510: The Painted Hills
by Wyn Hilty
Is it an infomercial? Where’s Cher?
Infomercials are program-length commercials, usually 30 minutes long. They often feature celebrity endorsements. Cher (b. Cherilyn Sarkisian LaPierre) is a singer and actress who has appeared on various television shows and in films. She first rose to fame as the co-host of a series of TV variety shows with her then-husband, Sonny Bono. In the early 1990s, Cher made an infomercial for hair-care products as a favor to a friend; the favor got her labeled a has-been and made her the butt of jokes for more than a year.
And based on the book Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned at the Beauty Parlor.
The Robert Fulghum book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten contains such nuggets of wisdom as “Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you” and “Take a nap every afternoon.”
It was the cleanest of times, it was the dirtiest of times.
A paraphrase of the opening line of the classic Charles Dickens novel A Tale of Two Cities. The actual line: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
A young Frank Sutton makes his move.
Frank Sutton (1923-1974) played Sgt. Vince Carter on the television series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., which aired from 1964-1970. He also appeared in several other TV shows and movies.
The Andrews Sisters? No way.
The Andrews Sisters, made up of Patty, Laverne, and Maxene Andrews, hit their peak during World War II, with such classic hits as “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree.” They also appeared in about a dozen movies during the 1940s. They continued performing into the 1990s.
I’m late for my Hitler Youth meeting.
German dictator Adolf Hitler set up the Hitler Youth in 1933 to teach Nazi principles to young boys. By 1935 nearly 60 percent of German boys were members. By 1936, all “Aryan” boys were expected to join. Boys entered the organization at 13 and “graduated” at 18 as a member of the Nazi Party and the German military.
It’s looking like Bruno Hauptmann.
Bruno Hauptmann (1899-1936) was a German-born carpenter who in 1935 was convicted of kidnapping and murdering the infant son of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh. The baby had been taken from his room three years earlier; a ransom was paid, but the child had been killed shortly after the abduction and his body dumped in the woods near his home. Hauptmann was arrested after he passed one of the ransom notes, and a large amount of the ransom money was found in his house. He claimed he was merely holding the money for a friend—the real kidnapper—but was convicted and executed the following year.
Even Larry Hovis.
Larry Hovis (1936-2003) was an actor best known for playing Sergeant Andrew Carter on the TV series Hogan's Heroes (1965-1971).
And your naughty bits.
Probably a reference to a Monty Python’s Flying Circus skit called “How to Recognize Different Parts of the Body,” in which an oft-repeated part of the body is “the naughty bits.”
You see the path of the motorcade was diverted through ...
This is probably an imitation of the many conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), who was shot to death on November 22, 1963, as his presidential motorcade made its way through downtown Dallas, Texas.
It’s the Carnival of Souls here.
Carnival of Souls was a 1962 horror flick that starred Candace Hilligloss as the sole survivor of a deadly car accident.
[Sung.] Out from the inkwell comes Koko the Clown.
In 1916, Max Fleischer began producing a series of animated shorts called “Out of the Inkwell,” starring a character called Koko the Clown. At the beginning of each cartoon, Koko would clamber out of a photo of a real inkwell. He later appeared as a supporting character in a number of Betty Boop cartoons. His last appearance was on television in 1962.
That’s an Indian rub, all right. You got a little sister?
An Indian rub, also known as an Indian burn, is a traditional way for children to torment each other. It is applied by grabbing the victim’s wrist firmly with both hands and then twisting them in opposite directions, producing a friction burn on the skin.
There’s oil in them there skins!
A paraphrase of the saying “There’s gold in them thar hills!” The phrase first appeared in The Gilded Age, a social satire of the late 19th century written by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner.
On Lyle Lovett.
Lyle Lovett is a country singer known for his wild shock of bushy hair and his brief marriage to Hollywood icon Julia Roberts. He has won four Grammy awards and acted in several movies, including The Player and Short Cuts.
[Sung.] Your sperm’s in the gutter, your love’s in the sink.
This is a line from the Jethro Tull song “Thick as a Brick.”
[Sung.] I feel pretty/Oh so pretty ...
This is from the song “I Feel Pretty” from the musical West Side Story. Sample lyrics: “I feel pretty/Oh so pretty/I feel pretty and witty and bright/And I pity/Any girl who isn’t me tonight.”
[Sung.] -Nique, -nique, -nique ...
A line from the song “Dominique” by the Singing Nun, a.k.a. Sister Luc Gabrielle, a Belgian nun in the Dominican order. Sample lyrics: “Dominique, nique, nique, over the land he plods/And sings a little song/Never asking for reward/He just talks about the Lord.” (Thanks to Sarah McKinney for this reference.)
Thus ends a day in the life of Ivan Denisovich.
A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is a novel by Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn that follows the titular character through a typical day as a prisoner in a Siberian labor camp. (Solzhenitsyn himself was imprisoned for more than a decade for making insulting statements about Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in a letter to a friend.)
In the Old Testament, Jezebel was the wife of King Ahab, the ruler of Israel. She introduced the worship of Baal into Israel, and her name has come to personify a wicked woman. In the Bible, she is killed by Jehu, the military leader of the prophet Elisha, who orders her eunuchs to throw her from a window of her palace, where her body is eaten by dogs.
