210: King Dinosaur
by Trey Yeatts
Marks the spot? Is that like Max the Knife?
“X marks the spot” is a phrase, usually referring to treasure maps, that indicates the place where the loot is buried. The phrase is older, but it became popularized by Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 novel Treasure Island. “Mack the Knife” is a ballad written by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht for 1928’s Threepenny Opera. It tells the tale of highwayman Captain Macheath and his crimes. Popular versions were recorded by Louis Armstrong in 1956 and Bobby Darin in 1959.
Down there. Raymond Carver. This must be a short.
Raymond Carver (1938-1988) was a short story writer and poet who became highly acclaimed in the 1980s for his minimalist stories.
Webber the grill magnate. –That was a bit of a stretch there, I must say. –Me?
Weber is a brand of backyard grills; they make both charcoal and gas grills, but the rounded shape of their classic charcoal grill is the best known.
And George Matthews as the Beaver. –You do that every movie.
That is how actor Jerry Mathers was introduced in the opening credits of the TV series Leave It to Beaver (1957–1963) and the sequel series The New Leave It to Beaver (1984-1989). George Matthews (who plays the guardian angel; 1911-1984) was a character actor who primarily played tough-guy roles, usually on TV.
Arthur Magee and Molly.
Fibber McGee and Molly was an old radio show that aired on NBC from 1935 to 1959. The title characters were played by real-life couple Jim and Marian Jordan.
Sounds like Commissioner Fudd.
The lisping Elmer Fudd is an animated character in Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes shorts, most often a hunter pitted against Bugs Bunny. He first appeared in 1940’s Elmer’s Candid Camera and was voiced by Arthur Q. Bryan until 1959; Bryan also played Dr. Gamble on Fibber McGee and Molly. After Bryan’s death, he was voiced by Hal Smith, Mel Blanc, Jeff Bergman, Greg Burson, and Billy West.
[Imitating Elmer Fudd.] Impwove twaffic conditions.
See previous note.
Whoo! Free Bird!
“Freebird” (or “Free Bird”) is one of the best known and most requested songs by the American rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, featured on their 1973 debut album Pronounced Lynyrd Skynyrd. Beginning in the very early 1970s, audiences would yell out requests for “Whipping Post” (an Allman Brothers song) at concerts by any performers, regardless of genre. This dubious pop culture joke continued with “Freebird” a few years later, which has since overshadowed its predecessor.
Looks like a Gino Vannelli concert.
Gino Vannelli is a curly-haired Canadian singer/songwriter whose hits include “People Gotta Move” and “I Just Wanna Stop.”
[Imitating Elmer Fudd.] You can’t see it fwom hewe, but my towso is fused to a bwock of gwanite.
See previous note.
He uses the Braille system.
Braille is a system of raised dots standing for letters that allows blind people to read; it was invented in 1821 by Louis Braille (1809-1852), a blind French musician and teacher.
If you’re going to bury a body in a shallow grave, make sure you use quicklime.
Quicklime (properly, calcium oxide) is often depicted in films as being poured over dead bodies. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t hasten decomposition—in fact, it slows it, mummifying the corpse. It does reduce odors, though.
It’s Crazy Guggenheim!
Crazy Guggenheim, played by Frank Fontaine, was the bug-eyed, hat-wearing drunk on The Jackie Gleason Show from 1962-1966. Guggenheim appeared regularly opposite Gleason in the “Joe’s Bar” skits.
Called Blood Alley.
Blood Alley is a 1955 adventure film starring John Wayne as a Merchant Marine captain involved in derring-do in China; Lauren Bacall plays his love interest, the daughter of a murdered medical missionary.
Rhubarb. –Tragic accident rhubarb. –Rhubarb.
Along with “rutabaga,” “watermelon,” and “peas and carrots,” “rhubarb” is one of those words that background extras are told to mutter among themselves to simulate conversation in TV shows and films.
Joe? Crypto Joe.
The films A Guy Named Joe (1943) and its remake Always (1989) are about a deceased pilot whose spirit mentors a younger pilot as he learns to fly and falls in love with the dead guy’s gal. Neither of them is named Joe; in the original film, a young boy explains, “Anybody who’s a right chap is a guy named Joe.”
Hey, is that Patrick Swayze’s father?
Patrick Swayze (1952-2009) was an American actor known for his tough-guy and romantic leading roles in such films as Point Break (1991), Road House (1989), Dirty Dancing (1987), and Ghost (1990). Swayze’s dad, Jesse Swayze, was an engineering draftsman.
Are you George Bailey? Oh, sorry, wrong film.
It’s a Wonderful Life is a 1946 Frank Capra movie starring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a man who famously learns what life would have been like had he never existed.
Hey, it’s Elton John. In hell.
Elton John is a flamboyant British pop singer and pianist known for such hits as “Bennie and the Jets,” “Crocodile Rock,” “Candle in the Wind,” and “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.” He has written a couple of songs about hell, including “My Kind of Hell”: “I can’t say I ever liked you much/But you’re my kind of hell.”
C’mon, let’s go talk to Hamlet’s dad.
In William Shakespeare’s c. 1600 play The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, the Ghost of Hamlet’s Father appears to guards and his son to bemoan his assassination and demand that Hamlet avenge his murder. Tradition holds that he was first played by Shakespeare himself.
There’s Mr. Jordan.
Here Comes Mr. Jordan is a 1941 comedy about a boxer sent to heaven before his time and then sent back to Earth to live out his second chance. It was remade in 1978 as Heaven Can Wait and in 2001 as Down to Earth.
Now over there, that’s Mick Jagger’s cloud. Stay off of it.
“Get Off of My Cloud” is a 1965 hit single by British rock group The Rolling Stones. The song was a reaction to the demands that followed their mega-hit “Satisfaction.”
Today in Dead People’s Court.
The People’s Court was a daytime TV show that originally featured grumpy retired Judge Joseph Wapner deciding actual small-claims court cases; it started the courtroom reality show craze and aired from 1981 until 1993. Later versions were hosted by former NYC Mayor Ed Koch (1997-1999), Jerry Sheindlin, husband of Judge Judy Sheindlin (1999-2001), and Marilyn Milian (2001-present).
86’ed? Hasta luego, Buckwheat?
“Eighty-six” is slang meaning to get rid of something. It is believed to have originated in the 1930s as restaurant code for “we’re out of it” (though other theories abound). It later evolved to mean “don’t serve him,” thanks to the 1940s drinking binges of actor John Barrymore, before evolving again to mean “get rid of it.” Buckwheat is a character in the Our Gang (syndicated as The Little Rascals) series of shorts from 1934-1944, remembered for his wild hair, occasional bugged-out eyes, and odd speech inflections. (He didn’t say “otay,” though. That was Porky.) He was played by William Thomas (1931-1980). In the early 1980s, the character was revived in the public consciousness thanks to a series of sketches on Saturday Night Live with Eddie Murphy as Buckwheat.
He did a favor for Sinatra once.
Legendary crooner and actor Frank Sinatra (1915-1998) was allegedly linked to numerous mafia figures, including Sam Giancana and Bugsy Siegel.
You see, I stopped a car with my face once. My forehead’s all Bondo.
The original Bondo auto body filler was made of talc and plastic; before that, repairs were often made with highly toxic lead.
Visa or MasterCard?
Visa is a financial services company mostly known for providing credit card servicing. It began in 1958 as a Bank of America pilot program and took the name Visa in 1976. In later years, the name became a “backronym” for “Visa International Service Association.” MasterCard is a credit card company established in 1966. It was originally known as MasterCharge and has always had the overlapping double-circle logo.
You omitted the body of the letter, eh?
“So, you just omitted them, eh? You just omitted the body of the letter, that's all” is a line from the 1930 Marx Brothers film Animal Crackers, from the scene in which Groucho asks Zeppo to write a letter to his lawyer, the Honorable Charles H. Hungerdunger, of Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger & McCormick. (Thanks to Kevin McLaughlin for this reference.)
I brought a clip. I don’t think it needs any setup.
A line frequently used or paraphrased by actors pimping their new movies and such on late-night talk shows.
