507: I Accuse My Parents
by Sean Marten
Easter bunny films presents …
The Easter bunny is, of course, the mythical critter that hides eggs for children to find on Easter; the connection between bunnies and Easter is apparently a conflation of the Christian holiday and older fertility rites. It was first mentioned (in the form of an Easter hare) in a 1682 German essay.
Wonder if they sold this film door to door?
For 60 years, Encyclopedia Britannica was marketed primarily through door-to-door sales. In 1996, citing the increased popularity of electronic reference works, the company laid off its entire sales force and concentrated on selling its CD-ROM version; in 2012 it announced it would no longer publish a printed edition, instead offering subscriptions to its online version.
The Donner party.
The Donner party was a group of about 80 settlers who, led by George and Jacob Donner, tried to make it to California during the winter of 1846-1847. They got trapped in a pass by a winter storm in the Sierra Nevadas; half of them died before they could be rescued, and the survivors resorted to cannibalism to survive. The pass where they were trapped is now named Donner Pass.
[Sung.] Serve me ‘cross the Guernsey …
Sung to the tune of the 1965 hit song “Ferry Cross the Mersey” by British pop group Gerry and the Pacemakers (from the film by the same name). Guernsey is a breed of dairy cattle originating on the British island of Guernsey; it is prized for its mellow disposition, hearty constitution, and rich, delicious milk. Mmmmm, milk.
Instead they ate the yellow snow.
“Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow” is a 1974 song by Frank Zappa. Sample lyrics: “And she said/With a tear in her eye/’Watch out where the huskies go/And don’t you eat that yellow snow.’”
Let’s take you back to the days when DDT was safe.
DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) is an insecticide that was widely used in agriculture in the U.S. following World War II. The 1962 book Silent Spring by biologist Rachel Carson, which suggested that DDT and other chemicals cause cancer and kill wildlife, gave birth to the modern environmental movement and led to DDT being banned in the U.S. in 1972. Scientists credit this ban with helping save the bald eagle from near-extinction.
Ahh! It’s Killdozer! Clint Walker, no!
Killdozer is a 1974 TV movie about a construction crew building an airstrip during World War II who uncover an ancient evil spirit, which promptly takes control of their heavy equipment and begins to wreak havoc. Clint Walker, star of Killdozer, is an American actor best known for his work in numerous Western movies and TV shows. Killdozer has attained cult status, with multiple references on MST3K, Rifftrax, and Beavis and Butthead. An ‘80s punk band from Wisconsin named themselves Killdozer, and a wrecker in the 2007 Robert Rodriguez action/horror movie Planet Terror borrowed the name as well. When auto shop owner Marvin Heemeyer took an armored and armed bulldozer on a rampage through the town of Granby, Colorado, in 2004, destroying thirteen buildings, news outlets invoked the name, and when Conan O’Brien mentioned the movie on The Tonight Show, it got more than three million YouTube hits within a week.
Early tractor pulls, not that much fun. This is the freestyle competition.
Tractor pulling, also known as truck pulling or power pulling, is a motorsport involving massively modified tractors and/or trucks pulling a heavy sledge, also known as a sled, as far as possible down a 300-foot track. Besides the United States, the sport is enormously popular in Australia, Brazil, and parts of Europe, especially the Netherlands. Go figure.
Well, here, as anointed by God, man holds dominion over his earth.
A reference to Genesis 1:28 in the Old Testament of the Bible: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
Speed the plow.
Speed-the-Plow is a 1988 play by American playwright and film director David Mamet, which satirizes the American movie business. The origins of the phrase “God speed the plow” meaning “May God help us work hard and prosper,” date back to the 14th century. Thomas Morton wrote a play by the title Speed the Plough in 1798; one of its characters, Mrs. Grundy, has survived as an archetype for a prude who’s always worrying about what the neighbors will think.
[Sung.] Go speed farmer, go speed farmer, go speed farmer, go!
A parody of the theme song to the Japanese anime television series Speed Racer. The actual lyrics: “Go Speed Racer/Go Speed Racer/Go Speed Racer, go!” Debuting on American television in 1967, Speed Racer was one of the earliest anime series to gain popularity in the United States.
[Sung, quacking.] Now duck news, here’s Hugh McQuacken.
Hugh McCracken (1942-2013) was for many years a highly respected session guitarist; he played with everyone from Paul McCartney and John Lennon to Aretha Franklin and B.B. King to Hall & Oates and Andy Gibb.
You know, I saw that on Children of the Corn.
“Children of the Corn” is a 1977 short story by Stephen King about a small Nebraska town taken over and terrorized by a cult of children who worship “He Who Walks Behind the Rows.” In 1984, it was made into a movie starring Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton. That original film was followed by more than a half-dozen sequels.
Most farmers like to listen to Igor Stravinsky when they farm.
Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) was a Russian-born composer and one of the founders of modernist music; his premiere of The Rites of Spring in 1913 touched off a riot among the audience.
[Sung.] Hooray for chemicals.
To the tune of “Hooray for Hollywood,” a song composed by Richard A. Whiting with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, which first appeared in the 1937 film Hollywood Hotel. The tune has become a sort of musical shorthand for the glitz, glamour, and broken dreams of the movie business. Sample lyrics: “Hooray for Hollywood/That screwy, ballyhooey Hollywood/Where any office boy or young mechanic/Can be a panic, with just a good-looking pan/Where any barmaid can be a star maid/If she dances with or without a fan.”
Charley Varrick is employed.
Charley Varrick is a 1973 film starring Walter Matthau as a stunt pilot/crop-duster who turns to a life of crime. Andrew “Scorpio Killer” Robinson and Joe Don “Mitchell” Baker round out the cast.
I’m peakin’, man.
In the parlance of users of the hallucinogenic drug LSD, “peaking” is the point of highest intensity in an LSD experience.
Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-1973) was the 36th president of the United States, serving from November 1963, when John F. Kennedy was assassinated (Johnson, as his vice president, succeeded him), until Richard M. Nixon replaced him in January 1969.
High-energy prop comic Carrot Top is also packed in ice.
Carrot Top (real name Scott Thompson) is a prop comic known for his wild, curly, clown-red hair and for a long-running series of AT&T television commercials. Since 2005 he’s had a headlining show at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas.
Soylent green is made from people!
Soylent Green is a 1973 science fiction film set in a dystopian 2022 where the Earth is overcrowded and polluted. The Soylent Corporation issues food rations to the billions of citizens in various forms, including Soylents Red and Yellow. Charlton Heston plays a police detective investigating a murder that leads him to the secret behind their newest variety, Soylent Green. Spoiler alert: it’s made from people.
Ah, J. Edgar Hoover goes shopping.
J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972) was the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1924 until his death. Focusing on anti-communism after World War II, he virtually ignored the Mafia until the mid-1950s. He was known for his loathing of “subversives” of any stripe and launched notorious investigations of Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lennon. He was criticized for turning the FBI into a secret police force, amassing information that allowed him to intimidate sitting presidents. However, he also built the FBI into a professional, modernized, and effective crime-fighting force. Rumors of homosexuality dogged Hoover all his life, and in 1993 author Anthony Summers claimed he was a cross dresser, an image that quickly caught on in the popular imagination.
Worship the truck farmer, at the church of your choice.
