820: Space Mutiny
by Wyn Hilty
[Credit: “A Winters/Holiday Production.”] A Jonathan Winters/Billie Holiday production!
Jonathan Winters (1925-2013) was a stout-figured American comedian, actor, painter, and writer whose career spanned six decades. He recorded more than 25 best-selling comedy albums and won two Grammy Awards. Known for his lightning-fast improvisational skills, Winters made hundreds of TV appearances from the 1950s-1970s and appeared in such films as It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) and The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966). Billie “Lady Day” Holiday (1915-1959) is considered one of the greatest jazz singers of all time, with her greatest fame coming between the 1930s and the 1950s. She worked with legendary musicians like Count Basie and Artie Shaw and performed several times at Carnegie Hall.
[Credit: “David Winters.”] Dave Winters! –Oh, right. –All right. –We’re in good hands here. Okay.
David Winters, despite the low quality of this outing, is actually a respected actor, director, and choreographer. As a young man, he played A-Rab in the film version of West Side Story and appeared in numerous other films, TV shows, and stage productions. His work as a choreographer included several Elvis Presley films and four Ann-Margret films (including Show 615, Kitten with a Whip). As a director, his credits include Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare (1976, an acclaimed concert film) and the award-winning The Last Horror Film (1982, also known as Fanatic). Winters left the production of Space Mutiny early on due to a death in the family, and his directing duties were taken over by Neil Sundstrom. Both disliked the way the film turned out, and Winters tried unsuccessfully to have his name taken off the picture.
Twenty exclusive hits by the original artists!
“Best of” records were heavily advertised on TV. Not all were by the original artists, which could lead to disappointment. K-tel International was a major player in that market, and still exists online. 20 Explosive Hits by 20 Original Stars contained such dazzlers as “O-O-H Child” by Five Stairsteps and “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” by The Delfonics.
Sounds like someone owns himself a DX7 keyboard, huh?
The Yamaha DX7 keyboard was an affordable digital synthesizer sold from 1983 to 1989. Its moderate price and wide availability, coupled with the fact that it came with a wide array of preset sound effects, meant that it quickly became ubiquitous in ‘80s pop music, and then just as quickly became a cliché.
[Credit: “Cameron Mitchell.”] Yay! Oh, no, wait.
Actor Cameron Mitchell (1918-1994) had a bit of a bipolar film career. He started out in respectable parts in major 1950s studio movies: Garden of Evil, Death of a Salesman, How to Marry a Millionaire, Carousel. Then in the ‘60s he went through a phase of crappy Italian films, like Mario Bava’s Erik the Conqueror and Blood and Black Lace. And finally in the ‘70s and ‘80s he slid downhill into the exploitation genre, starring in The Toolbox Murders, The Demon, and The Swarm.
Featuring music normally heard at the Days Inn lounge in Columbia Heights.
Days Inn is a hotel chain founded in 1970 with more than 1,900 locations worldwide today. There are multiple burgs called Columbia Heights, but the writers were probably referring to the one in Minnesota, a northern suburb of Minneapolis.
[Credit: “Written by Maria Danté.”] There’s gonna be seven levels of hell in this movie, too.
In the classic 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy, author Dante Alighieri wrote that Hell consists of nine concentric circles, or levels, each one designed to punish a different type of sinner. The first circle is limbo, containing people who died unbaptized and virtuous pagans. The second circle punishes lust; the third, gluttony; the fourth, greed; the fifth, wrath; the sixth, heresy; the seventh, violence; the eighth, fraud; and the ninth, treachery. At the center of the ninth circle, imprisoned for his treachery against God, is Lucifer.
Like Pat Riley here, for instance.
Pat Riley is a former pro basketball player, broadcaster, and coach. He played for the San Diego Rockets and the LA Lakers in the 1970s and briefly worked as a broadcaster for the Lakers, but his real fame came as head coach for the Lakers in the 1980s, when he led the team to multiple NBA championships during that decade.
I have this feeling I’m being followed by a lobster boy.
Lobster Boy was the stage name of Grady Stiles, Jr. (1937-1992), who had the deformity ectrodactyly, which causes the fingers and toes to fuse together and appear claw-like. Unable to walk normally, he “walked” using his arms, giving him tremendous upper-body strength. He made his living as a sideshow performer, but gained notoriety after his abusive and alcoholic family life led to murder. He was convicted of murdering his daughter’s fiancé in 1978, but since no prison could accommodate his deformities, he was given probation. Stiles himself was killed in 1992, the victim of a murder-for-hire scheme arranged by his wife and stepson. Lobster Boy’s story was the subject of a book and several cable TV specials.
He’s like an Armand Assante-wanta-be.
Armand Assante is an American actor known for playing gangsters and tough guys in films like Hoffa (1992), American Gangster (2007), and the 1996 HBO miniseries Gotti.
I’ll show you how to use a label maker properly.
Modern label makers are streamlined devices that look like cell phones, but when this episode was written a typical label maker was a pistol-like gadget with a disk on top that the user turned manually to select and then print letters and numbers.
He made a bomb out of soap and Paco Rabanne.
Fashion designer Paco Rabanne has an entire line of fragrances, but Paco Rabanne pour homme, introduced in 1973, is presumably the one being referenced here.
Melissa Manchester is an adult contemporary singer-songwriter, known for such songs as “Through the Eyes of Love” (used as the theme for the 1978 movie Ice Castles), and the ‘80s hits “You Should Hear How She Talks About You,” and a cover of “Walk on By.”
[Sung to “Blue Danube.”] Dah-dah-dah-dah lame, bum-bum, lame lame …
Johann Strauss the Younger (1825-1899) was an Austrian composer known especially for his waltzes, of which “The Blue Danube,” being sung here, is the most famous. Its current-day fame is due partly to its use in the Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), during an extended sequence in which a shuttle docks with a space station.
In the 1980s, former Australian rules footballer Mark “Jacko” Jackson snagged a contract as a pitchman for Energizer batteries. Known for his shock of bright blond hair and his antics on the field, Jackson’s catchphrase in the commercials was “Oi!”
Sting, Debbie Reynolds, and God.
Blond pop singer Gordon “Sting” Sumner achieved worldwide fame as a member of the band The Police and later as a solo artist. Actress and singer Debbie Reynolds (1932-2016) was known for wholesome musicals like Singin’ in the Rain (1952), The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), and The Singing Nun (1966). She was the mother of fellow actress Carrie Fisher, who died one day before Reynolds did, in December 2016. The generally accepted image of God as an old man with white hair and a beard began to show up in Western art sometime around the 12th century, and comes from a passage in the Book of Daniel: “I beheld until the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days [i.e., God] did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool” (Daniel 7:9).
Graphics by Kenner.
Kenner Products was a toy company founded in Cincinnati in 1947. It enjoyed phenomenal success when it introduced Star Wars action figures in the late 1970s. The company was bought and sold several times; in 2000, Hasbro, its latest owner, closed the Cincinnati office and merged Kenner’s toy lines with its own.
[Sung to “Blue Danube.”] Dah-dah-dah-dah crap …
See above note on the “Blue Danube.”
Special effects by Industrial Light and Morons.
Industrial Light & Magic is the visual effects company founded by director George Lucas in 1975. Lucas wanted hands-on control for his upcoming project Star Wars, so he gathered some of the giants in the special effects field. Since then, they have provided visual effects for nearly 300 films and won dozens of awards, including 15 Oscars.
