610: The Violent Years
by Wyn Hilty
That little character was in Cats, wasn’t he?
Cats is a stage musical by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics supplied by poet T.S. Eliot (from his collection Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats). It opened in London in 1981 and ran for nearly 9,000 performances before closing in 2002. Its New York production, which ran from 1982-2000, was one of Broadway’s longest-running shows.
“Mother …” Is space curved?
Technically, no—it’s spacetime that’s curved, a term used by physicists to describe the composite dimension formed by both space and time—which, as Albert Einstein demonstrated in his famous equation, are linked, a fact that apparently gets more obvious as you approach light speed.
Mmm—oh, Cling Free.
Cling Free is a brand of dryer sheets, the purpose of which is to keep static electricity from melding your undergarments into a single, pulsating mass in the dryer.
Whatever happened to my pet Vietnamese potbellied pig?
Vietnamese potbellied pigs actually seem to have originated in China, where they were kept as pets as early as 6000 B.C.E. They arrived in the United States in 1985, when a number of them were imported for sale to zoos. For a while they became the latest fad in exotic pets, but owners have suffered a fair number of difficulties over the years in trying to keep them as pets in communities that regard pigs, however small or tame or loved, as livestock. (“Small,” in this case, translates into about 150 pounds.)
“Say.” Si. –Soo.
From the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide: “This is a reference to a bit from The Jack Benny Show, performed by Jack and Mel Blanc. ... It would go a little something like this: ‘What’s your name?’ ‘Cy.’ ‘Cy?’ ‘Si.’ ‘What do you do?’ ‘Sew.’ ‘Sew?’ ‘Si.’”
“He’s got no time for babies.” He’s not Jerry Seinfeld.
In 1993, comedian and TV sitcom star Jerry Seinfeld made tabloid headlines when news broke of his relationship with a young woman named Shoshanna Lonstein. She was 18; he was 39. The couple stayed together until 1997; two years later Seinfeld married Jessica Sklar.
“What’s his name again?” George Kaplan.
George Kaplan is the name of the government agent that the hapless Cary Grant is mistaken for in the Hitchcock classic North by Northwest (1959). (Thanks to Ed Vosik for this reference.)
“Alexander Phipps! Sounds revolting.” Sounds Montclair Moment-y.
Montclair is a brand of cigarettes; I believe the phrase “Montclair Moment” comes from their advertising, but I have as yet been unable to confirm this.
[Sung.] But Patty’s only seen the sights a girl can see from Brooklyn Heights/Hey, what a crazy …
A line from the theme song to The Patty Duke Show, a TV sitcom about “identical cousins” that aired from 1963-1966. Sample lyrics: “Meet Cathy, who's lived most everywhere/From Zanzibar to Berkeley Square/But Patty's only seen the sights/A girl can see from Brooklyn Heights/What a crazy pair!”
The Young Millie Helper Chronicles.
Millie Helper was a character on The Dick Van Dyke Show. She was played by actress Ann Morgan Guilbert. The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was a television series that aired in 1992-1993. Based on the phenomenally popular Indiana Jones movies, which began with 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, the series never really caught on, although it developed a loyal cult following. It featured Indiana Jones (who was played by Harrison Ford in the films) at three ages: as an old man, who narrated the episodes; as a boy of 10; and as a young man in his late teens.
Jeez, it’s Chip and Dale.
Chip and Dale were a pair of chipmunks who acted as foils to Donald Duck in a string of animated cartoons for Disney. They were identical in appearance, although Dale was somewhat dimmer than the scheming Chip, and they had identical goals: to amass huge stockpiles of food. Their first appearance was in the animated 1943 short Private Pluto. However, the “After you. No, after you …” shtick that’s being riffed was a standard routine in the Goofy Gophers cartoons, which were Looney Tunes’ answer to Chip and Dale. The Goofy Gophers (named Mack and Tosh) were veddy British and excessively polite.
“Gee, it’s good to be home.” And to be Robert McNamara.
Robert McNamara (1916-2009) was the secretary of defense under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He oversaw the escalation of the war in Vietnam throughout most of the 1960s and became for many anti-war protesters the symbol of everything they hated about that deeply divisive conflict. In the 1990s he acknowledged that the U.S. policy in Southeast Asia had been a tragic mistake.
I’m the Beastmaster.
The Beastmaster was a 1982 Conan the Barbarian-type movie featuring guys who put in a lot of time on the Nautilus. The Beastmaster himself was a warrior named Dar who could communicate with animals; the role was played by Marc Singer. The film spawned one theatrical and one made-for-TV sequel.
He’ll never touch you, Terri—you’re dirt.
A reference to Show 522, Teenage Crime Wave.
“Hey, you look mighty purty.” In a Thelma Ritter sort of way.
Thelma Ritter (1905-1969) was an actress who played supporting roles in a number of films; her best-known role was probably as the outspoken nurse in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1954 thriller Rear Window.
“Point-Counterpoint” was a regular debate segment on the TV news program 60 Minutes during the 1970s. The segment was hosted by various people, of whom the best known were Shana Alexander and James Kilpatrick.
Oh, one of them Insinkerators.
Insinkerators are a brand of in-sink garbage disposals.
Dad’s calling from Chippendales. They’ve got two shows. He won’t be home.
Chippendales is a traveling adult erotic dance show featuring male performers, aimed at mostly female audiences. The men are bodybuilders who dance and put on a show before stripping. They have touring companies worldwide, and have a standing act in Vegas. They have spawned a highly successful merchandising line that includes posters, calendars, playing cards, and so forth.
More Similac, dear?
Similac is a brand of baby formula manufactured by Ross.
