by Sean Marten
The secret storm.
The Secret Storm was an American soap opera that ran from 1954 to 1974 on CBS; its opening title sequence starting around 1960 (which aired in black and white in the early years) featured waves crashing on a rocky shoreline. Deep trivia: For several episodes of The Secret Storm in October 1968, actress Joan Crawford filled in for her ill daughter Christina in her role as Joan Borman Kane, even though Joan was over 60 at the time and the character was supposed to be 24. This event was dramatized in the 1981 film Mommie Dearest.
[Sung: name in credits.] Forever in Lugenes …
A riff on Neil Diamond’s 1979 song “Forever in Blue Jeans.” Sample lyrics: “Money talks/But it don’t sing and dance/And it don’t walk/And long as I can have you here with me/I’d much rather be/Forever in blue jeans.” Actress Lugene Sanders, who plays Meg in Tormented, is best known as a child star on American TV, especially for her role as teenage daughter Barbara “Babs” Riley in the late ‘50s TV version of The Life of Riley (1953-1958).
Gordon and Steinberg—wherever fine films are sold.
Bert I. Gordon is an American film director best known for his low-budget science fiction and horror B-movies in the 1950s and ‘60s. Nicknamed “Mr. Big”—both for his initials and the general size of the creatures (or people) in his films—Gordon has the distinction of being the single director with the most movies to have been featured on MST3K. They are: Show 210, King Dinosaur; Show 309, The Amazing Colossal Man; Show 313, Earth vs. the Spider; Show 319, War of the Colossal Beast; Show 411, The Magic Sword; Show 414, Tormented; Show 517, Beginning of the End; and Show 523, Village of the Giants. (RiffTrax has also done the Gordon film Attack of the Puppet People.) Co-producer Joe Steinberg has a much shorter resume; he had a hand in just two other films: Cry of Battle (1963) and The Demon (1981).
Mr. Laszlo, your papers of transit.
Tormented cinematographer Ernest Laszlo (1898-1984) was an Academy Award-winning veteran of the classic film noir era; he shot such films as D.O.A (1950) and Kiss Me Deadly (1955). In the 1942 film Casablanca, a key plot point are the “letters of transit,” which allow their holders to travel through German-occupied territory and are thus highly valuable to the refugees trapped in Casablanca, particularly Czech resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid).
Scognamillo? I think that’s a triple word score in Scrabble.
Tormented art director Gabriel Scognamillo (1906-1974) also worked on such films as 7 Faces of Doctor Lao (1964) and The Story of Three Loves (1953), for which he received an Oscar nomination. Scrabble is a classic board game produced by Hasbro, in which players draw seven letters apiece and then attempt to spell words on the game board, crossword puzzle-style. “Triple word score” is one of the bonus squares on the board; assuming no other square multipliers, “scognamillo” on a triple word score would be worth 48 points.
Oh, is the great George Worthing Yates writing the screenplay?
George Worthing Yates (1901-1975), working alongside Bert I. Gordon (see above note), also gave us Show 309, The Amazing Colossal Man; Show 319, War of the Colossal Beast; and Show 313, Earth vs. the Spider. His non-Gordon works included the first Lone Ranger movie serial and the original story treatment for Them! (1954), the first and greatest of the giant bug movies.
Additional modern jazz sequences by Calvin Jackson … jeans.
As a composer, orchestrator, or arranger, Calvin Jackson (1919-1985) worked on such films as Anchors Aweigh (1945), Ziegfeld Follies (1945), and The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964). Also a reference to Calvin Klein jeans: Klein is a fashion designer who, in addition to his highly successful line of denim, markets perfumes, linens, and underwear. Lots of underwear.
Oh, special visual effects: “Uh, Bert, have you seen the traveling matte?”
A reference not only to the low-budget visual effects in Bert I. Gordon movies, but to the fact that they were supervised by his wife, Flora Gordon (known as Flora Lang after their divorce in 1979). A nearly identical riff is made during the credits for Show 319, War of the Colossal Beast. In filmmaking, a static matte is essentially a background painting, and a traveling matte changes or moves along with other moving objects.
Not Bill Forsyth, no, not the …
The Bill Forsyth who worked on Tormented (often billed as William Forsyth) had a career as an assistant director that dates back to 1933. Another, younger, Bill Forsyth directed such popular 1980s films as Gregory’s Girl (1980) and Local Hero (1983).
A frequently heard exclamation when a curvy gal is on the screen, Honey West was one of the first female detectives in popular fiction. Created by Gloria and Forrest Fickling (under the pseudonym “G.G. Fickling”), the character appeared in 11 novels from 1957 to 1972. She got a short-lived eponymous TV series based on the books from 1965-1966, with Anne Francis playing the title role.
[Sung.] Directed by Bert I. Gordon … yeah!
See above note.
Tormented … by Topper.
Topper Toys was an American toy brand (owned by Deluxe Reading) that advertised heavily on children’s television programs in the 1970s. The commercials would typically end by repeating the name of the toy or doll, followed by the phrase “by Topper.” By the way, their name came from their other marketing strategy: selling toys and dolls on the “top shelf” in supermarkets, which was otherwise unused by grocers.
[Sung.] Incidental music from Gilligan’s Island.
Gilligan’s Island was a TV sitcom that aired from 1964 to 1967 on CBS. It was about a group of people stranded on a deserted island who tried to escape using bamboo and coconut-based electronics. In the years after the show was cancelled, it became more popular in syndication, leading to two animated series, three reunion TV movies, and a short-lived musical.
[Sung.] Hawaiian Eye …
Hawaiian Eye was a TV series about a private investigator in Hawaii that aired on ABC from 1959 to 1963. The “Hawaiian Eye Theme” was composed by Jerry Livingston and Mack David and performed by Warren Barker. The show starred Robert Conrad and Connie Stevens; many sandy beaches were filmed in glorious black and white.
What are you, Graeme Edge from The Moody Blues?
The Moody Blues were a British rock band founded in 1964, known for such hits as “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Nights in White Satin.” They began as a straightforward blues/R&B group, then abruptly switched to a lush orchestral/rock sound with fantasy themes, laying the groundwork for what became known as progressive rock, or “prog rock.” Graeme Edge (1941-2021) was a founding member, drummer, and songwriter. On the occasion of his death, it was announced that the Moody Blues had not been active since his retirement in 2018. Edge contributed many dramatic spoken-word poems to the band’s repertoire, including “Departure” at the beginning of “Ride My See-Saw” (“Be it sight, sound, the smell, the touch/There’s something/Inside that we need so much”) and “Late Lament” in the middle of “Nights in White Satin” (“Breathe deep the gathering gloom/Watch lights fade from every room”).
It’s over, Ivana.
Ivana Trump is the first ex-wife of real estate magnate, reality-TV host, and 45th president of the United States Donald Trump. Their high-profile divorce dragged on throughout 1991 and 1992, and reportedly ended with a $25 million settlement for Ivana (per an interview Donald did with radio host Howard Stern in 1993).
“Please understand …” I’m a magic man.
Riffing on the 1976 hit song “Magic Man” by American rock band Heart, from their debut album Dreamboat Annie. It was their first Top 10 hit in the U.S., reaching number 9 on the charts. Sample lyrics: “But try to understand/Try to understand/Try try try to understand/I’m a magic man.”
There’s something about an Aqua Velva man.
Aqua Velva is a brand of aftershave first marketed in 1917. “There’s something about an Aqua Velva man” was a well-known ad slogan in the 1960s.
Whoa, somebody gave her a bra snuggie.
“Snuggie” is an alternate term for a “wedgie,” a form of light bullying involving pulling the victim’s underwear up into their butt crack.
This could be the nursery. Could have the bassinette over by the Fresnel lens.
A Fresnel lens is a type of spherical glass lens that efficiently focuses and magnifies light. First used in lighthouses in 1823, they were developed by French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel (1788-1827). They are also used in traffic lights, telephoto lenses for cameras, and theatrical lighting.
“Putting in pertinent footnotes, of course.” Like Mad Libs.
Mad Libs is a word game first published in 1958, in which players are prompted to replace missing words in a short story but are only told the type of word (noun, exclamation, part of the body), not the context for the word. The game was invented by Leonard Stern and Roger Price, both writers for late-night talk shows.
Bingo is a game played with a small card, on which are printed numbers in a grid arrangement. Each column is labeled with a letter: B, I, N, G, or O. An announcer calls off numbers (“B-45,” “O-73,” etc.), and if a player has that number on her card, she covers it with a small marker. When she has covered a whole row vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, she calls out, “Bingo!” The game has traditionally been the domain of little old ladies, who routinely play several cards at a time.
Scared Straight! is a 1978 documentary that showed teen delinquents in a prison being lectured by convicts on how rough life is on the inside. The film was broadcast uncensored and marked the first time the f-bomb was knowingly uttered on national networks. Several follow-ups were produced, in 1980, 1987, and 1999. Scared Straight! won an Oscar for Best Documentary, and many states started their own “scared straight” programs for convicts to scream at troubled teens. Many criminologists and psychologists have criticized the technique, saying such experiences don’t help the children involved and may, in fact, harm them. A 2002 study showed that the kids who went through a scared straight program were actually more likely to be arrested or go to juvenile court than those in the control group. But the idea appeals to common-sense, law & order types, so it continues in some jurisdictions.