“Attend the church of your choice” was a slogan that appeared on billboards and drive-in cards and in newspaper ads around the middle of the 20th century; you can still find examples in conservative areas of the country. It was often accompanied by a list of local churches, all Christian; Jewish temples, Muslim mosques, and other minority religions need not apply.
Teahouse of the August Moon.
Teahouse of the August Moon is a 1951 novel by Vern Sneider, a 1953 Broadway play adapted from the book by John Patrick, and a 1956 film starring Marlon Brando, set during the U.S. occupation of Japan after World War II.
“I Accuse My Parents.” The John Bradshaw story.
John Bradshaw is an American author and motivational speaker best known in the pop psychology world for popularizing the concepts of the dysfunctional family and the “wounded inner child.” His books include Bradshaw on the Family, Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child, and Family Secrets.
“With Mary Beth Hughes.” As long as it’s not John Hughes.
John Wilden Hughes, Jr. (1950-2009) was an American screenwriter, producer, and movie director best known for a string of comedies, particularly coming-of-age stories, that were popular in the 1980s and early ‘90s, including Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Pretty in Pink. His greatest success was 1990’s Home Alone, which grossed $285 million.
Oh, Robert Lowell.
Robert Lowell, who plays Jimmy Wilson, appeared in a string of B-movies in the 1940s and ‘50s; he also wrote a few screenplays, including the masterpiece High School Hellcats, under the name Mark Lowell. Robert Lowell is also the name of a respected 20th-century American poet.
Music by The Little Rascals.
In the 1920s and 1930s, producer Hal Roach created a series of short comedy films about a group of kids dubbed Our Gang. More than 41 child actors eventually appeared in 220 shorts, with jazz-influenced scores in the 1930s supplied by Leroy Shield and Marvin Hatley. Film historian Leonard Maltin claimed the series marked a milestone in cinema by portraying white and black children, as well as boys and girls, as equals. In the 1950s, many of the shorts were recycled for television and packaged under the name The Little Rascals.
Sam Newfield? He directed Jungle Goddess.
Actually, he didn’t. American B-movie director Sam Newfield (b. Samuel Neufeld, 1899-1964) had some 250 feature films under his belt. He made so many of them for Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC), which was run by his brother, Sigmund Neufeld, that he used a couple of aliases (Sherman Scott, Peter Stewart) to hide the fact that the same guy was making so many movies (and to avoid charges of nepotism). Jungle Goddess (Show 203) wasn’t one of them, though; it was directed by Lewis D. Collins. Besides I Accuse My Parents, Sam directed three other movies that appeared on MST3K: The Mad Monster (Show 103), Lost Continent (Show 208), and Radar Secret Service (Show 520).
Part IV, Citizens on Patrol.
Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol, the fourth installment in the 1980s film franchise, came out in 1987. The series began with Police Academy in 1984; the seventh film, Police Academy: Mission to Moscow, was released in 1994. Police Academy 4 centered on the original cast members training a new group of civilian recruits, which included a young David Spade.
Hey, where’s the cantankerous but funny bailiff?
A probable reference to Night Court, a TV sitcom that ran from 1984-1992 on NBC. It starred magician/comedian Harry Anderson as an eccentric but warm-hearted judge solving the personal problems of the whackos who routinely passed through his courtroom. Comic relief also came from the court bailiffs: the huge, dim-witted Nostradamus “Bull” Shannon, played by Richard Moll, and the decidedly cantankerous, chain-smoking, elderly Selma Hacker (veteran comedy writer Selma Diamond). Diamond died of lung cancer after two seasons; her replacement, Florence Halop, who played a very similar character in Florence Kleiner, also died from lung cancer after only one season. After that the show went a different direction, casting the much younger Marsha Warfield as the surly Roz Russell, who managed to survive the rest of the series’ run.
[Tap, tap, tap.] Who’s there?
The 1930s saw a positive mania for knock-knock jokes, which seem to have originated as a children’s game in the previous decade. They were printed in newspapers; knock-knock clubs formed. “The Knock-Knock Song” was a big-band hit. By the middle of the decade, however, the craze had run its course. They remain popular today only among very young children.
You can’t handle the truth!
A memorable and often parodied line shouted by Jack Nicholson in the 1992 courtroom drama A Few Good Men.
[Sung.] Kiss today goodbye …
A line from the song “What I Did for Love,” from the 1975 Marvin Hamlisch/Edward Kleban musical A Chorus Line. Sample lyrics: “Kiss today goodbye/And point me toward tomorrow/We did what we had to do/Won’t forget, can’t regret/What I did for love.”
“Blondie” is a long-running American comic strip distributed by King Features Syndicate that began in 1930 and continues to run in more than 2,000 newspapers worldwide. Featuring a buxom blond housewife as the title character and her workaday husband Dagwood, the strip was drawn by Chic Young until his death in 1973; it is now written by his son Dean Young and drawn by a variety of artists. The strip spawned a low-budget film series (28 films over 12 years, starting in 1938), a radio program (1939-1950), and two short-lived TV sitcoms (1957 and 1968).
I like Jell-O.
Jell-O is a sweetened gelatin dessert made by Kraft Foods. The powdered gelatin that serves as a base for the product was first developed in 1845 by Peter Cooper. In 1897, a New York carpenter added colors and flavors to it. The first flavors available were lemon, orange, raspberry, and strawberry; his wife came up with the Jell-O name.
Give him hell, Harry.
“Give ‘em hell, Harry” was President Harry S. Truman’s campaign slogan in 1948. As legend would have it, he was giving a speech when someone in the crowd yelled out, “Give ‘em hell, Harry!” Truman supposedly replied, “I don’t give anybody hell. I give ‘em the truth and they think it’s hell!” Give ‘Em Hell, Harry was later the title of a 1975 one-man show about Truman; the stage play was filmed for theatrical release, and actor James Whitmore was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar.
“Maybe I shouldn’t say this, Your Honor …” But I’m Esther Rolle.
Esther Rolle (1920-1998) was an American actress best known for her role as no-nonsense housekeeper Florida Evans on the TV sitcom Maude (CBS, 1972-1978). Just as Maude was a spinoff of another sitcom, All in the Family, Florida’s popularity led to her own spinoff series starring Rolle: Good Times (CBS, 1974-1979).
Boy, if only I was Huntz Hall right now.
Henry Richard “Huntz” Hall (1920-1999) was an American actor, one of the “Dead End Kids,” a group of young actors from New York who made films for Warner Bros. and Universal (the most prominent being the Humphrey Bogart film Angels with Dirty Faces). They went on to make the “Bowery Boys” movie series of the 1940s and ‘50s, and Hall co-starred in those films along with Leo Gorcey.
Joan Crawford (b. Lucille Fay LeSueur, 1904-1977) was an American actress whose long career had many ups and downs. From a humble Depression-era start as a contract player for MGM, she went on to become one of the highest-paid women in Hollywood, to being labeled “box office poison,” to making a comeback in the 1940s with a Best Actress Academy Award, to a long fade into retirement in 1970. An infamous tell-all memoir and exposé written by her adopted daughter Christina detailed a life of physical and emotional abuse. The book, Mommie Dearest, was published in 1978 and was adapted into a movie starring Faye Dunaway as Joan in 1981.
“The Committee of Mothers is meeting here tomorrow at 11 …” Oh, it’s B.Y.O.M.