Hitler? No, he drove a stick.
Austrian-born Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) was the chancellor and Führer of Germany before and during World War II. He mostly rode around in massive Mercedes limousines; a number of the cars have survived in museums or private collections.
He was worse than Corey Feldman or Corey Haim.
Corey Feldman is an actor and an ‘80s teen heartthrob. He’s best known for starring in films like Gremlins, Goonies, Stand By Me, and The Lost Boys. Corey Haim (1971-2010) was a Canadian actor and also an ‘80s teen heartthrob. Together, they were known as “The Coreys” or “The Two Coreys,” and they co-starred in a number of films together. One of their films was License to Drive, in which they commit shenanigans in a vintage Cadillac.
The TV detective series The Rockford Files (NBC, 1974-1980) featured many high-speed car chases. One particular stunt driving maneuver, a 180-degree spin while continuing to go forward, got the nickname “Rockford turn.” It’s also called a “J-turn” and a “moonshiner’s turn.”
Starsky & Hutch (1975-1979) was a TV series about two tough cops who fought crime on the streets. David Michael Starsky was played by Paul Michael Glaser; Kenneth “Hutch” Hutchinson was played by David Soul. The show featured lots of stunt driving in the title duo’s red and white Gran Torino, which became increasingly battered over the course of the show.
“I’m huge!” is a long-running riff on MST3K, dating back to Show 207, Wild Rebels. In a 2009 online forum, Joel Hodgson said the phrase originally came from the comic Jimbo, Adventures in Paradise, by illustrator and Emmy Award–winning Pee-wee’s Playhouse set designer Gary Panter.
I love Fibber McGee and Molly.
See above note. A running gag on the show was a massive crashing sound whenever McGee would open the door to an overstuffed closet.
Wow, looks like Nixon’s enemy list. –Scratch another one.
Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994) was the 37th president of the United States, from 1969-1974. He resigned on August 9, 1974, rather than face almost certain impeachment by the House of Representatives over his role in the Watergate scandal. Nixon’s “enemies list” was a list of 20 political opponents compiled by aides Charles Colson and George Bell. Presidential aide John Dean revealed the existence of the list during testimony before the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973. Most of the names were politicians, journalists, businessmen, union bosses, and actor Paul Newman. There was also a “master list” containing hundreds more names: members of Congress, academics, and celebrities, to name a few. The official purpose of the list was to screw over Nixon’s enemies by using the power of the presidency to launch IRS audits and otherwise leverage the power of the government to harass the people on the list. Fortunately, the head of the IRS refused to go along with the scheme.
The poor guy was James Dean. The end.
James Dean (1931-1955) was an actor who had lead roles in only three films—Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden, and Giant—before his untimely death in a car crash at the age of 24. He’s the only actor to ever be nominated posthumously for two Academy Awards.
So help me, Me.
In the 1977 movie Oh God!, when George Burns (playing God) is being sworn in at a court trial, he says, “So help me, Me.”
And I know where the boys are.
Where the Boys Are is a 1960 comedy/drama about four coeds who travel to Fort Lauderdale on spring break in search of fun and men.
Okay. Thank you, Mr. Spock.
Mr. Spock was the pointy-eared, half-human, half-Vulcan character on Star Trek (1966-1969), Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973-1974), two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and seven feature films. Played by Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015), Spock was the USS Enterprise’s first officer and science officer. He was originally going to be half-Martian; it was changed because Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry thought humans might go to Mars during the series’ run.
Squeaking and calling himself Algernon.
Flowers for Algernon is a 1966 novel by Daniel Keyes about a mentally disabled man named Charlie Gordon, who is chosen as the subject of an experiment to increase his intelligence. The experiment works, but soon he feels his newfound intelligence slipping away. It was later made into a film titled Charly, starring Cliff Robertson. Algernon is the name of the lab mouse who undergoes the experiment before Charlie, and who is a harbinger of Charlie’s eventual fate.
And bless the beasts and the children.
Bless the Beasts and Children was originally a 1970 novel by Glendon Swarthout, about a group of troubled boys shipped off to a summer camp by their wealthy parents, who work together to stop a buffalo hunt. It was made into a film the following year starring Bill “Danger, Will Robinson!” Mumy. The theme song for the film, also called “Bless the Beasts and Children,” was performed by The Carpenters, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. It lost to Isaac Hayes for the “Theme to Shaft.”
Get on with it.
Possibly a reference to a line in the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Including the Wildwood weed?
“Wildwood Weed” is a song written by Don Bowman and recorded by Jim Stafford (of Riding with Death fame) in 1974. It’s about marijuana.
He was higher than Judy Garland.
Judy Garland (1922-1969) was a singer, dancer, and actress best known for her role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939). She struggled with addictions to alcohol and barbiturates throughout most of her career; her premature death at the age of 47 was due to an accidental overdose of barbiturates.
“Fifteen years ...” –On a dead man’s chest.
“Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest” is the opening line from the quintessential pirate anthem “Dead Man’s Chest,” written by Robert Louis Stevenson for his 1883 novel Treasure Island.
“Free Ghost.” “Stairway to Heaven!” Whoo!
See above note on “Freebird.” “Stairway to Heaven” is an influential 1971 song by Led Zeppelin. It frequently tops lists of the greatest rock songs of all time, and it has been performed at nearly all of their concerts since April 1971, except when cut short for technical glitches or curfews.
[Hummed.] “The Ballad of High Noon.”
“The Ballad of High Noon” (a.k.a. “Do Not Forsake Me, O My Darlin’”) is the theme song of the 1952 western High Noon, starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. Written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington, the song was performed for the film by Tex Ritter; it won the 1952 Academy Award for Best Original Song.
It's high noon.
See previous note.
That’s James Dean. Or Isadora Duncan. Or maybe Jayne Mansfield.
See above note on James Dean. Isadora Duncan (1877-1927) was a dancer who was one of the founders of modern dance. In 1927, while she was driving in Nice, France, her long scarf became entangled in one of the wheels of her car and broke her neck. Jayne Mansfield (1933-1967) was an actress and sex symbol of the 1950s and ‘60s. She starred in films such as The Girl Can’t Help It and Too Hot to Handle. Along with her boyfriend and their driver, she was killed instantly when their car drove into and underneath a stopped tractor trailer. Her three children in the back seat (including actress Mariska Hargitay) survived. Contrary to urban legend, she was not decapitated. After the accident, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration required trailers install a steel bar as an underride guard (sometimes called a Mansfield Bar) to prevent similar accidents.
No! –Robert Lippert! Yikes! –Mars extending us a welcome! –French fried potatoes!
Executive producer Robert Lippert (1909-1976) also produced other films riffed on by MST3K, including Show 201, Rocketship X-M (referenced with the “Mars” riff), Show 203, Jungle Goddess (“potatoes”), Show 520, Radar Secret Service, and Show 611, Last of the Wild Horses.
Marvin Miller. This must be his crossing. Heh-heh. The movie ... Joel and Ethan Coen.
Narrator Marvin Miller (1913-1985) had one of those voices that got him loads of jobs from the 1940s on up into the ‘80s. He worked on the Batman TV series, Land of the Lost, Police Squad!, and many more. His biggest claim to fame, however, may be as the voice of the iconic Robbie the Robot in 1953’s Forbidden Planet. Miller’s Crossing is a 1990 black comedy about a war between rival gangsters in the 1930s. It was directed by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, known for such quirky films as Raising Arizona, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and more.
There’s a lot of Zimbalists in this film. I think there was some nepotism.
Producer Al Zimbalist (1916-1975) also worked on Robot Monster (Show 107). Donald Zimbalist (1936-2004) was, in fact, his son.
Based on an original story by August Strindberg.
August Strindberg (1849-1912) was a Swedish playwright and novelist. He has proved highly influential and innovative, with some saying his complex staging could be possible only with film, which didn’t become an accepted dramatic medium until after his death. This may be a reference to The Lamb and the Beast, a play Strindberg wrote about Jesus.
Tom Gries and the whole world Gries with him. –That’s as bad as mine.
