510: The Painted Hills
by Wyn Hilty
Is it an infomercial? Where’s Cher?
Infomercials are program-length commercials, usually 30 minutes long. They often feature celebrity endorsements. Cher (b. Cherilyn Sarkisian LaPiere) is a singer and actress who has appeared on various television shows and in films. She first rose to fame as the co-host of a series of TV variety shows with her then-husband, Sonny Bono. In the early 1990s, Cher made an infomercial for Lori Davis hair-care products as a favor to a friend; the favor got her labeled a has-been and for a while made her the butt of jokes on talk show monologues.
[Minnesota old-lady voice.] They should distribute this film in Seattle where the grunge look is so popular.
The grunge look—torn jeans, big boots, flannel shirts—became popular in the early 1990s, when Seattle bands like Nirvana began making it big in the rock scene. As singer/songwriter Todd Snider put it in his 1994 song “Talkin’ Seattle Grunge Rock Blues”: “Now to fit in fast we wear flannel shirts/We turn our amps up until it hurts/We've got bad attitudes and what's more/When we play we stare straight down at the floor/Wowee/Pretty scary/How pensive/How totally alternative.”
And based on the book Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned at the Beauty Parlor.
The Robert Fulghum book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten contains such nuggets of wisdom as “Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you” and “Take a nap every afternoon.” It has sold 7 million copies.
It was the cleanest of times, it was the dirtiest of times.
A parody of the opening line of the classic Charles Dickens novel A Tale of Two Cities. (The cities in question: London and Paris.) The actual line: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
A young Frank Sutton makes his move. –Pyle!
Frank Sutton (1923-1974) played Sgt. Vince Carter on the television series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., which aired from 1964-1970. He also appeared in several other TV shows and movies.
Pick up a rifle.
A possible reference to Charles Whitman (1941-1966), who was a student at the University of Texas in Austin when, on the morning of August 1, 1966, he killed his wife and his mother, then went to the top of the bell tower on campus hauling 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 with various rifles, murdering 14 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.
The Andrews Sisters? No way.
The Andrews Sisters, made up of Patty, LaVerne, and Maxene Andrews, hit their peak during World War II, with such classic hits as “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree.” They also appeared in about a dozen movies during the 1940s.
I’m late for my Hitler Youth meeting.
German dictator Adolf Hitler set up the Hitler Youth in 1933 to teach Nazi principles to young boys. By 1935 nearly 60 percent of German boys were members. By 1936, all “Aryan” boys were expected to join. Boys entered the organization at 14 and “graduated” at 18 as a member of the Nazi Party and the German military.
It’s looking like Bruno Hauptmann.
Bruno Richard Hauptmann (1899-1936) was a German-born carpenter who in 1935 was convicted of kidnapping and murdering the toddler son of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh. The child had been taken from his room three years earlier; a ransom was paid, but the child had been killed shortly after the abduction and his body dumped in the woods near his home. Hauptmann was arrested after he passed one of the ransom notes, and a large amount of the ransom money was found in his house. He claimed he was merely holding the money for a friend—the real kidnapper—but was convicted and executed the following year.
Even Larry Hovis.
Larry Hovis (1936-2003) was an actor best known for playing Sergeant Andrew Carter on the TV series Hogan's Heroes (1965-1971).
And your naughty bits.
In a Monty Python’s Flying Circus skit called “How to Recognize Different Parts of the Body,” an oft-repeated part of the body is “the naughty bits.”
You see the path of the motorcade was diverted through ...
There are many conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), who was shot to death on November 22, 1963, as his presidential motorcade made its way through downtown Dallas, Texas. One of the more well-known theories claims that his route through Dallas was changed to pass by the infamous “grassy knoll.” This theory, among others, was promulgated by New Orleans DA Jim Garrison, who unsuccessfully prosecuted businessman Clay Shaw for conspiring to murder Kennedy (a story told in the Oliver Stone film JFK).
Whoopee! –Wheeeee! –Down we go! –Geronimo! –I regret nothing! –Catch me! –Oh, ah-ha, there I go!
In the Simpsons episode “Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie,” a drawbridge opens and a man waiting to see the film plummets to his death, screaming, “I regret nothing!”
It’s the Carnival of Souls here.
Carnival of Souls is a 1962 independent horror movie, featuring many facial closeups, about a young woman who is the sole survivor of a deadly car accident. Or is she? The film was made on a remarkably slim budget ($33,000) and has gained a solid cult following, become a Halloween favorite, and been cited as a major influence by such filmmakers as David Lynch and George A. Romero. It was the sole feature directed by Herk Harvey, filmed during a three-week vacation from his regular job as a director and producer of educational films for Centron. Many of Centron’s shorts have been riffed on MST3K, including Harvey's Why Study Industrial Arts? (Show 609, The Skydivers) and Cheating (Show 515, The Wild Wild World of Batwoman).
[Sung.] Out from the inkwell comes Koko the Clown.
In 1916, Max Fleischer began producing a series of animated shorts called “Out of the Inkwell,” starring a character called Koko the Clown. They featured a mix of live action and animation, demonstrating the animation process. Koko later appeared as a supporting character in a number of Betty Boop cartoons. His last appearance was on television in 1962.
That’s an Indian rub, all right. You got a little sister?
An Indian rub, also known as an Indian burn, the snakebite, the Chinese burn, among many others, is a traditional way for children to torment each other. It is applied by grabbing the victim’s wrist firmly with both hands and then twisting them in opposite directions, producing a friction burn on the skin.
There’s oil in them there skins!
Riffing on the saying “There’s gold in them thar hills!”; attributed to miner M.F. Stephenson (1802-1882).
“...may enter the skin and start an infection …” On Lyle Lovett.
Lyle Lovett is a country singer known for his wild shock of bushy hair. He has won four Grammy awards and acted in a number of movies, including The Player and Short Cuts.
[Sung.] (Hummed) in the gutter, your love’s in the sink.
The 1972 album Thick as a Brick, by British progressive rock band Jethro Tull, is a parody of concept albums, and is essentially one song that spans both sides of the album. Among the lyrics: "I may make you feel but I can't make you think/Your sperm's in the gutter your love's in the sink."
[Sung.] I feel pretty/Oh so pretty ...
A line from the song “I Feel Pretty” from the 1957 Broadway musical West Side Story. Sample lyrics: “I feel pretty/Oh so pretty/I feel pretty and witty and bright/And I pity/Any girl who isn’t me tonight.” In the 1961 film adaptation, the scene was changed to daytime, so the lyrics were changed to: "I feel pretty/Oh so pretty/I feel pretty and witty and gay/And I pity/Any girl who isn’t me today.”
[Sung.] -Nique, -nique, -nique ...
A line from the song “Dominique” by the Singing Nun, a.k.a. Sister Luc-Gabrielle, a Belgian nun in the Dominican Order. Sample lyrics: “Dominique, nique, nique, o're the land he plods along/And sings a little song/Never asking for reward/He just talks about the Lord.” (Thanks to Sarah McKinney for this reference.)
I’m so naughty, naughty I am.
During David Spade’s 1990s tenure on Saturday Night Live (NBC, 1975-present), he would mock super-thin supermodel Kate Moss by saying, “I had a rice cake today. I’m so naughty!” in a voice much like the one Joel is doing here.
[Sung.] “The Murder” from Psycho
An imitation of the high screeching violins, violas, and cellos from the infamous shower/murder scene in the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock thriller Psycho (composed by Bernard Herrmann and titled “The Murder”), which have taken on an iconic pop-culture life of their own.
Thus ends a day in the life of Ivan Denisovich.