A riff on a popular addendum found on casual party invitations: B.Y.O.B. = Bring Your Own Bottle. The Oxford English Dictionary claims the acronym originated in the United States in the mid-1950s.
Looks like Mom invited Joe E. Lewis over again.
Joe E. Lewis (b. Joseph Klewan, 1902-1971) was a notoriously hard-drinking American singer and comedian. He was also known for his mob ties and for hanging out with Frank Sinatra—shortly after his 50th birthday, Sinatra said he’d have had the body of a 22-year-old “if I hadn’t spent all those years drinking with Joe E. Lewis.”
It says “P.S. Say yes to Martini and Rossi on the rocks, say yes.”
A reference to a jingle for Martini & Rossi dry vermouth that aired in ads during the early 1970s; it was performed by Burt Bacharach.
Suddenly the thin man enters.
The Thin Man is a 1934 detective novel by Dashiell Hammett, which led to a series of six films, the first released the same year, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. Powell and Loy’s characters were famous for trading quips while drinking cocktails nonstop. The “thin man” of the title was a missing inventor named Clyde Wynant, played by Edward Ellis.
“I wouldn’t know about Jim.” Beam.
Produced since 1795 in Kentucky (except briefly during Prohibition), Jim Beam is one of the world’s best-selling brands of bourbon whiskey.
She the Greek chorus?
In the plays of classical Greece, a group of performers known as a chorus, standing off to the side of the stage, would supply the audience with narration, background information, and commentary about the drama taking place onstage.
Hey, could somebody please do an intervention?
In the context of addiction or other forms of self-harm, an intervention is when a group of concerned family and friends confront someone, give testimonials about their behavior, and try to compel them to follow a program of recovery.
That Joe Bolster, he just cracks me up.
Joe Bolster is a standup comedian and comedy writer. He starred in an early Comedy Channel (later Comedy Central) series, Sports Monster, which was a parody of ESPN’s SportsCenter.
Mirror, mirror on the wall … did I make it to last call?
In the German fairy tale “Little Snow White” as recounted in Grimms’ Fairy Tales (1854), the evil queen asks her magic mirror, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who in this land is the fairest of all?” “Last call” is when a bartender announces the last opportunity to order drinks before the bar closes.
I’m gonna build a blimp and fight the Nazis.
There was actually a lighter-than-air division of the U.S. Navy during World War II; most of the blimp pilots’ work was in reconnaissance, search-and-rescue, and other strategic areas rather than combat.
[Sung.] Liar! Liar! Liar!
The 1970 song “Liar,” written by Rod Argent and Chris White, was originally recorded by British rock band Argent, but became a Top 10 hit in 1971 for the American band Three Dog Night. Sample lyrics: “You can believe in me/I won’t be leaving/I won’t let you go/Ain’t that what you said?/Liar! Liar! Liar!”
Miss Reardon drinks a lot.
And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little is a play written by Paul Zindel in the late 1960s. The story of three sisters, one of whom is an alcoholic, it was first produced in 1967 and made its Broadway debut in 1971.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s pissed.
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was the wife of President Franklin Roosevelt and served as First Lady from 1933-1945.
[Sung.] I’m walkin’. Yes, indeed, I’m talkin’. I accuse my parents …
“I’m Walkin’” is a pop song written by Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew that was a number one hit for Domino in 1957. Sample lyrics: “I'm walkin’/Yes indeed I’m talkin’/About you and me/I’m hopin’/That you’ll come back to me.”
Oh, there are some people from Lorimar who are interested.
Lorimar was an American television production company that had a really good run between 1969 and 1993. Starting out with the ABC Movie of the Week, Lorimar’s first big hit was The Waltons, followed by Eight Is Enough, Dallas, Knots Landing, The People’s Court, and Full House, among many others. The name was taken from a combination of Lori (the name of co-founder Merv Adelson’s former wife) and the Palomar Airport in San Diego. Lorimar merged with Warner Bros. Television in the summer of 1993.
A young Al Bundy.
Al Bundy was the reluctant patriarch on the TV series Married … with Children, which ran from 1987-1997. On the show, Bundy worked as a shoe salesman. The part was played by Ed O’Neill.
Oh, she’s a frosted Minnie Pearl. –The hat.
Frosted Mini-Wheats is a cereal manufactured by Kellogg’s. It is made of shredded wheat cereal and frosted with sugar on one side. Minnie Pearl was the stage name of actress Sarah Colley (1912-1996), who performed at the Grand Ole Opry from 1940 until 1991, and appeared on the television show Hee Haw from 1969 until 1991. Her trademarks were her entrance line, “How-dee!”, and her Sunday-goin’-to-meeting hat with the price tag still hanging from it ($1.98). She retired from performing in 1991 after suffering a stroke and died five years later.
Why’d he spray Desenex all over the window?
Desenex is a brand of antifungal foot powder or spray used to treat athlete’s foot.
Cruel Shoes is a book by comedian, actor, musician, and author Steve Martin. A collection of strange short stories and essays, it was first released in 1977 as a handmade limited edition, and then released with added material as a trade edition in 1979. The title short story is about a woman in a shoe store.
Hogan, push the Earth Shoes. Heil Hitler.
An imitation of Colonel Wilhelm Klink, the inept commander of the German POW camp in the television series Hogan’s Heroes, which aired from 1965-1971. The part was played by Werner Klemperer (1920-2000). Invented in Scandinavia, Earth Shoes have an odd sole that puts the toes higher than the heels. Popular in the hippie-dippie early ‘70s and discontinued in the late ‘70s, Earth Shoes were reintroduced in 2001.
Those are Red Goose Shoes, so you get a free egg.
With origins dating back to 1869, the Red Goose Shoe Company marketed children’s shoes from the 1920s through the 1950s with a unique gimmick. Near the cash register was a red mechanical goose that dispensed golden eggs containing prizes ranging from candy to small toys to fishing reels emblazoned with the Red Goose logo.
My husband is Buster Brown.
Buster Brown (and his dog Tige) are the longtime mascots of the Brown Shoe Company. Buster was originally a comic strip character created by Richard Outcault in 1902; the company adopted him as their mascot two years later, along with his pit bull terrier. He was based on a boy who lived near Outcault in Flushing, New York, named Granville Hamilton Fisher, down to his pageboy haircut, tunic, and shorts (which became known as a Buster Brown suit).
Well, then, how about a bong?
A bong is a water pipe used to smoke tobacco and marijuana. The water cools the hot gas and removes cinders, making the smoke easier to inhale, without diluting any of its, ahem, desirable effects.
I was torn from the thigh of Zeus.
In Greek mythology, Dionysus, the god of fertility and wine, is the son of Zeus, god of the sky and ruler of the Olympian gods. Still in the womb of his mortal mother Semele when she perished, Dionysus was stitched into the thigh of Zeus until he was ready to be born.
[Sung.] Liar! Liar! Liar!
See above note on “Liar.”
Then of course I was the last one out of Saigon.
The Vietnam War (1955-1975) was a clash between the government of South Vietnam and its United States ally against the communist government of North Vietnam, which was seeking to unite the country under its rule. The United States was drawn into the war as part of its Cold War effort to stave off “communist aggression” throughout the world. In this case it failed: after it pulled out in 1975—the final helicopter evacuation point being the rooftop of the American embassy in Saigon—the North Vietnamese quickly overwhelmed the remaining South Vietnamese resistance. The conflict cost the U.S. billions of dollars, the credibility of the government in the eyes of its citizens (the term “credibility gap” stems from this era), and the lives of more than 50,000 Americans.
