903: The Pumaman
by Chris Baumgartner
Christmas ornaments of the gods.
Chariots of the Gods? is a book written by Erich Von Daniken, in which he postulated that the pyramids of ancient Egypt and other ancient monuments were built with extraterrestrial assistance.
No one knows who they were, or what they were doing.
A line from the song “Stonehenge” by Spinal Tap. “In ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history/There lived a strange race of people, the Druids/No one knows who they were or what they were doing/But their legacy remains, hewn into the living rock/Of Stonehenge.”
And the power of bleach.
“Cuts grease with the power of bleach” is the ad slogan for Fantastik spray cleaner, made by S.C. Johnson & Son.
Tonight on a very special Touched by a Puma Man.
The TV show Touched by an Angel ran from 1994 to 2003. It starred Roma Downey and Della Reese as an angel and her supervisor, who showed up in people’s lives during times of crisis and offered divine assistance.
With Randall “Tex” Cobb as The Mask.
Randall “Tex” Cobb was a pro kickboxer and boxer before he became an actor. He famously fought and lost to heavyweight boxing champ Larry Holmes in 1982. As an actor he played heavies and bad guys in films like Raising Arizona and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.
Oh. He’s the consigliere of this film.
A consigliere (Italian for “advisor”) is associated with the Mafia and the movie The Godfather. The consigliere is an advisor to the crime family, usually the third in the line of command. The consigliere in The Godfather was played by Robert Duvall.
At least this movie will have nice shoes.
Puma is a German manufacturer of athletic footwear and apparel.
“Well, Jane?” Are you getting serious?
“Jane’s Getting Serious” is a 1987 song by Jon Astley, later made famous in a Heinz ketchup commercial starring Matt “Friends” LeBlanc.
Georgette, relic hunter.
Georgette Franklin (Georgia Engel) was the naïve girlfriend (and later wife) of Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977). She was generally sickly sweet to everyone.
Are they all trying to make weight?
In sports medicine, “making weight” means to lose weight rapidly, by wearing sweat-inducing garments, for example. It is based on the theory that training at a heavier body weight and then rapidly losing weight right before a competition gives the athlete an advantage. It is particularly common in sports with weight classes—wrestling, for example.
Intel inside. [Sung.] Doo ding doo ding.
The Intel Inside ad campaign started in 1991. It was designed to get consumers familiar with what a microprocessor was and brand differentiate Intel. Intel is currently the largest microprocessor manufacturer, but it had stiff competition at the time from Motorola, Sun Microsystems, and IBM.
An egg! Oh, it's Donald Pleasence.
Donald Pleasence (1919-1995) was a bald actor who got his start on British TV and became forever identified with two roles: as the evil genius Ernst Blofeld in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice, and as Dr. Sam Loomis in the series of Halloween horror films, the first of which was released in 1978. Prior to Puma Man, he also appeared in Show 501, Warrior of the Lost World.
That’s Cheryl Ladd’s department.
Cheryl Ladd (née Cheryl Stoppelmoor from South Dakota) had the impossible task of replacing Farrah Fawcett on the hit Aaron Spelling show Charlie’s Angels (1976-1981). She had worked with Kate Jackson in the original Satan’s School for Girls (1973), which was directed by Spelling. She went on to star in a boatload of made-for-TV movies with titles like Though None Go With Me and Love’s Resounding Courage.
Hit me with your best slap shot.
Pat Benatar was a popular female rock vocalist during the early 1980s, with such hits as “Heartbreaker” and “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” A slap shot is a hockey term for a standing hit on the puck toward the goal as hard as possible.
Did you put an aspirin in my Coke?
This is a reference to the urban legend about the effects of drinking a Coke tainted with aspirin. The details vary, but include instant death, an aphrodisiac, or getting high; needless to say, none of them is true.
I think controlling her will might involve sloe gin and a Trans-Am.
Sloe gin is a liqueur made from sloe, or blackthorn, plums mixed with gin and aged in a wood barrel. It is considered a “girly drink” by some because it is sweet but still packs 50 proof of alcohol. The Pontiac Firebird Trans Am was a muscle car produced by GM between 1969 and 2002.
Uh-oh. Hey, whoa. Did somebody put unleaded in this thing?
Leaded gas was banned in cars for health reasons. Putting unleaded gas in a leaded engine will damage the valves.
Get me a soda pop and a Caramello.
Caramello candy bars are milk chocolate bars with tiles of soft caramel inside. They are sold under the Cadbury name but manufactured in the United States by the Hershey Company.
It’s S&M day at the Field Museum!
S&M, or sadomasochism, is a sex technique all about delivering pain (sadism) to a willing partner (masochism). The Field Museum of Natural History is in Chicago, Illinois. It is one of the largest in the world, and dates back to the Columbian Exhibition of 1893.
I am the supermodel of Christmas past.
In the Charles Dickens novella A Christmas Carol (1843), the Ghost of Christmas Past leads Scrooge through happy scenes from his youth to remind him of what he has lost in becoming an embittered old man.
With my brains and your beauty …
A paraphrase of a line from the 1946 film noir The Postman Always Rings Twice: “With my brains and your looks, we could go places.” Based on a 1934 novel by James M. Cain, the original starred Lana Turner and John Garfield; it was remade in 1981 with Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson.
Then we’ll lock him in a Pet Taxi.
The Pet Taxi is a brand of pet carrier manufactured by Petmate.
Ahh! Hey, look, Big Ben. Ahh!
Big Ben is actually the name of the bell in the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster in London, but most people use it to refer to the clock as well. The tower was built in 1859 and celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2009. The origin of the nickname is unclear, although it may refer to Sir Benjamin Hall, the man who supervised the installation of the bell.
The Greg Louganis London special.
Greg Louganis is an American diver who won gold medals in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. In 1988, he suffered an injury when his head hit the diving board, but he went on to capture the gold anyway. In 1994 he announced he was gay, and the following year admitted he was HIV-positive. He has gone on to become a diving coach and an LGBT activist.
Call our 900 number and vote!
The 900 telephone prefix indicates there will be a service fee charged on the call. It is used for sweepstakes, adult chat, and a variety of other purposes. It is strictly regulated by the FTC and is never marketed to children. Some 900 numbers have been used for voting on various questions; game shows sometimes have viewers call in to vote on which contestants should win, for example, while newspapers hold telephone polls that urge readers to call in and place their vote (for a price).
The new Big Bird actionwear.
Big Bird is an 8’ 2” Muppet who has appeared on the children’s TV show Sesame Street since 1969. He is voiced by Caroll Spinney, who also plays Oscar the Grouch.
Man. [Sniffs.] How much patchouli do you need?
The reek of patchouli oil fragrance is associated with Deadheads (devout fans of the rock group the Grateful Dead). A smelly, unwashed hippie can cover a variety of odors with a dab of it. It comes from the flower of the same name. I still have a bottle.
Ted Cassidy in his most sensitive role yet.
Ted Cassidy (1932-1979) was an exceptionally tall (6’9”) actor with a deep, distinctive voice. He played Lurch the butler on The Addams Family TV series. He also played Harvey Logan in the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969).
This is where Cher stores her discarded ribs.
Singer Cher did not have ribs removed to look thinner. This was a French gossip column rumor published in 1988 that spread out of control. Cher sued the publication and was examined by physicians, who confirmed that she had had her nose, breasts, and teeth worked on, but not her ribs.
