415: The Beatniks
by Wyn Hilty
Why, Bill never eats my plaster cake at home.
A reference to a series of commercials for Yuban coffee that aired in the 1970s, which dealt with insecure wives who didn’t understand why their husbands wanted a second cup of coffee at a neighbor’s house, but never at home.
Damn frosting. Crap. Too much flour. I hate those BBs, nonpareils, whatever you call ‘em. Ahhh. Yeck!
Nonpareils are cake, cookie, and candy decorations: tiny balls of sugar that used to be opaque white but now come in a rainbow of colors.
When’s our tee time?
In the game of golf, a “tee time” is a scheduled time when players begin a round of golf, a.k.a. “tee off.”
“Mr. Harvey.” She’s a big rabbit, you see …
Harvey is a 1950 movie starring Jimmy Stewart as a man with an invisible friend: Harvey the six-foot rabbit.
[Sung.] B double-O Z Eeee, booze.
The song “Mister Booze” was written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn, arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle, and performed by Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra in the 1964 musical comedy film Robin and the 7 Hoods. Sample lyrics: “Booze, Mister Booze (Mister Booze), Mister Booze/Mister B double-O Z Eeee (that sure spells booze)/You will wind up wearing tattered shoes if you mess with Mister Booze/(Don't mess with Mister Booze, don't mess with Mister Booze).”
Hey, it’s Daddy-O!
A reference to Show 307, Daddy-O.
[Sung.] Eee-O eleven …
In the 1960 Rat Pack caper movie Ocean’s Eleven, the opening title sequence features a brassy instrumental version of the song “Eee-O Eleven,” and Sammy Davis Jr. sings parts of the song in three different scenes. Sample lyrics: “It's just a state of mind/Whether or not you find/That place down there or heaven/But in the meantime Eee-O, Eee-O/Eee-O eleven, Eee-O eleven, Eee-O eleven.” The title comes from noisy casino gambling floors, where craps dealers pronounce the word “eleven” clearly, loudly, and distinctly to distinguish it from the similar sounding seven. Often they drag it out to “eeyoleven.”
It’s diamonds on my windshield and tears from heaven. I’m pulling into town on the interstate, I got a steel train in the rain …
Lyrics from the Tom Waits song “Diamonds on My Windshield.” Sample lyrics: “Well I'm pulling into town on the interstate/I got a steel train in the rain/And the wind bites my cheek through the wing/Late nights and freeway flying/Always makes me sing …”
Ed Wood Jr. (1924-1978) was a legendarily bad film director; several of his movies were made into MST3K episodes, including Show 613, The Sinister Urge, and Show 423, Bride of the Monster.
Oh, no, they’re gonna do kabuki theater!
Kabuki is a traditional form of Japanese theater that combines singing, dancing, and mime into a highly stylized art form. Actors (all kabuki performers are male) wear spectacular costumes and elaborate makeup.
Let's do some crimes!
"Let's go do some crimes, man" is a line from the 1984 film Repo Man, starring Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton. (Thanks to Michael Grutchfield for this reference.)
I want a new Ray Stevens tape.
Ray Stevens is a musician/comedian known for his novelty songs such as “The Streak” and “Ahab the Arab.”
They robbed Paul Wellstone.
Paul Wellstone (1944-2002) was a senator from Minnesota, considered one of the only progressives in the U.S. Senate. He spent his political capital on causes like affordable health care, family leave, and farmers’ concerns. In 2002 he, his wife, and his daughter were killed in a plane crash.
Hey, did you get me a Zagnut?
Zagnut is a brand of candy bar consisting of peanut butter covered with coconut. It is manufactured by Hershey’s.
The Boatniks! Okay!
The Boatniks (1970) is a film comedy about three inept jewel thieves.
Where’s Joe Flynn?
Joe Flynn (1924-1974) was a comic actor who was best known for playing Captain Wallace Binghamton in the TV show McHale’s Navy, which aired from 1962-1966.
Travis Bickle? Sometimes I wish the rain would come down and wash away all the scum of the city.
Travis Bickle, played by Robert De Niro, is the eponymous antihero of the 1976 film Taxi Driver: a bitter, mentally unstable Vietnam vet. One of the famous lines from the film is “Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.”
Comedian Sandra Bernhard is an actress and writer who is to some extent famous for being famous. She has appeared in a number of movies (including The King of Comedy and Hudson Hawk) and had a well-publicized friendship with Madonna. She also appeared for several seasons on Roseanne.
Did they make you mean? Did they make you mean-mad?