Did I mention I’m an Olympic champion?
The Olympic Games are a series of international sporting events held every four years, alternating between Summer and Winter games every two years, which host athletes from more than 200 countries.
[Sung.] Oh yes it’s ladies’ night, and the feelin’s right … [Spoken.] Oh, what a night.
“Ladies’ Night” was a hit single in 1979 and 1980 for Kool & the Gang. Sample lyrics: “Yes it’s ladies’ night/And the feeling’s right/Oh yes it’s ladies’ night/Oh what a night (oh what a night).”
Who knows what lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows.
The Shadow is a comic book, radio, television, and movie character dating back to 1930. Considered a major influence on subsequent comic book superheroes, particularly Batman, The Shadow is a crime-fighting vigilante with psychic powers. The introduction to the late-‘30s radio drama, spoken by actor Frank Readick Jr., has become iconic: “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!” The radio episodes concluded with “The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay. The Shadow knows!”
He lives at Monticello.
Monticello is the estate of founding father Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826). The main house is a fine example of the neoclassical style. Jefferson somewhat obsessively built and rebuilt his home over the course of forty or so years.
Well, come on in, we invited the cast from Gigi over.
Beginning as a 1944 novella by French author Colette, the story of Gigi—a young Parisian girl being groomed for life as a courtesan—has been adapted into a 1951 Broadway play, a 1958 musical film (considered the last of the great MGM musicals), and a 1973 Broadway musical, patterned after the movie.
Walt Disney interviewing another Snow White.
Walt Disney (1901-1966) was an animator and entrepreneur who rose to fame with his eponymous corporation and the many thousands of hours of entertainment it churned out, as well as the theme parks that now dot the globe. “Snow White” is a German fairy tale with origins possibly dating back to the Middle Ages. The 1937 Disney animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first full-length cel animation feature, was wildly successful (much to the industry’s surprise, which had referred to it as “Disney’s Folly” during production), and made the Disney interpretation of the tale iconic. (See also above note on “Snow White.”)
Oh, wise guy, eh?
An imitation of Moe Howard (1897-1975), founding member of the Three Stooges, a comedy trio that appeared in nearly 200 short films. Moe was the “boss Stooge,” constantly rebuking his hapless fellows and beating the hell out of them in allegedly hilarious ways.
Ah, Monsieur Rick.
In the classic 1942 film Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart plays American expatriate and nightclub owner Rick Blaine. Vichy French Police Captain Louis Renault (played by Claude Rains) frequently addresses Blaine as “Monsieur Rick.”
Monsieur, I must warn you, her act is messy. You will get wet on this ride.
Amusement parks with rides that traverse near, through, over, or under water have signs posted at the entrance to each ride declaring “You May Get Wet on This Ride” or “You Will Get Wet on This Ride.”
Yeah, and put ‘em in one of those big Slurpee glasses, too.
Slurpee is the name of convenience store 7-Eleven’s brand of flavored ice drinks, first sold in 1967. The Slurpee was not created by the chain. Instead, 7-Eleven licensed slushy drinks from the ICEE Company and just changed the name. Slurpees are offered in a variety of flavors and sizes, up to 40 ounces. That’s five cups of Slurpee.
A reference to the “Charge” fanfare written by USC student Tommy Walker in 1946, which is popular at baseball games.
This is her over here. Isn’t she beautiful? Take a look.
An imitation of Groucho Marx (1890-1977), an American comedian known for his rapier wit, glasses, cigar, and heavily painted eyebrows and moustache. He was considered the leader of the Marx Brothers, with whom he appeared in thirteen films. He later hosted the television game show You Bet Your Life, without the exaggerated makeup, although he did grow a neat moustache of his own.
Virginia Elizabeth “Geena” Davis is an American actress, film producer, writer, and activist best known for her roles in such films as Thelma & Louise, Stuart Little, and The Accidental Tourist, for which she won the 1988 Best Supporting Actress Academy Award. She is also a former fashion model, a women’s Olympics archery team semi-finalist, and a member of Mensa.
Hey, Walter Lanz.
Walter Lanz (1899-1994) was an American cartoonist and animator who created Woody Woodpecker, Chilly Willy, Andy Panda, and Wally Walrus.
[Imitating.] Ees deefeecult.
An impression of Manuel, the flustered Spanish waiter from Fawlty Towers. The character was played by Andrew Sachs.
And now Thom McAn and the Payless Orchestra with Cole Haan on the saxophone and the Naturalizers to sing something from Johnston & Murphy.
A plethora of shoe references. Thom McAn is a brand of shoes sold in Kmart and Sears stores. Payless Shoesource is a discount shoe retailer with more than 4,500 locations in the United States and a handful of other countries. Cole Haan was originally a brand of men’s shoes, but it now offers other apparel and accessories as well. Naturalizer is a brand of shoes owned by the Brown Shoe Company (see above note). Johnston & Murphy is a manufacturer and retailer of shoes, luggage, and other leather goods, as well as apparel.
In our audience tonight, Tony “Big Tuna” Accardo. Stand up, Tony.
Antonio Joseph “Big Tuna” Accardo (1906-1992) was a Chicago mob boss from 1947 until his death; from 1972 on he ran the entire operation. During Prohibition he was a close associate of famed mobster Al Capone. His nickname came from a gigantic tuna he caught on a fishing trip; his other nickname, “Joe Batters” (given to him by Capone), came from his skill at beating turncoats to death with a baseball bat.
I went and liberated France while you were dancing.
During World War II, a German invasion in June 1940 had overwhelmed the French military, and France had been occupied by German and Italian forces since that time. Beginning on June 6, 1944, with D-Day, the Axis forces occupying France faced a coordinated onslaught of British and American troops on several fronts, as well as attacks by the French resistance. Most of France was freed from German occupation by September 1944.
So then my mom says to Roosevelt and Churchill, she says, “What about some kind of Lend-Lease program?”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) served as president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945, shepherding the country out of the Great Depression and through most of World War II. Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was a British statesman who is best known for serving as prime minister of the United Kingdom during World War II and for coining the phrase “Iron Curtain” to describe the division between Eastern and Western Europe during the Cold War. Lend-Lease was a program enacted by the United States early in World War II that ultimately supplied billions of dollars’ worth of materials (food, fuel, and military hardware) to Allied nations and resistance fighters. In exchange, the countries gave the U.S. leases on military bases. Roosevelt concocted it as a way to provide support to the Allies when the U.S. was still reluctant to get dragged into the war (i.e., pre-Pearl Harbor).
Suddenly they’re at a Hee Haw wrap party.
Hee Haw was a syndicated country music-variety television show hosted by Buck Owens and Roy Clark. The show featured cornpone humor and appearances by virtually every major star in country music, including Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Loretta Lynn. It ran from 1969-1992.
Oh, they’d better not sing “Achy Breaky Heart” again.
“Achy Breaky Heart” is a country song written by Don Von Tress that became a huge hit for Billy Ray Cyrus in 1992. It became both Cyrus’s signature song and a favorite among line dancers everywhere during the 1990s. Sample lyrics: “But don’t tell my heart/My achy breaky heart/I just don’t think he’d understand/And if you tell my heart/My achy breaky heart/He might blow up and kill this man.”
