202: The Sidehackers
by Trey Yeatts
They shot this with a 3-millimeter camera. –I’d like to shoot them with a 3-millimeter howitzer. Bigger! It’s got to be bigger!
“Howitzer” has become a catch-all word for artillery pieces over the past few hundred years. The word itself derives from the Czech word “houfnice,” meaning “to heap crowds.” The word was translated to German in the 15th century as “Haubitze,” and the English term comes from that. Compared to most cannons, howitzers have shorter barrels and are often fired at high angles. A 3 mm howitzer is a caliber so small that it would be virtually useless: a garden pea is about 5 mm in diameter.
Sidehackers. Is that what happens when the guy spits out of the side of his mouth?
We might as well get this out of the way early. Sidecar racing (a.k.a. “sidecar motocross,” “sidecarcross,” or “sidehacking”) is, in fact, an actual sport. It began in the late 1930s in the United Kingdom, enjoyed brief worldwide recognition in the 1950s and ‘60s (not really in the U.S., though) and still occurs in Europe.
[Credit: “Filmed in Fantascope.”] Oh, great. I love orange soda. –I liked it when they used to shoot movies in Orange Julius-scope.
“Fantascope” is likely a play on the word “fantoscope,” which is a method of projecting slides of various sizes developed by Belgian magician Robertson (b. Étienne-Gaspard Robert, 1763-1837) in the late 1700s. The riff, though, refers to the fruit-flavored soda Fanta, produced and sold by Coca-Cola. It was developed in Nazi Germany in 1940, when trade embargoes meant Germans couldn’t obtain the sodas they had previously enjoyed. Germany’s Coca-Cola executive told his team he wanted them to use their imaginations to find a name for the drink, made up of whey and pomace (the pulp and other solids left over after the fruit is pressed for juice). The German word for “imagination” is “Fantasie.” Ta-da. There are more than 90 flavors worldwide, including orange, grape, peach, and mango. Orange Julius is a chain of beverage shops specializing in fruit drinks. The first location was an orange juice stand opened in Los Angeles by Julius Freed in 1926. Freed’s realtor had a sensitive stomach, so he concocted a frothy, creamy orange drink that Freed began to sell. Sales shot up. Today, Orange Julius has more than 5,700 locations worldwide.
The scientists must be showing us ESPN. Maybe they’ll show kickboxing from the Philippines.
ESPN is a sports network that first aired in 1979 as the “Entertainment and Sports Programming Network,” founded by Bill & Scott Rasmussen and Ed Eagan. In the ensuing decades, the network has been a go-to place for sports coverage and news, often overshadowing the broadcast networks for certain special events. The network (and its many sister channels) have been owned by Disney (well, 80 percent of them, anyway; the Hearst Corporation owns the other 20 percent) since 1996.
Tonight’s episode: Bicycle Built for Death! –Baby Can You Drive My Murder! –These Boots Were Made for Arson! –Two Wheeler, Four Wheeler, Dead Wheeler! –Easy Rider, Easy Dead! –Tonight, Act I, with very special guest Ross Hagen.
“Bicycle built for two” is a line in the popular 1892 song “Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)” by Harry Dacre. The song itself is famous for having been sung by the computer HAL 9000 in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. In fact, “Daisy Bell” was the first song used to demonstrate computer speech synthesis, by an IBM computer at Bell Labs in 1961. “Baby you can drive my car” is a line from the 1965 Beatles hit single “Drive My Car,” written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon. “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” was a 1966 hit for Nancy Sinatra, written by Lee Hazlewood. “Two Wheeler, Four Wheeler” is a 1989 song by Trip Shakespeare, off his album Are You Shakespearienced? Easy Rider is the quintessential counterculture movie, written by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern; directed by Hopper; and starring Fonda, Hopper, and Jack Nicholson. Released in 1969, it’s about two bikers who traverse much of the country looking for true freedom. Many of the pseudo-episode titles and the “Act I” bit in this riff echo television crime dramas of the 1960s and ‘70s, which employed the much-ridiculed (by MST3K, anyway) naming technique of replacing a word in a common phrase or title with a word like “death” or “murder.”
And JC Hoffenpoffer, try a fintoozler.
These are made-up words in a Dr. Seussian vein sometimes used by the MST3K crew (especially “fintoozler,” which appeared in multiple episodes).
Hey, Diane Tessier, Joey ... the whole Tessier clan got in on this.
Robert Tessier (1934-1990) plays Jake in this film. He was a character actor and stuntman who also appeared in The Longest Yard (1974), The Cannonball Run (1981), and The Deep (1977), as well as ‘70s/’80s TV shows such as The Incredible Hulk and The Dukes of Hazzard. His children, Diane and Joey, only ever appeared in this film.
Based on the award-winning stage play by Lillian Hellman.
Lillian Hellman (1905-1984) was a playwright known for classics such as The Children’s Hour, The Little Foxes, and Toys in the Attic. In the late 1940s and into the ‘50s, she was investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee for her leftist politics and her membership in the Communist Party.
Director of blurriness, John Hall. And Daryl Oates.
Daryl Hall and John Oates are professional musicians, who play together as the musical duo Hall & Oates. They had their greatest success from about the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, with hit songs like "Private Eyes" (1981), "Maneater" (1982), and "Out of Touch" (1984). All three of those songs (and several others) hit number one on the charts. Altogether their albums have sold roughly 40 million copies.
Check the map, will ya? Why me? Why me all the time?
Lines spoken by Eric Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck), leader of the biker gang in the 1965 Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello teen romp movie Beach Blanket Bingo.
Pat Somerset Maugham. That’s what Noël Coward used to do.
Pat Somerset may have been a producer on this film, but he was more often a sound editor, who worked on dozens of television series. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) was a British playwright and author, as was Noël Coward (1899-1973). Both Coward and Maugham were gay, although they were not romantically involved. Coward, in fact, did not seem particularly fond of Maugham; he referred to Maugham as the “lizard of Oz” and may have based an unflattering character (a closeted homosexual) in one of his plays on his fellow author.
And the Mike Curb Congregation.
Mike Curb—who scored the music and wrote original songs for Sidehackers—had a music career in the 1960s scoring films such as The Wild Angels (1966) and The Born Losers (1968, the first of the Billy Jack movies). He also had a few minor hits with his group The Mike Curb Congregation, including 1971’s “Burning Bridges,” which served as the theme song for the 1970 World War II film Kelly’s Heroes. He later served as lieutenant governor of California from 1979 to 1983.
And the rest! –Art director, Lee Foster (sic). –Assistant cameraman, Vince Dyslexic. –Assistant script supervisor, Eddie Glaucoma. –Music editor, can’t read it.
In the theme song “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Isle,” used in the opening credits of the CBS sitcom Gilligan’s Island (1964-1967), each of the characters is introduced, with “… the Professor and Mary Ann …” tacked on at the very end. “Tacked on,” because in the original theme song, used for the first season of the show, the Professor and Mary Ann were famously not mentioned by name—the song ended with “… and the rest …” (MST3K: The Movie riffs This Island Earth, which features Russell Johnson, who later played the Professor. When Johnson makes his first appearance in the film, Mike says, “What’s this ‘and the rest …’ crap?”)
He was in Porgy and Bess.
Porgy and Bess is an opera written by George & Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward and first performed in 1935. It was groundbreaking in that it was written about and primarily performed by Black actors.
No one’s legs were ground off in the making of this film.
A paraphrase of the famous credit line “No animals were harmed in the making of this film.” The American Humane Association holds a copyright on that phrase. The practice of the AHA evaluating films for their treatment of animals dates back to the 1939 film Jesse James, in which a horse was driven off a cliff to its death.
Help! I’m sidehacking and I can’t get up! –I’m having butt pains! –We’ll be right there, Mr. Stuffy.
