609: The Skydivers
by Wyn Hilty
Puberty … on Parade!
A riff on Hollywood on Parade, a series of shorts produced by Paramount Pictures between 1932 and 1934, billed as “Movie Snapshots of Your Favorite Stars at Play.”
Oh, this is one of Sousa’s tender love ballads.
John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) was an American composer known for his military marches, which have survived to this day; “The Liberty Bell March” saw use as the theme to Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
“In plastic.” Or in skin, if you can get it.
Ed Gein (1906-1984) was a notorious Wisconsin serial killer. In 1957 police discovered the headless body of a local shopkeeper hanging in a shed outside of Gein’s farmhouse outside Plainfield, Wisconsin. They searched the house and found belts, lampshades, bowls, and other items fashioned from body parts. Gein confessed to the murders of only two women, although he was suspected in four other cases; most of his “trophies” had been obtained by exhuming recently buried corpses from the local graveyard. Gein was committed to a psychiatric hospital and remained there until he died. Several movie killers who used their victims for arts and crafts have been based more or less on Gein: Norman Bates in Psycho, Leatherface and clan in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs.
I keep Popular Mechanics under my mattress.
Popular Mechanics is a magazine devoted to cars, gadgets, boats, technology, and other subjects beloved to home tinkerers’ hearts.
I’m making it for the Grand Wizard.
The Grand Wizard is the title given to the leader of the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist terror organization. The first Grand Wizard, who headed the Klan after the American Civil War, is believed to have been a Confederate general named Nathan Forrest.
[Hummed.] Chorus from “The Happy Wanderer.”
Tom is humming the famous “Valderi-valdera, valderi-valdera-ha-ha-ha-ha …” chorus from “The Happy Wanderer,” a.k.a. “Der frohliche Wanderer.” Often mistaken for a German folk song, “The Happy Wanderer” is an original composition written by Friedrich-Wilhelm Moller shortly after World War II, using lyrics written by Florenz Friedrich Sigismund in the early 19th century. It was popularized by the Obernkirchen Children’s Choir, conducted by Moller’s sister Edith. Sample lyrics to the English version: “I love to go a-wandering/Along the mountain track/And as I go, I love to sing/My knapsack on my back/Val-deri,Val-dera/Val-deri, Val-dera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha/Val-deri,Val-dera/My knapsack on my back.”
A new-fangled bong. Heh-heh-heh.
A bong is a water pipe used to smoke tobacco and, more famously, marijuana. The water cools the hot gas and removes cinders, making the smoke easier to inhale without diluting any of its, ahem, desirable effects.
Extruded plastic dingus. There.
In the 1994 Coen Brothers movie The Hudsucker Proxy, the newly invented hula hoop was originally called the “extruded plastic dingus” or simply “dingus.”
[Hummed.] Chorus from “The Happy Wanderer.”
See above note.
Krazy Glue spokesmen.
Krazy Glue is a brand of instant adhesive that was introduced in 1973. That same year saw the introduction of its spokesperson, a construction worker in a hard hat who glues himself to a girder.
[Sung.] Oh you never would believe where those Keebler cookies come from …
A reference to an old advertising jingle for Keebler cookies, dating back to 1967. The complete lyrics: “Man, you never would believe where those Keebler cookies come from/They're baked by little guys in a hollow tree/And what do you think makes those cookies so uncommon?/They're baked in magic ovens and there's no factory. Hey!”
[Sung.] Tool operator … tool operator …
A paraphrase of the song “Smooth Operator” by Sade. Actual lyrics: “No need to ask/He's a smooth operator, smooth operator, smooth operator, smooth operator.”
[Hummed.] Chorus from “The Happy Wanderer.”
See above note.
At the top there—a pinup of Kathy Bates.
Kathy Bates is an actress who has appeared in dozens of films and TV shows, including Misery (1990) and Titanic (1997).
[Hummed.] Chorus from “The Happy Wanderer.”
See above note.
A National Geographic Special.
National Geographic Specials are a series of discrete television documentaries that focus on nature, foreign cultures, and other topics of interest. They have been airing periodically since 1964.
They shoot horses, don’t they?
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? is a 1969 film about a group of contestants participating in a dance marathon.
[Screen: “Special Arrangement with 'Big J' Label.”] Big J. [Stoner laugh.] –We know what that means.
Just FYI—“J” is short for “joint,” a slang term for a marijuana cigarette.
Looks like the Spruce Goose is chaperoning a teen party here.
The Spruce Goose was an airplane built during World War II that was designed and ultimately piloted by eccentric billionaire playboy Howard Hughes (1905-1976). It was envisioned as an alternative to ships, which at the time were getting regularly sunk by German submarines. It was constructed mainly of wood (hence its nickname; its official name was the H-4). The project was not actually completed until after the war was over, and it flew just once, in 1947, for a distance of about a mile. The Spruce Goose currently resides in a very large building at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.
This is just a typical Brainerd International Raceway party.
The Brainerd International Raceway & Resort is an 800-acre complex located about 120 miles north of Minneapolis. It opened in 1968.
The Ten Commandments had a smaller cast than this.
The Ten Commandments is a biblical epic from 1956, featuring a cast of thousands, and Charlton Heston as the voice of God!
Bravo respects the rights of the artists, but we cut their films anyway.
Bravo is a basic-cable channel formerly known for its arts programming and films; now it is known more for reality shows like The Real Housewives of _________.
Suddenly, Frank De Vol is there!
Frank De Vol (1911-1999) was a Hollywood composer who worked on dozens of films and TV series, including The Brady Bunch (for which he wrote the well-known theme). As an actor, De Vol’s dour expression and bald pate earned him bit parts in such sitcoms as I Dream of Jeannie (NBC, 1965-1970) and Petticoat Junction (CBS, 1963-1970), but he is best known as bandleader “Happy” Kyne, of Happy Kyne and the Mirthmakers, on the talk-show parody series Fernwood 2 Night (syndication, 1977) and America 2 Night (syndication, 1978). (Thanks to Brian Dermody for this reference.)