I am Bernie Kopell.
Bernie Kopell played Dr. Adam Bricker on TV’s The Love Boat (1977-1986). He also appeared as the villainous Siegfried on numerous episodes of Get Smart (1965-1970).
Or when I eat a sack of White Castles.
White Castle is a chain of fast food burger restaurants founded in 1921. Their classic burger is often called a “slider.” It is a small, square, thin beef patty on a square bun with a touch of onion and a dill slice.
A sweater that says “I’ve read the works of Alan Alda.”
Actor Alan Alda was famous in the ‘70s for his sweaters, which showed he was a “sensitive” guy, as opposed to manly men like Burt Reynolds. The star of M*A*S*H did not write any books until 2005, when he hit the best-seller list with his autobiography, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I’ve Learned.
You’re not going to pour molten gold down my throat, are you?
Pouring molten metal down the throat is a form of execution that dates back at least to Roman Empire. In 1599 the Spanish governor of Logrono, in colonial Ecuador, was killed this way by natives engaging in an early form of tax protest. Also in the 1590s, a Flemish engraver named Theodor De Bry published an illustration titled “The Spanish thirst for gold quenched,” which showed Aztecs pouring molten gold down the throat of a captured conquistador, an image that was widely circulated in Europe.
The dry look, from Gillette.
“The wet head is dead, long live the dry look” was a slogan for Gillette’s The Dry Look men’s hairspray.
This is why 7-Elevens allow no more than three Aztecs at one time.
7-Eleven is a chain of convenience stores. Some stores have limited the number of teens that can be in the store at one time.
I’m gonna tell Mr. Weatherbee.
Waldo Weatherbee is the high-school principal in Archie comics. He is bald, besuited, and bespectacled.
Yep, he can sense danger. A Post-It note can sense danger better than this guy.
Post-It notes are small pieces of notepaper with a slightly sticky substance along one edge, allowing them to stick to paper or other surfaces but still be easily removed. They were introduced by 3M in 1980, although the adhesive that makes them possible was invented back in 1968.
Ahh! I’ll duck into Willa Cather’s ancestral home.
Willa Cather (1873-1947) was a highly respected American novelist whose best-known works include O Pioneers! and Death Comes for the Archbishop. Her ancestral home is in Virginia, an 1851 house called Willow Shade.
Is that “If I Were a Rich Man” on harpsichord? –I believe it was.
“If I Were a Rich Man” is a song from the musical Fiddler on the Roof. It is a song about a poor man who dreams of what he would do if he were wealthy. This mostly involves “bidi bidi bum,” a Jewish saying meaning praying to God all day.
Anthony Robbins is a buff motivational speaker and “success coach” who has appeared frequently on TV infomercials. He writes books with titles like Unlimited Power and sells courses in self-improvement.
Actually, he’s John Davidson-man.
John Davidson acted as the host or co-host of shows like That’s Incredible! and The $100,000 Pyramid. He had a minor career as a singer and is now retired and living in Mexico.
Where are the Faye Dunaway auditions?
Faye Dunaway is a sultry film actress known for playing smart, calculating women. She won an Oscar for her role in Network (1976) and also starred in Chinatown (1974) and Mommie Dearest (1981).
A Zubaz top with a lab coat and a veil. It works.
Zubaz are a brand of zebra-striped pants, designed initially as workout wear for bulky bodybuilders who could not fit into traditional clothing. They became a fashion trend in the early 1990s.
This is from the Missing Persons collection.
Dale Bozzio, former wife of drummer Terry Bozzio, was the squeaky platinum blond Playboy Playmate who sang for the new wave group Missing Persons. Their hits included “Destination Unknown,” “Words” (what are words for), and “Walking in L.A.” Both Bozzios and guitarist Warren Cuccurullo appear on Frank Zappa’s Joe’s Garage.
[Sung.] Mentos theme. –Mentos, the freshmaker.
Mentos, a brand of chewy mint candies, ran a series of commercials in the 1990s featuring people having the guts to do really annoying things after downing a Mentos. The jingle went, in part, like this: “Fresh goes better, Mentos freshness, fresh goes better with Mentos, fresh and full of life!” The ads were a staple on Comedy Central during MST3K’s run there, and were parodied by Mike and the ‘bots in a host segment in Show 522, Teenage Crime Wave.
The party tray is coming from Subway.
Subway is a franchised chain of fast-food sandwich restaurants. It is one of the largest restaurant chains in the world, with more than 30,000 locations in 95 countries.
Why would you have a bust of Ron Ely in your home?
Ron Ely is the blue-eyed, blond hunk who played Tarzan in the 1966-1968 TV series of the same name. He also played Doc Savage in the lame first movie adaptation of the popular pulp books, Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze (1975).
Oh, what …? Damn Clapper.
The Clapper is a patented sound-activated power switch from Joseph Industries. It has one outlet that responds to two claps and a second outlet that is triggered by three. Joseph Industries also makes the Ove Glove (an as-seen-on-TV oven mitt) and Chia Pets.
David Birney is the Aramis Man in Wait Until Dark.
Curly-haired David Birney is a stage and TV actor who has appeared on St. Elsewhere and Serpico, among many other series. Estee Lauder cosmetics produces Aramis, a line of fragrances for men. Their spokesmodel is known as the Aramis Man. Ted Danson was once an Aramis Man; as of 2011, the Aramis Man was Chris Lemmon, son of actor Jack Lemmon. Wait Until Dark is a 1967 thriller about a blind woman (Audrey Hepburn) terrorized by intruders looking for a hidden stash of heroin.
There’s cherry Kool-Aid in my saline bottle.
Kool-Aid is a flavored drink mix that has been popular with kids for decades. Invented by Nebraskan Edwin Perkins in 1927, seven flavors were initially available: cherry, grape, lemon-lime, orange, raspberry, root beer, and strawberry. In 1953, the brand was sold to General Foods. In the 1960s, the giant pitcher-shaped mascot Kool-Aid Man was introduced. He would exclaim, “Oh yeah!” after crashing through a wall. The name became associated with a bad bit of business in 1978 when 918 cultists committed suicide or were murdered in Jonestown, Guyana. The phrase “drank the Kool-Aid” has come to mean a person has bought into a line of foolish thinking or dogma, although in fact the victims drank poison mixed with Kool-Aid competitor Flavor-Aid.
An imitation of ‘70s funk songs that turned up on the soundtracks of porn movies and blaxploitation films; the theme from Shaft is a fairly iconic example. Also a possible nod to the 1972 album and song titled "Waka/Jawaka" by rock composer and friend of the show Frank Zappa.
“Before you call the police …” Caress.
“Before you dress, Caress” is the slogan for Caress brand soap with moisturizer, manufactured by Unilever. Moisturizer makes the outer layer of skin more pliable by causing it to absorb more water.
I’m a representative of Aztechnologies.
In the world of the tabletop science-fantasy roleplaying game Shadowrun, Aztechnology is a global megacorporation with many shadowy secrets.
“My name is Vadinho.” I’m an onion.
The Vidalia onion sprouted up in Georgia during the Great Depression. The Vidalia variety is known as a very sweet onion. It can be eaten raw without the hard bite and smell of a brown or white onion. This makes them good for sandwiches, but not for flavoring. The name came from the Piggly Wiggly grocery store chain headquartered in Vidalia. The chain helped popularize the trademarked onion variety.