Tom Gries (1922-1977) wrote and directed many episodes of television, including Batman, The Rifleman, Route 66, and more. The famous line “Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone,” comes from the 1883 poem “Solitude,” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
Al Bert I. and Zimbalist Gordon. –They’re credits.
See previous note on Al Zimbalist. Bert I. Gordon is a director and producer known for including supersized animals or people in his films—hence his nickname, “Mr. B.I.G.” Eight of his films have been riffed on MST3K: this one, The Amazing Colossal Man (Show 309), Earth vs. the Spider (Show 313), War of the Colossal Beast (Show 319), The Magic Sword (Show 411), Tormented (Show 414), Beginning of the End (Show 517) and Village of the Giants (Show 523).
“What you see, what you hear ...” –Burma-Shave.
Burma-Shave was a brand of shaving cream manufactured by the Burma-Vita Company from 1925 to 1963, when the company was sold to Philip Morris. Burma-Shave is most famous for the hundreds of humorous rhyming sequential road signs that appeared throughout the nation from the mid-1920s to the mid-‘60s. For example, the following rhyme would appear on six small signs placed along the side of the highway, so drivers could read it in order: “Don’t take/A curve/At 60 per/We hate/To lose/A customer/Burma-Shave.” The practice of advertising through sequential road signs has become known as “Burma-Shaving” and has even been used in political campaigns.
The ultimate morning zoo radio show.
A mainstay of Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) or Top 40 stations, the Morning Zoo format for morning radio shows is characterized by two or three excruciatingly upbeat and “wacky” hosts who engage in stunt “call in” segments, on-air games, and regular contests. It was invented by two Tampa DJs in the early ‘80s; one of them took the format to Z-100 in NYC and dubbed it the Morning Zoo; her success was swiftly copied nationwide.
Tony Danza, for instance.
Tony Danza is an actor who has appeared on such TV series as Taxi (1978-1983), Who’s the Boss? (1984-1992), and the short-lived Tony Danza Show (1997).
Here, the effects of thirteen rum and Diet Cokes are tested.
Diet Coke is a carbonated beverage made by Coca-Cola and introduced in 1982. Its sugar substitute is aspartame (brand name NutraSweet). In 1990, three pilots for Northwest Airlines were arrested after flying a Boeing 727 with 91 passengers aboard from Fargo, North Dakota, to Minneapolis, Minnesota while under the influence of alcohol. Court testimony stated the captain of that flight had consumed somewhere between twelve and fifteen rum and diet cola beverages within a few hours and was in the cockpit several hours later. Fortunately, they made the hour-long flight without incident. All three were fired, had their licenses revoked by the FAA, and served time in federal prison. All eventually returned to the commercial airline industry, either as pilots or instructors or both. One of them wrote a book about the whole thing.
Big Ben is actually the name of the largest 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 (1802-1867), the man who supervised the installation of the bell.
The Brady house. Built tall and strong.
The Brady Bunch is a sitcom that aired on ABC from 1969 to 1974 and then went on to international syndication. Most of the scenes in the show, about a large blended American family, take place in the Brady home—a sprawling example of the split-level suburban dream house of that era. The actual house filmed for exterior establishing shots was built in 1959 and is located in Studio City, within the city limits of Los Angeles, California. The owners have extensively re-landscaped the property to make it less recognizable to Brady Bunch fans.
Then German air shows are performed. Hundreds are killed.
In 1988, at Ramstein Air Base in West Germany, three jets performing in an air show collided in midair. One crashed into the audience, killing 70 people and injuring hundreds more.
Hey, they shot it out of the Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel Tower is a Paris landmark, designed and erected by Gustave Eiffel in 1889 for the Paris World’s Fair. It stands 81 stories tall and was the world’s tallest structure until the Chrysler Building was completed in New York City in 1930. No rockets have ever been launched from the Eiffel Tower, but people have bungee jumped from it, flown planes under it (1926, unsuccessfully; 1984, successfully), and parachuted from it. (Bad idea.)
That was number two! –Whoo!
A reference to the numbered joke scene in Show 202, Sidehackers.
Hi, my name is Benjy and I’m a pan-dimensional being.
In Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, two hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings disguised as white lab mice attempt to capture protagonist Arthur Dent’s brain so they can find the ultimate question that yielded the famous answer “42.” They were named Frankie and Benjy.
What are you? Man or mouse? –Put some cheese down there and you'll find out.
In the 1937 Marx Brothers movie A Day at the Races, Gil (played by Allan Jones) asks Groucho, “Are you a man or a mouse?” and Groucho responds, “Put a piece of cheese down there and you’ll find out.”
Hey, Keith Richards.
Keith Richards is the lead guitarist for the Rolling Stones, known these days for being a frighteningly gaunt man who has somehow survived decades of heavy substance abuse and the rock & roll lifestyle.
Uh-oh, is Cooky the Clown on the premises?
While there have been many clowns who have gone by “Cooky” or “Cookie,” the most famous is “Cooky the Cook,” played by Roy Brown (1932-2001). Cooky was Bozo the Clown’s sidekick from 1968 until 1994 on the long-running WGN-TV children’s series The Bozo Show (a.k.a. Bozo’s Circus, 1960-2001).
Hey, look, it’s Woodstock. Three days of peace, love, and stock footage. –Stay away from the towers.
The seminal Woodstock Music & Art Fair, held in 1969, was billed as “3 Days of Peace & Music.” In fact, it ended up lasting four days and attracted 400,000 people to Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York, to hear 32 musical acts, including Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; The Grateful Dead; Janis Joplin; The Who; and Jimi Hendrix. “Please, get off the towers” was a warning given over the sound system at Woodstock by lighting designer Chip Monck as a storm began to come in. Monck is also the one who famously warned the audience about the brown acid.
A new pope is selected. It’s Cooky.
Traditionally, when the college of cardinals meets to elect a new pope to head the Catholic Church, they burn the ballots in a stove in the Sistine Chapel. Black smoke issuing from the chimney indicates that no new pope has been chosen; white smoke means one has. Even non-Catholics became familiar with this tradition in 2005, when the college met to elect John Paul II’s successor. See previous note on Cooky.
German rocket, you know. –Fahrvergnügen.
The V-2 long-range ballistic missile was used by Nazi Germany during the latter period of World War II to attack targets in Belgium, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere in Europe. The “V” stood for “Vergeltungswaffe,” meaning “reprisal weapon.” More than 3,000 V-2s were launched by Germany, killing an estimated 7,250 people (though 12,000 forced laborers were also killed in the production and testing process). In the final days of the war, scientists who worked on the V-2 (including Werner von Braun) surrendered to the United States to ensure that they didn’t fall into Soviet hands. The U.S. raced to capture as much of the technology as it could, and the USSR was able to procure some as well. For the better part of a decade, the U.S. tested V-2s with the help of von Braun; this led to the development of the Redstone rocket, which carried the Mercury astronauts into space. “Fahrvergnügen” is a German neologism meaning “driving pleasure,” which was used by Volkswagen as an advertising slogan from 1990 to 1992.
[Imitating JFK.] I believe, by the end of this decade, we will land a piece of stock footage on another planet. Ask not what a process shot can do for you … –Very good.
John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) was the 35th president of the United States. This riff is a mashup of two famous Kennedy quotations. The first is from a 1961 speech before a joint session of Congress: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” The second is from his inaugural address earlier in the year: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
They just discovered Grizzly Adams.
John “Grizzly” Adams (1812-1860) was an explorer who trapped bears and other wild animals for zoos, museums, and other buyers. He also toured extensively with showman P.T. Barnum. He died thanks to a head wound sustained in a wrestling match with a bear that was frequently reopened over the years in other matches with bears, leaving his brain exposed. A monkey finally bit him there, and he died four months later. He was famously played by Dan Haggerty in the 1974 film The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams and the NBC TV series that followed.
[Radio voice.] One small step for man, one giant step into a cowpie. –Eww. –Over.
Neil Armstrong may have bobbled his famous first words on the moon on July 20, 1969: that should be “One small step for a man.” There’s static on the recording, though, so he gets the benefit of the doubt.