This is a paraphrased line from film director John Ford’s 1940 classic The Grapes of Wrath, based on the 1939 John Steinbeck novel about the plight of itinerant American Dust Bowl refugees. Actual dialogue: “Did they hurt you, son? Did they hurt you an’ make you mean-mad? Sometimes they do somethin’ to you, Tommy. They hurt you—and you get mad—and then you get mean—and they hurt you again—and you get meaner, and meaner—till you ain’t no boy or no man anymore, but just a walkin’ chunk a mean-mad. Did they hurt you like that, Tommy?”
Drink your bottle of A.1. and shut up.
A.1. is a brand of steak sauce manufactured by Kraft Foods.
Well, let’s see … three Twinkies, some [garbled], a Mars Bar …
Twinkies are a yellow, cream-filled snack cake manufactured by Hostess. Mars Bars are a type of candy bar consisting of caramel, nougat and almonds coated in chocolate; they are manufactured by Mars Inc.
That lady’s got an ice bag on her head.
A possible riff on a line from the 1987 Coen Brothers comedy movie Raising Arizona: H.I. McDunnough (Nicolas Cage), wearing a nylon stocking over his head while hijacking a truck, is told, “Son, you got a panty on your head.”
Now I’ve got to call Toots Shor.
Toots Shor (1903-1977) was the owner of the eponymously named restaurant, the place to see and be seen in New York City in the 1940s. Baseball greats, entertainers and other celebrities frequented the place. Shor did not manage his money well, however, and died penniless in 1977.
She’s one of the Snoop sisters.
The Snoop Sisters was a 1972 TV movie starring Helen Hayes and Mildred Natwick as two mystery writers who find themselves trying to solve the real-life murder of a former Hollywood star.
Just one fun-size Snickers?
Snickers is a brand of candy bar consisting of peanuts, nougat, caramel, and chocolate. It was first sold in 1930. In what comedian, friend of the show, and Season 11 guest writer Dana Gould describes as “the first time kids learn that marketers are lying to them,” “fun size” candy bars are one- or two-bite versions of full-size candy bars. They are marketed heavily for Halloween, but are available year-round.
Don’t play Maureen McGovern.
Maureen McGovern is a singer best known for her performance of “The Morning After” from The Poseidon Adventure.
It’s gonna be a Strauss waltz, okay?
Johann Strauss the Younger (1825-1899) was an Austrian composer known especially for his waltzes, of which “The Blue Danube” is the most famous.
[Sung.] Rock candy baby, you’re mine.
A reference to Show 307, Daddy-O.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was a Victorian poet and playwright best known for his stage comedies Lady Windermere’s Fan and The Importance of Being Earnest, as well as for his legendary wit. Wilde was one of the central figures in the Aesthetic movement of the late 19th century, which emphasized the importance of beauty and art. Although he had a wife and children, he was accused of sodomy over his close friendship with Lord Alfred Douglas and sentenced to two years of hard labor. He died a few years after his release from prison in 1897.
“With a crazy chick.” Who? Frances Farmer?
Frances Farmer (1913-1970) was a glamorous actress who appeared in a number of movies during the 1930s. However, she had a notorious temper, an abrasive personality, and a problem with alcohol. During the 1940s she was repeatedly hospitalized for mental illness, although in retrospect it is unclear just how mentally ill she was.
Shipoopi, shipoopi, shipoopi!
A reference to the song “Shipoopi” from the musical The Music Man. Sample lyrics: “Shipoopi, Shipoopi, Shipoopi/The girl is hard to get/Shipoopi, Shipoopi, Shipoopi/But you can win her yet.”
“Don’t cry for me.” [Sung.] Argentina.
“Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” is a song from the musical Evita, about the life of Eva Peron. Sample lyrics: “Don't cry for me Argentina/The truth is I never left you/All through my wild days/My mad existence/I kept my promise/Don't keep your distance …”
You know, he sold more records 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 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, created an enormous and opulent home at Graceland in Memphis, developed problems with drug abuse, and finally died of a heart attack at the age of 42. The Beatles were a staggeringly influential British rock band, consisting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. They produced a lengthy string of number one hits, inspired countless bands, caused riots among female teenage fans, annoyed the Establishment and generally set the stage for the rock & roll revolution of the 1960s. (Thanks to David Koenig for the Slim Whitman reference.)
“Get in touch with Morrissey, and …” Tell him to stop crying.
Morrissey was the lead singer for British post-punk band The Smiths. After that band broke up, he went on to have a very successful solo career.
Sing Sing is one of the most notorious prisons in America, constructed during the 19th century and founded on a philosophy of isolation and repression. It is located in Ossining, New York.
I represent Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns …
Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) was an American painter known for his famous “drip” technique that he used to create his best-known works. Jasper Johns is one of the most respected artists of the second half of the 20th century, whose paintings of flags, targets and maps rocketed him to the top of the art scene in the late 1950s.
Meanwhile, at the same time, at the Gotham City Bank …
An imitation of the announcer from the 1966 TV series Batman, starring Adam West. The role was voiced by executive producer William Dozier.