“I say put it on.” And you say pewt it oon.
A reference to the song “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” written by George and Ira Gershwin for the 1937 film Shall We Dance. Actual lyrics: “You like potayto, and I like potahto/You like tomayto, and I like tomahto/Potayto, potahto/Tomayto, tomahto/Let’s call the whole thing off!”
Wow. Look at all the Farrah Fawcett posters.
The 1976 poster of Farrah Fawcett (1947-2009) in a red swimsuit sold 12 million copies. The red Speedo one-piece she wore now resides in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.
We’re here to pick up our Grammys?
“Grammys” is the shorthand name for the Gramophone Awards presented by the Recording Academy to recognize achievements in music.
My name is Pleasance, and I am funky.
“My Name is Prince” is a 1992 song by Minneapolis musician Prince. Sample lyrics: “My name is Prince and I am funkyMy name is Prince the one and only/I did not come to funk around/Till I get your daughter I won’t leave this town.”
Battle of the Network Eye Bags.
Battle of the Network Stars was a semi-annual television special that ran from 1976-1984. It was hosted by sportscaster Howard Cosell and featured teams of actors from rival networks competing in various athletic events.
Oh, no, they’re going to start tangoing.
Tango is a style of music and dance that originated in Argentina and Uruguay in the late 1800s. It is known for its sensuality. Trivia tidbit: the famous song most associated with tangoing is called “La Cumparsita.” It was written in 1916 by Uruguyan composer Gerardo Matos Rodriguez and has been used for dance numbers in multiple films, including Sunset Boulevard, Anchors Aweigh, and Some Like It Hot.
It’s my irritable bowel syndrome, isn’t it?
Also called “spastic colon,” irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal problem characterized by bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and/or constipation. Since it has no known organic cause and appears to be related to stress, many people believe the condition is psychosomatic.
With Mitchum, I can skip a day.
Mitchum is an antiperspirant and deodorant marketed primarily to men. Their longtime ad slogan was “So effective you can skip a day.” They are owned by Revlon.
Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes cereal was introduced in 1952 as Sugar Frosted Flakes; along with many other cereals, Kellogg’s dropped the word “Sugar” from its name in the mid-1980s when consumers became more health-conscious.
Well, who’s for foosball?
Foosball is a table-top game set up like a game of soccer. Each rank of players is controlled by a metal rod which is pulled and spun to kick a small ball toward the opposing player’s goal. It was invented by Evan Dube in 1921.
All right! Disco fighting!
Disco is a style of dance music that peaked in popularity in the late 1970s. A counter to the rock music styles that dominated the era, disco ruled the nightclub landscape for several years, and there were numerous disco radio hits and top-selling records. It was further popularized by the hit 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever, and made stars of such artists as The Bee Gees (who were prominently featured in the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack), Donna Summer, and KC and the Sunshine Band.
He’s totally pounding Eddie Rabbitt.
Eddie Rabbitt (1941-1998) was a popular country/crossover singer in the 1970s and ‘80s, with such hits as “Drivin’ My Life Away” and “I Love a Rainy Night” (both from 1980). In the 1990s he had health problems that kept him from recording much; he died of lung cancer in 1998.
Al Pacino’s elevator.
The actor Al Pacino stands roughly 5’7” tall. Pacino was teased on the set of The Godfather because of his height (or lack thereof).
Apparently, the house capsized and he and Shelley Winters have to climb up through the basement.
In 1972’s The Poseidon Adventure, Shelley Winters, Gene Hackman, and an ensemble cast must escape from a capsized ocean liner by climbing up to the hull. (Spoiler alert!) Winters’ character dies of a heart attack after saving Hackman from drowning.
He’s in an attic-a, Attica, Attica, Attica, Attica!
There was a famously horrible prison riot at Attica prison in New York in 1971, but the chant is a reference to the 1975 movie Dog Day Afternoon, starring Al Pacino. In the film, bank robber Sonny (Pacino) tries to rile up a crowd to help him escape from a police cordon by reminding them of the riot.
Like an idiot on the roof. [Hummed.] “If I Were a Rich Man.”
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. “If I Were a Rich Man” is sung by Tevye, the father, and is based on a short story by Sholem Aleichem.
“Tony!” It’s Chino! I been lookin’ for yer, ya mook!
In the musical West Side Story, Tony is the member of the Jets street gang who falls in love with Maria, the sister of rival gang leader Bernardo. Chino is a member of the rival gang the Sharks, and (spoiler alert) the man who kills Tony at the end of the musical in revenge for Tony having killed Bernardo.
You know, my mom had a pair of earrings that did the exact same thing.
In the animated TV series Jem and the Holograms (syndication, 1985-1988), the heroine Jerrica transforms herself into alter-ego superheroine Jem by means of a holographic computer controlled by her earrings.
Look, Twiggy! Nope, you missed her.
Twiggy Lawson (born Lesley Hornby) is a British model who, in 1966, captured the world’s attention with her boyish looks and preposterously slender figure. Her style inspired many copycats and fads in the ensuing years, and she is considered to be the first supermodel. In the 1970s, she became an actress and released albums.
Yeah, thanks, Castaneda.
Carlos Castaneda (1925-1998) wrote a number of books involving mysticism and hallucinogenic drug use, in which the narrator takes a lifelong spiritual journey with an Indian mystic named Don Juan Matus. Castaneda wrote the books as true-to-life memoirs, although their veracity has been challenged by critics who portray them as works of fiction.
“The other who?” Cindy Lou Who?
Cindy Lou Who, “who was no more than two,” is a character from the Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, which was made into a classic 1966 TV special. Cindy Lou almost foils the Grinch’s plans when she wanders sleepily out of bed while he’s stripping her home of everything festive. Her voice in the TV version was supplied by June Foray, who also voiced Rocky the squirrel on Rocky and Bullwinkle.
We’re out of Triscuits?
Triscuits are a snack cracker made from wheat. The tasty squares have been made for more than a hundred years. They are owned by Kraft/Nabisco.
Um, good buddy.
“Good buddy” is CB radio lingo. Before cell phones, the public could use shared radio telephone communication on the newly unlicensed Citizens Band (27 MHz). CB was particularly popular during the 1970s. Typical users were truck drivers, who invented and spoke their own slanguage.
Heh, it's scoliosis man here.
Scoliosis is a medical condition that affecting the spine in which it becomes curved like an "S." The causes vary. There is no direct cure, but early identification can often determine the underlying cause and focus proper treatment.
The gods are dragging him by the elastic in his BVDs.
BVD is a men’s underwear brand. It stands for Bradley, Voorhees & Day.
Herbie the Love Silver Shadow.
Herbie, The Love Bug, was a lovable Volkswagen beetle with a mind of its own in a series of live-action Disney comedy movies. A Rolls Royce Silver Shadow is an elite British luxury town car. It was the most popular model ever made and was in production from 1965-1980.
The Jetsons are flying overhead.
On the animated television show The Jetsons, which aired from 1962-1963, the family travels in an “aerocar” that looks like a flying saucer with a big transparent bubble dome on top. The car made a strange, high-pitched warbling noise as it flew.
Sam Elliott is Ted Turner in The Gregory Peck Story.
