some water.” I shot a man at the Mexican border.
A reference to the Eddie Money song “Gimme Some Water.” Sample lyrics: “Gimme some water/Cause I shot a man/On the Mexican border/Cool, cool water/Gimme some water/I need a little water ...”
“Guard!” It’s me, Margaret.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is a children’s book by Judy Blume, about a young girl dealing with her spiritual doubts and her burgeoning adolescence.
He got boogie fever.
“Boogie Fever,” by The Sylvers, was a number one hit song in 1975. Sample lyrics: “She’s got the boogie fever/She likes to boogie down/Boogie fever/I think it’s going around.”
It's not without its charm.
A line from the "Flaming Moe's" episode of The Simpsons, in which Homer invents a drink that makes Moe's Tavern wildly successful. "It's not without its charm" is what Moe says of the drink before Homer lights it on fire; afterwards, Moe says wonderingly, "It's like there's a party in my mouth, and everyone's invited!" (Thanks to Jeff Megapolon for this reference.)
Castro looks like Toulouse-Lautrec.
See note on Fidel Castro, above. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) was a bearded, diminutive French painter. His paintings of Parisian nightclubs are iconic.
Why’d they bring Dian Fossey?
The gorilla anthropologist Dian Fossey (1932-1985) was featured in several popular 1970s nature documentaries and was the author of the best-selling book Gorillas in the Mist. She lived with the apes and socialized with them during her studies. She fought a lifelong battle against poachers; she was murdered in Rwanda in 1985, and poachers may have killed her—the crime was never solved.
Fidel had to go potty behind a tree.
See note on Fidel Castro, above.
I was in Skydivers, you know.
Show 609, The Skydivers, was also directed by Coleman Francis.
I’m a bad boy.
“I’m a bad boy” was Lou Costello’s catchphrase (of Abbott & Costello fame). Abbott & 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. They were known for snappy routines like their world-famous “Who’s on First?”
What you talkin’ bout, Willis?
This is the catchphrase of diminutive actor Gary Coleman on the TV series Diff’rent Strokes, which aired from 1978-1986.
Things you’d say to a guard. Things in a prison. Pass … Pass …
The $10,000 Pyramid, a game show hosted by Dick Clark, featured couples guessing general categories by having one member of the pair list things that belonged in the category; if the other half of the team was having trouble with a category, he or she could choose to "pass" over it temporarily and come back to it once they had solved the remainder of the puzzles in the time allotted. (Thanks to Kevin McLaughlin for this reference.)
Things you get from a tap. Things you call your grandpa. Thing you … Move on, please.
See previous note.
Escape from Green Acres.
Green Acres was a TV sitcom that ran from 1965 to 1971. It starred Eva Gabor (1919-1995) as Lisa Douglas, the socialite wife of an attorney who tries to adapt to life in the rural town of Hooterville.
[Sung.] “Night and Day.”
The jazz vocal standard “Night and Day” was written by Cole Porter.
The Bronko Nagurski gang.
Bronislau “Bronko” Nagurski (1908-1990) was a renowned football player for the University of Minnesota in the 1920s, and later for the Chicago Bears. Football legend Red Grange called Nagurski “the best football player of all time.”
Today’s guard wears stylish flares.
“Flares” is another name for bell-bottomed pants.
A fortune in pitchblende is riding on this scene.
Pitchblende is an old name for what is now called uraninite, a uranium-rich, and highly radioactive, mineral and ore.
Fuzzy Thurston is The Fugitive.
Frederick Charles “Fuzzy” Thurston (1933-2014) played guard for the Green Bay Packers from 1959-1967. See note on The Fugitive, above.
Hey Moe! Moe!
See note on Curly Howard, above.
Don’t look at the camera, keep going!
In a scene in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now depicting a chaotic military operation, American soldiers encounter a TV news film crew, complete with an excitable director (played by Apocalypse director Francis Ford Coppola), who yells at them, “Don’t look at the camera! It’s for television! Keep going! Just go by … like you’re fighting!”
Wub wub wub wub.
See note on Curly Howard, above.
You know, I still like this movie better than Havana.
The movie Havana (1990), starring Robert Redford, was a box-office disaster, both critically and financially; it cost roughly $30 million to make and took in only $9 million.
In the sport of skeet shooting, small clay discs are launched into the air and shot down with shotguns. When a shooter is ready, he calls out “Pull!” to have the discs launched.
Next we visit lovely Busch Gardens.