Tonight’s episode: Jonathan Livingston Murder.
A riff on Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a slender 1970 allegorical novel by Richard Bach about a seagull who dreams of achieving “perfect speed.” Thanks to the self-help and positive-thinking culture popular in the U.S. at the time, the book became a bestseller and spawned a 1973 film adaptation that garnered scathing reviews and a lawsuit from the novel’s author. The title became a sort of shorthand for the shallow, feel-good ethos of the early 1970s. A much-ridiculed (by MST3K, anyway) technique for naming an episode of a TV mystery or detective show was to replace a word in a common phrase or title with either the word “death” or “murder.”
Hi, I’m Bill Burrud for World of Adventure.
William James “Bill” Burrud (1925-1990) began his career as a child actor in films, performing alongside Spencer Tracy and John Wayne. He went on to become a television host and producer, pioneering the concept of travel-adventure programming, which he called “traventure.” His many programs included titles such as True Adventure and Animal World, but not World of Adventure.
Spalding, old man!
A line from Spalding Gray’s 1985 monologue, and its 1987 film adaptation directed by Jonathan Demme, Swimming to Cambodia, in which he describes achieving a “perfect moment” while swimming in Southeast Asia, and being called to by friends back on shore. Spalding Gray (1941-2004) was an American performance artist, actor, and writer whose best-known works consisted of sitting at a table and telling a story in a long monologue. In addition to Swimming to Cambodia, these included Monster in a Box and Gray’s Anatomy (which were also adapted to film). He died in 2004, apparently from suicide.
Hey, looks like the dad from Flipper. Say.
Flipper is a 1963 film about a boy growing up in the Florida Keys who befriends an injured dolphin. The film led to a popular TV series that ran on NBC from 1964 to 1967. Chuck Connors played the dad in the original film; Brian Kelly took over the role for the second film and on TV. Swimming trunks and chest hair were involved.
[Sung.] Catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of a girl.
A riff on lyrics from “Catch a Wave,” a 1963 song by American pop band The Beach Boys, from their album Surfer Girl. Actual lyrics: “You paddle out turn around and raise/And baby that’s all there is to the coastline craze/You gotta catch a wave and you’re sittin’ on top of the world.”
Tonight, on a very special Baywatch.
Baywatch is a TV show about lifeguards on the beaches of Los Angeles County, which aired from 1989-2001. It starred David Hasselhoff as a veteran lifeguard who watches paternally over a string of young, extremely good-looking lifeguards. TV promos promising a “very special episode” of a sitcom or drama are a tip-off that the show will attempt to tackle a social issue, such as underage drinking or eating disorders. People will learn things. There will be hugs.
Here, you be Deborah Kerr, I’ll be Burt Lancaster.
A reference to From Here to Eternity, a 1953 film starring Burt Lancaster as an army sergeant who falls in love with his captain’s wife, played by Deborah Kerr. The scene in which the couple makes out in the surf on a beach has become iconic, imitated and parodied countless times.
Uhhh, she’s turning into a Caesar salad.
Caesar salad, often prepared tableside at upscale restaurants, consists of Romaine lettuce, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, raw egg, anchovies, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, parmesan cheese, and croutons. Due to health concerns, raw egg is rarely used anymore, many places skip the anchovies, and in many mainstream restaurants “Caesar salad” is little more than Romaine with a little glorified ranch dressing and a sprinkle of parmesan. And croutons. Croutons are cheap.
“Everyone on the island was there.” ‘Cept Hef.
Hugh Hefner (1926-2017), a.k.a. “Hef,” was the founder of Playboy magazine and one of the last bastions of the 1960s swinging bachelor lifestyle.
Gilligan, give me that.
See note on Gilligan’s Island, above.
And it’s still ticking. I’m John Cameron Swayze for Timex.
John Cameron Swayze (1906-1995) was the guy who said, “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking” for Timex wristwatches in a series of ads that ran for more than two decades, starting in the mid-1950s. He was a newspaper and radio reporter and NBC TV newsman before he switched to pitchman.
Ah, geez, Hayley Mills gets The Parent Trap, I get stuck in this [mutter, mutter …]
Hayley Mills appeared in a long string of films for Disney in the 1960s as a teenager. Of these, the best known is The Parent Trap (1961), in which Mills played a dual role as identical twins scheming to reunite their divorced parents. The movie was remade in 1998 starring Lindsay Lohan in the dual role.
I need a vacation. Something urban. The Quad Cities, or Davenport.
The Quad Cities are four closely spaced towns on the Mississippi River: Davenport and Bettendorf are in Iowa, and Moline and Rock Island are just across the river in Illinois.
[Sung.] The long and winding stairs …
A riff on the 1970 Beatles song “The Long and Winding Road,” written and sung by Paul McCartney. It was their last number one single in the U.S., off their Let It Be album. Actual lyrics: “The long and winding road that leads to your door/Will never disappear/I’ve seen that road before/It always leads me here/Leads me to your door.”
Oh, like Columbo’s not gonna figure this out.
LAPD homicide detective Frank Columbo is a fictional character played by Peter Falk in a long-running crime television series and numerous TV movies that aired from 1968 to 2003 (NBC/ABC).
[Imitating.] Now cut that out!
An impression of radio and television comedian Jack Benny (1894-1974), star of the eponymous The Jack Benny Program. He was a master of comic timing and famous for his ability to get tremendous laughs with an exasperated glance or a long pause. “Now cut that out!” was one of his many signature phrases.
“She came out here of her own accord.” No, it was a Camry.
Accord is a line of cars manufactured by Honda Motor Company, first produced in 1976. Camry is a line of cars manufactured by the Toyota Motor Corporation since 1982. Both are Japanese companies.
Oh, I hate Mondays.
A possible reference to the 1979 song “I Don’t Like Mondays,” written by Bob Geldof and Johnnie Fingers and performed by The Boomtown Rats. Geldof wrote the song after reading news reports of a 16-year-old girl who opened fire on a San Diego elementary school, killing two adults and injuring eight students and a police officer. When asked why she had done it, the girl replied, “I don’t like Mondays; this livens up the day.” Also a possible reference to Garfield, the fat orange cat created by cartoonist Jim Davis who has appeared in newspaper comics pages since 1978. His hatred of Mondays is one of several recurring themes in the strip.
Is that you, Bert I. Gordon?
See above note.
“Meg.” [Sung.] It will come back to you …
A riff on the 1977 Steely Dan song “Peg,” off their album Aja. Sample lyrics: “Peg/It will come back to you/Then the shutter falls/You see it all in 3-D/It’s your favorite foreign movie.”
Oh yeah, much better than Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Bill Evans …
Three jazz pianists. Despite being nearly blind from birth, Art Tatum (1909-1956) is considered one of the greatest and most influential jazz pianists of all time. Earl Rudolph “Bud” Powell (1924-1966) was greatly influenced by Tatum and Thelonious Monk, and is considered one of the innovators of the bebop style. William John “Bill” Evans (1929-1980) played with Miles Davis before founding his own jazz trio, and was highly influential in the post-World War II era.
Ah … I like to wear Chanel Number 5.
Chanel No. 5 is a French perfume brand, named after the fashion designer Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel (1883-1971). It was her first perfume, originally sold in 1922, and remains her most famous scent.
Her swimsuit looks like it was made out of S&H Green Stamps.
Sperry & Hutchinson were the makers of S&H Green Stamps, stamps they sold to retailers, which then gave them out to customers with purchases. The idea was that if you saved up enough stamps, you could trade them in for merchandise such as toasters and other consumer goods, which were available through S&H’s catalog. The stamps were first introduced in 1896 and remained popular until the 1970s.
[Imitating.] Tonight from the Crypt, I want to bury a lighthouse keeper [laughs].
An impression of the Crypt Keeper, the wisecracking, pun-loving, living corpse puppet host of the HBO series Tales from the Crypt, which originally ran from 1989-1996. He was voiced by former Star Search champion John Kassir.
Sessions presents: Soft Rock Classics! Leo Sayer! [Sung.] When I need love … Anne Murray! [Sung.] You needed me … And many more!
Sessions was a music publisher (originally located in Illinois and later in Colorado Springs) that heavily advertised its compilation albums (or cassettes or 8-track tapes!) in the 1970s and early ‘80s. It was known for its low-budget TV commercials featuring an endless montage of brief excerpts from the songs over visuals of coastlines and sunsets. It stopped releasing albums in the early 1990s. Leo Sayer is a British singer/songwriter who had a string of mainstream pop hits in the 1970s, including the number-one hit “When I Need You” (1977). Anne Murray is a well-known adult contemporary singer from Canada. She had a number-one hit (and a Grammy Award) in 1978 with “You Needed Me.”
Honey, are you carrying a pocket Theremin?
The Theremin is an early electronic musical instrument. It is unique because there is no direct physical contact used to play it; the player simply moves his or her hands near a pair of antennas to make sounds. Patented in 1928 by Russian inventor Leon Theremin, the instrument’s eerie sound became a staple of low-budget horror and sci-fi films of the 1950s and ‘60s.
Water. Source of all life. It’s wet, why?