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is a 1962 novel by Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn that follows the titular character through a typical day as a prisoner in a Soviet labor camp. (Solzhenitsyn himself was imprisoned for eight years for insulting Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in a letter to a friend.)
In the Old Testament, Jezebel was the wife of King Ahab, the ruler of Israel. She introduced the worship of Baal into Israel, and her name has come to personify a wicked woman. In the Bible, she is killed by Jehu, the military leader of the prophet Elisha, who orders her eunuchs to throw her from a window of her palace, where her body is eaten by dogs.
And remember, when you touch yourself, the saints cry. Good night.
This charming little aphorism was told to Catholic schoolchildren in an effort to prevent masturbation. Specifically, it was Saint Louis who got teary-eyed over self-pleasuring, as immortalized in the line “Do you know Saint Louis weeps when you touch yourself?” from the 1973 Federico Fellini film Amarcord. The hero's response: “Let him cry.”
Keep watching the medicine cabinets! Keep watching the medicine cabinets!
This is a parody of the climactic line from the 1951 horror movie The Thing From Another World. At the end of the film, reporter Ned Scott (played by Douglas Spencer) warns the world, “Watch the skies, everywhere! Keep looking! Keep watching the skies!” Based on the 1938 novella Who Goes There by John W. Campbell, the story was re-told in the 1982 John Carpenter film The Thing, and a 2011 prequel, also titled The Thing.
A line from the 1956 science fiction thriller Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Kevin McCarthy said the line in both the 1956 original film and in a brief cameo in the 1978 remake.
Lassie is back. And she’s pissed.
A riff on a line from Bill Hicks’ standup routine: “Jesus is back—and he’s pissed.”
The Painted Hills: The Christo story.
Christo is an environmental artist who specializes in massive outdoor installations. In 1991 he installed 3,100 large umbrellas in two valleys—one in California and one in Japan—and left them there for 18 days. In 1995 he wrapped the entire Reichstag government building in Berlin, Germany, in reflective silver fabric.
True Boardman. Not his real name.
It actually was, although it was his middle name; his first name was William. His dad, a well-known silent-film actor, had the same name.
Hey, isn’t that the song that Big Bird sang about the alphabet?
Big Bird is a character on the classic children’s television show Sesame Street, which has aired on PBS since 1969. He sang a song in 1970 titled “ABC-DEF-GHI,” in which he mistook the alphabet for one long word, pronounced “(ab-cud-ef-gï)(jek'l-m'nâp-kwûr)(stööv-wik-ziz).” (Pronunciation key courtesy of Wikipedia.) The song has been reused in several episodes since then.
You know, William Tuttle always does Lassie’s makeup. That’s always in the contract. Every time.
Tuttle also worked on North by Northwest, Twilight Zone, and Young Frankenstein, among others.
Alive. My Side of the Mountain. The Eiger Sanction.
This is a series of films in which mountains play a prominent role. Alive (1993) is a film in which a Uruguayan rugby team’s plane crashes in the mountains, and the survivors are forced to eat the bodies of the dead to stay alive. My Side of the Mountain (1969) is about a young boy who runs away to the mountains after his family cancels their planned vacation. The Eiger Sanction (1975) stars Clint Eastwood as an assassin who joins a mountain climbing team in which one member is the Russian killer he has been assigned to eliminate.
The greatest love of all.
“The Greatest Love of All” is a song written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed that was originally a top ten hit in 1977 for George Benson; a 1985 cover by Whitney Houston became a number one hit. Sample lyrics: “I found the greatest love of all/Inside of me/The greatest love of all/Is easy to achieve/Learning to love yourself/It is the greatest love of all.”
[Sung] She ran calling Wildfire …
A line from the 1975 song “Wildfire,” written by Michael Murphy and Larry Cansler and performed by Murphy, who later went by the name Michael Martin Murphy. The song was chosen by the Western Writers of America as one of the Top 100 Western Songs of All Time, coming in at number 15. Sample lyrics: “Oh, they say she died one winter/When there came a killing frost/And the pony she named Wildfire/Busted down its stall/In a blizzard he was lost/She ran calling ‘Wildfire’...”
[Bark-singing.] “The Sound of Music.”
A little doggie rendition of the song “The Sound of Music,” from the 1959 Broadway musical and 1965 movie of the same name.
There’s trouble on the Mackenna’s Gold set!
Mackenna’s Gold is a 1969 movie starring Gregory Peck as Mackenna, a marshal who is kidnapped by an outlaw (played by Omar Sharif) who believes Mackenna knows the location of a vein of gold hidden somewhere in the mountains.
Hey, Grandpa did fall down the well!
Despite the many, many jokes to the contrary, Timmy never did fall down a well on the Lassie TV show.
How’s that, Mr. Weatherwax?
Brothers Frank and Rudd Weatherwax were legendary Hollywood dog trainers. They trained Pal, the original Lassie (seen here playing Shep), in addition to Pal’s successors. They also trained the dogs that played Old Yeller and Asta in the Thin Man movies.
This was a time when Denver Pyles roamed the land freely.
Denver Pyle (1920-1997) was a portly character actor who appeared in more than a hundred films and television shows. He is perhaps best known for his role as the munificently bearded Uncle Jesse on the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard, which aired from 1979-1985.
Jim Beam, rocks.
The Kentucky bourbon whiskey Jim Beam was originally made by Jacob Beam; it was named Jim Beam after his great-grandson, who rebuilt the business after Prohibition.
I’ll go see if Miss Kitty’s here.
Kitty Russell, or Miss Kitty, was the saloon owner on the TV series Gunsmoke, which aired from 1955-1975. She was played by Amanda Blake.
Now, is this the real Old West or the Roy Rogers Old West, where they had electricity and cars?
Roy Rogers (1911-1998) was a singer and actor who starred in a vast succession of Westerns between 1938 and 1959. His TV series, The Roy Rogers Show, which ran from 1951-1957, had cowboys riding horses and firing six-shooters alongside people driving cars and talking on telephones.
It’s a piece of Key lime pie—yum!
Key lime pie is the official dessert of Key West, Florida. It is a lime-flavored custard pie made with the juice of Key limes and topped with meringue or whipped cream. Unlike the more common Persian limes, the smaller Key limes produce yellow juice, making the filling in Key lime pie yellow as well.
“Tommy.” Can you hear me? Can you feel me near you?
A line from the song “Tommy Can You Hear Me” from The Who’s rock opera Tommy. Sample lyrics: “Tommy, can you see me?/Can I help to cheer you?/Tommy, can you hear me?/Can you feel me near you?”
What’s Rutherford B. Hayes doing in this movie?
Rutherford B. Hayes (1822-1893) was the 19th president of the United States, who served from 1877-1881 after a bitterly contested election that had to be decided by a panel of congressmen, who voted along strict party lines to award the Republican candidate the victory. He ended Reconstruction in the South and refused a nomination for a second term.
See note on Snausages, above.
But I wanted a Super Soaker!
The Super Soaker is a toy water gun made by Hasbro. The prototype for the Super Soaker was built out of PVC pipe, Plexiglas, and a 2-liter soda bottle.
Divorced? Harassed by creditors?
An imitation of the many ads for attorneys that air on late-night TV.
Heathcliff is the anti-hero of Emily Brontë’s classic romantic novel Wuthering Heights, first published in 1847.
[Hummed.] The Great Escape theme.
This is the theme to the 1963 film The Great Escape, which starred Steve McQueen as the leader of a group of Allied POWs. (Thanks to John Grayshaw for this reference.)
No one escapes from Stalag 13.
This is a classic line uttered by Colonel Wilhelm Klink, the inept commander of the German prison camp in the television series Hogan’s Heroes, which aired from 1965-1971. The part was played by Werner Klemperer.