Hey, Joel. Is she a bubble-headed blonde? –Uh, yeah.
In his 1982 song “Dirty Laundry,” Don Henley sings about a “bubble-headed bleached blonde who comes on at five/She can tell you ‘bout the plane crash with a gleam in her eye.”
Look, honey. There’s change everywhere. This is better than Coney Island.
Coney Island is in southern New York City, renowned for its amusement parks and hot dogs. Like most beaches, you can spot men with metal detectors patiently sweeping the sand for treasure.
This is smokable. High grade, hydro ... –Pinky Black. Neat. Hey, I can see my brain. [Sung.] Do-do-do.
There is a famous variety of marijuana called Pinky Stinky, as well as countless other variants (Black Russian, Blueberry, Northern Lights, etc.), but I was unable to find one under the name “Pinky Black.”
Oh, let’s see what this one is. Origin of a Planet. I’ve got that on CD.
CD, or compact disc, is a polycarbonate disc with binary data burned onto it and sandwiched between plastic discs and a reflective disc designed to reflect the laser that reads the data. They were designed in the late 1970s as a smaller-scale spinoff of Laserdisc video technology by Sony. In 1982, the first CD sold in stores was Billy Joel’s album 52nd Street. At this time, the discs themselves were $30+ and the players were $900. By 2007, more than 200 billion CDs had been made, but by that year their decline was in full swing as downloadable music files took hold.
Pete Fountain around here?
Legendary jazz musician Pete Fountain began playing the clarinet as a child because a doctor suggested it might help him strengthen his lungs after frequent respiratory infections.
Joel, I’m tripping. –No, it’s just a photoprocess. –Coppola filmed it.
Francis Ford Coppola is a film director known for such classic movies as The Godfather and Apocalypse Now. The opening dream sequence in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now features a montage of explosions and helicopters superimposed over Martin Sheen’s sleeping face.
Expletive deleted. Eighteen minutes was deleted from this tape. I am not a crook.
The Nixon Watergate tapes are recordings of Oval Office and other White House conversations between President Richard Nixon and his infamous co-conspirators who worked to infiltrate the Democratic offices at the Watergate hotel and then cover the whole thing up. Among the hundreds of reels of recordings, nine dealt with Watergate. On one, there is an eighteen-minute, thirty-second gap, part of which was implausibly attributed to an error made by Nixon’s secretary during a transcription session. Totally coincidentally, that portion included some sensitive conversations between Nixon and his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman. The phrase “expletive deleted” entered the public consciousness thanks to the Watergate hearings and these tapes, as that was inserted wherever someone swore. Since then it has been revealed that “goddamn” accounted for most of those expletives. During a press conference in November 1973, at the height of the Watergate scandal, Nixon declared, “People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I am not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.” The phrase “I am not a crook” stuck, and infamously summed up everything that was hypocritical and wrong about the Nixon presidency. He resigned nine months later.
They taped over the Beatles’ Berlin tapes.
The Beatles were, arguably, the most influential popular music group of all time. The members were Paul McCartney, John Lennon (1940-1980), George Harrison (1943-2001), and Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey). Stuart Sutcliffe (1940-1962) left the group in 1961, and Pete Best was fired by John, Paul, and George in 1962 before being replaced by Ringo. They were active from 1960 to 1970 and had twenty number one singles in the U.S. and seventeen in the U.K. To this day, they are, by far, the best-selling band in popular music. They famously had a pre-stardom stretch of performances in Hamburg, Germany, and some of those performances have been preserved—specifically the Star Club recordings from 1962, which is probably what the riff is referring to here. In 1977 an album was released taken from bootleg recordings: Live! at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962. The Beatles sued to block the release but lost the case.
“Let’s get out of these suits.” And into a dry martini.
A paraphrase of a line from the 1937 film Every Day’s a Holiday, starring Mae West and Charles Butterworth. Butterworth’s character tells West, “You ought to get out of those wet clothes and into a dry martini.”
High five. Oh, that’s Pattycake. That’s the international symbol for off with your clothes.
“Pattycake” (a.k.a. “Pat-a-cake”) is a nursery rhyme that dates back to the 1600s and is usually accompanied by a clapping game, performed by clapping one’s own hands and then clapping the hands of the person with whom one is reciting the rhyme.
Everyone got a date? Let’s have that progressive dinner we were talking about. Let’s just throw all the research out the window.
A progressive dinner (a.k.a. round-robin dinner or safari supper) is a kind of potluck event in which participants eat a different course (or courses) of an extensive meal at the home of different hosts, traveling to each home once a course has been completed.
An imitation of Clint Howard (Ron Howard’s brother) on the 1967-1969 CBS TV series Gentle Ben. Howard played a boy named Mark who has adventures with a large black bear named Ben (played by Bruno the Bear). The show was based on a 1965 children’s novel by Walt Morey. Howard has been an actor since he was three, primarily on television. Other than Gentle Ben, he has appeared on shows like The Andy Griffith Show, Star Trek, The Streets of San Francisco, and The Virginian.
Hey, we’re neoconservative doctors.
The phrase “neoconservatism” was coined in the early 1970s to describe right-leaning liberals who push for free enterprise and personal liberty. It has since evolved to apply to those on the right who believe the United States should promote and expand democracy around the world, by force if necessary.
[Hummed.] “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic.”
Tom is humming the children’s song “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic.” The melody was written in 1907 by John Walter Bratton, with lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy added in 1932. The tune has enjoyed a rich life in popular culture, turning up in everything from a Doctor Who episode to the film adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to Grateful Dead concerts.
Fifteen-minute break, everybody. Lippert rules apply here.
A reference to Show 208, Lost Continent.
Lions, tigers, and bears. –Oh my.
A line from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
And there, on the handle, was some stock footage of a hook.
This is the stinger of a famous campfire tale wherein a hook-handed man terrorizes teens making out in cars.
While the cat’s away, the mouse will play.
This proverb, dating to the 15th century, means that without the boss around, workers will frequently goof off.
Hi, remember me? I’m Satan. This is the first part of my three-picture development deal. We’ll be right back. Now here I go down her back. Watch this. It’s a hoot.
A reference to the biblical myth of the Garden of Eden, the temptation of Adam and Eve, and original sin. In the book of Genesis, a talking serpent persuades Eve to eat fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. While the serpent has traditionally been regarded as a personification of Satan, the snake is never explicitly named as such in Genesis. Satan (a.k.a. the devil) is the personification of evil in Christian and Islamic traditions. He is most often described as a “fallen angel,” though his initial job seems to have been as a prosecutor of sorts, to test men’s faith. This riff is frequently used on MST3K, often when there’s a snake on screen.
Maybe it's the planet of the midnight sun.
In the Twilight Zone episode “The Midnight Sun,” the Earth’s orbit has seemingly been disturbed, sending it closer to the sun and making temperatures soar.
And so they chop and slice and dice and of course, they install beautiful Andersen Windows. American know-how at its best.
Andersen is a manufacturer of doors and windows. Normally, vinyl replacement windows such as those manufactured by Andersen are filled with air or argon to help insulate the glass better.
Saggy roots and nuts and diapers.
A Pampers ad campaign in the 1980s expressed sympathy for any baby stuck in “a saggy diaper that leaks.”
The owl footage is not what it seems.
A paraphrased line from the surrealist David Lynch TV series Twin Peaks (1990-1991): “The owls are not what they seem.”
It is the Waldorf salad, though.
A Waldorf salad is usually made up of apples, walnuts, celery and mayonnaise. This also references one of the more popular episodes of the classic British sitcom Fawlty Towers (1975/1979), in which a guest annoys Basil Fawlty (John Cleese) by ordering a Waldorf salad for dinner even though it is not on the menu.
“I’m OK.” You’re OK.
I’m OK, You’re OK is a 1969 self-help book by Dr. Thomas Harris, one of the best-selling self-help books ever published.
I’m thirty-five. I’m not old. Get out of here. I could still take you, buddy.
