201: Rocketship X-M
by Trey Yeatts
Lloyd Bridges? [Imitating.] By this time, his lungs would be aching for air.
A favorite line of MST3K, referencing Sea Hunt, a syndicated action-adventure TV show that aired from 1958 to 1961. It starred Lloyd Bridges (1913-1998) as scuba diver Mike Nelson (weird coinky-dink) and followed his undersea adventures. In many episodes, his scuba tank’s air hoses would be cut either accidentally or as deliberate sabotage.
Hey, Huge O’Brian.
Hugh O’Brian is an actor best known for playing legendary lawman Wyatt Earp in the ABC television series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, which ran from 1955 to 1961.
Communism by Clarence Marks. –Ice cream by Frank Heath. –Gas by Betty Sinclair. –Cowboy hats by Clarence Steensen. –Financed by Don Cash. –Vibes by Orville Hampton. –ChapStick by Mary Chaffee. –Stupid name by Ferde Grofé guy.
The Communist Manifesto was published in 1848 by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and stated the fundamental principles of the Communist League; it is widely regarded as one of the most influential pieces of political writing in history. The Heath Bar is a chocolate-covered toffee candy bar first sold by schoolteacher L.S. Heath and his two sons, who ran a candy store and factory, in 1928. Crumbled-up Heath bars have long been a popular ice cream topping, and in the 1950s, Heath produced the Heath Toffee Ice Cream Bar. Sinclair Oil Corporation is a company founded in 1916 by Harry Sinclair. Sinclair was huge throughout the middle part of the century, and their famous green “brontosaurus” logo was everywhere. In 1969, though, petroleum company ARCO acquired Sinclair, and they were forced to sell East Coast Sinclair stations due to antitrust law. Stetson hats are produced by the John B. Stetson Company, which was founded in 1865. Their many different styles have included official U.S. military hats (e.g., Army cavalry), law enforcement hats (the RCMP), “ten-gallon hats,” and so on. Lionel Hampton (1908-2002) was a jazz musician famed for his mastery of the vibraphone. ChapStick is a lip balm developed in the 1880s by Dr. Charles Browne Fleet. It’s manufactured today by Pfizer. In the late ‘70s a series of TV commercials for ChapStick starred Olympic ski champion Suzy Chaffee, cheerfully saying “Call me Suzy ChapStick.” (Thanks to “Kings Fan” for the Suzy Chaffee reference.)
Oh Murray, the ceiling needs painting.
A paraphrase of a punchline/caption—about a married woman’s presumed sexual boredom—that has been shoehorned into any number of jokes or cartoons. Sam, the Ceiling Needs Painting is the title of a 1964 book (a collection of simple, sexually themed cartoons) by Woody Gelman, Sy Goodstadt, and Mel Poretz.
Well, your life line shows you’ll meet four interesting ...
Palmistry, or chirology, is the practice of determining the future by studying a person’s palm. The three main lines found on nearly all hands that are given the most weight by chiromancers are the heart line, the head line, and the life line.
Either this man is dead or my watch has stopped.
A line spoken by Groucho Marx in the 1931 film Monkey Business.
Rhubarb. Rhubarb. Scientific rhubarb.
Along with “rutabaga,” “watermelon,” and “peas and carrots,” “rhubarb” is one of the words that background extras are often told to mutter among themselves as a way to simulate conversation in TV shows and films.
And now the cast of “I Married Four Astronauts.”
Possibly a riff on the slapstick-heavy TV sitcom I Married Joan (NBC, 1952-1955).
Our panel tonight will be Robert Q. Lewis, Kitty Carlisle, Arlene Francis, and Dorothy ... no, I’m sorry, Dorothy Kilgallen won’t be appearing tonight.
Robert Q. Lewis (1920-1991) was an actor as well as a television and radio personality known for his appearances as a game show panelist on shows like What’s My Line? (1950-1975). Kitty Carlisle (1910-2007) was a stage and screen actress who appeared in a few movies during the 1930s and 1940s, but she is best known for her regular appearances as a panelist on To Tell the Truth (1956-1981). Arlene Francis (1907-2001) was an actress who also served as a panelist on What’s My Line? Dorothy Kilgallen (1913-1965) was a syndicated newspaper columnist who famously pursued JFK assassination stories (her death from an apparent drug and alcohol overdose was itself the subject of conspiracy theories) and, as you might guess, a frequent panelist on What’s My Line?
Young Republicans are in the back room handing them out.
The Young Republicans, founded in 1931, is a national organization for Republicans between the ages of 18 and 40; they are particularly active on college campuses.
Frisbees, weather balloons ...
The Frisbee is a classic toy, a plastic disc that can fly for quite a distance when skimmed flat through the air. They were first made in 1938 after inventor Fred Morrison and his wife enjoyed tossing about a cake pan. It is manufactured by Wham-O, and the name Frisbee has become a genericized trademark for all flying discs.
A possible reference to the 1951 UPA animated short Rooty Toot Toot, which was a retelling of the popular song “Frankie and Johnny.”
Now, Rommel will be at base camp here.
Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (1891-1944) was a highly decorated and respected German general in World War II. He led the invasion of France in 1940 and distinguished himself as one of the greatest commanders of a desert force in history during the North African campaign (1940-1943). His acumen led to his nickname, “The Desert Fox.” In 1944, Rommel was implicated in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. In exchange for assurances that his family would not be harmed, Rommel committed suicide.
New York Times, spit your gum out.
The New York Times is a famous daily newspaper in New York City, founded in 1851. As of 2014, it had won 125 Pulitzer Prizes, far more than any other paper.
And we’ll be collecting bonus coins and mushrooms for extra guys.
A reference to the classic video game Super Mario Bros., released by Nintendo in 1985 for its NES home video game system. In order to get extra lives, the player must collect one hundred coins or find special “1-Up” mushrooms.
We baked a rocket earlier in a 450-degree oven.
A paraphrase of lines frequently heard in cooking programs on TV. The host will describe and demonstrate the creation of a dish, but because watching a casserole bake for an hour would be more boring than the Golf Channel, they will have one handy that they cooked earlier to show you what it looks like once it's finished.
With the grace of God and a long-handled spoon ...
This is the punchline to a notoriously gross joke with many versions. Here’s one (you've been warned): A husband who made a habit of coming home drunk and barfing in the kitchen sink was warned by his wife that he was going to puke his guts out. One night she put some pig entrails in the sink and left the kitchen lights off. Later, her husband stumbled upstairs and said, "You were right. But with the grace of God and a long-handled spoon, I got them all back in."
Eight-tracks and cassettes in stereo.
A line from the Jackson Browne song “The Load Out.” Sample lyrics: “Now we got country and western on the bus/R&B, we got disco in 8-tracks and cassettes in stereo ...” Officially known as Stereo 8, 8-track tapes were cassettes of magnetic tape in an infinite loop. They were developed in the early 1960s by Bill Lear (of Lear Jet fame) and released in 1964. They caught on because, until then, the only means of owning music were vinyl records or cumbersome reel-to-reels, and neither of those were terribly portable. They were popular until the mid-1970s when standard compact cassettes finally replaced them as the desired form of totable audio entertainment. (Thanks to Russ Jared for information on the song.)