“What’s your name?” Who’s your daddy?
“Time of the Season” was a 1968 top-ten hit song written by Rod Argent and recorded by his band The Zombies. Sample lyrics: “What’s your name?/Who’s your daddy?/(He rich) Is he rich like me?/Has he taken, any time (any time)/(To show) to show you what you need to live?”
[Sung.] Dick Van Dyke Show theme.
The Dick Van Dyke Show is a TV sitcom that aired on CBS from 1961-1966, and has enjoyed a robust afterlife in syndication ever since. Created by Carl Reiner and a fifteen-time Emmy Award-winner, the series stars Dick Van Dyke as TV writer Rob Petrie and Mary Tyler Moore as his wife, Laura. The theme song, written by Earle Hagen, actually had lyrics (which were never heard on the show), written by cast member Morey Amsterdam … and they go a little something like this: “So you think that you’ve got troubles?/Well, trouble’s a bubble/So tell old Mr. Trouble to get lost!/Why not hold your head up high and/Stop cryin’, start tryin’/And don’t forget to keep your fingers crossed/When you find the joy of livin’/Is lovin’ and givin’/You’ll be there when the winning dice are tossed/A smile is just a frown that’s turned upside down/So smile, and that frown will defrost/And don’t forget to keep your fingers crossed.” The show’s opening, with its peppy theme song, was famous in its own right. Starting in the second season, there were two versions of the opening: one where Van Dyke takes a pratfall over an ottoman in his living room, and one where he carefully sidesteps the ottoman. The two versions alternated randomly over the next four seasons, so viewers never knew which one they’d see.
Oh, he’s the Satch of the group.
Legendary jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong was nicknamed “Satchmo,” short for “Satchelmouth,” which may have referred to his infectious grin or to the way his cheeks blew up when he played.
I … am … Iron … Man …
This is the opening line to “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath, off their 1972 album Paranoid.
Fantastic. Really fantastic. That was an adagio, wasn’t it?
Adagio means “slowly” in Italian—in music it is a tempo marking, or direction, meaning that the piece is to be played slowly. So if a classical piece has “adagio” in the title, don’t expect anything peppy.
All right, you’re going to go into that A&P and you’re going to tell the lady what you took.
A&P is a supermarket chain located mainly in the Northeast.
An Italian sauce (more like a paste, really) made of garlic, basil leaves, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese blended with olive oil.
“Thanks, Helen.” For making us laugh about love again.
“Thank you Neil Simon for making us laugh about falling in love … again” was an advertising tagline for the 1977 film The Goodbye Girl.
Whoa! Stop and there’s a big sign! Whoa …
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 sentence together.
Arthur Miller (1915-2005) was an American playwright known for such classic works as Death of a Salesman and The Crucible.
[Sung.] A summer place …
A line from the theme from A Summer Place by Percy Faith & His Orchestra. Sample lyrics: “There's a summer place/Where it may rain or storm/Yet I'm safe and warm/For within that summer place/Your arms reach out to me/And my heart is free from all care …”
Good thing they’re shooting him from the waist up, huh?
When Elvis Presley appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, his energy and sexually suggestive moves shocked the audience; for his third and final appearance on the show, he was shot only from the waist up to spare Ed’s viewers the sight of his swiveling hips.
He kind of reminds me of the singing weatherman.
The Singing Weatherman was a character on The Muppet Show, a puppet variety show that aired from 1976-1981.
Inside Daisy Clover.
Inside Daisy Clover is a 1965 film about a teenager who yearns to be a Hollywood star. It starred Natalie Wood in the title role.
This is one from Ginsberg’s ballad years.
Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) was a poet and the founding father of the Beat movement, whose angst he expressed in works like “Howl.”
Next up: Geechy Guy.
Geechy Guy (Michael Paul Cathers) is an American standup comic whose career got a high-profile launch with a series of appearances on TV talent shows Star Search (syndication, 1983-1995) and America’s Got Talent (NBC, 2006-present). His act is marked by rapid-fire delivery of one-liners. He is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most jokes told in an hour: 676.
Death of a stage manager.
Probably a reference to the Arthur Miller play Death of a Salesman.
Larry Tate was a character on the television series Bewitched, which aired from 1964-1972. The role was played by actor David White (1916-1990). Tate was the neurotic boss of Darrin Stevens, who was played at various points by Dick York and Dick Sargent.
Yeah, just like It’s a Wonderful Life. Harry Bailey. Very funny.
It’s a Wonderful Life is a 1946 Frank Capra movie starring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a man who learns what life would have been like had he never existed. Harry Bailey is George’s younger brother; the part was played by Todd Karns.
