811: parts: the clonus horror
by Sheba Sullivan
[Imitating.] I’m Myrl Schreib. I’ll paint any movie for forty-nine ninety-five.
Earl Scheib was a chain of automobile repair and painting garages founded in 1937. In a perpetually running series of radio and television ads, company founder Earl Scheib (1908-1992), who Mike is imitating here, would inform the audience who he was, and that he would “paint any car for twenty-nine ninety-five!” (The price gradually increased over the years.) The company closed in 2010.
Big boys don’t cry. Big boys don’t cry.
The whispered verse “Big boys don’t cry” is from the 1975 hit song “I’m Not in Love” by the British group 10cc. The voice belongs to the secretary who was working at the recording studio. The song was very unusual for the time, and was prepared using long taped vocal loops.
Bag your own people and save, at Supervalu.
Supervalu Inc. is a Minnesota-based chain of supermarkets.
Julia Child’s secret freezer.
Julia Child (1912-2004) was a television chef and writer who co-authored the cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which was commended in the 1960s for bringing rich, buttery French techniques to the average American household.
Sylvester Stallone is an action star whose films include Rocky (1976), Rambo: First Blood (1982), and Cobra (1986). This may be a reference to the movie Demolition Man (1993), in which his character is cryogenically frozen.
What really happened to Shields and Yarnell.
Shields and Yarnell (Robert Shields and Lorene Yarnell) were a mime/comedy/dance team who got their start on the streets of San Francisco during the hippie era. From 1977-1978 they had their own TV series, The Shields and Yarnell Show. They were married from 1972 to 1986, after which they still toured occasionally, while Shields sold jewelry and art in Sedona, Arizona, and Yarnell lived in Norway. She passed away in 2010.
Hooray for the '70s! –Shaun Cassidy for president! –We want Billy Beer!
Shaun Cassidy was a blond teen idol in the 1970s. He played one of the Hardy Boys on TV and is the son of Shirley “Mrs. Partridge” Jones. The brother of Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, Billy Carter (1937-1988) was a comically hapless fellow who urinated on the runway in front of the press and public at an Atlanta airport, took a $220,000 loan from Libya, and sold his own brand of alcoholic beverage, Billy Beer.
Thaw Master testing grounds.
The Thaw Master was as-seen-on-TV kitchenware sold in the 1990s; it was a metal board that claimed to defrost frozen food quickly, without cooking the edges, like a microwave would.
The first of many “Biography!” outbursts, this is an imitation of Peter Graves in his role as the host of the documentary show Biography on the A&E cable channel, in which he appeared from 1987-1994.
We want England Dan & John Ford Coley!
England Dan & John Ford Coley were a pop-rock duo in the 1970s whose biggest hit was 1976’s “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight.”
“You all know what I stand for!” Biography!
See previous note on Biography.
Cutting Medicare? What?
Medicare is the government-run health insurance program for people over 65. It was founded in 1966 and currently covers about 43 million Americans.
See note on Biography, above.
Tonight on Biography: the story of Julius Caesar. Tomorrow night: funny man Charlie Callas!
See note on Biography, above. Gaius Julius Caesar (100 B.C.E.-44 B.C.E.) was a powerful politician and general of the Roman Republic. When he was appointed to govern in modern-day northern Italy and southern France, he began an aggressive campaign to subjugate Gaul. This succeeded brilliantly (although his attempts to invade Britain failed), and his former ally Pompey, aided by the Senate, attempted to brand him a traitor. Caesar marched a legion back to Rome and began a four-year civil war with Pompey and the other hostile factions in the Senate, eventually defeating them and becoming the dictator of Rome. He was murdered by a group of senators who feared his monarchical powers, which were growing at the expense of theirs. Later, his grand-nephew and heir Octavian would follow through on his intentions and become the first Roman Emperor, Augustus, refashioning the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. Charlie Callas (1927-2011) was an actor and comedian who appeared in The Snoop Sisters and High Anxiety, among many others.
“That’s our boy.” Oh, it’s Peter Graves’s dad.
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 also hosted Biography, (see above note) a factoid which will soon be indelibly seared into your brain to, at least, the depths of your red nucleus.
Here we have Cheryl Tiegs in the lead. Shelley Hack second; Willie Aames and Lance Kerwin and the DeFranco Family bringing up the rear.
Cheryl Tiegs is a blond model and occasional actress who furbished several Sports Illustrated covers in the 1970s. Shelley Hack is an actress and model who appeared as a short-term Angel, Tiffany Welles, in the fourth season of Charlie’s Angels (1976-1981). Willie Aames is an actor who played sidekicks on the TV series Eight Is Enough and Charles in Charge. He has famously large and curly hair. Lance Kerwin is a TV actor who played the titular teenager in James at 15 (1977-1978); he also had a major role in the miniseries Salem’s Lot (1979). The DeFranco Family featuring Tony DeFranco was a ‘70s pop group featuring several teen heartthrobs that had a few hits, including “Heartbeat (It’s a Love Beat).”
Hey, I think they’re running to Elton John’s “Funeral for a Friend.”
Elton John is a flamboyant British pop singer and pianist known for such hits as “Bennie and the Jets” and “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.” He hit his peak of popularity during the 1970s. “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” (1978) opens with the portentous strains of synthesizer-organ music.
[Sung.] Koyaanisqatsi. –That’s good.
Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance is a 1983 film scored by minimalist composer Philip Glass and having no plot whatsoever—just a series of compelling visual images set to Glass’s music. The title track has a single lyric, “Koyaanisqatsi,” chanted by a deep, reverberating voice.
[Sung, to “The Duckworth Chant (Sound Off).”] I don’t know what you’ve been told, but new Adorn can really hold.
“The Duckworth Chant (Sound Off)” is a marching cadence used in branches of the United States armed forces. A 1944 credit merits it to a Private Willie Duckworth, a Black soldier serving in World War II. Adorn hairspray was a brand of aerosol hairspray popular during the 1970s.
Parts is parts.
“Parts is parts” was a phrase from a commercial for fast-food chain Wendy’s that ran from 1983 to 1984. In the ad, a southern-fried cashier tells a customer that, unlike Wendy’s chicken, the processed chicken parts used by competing restaurants come from “parts”; he is unable to elaborate any further, but one of the workers behind him helpfully pipes, “Different parts!”
Apparently e.e. cummings wrote it.
e.e. cummings (1894-1962) was an American poet known for his eccentric punctuation, capitalization, and placement of lines on the page.
Pablo Cruise concert tonight, pass it on.
Pablo Cruise is a San Francisco band best known for emblematically smooth 1970s hits like “Love Will Find a Way,” “Whatcha Gonna Do?”, and “Don’t Wanna Live Without It.”
Filmed at the Sydney Opera House high school.
The Sydney Opera House, located in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, is a world-famous performing arts center. Completed in 1973 and designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, it is easily recognized for its iconic series of huge concrete “shells.”
Dick Sargent? Didn’t he play Dick York on Bewitched?
Darrin and Samantha Stephens were the mortal-and-witch couple on TV’s Bewitched, which ran from 1964-1972. From 1964 to 1969, Darrin was played by Dick York (1928-1992), until a back injury he suffered ten years prior caused him to leave the show. He was replaced by Dick Sargent (1930-1994), who stayed in the role until the show ended. (Hold on. Dick York, Dick Sargent, Sergeant York ... Wow, that’s weird.)
Here at Bruce Jenner University.
Bruce Jenner is an American former athlete and current television personality. As a track star in the 1970s, he won a gold medal in the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics. He later became famous as a spokesperson for Wheaties cereal. He also had a mercifully short-lived dramatic acting career, most notably in a six-episode stint on CHiPs in 1981. He married Kris Houghton in 1991, who was formerly married to lawyer Robert Kardashian, making Bruce Jenner stepdad to a brood of Kardashian siblings and an onscreen participant in the reality television series Keeping Up with the Kardashians (E!, 2007-present). Kris Jenner filed for divorce in September 2014. Changes in Jenner’s appearance led to tabloid speculation about his gender identity, and in June of 2015, Jenner came out as a transgender woman, changing her name to Caitlin Marie Jenner.
You know, these are the days when Michael York could open a movie.
Michael York is an English actor whose starring roles include Cabaret (1972), The Three Musketeers (1973), Logan’s Run (1976), and The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977).
Bounce, behave. Bounce, behave. Bounce, behave.
A reference to an advertising slogan in Pert shampoo commercials from around 1980. Exhibiting her point with the aid of a trampoline, a woman would complain about the frustrations of having hair that wouldn’t “bounce” (too oily) and hair that wouldn’t “behave” (too frizzy and fly-away), until, naturally, she tried Pert.
Sid and Marty Krofft’s secret training camp.
Sid and Marty Krofft are brothers and television producers who created a string of children’s shows during the 1970s. H.R. Pufnstuf, The Bugaloos, and Land of the Lost were among their shows. Many of the series featured their trademark large puppets.
Hey, no fair! Rosie took the subway!
In 1980, a woman named Rosie Ruiz (1953-2019) won the Boston Marathon, finishing in just over two and a half hours—the third-fastest time recorded for a woman runner. Almost immediately, her victory began to collapse, as no one remembered seeing her during the race and numerous photographs taken during the marathon failed to turn up any sightings. It turned out that Ruiz had simply jumped into the race half a mile from the finish line. Race officials awarded the prize instead to the second-place finisher, Jacqueline Gareau. To qualify for the Boston Marathon, she also cheated on the New York Marathon the previous year, riding the subway to near the finish line, then identifying herself as an injured runner and being marked down as having finished the race.
Hey! Joe Bob Briggs, track coach.
Joe Bob Briggs is the boorish, immature, redneck alter-ego of John Irving Bloom, a film critic, humorist, and performer. In addition to his newspaper column, “Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In,” he hosted the programs Joe Bob’s Drive-in Theater (1993-1995) and Monstervision (1995-2000), specializing in exploitation, cult, or just plain B-grade movies.
And then he said “‘Ayyyy, sit on it, Potsie!”
Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli was a character on the TV sitcom Happy Days, which aired from 1974-1984. Played by Henry Winkler, Fonzie became known for his trademark thumbs-up, accompanied by the above catchphrase. Warren “Potsie” Weber was, likewise, a character on the show. The part was played by Anson Williams.
Wow, they’re raising a race of Becks.
Beck is a musician who became an overnight success in 1993, with many critics hailing him as the new Bob Dylan. His music combines cryptic lyrics with beats drawn from many traditions: folk, rock, techno, hip-hop, and even lounge. His best-known songs include “Loser” and “Where It’s At.”
Breaking Away 2: the clonus horror.
Breaking Away is a 1979 film starring Dennis Christopher as a teenager obsessed with the Italian cycling team.
They’re tough on the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, aren’t they?
The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are a professional cheerleading squad for the Dallas Cowboys NFL team.
Le Tour de Van Nuys.
Le Tour de France is an annual competitive bicycle race held in France and neighboring nations. It is held in stages of varying terrain types over three weeks in July. It was first staged in 1903 as a publicity stunt for a sports broadsheet, L’Auto. Van Nuys is an area of Los Angeles, located in the San Fernando Valley.
When Starland Vocal Band goes on a bike tour.