Dennis the Peasant from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) takes offense at being called “old woman,” pointing out, first, that he’s a man, and second, “I’m thirty-seven. I’m not old.” Probably also a reference to King Arthur’s duel with the Black Knight, in which the knight refuses to give up no matter how many limbs get chopped off: he is finally reduced to a torso on the ground, still shouting, “Oh, I see, running away, eh? You yellow bastard, come back here and take what’s coming to you! I’ll bite your legs off!”
Penny for your thoughts.
Trivia time: the famous phrase “a penny for your thoughts” is a very old English one, first published in a collection of proverbs by playwright John Heywood in 1546. (He didn’t coin the proverbs, if you will; he just compiled them.)
They both awake with the worst breath of the morning.
Scope mouthwash ads in the late 1970s showed a married couple waking up in bed and quickly turning away from each other, hands over their mouths, while the narrator intoned, “They wake with the worst breath of the day.” Fortunately, Scope put everything right, and the couple came back to bed with minty-fresh breath so the snuggling could begin.
Do you like long walks in the rain? Chinese food? Mushing up your ice cream? Those little Necco wafers that they used to ... oh, never mind.
Necco is the acronym for the New England Confectionary Company, which was founded in 1901. Necco Wafers are their signature treat; they date back to 1847 and a dude named Oliver Chase (whose company later became NECCO). They come in eight flavors, which supposedly are lemon, lime, orange, clove, cinnamon, wintergreen, licorice, and chocolate. The pink ones taste like Pepto-Bismol. I’m not kidding. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if that’s good or bad.
Hi! I couldn't help noticing your suitcase and your shoes.
Accessories made from alligator leather are extremely expensive due to the cost of the materials. It takes two alligators to make one purse, and it takes three years to raise them to a useful size.
That hurts, don’t it?
“Hurts, don’t it?” is a line from the film Road House.
I can’t believe it, Wally Karbo, there’s a foreign object in the ring. He’s gonna do ... oh, a piledriver!
An imitation of the commentary during televised professional wrestling matches. Wally Karbo (1915-1993) was a pro wrestling promoter in Minnesota and co-founder of the American Wrestling Association in 1960. He was also the host of the Saturday morning AWA show, All-Star Wrestling, until 1985. The piledriver is a maneuver wherein one wrestler squeezes the head of his opponent between his thighs and then falls to the mat in a seated position, meaning the opponent’s head hits the mat first.
It looks like Dr. Moto’s got a stranglehold on him.
Mr. Moto, not “Dr.” (real name: McRonald Kamaka) was well-known in the 1970s and ‘80s in the American Wrestling Association and the World Wide Wrestling Federation. He retired in 1987 and died in 2007. He took his name from a fictional Japanese secret agent who appeared in a series of novels by John P. Marquand (and the movies starring Peter Lorre based on those novels).
“Bingo,” meaning “correct,” derives from the game wherein spaces are covered up until a predetermined pattern is achieved. The winner shouts “Bingo!” to indicate victory. The game of bingo was invented only in the 1920s, although it was based on an 18th-century French game called Le Lotto. It was originally called “Beano.”
Breakfast time. Honey Nut Cheerios, guys.
Honey Nut Cheerios is a variant of Cheerios breakfast cereal, produced by General Mills. It was introduced in 1979, and its mascot has long been an anthropomorphized bee. After a contest in 2000, he was named BuzzBee, later shortened to Buzz.
I’m going to need a bigger shoe. We’re gonna get a bigger shoe, right?
A reference to the 35th most famous line in cinema history, according to the American Film Institute: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” (followed up by “We’re gonna get a bigger boat, right?”), said by Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) to Captain Quint (Robert Shaw) after he first spotted the great white shark in the 1975 classic Jaws.
Solarisation is a photographic effect that reverses the dark and light tones of a picture or negative.
I haven’t seen a wasp that big since the Nixon years.
“WASP,” as an acronym, means “White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.” The term was first published in 1957, although back then the W stood for “wealthy.” It was popularized in the 1960s and is generally used disparagingly toward those in power, although ironically the power of the white Protestant elite has been waning since the 1920s.
Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.
“Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk” was one of Curly Howard’s (Jerome Horwitz; 1903-1952) trademark vocalizations in the Three Stooges shorts.
That would be a Don’t-Bee.
The children’s TV program Romper Room (1953-1994) used oversized, occasionally dancing bee mascots—Mr. Do-Bee and Mr. Don’t-Bee—to help teach kids good behavior and safety habits. Playing on the sidewalk was a “Do-Bee”; playing in the street was a “Don’t-Bee.”
Help me! Help me!
In the ending of the 1958 sci-fi film The Fly, the scientist played by David Hedison finds himself merged with a fly’s body and trapped in a spider web with the spider bearing down on him. Things don’t end well for the spider or the fly.
Help me. Help me.
See previous note.
I’ve got a headache this big and it’s got “stock footage” written all over it.
Excedrin is a brand of over-the-counter pain reliever that contains aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine. The caffeine acts as an adjuvant, making the pain relievers more potent and fast acting. In various ads dating back to the 1970s, sufferers would say, “I’ve got a headache this big, and it’s got Excedrin written all over it.”
Is that your little friend, Joel? –I guess that’s the lemur, yeah.
It’s actually a kinkajou.
He jumped right out of Paul’s chest.
A reference to the famous scene in the 1979 sci-fi/horror classic Alien in which the titular character first appears, birthed from actor John Hurt. If you haven't seen it, it's known as the “chestburster,” which should give you some idea.
“Hey, Joe.” What do you know?
“Hello, Joe. What do you know?” was a greeting from the early 20th century, popularized by vaudeville comedy routines and the 1939 song “Well All Right (Tonight’s the Night),” performed by The Andrews Sisters, Ella Fitzgerald, and more.
All right, all right. We’ll go to your damned dirty island.
A paraphrased line from the 1968 film Planet of the Apes: “Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty apes!”
[Giant animal roar.] Good, but back of the throat. A little higher.
A riff on the “Castle of Aaaaargh” scene in the 1975 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Sir Lancelot (John Cleese) says “No, no … ‘aaaaagh,’ at the back of the throat.”
Hi, remember me? I’m Satan. You never know where I’m gonna turn up. But first, a recipe from my pal, Ed Herlihy.
See above note on Satan. “The Maidenform woman. You never know where she’ll turn up” was the tagline for a series of ads for Maidenform bras that ran during the 1970s and 1980s. Ed Herlihy (1909-1999) was a television and radio announcer known to most as the voice of Kraft commercials from the 1940s to the ‘80s.
Snakes bug me!
A riff on some dialogue spoken by excitable biker Banjo in Show 207, Wild Rebels. Acutal line: "That square bugs me! He really bugs me!"
There! Suck down a little JD, buddy!
Jack Daniel’s (sometimes abbreviated as just “Jack” or “JD”) is a brand of Tennessee whiskey first produced by distiller Jack Daniel in 1875. It is the best-selling American whiskey in the world.
Give me some of that. I invented JD!
See previous note.
No sudden moves, pal. While I make these guys sweat, here’s Ed Herlihy with another recipe. –[Imitating.] Thank you, Satan. Yes, it’s Polynesian cheese devils. Fill your mouth up with half a Kraft hot dog, put ketchup all over your face, and then spit it back out, saying, “My tug! My tug!” We’ll be right back.
See above notes on Satan and Ed Herlihy. Kraft Foods is a food manufacturer that was founded in Chicago in 1903. Of the dozens of brands under their umbrella, forty of them are more than a century old. The highest earners include Maxwell House, Kraft Singles, Oreo, Oscar Mayer, Planters, and Tang. “Polynesian cheese devils” come up again in a host segment in Show 211, First Spaceship on Venus, in which Tom Servo does a commercial for “Klack’s Industrial Saladoos-Based Snacks and Snippets.” “Salamander Fingerwiches” and “Taco Mincemeat Relish Parfait” are also involved.
Hey, is that a snake or is Steve just glad to see me?
The double entendre “Is that a ___ in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” appears to have originated with Mae West, who claims she sassed some cops with it in the ‘30s.