Uh-oh, an air show. Look out below!
Accidents at air shows are comparatively rare, given that there are hundreds of the things held every year, and when they do happen they tend to be fatal to the pilots rather than the spectators. However, there have been some spectacularly lethal incidents. One of the worst occurred in 1988 at the U.S. air force base in Ramstein, Germany, when three jets collided close to the ground, killing all three pilots and hurling fiery wreckage into the watching crowd. Sixty-seven people on the ground died, and hundreds more were injured.
Eh, I told you we should have landed at LaGuardia.
LaGuardia Airport, located in Queens, is the smallest of the three airports serving metropolitan New York City (the other two are JFK and Newark Liberty). It is named after Fiorello La Guardia, who was mayor of New York when the airport was built in the late 1930s.
“Commander Kalgan.” Calgon?!
Calgon scented bath products include bubble bath, body lotions, and more.
“Too right!” was another of Mark “Jacko” Jackson’s shouted Aussie-isms in his Energizer commercials (see above note).
[Explosion.] So, really, how does this help the Basque separatists?
The Basque homeland is a section of land on the border between France and Spain. Basques have traditionally held themselves apart from other inhabitants of the area—their language and customs bear no resemblance to those of other European groups. The movement to form a separate Basque nation began at the turn of the 20th century and grew stronger after Spanish dictator Francisco Franco came to power in the 1940s. During the late 1970s the movement turned violent, with numerous terrorist attacks carried out by the Basque separatist group ETA. Things have calmed considerably since then, but relations between the separatists and the Spanish government remain tense.
My stair stepper!
Stair steppers, such as the StairMaster 4000, which was introduced in 1986, were enormously popular in the 1980s and 1990s. Rather than earlier stair climbing machines, which used a rotating set of stairs to simulate climbing stairs, the SM 4000 used a set of pedals to mimic the motion.
My Buns of Steel videos are in there!
Buns of Steel was an exercise video that came out in the 1980s, focused on developing the gluteus maximus muscles.
John Waters is a famously quirky Baltimore filmmaker who sports a pencil-thin mustache and slicked-back hair. He has written, directed, and produced such films as the deliberately offensive Pink Flamingos (1972) and the somewhat more mainstream Hairspray (1988).
Hey, look at this. The office newsletter says I look like Susan Powter.
The Australian-born Susan Powter was an infomercial queen back in the early 1990s, a workout guru whose motto was “Stop the Insanity!” Known for her platinum-blond crewcut, she had several books on the best-seller list and even did her own talk show for a year.
Santa’s playing FreeCell over here.
FreeCell is a variant of solitaire that became popular in the computer world after Microsoft included it in its Windows operating system. In the game, you deal the cards into eight columns, with the goal being to move all the cards onto four “foundation” piles by suit.
Should I spend twenty bucks for Griffey?
Most likely a reference to purchasing a collectible baseball card, specifically one picturing three-time All-Star George Kenneth Griffey Sr., or his even more famous son Ken “The Kid” Griffey Jr., a 13-time All-Star.
[Male choral music on soundtrack.] So, uh, we got some Benedictine monks in the floorboards, unfortunately. We have set some traps with fresh bread and brandy, though.
The Order of Saint Benedict is a Catholic religious order founded in the sixth century C.E. In the medieval era, members of monasteries sang a type of choral music known as Gregorian chants as part of their worship practice, although this was not specific to the Benedictine order. The Benedictines did supposedly invent the herbal liqueur named after them (although this story is apparently apocryphal, spread by the liqueur’s actual creator to increase sales), which is traditionally mixed with brandy to create the drink known as B&B.
Whoa! Drank too much Surge.
Surge is a caffeinated citrus drink introduced by Coca-Cola in an effort to compete with Pepsi’s Mountain Dew.
Canadian musician Robbie Robertson (1943-2023) was best known for his work as the lead singer and main songwriter for The Band, where he wrote such songs as “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and “Up on Cripple Creek.” Later in his career he turned to writing film soundtracks, working especially with director Martin Scorsese on films like Raging Bull (1980) and Casino (1995). He also took a brief turn as an actor, appearing in (and producing and co-writing) the 1980 drama Carny, and landing a small role in the 1995 Jack Nicholson movie The Crossing Guard.
See above note on Mark “Jacko” Jackson.
See above note on Mark “Jacko” Jackson.
See above note on Mark “Jacko” Jackson.
“One other thing.” Oi.
See above note on Mark “Jacko” Jackson.
Death by snicker-snag.
The Urban Dictionary website actually credits MST3K with bringing the phrase “snicker-snag,” meaning to hold someone down and dangle spit above their face, into the popular vernacular.
“Are there any other of you that wish to confuse freedom with treason?” I’d like to confuse bok choy with cabbage, sir.
Bok choy is in fact a variety of Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa), although it does not form round heads like the white cabbage Americans are familiar with; it looks more like wide celery. Bok choy in Cantonese translates literally as “white vegetable.” It is commonly used in stir-fries and soups, though it is also good in salads.
Do you know where I can get some Zubaz, man?
Zubaz are a brand of zebra-striped pants, designed initially as workout wear for bulky bodybuilders who could not fit into traditional clothing. They became a fashion trend in the early 1990s.
You’ve got mail.
“You’ve got mail!” is the sound bite used by America Online to inform its users of new email; voiceover professional Elwood Edwards supplied the voice. The phrase became so well known that it was used as the title of a 1998 film starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
See above note on Mark “Jacko” Jackson.
We now switch live to Spencer’s Gifts.
Spencer Gifts—now just Spencer’s—is a retailer with locations in shopping malls throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Targeting a 12- to 25-year-old demographic, the stores offer rock and roll clothing, band merchandise, gag gifts, room décor, fashion, and body jewelry. The plasma ball (also called a plasma lamp) seen here is pretty typical of their merchandise. The first plasma lamp was created by legendary inventor Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), although the modern version was developed by MIT student Bill Parker.
[Sung, slowly.] Hey, Macarena.
“Macarena” was a Spanish-language song recorded by Spanish band Los del Rio in 1993. An English-language remix by the Bayside Boys spent 14 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1996, with an accompanying dance that was a brief fad. This coincided with an election year in the U.S., which led to the uncomfortable sight of middle-aged, rhythmically challenged politicos doing the Macarena on national television. (Vice President Al Gore, who had a reputation for being boring, offered to do his version of the Macarena at the Democratic National Convention: he stood perfectly still for several seconds and then asked, “Would you like to see it again?”)
An imitation of Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli, 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.
It’s a Wicca Tupperware party.
Wicca, a pagan religious movement, began in England in the early 20th century. Although it has no official hierarchy, its beliefs were initially set down in the 1950s by Gerald Gardner, who worked as a civil servant in Sri Lanka and Malaya. Wiccans worship a male and a female god, and practice ritual magic. Tupperware is a brand of plastic storage containers that are traditionally sold at “Tupperware parties,” in which a sales representative (usually a woman) makes her pitch to a group (again, usually women) gathered at someone’s home. They were first made in 1946.
A poultice is any type of medicated goo that is spread on a cloth and applied to the body to relieve inflammation or aches.
Damn Swedish ergonomic chairs—how do you sit comfortably on these?