Anjelica Huston is a stately actress known for her roles in such films as Prizzi’s Honor and The Grifters.
“Helen.” Hayes? Gurley Brown? Keller? Wheels?
Helen Hayes (1900-1993) was an actress who appeared in a string of movies during the 1930s and went on to have a second successful run as an elderly actress in movies such as Candleshoe and The Snoop Sisters. Helen Gurley Brown was the editor in chief of Cosmopolitan magazine for 32 years, beginning in the 1960s. She also wrote a famous book called Sex and the Single Girl. Helen Keller (1880-1968) was a writer and educator who was deaf and blind. She ultimately learned to speak and graduated from Radcliffe College in 1904. She became a champion for the cause of educating physically disabled students. Helen Wheels (b. Helen Robbins; 1949-2000) wrote tunes for Blue Oyster Cult in the 1970s and also toured with her own punk band, the Helen Wheels Band. “Helen Wheels” is also a 1973 song by Paul McCartney and Wings. The song is about driving a Land Rover that Paul and Linda McCartney had nicknamed Helen Wheels. The timeline makes it possible that the car’s nickname was a nod to singer/songwriter Helen Wheels, or it’s possible that she adopted her stage name from the Wings song. Or, of course, they could have arrived at the names independently.
Keith Moon, no!
Keith Moon (1946-1978) was the drummer for the rock band The Who. Admired by peers and fans for his powerfully energetic drumming style, Moon was also notorious for his equally energetic lifestyle, which was not only self-destructive, but just plain destructive, leaving countless trashed hotel rooms in his wake. There are so many stories of cars submerged in swimming pools and televisions hurled from windows that Moon’s name has become a kind of pop-culture shorthand for the deliberate destruction of property. He died young after accidentally overdosing in 1978 on an anti-seizure medication intended to control alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Send up some more cream soda. And some Chuckles.
Chuckles are round, fruit-flavored jelly candy that come packaged in long, narrow trays. A vending-machine staple.
Sid and Nancy.
Sid Vicious (1957-1979) was a member of the English punk rock band the Sex Pistols. In 1978, he was charged with murdering his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, but died of an overdose before the case could come to trial. Their story was told in the 1986 film Sid and Nancy, starring Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb.
Oh, Hudson, Wisconsin?
Hudson, Wisconsin, is a small town just across the border from Minnesota. Population: about 9,000.
Domino’s is a chain of pizza delivery stores located nationwide. It was founded in 1960.
No Magic Fingers for you, young man.
Magic Fingers is a contraption that makes a bed vibrate and is a staple of low-budget motels everywhere.
He’s the shakiest hotel manager in the west.
The Shakiest Gun in the West is a 1968 comic western starring Don Knotts as a dentist who unwittingly becomes a gunfighter.
The next John Byner.
John Byner is an actor and standup comedian known for his role as Detective Donahue on the TV series Soap.
Hey, my first hit record’s out already. Play me for me.
Play Misty for Me is a 1971 film starring Clint Eastwood as a DJ being stalked by an obsessed fan.
[Imitating.] Felix, where’s the Eagle Snacks?
Eagle Snacks were a popular brand of snack food made in the 1980s and ‘90s by Anheuser-Busch and distributed to bars and airlines; they sold off the brand in 1996. Jack Klugman (who the actor in this scene resembles) and Tony Randall of the TV sitcom version of The Odd Couple (ABC, 1970-1975) did a series of TV and print ads for Eagle Snacks. Klugman, who's sort of being imitated here, played slob Oscar Madison on the show and Randall played neatnik Felix Unger. (Thanks to Fresh Step for the Odd Couple reference.)
Eddie Crane, unplugged.
MTV Unplugged is a Peabody Award-winning TV series that features musicians and bands performing acoustic versions of songs that would normally be played on electric instruments. Launched in 1989, recordings from the series led to many top-selling albums, particularly Eric Clapton Unplugged (1992), which won three Grammy Awards and sold more than 26 million copies.
He hit Big Jake!
A reference to Show 202, Sidehackers. (Thanks to Larry Ham for this reference.)
Hey, I was watching She’s the Sheriff!
She’s the Sheriff is a TV sitcom starring Suzanne Somers as Sheriff Hildy Granger. The show aired from 1987-1989.
Fondue in its original form is basically a pot of melted cheese, perched on a stand and kept warm with a candle or other heat source, that diners take turns dipping pieces of bread into with long forks. The Swiss Cheese Union promoted fondue as the “Swiss national dish” in the 1930s, and fondue became popular at restaurants or as a party centerpiece in the United States in the 1960s, with a popular comeback in the early 2000s. Variations include dipping pieces of fruit in a pot of melted chocolate, and cooking pieces of meat in a pot of hot oil. There does not appear to be an actual dish called pasta fondue.