The Starland Vocal Band was a soft-rock group known primarily for their one big hit, 1976’s “Afternoon Delight.”
It’s missionary position practice.
Missionary position is a common sexual position that entails one partner, the woman, lying on her back while the man leaps in from above. The term was accidentally popularized by sexologist Alfred Kinsey, who reported that he was told by Trobriand Islanders that the position was taught to them by European visitors; Kinsey jumped to the conclusion that the Christian missionaries were the ones who specifically tried to sell them on the concept.
parts: The Village People horror.
The Village People was a popular disco group of the 1970s. They were known for their costumes—a construction worker, a policeman, a Native American, a GI, a biker, and a cowboy—and the hit song and dance “YMCA.”
The Longtime Companion Olympics.
Longtime Companion (1989) was a movie that followed the lives of a clique of gay New Yorkers throughout the 1980s, primarily grappling with their initial reactions to the AIDS epidemic and their later attempts to deal with the grim reality of the disease.
Winner of the International Jeffrey Games.
Jeffrey is a 1995 comedy film about a gay Manhattanite who commits himself to celibacy against the advice of his friends, just as he meets the man of his dreams, who happens to be HIV-positive.
Saturn: a different kind of car company.
The slogan for Saturn Corporation in America from 1989 to 1991 was “Saturn. A different kind of car company.” Like Subaru, the company was one of the earliest to target gay consumers, although only overtly in a print ad. It’s also possible that they’re thinking of Volkswagen, which aired a commercial shortly before this episode (during the “coming out” “Puppy Episode” of Ellen) that was widely interpreted as having a queer subtext.
Hey, LSD tabs, everyone!
LSD-25, or simply LSD, is the shorthand for the chemical lysergic acid diethylamide, a hallucinogenic drug whose usefulness in psychiatric treatment has been the subject of much debate. The “25” in the name appears to merely refer to the fact that it was the twenty-fifth type of lysergic acid compound distilled by Dr. Albert Hofmann, who discovered the drug in 1938.
A Van Patten family reunion.
The Van Patten clan of actors achieved their widest dominance over television in the 1970s. The most well-known members are siblings Dick Van Patten, who played the dad in Eight Is Enough, and Joyce Van Patten, who was on The Danny Kaye Show and The Good Guys. Their half-brother Timothy Van Patten starred in Show 322, Master Ninja I, and Show 324, Master Ninja II.
Hey, why is Gilligan there?
Gilligan was the hero of the TV sitcom Gilligan’s Island, which aired from 1964-1967. The role was played by Bob Denver. The character wore a white shirt, red pullover, and white sailor’s cap.
Ah, yes. The adult McDonald’s Playland.
McDonald’s is the world’s largest chain of hamburger-centric fast-food restaurants. The first restaurant was opened in 1940 by Richard and Maurice McDonald in San Bernardino, California. Early McDonald’s Playland restaurants had an area full of playground equipment themed to look like their cartoon menu item characters: Ronald McDonald, Mayor McCheese, and the rest of the gang. These have evolved into PlayPlace restaurants featuring interesting modern playgrounds with elaborate climbing structures.
See note on Dick Sargent, above. “Sam” was Darrin’s usual way of addressing Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) on Bewitched.
Professor Darrin and Doctor Super Mario Brother.
See note on Dick Sargent, above. Super Mario Bros. was a 1985 video game (and sequel to the arcade game Mario Bros.) for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) that propelled the characters Mario and Luigi to mascot superstardom. The brothers both sport thick moustaches and caps. Although the title implies that Mario’s full name is Mario Mario, this is, sadly, not the case; Nintendo will not, however, confirm what his last name actually is.
Tonight: the brilliant career of Dick Sargent, on Biography.
See note on Biography, above. See also note on Dick Sargent and Dick York, above.
Your Bundt cake is ready.
Bundt cake is a German dessert made in a special pan designed so that the cake resembles a large ring.
Hop on Pop, the movie.
Hop on Pop is a 1963 children’s book by Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss. It imparts the warning, “STOP—You must not hop on pop.”
This is Koko and Studly, on the K-Rock Morning Zoo.
While there are many radio stations across the nation with call letters that allow them to identify themselves as “K-Rock,” the granddaddy of them all is KROQ-FM. A rock format station in Los Angeles with origins going back to 1968, KROQ—then KPPC—was one of the original “underground” or “progressive” FM stations that broke away from the Top 40 format and played long sets of deep album cuts. A mainstay of Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) or Top 40 stations, the Morning Zoo format for morning radio shows is characterized by two or three excruciatingly upbeat and “wacky” hosts who engage in stunt “call-in” segments, on-air games, and regular contests. It is unclear which station started the trend; some credit Dallas station KZEW in the mid-1970s, while others claim it originated in Australia before migrating to the U.S. While KROQ has never had a Morning Zoo program per se, their Kevin and Bean Morning Show has been on the air since 1990, and helped launch the careers of Jimmy Kimmel, Adam Carolla, and Dr. Drew Pinsky.
Terrence McNally holds weird auditions.
Terrence McNally (1938-2020) was an American playwright. Many of his works, including Kiss of the Spider Woman, Love! Valour! Compassion!, and Frankie and Johnny at the Clair de Lune, have homoerotic themes; McNally himself was involved with fellow playwright Edward Albee for several years.
He looks like the monster from Rocky Horror. Rocky!
Rocky, the “monster” creation in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), was a strapping, bleach-haired hunk in gold hot pants, played by Peter Hinwood. “Rocky!” is an impression of his creator, Dr. Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry).
I got into Hamburger U!
Hamburger University is a corporate training facility for McDonald’s managers. It was established in 1961 in Oak Brook, Illinois. In 2010, a second campus in Shanghai began enrolling students.
Happy birthday, Jack Lord!
Jack Lord (1920-1998) was the star of Hawaii Five-O, a television show about the exploits of a group of police detectives in Hawaii. The series ran from 1968-1980.
Here, at Up With People farms.
Up With People was an extremely upbeat and wholesome touring musical act founded in 1965. Money woes forced it to close its doors in 2000, but it reopened four years later and continues to perform, although on a smaller scale.
Aaron Spelling’s Avalon.
Aaron Spelling (1923-2006) was the television producer behind such hits as Charlie’s Angels and Fantasy Island. Avalon is the title of a 1990 Barry Levinson film that chronicles the travails of a family of early 20th-century emigrants to America.
Adam Rich turned out bad.
Adam Rich was a child star known for his role as Nicholas Bradford on the TV series Eight Is Enough, which aired from 1977-1981. In 1991, he was arrested for breaking a pharmacy window in an attempt to steal drugs.
Have you heard from Billy Jack lately?
Billy Jack is a 1971 film starring Tom Laughlin (who also produced, directed, and wrote) as a Native American martial artist/crack shot/Vietnam veteran who tries to protect a hippie school from local racists.
I love you, Talia Shire!
Talia Shire is an American actress from the Coppola family (sister of Francis Ford Coppola), best known for playing Connie Corleone in The Godfather films and Adrian Balboa in the Rocky saga.
You taste like Lik-M-Aid.
Lik-M-Aid (now called Fun Dip) is a type of candy from Wonka consisting of a candy stick and a packet of flavored powder; the idea is to lick the stick and dip it in the powder.
Come on. Grab all your too-tight Munsingwear shirts.
Munsingwear is an American clothing manufacturer dating back to the late 1800s. Their logo is a penguin. They were once associated with polo-styled shirts made from man-made fabrics—the kind of thing pro bowlers would wear. Today they are under the aegis of Perry Ellis and have improved their styling to suit the times.
Sunny Delight, or SunnyD, is an orange-flavored drink first sold by Doric Foods in 1963. It is largely made of water and corn syrup, with about 5 percent juice. It is currently produced by Sunny Delight Beverages Co., a spin-off company from Procter & Gamble.
I think he’s ready to play quarters now, doctor.
Quarters is a drinking game in which players take turns seeing who can bounce a quarter off the table and into a glass—sometimes a beer mug, sometimes a shot glass; whoever makes the shot gets to choose someone at the table to consume the drink.
[Super Mario Bros. theme, a.k.a. the Super Mario Bros. "Ground Theme"]
The famous Super Mario Bros. "Ground Theme," heard in the first stage of the game, was composed by Koji Kondo, the sound designer for many of Nintendo’s earliest games. It became the theme for the entire series of Super Mario games, appearing in most of its titles.
Oh, I have the vapors.
The “vapors” was a catch-all malady of women in Victorian Britain and the pre-Civil War Deep South. It could cover anything from depression, PMS, light-headedness, fainting, or even just a state of general ill-health, which was considered an almost desirable sign of femininity.
Dr. Luigi will be assisting me here.
See note on Super Mario Bros., above.
First, we apply Sea Breeze.
Sea Breeze is a skin care company that was founded in 1906. It makes astringent facial cleansers of various types.
See note on Samantha Stephens, above.
[Super Mario Bros. "Underground Theme."]
The Super Mario Bros. "Underground Theme," also composed by Koji Kondo, plays during the subterranean sections of the game.
We’re the FDA. We can test on whoever we want.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), founded in 1906, is a regulatory agency of the United States government charged with overseeing the public’s health regarding food, medicine, medical supplies, veterinary supplies, tobacco, and cosmetics.
Would you turn down your stupid Brian Eno CD, doctor?
Brian Eno is a British keyboardist and composer known as the father of ambient music, labeling it “as ignorable as it is interesting.”
I’m testing All Temp-a-Cheer.
Cheer is a brand of laundry detergent made by Procter & Gamble. In the 1960s, TV ads touted the product’s ability to clean clothes at different water temperatures by calling itself “All Temperature Cheer,” then “All Temp-a-Cheer.” Some of the ads featured a guy sporting Mr. Spock-style eyebrows and hair, who beamed in from “the future” to lecture a housewife about the virtues of the detergent.
Room service at the Chelsea Hotel.
For many years, the Chelsea Hotel in New York was a magnet for famous artists, musicians, and writers, especially those associated with the Andy Warhol set. Many residents had substance abuse problems. Notorious incidents at the hotel include the suicide of Charles R. Jackson, Dylan Thomas’s coma and eventual death, a fire set by Edie Sedgwick, and the murder of Nancy Spungen by Sid Vicious.
Now, don’t fill him with Smucker’s like last time, doctor. That wasn’t funny.
The J. M. Smucker Company (Smucker’s) is a brand of jams, spreads, and snacks sold in North America. It is headquartered in Orrville, Ohio.
The Starbucks testing laboratory.
Starbucks is a Seattle, Washington-based chain of coffee shops that was founded in 1971; as of 2015, it boasted more than 22,000 locations worldwide.
Ah, they’re giving him the Keith Richards special.
Keith Richards, lead guitarist for the Rolling Stones, has had widely publicized problems with drug addiction, particularly heroin. Specifically, this is a reference to the urban legend that Richards once kicked heroin by having all of his drug-addicted blood replaced with clean blood. The rumor got started in a tell-all book by Stones intimate “Spanish Tony” Sanchez, and was helped along by Richards himself, who, sick of being asked about it, began sarcastically saying it was true. In fact, in 1973 he did partake in an unconventional, accelerated therapy for heroin withdrawal that involved a blood cleansing process similar to dialysis, but he didn’t have his blood “replaced.”