The Leaves of Grass exam is on Friday and remember, I’ll be in my office Tuesday, but not Wednesday.
Riffing on a scene in the 1981 movie Raiders of the Lost Ark, in which adventure-prone archaeologist Indiana Jones, played by Harrison Ford, is teaching at a small college and concludes a class by saying, “Don’t forget—Michaelson, Chapters 4 and 5 for next time. And I will be in my office on Thursday, but not Wednesday." Leaves of Grass is a collection of poems by Walt Whitman first published in 1855, with subsequent, longer editions published over the next several decades. Though regarded today as one of the greatest poetry collections in English literature, it was reviled at the time, and Whitman was fired from his government job after the Secretary of the Interior was offended by its content. (Thanks to Jeff Cushenberry for the Raiders reference.)
Not tonight, dear. I’ve got a headache.
A reference to the oft-parodied excuse given by wives to their husbands when petitioned for amorous shenanigans.
[Imitating.] But of course, by that time, my lungs were aching for air.
See above note on Sea Hunt.
Oh, may I?
This is a line uttered by Steve Martin, playing a caustic waiter, in the 1979 film The Muppet Movie.
I can’t remember. Were we supposed to stay ... –I think we’re supposed to go to the rocket. –Was it this way? –We’re going to the rocket. –Astronauts straight back ... fifteen minutes. –I’m an astronaut. –Wanna stop for ribs? –Hello, Cleveland!
A reference to the 1984 “mockumentary” This Is Spinal Tap, about a hapless heavy metal band. In one scene, the band gets hopelessly lost in a maze of corridors on their way to the stage for a concert in Cleveland.
Great, that’s their support team? Three guys and a woodie. –Hey, I love that movie.
“Woodie” is a nickname for a vehicle that is made with wooden body panels, usually a station wagon. The term was popularized in the 1963 song “Surf City” by Jan and Dean. Three Men and a Baby is a 1987 comedy about three bachelor roommates (Ted Danson, Steve Guttenberg, and Tom Selleck) who find a baby on their doorstep, supposedly the product of one of their loins. It was directed by Leonard “Spock” Nimoy and based on a 1985 French film. In 1990, a poorly received sequel, Three Men and a Little Lady, was released.
Siegfried and Roy?
Siegfried Fischbacher (1939-2021) and Roy Horn (1944-2020) were German-born entertainers known for their illusions and Las Vegas show featuring white tigers. In 2003, Horn was critically injured by one of their tigers during a show. In 2009, after more than five years’ hiatus, they staged a final performance and retired.
We’ll have Paris. Look, you’re getting on that rocket and that’s all there is.
Paraphrased lines from the end of the 1942 classic film Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. The actual lines: “You said I was to do the thinking for both of us. Well, I’ve done a lot of it since then, and it all adds up to one thing: you’re getting on that plane with Victor where you belong,” and, “We’ll always have Paris.”
Can I catch a ride to the rocket? I’m only going to the gantry. –Gantry? This car don’t go anywhere near Gantry. You boys is lost. Heh-heh-heh.
“This here river don’t go nowhere near Aintry! Boy, you are lost, ain't ya?” is a line from the hillbilly horror movie Deliverance (1972). Aintry is the town the four city folk are headed for on their canoe trip, which is due to be flooded shortly when the new dam is built.
[Heavy German accent.] Here in Pina Munda, vere ze rockets are assembled, and vonce ze rockets go up, who cares vere zey come down? That’s not my department, you know.
An imitation of comic musician Tom Lehrer, who was impersonating German-American rocket scientist Dr. Wernher von Braun (1912-1977) on the 1965 comedy album That Was the Year That Was, in the song “Wernher von Braun.” Lyrics: “‘Once the rockets go up, who cares where they come down?/That’s not my department’/Says Wernher von Braun.” Urban legend has it that von Braun sued Lehrer for defamation over this song, but Lehrer strongly denied that story in a 2003 interview.
[Sung.] Val-deri, Val-dera ...
The beloved “valderi-valdera, valderi-valdera-ha-ha-ha-ha…” chorus from “The Happy Wanderer.” Often mistaken for a German folk song, “The Happy Wanderer” is an original composition, written by Friedrich-Wilhelm Moller shortly after World War II, with lyrics adapted from text written by Florenz Sigismund in the early 19th century. It was popularized by performances and recordings of it by the Obernkirchen Children’s Choir, conducted by Moller’s sister Edith. Sample lyrics: “I love to go a-wandering/Along the mountain track/And as I go, I love to sing/My knapsack on my back/Val-deri,Val-dera/Val-deri, Val-dera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha/Val-deri,Val-dera/My knapsack on my back.”
Can I still bet on Max Schmeling? Oh, good.
Max Schmeling (1905-2005) was a German boxer and heavyweight champion of the world from 1930 to 1932. Two fights in the late 1930s with American Joe Louis captured the world’s attention; Schmeling won the first bout and lost the second. Many remember Schmeling as a “puppet” of Nazi Germany during World War II, although he never joined the Nazi Party. While he was trotted out as propaganda and served in the Luftwaffe, he risked his life to save two Jewish teens in 1938 during the pogrom known as “Kristallnacht” and later helped them escape to America.
Hey, look! It looks like an Al Jaffee Mad magazine “Fold-In.” You can fold it together and it would probably spell something, like “Ohio.”
Al Jaffee is a cartoonist who has worked with Mad magazine for more than 50 years. In fact, only one issue since 1964 has been published that contained no work from Jaffee. His signature feature is the “Fold-In,” which appears on the inside of the back cover. The headline above a piece of art typically asks a question; by folding the page over (making the arrows drawn on the page touch), the text and image thus created reveal the answer. Mad itself debuted in 1952 as a comic book and was created by Harvey Kurtzman and William Gaines. It later evolved into a comic magazine and launched several pop culture icons and sayings, including gap-toothed mascot Alfred E. Neuman and the phrase, “What, me worry?”
Call me Cobra.
Probably a reference to the 1986 Sylvester Stallone action film Cobra, in which Stallone plays an L.A. cop going up against a supremacist group besieging a small California town. In the film, Stallone wore a long-sleeved black shirt similar to the one Lloyd is sporting here.
Good night, Rockford Dad.
A reference to Noah Beery Jr. (1913-1994), the actor who plays Major William “Tex” Corrigan in this film. In the NBC private eye series The Rockford Files (1974-1980), he played Jim Rockford’s father, Rocky, a retired trucker.
Good night, Mike Nelson of Sea Hunt fame.
See above note on Sea Hunt.
Good night, guy who looks like Mr. Whipple, a little like Walt Disney, maybe Mr. Mooney.
Mr. Whipple (Dick Wilson, 1916-2007) was the character who admonished grocery store shoppers to not squeeze the Charmin toilet paper in more than 500 ads from 1964 to 1985 (with a brief return in 1999 and 2000). Walt Disney (1901-1966) was an animator and entrepreneur who rose to fame with his eponymous corporation and the many thousands of hours of entertainment that it churned out. Contrary to urban legend, Disney was cremated after his death, not cryogenically frozen. Theodore J. Mooney, played by Gale Gordon (1906-1995), was Lucille Ball’s banker foil in her sitcom The Lucy Show (1962-1968).