It’s Pepperidge Farm …
An imitation of character actor Parker Fennelly (1891-1988), whose thick New England accent became famous during the 1970s in a series of television commercials for Pepperidge Farm cookies, pastries, frozen goods, and so forth. (He had actually appeared in Pepperidge Farm commercials as early as 1958, but his trademark “Pepperidge Farm remembers” did not become a household word until the ‘70s.)
God, your hair smells terrific.
A reference to a line of shampoos and conditioners popular during the 1970s, which went by the cumbersome if memorable name “Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific.”
Eleanor, I’m busy down here at the White House.
An imitation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945), who, with Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) as his first lady, served as president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945.
See previous note.
“A lecture about mushrooms.” You’re dating Timothy Leary?
Timothy Leary (1920-1996) was a psychologist and a professor at Harvard University when, in the early 1960s, he began experimenting with psilocybin, a hallucinogenic drug synthesized from a particular variety of mushrooms. He gradually came to believe that psychedelic drugs possessed “consciousness-expanding” properties and advocated their use among general society. In 1963 he was dismissed from Harvard for his controversial views, and on his own he began experimenting with LSD, touring and lecturing to spread his ideas. Conservatives regarded him with horror (Richard Nixon called him “the most dangerous man in America”), but the counterculture of the 1960s embraced him and put many of his ideas into practice.
“A nice little conspiracy, for a nice young man.” Like Whitewater.
In January 1994, Attorney General Janet Reno approved an investigation into business dealings that President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary had entered into in Arkansas. The investigation was dubbed “Whitewater” after the name of the housing development company involved in the deal. The investigation would consume several years and $50 million before investigators finally admitted they could find no conclusive evidence of any wrongdoing by the Clintons. However, in 1998 the scope of the inquiry was expanded, a move that ultimately led to Clinton’s impeachment by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
[Sung.] Going on a manhunt/Get me a man ...
May be a reference to the Karen Kamon song "Manhunt" from the Flashdance soundtrack. Sample lyrics: "I'm goin' on a manhunt, turn it around/Women have been hunted, now they're huntin' around ..."(Thanks to Sampo for this reference.)
Dah-dum. Dum-dum-dum-dum ...
This is the famous theme to the 1975 movie Jaws, about a killer great white shark. It was composed by John Williams.
Here you go, Daddy! –Thanks, Kitten.
A possible reference to the radio and TV series Father Knows Best (1949-1954 on NBC radio; 1954-1960 on NBC and CBS television). Star Robert Young played all-American dad Jim Anderson; his youngest daughter Kathy (played by Lauren Chapin) was nicknamed “Kitten.”
“And your dinner takes an hour and a half to cook.” The Nazis will be on you by then.
The National Socialist German Workers’ Party, popularly known as the Nazi Party, was the fascist political party started by Anton Drexler in 1920 and led by failed painter Adolf Hitler from 1921 until 1945.
Is Mom in the Guardian Angels?
The Guardian Angels is a controversial group founded in New York in the 1970s who refer to themselves as “citizen cops.” After an intensive training course including self defense, first aid, and the law, members sign up for regular patrols (usually twice a week) with the purpose of keeping an eye out for crime and if necessary making a citizen’s arrest. They are known for wearing a distinctive red beret while on patrol.
A young Mrs. Lockhorn prepares dinner.
Leroy and Loretta Lockhorn are a married couple who hurl hurtful barbs at each other every day in the syndicated newspaper comic strip “The Lockhorns.” These barbs frequently revolve around Mrs. Lockhorn’s inability to cook. The series was created in 1968 by Bill and Bunny Hoest.
The Loretta Young Show!
Loretta Young (1913-2000) was the host of The Loretta Young Show, an anthology series that aired from 1953 to 1961. She was known for her trademark entrance through a doorway with her skirts swirling around her.
Is this a Noel Coward play?
Noel Coward (1899-1973) was a British playwright who specialized in plays featuring upper-class Brits standing around in country houses trading quips. His better-known works include Private Lives (1930) and Blithe Spirit (1941).
This is like Three Days of the Condor. I trust no one in this short.
Three Days of the Condor is a 1975 spy thriller starring Robert Redford as a nebbishy CIA researcher who discovers one day that all his coworkers have been murdered and that the CIA is after him for unspecified reasons. The movie’s tagline was “His code name is Condor. In the next twenty-four hours everyone he trusts will try to kill him.”
Bring your sweet behind over this way and let me work on that zipper.
A reference to the Prince song “Gett Off.” Sample lyrics: “Now move your big ass ‘round this way/So I can work on that zipper, baby/Tonight you’re a star/And I’m the big dipper.”
I did not know that.
An imitation of perennial straight man Ed McMahon (1923-2009), who played opposite host Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show for thirty years.
Judy: Beyond Thundersquishy.
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is a 1985 film starring Mel Gibson as the eponymous anti-hero, forced to go up against Tina Turner and her chain-mail miniskirt in an arena known as Thunderdome. This was the third movie in the series: the first two were Mad Max (1979) and The Road Warrior (1981).
Judy, Judy, Judy.
An impersonation of Goober Pyle (George Lindsey) impersonating Cary Grant on The Andy Griffith Show. Goober was known for his bad imitations of celebrities. (Thanks to Matthew Kerr for this reference.)
Nice to see you.
From the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide: “At the end of the short, Judy’s dad greets his wife, and Crow says ‘Nice to see you’ in a Nixon voice. This comes from a story that appeared in The New Yorker; according to a guest, that was how Richard Nixon greeted Pat (his wife of forty-some years) at dinner.”