Jules and Jim.
Jules and Jim is a 1962 film by French director François Truffaut. Based on a 1953 semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Henri-Pierre Roché, it is a story of love, art, and Bohemian lifestyles, and is considered a prime example of French New Wave filmmaking, using long panning shots, still frames, and newsreel footage.
[Sung.] Are you groovin’ with your koo-koo work?
An imitation of singer Frank Sinatra (1915-1998), specifically his style of singing scat. Although Sinatra was one of the most innovative and accomplished vocal stylists of the modern era, scat singing—improvisation using random syllables and nonsense words—was not his strong suit, and his attempts at it have been often parodied over the years.
How about “Love to Love You Baby”?
Disco queen Donna Summer (see below note) wrote and sang “Love to Love You Baby.” Reaching number two on the charts in 1975, it was Summer’s first hit in the United States (she had released an album in 1974 in the Netherlands and had had a couple of hit songs in that country). Sample lyrics: “When you’re laying so close to me/There’s no place I’d rather you be than with me/I love to love you baby.”
“I have a big surprise for you this evening …” I’m Rudolf Hess.
Rudolf Walter Richard Hess (1894-1987) was deputy head of the German Nazi Party early in World War II. He was taken prisoner in Scotland in 1941 while attempting to negotiate a peace agreement with Britain (having been hastily repudiated by Hitler). The British held him for the remainder of the war and tried him in Nuremberg with the rest of the surviving Nazis; despite claiming amnesia, he was sentenced to life in prison, ultimately committing suicide in 1987.
Hey, we want Grandpa Jones.
Louis Marshall “Grandpa” Jones (1913-1998) was an American country and gospel singer, banjo player, and proponent of “old-time” country music. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1978.
Do “Too Old to Cut the Mustard”!
“Too Old to Cut the Mustard” is a 1951 novelty song written by country singer Bill Carlisle. Performed by many singers over the years, its lyrics are often altered to reflect the times or the performer’s point of view. Sample lyrics from Marlene Dietrich and Rosemary Clooney’s 1952 rendition: “Once I kissed a millionaire/Ran my fingers through his hair/The whole thing turned out pretty grim/’Cause none of his hair belonged to him/Too old, too old/He's too old to cut the mustard anymore.”
You know anything by Donna Summer?
Donna Summer (b. LaDonna Adrian Gaines; 1948-2012) was a five-time Grammy-award–winning singer and songwriter. Some of her best-known songs include “Love to Love You Baby” (see above note), “MacArthur Park,” and “She Works Hard for the Money.” She died of lung cancer in 2012.
It’s the Silo of Power Horns.
The Tower of Power Horns is the famed horn section of the durable American R&B group Tower of Power. As a separate entity, Tower of Power Horns has collaborated with such musicians as Santana, The Grateful Dead, Elton John, Aerosmith, and Lyle Lovett, among many others.
Wait a second, she’s got a pig in a blanket on her head.
A pig in a blanket is an appetizer consisting of a small hot dog or Vienna sausage wrapped in biscuit or bread dough and baked. They are commonly dipped in mustard or another sauce. There’s also a breakfast version: breakfast sausage links wrapped in pancakes and dipped in maple syrup.
Yes, Satan, speak to me through this song.
In the book of Genesis in the Bible, a talking serpent persuades Eve to eat fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, leading to her and Adam’s expulsion from paradise. While the serpent has traditionally been regarded as an incarnation of Satan, it is never explicitly named as such in Genesis. Satan (a.k.a. the Devil) is the personification of evil, primarily featuring 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, sent to test men’s faith.
All skate now, all skate.
In roller and/or ice skating rinks, use of the rink is sometimes allocated to certain groups for a period of time, as announced on the P.A. system. These can include “girls only,” “parents only,” or “all skate.”
Last call, last call for alcohol.
See note on last call, above. “Last Call for Alcohol” is a 1965 country song by Charlie Walker (1926-2008), who played at the Grand Ole Opry for many years.
Mobs “R” Us.
Toy chain Toys “R” Us was started by Charles Lazarus as Children’s Supermart, a baby-furniture store in Washington, D.C., in 1948. In 1957, Lazarus shifted the focus of his store away from furniture and toward toys and opened the first Toys “R” Us in Rockville, Maryland.
“Waiter, check.” Checkmate.
In the game of chess, check is when a player’s king is threatened with capture; checkmate is when the king cannot escape capture and the game is won.
Her cigarette is Velcroed to her lip.
Velcro is a “hook and loop” fabric fastener: tiny plastic hooks that adhere to an opposing surface of soft fabric. The name is a combination of the French words velours and crochet, or velvet and hook. Many incorrectly believe it was invented by NASA; although the space program’s use of Velcro helped popularize it, it was actually invented in 1948 by Swiss engineer George de Mestral.
Ever get bit by a dead bee?
A reference to a question asked repeatedly by Walter Brennan, playing the drunken sailor Eddie, in the 1944 Humphrey Bogart film To Have and Have Not: “Was you ever bit by a dead bee?”
Everything current, Mr. Disraeli?
Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) was a founder of the British Conservative Party, a two-time prime minister of the United Kingdom, the only Jewish-born British prime minister (he became an Anglican at age 12), and an aristocratic “dandy.” He was also a prolific novelist and poet, whose works were often thinly veiled attacks on his political enemies.
[Sung.] Do you know, where you’re going to …
A line from “Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To),” written by Michael Masser and Gerald Goffin and sung by Diana Ross. The theme from the popular 1975 film Mahogany, which starred Ross as a poor woman who becomes a fashion designer, the song became a hit in its own right, reaching number one on the charts and earning an Oscar nomination. Sample lyrics: “Do you know where you’re going to?/Do you like the things that life is showing you?/Where are you going to?/Do you know?”
[Sung to the tune of “I’m Walkin’.”] I’m stupid. Yes, indeed, I’m stupid …
See note on “I’m Walkin’,” above.
Yeaaaah, one … uhhh, two …
An imitation of ventriloquist’s dummy Mortimer Snerd, the dimwitted friend of wisecracking Charlie McCarthy. Both dummies were given voice by ventriloquist Edgar Bergen on the radio for nearly two decades, first on The Chase and Sanborn Hour and later on The Charlie McCarthy Show. They also appeared regularly on television throughout the 1950s and ‘60s.
Uh-oh, I think he’s going to give Mr. Potter his newspaper.
In the iconic 1946 Frank Capra film It’s a Wonderful Life, which stars James Stewart as everyman George Bailey and Lionel Barrymore as greedy banker Mr. Potter, George’s Uncle Billy absent-mindedly hands a folded newspaper containing $8,000—intended for a bank deposit—to Mr. Potter.
What’s the secret word? Say the secret word and win a hundred dollars.
An imitation of Groucho Marx, of the Marx Brothers (see above note). When Groucho hosted the quiz show You Bet Your Life (later renamed The Groucho Show), both on radio and television, from 1947-1961, part of the gameplay involved a “secret word,” revealed to the audience at the beginning of the show. If a contestant said the secret word at any point in the show, a toy duck bearing a $100 bill in its beak would descend from the ceiling as a reward.