Gentlemen, we can make him dumber. Blonder.
A reference to the opening narration of the TV series The Six Million Dollar Man, which aired from 1974-1978 and starred Lee Majors as the title character: “Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world’s first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.”
Burbank is a suburb of Los Angeles and the headquarters to some of Hollywood’s biggest production companies and studios. Chicago Hope (1994-2000) was a David E. Kelley-helmed medical drama that starred Mandy Patinkin and Adam Arkin.
Thank you, nurse. That was a nice aria.
Associated mostly with operas, an aria is a self-contained piece for one singer—a solo, basically—that may or may not be accompanied by the orchestra.
They take him to Mail Boxes Etc.
Mail Boxes Etc. is a shipping retailer and company that supplies equipment and services to businesses. UPS snapped up the company in 2001 and in 2003 renamed U.S. locations to The UPS Store.
You try scrubbing it out …
A reference to the old “ring around the collar” ads for Wisk detergent that ran from the 1960s through the 1980s, in which a frustrated housewife would lament her inability to remove the sweat stains from her husband’s collars. The wording varied, but they would usually contain something like “I’ve tried soaking it out. I’ve tried scrubbing it out. Nothing works!”
The real story of Taco Bell.
Taco Bell is a popular Mexican-themed fast food franchise, founded in California in 1962. It boasts more than 6,000 locations worldwide.
Mmmm, fresh wood-smoked young Aryan man.
“Aryan” is a Sanskrit loanword with many meanings, but in this context it is a term used to identify an early linguistic-ethnic group of Indo-Europeans that were ancestors of most of the population of modern Europe. During the days of late 19th- and early 20th-century “scientific” racism, it was a racial category defined as “superior” to the others, inevitably by those who saw themselves as “Aryan.” Most notoriously, in Nazi racial philosophy, it was twisted even further into a blond, blue-eyed Teutonic-Nordic “master race”: this is the most common casual usage of the word today and the one specifically meant here.
[Sung.] They’re dying in America, today!
“America” is a 1980 song composed and sung by Neil Diamond. Sample lyrics: “Everywhere around the world/They’re coming to America/Every time that flag’s unfurled/They’re coming to America/Got a dream to take them there/They’re coming to America/Got a dream they’ve come to share/They’re coming to America.”
Growing Up Brady, chapter one.
Growing Up Brady: I Was a Teenage Greg is a 1992 autobiographical bestseller written by Barry Williams, who played Greg Brady, eldest son, on the sitcom The Brady Bunch (1969-1974).
Malibu Barbie is down!
Barbie is a fashion doll invented in 1959 by Ruth Handler. It is named after her daughter, Barbara. Malibu Barbie was a seaside-ready model of the doll that was sold from 1971 to 1977.
“This is Reilly.” Ace of spies.
Reilly, Ace of Spies was a 1983 TV miniseries starring Sam Neill as a superspy.
Aw, go eat a mushroom, Mario.
See note on Super Mario Bros., above.
Get me Endora.
The witch Endora was Darrin Stephens’s impossible mother-in-law on Bewitched. The part was played by Agnes Moorehead.
“The gods may do strange things sometimes.” Inside the RAND Corporation.
The RAND (Research ANd Development) Corporation is a global not-for-profit think tank that was founded (originally as Project RAND) in 1946 as a problem-solving advisory body for the U.S. military. It developed the doctrine of mutually assured destruction that guided U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War. It now works with many different groups, including governments, businesses, nonprofits, and others.
“Like what?” Like this tuna wiggle recipe.
Tuna wiggle is a kind of tuna casserole dish. At its most basic, the recipe calls for tuna, cream of mushroom soup (or another cream sauce), peas, and noodles/pasta.
Look, I’m just Scott Baio.
Scott Baio is an actor who is probably best known for playing Chachi on Happy Days for eight years and continuing the part on the short-lived series Joanie Loves Chachi (1982). He also played the title character on the TV show Charles in Charge (1984-1990).
Ah, that was a good loose meat sandwich.
A “loose meat” sandwich is a kind of hamburger where the patty is made of onions and loosely shaped minced meat—sort of a sloppy Joe without the sauce. The sandwich is strongly associated with the Iowa-based Maid-Rite chain of restaurants; it is also sometimes called a “Maid-Rite sandwich.”
[Sung.] Rivers belong where they can ramble. –Pippin? –Yeah.
A line from the song “Corner of the Sky,” from the musical Pippin. Sample lyrics: “Everything has its season/Everything has its time/Show me a reason and I’ll soon show you a rhyme/Cats fit on the windowsill/Children fit in the snow/Why do I feel I don’t fit in anywhere I go?/Rivers belong where they can ramble/Eagles belong where they can fly/I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free/Got to find my corner of the sky.”
He’s like a sensitive Steve Guttenberg.
Steve Guttenberg is a dweebish actor who snagged a series of leading man roles in the 1980s, including Cocoon, Three Men and a Baby, and Short Circuit.
Yeah! Yeah, I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna start a band called Air Supply.
Air Supply is a British-Australian soft-rock band that was founded in 1975 around the duo of Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock (whom Richard the clone slightly resembles). They had a number of global hits in the early 1980s, such as “Lost in Love,” “All Out of Love,” “The One That You Love,” and “Making Love Out of Nothing at All.” Noticing a pattern?
[Sung.] I’m all out of lunch ... no, no. I’m all out of breath ... I-I’m all out of Africa. I’m … –I don’t know.
“All Out of Love” is a 1980 song by Air Supply (see previous note). Lyrics: “I’m all out of love/I’m so lost without you/I know you were right, believing for so long/I’m all out of love/What am I without you?/I can’t be too late to say that I was so wrong.” Out of Africa is a 1985 drama starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, based on Isak Dinesen’s memoir of her life as a settler and plantation owner in colonial Kenya.
The beer can struggles upstream to spawn.
Probably an impression of the hushed style of narration employed by British naturalist David Attenborough in his nature and science documentaries.
His feet are making a Don Martin noise. Splot! Splot!
Don Martin (1931-2000) was a cartoonist and regular contributor to Mad magazine. “Splot” was an onomatopoeic accompaniment to footsteps in his cartoons.
I find so many neat things here at Love Canal.
Love Canal is a neighborhood in the city of Niagara Falls, New York. Before the homes and the school occupying the land were built, Hooker Chemical and Plastics Corp. used the site as a toxic waste dump. In 1978, the president of the local homeowners association, Lois Gibbs, began investigating chronic health problems among the residents, including sky-high cancer rates and unusually high illness rates at the local elementary school. After two years of efforts in the face of corporate and governmental stonewalling, the residents succeeded in having the site declared a federal emergency. They were relocated and compensated for the loss of their homes, and the development was bulldozed. As a result of the scandal, Congress established the Superfund, which provided for cleanup at toxic sites throughout the country.
The little Bushman didn’t know what to make of the can.
In the 1980 film The Gods Must Be Crazy, a man in the Kalahari desert finds a Coke bottle and decides to return it to God, whose possession he thinks it must be.
Ladies and gentlemen: Pat Boone!
Pat Boone was an incredibly successful singer in the 1950s whose gimmick was remaking ethnic R&B songs into light, smooth, syrupy pop songs. He acted in movies, had his own TV show, and became a deeply religious Christian. His daughter is singer Debbie Boone.
Welcome to Bewitched-apalooza.
See note on Dick Sargent, above. Lollapalooza was a hugely successful outdoor rock festival that toured the United States each summer from 1991 to 1997 with such bands as Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, and other alt.-rock stalwarts. It was revived in 2003 as an annual summer weekend event in Grant Park, Chicago, featuring alternative rock, hip-hop, and heavy metal bands, as well as dance, comedy, and performance art. Beginning in 2011, Lollapalooza events were also held in Chile and Brazil. The name for the festival comes from a 19th-century phrase meaning “an unusual thing,” later taken to mean “a giant lollipop.” According to festival organizer Perry Farrell, he decided on the name after he heard it in a Three Stooges short.
“But before we have lesson ten …” We will offer a sign of peace.
In Catholic and Orthodox Christian denominations, at some point in the liturgy it is common for worshipers to exchange “a sign of peace” (usually a hug or handshake, although kisses were traditional in the past).
Oh, Mr. Kotter! Mr. Kotter! –Oh! Oh! Oh!
An impression of Arnold Horshack (Ron Palillo; 1949-2012) from Welcome Back, Kotter. Gabe Kotter (Gabe Kaplan) was the compassionate teacher on the series, which ran from 1975-1979.
Now, a tribute to Dr. Bombay.
Dr. Bombay (Bernard Fox) was a character in the sitcom Bewitched (see above note). He was the family “witch doctor,” who was called in to treat various magical ailments, often unsuccessfully.
Hey, Darrin, down in front!
See note on Dick Sargent, above.
The cast of Godspell.
Godspell is a musical based on the Gospel according to St. Matthew. It first opened off-Broadway in 1971. The show ran off-Broadway for three years and finally made it to Broadway in 1976, where it ran for more than 500 performances.
Thank you. We will now begin the Aunt Clara symposium.
Aunt Clara (Marion Lorne), a friendly, absent-minded relative of Samantha’s, was one of the supporting characters on Bewitched (see above note). The character was dropped after Lorne’s death in 1968 and replaced by the bumbling housekeeper Esmerelda (played by Alice Ghostley). Lorne was awarded a posthumous Emmy for her performance.
“Does anyone have any questions?” Yeah. Are you and Dick York friends?
See note on Dick Sargent, above.
“It was floating in the river.” “What is it?” It’s a Gambino, sir.
The Gambinos are one of the major Mafia families in New York City. They reached their height of power during the 1960s under Carlo Gambino and became well-known in the 1980s under the flamboyant leadership of John Gotti, who was eventually sentenced to life in prison in 1992.
Do you wanna watch Sonny & Cher tonight, young man?
Sonny and Cher were a rock & roll duo in the 1960s and 1970s. They hit it big with “I Got You Babe” in 1965, and they also had a number of TV specials and series, including The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour. Their collaboration ended in 1974 with their divorce.
Dick Sargent: communist.
See note on Dick Sargent, above.
Dick Sargent is the Bionic Woman.
The Bionic Woman (1976-1978) was a spin-off series from The Six Million Dollar Man. Tennis pro Jaime Sommers (Lindsay Wagner) is press-ganged into OSI when they save her life by outfitting her with bionic legs, a right ear, and a right arm. In the opening credits of The Bionic Woman, Wagner jogs around in a white jacket; the character was also associated with jumpsuits.
Mr. York? Mr. York? Will you sign this? –Can I get your autograph, Mr. York? –Mr. York?
See note on Dick Sargent, above, in relation to Dick York.
Line up to hear Firefall’s latest hit.
Firefall is a soft rock/country rock band from Colorado. They had a 1976 hit with “You Are the Woman.”
“What does M-I-L-W-A-U-K-E-E spell?” “Please wait.” It spells “two ninety-nine a case.”
Presumably a reference to Old Milwaukee, a beer produced by the Stroh Brewery. It has a reputation as a cheap beer popular among students and trailer park denizens, but it retains a loyal following.
Oh, it’s Microsoft spell-check-by-phone.