A reference to the (in)famous commercials for LifeCall, which produced small electronic devices to be worn by the elderly to notify medical services in case of a home accident. In an ad that first appeared in 1989, an elderly man, clutching his chest, pressed the button on his device and said, “I’m having chest pains!” A dispatcher answered his call, saying, "I'm calling paramedics and your family, Mr. Miller." Then, a woman activated her necklace and said, “I’ve fallen ... and I can’t get up!” (The soothing reply: "We're sending help immediately, Mrs. Fletcher.") Three actresses have been credited with playing Mrs. Fletcher: Edith Fore, Dorothy McHugh, and Bea Marcus. Her phrase was trademarked by LifeCall from 1992 until 1999 and was later appropriated by the similar service Life Alert. The phrase has entered the pop culture lexicon under the “Unintentional Camp” category.
Hey, it’s Hunter S. Thompson. I didn’t know sidehacking was so gonzo.
Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005) was a writer, the father of gonzo journalism (a style of writing that abandons objectivity in favor of a first-person narrative from the journalist’s point of view). He was best known for his 1972 semi-autobiographical book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, first published as a two-part article in Rolling Stone. He was known for his wild writing style, his extensive experimentation with psychedelic drugs, and his boundless enthusiasm for firearms. His distinctive appearance—bald head, large sunglasses, cigarette holder—was imbued in the Uncle Duke character in the “Doonesbury” comic strip by Garry Trudeau. Thompson committed suicide with a handgun in 2005.
There used to be a Renaissance Festival as far as the eye can see.
One of many references to Renaissance Festivals (or Faires) over the life of MST3K. They are an entertainment phenomenon that began in Southern California in the 1960s and spread first to the rest of California, and then the nation. Generally, they feature a number of vendors selling leather mugs, swords, jewelry, and so forth; singers, dancers, and comedians performing; a “court” complete with king, queen, and courtiers; and rides and games for both children and adults. As proved in scathing host segments in Show 703, Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell, the MST3K gang has an intense dislike of Renaissance Festivals. Specifically, Kevin Murphy had this to say in the Sci-Fi Channel episode guide for Deathstalker: “‘Creative anachronism’ my sorry Irish ass. A Ren-fest is nothing more than an excuse to be lame, smelly and fat, just like XFL fans, only worse. I’m betting most of these clowns couldn’t spell ‘Renaissance’ if you threatened their tender vittles with hot iron. I hope someday they live out their wish to know what it was like back then by contracting plague. Too harsh? You go to a Renaissance festival and get back to me.”
[Credit: “Directed by Gus Trikonis.”] Undercooked pork by Gus Trichinosis.
Trichinosis is a disease caused by a species of roundworm found in undercooked pork or game. In the modern United States, trichinosis is rarely a risk, thanks to close regulation of the pork industry. If you’re still worried, make sure that chop has an internal temp of 145 degrees, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Meanwhile, in another movie ...
The phrase “Meanwhile, back at _____,” originated with cards inserted in silent films of the early 20th century. In westerns, this was often “Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...” Once audio became a common component, the phrase was still used by narrators for films and radio and television shows.
Hey, they’re filming a ... Kotex ad ... I can’t say “Kotex.” I’m a robot.
Kotex is a brand name for a line of feminine hygiene products and has since almost become a brand eponym for tampons and menstrual pads. Manufactured by paper supplier Kimberly-Clark Company, they developed a cellulose-based cotton substitute to use as medical bandages during World War I. Nurses saw firsthand how absorbent the Cellucotton was (five times more so than cotton itself) and used some themselves as “feminine napkins.” Kimberly-Clark learned about this and in 1920 began selling Kotex (a sort-of contraction of “cotton textile”). You may be wondering what women did before this during “that time of the month.” They used cotton cloths (or rags), washed them, and reused them.
Let’s check in and see what the Gatsbys are doing.
The Great Gatsby is a 1925 novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is set in the early 1920s, “The Roaring Twenties,” if you will, as Prohibition takes hold and bootleggers get rich. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century and has been adapted for stage and screen multiple times.
Last one to the montage is a rotten egg.
The schoolyard taunt “Last one in is a rotten egg!” is of American origin, dating to the late 19th or early 20th century.
So, what’s so bad about feeling good?
What’s So Bad About Feeling Good? is the title of a 1983 autobiography by Dr. Robert Freymann, a New York physician who developed a certain underground celebrity as a “Dr. Feelgood” to the stars. Freymann’s specialty was dispensing injections of vitamin B-12 laced with amphetamines to his rich and famous clientele, which allegedly ranged from Jackie Kennedy to the Beatles—it’s been asserted but never confirmed that the Beatles’ 1966 song “Dr. Robert” is about Freymann. The title of Freymann’s book may have been inspired by the 1968 comedy film What’s So Bad About Feeling Good?, starring George Peppard, Mary Tyler Moore, and Dom DeLuise. In the film, a virus carried by a toucan makes everyone infected feel happy and blissful. Other than feeling good, there are no ill effects associated with the virus, yet the government seeks to cure it. A box office disappointment, the movie has never been released for home media.
Haircut by Chad Everett.
Chad Everett (1937-2012) was an American actor best known for playing Dr. Joe Gannon in the CBS drama Medical Center (1969-1976), though he appeared in more than forty TV series and movies, including a self-parodying turn in Airplane II: The Sequel (1982). His hair was perfect.
They look like they’re filming a Star Trek episode. –Help me, Kirk! Help me! I am Kirok!
The original Star Trek series, which aired on NBC from 1966 to 1969, followed the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. Leonard McCoy, and the rest of the crew of the USS Enterprise as it explored the galaxy. Believe it or not, three different episodes are being referenced here. First, there’s “This Side of Paradise,” set on an idyllic planet with spores that infect the crew, inducing artificial bliss. Spock and a woman who used to love him (unrequited, of course) spend a lot of time frolicking together in the fields. “Help me, Kirk!” is from the episode “The Savage Curtain.” In that one, powerful rock beings seek to understand good and evil by teaming Kirk and Spock up with facsimiles of Abraham Lincoln and ancient Vulcan philosopher Surak (the good guys) and then pitting them against four facsimiles of evil characters from history. One is the first Klingon emperor, Kahless the Unforgettable, who apparently was also a professional impersonator, because he imitates both Surak and Lincoln in attempts to draw Kirk and Spock out from hiding. Finally, “I am Kirok!” refers to “The Paradise Syndrome.” In that one, Kirk is stranded on a planet about to be hit by an asteroid and, oh yeah, he has amnesia. A local Native American tribe (long story) believes he’s a medicine man who can save the planet. Kirk has a faint memory of his old life and erroneously believes his name is Kirok. Just before the asteroid strikes the planet, he stands atop the ancient asteroid deflector (again, long story) and defiantly bellows, “I am Kirok!”
Hey, Joel, where do you suppose these guys are working now that cigarette ads are illegal? –I don’t know, maybe they’re working on PM Magazine.
Broadcast (TV and radio) commercials for cigarettes were banned effective January 2, 1971. The last ad aired was for Virginia Slims, which ran shortly before midnight on January 1, 1971, on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. PM Magazine was a syndicated news and entertainment program that aired from 1978 to 1991 throughout much of the country. Tom Bergeron, Leeza Gibbons, and Matt Lauer are among the many broadcast pros who got their start on the show.
David McCallum’s coming over for dinner.
David McCallum is a Scottish actor best known for playing Russian agent Illya Kuryakin on the 1960s television spy series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. He can also be seen in Show 324, Master Ninja II.
Hey, I’m tripping. No, I’m really tripping. –Ouch. –[Imitating Jerry Lewis.] There's a protractor in my pocket! Sorry about my hand ... Lady! Oh! –[Imitating Dean Martin.] Oh, c’mon, Jerry! Now cut that out, Jerry, and get off me. Get your knee out of my groin!
Jerry Lewis (born Jerome Levitch, 1926-2017) was a comedian who rose to fame thanks to his partnership with Rat Packer Dean Martin (1917-1995) in the 1940s and ‘50s and then in a lengthy string of zany solo films, including The Ladies Man (1961), in which Lewis famously belted, “Lady!” Martin was known for his lounge-like attitude and his laid-back style.
Nintendo? –Money? –Fuel injection?