Marlo Thomas in That Guy!
That Girl was a television series starring Marlo Thomas as a struggling actress trying to make it big in New York. It ran from 1966-1971.
Loretta Lynn in Copilot’s Daughter.
Coal Miner’s Daughter is a 1980 film starring Sissy Spacek as country singer Loretta Lynn (1932-2022).
Frankie goes to Hollywood.
Frankie Goes to Hollywood is a new wave band that made it big for a brief time in the mid-1980s with songs like “Relax.”
He’d never touch you, Terry—you’re dirt.
A reference to Show 522, Teen-age Crime Wave.
I’m gonna go watch the Kefauver hearings anyway.
In 1950 and 1951, a Senate committee headed by Estes Kefauver held a series of hearings on organized crime at which many mobsters testified (some later turning up in oil drums) and the country was exposed for the first time to phrases like “Murder Inc.” The hearings forced FBI director J. Edgar Hoover to admit that the United States had an organized criminal underworld, which he had denied for decades.
At least there’s this riveting soundtrack. –This is downright Hitchcockian. –Robyn Hitchcock.
Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) was a renowned film director known for such works as Rear Window (1954) and Psycho (1960). Robyn Hitchcock is a British guitarist who got his start in the 1970s with the band The Soft Boys.
I’m going to fly down to the Winn-Dixie.
Winn-Dixie is a chain of supermarkets found largely in the southeastern United States.
Terror at sea level.
A reference to either the 1963 Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” or the 1973 made-for-TV movie Horror at 37,000 Feet, both of which starred William Shatner as a man battling a demonic force aboard an aircraft in flight. “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” was remade as a segment of the 1983 movie Twilight Zone: The Movie, this time starring John Lithgow. Horror at 37,000 Feet is widely considered the worst film of Shatner’s career, although let us not forget the deathless White Comanche (1968), in which Shatner plays a dual role as twin brothers: the noble white cowboy Johnny Moon and his evil, scheming twin brother, the drugged-out Comanche warrior Notah. It must be seen to be believed.
More terrifying than Airport ’77!
Airport ’77 is a 1977 disaster flick about a plane crash in the Bermuda Triangle. It was the third in the Airport series.
The loneliness of the long-distance greaser.
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner is a 1962 film about a young man sentenced to a reformatory who finds solace in running.
And in this corner, the Piper Cub.
An imitation of sportscaster Howard Cosell. The Piper Cub is a popular two-seater airplane manufactured by Piper Aircraft Corporation. The Piper Cubs were used in World War II as reconnaissance planes.(Thanks to Todd Berryman for pointing out the Cosell reference.)
Someone with attention deficit disorder edited this film.
Attention deficit disorder, or ADD, is a behavioral disorder characterized by restlessness, inability to sit still, and trouble concentrating on things. ADD is most common in children, although since it was first classed as a disorder in 1980 it has increasingly been seen in adults. There are those who think the disease is overdiagnosed, especially in children.
Okay, bye now. Buh-bye, good luck. –Aloha. –See ya later. Bye-bye now. –Bye. Bye. –Bye-bye. –Goodbye. –Good to see ya. Bye-bye.
A riff on the Saturday Night Live (NBC, 1975-Present) catchphrase “Buh-bye, now. Buh-bye …” spoken by David Spade in his character as the insufferably rude flight attendant in the recurring sketch “Total Bastard Airlines,” which debuted in March 1994, about five months before this episode aired.
Sounds like Superman’s out there. –[Sung.] Theme from Adventures of Superman.
Superman is the quintessential comic-book hero. He first appeared in Action Comics in 1938. He has also been featured in cartoons, movies, radio shows, and even a Broadway musical. In the TV series Adventures of Superman (Syndication, 1952-1958), shots of Superman in flight were accompanied by a distinctive sound effect, which was clearly slapped onto this scene.
I wet ‘em!
A paraphrase of a line from the Monty Python sketch “The Visitors” in Season 1, Episode 9, which aired in December 1969 (actual line: “Oooo, I’ve wet ‘em!”). The sketch featured Eric Idle’s character Mr. Cheeky, aka “Mr. Nudge,” from the beloved “Nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say no more, Squire!” sketch.
Safe boating is no accident.
“Safe boating is no accident” is a longtime slogan of the U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division. There is also a rock band from Denver, Colorado, named Safe Boating Is No Accident.
Ted Kennedy’s PT 109.
Ted Kennedy (1932-2009) was a senator from Massachusetts and one of the few old-school liberals in Congress. PT 109 is a 1963 film dramatizing President John F. Kennedy’s days in the service during World War II (1939-1945).
Thank you for bringing me to the Eelpout Festival.
The Eelpout Festival is an icefishing competition and winter festival held every February in Walker, Minnesota, since 1979, typically drawing about ten thousand people. The eelpout itself is actually a burbot, a large, revolting cod-type fish. (Thanks to Todd Berryman for this reference.)
Jeez, she looks like she’s from Middle Earth.
Middle Earth is the mythical land that forms the setting for J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic work of fantasy, The Lord of the Rings.
Hey, here’s a tip: don’t buy the Tommy Kirk workout video.
Tommy Kirk (1941-2021) was an actor who got his start as one of the original Mouseketeers, going on to star in such Disney classics as Old Yeller (1957) and Swiss Family Robinson (1960). When Disney learned that Kirk was gay, Walt himself fired him (asking him back for one final picture in the Merlin Jones series). Following that, Kirk appeared in a string of B-movies, including MST3K Show 204, Catalina Caper, and Show 523, Village of the Giants.
Hey, look, Benji got an Oldsmobile!
Benji is a dog, a lovable mutt who appeared in a string of movies during the 1970s and 1980s. Oldsmobile is a brand of cars manufactured by GM.
He’s riding with FDR!
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945), popularly known as FDR, is the only man to be elected president of the United States four times. He led the country out of the Great Depression and guided it through the turbulent years of World War II.
Dog days at Campobello.