Worcestershire sauce is a British condiment of supposedly Indian origin, first concocted in 1830 by John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins. The exact recipe is a closely guarded secret, but listed ingredients include anchovies, garlic, and vinegar, and some ingredients are allowed to “mature” for 18 months before being blended.
Heinz 57 for me.
Heinz 57 is a brand of steak sauce. The reason behind the number 57, immortalized in the Heinz slogan “57 varieties,” is unclear; founder Henry Heinz has variously claimed that he spotted it on a billboard, it was a combination of his and his wife's lucky numbers, or that "7" was psychologically significant to a great many people. (Thanks to Fresh Step for the "57" info.)
Yeah, my name’s Jack Daniel's, all right?
Jack Daniel's is a brand of Tennessee whiskey.
In the land of gratuity.
A riff on an advertising slogan for Dairy Queen fast-food restaurants: “In the land of Dairy Queen.”
Put your lips together and blow.
A classic line from the 1944 film To Have and Have Not: Lauren Bacall says to Humphrey Bogart, “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.” The line ranked at #34 in the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Top Movie Quotations in American Cinema, right between “I’ll have what she’s having” from When Harry Met Sally and “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” from Jaws.
Is that today’s liturgy on the board over there?
Liturgy (Greek for “work of the people”) is part of a religious group's rituals of public worship: the Catholic Mass or ritualized prayer recitation in Judaism, for example.
He’s an evil Gilligan!
Gilligan was the hero of the TV sitcom Gilligan’s Island, which aired from 1964-1967. The role was played by Bob Denver.
Peter Breck, ladies and gentlemen, Peter Breck.
Peter Breck's (1929-2012) best-known role was as Barbara Stanwyck's son Nick Barkley on the TV show The Big Valley (ABC, 1965-1969). He also played Doc Holliday on the James Garner show Maverick (ABC, 1957-1962). Besides this episode, he can also be seen playing NASA technician Steve Curan in Show 106, The Crawling Hand. (Thanks to Fresh Step for this reference.)
What an eccentric performance.
A line from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, said by King Arthur (Graham Chapman) about Tim the Enchanter's (John Cleese) highly emotive speech warning the knights about the terrible monster that lies in wait ahead (spoiler alert: it's a bunny).
“Someone’s coming.” I think it’s love.
A line from the song “Something's Burning,” written by Mac Davis, that was a hit in 1970 for Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. Sample lyrics: “Something's burning/Something's burning/Something's burning/And I think it's love.”
I think we’re here, Michael.
An imitation of K.I.T.T., the talking car from the TV show Knight Rider, which aired from 1982-1986. The car’s voice was supplied by William Daniels.
Suddenly it’s The Last Picture Show.
The Last Picture Show is a 1971 film about two teenagers in a small, dying Texas town after World War II.
From the song “Wipe Out” by the Surfaris.
This is sort of a gender-bending Camille.
Camille is a 1936 movie starring Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor. Based on a novel by Alexandre Dumas, it tells the story of a courtesan in Paris who falls in love with a young man but leaves him in order to not ruin his life; in the end she falls into poverty and ill health but discovers that her lover still cares for her.
Like my heart when I look into the pitiless void and howl, man, howl!
The poem “Howl” was written by Alan Ginsberg in 1955 and published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti of San Francisco’s City Lights Books. For his troubles, Ferlinghetti 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.” Amongst the poem’s dark and compelling imagery, the “void” is mentioned a couple of times.
Have you ever had Spaghetti-Os?
Spaghetti-Os are a brand of canned spaghetti rings in tomato sauce popular with kids. They are manufactured by Campbells.
The famous Red Buttons death scene.
Red Buttons (1919-2006) was an old-style vaudeville comedian who got his start working the Borscht Belt and eventually had his own variety show, The Red Buttons Show, in the 1950s. In the 1957 film Sayonara, Buttons’ character’s body is found lying in bed, post-suicide.
He’s got his holster on—he knows he’s going to the Big Valley.
The Big Valley was a television series that aired from 1965 to 1969. It starred veteran actress Barbara Stanwyck as the head of a ranch in 1870s California. Peter Breck, who plays Mooney in The Beatniks, played Stanwyck’s son Nick Barkley on the show.
Hey, he’s following a makeover in Glamour.
Glamour is a women’s fashion magazine .
There are a million stupid stories in the naked city, and this is the stupidest one.
A reference to the famous tag line from the TV series The Naked City: “There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.”
[Sung.] Everybody’s talkin’ at me …
A line from the song “Everybody’s Talkin’” written and originally recorded in 1966 by Fred Neil. A 1969 version by Harry Nilsson became a Top 10 hit and won a Grammy Award after it was featured in the movie Midnight Cowboy. Sample lyrics: “Everybody’s talkin’ at me/I don't hear a word they’re sayin’/Only the echoes of my mind ...”