[Sung.] I know I’d go from rags to riches …
A line from the 1953 song “Rags to Riches,” written by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. The best-known version was a number one hit for Tony Bennett with Percy Faith and His Orchestra, also in 1953. The song attained full-blown pop culture icon status when it appeared in the 1990 Martin Scorsese gangster film Goodfellas. Sample lyrics: “I know I’d go from rags to riches/If you would only say you care/And though my pocket may be empty/I’d be a millionaire.”
Senator Paul Simon.
Paul Martin Simon (1928-2003) was an American congressman, senator, and Democratic presidential contender from Illinois. He was known for his kicky sartorial choice of bowties and horn-rimmed glasses. While seeking the presidential nomination in 1988 (he lost to Michael Dukakis), he made an appearance on Saturday Night Live alongside singer Paul Simon (no relation).
I’ll always wear Jed Clampett’s hat.
Jed Clampett (played by Buddy Ebsen) was the family patriarch on The Beverly Hillbillies, a TV sitcom that aired on CBS from 1962-1971. He wore a battered, wide-brimmed grey felt hat.
Circle Pines will do that.
According to writer Mary Jo Pehl, “Circle Pines, Minnesota, is Everytown, USA. ... When I was growing up in Circle Pines, it was a small town and had Lee and Iris’s Bar and Grill, ... the Down Under On/Off Sale, ... two rival gas stations, no stoplights, and the weekly newspaper called The Circulating Pines. ... The sign still reads—as it did all my twenty-some years there—POPULATION: 4,731.”
[Auctioneer voice.] Hey, whattaya gimme, two tickets to the Follies, hey!
Probably a reference to the Ziegfeld Follies, a series of lavish Broadway variety shows produced by Florenz Ziegfeld between 1907 and 1936. In addition to the famous and leggy Ziegfeld Girls, the shows featured a string of famous stage and screen stars: W.C. Fields, Josephine Baker, Bob Hope, Will Rogers, Ray Bolger, Louise Brooks, and more.
See note on “Liar,” above.
[Mumbled.] Early to bed and early to rise …
The proverb “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” was popularized by Benjamin Franklin, who published it in the 1735 edition of Poor Richard’s Almanack, an annual journal printed between 1732 and 1758 by Benjamin Franklin. However, it dates much earlier, to John Clarke’s 1639 Paroemiologia Anglo-Latina.
I also know about a bird in the hand. Now get outta here.
The proverb “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” dates back to medieval falconry, where a bird in the hand (the falcon) was of greater value than two in the bush (the prey).
And this is scag, be careful with it.
“Scag” is one of many slang terms for heroin.
I’ll let you out the back door, don’t let the Nazis know where I am.
The National Socialist German Workers’ Party, popularly known as the Nazi Party, was the fascist political party started by Anton Drexler in 1920 and led by Adolf Hitler from 1921 until 1945.
I should have gone to Old Country Buffet with him.
Old Country Buffet is a second brand of Hometown Buffet, a nationwide chain of buffet restaurants owned by Ovation Brands Inc.
William Frawley! Montgomery Clift!
William Clement Frawley (1887-1966) was an American actor of stage and screen. After appearing in more than 100 films, he got his best-known role as landlord and neighbor Fred Mertz on the sitcom I Love Lucy, which ran for nine years, from 1951-1960. Edward Montgomery Clift (1920-1966) was an American actor who tended to play moody young men and “victim-heroes” in such films as A Place in the Sun (1951) and From Here to Eternity (1953).
I’m due on the Superman set now.
George Meeker, who plays oily bad guy Charles Blake in I Accuse My Parents, later played oily bad guy “Driller” in the 1948 movie Superman.
Nobody expects to see a Cha …
In a beloved and recurring sketch from the second season of the BBC comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a character irritated at being asked numerous questions says, “I wasn’t expecting the Spanish Inquisition,” whereupon a group of Spanish cardinals, in historical garb, burst into the room and announce, “NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!”
Why is she dressed like Major Barbara?
Major Barbara is a 1905 play by George Bernard Shaw about a young, idealistic woman who works in the Salvation Army, partly as a protest against her wealthy industrialist father. It was made into a film starring Wendy Hiller in 1941.
See note on “Liar,” above.
“Your way.” Or the highway.
The phrase “My way or the highway” dates back only to the 1970s. Guitar Shorty and Otis Grand released a blues album by this title in 1991.
Oh, it’s the three hard-boiled eggs she ordered.
In the 1935 Marx Brothers movie A Night at the Opera, Groucho orders dinner from the steward, including repeated requests for different numbers of hard-boiled eggs.
Well, I’ve joined the Black Hand. Hi!
There have been several criminal, terrorist, or nationalist groups over the years that have gone by the name “The Black Hand.” The Italian Mafia once used a method of extortion that involved sending letters, often signed with a black handprint, threatening bodily harm, kidnapping, arson, etc. unless a ransom was paid. The practice originated in Italy in the 1750s, spread to the U.S. via Italian immigrants, and died out in the 1920s. The term “Black Hand” originally referred to the letters, but some people, including police, believed in the existence of a secret criminal conspiracy, dubbed the “Black Hand Society” in the press. Meanwhile, in Serbia, there was an actual secret society called the Black Hand in the early 20th century; it was formed by military officers who hoped to achieve independence from Austro-Hungarian rule and unite the various territories (Bosnia, Herzegovina, etc.) under one government. Gavrilo Princip, the man who assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and set off World War I, was trained by the Black Hand. Later, in the 1930s, an Islamist militant group formed under that name in Palestine, declared jihad, and began to attack Jewish settlers (this was, of course, before the founding of Israel).
An often-quoted line spoken by Arnold Schwarzenegger as John Matrix in the 1985 action film Commando:
Matrix: Remember, Sully, when I promised to kill you last?
Sully: That’s right, Matrix! You did!
Matrix: I lied.
An imitation of the Cowardly Lion in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, and his show-stopping speech about the value of courage.
I am the angel of death. The day of reckoning is upon us.
A paraphrased line from The Simpsons episode “Marge Gets a Job,” which first aired in 1992: we see a montage of despairing power plant employees, including one man polishing his shotgun while intoning, “I am the angel of death. The time of purification is at hand.”
Meanwhile, outside of Skokie, Eliot Ness and his men continue to vigil.
The phrase, “Meanwhile, _____,” originated with cards inserted 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, radio and television shows. The speaking style is an imitation of Walter Winchell, the excitable narrator of the TV crime drama The Untouchables (ABC, 1959-1963), which was based on the memoir of the same name by federal agent Eliot Ness and reporter Oscar Fraley. The series was adapted into a motion picture in 1987, directed by Brian De Palma. Skokie, Illinois, is a suburb of Chicago.
Stole the Beaugard, ze Beaugard.
In the 1930 Marx Brothers film Animal Crackers, the plot revolves around the theft of a valuable painting from Margaret Dumont’s house; the painting is by the fictional artist Beaugard.
Beginning in 1935 and continuing for 24 years, Lucky Strike cigarettes, which were made by American Tobacco, sponsored the popular radio show Your Hit Parade. The commercial pitches for Lucky Strike involved a tobacco auction theme, with the catchphrase “Sold, American!” In 1938 Glenn Miller and His Orchestra released a song by the title “Sold American” that included the chant at the beginning and end of the song.