Come on, it’s dress-up time! Tonight you’re Marlene Dietrich.
Marlene Dietrich (1901-1991) was a German-born actress who first made it big playing a cabaret singer in Josef von Sternberg’s Der blaue Engel (The Blue Angel). She came to Hollywood, where her initial success was followed by a string of flops. She made a comeback playing Frenchy in the Jimmy Stewart Western Destry Rides Again and appeared in movies regularly through the 1940s.
Come on, it’s milk of human kindness. Two percent.
The phrase “milk of human kindness,” meaning to show care and compassion for others, originated in William Shakespeare’s 1606 play Macbeth: “Yet do I fear thy nature, it is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness.”
Now look, if you keep this down you can have some soda crackers and watch That Girl.
A soda cracker, also known as a saltine, is a square, thin cracker made of white flour, baking soda, shortening, and yeast, with a little salt sprinkled on top. Because the starch in soda crackers tends to absorb excess stomach acid, they are a mom-approved home remedy for little kids with sad tummies. That Girl was a television series that aired from 1966-1971. It starred Marlo Thomas as Ann Marie, an aspiring actress struggling to make it in New York City.
[Sung.] The biggest sky you ever saw is in Seattle ...
This is a paraphrase of a line from “Seattle,” the theme song to the TV show Here Come the Brides. Both Bobby Sherman, who starred on the show, and Perry Como recorded cover versions in 1969, but only Como's was released as a single; it became a top 40 hit. Actual lyrics: “The bluest sky you ever seen in Seattle/And the hills the greenest green in Seattle.”
It’s not exactly The Incredible Journey, is it?
The Incredible Journey is a 1963 film based on the Sheila Burnford novel of the same name. It is the story of a cat and two dogs who get separated from their owners on vacation and manage to make their way home.
“Never mind the dog, Tommy.” Here’s the Sex Pistols.
The sole studio album of the groundbreaking British punk band the Sex Pistols, released in 1977, was titled Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.
Oh, that’s great. Got any Mrs. Dash?
Mrs. Dash is a brand of seasoning blends manufactured by Alberto Culver. The line was created by marketing exec Carol Bernick, who also considered naming the brand “Mrs. Pinch.” Available flavors include Garlic & Herb, Lemon Pepper and Classic Italiano.
How’s the Dinty Moore?
Dinty Moore is a brand of canned beef stew manufactured by Hormel, but the name comes from a comic strip called “Bringing Up Father”—Moore was a tavern owner in the strip.
What are you going to do with all this Bisquick?
Bisquick is a biscuit mix manufactured by Betty Crocker. The company swiped the idea from a train chef, who pre-mixed his biscuit batter so he could bake them fresh every day.
“Six thousand dollars?” No, drachmas.
The drachma was the basic unit of currency in Greece until it was replaced by the euro in 2002.
My name’s Tom Wopat.
Tom Wopat is best known for playing the part of Luke Duke on the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard, which aired from 1979-1985. He has also appeared on All My Children and Cybill, among other TV shows.
Mount Rushmore! Before it was built.
Mount Rushmore is a mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota that features the gigantic heads of four presidents, each about 60 feet high, carved out of the granite of the mountain: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt. (The historian who proposed Mt. Rushmore originally wanted it to feature western heroes like Buffalo Bill Cody and Lewis & Clark.) Work on the memorial began in 1927 and was finished in 1941 under sculptor Gutzon Borglum.
I just love these New Age-type nature tapes, they’re so relaxing.
The term New Age can be applied to a wide variety of eclectic spiritual beliefs and practices that became popular in the West beginning in the early 1970s. The New Age style of music, involving acoustic or electronic instruments and characterized by simple melodies, slow tempos, and repetitive structures, was popular in the 1980s and 1990s. New Age music was often mixed with field recordings of ambient nature sounds—chirping crickets, ocean waves, etc. (Music mixed with crackling fireplace sounds didn’t fare as well, since a crackling fire sounds exactly like a badly scratched phonograph record.)
And a rapid runs through it.
A River Runs Through It is a novella by Norman Maclean about two boys who love fly fishing and their relationship with their father. It was made into a movie in 1992 that starred Brad Pitt and Craig Sheffer.
We invented the first water flume! It’s fun!
A water flume ride is an amusement park standard. Participants usually float in logs along artificial water channels that generally feature some steep drops and a lot of splashing water. Splash Mountain in Disneyland is an example of a flume ride.
See note on Snausages, above.
Kenny Rogers as Moses.
Kenny Rogers (1938-2020) was a successful country music artist with roughly 60 albums to his credit. By the time he retired in 2016, he had sold more than 100 million albums worldwide. Moses is a biblical figure who led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land.
Any Snausages in there?
See note on Snausages, above.
Rutherford B. Hayes strikes it rich.
See note on Rutherford B. Hayes, above.
A reference to Show 422, The Day the Earth Froze.
Hey, it’s Juan Valdez.
Juan Valdez is the longtime fictional spokesperson for Colombian coffee growers and exporters. He is usually shown out in the fields with his trusty mule, hand-picking the coffee beans just as they reach the epitome of tasty ripeness. The character has been played by three different actors since his introduction in 1958.
The Denver Pyle look was very popular this year.
See note on Denver Pyle, above.
They’re being ransacked by Tom Bombadil. –[Sung.] Tom Bombadil, Tom Bombadillo …
Tom Bombadil is a character in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings. He appears in a lengthy section toward the beginning of the first book, The Fellowship of the Ring, in which he rescues the hobbits a couple of times and spends a lot of time singing in an irritating fashion.
Finally, sweet Metamucil.
Metamucil is a bulk fiber laxative made from powdered psyllium husk; when mixed with water or juice, it acts to relieve constipation.
See note on Solzhenitsyn, above.
Come on, Kringle.
Kris Kringle is another name for Santa Claus; the name comes from the word Christkind, or Christ child.
Don’t shoot my doppelganger!
A doppelganger (double walker) is a spirit that looks just like you; in German folklore, seeing your doppelganger is a sign that you will soon die.
Gideons International is a Christian organization that places Bibles in hotel rooms, hospitals, prisons, and schools. It was founded in 1899 by three businessmen and began placing Bibles in 1908; the first Bibles were placed in the Superior Hotel in Montana.
Missouri Synod, huh?
The Missouri Synod is a strict Lutheran sect that insists on conformity with its interpretation of “pure doctrine” based on the Bible, an attitude that has often brought it into conflict with the rest of the Lutheran Church. Its headquarters are located in St. Louis, Missouri.
“Two things I love above all else.” Larry and Balki.
Larry Appleton and Balki Bartokomous were the main characters on the television sitcom Perfect Strangers, which aired from 1986-1993. Larry was played by Mark Linn-Baker, and Balki was played by Bronson Pinchot.
I’m a lawn gnome in the summertime.
A lawn gnome, also called a garden gnome, is a figurine of a small man, usually sporting a white beard and a pointy red cap, which is used to ornament lawns and gardens. They originated in Germany in the 19th century and became popular in the 1930s after the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. “Kidnapping” a lawn gnome and sending pictures of it traveling the world to its owners has become a popular prank, and inspired the Travelocity online travel agency to adopt the talking “Roaming Gnome” as its advertising mascot in 2004.
“The Lord be with you in all of your labors.” [All.] And also with you.
A line from the old form of the Roman Catholic Mass. The priest recites “The Lord be with you,” to which the worshippers respond “And also with you.” In 2008 the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops changed the text: now the response to “The Lord be with you” is “And with your spirit.”
In an interest-bearing CD.
CD stands for Certificate of Deposit, a financial product in which a sum of money earns a set rate of interest over a set period of time.