Oh God, I need this job.
Line from the song “I Hope I Get It,” from the 1975 Marvin Hamlisch/Edward Kleban musical A Chorus Line.
Sure hope Jimmy brought the Camaro in.
The Chevrolet Camaro is a muscle car released in 1966 as a competitor to the Ford Mustang. Production ended in 2002 but began again in 2009.
[Imitating.] By this time, my lungs were aching for air.
Yeah, you know.
[Imitating.] By this time, my lungs ...
Buddy Ebsen likes this ride.
Buddy Ebsen (1908-2003) was a character actor best known for his two turns as an old codger: patriarch Jed Clampett on the TV sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-1971), and the title role in Barnaby Jones (1973-1980). He also was cast as the Tin Man in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz, but an allergic reaction to the aluminum powder in his makeup nearly killed him; he was replaced by Jack Haley.
[German accent.] Get out of my way, I can't see.
See above note on Wernher von Braun.
[Sung.] Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Val-deri ...
See above note on “The Happy Wanderer.”
Suppose they had a war and nobody came? Where do you want to be in two years?
A reference to the phrase coined by writer and poet Carl Sandburg in the mid-1960s: “Suppose they gave a war and no one came?” It became a popular slogan among the anti-war crowd in the Vietnam era and was even paraphrased in the title of a 1970 film, Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came? “Where do you want to be in two years?” is a standard job interview question, usually asked to determine the outlook and ambition of the prospective employee.
Hoist the mizzen, Mr. Cavendish! Knot the main sheet. Blow me down.
The mizzen (or mizzen-mast or mizzen-sail) is the mast and sail just aft of the central main-mast on a sailing vessel; it is the shortest mast on a three-masted ship, after the main-mast and the fore-mast. Two-masted ships generally have a main-mast and a mizzen-mast. Though “Mr. Cavendish” may be a random pull, it might be related to the English explorer Sir Thomas Cavendish (1560-1592), who was the first to intentionally circumnavigate the world. “Blow me down” was a mild seaman’s oath dating back to late 18th-century Britain.
Look smart, me laddies. Harrr mee bonny tarrrrs. –Weigh that anchor. I can’t even lift it.
“Tar,” in this instance, is slang for “sailor.” It dates back to the late 17th century and likely comes from the word “tarpaulin,” the sturdy, tar-coated fabric used in sailors’ overalls and hats. “Weigh the anchor” is another sailing term that means to raise the anchor from the sea floor and bring it on board. An old joke: "Weigh the anchor! Weigh it? I can't even lift it!"
[Sung.] Where is love? Is it in the stars ...
Paraphrased lyrics from a song in the 1960 British musical Oliver!, written by Lionel Bart and based on Charles Dickens’s 1838 novel Oliver Twist. “Where Is Love?” begins with the lines, “Where is love?/Does it fall from skies above?”
[Imitating.] Oh, Gary, ahhhhh …
An imitation of Lucille Ball (1911-1989), who had a string of successful sitcoms in the 1950s and 1960s: I Love Lucy, The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, and The Lucy Show. The later seasons of her fourth sitcom, Here’s Lucy (1968-1974), began to sink steadily in the ratings; its sixth season was its last. Then, in 1986, Ball starred in the critically reviled and virtually unwatched Life With Lucy; only eight of the thirteen filmed episodes aired before the series was cancelled. She was married to her second husband, Gary Morton, from 1961 until her death.
Traffic on the I-94 outbound is very heavy today and it seems to be jamming up around Spaghetti Junction.
Interstate 94 is a major highway that stretches from Billings, Montana, in the west, through North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, loops around the southern end of Lake Michigan, and ends in Port Huron, Michigan, at the Canadian border. “Spaghetti Junction,” like “Mixing Bowl,” is a colloquialism given to any complex interchange of highways and on/off-ramps.
Oh, bless the beasts and children.
Bless the Beasts and Children is a 1970 novel by Glendon Swarthout about a group of boys who try to stop a buffalo hunt. In 1971, it was made into a feature film, and The Carpenters produced and released the eponymous theme song, which was nominated for an Oscar.
[Sung.] One tin soldier ...
"One Tin Soldier" is a 1960s anti-war song written by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter. It became a charted hit in connection with the 1971 film Billy Jack when it was performed by the rock group Coven.
Go placidly amidst the noise and haste and remember what comfort ...
The opening line from Max Ehrmann’s 1927 poem “Desiderata.” It was largely unknown until the late 1950s, when a Baltimore pastor included it in a collection of spiritual materials for his congregation. In 1968, Leonard Nimoy included a recitation of it on his album Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy.
It’s the Chrysler Building.
The Chrysler Building, completed in 1930, is a New York City skyscraper whose distinctive spire is considered the epitome of Art Deco architecture. It was designed by William Van Alen and was briefly the tallest building in the world, until the Empire State Building trumped it the following year.
C’mon, look alive. You’re getting scale. Let's go.
“Scale” refers to the minimum wage paid to actors for a day’s work. In the early 1960s, that was just under $200.
Oh, was that me? [Laughs sheepishly.] Dehydrated ice cream. Sorry.
Freeze-dried ice cream has had most of the water removed from it before being sealed in an air-tight pouch. As a result, it does not require refrigeration. It was developed by the Whirlpool Corporation for NASA for use on spaceflights. However, due to its tendency to crumble, it only went into space once, on the Apollo 7 mission in 1968. You can still buy freeze-dried ice cream through mail order and in science museum gift shops.
Attention base, SNAFU, big time.
“SNAFU” is an acronym that means “Situation Normal: All Fucked Up” (or “Fouled Up,” if you’re a prude). It originated in the United States military during World War II and was first published in a 1941 issue of Notes and Queries. Some military historians have ascribed its origin, along with FUBAR (“Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition”) and SUSFU (“Situation Unchanged: Still Fucked Up”), to soldiers who were mocking the Army’s predilection for acronyms.
This is Rocketship X-M, now concluding our broadcast day. –[Humming “The Star-Spangled Banner.”]
An imitation of TV announcers of old. Back in the days when American television stations stopped broadcasting late at night, test cards or test patterns appeared on screen (along with a steady tone) after the national anthem was played until the resumption of the broadcast day. The national anthem, of course, is “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The lyrics were written in 1814 by lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key after watching the British attack Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812. Key’s brother-in-law set the poem to the tune of “The Anacreontic Song,” written by English composer John Stafford Smith in the 1760s. It grew in popularity throughout the 1800s and was officially made the national anthem in 1931. The large flag that inspired Key is now displayed in the National Museum of American History.
And stop writing about Tom and Roseanne.
Actor/comedian Tom Arnold and his wife, standup comedian and sitcom star Roseanne Barr, had a notoriously stormy relationship during their years of marriage (1990-1994) and were often the subject of tabloid gossip.
It says “Rand McNally” across the top there.
