515: The Wild, Wild World of Batwoman
by Wyn Hilty
The Jack Benny Program!
The Jack Benny Program was a wildly successful radio show starring comedian Jack Benny that aired from 1932-1955.
Ebenezer Scrooge is the miserly old man in the Charles Dickens novella A Christmas Carol, first published in 1843. In the book, Scrooge is transformed from a misanthrope into a kindly old man by visitations from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.
A young Franz Kafka awaits his fate.
Franz Kafka (1883-1924) was a German writer, most of whose works were published posthumously. Most of his writing, such as The Trial and The Castle, reflects a feeling of alienation from one’s fellow men.
I think I’ll go write some nocturnes.
A nocturne is a musical composition that is supposed to evoke the night. Polish composer Frederic Chopin was particularly noted for his nocturnes, writing twenty-one of them.
For depressing phone sex, dial 1-900-ALFALFA.
Alfalfa was one of the characters in the Our Gang series of shorts, known for his trademark cowlick and off-key singing. The part was played by Carl Switzer (1927-1959).
Oh, the Foley guy must be calling.
Foley artists are sound technicians that specialize in creating noise effects to make the film seem more realistic. Typical effects include walking on various surfaces to simulate the sound of footsteps and hitting or smashing various objects to simulate the sound of blows for a fight scene.
Good thing I have my Paxil.
Paxil, or paroxitene, is an antidepressant medication, one of the so-called serotonin reuptake inhibitors, of which the most famous is Prozac. It is also used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder and social anxiety disorder.
Jeez, this kid could freak out Jame Gumb.
Jame Gumb was the serial killer known as Buffalo Bill in the 1991 horror flick The Silence of the Lambs; the part was played by Ted Levine.
[Sung.] What’s the story, morning glory/What’s the word, hummingbird?
A line from the song ‘The Telephone Hour” from the musical Bye Bye Birdie. Sample lyrics: “What's the story, morning glory?/What's the word, hummingbird?/Have you heard about Hugo and Kim?/Did they really get pinned?/Did she kiss him and cry?/Did he pin the pin on?/Or was he too shy?”
Mother Teresa called—she hates you.
Mother Teresa (1910-1997) was a Roman Catholic nun and the founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, an order dedicated to helping the poor, particularly in India. She began working with the poor in Calcutta in 1928. In 1979 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; in 2003, six years after her death, she was beatified (the first step toward awarding her sainthood).
There are not enough bell towers in the world for Johnny.
Charles Whitman (1941-1966) was a student at the University of Texas in Austin when, on the morning of August 1, 1966, he killed his wife and his mother, went to the bell tower on campus, and opened fire with a high-powered rifle. About an hour and a half later, police shot and killed him. Altogether, Whitman murdered 16 people and wounded 31 more. An autopsy revealed that Whitman had a brain tumor, but it is uncertain how much that contributed to his actions.
This contract arrived for you from a Mr. Elzebub.
In the Bible, Beelzebub is referred to as the prince of the devils. In the Old Testament, Beelzebub is the name given to the god worshiped by the Philistine city Ekron (II Kings 1:1-18).
You talkin’ to me?
A famous line from the 1976 movie Taxi Driver, starring Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle, an alienated Vietnam vet. In one scene, Bickle stands posturing in front of his mirror, saying, “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin’ to? You talkin’ to me? Well, I’m the only one here.”
Dear Joe McGinniss: I admire … uh-oh.
Joe McGinniss (1942-2014) was a writer who became famous in 1969 with his book The Selling of the President, about Richard Nixon’s 1968 campaign. Later he became known as a writer of true crime books, including Fatal Vision, Blind Faith, and Cruel Doubt, all three of which were made into TV miniseries in the 1980s and '90s.
Now, was this Ingmar Bergman’s first American film?
Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007) was a writer/director/producer/actor who was one of the most highly respected filmmakers of the 20th century. His films include The Seventh Seal (1957), Persona (1966), and Cries and Whispers (1972).