Sam Elliott is a mustachioed actor with a slow Western drawl who often plays Western or Southern tough guys. Ted Turner is the billionaire media mogul who founded CNN, TNT, TCM, etc. He is one of the largest landowners in the United States, with nearly two million acres. Gregory Peck (1916-2003) was an Oscar-winning actor who appeared in The Omen, The Guns of Navarone, and To Kill a Mockingbird.
“Don’t leave me hanging here!” Tell me who shot J.R., come on!
One of the most widely watched TV programs of all time was the Dallas episode of November 21, 1980 (“Who Done It?”). The top-rated prime-time soap opera had ended its third season on a cliffhanger, when the show’s star, J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman), was shot by a mystery assailant. The suspense was exacerbated by a two-month actors’ strike. Spoiler alert: the killer was J.R.’s sister-in-law/mistress, who was pregnant with his baby. Eighty-three million viewers watched the show.
Dorf on rituals.
Actor Tim Conway, known for his comic turns on such television series as McHale’s Navy (ABC, 1962-1966) and The Carol Burnett Show (CBS, 1967-1978), produced a series of eight mock instructional videotapes in which he stars as a dim and diminutive Scandinavian named Derkus Dorf. The tapes flog a single sight gag: Conway is standing in a hole up to his knees, with shoes attached at knee level, giving the appearance he is only about four feet tall. Titles include Dorf on Golf (1987) and Dorf Goes Fishing (1993).
Puma Man. Liberace with Dockers.
Lee Liberace (1919-1987) was a flamboyant, piano-playing entertainer with a fondness for capes who enjoyed his greatest success in the 1950s, when he had his own television series. Dockers is a line of casual khaki slacks—largely for men, although there is a women’s line as well—manufactured by Levi’s.
Look, you call it corn, I call it maize, we’ll never get along.
A reference to a 1976 Mazola margarine TV commercial. The line “You call it corn, WE call it maize” was delivered by Native American actress Tenaya Torres. Indeed, margarine is made from hydrogenated corn oil, or maize oil, if you like. Just to be clear, it is definitely not butter.
High Plains Weenie.
High Plains Drifter is a 1973 film starring Clint Eastwood as a mysterious gun-toting stranger who is hired to protect a small frontier town from marauding outlaws. Although it was not one of the string of “spaghetti westerns” produced by Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone, which also starred Eastwood, it has much the same feel as those films, with a little half-baked mysticism thrown in as a garnish.
Billions and billions of Puma Men.
Carl Sagan (1934-1996) was an astronomer and the author of several books on popular science. He was also the host of the popular PBS science program, Cosmos, in 1980. He was often agog at the number of stars (“bill-yuns and bill-yuns”) in the universe.
I can’t get the piña colada song out of my head.
The piña colada song is really called “Escape (The Piña Colada Song),” by Rupert Holmes. It was a number-one hit in 1979, featuring the bizarre chorus: “If you like piña coladas, and getting caught in the rain/If you are not into yoga, and have half a brain …” The song is about a guy reading a woman’s personal ad.
Viacom owns MTV, or Music Television, which is a cable channel started in 1981. It used to play a continuous stream of music videos produced by record labels to hype their albums. It grew into an industry behemoth, so much so that it almost never plays music videos anymore to hold its teenage audience, relying rather on pseudo-reality programs, game shows, and bandstand-style dance showcases. The all-pervasive advertising makes the channel more of an infomercial.
[Sung.] Help me Vadinho, help help me Vadinho.
“Help Me Rhonda” was a hit pop single in 1965 by the harmony-singing Beach Boys. It was written by Brian Wilson and features Al Jardine on lead vocals.
Look, just don’t use the holodeck anymore, huh, if you don’t know how to use it.
The holodeck was a chamber on the sci-fi TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation, which aired from 1987-1994. Ultra-realistic simulations were created by the ship’s computer in a blank room to provide stress relief to the crew of the Enterprise, but they almost invariably went awry, running amuck, killing the crew, or trying to take over the ship.
So it’s off to Hooters.
Hooters is a chain of restaurants whose attractive waitresses all dress in tight tank tops and very short shorts. Its corporate symbol is an owl.
Are you a kind of onion?
See note on the Vidalia onion, above.
The gods will give you the wet look.
“Wet look” hair refers to the classic slicked-back look achieved by copious amounts of Brylcreem. See note on the dry look, above.
I’m in the fire truck, for USA Up All Night.
An imitation of comedian/actor Gilbert Gottfried. USA Up All Night was a TV series that aired on the USA cable TV network from 1988-1998. It featured low-budget films such as 976-EVIL and Barbarian Queen, accompanied by comedy skits performed by the show’s hosts (originally Caroline Schlitt on Fridays and Gilbert Gottfried on Saturdays; Rhonda Shear replaced Schlitt in 1990).
Soundtrack by my little brother’s Casio.
Casio is a Japanese electronics manufacturer that released a number of cheapie synthesizer keyboards in the 1980s. Designed for use by children, their low price and wide availability resulted in their being used by aspiring garage bands everywhere.
Do you have the Jaws of Life on ya?
The Jaws of Life is a pneumatic or hydraulic power tool first produced in 1972 by Hurst Inc. for extracting drivers from mangled race cars. The tools worked so well that fire rescue crews began carrying them on their trucks to accident scenes. Hurst now makes a wide variety of similar tools.
Cupid is a Roman god associated with love, the son of Venus, the goddess of love, and Mars, the god of war. He is often pictured as a naked, cherubic baby with wings and a bow and arrow. Whoever he shoots falls in love immediately.
And then they snagged on me, and called me Prince Valiant, and said I had a stupid fakey religion.
“Prince Valiant” was an epic comic strip by Hal Foster; it was made into a movie in 1954, starring Robert Wagner in the title role. In both the comic and the film, Prince Valiant sports a pageboy haircut that stings of Sally Field and Davy Jones rolled into one.
Do the Hustle!
Jazz drummer Steve Gadd played on the recording of “The Hustle,” a 1976 disco hit by Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony. McCoy died of a heart attack at the young age of thirty-nine.
[Sung.] Don’t stop the dance …
“Don’t Stop the Dance” is a 1985 song by Bryan Ferry, former lead singer of the British rock band Roxy Music. Sample lyrics: “Drifting through a world that’s torn and tattered/Every thought I have don’t mean a thing/Don’t stop, don't stop the dance/(No) More music (Don’t stop the dance).”
Kapok fiber is a lightweight, fluffy fiber harvested from the kapok tree. It is often used as stuffing for pillows, upholstery, stuffed animals, etc.
So this lousy movie ruined a perfectly good Jaguar.
Jaguars are a brand of British luxury cars first produced in 1936.
The Archangel Duane.
The Bible does not use the term “archangel,” but the title is generally applied to certain high-ranking angels who carry out specific tasks for God, often carrying messages. The number of archangels in Judeo-Christian tradition varies, although Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael usually top the list. Islam adds Azrael and several others.
Puma Man can rip through pure contact paper.
Contact paper, also known as shelf paper, is a thick adhesive paper, often printed with decorative designs, used to line cabinet shelves and drawers.
These poor guys aren’t even the villains, they just came to get some stuff out of their U-Store-It.
U-Store-It is a chain of self-storage facilities, one of the largest in the country; it boasts somewhere around 37,000 locations nationwide.
Well, time to drop in on the Super Bowl at halftime.