[Sung.] Susan slept here …
Susan Slept Here is a 1954 film starring Debbie Reynolds as a juvenile delinquent who lands on the doorstep of a struggling screenwriter (played by Dick Powell [1904-1963]). The tune is from the theme song to the movie; another song on the soundtrack, “Hold My Hand,” won an Academy Award.
Yes, the Bobby Knight story.
Bobby Knight was the longtime head basketball coach at Indiana University, a man notorious for his violent temper. Among the stories that circulated over the years: Knight throwing a chair the length of the court, Knight putting one of his players in a chokehold, Knight brandishing a bullwhip during practice. In 2000, the university suspended him, fined him $30,000, and ultimately fired him after a videotape surfaced of Knight choking a player.
Well, the Inquisition were violent years. –And your Crusades. –Oh, the Hun years, too. –And the Thirty Years’ War. –How long was that war? –I think it was about—hey!
The Inquisition, originally founded by the Catholic Church in the 13th century as a means of suppressing heretical ideas, reached its heights of cruelty during the 15th century in Spain. Under Grand Inquisitor Tomas de Torquemada (1420-1498), at least 2,000 people were tortured and burned at the stake for “heretical” ideas. The Crusades were a series of military expeditions organized by Catholic Europe between 1095 and 1291 against the Muslim states that were then in control of the “holy” city of Jerusalem. They were partly a response to the large numbers of sons of the nobility who had little to do besides despoiling the peasants they were supposed to protect, and partly an assertion of the temporal power of the pope in a time when the Church and the secular monarchs of Europe were battling for control of society. The Huns were a tribal group who between 370 and 440 C.E. inspired tremendous fear throughout Europe. They were known for their consummate horsemanship, incredibly accurate archery, and overwhelming strategic attacks. They quickly built an empire that encompassed most of southeastern and central Europe. The most famous of the Huns was of course Attila, who between 434-453 C.E. ruled the tribes along with his lesser-known brother Bleda (until Attila murdered him in 445). Upon Attila’s death in 453 his empire fragmented, and the Huns were eventually driven back by the various European powers, including the Roman Empire. The Thirty Years’ War was fought between 1618 and 1648 among various European powers and for various reasons, chief among them the desire for territory: Denmark and Sweden invaded Germany, Poland invaded Russia, and the Holy Roman Empire fought to impose Roman Catholicism on its various member states.
New York City: the city that never … moves.
“The city that never sleeps” is a nickname for NYC; the origin of the phrase appears to be City That Never Sleeps, a 1953 crime movie, although the city of the title was in this case Chicago. The line “I wanna wake up in the city that never sleeps” (or “that doesn’t sleep”; sources vary) also appears in the song “New York, New York,” made famous by Frank Sinatra.
Poor Carl Parkins—he had brown suede shoes. He was so close!
Singer-songwriter Carl Perkins (1932-1998) was the author of the rockabilly classic “Blue Suede Shoes”; his own version sold two million copies before Elvis Presley recorded it and made it famous the world over.
So is this the naked city? –It’s the scantily clad city.
The Naked City was a gritty cop show set in New York City that aired from 1958-1963.
Uh oh, the movie has a surgeon general’s warning.
In 1964, the Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health released a report that for the first time definitively linked cigarette smoking with lung cancer. The following year Congress passed the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, requiring all tobacco products to bear a health warning label from the surgeon general’s office.
Victor Most of California except Lompoc.
Lompoc is a city of about 40,000 people located in Santa Barbara County, just north of the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
The thick chalk years. –Everyone forced to write with the Palmer Method.
The Palmer Method was a system for teaching cursive handwriting that was introduced in 1894 by A.N. Palmer. It was an easier system to teach and learn than previous methods, and it quickly became the standard system used in American schools; as of the beginning of the 21st century, it was still widely practiced in public schools.
That’s straight from Thomas Paine, by the way.
Thomas Paine (1737-1809) was a political writer around the time of the American Revolution. His pamphlet “Common Sense” (1776) laid forth many of the principles that influenced the structure of the government of the United States.
The devil made me do it!
An imitation of comedian Flip Wilson (1933-1998), in his persona of Geraldine, his wisecracking drag queen character. (Geraldine’s other, equally popular catchphrase was “What you see is what you get.”)
The name’s Friday.
An imitation of actor Jack Webb (1920-1982) in his role as Sergeant Joe Friday on the popular cop show Dragnet, which aired from 1951-1959.
Courtney Love is a musician and a founding member of the L.A. alt.-rock band Hole. She was married to Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain until his death in 1994.
Hey, how about a little sugar for the father of my country, huh? I will not tell a lie. –God, my teeth hurt! Thank you!
The portrait on the wall is of George Washington (1732-1799), the first president of the United States. Among the legends that accrued around him is a story from his childhood, which appeared first in a biography by Mason Locke Weems published shortly after Washington’s death. As the tale (which appears to be wholly apocryphal) goes, the six-year-old Washington tried out the edge of his hatchet on his father’s favorite cherry tree. When confronted, Washington said, “I can’t tell a lie, Pa, you know I can’t tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet.” The line about his teeth hurting is a reference to the belief (alas, also apparently apocryphal) that Washington owned a set of wooden dentures; in fact, his dentures were made out of hippopotamus ivory.
Ladies and gentlemen, your screenwriter, Ed Wood.
Ed Wood (1924-1978), widely acknowledged to be the worst motion picture director of all time, was also a cross-dresser, with a particular fetish for angora sweaters. In fact, he claimed to have worn ladies’ undergarments under his uniform while serving in the armed forces during World War II (1939-1945). He focused on the subject of cross-dressing in his first film, Glen or Glenda (1953), a film in which he also starred in the title role. Wood directed Show 423, Bride of the Monster, and Show 613, The Sinister Urge.