Busch Gardens are amusement parks owned, as you might guess from the name, by Anheuser-Busch. There are two in the United States, one in Tampa Bay, Florida, with an African safari theme, and one in Virginia, with a European theme. There was an earlier one in Van Nuys, California, that closed in 1979, and a very short-lived one in Houston that closed in 1973 only two years after its grand opening. Sadly, free beer is no longer offered at the parks.
They should have tried to take over Belize, or Grand Cayman.
Belize is a country on Central America’s eastern Caribbean coast that borders Mexico and Guatemala. Grand Cayman is an island off the southern coast of Cuba. It is the largest of the three Cayman Islands and a popular site for tourism, as well as offshore banking.
So that’s tungsten. Thought it would be cooler.
Tungsten is an elemental metal used in high-temperature applications such as light bulb filaments. The filaments often reach 5000°F inside the glass vacuum bulb.
Under the spreading Coleman Francis the village smithy stands.
A reference to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “The Village Blacksmith,” about a blacksmith’s life being balanced between work and family. The actual line is, “Under a spreading chestnut tree/The village smithy stands;/The smith, a mighty man is he/With large and sinewy hands;/And the muscles of his brawny arms/Are strong as iron bands.”
Great. My Wall Street Journal.
The Wall Street Journal is a daily newspaper with a business and financial focus published by Dow Jones & Company. It has been published since 1889.
Gave myself a snuggy there.
A snuggy, also known as a wedgie, is a classic form of light bullying wherein a person’s underwear is forcibly pulled up by another person so that it becomes wedged between the butt cheeks.
I gotta get me a mechanical bull.
A mechanical bull is a machine that simulates the bucking and spinning motions of a rodeo bull or horse. Designed as a training device for rodeo competitors, in the 1980s mechanical bulls caught on as an amusement ride, and many were installed in western-themed bars and roadhouses, especially after the 1980 movie Urban Cowboy prominently featured one.
Location, location, location. –Just look at that curb appeal.
An old adage in the real estate biz maintains that “the three things that matter in property are location, location, location.” The earliest printed use of the phrase appears to be a 1926 real estate ad in the Chicago Tribune. “Curb appeal” refers to how nice a property looks from the street; cautious buyers know that curb appeal can be emphasized to cover up other flaws in a property.
We also have an omelet called “Supercalafragalisticexpialdelicious.”
“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" is a nonsense word meaning “fantastic,” used in the movie Mary Poppins (1964), along with a bouncy song of the same name.
We have a wonderful Oktoberfest frog leg.
Oktoberfest is a sixteen-day folk festival held annually in Munich, Germany, dating back to the early 1800s. Many other cities around the world hold similar festivals around the same time, which is actually the last two weeks of September, spilling into October. Traditional German foods (which do not generally include frog legs) and lots of beer are involved.
Apple’s Way is different than I remember.
The obscure, short-lived TV series Apple’s Way (1974-1975), from the creator of The Waltons, was about a modern family (the Apples) who move from Los Angeles to rural Iowa.
The legendary Singing Buick.
David Dunbar Buick (1854-1929), 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.
The lure of the siren.
In ancient Greek mythology, the sirens were female creatures who lured sailors to their remote island with their beautiful singing, causing them to crash upon the rocky cliffs and drown.
I heartily endorse throwing her down a well.
Art Linkletter (1912-2010) was a TV host known for such shows as People Are Funny and The Art Linkletter Show. He is perhaps best known for his segment “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” Milton Bradley’s Game of Life featured a picture of Linkletter saying, “I heartily endorse this game.”
Hey look, Tab Hunter lives here.
Tab Hunter is an actor and was a singer and teen idol in the 1950s. He had a 1957 No. 1 hit with the song “Young Love,” hosted an eponymous short-lived sitcom (1960-1961), and starred in more than forty films, including San Francisco International, which became Show 614.
Chinese fire drill.
Chinese fire drills were a prank popular in the 1960s, in which all the occupants in a car stopped at a red light would get out and run around the car before diving back in, not necessarily in their original seats.
This is cinéma vérité to the ultimate.
Cinéma vérité is a French style of documentary filmmaking that stresses truth and reality in film. John Cassavetes and Jean-Luc Goddard are both filmmakers who have been influenced by cinéma vérité.
Excuse me, is this the night train to Mundo Fine?
Night Train to Mundo Fine, which translates to “night train to the end of the world,” was an alternate title for Red Zone Cuba and remained the title of the James Carradine-crooned theme song.
They’ve stumbled into the end of Mod Squad.
The TV action series The Mod Squad (1968-1973) was about a trio of young, hip finks (Michael Cole, Peggy Lipton, and Clarence Williams III) who went undercover to solve crimes for the cops rather than go to jail themselves.
All this to get to the Hobo Gathering.