Microsoft Windows, produced by the Microsoft Corporation, is the dominant PC operating system. The first version was introduced in 1983 and has gone through numerous updates in the decades since. Many of its programs come with spell checking features; Microsoft Word has included it since Word 95.
Charles Van Dorkin.
Charles Van Doren is an American academic and former quiz show contestant. From December 1956 to March 1957, he had a winning streak on Twenty One (1956-1958). It later became evident that his victory was rigged with pre-prepared answers; in fact, fixing was routine behind the scenes of most 1950s quiz programs. Van Doren’s public reputation was badly scuffed in the fallout, and most of the suspect shows were axed. 1994’s Quiz Show (starring Ralph Fiennes as Van Doren) was a dramatized re-creation of the scandal.
A Separate Peace—of crap.
A Separate Peace is a 1959 novel by John Knowles about two friends at an English prep school just before World War II. When playing around in a tree, one of the friends breaks his leg and ruins his athletic future.
The cloneyards of Ernest and Julio Gallo.
Ernest and Julio Gallo are major winemakers, with an enormous winery in the Sonoma Valley in Northern California.
I guess Bing Crosby was selling hats.
Bing Crosby (1903-1977) was a singer, actor, businessman, and entertainer who was one of the biggest American stars of the 20th century. His recording of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” is the best-selling single of all time. His most famous film roles were in Going My Way (1944), The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945), The Country Girl (1954), and the seven-part Road to … series of musical comedies co-starring Bob Hope. A man firmly unstraying from the fashions of his time, Crosby had a predilection for shaped hats, especially fedoras and boaters.
Would you like to share a quarter-can of watery Old Mil’ with me?
See note on Old Milwaukee, above.
Tom Jones here.
Tom Jones (b. Thomas Jones Woodward) is a Grammy Award-winning Welsh singer who enjoyed tremendous success in the mid-1960s with such hits as “It’s Not Unusual” and “What’s New Pussycat?” His energetic live performances famously inspired female fans to throw undergarments or hotel room keys onto the stage; exposed chest hair and perspiration were involved. In the 1970s Jones faded into the pop-culture background as an old-school, Vegas-only has been, but staged a retro-hip comeback starting in the late 1980s, thanks to his cover of the Prince song “Kiss” and appearances on TV shows like The Simpsons and the Tim Burton comedy film Mars Attacks (1996).
Okay, people, time to harvest more ticks.
Probably a reference to 1920s-era research into a vaccine for Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a tick-spread bacterial disease that commonly afflicted Americans in the first quarter of the 20th century. Many of the researchers deliberately exposed themselves to pathogen-carrying ticks in the hopes of testing the vaccinations, several of them dying as a result. They were successful, however, discovering a working vaccine in 1924.
[Blown whistle.] Bozo’s circus is on the air! [Tune.]
Bozo the Clown is a much-beloved children’s character first introduced as the star of a series of children’s books in the 1940s. He quickly got his own television show, and soon there were Bozo shows springing up in local markets across the country. Although there were many actors who portrayed Bozo, probably the most famous was Chicago’s Bob Bell, who appeared as the clown on WGN from 1960 to 1984. Joey D’Auria replaced him and became the last Bozo on the airwaves when the show finally went dark in 2001. On Chicago’s The Bozo Show in the 1960s and early 1970s, Ringmaster Ned (Ned Locke) would blow his whistle and yell, “Bozo’s circus is on the air!”
Uh, this scene was lit by an Indiglo watch, apparently.
Indiglo is a brand of electroluminescent technology used in watches. It is owned by the Timex Group USA, Inc.
Kiss me, you feeb.
“Kiss me, my fool!” is a line (well, an intertitle) from the 1915 silent film A Fool There Was; it mutated into the cliché “Kiss me, you fool!” The movie was the first big success for star Theda Bara, firmly establishing her “vamp” screen persona.
“I asked the confessional and it just said that it was all part of the plan.” Like Dan Fogelberg said.
A reference to the 1974 song “Part of the Plan,” by Dan Fogelberg. Sample lyrics: “Some kind of message comes through to you/Some kind of message shoots through/And it says to you/Love when you can/Cry when you have to/Be who you must/That’s a part of the plan/Await your arrival with simple survival/And one day we’ll all understand/One day we’ll all understand.”
I’ve already filled a Post-it note.
Post-it notes are small pieces of notepaper with a slightly sticky substance along one edge, allowing them to stick to paper or other surfaces but still be easily removed. They were introduced by 3M in 1980, although the adhesive that makes them possible was invented back in 1968.
Let’s crack the Pringles.
Pringles are a brand of potato chips developed by Procter & Gamble in 1967 and now owned by Kellogg’s. Unlike other chips, which involve slices of actual potatoes and come in bags, Pringles are machine-made: compressed potato residue and wheat starch chips sold neatly stacked in cylindrical cardboard tubes.
“What must be, must be. –Don’t you get tired of hearing that?” They’re at est camp.
Erhard Seminars Training (est) was a motivational organization that offered expensive weekend courses in “human potential” from 1971 to 1984. Founded by Werner Erhard (the namesake of KTMA-era and Season One’s Dr. Laurence Erhardt), it was a spearhead of the self-actualization trend of the 1970s.
I used Agree today.
Agree is a line of hair-care products introduced in 1977 by S. C. Johnson & Son, Inc., marketed to teens as a way to manage oily locks. The brand was discontinued in the 1990s.
Only you can prevent groin fires.
Smokey the Bear is the longtime spokescreature for the U.S. Forest Service. He was created in 1944 to preach the message of fire prevention, with the slogan “Only you can prevent wildfires.”
She really was on top of Old Smoky, huh?
“On Top of Old Smoky” is a traditional American folk song. The Weavers recorded a popular version in 1951. Sample lyrics: “On top of Old Smoky, all covered with snow/I lost my true lover, for courting too slow …”
She looks like Henry Silva in a wig.
Henry Silva (1926-2022) was a Puerto Rican actor known for playing heavies. His films include Ocean’s Eleven (1960) and The Manchurian Candidate (1962).
She fell asleep on a dermabrasion wheel.
Dermabrasion is a cosmetic surgery procedure in which the surgeon scrapes off the outer layers of skin with a motorized brush or burr; it is used to diminish the appearance of scars and fine wrinkles.
After all, I look like the guy on Three’s Company.
A reference to Larry Dallas (Richard Kline), a character in Three’s Company (1977-1984). On the sitcom, Jack Tripper (John Ritter) shared an apartment with Chrissy Snow (Suzanne Somers) and Janet Wood (Joyce Dewitt); this arrangement hinged on the charade that Jack was gay, as their landlord Stanley Roper (Norman Fell) would not permit a coed living situation. Larry was their womanizing upstairs neighbor and Jack’s best friend.
Now let’s go help Jack and Chrissy move that couch.
See previous note.
Des Moines Olympics are kind of a letdown, aren’t they?
Des Moines is the capital city of the state of Iowa, with a population of roughly 450,000.
I’m just your Time-Life operator.
A reference to a series of television commercials for Time-Life books featuring various young women wearing phone headsets saying “I’m Judy/Debbie/Nancy, your Time-Life operator.” (Thanks to Stephanie Atwood Hatzenbuhler for the headset reference.)
Is this an after school special?
After school specials are a type of television programming that had its heyday in the 1970s and ‘80s; although some could be thought-provoking and realistic, the majority came across as the morality plays of their time, with simplistic messages and black-and-white solutions. The specials would usually focus on challenges facing children and teenagers (sex, disabilities, drugs, suicide, alcohol, bullying, sexual orientation, eating disorders, STDs, and the like), typically handling them in a melodramatic, sententious manner. The most famous was the ABC Afterschool Special, which aired about six episodes a year for 25 seasons, from 1972-1997.
This is one of the twelve Steve Prefontaine movies being released this year. It’s great.
Steve Prefontaine (1951-1975) was a middle-long distance runner who won nearly every race he competed in; in the racing world, he is still considered the benchmark against which other runners are measured. He died in a car accident at the age of 24. In fact, there have been two dramatic films released about Prefontaine’s life: Prefontaine (1997), starring Jared Leto, and Without Limits (1998), starring Billy Crudup. There was also a 1995 documentary, Fire on the Track: The Steve Prefontaine Story, written and narrated by novelist Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest).
Let’s see: “Jake Cardigan pulled his hovercraft …”
Jake Cardigan is the ex-cop protagonist of the sci-fi novel series TekWar (1989-1997), written by William Shatner and Ron Goulart. They have also been adapted for comic books and television.
Did I finish those cheese curls?
Cheese curls are a popular type of snack product made from cheese-flavored cooked corn-and-wheat dough; they are marketed under various brands and names worldwide.
I’m coming, Elizabeth. I’m coming. Elizabeth, I am coming.
A reference to the TV series Sanford and Son, which aired from 1972-1977. When Fred Sanford (played by Redd Foxx) wanted to manipulate his son, he would fake a heart attack and call out to his dead wife, “It’s the big one! I’m comin’, Lizabeth!”
It feels like an elephant clone is sitting on my chest!
Chest pain, a classic symptom of a heart attack, or myocardial infarction, is often described by sufferers as “feeling like an elephant sitting on [their] chest.”
The James Garner story!
James Garner (b. James Bumgarner [childish snickering]; 1928-2014) was an American actor who starred in the TV shows Maverick (1957-1962) and The Rockford Files (1974-1980). He also had major roles in The Great Escape (1963) and Murphy’s Romance (1985).
Beef: it’s what’s for dinner!
In 1992 “The Beef Council” (a promotional arm of the National Livestock and Meat Board) launched what became a long-running, award-winning, and widely recognized advertising campaign with the slogan “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” The first run of the campaign cost $42 million and ran for 17 months. Television and radio commercials initially featured the voice of American tough-guy actor Robert Mitchum; following Mitchum’s death in 1997 the voice-over was done by tough-guy actor Sam Elliott.
“It felt like a—like a burning sensation in my chest.” Richard, did you make a run for the border earlier today?
“Make a run for the border” was an advertising slogan for the fast-food franchise Taco Bell (see above note).
“After all, you’re probably excited about going to America.” [Sung.] Today!
See note on “America,” above.
We traded you to Cincinnati.
The Cincinnati Bengals are a football team first established in the American Football League in 1968; it joined the National Football League in 1970 when the AFL was absorbed.
Let’s go pray at the shrine of Dolly the sheep.
Dolly the sheep (1996-2003) was the first mammal cloned by implanting the nucleus of a donor’s somatic cell into a second donor’s unfertilized egg cell (oocyte), which had already had its nucleus removed. The experiment was done by scientists at the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh, Scotland. As the donor’s somatic cell was taken from a mammary gland, her clone-masters wryly named her for Dolly Parton. Dolly suffered from arthritis throughout her life, and had to be euthanized in 2003 after developing severe lung disease.
“I think the only place I’m going to find any answers is America.” [Sung.] Today!
See note on “America,” above.
“I’m gonna try to get there tonight.” [Sung.] Or today!
See note on “America,” above.
If my SATs are good enough.
The SAT Reasoning Test, formerly known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, is a standardized written exam given to high school seniors as part of the college preparation process; most colleges and universities consider SAT scores as one of the major criteria for acceptance.