Keep watching the medicine cabinets! Keep watching the medicine cabinets!
This is a paraphrase of the climactic line from the 1951 horror flick The Thing From Another World. At the end of the film, reporter Ned Scott (played by Douglas Spencer) warns the world, “Watch the skies, everywhere! Keep looking! Keep watching the skies!”
The Painted Hills: The Christo story.
Christo is an environmental artist who specializes in massive outdoor installations. In 1991 he installed 3,100 large umbrellas in two valleys—one in California and one in Japan—and left them there for 18 days. In 1995 he wrapped the entire Reichstag government building in Berlin, Germany, in reflective silver fabric.
Hey, isn’t that the song that Big Bird sang about the alphabet?
Big Bird is a character on the classic children’s television show Sesame Street, which has aired on PBS since 1969. He sings a song titled “Abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz,” in which he mistakes the alphabet for one long word, pronounced “(ab-cud-ef-gï)(jek'l-m'nâp-kwûr)(stööv-wik-ziz).” (Pronunciation key courtesy of Wikipedia.)
Alive. My Side of the Mountain. The Eiger Sanction.
This is a series of films in which mountains play a prominent role. Alive (1993) is a film in which a Uruguayan rugby team’s plane crashes in the mountains, and the survivors are forced to eat the bodies of their dead teammates. My Side of the Mountain (1969) is about a young boy who runs away to the mountains after his family cancels their planned vacation. The Eiger Sanction (1975) stars Clint Eastwood as an assassin who joins a mountain climbing team in which one member is the Russian killer he has been assigned to eliminate.
[Sung.] She ran calling Wildfire ...
This is a line from the song “Wildfire,” performed by Michael Martin Murphy. Sample lyrics: “Oh they say she died one winter/When there came a killing frost/And the pony she named Wildfire/He busted down his stall/And in a blizzard he was lost./She ran calling Wildfire.” (Thanks to Chris Kee for identifying the artist who originally performed this song.)
Snausages are a bite-sized dog treat shaped like tiny cocktail weenies. They are available in several flavors: beef, beef and cheese, and bacon and cheese.
There’s trouble on the Mackenna’s Gold set!
Mackenna’s Gold is a 1969 movie starring Gregory Peck as Mackenna, a marshal who is kidnapped by an outlaw (played by Omar Sharif) who believes Mackenna knows the location of a vein of gold hidden somewhere in the mountains.
How’s that, Mr. Weatherwax?
Brothers Frank and Rudd Weatherwax were legendary Hollywood dog trainers. They trained Pal, the original Lassie, in addition to Pal’s successors. They also trained the dogs that played Toto in The Wizard of Oz, Asta in the Thin Man movies, and Old Yeller.
This was a time when Denver Pyles roamed the land freely.
Denver Pyle (1920-1997) was a character actor who appeared in more than a hundred films and television shows. He is perhaps best known for his role as the munificently bearded Uncle Jesse on the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard, which aired from 1979-1985.
Jim Beam, rocks.
Jim Beam is a brand of bourbon whiskey made in Kentucky.
I’m gonna go see if Miss Kitty’s here.
Kitty Russell, or Miss Kitty, was the saloon owner on the TV series Gunsmoke, which aired from 1955-1975. She was played by Amanda Blake.
Now, is this the real Old West or the Roy Rogers Old West, where they had electricity and cars?
Roy Rogers (1911-1998) was a singer and actor who starred in a vast succession of Westerns between 1938 and 1959. His TV series, The Roy Rogers Show, ran from 1951-1957.
It’s a piece of Key Lime pie—yum!
Key Lime pie is the official dessert of Key West, Florida. It is a lime-flavored custard pie made with the juice of Key limes and topped with meringue or whipped cream.
“Tommy.” Can you hear me? Can you feel me near you?
A reference to the song “Tommy Can You Hear Me” from The Who’s rock opera Tommy. Sample lyrics: “Tommy, can you see me?/Can I help to cheer you?/Tommy, can you hear me?/Can you feel me near you?”
What’s Rutherford B. Hayes doing in this movie?
Rutherford B. Hayes (1822-1893) was the 19th president of the United States, who served from 1877-1881 after a bitterly contested election that had to be decided by a panel of congressmen, who voted along strict party lines to award the Republican candidate the victory. He ended Reconstruction in the South and refused a nomination for a second term.
See note on Snausages, above.
But I wanted a Super Soaker!
The Super Soaker is a toy water gun made by Hasbro.
Divorced? Harassed by creditors?
This appears to be an imitation of the many ads for attorneys that air on late-night TV.
Heathcliff is the anti-hero of Emily Bronte’s classic romantic novel Wuthering Heights, first published in 1847.
[Hummed.] The Great Escape theme.
This is the theme to the 1963 film The Great Escape. (Thanks to John Grayshaw for this reference.)
No one escapes from Stalag 13.
This is a classic line uttered by Colonel Wilhelm Klink, the inept commander of the German prison camp in the television series Hogan’s Heroes, which aired from 1965-1971. The part was played by Werner Klemperer.