Super Bowl is the now-official name for the AFC-NFC Championship Game. It was first held in 1967 as a championship between the National Football League and the rival American Football League as part of a merger agreement that would be finalized in 1970. AFL team owner Lamar Hunt coined the name in the late ‘60s after watching his kids play with a Super Ball, a toy manufactured by Wham-O. The name wasn’t formally adopted until the fourth game in 1970, as tickets for the first three were printed with the title “World Championship Game.” The halftime show at Super Bowl XXIX (1995) featured performers dressed as Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood parachuting into Miami’s Joe Robbie Stadium to join the song and dance numbers onstage. The stunt was meant to promote a new Indiana Jones attraction at Disneyland.
Meanwhile, in Georgy Girl.
Lynn Redgrave (1943-2010) played Georgy in the movie Georgy Girl (1966), about a frumpy woman who shares a London flat with a free-love devotee during the swinging ’60s. The film highlights the superficiality, egoism, and consequences of hedonistic, unprotected sex.
Snoopy is Charlie Brown’s pet dog in the comic strip “Peanuts,” by Charles M. Schulz (1922-2000). Snoopy often imagines himself a World War I flying ace. He dons a helmet with goggles and flies his doghouse like a Sopwith Camel against the Red Baron.
“Drive.” He said.
A reference to either the movie Drive, He Said (1971), which starred Karen Black and Bruce Dern, or the 1985 hit song “Drive, He Said,” by Christian singer-songwriter Steve Taylor.
“Tell me where the mask is.” Get your copy at Blockbuster.
A reference to the 1994 comedy movie The Mask, starring Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz. Blockbuster Inc. was once the world’s largest chain of video and game rental stores. It started in Dallas in 1985 and grew at an amazing pace. With the deployment of high speed Internet, however, movie downloads and mail order services such as Netflix cut sharply into Blockbuster’s income. They filed for Chapter 11 in 2010; in 2011 Dish Network bought the company. A handful of franchised locations remain out of the 9,000 stores it boasted at its peak.
Amelia Earhart (1897-1937?) was a world-renowned aviator; in 1932 she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Three years later she became the first person to successfully fly from Hawaii to California. In 1937 she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, set out on an attempt to fly around the world. Their plane disappeared in the central Pacific after completing two-thirds of the journey; their remains were never found.
Sorry, we stopped for Slurpees.
Slushies are a mix of finely crushed ice and soda pop flavoring mixed together. They were invented by Omar Knedlik in the late 1950s. 7-Eleven licensed them for their stores in 1967 and renamed them Slurpees.
We now revisit Brideshead Revisited.
Brideshead Revisited is a 1945 romantic novel by Evelyn Waugh about the lives of a strict Catholic family who own a lavish English manor house during the 1920s and 1940s. It was famously dramatized for television in England in 1981 and broadcast in America the following year. It deals indirectly yet respectfully with same-sex relationships (unsurprisingly, as Waugh had several affairs with men when he was young).
It’s one of Sting’s cabins.
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. He owns many homes worldwide, including an Elizabethan manor house on sixty acres in England.
She’s visiting Helena Bonham Carter.
British actress Helena Bonham Carter became known early in her career for her work in period pieces, such as the Merchant-Ivory films A Room with a View (1985) and Howards End (1992). Later roles were more eclectic, including appearances in Fight Club, Sweeney Todd, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Man, with those boots, she has to use high-altitude baking directions.
The lower air pressure found at higher altitudes can wreak havoc with cooking—in particular, cakes and breads tend not to rise, so bakers in the mountains must alter their recipes to compensate. Most cake mixes, for example, have separate directions for high-altitude baking. Generally you don’t need to worry about it until you hit about 3,000 feet above sea level.
Mr. McGregor’s about to shoot them.
Mr. McGregor is a gardener in the Peter Rabbit stories by Beatrix Potter, who tries in vain to protect his produce from the rabbit children. McGregor appeared in three Peter Rabbit stories, with the first being The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902). Peter sneaks into McGregor’s garden and eats his vegetables. McGregor chases him, but he escapes, losing his clothes getting under the fence.
This is a test of the audience’s patience.
The Emergency Broadcast System was used from 1963 to 1997 in the United States as a warning system to be authorized for use by the president in case of an impending war, nuclear attack, or similar crisis.
Goldfinger’s riding with Octopussy.
Goldfinger (1959 book/1964 film) and Octopussy (1966 short story/1983 film) were two of Ian Fleming’s James Bond books, later turned into movies. The titles were also characters in the stories; in the films, Goldfinger was played by Gert Fröbe, and Octopussy by Maud Adams.
It’s confirmed. They brought a bundt cake.
Bundt cake is a German dessert made in a special pan designed so that the cake resembles a large ring.
Hey, wait, I don’t want to sit next to Pinochet.
Augusto Pinochet (1915-2006) was a military general in Chile who ousted President Salvador Allende in a coup in 1973. He was a murdering dictator who killed and tortured thousands of his political opponents and turned the national sports arena into a mass prison. He also instituted economic reforms, including privatizing industry and other western-style market reforms thanks to a group of University of Chicago-trained economic advisors. He stepped down in 1990, but in 2004 he was placed under house arrest and ordered to stand trial for the crimes he committed during his rule. Before the hundreds of charges could be resolved, however, he died of a heart attack in 2006.
Time to plan the NATO picnic.
NATO stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a military alliance formed in 1949 among the United States, Canada, and various Western European nations, originally to defend against the Soviet Union.
My minkey is here.
Return of the Pink Panther was a 1975 sequel to the movie The Pink Panther, the fourth in the series. In one scene, the bumbling Inspector Clouseau (played by Peter Sellers in a ridiculous French accent) interrogates a blind street musician about whether he has a license for his “minkey.”
This will take a little bit, I’m still installing Windows.
In the 1990s, computer manufacturers would often not install any operating system before they sold their machines. This minimized cost and allowed users to install whatever OS they wanted. Before the age of the CD-ROM, the full-featured Microsoft Windows OS came on about a dozen floppy disks, which took hours to install.
Do you guys like North Korea? I sure don’t.
North Korea is a country in East Asia occupying the northern half of the Korean peninsula. It exists in a perpetual state of conflict with South Korea, as the two countries have officially been at war since 1950, although open hostilities ceased in 1953. The country is a military dictatorship under the control of the Kim family; Kim Jong-il took power after his father, Kim Il-sung, died in 1994. North Korea is a paranoid, secretive state, and its citizens have suffered terribly from human rights abuses, isolation, and famine.
Goldfinger got Mike Tyson!
In the James Bond film Goldfinger (1964), the villain, Auric Goldfinger, kills a woman by painting her gold until she dies of “skin suffocation.” “Iron Mike” Tyson was the heavyweight boxing champion of the world for many years, beginning in 1986, when he became the youngest heavyweight champion in history, at 20 years old. Out of the 58 fights in his boxing career, he won 50 of them.
The Botany 500 men.
If you have ever watched a 1970s game show, you will have noticed that the host’s suits were often provided by the clothier Botany 500. They also provided suits for a number of other famous TV shows, including The Dick Van Dyke Show, Kojak, and Bewitched.
Now he sees through a glass dumbly.
A reference to 1 Corinthians 13:12, in which Paul describes the earthly view of heaven: “For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
Shimmy shimmy ko ko bop, shimmy shimmy bop.