227 was a television series that aired from 1985-1990. “227” was the number of the apartment building where the main characters lived and where most of the stories took place.
Think I’ll throw pig’s blood on the wall.
A possible reference to the Manson family. In the various murders committed by the followers of Charles Manson in the summer of 1969, messages involving pigs were written in the victims’ blood on the walls and doors of crime scenes.
One googolplex and seventy-nine cents.
In mathematics, a googol (as opposed to Google, although the search company derived its name from the mathematical term) is a 1 with 100 zeros after it, or 10100. By way of comparison, the mass of the visible universe wadded together adds up to 1 x 1060 or so—not even close. A googol is a very large number. A googolplex is a 1 with a googol zeros after it, which is just mind-staggeringly huge: it would be impossible for one person to physically write down all the zeros in a googolplex before the heat death of the universe put a stop to it.
Society owes me a Kit Kat bar.
The phrase “Society owes me a living” is used in conservative circles to belittle what they regard as the entitlement mentality fostered by the welfare state. The Kit Kat bar is a candy bar manufactured by Hershey’s, consisting of two wafer-like cookies covered in a thin coating of chocolate. It was first produced in the 1930s.
Benazir Bhutto is holding him up!
Benazir Bhutto (1953-2007) was a Pakistani politician who in 1988 became the first woman to lead a Muslim nation. Her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, had been the leader of Pakistan from 1971-1977. Bhutto, who was educated at Oxford University in England, was prime minister of Pakistan from 1988-1990. From 1993-1996 she again led the government, although both of her terms were plagued by charges of malfeasance and corruption. In 2007 she was assassinated while vying for the post for the third time.
Hey, do we want the Ridgid Tool calendar?
Ridgid Tool is a company based in Ohio that every year produces a calendar of pinups—hot babes in bikinis, to judge from their website.
Let’s go! We got all the Barrel O' Fun snacks!
Barrel O' Fun is a company based in Perham, Minnesota that makes chips, popcorn, cheese puffs, etc. It was founded in 1973.
All but the Teutonic races will never be capable of leadership. And yet they breed rapidly, like the mongrels that … More later.
This is typical white supremacist dogma. The Teutonic peoples were the ancestors of modern-day Northern Europeans and Germans, and their wonderfulness was cited regularly by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party in their arguments that the Germans deserved to rule the world.
“Hello, Barney.” Where’s your big purple suit?
Barney the big purple dinosaur is a staple of kiddie programming, much to the dismay of many parents. His kids’ show, Barney and Friends, has aired on PBS since 1992, although no new episodes have been produced since 2009.
Who’s that on the wall? Chopin? –Schubert?
Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) was a Polish-born French composer known primarily for his piano pieces, especially his etudes and concertos. He had a lengthy and scandalous relationship with author George Sand (1804-1876). Franz Schubert (1797-1828) was an Austrian composer known for his lieder (songs).
Maybe it’s Sting. –Maybe. Sting, yeah.
The famous pop singer Gordon “Sting” Sumner achieved worldwide fame as a member of the band The Police and later as a solo artist. Sting earned multiple Grammys and amassed a fortune on the strength of such albums as The Dream of the Blue Turtles (1985) and Nothing Like the Sun (1987).
Thank you, Ben Bradlee.
Ben Bradlee (1921-2014) was the editor of the Washington Post from 1965 until 1991. The most famous story to take place under his watch was, of course, the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s. During the investigation, he repeatedly backed his two reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, despite immense political pressure and attacks both personal and professional.
The Rosicrucians are drawing even nearer … I smell the …
The Rosicrucians were a legendary mystical secret society that surfaced in 1614 in a series of books published about their clandestine workings. Unfortunately, it appears they did not actually exist, although in the centuries since various groups with differing aims have adopted the name.
Tom McCahill says the big ‘55 Caddy rides smooth.
From the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide: “Tom McCahill was the resident car critic for Mechanix Illustrated or Popular Mechanics, I forget which one. [Editor’s note: It was Mechanix Illustrated.] He was a big, bald, pipe-smoking Doughy Guy in the grand tradition, and he made weekend warriors and garage inventors seem noble, almost sublime. …As a critic, I don’t think he ever gave a bad review, and he never reviewed a foreign car. For Tom, the bigger the better was the word of the day, and I imagined him rolling around in a massive Ford Victoria or Chevy Biscayne, saying things like ‘Love the ride! Big feel, rides smooth! The little lady will love all the grocery space, and Dad will feel like Parnelli Jones with all those horses under the hood!’”
Here comes the Page Cavanaugh Trio.
The Page Cavanaugh Trio was a popular group during the late 1940s, with hits including “The Three Bears” and “All of Me.” They worked for decades, often appearing with other musicians such as Frank Sinatra and Doris Day.
They parked under the RKO logo.
RKO is a motion picture studio founded in 1928. Because part of the company started out in radio broadcasting, the studio’s logo was a huge signal tower atop the Earth, beaming out its entertainment to the universe.
The Peggy Noonan gang.
Peggy Noonan was a special assistant to President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) from 1984-1986. In 1988, she was chief speechwriter for the first George Bush during his successful run for the presidency. She wrote Bush’s famous convention speech, which contained the notorious line “Read my lips—no new taxes.” She has gone on to become an author and commentator, publishing books and columns nationwide.
Got this down at Fawbush’s. They got it in six sizes.
Fawbush’s Women’s Apparel is a women’s clothing boutique located in Edina, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Whenever I get to the end I fall into a wormhole, sorry.
A wormhole is a hypothetical “tunnel” through spacetime—in theory, a space traveler could open a wormhole, step into it, and emerge at the other end thousands or millions of light-years away. It has thus become a favorite among science-fiction writers, who use it to get around that pesky E = mc2 problem.