Don’t get any funny ideas, pal. I’m Satan. I rule. I’ve seen better. I wouldn’t waste my venom on you. Join us next week on Kraft Music Hall. Our guests will be Liza Minnelli and Desi Arnaz Jr. You might be interested in some of our other wide variety of cheese products we at Kraft take pleasure in bringing you. Good night and God bless. Not. I gotta run.
See previous note. Kraft Music Hall was an NBC radio and TV program that aired in various formats from 1933 to 1971. It frequently featured top-billed talent, up-and-comers, and even past greats. Liza Minnelli is a singer and actress. Daughter of Judy Garland, Minnelli is known for her role in Cabaret and many stints on Broadway. Desi Arnaz Jr. is the son of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, regarded as the first television child star because millions of Americans saw him while he was still in the womb and then for his first several years as he played Little Ricky Ricardo on I Love Lucy. Both Minnelli and Arnaz appeared on the Kraft Music Hall. Red Skelton (1913-1997) was a comedian and variety show host who, in later years on The Red Skelton Show (1951-1971), ended each episode by looking into the camera and saying his trademark goodbye, “Good night and may God bless.” Though many trace the use of “Not!” as a negating declarative back to the late ’80s/early ’90s Saturday Night Live sketch “Wayne’s World,” it can be traced farther back to SNL’s first season and a 1976 episode hosted by Madeline Kahn. In a slumber party sketch, the female cast members and Kahn played young girls talking about boys. Laraine Newman said, “Oh, yeah. Now I really wanna get married. Not!” Its usage dates farther back, of course, but that’s the earliest appearance in popular culture I could find.
Now where is that tall tower?
A possible reference to Charles Whitman (1941-1966), known as the Texas Sniper. In August 1966, the engineering student and former Marine murdered his wife and mother, climbed the tower of the University of Texas’ main building and opened fire on the people below. After killing fourteen people and wounding thirty-two others, Whitman was finally killed by police two hours later.
Run through the jungle.
“Run Through the Jungle” is a 1970 song by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Songwriter John Fogerty has said it is about the proliferation of guns in the U.S.
See you later, alligator.
In 19th-century Cockney rhyming slang, “See you alligator” meant “See you later.” In 1956, the phrase (along with the response “After a while, crocodile”) entered the mainstream when Bill Haley and His Comets released a song under that title. The song had been written and released by Cajun musician Bobby Charles the year before to little notice.
Honey, you haven’t lived until you’ve been up to the chain of lakes up by Lake Mille Lacs and nailed one of the big jacks, you know. You’re going to love fishing up here, you know. We’re gonna get a wallhanger, I’m positive of it. I’m sure. Did you bring the Uncle Josh’s Pork Rinds? Or some poppers maybe to get some croppies. Then we’ll head into Rhinelander and maybe get some pizza and beer. I’ll take you dancing.
Lake Mille Lacs is a lake north of Minneapolis. “Jack” is a colloquial name for several different kinds of fish, including certain mackerel, pike, and salmon. Uncle Josh is a bait and lure company founded in 1922 Wisconsin. Despite what you may think, the pork rinds aren’t for the fishermen; they’re bait for larger fish. “Popper” is a kind of fishing lure. “Croppies” (or “crappies”) is a kind of freshwater fish, also known as papermouths or speckled bass. Rhinelander is a city in northeast Wisconsin, pop. circa 8,000. It was originally called Pelican Rapids.
That guy really is into safe boating. –Good thing he brought his jimmy boat.
“Jimmyhat” or “jimmy hat” is a slang term for a condom (“jimmy” being a slang term for “penis” and the condom being a “hat” for it).
Goodbye, Joe. Me gotta go.
A line from the 1952 song “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” by country legend Hank Williams. The song crossed over into multiple musical genres and was recorded by many artists; the best known cover versions were by Elvis Presley and John Fogerty. Sample lyrics: “Goodbye, Joe, me gotta go, me oh my oh/Me gotta go, pole the pirogue down the bayou/My Yvonne, the sweetest one, me oh my oh/Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou.”
Arrrgh, Jim boy. Arrgh. –Arrgh. –We step off the boat into knee-boat scum. The rest of the film.
An imitation of the pirate Long John Silver in the aforementioned Treasure Island. “Jim boy” is the protagonist, Jim Hawkins.
The View-Master is a children’s toy that resembles a pair of binoculars; when the viewer inserts a special disc containing photographic images, they appear in 3D. It was created by a company called Sawyer’s in 1939 and was originally intended for people of all ages, but ended up as a children’s toy. In 1966 Sawyer’s was bought by the General Aniline & Film Company (a.k.a. GAF). The rights have changed hands several times since then; currently the brand is owned by Fisher-Price.
Here, gimme him. I’ll show you how to handle that thing. I learned this from LBJ.
Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) was president of the United States from 1963 to 1968. He provoked a nationwide controversy in 1964 when, in order to give a photographer a good shot of his two beagles Him and Her, he picked the dogs up by their ears. (Johnson was not dangling them in midair—he merely lifted their front legs off the ground—and the dogs did not seem to mind, but none of this appeased outraged animal lovers.)
[Hummed.] “Teddy Bears’ Picnic.”
“Teddy Bears’ Picnic” is a popular children’s song written by Jimmy Kennedy in 1932 (though it used the tune of a song written by John Walter Bratton in 1907). The first disc recording of the song was made in 1908; it has been recorded by Bing Crosby, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Anne Murray, and others. A 1932 recording of the song by Henry Hall and His Orchestra was used for decades to calibrate BBC audio equipment.
[Imitating Skelton.] Two seagulls. Gertrude and Heathcliff.
“Gertrude and Heathcliff, the Two Seagulls” was a recurring sketch on the aforementioned Red Skelton Show. In fact, a young Johnny Carson was a writer on the show for a time, and these were among his favorite skits to write.
I’d really like to go back now. I think you’ll find only evil here. I bring a message from Gorgon. He tells you not to come here! I abhor you! Please listen to the sacred writings I bring.
A Gorgon is a monster from Greek myth. There were three of them, all sisters, of which the most famous was Medusa (the other two were named Stheno and Euryale). It’s possible they meant Gorgo, which is essentially a 1961 English Godzilla movie, about a sea monster discovered off the Irish coast who wreaks havoc on London. It was given the MST treatment in Show 909.
Almost got an Ivan Tors series going here.
Ivan Tors (1916-1983) was a Hungarian writer and producer, known for his science fiction and nature-themed work. He wrote the well-regarded 1954 sci-fi film Gog and produced Sea Hunt, Gentle Ben, and Clarence the Cross-Eyed Lion, among others. His company also produced the underwater scenes for the James Bond film Thunderball.
Trombone. Must be seventy-six of them. I think there’s a hundred and ten cornets right behind.
“Seventy-Six Trombones” is a song from the 1957 musical The Music Man (and the famed 1962 film version), written by Meredith Wilson. The lyrics: “Seventy-six trombones led the big parade/With a hundred and ten cornets close at hand.”
Think he’s getting paid scale?
Getting “paid scale” refers to the minimum wage paid to actors for a day’s work. In the mid-1950s, that was less than $200.
How about a little fire, scarecrow?
Another line from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
Swing it up. It says “yes.” Take the shot. Count it down.
This is from a mid-1960s ad jingle for the Polaroid Swinger, a black-and-white instant camera that flashed the word “YES” in the viewfinder when the shot was in focus. It was sung by Barry Manilow.
Maybe he’s going to get him for flushing him down the toilet.
The myth of alligators living in the sewers of New York City began in 1935, when it was reported that a group of boys found and killed a six-foot gator after a snowfall (making the story dubious on its face, as alligators wouldn’t be able to survive such winter temperatures). The animal had probably escaped from a nearby ship. It began to be claimed that New Yorkers vacationing in Florida were bringing back baby gators for their kids, only to have the kids get bored with them or frightened as their teeth came in and then flushing the tiny reptiles, which survived and grew large in the sewers. The story was further promulgated in 1959 with Robert Daley’s book The World Beneath the City and Thomas Pynchon’s 1963 novel V. Small gators have occasionally been captured in New York City—a two-foot caiman, quickly dubbed Damon the Caiman, was found in Central Park in 2001—but they are generally held to be escaped pets.