Rand McNally is a cartography company based in Skokie, Illinois. Founded in 1856, the firm makes atlases, globes, and street maps, among other products.
Uh, Houston, we’ve got a problem. Lloyd’s making moves on the babe here.
The Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (née Manned Spacecraft Center) in Houston, Texas, in addition to providing training for astronauts from around the world, is NASA’s flight control station for missions once the rockets have cleared the launch tower in Florida. It opened in 1961 and has provided in-flight operational guidance to all manned NASA missions since Gemini 4 in 1965, thus all manned spaceflights refer to Houston in their communiqués. The phrase “Houston, we’ve had a problem here” was famously said by Apollo 13 pilot Jack Swigert on April 14, 1970, 56 hours after their mission to the moon was launched. (In the 1995 film Apollo 13, the line—slightly altered to “Houston, we have a problem”—was given to mission commander James Lovell, played by Tom Hanks, instead.) Damaged wiring insulation caused a fire and the explosion of one of their two oxygen tanks. This severely crippled the ship, forcing them to abandon their moon landing. The three astronauts took refuge in the Lunar Module while the damaged craft looped around the moon and returned to Earth. Thanks to some frantic jury-rigging, the three astronauts splashed down safely in the South Pacific on April 17.
Dear diary. Well, we’re all going to die and it’s the men’s fault. Our fiery demise is imminent but at least I have my health, knock on wood. Oh, I saw the cutest thing on Arsenio last night.
Arsenio Hall is a comedian, actor, and talk-show host best known for his syndicated late-night talk show The Arsenio Hall Show, which aired from 1989-1994.
Oh, sorry. I was drawing Bucky here.
Possibly a reference to Bucky Badger, mascot of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Or maybe a reference to those “Draw Me!” ads that used to be found on matchbooks, in comics, etc. They usually featured a turtle named Tippy, but sometimes had other subjects, like Spunky the Donkey, Cubby the Bear, or a pirate named Mr. Blunderbuss. The ads promoted Art Instruction Schools, a correspondence art school founded in Minneapolis in 1914 by Joseph Almars.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, silos are bursting with nature’s rich bounty. –Mount Palomar, California. The mighty 200-inch reflecting Hale Telescope is lofted skyward. Then, the eyepiece is blackened and an unsuspecting scientist puts his eye to it. Comedy ensues.
The phrase “Meanwhile, back at _____” originated with cards inserted in silent films of the early 20th century. In westerns, this was often “Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...” When “talkies” emerged, the phrase was still used by narrators in films and radio and TV shows. Palomar Mountain in northern San Diego County is the location of the famous Palomar Observatory, operated by Caltech. The observatory’s main telescope is the 200-inch Hale Telescope, built in 1948 and named after astronomer George Ellery Hale (1868-1938), known for his work on sunspots.
Voice of Winnie the Pooh.
Winnie the Pooh is a small bear, the best friend of Christopher Robin in the 1920s children’s books written by A.A. Milne and illustrated by E.H. Shepard. He was named after a toy owned by Milne’s son, the original Christopher Robin Milne. He also appeared in a series of Disney films based on the books. Of the many actors who voiced Winnie in various adaptations, Sterling Holloway (1905-1992) is the most widely known.
So, this is what we would have seen from the Hubble. Neat.
The Hubble Space Telescope is an orbital device launched in 1990 by NASA. Its various instruments are among the most sensitive ever made. After its launch, it was discovered that the primary mirror had a defect and was off by 2.2 microns (that’s 2.2 millionths of a meter). The resulting images were warped. In 1993 (after this episode aired), astronauts from Space Shuttle Endeavour installed corrective lenses. Since then, Hubble has provided some of the most detailed and beautiful images of space ever captured. It has advanced the study of black holes, found galaxies billions of light-years distant, discovered hundreds of extrasolar planets, and more.
So I sing you to sleep after the lovin’.
A line from the 1976 song “After the Lovin’” by Engelbert Humperdinck. Sample lyrics: “So I sing you to sleep/After the lovin'/With a song I just wrote yesterday/And I hope you can hear/What the words and the music have to say.”
Yeah, and then put his arm in a pan of lukewarm water.
A reference to an age-old prank–popular at slumber parties and summer camps– in which a sleeping person’s hand is placed in a bowl of warm water, supposedly causing them to wet the bed. When the “science entertainment” TV program MythBusters tested this one, even using sleep monitoring equipment to ensure the subject was genuinely asleep, they got zero results: myth busted!
[Heavy French accent.] No, I'm Lloyd. That's the myoon.
An imitation of Peter Sellers (1925-1980) as bumbling Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau in the first six of the Pink Panther series of films.
Dead body in the trunk, bag of quicklime.
Quicklime (properly, calcium oxide) is often depicted in films as being poured over dead bodies. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t hasten the decomposition of the flesh. Instead, it helps reduce odors.
Parking lot like a Libbyland dinner. –Quick, somebody get her a sandwich.
Libbyland was a brand of TV dinner-style frozen meals aimed at children. They were produced by Libby’s and sold from 1971 to 1976. Some of the varieties were “Sea Diver’s Dinner,” which included fish sticks, fries, corn, etc., and “Safari Supper,” which included a hot dog, Sloppy Joe mix, “potato sticks,” etc.
Michael Feinstein? [Imitating.] It’s wonderful.
Michael Feinstein is a cabaret piano player and singer known for show tunes, jazz standards, and ballads. He was famously and adeptly mocked by Michael J. Nelson in a Deep 13 host segment in Show 312, Gamera vs. Guiron.
Where do you want to be in two years?
See above note on job interviews.
Looks like buttery caramel corn. Please visit our snack bar. –I’ll have a Sprite, please. Thanks, Mr. Crow. –Way to go, kid.
In the late 1970s, the AMC theater chain used to show an animated ad for their snack bar called “Snack Canyon,” in which a family of penguins stumble across Snack Canyon and revel in all the treats available there. Each penguin orders a different refreshing beverage; the child penguin orders a “Sprite, please,” and when he throws his empty cup away in the trash can, he gets a patronizing pat on the head and a “Way to go, kid!” from the crow running the snack bar. Sprite is a lemon-lime-flavored soft drink manufactured by Coca-Cola. It was first marketed in Germany under the name Fanta Klare Zitrone. In 1961, it was introduced in the United States as Sprite to compete with 7 Up.
[Whistling the General Cinema theme.]
This is the peppy little tune that accompanied the trailer that ran before movies in General Cinema theaters during the 1980s; it showed popcorn, candy, and drinks sailing through space (and sometimes into a floating trash container, to illustrate proper garbage disposal procedure). (Thanks to Jason Harder for this reference.)
Looks like Poppycock.
Poppycock is a snack made with glazed popcorn and nuts, similar to Cracker Jack. It was invented in the 1950s by Harold Vair and is now manufactured by ConAgra Foods.
Oh, you gonna cry now, baby?
A riff on a scene in the 1983 comedy movie A Christmas Story, in which neighborhood bully Farkus taunts the story's hero, Ralphie, a bit too much. It doesn’t end well. For Farkus. For Raphie it ended up being a pretty good day.