Come on, it’s dress-up time! Tonight you’re Marlene Dietrich.
Marlene Dietrich (1901-1991) was a German-born actress who first made it big playing a cabaret singer in Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel. She came to Hollywood, where her initial success was followed by a string of flops. She made a comeback playing Frenchy in the Jimmy Stewart Western Destry Rides Again and appeared in movies regularly through the 1940s.
Now look, if you keep this down you can have some soda crackers and watch That Girl.
That Girl was a television series that aired from 1966-1971. It starred Marlo Thomas as Ann Marie, an aspiring actress struggling to make it in New York City.
[Sung.] The bluest sky you ever saw is in Seattle ...
This is a paraphrase of a line from “Seattle” by Perry Como. Actual lyrics: “The bluest sky you ever seen in Seattle/And the hills the greenest green in Seattle.”
It’s not exactly The Incredible Journey, is it?
The Incredible Journey is a 1963 film based on the Sheila Burnford novel of the same name. It is the story of a cat and two dogs who get separated from their owners on vacation and manage to make their way home.
“Never mind the dog, Tommy.” Here’s the Sex Pistols.
The debut album of the groundbreaking British punk band the Sex Pistols, released in 1977, was titled Never Mind the Bollocks—Here’s the Sex Pistols.
Oh, that’s great. Got any Mrs. Dash?
Mrs. Dash is a brand of seasoning blends manufactured by Alberto Culver. Available flavors include Garlic & Herb, Lemon Pepper and Classic Italiano.
How’s the Dinty Moore?
Dinty Moore is a brand of canned beef stew manufactured by Hormel.
What are you going to do with all this Bisquick?
Bisquick is a biscuit mix manufactured by Betty Crocker.
“Six thousand dollars?” No, drachmas.
Drachmas are the basic unit of currency in Greece, coming in both bill and coin form and in many different denominations.
My name’s Tom Wopat.
Tom Wopat is best known for playing the part of Luke Duke on the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard, which aired from 1979-1985. He has also appeared on All My Children and Cybill, among other TV shows.
Mount Rushmore! Before it was built.
Mount Rushmore is a mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota that features the gigantic heads of four presidents, each about 60 feet high, carved out of the granite of the mountain: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt. Work on the memorial began in 1927 and was finished in 1941 under sculptor Gutzon Borglum.
And a rapid runs through it.
A River Runs Through It is a novel by Norman Maclean about two boys who love fly fishing and their relationship with their father. It was made into a movie in 1992 that starred Brad Pitt and Craig Sheffer.
We invented the first water flume! It’s fun!
A water flume ride is an amusement park standard. Participants usually float in logs along artificial water channels that generally feature some steep drops and a lot of splashing water. Splash Mountain in Disneyland is an example of a flume ride.
See note on Snausages, above.
Kenny Rogers as Moses.
Kenny Rogers is a successful country music artist with roughly 60 albums to his credit. Moses is a biblical figure who led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land.
Any Snausages in there?
See note on Snausages, above.
Rutherford B. Hayes strikes it rich.
See note on Rutherford B. Hayes, above.
A reference to Show 422: The Day the Earth Froze.
Hey, it’s Juan Valdez.
Juan Valdez is the longtime fictional spokesperson for Colombian coffee growers and exporters. He is usually shown out in the fields with his trusty mule, hand-picking the coffee beans just as they reach the epitome of tasty ripeness.
The Denver Pyle look was very popular this year.
See note on Denver Pyle, above.
They’re being ransacked by Tom Bombadil.
Tom Bombadil is a character in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings. He appears in a lengthy section toward the beginning of the first book, The Fellowship of the Ring, in which he rescues the hobbits a couple of times and spends a lot of time singing in an irritating fashion.
Finally, sweet Metamucil.
Metamucil is a bulk fiber laxative that comes in powdered form; when mixed with water or juice, it acts to relieve constipation.
See note on Solzhenitsyn, above.
Come on, Kringle.
Kris Kringle is another name for Santa Claus; the name comes from the word Christkind, or Christ child.
Don’t shoot my doppelganger!
A doppelganger is an apparition in the form of a person’s double; in German folklore, seeing your doppelganger is a sign that you will soon die.
Gideons International is a Christian organization that places Bibles in hotel rooms, hospitals, prisons, and schools. It was founded in 1899 by three businessmen and began placing Bibles in 1908.
Missouri Synod, huh?
The Missouri Synod is a strict Lutheran sect that insists on conformity with its interpretation of “pure doctrine” based on the Bible, an attitude that has often brought it into conflict with the rest of the Lutheran Church. Its headquarters are located in St. Louis, Missouri.
“Two things I love above all else.” Larry and Balki.
Larry Appleton and Balki Bartokomous were the main characters on the television sitcom Perfect Strangers, which aired from 1986-1993. Larry was played by Mark Linn-Baker, and Balki was played by Bronson Pinchot.
And also with you.
This is a phrase from the rite of holy communion found in the Book of Common Prayer. The celebrant says, “The peace of Christ be always with you,” and the congregation responds, “And also with you.”
Well, I’m off to the King Lear convention!