“Shimmy Shimmy, Ko Ko Bop” was a hit for Little Anthony and the Imperials in 1959. The song is about a native girl whose dancing drives a guy insane with desire.
We’re all agreed then. Carrot Top is the best comic.
Carrot Top is a prop comic known for his wild, clown-red hair.
Yes. Much better than Yahoo Serious.
Yahoo Serious is an Australian standup comedian with similarly crazy hair. He starred in Young Einstein (1988) and now writes and directs.
They tried to resell this as a Hallmark Christmas special when it didn’t get a theatrical release, you know.
The greeting card company produced a large number of family films from 1950-2010, known as the Hallmark Hall of Fame. They were direct-to-TV movies, and later DVD releases. The films are generally high-quality—and firmly G-rated—productions.
Barry Diller, here?
Barry Diller is a media mogul. He worked his way up from the mail room to become the CEO of Paramount, then Fox, QVC, and IAC/Interactive Corp. (Match.com, Citysearch, etc.). He is married to Diane von Furstenberg.
“War or peace. Life or death.” Stuffing or potatoes.
In early ads for Stove Top Stuffing, the tag line used was, “Stuffing or potatoes?”
Hey, did the Plantagenets have a burning permit?
The Plantagenets were an English family that produced a long succession of kings. They ruled England from 1154-1485 C.E., and included Richards I-III and Henrys II-VI. They were succeeded by the Tudors.
They immediately slap Molly Hatchet in the tape deck.
Molly Hatchet is a Southern rock band that formed in 1975; its hit albums include Flirtin’ with Disaster and Double Trouble Live. Their album covers were painted by the famous fantasy artist Frank Frazetta, whose work is often identified with Conan the Barbarian books.
Anyway. Toes on the line, look up a little.
Typical instructions for having a driver’s license picture taken at the DMV.
So go to Stuart Anderson’s with him, then sleep with him, got it.
In the 1990s, Stuart Anderson’s Cattle Company was a chain of steakhouses found around the country; they now appear to have been folded into the Black Angus chain and renamed.
Is this a Glock I see before me?
“Is this a dagger which I see before me/The handle toward my hand?” is a line from the William Shakespeare play Macbeth (Act II, Scene 1). Macbeth has decided to kill the king, but is wracked with guilt over the prospect. Glock is a brand of Austrian semi-automatic pistol known for its high durability, safety, and ease of use.
Hey, a statue of Whoopi Goldberg.
Whoopi Goldberg is a comedian and actress known for such films as The Color Purple (1985) and Sister Act (1992). Since 2007 she has been one of the hosts of the daytime TV talk show The View.
Sondra Locke’s going to take the direct approach with Clint.
Sondra Locke never married Clint Eastwood, although they were a couple for fourteen years and had a very public and acrimonious breakup. She sued for palimony and reportedly received $7 million. She wrote a tell-all book, The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly, about her life with The Man With No Name.
[Sung.] Love to love you baby.
Disco queen Donna Summer (1948-2012) wrote and sang “Love to Love You Baby,” which was her first hit record in the U.S., hitting number two in 1975. Sample lyrics: “When you’re laying so close to me/There’s no place I’d rather you be/Than with me here/I love to love you, baby.”
An imitation of Burgess Meredith as The Penguin from the ‘60s Batman TV series.
His fortress of balditude.
In Superman comics, the Fortress of Solitude is the Man of Steel’s secret headquarters, where he goes to be alone with his Krypton memorabilia.
Laserium, featuring the music of Donald Pleasance.
Laserium is the name for the laser light shows produced by a California company called Laser Images Inc.: laser beams projecting images to the sounds of various musicians.
He's the kind of guy who would stick his tongue on a frozen flagpole, twice.
Probably a reference to the TV movie A Christmas Story (1983), in which Flick (played by Scott Schwartz) is double-dog dared to press his tongue to a frozen flagpole. He does, and regrets it dearly.
He’s as catlike as Boog Powell.
Boog Powell was a professional baseball player. He was a great first baseman for the Baltimore Orioles from 1961-1974, logging many seasons with more than thirty home runs. He was also famously injury-prone.
Whoa-oh, look out, Mrs. English lady, I’m trying to fly, go backwards, okay, okay, whoa ooh-mah …
An imitation of Jerry Lewis (1926-2017), a comedian, actor, director and producer who got his start in the 1940s alongside Dean Martin in the Martin and Lewis comedy team. He made an enormously popular series of slapstick comedies in the 1950s and 1960s, including The Bellboy (1960) and The Nutty Professor (1963). He later became associated with the Muscular Dystrophy Association's Labor Day Telethon, which he hosted for 44 years.
Okay, okay, I’ve got it. Whoa-oh, lady!
See previous note.
And there goes the twenty-five-million-dollar restoration of Westminster Abbey.
Westminster Abbey is a former Roman Catholic Benedictine monastery and church located in England. It has been used for the coronation ceremonies for the kings and queens of England since 1066. In 1995 a $25 million restoration project was completed on the church's exterior that had begun in 1973.
He lost his inherent puma tuckpointing skills.
Tuckpointing is a method of bricklaying using two different colors of mortar, to achieve the effect of very close-fitting seams while using cheaper rough brick.
Hey, look, he's re-fenestrating. See?
Defenestration refers to throwing someone through a window.
Do the Hustle!
See above note.
He has 40 acres.
The phrase “40 acres and a mule” is a kind of verbal shorthand for a promise made to newly freed slaves after the Civil War. According to an order given by Union General William T. Sherman in January 1865, land in the South was to be redistributed to them to work as free farmholders: each family would receive 40 acres and a mule to work it. Unfortunately, after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, his successor in the presidency, Andrew Johnson, was a Southern sympathizer, and in the fall of 1865 Johnson overturned Sherman’s order. “Forty acres and a mule” has come to symbolize the federal government’s broken promises to black Americans.
This is a German slang phrase meaning “Hurry up!” It frequently appeared in 1950s American World War II movies, which featured German soldiers shouting it at their prisoners.
Mr. Forbes is here if you want to go for a ride.
Malcolm Forbes (1919-1990) was an American publisher of the magazine that bears his family’s name. It is one of the most successful business magazines on the market, and its annual list of the richest people in America is widely known even among those who do not read the magazine. In addition to his passion and considerable skill as a hot-air balloonist, Forbes was also an ardent motorcycling enthusiast, owning more than 60 Harley-Davidson motorcycles, which he would ride to charity events and frequently give as gifts. Images of the white, middle-aged, and well-fed Forbes decked out in motorcycle regalia and straddling a Harley became fodder for parody in the 1980s.
I’m going to break a few more wills before lunch, then meet some despots down at Fridays.
TGI Fridays is a middle-class restaurant that serves such things as potato skins, burgers, steaks, pasta, and mammoth desserts, although it also offers healthier choices, such as low-carb and low-fat menu items.
John-Boy Walton (played by Richard Thomas) was the oldest of the Walton children on the TV series The Waltons (1972-1981). John-Boy was a benign intellectual who dreamed of becoming a writer. He eventually attended and graduated from fictional Boatwright University and moved to New York City.
“I want you to hear my epitaph.” I’m with stupid.
“I'm with stupid” is a popular slogan on novelty T-shirts, usually accompanied by an arrow pointing at the wearer's companion.
I overdid it on the Fancy Feast.