[Sung.] Stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive …
A line from the Bee Gees song “Stayin’ Alive” from the disco musical Saturday Night Fever (1977). Sample lyrics: “Whether you’re a brother or whether you’re a mother/You’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive/Feel the city breakin’ and everybody shakin’/And we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive …”
[Sung.] 867-5309 …
A line from the song “867-5309 (Jenny)” by Tommy Tutone. Sample lyrics: “Jenny I got your number/I need to make you mine/Jenny don't change your number/867-5309, 867-5309, 867-5309, 867-5309.”
Hudson 3-2700 …
Hudson 3-2700 was the phone number for Boushelle Carpet Cleaners, which advertised incessantly on Chicago television in the 1960s and 1970s.
General Boushelle Inc. is the current name of Boushelle Carpet Cleaners (see previous note).
[Sung.] I’ve been walking these streets so long …
A line from the song “Rhinestone Cowboy,” which was written by Larry Weiss and became a country and pop hit for Glen Campbell in 1975. Sample lyrics: “I've been walking these streets so long/Singing the same old song/I know every crack in these dirty sidewalks of Broadway/Where hustle is the name of the game/And nice guys get washed away like the snow and the rain.”
[Sung.] I was walkin’ in Memphis …
A paraphrase of the lyrics to “Walking in Memphis,” a 1991 hit song for musician Marc Cohn; it’s his signature song and only Top 40 hit. Sample lyrics: “Then I'm walking in Memphis/Walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale/Walking in Memphis/But do I really feel the way I feel …”
Kolchak, the night stalker.
Kolchak: The Night Stalker was a short-lived 1974 TV series starring Darren McGavin as reporter Carl Kolchak, who investigated supernatural occurrences in Chicago.
8:45. I was outside Frank Gannon’s house. He didn’t know I was there looking in.
The TV series Dragnet, which starred Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday, had two separate runs. The first, which aired from 1951-1959, also starred Ben Alexander as sidekick Officer Frank Smith. The second incarnation (1967-1970) co-starred Harry Morgan as Officer Bill Gannon. So “Frank Gannon” is an amalgamation of Joe Friday’s two sidekicks. (Thanks to Thomas Mossman for explaining the whole exhausting sidekick mess.)
Does Janice Rossi live here?
A reference to a scene in the 1990 film Goodfellas, when Karen Hill (Lorraine Bracco) goes to the apartment building where her husband’s mistress, Janice Rossi (played by Gina Mastrogiacomo), lives and begins ringing all the tenants’ buzzers. (Thanks to John Stavrianos for this reference.)
Scientology is an “applied religious philosophy” created in 1952 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. The Church of Scientology positions itself as an alternative to psychiatry and claims Scientology can solve all sorts of mental health problems. The church has attracted its share of critics over the years, who say its claims are exaggerated and its methods unscrupulous.
[Sung.] The leader of the gang …
A paraphrase of the song “The Leader of the Pack” by the Shangri-Las. Sample lyrics: “Is she really going out with him?/Well, there she is, let’s ask her/Betty, is that Jimmy’s ring you’re wearing?”
General Hospital is a forever-running soap opera that has been on the air since 1963. Several General Hospital shorts were done on MST3K, including one on this episode.
“We’ll take him to a doc in a small town somewhere.” How ‘bout a dock on the bay?
“(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” was a number-one hit song in 1967 for Otis Redding (co-written with guitarist Steve Cropper), recorded a few days before Redding was killed in a plane crash. It became the first song in the U.S. to top the charts posthumously.
“Good night, Mrs. Calabash—wherever you are” was the longtime catchphrase of comedian Jimmy Durante, who ended his shows with it. For decades, Durante was coy about the meaning of the phrase, but in 1966 he revealed it was a tribute to his wife; “Mrs. Calabash” was her nickname.
“Li’l Abner” is a comic strip created by Al Capp, about a bunch of hillbillies. It first appeared in 1934.
Candygram is a telegram service started by Western Union in 1960 that operates by sending its messages along with packages of chocolates. Many other companies have operated using that name. It was famously parodied in 1974’s Blazing Saddles and in the early years of Saturday Night Live in their Land Shark sketches. I was unable to find a specific service called “Fantasygram,” but it appears to be a reference to that tasteful variation on the singing telegram, the “strippergram,” in which a victim’s friends pay to have a stripper show up at his home or office and put on a brief show.
Mystery guest, enter and sign in please.
A reference to the TV game show What’s My Line?, which aired from 1950-1967. On the show, the final round was always reserved for a “mystery guest,” who was a celebrity of some stripe, and who would enter and sign their name on a chalkboard (unseen by the contestants).