Nintendo is a Japanese company founded in 1889 (!) by Fusajiro Yamauchi to make playing cards. The name entered the American consciousness when their Nintendo Entertainment System—a video gaming platform—began selling in North America in 1985. It revitalized and revolutionized the home gaming industry after the gluttonous crash of 1983 (a.k.a. “The Atari Debacle”). The NES was followed in 1990 by the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), the Nintendo 64 (N64) in 1996, the GameCube in 2001, the Wii in 2006, and the WiiU in 2012. Nintendo also produced the Gameboy (released in 1989) and the DS (released in 2004) portable gaming devices, two of the best-selling video game systems ever.
“A lock.” You know. Little fish. You eat them on bagels.
Lox is thinly sliced and cured salmon fillet usually eaten on bagels with cream cheese.
A reference to Show 104, Women of the Prehistoric Planet.
An imitation of wacky neighbor Andrew “Squiggy” Squiggman (played by David Lander) as he barged into the title characters’ apartment on the TV sitcom Laverne & Shirley, which ran from 1976-1983. (The other neighbor, Leonard Kosnowski, was played by Michael McKean.)
Hey, it’s Dick Shawn.
Dick Shawn (1923-1987) was an actor and comedian best known for roles in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), The Producers (1968), and the 1974 holiday special The Year Without a Santa Claus.
In fact, I’m a bike.
A reference to an old slam against women with a “loose” sexual disposition: “She’s the town bike. Everyone gets a ride.”
Oh, you magnificent son of a bitch, I read your book!
A paraphrase of the line, “Rommel, you magnificent bastard. I read your book!” uttered by George C. Scott as General George Patton in the 1970 film Patton. German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (1891-1944) did, in fact, write a book titled Infantry Attacks, and Patton (1885-1945), along with many other generals, claimed to have read it. The book depicted in the film, The Tank in Attack, was actually the intended title of Rommel’s never-completed follow-up book to Infantry Attacks.
Looks like Budd Friedman. Hope he doesn’t try to hug everybody.
Budd Friedman was the founder (in 1963) and original emcee of New York City’s Improvisation Comedy Club, as well two other improv clubs in California. He helped launch the careers of many major comics, including Rodney Dangerfield, Jay Leno, and Andy Kaufman.
Maybe he’ll let me call him “little buddy.”
On the show Gilligan’s Island (1964-1967), “l’il buddy” was the oft-heard nickname The Skipper (a.k.a. Jonas Grumby, played by Alan Hale Jr.) gave to Gilligan (Bob Denver).
Sure, I swing. –Both ways?
A reference to non-monogamous social events, followed by an implication of bisexuality.
“Trouble.” Right here in River City. Capital “T,” stands for “C,” stands for “chick.”
A paraphrasing of lyrics from the song “Ya Got Trouble,” from the 1957 musical The Music Man and its 1962 film adaptation, written by Meredith Willson. The relevant lines from the song: “Trouble, oh we got trouble/Right here in River City!/With a capital “T”/That rhymes with “P”/And that stands for Pool.”
That’s what I’m asking! –I don’t know! –Third base!
A reference to a famous vaudeville word-play routine titled “Who’s on First?”, which was derived from an earlier one titled “Who’s the Boss?” The baseball version first appeared in the 1930s and was made famous by the comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, who first performed it for a national audience in 1938 and copyrighted it in 1944. In the bit, a ballplayer named Who mans first base, one named What mans second, and I Don’t Know mans third.
Are you known for your work in the theater?
This was a typical question asked during the “Mystery Guest” segment of the TV game show What’s My Line? (CBS, 1950-1967). On the show, a panel of celebrities would question contestants to guess their occupation, but the final round of each episode involved another celebrity—a “mystery guest”—as a contestant, and the panelists were blindfolded and tasked with guessing the mystery guest’s identity, not their occupation.
Yeah, pick me up a dime bag of those shoes. Colombian shoes.
“Dime bag” is a bit of slang that refers to $10 worth of drugs, usually marijuana. The “Colombian” reference implies that cocaine may be the narcotic of choice here.
“Very interesting!” But stupid!
Comedian Arte Johnson frequently performed on the TV sketch comedy show Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (1968-1973). He is best remembered for appearing as a German soldier to inform the audience that the preceding sketch was “Very interesting, but stupid!”
How does she make herself look like Buffy?
Buffy was one of the six-year-old twins on the TV series Family Affair (1966-1971), played by Anissa Jones. (The other twin was Jody, played by Johnny Whitaker.) There was also a teenage sister, Cissy, played by Kathy Garver. The three siblings were orphans, cared for by their bachelor uncle Bill (Brian Keith) and his valet Mr. French (Sebastian Cabot). Buffy was a round-faced little moppet, with blond hair worn in two curly pigtails on either side of her head.
"Number 22, that's Doug Bingham." Known as Der Bingle.
"Der Bingle" was a nickname for crooner Bing Crosby (1903-1977), given to him by the Germans during World War II, who listened to the propaganda broadcasts he recorded for the Allies; his English-speaking fans quickly adopted the moniker as well. Crosby 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.
Hey, Jim Hutton.
Jim Hutton (1934-1979) was a very tall (6’5”) actor who appeared in the John Wayne films The Green Berets (1968) and The Hellfighters (also 1968), as well as played the starring role in the 1975 NBC detective series Ellery Queen.
[Garbled] Jimmie Foxx. Whitey Ford. Sandy Koufax. –Goofy Grape. –Lefty Lemon. –Injun Orange. –Jolly Olly Orange. –Loud Mouth Lime. –Choo Choo Cherry. –[Garbled.]
Jimmie Foxx (1907-1967) was a famed baseball player, primarily for the Philadelphia Athletics and the Boston Red Sox. Whitey Ford is a retired pitcher for the New York Yankees. Sandy Koufax is a retired pitcher who played for both the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. Funny Face Drink Mix was a powdered drink flavoring produced by Pillsbury and sold in the 1960s and ‘70s. Goofy Grape, Lefty Lemon, and Loud Mouth Lime were some of the flavors. Injun Orange was later changed to Jolly Olly Orange, and Chinese Cherry was changed to Choo Choo Cherry after protests from those communities.
[Imitating Jerry Lewis.] Hold me. Please, hold me, Deeean! –[Imitating Dean Martin.] Ow, c’mon, Jerry.
See above note on Martin and Lewis.
Jane, stop this crazy thing!
In the original run of The Jetsons (1962-1963), George Jetson could be seen in the closing credits taking the dog, Astro, for a walk on a treadmill that goes awry when Astro began chasing a cat. George would then yell to his wife, “Jane! Stop this crazy thing!”
Indy! Throw me the whip! –Throw me the idol! –The whip! –The idol!
A paraphrase of the exchange between Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) and his treacherous guide Satipo (a very young Alfred Molina) at the beginning of the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Around the clubhouse turn, there’s Apartment House with plenty of room. Girdle holds on in the stretch. And pulling up the rear is Beetlebomb.
A reference to the 1948 song “William Tell Overture,” as recorded by Spike Jones and His City Slickers. Performed primarily with kitchen utensils and pots, it was a cover of Gioachino Rossini’s 1829 instrumental, best known in recent years as “The Lone Ranger Theme.” Jones’s version, though, included lyrics detailing a horse race and littered with puns, voiced by comedian and character actor Doodles Weaver, a member of the City Slickers. Beetlebomb (or Beetlebaum or Beetlebum or Feitlebaum) was frequently in last place, yet somehow won the race. Weaver frequently performed as the character “Professor Feitlebaum.” (Thanks to Erney Edwards for his Spike Jones expertise.)
There’s the team from Foot Locker.
Foot Locker is a shoe retailer founded in 1974 with more than 3,000 locations worldwide today. The employees wear black-and-white-striped shirts, not unlike referees.
Good one, Cambot. Nice effect.
The sports score graphics Cambot is superimposing on the screen here are very much like those used on ESPN and other channels in the early 1990s. Cambot even provided the annoying tone to let you know they were coming, as they used to do. Thankfully, these kinds of screenshifting overlays have gone away in favor of bottom-of-the-screen crawls.