See note on “America,” above.
Whoa, they’re at Chuck Berry’s ranch.
Chuck Berry is an R&B singer/songwriter/guitarist whose songs like “Maybelline” and “Johnny B. Goode” helped usher in the era of rock & roll. In 1990, Berry found himself in extreme legal difficulties when footage from security cameras that Berry had installed in women’s bathrooms at his Missouri restaurant turned up in his house. (Berry claimed he was attempting to get evidence on a thieving employee.) Several women sued, and Berry settled with 59 women for about $1.2 million; he also pleaded guilty to marijuana possession to avoid child abuse charges stemming from the fact that one of the women on the tapes was underage.
Aren’t these stables phony?
The character Holden Caulfield, of Catcher in the Rye (1951) fame, popularized the use of “phony” as a disdainful label for the superficial and the insincere.
Yeah, Secretariat’s a personal friend of mine.
Secretariat (1970-1989) was a Thoroughbred racehorse, and one of only eleven to have won the United States Triple Crown races (The Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes). He set records in all three of those races when he won them in 1973, and is still considered one of the greatest racehorses of all time.
Super Dave Osborne. Come to turn down the bed.
Super Dave Osborne is a character created and performed by comedian Bob Einstein (1942-2019), brother of actor and comedian Albert Brooks. Super Dave is a droll and clueless stuntman (clearly a parody of Evel Knievel) who remains optimistic despite the spectacular failure of his many death-defying stunts, after which he makes appearances swaddled in bandages and casts.
Proceeding to number eight to read Pat the Bunny.
Pat the Bunny is a classic children’s book that incorporates read-and-feel interactivity (it has stuff you can poke). It was written by Dorothy Kunhardt and published in 1940.
Heh-heh. I’m gonna get the last of the Frusen Glädjé.
Frusen Glädjé was a brand of ice cream that attempted to cash in on the “gourmet” ice cream boom of the 1980s, led by its chief competitor, Häagen-Dazs. The latter survived and thrived in the marketplace; sadly, Frusen Glädjé is no more.
It takes a dork.
“It takes a thief to catch a thief” is an old English proverb. It Takes a Thief (1968-1970) was also a television adventure show starring Robert Wagner as gentleman thief Alexander Mundy. As the title unashamedly implies, it was a transparent clone of the 1955 Alfred Hitchcock thriller To Catch a Thief, which starred Cary Grant in the title role.
I’m gonna head to the Student Union and shake the candy machine until a Clark Bar comes out.
Clark Bars are a type of candy bar first sold as far back as 1886. They are manufactured by Necco.
This movie was really a promotional film for UW-Stout.
The University of Wisconsin-Stout is a polytechnic university located in Menomonie, Wisconsin. It was founded in 1891 as the Stout Manual Training School.
Now, now, now, Harvey, Harvey, Harvey!
An impression of actor Jimmy Stewart. Harvey is a 1950 movie starring Stewart as a man with an invisible friend: Harvey the six-foot rabbit.
You talkin’ to me? You tellin’ me to put down my coffee?
A famous line from the 1976 movie Taxi Driver, starring Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle, an alienated Vietnam vet. In one scene, Bickle stands posturing in front of his mirror, saying, “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin’ to? You talkin’ to me? Well, I’m the only one here.”
I’m gonna free Randle McMurphy.
Randle McMurphy is the protagonist in Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and the 1975 film adaptation, which were set in an authoritarian, abusive mental institution.
You know, I think they cloned him from Timer, the cheese mascot.
Time for Timer was the name of a series of animated public service announcements that ran on ABC in the 1970s. They starred Timer, a tiny globule in a top hat and bow tie. Timer apparently monitored the human body’s sense of time, but he was also qualified to lecture on nutrition.
Larry Dallas is the Saint.
See above note on Three’s Company. Simon Templar, the Saint, was a character created by author Leslie Charteris in 1928. He appeared in more than 50 books in English and another 40 in French. He has also been portrayed in film and television, perhaps most famously by Roger Moore in the television series that aired from 1962 to 1969. More recently he was portrayed by Val Kilmer in the 1997 film The Saint. Templar was an international man of mystery who helped innocents in trouble.
You know, the truth is out there. –Huh, neat. –It sure is.
The X-Files is a sci-fi/drama TV series about two FBI agents investigating unsolved cases involving the paranormal. The original series ran on Fox for nine seasons beginning in 1993, a short tenth season ran in 2016, and an eleventh in 2018. There have also been two X-Files feature films. Agent Mulder’s mantra, “The truth is out there,” was a pervasive catchphrase of the 1990s. It appeared as a tagline at the end of the credit sequence on most of the show’s episodes.
See note on Koyaanisqatsi, above.
Well, what do you know? We aren’t at war with Eurasia.
Eurasia is one of the three superpower blocs in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), comprising Russia and continental Europe. The other two are Oceania and Eastasia. At the opening of the book, Oceania and Eastasia are allied against Eurasia; midway through, the alliance abruptly breaks and Oceania realigns itself with Eurasia against Eastasia. Oceanian propaganda efforts have to change mid-tack to reflect that they’ve “always been at war with Eastasia.”
As soon as I get to America, I’m going to Branson.
Branson is a city in southwestern Missouri. Starting in the 1930s, the city began consciously to position itself as a tourist attraction; it is now considered the “family-friendly Las Vegas” because of its many attractions, which are located along a neon-lighted “strip.” It is particularly known for its musical acts, which consist largely of country and bluegrass. Featured acts include Roy Clark and Mel Tillis.
Monty will march into Messina, and I’ll sweep down from the north!
A paraphrase of a line from Patton (1970), which starred George C. Scott as General George S. Patton. “Monty” refers to British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery and “Messina” to the port city of Messina in Sicily. The full line: “Monty will drive north on the coast, I’ll come due east. Take Messina and cut off the German escape route.”
Yeah, I saw the Dead there. I saw the Dead there, yeah. I saw the Dead there, too.
The Grateful Dead is a famed rock band from the heyday of the 1960s. Two of their better-known songs are “The Pride of Cucamonga” and “Sugar Magnolia.” Deadheads are fans of the Grateful Dead. When the Grateful Dead was still touring, true Deadheads would follow the band from city to city to attend show after show. Their faithfulness made the band rich despite its lack of radio hits.
[Alfred Hitchcock Presents theme.]
Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) was a portly British director, best known for his ground-breaking horror films and his television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1965). The show opened with his shadow walking behind a screen to meet up with a line-drawing caricature of Hitchcock’s silhouette, to the sounds of the distinctive piano piece “Funeral March of a Marionette” by Charles Gounod.
Old Milwaukee. Blatz. Huber. Hauenstein. Chief Oshkosh.
See note on Old Milwaukee, above. Blatz is a brand of beer first produced in 1851; it is currently made by Pabst. The Joseph Huber Brewing Company is a Wisconsin brewery founded in 1845; it is the second-oldest brewery still operating in the United States. Hauenstein is a brand of beer made in New Ulm, Minnesota, and popular in Wisconsin. It is owned by the August Schell Brewing Company. Chief Oshkosh is a discontinued brand of beer formerly made by the Oshkosh Brewing Company, based in Wisconsin.
He’s trying to find a map to the original Cunningham house on Happy Days.
Happy Days was a sitcom set in 1950s Milwaukee that aired from 1974-1984. The Cunninghams were parents Howard (Tom Bosley) and Marion (Marion Ross) and their kids, Richie (Ron Howard) and Joanie (Erin Moran). There was also an older brother, Chuck, who was in college in season 1 and disappeared from the series without explanation in season 2.
Black helicopter. Roswell. Area 51. Waco. Formula for Coca-Cola.
In conspiracy theorist circles, unmarked “black helicopters” are a symbol of faceless government oppression. The 1947 Roswell UFO incident is a popular conspiracy theory about a crashed alien spaceship being hidden by the Air Force. Area 51 is a United States Air Force base located in Nevada; it is where the previously mentioned Roswell UFO was said to have been relocated. The furtive secrecy surrounding the base, which appears to be used for highly classified military research and testing programs, pretty much guarantees it a central place in conspiracy theory lore. In 1993, agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) attempted a search of the property owned and occupied by the Branch Davidian religious cult near Waco, Texas. A firefight began between the Branch Davidians and the agents (six Davidians and four agents were killed), and the situation escalated into a siege involving the FBI. The siege was broken after 51 days when U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno authorized an FBI assault on the ranch, and three fires started that killed about 75 of the remaining occupants, including a number of children. In the aftermath, various conspiracy theories percolated about the incident and generally fanned the flames of government distrust. Coca-Cola is the leading brand of cola in the world. It was first marketed as a refreshing soft drink by John Pemberton in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1886 in response to the area’s recently passed prohibition laws. The exact recipe for the beverage is a trade secret; it is purportedly held only by a select group of company executives.
Great, someone taped Models Inc. Heh-heh.
Models Inc. was a short-lived 1994 TV series, a spinoff of prime-time soap Melrose Place, about a Los Angeles modeling agency.
Good morning, Mr. Lump.
On the TV series Mission: Impossible, which aired from 1966-1973, “Good morning, Mr. Phelps” was the greeting used on the tape-recorded messages that gave the team its instructions for each mission.
No one’s guarding my father!
A paraphrase of lines said by Al Pacino in the hospital scene of The Godfather (1972), although not actually uttered with the same bombast. The lines: “There’s nobody here. What happened to the guards?”, and “What happened to the men who were guarding my father?” After an assassination attempt on his father, Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), fearing a second attempt, observes there is no police presence or bodyguards in the hospital where the don is recovering. He takes steps to protect him, like changing his room and persuading a well-wisher to pose as a gunman outside the hospital.
Chariots of Puss.
Chariots of Fire (1981) is a British film about two competitive runners, an English Jew and a devoutly Christian Scot, set during their days as students at Cambridge University and at the 1924 Paris Olympics. It was based on the real-life stories of Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell.
Just his luck. He’s gonna get killed by Merv Griffin.
In the 1983 Steve Martin comedy The Man With Two Brains, Europe is being held in thrall by a mysterious murderer called the Elevator Killer. The killer, it turns out, is Merv Griffin. He remains at large.
And he bumps right into Bruce Willis.
In Die Hard (1988), Bruce Willis’s supercop John McClane spends an inordinate amount of time hiding from career terrorists in the skyscraper’s elevator shafts and ventilation systems.
I think Yoshi parked up on seventh.
See above note on Super Mario Bros. Yoshi were the race of intelligent dinosaurs that inhabited the Mushroom World.
“Get here early this morning, Dr. Jameson? –I had to.” Rode in with Endora.
See note on Endora, above.
Ride the elevator ride, at Six Flags Over Texas!
Six Flags is a chain of amusement parks that includes Six Flags over Texas, Six Flags Magic Mountain, and Six Flags Great America, among many others.
You going to Applebee’s for Karen’s birthday lunch?
Applebee’s is a casual dining restaurant with more than 1,700 locations worldwide. It was founded in 1980.
This is what happens when Otis Elevators sponsors a movie.
The Otis Elevator Company is the largest elevator and escalator company in the world; it is a subsidiary of the conglomerate United Technologies Corporation. Elisha Otis founded the company in 1853, one year after he invented a safety mechanism that prevented elevators from plummeting to their doom should their lift ropes break.