A callback to riffs Joel and the bots did for the Gamera series back in their KTMA days. The first time it appeared was in Show K05, Gamera.
[Imitating Darrin Stephens.] Sam!
Darrin and Samantha Stephens were the mortal/witch couple on the sitcom Bewitched, which ran from 1964-1972 on ABC. Darrin’s response to a display of witchcraft on his wife’s part was often an exasperated “Sam!” He was played first by Dick York and later by Dick Sargent, when York had to drop out due to health problems.
Sessions presents: David Soul! [Sung.] Don’t give up on us, baby …
See note on Sessions, above. David Soul is an actor best known for playing Detective Kenneth “Hutch” Hutchinson on the TV series Starsky & Hutch, which ran from 1975-1979 on ABC. He is also a singer known for such 1970s hits as “Silver Lady” and “Don’t Give Up on Us, Baby” (both 1977).
I saw her do this in Vegas. Where’s my drink?
Vegas is short for Las Vegas, the neon-lit mecca of casinos and resorts in the heart of the Nevada desert.
Put her down, Jerry Lee.
Jerry Lee Lewis is a musician known for such hits as “Great Balls of Fire,” and also for having married his 13-year-old cousin, Myra Gale Brown, in 1957, a scandal that almost ruined his career. Lewis was 22 at the time. The marriage lasted 13 years before ending in divorce.
Let's see … uh … [Sung.] “Chopsticks.”
“Chopsticks” is an extremely simple waltz for piano written by Euphemia Allen in 1877, at the age of 16. Crudely banged out on the keyboard with only two fingers, it is famous for being the one song anyone can play on a piano. Trivia note: the original title (“The Celebrated Chop Waltz”) comes from the way the hands are held while playing—palms facing while they hit the keys in a “chopping” motion.
Is this a Better Homes and Gardens video?
Better Homes and Gardens magazine, which focuses on cooking, gardening, crafts, decorating, and entertaining, is the fourth best-selling magazine in the U.S. It was started in 1922 by former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Edwin Meredith. A Better Homes and Gardens TV program began airing in Australia in 1995, a syndicated series titled Better ran in the U.S. from 2007 to 2015, and the magazine runs a YouTube channel with lots of instructional videos.
Oh, suddenly he’s writing a Charles Ives piece.
Charles Edward Ives (1874-1954) was a modernist composer, one of the first American composers to achieve international fame. He was underappreciated in his lifetime but is now considered an early innovator of experimental techniques such as polyrhythm, quarter tones, and tone clusters. His notable works include the Concord Sonata for piano, The Camp Meeting symphony (which won a Pulitzer Prize for Music), and the short orchestral piece Three Places in New England.
See note on Sessions, above.
Milton Bradley presents: Tormented, where you’re the killer. Woman not included.
The Milton Bradley Company is an American board game maker established in 1860 and now wholly owned by Hasbro. TV commercials for games and toys often end with quick disclaimers about the enticing stuff shown in the ad but not included in the game: “_____ sold separately.”
[Imitating Jack Benny.] Now cut that out!
See above note.
All right, Allen Funt, where are you?
Allen Funt (1914-1999) was the creator and host of Candid Camera, which aired in various incarnations between 1948 and 2014 on all three major U.S. TV networks, two cable outlets, and in syndication. The basic premise of the show was to place unsuspecting people in embarrassing or bizarre situations and then film their reactions. At the end of the ordeal, Funt would pop up with the cheery catchphrase “Smile! You’re on Candid Camera!” Funt hosted all versions of the show until he suffered a serious stroke in 1993; on a revived version of the show that aired from 1996-2004 (and a second brief revival in 2014), Funt’s son Peter acted as host.
[Imitating Hazel.] Ah, hiya, Mr. B.
The sitcom Hazel aired from 1961-1966, first on NBC (seasons 1-4) and then on CBS (season 5). It starred Shirley Booth as Hazel Burke, a live-in maid for the Baxter family, headed by successful corporate lawyer and control freak George Baxter (Don DeFore). Baxter, dubbed Mr. B by Hazel, generally lost the battle of wills to his housekeeper on the show.
Hey, it’s Blind Lemon Pledge.
“Blind” Lemon Jefferson (1893-1929), called the “Father of the Texas Blues,” was a blues singer and guitarist who enjoyed great success in the 1920s and was a huge influence on blues musicians such as Lightnin’ Hopkins and Leadbelly. “Matchbox Blues” is one of his better-known songs. Pledge is a brand of furniture polish made by S.C. Johnson, first sold in 1958; lemon scented is its most popular variety. Coincidentally, there is now a Bay Area blues band called Blind Lemon Pledge, founded in 2008.
[Imitating W.C. Fields.] Watch out, Mr. Muckle! Watch out, honey! Watch out!
Lines from the 1934 W.C. Fields comedy film It’s a Gift (considered by many film historians to be his best), in which Fields, as a neighborhood grocer, attempts to guide the deaf and blind Mr. Muckle (Charles Sellon) around his store without destroying too much merchandise with his cane.
Do you believe in peanut butter?
A riff on a mid-1970s TV jingle for Peter Pan brand peanut butter: “If you believe in peanut butter, clap your hands/If you believe in peanut butter, you gotta believe in Peter Pan.” The line itself is derived from J.M. Barrie’s 1904 stage play Peter Pan, when Peter asks the audience to save the dying Tinkerbell, saying, “Do you believe in fairies? Say quick that you believe! If you believe, clap your hands!”
“They lived in that last house down the beach.” On the left?
The Last House on the Left is a 1972 film by horror-meister Wes Craven, about two teenage girls who are raped and murdered by a gang of psychopaths, and the vengeance brought upon the gang by one of the girls’ parents. The film was remade in 2009.
Coincidence? Read the book.
An often-repeated line in TV commercials for the Time-Life book series Mysteries of the Unknown, which were published between 1987 and 1991.
[Imitating Jack Palance.] Believe it … or not.
The original TV incarnation of Believe It or Not was a live show that premiered on NBC in 1949 and was hosted by Robert Ripley himself until he died of a heart attack midway through the first season. Various guest hosts stepped in until the show ended the following year. Ripley’s Believe It or Not! aired from 1982 to 1986 on ABC, with a robust afterlife on cable. That series was hosted by tough-guy actor Jack Palance, who seemed to truly savor delivering his signature line “Believe it … or not.” (A later version, which starred actor Dean “Superman” Cain, aired on TBS from 2000-2003.)
“You can’t solve anything by running.” Well, how about speed walking?
Speed walking, also known as power walking, is a form of aerobic exercise that involves walking as fast as possible without breaking into a jog or run—in other words, always keeping one foot in contact with the ground. It generally translates to a speed of about 5 miles per hour, and is useful for people who need a lower-impact exercise than running—those with joint issues, for example.
Sessions presents: Paper Lace! [Sung.] The night Chicago died … Lobo!
See note on Sessions, above. Paper Lace is a British pop group formed in 1967 (originally called Music Box) that had one hit song in the U.S., 1974’s “The Night Chicago Died” (although it had several hits in the U.K.). Lobo is the stage name for American singer-songwriter Roland Kent LaVoie, who had several easy-listening hits in the early 1970s, including “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” (1971) and “I’d Love You to Want Me” (1972).
[Mumbled.] I pledge allegiance to the flag, hallowed be thy name.
A garbled mix of the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance and the Lord’s Prayer. The current pledge (except for the words “under God,” which were added in 1954 to shame the godless Commies) was composed by Francis Bellamy in 1892. The Lord’s Prayer appears in Matthew 6:9-13 in the Bible, as part of the Sermon on the Mount.
Suddenly it’s the Song of Bernadette here.
The Song of Bernadette is a 1941 novel by Franz Werfel and later a 1943 film starring Jennifer Jones. Both told the story of Bernadette Soubirous, a young French girl who, in 1858, claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary several times. These were the famous visions near Lourdes, which led to that town becoming a pilgrimage site for Catholics and the spring water there purportedly a source of miraculous healing. Bernadette later joined a convent and was declared a saint in 1933.
Help me, Obi Wan, you’re my last hope.
A paraphrase of a classic line from the 1977 film Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Spoken by Princess Leia in a recorded message, the actual line is “Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”
Now I’m in The Seven Year Itch.
The Seven Year Itch is a 1952 play by George Axelrod about a man tempted to cheat on his wife with his attractive neighbor. It was made into a very successful 1955 film directed by Billy Wilder and starring Marilyn Monroe. The film boasts one of the great iconic images in movie history: Monroe’s white dress being blown upward by the wind from a passing train as she stands on a subway grate.
“Vi, I …” Con Dios.
In Spanish-speaking countries, “vaya con Dios,” meaning “go with God,” is a way of saying “goodbye.” The most common way, “adios” is a contraction literally meaning “to God,” just as “goodbye” is derived from “God be with ye.”
Oh, man, I’ve got a headache this big and it’s got Bert I. Gordon written all over it.
A riff on the slogan from a long-running series of TV commercials for Excedrin pain reliever: “I’ve got a headache this big and it’s got Excedrin written all over it.”
Oh, terrific, I killed the Landers sisters.