That’s it, see? See?
An imitation of actor Edward G. Robinson (1893-1973), who made a career out of playing gangsters and other toughs in films such as Little Caesar and Key Largo.
Ladies and gentlemen, Williams and Ree.
Williams and Ree, a.k.a. "The Indian and the White Guy," are a Midwestern comedy duo. (Thanks to Tanya Armstrong for this reference.)
Charles Whitman (1941-1966) was a student at the University of Texas in Austin who, on the morning of August 1, 1966, killed his wife and his mother and then went to the top of the bell tower on campus along with a foot locker on a hand dolly. Packed inside were four high-powered rifles, three pistols, and 700 rounds of ammunition, along with food, coffee, Dexedrine, aspirin, flashlights, toilet paper, and many other items, including, for some reason, deodorant. He opened fire, murdering 16 people and wounding 31 more in about an hour and a half before being shot and killed by police. An autopsy revealed that Whitman had a brain tumor, but it is uncertain how much that contributed to his actions.
It’s snowing backstage, Eddie.
In the parlance of cocaine users, saying “it’s snowing” somewhere means cocaine is available.
[Sung.] They really have a hold on you …
A reference to the song “You Really Got a Hold on Me” by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles; it was later covered by the Beatles on their album With the Beatles. Sample lyrics: “Baby/I don't want you/But I need you/Don't wanna kiss you/But I need to/Oh, ho, ho you do me wrong now/My love is strong now/You've really got a hold on me …” (Thanks to superdeeduper51 for the Smokey Robinson reference.)
When you’re backed up by George Benson—wow!
George Benson is a jazz guitarist known for such compositions as “This Masquerade.”
He’s pals with that Meyer Lansky character.
Meyer Lansky (1902-1983) was a Jewish crime figure, the leader of a major crime syndicate that had major interests in gambling, including financing the development of Las Vegas. He was indicted but never convicted on a number of charges and wound up dying of lung cancer as an old and very rich man.
She looks like Donald Sutherland in drag.
Donald Sutherland is a blond actor who has appeared in such films as M*A*S*H and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Tonight on Crossfire …
Crossfire is a political-affairs show in which four panelists get together to discuss/argue about the issues of the day. It first aired in 1982.
[Sung.] Batman theme.
This is the theme song to the campy TV series Batman, which aired from 1966-1968.
[Sung, then whistled.] Johnny Longcrotch …
To the tune of “Johnny Angel,” a song written by Lyn Duddy and Lee Pockriss that was a hit single in 1962 for Shelley Fabares. Sample lyrics: “Johnny Angel, how I love him/He's got something that I can't resist/But he doesn't even know that I-I-I exist.”
“Cathy” is a comic strip by Cathy Guisewite about a young woman who is perpetually overweight and eternally frazzled.
Read the super quiz, man.
“Isaac Asimov’s Super Quiz” is a syndicated newspaper feature consisting of various trivia questions, with a different theme every day.
They shoot horsefaces, don’t they?
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? is a 1969 film about a group of contestants participating in a dance marathon.
This is the scene that got him the part in The Big Valley. Right here.
See note on The Big Valley, above.
East side, west side … [Hummed.] “The Sidewalks of New York.”
“The Sidewalks of New York” is an 1894 song written by Charles Lawlor and James Blake that has been recorded by numerous artists—from Duke Ellington to the Grateful Dead—and is considered a kind of love letter to life in New York City. Sample lyrics: “East Side, West Side, all around the town/The kids sang "ring around the rosie," "London Bridge is falling down"/Boys and girls together, me and Mamie O'Rourke/We tripped the light fantastic on the sidewalks of New York.”
Mannix was a television series starring Mike Connors (1925-2017) as Joe Mannix, a private eye in Los Angeles who indulged in frequent car chases, shootouts, and fistfights. It aired from 1967-1975.
Oh, he hit Allan Sherman!
Allan Sherman (1924-1973) was a song parodist known best for his rendition of “Hello Muddah Hello Faddah.”
[Sung.] Meet George Jetson …
A line from the theme song to the animated television show The Jetsons, which aired from 1962-1963. Sample lyrics: “Meet George Jetson/His boy Elroy/Daughter Judy/Jane his wife.”
Hey, the medium is the message, jerk.
“The medium is the message” is an aphorism coined by media critic Marshall McLuhan, meaning that the form of a message (television, radio, print, etc.) determines the way in which that message will be perceived.
“Hello dere!” is the catchphrase of standup comedian Marty Allen, half of the comedy team Allen and Rossi.
Helen Tracy telephone. Brought to you by Ken-L-Ration.
Ken-L-Ration is a brand of dog food.
He just signed the Hudson Brothers.