In 1979, Norwegian designer Hans Christian Mengshoel created the Balans chair, an ergonomic chair designed to make the user divide his weight evenly between his knees and his rump. (The idea was to reduce lower back strain.) Several other Norwegian designers came up with their own variants on the chair. Studies of the chairs were mixed; most found they provided little or no benefit and might even make things worse.
Mother Angelica aerobics.
Mother Angelica (b. Rita Rizzo; 1923-2016) was a Roman Catholic nun and the founder of the Eternal Word Television Network, a Catholic religious network. For many years she hosted EWTN’s flagship program, Mother Angelica Live. She passed away in 2016, but EWTN still airs reruns of her old shows.
“I want you to meet my daughter Lea.” We’re about the same age.
In 1988, the year Space Mutiny was released, Cameron Mitchell (playing Captain Jansen) was 70. Cisse Cameron, playing his daughter Lea, was 34. I actually think she looks pretty good for 34; the problem is she’s cast in a role usually reserved for 24-year-olds. (There is reason to suspect, however, that Ms. Cameron may have been closer to 38; in 1967 she was a freshman at Butler University in Indianapolis, where she was voted Miss Watermelon Bust by the Lamda Chi Alpha fraternity.) Incidentally, she’s now (2017) in her 60s and looks spectacular. (Thanks to Rosemary for the Miss Watermelon Bust info.)
You’re getting a lump of coal.
The tradition of leaving lumps of coal in naughty children’s Christmas stockings isn’t just a Santa Claus myth; St. Nicholas, Sinterklaas, and Le Befana (Italy) do it as well. No one seems to be sure where it came from, but it’s speculated it may just be a question of convenience: the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, after all, so Santa/St. Nick/etc. can just grab a piece of coal from the fireplace and drop it in. Other gifts left for the bad kids have included bundles of twigs, salt, garlic, and onions.
Hey, one of the New Monkees.
Not the Monkees, the 1960s’ “Pre-Fab Four”: the New Monkees. Launched by television and record producers in 1987 after the previous year saw renewed interest in the original Monkees thanks to their 20th anniversary, The New Monkees consisted of Jared Chandler, Dino Kovas, Marty Ross, and Larry Saltis. They made a syndicated television show, The New Monkees, which was cancelled after thirteen episodes, and their sole album sold abysmally. During their short tenure, the original Monkees sued the band and the producers, but the case was settled out of court.
Oh, Gopher, are you lost?
Burl “Gopher” Smith was “Your Yeoman Purser” on the ABC television series The Love Boat from 1977 to 1986. He was played by Fred Grandy. From 1987 to 1995, Grandy served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Iowa. From 1995 to 2000, he was the CEO of Goodwill Industries. From 2003 to 2011 he hosted a conservative morning talk show on DC-area radio station WMAL, but resigned under murky circumstances, either over his controversial comments on radical Islam or his low ratings.
Those Formica monitors don’t have a lot of resolution.
Formica is a brand of heat-resistant plastic laminate developed by two Westinghouse engineers in 1912. They were trying to create an artificial replacement for the mineral mica, used in electrical insulation. Thus, this material was created “for mica.”
Excuse me, Al Lewis.
Al Lewis (1910-2006) was an actor who is best known for his portrayal of Grandpa Munster on the TV sitcom The Munsters, which aired from 1964 to 1966.
Herbie, the misfit elf.
In the 1964 Rankin-Bass Christmas special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Hermey (not Herbie) the Misfit Elf (voiced by Paul Soles), one of Santa’s elves, dreams of being a dentist rather than a toymaker.
He looks like Billie Jean King.
Billie Jean King is considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time. During the 1960s and 1970s, she won 39 Grand Slam titles, playing in singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. She won a record 20 career titles at Wimbledon, a feat since matched only by Martina Navratilova. In 1973, in the famous “Battle of the Sexes,” she faced off against Bobby Riggs, for a best of five sets match, and won in three straight sets.
I’ve seen this before. Compulsory splatball.
Splatball is an indoor paintball arena that has operated in Minneapolis since 1984.
Oh, he’s above the stage. Now he’s gonna fall right in at the end of the opera.
At the end of the 1978 Goldie Hawn/Chevy Chase film Foul Play (spoiler alert), an albino assassin who has been plotting to kill the pope at a performance of The Mikado at the San Francisco Opera House is instead shot by Chase. He falls from a catwalk, gets tangled in a piece of scenery, and is revealed to the audience. Fortunately, the pope thinks it’s awesome.
By the way, Kalgan, we need more of you.
Calgon wash water treatment ran a popular TV ad in the 1970s set in a laundromat run by a young Asian couple. The husband boasts that their whiteness formula is an ancient Chinese secret, but the wife reveals it is actually Calgon by popping her head out from the back and telling her husband, “We need more Calgon!” The customer scoffs, “Ancient Chinese secret, huh?” while the husband squirms. Calgon is considered a water softening agent, which prevents lime buildup and washing machine damage in hard water areas.
Oh, the death of Rick Springfield.
Rick Springfield is a pop singer who had a string of hits in the late 1970s and 1980s, including “Affair of the Heart” and “I’ve Done Everything For You.” He has also had a successful acting career, appearing on TV shows like General Hospital, True Detective, and Supernatural.
I just wish I had Jessie’s gaaaaaaal …
“Jessie’s Girl” was a number-one hit for Rick Springfield (see previous note) in 1981. It was his only number-one song, and won him a Grammy Award as well. Sample lyrics: “Jessie’s got himself a girl and I want to make her mine/And she’s watching him with those eyes/And she’s loving him with that body, I just know it/Yeah ‘n’ he’s holding her in his arms late, late at night/You know/I wish that I had Jessie’s girl …”
Ohhh, he had a mouthful of Starburst.
Starburst is a chewy fruit candy first made in the U.K. in 1960 by the Mars Corporation as Opal Fruits. The four original flavors were strawberry, lemon, orange, and lime. (Cherry replaced lime years later.) They were introduced to the United States in 1967.
They have the best minigolf in the galaxy.
Miniature golf is exactly what it sounds like: a miniature version of the game of golf. It started in the late 19th century as a lawn game and gradually evolved into the form we know today, with small windmills, water hazards, underground tubes, and all the other hoopla that has made the game a perennial favorite with children.
Now married to an entertainment lawyer in Sherman Oaks.
In fact, at the time they were filming Space Mutiny, Cisse Cameron was already married to Big McLargeHuge himself, Reb Brown. They wed in 1979, and as of 2017, when this annotation was written, had been together for 38 years. Which I think is very sweet.
This is like when I plateaued on my delts, man.
In the parlance of bodybuilding, the dreaded “plateau” is when a weightlifting program suddenly stops producing muscle growth, even though it’s being followed rigorously. “Delts” is short for the deltoid muscles, which sort of drape over the tops of the shoulders.
Shake it, Ralph Macchio!
Ralph Macchio is an actor best known for playing the title role in the 1980s Karate Kid movies; he also appeared in the films My Cousin Vinny (1992) and Hitchcock (2012), and in the TV series Eight Is Enough in 1981 and Ugly Betty in 2008-2009.
Eh, Mike, I bet you were really into the Thompson Twins, right? Huh? You were Wang Chunging all over the place, huh? Huh?
The Thompson Twins were a British pop band popular in the mid-1980s, known for such hits as “Lay Your Hands On Me” and “King for a Day.” Wang Chung were a New Wave pop group in the mid-‘80s. Their 1986 hit “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” contains the line “Everybody Wang Chung tonight.”