Judy and Audrey Landers are blond, buxom American actresses. Judy is known for her appearances on such 1970s TV shows as The Love Boat and Charlie’s Angels, while Audrey is best known for playing Afton Cooper on the prime-time soap opera Dallas (CBS, 1978-1991). More recently, Audrey appeared on the USA Network show Burn Notice (2007-2013), playing Bruce Campbell’s girlfriend Veronica.
Savoir Faire is everywhere.
In the Klondike Kat animated shorts—part of the Underdog and Tennessee Tuxedo cartoon series, which ran on CBS from the mid-‘60s through the early ‘70s—Savoir Faire was a cheese-stealing French-Canadian mouse whose catchphrase was “Savoir Faire is everywhere!” He was voiced by Sandy Becker, who also played Mr. Wizard on the Tooter Turtle cartoons.
It’s Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills in The Death Trap.
See above note on Hayley Mills. The marketing campaign for The Parent Trap (1961) featured the slogan “It’s Hayley Mills … and Hayley Mills, in The Parent Trap.”
Oh, great, 60 Minutes is after me.
The graphic used for CBS TV newsmagazine 60 Minutes’ title sequence and ad bumpers shows a stopwatch ticking busily away.
Oh great, this belonged to V.I. Warshawski.
Victoria Iphigenia Warshawski (known as V.I. or Vic) is the gritty, tough-as-nails private detective heroine in a series of detective novels written by Sara Paretski. She was noteworthy as one of the first hardboiled female P.I.s in literature, now a very crowded field. One novel was adapted into a 1991 film starring Kathleen Turner, V.I. Warshawski.
[Imitating.] All right, Louie, come out with your hands up.
Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957) was a Hollywood leading man who practically defined film noir. Early on he was typecast as a heavy, but after successes in High Sierra (1941), The Maltese Falcon (1941), and Casablanca (1942), he became one of the biggest cinema stars of all time. His distinctive speaking voice never uttered the exact phrase in this riff, but the line was part of a running gag in a December 1973 skit on the radio comedy show National Lampoon Radio Hour.
Sessions Presents: Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds! [Sung.] “Don’t pull your love out on me honey …” Commodores! [Sung.] “You’re once, twice, three times a lady …” Sammy Johns [Sung.] “We made love in my Chevy van, and that’s all right with me …”
See note on Sessions, above. Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds were a soft rock group in the early 1970s known mainly for their hits “Don’t Pull Your Love” (1971) and “Fallin’ in Love” (1975). The Commodores are an American funk/soul group who had a major hit in 1978 with the song “Three Times a Lady.” Sammy Johns (1946-2013) was an American singer-songwriter whose one big hit was the 1975 single “Chevy Van.”
Hey, there’s a big band up in the lighthouse, koo-koo.
Probably an imitation of singer Frank Sinatra (1915-1998), specifically his style of singing scat. Although Sinatra was one of the most innovative and accomplished vocal stylists of the modern era, scat singing—improvisation using random syllables and nonsense words—was not his strong suit, and his attempts at it have been often parodied over the years.
StairMaster is a brand of exercise equipment, introduced in 1983 as a step treadmill and followed three years later by the more familiar dual-foot-pedal stair climber machine that became wildly popular in the 1980s and 1990s. The brand is currently owned by Nautilus.
Nelson Riddle, keep it down.
Nelson Smock Riddle Jr. (1921-1985) was a bandleader, arranger, and composer whose distinctive style helped shape the sound of such iconic vocalists as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, and Ella Fitzgerald. He became known to a new generation of listeners in the 1980s through a series of albums with singer Linda Ronstadt.
Vi ask vi?
A riff on an ad slogan for Bud Dry, a 1990s variation on Budweiser beer that was finally discontinued in 2010: “Why ask why? Try Bud Dry.”
Chuck Norris in Octagon.
Chuck Norris is an American actor and martial arts expert who has appeared in many action movies, including The Octagon (1980) with Lee Van Cleef, and in the TV series Walker, Texas Ranger (CBS, 1993-2001).
A bit of beef, an underdone potato.
A paraphrase of a line from Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella A Christmas Carol, when Ebenezer Scrooge is being all skeptical about his former partner’s ghost appearing to him: “You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!”
[Imitating.] Really I am.
“Really I am,” spoken with an exaggerated high-society emphasis on “really” that makes it sound like “rally,” was a catchphrase of American actress Katharine Hepburn (1907-2003). She often included the line when signing autographs, and it was parodied in the 1938 Warner Bros. cartoon A Star Is Hatched.
[Imitating.] Of all the lighthouses in all the world, she had to fall off of mine.
A riff on a famous line spoken by nightclub owner Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) in the classic 1942 film Casablanca, just after his lost love Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) reappears in his life: “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.” See note on Bogey, above.
“There’s Coke in the refrigerator, help yourself.” And there’s a mirror on the table. Razor blades.
“Coke” is a slang term for cocaine. Mirrors and razor blades are paraphernalia used in the preparation and ingestion of cocaine. The drug often comes in rock-like clumps that need to be broken up and chopped into a fine powder with the edge of a razor blade, and then formed into a neat line for ease of snorting. A mirror or other smooth surface is ideal for this. Just another helpful hint from your friends at The Annotated MST.
I’d like to teach the world to sing … hey.
“I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)” is a song, written by Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway, that first appeared in a 1971 Coca-Cola ad featuring the drink’s slogan at the time, “It’s the Real Thing,” in its chorus. The commercial was a hit, and the song (without the Coke references) was released as a single twice, first by a studio group dubbed The Hillside Singers and later by The New Seekers (who performed it in the ad). The first version hit number 13, and the second reached number one in the U.K. and number seven in the U.S. The lyrics for the ad version: “I’d like to buy the world a home/And furnish it with love/Grow apple trees and honeybees/And snow white turtledoves/I’d like to teach the world to sing/In perfect harmony/I’d like to buy the world a Coke/And keep it company.”
Hey, that’s a St. Pauli Girl, put that down.
St. Pauli Girl is a German brand of beer, the second best-selling German export beer in the United States. Its name comes from the former St. Paul’s Friary located next door to the original brewery.
I need some help with Autumn Leaves.
“Autumn Leaves” is a pop and jazz standard that began life in France in 1945 as a song called “The Dead Leaves,” written by Joseph Kosma and Jacques Prévert. Johnny Mercer added English lyrics in 1950 and changed the title, and the tune has been recorded countless times since, most memorably by Nat King Cole in 1955.
Buy her something from Victoria’s Secret.
Victoria’s Secret is a retail chain specializing in women’s lingerie and beauty products. It was founded in 1977 by American businessman Roy Raymond as a place for men to buy lingerie without feeling intimidated or uncomfortable. Its fashion shows and catalogs, featuring top fashion models in extremely revealing attire, are both admired and derided as widely available soft-core porn. Deep trivia: Raymond sold Victoria’s Secret for $1 million in 1982. By the early 1990s, the company was worth more than $1 billion, while Raymond had gone bankrupt with other business ventures. He committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in 1993.
“I’d get married tomorrow if I could find someone like you.” Well, let me call Bill Wyman.
Bill Wyman is a bass guitarist who played with the Rolling Stones from 1962 to 1992. In 1989, the then-52-year-old Wyman married 18-year-old Mandy Smith. He had been grooming her for five years, since she was 13 years old. They separated two years later and divorced in 1993.
That’s what I said. Third base!
A reference to an old Abbott & Costello routine, titled “Who’s on First?” The comedy team first performed it for a national audience in 1938 and copyrighted it in 1944. In the bit, a ballplayer named Who mans first base, What mans second, and I Don’t Know is on third.
Oh, thank you, Thing.
Thing was the intelligent, disembodied hand that was a servant of sorts on the TV series The Addams Family, which aired from 1964-1966 on ABC. Thing was usually played by Ted Cassidy (who also played Lurch the butler), although Jack Voglin (the assistant director) would step in for scenes in which Lurch and Thing both appeared.
It’s the ghost of Señor Wences.
Señor Wences (real name Wenceslao Moreno, 1896-1999) was a Spanish ventriloquist who made frequent appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show (CBS, 1948-1971). He was known for his comic banter with a hand puppet named Johnny and a puppet named Pedro who remained hidden in a box.
Jazz hands, jazz hands.
Considered an especially campy choreographed dance move, jazz hands (also known as jazz fingers or spirit fingers) consist of the performer rapidly shaking her hands with palms facing the audience and fingers spread. Jazz hands tend to show up in exuberant performances like revues, musicals, show choirs, and, well, jazz dance. Choreographer Bob Fosse was particularly fond of them; the opening number of Pippin, “Magic to Do,” is basically wall-to-wall disembodied jazz hands.
Sit, Thing, sit.
See note on Thing, above.
Could I have another St. Pauli Girl?
See note on St. Pauli Girl, above.
See note on Gilligan’s Island, above.
Sessions Presents: Summer Hits! Terry Jacks! [Sung.] “We had joy, we had fun …” Mark Lindsay! [Sung.] “Indiana wants me …” Paul Anka! [Sung.] “Having my baby …” Barry Manilow! [Sung.] “I can’t smile without you …” Vicki Lawrence! [Sung.] “That’s the night that the lights went out in Georgia …” Rupert Holmes! [Sung.] “If you like piña coladas …” Donovan! [Sung.] “Way down upon the ocean …” Olivia Newton-John! [Sung.] “I honestly love you …” Bobby Goldsboro! [Sung.] “And honey, I miss you …” And many more!