King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. First performed in 1605, the play is about an old king who divides his kingdom among his daughters and then is driven mad by their ingratitude.
[Sung.] Look for the union label ...
This is from the song “Look for the Union Label” by Paula Green. It aired as part of a commercial for the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees. Sample lyrics: “Look for the union label/When you are buying that coat, dress, or blouse.”
“There’s two reasons you won’t shoot.” Three!
Probably a reference to the Spanish Inquisition sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, in which Cardinal Ximinez, played by Michael Palin, keeps remembering additional points to whatever speech he’s trying to make. Sample dialogue:
Ximinez: Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise ... surprise and fear ... fear and surprise. ... Our two weapons are fear and surprise ... and ruthless efficiency. ... Our three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency ... and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope. ... Our four ... no ... Amongst our weapons. ... Amongst our weaponry ... are such diverse elements as fear, surprise ... I'll come in again.
Would this be a bad time to bring up Snausages?
See note on Snausages, above.
I was born in the house my father built ...
This is the opening line to disgraced ex-president Richard M. Nixon’s memoirs.
Oh, man, I’m turning into Victor French!
Victor French (1934-1989) was an actor who got his start playing bad guys in Hollywood Westerns. He played Isaiah Edwards on the TV series Little House on the Prairie, which aired from 1974-1983, and reunited with Little House star Michael Landon on the series Highway to Heaven, which ran from 1984-1989.
He’s gonna kype his copy of The Firm.
The Firm is a 1991 novel by John Grisham about a young lawyer who gets a job at a Memphis law firm only to discover that it’s controlled by the Mafia. It was made into a movie starring Tom Cruise in 1993.
Hey, my reward! Squeaky newspaper? Gainesburger? Snausage? Anything?
Gainesburger is a brand of soft, crumbly dog food that looks something like raw hamburger, only drier. See also note on Snausages, above.
Look—Bigfoot putting on a blazer.
Bigfoot, a.k.a. the Sasquatch, is a legendary ape-like creature supposed to haunt the Pacific Northwest and western Canada. What was generally considered the best evidence for its existence—a blurry film taken in 1967—has been debunked as a hoax, but the debate rages on.
Stallone in Cliffhanger.
Cliffhanger is a 1993 film starring Sylvester Stallone as a mountain ranger who gets mixed up with a group of crooks searching for a lost cache of stolen money. Stallone is an action star whose other films include Rocky (1976), Rambo: First Blood (1982), and Cobra (1986).
Leon Trotsky, in the action adventure you never thought he’d make.
Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) was a leader in the 1917 Communist revolution in Russia, along with Joseph Stalin and Lenin. However, when Stalin came into power after Lenin’s death, he removed Trotsky from power and exiled him from the country in 1929. In 1940 Trotsky was assassinated in his home in Mexico by a Stalinist agent wielding an ax.
All right—about time for that Nut Goodie.
The Nut Goodie is a candy bar made from milk chocolate, creamy filling, and peanuts. It is made by Pearson’s Candy, which also makes Salted Nut Rolls and Bun Bars.
This Old Mountain.
This Old House is a home improvement show that first aired in 1979. For ten years the host was the bearded, genial Bob Vila; since 1989 the show has been hosted by Steve Thomas.
Oh, bring me back some OJ and a Cosmo.
Cosmopolitan, or Cosmo, as it has been nicknamed, is a women’s magazine known for its cover photos of cleavagey women and articles with titles like “10 Ways to Drive Your Man Wild in Bed.” It is owned by the Hearst Corporation.
How do you work this crazy thing?
This may be a reference to the classic line on The Jetsons: “Jane, stop this crazy thing!”
The British are coming!
On the night of April 18, 1775, Boston silversmith Paul Revere (1735-1818) rode from Boston to Lexington and Concord to warn his countrymen that British troops were on the march; the next day, the historic Battle of Lexington took place, starting the American Revolution. Tradition has it that he rode through the night crying, “The British are coming!” from horseback, a scene immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Paul Revere’s Ride.”
It’s the Von Trapp Family prospectors.
The Trapp Family Singers were a group of Austrian singers, consisting of Georg von Trapp, his seven children by his first wife, his second wife Maria Augusta Kutschera, and their three children. They fled the Nazis in 1938 and emigrated to the United States. They toured in many countries from 1940-1955. Their story was told in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music, which was made into a film starring Julie Andrews in 1965.
Obsession is a perfume manufactured by Calvin Klein. It was introduced in 1985.
A lifetime of Snausages or I sing like a canary.
See note on Snausages, above.
Mr. Weatherwax, what’s the matter with me here?
See note on Frank and Rudd Weatherwax, above.
Just like Batman in reverse.
The campy television series Batman, starring Adam West and Burt Ward, aired from 1966-1968. In it the Dynamic Duo “climbed” up buildings by stretching their capes out on wires, grabbing ropes fastened to a wall, and walking with apparent effort across a floor painted to look like the side of a building with the camera turned sideways.
Like I always say, a dog’s got to know her limitations.
“A man’s got to know his limitations” is a line from the 1973 film Magnum Force, starring Clint Eastwood as trigger-happy cop Dirty Harry Callahan.