I’ve got a Jerry Garcia tie.
In his last few years, Jerry Garcia (1942-1995), the singer, songwriter and lead guitarist for the Grateful Dead, took to designing ties. The first were produced in 1993; they are still sold today.
The rabbit goes around the feet, through the …
A riff on a mnemonic device, or memory trick, used to teach people how to tie a bowline knot. Imagining the end of the rope as a rabbit, one rhyming variation goes like this: “Up through the rabbit hole, round the big tree; down through the rabbit hole and off goes he.”
A FantaSuite will never satisfy her again.
A riff on FantaSuites, a former chain of “theme room” hotels in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Indiana; you could check into the Caesar room, the Space Odyssey room, the Jungle room, and so forth. The only one left is in Greenwood, Indiana. The MST3K Amazing Colossal Episode Guide's comment: “Bring your own sheets.”
Okay, squeal, piggy!
A reference to the infamous rape scene in Deliverance (1972), in which a hillbilly rapist tells his male victim (played by Ned Beatty), “Squeal like a pig!”
See above note.
Penthouse Forum: The Motion Picture.
“Penthouse Forum” was originally a column published in Penthouse magazine, in which readers would write in explicit letters about their “real-life” sexual experiences, most of which were wildly implausible. There is now a magazine, originally called Penthouse Forum but later changed to Penthouse Letters.
They took turns at Tommy, and there was four of 'em.
A reference to the 1979 Kenny Rogers song "Coward of the County." Sample lyrics: “There’s someone for everyone, and Tommy’s love was Becky/In her arms he didn’t have to prove he was a man/One day while he was workin’ the Gatlin boys came callin’/They took turns at Becky, ’n there was three of ’em!” (Thanks to Warren Dicks for this reference.)
Good news—Streisand killed.
Barbra Streisand is an actress, singer, director, and all-around showperson, one of the few female performers to have earned the rank of diva. She has performed on Broadway, in movies, and in concerts, where she can command hundreds of dollars per ticket. This riff is a reference to the previous host segment, in which Tom imitates Streisand singing and sobbing histrionically, à la A Star Is Born.
Honey, here’s your Slim-Fast.
Slim-Fast is a weight-loss product consisting of a diet plan in which you consume two Slim-Fast shakes plus a “sensible dinner” every day. The product line has since branched out into snacks and bars and whatnot.
The picture’s of Hamilton?
Probably a reference to Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), the first secretary of the treasury for the fledgling United States of America. Hamilton also helped write the Federalist Papers, advocated passionately for a strong central government, and took part in the Constitutional Convention of 1787, but he is largely remembered for being shot and killed in a duel with Aaron Burr, the third vice president of the U.S.—and nowadays, for being the star of his very own Broadway musical.
After Casey Stengel, of course.
Casey Stengel (1890-1975) was a baseball player and manager known for his on-field antics. He played for a number of teams, including the Giants, the Pirates, and the Phillies, but his greatest success was his twelve-year career as manager of the New York Yankees. During his tenure there he won ten pennants and five world championships.
Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706) was a German composer best known for his “Canon in D,” which has found its way into various modern pop songs and is popular at Christmas programs, weddings, and funerals.
Come on, you write “Cappy Dick,” for God’s sake.
“Cappy Dick’s Young Hobby Club” was a comic strip produced by “Buck Rogers” cartoonist Rick Yager that featured puzzles, riddles, and games for children. There were also several books published by “Cappy,” most of which had titles like The Stay at Home Children’s Book.
The Dave Clark Five?
The Dave Clark Five were a rock band in the 1960s, one of the first bands to follow the Beatles over to America in what has been termed the “British Invasion.” For a time they were seen as the up-and-coming band that would ultimately overtake the Fab Four, but they never quite reached the heights of superstardom that the Beatles achieved, and they disbanded in 1970.
Oh, by the way, have they built any 7-Elevens around here?
7-Eleven is a chain of convenience stores that are notorious for being robbed. The company web site even has a special page devoted to its robbery-prevention program.
Ah, yes—the scene that was condemned by the Catholic League of America.
The Catholic League of America is a Catholic civil-rights organization known for protesting about movies, art exhibits, music, and anything else they deem insulting to the Catholic faith.
They arrived in a U-boat.
U-boats were the submarines used by the German navy to devastating effect in both World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945).
Oh—they have to pick up Mamie Van Doren. –That’d be hard.
Mamie Van Doren was the blond, famously curvaceous star of a series of B-movies during the 1950s and 1960s. She appeared in two MST episodes: Show 112, Untamed Youth, and Show 601, Girls Town.
So is this that Melrose Place everyone’s been talking about?
Melrose Place was a primetime soap opera that aired from 1992-1999. Created by TV schlockmeister Aaron Spelling, who also brought us Charlie’s Angels and Beverly Hills 90210, the show was the chronicle of a group of incredibly good-looking young people living in an apartment building in L.A.
I know—they dress as men so they can live in this apartment building.
A reference to the TV sitcom Bosom Buddies, which starred Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari as two men who disguise themselves as women so they can live in a women-only apartment building. The show aired from 1980-1982.
[Sung.] Walk like a man, talk like a—Hello!
A line from the song “Walk Like a Man” by Frankie Valli. Sample lyrics: “Walk like a man/Talk like a man/Walk like a man my son/No woman's worth/Crawling on the earth/Just walk like a man my son.”
Sal Mineo entertains at home.
Sal Mineo (1939-1976) started as a child actor and went on to play hunky supporting roles in films like Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and Exodus (1960)—both films for which he earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. He was also one of the first actors in Hollywood to publicly acknowledge his homosexuality. He was stabbed to death in what was apparently a random killing in 1976. (Thanks to Larry L. Lash for pointing out Mineo's sexual orientation.)