Man, Shari Lewis has got it going on!
Shari Lewis (b. Sonia Phyllis Hurwitz, 1933-1998) was a ventriloquist who starred in several children’s television shows, beginning in 1960. Her most famous puppet was Lamb Chop.
Ohh. You know, without Metrecal, this would not be possible.
Metrecal was a weight-loss shake mix, adapted from baby formula, that was sold by Mead Johnson from 1959 through the 1970s; the first major shake fad, it was the forerunner to Slim-Fast and its ilk. It was pulled off shelves in 1978 when the FDA connected certain liquid protein drinks with about 60 deaths from heart failure. (The deaths were apparently due to rapid weight loss and a lack of adequate nutrients; people following the recommended Metrecal weight-loss plan were surviving on about 900 calories a day.)
Man. I’d rather get a table dance from Trent Lott.
Trent Lott was a Republican senator from Mississippi in the 1990s and early 2000s. In 1995 he became Senate Majority Whip and then Majority Leader the following year when Bob Dole left to run (unsuccessfully) for president. In 2002 he resigned his leadership post after giving a speech at Senator Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party, saying of the longtime segregationist, “When [he] ran for president, we voted for him. … And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over the years, either.”
This is less subtle than an Annie Sprinkle performance piece.
The performance artist Annie Sprinkle had an infamous one-woman show called “Public Cervix Announcement,” which involved the audience getting to view that portion of her anatomy up close and personal using a speculum and a flashlight.
Oh, she’s presenting like a mandrill!
Mandrills, a large monkey native to central Africa, are one of the species of primates that exhibit sexual swelling: when the females are ready to mate, their external genitalia swell with water, becoming greatly engorged and red. Males are attracted to, and will compete for, females with the largest sexual swelling. Females that are ready to mate will “present” by facing away from the male on all fours and looking back over their shoulders.
Two for one techno drinks. Cool.
Also known as smart drinks or nootropic drinks, these are fruit juices laced with vitamins, amino acids, and herbal supplements. They were popular at raves in the late 1980s and ‘90s, when ecstasy, ketamine, and other drugs were the mood-altering substances of choice, rather than alcohol. Additives included things like choline, L-tyrosine, L-phenylalanine, and B vitamins.
Wow, it’s like Nick and Nora Charles.
Nick and Nora Charles were fictional detectives who appeared in Dashiell Hammett’s 1934 mystery novel The Thin Man. Hollywood made a series of Thin Man movies starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as the witty, fast-quipping couple.
Bennigan’s is a chain of Irish-themed casual dining restaurants that was founded in 1976. By the 1980s it was one of the best-known “fern bars” in the United States.
She’s walking with two Mexican wrestlers.
Lucha libre is a form of professional wrestling in Mexico in which the participants wear colorful masks, a tradition dating back to 1934, when an American wrestler donned a black mask and stepped into a Mexico City ring under the name “The Masked Marvel.” Eight years later a man named Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta put on a silver mask and wrestled for the first time under the name El Santo; he went on to become the most iconic luchador of all time (and the star of Show 624, Samson vs. the Vampire Women).
[Imitating.] She’s got an armadillo down her trousers.
A riff on a line from the classic 1984 mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, in which guitarist Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest) explains the band’s overall stage presence: “[Female fans] are really quite fearful, that's my theory. They see us onstage with tight trousers and we’ve got, you know, armadillos in our trousers. I mean ...”
Hervé Villechaize’s death car!
Hervé Villechaize (1943-1993) was an undersized actor who became famous for the line “De plane! De plane!” on the TV show Fantasy Island, which he appeared on from 1978-1983. He became depressed and worked very little after leaving the series, ultimately killing himself in 1993. He did not, however, die in a car; he shot himself in his home in North Hollywood. “Death car” is a common shorthand for a car in which a celebrity has died: Bonnie and Clyde’s death car, or Princess Diana’s death car.
Hit the siren! [Sung.] [“Circus music.”]
While most people know this as “that circus song,” the actual title is “Entrance of the Gladiators.” It was composed in 1897 as a military march by Czech composer Julius Fučík. Circuses began to use it after a small band version was arranged by Canadian composer Louie-Phillipe Laurendeau in 1901 under the title “Thunder and Blazes.”
Let’s see what this Lark can do.
The Lark was a popular brand of mobility scooter in the 1980s, a battery-powered wheelchair-like device controlled by a simple joystick or handlebars, that helps elderly persons or others with mobility issues get around. The company that made the Lark, Ortho-Kinetics, went bankrupt in 2003, although you can still find the occasional used Lark for sale.
We can’t go any faster—I’d have to drop the waxing compound.
Some industrial floor cleaning machines are ride-on models, kind of like golf carts with a scrubber on the bottom, as opposed to walk-behind models that the operator pushes ahead of him.
[Sung.] Da do do do, da da da da, that’s all I wanna say to you.
“De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” is a 1980 song by The Police, off their album Zenyatta Mondatta. It was their first top ten hit in the United States. See note on Sting, above.
“I think they want to drive us into the neighboring constellation. –Helveca?” Oh, I love that font.
Helvetica, created by Swiss typeface designer Max Miedinger in 1957 (Helvetia is the old Latin name for Switzerland, after the Helvetian tribe that first settled there), is one of the most widely used fonts in the world.
Get off the Stairmaster!
See above note.
Dr. Jack Kevorkian (1928-2011) was known for his determination to assist terminally ill people in committing suicide. He spent time in jail for violating assisted suicide laws, and was criticized even by some proponents of euthanasia for his willingness to help total strangers commit suicide.
[British accent.] I was just about to do the Monster Mash.
An imitation of Bobby “Boris” Pickett doing the “Monster Mash,” which was a smash hit novelty song in 1962 by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers. The song went to number one in the weeks before Halloween that year and has been a Halloween favorite ever since. Pickett went on to release a few more singles but never again attained the popularity of his first outing.
[Loud running footsteps.] Oh, here comes Lord of the Dance.
Michael Flatley is a noted Irish-American dancer, choreographer, and television presenter who choreographed the original production of the immensely popular Riverdance show, based on traditional Irish step dancing, in 1994. After disputes over creative control, he quit and cobbled together his own show, Lord of the Dance, in 1996.
[Imitating.] Oh, we’re going to the deep freeze, I must say.
Ed Grimley was a comic character created by Martin Short in 1982 for the TV series SCTV and used later on Saturday Night Live. Grimley, a thin, nerdy guy with a spike of lacquered hair sticking straight up from his skull, was famous for the catch phrase “Completely mental, I must say.” He was also known for doing a psychotic little dance. Grimley got his own animated series in 1988: The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley. It lasted 13 episodes.
“Do call again.” I’m late for Roddy McDowall practice.
Roddy McDowall (1928-1998) started as a child actor in movies like My Friend Flicka and Lassie Come Home (both in 1943), and then achieved his greatest fame playing various apes in the Planet of the Apes films, most famously as Cornelius. He appeared in Show 706, Laserblast.
You know, they shouldn’t have set their phasers to “miss.”
The phaser energy weapons used by the protagonists on Star Trek could be set either to stun or to kill. There were multiple stun settings, which led to disorientation at the lowest and prolonged unconsciousness at the highest.
He killed Mitch Gaylord!
Mitch Gaylord is an American gymnast. He won a gold, a silver, and two bronze medals in the 1984 Summer Olympics.