See note on Sessions, above. Terry Jacks is a Canadian singer-songwriter whose 1974 cover of Jacques Brel’s “Seasons in the Sun” became the best-selling single by a Canadian artist up to that point. Mark Lindsay first gained fame as the lead singer of Paul Revere and the Raiders; with his little ponytail and frequent TV appearances, he became a 1960s teen idol. However, Lindsay did not perform “Indiana Wants Me”; this song was actually a 1970 top ten hit for Canadian singer-songwriter R. Dean Taylor. Barry Manilow is an American singer-songwriter who enjoyed a string of major hits in the 1970s, including “Copacabana” (1978), “Mandy” (1974), and “Can’t Smile Without You” (1978). Vicki Lawrence is an American actress, comedian, and singer who was a regular on The Carol Burnett Show (CBS, 1967-1978), for which she won an Emmy in 1976. She later got her own series, Mama’s Family, which aired from 1983-1985 on NBC and in syndication from 1986-1990. As a singer, she had a number one hit song in 1972 with “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” written by her then-husband Bobby Russell. Rupert Holmes is a British-American singer-songwriter who had a number one hit song in 1979/1980 with “Escape (The Piña Colada Song).” Donovan (b. Donovan Philips Leitch) is a Scottish singer-songwriter who had a string of hits in the 1960s, including “Mellow Yellow” (1966), “Hurdy Gurdy Man” (1968), and 1968’s “Atlantis” (the song quoted here). He is the father of actors Donovan Leitch (Glory, The Blob) and Ione Skye (Say Anything …). Olivia Newton-John is a British-Australian singer-songwriter and actress, a four-time Grammy Award winner also known for starring in the 1978 film musical Grease. Her 1974 hit song “I Honestly Love You” was her first number-one hit in the United States. Bobby Goldsboro is an American pop singer who had a string of hits in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, including “Watching Scotty Grow” (1970) and his signature 1968 number one hit “Honey.”
“You know how many hit records I’d have to sell to pay for that?” More than Elvis or the Beatles!
Starting in 1978, low-budget American TV ads for Country singer-guitarist and yodeling enthusiast Slim Whitman made the claim that Whitman had topped the English record charts for "more weeks that Elvis or the Beatles." The ad not only made Whitman a pop-culture punchline, it sold a lot of records, leading to several more best-of albums that were sold on TV, which now claimed Whitman was “the biggest selling record star in TV music history,” whatever that means. Elvis Presley (1935-1977), the King of Rock and Roll, was one of the most popular musicians in the world from the 1950s until his death in the late 1970s. He was a teen idol in the late 1950s, helped usher in the era of rock and roll, became a movie star, built an enormous and opulent home called Graceland in Memphis, developed problems with drug abuse, and finally died of a heart attack at the age of 42. The Beatles were, arguably, the most influential popular music group of all time. The members were Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. Stuart Sutcliffe left the group in 1961, and Pete Best was fired by John, Paul, and George in 1962 and replaced by Ringo. They were active from 1960 to 1970 and had twenty number one singles in the U.S. and seventeen in the U.K. To this day, they are, by far, the best-selling group in popular music, having sold more than 800 million records around the world.
Hey, look at me, I won the Stanley Cup.
The Stanley Cup is a trophy awarded every year to the champion team of the National Hockey League (NHL). A small silver cup, the original design of the trophy, is now attached to the top of a larger trophy engraved with the names of past winners. Traditionally the players of the winning team drink champagne out of the cup to celebrate.
Ah, geez, she’s into the excelsior again.
Excelsior, also known as wood wool, is made from long, thin strips of shredded wood and is used as packaging material or as filling for cushions and stuffed animals—traditionally teddy bears. It was also dyed green and used as “grass” in Easter baskets, before plastic became commonly used for this purpose.
[Imitating James Mason.] Lolita.
Lolita is a 1955 novel by Vladimir Nabokov. The novel is narrated by Humbert Humbert, a middle-aged man with a fetish for young girls who finds an accessible “nymphet” in a barely pubescent girl, Dolores Haze, whom he nicknames Lolita. Humbert winds up in prison for killing the man who takes Lolita away from him and then abandons her. James Mason (1909-1984) was a British actor who portrayed Humbert in the 1962 film adaptation of Lolita, directed by Stanley Kubrick.
Don’t look now, but Arthur Murray’s here.
Arthur Murray (1895-1991) was an American dance instructor famous for the international chain of dance instruction studios named after him. Among his instruction methods are printed footprints, placed on large sheets of paper or a dance studio floor, illustrating various dance steps.
Jägermeister (“master hunter” in German) is a German brand of liqueur that is 70-proof, vaguely licorice-flavored, and meant to be served very cold. Shots of Jägermeister are a popular pickup bar and party beverage, leading to many legendary Jäger-hangovers. Jägermeister is made with 56 herbs and spices, but there is no truth to the urban legend that it contains elk or deer blood (partially due, no doubt, to the stag’s head on the label).
Now it’s garbage.
A line spoken by Walter Matthau (as the slob Oscar Madison) in the 1968 comedy film The Odd Couple. The context:
Oscar: Now kindly remove that spaghetti from my poker table.
(His neat freak roommate Felix Ungar, played by Jack Lemmon, laughs.)
Oscar: The hell’s so funny?
Felix: It’s not spaghetti, it’s linguini.
(Oscar picks up the linguini and throws it violently against the wall.)
Oscar: Now it’s garbage.
No, I wasn’t pretending I was a Playmate.
Playboy is a “men’s magazine” that celebrates the “playboy” lifestyle: cocktails, gadgets, cars, and naked women with large breasts, who are known in the magazine as “Playmates.” It has also published some of the most respected fiction and journalism in the country: stories by Saul Bellow, Vladimir Nabokov, and Margaret Atwood, among many others.
Hey, check out Peter Lupus.
Peter Lupus is a former bodybuilder who, like Steve “Hercules” Reeves, turned his manly physique into an acting career in the 1960s, appearing in films like Challenge of the Gladiator (1965) and Muscle Beach Party (1964). He is best known for playing muscle man Willy Armitage on the TV show Mission: Impossible (1966-1973).
Ann B. Davis as Mrs. Longstreet.
Ann B. Davis (1926-2014) was an American actress best known for playing housekeeper Alice Nelson on the TV series The Brady Bunch, which aired from 1969-1974 on ABC. Longstreet was a short-lived TV series (ABC, 1971-1972) that starred James Franciscus as an insurance investigator who is blinded by an assassination attempt that also kills his wife, tracks down and captures the men responsible, and then continues his career as an insurance investigator. You know, that old story.
“Miss Phyllis …” [Sung.] It sure isn’t you ...
A riff on the theme song of Phyllis, a sitcom that ran from 1975 to 1977 on CBS. A spinoff of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (CBS, 1970-1977), the series starred Cloris Leachman in the title role. Its opening theme parodied that of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Sample lyrics: “Who charms the crabs on Fisherman’s Wharf right out of their shells?/Who lights the lamps of Chinatown just by walking in view?/Who?/Phyllis! Phyllis! Phyllis!/It sure isn’t you.”
What is she, Liz Smith?
Liz Smith (1923-2017) was an American journalist and gossip columnist, known as the Grand Dame of Dish. At its peak, her syndicated gossip column ran in about 75 newspapers; she wrote it for more than three decades, beginning in 1976. Unlike many gossip columnists, she tended to write chattier, friendlier articles, rather than savaging celebrities in print.
[Imitating.] Left! Left, Mr. Muckle, oh, honey, look out!
See note on W.C. Fields, above.
[Imitating.] Young … hello … Mrs. Lady-thing.
An impression of one of comedian and actor Jerry Lewis’s (1926-2017) best-known shticks: lapsing into the voice and mannerisms of a spastic, geeky, awkward, and semi-moronic man-child who can never seem to string a complete sentence together.
Why, it’s Mrs. Butterworth.
Mrs. Butterworth’s is a brand of syrup, introduced in 1961, that comes in a distinctive woman-shaped bottle. It is manufactured by Pinnacle Foods.
No, she’s Mrs. Michelin Man.
The Michelin Man is an advertising figure for Michelin tires; designed in 1898, he is intended to look as if he is made out of a stack of tires. His given name is Bibendum, which first appeared in 1908. Want to know why he’s white? Before 1912, rubber tires were beige or grey-white. Modern tires are black because carbon is added to the rubber to strengthen them.
An aging Kim Novak re-creates this scene from Vertigo.
Kim Novak is an American actress best known for her role in the 1958 Alfred Hitchcock suspense-thriller film Vertigo, which also stars James Stewart as a former police detective with a severe fear of heights.
Hey, I can’t see my house from up here.
There’s an old joke in which Jesus, suffering on the cross, calls his disciple Peter to him. Peter approaches brokenly and leans in close so Jesus can confide in him, and Jesus says, “I can see your house from up here!” The British prog-rock band Camel named its 1979 album after the joke: I Can See Your House From Here.
I hate these one-woman shows.