Campobello is an island off the coast of Maine that served as Franklin Roosevelt’s (see previous note) summer residence from the time he was one year old until 1936. You can still see the 34-room Roosevelt “cottage” on the island.
Harry Reems (1947-2013) appeared in many of the most popular pornographic films of the 1970s. His last appearance was in 1989’s Cumshot Revue 5.
The Red Baron’s going to appear.
Red Baron is a brand of frozen pizza sold in supermarkets nationwide. The company once ran a series of ads in which the Red Baron materialized as people chowed down on his pizza.
Here comes Bronson!
Then Came Bronson was a TV series that ran from 1969-1970. It starred Michael Parks as a young man traveling through America searching for personal meaning. According to the ACEG, “Frank Conniff loved it.”
[Sung.] The Great Escape theme.
This is the theme to The Great Escape (1963), which starred Steve McQueen as the leader of a group of POWs bent on escape.
Malcolm Forbes to the rescue.
Malcolm Forbes (1919-1990) was a publishing tycoon and an ardent motorcycling enthusiast. He even owned a motorcycle dealership in New Jersey.
[Sung.] Get your motor running ...
Possibly a reference to the Steppenwolf song "Born to Be Wild." Sample lyrics: "Get your motor running/Head out on the highway/Looking for adventure/And whatever comes our way." (Thanks to Kurt Basham for identifying this reference.)
Jeez, they should set a place for Eraserhead.
Eraserhead is a 1977 short black-and-white film directed by bizarro filmmaker David Lynch, who would later go on to great fame with TV series Twin Peaks and films such as Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart. One of Eraserhead’s many memorable moments is a surreal and nightmarishly bleak dinner scene.
Jim Jarmusch’s Scenes from a Marriage.
Jim Jarmusch is a quirky filmmaker known for such works as Dead Man and Night on Earth. Scenes from a Marriage is a 1973 Ingmar Bergman film that follows the troubled relationship of a married couple.
If it’s the Tuna Helper you want …
Tuna Helper is a boxed dinner made by Betty Crocker; the idea is to add a can of tuna fish to the noodles and spices in the dinner to create a main dish.
Claude Akins (1918-1994) was a burly character actor who tended to play villains, gunfighters, sheriffs, and cops. He appeared in more than 100 TV shows and films over his long career.
[Sung.] I want to bite and kiss you … rough boys …
A line from the song “Rough Boys” by Pete Townshend. Sample lyrics: “Tough boys/Running the streets/Come a little closer … Tough boys/Come over here/I wanna bite and kiss you …” (Thanks to Matthew Czupryna for correcting my misattribution of this song to The Who.)
Now the Hare Krishnas just come right out to the runway.
Hare Krishnas were a religious group that sprang up among the counterculture in the 1960s and 1970s. Their shaved heads and robes were once ubiquitous in airports nationwide, where they solicited donations and passed out literature. A series of regulations in the 1980s helped curtail their activities, and they now stress mass mailings and door-to-door efforts to get the word out about their beliefs.
[Sung.] Star Trek fight music.
This is the music commonly played during fight scenes on the TV series Star Trek, which ran from 1966-1969. It was originally composed by Gerald Fried for the episode "Amok Time," and its official title is "The Ritual/Ancient Battle/2nd Kroykah."
And the Pet Shop Boys have creative differences.
The Pet Shop Boys were a synth-pop duo who hit it big in the mid-1980s with songs like “West End Girls.” The band consisted of keyboarder Chris Lowe and singer Neil Tennant.
I think they’re going for the Quiet Man movie fight record.
The Quiet Man is a 1952 movie starring John Wayne as a boxer who retires to Ireland and falls in love.
Wilbur, Orville—come on.
Brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright were aviation pioneers. Their famous flight at Kitty Hawk was the first controlled, sustained flight of an aircraft and began the age of air travel.
“She’s my girl” Bill.
A line from the 1974 song “My Girl Bill” by Jim Stafford (who appears in Show 814, Riding with Death), one of four Top 40 hits from his eponymous debut album. Sample lyrics: “Now, I know we both love her/And I guess we always will/But you're gonna have to find another/'Cause she's my girl, Bill!” (Thanks to K.E. Steidl for this reference.)
"Get up." [Sung.] Get on up ...
A reference to James Brown's "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine)." (Thanks to Kurt Basham for identifying this reference.)
I was born to be wild! My mom said I was!
See above note on "Born to Be Wild."
“You know, Beth …” I’m Rita Moreno.
Rita Moreno is an actress, singer, and dancer known especially for her role as Anita in the film version of West Side Story.
Amon Goeth on guitar.
Possibly a reference to the infamous Nazi commander. (Thanks to Joel Boutiere for this reference.) Shari Myers points out that the actor in the scene bears a strong resemblance to Ralph Fiennes, who played Goeth in the 1993 film Schindler's List.
Doodles Weaver is Eraserhead.
Doodles Weaver (1911-1983) was a comic actor who appeared on the old Spike Jones radio program as Professor Feitlebaum and appeared in a series of silent comedy shorts for TV in the 1960s. See also note on Eraserhead, above.
Now, this is for the Circulating Pines, so smile!
The Circulating Pines was the weekly newspaper for the small town of Circle Pines, Mary Jo Pehl’s hometown. As she says in the ACEG: “Circle Pines [Minnesota] is Everytown, USA. ... When I was growing up in Circle Pines, it was a small town and had Lee and Iris’s Bar and Grill, ... the Down Under On/Off Sale, ... two rival gas stations, no stoplights, and the weekly newspaper called The Circulating Pines. ... The sign still reads—as it did all my twenty-some years there—POPULATION: 4,731.”
Hey, Orville Moody! Hey, Orville!
Orville Moody (1933-2008) is a golfer who began competing in the late 1960s and won the U.S. Open in 1969. He has since become a major player on the Seniors circuit.
He’s covering the event for Crawdaddy!
Crawdaddy! was the first music fanzine and the first U.S. publication devoted to rock and roll music. It was published from 1966-1969 and again from 1993-2003.