Get down in the toilet, you cro-mo.
Possibly a corruption of the now-outdated term for early Homo sapiens sapiens, Cro-Magnon (originally referring to a specific group of humans who lived in what is now France about 40,000 years ago). And maybe combined with a derogatory abbreviation of the word “homosexual.”
You sunk my battleship!
Battleship is a popular game manufactured by Milton Bradley. It was invented by Clifford Von Wickler in the early 1900s, but he failed to patent the idea. Russian soldiers post-World War I developed a similar game they called Salvo. In 1931, Milton Bradley distributed a game called Broadsides. At this point, the game was paper-and-pencil–based, featuring four 10 x 10 grids (two for each player). Players laid out ships on one grid and used the other for plotting attacks on their opponent. Attacks were launched by calling out grid coordinates (“B-4,” for example); the opposing player would respond with “hit” or “miss.” In 1967, Milton Bradley produced the now-famous version of the game. Two cases (one red, one blue) contained plastic grids in which plastic ships were placed. Hits were marked with red pegs, misses with white pegs. In 1977, Electronic Battleship was released, which included an on-board computer that tracked hits and misses. In 1989, this was followed by Electronic Talking Battleship. Several other variations were released over the years. “You sunk my battleship!” was a well-known tag line from TV commercials for the game.
Mrs. Carmichael, this is your fault. –[Imitating.] Aw, Ricky, ahhhhh ...
Lucille Ball (see above note) played Lucy Carmichael on the 1962-1968 CBS series The Lucy Show. She played a widow with two kids, living with a divorcee with a son; her friend was played by her former I Love Lucy co-star Vivian Vance. Lucy’s first husband, Desi Arnaz, played bandleader Ricky Ricardo in I Love Lucy.
I did it. I’m Mr. Air Speed. He’s Ball Peen. That’s Needle Nose. We did it all. Arrrgh.
These are the names of the Carpenter Dwarves in a skit that aired on National Lampoon Radio Hour in 1974. The show was made by many of the same comedians who went on to perform on and write for Saturday Night Live: John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and Gilda Radner, as well as Harold Ramis, Christopher Guest, and Richard Belzer. (Thanks to Krankor for this reference.)
[Muffled voice.] I need one of those inflatable doughnuts. No solid food either. Scratching irritates it. Well, it could be worse.
Hemorrhoid sufferers often sit on an inflatable, doughnut-shaped pillow to alleviate their symptoms.
All right, who made the Kool-Aid?
Kool-Aid is a flavored drink mix that has been popular with kids for decades. Invented by Nebraskan Edwin Perkins in 1927, six flavors were initially available: cherry, grape, lemon-lime, orange, raspberry, and strawberry. In 1953, the brand was sold to General Foods. In the 1960s, the giant pitcher-shaped mascot Kool-Aid Man was introduced. He would exclaim, “Oh yeah!” after crashing through a wall. The name became associated with a bad bit of business in 1978 when 918 people (including a congressional delegation led by California Congressman Leo Ryan) committed suicide or were killed in Jonestown, Guyana, the site of a cult led by Jim Jones. The phrase “drank the Kool-Aid” has come to mean a person has bought into a line of thinking or dogma, when in fact most of the victims drank poison mixed with Kool-Aid competitor Flavor Aid.
[Muffled radio announcer voice.] It’s 7:15 in deep space, we’re still on the business end of a beautiful day. We’ve got some Bruce Hornsby and the Range and then three in a row from Paula Abdul.
Bruce Hornsby is a singer and pianist best known for his songs “The Way It Is” (1986) and “Mandolin Rain” (1987), which he produced with his backing band, The Range. At the time of this episode, Paula Abdul was best known as a musician and choreographer with hit singles “Forever Your Girl,” “Straight Up,” and “Opposites Attract” (with MC Skat Cat!).
She awakes with a hairball and the worst breath of the day.
TV ads for Scope mouthwash in the 1970s promised that Scope would help you fight morning breath, “the worst breath of the day.”
Well, better grab a Hefty bag and start at it.
Hefty is a brand of garbage bags, first made in the 1960s and currently produced by Reynolds Consumer Products. The brand became even more popular in the 1980s with a commercial campaign that featured burly-voiced men singing, “Hefty, Hefty, Hef-tee!” while inferior trash bags fell apart and a choir sang, “Wimpy, wimpy, wim-pee.”
[Imitating Lloyd Bridges.] You know, one time this happened to me. I was in a convertible and I ... –Shhh. –My lungs are, well, you know.
Yes. We know.
That was the worst party ever. Who invited the Theta Chis?
Theta Chi is a college fraternity founded in 1856 at Norwich University in Vermont.
Wake up, old guy. Gale Gordon?
See above note on Mr. Mooney.
“How long has it been since…” Hey, that's rather personal.
A reference to “The Lifeboat Sketch” from the thirteenth episode of the second series of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, first broadcast in 1970. On a lifeboat with several sailors, a British Naval officer laments “Still no sign of land. How long is it?” to which one of the sailors replies “That’s rather a personal question, sir.”
That’s very pretty, Steve, but what does it mean?
Possibly a riff on the line “It’s very pretty, Bishop, but what are we looking for?” said by Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver) in the 1986 sci-fi/action movie Aliens.
I’ve got to touch all of you. Duck, duck, duck ... goose.
Duck, Duck, Goose (a.k.a. “Daisy in the Dell,” “Mush Pot,” a Minnesota variant called “Duck, Duck, Gray Duck,” etc.) is a game played by young children. It is a version of tag: participants sit in a circle as one child walks around them, touching their heads while saying, “Duck, duck ...” until s/he picks one child and says “Goose!” while touching his/her head. The “goose” must then chase the “picker” around the perimeter of the circle. If the “picker” manages to sit in the empty space before the “goose” tags him/her, then the “goose” becomes the “picker.”
“Mars?” As in the candy bar?
In the United States, Mars bars are a type of candy bar consisting of caramel, nougat, and almonds coated in milk chocolate; they are manufactured by Mars Inc. What the rest of the world calls a Mars bar is known in the U.S. as a Milky Way (nougat, caramel, and milk chocolate); abroad, a Milky Way is what Americans call a Three Musketeers (nougat covered with milk chocolate). (For our overseas readers: yes, we do it this way just to be difficult. Tell no one.)
Wow, it looks just like Art Carney.
A reference to the 1950s television sitcom The Honeymooners, which starred Art Carney (1918-2003) as sewer worker Ed Norton. The opening sequence featured caricatures of the actors superimposed over the moon.
Now, Linus is different. His hair’s kinda crazy. You draw him like this.
Linus van Pelt is a character from the comic strip “Peanuts,” created by Charles Schulz in 1950. The conversational tone of this riff may be intended to evoke memories of the 1985 documentary It’s Your 20th Television Anniversary, Charlie Brown. In it, Schulz is shown drawing and describing most of the characters.
That’s my favorite blend. Water. Shaken, not stirred.