A one-woman show, like a solo performance by a male performer, can be anything from a traditional play written for a single performer to a standup comedy routine to a more introspective or political piece of performance art. This riff is presumably referring to this last type, which became popular in the 1970s and 1980s, with performers like Holly Hughes (World Without End) and Carolee Schneemann (Interior Scroll).
“I know exactly what you are.” You’re a superstar, that’s what you are.
A line from Madonna's hit song "Vogue," from her 1990 album I'm Breathless. The song won critical and popular acclaim, hitting number one in 30 countries and selling more than two million copies as a single in its first year—in an era before digital downloads. Sample lyrics: "It makes no difference if you're or white/If you're a boy or a girl/If the music's pumping it will give you new life/You're a superstar, yes, that's what you are, you know it."
[Sung.] Tormented, tormented, tormented, tor-men-ted.
See note on “Chopsticks,” above.
Oh, John Cage.
John Cage (1912-1992) was an American composer and musician best known as an avant-garde pioneer of nontraditional ways of making music. One of his techniques involved a “prepared piano”: a piano with non-musical objects (forks, screws, etc.) placed on the strings or hammers to change their pitch. One of his most famous compositions is 4’33”, which consists of four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence from the musicians “performing” the piece; the idea is for the audience to focus on the ambient sounds around them.
Are you a hu-man?
A reference to a line by Ro-Man, the guy-in-a-gorilla-suit-with-a-space-helmet monster in the 1953 sci-fi film Robot Monster, which became Show 107 and ranks high in most Worst Movies of All Time lists.
Oh, this is where they make Cape Cod Potato Chips, I think I’ll check it out.
Cape Cod is a snack food company based in Hyannis, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, and owned by Snyder’s-Lance, which also makes the Kettle brand potato chips. Their logo features a drawing of Nauset Light, a restored 1923 lighthouse on the Cape Cod National Seashore.
Trick or treat for UNICEF.
UNICEF is the United Nations Children’s Fund, an international organization that works to protect children around the globe. It was originally founded to help children in the aftermath of World War II. “Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF” is an annual fundraiser that began on Halloween 1950. Basically, instead of collecting candy, kids collect money for UNICEF. It’s been rumored that maybe some of the kids participating wouldn’t necessarily be totally opposed to getting some candy too.
Oh, she’s like the Gorton’s Fisherman … babies.
Gorton’s of Gloucester makes a wide variety of frozen seafood products for retail sales and distribution to fast-food restaurants, including McDonald’s. Their longtime logo features the “Gorton’s Fisherman,” a bearded seaman in a yellow slicker and hat clutching a ship’s wheel. Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies is an animated series about the exploits of kid versions of the popular Muppet characters. It originally aired on CBS from 1984 to 1991 and has enjoyed a robust afterlife in syndication. Variants of “Jim Henson’s ________ Babies” are a standard MST3K riff.
Stupid hat tricks.
In sports, especially hockey, a “hat trick” means one player scoring a goal three times in a single game. “Stupid Pet Tricks” was a regular feature on Late Night with David Letterman (NBC, 1982-1993) and Late Show with David Letterman (CBS, 1993-2015), in which regular folks would bring their pets onstage to perform, well, stupid pet tricks.
Hey, two-year sobriety.
In twelve-step programs for recovering addicts, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, milestones in recovery are marked by handing out “chips,” also called coins or medallions, that denote the length of time the person has remained sober.
My name is Vi, I’m a schnauzer, I belong to Tom Stewart?
The schnauzer is a breed of terrier. There are three varieties: giant (weighing in at about 70 pounds), standard (40 pounds) and miniature (15 pounds). They were originally bred as rat catchers in Germany in the late 19th century.
I’m a New York method actor, gimme a break.
“Method acting” is a group of techniques in which actors immerse themselves in the thoughts and feelings of their character, rather than simply reciting lines and imitating emotions, in order to achieve realistic performances. The techniques are based on the teachings of Constantin Stanislavski and Lee Strasberg; well-known “method actors” include Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, and Robert De Niro.
It’s Lou Reed.
Lou Reed (1942-2013) was an American singer, songwriter, and musician. A founding member of the Velvet Underground, he enjoyed a varied and successful solo career after leaving the group in 1972, including a few small acting roles.
Okay, I’m from the land of leprechauns, dig?
A leprechaun is a mythical figure in Irish folklore, who usually takes the form of a tiny bearded man in a coat and hat who makes mischief and hoards gold. Prior to the 20th century, leprechauns dressed in red, not green.
Fight or flight, fight or flight.
The fight-or-flight response, also known as the acute stress response, was first described in 1915 by Walter Bradford Cannon, head of the physiology department at Harvard Medical School. It is a collection of physiological reactions to stress in the body that prepare it to react to a perceived threat by fighting or fleeing.
Sessions Presents: Looking Glass! [Sung.] “Brandy, you’re a fine girl …”
See note on Sessions, above. Looking Glass was an American rock band best known for their number-one hit in the summer of 1972, “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl).” Sample lyrics: “The sailors say: ‘Brandy, you’re a fine girl’ (you’re a fine girl)/’What a good wife you would be’ (such a fine girl)/’But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea.’”
And the colored girls go “doo-doo-doo …”
A reference to Lou Reed’s 1972 song “Walk on the Wild Side.” Sample lyrics: “Jackie is just speeding away/Thought she was James Dean for a day/Then I guess she had to crash/Valium would have helped that bash/She said, ‘Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side’/I said, ‘Hey honey, take a walk on the wild side’/And the colored girls say/Doo do doo, doo do doo, doo do doo …” See also note on Lou Reed, above.
“The blonde, the one with the …” Buick?
David Dunbar Buick, an entrepreneur and inventor, produced the first Buick automobile in 1899 or 1900 (historical records are uncertain). He sold the company in 1903 to the Flint Wagon Works, based in Flint, Michigan. Flint continued to produce Buicks for 95 years, until GM, which by then owned the Buick label, moved all operations to Detroit in 1998.
“I got a boat.” A gravy boat.
A gravy boat, also known as a sauce boat, is a kind of pitcher, vaguely boat-shaped, used to serve gravy or sauces.
I’m coming down the road, wild man, keep on truckin’, I think …
The phrase “Keep on Truckin’” first appeared in the 1930s song “Truckin’ My Blues Away” by Blind Boy Fuller. In 1968, counterculture cartoonist R. Crumb created a one-page comic for Zap Comix illustrating the song’s lyrics, featuring various casually slouching men stepping out on the town. The comic became wildly popular, appearing without Crumb’s permission on T-shirts, posters, and more. He took many of the biggest violators to court, but was never able to claim all the money he was due. In the 1970s, different songs titled “Keep on Truckin’” were recorded by Eddie Kendricks (formerly of The Temptations), Dave Dudley, and the band Hot Tuna.
I want a Ken-L Ration omelet, they make a great one here.
Ken-L Ration is a brand of dog food formerly owned by Quaker Oats; it is now manufactured by Companion Brands.
Hey, you’re Merritt Stone. That’s Merritt Stone.
Merritt Stone (1915-1985) was an American actor who appeared in a number of Bert I. Gordon films/MST3K episodes. He played the spider-doomed dad in Show 313, Earth vs. the Spider; a cop in Show 319, War of the Colossal Beast; and the king in Show 411, The Magic Sword. However, that’s not Merritt Stone in this scene. He plays the clergyman in Tormented, who appears later in the film. The lunch stand operator is played by another Bert I. Gordon regular, character actor Gene Roth, who played skeptical Sheriff Cagle in Earth vs. the Spider and skeptical Sheriff Kovis in Show 406, Attack of the Giant Leeches, and played a train conductor in Show 419, The Rebel Set. The Merritt Stone/Gene Roth conundrum was explored in so much detail in Show 419 that Tom Servo’s head exploded.
Please, two boilermakers and a Gravy Train with a beer back, bartender.
A boilermaker is a manly blue-collar cocktail consisting of a shot of whiskey and a glass of beer; sometimes the whiskey, shot glass and all, is dropped into the beer. Bottoms up. Gravy Train is a brand of dog food developed by General Foods and now owned by Big Heart Pet Brands. Introduced in 1959, it was the first brand designed to have warm water added to the dry dog food to create a “gravy.”
So, how’s life in the merchant marine, little girl?
A merchant marine, or merchant navy, is a fleet of ships registered to a particular country that operates commercial vessels transporting cargo and passengers. The U.S. Merchant Marine, for example, is owned by a mix of private and government entities and is considered civilians in peacetime, but in wartime can be mobilized as an auxiliary to the U.S. Navy.
Ah, this is real gone, daddy-o.
Other than being the title of Show 307, “daddy-o” is a bit of beatnik slang from the 1950s, the equivalent of “dude.” “Real gone” originated a little earlier, in the jazz scene of the mid-1940s, and meant “cool, mellow, and pleasant.”
Forgive me, Tom, for I have slanged.
Although it appears in various forms in the Bible (Luke 15:21, Psalm 41:4, Samuel 15:25), the phrase “Bless me Father, for I have sinned” is typically the opening statement made during the act of confession in the Catholic Church.
The Nazis fortified Normandy and waited in their beach houses.
On June 6, 1944, the tides of World War II turned when Allied forces launched a major assault on Hitler’s forces in France with an amphibious landing on the beaches in Normandy, known as D-Day. Many of the beaches where the Allied troops waded ashore were heavily fortified by the Germans, and casualties were horrendous on both sides. A furious fight raged through northern France for the next two months, concluding with the liberation of Paris in August.