The Hudson Brothers were a pop group during the 1970s, consisting of siblings Bill, Mark, and Brett Hudson. Their more popular songs included “So You Are a Star” and “Rendezvous.” They also had a couple of short-lived TV variety shows during the mid-1970s.
I have a hiatus hernia.
As a plot point, a hiatus hernia was the big hand-wringer in the General Hospital short that preceded Show 413, Manhunt in Space. As a medical condition, a hiatus hernia is a tear or weakness in the diaphragm that causes the upper part of the stomach to poke up into the chest cavity.
Danny Aiello is a burly actor who has appeared in such films as Moonstruck and Once Upon a Time in America.
Ovitz, I’m going to bury you …
From 1975-1995, Michael Ovitz was the founder and head of the Creative Artists Agency and one of the most powerful talent agents in Hollywood. In 1995 he left to become the president of Disney, a position he held for only 14 months before being dismissed.
Hey, let’s put his hand in warm water.
An age-old prank, popular with adolescents at slumber parties or summer camp, involves placing a sleeping person’s hand in a bowl of warm water, making them 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!
Hey, you’re Paul Frees!
Paul Frees (1920-1986) was a well-known voiceover actor who supplied the voices for, among many others, the Pillsbury Doughboy and Boris Badenov. Frees performed more than 350 roles in movies, TV shows, and cartoons, the vast majority as a voiceover artist. The Beatniks is his sole directorial credit; he also co-wrote the screenplay.
Well, they did say something about the La Brea Tar Pits.
The La Brea Tar Pits are a tourist attraction in Los Angeles, an open pit where asphalt bubbles to the surface from the large petroleum deposits under the LA Basin. The pits have proved a treasure trove of preserved fossils from the prehistoric era, including mammoths and saber-toothed cats.
Dianetics is a method for alleviating mental distress that was created by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. It is closely associated with the Church of Scientology, also founded by Hubbard (see above note).
Let’s create this scene from Videodrome.
Videodrome is a 1983 film about a mysterious TV program that causes permanent brain damage in its viewers.
Hmm. National 2-9000.
National 2-9000 was the telephone number for Lincoln Carpets, a Chicago-based carpet company. It was prominently featured in their ads.
Left me fumbling with the blues … hey, baby …
A line from the Tom Waits song “Fumbling with the Blues.” Sample lyrics: “Friday left me fumblin' with the blues/And it's hard to win when you always lose/Because the nightspots spend your spirit/Beat your head against the wall …”
Hmm, this is Juicy Fruit.
Juicy Fruit is a brand of fruit-flavored chewing gum manufactured by Wrigley.
[Sung.] Meet George Jetson …
See note on The Jetsons, above.
The Ventures just drove by.
The best-selling instrumental band of all time, The Ventures were formed in 1958 in Tacoma, Washington, by Don Wilson and Bob Bogle. Known for such songs as “Walk-Don’t Run” and the theme to Hawaii Five-O, The Ventures' innovations with guitar effects and instrumental virtuosity made them very influential, earning them the nickname “The Band That Launched a Thousand Bands.” Their popularity faded in the United States in the 1970s, but they remain enormously popular in Japan, where they continue to tour extensively.
Well, what do you know? It says right here that soup is good food.
“Soup is good food” is an old advertising slogan for Campbell’s soups.
Here, man. Read Erma Bombeck, man.
Erma Bombeck (1927-1996) was a humorist who had a popular syndicated newspaper column for decades.
I am not a punk, I’m a new romantic, all right?
The New Romantics were a musical movement that evolved in response to punk. They emphasized clubbing, glamour and fashion over the punks’ anarchism, spiky hair and grungy clothes.
And then we can ride Yoshi to the Mushroom Kingdom.
A reference to the video game Super Mario Bros. Yoshi were the race of intelligent dinosaurs that inhabited the Mushroom World; the Mushroom Kingdom was the gateway to the Mushroom World.
You know, this is how I imagine Dean Moriarty.
Dean Moriarty is the reckless hero of the Jack Kerouac beat novel On the Road.
Possibly a reference to the musical West Side Story; Bernardo is the leader of the Sharks and the brother of heroine Maria. (Thanks to Jenny Grant for this reference.)
This one’s for Stella Adler.
Stella Adler (1901-1992) was the founder of an influential acting school, the Stella Adler Theater Studio (later renamed the Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting).
Well, Baretta or Toma should be here any minute.
Baretta is the New York undercover detective played by Robert Blake on the television show by the same name; it aired from 1975-1978. Toma (played by Tony Musante) was the titular character on the TV series Toma, which aired from 1973-1974. (Thanks to Kenneth Morgan for the Toma reference.)
[Sung.] Meet George Jetson … Jane his skirt …
See note on The Jetsons, above.
Morrissey was in this! No wonder it was so depressing.
See note on Morrissey, above.