“Matthew 6:19.” At the half. Heh heh, that’s a little preacher joke.
In radio and television coverage of sports in which a game is divided into quarters, such as basketball or football, an announcer would typically give the score and what portion of the game is being played. So at halftime, it would be the score, followed by “at the half.”
Well, I’m off to the King Lear convention!
King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. First performed in 1605, the play is about an old king who divides his kingdom among his daughters and then is driven mad by their ingratitude.
[Sung.] Look for the union label ...
This is from the song “Look for the Union Label” by Paula Green. It aired as part of a commercial for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union in the 1970s. Sample lyrics: “Look for the union label/When you are buying that coat, dress, or blouse.”
“There’s two reasons why you won’t shoot me, Taylor.” Three!
In the Spanish Inquisition sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Cardinal Ximénez, played by Michael Palin, keeps remembering additional points to whatever speech he’s trying to make. Sample dialogue:
Ximénez: Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise ... surprise and fear ... fear and surprise. ... Our two weapons are fear and surprise ... and ruthless efficiency. ... Our three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency ... and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope. ... Our four ... no ... Amongst our weapons. ... Amongst our weaponry ... are such diverse elements as fear, surprise ... I’ll come in again.
Would this be a bad time to bring up Snausages?
See note on Snausages, above.
I was born in the house my father built ...
This is the opening line to disgraced former President Richard M. Nixon’s memoirs.
Oh, man, I’m turning into Victor French!
The bearded, burly Victor French (1934-1989) was an actor who got his start playing bad guys in Hollywood Westerns. He played Isaiah Edwards on the TV series Little House on the Prairie, which aired from 1974-1983, and reunited with Little House star Michael Landon on the series Highway to Heaven, which ran from 1984-1989.
He’s gonna kype his copy of The Firm.
The Firm is a 1991 novel by John Grisham about a young lawyer who gets a job at a Memphis law firm only to discover that it’s controlled by the Mafia. It was made into a movie starring Tom Cruise in 1993.
Works every time.
“It works every time” was an advertising slogan for Colt 45 Malt Liquor, associated with the brand’s ambassador, actor Billy Dee Williams, from 1986 to 1991. The ads were criticized for marketing high-alcohol malt liquor to low-income audiences, and for their implied message that Colt 45 helped to make women more sexually available. Nonetheless, the campaign was revived in 2016, featuring a 78 year old Williams.
Hey, my reward! Squeaky newspaper? Gaines-Burger? Snausage? Anything?
Gaines-Burgers was a brand of soft, crumbly dog food that looked like raw hamburger, only drier. It was discontinued in the 1990s. See also note on Snausages, above.
Look—Bigfoot putting on a blazer.
Bigfoot, a.k.a. the Sasquatch, is a legendary ape-like creature supposed to haunt the Pacific Northwest and western Canada. The famous 1967 film of Bigfoot walking through the forest was taken in Humboldt County, California, just south of the Oregon border.
Stallone in Cliffhanger.
Cliffhanger is a 1993 film starring Sylvester Stallone as a mountain ranger who gets mixed up with a group of crooks searching for a lost cache of stolen money. Stallone is an action star whose other films include Rocky (1976), Rambo: First Blood (1982), and Cobra (1986).
He’s gotta be careful or he might fall right into that matte painting.
In filmmaking, matte paintings are backgrounds that are either placed in the shot during filming or added later as a post-production special effect. For most of the past century, they were hand painted on glass and placed in front of the camera while an unpainted section framed the actors. More recently, matte paintings have been digital effects added in post-production. The first digital matte painting was featured in the 1985 film Young Sherlock Holmes.
Leon Trotsky, in the action adventure you thought he’d never make.
Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) was a leader in the 1917 Communist revolution in Russia, along with Joseph Stalin and Lenin. However, when Stalin came into power after Lenin’s death, he removed Trotsky from power and exiled him from the country in 1929. In 1940 Trotsky was assassinated in his home in Mexico by a Stalinist agent wielding an ice axe.
Woof. I thought that was a matte painting.
See above note on matte paintings.
All right—about time for that Nut Goodie.
The Nut Goodie is a candy bar made from milk chocolate, creamy filling, and peanuts. It is made by St. Paul, Minnesota-based Pearson’s Candy Company, which also makes Salted Nut Rolls and Bun Bars.
This Old Mountain.
This Old House is a home improvement show that first aired in 1979. For ten years the host was the bearded, genial Bob Vila; since 1989 the show has been hosted by Steve Thomas.
Rutherford Hayes, all in my brain!
This is a parody of the lyrics to Jimi Hendrix’s classic 1967 psychedelic rock anthem “Purple Haze.” See also above note on Rutherford B. Hayes.
Oh, bring me back some OJ and a Cosmo.
Cosmopolitan, or Cosmo, as it has been nicknamed, is a women’s magazine known for its cover photos of cleavagey women and articles with titles like “10 Ways to Drive Your Man Wild in Bed.” When Helen Gurley Brown became editor of Cosmo in 1965 she began promoting her ideal that sex for women should be fun and guilt-free—a controversial stance at the time. It is owned by the Hearst Corporation.
How do you work this crazy thing?
This may be a reference to the classic line on The Jetsons: “Jane, stop this crazy thing!”
The British are coming!
On the night of April 18, 1775, Boston silversmith Paul Revere (1735-1818) rode from Boston to Lexington and Concord to warn his countrymen that British troops were on the march; the next day, the historic Battle of Lexington took place, starting the American Revolution. Tradition has it that he rode through the night crying, “The British are coming!” from horseback, a scene immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Paul Revere’s Ride.” While Revere did warn Lexington about the British troops (by saying “The regulars are coming out!”), fellow rider Sam Prescott alerted Concord; Revere had been captured along the way.
It’s the Von Trapp Family prospectors.
The Trapp Family Singers were a group of Austrian singers, consisting of Georg von Trapp, his seven children by his first wife, his second wife Maria Augusta Kutschera, and their three children. They fled the Nazis in 1938 and emigrated to the United States. They toured in many countries from 1940-1955. Their story was told in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music, which was made into a film starring Julie Andrews in 1965.
“Go ahead.” Make my day.
Written by screenwriter and director Charles B. Pierce, “Go ahead, make my day” is a line spoken by Clint Eastwood as Inspector Harold “Dirty Harry” Callahan in the 1983 film Sudden Impact, the fourth in the Dirty Harry series. Of the five Dirty Harry films, this is the only one in which he uses the line, which ranks at #6 on the American Film Institute’s “100 Years …100 Movie Quotes” list and was famously repeated by President Ronald Reagan in 1985 when vowing to veto tax increases.
Obsession is a perfume manufactured by Calvin Klein. It was introduced in 1985.
This is where Shep’s mastery of the stiletto comes in handy.
A stiletto is a knife with a long, slender blade that tapers to a needle-like point. In the past they were typically a dagger-like stabbing weapon, but in modern times the term stiletto has come to mean any sort of small, narrow knife, particularly a switchblade.
A lifetime of Snausages or I sing like a canary.
See note on Snausages, above.
Mr. Weatherwax, what’s the matter with me here?
See note on Frank and Rudd Weatherwax, above.
Just like Batman in reverse.
The campy television series Batman, starring Adam West and Burt Ward, aired from 1966-1968. In it the Dynamic Duo “climbed” up buildings by stretching their capes out on wires, grabbing ropes fastened to a wall, and walking with apparent effort across a floor painted to look like the side of a building with the camera turned sideways.
Thank you, citizen.
An imitation of Adam West (William West Anderson, 1928-2017) as Batman (see previous note).
Like I always say, a dog’s got to know her limitations.