Tyrone Power has a sleepless night.
Tyrone Power (1913-1958) was a Hollywood leading man in the 1930s and 1940s, known for his roles in such swashbucklers as The Black Swan (1942) and Captain from Castile (1947).
Is that a bacon and Snausage omelet?
See note on Snausages, above.
I caught a matinee of Oh Heavenly Dog.
Oh Heavenly Dog is a 1980 film starring Chevy Chase as a private investigator who is stabbed to death and sent back in the body of a dog (played by canine star Benji) to solve his own murder.
Othello is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, first performed in 1604, about a Moorish general who is driven by jealousy to murder his faithful wife. It was made into a film starring Orson Welles in 1952; a version with Laurence Fishburne was made in 1995.
Wait a minute! I’m in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers!
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a 1954 MGM musical about seven brothers who plot to get the wives they want by kidnapping them.
Lambada—the forbidden dance.
The lambada is a Brazilian dance that became briefly popular in the United States and Europe in 1989. A film called Lambada, The Forbidden Dance came out in 1990 in an attempt to capitalize on the fad.
See note on Snausages, above.
Oh, Lassie, come out and play-ay!
A paraphrase of a line from the 1979 film The Warriors, about battling street gangs in New York City: “Warriors, come out and play-ay!”
Hi, I’m from PETA.
PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is an animal rights group that stages protests, airs commercials, and files lawsuits on behalf of animals everywhere. It opposes eating animals, wearing leather, experimenting on animals, and many, many other animal-related activities.
It’s gonna be a Snausage, right? Oh, please let it be a Snausage.
See note on Snausages, above.
Here. I hope you like Fritos.
Fritos are a brand of corn chips manufactured by Frito-Lay.
I believe I ordered a Greek salad.
Greek salad is a traditional salad recipe that includes romaine lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, and feta cheese.
Can I just have a RyKrisp, please?
RyKrisps are lightly salted, baked rye crackers manufactured by Bremner.
Little does he know Lassie switched food. He’s eating Kal Kan!
Kal Kan Food Inc. is a manufacturer of dog and cat food, including Pedigree Dog Food.
Souvlaki is the fast food of Greece: some sort of meat, usually beef, lamb, or pork, that is sliced thinly and served wrapped in a pita along with lettuce, tomato, onions, and tzatziki, a yogurt-cucumber sauce.
[Sung.] Puppy Chow, for a full year, until he’s full dead.
This is a paraphrase of an advertising slogan for Purina Puppy Chow: “Puppy Chow for a full year, till he’s full grown.”
I get better service at Planet Hollywood.
Planet Hollywood is an international chain of restaurants featuring movie memorabilia. It is partly owned by various Hollywood celebrities, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis.
Oh, geez, a river runs through it, and Greek food runs through me, I tell ya.
See note on A River Runs Through It, above.
I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.
“I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” is an old advertising slogan for Alka-Seltzer.
Probably having hallucinations right now of a little wagon coming out of the kitchen cabinet.
A reference to the old Purina Chuck Wagon dog food ads, in which a dog would chase a tiny horse and covered wagon team across the kitchen floor.
This exercise will give your dog buns of steel.
Buns of Steel is a line of exercise videos that focus on developing the gluteus maximus muscles.
What is this, Camille?
Camille is a 1936 movie starring Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor. Based on a novel by Alexandre Dumas, it tells the story of a courtesan in Paris who falls in love with a young man but leaves him in order to not ruin his life; in the end she falls into poverty and ill health but discovers that her lover still cares for her.
Crawl, come on, you’ve never given up on anything in your life, now crawl!
A paraphrase of a line from the 1989 movie The Abyss, starring Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. The actual line, spoken by Harris as he’s trying to resuscitate the drowned Mastrantonio: “God damn it, you bitch! You never backed away from anything in your life! Now fight! Fight! Fiiiight!”
I’m comin’, Lizabeth!
On the TV series Sanford and Son, which aired from 1972-1977, when Fred Sanford (played by Redd Foxx) wanted to manipulate his son, he would fake a heart attack and call out to his dead wife, “It’s the big one! I’m comin’, Lizabeth!”
Hey, I’m dyin’ over here!
Probably a reference to Dustin Hoffman's famous line in the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy: “I'm walkin' here! I'm walkin' here!"
Natalie Wood (1938-1981) got her start as a child actress in such films as Miracle on 34th Street (1947). She went on to star in films as an adult, including Splendor in the Grass (1961) and West Side Story (1961). She drowned in 1981 while sailing with her husband, actor Robert Wagner.
These are the scenes we didn’t see in The Searchers.
The Searchers is a 1956 John Ford Western starring John Wayne as a Civil War veteran who spends years searching for his niece, who has been stolen by Indians.
Pippi Longstocking is the heroine of a series of children’s books by Astrid Lindgren. Pippi is a girl with superhuman strength and enormous wealth who lives alone and has many adventures with the neighbor children.
[Sung.] Sobbin' women, those sobbin', sobbin' women.
A paraphrase of the song "Sobbin' Women" from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Actual lyrics: "Oh, yes!/Them a'women were sobbin', sobbin', sobbin'/Fit to be tied/Every muscle was throbbin', throbbin'/From that riotous ride ..."