At Hobo Gatherings, former Depression-era rail-riding hobos and their fans come to meet and admire old trains. The largest such meeting is the National Hobo Convention, held every August in Britt, Iowa.
I bet they’re gonna pistol-whip Thomas the Tank Engine.
Thomas the Tank Engine is an anthropomorphized train created by W.V. Audry in his Railway Series of children’s books; the books were later turned into the successful kid’s TV show Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. He first appeared in print in 1946; the first episode of the TV series aired in Britain in 1984.
[Sung.] This train is bound for glory, this train …
“This Train Is Bound For Glory” was written by the American folk singer Woodie Guthrie. Guthrie also wrote “This Land Is Your Land.”
Shaft did it better.
Shaft was a black private dick that was a sex machine to all the chicks in three ‘70s blaxploitation films (Shaft, Shaft’s Big Score, and Shaft in Africa), played by Richard Roundtree.
I’m gonna open a Claire’s Boutique.
Claire’s stores sell cheap jewelry and accessories to young girls and teens; there are more than 3,000 locations worldwide.
That’s my Archie Fan Club ring.
A tchotchke exclusively available to members of the fan club for the comic strip “Archie,” by Archie Comics, founded in 1939.
It’s Dominick and Eugene and Curly.
Dominick and Eugene (1988) is a film about twin brothers (Ray Liotta and Tom Hulce), one of whom is mentally disabled from an accident. See note on Curly Howard, above.
And now a trip to Uncle Bob’s farm.
Show 607, Bloodlust, featured the short “Uncle Jim’s Dairy Farm.”
The Master says you can’t stay here.
A reference to Show 424, Manos: The Hands of Fate.
We now return to In Cold Blood, The Series.
In Cold Blood (1966) is a “nonfiction novel” by Truman Capote about the real-life murder of a Kansas farm family. It was made into a film starring Robert Blake in 1967.
My husband is Amanda Bearse.
Amanda Bearse is an actress best known for her role as neighbor Marcy D’Arcy on the TV sitcom Married … with Children (1987-1997). She is openly gay.
That’s why we have a picture of Gene Pitney on the mantle.
Gene Pitney (1940-2006) was a pop singer, best known for his song “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”
And to think that I was once Betty Boop.
Betty Boop was a popular cartoon character in the 1930s, when she appeared in a series of short cartoons by Max Fleischer. She was unusual for her time in that she was unabashedly feminine and sexual. She had a very high, squeaky voice in which she uttered her trademark “Boop-oop-a-doop!”
Yeah, great. Do you have any more Tuna Helper, ma’am?
Tuna Helper is a boxed dinner made by Betty Crocker; the idea is to add a can of tuna fish to the noodles and spices in the dinner to create a main dish.
The one who looks like Curly is so cute.
See note on Curly Howard, above.
Bet you he smells like Jack Del Rio’s jockstrap.
Jack Del Rio played linebacker for several professional football teams, including the Minnesota Vikings (1992-1995), and later became the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
[Sung.] Sleigh bells ringing and ding-ding-dinging and …
See previous note.
I have to pick up some waxworms.
Waxworms are the larvae of wax moths, which are parasites that live off bee colonies, making them pests as far as beekeepers are concerned. Waxworms are raised as food for terrarium pets such as lizards and turtles, as well as some pet birds.
Want a video? We’ve got some super-violent Asian triple-X cartoons.
Hentai is Japanese animated hardcore pornography. It typically uses the Manga style of drawing, with large eyes and cute faces.
[Sung.] Outside the snow was falling and reindeer calling …
See note on “Sleigh Ride,” above.
Okay, Coleman, we got Cheetos, but we’re not opening them until later, understood?
Cheetos are a brand of cheese-flavored snacks manufactured by Frito-Lay.
Did you get my Lactaid pills?
Lactaid is a trade name for dairy products made for individuals who are lactose intolerant. Lactaid pills are simply lactase enzymes to help them digest foods containing dairy.
Hymie! –I like being in a stakeout with you, Max.
Get Smart was a TV spy spoof that starred Don Adams as bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart. It ran from 1965-1970. Hymie, his robotic partner in many episodes, was played by Dick Gautier.
Can’t you just smell the tungsten?
See above note.
Have you guys ever read The Total Film-Maker by Coleman Francis?
The Total Film-Maker is a 1971 book by comedian, actor, and director Jerry Lewis. Written from audio recordings of Lewis teaching filmmaking at the University of Southern California, it covers all aspects of moviemaking, from budgeting to highly technical camera skills. The book itself is out of print and rare, with copies selling for hundreds of dollars, but in 2014 it was made available for free online.