Thank Bob Crane for being the flagman there.
Actor Bob Crane (1928-1978) played Colonel Robert Hogan on the CBS sitcom Hogan’s Heroes (1965-1971).
Well, it was about this time the old Duke boys decided to show old Boss Hogg what sidehacking was all about.
An imitation of narrator Waylon Jennings (listed as “The Balladeer” in the credits) and his frequent pre-commercial-break interjections on the CBS TV series The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985). Jefferson Davis Hogg (a.k.a. Boss Hogg) was the bumbling, scheming commissioner of Hazzard County. The character was played by Sorrell Booke (1930-1994), who, before Dukes, had appeared as a character actor on many popular TV shows.
Say, hurl ‘em on the ground and do-si-do, and make 'em sing like a soprano. Sidehack. When you fall off the bike flat on your ass and you fill your butt full of prairie grass, you stick your can up in the air and show us you can like you don’t care. Sidehack, everybody. Swing your sidehack.
An imitation of the caller, as featured in square dances. Square dances are folk dances with several couples who begin by arranging themselves in a square and then dance according to the instructions of the caller. “Do-si-do” is a well-known call in square dancing that refers to a basic dance step. Linguistically speaking, it derives from the French phrase “dos-à-dos,” which means “back to back.”
Let’s go, Batman.
Batman is one of the world’s most famous superheroes, created in 1939 by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger. Batman’s secret identity is millionaire (later billionaire) Bruce Wayne, whose parents were killed in a mugging when he was a boy. He trained and studied for years and later adopted the bat motif to strike fear into criminals so that he could avenge his parents’ murders upon all evildoers. He first appeared in Detective Comics #27 and has since appeared in multiple films, TV series, animated series, and so on.
Well, you grab JC and you swing him around. You put him on the sidehack and throw him down. Sidehack. Come on now.
See previous note on square dancing.
Thanks, folks. I’ll be here all week. Tip the waitress. Enjoy the buffet.
A typical run of patter a standup comic might make while concluding his or her set at a comedy club.
We really are having some fun, aren’t we? It’s time for some International Coffee.
General Foods International Coffees is a line of instant coffee first released in the 1970s; it fully entered the public consciousness thanks to a series of ads in the early 1990s with two women who reminisced about a French waiter named Jean-Luc.
Looks like they’re drinking motor oil. You should never drink 10W-30 in the summer.
A reference to the viscosity grade assigned to motor oil by the Society of Automotive Engineers. “10W-30” is a multigrade oil, meaning its “weight” changes depending on the temperature. In this case, “10” is the cold rating (“W” means “winter,” not “weight”) and 30 is the warm rating.
I haven’t had any seven-layer salad. –Would you get out of here?
Seven-layer salad is a staple at southern potlucks. Ingredients vary, but nearly all versions contain lettuce, onions, sweet peas, shredded cheddar, and bacon, topped with a mayonnaise- or sour cream-based dressing.
Geez. What does Martha Stewart say about times like this?
Martha Stewart is an author, television host, and entrepreneur whose business is centered on beautiful living and domesticity: decorating, cooking, crafts, flower arranging, and so on. She hosted two syndicated television shows, publishes a magazine (Martha Stewart Living), and offers her own line of house paint and other household goods. In 2004, she spent five months in jail after admitting to lying about a stock sale.
Whoopi Goldberg is a comedian and actress who won an Oscar for her role in the 1990 romantic fantasy Ghost. She also starred in The Color Purple (1985) and Sister Act (1992), and she has co-hosted the daytime talk show The View since 2007. She also has managed the rare feat known as EGOT: winning Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards. Only ten others have done this.
Riddle me this ...
A phrase often used by Frank Gorshin as The Riddler on the ABC TV series Batman (1966-1968).
But I am a ... Thuringer.
Thuringer sausage is a type of smoked sausage, similar to summer sausage, produced in Germany since the 1400s.
“Get your hands off me.” You damn dirty ape!
A famous line from the 1968 film Planet of the Apes, written by The Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling and starring Charlton Heston as an astronaut thrown thousands of years into the future who lands on a planet to find it ruled by talking apes. (Spoiler alert: It’s Earth.) The film spawned four sequels between 1970 and 1973, a short-lived TV series, numerous books and graphic novels, a Tim Burton-directed remake in 2001 that was poorly received, and a successful reboot of the film series beginning in 2011.
Yeah, I’m Punch and you’re Judy.
Punch & Judy is a classic children’s puppet show that tells the story of a lovable rascal named Punch who throws his baby out the window, murders his wife when she calls him on it, and knocks off all representatives of the law who attempt to bring him to justice. It has been performed in various versions since 1662.
Try some of my forbidden fruit. –An apple a day.
In the book of Genesis in the Bible, which tells the story of the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, a talking serpent (traditionally identified as Satan) persuaded Eve to eat fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, which God had forbidden them to do—mankind’s original sin. The fruit was never explicitly described in the Bible, but it has been popularly portrayed as an apple for centuries. The aphorism “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” relates to healthy eating and originated in Wales in the 1860s. It first appeared in print as, “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.”
A possible reference to a line repeatedly spoken by Roy Scheider, playing choreographer Joe Gideon (loosely based on the film’s director, Bob Fosse), in the 1979 movie All That Jazz.
“Where’s your buddy?” Kind of personal, isn’t it?
Possibly a reference to “The Lifeboat Sketch” from the thirteenth episode of the second series of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, first broadcast in 1970. On a lifeboat with several sailors, a British Naval officer laments “Still no sign of land. How long is it?” to which one of the sailors replies “That’s rather a personal question, sir.”
Like my rejection from Simon & Schuster. My book, you know.
Simon & Schuster is one of the world’s largest publishing houses. It was founded in 1924 by Richard Simon and Lincoln Schuster.
I read your book, you magnificent (cough).
See above note on Patton.
He’s no Gallagher or anything.
Gallagher, full name Leo Anthony Gallagher (1946-2022), was a “prop” comic best known for smashing watermelons onstage with a sledgehammer. In Joel Hodgson’s early days as a prop comic, Gallagher was rude and dismissive to Joel backstage at one point, leading to years of riffs about him on MST3K.
You magnificent son of a ...
See above note on Patton.
I even like Gallagher, for crying out loud.
See previous note.
Maybe she’s got a saggy diaper that leaks.
A Pampers ad campaign in the 1980s expressed sympathy for any baby stuck in “a saggy diaper that leaks.”
That’s “magnificent son of a bitch.”
Yes; see above note on Patton.
I asked for a bagel and a schmear. What’s this?
The word “schmear” has both Yiddish and Germanic origins. The equivalent of “smear” or “spread,” it usually refers to butter or fat spread on bread, although in American English usage, borrowed from Yiddish, it’s often referring to cream cheese spread on a bagel. It’s also used to describe the entirety of something, as in “the whole schmear.”
“Hey, Nero? Got problems?” Yeah, Rome is burning. Why?
Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (37-68 C.E.) was the fifth emperor of the Roman Empire. For political purposes, Nero married his stepsister (he later divorced her and married a lot of other people, including a couple of men) and had his famously controlling mother killed. In 64 C.E., a fire destroyed three of Rome’s fourteen districts and damaged seven others. After the fire, he built a palatial estate for himself in the middle of the ruins. Many Romans blamed Nero for the fire. In response, Nero accused the nascent Christian movement and began persecuting them, beating and executing them. Later, authorities arrested a group of Christians and trumpeted their confessions to the arson, which were gained through torture. (Modern historians believe the fire was likely accidental.) At any rate, two historians from the subsequent generation wrote that Nero played his lyre (a stringed instrument) and sang “Sack of Ilium” while part of the city burned. No other evidence exists for this allegation (Roman historian Tacitus said that Nero was in Antium, 30 miles south of Rome, during the fire); it may be a metaphorical statement by the authors to indicate Nero’s complicity in the fire or, at the very least, apathy. As the lyre fell out of popular culture, it became replaced by the fiddle in the retelling, though that instrument was not developed until the 10th century.