All his woodland friends are coming to help him!
This may be a reference to Tarzan, the king of the jungle created by pulp author Edgar Rice Burroughs in a series of novels, who had the ability to call on various beasts to help him when he needed them.
Is that Russell Means?
Russell Means (1939-2012) was a Native American activist who was the leader of the American Indian Movement in the 1970s and helped lead AIM’s occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973. He was also an actor who appeared in movies and on TV shows, including The Last of the Mohicans (1992) and Natural Born Killers (1994).
Oh, no—poisoned souvlaki.
See note on souvlaki, above.
Go get Jeff Chandler and Joey Bishop.
Jeff Chandler (1918-1961) was an actor who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Cochise in the Jimmy Stewart Western Broken Arrow (1950). He starred in a number of Westerns and action flicks in the 1950s before dying in 1961 following an operation. Joey Bishop (1918-2007) was a member of the Rat Pack with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. He frequently acted as a guest host for Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show and hosted two series of his own during the 1960s.
Oh, wait, I was doing a bar mitzvah.
A bar mitzvah is a Jewish religious ceremony welcoming a boy to adulthood on his 13th birthday.
Are those Snausages over there?
See note on Snausages, above.
It sounds like a Ken Nordine dream.
Ken Nordine is a recording artist who has done numerous commecials but is best known for his Word Jazz series of spoken-word albums, which were popular in the late 1950s and 1960s. (Thanks to Christopher Brame for this reference.)
Boy, Dutch elm can strike quick.
Dutch elm disease is a fungus that attacks elm trees, killing them sometimes within a month. It is spread by the elm bark beetle, which carries the fungus spores on its shell.
Damn kids, drink cheap wine, listen to Anthrax ...
Anthrax is a thrash metal band that formed in New York City in 1981; their 1985 album Spreading the Disease was enormously influential.
Thank you, God. Thank you so bloody much.
This is a line from the classic British TV show Fawlty Towers, spoken by John Cleese, who played hotel owner Basil Fawlty.
[Sung.] 2001 theme.
This music, known to pop culture as the theme to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, is actually called Also Sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra) by German composer Richard Strauss (1864-1949). The piece is named for a book by philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900).
Shep’s back, and this time it’s personal.
“This time ... it’s personal” was the tagline for the 1987 film Jaws: The Revenge.
Wait a minute—these bags are full of Snausages! Lassie!
See note on Snausages, above.
He gave himself a Lilt home perm.
Lilt is a brand of home permanent kit for do-it-yourself curly hair.
Stay off the moors!
A reference to the 1981 film An American Werewolf in London, although the actual line from the movie is “Keep clear of the moors.”
I’m looking for a man with true grit.
A paraphrase of the line “They tell me you’re a man with true grit,” from the John Wayne movie True Grit (1969).
Camp Snoopy is a children’s theme park based on the comic strip “Peanuts” by Charles Schulz. It is generally located inside larger amusements: for example, there is a Camp Snoopy inside the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, and another one inside Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California.
Please, sir, may I have some more?
This is a paraphrase of a line from the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist, in which Oliver, an orphan, asks for another helping of gruel and finds himself thrown out of the orphanage, apprenticed to the first passerby who will take him. The actual line: “Please, sir, I want some more.”
We’re having Beefaroni!
Beefaroni is a canned macaroni product made by Chef Boyardee, consisting of macaroni and beef in a tomato sauce. It and other Chef Boyardee products are popular with children.
Life is pain, Tommy.
Probably a reference to a line in The Princess Bride, a 1987 film based on the William Goldman novel of the same name: “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”
Watch the prints, Tommy—Hec Ramsey needs that hat.
Hec Ramsey was a TV series that aired from 1972 to 1974. It starred Richard Boone as an aging, turn-of-the-century detective.
“Tommy!” Can you hear me? “Tommy!” Can you hear me?
See note on Tommy, above.
Dang smoochers on my property!
A reference to Show 418, Attack of the Eye Creatures.
A reference to Show 104, Women of the Prehistoric Planet.
Fresh from his triumph at the 1984 Olympics, gold-medal-winning gymnast Kurt Thomas made an enjoyably bad movie called Gymkata (1985), in which he offers to go to a country called Parmistan and wrestle a bunch of ninjas and fight off zombies armed with pitchforks so the American military can plonk down a missile base over there. Fortunately for him, the country has a lot of gymnastic equipment just lying around in alleys and open fields that he can use to defeat the bad guys.
Dog tossing, tonight on A Current Affair.
A Current Affair was a TV “news” show that aired from 1986-1996. It specialized in celebrity gossip, lurid sex scandals, and other socially redeeming topics. It was hosted by Maury Povich.
When did they build a corral? –They used CorralDraw.
CorelDraw is a computer graphics software program produced by the Corel Corporation.
This must be Regional Velvet.
National Velvet is a 1944 horse-racing movie starring Mickey Rooney and a young Elizabeth Taylor. It was based on the children’s book by Enid Bagnold.
Either this boy’s dead or his heart has stopped.