Hey, those aren’t real tears. I’ve heard about you.
The phrase “crocodile tears” means “false emotions,” and it comes from a medieval tale that crocodiles wept in order to lure their prey or that they cried hypocritically after eating them. The c. 1400 book The Voyage and Travail of Sir John Maundevail included this passage: “In that contre ... ben gret plentee of Cokadrilles ... Theise Serpentes slen men, and and thei eten hem wepynge.” (In that country there are many crocodiles ... These serpents slay men, and eat them weeping.) Crocodiles’ eyes secrete tears for the same reason ours do—to keep them from drying out. However, there is some evidence that their tears are in fact stimulated by eating.
Hey. Nastassja Kins ... Oh, no, no. Fingers are right, though.
Nastassja Kinski is a German-born actress who has appeared in more than 60 film roles, including her Golden Globe Award-winning performance as the title character in the 1979 romance film Tess. A 1981 photograph by Richard Avedon of Kinski draped in a large boa constrictor and nothing else became a popular poster.
We’ll be playing by Marquess of Queensberry rules.
The Marquess of Queensberry rules are a code of conduct for boxing written in the mid-1800s by John Chambers. They were endorsed by John Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry (1844-1900), and hence named after him. Douglas was a keen boxing fan and one of the founders of Britain’s Amateur Athletic Club, which promoted the sport. The Queensberry rules established the use of boxing gloves, which replaced the brutal bare-knuckle fighting that had characterized the sport up to that time.
A catchphrase frequently uttered by the titular comic strip character Little Orphan Annie, created by Harold Gray in 1924. One of her other catchphrase, less well known, was “Gee whiskers!”
It’s Saturday night at ringside, ladies and gentlemen! Featuring Gecko-Roman wrestling.
Despite the name, Greco-Roman wrestling was neither. It was French, first exhibited by Napoleonic soldier Jean Exbrayat. Originating in the 1800s, French wrestlers contested using open-hand holds and no holds below the waist. It was later termed “Greco-Roman” because supporters felt it represented ancient values. It debuted in the first modern Olympics in 1896.
I’m going to make a handbag out of you, gator.
Purses made from crocodile or alligator leather are extremely expensive due to the cost of the materials. It generally takes two alligators to make one purse, and it takes three years to raise them to a useful size. (Due to the species’ endangered status, all reputable houses use leather made from farmed alligators.) In 2014 a Hermès handbag made from a rare near-albino alligator went for $185,000 at auction. And for a mere $261,000, you can own the Diamond Forever bag by Chanel, made from white alligator skin, 334 diamonds, and 18-karat gold hardware.
Yes, folks. Thrill to the most exciting fight of the Precambrian Era!
The Precambrian time, which is not truly an era or an eon, began with the formation of the Earth 4.6 billion years ago and ended 540 million years ago. It is divided into various eras (the Cenozoic, the Mesozoic, etc.). Obviously, this time predates the Cambrian Period, which saw the massive diversification of life. The name “Cambria” is the Latin name for Wales, where the first Cambrian rocks were studied.
Mr. Lippert, I’m appalled. Get Betty White on the phone, Joel.
Betty White is an actress best known for her roles as Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977) and Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls (1985-1992). White has also famously championed animal welfare causes since at least the 1970s.
I’m going to load up the Steely Dan.
Steely Dan is a rock band that enjoyed the height of their popularity in the 1970s. Some of their biggest hits include “Hey Nineteen,” “Reelin’ in the Years,” and “Do It Again.” The band got its name from a strap-on dildo mentioned in William Burroughs’ novel Naked Lunch.
The scene opens with Macbeth pacing the stage. Suddenly, he walks upstage and addresses the audience. “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow ...” Get away, get away. “Creeps ...”
Macbeth is one of William Shakespeare’s best-known tragedies, written somewhere around 1603. The lines quoted here are from the title character’s famous soliloquy as he awaits battle with the English army, presented in Act V, Scene 5.
Red flare at night, lizards fight. Red flare in the morning, lizards take warning.
A paraphrase of the famous weather folklore, often attributed to sailors: “Red sky at morning, sailors take warning. Red sky at night, sailors delight.” It dates back thousands of years; Jesus even mentions it in the New Testament, and Shakespeare used it in Venus and Adonis.
Mr. Goodwrench, you forgot your car battery.
Mr. Goodwrench is the former name for General Motors’ auto repair division, called GM Goodwrench since 1996. The brand began in 1977 and was phased out of U.S. GM operations in 2011. GM Goodwrench is still used in some foreign markets. Stephen Colbert played the character in a series of ads in 2003.
You know what this is? This is American Tourister Gladiators.
American Gladiators was a syndicated show that aired from 1989 to 1996. It featured a pair of amateur athletes competing in a series of contests against oiled-up wrestler types with names like Turbo and Nitro. The coolest round had to be Assault, which had the contestants navigating an obstacle course while Zap or whoever fired tennis balls at them from a cannon. The show was revived briefly in 2008. The American Tourister luggage company was founded in 1932 and famously ran an ad campaign showing a gorilla (really a man in a costume) attempting to destroy one of its suitcases. For some reason, people always think those ads were for Samsonite.
Got a little ... uh. –Hershey’s Syrup.
Hershey’s Syrup is a chocolate syrup first sold in 1926. Chocolate syrup, of various brands, was often used in place of blood in black-and-white films; Alfred Hitchcock used it in the famous shower scene in Psycho.
I feel like I’m watching Mondo cane.
Mondo cane (Italian for A Dog’s World) is a 1962 documentary/travelogue purporting to show strange and secret rituals from around the world, but much of its content was chosen solely for the purposes of shock and titillation, and some of the scenes were apparently staged or their effects “enhanced” for the film.
Yes, t’was beast killed the beast.
A paraphrase of the final line in the film King Kong (both the 1933 and 2005 versions): “It wasn’t the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast.”
Well, anyway, you’ve never really fished until you’ve been up to the Chain of Lakes [mumbled] hooked one of those big jacks, you know. Break out the hula popper.
The Chain of Lakes is a district in Minneapolis: an ancient Mississippi River channel that is now a string of five interconnected lakes. One of them, Lake Calhoun, is the largest lake in Minneapolis. “Big jacks” may be referring to northern pike, large carnivorous freshwater fish that are sometimes called jackfish. The hula popper is a type of fishing lure used to catch bass, pike, and other gamefish.
Meanwhile, at the superimposed rocket.
The phrase “Meanwhile, _____” originated with title cards used in silent films of the early 20th century. In westerns, this was often “Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...” Once audio became a common component, the phrase was still used by narrators for films and radio and television shows.
Well, anyway. We thought we’d go to the Chain of Lakes, Lake Mille Lacs or something. Get some Uncle Josh’s Pork Rinds, then we can head up to Rhinelander. Do some dancing. Have some beers. Eat some pizza. Maybe go out to the big snowmobile show. –Uh, thank you.
See previous note on the Chain of Lakes and above note on Lake Mille Lacs.
Have breakfast with the king.
This is the ad slogan for Quaker Oats’ breakfast cereal King Vitaman, first sold in 1968.
Meanwhile, three days later.
See previous note on “Meanwhile ...”
Listen to this music. What of Paul’s love for Lena? Will the lizards find peace in the valley? And what about little Joey the lemur? We’ll find out this and more.
The organ music used in the film is similar to the music in soap operas dating back to 1930s radio and well into their broadcast on television.
If you go out in the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise. C’mon! Keep up with me! You go out in the woods today, (mumble) believe your eyes. Da-duh, da-duh, da-duh, da-duh ... Teddy bears having a picnic.
See above note on “Teddy Bears’ Picnic.”
And that’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic.
See above note on “Teddy Bears’ Picnic.”
Take my hand. I’m a stranger with parasites.
Paraphrased lyrics from the song “Stranger in Paradise,” written for the 1953 musical Kismet by Robert Wright, George Forrest, and Alexander Borodin. It was based on the 1911 book by Charles Lederer and Luther Davis; a film version of the musical was released in 1955.
That’s the day the teddy bears have their ... huh?