Bill Musselman: private eye.
Bill Musselman (1940-2000) was an American professional basketball coach. He coached for teams from practically every corner of the United States and in five different basketball leagues, including the NCAA, the NBA, and the WNBA.
You know, I hope he never becomes The Naked Prey.
The Naked Prey is a 1966 film about a group of hunters on safari in Africa who run afoul of a local tribe. The survivor finds himself the huntee rather than the hunter, as a group of tribesmen chase him down.
[Super Mario Bros. Underground Theme.]
See note on the Underground Theme, above.
An impression of Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster, or possibly one of his successors in the role.
It’s a map of the shopping district in Des Plaines.
Des Plaines is a city in Illinois, and an outer suburb of Chicago. It has a population of around 58,000.
A member of Mummenschanz is on the lam.
Mummenschanz is a Swiss mime troupe that plays with unusual forms and masks in an entirely silent performance. The group’s show ran for three years on Broadway; it was founded in 1972.
Ah, they’re watching the Mondrian channel.
Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) was a Dutch painter best known for his abstract, minimalist works (which he called “compositions”) that resembled grids daubed with primary colors. He was a primary member of the Dutch group De Stijl (“The Style”), also known in English as “neo-plasticism.”
He’s running through fields of wheat. –Wheat. –Plenty of wheat.
A reference to Love and Death, a 1975 satirical film by Woody Allen. In this feature-length parody of Russian novels, Boris Dimitrovich Grushenko (Allen) has a conversation with his cousin Sonja (Diane Keaton) that degenerates into the two agitatedly soliloquizing to the audience; Boris’s is a nonsensical meditation on wheat. A sample: “Oh, wheat. Lots of wheat. Fields of wheat. A tremendous amount of wheat!”
Lou Rawls is The Equalizer.
Lou Rawls (1933-2006) was an American R&B singer and entertainer; his biggest hits were “Love Is a Hurtin’ Thing” (1966), “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” (1976), and “Lady Love” (1977). The Equalizer (1985-1989) was a genre-blending series that starred Edward Woodward (Ee-wah Woo-wah) as an ex-spy who had turned to dispensing violent vigilante justice to atone for his previous deeds.
Kind of a weird biathlon.
The biathlon is a winter sport that melds the two events of rifle shooting and cross-country skiing.
The bullet caused a Kettle Moraine.
Kettle Moraine is a distinctive landform in Wisconsin, reaching from Green Bay in the northeast to the central-eastern portion of the state. As the name implies, it is a large moraine (debris accumulated by moving glaciers) dotted with kettles (small, sediment-rich lakes formed in the wake of glaciers or floodwaters).
There! There’s the flavor.
A possible reference to the 1970s-era slogan for Marlboro brand cigarettes: “Come to where the flavor is.”
I’m starting to think that Peter Graves didn’t invest much time in this movie.
See note on Peter Graves, above.
Oop. He jumped straight into the Soylent Green factory.
Soylent Green is a 1973 science fiction film set in a dystopian 2022 where the Earth is overcrowded and polluted. The Soylent Corporation issues food rations to the billions of citizens in various forms, including Soylents Red and Yellow. Charlton Heston plays a police detective who investigates a murder that leads him to the secret behind their newest variety, Soylent Green. Spoiler alert: it’s made of people.
Would you stop playing Pong back there, please?
Pong was one of the first, if not the first, video games. It was essentially an electronic version of table tennis: each player had a “paddle” and they bounced a little “ball” between them.
“Mr. Walker?” Mr. Texas Ranger?
Walker, Texas Ranger was a television series that aired from 1993-2001. It starred martial artist Chuck Norris as Cordell Walker, a Texas lawman who fought crime with his partner, Jimmy Trivette.
Oh, I bet they’re filming a truck commercial up there.
Probably a reference to the Chevy truck “Like a Rock” commercials from the 1980s that often featured the trucks driving ruggedly up steep rocky hillsides and ended with them posed proudly on the top of a cliff.(Thanks to Karen Chrisman McCratic for this reference.)
Think how many times the coyote fell off that.
Wile E. Coyote is a character in the old Warner Bros. animated shorts, who perennially tries to catch and consume the Road Runner with various elaborate schemes, many of which result in Wile E. falling off a cliff. The character was created by Chuck Jones and Michael Maltese, making his first appearance in 1949.
I am Kirok.
“I … am … Kirok!” is a line from the Star Trek episode “The Paradise Syndrome.”
He walked right into Golan Heights.
The Golan Heights, or the Syrian Golan, is a disputed piece of land between Syria and Israel that has been occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967; Israel passed a law annexing the territory in 1981, which the United Nations Security Council condemned as a violation of international law.
I hope I get the part of Chrissy!
See note on Three’s Company, above.
Ah, the Ravenite Social Club.
The Ravenite Social Club was a gentlemen’s club in the Little Italy section of New York City that was used by the Gambino crime family as a headquarters and meeting place. John Gotti and his men were frequently seen there during the late 1970s and ‘80s. The club is gone now, replaced by a high-end shoe store. See note on the Gambinos, above.
It’s the all-white version of Salaam Bombay!
Salaam Bombay! (1988) is a Hindi drama film about a boy, abandoned by his mother, who becomes a street urchin in Mumbai (the city formerly known as Bombay; it was renamed in 1996).
This isn’t exactly The Naked City: it’s the clothing-optional city.
The Naked City was a gritty cop show set in New York City that aired from 1958-1963.
Watch: he’ll run into Chauncey Gardiner coming the other way.
In Being There (1979), after being evicted from his lifelong home, Chance the Gardener (played by Peter Sellers) wanders the streets of Washington, D.C., for the first time and encounters a gang of street toughs. Later in the film, he tells a woman his name, and she mishears it as “Chauncey Gardiner.”
Hi, Sanford. Hi, Son.
Fred Sanford (played by Redd Foxx) was the co-owner with his son of a junkyard on the TV series Sanford and Son (1972-1977). He drove a beat-up 1951 Ford truck.
James Galway owns that porn theater! –Oh, come right in and enjoy some wholesome porn!
James Galway is an Irish flute player who has enjoyed an extremely successful performing career, one of the first flautists to succeed as a soloist. He got his start in the Berlin Philharmonic in the 1970s but quickly struck out on his own.
It’s Juan Epstein.
Juan Epstein was one of the students on the TV series Welcome Back, Kotter, which aired from 1975 to 1979. The part was played by actor Robert Hegyes, who went on to play detective Manny Esposito on the TV series Cagney & Lacey.
Probably a reference to Lionel Jefferson (played by Mark Evans, and later Damon Evans), the son of George and Louise Jefferson on All in the Family (1971-1979) andThe Jeffersons (1975-1985).
Is that Harley Davidson or the Marlboro Man? –Hard to tell. It’s Peter Fonda! –Gary Busey. –Malcolm Forbes.
Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man is a 1991 movie starring Mickey Rourke (Harley Davidson) and Don Johnson (The Marlboro Man) as bronco-bucking bikers fighting drug dealers in the far-distant future of 1996. Peter Fonda (1940-2019) was an actor best known for playing motorcyclist Wyatt in 1969’s counterculture classic Easy Rider (which he also co-produced). Gary Busey is a wild-man actor who has appeared in more than a hundred movies and TV shows. In 1988 he suffered nearly fatal head injuries in a motorcycle accident. Malcolm Forbes (1919-1990) was a publishing tycoon and an ardent motorcycling enthusiast. He even owned a motorcycle dealership in New Jersey.
This is Then Came Bronson, over.
Then Came Bronson was a TV series that ran from 1969-1970. It starred Michael Parks as a young man traveling through America searching for personal meaning. According to the ACEG, “Frank Conniff loved it.”
Gotta get to the sculpture garden!
A reference to a Twin Cities landmark: the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which opened in 1988. Its most famous sculpture is Spoonbridge and Cherry, a giant spoon balancing a cherry from which water flows and mist spouts from the stem, by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. The bridge in this scene is reminiscent of the pedestrian bridges over Interstate 94 in Minneapolis, specifically the Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge. (Thanks to Stephanie Atwood Hatzenhuhler for the specific bridge reference.)
Pacific Blue Afternoons.
Pacific Blue (1996-2000) was a crime series about a squad of police officers patrolling the beaches of Santa Monica, a duty they typically did on bicycle. Baywatch Nights (1995-1997) was a spinoff of the popular skin-and-sun lifeguard series Baywatch. It featured some of the original cast (including David Hasselhoff) running a detective agency; later episodes also threw in supernatural and paranormal storylines.
[Imitating.] I meant to do that.
In a classic scene from Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985), Pee-wee gets catapulted from his bike after attempting some fancy antics. He brushes himself off and tells the onlookers, “I meant to do that.”
UPS man down!
United Parcel Service, or UPS, is a package delivery service founded in 1907; today it is a multibillion-dollar corporation.
You one of them preverts?
A reference to a challenge posed by Colonel Bat Guano (Keenan Wynn) to Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers) in Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). The exact charges: “I think you’re some kind of deviated prevert. And I think General Ripper found out about your preversion, and that you were organizing some kind of mutiny of preverts. Now move!”
Trust me, I’m Keenan Ivory Wynn.
Keenan Wynn (1916-1986), who plays the retired journalist in parts: the clonus horror (and also appeared in Show 706, Laserblast) had a long career as a character actor (see previous note, for example). Keenen Ivory Wayans is an American actor, comedian, and entertainer best known for the television sketch comedy series In Living Color (1990-1994) and the spoof-horror Scary Movie film franchise, both made with his brother Damon. He is the second-eldest of the ten children in the Wayans family, which also includes actors Marlon, Shawn, and Kim.
He talks like Ruth Gordon.
Ruth Gordon (1896-1985) was a film, television, and Broadway actor. In her advancing years she became known to a new generation for playing eccentric but layered older women in movies like Rosemary’s Baby (1968), What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? (1969), and Harold and Maude (1971).
An imitation of Aunt Bee, from The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968) and Mayberry R.F.D (1968-1971). She was portrayed by Frances Bavier.
Soon as Tante Kringle gets in here, we’ll get started.
Tante Kringle is a grandmotherly character in the Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas special Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (1970), voiced by Joan Gardner. Coincidentally, Keenan Wynn also voiced a character in the special (the Winter Warlock).
“Oh, Jake, that’s an earring. They’re all wearing them today.” That means he’s a friend of Dorothy.
“Friend of Dorothy” is a quaint euphemism for a gay man. The usual explanation is that it refers to camp icon Judy Garland, who played Dorothy Gale in the 1939 film version of The Wizard of Oz. A well-traveled bit of pop knowledge (perhaps inspired by the handkerchief codes that existed in 1960s and ‘70s gay subculture) posits that if a man wears an earring in one ear and not the other, he is signaling that he is gay, but if the ears are reversed, he isn’t. Naturally, no two people have ever, ever been able to agree on which ear means what.
Help you find Arvo Pärt?
Arvo Pärt is an Estonian minimalist composer and musical scholar who invented a style of composition he dubbed “tintinnabuli.”
Fifty free hours of AOL?!
AOL Inc., formerly America Online, is an Internet service provider and media company in the United States. The company was notorious for repeatedly offering you bundled software and free trials through their mail campaigns.