Turns out they really wanted Nancy Sinatra for this role. Maybe my boots were made for walking ... right off this set! Then I go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like “I love you.”
See above note on Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.” She is the daughter of legendary crooner Frank Sinatra. The song “Somethin’ Stupid” includes the line, “And then I go and spoil it all by saying somethin’ stupid like, ‘I love you.’” It was written and recorded in 1966 by the husband-and-wife team C. Carson Parks and Gaile Foote. In 1967, Frank and Nancy Sinatra recorded their own version of the song. The results, given the lyrics, may be construed as uncomfortable, but it went to number one on the Billboard chart and stayed there for four weeks.
I feel like I’m time tripping. That Buffy girl got to stand next to a Jim Hutton lookalike.
See above note on Family Affair. Also see above note on Jim Hutton.
Take that, Nancy Sinatra.
See previous note.
“Bingo,” meaning “correct,” derives from the game played with a small card, on which are printed numbers in a grid arrangement; an announcer calls off numbers, and if a player has that number on his card, he covers it with a small marker. When he has covered a whole row vertically, horizontally or diagonally, he calls out “Bingo!” The game has traditionally been the domain of little old ladies, who routinely play several cards at a time. It is based on a carnival game from the ‘20s called Beano, which itself was a variation of Lotto, a French game dating to the 18th century.
This is kinda looking like thirtysomething. –Yeah. Except for the dirty pictures in the background.
thirtysomething was an ABC drama that aired from 1987 to 1991. While it was criticized by some as a whiny showcase for baby boomers and yuppies, the format and direction of the show influenced many other programs throughout the 1990s.
Nice vaccination scar.
Many people who grew up in the 1960s received a smallpox vaccination, usually on the upper left arm. The vaccine left a small circular mark. Smallpox was considered eradicated by the late 1970s, with the last naturally occurring case diagnosed in 1977.
Rod Stewart and Kim Carnes in Laryngitis Theater.
Rod Stewart is a throaty British singer-songwriter who performed with The Jeff Beck Group and Faces before he hit it big on his own. His chart-topping singles included “Maggie May,” “This Old Heart of Mine,” “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy,” and “Forever Young.” Kim Carnes is a singer-songwriter who had the biggest hit of 1981 with “Bette Davis Eyes.” Because of her raspy voice, she has often been called “The Female Rod Stewart.”
[Imitating Lucille Ball.] Ah, Ricky. The ceiling needs painting. Ahhhh.
Comic actress Lucille Ball (1911-1989) had a string of successful sitcoms in the 1950s and 1960s: I Love Lucy, The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, and The Lucy Show. The later seasons of Here’s Lucy (1968-1974) tumbled steadily in the ratings until CBS declined to renew the show for a seventh season. Then, in 1986, Ball starred in the critically reviled and virtually unwatched Life with Lucy. “Ricky” refers to Ricky Ricardo, the role played by her then-husband Desi Arnaz on I Love Lucy and Lucy-Desi. "The ceiling needs painting" is a punchline/caption—about a married woman’s presumed sexual boredom—that has been shoehorned into any number of jokes or cartoons. Sam, the Ceiling Needs Painting is the title of a 1964 book (a collection of simple, sexually themed cartoons) by Woody Gelman, Sy Goodstadt, and Mel Poretz.
Another imitation of the above-mentioned Squiggy. “Shirl” refers to lead character Shirley Feeney, played by Cindy Williams on Laverne & Shirley.
“Rommel.” “I know where he is.” Algeria.
Another reference to Ross Hagen’s real-life German field marshal counterpart and the African campaign. Rommel did not actually fight in Algeria, however; the Allies fought Vichy French troops there. Rommel’s forces fought the Allies in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt.
Patton's here. Patton's here, honey. Wake up, you Desert Fox, you.
More Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who was nicknamed the “Desert Fox” by the Allies for his quick, unpredictable tactics.
It’s Willem Dafoe.
William J. “Willem” Dafoe is an American actor known for his work in such films as Platoon (1986), Shadow of the Vampire (2000), and the Spider-Man franchise.
Is it safe? It’s not safe.
Marathon Man was a 1976 film starring Dustin Hoffman as a graduate student who gets drawn into a Nazi plot and Laurence Olivier as a former Nazi dentist, a character inspired by Josef Mengele. In one scene, Olivier’s character tortures Hoffman’s by performing unanaesthetized dental work on him while repeatedly asking, “Is it safe?”
It isn’t safe.
See previous note.
It was Patton! He read my book!
You magnificent ... oh, let him go.
I need another Band-Aid ... for my broken heart!
Band-Aid is an adhesive bandage invented in 1920 and manufactured by Johnson & Johnson. The name has since become a brand eponym for all such adhesive bandages, though Johnson & Johnson continue to defend their trademark.
We used to come here and club seals together.
Harp seals are seasonally hunted for their soft, warm pelts. The babies are protected, and adorable, which further inflames animal rights groups. The harvest is regulated and monitored. Hunters used to club the seals over the head to avoid damaging the skin. Now they use rifles.
I think I look like Robert Conrad, don’t you?
Robert Conrad (1935-2020) was an actor best known for playing begadgeted 19th-century Secret Service agent James T. West in the CBS action/western/comedy The Wild Wild West (1965-1969).
For those of you playing along at home, Rita is dead.
This is worth noting as a bit of MST3K history. Sidehackers was the last film Best Brains purchased the rights for sight unseen. This is because Rita was brutally attacked, raped, and murdered, and they didn’t know it until they watched the whole movie during the scripting process. The traumatized writers edited out Rommel’s discovery of her half-naked body as well as a flashback to her assault a little later on.
Make a reservation at Grossinger’s.
Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel was a famed resort in the so-called “Borscht Belt” of upstate New York. It opened in the 1910s and closed in 1986.
I will kill him!
An infamous line from the 1984 David Lynch film Dune, which was based on Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel. It was uttered by Sting, who played the wild-eyed na-Baron Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen.
“What have they done so far? Nothing.” There’s the roads, highways ... –Aqueduct.
A condensed and paraphrased version of an exchange in the 1979 film Monty Python’s Life of Brian. During a meeting of the People’s Front of Judea, the dialogue dissolves into one of their characteristic debates, at which point John Cleese’s character says, “What have the Romans ever done for us?” The members respond by outlining the various advances the Roman Empire brought to the area, including roads, medicine, aqueducts, and so on:
Reg: All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?
Attendee: Brought peace?
Reg: Oh, peace—shut up!
I’m not much for the classics. I’ve only read your book, you magnificent bastard.
Thought about Kelly Girls?
Kelly Services is a temporary staffing company founded in 1946 as Russell Kelly Office Service by William Russell Kelly and headquartered in Troy, Michigan. In the 1940s and 1950s, the company referred to its largely female office workers as Kelly Girls, even changing the company name to Kelly Girl Services Inc. in 1957. But as the company diversified to provide temporary technical and industrial workers as well, and began to employ more men, it dropped the “Girl” designation and adopted the Kelly Services name in 1966.
Initialisms for “Pretty Damn/Darn Quick” and “As Soon As Possible.”
Now, I’ll give you five dollars if you have a hard-boiled egg in your purse.
Let’s Make a Deal is a TV game show that originally ran from 1963 to 1976. It has come and gone again in various incarnations; the most recent version began airing in 2009. At the end of most episodes, the host (usually Monty Hall) would venture into the oddly attired audience and ask people if they had random things on their person. If they did, Hall would give them some cash.
Oh, you crushed my sternum and made me sit on a hard thing. It’s hot and it hurts and stuff. Ahhh.
In an old commercial for the antiseptic/anesthetic first-aid spray Bactine, a kid with an owie declared, “It’s all hot and it hurts and stuff.” Bactine is sold by Wellspring Pharmaceuticals and was introduced in 1950.
Edith Massey (1918-1984) was an actress who appeared in several of John Waters’ cult films and even led her own short-lived punk band, Edie and the Eggs.