“A man’s got to know his limitations” is a line from the 1973 film Magnum Force, starring Clint Eastwood as trigger-happy cop Dirty Harry Callahan.
Tyrone Power has a sleepless night.
Tyrone Power (1913-1958) was a Hollywood leading man in the 1930s and 1940s, known for starring in such swashbucklers as The Black Swan (1942) and Captain from Castile (1947).
Is that a bacon and Snausage omelet?
See note on Snausages, above.
I caught a matinee of Oh Heavenly Dog.
Oh Heavenly Dog is a 1980 film starring Chevy Chase as a private investigator who is stabbed to death and sent back in the body of a dog (played by canine star Benji) to solve his own murder.
“It’s gonna be my way, Shep.” Or the highway.
The phrase “My way or the highway” dates back only to the late 1960s/early 1970s. Some sources attribute it to baseball manager Sparky Anderson. Guitar Shorty and Otis Grand released a blues album by this title in 1991.
Othello is a 1603 tragedy by William Shakespeare about a Moorish general who is driven by jealousy to murder his faithful wife. It was made into a film starring Orson Welles in 1952; a version with Laurence Fishburne was made in 1995.
Wait a minute! I’m in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers!
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a 1954 MGM musical about seven frontiersmen who plot to get the wives they want by kidnapping them.
Lambada—the forbidden dance.
The lambada is a Brazilian dance that became briefly popular in the United States and Europe in 1989. A film called Lambada, The Forbidden Dance came out in 1990 in an attempt to capitalize on the fad.
See note on Snausages, above.
Oh, Lassie, come out and play-ay!
A parody of a line from the 1979 film The Warriors, about battling street gangs in New York City: “Warriors, come out and play-ay!”
Hi, I’m from PETA.
PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is an animal rights group that stages protests, airs commercials, and files lawsuits on behalf of animals everywhere. It opposes eating animals, wearing leather, experimenting on animals, and many, many other animal-related activities.
It’s gonna be a Snausage, right? Oh, please let it be a Snausage.
See note on Snausages, above.
Here. Hope you like refritos.
“Refritos” is short for “frijoles refritos,” or refried beans, a mainstay of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. Fun fact: “refried” is actually a misnomer—in this context “refrito” just means cooked, not fried, repeatedly or otherwise. While frijoles refritos might be baked or fried, usually they’re simply beans that are boiled, seasoned, and mashed into a paste.
I believe I ordered a Greek salad.
Horiatiki, or Greek salad, was created in the 1960s to cater to the tourist trade: tomato, cucumber, green pepper, red onion, Kalamata olives, and feta cheese, with an oil and vinegar dressing. The American version is similar, but adds romaine lettuce to the mix.
Can I just have a RyKrisp, please?
RyKrisps were lightly salted, baked rye crackers manufactured by Bremner, a Minneapolis company. They were discontinued in 2015.
Little does he know Lassie switched food. He’s eating Kal Kan!
Kal Kan was a brand of canned dog food, but the manufacturer changed its name to Pedigree starting in 1988.
That’s an odd taste.
In a host segment in MST3K Episode 404, Teenagers From Outer Space, Dr. Forrester spritzes both his and a Resusci Annie doll’s mouth with breath spray, performs a bit of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and then remarks, “That’s an odd taste.”
“So that’s the way it is, huh?” Uh-huh, uh-huh.
A line from “That’s the Way (I Like It),” a #1 hit for KC and the Sunshine Band in 1975.
Souvlaki is the fast food of Greece: some sort of meat, usually beef, lamb, or pork, that is sliced thinly and served wrapped in a pita along with lettuce, tomato, onions, and tzatziki, a yogurt-cucumber sauce.
[Sung.] Puppy Chow, for a full year, until he’s full dead.
This is a parody of a late 1970s/early ‘80s advertising slogan for Purina Puppy Chow: “Puppy Chow for a full year, till he’s full grown.”
Oh no, get the ipecac.
Doctors no longer recommend the use of syrup of ipecac in the case of accidental poisoning—instead, call a poison control center.
Yeah, I thought so. I get better service at Planet Hollywood.
Planet Hollywood is an international chain of restaurants featuring movie memorabilia. It is partly owned by various Hollywood celebrities, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis.
Oh yeah, there she is, two hundred yards, you can make it with iron sights, but you want to use a scope.
Iron sights are a sighting mechanism on firearms, crossbows, or telescopes. They are essentially two pieces of metal, one on either end of the device, which, when aligned, provide a basic way to aim.
Oh, geez, a river runs through it, and Greek food runs through me, I tell ya.
See note on A River Runs Through It, above.
I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.
“I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” is a line from a 1970s ad for Alka-Seltzer.
Probably having hallucinations right now of a little wagon coming out of the kitchen cabinet.
In Purina Chuck Wagon dog food ads in the 1970s, a dog would chase a tiny horse and covered wagon team across the kitchen floor.
This exercise will give your dog buns of steel.
Buns of Steel was an exercise video that came out in the 1980s, focused on developing the gluteus maximus muscles.
What is this, Camille?
Camille is a 1936 tearjerker 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; at the end of the film she expires in his arms from tuberculosis.
Crawl, come on, you’ve never given up on anything in your life, now crawl!
A paraphrase of a line from the 1989 movie The Abyss, starring Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. The actual line, spoken by Harris as he’s trying to resuscitate the drowned Mastrantonio: “God damn it, you bitch! You never backed away from anything in your life! Now fight! Fight! Fiiiight!”
An imitation of Curly Howard (b. Jerome Lester “Jerry” Horwitz; 1903-1952), the best known and most imitated of The Three Stooges, who performed throughout the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s onstage and in many short films along with his older brothers, Moe Howard and Shemp Howard, and actor Larry Fine. “Whoob-whoob-whoob-whoob!” was among Curly’s many signature comedic sounds, and lying on his side and spinning around was one of his standard physical shticks.
I’m comin’, Lizabeth! I’m comin’ to join ya!
On the TV series Sanford and Son, which aired from 1972-1977, when Fred Sanford (played by Redd Foxx) wanted to manipulate his son, he would fake a heart attack and call out to his dead wife, “It’s the big one! I’m comin’, Lizabeth!”
Oh, don’t you chew the scenery, don’t you chew the scenery …
In the theater world, the phrase “chewing the scenery” is used to describe an actor who over-emotes or acts especially melodramatically.
Hey, I’m dyin’ over here!
A riff on Dustin Hoffman’s famous improvised line in the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy: “I’m walkin’ here! I’m walkin’ here!”
Natalie Wood (1938-1981) got her start as a child actress in such films as Miracle on 34th Street (1947). She went on to star in films as an adult, including Splendor in the Grass (1961) and West Side Story (1961). She drowned in 1981 while sailing with her husband, actor Robert Wagner.
These are the scenes we didn’t see in The Searchers.
The Searchers is a 1956 John Ford Western starring John Wayne as a Civil War veteran who spends years searching for his niece (Natalie Wood) after she is stolen by Indians.
It's a tribe of Pippi Longstockings!
Pippi Longstocking is the heroine of a series of children’s books by Astrid Lindgren: a girl with gravity-defying braids, superhuman strength, and enormous wealth who lives alone and has many adventures with the neighbor children.
[Sung.] Sobbin’ women, those sobbin’, sobbin’ women.
A paraphrase of the song “Sobbin’ Women” from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The musical is loosely based on the Roman myth of the Sabine women. Actual lyrics: “Oh, yes!/Them a’women were sobbin’, sobbin’, sobbin’/Fit to be tied/Every muscle was throbbin’, throbbin’/From that riotous ride ...”
All his woodland friends are coming to help him!
This may be a reference to Tarzan, the king of the jungle created by pulp author Edgar Rice Burroughs in a series of novels, who had the ability to call on various beasts to help him when he needed them.