[Imitating.] This is exciting as exciting can be, I must say.
See above note on Ed Grimley.
Oh, no, the methane! How are they going to fill their cows?
The world’s 1.5 billion cows produce a lot of methane, which is a very strong greenhouse gas (its effect on global warming is about 20 times worse than carbon dioxide’s). Estimates vary, but your average cow emits somewhere between 25 and 130 gallons of methane every day via eructation and flatulence (or belching and farting, for the less refined). That’s about as much pollution as your average car.
“Open file on …” Blitzen.
Blitzen is one of Santa’s reindeer, first mentioned in the 1823 poem “A Visit From Saint Nicholas,” written by Clement Clarke Moore. He was originally named Blixem, but his name mutated over the years to the form familiar to all today.
The Stevie Nicks workout.
Stevie Nicks, singer for the band Fleetwood Mac, is famous for her ethereal, floaty dresses.
Uh, Mrs. Kringle and I have an understanding.
Kris Kringle, another name for Santa Claus, derives from the German word “Kristkindl,” meaning “Christ child.” It first appeared around 1830 and seems to have been brought to the U.S. by Pennsylvania Dutch settlers. Although Americans use it simply as another term for Santa, other countries (like Canada and Australia) use it as a term for “Secret Santa.”
Wanna see me shake like a bowl full of jelly?
A line from the aforementioned poem “A Visit From Saint Nicholas” (see previous note). The relevant lines: “He had a broad face, and a little round belly/That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly.”
I am a right jolly old elf.
And that’s from the next line of “A Visit From Saint Nicholas”: “He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf/And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself.”
Let me just check you twice here …
A reference to the Christmas song “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” written by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie and first recorded in 1934. It has since become a holiday standard and been covered by multiple artists, including Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, and Michael Jackson. Sample lyrics: “He’s making a list/He’s checking it twice/He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice/Santa Claus is coming to town.”
Yep, yep, she’s a graduate of MIT, but she still has to serve drinks to men.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that is considered one of the top scientific and technological research centers in the world. It has made important advances in aeronautics and analog computing, among many other fields. Total enrollment is about 11,000; admissions are extremely competitive.
Okay, that’s two Bullshots and a Pink Squirrel here.
A Bullshot is a cocktail that was popular among the swanky set from the late 1950s through the 1980s. Supposedly invented at the Caucus Club in Detroit, a Bullshot is a variant on the Bloody Mary, with beef broth substituting for the tomato juice. The Pink Squirrel, invented at Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge in Milwaukee, is a cocktail made with almond and chocolate liqueurs and vanilla ice cream.
Woo-hoo! We got ISO 9001 certified!
ISO 9001 is a set of standards for business procedures, administered by the International Organization for Standardization. A business that has been ISO 9001 certified has demonstrated that it follows established, well-documented procedures. Originally the designation focused on manufacturers, but it has since been expanded to cover many types of businesses.
She dusted herself with super weight gain powder to attract him.
Joe Weider is a line of fitness products, including powdered protein shake mixes designed to help you gain weight; the best-known among these is the Mega Mass 4,000, which boasts of 4,000 calories per serving—nearly twice the daily caloric intake of the average person.
Man, she makes Shelley Duvall look like Shirley Hemphill.
Shelley Duvall is a slender actress whose best-known role is as Wendy Torrance in the 1980 horror film The Shining; she also played Olive Oyl in the 1980 movie Popeye. Shirley Hemphill (1947-1999) was an overweight comedian whose highest-profile work came playing sarcastic waitress Shirley Wilson on the TV sitcom What’s Happening!!, which aired from 1976-1979. (She reprised the role on the syndicated sequel series What’s Happening Now!!, which ran from 1985-1988.) She also briefly starred as a taxi driver who inherits a multinational corporation on the TV show One in a Million, which aired for one season in 1980.
Pantene Pro-V is a brand of shampoo made by Procter & Gamble. In the 1990s they began marketing their shampoo with the slogan “Hair so healthy it shines” (replacing their previous, much-mocked tagline “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful”). Television ads for the shampoo showed models releasing waterfalls of long, thick, shiny hair to fall enticingly in front of the camera. The campaign paid off; by 1994 Pantene was the number-one hair-care brand in the world and boasted sales north of $1 billion.
Glenda Jackson is Kate Moss as Isadora Duncan.
Glenda Jackson was a spare, elegant British actress who appeared in films like Women in Love (1970), for which she won her first of two Oscars for Best Actress, and House Calls (1978). In 1992 she retired from acting to enter politics, running for Parliament and becoming the Labour MP for Hampstead and Highgate. She became a perennial thorn in Prime Minister Tony Blair’s side, ultimately retiring in 2015. Kate Moss was a famously emaciated supermodel in the early 1990s who personified the “heroin chic” trend popular at the time. Isadora Duncan (1877-1927) was a dancer who was one of the founders of modern dance. She favored light, flowing costumes that allowed for more natural movement, often based on classical Greek or Roman clothing. Her trademark piece was a long, flowing scarf; in 1927, in Nice, France, she was killed when her long scarf became entangled in one of the wheels of the open sports car she was travelling in, breaking her neck.
Red Rover, Red Rover, let Jimmy come over.
Red Rover, a children’s playground game originating in the 19th century, is also known as forcing the city gates, octopus tag, Ali Baba (Russia), and city crier and flag bearer (Serbia).
[Sung to “Blue Danube.”] Dah-dah-dah oh right …
See above note on the “Blue Danube.”
“What happened?” They rocked us like a hurricane, sir.
“Rock You Like a Hurricane” is a 1984 hit song by the Scorpions, a German rock band founded in 1965. It was the first single from their album Love at First Sting, and reached number 25 on the charts. It is still frequently played at games for the Miami Hurricanes, Carolina Hurricanes, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, etc. Sample lyrics: “Here I am/Rock you like a hurricane (Are you ready, baby?)”
But we were just working on some night moves, sir.
A paraphrase of the Bob Seger song “Night Moves,” off his 1976 album of the same name. It was his first hit single since 1969, reaching number four on the charts, and made him a national name. Sample lyrics: “Out past the cornfields where the woods got heavy/Out in the back seat of my ’60 Chevy/Workin’ on mysteries without any clues/Workin’ on our night moves …”
Come on, Metamucil, work your magic.
Metamucil is a bulk fiber laxative that comes in powdered form; when mixed with water or juice, it acts to relieve constipation.
“Is this the man?” Why, no, sir, you the man.
In the mid-1990s, it became a “thing” for golf fans to yell “You da man!” when a golfer made a particularly good shot in a tournament. This wasn’t the origin of the phrase (the 1989 Spike Lee film Do the Right Thing has a famous exchange between Lee and Giancarlo Esposito consisting entirely of “You da man.” “You da man.” “No, you da man.” “No, you da man.” Etc.), but it’s where it crossed into the mainstream.
So Lance Kerwin is their thug.
Lance Kerwin is a TV actor who played the titular teenager in James at 15 (1977-1978); he also starred in The Loneliest Runner (1976), a TV movie about a marathon runner who overcomes a bedwetting problem, and played Mark Petrie, a kid who becomes a vampire hunter, in the miniseries Salem’s Lot (1979).
Quiet! Mitch Miller’s on!
Mitch Miller (1911-2010) was a musician, producer, and record company executive. In the 1960s, he hosted the NBC TV show Sing Along With Mitch (1961-1966).