“Family Circus” is really upsetting to him today.
“Family Circus” is a cloyingly wholesome comic strip created by artist Bil Keane in 1960 and now written and drawn by his son Jeff Keane. The strip, drawn in a circle rather than the usual rectangle, is about the cute exploits of several small children and their long-suffering parents.
The Jack Benny Program!
Jack Benny (1894-1974) was an American vaudevillian, radio and television comedian, movie actor, and quite good violinist, though playing the violin wincingly bad was part of his shtick. His weekly radio show, The Jack Benny Program (1932-1955), was one of the most popular shows of the radio era. Benny was considered a master of comic timing and the “slow burn”: the gradual sliding scale of emotions on a person’s face as they go from neutral to extreme anger or disgust. The style and structure of The Jack Benny Program are considered a kind of early blueprint for the modern sitcom, and indeed, he took the show onto television for fifteen years, from 1950-1965, running it concurrently with his radio show for five years.
It’s the Fibber McGee and Molly Show!
Fibber McGee and Molly was another enormously popular radio program, and precursor to the modern sitcom, that aired from 1935-1959. They were played by real-life couple Jim and Marian Jordan.
Don’t open that door, McGee!
A longtime running gag on Fibber McGee and Molly (see previous note) was Fibber opening the door to his hall closet, followed by a lengthy cacophony as the overstuffed contents came cascading out.
I hate that Hal Roach music.
See note on The Little Rascals, above.
The young Vivian Vance looks hopeful. She leans back.
Vivian Vance (1909-1979) was an American actress best known for playing Lucy Ricardo’s best friend Ethel Mertz on the groundbreaking TV sitcom I Love Lucy (CBS, 1951-1960) and Vivian Bagley on I Love Lucy’s follow-up series, The Lucy Show (CBS, 1962-1968).
Morning. Mornin’. Morning.
A possible reference to the opening sequence of the 1983 film Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, wherein a school of fish in a restaurant aquarium greet one another in the manner of office workers arriving for yet another day at the office.
Sean le Noble created Milk Duds candy in 1926. (They were not round as intended, hence “duds.”) They are a caramel drop surrounded by chocolate. Hershey’s acquired them in 1996. In 2008 Hershey’s replaced the cocoa butter with cheaper ingredients to maintain profits while keeping the price the same. Maybe they should say “Now with even more Dud.”
Here now, what are you doing in a Cocteau film, boy? Go home to your mother, that’s a good lad.
Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau (1889-1963) was a French writer, playwright, and filmmaker best known for his 1929 novel Les Enfants Terribles and for his films Beauty and the Beast and Orpheus. His 1948 film Les Parents terribles (adapted from his stage play of the same name) is about a dysfunctional family trying to destroy their son’s relationship with a young woman.
We’re supposed to deprogram you.
Deprogramming is the process of trying to persuade a person to abandon his or her beliefs in a religious or political group, usually what might be called a “cult.” It generally happens against the person’s will, at least at first, so allegations of kidnapping and coercion often go hand in hand with deprogramming.
So I told her that I like Playtex … wha?
Founded in 1947 by International Latex Corporation, the Playtex brand sells women’s undergarments, baby products, feminine care products, sunscreen, and rubber gloves for housework. In 1955 they were the first to advertise (gasp!) women’s underwear on national television, topping themselves in 1985 by being the first to show a woman wearing only a bra (from the waist up) in a TV commercial.
Alfred on the spot.
Alfred Pennyworth is the butler to Bruce Wayne in the Batman comic books, graphic novels, TV shows, and films; Alfred was fully aware of Wayne’s alter ego and assisted him in fighting crime.
I’m up here, honey, with the DTs. Could you get the yellow lizard out of the bathroom?
Delirium tremens (DTs), or the shakes, are a very real, potentially deadly condition caused by withdrawal from severe alcohol addiction. Hallucinations are common, particularly visions of frightening animals, often reptiles or insects, along with body tremors or seizures.
Where’s the Dexedrine? Where’s that Dexedrine?
Dexedrine is a brand name for dextroamphetamine, a stimulant prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Like other amphetamines, it has a high potential for abuse and is classed as a Schedule II drug.
Meanwhile, at Black Panther headquarters …
See note on “Meanwhile, _____,” above. The Black Panther Party was a political organization that sought to empower African-Americans and protect black neighborhoods from police brutality. Active from 1966 to 1982, the group’s socialist and Marxist doctrines never quite coalesced, and leaders and prominent members frequently disagreed. They did drive FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover (see above note) berserk, however, and he personally supervised a massive program of surveillance, harassment, and infiltration against them.
An imitation of American character actor Frank Nelson’s (1911-1986) famous catchphrase. Nelson got his start in radio, first gaining fame on The Jack Benny Program (see above note), usually playing a long-suffering and deeply sarcastic sales clerk. He carried that persona—and his catchphrase—onto television, appearing in sitcoms ranging from I Love Lucy in the 1950s to Sanford and Son in the 1970s.
An imitation of Stan Laurel (1890-1965) of Laurel & Hardy, a comedy team that produced a string of classic shorts and feature films from the 1920s through the mid-1940s. The stout Oliver Hardy (1892-1957) played a childish, bossy, fussy character opposite Stan Laurel’s thin, gentle incompetent.
Ah, ah, ah, Murray, use your coaster.
An imitation of American actor Jack Lemmon in his role as fussy neat freak Felix Ungar in the 1968 film adaptation of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple. The role was played by Art Carney in the original 1965 Broadway play and by Tony Randall in the 1970-1975 television series. Murray was one of the roommates’ poker buddies, an NYPD cop; the part was played by Herb Edelman in the film and Al Molinaro on the TV series.
I’m just gonna run away. I got peanut butter, and underwear, and that’s all I need.
Stand-up comic Steve Martin’s first starring film role was in the 1979 movie The Jerk, in which he played a rags-to-riches-back-to-rags character named Navin Johnson. In his fall from wealth, he becomes a drunk and staggers out of his mansion, taking with him various random items such as a chair, an ashtray, and a remote control.
Well, I’m gonna run away to Kansas and become a ventriloquist.
Kansas is a midsized state in the American Midwest. They grow a lot of wheat and sunflowers. State nickname: “Gateway to Nebraska.” Just kidding—it’s “The Sunflower State.”
Wait a minute, where’s my trial size Pert shampoo?
Pert shampoo is a Procter & Gamble product that was introduced in 1980 and rechristened as Pert Plus—the first 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner—in 1987. It is still just called Pert in Australia and New Zealand.
[Sung.] The bass line from “These Boots Are Made for Walking.”
A reference to the distinctive descending bass line in the 1966 pop song “These Boots Are Made for Walking,” written by Lee Hazlewood and sung by Nancy Sinatra. The song was a number one hit in the U.S., England, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, and was adopted as a kind of anthem by American troops serving in Vietnam. Sample lyrics: “These boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do/One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you.”
More powerful than a locomotive.
A line from the opening narration of the 1952-1958 syndicated television program Adventures of Superman. Adapted from the narration of the 1940s radio program and voiced by Bill Kennedy, it opened with: “Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! ‘Look! Up in the sky!’ ‘It’s a bird!’ ‘It’s a plane!’ ‘It’s Superman!’”
Auntie Em! Auntie Em!