Deviled eggs, no!
Deviled eggs are a side dish made of shelled hardboiled eggs cut in half, with the yolks removed, mashed with mayonnaise, mustard, or other ingredients, and then scooped back into the halved whites.
You played it for her, you can play it for me.
A correct reading of one of the most misquoted lines in movie history. In the 1942 film Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart does not say “Play it again, Sam.” He says: “You played it for her, you can play it for me. If she can stand it, I can. Play it.” In an earlier scene, Ingrid Bergman had said, “Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.’”
Well, nice of Edward Teller to drop by.
Edward Teller (1908-2003), known as “the father of the hydrogen bomb,” was a Hungarian-American theoretical physicist who, as a member of the Manhattan Project, played a major role in the development of the first atomic bombs. He is considered one of the inspirations for Peter Sellers’ Dr. Strangelove character in the 1964 Stanley Kubrick film of the same name.
You know, you shouldn’t wear buffalo checks. No one should.
Buffalo check, also known as buffalo plaid, is a fabric pattern consisting of a bold, regular black-on-red plaid forming a checkerboard. Derived from the traditional Scottish Rob Roy tartan, buffalo check became an iconic American pattern associated with figures like Paul Bunyan, Elmer Fudd, and the Marlboro Man.
Photographs do add ten pounds.
This is actually true, and it has to do with the way camera lenses are constructed. The focal length of a standard camera lens can flatten and widen your features, which makes your face look fatter than it really is, and something called “barrel distortion,” which tends to make straight lines curve outward due to the lens’s shape, can also widen your face. If you want to look thinner in photos, get someone to stand far away and shoot you with a telephoto lens—they tend to stretch you out and make you look skinnier than you really are.
“You and me.” And a dog named Eee … Eio?
A reference to the mellow 1971 pop song “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo,” by Lobo (from his debut album Introducing Lobo), in which two hippies and a dog go cross-country in a broken-down car. Sample lyrics: “Me and you and a dog named Boo/Travelin’ and livin’ off the land/Me and you and a dog named Boo/How I love being a free man.”
[Sung.] Ding dong, the bells are going to chime …
A line from “Get Me to the Church On Time,” a song from the 1956 Broadway musical and 1964 film My Fair Lady, written by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner. Sample lyrics: “I’m getting married in the morning!/Ding dong! The bells are gonna chime/Pull out the stopper!/Let’s have a whopper!/But get me to the church on time!”
“He imagines things that aren’t so.” Oh, like Macbeth.
Macbeth, or “the Scottish play,” as it is known among superstitious theater folk, is a play by William Shakespeare about a man and his ambitious wife and their homicidal efforts to get him crowned king of Scotland. Racked with guilt over his assorted murders, Macbeth begins to hallucinate: bloody daggers, the ghosts of his victims, etc. It was first performed around 1606.
I’m gonna stay up and watch Arsenio.
Arsenio Hall is an American actor and talk-show host best known for his late-night talk show The Arsenio Hall Show, which aired in syndication from 1989-1994. A revival aired from 2013-2014.
Sessions Presents …!
See note on Sessions, above.
[Sung.] I write the songs that make the … something, something. Hmm.
“I Write the Songs” is a 1975 Grammy-winning song written by Bruce Johnston. Barry Manilow’s recording of it became a number-one hit in the winter of 1975-1976. Sample lyrics: “I write the songs that make the whole world sing/I write the songs of love and special things/I write the songs that make the young girls cry/I write the songs, I write the songs.”
Tom, play “Freebird”! Whoo!
“Freebird” (or “Free Bird”) is one of the best-known and most requested songs by the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, featured on their 1973 debut album Pronounced Lynyrd Skynyrd. Beginning in the very early ‘70s, audiences started yelling out requests for the Allman Brothers song “Whipping Post” at concerts by any artist, regardless of genre. This dubious pop culture joke continued with “Freebird” a few years later and has since overshadowed its predecessor.
“Now what are you gonna do?” Ghostbusters!
Ghostbusters is a 1984 film starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis as ghost-fighting entrepreneurs. The movie’s theme song, written and performed by Ray Parker Jr., featured the repeated musical question “Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!”
Just like Barton Fink now.
Barton Fink is a nearly impossible to categorize 1991 film by the Coen brothers, which, among other plot points, involves a severed head in a box. Starring John Turturro, the movie is about Hollywood vs. Broadway, “high culture” vs. “low culture,” intellectuals vs. the common man, war, fascism, slavery, and various other light topics.
“Shazam!” is the magic word that young Billy Batson says to call down a bolt of lightning, which transforms him into the DC Comics hero Captain Marvel. The character first appeared in 1939 in Fawcett Comics (which was later bought by DC). From 1974 to 1977, CBS aired Shazam!, a Saturday-morning half-hour live-action children’s program based on the comic book. In 2019 a film starring Zachary Levi as the superhero was released to critical and commercial success.
“You see, that’s the punchline.” There’s your punch!
Possibly a riff on 1960s TV commercials for Hawaiian Punch fruit drink. The ads’ animated mascot, Punchy, would ask a tourist named Opie, “How about a nice Hawaiian Punch?” When Opie responded, “Sure,” he would get punched in the face.
Here at Gorton’s of Gloucester, we make fish sticks the old-fashioned way. We freeze ‘em.
See note on Gorton’s, above.
“What’d we come up here for?” So I can kill you, Mr. Bond.
A line typically spoken by any of many villains in the James Bond film series, featuring the British Secret Service Agent 007 with a “license to kill,” created by novelist Ian Fleming. As of 2018 there have been twenty-six films in the Bond franchise, with seven actors playing the title role.
[Imitating Darrin Stephens.] Sam!
See above note on Bewitched.
Okay, I’ll sing “Nights in White Satin.”
“Nights in White Satin” is a 1967 song by the Moody Blues. Sample lyrics: “Nights in white satin, never reaching the end/Letters I’ve written, never meaning to send/Beauty I’d always missed, with these eyes before/Just what the truth is, I can’t say anymore.”
I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks, I do, I do, I do believe in spooks.
A line spoken by the Cowardly Lion in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, based on the L. Frank Baum novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
The condo, the car, and the vacation in Puerto Vallarta!
A typical litany of prizes offered on a typical television game show. Puerto Vallarta is a resort city on Mexico’s Pacific coast. It is the second-largest city in the state of Jalisco, after Guadalajara.
Ah, do you take Visa?
Visa Inc. is a major multinational financial services company that provides credit and debit card facilities.
The original Dead Milkmen.
The Dead Milkmen are an American punk rock band, popular in the 1980s on college radio stations and known for their skewering wit and sense of irony. The group broke up in 1995 but reunited in 2008.
He’s dead, Jim.
In his role as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the television series Star Trek (NBC, 1966-1969), actor DeForest Kelley uttered the phrase “He’s dead, Jim,” or some variant thereof, twenty times. The line became a popular catchphrase, especially when PCs began allowing users to customize audio error alerts. Post-Star Trek, Kelley disliked repeating the line, refusing to say it in the 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but joked that the phrase would probably appear on his tombstone. (He passed away in 1999; his remains were scattered over the Pacific Ocean.)
Either this man is dead or my watch has stopped.
An iconic line spoken by Groucho Marx in the 1937 Marx Brothers film A Day at the Races.
Tonight’s episode: I’ve seen the best minds of my generation … murdered.
See note on detective show titles, above. Also a reference to the opening line of the poem “Howl,” written by Alan Ginsberg in 1955. It was published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti of San Francisco’s City Lights Books, who was arrested and charged with printing obscenity. He was acquitted, but the trial gave the poem widespread publicity. “Howl” is considered one of the great works of American literature, and became a kind of sacred text for members of the so-called “Beat Generation.” The famous first lines:
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
Angel-headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection
to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night …
[Sung.] I saw Tommy killing beatniks …
“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” is a novelty Christmas song written by British songwriter Tommie Connor and originally recorded in 1952 by thirteen-year-old Jimmy Boyd. A less successful version by Spike Jones (with fake little-boy vocals by George Rock) was released the same year. There have been many cover versions over the years, by everyone from Bobby Sherman to Amy Winehouse.
See the Rockford problem is taken care of permanently.
Possible reference to The Rockford Files (NBC, 1974-1980), a TV series starring James Garner as private detective Jim Rockford.
Jim Henson’s witness babies.
See note on Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies, above.
Racket Squad was a TV crime drama that aired on CBS from 1951-1953. It was an anthology show narrated by police Captain John Braddock (played by Reed Hadley), which focused on con artists, giving viewers tips on how to avoid being swindled at the end of each episode. The 1956 Warner Brothers cartoon Rocket Squad, featuring Daffy Duck and Porky Pig as space cops, was a parody of the show (and of Dragnet, which was airing in its first, black-and-white incarnation at the time).
Have you found my Kill Waldo books?
A riff on Where’s Waldo?, a series of children’s picture books that ask the reader to find Waldo, a fellow clad in a striped shirt and hiking gear, among an enormous crowd of people. His name was Wally in the original British version; it was changed to Waldo for the North American market (and changed many more times for various international editions; he is Valdik in Czechoslovakia, Holger in Denmark, and Charlie in France).