See above note on “Teddy Bears’ Picnic.”
“Snack Canyon” refers to a series of movie theater promos for Coca-Cola products, popcorn, and candy that were used primarily in the late 1970s.
If you go in the woods today ... –Oh, c’mon. Shut up. I hate that song. –You’re the one who started singing it. –No, I didn’t. –Yes, you did. –Hey, c’mon, you guys. –Sorry. I was doing a callback.
See above note on “Teddy Bears’ Picnic.”
Luck be a lizard tonight.
A take on the 1950 song “Luck Be a Lady,” written by Frank Loesser and first released by Robert Alda for the musical Guys and Dolls. Frank Sinatra famously performed it for many years.
I saw this on Midnight Express once.
Midnight Express is a 1978 film about an American cast into a Turkish prison for smuggling drugs and his subsequent escape attempt. It was based on a 1977 nonfiction book by Billy Hayes and William Hoffer.
You know, guys. Lizards were hurt in the making of this film.
The American Humane Association holds a copyright on the famous movie credit line “No animals were harmed in the making of this film.” The practice of the AHA evaluating films for their treatment of animals began thanks to the 1939 film Jesse James: during the filming a horse was blindfolded and ridden off a cliff to its death.
That’s almost a reversal. That would’ve been two points.
In the sport of wrestling, coming up from a defensive position and gaining control of your opponent in one move is called a reversal, and is indeed worth two points.
[Imitating Mary Tyler Moore.] Oh, I’m filled with shame. Oh, Rob!
An impression of Laura Petrie, played by Mary Tyler Moore, on the classic CBS sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966). Rob Petrie was played by Dick Van Dyke.
What did he ever do? –He was on the cover of Tarkus. –Oh, okay. Shoot him.
Tarkus is the second album from the progressive rock group Emerson, Lake & Palmer, released in 1971. The cover features a large mechanized armadillo.
I’m your new boyfriend now!
In the 1984 horror movie A Nightmare on Elm Street, just after Nancy Thompson’s (Heather Langenkamp) boyfriend has been killed, a disconnected phone rings. Nancy answers it and hears Freddy Krueger say, “I’m your boyfriend now, Nancy,” followed by a tongue coming out of the phone’s mouthpiece. (Trivia: Nancy’s doomed boyfriend Glen was played by Johnny Depp, in his first feature film.)
Everybody panic! –Ahhhh! –When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!
The phrase “When in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout” was first printed in a 1929 issue of Infantry Journal. It was popularized in the 1951 Herman Wouk novel The Caine Mutiny.
Welcome to Pamplona.
Every year in Pamplona, Spain, the “Running of the Bulls” is held from July 7-14, in which people and bulls run a marked-off course through the town. Deaths are relatively rare, but injuries are not. Tradition says it began in the 1300s, as cattle herders would compete with each other to see who could get their livestock to the market first. Though synonymous with Pamplona and the Festival of San Fermín, bull runnings are held in several other cities in Spain, Mexico, and Portugal.
This week on Living Dangerously: hand-delivered atomic bombs.
The short-lived documentary TV series Living Dangerously first aired in 1986.
I’m comin’, Beany boy!
Beany and Cecil were originally puppet characters on the 1940s children’s TV show Time for Beany. They were created by frequent Looney Tunes director Bob Clampett. Beany was the nephew of a sea captain and Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent was his best friend. The characters later starred in their own animated TV series.
[Imitating.] I’m not an animal.
A famous line from the 1980 film The Elephant Man, wherein the severely deformed John Merrick (based on real-life Joseph Merrick and played by John Hurt) is confronted by an angry mob and screams, “I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being! I ... am ... a ... man!”
You go out in the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise ...
See above note on “Teddy Bears’ Picnic.”
Hey, it’s the MGM lion. No, it’s the Lippert Lizard.
The MGM lion is the mascot of Metro Goldwyn Mayer and has appeared in production title cards for the film studio since 1917. The actual names of the lions used in the roaring clip, in order of appearance, are Slats, Jackie, Telly, Coffee, Tanner, George, and Leo.
To the beach! Kinda like Dunkirk, isn’t it, guys?
Dunkirk is a coastal city in France, famous for the evacuation of more than 338,000 Allied soldiers in just nine days by 850 British boats, many of them ordinary fishing boats, yachts, tugboats, and even lifeboats, as France fell to the Nazis in 1940. It was called Operation Dynamo, and in the days after the evacuation, Prime Minister Winston Churchill gave his famous “We will fight them on the beaches” speech.
I’m just a poor turtle. Help, Mr. Wizard! Help!
An imitation of the title character in the Tooter Turtle cartoons, which ran as original episodes on NBC Saturday mornings from 1960-1961. Tooter would be sent through time to various locales by Mr. Wizard the Lizard—there he would get in a jam and cry, “Help me, Mr. Wizard!” Mr. Wizard would then rescue Tooter by chanting “Twizzle, Twazzle, Twozzle, Twome; time for this one to come home.”
Get me. I’m a Hasidic rabbi. Shalom.
A paraphrased line from the 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life, spoken by Sheldon Leonard as Nick the bartender: “Get me! I’m givin’ out wings!” Hasidic Judaism is an orthodox branch of the faith. “Shalom” is a Hebrew word that usually means “peace” but is used colloquially as both “hello” and “goodbye.”
Paddle like you’re on Hawaii Five-O!
Hawaii Five-O was a television show about the exploits of a group of police detectives in Hawaii. The series starred Jack Lord and ran from 1968-1980; it was remade in 2010. Why “Five-O?” Because Hawaii is the 50th state. The show also spawned the famous warning, “Five-oh!”, meaning, “Police are coming.”
[Sung to the score.] Your careers are finally almost over. You’ll never be in another film. You may end up in the Psychotronic Film Guide.
Psychotronic Video (née Psychotronic TV) is a film magazine that was published from 1980-2006 by Michael Weldon. A book version was first published in 1983, titled The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film. All versions tackled genres that Weldon felt were ignored, including sci-fi, horror, and more.
Looks like the Valdez has been here.
On March 23, 1989, the Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker carrying 53 million gallons of crude oil from Alaska, ran aground on a reef, spilling nearly 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound. The captain had been drinking earlier in the day, and the third mate who was on duty when the accident occurred may have been working for as long as 18 hours straight. Roughly 1,300 miles of beach were contaminated, and estimates of wildlife killed by the spill include 250,000 birds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, 22 killer whales, and billions of salmon and herring eggs. Cleanup efforts cost more than $2 billion.
Cheese it, everyone!
“Cheese it!” meaning “be quiet” or “stop it,” first appeared in published form in O. Henry’s 1908 book The Voice of the City, but it was being used in the 1800s in the U.K. As to its origin, it may come from its similarity to the word “cease.”
Looks like the beginning of Petticoat Junction. Petticoat Armageddon.
Petticoat Junction was a TV sitcom about life at a hotel in a small town. It aired from 1963-1970 on CBS as part of their interconnected triad of “rural” sitcoms, the other two being Green Acres and The Beverly Hillbillies. The opening credits of Petticoat Junction showed three young comely lasses—and their dog—popping their heads up over the edge of a water tank. Its cancellation despite good ratings was the first of the so-called “CBS Rural Purge” in 1971. In an attempt to “urbanize” their programming, all three of the above-mentioned shows, along with Hee-Haw, Mayberry RFD, and others, were cancelled, even though they all had average-to-good standing in the ratings.
We did the right thing, didn’t we? They’d never surrender. It was right for us to blow them up.
This is similar to the justifications offered up by supporters of the decision to use atomic bombs against Japan in World War II. Those who defend the use of the bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki usually point out that an invasion of Japan would have led to millions of casualties on both sides, and argue that the Japanese had shown unyielding determination to continue fighting the war, even in the face of ultimate defeat.
Well, it’s an atom bomb lite, actually. One-third as destructive as our other bomb.
“One-third less calories than their regular beer” was a selling point in early-‘70s TV ads for Miller Lite, along with “Tastes great/Less filling” and “Everything you always wanted in a beer, and less.”