[Sung.] A double pleasure’s waiting for you …
A line from the advertising jingle for Doublemint gum, which has been used in their commercials since 1959. Sample lyrics: “Double your pleasure, double your fun/With Doublemint, Doublemint, Doublemint Gum.”
Isn’t that Harpo on the right there?
Arthur “Harpo” Marx (1888-1964) was the second oldest of the brothers in the classic comedy team the Marx Brothers, who were popular on stage and screen for thirty years. Dressed in a reddish curly wig and a trenchcoat, Harpo never spoke on film (his brother Groucho claimed he just couldn’t think of anything to say), relying on his brilliant flair for physical comedy to generate the laughs.
We like milk, and it shows.
Probably a reference to the old advertising slogan for Delta Airlines: “We love to fly, and it shows.”
Goodness, I like Squirt.
Squirt is a citrus-flavored soft drink that was first manufactured in 1938.
Here comes Uncle Mame.
Auntie Mame is a 1958 movie based on the Patrick Dennis novel of the same name. It starred Rosalind Russell as Mame Dennis, the eccentric aunt of a young orphan.
“Speak your piece.” Or forever hold your now.
“Speak now, or forever hold your peace” is an outdated phrase that used to appear in some traditional wedding ceremonies—presumably to give any abandoned husbands or pregnant mistresses a chance to leap up and stop the marriage. Most modern weddings omit the phrase.
Beat it, Harpo. [Honk-honk.]
See above note. Harpo often used a horn as a substitute for speaking.
Not Old Glory!
“Old Glory” was originally coined as a nickname for the American flag by William Driver, a sea captain who used the name to refer only to the flag that flew on his ship. During the Civil War, Driver, who was living in Tennessee at the time, hid the flag so it would not be destroyed by Confederates. After the Union army took Nashville, Tennessee, in 1862, Driver offered the flag to be flown over the state capitol building. The tale of “Old Glory” became famous, and it was quickly adopted as a general term for the flag.
“You’re no good to me in the clink.” Klink!
An imitation of General Hans Burkhalter from the TV sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, which aired from 1965-1971. Burkhalter was the commanding officer of Colonel Wilhelm Klink, the inept commander of the German POW camp in the series. Burkhalter was played by Leon Askin; Klink was played by Werner Klemperer.
“I don’t know how you can be so sure.” I wear Secret.
This appears to be a combination of the slogans for two different brands of deodorant. The longtime slogan for Sure deodorant was “Raise your hand if you’re Sure.” Secret deodorant uses “Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.”
This is one of the rough spots in the dialectic.
Marxist dialectic, also known as dialectical materialism, is a system of thought that was promoted by Karl Marx (1818-1883), the creator of communism. It states that everything is material and that change occurs through a struggle between opposites—e.g., the working class vs. the bourgeoisie. By examining this struggle, one can arrive at a better understanding of history and the world in general. The dialectic became the official doctrine of Soviet communism.
Pete Hamill’s place.
Pete Hamill is a writer and journalist whose memoir is titled A Drinking Life.
I think we’re out of S’mores.
S’mores are a favorite campfire snack, consisting of a toasted marshmallow and a square of chocolate (ideally Hershey’s) sandwiched between two halves of a graham cracker. Its origin is unclear, but recipes have appeared as early as 1927. The origin of the name is a bit more obvious: a contraction of “some more.”
Have you ever thought of the advantages of owning a truly fine set of encyclopedias?
A paraphrase of a line from a Monty Python’s Flying Circus skit, generally known as the “Encyclopedia Salesman” sketch. The actual line, spoken by Eric Idle: “Mind you, I don’t know whether you’ve really considered the advantages of owning a really fine set of modern encyclopedias.”
I wouldn’t invite Ralph Bellamy to my slumber party.
Ralph Bellamy (1904-1991) started as a traveling stage actor, and later formed his own theatrical troupe, the Ralph Bellamy Players. He began acting in movies in the 1930s and appeared in a wide range of movies, usually as the hapless guy who loses the girl to the hero. He lost Rosalind Russell to Cary Grant in His Girl Friday and lost Irene Dunne to Grant in The Awful Truth.
[Sung.] Thursday, Friday, happy days …
A line from the theme song to the TV sitcom Happy Days, which aired from 1974-1984. Sample lyrics: “Sunday, Monday, happy days/Tuesday, Wednesday, happy days/Thursday, Friday, happy days/Saturday, what a day/Rockin’ all week with you …”
[Sung.] Do anything but lay off of my blue suede shoes.
See note on “Blue Suede Shoes,” above.
Eww, he’s making out with Erin Moran.
Erin Moran is an actress best known for her part as Richie Cunningham’s little sister Joanie on the TV show Happy Days (see previous note). She starred in an unsuccessful spinoff called Joanie Loves Chachie in 1982.
Someone’s dancing with Otis.
Probably a reference to Otis Campbell, the town drunk on The Andy Griffith Show, a TV sitcom that aired from 1960-1968. The part was played by Hal Smith (1916-1994).
Masters and Johnson. We’ve got some advice for you.
William Masters (1915-2001) and Virginia Johnson (1925-2013) were some of the earliest researchers to clinically study human sexuality under laboratory conditions. Their 1966 book Human Sexual Response was a best-seller and helped alter American society’s attitudes toward sex.
Possibly a reference to the all-woman punk band formed in 1985. They are best known for their 1992 album Bricks Are Heavy—that, and for a concert performance that same year in which guitarist Donita Sparks removed her tampon onstage and flung it at the crowd. (Thanks to Joel Boutiere for this reference.)