Love that Bob!
Love That Bob was a TV sitcom about a photographer and his romantic adventures with the many beautiful ladies who model for him. The original title was The Bob Cummings Show, but it was retitled when it began airing in reruns. The series ran from 1955-1959.
And here's one I learned in prison.
Johnny Cash (1932-2003) was a country-western singer known for his black garb and his sympathy for men in prison, for whom he frequently performed. (Thanks to Todd Berryman for this reference.)
Their parachuting idol is Trini Lopez in The Dirty Dozen. That's because he fell and died. –Yes.
The Dirty Dozen is a 1967 movie about a group of murderers trained to assassinate German officers during World War II. Trini Lopez (1937-2020) played Pedro Jiminez in the film.
They’re over the land of Dairy Queen.
A reference to an old advertising jingle for the Dairy Queen chain of restaurants: “In the land of Dairy Queen, we treat you right!” A mountainous landscape made of chocolate, hot fudge sauce, and other goodies was involved.
Excuse me, we’re filming a James Bond movie here. Could you move, please?
A reference to the scene in Moonraker (1979) in which Bond is thrown out of an airplane sans parachute by Richard "Eegah" Kiel and has to steal one from the pilot in midair. (Thanks to Todd Berryman for this reference.)
Hey, a Wal-Mart got built since we jumped!
Wal-Mart is the largest chain of retail stores in the United States. The first store was opened in 1962 by Sam Walton, offering discount merchandise at low prices. Walton opened many of his stores in small towns, where they often drove local merchants out of business by undercutting their prices. By the time of Walton’s death in 1992, there were more than 1,700 Wal-Mart stores.
Why, Jeannie C. Riley!
Jeannie C. Riley is a country singer best known for her song "Harper Valley PTA." (Thanks to Sampo for this reference.)
The Virgin Mary has appeared, and she wants the world to build airfields.
From May-October 1917, three children in Fatima, Portugal, reported repeated visitations by a vision of the Virgin Mary, who was dubbed Our Lady of Fatima. She gave three messages to the children; the first two were made public and have generally been considered to have predicted the world wars and the eventual fall of communism. The third was kept secret by the Church until 2000, when it announced the message had predicted the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II.
Let's review. Uni, Roy, Al ...
"Refers to Uniroyal tire commercials featuring the characters Uni, Roy and Al, who wore white jumpsuits and crash helmets." (Thanks to Christopher Brame.)
Welcome to ground zero.
The term “ground zero” refers to the point of detonation of a nuclear weapon; many people also use it to refer to Hiroshima, Japan, the site of the first nuclear bombing.
They’ve achieved perfect Hugo, Minnesota.
Hugo, Minnesota, is a small town of about 8,500 people, located north and slightly east of Minneapolis.
An imitation of Frank Sutton as Sergeant Vince Carter on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., a TV series that ran from 1964-1970.
So she’s hooking up with Donald O’Connor now, huh?
Donald O’Connor (1925-2003) got his start in the 1930s as a child actor. He appeared in more than a hundred movies and TV shows over the course of his career.
The coffee underachievers.
“The Coffee Achievers” was a series of commercials for coffee that aired during the early 1980s. They featured celebrities like David Bowie and Cicely Tyson bragging about their coffee consumption.
And now a look at the lighter side of skydiving.
Possibly a riff on Mad Magazine’s long-running “The Lighter Side of …” cartoon series by Dave Berg.
Postum? A little Bevo, perhaps?
Postum is a caffeine-free coffee substitute. Bevo is a “near beer,” or a non-alcoholic malt beverage, which became popular during Prohibition when no actual beer was available.
Tang? A little Tang?
Tang is an orange-flavored, powdered drink mix that became famous when NASA astronauts began using it in the 1960s. It is manufactured by Kraft Foods.
If it were me, I’d parachute right into a Mr. Bulky warehouse.
Mr. Bulky is a franchise chain of sweet shops.
Fred Allen, ladies and gentlemen—Fred Allen.
Fred Allen (1894-1956) was a longtime comedian and actor who wrote and starred in his own radio show,The Fred Allen Show, from 1939-1949. He also appeared on television and in movies.
Here’s your Fox Deluxe.
Fox Deluxe is a brand of beer that was manufactured by the Fox Deluxe Brewing Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Chief Oshkosh (1795-1858) was the chief of the Menominee tribe in Wisconsin from 1827 until his death in 1858. The city of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, is named after him. Then of course there’s Chief Oshkosh Beer, which was introduced as a non-alcoholic brew during Prohibition, but didn’t sell very well, thanks to the ready availability of bootleg real beer. After the repeal of Prohibition, Chief Oshkosh was reintroduced as a regular-strength light lager, and was moderately popular in the Midwest until it ceased production in 1972.
“Play number 6A.” It’s by Lipps Inc.
Lipps Inc. is the one-hit-wonder band behind the 1979 disco hit “Funkytown.”
[Sung.] Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock …
A line from the song “Jingle Bell Rock.” Sample lyrics: “Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock/Jingle bells swing and jingle bells ring/Snowin' and blowin' up bushels of fun/Now the jingle hop has begun.”
Jeez, Dylan Thomas was in here and he didn’t drink this much.
Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) was a Welsh poet (he wrote the famous lines “Do not go gentle into that good night/Rage, rage against the dying of the light”). While he enjoyed professional and critical success, he was perennially hounded by the tax man and had a serious drinking problem, which led his marriage into difficulties. He died of alcohol poisoning after a particularly heavy binge in 1953.
Oh, there’s a sudden flurry in the corner! He can’t get away! This could be it, right there!
An imitation of sports announcer Howard Cosell (1918-1995).
She’s got more pancake than the IHOP.
The International House of Pancakes, better known as IHOP, is a chain of restaurants specializing in breakfasts. Though there are locations outside of the U.S., the “International” in their name actually refers to the restaurant's original menu, which featured pancakes with different toppings vaguely inspired by various countries.