Fancy Feast is a brand of canned gourmet cat food. It is owned by Nestle Purina. My cat Peekaboo particularly enjoys the sliced chicken in gravy.
Later, Ma Barker and the gang come to finish him off.
Kate “Ma” Barker (1873-1935) was the mother of a crime family in the 1920s and 1930s. The gang of four brothers robbed banks, kidnapped people, and committed multiple murders, including four cops. Accounts say that Ma was only an accomplice to her sons’ crimes. She was killed along with her son Fred in an FBI raid in 1935.
Friends are visiting from Murder.
A riff on the line “Friends are here from Europe,” immortalized in a TV commercial featuring Rula Lenska. Lenska is a Polish-born British actress who became famous in the U.S. in the late 1970s and early 1980s for not being famous, but being presented as if she were. A series of commercials for Alberto VO5 hair products began with her saying “I’m Rula Lenska …” in the classic celebrity endorsement style, as if everyone naturally knew who she was. However, she was virtually unknown to American audiences at the time. Parodies quickly followed: a sketch aired on Saturday Night Live with Jane Curtin portraying Lenska, and “Who the hell is Rula Lenska?” became a running gag on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. The “friends are here from Europe” line was also parodied by the character Jambi in the 1981 HBO special The Pee-wee Herman Show, which became the blueprint for the children’s TV series Pee-wee’s Playhouse (CBS, 1986-1990).
It’s Cliff Clavin. Hey Cliffy!
John Ratzenberger played insufferable postal carrier Cliff Clavin on the TV sitcom Cheers. He appeared in many films in small roles, including The Empire Strikes Back, and has famously done voice work in every Pixar animated feature, inlcuding WALL-E, Toy Story, and Up.
Tell Santa I love him.
Santa Claus is a fairly recent synthesis of various traditional figures who deliver gifts the night before Christmas. Claus is based primarily on the Dutch gift-bringer Sinterklaas, who was in turn derived from the 4th-century historical figure Saint Nicholas of Myra. (Sinterklaas, rather than elves, has “Black Pete” to assist him, which leads to the [unfortunate, to American eyes] tradition of dressing up in blackface.) In the 1770s, the name “Santa Claus” was first published as an Americanized version of Sinterklaas. The basic attributes of Santa Claus’s legend (his North Pole residence, elven helpers, reindeer-powered sleigh, etc.) became widely known after the 1821 publication of Clement Clarke Moore’s poem “Old Santeclaus” and the 1823 publication of ”A Visit from St. Nicholas” (a.k.a. “The Night Before Christmas,” also probably written by Moore). The famous image of Santa Claus as a jolly, chubby man with a full white beard and red clothing with white trim comes from the mid-1800s art of famed cartoonist Thomas Nast. Nast’s illustrations later influenced depictions of Sinterklaas and England’s Father Christmas.
He won’t get my amontillado.
“The Cask of Amontillado” is a horror story written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1846. The story concerns a diabolical revenge murder, in which (spoiler alert) the victim Fortunato is buried alive by the narrator, Montresor, slowly bricked in behind a wall as the story progresses.
So anyway, do you have it in loden?
Loden is a thick, waterproof, woolen fabric, as well as the name of the dark green color that loden garments are often dyed. It’s the sort of color choice that’s offered in upscale clothing catalogs like J. Crew or L.L. Bean.
“He’s had it.” Chicken pox. He won’t catch it from us.
Chicken pox is a disease common in children, characterized by an itchy red rash, fever, and malaise. Once a person has had chicken pox, they develop lifetime immunity to the disease and cannot catch it again.
L’eggo my death.
“L’eggo my Eggo” is an old advertising slogan for Eggo frozen waffles.
A little doobage for later.
“Doobage” is slang for a marijuana cigarette.
“You are right, brother.” Orville or Wilbur?
Brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright were aviation pioneers. Their famous 1903 flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, was the first controlled, sustained heavier-than-air flight of an aircraft and began the age of air travel.
Aztec drove to Wisconsin, scored some M-80s.
An M-80 is a powerful firework that has been banned for consumers in the United States since 1966. It is a small, tube-shaped firecracker that contains about 3,000 milligrams of pyrotechnic explosive (the legal limit in the U.S. is 50 milligrams).
Kids are going to love Easter morning.
An Easter egg hunt takes place Easter morning. Dyed hardboiled eggs or plastic eggs filled with candy or toys are hidden by adults, and young children try to find and gather as many eggs as possible into a basket.
I’ve got a Members Only jacket.
Members Only jackets were a men’s fashion hit in the 1980s. Their ad slogan was “When you put it on, something happens.” They were plain unlined jackets with the “Members Only” label prominently placed on the front.
Didn’t get it, I’m never going to get through for Yanni tickets.
Yanni is a Greek new age keyboardist known for his floating instrumental compositions, drooping mustache, and long tousled hair. Yanni means “Johnny” in English.
All right, Craig T. Nelson, make me laugh.
Craig T. Nelson is an actor best known for his portrayal of the title role on the TV sitcom Coach, which aired from 1989-1997, and as the father in the movie Poltergeist (1982). Make Me Laugh was a game show that originally aired on ABC in 1958, with two short lived revivals, in syndication in 1978 and on Comedy Central in 1997. The show featured three standup comedians who had one minute each to make a contestant laugh. The longer the contestant could resist laughing, the larger their prize. Bob Saget, Gary Shandling and Gallagher all appeared on the show. The host would introduce each of the comics with "Alright–(name of comic), (name of contestant) says, 'make me laugh!' " (Thanks to Richard Irving for the Make Me Laugh reference.)
It’s an Aztec family Christmas.
Several TV shows have done Christmas specials with similar titles, including An Osmond Family Christmas (1978), A Muppet Family Christmas (1987), and A Flintstone Family Christmas (1993).
So what about Montezuma? Nice guy, or …
Montezuma (1466-1520) was one of the last rulers of the Aztec empire, which held vast territory in central Mexico. In 1519 the Spanish conquistadors under Hernán Cortés arrived. After a brief peace the Aztecs tried to expel the Spanish. Montezuma was taken hostage and was somehow killed. By the following year the Aztec empire had been destroyed.
Do the Hustle! C’mon, do the Hustle.
See above note.
My cat’s cradle got out of control!
Cat’s cradle is a game played with a long loop of string, which when stretched between a person’s hands and looped over various fingers can create a number of patterns; the string can then be passed back and forth from one person to another.
An imitation of William Shatner’s opening narration for the credits of the TV show Star Trek (1966-1969): “Space: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise …”
“Why do you want the mask?” In order to be s-s-smokin’! –Shut up. –Don’t ever do that again.
This overused line is from The Mask (see above note).
Little Orphan Aztec.
“Little Orphan Annie” was a comic strip that debuted in 1924. Created by Harold Gray, the titular character had creepy white ovals for eyes. It was made into a hit Broadway musical in 1977 and launched the careers of several child actresses who played Annie, including Sarah Jessica Parker.
He went to the barber and said, “Give me a haircut like Mary Gross.”
Mary Gross is a comedian and actress best known for her tenure on Saturday Night Live, from 1981-1985. She co-hosted Weekend Update during the dry period when Dick Ebersol, not Lorne Michaels, was the show’s producer.
Oh, no, the Reader’s Digest condensed books!