“We’re going to put you on ice for a while.” On Vanilla Ice.
Vanilla Ice is the stage name of American rapper, actor, and television personality Robert Matthew Van Winkle; his 1990 single “Ice Ice Baby” was the first hip-hop single to hit number one on the Billboard charts. Major success eluded him after that, but he has acquired a certain status in the pop culture landscape: his name is usually the first to come up when somebody wants to make a joke about white guys adopting hip-hop culture.
The Honeymooners was a classic TV sitcom starring Jackie Gleason and Art Carney that aired in various forms from 1951-1970, usually as a skit on one of Gleason’s variety shows, although it ran as a stand-alone series for one season, from 1955-1956. The opening credits began with a shot of fireworks exploding in the night sky, which dissolved to a shot of the moon rising over a city skyline.
God, I love Pac-Man.
Pac-Man is the most popular arcade game of all time, creating a veritable merchandising craze during the 1980s and inducing millions of teenagers to blow their allowances on quarters. It was created by Japanese game designer Toru Iwatani in 1980.
The white Commodores!
The Commodores are a funk/soul band popular during the late 1970s/early ‘80s, when Lionel Richie was their lead singer (he went solo in 1982). Their hits during this era included “Three Times a Lady” and “Brick House.” The six members were all black; they met while attending Tuskegee University, a historically black college.
[Imitating.] Oh, she’s really struggling, I must say. She’s going mental on us, but then again she isn’t.
See note on Ed Grimley, above.
Whaddaya got for me, Rick Astley?
Rick Astley was a popular British singer in the late 1980s, with songs like “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “Together Forever.” “Never Gonna Give You Up” achieved a second level of fame on the Internet starting in 2007 with the phenomenon of “rickrolling,” which involves enticing someone to click on a link expecting something else, but get the music video for “Never Gonna Give You Up” instead.
See above note on Mark “Jacko” Jackson.
Strewth, a common Australian expression of surprise (along with “Crikey!”), was originally a contraction of “God’s truth” and dates back to the late 19th century. Unlike “oi” and “too right,” however, it does not appear to have been used in an Energizer ad.
See above note on Mark “Jacko” Jackson.
Fetch me my warrior muumuu.
The muumuu is a long, loose Hawaiian dress originally worn for formal occasions. Because it is not drawn in at the waist, it has come to be associated with larger women.
“I do have one weakness—pain.” And French silk pie.
French silk pie is chocolate mousse, custard, or pudding, sitting on either a fine pastry or simple graham cracker crust. It is generally topped with whipped cream, garnished with shaved chocolate and/or orange or lemon zest, and served cold.
Can’t believe it! There’s a sale on PowerBars! Those things never go on sale, man.
PowerBars are energy bars for athletes first manufactured in 1986; they are currently made by Post Holdings. They were the first of their kind in a market now saturated by ProBars, Clif Bars, LaraBars, Chia Bars, and more.
Sounds like you’re knocking, Tom. You might need some premium gas.
In car engines, the mixture of air and fuel is meant to be ignited by the spark plug. Sometimes, pockets of this mixture ignite at the wrong time, causing a knocking or pinging sound. This can cause wear and tear on the engine. Using premium gas with a higher octane rating, which increases the temperature at which the fuel ignites, can help reduce the likelihood of knocking.
Can you sign a check so I can go to Office Max?
Office Max is a chain of nearly 1,000 stores that sell office supplies, computer stuff, and furniture. It was founded in 1988 and was bought by rival Office Depot in 2013.
Damn 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.
This is just like the time I got lost at Bally’s. Wandered onto the tennis courts, couldn’t get out.
Bally Total Fitness was a chain of fitness centers founded in 1983 by a slot machine manufacturing company. By 1987 it was the largest chain in the U.S. However, it overextended and filed for bankruptcy in 2007; it also faced a mountain of consumer complaints and several investigations regarding deceptive contracts. By 2016 the company had sold or closed all its locations.
Morgan Fairchild and Phil Collins! No!
Morgan Fairchild (b. Patsy Ann McClenny) is a blond American actress best known for her glamorous roles in multiple television series throughout the 1970s and ‘80s, including a star turn on Falcon Crest. Phil Collins was the drummer and lead singer for the British rock group Genesis. After a string of successful records made with the band and on his own, Collins left the group in 1995. He won an Oscar for Best Original Song in 2000 for his work on the Disney film Tarzan.
This is supposed to be an ipecac, right?
Syrup of Ipecac is an over-the-counter medicine meant to induce vomiting in the case of accidental poisoning. However, doctors no longer recommend the use of ipecac in the case of accidental poisoning—instead, call a poison control center.
That’s the cast of The Poseidon Adventure coming the other way.
The Poseidon Adventure (1972) was one of those all-star-cast disaster films the 1970s seemed to specialize in (see also: Airport, Earthquake, The Towering Inferno). With actors like Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters, Roddy McDowall, and Leslie Nielsen, it appealed to audiences and critics alike, winning two Oscars and topping the box office for the year. The plot: a luxury ocean liner on its final voyage is overturned by a rogue wave, and the survivors must climb from the top decks (now on the bottom of the ship) to safety.
[Door swish.] Rawhide! [Door swish.] Rawhide!
The theme song to the TV western Rawhide (1959-1966) was written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington and performed by Frankie Laine. The song is about a cattle drover, and famously punctuated by the sound of a cracking whip.
They woke up the Oak Ridge Boys!
The Oak Ridge Boys are a longtime country-music band that have been performing, in various lineups, since the mid-1940s. They are known for their flowing locks and munificent facial hair, which in some cases (cough William Lee Golden) has only gotten longer over the years. Their hits include “Elvira,” “Bobbie Sue,” and “Dream On.”
[Sung.] Elvira … Giddyup …
See previous note on the Oak Ridge Boys. “Elvira” was originally written and recorded by Dallas Frazier in 1966, but it became a signature song for the ORB after they released a cover version in 1981.
Hey, how about some sugar for Sting and Dolph, here?
See above note on Sting. Dolph Lundgren is a blond Swedish martial artist and actor best known as Russian boxer Ivan Drago in Rocky IV (of “I must break you” fame, 1985). He has also appeared in Masters of the Universe (1987), The Punisher (1989), and The Expendables films (the first in 2010).
“Commander, we have a problem.” I’m out of Mega Fuel.
Probably a reference to Twinlab Mass Fuel, another weight gainer powder that offers a bucket o’ protein in every scoop.
Laraine Newman and the Newmanettes!
Laraine Newman is a comedian and actress best known for her tenure on Saturday Night Live as part of that show’s original cast, appearing from 1975-1980. As a voice artist in the 2000s, she’s appeared in WALL-E, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., and many other animated films and TV series. Known for her bone-thin figure, Newman reportedly suffered from drug problems and an eating disorder during her SNL days.
Oh, now they stole the Enterprise’s red alert sound thingy.
Yes, they did. The sound effects for the original Star Trek TV series (1966-1969) were created by a handful of sound editors led by Doug Grindstaff, who was nominated for an Emmy for his work on the first season. Many of their effects have become iconic, like the sound of the transporter, the whoosh of the ship’s doors opening, and the hum of the phasers firing.
[Imitating music.] Sounds like Kitaro fell asleep on his keyboard.
Kitaro is a Japanese composer known for his New Age synthesizer pieces.
“Stop right there!” Would you like to sample some Canoe?