This is a paraphrase of a famous Groucho Marx line from the classic Marx Brothers movie A Day at the Races (1937). The actual line: “Either he’s dead or my watch has stopped.”
I love my dead gay son!
A line from the black comedy Heathers (1989), which starred Winona Ryder and Christian Slater as teenagers who begin killing off popular students and making them look like suicides, including a couple of jocks whose bodies are left in compromisingly homoerotic circumstances.
[Sung.] Now when the West was very young ...
This is a paraphrase of the theme song to the Bat Masterson television show, which aired from 1958-1961. The actual lyrics: “Back when the West was very young/There lived a man named Masterson.”
Hey, look, he’s doing a shadow thingy of Abe Lincoln.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) was the 16th president of the United States, who guided the nation through the Civil War (1861-1865) and was assassinated shortly after its end by disgruntled Southerner John Wilkes Booth.
Now, wait, who was that other shadow? Was that Peter Pan looking on?
Peter Pan is the titular hero of the play by J.M. Barrie (1860-1937), which was first produced in 1904. Peter, as the boy who refused to grow up, has been an enduring character in children’s literature ever since; Walt Disney made an animated version in 1953.
“Drink it.” It’s Old Milwaukee. Tastes as great as its name.
Old Milwaukee is a beer produced by the Stroh Brewery. It has a reputation as a cheap beer popular among students and trailer park denizens, but judging by comments online, it enjoys a loyal crowd of fans. “Tastes as great as its name” is an old advertising slogan for Old Milwaukee.
Taste it all. One awesome calorie.
“Taste it all” was an advertising slogan for Coca-Cola; “One awesome calorie,” similarly, was a slogan for Diet Coke.
And you were there, and you, and you ...
A reference to a scene at the end of The Wizard of Oz (1939), in which Dorothy awakens to find herself in her bedroom, surrounded by her aunt and uncle and farmhands, and realizes they were part of her dream. The actual line: “No. But it wasn't a dream—it was a place. And you—and you—and you—and you were there.”
An imitation of Johnny Weissmuller (1904-1984), who played Tarzan the Ape Man in a series of films between 1932 and 1948.
Skip a bit, brother.
A line from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The relevant dialogue:
Brother: And Saint Atila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, “Oh, Lord, bless this thy hand grenade that with it thou mayest blow thy enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy.” And the Lord did grin, and the people did feast upon the lambs, and sloths, and carp, and anchovies, and orangutans, and breakfast cereals, and fruit bats, and large—
Maynard: Skip a bit, brother.
Now the jets will fly in the missing man formation.
The missing man formation is a military tradition done to honor presidents, astronauts, and military pilots. There are two traditional variations: one in which a group of jets flies in formation and one jet peels off from the others to symbolize the “missing man,” and one in which the formation is flown with a “hole” in it where the missing man’s jet should be.
Kids say the darndest things, huh?
Art Linkletter (1912-2010) was an entertainer who hosted the television variety series House Party from 1952-1969. At the end of each show, Linkletter would interview a child. In 1957, Linkletter wrote a book about his conversations with children titled Kids Say the Darndest Things. From 1998-2000, comedian Bill Cosby also hosted a show called Kids Say the Darndest Things; Cosby later produced his own collection of kids’ sayings under the same title.
This is turning into a parlor mystery. I bet there’s going to be three different endings.
In 1985, a movie came out called Clue, based on the classic board game of the same name. The gimmick was that it was released with three different endings, in which different characters turned out to be the murderer.
Wild dogs can’t be broken.
Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken is a 1991 film starring Gabrielle Anwar as a young runaway who wants to be a “diving girl” and ride diving horses.
Mr. Shep. You have a nasty habit of surviving.
A paraphrase of a line from the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy, starring Roger Moore. The actual line: “You seem to have this nasty habit of surviving.”
All right—throw the Snausages out nice and easy.
See note on Snausages, above.
Prepare to meet collie!
"Prepare to meet Kali—in hell!" is a line from the 1984 film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Hey, wait a second—I think Barbasol had an industrial spill.
Barbasol is a brand of shaving cream marketed to men. It is manufactured by Perio Inc.
This is no place for a convertible!
This is a line from the 1963 film It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, spoken by Phil Silvers.
She’s taking him up K2, see, because she’s a K9!
K2, at 28,251 feet, is the second-tallest mountain in the world, after Mount Everest. It is located in the Himalayas, straddling the border between China and Kashmir. The summit was not reached until an expedition in 1954. “K9” is, of course, a soundalike for “canine,” but it is also the designation for police dog units.
Hey, what are you, Claudine Longet?
Claudine Longet is a French singer and actress who has made guest appearances on numerous TV shows as well as acting in several films. In 1976 she shot and killed her boyfriend, skier Spider Sabich. The shooting took place after Sabich had asked her to move out; she claimed the gun had accidentally gone off and was convicted of criminal negligence, serving only 30 days in prison.
I know what you’re thinking: did I fire six shots or only five?
This is a paraphrase of the famous line from the 1971 film Dirty Harry, starring Clint Eastwood. The full line: “I know what you're thinking: Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I've kinda lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”
The Fido sanction.
See note on The Eiger Sanction, above.
Where beagles dare.