In the James Bond series of films and books, Bond famously drinks his martinis “shaken, not stirred.” The phrase first appears in the 1956 Ian Fleming novel Diamonds Are Forever and was first said by Bond in the movies by Sean Connery in Goldfinger (1964), although Dr. No offered him a martini using the line in the eponymous 1962 film.
Hey, and that one looks like our friend Dana. –Yeah, I can see it, too. Looks like Dana!
Probably a reference to comedian, actor, friend-of-the-show, and Season 11 guest writer Dana Gould
Coming about. Hard alee. Watch the boom. I see the great white! –Queequeg.
More nautical talk. “Hard alee” means to turn the helm quickly into the wind, or “leeward.” “The great white” references the 1851 Herman Melville novel Moby-Dick. Queequeg was a harpooner on Captain Ahab’s ship Pequod as Ahab sought revenge on the enormous white whale of the title.
[Imitating Lloyd Bridges.] You know, once I was on a Tilt-a-Whirl ... –Shut up. –Darn.
The Tilt-a-Whirl is a venerable carnival ride invented by Herbert Sellner in 1926; his company, Sellner Manufacturing of Minnesota, manufactured more than a thousand before it was bought by Larson International. One 1927 Tilt-A-Whirl still travels the country with a Midwestern carnival.
We’ll park it by the Chrysler.
Chrysler is an automobile manufacturer founded in 1925 by Walter Chrysler. Considered one of the “Big Three” carmakers, Chrysler absorbed Jeep, Dodge, Nash, AMC, and more over the years, and also produced the Plymouth and Ram brands. In 1998, Chrysler was bought by Daimler-Benz and then unloaded in 2007. In 2009, they partnered with Italian automaker Fiat to resolve their ongoing financial woes.
“Fifteen thousand.” Bottles of beer on the wall. “Twelve thousand.” Bottles of beer on the wall. “Ten thousand.” Bottles of beer on the wall.
A paraphrased portion of the song “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall,” a popular English folk song sung in declining numerical order as each bottle is taken down and passed around. It is based on the 19th-century song “Ten Green Bottles.” A French scholar supposedly discovered poetry manuscripts dating to the 14th century containing a more primitive version of the lyrics.
Third floor, notions, ready-to-wear.
For many years, manually operated elevators in high-rise buildings required employees to work the lever. In department stores, the operator would often announce to the elevator’s passengers what products and services were available on each floor.
[Floyd the Barber imitation.] Ooh, oh, thank you, Andy. What a fine landing. Yesss.
Floyd Lawson was Mayberry, North Carolina’s barber on the TV sitcom The Andy Griffith Show from 1961 to 1967. In his first appearance, the character was portrayed by Walter Baldwin. In every subsequent episode, he was played by Howard McNear (1905-1969), who brought a trademark vocal style to the part. The character was based on a man named Russell, who cut Andy Griffith’s hair at the barber shop in his hometown of Mt. Airy, North Carolina, on which Mayberry was based.
Come on and march in double time ... –Come on and march in double time ... –Sing a song by Michael Feinstein. –Sing a song by Michael Feinstein. –Sound off. –One, two. –Sound off. –Three, four. Clap on, clap off. The Clapper.
See previous note on Michael Feinstein. “Clap on, clap off, the Clapper!” is an advertising slogan for one of those “as-seen-on-TV”-type products: a gizmo that plugs into an outlet and turns two appliances—lamps, TVs, etc.—on and off in response to clapping. It was first sold in 1985.
[Imitating.] We thought it would be funny if we blackened the eyepieces on his binoculars. Let’s see what Walt Disney thinks.
An imitation of Allen Funt (1914-1999), the producer and host of the television series Candid Camera, which aired in various incarnations between 1948 and 2014 on all three major U.S. television networks at one time or another, 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. See above note on Walt Disney.
Raspberry Red. Lemon Yellow. Orange Orange.
“Raspberry Red,” “Lemony Yellow,” and “Orangey Orange” were names for three of the flavors of Trix cereal, as mentioned in their advertisements. (The other two were “Lime Green” and “Grapity Purple.”) The cereal was introduced in 1954 by General Mills.
Sphagnum. Zircon. Molybdenum. Sternum. Aquarium. Colitis. SPACOM.
Sphagnum is the group name (genus) for hundreds of species of mosses usually called “peat moss.” Zircon is a mineral, the crystals of which are often used as diamond substitutes in jewelry (i.e., cubic zirconia). Molybdenum is a chemical element (symbol “Mo,” atomic number 42) often used to strengthen steel alloys. Sternum is the clinical name for the breastbone. Aquarium ... holds fish. Colitis is an inflammation of the large intestine; symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, cramping, and bloating, among others. “SPACOM” is a reference to Show 109, Project Moonbase, and the military organization known as Space Command.
You talking to me?
According to the American Film Institute, “You talkin’ to me?” is tenth on the list of the 100 greatest movie quotes of all times. It was spoken by Travis Bickle (played by Robert De Niro) into a mirror in the 1976 Martin Scorsese film Taxi Driver.
[Sung.] Val-der-i, val-der-a, val-der-ahhhhhh, Ricky.
See above notes on “The Happy Wanderer” and Lucille Ball.
What did he say? Forget it. Let’s go collect some agates.
Agate is a form of often colorful and crystalline rock. Marbles made from agates are called “aggies.”
[Sung in Army marching cadence.] Things on Mars are pretty bad ... –Things on Mars are pretty bad ... –Starting to like the Rockford dad. –Starting to like the Rockford dad.
See above note on Noah Beery Jr.
This must be the creamy nougat center of a Mars.
See above note on the Mars bar.
Hey, look, guys, there’s the Statue of Liberty. And there’s James Franciscus and Charlton Heston. –[Imitating.] You did it! You finally did it! Damn you all to hell!
A reference to the ending of the quintessential man-ape movie, Planet of the Apes (1968). It was written by The Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling and starred Charlton Heston (1923-2008) as an astronaut thrown thousands of years into the future. He lands on a planet to find it ruled by talking apes. SPOILER ALERT: It’s Earth. In the 1970 sequel Beneath the Planet of the Apes, James Franciscus (1934-1991) plays an astronaut searching for Heston and also thrown into the future. He finds old subways and telepathic mutants worshipping something very dangerous. SPOILER ALERT: It’s a bomb.
Gosh, those Stuckey’s are everywhere. –All right, who wants a nut log? Anybody? I’m gonna get some broasted chicken. –Onion rings? Who wants some onion rings? –I want a whole roll myself. –I want a toy.
Stuckey’s is a chain of roadside convenience stores/restaurants/souvenir shops founded in 1937 and famous for their Pecan Log Rolls. At one time there were more than 350 Stuckey’s along America’s highways, mostly in the South and Midwest. Following a decline in the ‘70s that left fewer than 75 outlets, a comeback beginning in the mid-‘80s brought the number back up to more than 115.
Wow. This Bart Simpson stuff is everywhere. Let’s not spend all our money here. We’re only on the outskirts of town.