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.”
Mud butler! –Sob sister! –Mud butler! –Sob sister!
“Sob sister” is slang dating back to about 1925, used to refer to female journalists who wrote tug-at-the-heartstrings stories (which, at the time, were about the only stories female reporters were allowed to write). It later came to mean a sentimental and ineffectual do-gooder.
We got trouble … right here in River City …
A reference to the song “Ya Got Trouble” from the musical The Music Man. Sample lyrics: “Ya got trouble, my friend, right here/I say, trouble right here in River City.” (The particular trouble referred to in this instance was billiards.)
Let us in—we’ve got to make fruit fly medium.
Fruit fly medium is the medium used to raise fruit flies, which are used in many experiments. Ingredients include water, cornmeal, molasses, and yeast.
I hope they kill Mr. Kotter.
An imitation of Arnold Horshack, one of the students on Welcome Back, Kotter, a TV series that aired from 1975 to 1979. It starred Gabe Kaplan as a teacher in an inner-city high school. The role of Horshack was played by Ron Palillo (1949-2012).
You know, this is actually encouraged in open schools.
Open schooling was a movement that reached its peak of popularity in the 1970s. It was an alternative theory of education that emphasized freedom, student-directed learning, and social and creative growth over the standard “three R’s” taught in traditional schools.
Girl gang goes on rampage! President Eisenhower declares a state of detention!
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) was the supreme commander of the victorious Allied forces during World War II (1939-1945). After the war, he ran for president as a Republican and won two terms. He served from 1953-1961.
Mrs. Hathaway goes berserk.
Jane Hathaway was secretary to scheming banker Milburn Drysdale on The Beverly Hillbillies, a TV sitcom that aired from 1962-1971. The role was played by Nancy Kulp (1921-1991).
This is for you, Betsy Ross, you stupid—huh?
Elizabeth “Betsy” Ross (1752-1836), according to legend, sewed the first flag of the United States in 1776. She was a Philadelphia seamstress and upholsterer, and it is not unlikely that she made the first flag, but there is no solid evidence to support the story.
Grease—the version they dared not make.
Grease was a stage musical and, later, a phenomenally successful movie. It began its run on Broadway in 1972; the 1978 film version starred Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta as star-crossed teens in the 1950s.
This is actually a commercial for Lightdays Panty Liners.
Lightdays Panty Liners are small, thin pads designed to be worn while menstruating. They are manufactured by Kotex.
We shot that fat barkeep!
A reference to Show 415, The Beatniks.
It’s Edith Prickley.
Edith Prickley was the leopard-print-clad station manager on the sketch comedy series SCTV, which originated in Canada and ran on various U.S. networks and cable outlets between 1976 and 1984; the part was played by Andrea Martin.
Right in the middle of Photoplay.
Photoplay was a photo and gossip magazine that covered the film industry. It was the first magazine of its type, debuting in 1912.
It’s Judy Jetson!
Judy Jetson was the daughter on the futuristic animated series The Jetsons, which ran from 1962-1988. The voice was supplied by Janet Waldo.
Well, Crystal Light, then?
Crystal Light is a sugar-free drink mix, similar to Kool-Aid.
Quick, Scotchguard the couch!
Scotchguard is a product manufactured by 3M that is applied to fabric and carpet to guard against staining. It was invented by researcher Patsy Sherman and first went on the market in 1956.
Killed by a tetherball.
Tetherball is a game where a ball is tied with a rope to the top of a ten-foot (usually) pole. Players stand on opposite sides of the pole and attempt to hit the ball hard enough to wrap the rope all the way around the pole; the opposing player, naturally, tries to prevent this by hitting the ball back in the opposite direction.
And after this, let’s play some foursquare.
Foursquare is a playground game in which four players take their places in a large square that has been divided into smaller squares. The object is to serve the ball to any square, whose player has one bounce to hit it to another square, and so on.
Bye, Mr. Crane.
Possibly a reference to actor Bob Crane (1928-1978), who played Colonel Robert Hogan on the TV sitcom Hogan’s Heroes (1965-1971).
Look out, look out, look out, look out!
A line from the song “The Leader of the Pack” by the Shangri-Las. (Thanks to Missmb for this reference.)
A reference to a line from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, spoken by Dorothy (Judy Garland).
Call Glass Replacement Specialists any time day or night. –Free case of steaks.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul radio and TV airwaves were once drenched in ads for the Glass Service Co., which offered a free box of steaks with an auto windshield replacement. The steaks-for-glass idea was the brainchild of George Corporaal, who got rich and became a local celebrity thanks to the ads. The Minnesota legislature later banned gifts-for-windshields offers, saying they drove up insurance rates, and Corporaal died in 2013. Nonetheless, there is currently a company called Rapid Glass in the Twin Cities that again offers a “Free Box of Steaks with Auto Glass Replacement.” Ask a Rapid Glass representative for details.
[Sung.] The Simpsons …
This is the theme to The Simpsons, an animated TV sitcom that first aired in 1989. The opening sequence for the show begins with clouds parting to reveal the title.
“Kids with guns.” Chuck Heston would love it.
Charlton Heston (1923-2008) was an actor and political activist who appeared in such movies as The Ten Commandments and Planet of the Apes. He was a longtime spokesman for the National Rifle Association and was elected its president for three terms.
It’s Emily Bronte!
Emily Bronte (1818-1848) was a novelist who produced only one novel in her brief career, but it is considered one of the greatest works of Western literature: Wuthering Heights. Emily came from a talented family: her sisters Charlotte and Anne were also highly respected novelists.