Paul Frees (1920-1986) was an American character actor who appeared in only a handful of minor roles in front of the camera. His main fame came from his work as a voice actor. Like Mel Blanc, he was known in the industry as a “man of a thousand voices,” lending his four-octave range to such Disney characters as Professor Ludwig Von Drake, and to narration for countless Disney features, documentaries, and Disneyland and Disney World attractions (such as the spooky narration for the Haunted Mansion). He was also a regular in Jay Ward cartoons, doing voices for characters in Rocky and Bullwinkle (Boris Badenov), Dudley Do-Right (Inspector Fenwick), and George of the Jungle (Ape). In Tormented, the voice of actor Harry Fleer, who plays Meg’s dad and Tom’s future father-in-law, was dubbed by Frees. No one knows why, although it was not uncommon; Frees also dubbed for other actors, including Humphrey Bogart (who had esophageal cancer at the time), Tony Curtis, and Toshiro Mifune.
[Sung.] People don’t fear the reaper.
A paraphrased line from the 1976 song “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” by American rock band Blue Öyster Cult. Sample lyrics: “All our times have come/Here but now they’re gone/Seasons don’t fear the reaper/Nor do the wind, the sun, or the rain … we can be like they are/Come on baby, don’t fear the reaper …”
Kinda like having Sylvia Plath cheer you up.
Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) was an American novelist and poet who suffered from severe depression and committed suicide in 1963.
[Sung.] In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, baby.
“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 up an entire side of its self-titled album—and for its role in blending the psychedelic music of the era with what would become known as “heavy metal.” The original title was “In the Garden of Eden,” but according to legend, lead singer Doug Ingle was good and drunk when performing it, and his, ahem, interpretation of the words prevailed.
And once again there is no smoking in your Metrodome. [Cheering.]
The Metrodome (full name: the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome) was a giant, domed sports stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Opened in 1982, “The Dome” was home to Minnesota’s major league baseball, basketball, football, and soccer teams. It closed in 2013 and was demolished the following year, and a new stadium on the site, the U.S. Bank Stadium, opened in 2016. When the Minnesota Twins played there, longtime announcer Bob Casey would declare before every game, “Noooo smoking in the Metrodome,” a proclamation that fans always greeted with cheers.
Man, Twister dress. –Right hand red …
Twister is a “board” game produced by Hasbro, consisting of a plastic sheet with circles of various colors on it, which is placed on the floor like a rug. The object is to place your hands and feet on the different colors as the game spinner indicates until all players are hopelessly entangled and fall into a gigantic heap. It was first released in 1966.
A reference to the climax of the 1967 film The Graduate, in which protagonist Benjamin Braddock (played by Dustin Hoffman), after many rejections, bursts into the church where his beloved Elaine (Katharine Ross) is getting married, disrupts the ceremony, and steals her away. Security specialist to the stars Gavin de Becker has said that the pro-stalking message of The Graduate helped send a lot of business his way.
[Sung.] Well, I’ll be damned, here comes your ghost again …
The opening lines to the song “Diamonds & Rust” by Joan Baez. From her 1975 album of the same name, the song is unabashedly about her relationship with Bob Dylan a decade before. Sample lyrics: “Well I’ll be damned/Here comes your ghost again/But that’s not unusual/It’s just that the moon is full/And you happened to call.”
Eww. B.O. [Sung.] Beeee-ohhhhh.
Lifebuoy soap is credited with originating the use of the initials B.O., short for “body odor,” in its early radio ads of the 1930s and ‘40s, which stretched the letters out into a foghorn sound. Those ads were parodied in a number of Warner Brothers Looney Tunes cartoons.
A common addendum to formal invitations, RSVP is an acronym for the French phrase “Répondez s’il vous plaît,” meaning “Please respond,” or “Let us know whether you’re coming.” RIP is an acronym for the Latin phrase “Requiescat in pace,” which commonly appeared on Christian tombstones from the 8th through the 18th centuries. The acronym itself first appeared in the early 17th century. Conveniently, it is also an acronym for “Rest in peace,” the English translation of the Latin phrase.
[Sung.] I’m getting married in the morning … dum de dum dum …
See note on “Get Me to the Church On Time,” above.
[Sung.] Open the door … for your Mystery Date. [Spoken.] By Milton Bradley.
Mystery Date is a board game by Milton Bradley aimed at girls. Players open a small plastic door to find out if their date is a “dream” or a “dud.” Introduced in 1965, there have been numerous revisions and reissues of the game, most recently in 2005. Much parodied, Mystery Date was the basis for episodes of The Simpsons (1996) and Mad Men (2012).
And here’s what you’ve won! Tell ‘em, Johnny.
Typical hyperbole from a television game show. John Leonard “Johnny” Olson (1910-1985) was one of the great American radio and television announcers. Although he was the announcer for The Jackie Gleason Show throughout most of its run in the 1950s, Olson is best known for his work on many game shows, such as What’s My Line? and To Tell the Truth. He is best remembered for The Price Is Right, and his call for contestants to “Come on down!”—a catchphrase that is still used today.
“I’m going away and I’m not coming back.” I’ve got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack.
A line from the 1980 song “Hungry Heart,” by Bruce Springsteen—his first hit single as a solo artist. Sample lyrics: “Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack/I went out for a ride and I never went back/Like a river that don’t know where it’s flowing/I took a wrong turn and I just kept going.”
Sandy’s back. And she’s pissed.
A riff on a line from Bill Hicks’ standup routine: “Jesus is back—and he’s pissed.”
Thomas Dewey (1902-1971) was the governor of New York and the Republican presidential candidate in 1944 (against incumbent FDR) and 1948 (against Harry Truman, which was the source of the famous incorrect newspaper headline “Dewey Defeats Truman”).
Hey, how many Dalmatians died for that dress? One hundred and one.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians is a 1961 Disney animated feature, based on the 1956 children’s novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. Since then the franchise has included a 1996 live action version of the film and a 2000 sequel (both starring Glenn Close), multiple video games, and two television series.
After I knock back a Rob Roy or three.
A Rob Roy is a cocktail consisting of Scotch whisky, vermouth, and bitters, usually garnished with a maraschino cherry.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo babies.
Vertigo is a 1958 Alfred Hitchcock suspense-thriller film starring James Stewart as a former police detective with a terrible fear of heights and Kim Novak as the slinky mysterious woman he’s hired to investigate (see note on Kim Novak, above). See also note on Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies, above.
This is one dark mamma jamma of a movie, guys.
A popular MST3K riff with many variants, the origin of “mamma jamma” is the 1981 song “She’s a Bad Mama Jama (She’s Built, She’s Stacked),” written by Leon Haywood, which became a hit single for R&B/funk singer Carl Carlton. The song has appeared on countless compilation albums and has been extensively sampled on rap and hip-hop tracks.
Diarrhea is like a storm raging inside you.
A paraphrase of a line from an old Pepto-Bismol ad: “Sometimes, diarrhea can feel like a storm raging in your body.”
So, does this make Meg a widow? –Yeah. Widowmaker.
The phrase “widowmaker,” meaning something that can bring about sudden death, has been used to describe everything from heart attacks to military aircraft.
Sessions Presents: Faces of Death!
See note on Sessions, above. Faces of Death is a controversial 1978 American film depicting explicit scenes of death and violence, some taken from news or police footage, others staged. Some 40% of the footage is admittedly fake, while other scenes, such as the aftermath of traffic accidents, are quite genuine. There were five sequels, the last of which merely recycled footage from the previous films.
[Imitating Mary Tyler Moore.] Rob, make him stop.
In the TV sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show (CBS, 1961-1966), Rob Petrie (played by Dick Van Dyke) was frequently bossed around by his excitable wife Laura (played by Mary Tyler Moore).
Sammy Cahn is the doctor.
Sammy Cahn (1913-1993) was an American composer and lyricist who worked with many top performers of the 1950s and ‘60s, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Doris Day. He contributed many songs to movies, including “High Hopes” from A Hole in the Head (1959), which won an Oscar, and “Thoroughly Modern Millie” (which was nominated for one) from the 1967 movie of the same name. In 1974 he got his own hugely successful one-man Broadway show, called Words and Music, which toured multiple times over the next two decades.
If you could see what I hear.
If You Could See What I Hear is a 1982 biopic of blind American musician and motivational speaker Tom Sullivan. It starred Marc “The Beastmaster” Singer and Shari Belafonte. It was based on Sullivan’s 1975 autobiography by the same name.
I have been acquainted with the night.
“Acquainted with the Night” is a poem by Robert Frost first published in 1928. Sample verse: “I have been one acquainted with the night/I have walked out in rain—and back in rain/I have outwalked the furthest city light.”
I now pronounce you … man and death.
A paraphrase of a line from a typical wedding ceremony. Many couples today dislike the traditional phrasing of “man and wife,” however, preferring the more egalitarian “husband and wife.” Also see note on detective show titles, above.
Charles Moffett (1929-1997) was a jazz drummer, best known for his work in the “free jazz” style, which sought to break the bonds of traditional and bebop jazz styles. He frequently performed with saxophonist Ornette Coleman.