Of all the double-wides in L.A., he holes up with the Lockhorns.
Leroy and Loretta Lockhorn are a married couple who hurl hurtful barbs at each other every day in the syndicated newspaper comic strip “The Lockhorns.” The series was created in 1968 by Bill and Bunny Hoest.
Like Flashdance there.
In the 1983 movie Flashdance, Jennifer Beals played a steelworker with dreams of becoming a dancer. In one scene, Beals appeared in an oversized sweatshirt with the collar cut off so that it would slip off one shoulder; it created a brief but widespread fashion fad and a lot of mutilated sweatshirts.
Keenan Wynn is Jack Perkins as Mr. Food.
See note on Keenan Wynn, above. Jack Perkins (1933-2019) was a host on the cable channel A&E for many years. Mike Nelson parodied him in The Mystery Science Theater Hour. Mr. Food (real name: Art Ginsburg; 1931-2012) was a bearded TV chef and cookbook author whose show was syndicated across the U.S.
[Sung.] Won’t you take me to find my other part?
A paraphrased line from 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].”
Richard Harris as Robert Bly.
Richard Harris (1930-2002) was a classically handsome Irish actor and film star. Some of his best-known movies include the archetypal kitchen-sink drama This Sporting Life (1963), The Red Desert (1964), the classic epic musical Camelot (1967), Cromwell (1970), The Cassandra Crossing (1976), the nature-fights-back B-movie Orca (1977), and The Field (1990). Before he died, he became well known among the younger set for playing Hogwarts’ headmaster, Professor Albus Dumbledore, in the first two films of the Harry Potter franchise; after he died, actor Michael Gambon assumed the role for the rest of the series. Poet Robert Bly’s (1926-2021) 1990 book Iron John spawned the men’s movement of the 1990s, in which men gathered for “workshops” to beat drums and explore their relationships with their fathers.
Mark Spitz and Michael Caine at home.
Mark Spitz is considered the fastest swimmer of all time. In 1972, he won seven gold medals at the Munich Olympics, setting a new record. Afterwards he went on to a lucrative, if brief, endorsement career. Veteran British actor Sir Michael Caine has made some wonderful films, like Alfie, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Hannah and Her Sisters. He has also made some dreadful films, including Jaws: The Revenge, about which he famously said: “"I have never seen the film, but by all accounts it was terrible. However I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”
A bad version of Prick Up Your Ears.
Prick Up Your Ears is a 1987 film about the uneven relationship between the playwright Joe Orton and his older lover, Kenneth Halliwell, which eventually culminated in Halliwell murdering Orton and then committing suicide. It starred Gary Oldman as Orton, Alfred Molina as Halliwell, Vanessa Redgrave as Orton’s agent, Peggy Ramsay, and Wallace Shawn as Orton’s biographer, John Lahr. It was based on the book by Lahr and directed by Stephen Frears.
“My name is Jake Noble.” Napoleon imitator.
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) was a French general and eventually emperor. In a famous portrait of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David, the emperor is shown with his hand tucked inside his jacket, a pose that has forever become associated with him.
“What is this, a joke?” Are you a clown? Do you amuse me?
A reference to a famous exchange in Goodfellas (1990). Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci), after being told that he is funny, asks what Henry (Ray Liotta) meant by “funny.” With every explanation, he becomes even more incensed and threatening. The part specifically referred to: “You mean … let me understand this, ‘cause, you know, maybe it’s me? I’m a little f_____ up, maybe, but I’m funny how? I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh; I’m here to f_____’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?”
Another Scott Baio!
See note on Scott Baio, above.
I thought it was skin cream, but it was Elmer’s glue.
Elmer’s glue is a brand of adhesive used by schoolchildren everywhere. The name Elmer comes from its “spokesbull,” who introduced the brand in the late 1940s.
“… an ongoing and self-supporting institution of service and research.” At Oral Roberts University.
Oral Roberts University is a multidenominational Christian university in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was founded in 1963 by televangelist Oral Roberts (1918-2009), who in 1987 told his viewing audience that unless he raised $8 million in the next three months, God would “call him home.” He raised $9.1 million.
Put me in my Johnny Jump Up!
A Johnny Jump Up is a kind of doorway-suspended baby bouncer made by the Evenflo Company.
Hey, Short-time Companion.
See note on Longtime Companion, above.
It’s a marshmallow world.
“A Marshmallow World” is a 1949 song written by Carl Sigman and Peter DeRose that became a Christmas favorite, even though the lyrics are about winter, not the holiday. Bing Crosby had a hit with it in 1951, and it has also been recorded by Dean Martin, Johnny Mathis, Brenda Lee, and many others.
Well, there’s the Ropers and Jack Tripper downstairs.
See note on Three’s Company and Larry Dallas, above.
Grandma’s back and she had Ensure!
Ensure is a nutritional drink that boasts of containing vitamins, minerals, protein, etc. It is manufactured by Ross Products.
Peter Graves: movie bookend.
See note on Peter Graves, above.
He’s needed for Biography.
See note on Biography, above.
“You saw the tape? –Yeah, it’s scary.” Adam Sandler is in it.
Adam Sandler is a comedian and actor who has enjoyed amazing success with a series of lowbrow, feel-good movies, including The Wedding Singer (1998) and Mr. Deeds (2002). He got his start on Saturday Night Live, where he appeared from 1991-1995.
On Biography, tonight on A&E.
See note on Biography, above. The Arts & Entertainment Network, or A&E as it is more commonly known, is a basic cable channel that shows documentaries and second-run shows like Crossing Jordan.
It’s called Biography on Ice.
See note on Biography, above.
And remember to watch Biography! Paul Lynde, tonight!
See note on Biography, above. Paul Lynde (1926-1982) was a comedian who was known for playing Uncle Arthur on the TV show Bewitched. He was also a longtime guest on the game show Hollywood Squares, occupying the center square from 1968-1981.
Climb onboard the Monkey Business. Donna Rice is waiting below decks.
In May 1987, the married Democratic politician Gary Hart (who was being considered for his party’s presidential nomination) was caught spending the night onboard the yacht Monkey Business with Donna Rice, a model and pharmaceutical representative; a famous picture was taken on the dock of Rice sitting on Hart’s lap while he was wearing a T-shirt with the logo “Monkey Business Crew.” This cost him any serious chance for the nomination (although his marriage survived). Hart eventually dropped out of active politics and became a national security lecturer and author. Rice (now Donna Rice Hughes) pulled an ickle bit of a volte-face and is apparently an anti-pornography activist, Internet safety advocate, and all-round morality crusader. The yacht’s fate is unknown.
Ah, we have brainstormed a lot of good Biographies on this baby.
See note on Biography, above.
You can’t be on Biography.
See note on Biography, above.
“Well, obviously not for everyone. That wouldn’t be practical, or economical.” Or Republican.
The Republican Party is one of the two major political parties in the United States. It was founded in 1854, largely by reformers and anti-slavery partisans. It generally favors socially conservative, free-market, small-government policies.
Fine, then! You host Biography!
See note on Biography, above.
“If it weren’t for us, they wouldn’t even exist.” On Biography.
See note on Biography, above.
I blew all my Biography money. Went straight up my nose.
See note on Biography, above.
[Sung.] Sail away!
A reference to a Beck's beer ad from 1996, which showed ships sailing and suns setting and people enjoying good, wholesome beer, all to the strains of "Sail Away" by German rocker Hans Hartz; it was his biggest hit, mainly due to its use in the ad.
I want my Teddy Grahams.
Teddy Grahams are a brand of bear-shaped graham crackers made by Nabisco.
Well, Biography continues to do well.
See note on Biography, far above.
Meat Loaf sweats less than this guy.
Meat Loaf (real name Marvin Lee Aday) is a famously beefy musician who saw his highest success in the 1970s, with such hits as “Bat Out of Hell” and “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” His large frame caused him to sweat profusely while performing, so much so that grasping a hand towel along with a microphone became his signature stage look. He began acting in 1975, and a progressively slimmer Meat Loaf has since appeared in more than 50 movies and TV shows.
Can I watch Lion King again?
The Lion King is a 1994 animated Disney film about a pride of lions in the African savannah retelling the story of Hamlet. It was an enormous success, continuing Disney’s 1990s renaissance.
“If you’re not gonna call the papers, then I’m gonna do it.” I’m calling Michael Flatley.
Michael Flatley is a noted Irish-American dancer, choreographer, and television presenter who worked on the choreography for the original productions of the Irish-influenced Riverdance show. After disputes over creative control, he quit and cobbled together his own show, Lord of the Dance.
So, you’re not taking me to the Harlem Globetrotters?
The Harlem Globetrotters are an exhibition basketball team famed for entertaining spectators with their on-court antics. They were founded in 1927 in Chicago but named themselves after Harlem, then the center of Black culture. The team has always been largely made up of black players; Wilt Chamberlain got his start there, as did Connie Hawkins and NBA pioneer Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton. In 1985 the Globetrotters signed Olympic gold medalist Lynette Woodard as their first female player.
“All I know is you’re talking crazy.” And I’m the Posture Prince.
A callback to the short "Posture Pals," in Show 320, The Unearthly. The short illustrated its point by using silhouetted profiles of children’s postures.
Did I eat all the Kaboom, or is there some left?
Kaboom was a colorful, big-top-themed breakfast cereal made by General Mills, with clown-face corn cereal pieces and marshmallow bits shaped like bears, elephants, lions, and stars. It was sold from 1969 until 2010.
Hey, a Testosterossa!
The Ferrari Testarossa is a chunky, suggestively red sports car. It was manufactured from 1984 to 1991.
Well, why don’t you kiss him instead of holding him to death?
A paraphrase of a line from It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), during the “lasso the moon” scene. The line: “Why don’t you kiss her instead of talking her to death?”
clonus: The Boys in the Band horror.
The Boys in the Band is a 1970 film about a group of gay men, who hold varying attitudes towards their sexuality, throwing a birthday party for a friend. It was based on the Mart Crowley stage play by the same name, and the majority of the original cast reprised their roles.
Ah, you kids with your morals and your ethics and your 8-track tapes.
Officially known as Stereo 8, 8-track tapes were cassettes of magnetic tape in an infinite loop. They were developed in the early 1960s by Bill Lear (he of Lear Jet fame) and released in 1964. They caught on because, until then, the only means of owning music were vinyl records or cumbersome reel-to-reels, and neither of those was terribly portable. They were popular until the mid-1970s, when standard compact cassettes finally replaced them as the desired form of totable audio entertainment. Complaints included low audio quality, the inability to rewind, the inability to choose a specific song to go to, songs switching in the middle of play to a different track ... actually, it’s a wonder they were ever popular.
“All right. All right, go.” And never darken my towels again.
“Go, and never darken my towels again!” is the war-precipitating dismissal given by Freedonian President Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) to the Sylvanian ambassador in the classic Marx Brothers film Duck Soup (1933).
Starsky and Clone.
Starsky and Hutch was a TV cop show that ran from 1975-1979.
Why do I know they’re gonna listen to BTO?
Bachman-Turner Overdrive, or BTO, is a Canadian rock band popular during the 1970s for such hits as “Takin’ Care of Business” and “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.”