The House of Dana was founded by Javier Serra in 1932. Under perfumer Jean Carles, they released such well-known scents as Tabu, Emir, and Canoe. By the 1980s, however, the company was on its last legs, and after a series of acquisitions it was transformed into New Dana, which makes a string of low-level perfumes sold in drugstores and discount department stores. Among them: Love’s Baby Soft, English Leather, and, still, Canoe.
A horse, my kingdom for a horse.
From William Shakespeare’s play Richard III, Act V, Scene IV: “A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!” In the play Shakespeare referred to Richard as a “poisonous bunch-backed toad,” and traditionally actors have portrayed the character as having a hunchback, a withered arm, and a limp. A lively debate eventually sprang up over whether this image was accurate. Shakespeare wrote the play c. 1592, when Queen Elizabeth I was on the throne; her grandfather, Henry VII, defeated Richard III in battle to claim the throne of England. So portraying Richard III as a deformed murdering villain was clearly in the playwright's best interest. However, in 2012, archaeologists unearthed Richard’s skeleton under a parking lot in Leicester and discovered that while he didn’t have a limp or a withered arm, he did suffer from adult-onset scoliosis, a twist in the spine, which may have made one of his shoulders higher than the other. So there may be some basis for the hunchback story.
Ooh, someone get me a Zantac, quick!
Zantac is an acid reducer used to relieve the symptoms of heartburn, and as a treatment for peptic ulcers and acid reflux. It is available in both prescription and nonprescription forms.
Well, they rented a pneumatic catapult, and damn it, they’re gonna use it.
In stunt work, an air ram is a catapult powered by air pressure and used to throw the stunt performer through the air (e.g., after an explosion). The performer steps on a pedal, which triggers the release of the compressed air, sending the stuntman flying.
I think they just borrowed the South High marching band uniforms.
South High School is the largest public high school in Minneapolis, with an enrollment of around 2,000 students. It was founded in 1885 and has become a highly respected school, known for its ethnic diversity, extracurricular activities, and liberal arts program. Their music program offers classes in band, choir, jazz, strings, orchestra, singing, piano, and guitar, but they don’t have a marching band.
So this takes place at the Anheuser Busch brewery, or …
Anheuser-Busch (now Anheuser-Busch InBev) is an American brewing company founded in 1852 and best known for making Budweiser, Busch, and Michelob, among many others. They have multiple breweries located around the country, including ones in St. Louis, Houston, and Jacksonville, Florida.
Please don’t shoot us … okay, but you won’t get a box lunch, then.
In the movie business, extras hired to fill out a scene are generally paid a set per diem fee, with overtime if the shoot goes long. If the shoot is over a certain number of hours, each extra is given a box lunch.
[Evil laughter.] You see, I’m handicapable.
Handicapable, along with “differently abled” and “physically challenged,” is a politically correct term for the disabled. It never really caught on and is rarely heard today, unless dripping with sarcasm.
Ooh, he needs a giant Tucks.
Tucks medicated pads are pre-moistened pads soaked in a solution of witch hazel. They are used to relieve the itching and burning sensations associated with hemorrhoids.
Stupid Buddhist monk, the Vietnam War’s been over for hundreds of years!
Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc famously set himself on fire in Saigon to protest persecution of his religion in Vietnam in 1963. It was captured by AP photographer Malcolm Browne, who won a Pulitzer for his work. Several monks followed Duc’s example, increasing pressure on the regime, which was brought down by an army coup five months later.
Well, if there’s one thing this movie does well, it’s tossing Canadians around.
Actually, Space Mutiny was a South African production.
Wait, Canadians? –Oh, come on, Mike, this movie’s ripe with the stench of back bacon.
Back bacon is a cut of pork that includes part of the pork loin and part of the belly, so it winds up being leaner than American-style bacon, which is made only from pork belly. If it is cured and smoked, Americans refer to it as … Canadian bacon.
[Imitating.] I must say.
See above note on Ed Grimley.
[Imitating.] We’re being totally defeated, I must say.
See above note on Ed Grimley.
“Lea! MacPhearson!” That’s a really good strut suspension!
Earle MacPherson was chief engineer of Chevy’s Light Car project in the mid-1940s, which was working on designing consumer cars for the post-World War II era. While on that project, he invented a new kind of strut that became commonly used in the front suspension of modern cars and was ultimately named after him: the MacPherson strut.
[Sung.] Spider skank, spider skank …
Spider-Man is a Marvel Comics character created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, who debuted in 1962. From 1977-1979 he got his own live-action TV series, The Amazing Spider-Man, which boasted this catchy theme song: “Spider-Man, Spider-Man/Does whatever a spider can/Spins a web, any size/Catches thieves just like flies/Look out!/Here comes the Spider-Man.” The song was so well-known that it has made cameo appearances in many of the big-budget Spider-Man film adaptations of the 2000s.
Man, I shouldn’t have ridden my recumbent bike to work.
Recumbent bikes are bikes in which the rider leans back against a reclined seat. They are more aerodynamic and faster than standard bicycles, but tend to be less maneuverable. They were actually invented in the 19th century, but did not become widely commercially available until the 1980s.
Ah, into a nice sitz bath.
A sitz bath (from the German for “sit”) is a bath where one sits in warm, possibly medicated water up to hip level. They are used to alleviate various complaints “down there,” including hemorrhoids and bladder infections.
“Now it is time for Kalgan.” Recommended by top breeders.
Kal Kan was a brand of canned dog food, but the manufacturer changed its name to Pedigree starting in 1988. However, the name now appears to be back, on a brand of dog food sold through Walmart. “Developed by vets. Recommended by top breeders” was an ad slogan for Pedigree.
Well, someone dropped a jar of Hellmann’s in aisle seven, I gotta go clean it up.
Hellmann’s mayonnaise (or Best Foods, as it is also known) was created by German immigrant Richard Hellmann in his New York delicatessen; he began selling it commercially in 1913. Best Foods, a San Francisco company with its own brand of mayo, bought him out in 1927 but decided to preserve both brand names. Today Hellmann’s is sold east of the Rockies and in Europe, Latin America, Australia, the Middle East, and Canada. Best Foods got the United States west of the Rockies, Asia, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand.
Push on, mighty Cushman!
Cushman, founded in 1903, started out making engines for farm equipment, boats, and the like, and made scooters during the Depression and World War II. They began making golf carts in the 1950s, and still do today.
You know, in their silliest moments, the Three Stooges never reached this level of indignity.
The Three Stooges was a slapstick comedy trio that performed for five decades in the 20th century. They got their start in a vaudeville act called Ted Healy and His Stooges. The first lineup was Moe Howard (Moses Horwitz; 1897-1975), Shemp Howard (Samuel Horwitz; 1895-1955), and Larry Fine (Louis Feinberg; 1902-1975). Comedian Healy became angered that the Stooges were becoming more popular than him and Shemp left, leading Curly Howard (Jerome Horwitz; 1903-1952) to join in 1932. The Stooges finally left Healy in 1934 and began their famous run of 190 shorts and five films for Columbia Pictures. Typical Stooges routines included slaps, eye gouging, hair pulling, and other slapstick violence.
You know, a lot of people have compared this scene to the climactic chariot scene in Ben-Hur?
Ben-Hur was a 1959 Hollywood epic starring Charlton Heston. One of the most famous scenes in the film is of a vicious chariot race.