Say! Nice Johnson.
Johnson Outboards was an American maker of outboard boat motors. The brand was absorbed by Evinrude Outboard Motors in 2007.
From a sailing adventure in Kuala Lumpur to a tawdry affair at Lake Mead, Schlitz is there.
Kuala Lumpur is the capital city of Malaysia. Lake Mead is the reservoir of water formed by Hoover Dam. And Schlitz is a brand of cheap beer.
She’s wearing Huggies!
Huggies is a brand of disposable diaper made by Kimberly-Clark.
Why are they cranking the Rimsky-Korsakov?
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) was a Russian composer known for his operas, which were often based on Russian myths and legends.
Jim Carrey is a rubbery-faced comedian prone to intensely over-the-top performances, although he has occasionally strayed into more serious work, such as 2004’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
He’s dating Resusci-Annie.
Resusci-Annie is a realistic mannequin that has been used to train people to perform CPR since 1960. Her face is based on the death mask of a young drowning victim pulled from the Seine in France at the turn of the century. Since her identity was never established, romantic stories circulated in which she threw herself into the river due to unrequited love, and copies of her death mask became a popular decoration throughout Europe. Dr. Forrester used a Resusci-Annie as a ventriloquist dummy during the invention exchange in Show 404, Teenagers from Outer Space.
She’s got teeth like a Ferengi.
The Ferengi were one of the main sets of villains on the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation, which aired from 1987-1994.
What is that? Am I lying on something dead? White Castle hamburgers?
White Castle is a chain of fast food burger restaurants founded in 1921. Its distinctively small, square hamburger “sliders” are also available through vending machines and in the frozen food sections of grocery stores.
[Imitating.] We could do that, but it would be wrong.
A paraphrase of a famous recorded comment by President Richard Nixon as the Watergate scandal was unfolding in the early 1970s. While discussing raising a million dollars in hush money for the Watergate burglars, Nixon supposedly said, “We could do that, but it would be wrong.” In fact, transcripts of the recorded conversation show that Nixon aide John Dean was telling Nixon that he (Nixon) shouldn’t be involved, and Nixon said, “No, it’s wrong, that’s for sure.” So while he did say the words, the meaning has been misconstrued: he didn’t say it would be wrong to raise the money or pay the men, he just said it would be wrong for him to be involved in the planning. One of the Watergate organizers, E. Howard Hunt, was in fact paid $75,000 twelve hours later, a key piece of evidence in the conspiracy charges made against Nixon's crew. (Thanks to Todd Berryman for this reference.)
Wow—going through a whole six-pack of Pepsi.
Pepsi is a major brand of cola, the chief competitor to Coca-Cola.
A string of paloppanies.
From the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide: “It’s a mispronunciation of ‘polo ponies,’ and it’s an old Jackie Gleason line.”
He gave me Michael Landon’s face.
Michael Landon (1936-1991) was an actor who appeared on a number of television series, including Bonanza, Highway to Heaven, and Little House on the Prairie. You can see a young Michael Landon in Show 809, I Was a Teenage Werewolf.
That’s nice. Can I have another Pepsi?
See note on Pepsi, above.
“What are you doing?” Working for Christo.
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.
Guy's turning to Woody Woodpecker. [Woody laugh.]
Woody Woodpecker is an animated, wacky, anthropomorphized pileated woodpecker who first appeared in the 1940 short Knock Knock, produced by Walter Lantz Studio. Woody’s trademark laugh was created by Mel Blanc, who used it in Warner Bros. shorts before this. Other voice artists associated with the character include Ben Hardaway, Danny Webb, Kent Rogers, and Grace Stafford.
Manos! –The hands of fate.
A reference to Show 424, Manos: The Hands of Fate.
Joe Weider’s Super Gold Weight Gainer. Yep, for the hard gainer.
Joe Weider is a line of fitness products, including protein shake mixes designed to help you gain weight; the best-known among these is the Mega Mass 4,000, which boasts of 4,000 calories per serving—nearly twice the daily caloric intake of the average person.
It’s like Snuffy Smith’s prescription.
Snuffy Smith is the star of the comic strip “Barney Google & Snuffy Smith.” He first appeared in 1934.
It’s Jackie Gleason’s music to get acid by.
Jackie Gleason (1916-1987) was a comedian who starred on The Jackie Gleason Show, which aired, in various incarnations, between 1952 and 1970. Gleason is perhaps best known to later generations for playing Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners. He also “presented” a series of albums with titles like Music to Change Her Mind and Music to Make You Misty.
Oh, Mr. Gower …
Mr. Gower is the druggist for whom George Bailey works as a boy, and who George saves from accidentally poisoning a patient when he drunkenly fills a prescription incorrectly, in the 1946 movie It’s a Wonderful Life. The part was played by H.B. Warner (1875-1958).
A reference to Show 521, Santa Claus. (Thanks to Todd Berryman for this reference.)
I have to go to the Ratboy auditions.
Ratboy is a 1986 movie about a deformed young man with a rat-like face. A box office and critical failure, it was directed by and starred Sondra Locke, who got a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Actress. Though uncredited, Locke’s then boyfriend Clint Eastwood was involved in the troubled production (his company Malpaso produced the film). Horror makeup legend Rick Baker designed the makeup effects.
Jeez, he could use that face to jimmy door locks. –Jimmy Doorlocks.
A variation on the running gag of "Jimmy Smits." From the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide: "This particular comment references a bizarre ad campaign for the box-office smash hit Switch with Ellen Barkin. A garden-variety ad until the very end when a new and different voice-over quickly tags on the words 'Jimmy Smits.' Not 'starring Jimmy Smits' or 'with Jimmy Smits,' just 'Jimmy Smits.' It was so strange, it caught our fancy and we had to refrain from doing it again and again and again." (Thanks to Todd Berryman for this reference.)
Double Indemnity is a 1944 film about an insurance representative and his lover plotting to murder her husband. It starred Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck.
She looks like a Munchkin from this angle.