Where Eagles Dare is a 1968 film starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood. The movie is about a commando team in World War II staging a raid on a castle in German-held territory to rescue a captured American general.
The most tedious game.
The Most Dangerous Game is a 1932 film starring Joel McCrea and Fay Wray as shipwrecked passengers on a mysterious island whose owner hunts humans for sport.
Hey, he’s turning into Michael McDonald.
Michael McDonald was the lead singer for the Doobie Brothers on songs like “What a Fool Believes” and “Taking It to the Streets.” In 1982 he disbanded the group to launch a solo career; although he had a few isolated hits, he never really matched his success with the band, and in 1996 they reunited for a tour.
I stashed a bag of Cycle II somewhere up here.
Cycle is a brand of dog food manufactured by Del Monte Foods, which also makes Kibbles ‘n Bits and Gravy Train pet foods.
[Sung.] You’ve come from somewhere out of the long ago ...
A paraphrase of the song “What a Fool Believes" by the Doobie Brothers (see earlier note). Actual lyrics: "He came from somewhere back in her long ago/The sentimental fool don't see/Trying hard to recreate/What had yet to be created once in her life." (Thanks to John B. for this reference.)
This is no good—we’re on top of the monument!
A paraphrase of a line from the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock classic North by Northwest: “This can’t be good—we’re on top of the monument!” (The monument in question: Mount Rushmore.)
This is where Holmes met his end at Reichenbach Falls. –Oh, yeah, Reichenbach, Texas. –No, that’s Luckenbach, Texas.
In 1893, when author Arthur Conan Doyle grew tired of his famous literary creation Sherlock Holmes, he killed the great detective off: in the short story “The Final Problem,” Holmes and his nemesis, Professor Moriarty, plunge together to their death off the top of Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. It didn’t take—Holmes returned nine years later in “The Adventure of the Empty House.” Luckenbach, Texas, is home to the Luckenbach Dance Hall, which regularly hosts country-music concerts. Total population of the “town”: 3.
This is like the end of The Shootist.
The Shootist is a 1976 Western starring John Wayne as a gunfighter with terminal stomach cancer looking for a way to go out in style. It was Wayne’s last film; he died—ironically of stomach cancer—three years later.
Russ? Russ, this guy’s serious, Russ. Where are you?
See note on Frank and Rudd Weatherwax, above. N.B.: the trainer's name was Rudd, not Russ.
Alex Trebek, no!
Alex Trebek is the host of the television game show Jeopardy!, which first aired in 1984.
The gun’s turned into a Bomb Pop.
Bomb Pops are a brand of frozen treats made by Blue Bunny. They come in several varieties. The original Bomb Pops were red, white, and blue and had three different flavors: cherry, lime, and blue raspberry.
See note on Snausages, above.
Slowly, I turned, step by step ...
This phrase comes from an old vaudeville routine that has been used by many comedians. Abbott and Costello used it in a 1944 film called Lost in a Harem; the Three Stooges did a version the same year in their Gents Without Cents; and a third version appeared in an I Love Lucy episode. The original author appears to be a vaudeville comedian named Joey Faye (1909-1997).
Oh, for the want of a Frisbee.
The Frisbee is a classic toy, a plastic disc that can fly for quite a distance when skimmed flat through the air. It is manufactured by Wham-O. The phrasing of the comment is derived from an essay called "The Way to Wealth," written by Benjamin Franklin: "A little neglect may breed great mischief; for want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for want of a horse the rider was lost, being overtaken and slain by the enemy; all for want of a little care about a horse-shoe nail."
He’s in Camelot!
Camelot is the castle home of the legendary English king Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.
Merlin, Merlin, turn me into a bird so I can fly from here.
Merlin was the magician in the English legends of King Arthur. In the novel The Once and Future King by T.H. White, Merlin turns the boy Arthur into a succession of animals to help prepare him to become king.
He’s turned all the way into Lon Chaney Jr.
Lon Chaney Jr. (1906-1973) was an actor known for his parts in horror films—particularly his portrayal of Larry Talbot in The Wolf Man (1941). He was often overshadowed by his father, the great silent film star known as the Man of a Thousand Faces.
Wait a minute: all I have to do is hang glide down and have a cool Canadian Club.
Canadian Club is a brand of whisky made by Hiram Walker.
The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams was a 1975 movie starring Dan Haggerty as James Adams, a man who lives alone in the mountains with his pet bear. It was turned into a short-lived TV series, also starring Haggerty, in 1977; more TV movies and films followed.
[Sung.] You don't know me, but ...
A line from the Doobie Brothers song "Takin' It to the Streets" (see above note). (Thanks to John B. for this reference.)
This may be a reference to the 1989 James Bond film Licence to Kill, starring Timothy Dalton; as film legend would have it, the original title, “Licence Revoked,” was changed because producers feared Americans were too dumb to understand it. However, they did retain the British spelling for "licence."
Oh, look, they’re inside one of those shaky snow worlds.
They’re referring to snow globes, or snow domes, plastic balls with winter scenes inside, filled with water and confetti, so that when shaken, it appears to be “snowing.”
Oh, hi, Pile On Pete. Got any Snausages?
See note on Snausages, above.