A line spoken by a distraught Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
Ah, but he’s able to pick up a ride with the Joad family.
The Joads are the poor Dust Bowl-era farm family on a pilgrimage to California in the 1939 John Steinbeck novel The Grapes of Wrath. It was made into a movie starring Henry Fonda in 1940.
I don’t know if I’ll be able to find any Thai food in this old town.
The cuisine of Thailand—with its emphasis on simplicity and aromatic balance of sweet, sour, salty, and bitter—has all but usurped the popularity of Chinese food in the United States in the past couple of decades, and not just in major metropolitan areas.
And put the French silk pie in an unmarked bag.
French silk pie is chocolate mousse, custard, or pudding, sitting on either a fine pastry or simple graham cracker crust. It is generally topped with whipped cream, garnished with shaved chocolate and/or orange or lemon zest, and served cold.
“How about a hamburger?” It’s what’s for dinner.
In 1992, the Beef Council (a promotional arm of the National Livestock and Meat Board) launched what became a long-running, award-winning, and widely recognized advertising campaign with the slogan “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” The first run of the campaign cost $42 million and lasted for 17 months. TV and radio spots initially featured the voice of tough-guy actor Robert Mitchum; after Mitchum’s death the voice-over was done by tough-guy actor Sam Elliott.
Hey, it’s Officer Toody.
Officer Gunther Toody, played by Joe E. Ross, and Officer Francis Muldoon, played by Fred Gwynne, were the two main characters in the TV sitcom Car 54, Where Are You? (NBC, 1961-1963).
“Ooh, Ooh!” was the trademark exclamation of American character actor Joe E. Ross (1914-1982), which he used in Car 54, Where Are You? (see previous note), and in various other roles and appearances.
Wait a minute, this is an episode of Insight.
Insight was an American religious television program that ran in syndication from 1960 to 1983. An anthology series, it explored a different moral dilemma each episode. Many notable actors appeared on the series, such as Ron Howard, Carol Burnett, Martin Sheen, and Cicely Tyson; notable contributing writers included Rod Serling and Michael Crichton.
I can read your chakras, too.
In the tantric and yogic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism, chakras are points on the human body through which the “life force” flows.
“You can have it any time you want.” [Sung.] At Alice’s Restaurant.
“Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” is a long (18 minutes, 34 seconds) song from Arlo Guthrie’s 1967 album Alice’s Restaurant. Except for the chorus at the beginning and end, which contain the lyrics “You can get anything you want/At Alice’s Restaurant,” the bulk of the song is a monologue (with guitar-pickin’ accompaniment), in which Guthrie tells a couple of stories from his life, starting at a 1965 Thanksgiving dinner and ending at a local military induction center. Playing the song in its entirety on Thanksgiving Day has become a tradition on rock radio stations across the United States, with three-part harmony and feeling.
I’ve entered the Twilight Zone.
The Twilight Zone was a science fiction/fantasy anthology TV series created, written, produced, and hosted by Rod Serling, which aired on CBS from 1959 to 1964. The series has achieved oft-parodied iconic status, was notable as a dramatic training ground for young actors who later became famous (Robert Redford, William Shatner, Robert Duvall), and won two prime-time Emmy Awards. The grandiose introduction, intoned by Serling, always ended with a line about spotting or entering the Twilight Zone (it changed from season to season). Take this one, from seasons 4-5: “You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.”
Michelle Pfeiffer in The Fabulous Baker Boys.
Michelle Pfeiffer is an American actress who has appeared in Scarface, Batman Returns, Married to the Mob, and The Age of Innocence, among many others. She was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for her role in The Fabulous Baker Boys, a 1989 romantic comedy about struggling jazz lounge musicians; brothers Jeff and Beau Bridges rounded out the cast.
Well, she’s a regular Koko Taylor, cha-cha.
An imitation of comedian, actor, and right-wing blowhard Dennis Miller, whose frequent use of the phrase “cha-cha” is itself an imitation of Rat Pack regular Sammy Davis, Jr. Koko Taylor (1928-2009) was an American blues singer, known for her powerful delivery of Chicago-style traditional blues, which earned her the nickname “Queen of the Blues.”
“I’d be forlorn …” [Sung.] And green …
Lorne Greene (1915-1987) was an actor known for his roles as Ben Cartwright on Bonanza (1959-1973) and Commander Adama on the original Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979).
Last call, ladies and gentlemen, last call.
See note on “Snow White,” above.
Ho, what a caboose. Hoo-ha!
An imitation of Al Pacino as the cantankerous, alcoholic, womanizing, blind Frank Slade in the 1992 movie Scent of a Woman. Pacino won a Best Actor Academy Award for the role.
Sir, I just don’t understand the Holy Spirit. Is it a bird?
The Holy Spirit is the third part of the tripartite form of God that makes up the Holy Trinity: the Father (God), the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit sometimes appears as a dove, as in Matthew 3:16: “And Jesus when he was baptized, went up straightway from the water: and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon him.”
It’s time I went on the straight and narr … hai kee …!
A reference to Show 104, Women of the Prehistoric Planet.
Wait, wait, he has to talk to Doug Llewelyn first.
Doug Llewelyn was the host and “court reporter” of the courtroom reality TV series The People’s Court from 1981 to 1993. Llewelyn’s duties were to announce the dispute at the beginning of the show and then interview both the defendant and plaintiff after the ruling.
Why don’t you just do it on the bench?
A possible reference to the 1968 Beatles song “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” Sample lyrics: “Why don't we do it in the road?/Why don't we do it in the road?/Why don't we do it in the road?/Why don't we do it in the road?/No one will be watching us/Why don't we do it in the road?”
War bonds are debt securities that governments issue in times of war to finance the military and war manufacturing. During World War II (1939-1945), there was a massive propaganda campaign by the U.S. government encouraging American citizens to purchase war bonds, and “buy bonds” became part of the verbal landscape.
The makers of this film also accuse Hitler, and Tojo, and Mussolini. We accuse them all, soon we’ll accuse Stalin.
Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) was head of the Nazi Party and chancellor of Germany from 1932 to 1945. His decision to invade Poland sparked World War II, and his role in the resulting Holocaust—the systematic murder of millions of civilians, including six million Jews—ensured him a place as perhaps the most reviled man in history. Hideki Tojo (1884-1948) was the prime minister of Japan during World War II. Japan’s behavior during the war was horrific, although not as widely known in the West as Germany’s; it included mass murder and rape, torture, medical experiments on prisoners, and biological and chemical warfare. After the war, Tojo was arrested after an unsuccessful attempt at suicide, found guilty of war crimes, and hanged in 1948. Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) was the prime minister of Italy beginning in 1922 and became established as its fascist dictator from 1925 until 1943. Along with Germany and Japan, Mussolini led Italy as an Axis power into World War II. When military defeats and the invasion of Italy by the Allies caused Mussolini to lose favor, he was removed from power and arrested. In 1945, he attempted to escape to Switzerland, but he and other fascists were captured and shot by people loyal to the new Italian government. Joseph Stalin (1878-1953) was the leader of the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death. Prior to World War II, Stalin brokered a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany. When Hitler broke that agreement, the Soviet Union joined the United States and Britain in defeating the Nazis. As soon as World War II was over, however, Soviet forces remained in Eastern and Central European countries, the “Iron Curtain” came down, and the Cold War with the West began.