In a related story, Paula Parkins picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A variation on the famous tongue twister: “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, how many pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick?” There is also another, longer version: “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?”
Sentencing next Tuesday, appearance by Gogo the gorilla.
In 1979, a children's album came out titled The Gogo The Blue Gorilla Show, about a blue gorilla and his friends who love to play the funky rock & roll. There was never an actual show; it appears to have been one of those high-concept albums the 1970s adored so. The songs were written by Michael Olmstead and Peter Derge and the titles ("March of the Munchie Men," "The Funky Skunk") give off a certain canniboid vibe. In 1992 the Palo Alto Children's Theatre mounted a musical adaptation of it that was also written by Olmstead and Derge.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Jam Productions is proud to present the Black Moses of Soul …” is “a favorite phrase” of the MST3K writers, according to the ACEG. It’s a reference to American singer-songwriter and actor Isaac Hayes (1942-2008), whose 1971 album is titled Black Moses, and there is a long out-of-print 1973 concert video titled The Black Moses of Soul. There is a radio-jingle production house in Dallas named JAM Creative Productions, which has been around since the early 1970s, but it’s unclear if there’s any connection.
Here come the me!
A riff on “Here come de judge,” a catchphrase originated by Black nightclub comedian Pigmeat Markham that later became the signature line of a recurring sketch on the TV comedy show Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In (NBC, 1968-1973). Both Markham and Flip Wilson played “de judge” in early seasons, but the role was ultimately defined by Sammy Davis Jr.
“Paula Parkins …” Picked a peck of …
See above note.
“This thrill seeking became the one great thing in your life.” Besides Sun Chips.
Sun Chips are a brand of potato chips manufactured by Frito Lay that have less fat than your average potato chip. They were introduced in 1990.
Ironically, this is still funnier than Night Court.
Night Court was a TV sitcom that ran from 1984-1992. It starred magician/comedian Harry Anderson as an eccentric but warm-hearted judge solving the personal problems of the whackos who routinely passed through his courtroom.
Do you think I look like Lincoln, honey?
Mr. Parkins’ pose here resembles that of the statue in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Lincoln Memorial first broke ground in 1914; the statue was carved by sculptor Daniel Chester French (1850-1931).
My rape victim refuses to come to Lamaze classes.
Lamaze is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating women about childbirth and promoting a more “natural” form of birth rather than the heavily drugged version that was standard when the group was formed in 1960. They became known for teaching a form of breathing exercises that were supposed to help reduce the pain of labor.
Sometime after Memorial Day, maybe.
Memorial Day is an American national holiday, held on the last Monday in May, meant to honor those who have died defending the country in the nation’s wars. Its origin dates back to the Civil War (1861-1865). It also, traditionally, marks the first day on which women are supposed to wear white shoes, with the cutoff date being Labor Day in September.
[Sung.] Regrets, I’ve had a few …
A line from Frank Sinatra’s signature tune “My Way.” Sample lyrics: “Regrets, I've had a few/But then again, too few to mention ...”
Even Circle Pines.
According to writer Mary Jo Pehl 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.”
“No child is inherently bad.” Except Pauly Shore.
Pauly Shore is an actor and comedian who has starred in a number of low-brow comedy films, including Son in Law, Jury Duty, and Bio-Dome. He is the son of Mitzi Shore, the legendary former owner of The Comedy Store comedy club in Los Angeles, which is now run by her eldest son Peter.
There’s a little joke in Leviticus that says …
Leviticus is the third book in the Old Testament, which largely consists of a listing of laws the faithful are supposed to follow—particularly the priests, but it covers the layperson’s behavior as well.
Your Catholicism. Your Polygmon of Thorton 8.
An imitation of actor William Shatner, who played Captain James Tiberius Kirk on the TV series Star Trek (1966-1969) and in the series of movies based on the show.
[Sung.] Pictures of the smiles we left behind …
A line from the song “The Way We Were,” which has been recorded by Barbra Streisand (see above note) and Perry Como (1912-2001), among others. Sample lyrics: “Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind/Smiles we gave to one another/Of the way we were …”
[Hummed.] Glory glory hallelujah …
This is a line from “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” traditionally President Abraham Lincoln’s (1809-1865) favorite song. Sample lyrics: “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord/He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored/He hath loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword/His truth is marching on…” The song was written by Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910).
A take on Count Dracula. Dracula is the villainous vampire of the Bram Stoker novel by the same name. Stoker based the character loosely on Vlad the Impaler, a 15th-century Walachian prince who was notorious for his cruelty. “Jugs,” of course, is slang for breasts.
“The child must remain a ward of the state.” A Burt Ward.
Burt Ward is an actor who is best known for playing Dick Grayson/Robin on the campy TV series Batman, which aired from 1966-1968.
I sentence you to my Toastmasters meeting.
Toastmasters is an international organization dedicated to helping its members master the art of public speaking; at a typical meeting, members give short impromptu speeches, longer prepared speeches, practice conducting meetings, and receive feedback from their fellow members.
Tonight, on The Hollywood Squares!
The Hollywood Squares is a game show that has aired off and on, in various incarnations, since 1966. The basic concept has remained the same: nine past-their-prime celebrities arranged in a nine-square grid, giving answers to the host’s questions in a kind of human tic-tac-toe game; the contestants must try to guess whether the celebrity’s answers are correct.
Audiences left with a song in their hearts and a smile on their faces.
“With a Song in My Heart” is a 1929 show tune by Rodgers and Hart, from the Broadway musical Spring Is Here, and the title of a 1952 film that included the song. The phrase “audiences left with a song in their hearts and a smile on their faces,” or some variation, is a somewhat hackneyed line used by newspaper reviewers to describe musical movies or plays.