Bartholomew JoJo Simpson is the eldest child of Homer and Marge Simpson on the long-running animated TV show The Simpsons. The prideful underachiever and prankster first appeared (along with the rest of his family) in a series of shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987. The family got their own Fox series in 1989. In the early days of the show, copious amounts of merchandise, both official and bootleg, were produced and sold, and much of it featured Bart, who was the show’s most popular character. Bart is voiced by Nancy Cartwright.
“At least the equal of Earth.” Or Biosphere I.
Biosphere 2 (not “I”) is a project currently maintained by the University of Arizona and intended by its originator, Space Biosphere Ventures, to produce a fully independent ecosystem within a contained space. Construction began on the $200 million project in 1985. In the early 1990s, two closed missions were conducted. The first lasted two years, but most of the insects and birds died and carbon dioxide levels fluctuated wildly. The participants factionalized and began to delve into emergency rations that weren’t produced in the sphere. The science produced by the mission was widely criticized. The second mission only lasted six months as people both inside and outside the sphere were at each other’s throats over funding and domestic issues.
[Imitating.] Billyuns and billyuns of years ago ...
An imitation of Carl Sagan (1934-1996), astronomer and author of several books on popular science. He was also the host of the popular PBS science program Cosmos in 1980.
This was no boating accident.
A paraphrased line from the 1975 film Jaws, spoken by Richard Dreyfuss’s character, Dr. Matt Hooper: “This was no boat accident!”
Hey, look. A big cow cream pitcher.
You would not believe how many different cow-shaped cream pitchers there are. They appear to date back to the early 18th century, when they were popularized by Dutch silversmith John Schuppe, who sold them to the British gentry. The great Staffordshire potteries began manufacturing ceramic cow creamers for the masses, and the rest is history.
My grandfather went to Mars and all I got was this crummy T-shirt.
A paraphrased version of a slogan that has appeared on shirts for decades, often in tourist locales. The earliest use of the phrase I could find comes from the 1970 film MASH, wherein Lt. Col. Henry Blake (Roger Bowen) says, “Captain Pierce went to Japan and all he got me was this lousy T-shirt.”
That looks like an Evinrude to me.
Evinrude is a brand of outboard motors first produced in 1907 Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by inventor Ole Evinrude, a Norwegian immigrant. In 2001 they were bought by Canadian-based Bombardier Recreational Products.
Oh, look, it's a theremin.
The theremin (or ætherphone) is an electronic musical instrument developed in the 1920s by Russian inventor Leon Theremin. The player uses two metal antennas set at right angles to each other. The position of the player’s hands within the range of the antennas determines the amplitude, frequency, and volume of the sound; it is thus played without ever being touched. The eerie quality of the instrument’s sound is its defining characteristic. The theremin has most notably been used in the films The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Thing from Another World, as well as in some of Led Zeppelin’s most popular songs (“Whole Lotta Love,” for one).
And there, on the handle, was a hook!
This is the end of the famous campfire tale “The Hook,” wherein a hook-handed maniac terrorizes teens making out in cars.
It was a dark and stormy ...
The phrase “It was a dark and stormy night” first appeared in 1809 in the satire The History of New York written by Washington Irving. But it most famously appeared as the first line of the 1830 novel Paul Clifford by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. It has become the poster child of bad and flowery writing. In fact, an annual fiction contest named after the author uses this phrase in their search for the worst opening line of a (unwritten) novel. It has been endlessly parodied and used in subsequent fiction, most notably in “Peanuts” (Snoopy’s novels usually start with it).
You don’t have to be crazy to work here, but help.
“You don’t have to be crazy to work here, but it helps” is one of those blandly humorous office signs that has been floating around workplaces since at least the mid-1940s.
Meanwhile, here in the day-for-night scene ...
“Day-for-night” is a phrase in filmmaking that means the crew is filming during the day with the intent of darkening the footage so that it appears to be nighttime. It is usually done because night shoots are much more expensive and difficult than day shoots. Sometimes a colored filter was placed over the lens (“blue-for-night”); another trick was to underexpose the film, making everything look darker. These days the manipulations are largely done digitally in post-production. The films used for MST3K rarely do “day-for-night” well.
This is my side of the mountain. I'll show those guys. I'll live in a tree, yeah, that'll be great. Make boomerangs ...
My Side of the Mountain is a 1959 young adult novel by Jean Craighead George, the story of a young lad who learns valuable life lessons while living in the wilderness.
Oh, man. Either I’m high or there’s about fifty Martian dudes down there. Oh, man. Game over. I gotta lay off the butane.
“Oh, man” and “Game over!” are phrases repeatedly used by Private William Hudson (played by Bill Paxton) in the 1986 film Aliens. Butane is a flammable gas most often used in cigarette lighters.
Hey, they’re shooting 2001 down there.
2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 science fiction film directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on the 1948 short story “The Sentinel” by Arthur C. Clarke. Clarke also co-wrote the screenplay with Kubrick and published a novel version of the story in conjunction with the film’s release.
“Reese” is likely a reference to Corporal Dwayne Hicks (played by Michael Biehn) in the aforementioned Aliens; Biehn’s other famous role was Sergeant Kyle Reese in The Terminator (1984), also directed by Aliens auteur James Cameron. “Youngblood” is a strained reference to the 1959-1963 ABC television series The Untouchables, in which two of Eliot Ness’s men were Agent Enrico “Rico” Rossi and Agent William Youngfellow (not Youngblood). In a 1976 episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by Desi Arnaz (a producer of the drama), Dan Aykroyd played Eliot Ness and called for the other members of his team, saying, “Lee! Rico! Youngblood!” The error was further solidified by Frank Zappa (who has a big fan in Kevin Murphy) in the 1988 song “The Untouchables,” in which his guitarist, Ike Willis, also called out for Rico and “Youngblood.”
It was the cast of Chorus Line, I swear.
A Chorus Line is a 1975 Marvin Hamlisch/Edward Kleban musical. With 6,137 performances, it was the longest-running show on Broadway until it was beaten by Cats in 1997. It won nine Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and in 1985, it was made into a film, with mixed results.
Let’s all run like fools toward the danger! –Serpentine, everybody! Incoming wounded!
“Serpentine” is a humorous evasion tactic used in the 1979 comedy The In-Laws, starring Alan Arkin and Peter Falk. “Incoming wounded” was a frequently repeated line on the TV series M*A*S*H, which aired from 1972-1983. It was spoken by the camp’s PA system announcer, who was played at various times by Todd Susman and Sal Viscuso.
Yeah, and you were there, and you, and you, and everybody.
A reference to the scene at the end of 1939’s The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy wakes up in Kansas with her family gathered around her bed.
Ah. We’ll just wait here then, shall we? Right.
In the 1975 comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Sir Lancelot (played by John Cleese) runs off to rescue a "damsel" in distress, leaving behind his faithful squire Concorde (Eric Idle), who’s been shot with an arrow, but is feeling fine. Concorde says, “Ah. I’ll just stay here then, shall I? Right.”
We could play Pictionary. Oh, I know. I spy with my little eye ...