And Abraham drove Isaac to the top of the mountain.
The Book of Genesis relates a tale in which God demands that Abraham sacrifice his son, Isaac, upon Mount Moriah. Abraham prepares to follow through with it, and only stops when an angel intercedes at the last moment and tells Abraham that it was merely a test of his faith.
[Sung.] One more clone up in the canyon …
A reference to the 1996 Counting Crows song “A Long December.” Lyrics: “And it’s one more day up in the canyons/And it’s one more night in Hollywood/If you think you might come to California/I think you should.”
As long as they’re here, they should have filmed a McCloud.
McCloud was a television series starring Dennis Weaver as a rural lawman who joins a big city police force. It ran from 1970-1977.
The Bulgarian folk choir! They arrived in a limousine.
The Bulgarian Women’s Choir is a folk music ensemble from the former Soviet Union that became popular in the West during the 1990s. They employ a bizarre yodelish method of singing drawn from traditional Bulgarian music.
Door-to-door Biography. I’d like to tell you about the fascinating life of Charles Grodin.
See note on Biography, above. Charles Grodin (1935-2021) was an actor who appeared in such films as Beethoven, Seems Like Old Times, and Rosemary’s Baby.
I’m gonna have Barney rough ya up.
Barnard “Barney” Collier (played by Greg Morris) was IMF’s techie and electronics expert in Mission: Impossible (1966-1973). See note on Peter Graves, above.
The Sansabelt murders.
Sansabelt is a brand of men’s trousers with an elasticized waistband—and hence no need for a belt. Possibly a reference to the 1978 slasher flick The Toolbox Murders, which starred Cameron Mitchell as a killer with a well-stocked and creatively wielded toolbox. Cameron played Commander Alex Jansen, the father of the strangely elderly hot babe, in Show 820, Space Mutiny.
Huge lamps of the ‘70s: tonight on Biography!
See note on Biography, above.
I prefer Jack Perkins! There, I said it!
See note on Jack Perkins, above.
Gonna be a bigger problem than Billy Carter. –Mistakes were made, brothers were killed.
See note on Billy Carter, above. “Mistakes were made” is a commonly used dodge by politicians to acknowledge error without pinning blame on any specific person: the passive construction suggests that no one actually made the mistakes; they just materialized out of thin air. President Ronald Reagan famously used the phrase during the Iran-contra scandal in 1986, but the earliest use I was able to find was by Richard Nixon’s press secretary, Ron Ziegler, in 1973, apologizing for his attacks on Washington Post stories about the Watergate scandal.
Gimme your posture medal!
Another reference to the “Posture Pals” short; see above note.
I think they found the outrage.
Longtime U.S. Senator Bob Dole was the 1996 Republican candidate for president. During his campaign, his slogan “Where’s the outrage?” was meant to remind voters of the behavior of the sitting president, Bill Clinton, who was often mired in scandals. The Monica Lewinsky scandal, which would eventually lead to Clinton’s impeachment by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, had not yet hit; Dole was mostly complaining about things now long-forgotten, like accusations that Clinton was rushing through immigration applications to increase the supply of Democratic voters.
This is our “ool”! Notice there’s no “p” in it!
“Welcome to our ool. Notice there’s no “p” in it. Let’s keep it this way!” is a water etiquette sign that one could perhaps purchase, hang poolside, and impugn your guests’ hygiene with.
Soundtrack by Yngwie Malmsteen.
Yngwie Malmsteen is a Swedish metal/neo-classical guitarist and songwriter widely admired for his technical accomplishments. He had his greatest success in the 1980s with albums like Rising Force and Odyssey.
For God, country, and the queen!
“For God, queen [or 'king'], and country” is a patriotic saying that appears to be largely associated with Britain and its former colonies, including Canada and Australia, although it appears in other lands as well. (For example, the national motto of Morocco translates from Arabic as “God, the country, the king”; in Liechtenstein it’s “For God, prince and fatherland.”)
Catch-and-release is a conservation technique used by anglers and fishers to keep fish populations sustainable. For some threatened species it is mandated by the government; others are up to the whim of the fisher. It was first officially practiced in the 1950s.
Secret Service is out front having a smoke.
The United States Secret Service is the federal law enforcement agency responsible for active protection of current, former, and potential presidents and vice presidents and their immediate families. Its original (and main function) is the investigation of currency counterfeiting and fraud. From 1865 to 2003 it was a division of the Treasury Department; it is now part of the Department of Homeland Security. Since 1902, when it assumed the presidential protection role, there has been only one indisputable failure: November 1963, in Dallas.
Tonight, on Biography.
See note on Biography, above.
Dale Evans wants her shirt back.
Dale Evans (1912-2001) was a singer and actress who starred with her husband, Roy Rogers, on the contemporary Western TV series The Roy Rogers Show (1951-1957).
[Sung.] Maria …
A brief rendition of the song “Maria” from the musical West Side Story. Lyrics: “Maria, I’ve just met a girl named Maria/And suddenly the name will never be the same to me/Maria! I’ve just kissed a girl named Maria/And suddenly I’ve found how wonderful a sound can be.”
I’m sorry, Ollie.
A reference to the comedy team Laurel & Hardy, which made a string of movies during the 1920s and ‘30s. The stout Oliver Hardy played a childish, bossy, fussy character opposite Stan Laurel’s thin, gentle incompetent.
“Did you like America?” Well, I liked “Horse With No Name,” but after that …
Riffing on the 1972 hit song "A Horse with No Name," by the folk rock band America. Songwriter Dewey Bunnell has said the imagery came from his childhood experiences in the Arizona and New Mexico deserts, but some U.S. radio stations banned the song because of the widespread belief that the “horse” in the song referred to heroin. Sample lyrics: “I've been through the desert on a horse with no name/It felt good to be out of the rain/In the desert you can remember your name/'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain.”
Biography! Biography! Biography!
See note on Biography, above.
Hey, it’s—oh, I thought it was Dale.
From the MST3K Info site: “Back in the 1970s, there was a series of commercials for Ivory dishwashing liquid, in which mothers were mistaken for their daughters—because the mom used Ivory and so her hands were young-looking. At around the same time, there was also a commercial for Grape Nuts, in which a teenage boy mistakes teenage girl Dale’s mother for Dale and utters the deathless line: ‘I thought you were Dale!’ Best Brains only vaguely remembered these two commercials, and apparently mixed them up in their minds. There were apparently never any Ivory Liquid commercials in which a character said, ‘I thought you were Dale!’ And the Grape Nuts commercial in which that line was spoken had nothing to do with hands. So basically they goofed. But the writers thought they were making a reference to the Ivory Liquid commercials.”
Product placement: now I’m gonna buy NBC.
The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is a major American TV broadcast network; its logo is a peacock spreading its tail. It is headquartered at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in the Rockefeller Center, New York City.
Ted Turner is the billionaire media mogul who founded CNN, TNT, TCM, etc. He is one of the largest landowners in the United States, with nearly two million acres.
“The true people’s choice.” Gus Hall.
Gus Hall (b. Arvo Kustaa Halberg; 1910-2000) was a Finnish-American labor organizer, Marxist activist, and four-time presidential candidate for the Communist Party USA, which he also headed as chairman from 1959 until shortly before his death in 2000. During the Red Scare of the 1950s, he and other Communist Party members were sent to prison for years on charges of conspiring to overthrow the government—by which they meant advocating Marxism, under the paranoid logic of the time.
Who’s coming up this week on Biography?
See note on Biography, above.
An imitation of Fred Sanford (Redd Foxx) on the sitcom Sanford and Son (see above note). Grady Wilson (Whitman Mayo) was Fred’s friend and accomplice.
“Bernie, Daily Sun.” I love Bridget.
Bridget Loves Bernie was a sitcom starring Meredith Baxter and David Birney, which ran from 1972 to 1973. Although highly rated, the program was pulled when NBC caved in to hate mail from viewers who objected to an interfaith marriage (Bridget was Catholic, Bernie was Jewish). Baxter and Birney then married off the air; they divorced in 1989.
Ah, yes, definitely. Brit Hume, front row?
Brit Hume is a dour-looking political journalist and pundit. He worked for ABC from 1973 until 1997, where he covered Congress, several presidential campaigns, and the White House. He then went to work for the new Fox News Channel; for ten years he hosted an evening news show on that network, Special Report with Brit Hume.
I can barely hear my heart beating.
A line of the Tin Woodsman’s in the 1939 film version of The Wizard of Oz.
I’m a sad clown.
Pierrot, the white-faced sad fool of Commedia dell’Arte, has been a recurring tragicomic figure in theater and art since the 17th century. Sad clown paintings and clown tramps like Emmett Kelly are famous 20th-century reinterpretations of Pierrot.
Boy, that clock never moves, does it?
“A watched clock never moves/ticks” is a truism as old as time itself (and “ah-hah-hah,” let me add). It is related to the similar proverb “a watched pot never boils,” which seems to have been coined c. 1778 by Benjamin Franklin in his Poor Richard’s Almanack: “I was very Hungry; it was so late; ‘a watched pot is slow to boil,’ as Poor Richard says.”
The arrival of associate producer Peter R.J. Deyell proved both groundbreaking and heartwrenching for the young Liverpudlians.
An allusion to the origins of the Beatles, a staggeringly influential British rock band, consisting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. They produced a lengthy string of number one hits, inspired countless bands, caused riots among female teenage fans, annoyed the Establishment, and generally set the stage for the rock & roll revolution of the 1960s.
The film stylings of Brogan DePar- Brogan Depad- Paul Sharp and Ted Keep, two crisply named young men, tonight, on Biography.
See note on Biography, above.
Freeze Frame. The J. Geils Band. Synonyms in the hearts of Americans everywhere.
The J. Geils Band is an American rock-ish band whose most successful songs were “Centerfold” and “Freeze-Frame,” both from the 1981 album Freeze-Frame. Lead singer Peter Wolf would later have a solo hit with 1984’s “Lights Out.”
Peter Graves. The underrated, underpaid, incredibly handsome host of Biography, today on Biography.
See notes on Biography and Peter Graves, above. A week after this experiment was taped, A&E did indeed air an episode of Biography about the life and career of Peter Graves.
Tonight on Biography, Paulette Breen—who turned down perfectly innocent sexual advances from Peter Graves on the set of clonus—who will never work in this town again.
See note on Biography, above.
James Mantell, in a striking coincidence, shared a first name with the hulking, expressionless, pseudo-cowboy James Arness. James Arness. As a young boy, James Arness nurtured a howling bitterness in the face of the awesomely superior talent of his brother, Peter Graves. Peter Graves’s life and career were marked by a generosity of spirit and loving attitude towards his fellow man, which were ultimately missing in the pitted soul of James Arness. Often, James Arness’s mother would remark to friends that she loved her son Peter Graves so very, very much, while she hated James Arness and cursed the day her womb had been blighted with such a creature. James Arness: Ugly and Stupid, tonight on Biography.
James Arness (1923-2011) was indeed Peter Graves’s brother. He is best known for playing Marshal Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke. He also played the plant-based alien in the 1951 film The Thing from Another World.
So, that’s as good as it gets. So, Peter Graves? –Biography. –Biography.
See the original note on Biography, a very long time ago indeed.