Between 1950 and 1997, the magazine Reader’s Digest published a series of hardcover anthologies, each containing several published books. These “condensed” editions did not reprint the whole books, but heavily edited and shortened versions of the original. Starting in 1997, the magazine renamed them “Select Editions,” but the format remained the same.
Joe Theismann’s really hurt this time.
Joe Theismann was a star quarterback for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He had a legendary career when he turned pro, playing quarterback for the Washington Redskins and holding the team’s records in both passing and completions. In 1985, his career abruptly ended when he was sacked during a Monday Night Football match and broke both his tibia and fibula, an injury that was so horrific the opposing player who tackled him began screaming for the EMTs. The injury was later voted the NFL’s “Most Shocking Moment in History” in an ESPN viewers’ poll.
Each man is Jerry Quarry.
Jerry Quarry (1945-1999) was a popular heavyweight boxer in the 1960s and 1970s. Although a skilled boxer, he unfortunately fought in the era of Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, and Joe Frazier, all of whom defeated him in the ring.
[Sung.] Everybody was Aztec fighting.
A paraphrase of Carl Douglas’s hit disco song “Kung Fu Fighting.” Sample lyrics: “Everybody was kung fu fighting/Those cats were fast as lightning/In fact it was a little bit frightening/But they fought with expert timing.”
Phrenology is an out-of-date “medical science” method of studying the bumps on the skull and linking them to diseases and behaviors. It was developed by German physician Franz Joseph Gall and was most popular in the early 19th century.
So it turns into a good ol’ Hal Needham movie.
Hal Needham (1931-2013) was a Hollywood stunt coordinator, actor, and director; his oeuvre includes Smokey and the Bandit and The Cannonball Run.
[Sung.] Dick’s Red Owl, selection and service.
Dick’s Red Owl appears to have been a small group of grocery stores in Wisconsin and North Dakota, part of the Red Owl chain out of Hopkins, Minnesota, the same city that housed the Best Brains offices. It was founded in 1922.
[Sung.] Snyder Drug, we’re busting up prices.
Snyder Drug started in Minneapolis in 1928. Walgreens bought the chain in 2010 and announced it would close some stores but continue to operate most others.
I wish Poaching Protected Species Man would show up and take care of this soon. –You could call Ted Nugent Man.
Ted “The Nuge” Nugent is a hard-rock guitarist known for such hit albums as Cat Scratch Fever and Double Live Gonzo. He is equally well known for his right-wing political views, pro-gun advocacy, strong anti-drug stance, and love of hunting.
Take that, members of Boston.
Boston was a bearded, mustachioed rock band popular in the 1970s and 1980s, with such hits as “More Than a Feeling,” “Peace of Mind,” and “Amanda.”
It's Archie Rice Man.
Archie Rice is the title character of the 1957 John Osborne play The Entertainer, a failing, bitter music hall performer. Osborne wrote the part for Laurence Olivier, who also played the role in the 1960 film adaptation, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. (Thanks to Russell Fehr for this reference.)
[Sung.] Believe it or not, this movie’s still on, it should have ended two hours ago.
This is a parody of the song “Believe It or Not,” which was used as the theme for the TV show The Greatest American Hero (1981-1983). It was written by Mike Post and Stephen Geyer. The show was about a schoolteacher who found a hero costume left by aliens. When he wears the suit, he has undefined powers and can fly almost as well as the Puma Man. He was played by William Katt.
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) was the third in the series of Mad Max films starring Mel Gibson. It is chiefly memorable for Tina Turner’s chain-mail costume and the theme song performed by Turner, “Don’t Need Another Hero,” which became a radio hit.
Ollie ollie oxenfree.
Sometimes “ollie in free,” “ollie ollie umphrey,” etc., this is a phrase called out during children’s games to indicate all the players should return. It’s most frequently used when playing hide and seek to prompt all the hiders to expose themselves. It comes either from the German phrase “Alle, alle auch sind frei” (“everyone, everyone is also free”) or “All ye, all ye ‘outs’ in free.”
I’ll harm you! –Joe Besser Man.
“I’ll harm you!” is a line uttered by comedian Joe Besser (1907-1988) in his persona of Oswald, a bratty character he portrayed on The Abbott and Costello Show (1952-1953).
This is flying officer Donald Pleasance with the traffic report.
Flying Officer Jim Cavanaugh was a Chicago police officer who supplied helicopter traffic reports for WGN Radio during the 1970s and 1980s.
Whoa, the network shouldn’t have bought Kelsey Grammer a helicopter.
Kelsey Grammer is a comic actor who played Dr. Frasier Crane on the TV show Cheers and later on the successful spinoff Frasier. Grammer has reportedly had a history of problems with alcohol and drug addiction. In 1996 Grammer flipped his car in an accident; shortly afterward, he checked himself into the Betty Ford Center for treatment.
Croquet courts of the gods.
Croquet is a game played in the back yard or on a mown grass court. It involves hitting hard wooden balls with mallets to pass them through a sequence of hoops. See note on Chariots of the Gods?, above.
Hey Vidalia, would you mind worshiping for us? I think we’re just going to get going.
See above note on Vidalia onions.
“Places like this were created by them to make contact.” And other cold remedies.
Contac is a brand of over-the-counter cold medicine made by Glaxo. It is a time release of painkiller, decongestant, and antihistamine.
Stonehenge is a chain?
Stonehenge had nothing to do with Druids. It is a circle of large stones created around 2500 B.C.E. near Salisbury, England. The site was a cemetery for 500 years before the stones were erected. It is a marvel because the multi-ton stones had to be moved many miles and raised to form the circle.
Backyard bug zappers appeared in the 1970s. The original popular model was a black globe-like object that emitted UV light to attract insects. When they flew toward the light they would be electrocuted by high voltage, making a loud “zap” sound. Mosquitoes are not attracted to UV, but they keep the moths, wasps, and gnats away.
[Sung.] The Pew-May-Man. There’s only you in my life.
An imitation of the song “Endless Love” by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross, the theme to the 1981 film of the same name, which starred Brooke Shields. It was number one for nine weeks. The song has been covered by Kenny Rogers, Shania Twain, and Luther Vandross with Mariah Carey.
If this is all the gods can do, I’m over to the dark side so fast.
This refers to the dark side of “the force” in the Star Wars science-fiction franchise. It is a power that is never defined but used as a plot foil to give the good Jedi guys who wear white a reason to hate the bad Sith guys who wear black.
Might as well jump.
Lyric from the song “Jump” by Van Halen. It appears on their album 1984 and was their only number one hit song.
You’ve got to fly me over to Bennigan’s so I can show Sherri.
Bennigan’s is a chain of casual dining restaurants that was founded in 1976. By the 1980s it was one of the best-known “fern bars” in the United States.
[Sung.] Love, there’s only you in my life.
See previous note on “Endless Love.”
Starring the Gambino family and some English guy.
The Gambinos are one of the major Mafia families in New York City. They reached their height of power during the 1960s under Carlo Gambino and became well-known in the 1980s under the flamboyant leadership of John Gotti, who was eventually sentenced to life in prison in 1992. Gotti died in 2002.
[Sung.] Glory to our space gods, in the highest. Gloria. And Gloria, to the Pew-may-man …
“Gloria in excelsis Deo” (Latin for “Glory to God in the Highest”) is a hymn that dates back to the first few centuries after Christianity was founded.