Really? –Yeah, you know, they usually say “Ben-Hur was really good. This movie totally sucks.”
At the time, Ben-Hur was the highest-grossing film of 1959, as well as the second-highest-grossing film in history (Gone with the Wind was the first), earning $66.1 million (the equivalent today of $146.9 million). It also won a record-setting eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, a record that stood until Titanic matched it in 1997.
Any second Lea’s gonna jump on her Big Wheel and give chase.
Big Wheels are a brand of tricycle that have been around for more than 40 years. They are made of brightly colored plastic and boast a front wheel that is much larger than the two back wheels. Introduced in 1969, they were highly popular in the ‘70s.
“Meddling fool!” What, is he Snidely Whiplash?
Snidely Whiplash was Canadian Mountie Dudley Do-Right’s archnemesis on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, which aired on a couple of different networks between 1959 and 1964. Distinguished by his top hat, curling mustachios, and fondness for tying maidens to railroad tracks, Whiplash was a stereotypical villain from the old silent serials and Victorian melodramas. He was voiced in the cartoons by Hans Conried and played by Alfred Molina in the 1999 live-action film Dudley Do-Right, which starred Brendan Fraser.
Historical trivia: a mountebank was a peddler of quack medicines, so calling someone a mountebank is calling them a charlatan or a fraud. The word comes from the Italian montambanco, which loosely means “mount on bench”—something the peddlers would do while selling their wares.
Toro! Toro! These things are made by Toro!
Toro is an American manufacturer of lawn maintenance equipment, based in Bloomington, Minnesota. It was founded in 1914 as the exclusive provider of engines for The Bull Tractor Company (thus the name “Toro,” which is Spanish for “bull”).
Still, it’s better than Days of Thunder. –A lot. –Yeah.
Days of Thunder is a 1990 auto racing film starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Plagued by schedule difficulties and budget overruns, it was largely panned by critics but was nonetheless successful at the box office, grossing $157 million.
He shouldn’t have been carrying that case of cleaning fluid and nitroglycerin and gelignite in there.
Nitroglycerin is an organic nitrate compound that is used in the making of explosives. Curiously, taken in small quantities, nitroglycerin is also a powerful vasodilator, meaning it dilates the veins around the heart, so it is used medically for treating heart conditions such as angina. Gelignite is an explosive material made by soaking cotton in nitroglycerin.
Plus he microwaved an egg at the same time.
Microwaving a beaten egg is fine. Microwaving an egg in its shell will cause a rather messy explosion due to steam building up inside the shell as the egg cooks.
Not since the Fuzzy Zoeller/Lee Trevino collision of 1974 has there been such a horrible golf cart accident.
Frank Urban Zoeller, better known as Fuzzy, and Lee Trevino are both professional golfers; Trevino is retired, while Zoeller still tours as a senior golfer. In 1975 Trevino was struck by lightning and seriously injured; however, he recovered and resumed his golf career. As far as can be determined, neither has been in a golf cart accident, although such incidents are on the rise, going from a reported 5,700 cases in 1990 to more than 18,000 golf cart-related injuries nationwide requiring emergency room treatment in 2015.
Leah, this could be the start of a beautiful alternate-day bulk-up routine.
In the final scene of the classic 1942 film Casablanca, as the two of them walk into the distance, Rick (Humphrey Bogart) says to Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains), “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Bodybuilders typically work different muscle groups on alternate days in their pursuit of pumping themselves up.
Cajun pan-blackened Kalgan.
Cajun cuisine, popularized by Louisiana chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author Paul Prudhomme (1940-2015), involves relatively simple but spicy dishes that feature onion, bell peppers, celery, rice, shrimp, and pork sausage as key ingredients. Blackening involves fish or other meat dipped in butter, dredged in spices, and then seared on a very hot cast iron skillet, creating a black crust on the outside. Blackening was a regional and fairly obscure technique that became wildly popular nationwide in the 1980s, thanks again to Prudhomme.
Me, take me away!
See above note on Calgon.
We don’t need more Kalgan.
See above note on Calgon.
Music rejected by the band Survivor.
Survivor is a Chicago rock band founded in 1978 and best known for its 1982 hit “Eye of the Tiger,” which was the theme song for the film Rocky III. It won a Grammy Award and an Oscar nomination for Best Song.
The lobsterman was played by Guy Pringle.
Guy Pringle was a Hollywood stuntman in the 1980s, with credits on 15 films, including American Ninja 2, Captive Rage, and Show 516, Alien from L.A.
Wow. Wouldn’t want to slam a stack of that guy.
“Slam the stack” was an ad slogan for Pringles potato chips in the 1990s. Pringles were developed by Procter & Gamble in 1967 and are 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.
[Sung.] She’s a maniac, maniac on the floor …
A line from the song “Maniac” from the soundtrack of the 1983 movie Flashdance, which starred Jennifer Beals as a steelworker with dreams of becoming a dancer. The song was performed by Michael Sembello. Sample lyrics: “She’s a maniac, maniac on the floor/And she’s dancing like she’s never danced before …”
[Sung.] Don’t pay the ferryman/Don’t even fix that price …
“Don’t Pay the Ferryman” is a 1982 song by Chris de Burgh, from his album The Getaway. It was a modest hit in the U.S. and U.K. but a bigger one in Australia, making the top ten in that country. Sample lyrics: “Don’t pay the ferryman/Don’t even fix a price/Don’t pay the ferryman/Until he gets you to the other side.”
[Sung.] Maniac, maniac on the floor …
See previous note.
Everybody! [Sung.] Someday love will find you …
“Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” is a 1983 song by American rock band Journey, from their Frontiers album. It was the first single for which the band shot a music video (previous videos had been cobbled together from concert footage), and the result was infamously bad, with the band members inexplicably playing imaginary instruments.
You know, they really did have excellent clapping and loading.
In film jargon, a clapper/loader is the person responsible for clapping the little slate at the beginning of shots that the editor later uses to synchronize audio and video, as well as for loading more film into the camera. The term is mostly used outside the U.S., as in Europe and Australia; in the United States the position is called the second assistant cameraman, or second AC.
So the best boy they could come up with was Fuzzy Skinner?
The best boy acts as an assistant to the lead technician of two departments: electrics, and lighting and rigging. The head of electrics is called the gaffer, and his assistant is called the best boy electric. The head of lighting and rigging is the key grip, and his assistant is the best boy grip. Female best boys are sometimes titled best girls. Fuzzy Skinner only worked on a few films; Space Mutiny was his first.
Yeah, hold on, I got one. [Sung.] I wear my sunglasses at night/So I can …
A reference to the song “Sunglasses at Night” by pop star Corey Hart, which was a huge hit in 1984. Sample lyrics: “I wear my sunglasses at night/So I can so I can/Keep track of the visions in my eyes …”
This band will be appearing at the Bombay Bicycle Club later this weekend.
The Bombay Bicycle Club was a tropical-themed chain of restaurants popular in the 1990s. It was supposedly named after a club founded in India in 1898 by British colonial officers.
So you sit there, all mushy and sentimental, reciting to yourself the words to some song by Night Ranger. You’re pathetic.
Night Ranger was an American rock band popular in the 1980s; their biggest hit was 1984’s “Sister Christian.”
You want to swerve home in your cherried-out Dodge Charger.
The Dodge Charger is a car built by Chrysler; several different models have carried the name since the original two-door version rolled off the assembly line in 1966.