“Paint a picture of her.” It’ll last longer.
A corruption of the old phrase “Take a picture; it’ll last longer,” said to someone who seems to have an ogling problem. It was used in the stage musical Grease (1971; film version 1978) as well as in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985); both brought the phrase back into popular usage decades after its first appearance.
I’d pay the devil to replace her.
A line from the 1974 single “She’s Gone,” written and performed by Daryl Hall and John Oates. Sample lyrics: “She’s gone, oh I, oh I’d/Better learn how to face it/She’s gone, oh I, oh I’d/Pay the devil to replace her/She’s gone, what went wrong.”
How’d the Laugh-In audition go?
Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In was a sketch comedy program that aired on NBC from 1968 to 1973. It was very influential and featured guest appearances from movie stars, musical groups, and even public figures, such as then-presidential candidate Richard Nixon. The show was also a launching pad for actresses Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin.
A puppet, a pauper, a pawn, and a king. Each time, he finds himself flat on his face. Oh, you know the rest.
A reference to the song “That’s Life,” written by Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon. It was first recorded in 1963 by Marion Montgomery. It became a hit, however, in 1966 when it was recorded by Frank Sinatra. Here are the lyrics paraphrased above: “I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king/I’ve been up and down and over and out and I know one thing/Each time I find myself flat on my face/I pick myself up and get back in the race.”
[Imitating.] Oh, momma!
Possibly an imitation of sadistic dentist Orin Scrivello (played by Steve Martin) in the 1986 musical film Little Shop of Horrors.
Othello? Hungry Hungry Hippo? Chutes and Ladders? Candy Land maybe? Mille Bornes? Uno? Monopoly? Risk? Trivial Pursuit?
Reversi is a board game featuring discs that are colored white on one side and black on the reverse. It was invented in 1880s England. In the early 1970s, the game was produced in Japan and marketed as Othello, named after the Shakespearean play wherein the Moor Othello is in conflict with the Caucasian Iago. Pressman Toy Company makes the game in the United States. Hungry Hungry Hippos is a children’s game made by Milton Bradley (now known as Hasbro) in which players compete to see whose plastic hippo can snork down the most marbles. Chutes and Ladders is a board game based on the children’s game Snakes and Ladders, which has been around since at least the 19th century and possibly long before that; it is made by Hasbro. Candy Land is a simple board game usually reserved for small children, in which players move along a single path through sweetly named provinces (such as Molasses Swamp and Gumdrop Mountains) to reach the end. It was created in 1945 by polio patient Eleanor Abbott, who later sold it to Milton Bradley. Mille Bornes is a French card game invented by Edmond Dujardin in 1954. Similar to the card game Touring, the basic concept is that players are in a road race; different cards represent mileage, road hazards, or remedies, such as flat tires or gasoline, that will help or hinder them on their way. The first player to travel a set distance (usually 700 miles) wins the game. Uno is a card game created by Merle Robbins in 1971, similar in most respects to the game Mau Mau, which is played with a regular deck of cards. Players lay cards on a discard pile in turn to match either the color or the number on the card preceding their own. The name comes from the Spanish or Italian word for “one” and is said during gameplay when a player holds only one card. Monopoly is a board game that dates back to 1903, when Lizzie Phillips created The Landlord’s Game to help explain tax theory and monopolies. In the 1920s, after playing Phillips’ game, Charles Darrow created Monopoly, using street names from Atlantic City, New Jersey. He sold the game to Parker Brothers in 1935. Risk is a war-strategy board game manufactured by Parker Brothers. It was invented in 1957 by French movie director Albert Lamorisse, which helps explain its Napoleonic style. Players use collected legions of infantry, cavalry, and artillery to hold large, sometimes randomly drawn districts of the world and eventually eliminate the opposition. Trivial Pursuit is a trivia-based board game created by Canadians Chris Haney and Scott Abbott in 1979 when they couldn’t find all the pieces to their other games. Players move an empty, squat cylinder around the board and answer questions from various categories; they place pie wedges for each category in their cylinder as they succeed.
Oh, you’re so tense. –[Sung.] Wakka-chukka guitar riffs.
An imitation of a wide variety of funk songs from the 1970s that frequently turned up on the soundtracks of porn movies and blaxploitation films; the “Theme from Shaft,” written by Isaac Hayes, is a fairly iconic example. Also a possible nod to the 1972 album and song titled “Waka/Jawaka” by rock composer and friend of the show Frank Zappa. Tom Servo does an extensive riff on “wakka-chukka” in Show 512, Mitchell.
Can you please repeat the question, Peter?
A possible reference to game show host Peter Marshall (b. Ralph Pierre LaCock—no wonder he changed it), who hosted The Hollywood Squares from 1966 to 1981. Also possibly a reference to ‘80s game show Press Your Luck host Peter Tomarken (1942-2006).
Damn you all to hell!
Another iconic line from Planet of the Apes (see above note).
Wear loose-fitting clothes. Dress to move. Have a two-minute song prepared.
A typical list of instructions accompanying an announcement for an audition, particularly for a musical.
Take your shoes off. Sit a spell.
The spoken lines from the closing theme of The Beverly Hillbillies, which aired on CBS from 1962 to 1971. The theme song (“The Ballad of Jed Clampett”) was written by Paul Henning and performed by bluegrass artists Flatt & Scruggs with Jerry Scoggins. The first two verses of the song were used as the opening theme at the beginning of the show, while the third verse was used over the closing credits.
Remember that dinner in Tijuana? –I made a run for the border that night, my little compadre.
Tijuana is a city in Baja California in Mexico, just over the border from San Diego. As of 2015 it had a population of about 1.7 million. “Make a run for the border” was the slogan for Taco Bell Mexican fast food restaurants from 1978 through 1994.
So they drove to the power station. There was nothing left of the world after the ... Robot Holocaust.
A reference to Show 110, Robot Holocaust.
[Sung.] I know a wiener man, he owns a hot dog stand. He gives me everything, from wieners on down. Key change! Fal-der-ree! Fal-der-rah!
“The Wiener Man” is a campfire song popular with scout-aged children. Often mistaken for a German folk song, “The Happy Wanderer” is an original composition, written by Friedrich-Wilhelm Möller just after World War II, with lyrics adapted from text written by Florenz Sigismund in the early 19th century. It was popularized by performances and recordings by the Obernkirchen Children’s Choir, conducted by Möller’s sister Edith. Sample lyrics: “I love to go a-wandering/Along the mountain track/And as I go, I love to sing/My knapsack on my back/Val-deri, Val-dera/Val-deri, Val-dera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha/Val-deri, Val-dera/My knapsack on my back.”
“PCH” is an abbreviation for “Pacific Coast Highway,” the unofficial name for a large portion of California State Route 1; it runs along the California coastline from Dana Point in Orange County north to Leggett in Mendocino County.
Hey, I said left at the Dairy Queen. I guess it was too dark.
Dairy Queen is a chain of fast food restaurants that specialize in soft serve frozen treats. It was founded in 1940 and operates more than 6,000 locations today.
Loves to have his fun.
A paraphrased line from the 1971 hit “Joy to the World,” written by Hoyt Axton and performed by the rock band Three Dog Night. Actual lyrics: “You know I love the ladies/Love to have my fun/I’m a high night flier and a rainbow rider/A straight-shootin’ son of a gun/I said a straight-shootin’ son of a gun.”
His hat looks like Jiffy Pop, too. Buttered and unbuttered.
Jiffy Pop popcorn comes in an aluminum pan with a spiral foil lid. As the pan is heated over the stove, the kernels pop and expand the lid into a bulbous container. It was first made by Fred Mennen in 1958 and is currently manufactured by ConAgra Foods.
Kids can come, too. –Bring their jammies. Put them on top of the car.