Munchkins are the people who reside in Munchkinland in L. Frank Baum’s classic children’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
[Sung.] Merry old land of Oz …
“The Merry Old Land of Oz” is a song from the 1939 movie version of The Wizard of Oz, sung by the townspeople of Emerald City in Oz—who weren’t Munchkins, actually.
“We're going to have a big press party the night of the jump” Will there be mashed potatoes?
This is almost certainly a reference to a famous sample included in the Beastie Boys song "B-Boys Making with a Freak Freak" off their 1994 album Ill Communication (released about three months prior to the original air-date of the episode). The full line is: "Shit, if it's going to be that kind of party, I'm gonna stick my dick in the mashed potatoes!" Although the Beastie Boys song made the line famous, the sample actually comes from the 1965 comedy album That Ain't My Finger by Mantan Moreland. (Thanks to Jeff Grindle for this reference.)
Margaret Bourke-White, on the scene.
Margaret Bourke-White (1906-1971) was an American photographer who worked for Life magazine. Among other things, she took famous photos of Southern sharecroppers and of concentration camp victims after World War II.
Are we not men?
Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! is the title of New Wave band Devo’s first album, released in 1978. (Thanks to Todd Berryman for this reference.)
Our current Garbo.
Greta Garbo (1905-1990) was a Swedish-born actress who got her start in the silent-film era. She was one of the few stars who successfully navigated the transition to “talkies,” appearing in such films as Grand Hotel (1932) and Camille (1936). In her later years Garbo was famous as a recluse, rarely giving interviews and living an intensely private existence in New York City.
Look! A cheery picture of Emily Bronte up on the wall.
Emily Bronte (1818-1848) was an English novelist who wrote only one book, but that book was Wuthering Heights.
“Friends?” Romans. Countrymen.
A reference to Mark Antony’s famous speech from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him …”
Can’t you see I love you, Ado Annie?
Ado Annie is one of the supporting characters in the musical Oklahoma!; she is the girl who “can’t say no.”
Gladys and Abner Kravitz.
Gladys and Abner Kravitz were the nosy neighbors on the television sitcom Bewitched, which aired from 1964-1972. Gladys was played by both Sandra Gould and Alice Pearce, while her husband Abner was played by George Tobias.
I think they’re leatherboys, dear.
A leatherboy is a masculine cultural and gay stereotype: a young man who dresses in full leather regalia associated with motorcycles. The gay-icon disco group Village People features a “leatherman” character. There is a 1964 British film titled The Leather Boys, about the London rocker subculture and a gay motorcyclist; there was also a Leather Boy character in the Marvel Comics universe’s Great Lakes Avengers superhero series.
Phil Rizzuto (1917-2007) was a shortstop for the New York Yankees and, after he retired, spent 40 years as an announcer for the team.
I’m Huck Finn, I tell you!
Huckleberry, or Huck, Finn is a character in the Mark Twain books The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
[Sung.] It’s not unusual …
A line from the Tom Jones song of the same name. Sample lyrics: “It's not unusual to be loved by anyone/It's not unusual to have fun with anyone/But when I see you hanging about with anyone/It's not unusual to see me cry …”
It’s an episode! –Somebody put a tongue under his wallet!
A riff on the outdated belief that a person having an epileptic seizure is at risk of “swallowing their own tongue” and suffocating. Conventional wisdom dictated that the correct response was to hold the person down and force an object such as a wallet or spoon into their mouth to prevent this. Doctors now advise that, while the person may bite their tongue, “swallowing” their tongue is impossible, and forcing objects into their mouth can only lead to more injury. The correct response is to roll the person onto one side, keep them at a safe distance from nearby objects, and let the seizure run its course.
Les Paul (1915-2009) was a musician and guitar designer known for such 1950s hits as “How High the Moon” and “Mockin’ Bird Hill.”
Mick Jagger looks beefy compared to this guy.
Mick Jagger is the skeletal lead singer for the rock band the Rolling Stones.
Looks like Tom Boerwinkle coming in to dance.
Tom Boerwinkle (1945-2013) played center for the Chicago Bulls in the late 1960s and 1970s.
Oh, Mr. Kotter …
An imitation of the Arnold Horshack character (played by Ron Palillo) in the TV sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter (ABC, 1975-1979), which starred Gabe Kaplan as a compassionate inner-city high school teacher.
It’s turned into a John Waters film!
John Waters is a famously quirky Baltimore filmmaker who sports a pencil-thin mustache and slicked-back hair. He has written, directed, and produced such films as the deliberately offensive Pink Flamingos (1972) and the somewhat more mainstream Hairspray (1988).
George Herman Ruth on guitar.
George Herman Ruth Jr. (1895-1948) was a baseball player for the New York Yankees. He is perhaps better known by his nickname: Babe Ruth.
H.R. Haldeman on drums.
H.R. Haldeman (1926-1993) was the White House chief of staff under President Richard Nixon. In that position, he helped cover up the Watergate affair and other “dirty tricks” and ultimately served 18 months in prison for his role in that scandal.
I think it’s this town’s Passion Play.
A Catholic tradition as part of Lent, a Passion Play, also known as an Easter pageant, is a dramatic presentation of the trial, suffering, and death of Jesus Christ. The 2004 movie The Passion of the Christ, directed by Mel Gibson, is a modern, cinematic version of a Passion Play.
Oooh, sorry, don’t know my own strength.
A riff on a recurring bit from the Rocky and Bullwinkle animated TV shows (Rocky and his Friends on ABC, 1959-1961, and The Bullwinkle Show on NBC, 1961-1964). In one of a series of “Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!” bits, Bullwinkle instead produces the snarling head of a rhinoceros, to which he responds, “Oooh … don’t know my own strength.”
“Oh, killjoy.” On A&E.
The BBC series Lovejoy starred Ian McShane as the lovable rogue Lovejoy, an antiques dealer who solved mysteries. Six series aired between 1986 and 1994. In the United States, the show aired starting in 1991 on the Arts & Entertainment Network, or A&E as it is more commonly known, a basic cable channel that originally focused on documentaries, biographies, and second-run dramas.