Pictionary is a game that was created by Robert Angel and published by Seattle Games in 1985. Players’ pieces are moved about the board and the spaces determine the category of drawing. While one player draws, the others guess what their picture represents. “I Spy” is a children’s guessing game that begins with one person saying “I spy, with my little eye, something that ____________,” followed by a descriptive phrase. The others then have to guess what the player is thinking about. The first recorded instance of the game dates to 1937.
Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up! –I’m having chest pains!
A reference to the (in)famous TV commercials for LifeCall, which produced small electronic devices for the elderly that they could use to notify medical services in case of a home accident. In an ad that first appeared in 1989, an elderly man named “Mr. Miller,” clutching his chest, pressed the button on his device and said, “I’m having chest pains!”, and a dispatcher answered his call. Then a woman named “Mrs. Fletcher” activated her necklace and famously said, “I’ve fallen ... and I can’t get up!” Three actresses have been credited with playing Mrs. Fletcher: Edith Fore, Dorothy McHugh, and Bea Marcus. The phrase was trademarked by LifeCall in the 1990s and was later appropriated by the similar service Life Alert. Both companies use the phrase on their websites, and it has entered the pop culture lexicon, under the “Unintentional Camp” category.
Boom-chicka-lakka-lakka, boom-chicka-lakka-lakka, boom-chicka-lakka-lakka ...
Paraphrased lyrics from the 1969 Sly & the Family Stone song “I Want to Take You Higher.” It was also used as a “cady” for the ragtag recruits in the 1981 Bill Murray film Stripes.
A tag line from old Federal Express TV ads that ran during the 1970s, during the "When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight" era.
Now, we’ve never met before, have we?
A phrase often said in magic acts when an audience member is pulled onstage to participate in an illusion.
Cheese it. It’s an entire race of mimes. We've got to get back and warn Earth.
“Cheese it!” (meaning “be quiet” or “stop it”) first appeared in published form in O. Henry’s 1908 book The Voice of the City, but it was being used in the 1800s in the United Kingdom. As to its origin, it may be a variant of the word “cease.”
In less than thirty minutes, guaranteed.
Domino’s Pizza is a chain of pizza delivery stores located nationwide, founded in 1960. Beginning in 1973, they offered the “30-Minute Guarantee,” stating that the pizza would arrive at the specified address within a half-hour or it was free. By the mid-1980s, this was reduced to $3 off. In 1993, after settling two multimillion-dollar lawsuits related to accidents caused by speeding Domino’s drivers, the guarantee was dropped.
Sorry to have interrupted your production of “The Lottery.”
“The Lottery” is an allegorical short story by Shirley Jackson about a lottery held in a small town to determine which of the town’s residents is to be stoned to death. It was first published in 1948 and has since been adapted for radio, television, and film.
Boom-chicka-lakka-lakka, boom-chicka-lakka-lakka, ...
See above note on “I Want to Take You Higher.”
Val-deri, val-dera, val-deri, val-dera-ha-ha-ha ...
See above note on “The Happy Wanderer.”
Sounds like fall. Tall? Tall down, tall down!
A reference to the guessing game Charades. A person acting out a word, title, person, etc., is not allowed to speak and therefore performs various hand gestures to get people to guess the first word, second word, etc., giving clues about what it may sound like, and so on.
Run away! Run away!
King Arthur (played by Graham Chapman) screamed “Run away!” in the 1975 comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail as the French hurled cows and other animals at his knights.
Help, Mr. Wizard! I don’t wanna be an astronaut anymore! –Drizzle, drazzle, drazzle, drome. –Time for dis one to come home. Boop-boop.
Mr. Wizard, in the cartoon Tooter Turtle (1960-1961) used the incantation “Dreezle, drazzle, drizzle, drome, time for this one to come home” to magically rescue Tooter, whom he had previously sent on an adventure into time to be something other than a slow-witted turtle. The line also appears in the Replacements song “Hold My Life,” off their 1985 album Tim.
Scooby, we’ve gotta get out of here, Scooby!
An imitation of Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, the scruffy, cowardly, and eternally hungry human companion of anthropomorphic Great Dane Scooby-Doo in the Scooby-Doo franchise of animated TV series, direct-to-video movies, and feature films, beginning in 1969 with Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! on CBS. Originally voiced by radio host Casey Kasem, the role has been voiced by several others, including Matthew Lillard, who portrayed Shaggy in two Scooby-Doo live-action feature films.
And when I get back to Earth, I’m going to call this girl. But in the meantime, love the one you’re with.
Probably a reference to the 1970 hit song “Love the One You’re With” by Stephen Stills.
Oh, Lisa! –Hey, Mr. Douglas. I see you’re doing some shooshing.
A reference to the 1965-1971 CBS sitcom Green Acres, about two New Yorkers—Oliver Douglas (played by Eddie Albert) and Lisa Douglas (played by Eva Gabor)—who move to the country.
What’s the matter, boy? Dream about rabbits? Fire at Dead Rock Canyon?
An imitation of typical “dialogue” between Lassie the collie and any one of several human characters from the 1947-1950 radio series, the long-running television series (1954-1973), two sequel series, an animated series, and eleven films. All of which, by the way, can be traced back to the 1940 novel Lassie Come-Home, written by Eric Knight.
So much for the power of positive thinking, huh, Lloyd?
The Power of Positive Thinking is a 1952 book written by Protestant minister Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993). It has been derided by mental health experts for its claims, techniques, and a wealth of unsubstantiated anecdotes and quotes.
Think Rudy's? –Going to Rudy’s? –Yeah. –Okay.
Rudolph’s Bar-B-Que was a popular restaurant in south Minneapolis for 43 years; it closed in 2018. Named after silent film star Rudolph Valentino (with décor to match) it became a late-night hangout for denizens of the city’s music and standup comedy scenes—Prince, who lived nearby, was a regular customer. Joel Hodgson confirmed on Twitter that this riff is actually a nod to comedian and friend-of-the-show Dana Gould, who would imitate a Twin Cities comic who always wanted to go to "Rudy's" after a show.
Is this Strauss?
There were several German or Austrian composers by that name, but most likely this refers either to Johann Strauss the Younger (1825-1899), famous for his waltzes, or Richard “Also sprach Zarathustra” Strauss (1864-1949), famous for his operas.
[Imitating Groucho.] If I held you any tighter, I’d be in back of you.
Groucho Marx (1890-1977) was an American comedian known for his rapier wit, glasses, cigar, and heavily painted eyebrows and moustache. He was considered the leader of the Marx Brothers, with whom he appeared in thirteen films. He later hosted the radio and television game show You Bet Your Life from 1947-1961. The line is a famous one (though “closer” was used originally instead of “tighter”), and it appeared in the 1937 film A Day at the Races.
[Muffled radio voice.] Where’s Major Kong? –Wee-whoooo!
Slim Pickens (1919-1983) played bomber commander Major T.J. “King” Kong in the 1964 Cold War satire Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. His demise is one of the most famous climaxes in the history of film: he straddles a nuclear bomb and rides it, rodeo-style, from the plane all the way down to its target in Russia; meanwhile, the plane's bombardier (played by James Earl Jones) asks perplexedly, "Hey, where'd Major Kong go?"
Somebody stole my woodie!
See above note on station wagons.