An imitation of the song “Hoe-Down” in Rodeo, the ballet scored by Aaron Copland, a.k.a. the “Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner” music.
Is that Russell Means?
Russell Means (1939-2012) was a Native American activist who was the leader of the American Indian Movement in the 1970s and helped lead AIM’s occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973. He was also an actor who appeared in movies and on TV shows, including The Last of the Mohicans (1992) and Natural Born Killers (1994).
Oh, no—poisoned souvlaki.
See note on souvlaki, above.
Yeah, go get Jeff Chandler and Joey Bishop.
Jeff Chandler (1918-1961) was an actor who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Apache chief Cochise in the Jimmy Stewart Western Broken Arrow (1950). He starred in a number of Westerns and action flicks in the 1950s before dying in 1961 following an operation. Joey Bishop (1918-2007) was a member of the Rat Pack with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. He frequently acted as a guest host for Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show and hosted two series of his own during the 1960s. Like Chandler, Bishop also had a prominent movie role playing a Native American: Dean Martin’s sidekick Kronk in the 1966 Western comedy Texas Across the River.
This’ll help, a feather and a Dilly Bar.
A Dilly Bar is an ice cream treat offered at Dairy Queen fast food restaurants: a disc of soft-serve ice cream coated in chocolate and served on a stick. It was created by the owner of a DQ in Moorhead, Minnesota, in 1955 and is still sold in Dairy Queens everywhere.
Oh, wait, I was doing a bar mitzvah.
A bar mitzvah is a Jewish religious ceremony welcoming a boy to adulthood on his 13th birthday.
A slowed-down version of Curly’s signature noise (see above note).
Are those Snausages over there?
See note on Snausages, above.
It sounds like a Ken Nordine dream.
Ken Nordine is a recording artist who has done numerous commecials but is best known for his Word Jazz series of spoken-word albums, which were popular in the late 1950s and 1960s. (Thanks to Christopher Brame for this reference.)
Boy, Dutch elm can strike quick.
Dutch elm disease is a fungus that attacks elm trees, sometimes killing them within a month. It is spread by the elm bark beetle, which carries the fungus spores on its shell.
Vandalism. Damn kids drink cheap wine, listen to Anthrax ... look at this place.
Anthrax is a thrash metal band that formed in New York City in 1981; their 1985 album Spreading the Disease was enormously influential. Guitarist Scott Ian thought the name, spotted in a biology textbook, sounded “sufficiently evil.”
Oh, thank you, God, thank you so bloody much.
An imitation of John Cleese as hotel owner Basil Fawlty on the classic British TV show Fawlty Towers.
Divinity is an old-fashioned candy made from egg whites, corn syrup, and sugar. Some cooks add dried fruit or chopped nuts as well. It’s generally white in color and tastes kind of like the nougat in candy bars.
[Sung.] Theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
This music, known to pop culture as the theme to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, is actually called Also Sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra) by German composer Richard Strauss (1864-1949). The piece is named for a book by philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900). The famous fanfare used in 2001 is from the first section, “Sunrise.”
Shep’s back, and this time it’s personal.
“This time ... it’s personal” was the tagline for the 1987 film Jaws: The Revenge.
Wait a minute—these bags are full of Snausages! Lassie!
See note on Snausages, above.
Oh, I’m a bad boy.
An imitation of comedian Lou Costello of Abbot and Costello, a comedy team from the 1930s through the 1950s, getting their start in vaudeville and soon making the leap to radio, TV, and film. They were known for snappy routines like their world-famous “Who’s on First?” Costello’s character was a frequently hysterical man-child, who relied on the long-suffering and level-headed Bud Abbott for guidance and to get out of trouble. When Costello had made a mess of things, he’d often declare, “I’m a bad boy.”
He gave himself a Lilt home perm.
Lilt is a brand of home permanent kit for do-it-yourself curly hair. Home perms were introduced in the 1940s. They were so popular beauty salons tried to get laws passed banning them.
Stay off the moors!
A reference to the 1981 film An American Werewolf in London, although the actual line from the movie is “Stay on the road! Keep clear of the moors!”
[Whistled.] Theme from Lassie.
The Lassie TV series (CBS/syndication, 1954-1971) had several opening/ending theme songs, the most famous of which began with the fifth season: “Lassie Main and End Title,” nicknamed “The Whistler,” was composed by Les Baxter and featured whistling performed by Muzzy Marcellino, who also did the whistling on the famous theme for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
I’m looking for a man with true grit.
A paraphrase of the line “They tell me you’re a man with true grit,” from the John Wayne movie True Grit (1969). Brothers Joel and Ethan Coen wrote and directed a well-received 2010 remake, this one starring Jeff Bridges in the Wayne role.
Here puppy … come here, puppy … nice puppy …
An imitation of Inspector Jacques Clouseau, the bumbling French policeman played in the series of Pink Panther movies by Peter Sellers (1925-1980). In The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976), Clouseau tries to make friends with a dog in a hotel, to his regret. The full exchange:
Clouseau: Does your dog bite?
Hotel Clerk: No.
Clouseau [bending down to pet the dog]: Nice doggie.
[The dog barks and bites Clouseau’s hand.]
Clouseau: I thought you said your dog did not bite!
Hotel Clerk: That is not my dog.
[Sung.] Well, I’m bringing home the baby …
A paraphrase of lyrics from the children’s song “Baby Bumblebee.” It is set to the tune of “Arkansas Traveler,” which was the official state song of Arkansas from 1949 to 1963 and is the current state historical song. Sample lyrics: “I’m bringin’ home a baby bumblebee/Won’t my mommy be so proud of me/I’m bringin’ home a baby bumblebee/Ow! It stung me!”
Camp Snoopy is a children’s theme park based on the comic strip “Peanuts” by Charles Schulz. It is generally located inside larger amusements. The first was at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California; there used to be one at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.
Tommy, you like refried pois … beans, beans!
See above note on refried beans.
Please, sir, may I have some more?
This is a paraphrase of a line from the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist, in which Oliver, an orphan, asks for another helping of gruel and finds himself thrown out of the orphanage and apprenticed to the first passerby who will take him. The actual line: “Please, sir, I want some more.”
[Sung.] We’re having Beefaroni!
This is a 1960s-era jingle for Beefaroni, a canned macaroni product made by Chef Boyardee consisting of macaroni and beef in a tomato sauce. It and other Chef Boyardee products are popular with children.
Life is pain, Tommy.
A paraphrased line from The Princess Bride, a 1987 film based on the William Goldman novel (who also wrote the screenplay): “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”
Watch the prints, Tommy—Hec Ramsey needs that hat.
Hec Ramsey was a TV series that aired from 1972 to 1974. It starred Richard Boone as an aging, turn-of-the-century detective.
“Tommy!” Can you hear me? “Tommy!” Can you hear me?
See note on Tommy, above. In the 1975 film version of Tommy, this song was performed by Ann-Margret.
He’s being followed by a doughboy.
“Doughboy” was a slang term for a soldier in the U.S. Army or Marine Corps. The term originated during the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848, and came into widespread use during World War I (1914-1918).
Dang smoochers on my property!
A reference to Show 418, Attack of the Eye Creatures.
Come out, come out, wherever you are!
In the 1991 remake of the 1962 suspense thriller Cape Fear, Robert De Niro plays psycho-bad guy Max Cady, and says this line while stalking lawyer Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte). (Thanks to Steve Harvey for this reference.)
[Sung.] Theme from The Great Escape.
See above note.
Prange Way was a chain of department stores in the Midwest. Established in 1911, the last stores closed after Christmas in 1995.