Hey, anybody want to do some peyote and fly over canyons?
The peyote cactus is native to southern Texas and northern Mexico. It has hallucinogenic properties and is used in religious ceremonies of some Native American religions. The 1968 book The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, a supposedly nonfiction account of an American anthropologist’s apprenticeship under a Yaqui Indian “sorcerer,” brought peyote and its canyon-soaring properties to the popular consciousness.
It’s Westworld now.
Yul Brynner starred as a sixgun-slinging cyborg in the sci-fi techno-thriller Westworld (1973). It was written and directed by Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park).
Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were televangelists during the 1960s and 1970s. By the 1980s they had built the PTL (“Praise the Lord”) Network, a theme park called Heritage USA, and a satellite network. They lived lives of the utmost conspicuous consumption, paying themselves millions of dollars out of the money their operations pulled in. However, in 1987 revelations of sexual mischief destroyed their empire; fellow religious broadcaster Jerry Falwell referred to Bakker as a “cancer”; and in 1989 Bakker was convicted on fraud and racketeering charges (with much of the evidence supplied by Falwell). He served five years in prison, during which time Tammy divorced him. Bakker was paroled, remarried, and in 2003 went back on the air as the host of the Jim Bakker Show, filmed in his studio in Branson, Missouri. Tammy died of cancer in 2007.
I think this is taking place in Mordor.
Mordor is the blighted land ruled by the evil, god-like creature Sauron in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy trilogy The Lord of the Rings.
Tor no go back.
Tor Johnson (1903-1971) was an ex-wrestler and a staple of Ed Wood films. Tor appeared in several MST episodes, including Show 320, The Unearthly, and Show 621, The Beast of Yucca Flats, directed by Coleman Francis.
Scotty, beam us up.
A reference to Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott from the TV series Star Trek (1966-1969). The part was played by James Doohan (1920-2005).
A wild Curly can hit 30 miles per hour when threatened.
Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom is a nature program that first aired on NBC in 1963. It was hosted by Marlin Perkins and his assistant Jim Fowler. In the 1970s, the show moved into syndication and came to an end in 1988. It was revived in 2002 on the cable channel Animal Planet. Yes, it is still sponsored by the insurance company.
Looks like we caught us two of the Tungsten Trio.
See note on tungsten, above. The Kingston Trio was a popular folk music group during the 1960s, with such songs as “Tom Dooley” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”
I killed a cute little wabbit.
Elmer Fudd was a character in the Looney Tunes cartoons, a hunter usually pitted against Bugs Bunny. This may specifically be a reference to the cartoon What’s Opera, Doc?, at the end of which Elmer Fudd carries off the limp “corpse” of Bugs Bunny, singing mournfully.
Why is Phil Silvers rounding up corpses?
Phil Silvers (1911-1985) was a stage and screen comedian probably best remembered for his portrayal of the conniving Sergeant Ernie Bilko on The Phil Silvers Show, which aired from 1955-1959.
The Gene Krupa Band pulls into town.
Gene Krupa (1909-1973) was a jazz drummer under Benny Goodman, and later a bandleader credited with making drums a solo instrument in the big band sound.
Janet Reno’s moving in to end the film.
Janet Reno was the attorney general of the United States under President Bill Clinton, the first woman to hold that post. She was the subject of controversy for her handling of several crises, specifically her plan to secure the Mexican border, Operation Gatekeeper; the storming of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, which killed 80 people, including children; and the bitter custody battle over the young Cuban boy Elian Gonzalez.
Woodstock 3 draws a slim crowd.
The Woodstock Music & Art Fair was a three-day festival in August 1969, considered to be a seminal moment in pop culture and a generational touchstone. More than 500,000 concertgoers descended upon Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York, to hear musical acts including Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Who, and Jimi Hendrix. A 25th-anniversary concert, Woodstock ’94, drew an estimated 350,000 attendees; Woodstock 1999 drew 200,000 and was marred by oppressive heat, crime, violence, and bonfires gone wild.
Great job on the Bay of Pigs, honey.
See note on the Bay of Pigs, above.
The cast of How to Succeed in Business moves in.
The campy Broadway musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying had its debut in 1961. It featured actors Robert Morse and Charles Nelson Reilly.
The young, fresh fellows.
The Young Fresh Fellows are an alternative rock group formed in Seattle in 1981.
Mother of mercy, is this the end of Curly?
“Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?” are Edward G. Robinson’s famous dying words in the gangster pic Little Caesar (1931). See note on Curly Howard, above.
Huzzah! It’s gone.
“Huzzah” is an olde English exclamation, similar to “hurray,” that has been around since Shakespeare’s time.