Polonius is the garrulous counselor, father to Ophelia and Laertes, who winds up getting punctured behind an arras in the William Shakespeare play Hamlet.
It’s kind of their trip to not-so-bountiful.
The Trip to Bountiful is a 1985 film starring Geraldine Page as an old woman trying to return home to the town she grew up in.
Ah, the Laura Petrie line of fashions.
Laura Petrie was TV writer Rob Petrie’s wife on The Dick Van Dyke Show, which ran from 1961-1966. The role was played by Mary Tyler Moore (1936-2017).
[Hummed.] "Walk Don't Run."
This is the tune to the Ventures song "Walk Don't Run." (Thanks to alxp for this reference.)
I assume Ike didn’t know this was going on.
Ike Turner (1931-2007), along with his then-wife, Tina, performed a popular R&B act in the 1960s and early 1970s, with Tina Turner's fiery vocals and dance moves front and center. In 1976 Tina filed for divorce; she went on to have a successful solo career. In 1986, Tina claimed in her autobiography that Ike had abused her during their marriage. Turner denied it, but later admitted to slapping her and punching her to the ground, but never “beating” her. Ike died from acute cocaine toxicity in 2007. (Thanks to Daniel Burkhard for this reference.)
She slept with the pharmacist for some Sea Breeze?
Sea Breeze is a brand of astringent used for cleaning your face.
The juxtaposition of scenes—it’s just like The Godfather.
The Godfather is a 1972 motion picture about a Mafia crime family. It was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and based on the Mario Puzo novel of the same name; it won three Academy Awards and spawned two sequels. In one famous sequence, the film cuts back and forth between the baptism of Michael Corleone's infant son and the brutal murders of the Corleone family's enemies.
The Scottish version of Fiddler on the Roof.
Fiddler on the Roof is a musical set in a small Jewish village in 1905 Russia, revolving around a man and his three marriageable daughters. It opened on Broadway in 1964 and ran for more than three thousand performances; it was made into a movie in 1971.
This here’s the butt of choice, right there. –Yeah, it won the Palme d’Butt at Cannes.
The Cannes Film Festival, held in Cannes, France, every year, is the most prestigious film festival in the world. Its top prize is the Palme d’Or.
It smells like Friction Pour Le Bain in here!
Jean Nate Friction Pour Le Bain is a brand of perfume.
Nancy Kerrigan is an American figure skater. About a month before the 1994 Olympic Games were to start, Kerrigan’s knee was injured during an attack, and fellow figure skater Tonya Harding was implicated in the assault. The rivalry between the two skaters was a tabloid’s dream, and for months the “showdown in Lillehammer” was touted as being the battle of the century. As it turned out, Kerrigan came in second and Harding placed eighth. Harding ultimately pleaded guilty to conspiring to hinder police prosecution of the attackers; her husband, bodyguard, and two other men went to prison, while Harding received probation and was banned from skating for life.
How about that Anita Ekberg? You know, I’d like to jump out of her planes ...
An impersonation of comedian Bob Hope. Anita Ekberg (1931-2015) was a blond Swedish actress who appeared in more than 50 films. (Thanks to Todd Berryman for the Bob Hope reference.)
Oh, must be the Village People auditions.
The Village People were a campy disco group that hit it big in the late 1970s with hits like “Y.M.C.A.” Each member of the group dressed as a different gay “icon”: cop, firefighter, cowboy, and so on.
This isn’t the right stuff, it’s just … some stuff.
The Right Stuff is the name of a 1979 book by Tom Wolfe about America’s original astronauts. The book was made into a film by the same name in 1983.
The Gemini astronauts approach the DC-3 … they pause to kiss … they give it a light kiss and then get into the capsule.
The American Gemini space program was a series of two-man capsules launched into Earth orbit between 1964 and 1967. The Douglas DC-3 was the most popular model of plane during the 1930s; more than 10,000 of them were made altogether.
The Doublemint twins are kissing them goodbye.
Wrigley’s Doublemint gum has been running commercials featuring identical twins for decades.
Pinocchio! Why you go onna da plane—oh, I’m Scottish, that’s right.
Pinocchio, the little wooden puppet who wanted to be a real boy, was the creation of Italian author Carlo Collodi. He first appeared in print in 1881.
[Sung.] We’re so glad we had this time together …
A paraphrase of the lyrics to the Carol Burnett Show theme song. Called “Carol’s Theme,” the song was written by Burnett’s husband Joe Hamilton, who was also a producer of the show. Actual lyrics: “I'm so glad we had this time together/Just to have a laugh, or sing a song/Seems we just get started and before you know it/Comes the time we have to say, ‘So long.’”
The turning point in the war came when the DC-3 arrived.
An imitation of Peter Graves in his role as the host of the documentary show Biography on the A&E cable channel, which he appeared in from 1987-1994. See note on the DC-3, above. (Thanks to Todd Berryman for the Peter Graves reference.)
Yeah, that’s the ticket.
An imitation of comedian Jon Lovitz as Tommy “The Liar” Flanagan, a part he played on Saturday Night Live in the late 1980s.
Make it so.
An imitation of actor Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard on the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation, which aired from 1987-1994.
The German army advances north in a Cadillac.
Cadillac is a line of luxury cars produced by General Motors.
Thirty buffalo shots over Tokyo.
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo is a 1944 film about a bombing raid into Japan during World War II.
Hey, you guys have Death coming up to play a chess game with you?
The Seventh Seal is a 1957 Ingmar Bergman film about a knight who plays chess with Death for his life.
Now, what do you suppose that big brown thing rushing up to meet me is?
Probably a reference to the scene in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams in which a confused sperm whale suddenly materializes several miles above the surface of a planet and has a very brief space of time to grapple with its existence before it comes to a sudden, messy end: "Hey! What's this thing suddenly coming towards me very fast? Very very fast. So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding name like ... ow ... ound ... round ... ground! That's it! That's a good name - ground! I wonder if it will be friends with me?" (Thanks to Todd Berryman for this reference.)