A reference to Show 104, Women of the Prehistoric Planet.
In 1985, world champion gymnast Kurt Thomas made an enjoyably bad movie called Gymkata, in which he goes to a country called Parmistan and wrestles a bunch of ninjas and fights off zombies armed with pitchforks so the American military can put in a missile base. Fortunately, the country has a lot of gymnastic equipment just lying around that he can use to defeat the bad guys.
Dog tossing, tonight on A Current Affair.
Dwarf tossing is a pub/bar attraction popular in England and in former British colonies such as Canada and Australia, in which contestants compete to see how far they can throw a dwarf, or little person. A number of attempts have been made to ban dwarf tossing—some successful, some not—over the objections of the dwarfs themselves, who see it as an attempt to take away their livelihood. A Current Affair was a TV “news” show that aired from 1986-1996. It specialized in celebrity gossip, lurid sex scandals, and other socially redeeming topics. It was hosted by Maury Povich.
Must have been Lassie number twelve or so.
Across eleven films, three live TV series, and two radio shows, Lassie has been played by about thirteen dogs, almost all descended from the original, Pal.
When did they build a corral? –They used CorralDraw.
CorelDRAW is a computer graphics software program produced by the Corel Corporation since 1989.
Must be Regional Velvet.
National Velvet is a 1944 horse-racing movie starring Mickey Rooney and a 12-year-old Elizabeth Taylor. It was based on the children’s book by Enid Bagnold.
Either this boy’s dead or his heart has stopped.
This is a parody of a famous Groucho Marx line from the classic Marx Brothers movie A Day at the Races (1937). The actual line: “Either he’s dead or my watch has stopped.”
I love my dead gay son!
A line from the black comedy Heathers (1989), which starred Winona Ryder and Christian Slater as teenagers who begin killing off popular students and making them look like suicides, including a couple of jocks whose bodies are left in compromisingly homoerotic circumstances.
[Looney Tunes “trombone gobble” sound effect]
An early, and frequently heard, sound effect in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons from Warner Brothers, the “trombone gobble” was created by playing a low note on a trombone with a rapidly opening and closing mute, then speeding up the recording. It was likely performed by Orlando “Slim” Martin, who was the trombonist in the Abe Lyman Orchestra, which did the earliest Merrie Melodies themes. (Thanks to TreadWellJ for the correct name of the sound effect.)
[Sung.] Now when the West was very young ...
This is a paraphrase of the theme song to the Bat Masterson television show, which aired from 1958-1961. The actual lyrics: “Back when the West was very young/There lived a man named Masterson.”
Hey, look, he’s doing a shadow thingy of Abe Lincoln. –[Gunshot noise.] Sorry.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) was the 16th president of the United States, who guided the nation through the Civil War (1861-1865) and was assassinated shortly after its end by disgruntled Southerner John Wilkes Booth.
Now, wait, who was that other shadow? Was that Peter Pan looking on?
Peter Pan is the titular hero of the play by J.M. Barrie (1860-1937), which was first produced in 1904. Early in the play, Peter loses his shadow when the Darlings’ window slams shut on it.
What a piece of work is man.
A paraphrase of a line in the William Shakespeare play Hamlet (The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark), written sometime between 1599 and 1602. A lengthy monologue delivered by Prince Hamlet in Act II, Scene 2 contains the lines: “What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?”
“Drink it.” It’s Old Milwaukee. Tastes as great as its name.
Old Milwaukee is a beer produced by the Stroh Brewery. It has a reputation as a cheap beer popular among students and trailer park denizens, but judging by comments online, it enjoys a loyal crowd of fans. “Tastes as great as its name” is a 1970s advertising slogan for Old Milwaukee.
Taste it all. One awesome calorie.
“Taste it all” and “One awesome calorie” were short-lived slogans for Diet Coke in 1993.
And you were there, and you, and you ...
A reference to a scene at the end of The Wizard of Oz (1939), in which Dorothy awakens to find herself in her bedroom, surrounded by her aunt and uncle and farmhands, and realizes they were part of her dream. The actual line: “No. But it wasn't a dream—it was a place. And you—and you—and you—and you were there.”
“Jonathan is dead, son.” And I helped.
A line from 1970s television commercials for Shake ‘n Bake, a flavored breadcrumb coating product for chicken or pork:
Mom: “Fried chicken tonight!”
Daughter: “And I helped!”
Shep told me to kill him.
David Berkowitz, better known as the serial killer Son of Sam, killed six people and shot several others in New York City in 1976 and 1977. When he was apprehended, he told police that he had been ordered to commit the murders by his neighbor Sam, with the messages relayed to him by the neighbor’s “demonic” dog, a black Labrador named Harvey.
An imitation of Johnny Weissmuller (1904-1984), who played Tarzan the Ape Man in a series of films between 1932 and 1948.
“Hey Jonathan!” What’s happenin’?
An imitation of the theme from the TV sitcom What’s Happening!!, composed by the famous Henry Mancini.
Skip a bit, brother.
A line from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The relevant dialogue:
Brother: And Saint Atila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, “Oh, Lord, bless this thy hand grenade that with it thou mayest blow thy enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy.” And the Lord did grin, and the people did feast upon the lambs, and sloths, and carp, and anchovies, and orangutans, and breakfast cereals, and fruit bats, and large—
Maynard: Skip a bit, brother.
Now the jets will fly in the missing man formation.
The missing man formation is a military tradition at funerals for pilots, astronauts, and other dignitaries. There are two traditional variations: one in which a group of jets flies in formation and one jet peels off from the others to symbolize the “missing man,” and one in which the formation is flown with a “hole” in it where the missing man’s jet should be.
Kids say the darndest things, huh?
Art Linkletter (1912-2010) was an entertainer who hosted the television variety series House Party from 1952-1969. At the end of each show, Linkletter had a segment with this title, in which he would interview a child; he eventually wrote two books based on the interviews. From 1998-2000, comedian Bill Cosby also hosted a show called Kids Say the Darndest Things; Cosby later produced his own collection of kids’ sayings under the same title.
This is turning into a parlor mystery. I bet there’s going to be three different endings.
In 1985, a movie came out called Clue, based on the classic board game of the same name. The gimmick was that it was released with three different endings, in which different characters turned out to be the murderer.
Wild dogs can’t be broken.
Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken is a 1991 film starring Gabrielle Anwar as a young runaway who wants to be a “diving girl” and ride diving horses.
Ah, Mr. Shep. You have a nasty habit of surviving.
A line from the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy, starring Roger Moore.
All right—throw the Snausages out nice and easy.
See note on Snausages, above.
Prepare to meet collie!
"Mola Ram, prepare to meet Kali—in hell!" is a line from the 1984 film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Hey, wait a second—I think Barbasol had an industrial spill.
Barbasol is a brand of shaving cream marketed to men; it was invented by a former MIT professor in 1919. It is manufactured by Perio Inc.
This is no place for a convertible!
This is a line from the 1963 film It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, spoken by Phil Silvers.
She’s taking him up K2, see, because she’s a K9!
K2, at 28,251 feet, is the second-tallest mountain in the world, after Mount Everest. It is located in the Himalayas, straddling the border between China and Kashmir. The summit was not reached until an expedition in 1954. “K9” is, of course, a soundalike for “canine,” but it is also the designation for police dog units.
Watch out for squibs, Lassie!
A squib is basically a small explosive device, with many industrial and military uses. In moviemaking, very small squibs are used to simulate bullets hitting objects, and squibs attached to balloons filled with fake blood and hidden under clothing simulate a person being hit by a bullet.
Hey, what are you, Claudine Longet?