At drive-in movie theaters, it was common practice for the kids in the car to already be in their pajamas, so when they conked out after the first feature, they’d be good to go. Before that happened, though, it was also common practice to have them sit on the roof of the car, so they could have a better view of the movie and parents could have some relative quiet. The first drive-in theater opened in 1915 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. At their peak in the early 1960s, more than 4,000 drive-in theaters were spread across the United States, but a steep decline in popularity over the next couple of decades led to their near extinction, followed by a nostalgia-fueled revival starting in the early ‘90s. The number of drive-ins now hovers around 300, and “pop-up” drive-ins, featuring a mobile, inflatable screen and food-truck concession stands, have become a thing.
Billy, don’t be a hero.
“Billy Don’t Be a Hero” is a 1974 pop song by Mitch Murray and Peter Callander that was a hit in the U.K. for Paper Lace and in the U.S. for Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods. Though associated with the Vietnam War, which was ongoing at the time, the war in the lyrics is actually never identified, but it is presumed to be the American Civil War.
Look, he’s sportin’ a woodie. –Yeah. Classic styling.
“Woodie” is a nickname for a vehicle that is made with wooden body panels, usually a station wagon. The term was popularized in the 1963 song “Surf City” by Jan and Dean, the first surf song to become a nationwide number-one hit.
Yeah, I heard Kip Addotta used to do a number one that was a real killer.
Kip Addotta is a comedian best known for his frequent TV appearances in the 1970s and ‘80s, and for his comedic songs such as “Wet Dream” and “I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus,” which were featured on the Dr. Demento radio show.
I prefer observational humor.
Observational humor is a type of comedy that forgoes the typical setup/punchline structure of joke telling in favor of longer, more conversational bits pointing out the little absurdities in everyday life. Masters of the form include Jerry Seinfeld and the late George Carlin.
Doesn't he look like Jimmy Dean?
Jimmy Dean (1928-2010) was a country singer (the 1961 Grammy-winning song “Big Bad John”), actor (the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, in which he played reclusive billionaire Willard Whyte) and creator of Jimmy Dean Foods in 1969, which was mostly known for producing breakfast sausage.
A little plastic army, with Army ... those plastic Army men?
Army men (a.k.a. plastic soldiers, Army guys, etc.) refer to the ubiquitous plastic toy soldiers from our youths. First made by Bergen Toy & Novelty in 1938, the designs and colors of the one-inch-high figures changed for the first couple of decades as they were designed to represent different armies (American, German, British, Soviet, etc.). After a Vietnam-era lull, the American versions became standardized into about seven different “characters,” including flamethrower guy, radio guy, commander with binoculars, crawling infantryman, and so on. Thanks to the Toy Story films in the 1990s and a series of video games, plastic soldiers have again surged in popularity.
What about the Middle East crisis? That’s got to bother you a little bit.
At the time Sidehackers was made (1969), things in the Middle East were still tense after the Israelis had handily won the Six Days War in 1967, relations between Israel and Lebanon were rough, and the oil crisis that came to a head in the early ‘70s was in its infancy. At the time this episode aired (September 1990), the Persian Gulf War was about to get cranking. After Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, UN resolutions and requests from other Middle Eastern leaders led to a buildup of 34 nations’ militaries in the region (primarily the United States’, of course). This was called “Operation Desert Shield.” It became “Operation Desert Storm” in January 1991 after Iraq refused to meet a deadline to withdraw from Kuwait. Despite the specificity of all these events, the riff itself is timeless. I mean, there’s always something going on in the Middle East.
And so the apostle Peter awoke with the sun. And, verily, he heard a voice, “A cock will cry three times before you betray Rommel.”
A corruption of the tale of Jesus’ arrest and the denial of him by Peter, his disciple, as depicted in the Bible. Before the temple guards arrest Jesus, he tells Peter that the apostle will deny him three times before the rooster crows (according to Mark, it was before the rooster crowed twice; the other gospels just say once). The following morning, Peter is asked by several people if he is a follower of Jesus, and he denies it three times; then the cock crows. (Or, in Mark, the cock crows after the first denial and then again after the third.)
Right foot. Left foot. Biggest damn thing in the case. –Christians. Greeks. Fire. Fiddling. Rome. –Poor rocks are smarter than this cast.
See above note on Nero.
I met a nice guy called Ike Turner.
Ike Turner (1931-2007), along with his wife Tina, performed a popular R&B act in the late 1960s and early ‘70s. In 1978, Tina divorced Ike, claiming that he abused her, and launched a stunningly successful solo career. Ike’s career floundered throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, thanks to a cocaine addiction that brought with it drug offenses and prison time.
Yeah. Parcheesi. And I lost a lot of my game pieces.
Parcheesi is an American version of the Indian board game Pachisi, which was first created about 500 B.C.E. The goal of the game is to get all four of one’s pieces from the start position around the board to the center. It is made by Parker Brothers.
Or the devil. Or Chuck Woolery.
The devil (a.k.a. Satan) is the personification of evil, primarily featuring in Christian traditions. It is most often described as a “fallen angel” of God. Chuck Woolery has hosted a number of game shows during his career but is probably best known for Love Connection, a Dating Game-type show, which he hosted from 1983-1994.
In the Bowery Boys movies of the 1940s and ‘50s, certain fight moves were called “routines” and assigned numbers.
I can’t believe it, Wally Karbo. That’s an illegal hold. That’s an automatic three-day suspension.
An imitation of commentary provided during televised professional wrestling matches. Wally Karbo (1915-1993) was a professional wrestling promoter in the Minneapolis area and co-founder of the American Wrestling Association in 1960. He was also the host of the Saturday-morning AWA show, All-Star Wrestling, until 1985.
Cops is filmed on location.
Cops is a long-running reality TV show about real police officers in real situations; it first aired in 1989. The announcer for the show says during the opening theme, “Cops is filmed on location with the men and women of law enforcement. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”
JC is wanted by the FBI. He should be considered armed and stupid.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation was founded in 1908 as the Bureau of Investigation and has spent most of its history investigating and prosecuting serious crimes and threats within the U.S. Director J. Edgar Hoover spent most of his fifty-year tenure beefing up the FBI into an effective and professional force, albeit one that has often been criticized for overstepping its bounds. The phrase “He should be considered armed and dangerous” is frequently used by law enforcement in BOLO (“be on the lookout”) announcements.
Tell me about the rabbits, George.
A reference to the character of Lennie in Of Mice and Men, a 1937 short novel by John Steinbeck. Lennie is simple-minded and has a love for soft things (including rabbits), but he doesn’t know his own strength, while George is his more pragmatic companion. Let’s just say things go tragically awry.
“I’m not mad.” I’m just drawn that way.
A paraphrase of a famous line from the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, spoken by the ridiculously voluptuous Jessica Rabbit: “I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.”
[Imitating.] Now that you’re dead, I can tell you about a thousand wonderful hours that ...
A paraphrase of some of the final words spoken by Lloyd Bridges’ character in Show 202, Rocketship X-M.
Say hello to the folks, Bobby. –Hello, folks.
A reference to the way many ventriloquists begin their acts, dummies in hand.
I will kill you! Oh, I guess I did.
See above note on Dune.
Toni Tennille wants her hat back.
Captain & Tennille was a husband-and-wife pop music duo that started in 1974 after both had worked as backup musicians for The Beach Boys. The duo consisted of “Captain” Daryl Dragon (1942-2019, and yes, that’s his real name), who in photos and performances always wore a sea captain’s hat, and Cathryn Antoinette “Toni” Tennille. The couple divorced in 2014 after 39 years together. Their biggest hits include 1975’s “Love Will Keep Us Together,” 1976’s “Muskrat Love,” and 1979’s “Do That to Me One More Time.”
McCloud (1970-1977) is an NBC police drama starring Dennis Weaver as New Mexico Marshal Sam McCloud on a fish-out-of-water assignment in New York City. The frequent exclamations of “McCloud!” that occur throughout MST3K reference hot-tempered NYPD Chief of Detectives Peter Clifford, played by J. D. Cannon.
You magnificent son of a ...
You know the drill.
“Cooch is back!” And there’s gonna be trouble! Hey, lah, lee lah.