Just wanna get somethin' out of my purse—oh, my Kleenex!
Kleenex is a brand of facial tissue made by Kimberly-Clark. It was introduced in 1924 and has become an informal brand eponym for all such facial tissues.
[Sung.] Oops there goes another skydiver kerplop.
A paraphrase of the lyrics to the song “High Hopes.” Actual lyrics: “So any time you’re gettin’ low/’stead of lettin’ go/Just remember that ant/Oops there goes another rubber tree plant …”
And the crowd is fleeing to Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, it’s just fantastic.
Samuel Barber (1910-1981) was a 20th-century American composer whose 1938 Adagio for Strings achieved tremendous popularity in both America and Europe.
Hey, Vern, how's your chute?
An imitation of comedian Jim Varney (1949-2000) as the bumbling Ernest P. Worrell, who he played on commercials and in a series of movies. (Thanks to Todd Berryman for this reference.)
Shirley Temple Black.
Shirley Temple (1928-2014) was a child star of sentimental musicals during the 1930s. As an adult, under her married name of Shirley Temple Black, she became active in Republican politics and served as ambassador to Ghana and later to Czechoslovakia.
Why don't they look?
A reference to Show 520, Radar Secret Service (specifically to the short, "The Last Clear Chance"). (Thanks to Amy Deklyen for spotting this reference.)
So, that’s one of them 747s, huh?
The 747 is a jumbo jet manufactured by Boeing; it first went into service in 1970. It is capable of carrying up to 500 passengers.
I don’t know—I still like this movie better than Top Gun. A lot better.
Top Gun is an intensely macho 1986 film starring Tom Cruise as a top fighter pilot.
I feel like a cheeseburger. Will you go make love to the guy at the Jack in the Box?
Jack in the Box is a chain of fast-food hamburger restaurants.
Great, an inconspicuous white T-Bird convertible.
Considered the first “personal luxury car,” the Ford Thunderbird was produced between 1955 and 2005.
I just bet you she smells like Marlboros and Arpege and Juicy Fruit and body odor.
Marlboro is a brand of cigarettes manufactured by Philip Morris. Arpege is a brand of perfume first manufactured in 1927. And Juicy Fruit is a brand of chewing gum manufactured by Wrigley.
What if this was at the theater with From Here to Eternity and your friend wanted to see that but you insisted on seeing this, huh?
From Here to Eternity is a 1953 film starring Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster as star-crossed lovers during World War II. It won the Best Picture Oscar in 1954.
Donald Nixon was the brother of disgraced president Richard M. Nixon.
Pat Buchanan with a gun!
Pat Buchanan was a senior advisor to American Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan, and remains an active conservative political commentator and author. Buchanan ran unsuccessfully for the GOP presidential nomination in 1992, 1996, and 2000 on a platform marked by anti-immigration policies, staunch social conservatism, and extreme “us vs. them” rhetoric. His keynote address at the 1992 Republican National Convention, which became known as the “Culture War Speech,” was roundly criticized for its combative language, driving many moderates away from the GOP. Liberal commentator Molly Ivins (1944-2007) said of the speech, “It probably sounded better in the original German.”
We needed to get close enough for the tranquilizer dart to find its target.
An imitation of host Marlin Perkins from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, one of the first nature shows on television. Aired on NBC from 1963 to 1971, it went on to find even greater success in syndication, running until 1988, and was revived in 2002 on the cable channel Animal Planet, still sponsored by the insurance company Mutual of Omaha. During its height of popularity, Perkins (1905-1986) was one of the most recognizable faces on TV. Ripe for parody were Perkins’s tendency to remain safely in a jeep or boat while co-host Jim Fowler was out doing something dangerous with wild animals, and the show’s fondness for aggressively engaging with wildlife—wrestling animals to the ground or shooting them with tranquilizer darts—rather than passively observing them.
Where the hell is my old fashioned?
A line from the 1963 film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, spoken by Jim Backus. (Thanks to Randy Roth for this reference.) An old fashioned is an alcoholic cocktail composed of sugar muddled with bitters and citrus rind, rye whiskey or brandy, and ice. It is traditionally served in the short, round tumbler glass that is named after the cocktail.
Why are they playing Smetana’s Ma Vlast in the back of this scene?
Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884) was a Bohemian romantic composer. His cycle of symphonic poems called Ma Vlast was intended as a tribute to his native country.
Instead of The French Connection, they based this chase on The French Lieutenant’s Woman.
The French Connection is a 1971 crime flick about a couple of narcotics detectives in New York who stumble on an international drug smuggling operation. The French Lieutenant’s Woman is a 1981 film about a romance between two actors during the shooting of a movie.
Hey, the cottonwoods are in bloom!
Cottonwood is the common name for any of a number of trees in the Populus genus. In late spring to early summer, cottonwoods disperse seeds surrounded by white fluff resembling cotton. These float down onto the surrounding landscape like snowfall, complete with drifts piling up on the sides of roads and walkways. Suffer from allergies? Good luck.
Hurry! Switzerland is just over the hill … and then three thousand miles … and then the ocean.
A reference to the end of The Sound of Music, in which the Von Trapp family escapes over the mountains into Switzerland.
I regret nothing!
In The Simpsons (Fox, 1989-Present) 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!"
I have offers to model for Fleet Farm.
Mills Fleet Farm is a chain of hardware, sporting goods, and farm equipment stores in the Midwest, headquartered in Brainerd, Minnesota. There’s another Midwestern chain that sells the same kind of stuff, Blain’s Farm & Fleet, headquartered in Janesville, Wisconsin.
What color is my parachute?
What Color Is Your Parachute? is a book by Richard Bolles that offers practical advice for job seekers. First published in 1970, it is revised annually, is published in 22 languages, and has sold more than 10 million copies.
Who will take me to the big place?
Possibly a reference to Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. (Thanks to Aaron Drewniak for this reference.)