Claudine Longet is a French singer and actress who has made guest appearances on numerous TV shows as well as acting in several films. In 1976 she shot and killed her boyfriend, skier Spider Sabich. The shooting took place after Sabich had asked her to move out; she claimed the gun had accidentally gone off and was convicted of criminal negligence, serving only 30 days in prison.
I know what you’re thinking: did I fire six shots or only five? Well, this film is so poorly made, it doesn’t matter.
This is a parody of the famous line from the 1971 film Dirty Harry, starring Clint Eastwood. The full line: “I know what you're thinking: Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I've kinda lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”
The Fido sanction.
See note on The Eiger Sanction, above. The Eiger is a mountain in the Swiss Alps; its northern face is one of the most dangerous climbs in that range, with at least 64 deaths since 1935.
Where beagles dare.
Where Eagles Dare is a 1968 film starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood. The movie is about a commando team in World War II staging a raid on a mountain fortress in German-held territory to rescue a captured American general.
Oh, now she’s gonna have to be saved by a St. Bernard.
The St. Bernard is a very large breed of dog that was bred in the western Alps along the French-Italian border to aid in search and rescue operations. There is a popular image of St. Bernards wearing a small cask of brandy around their necks to help warm victims, which apparently originated in an 1820 painting by Edward Landseer, titled Alpine Mastiffs Reanimating a Distressed Traveler. The monks of St. Bernard Hospice, where the breed originated, deny the dogs ever wore casks, but they keep some around anyway for the tourists to photograph.
The most tedious game.
The Most Dangerous Game is a 1932 film starring Joel McCrea and Fay Wray as shipwrecked passengers on a mysterious island whose owner hunts humans for sport.
Hey, he’s turning into Michael McDonald.
Michael McDonald was the bearded lead singer for the Doobie Brothers on songs like “What a Fool Believes” and “Takin' It to the Streets.” In 1982 he disbanded the group to launch a solo career; although he had a few isolated hits, he never really matched his success with the band, and in 1996 they reunited for a tour.
I stashed a bag of Cycle 2 somewhere up here.
Cycle is a brand of dog food manufactured by Del Monte Foods, which also makes Kibbles ‘n Bits and Gravy Train pet foods. Cycle 1 was for puppies, Cycle 2 was for ages 1-7, etc.
[Sung.] She came from somewhere out of the long ago ...
A paraphrase of the song “What a Fool Believes" by the Doobie Brothers (see previous note). Actual lyrics: "He came from somewhere back in her long ago/The sentimental fool don't see/Trying hard to recreate/What had yet to be created once in her life." (Thanks to John B. for this reference.)
This is no good—we’re on top of the monument!
A paraphrase of a line from the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock classic North by Northwest: “This can’t be good—we’re on top of the monument!” (The monument in question: Mount Rushmore.)
This is where Holmes met his end at Reichenbach Falls. –Oh, yeah, Reichenbach, Texas. –No, that’s Luckenbach, Texas.
In 1893, when author Arthur Conan Doyle grew tired of his famous literary creation Sherlock Holmes, he killed the great detective off: in the short story “The Final Problem,” Holmes and his nemesis, Professor Moriarty, plunge together to their death off the top of Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. It didn’t take—Holmes returned nine years later in “The Adventure of the Empty House.” Luckenbach, Texas, is home to the Luckenbach Dance Hall, which regularly hosts country-music concerts. Total population of the “town”: 3.
Well, his hair turned grey so gradually I didn’t notice it.
Flipping the script on Grecian Formula, a hair dye for men that promises to gradually get rid of gray hair over a period of weeks—thus presumably making it less obvious that you dye your hair. It is manufactured by Combe Inc.
This is like the end of The Shootist.
The Shootist is a 1976 Western starring John Wayne as a gunfighter with terminal cancer looking to go out in style. It was Wayne’s last film; he died—of stomach cancer—three years later.
Russ? Russ, this guy’s serious, Russ. Where are you?
See note on Frank and Rudd Weatherwax, above. N.B.: Pal's trainer's name was Rudd, not Russ. Rudd was short for Ruddell.
Alex Trebek, no!
Alex Trebek is the host of the television game show Jeopardy!, which first aired in 1984.
The gun’s turned into a Bomb Pop.
Bomb Pops are a brand of frozen treats made by Blue Bunny. They come in several varieties. The original Bomb Pops were red, white, and blue and had three different flavors: cherry, lime, and blue raspberry.
Wait a minute, I’ve hit absolute zero and I’m still walking around, how’d I do that?
At absolute zero (0 degrees Kelvin), nearly all molecular motion stops.
See note on Snausages, above.
Slowly, I turned, step by step ...
This phrase comes from an old vaudeville routine that has been used by many comedians. Abbott and Costello used it in a 1944 film called Lost in a Harem; the Three Stooges did a version the same year in their Gents Without Cents; and a third version appeared in an I Love Lucy episode.
Oh, for the want of a Frisbee.
The Frisbee is a classic toy, a plastic disc that can fly for quite a distance when skimmed flat through the air. It is manufactured by Wham-O. The phrasing of the comment is derived from an essay called "The Way to Wealth," written by Benjamin Franklin: "A little neglect may breed great mischief; for want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for want of a horse the rider was lost, being overtaken and slain by the enemy; all for want of a little care about a horse-shoe nail."
He’s in Camelot!
Camelot is the castle home of the legendary English king Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. It was first mentioned in Chrétien de Troyes’ 12th-century poem “Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart.”
Merlin, Merlin, turn me into a bird so I can fly from here.
Merlin was the magician in the English legends of King Arthur. In the novel The Once and Future King by T.H. White, Merlin turns a young Arthur into a succession of animals to help prepare him to become king.
He’s turned all the way into Lon Chaney Jr.
Lon Chaney Jr. (1906-1973) was an actor known for his parts in horror films—particularly his portrayal of Larry Talbot in The Wolf Man (1941). He was often overshadowed by his father, the great silent film star known as the Man of a Thousand Faces.
Wait a minute: all I have to do is hang glide down and have a cool Canadian Club.
Canadian Club is a brand of whisky made by Hiram Walker. A 1973 ad for Canadian Club told a dramatic tale of hang gliding off New Zealand’s Glacier Dome.
I mean, the dog should make his brain explode. Scanner dog. That I would buy.
Scanners is a 1981 horror flick by David Cronenberg about a group of people with terrifying telekinetic powers; it starred Jennifer O’Neill and Stephen Lack. A famous scene in the film depicts a duel of sorts between two scanners: the loser’s head explodes.
The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams was a 1975 movie starring Dan Haggerty as James Adams, a man who lives alone in the mountains with his pet bear. It was turned into a short-lived TV series, also starring Haggerty, in 1977; more TV movies and films followed.
[Sung.] You don't know me, but I ...
A line from the Doobie Brothers song "Takin' It to the Streets" (see above note). (Thanks to John B. for this reference.)
This may be a reference to the 1989 James Bond film Licence to Kill, starring Timothy Dalton; as film legend would have it, the original title, “Licence Revoked,” was changed because producers feared Americans were too dumb to understand it. However, they did retain the British spelling for "licence."
He should have tried the bunny hill first.
In ski areas that provide skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports, a “bunny hill” is a particularly gentle and unchallenging slope intended for beginning and inexperienced skiers and snowboarders.
Oh, look, they’re inside one of those shaky snow worlds.
Snow globes, or snow domes are plastic balls with winter scenes inside, filled with water and confetti, so that when shaken, it appears to be “snowing.”
My mouth’s bleeding, Bert.
A line from the 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life.
Oh, hi, Pile On Pete. Got some Snausages?
See note on Snausages, above. For the record, Joel, Tom, and Crow said the word “Snausage” 17 times in this episode. Lassie only barked it once.