“My Boyfriend’s Back” was a 1963 number-one hit song for girl group The Angels. It was written by Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, and Richard Gottehrer and originally recorded as a demo for another girl group, The Shirelles, but the publishers decided to release it as it was. The original line is: “My boyfriend’s back and you’re gonna be in trouble –(Hey-la-hey-la my boyfriend’s back).”
You magnificent son of a ...
I got nowhere else to go!
These are Richard Gere’s desperate words to Lou Gossett Jr. in the film An Officer and a Gentleman when Gossett threatens to throw him out of Officer Candidate School.
Don’t be afraid to use a granny knot.
The granny knot is the knot generally used to tie shoelaces. It is held in some contempt among knot aficionados due to its tendency to come untied.
Just as I suspected. This is where they shot the “Love Shack” video.
“Love Shack” is a single released in 1989 by The B-52’s; it was their biggest hit. The popular music video featured the band and dozens of extras partying it up in a shack in the middle of the woods.
[Imitating.] I got a bike that's as big as a whale!
An imitation of B-52’s front man Fred Schneider and a paraphrased line from “Love Shack” (see previous note). In the actual song, Schneider says “I got me a car, it’s as big as a whale.”
Mmm. Moose track. Two, three day old.
In Hollywood films for the better part of a century, Native Americans who spoke English were portrayed as talking in this staccato and broken fashion. There is no better example of this than that of the Lone Ranger’s sidekick, Tonto, as portrayed on radio from 1933 to 1954 by John Todd and on television from 1949 to 1957 by Jay Silverheels. Indian trackers were a common character type in Western films and television shows, and one of their supposed talents was placing their ear on the ground to find out who or what might be walking nearby.
Gary Collins, today at four on Hour Magazine.
Gary Collins (1938-2012) was an actor best known for hosting the syndicated television talk show Hour Magazine from 1980 to 1988. He also starred in the short-lived 1972 paranormal series The Sixth Sense and in the 1970 disaster film Airport.
Hey, it’s Cheech Marin.
Richard “Cheech” Marin is one half of the famous stoner duo Cheech & Chong. “Cheech” is short for “chicharrón,” Marin's nickname as a child, which is Spanish for fried pork rinds. His and Tommy Chong’s heyday was the 1970s and early ‘80s, but since then, he has remained prolific, providing voices in animated films and co-starring in television shows such as Nash Bridges and The Golden Girls spinoff The Golden Palace.
It’s the Cap Snaffler. –It really, really works.
Ronco, the company founded by Ron Popeil, made its fortune hawking products via infomercials. One such product was the Cap Snaffler, which was essentially a jar lid gripper, and was marketed with the deathless phrase “Snaffles caps off any size jug, bottle, or jar … and it really, really works.”
Have a little fire, Scarecrow.
A paraphrase of the Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz: “How about a little fire, Scarecrow?”
No drumming. Not allowed.
A reference to Show 106, The Crawling Hand.
They’re playing “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” How annoying.
“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” is a 1968 song by American rock band Iron Butterfly. The song is significant both for its length—17 minutes, taking an entire side of its self-titled album—and for its role in blending psychedelic music of the era with what would become known as “heavy metal.” The original title was “In the Garden of Eden,” but during recording, lead singer Doug Ingle got good and drunk, and his, ahem, interpretation of the words prevailed.
Soylent Green is made from people!
Geez. How about a spoiler alert, guys? 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 investigating a murder that leads him to the secret behind their newest variety, Soylent Green. He screams this line at the end of the film.
[Whistling The Good, the Bad and the Ugly theme.]
The famous theme to the 1966 spaghetti western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, written by composer Ennio Morricone.
This isn't gonna take a licking and keep on ticking. Only you understand me.
Timex is an American watch manufacturer (now owned by Dutch conglomerate Timex Group B.V.) established in 1854 as the Waterbury Clock Company in Waterbury, Connecticut. They joined the pop culture consciousness with their slogan “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking,” used for decades in commercials advertising their watches’ durability.
I am Kirok!
See above note on Star Trek.
“Just you and me!” And a dog named Boo.
A reference to the 1971 debut single “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” by Lobo (b. Roland Kent LaVoie).
Why didn’t I get out of his way? –Routine 37, I shoulda known.
See above note on the Bowery Boys.
Oh, there’s a foreign object in that ring.
See above note.
Meanwhile, twelve thousand miles away, Akron’s best speed toward the hills of Southern California. [Imitating.] Oooooh, Andy. Faster.
I’m going to point out that Akron, Ohio, is only about 2,300 miles away from Southern California. Just saying. Floyd Lawson was Mayberry, NC’s barber on the TV sitcom The Andy Griffith Show from 1961 to 1967. In his first appearance, the character was portrayed by Walter Baldwin. In every subsequent episode, he was played by Howard McNear (1905-1969), who brought a trademark vocal style to the part. The character was based on a man named Russell Hiatt, who cut Andy Griffith’s hair at the barber shop in his hometown of Mt. Airy, North Carolina, on which Mayberry was based.
Another reference to Show 104, Women of the Prehistoric Planet.
[Imitating.] You took my thumb, Charlie! You took my thumb, Charlie! –[Dumb guy voice.] Dyah, hey, Charly.
An imitation of Eric Roberts as Paulie in the 1984 film The Pope of Greenwich Village. In the film, mobsters (not his brother, Charlie) cut Paulie’s thumb off as punishment, so the line is actually, “They took my thumb, Charlie!” Joel’s “dumb guy voice” here leads me to believe it’s a quick reference to Charly, a 1968 drama about a mentally disabled custodian (played by Cliff Robertson) who becomes temporarily super-intelligent thanks to science. It was based on the Daniel Keyes novella Flowers for Algernon.
Meanwhile, in the plains of Nebraska, the car speeds forward.
See above note on “Meanwhile …”
You crushed it. It hurts and stuff.
See above note on Bactine.
[Imitating.] Thwow him to the gwound, centuwion.
An imitation of Michael Palin as Pontius Pilate in the aforementioned Monty Python’s Life of Brian (see above note).
Didn’t the Munsters’ car used to have a sidecoffin? –Well, Grandpa drove a coffin. –That was the dragster one and there was the big town car one.
The Munsters was a television sitcom that aired on CBS from 1964 to 1966 about a wacky but good natured family of famous monster types (vampire, wolf man, Frankenstein's monster). The series was followed by a sequel series, The Munsters Today (1988-1991) and five (mostly TV) movies. Also, a TV special called Mockingbird Lane aired on NBC in 2012; it was intended as the pilot of a reimagined Munsters series, but the network didn’t pick it up. There were two famous “Munstermobiles” on the original show: the Munster Koach and DRAG-U-LA. The Koach was built by famed custom car designer George Barris (who also created the Batmobile for the ‘60s TV show); it was made up of three Model T chassis designed to look like a town car hearse, painted black pearl on the exterior with a blood-red interior, featured intricate brass detailing, and more. The DRAG-U-LA was built from an actual fiberglass coffin and included a Ford Mustang engine. In the show, it was built by Grandpa Munster so he could win back the Munster Koach after losing it in a drag race. It also inspired a 1998 song of the same name by Rob Zombie.
This film was also released as Million Dollar Legs. –I thought so! Wasn’t Ginger Rogers there or somethin’? –Most of her scenes were cut.
Million Dollar Legs is the title of a 1939 comedy starring Betty Grable (1916-1973). Because of the film and her incredibly popular pinup status during World War II, she was frequently called “The Girl with the Million-Dollar Legs.” Ginger Rogers (1911-1995) was an actress and dancer best known as Fred Astaire’s love interest/dance partner in several films, including The Gay Divorcee (1934), Top Hat (1935), and Swing Time (1936).
There are those Tessier sisters again. –We better get out of here. Our job is done. –The Tessier goils. Get it?
Possibly a punny reference to Tesla coils, those humongous and nearly mad scientist-like electronic circuits developed by genius inventor and engineer Nikola Tesla in the late 1890s and early 1900s. They are most often seen as large stacks of metallic equipment that emit crackling arcs of electricity across the room.