An imitation of President Ronald Reagan (served 1981-1989), who had a well-known habit of beginning just about every other sentence by saying, “Well …”
I smell a big commie rat.
“Mr. President, I’m beginning to smell a big fat commie rat” is a line from the 1964 film Dr. Strangelove: or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
Jawohl, mein Fuhrer.
Probably a reference to Dr. Strangelove, the ex-Nazi scientist in the movie of the same name (see previous note). “Jawohl, mein Fuhrer” means “Yes, my Fuhrer”; “Fuhrer” was the title used by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
And so Dana Plato’s career began.
Dana Plato (1964-1999) was a troubled child actress who became famous for her role as the prissy older sister, Kimberly Drummond, on the TV series Diff’rent Strokes. In 1991 she was arrested for holding up a video store in Las Vegas with a pellet gun. She suffered high-profile problems with drugs and ultimately died of an overdose at the age of thirty-four; her death was ruled a suicide.
Margaret Chase Smith!
Margaret Chase Smith (1897-1995) was the first woman to serve in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. She represented Maine in Congress from 1940 to 1973 (the first woman to do so), earning national attention when she denounced Senator Joe McCarthy’s witch hunt for Communists in the 1950s.
Is that you, student counselor?
In the classic 1962 thriller Cape Fear (which was remade in 1991), ex-con Max Cady (Robert Mitchum) stalks the lawyer he blames for sending him to prison. Cady repeatedly refers to lawyer Sam Bowden (Gregory Peck) as "Counselor," in lines like "Counselor, could you be there?" and "Counselor, come out, come out, wherever you are." (Thanks to Sarah McKinney for this reference.)
Give us Barabbas! Barabbas!
According to some Christian texts, Barabbas was the criminal whom the crowd chose to be spared crucifixion when given a choice to free Barabbas or Jesus.
Riddle me this, Batman!
An imitation of the Riddler, one of the costumed villains on the campy 1960s TV show Batman. The part was played by Frank Gorshin.
Hey, I got my four-year TV medallion.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a self-help system for alcoholics that relies on a twelve-step program and the support of other alcoholics to help people quit drinking. The group gives out medallions to mark milestones in its members’ struggle to maintain sobriety, a tradition begun in the early days of AA by Sister Ignatia Gavin.
[Sung.] What do you do when you’re branded? We watch TV …
A reference to the theme song to the TV series Branded (1965-1966). Sample lyrics: “Branded … scorned is the one who ran/What do you do when you’re branded? And you know you're a man/Wherever you go, for the rest of your life/You must prove you're a man …” (Thanks to Bob Davey for this reference.)
Hey, maybe it’s Rope!
Rope is a 1948 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Jimmy Stewart as a professor who slowly comes to realize that two of his students have committed a murder; it was loosely based on the Leopold/Loeb murder case of 1924. The film was shot in a series of long takes, most of them ten minutes in length (which was the amount of film held in a standard reel at the time). Often Hitchcock attempted to hide the changeover between reels by zooming in to a closeup of a man’s jacket or a section of upholstery; the next scene thus began with an identical closeup to provide a seamless transition.
Angels, you’re going undercover with Adam West.
Charlie’s Angels was a T&A series that aired from 1976-1981. It featured a revolving cast of beautiful women who worked as private eyes under the direction of the unseen “Charlie.” A typical plot had Charlie announcing that the women would be going undercover in some role (cheerleaders, teachers, disco dancers, etc.). Adam West was the star of the '60s TV series Batman.
Tonight, on the Red Shoe Diaries …
Red Shoe Diaries was a soft-core TV show on the cable network Showtime. It starred David Duchovny as a man striving to come to terms with his fiancée’s death by investigating other women’s sexual fantasies (?!). It ran from 1992-1999.
It’s Alba 66.
Alba 77 was a chocolate shake mix popular in the 1980s, which you mixed with ice in a blender to create a low-fat shake.
It’s like a party in my mouth and everyone’s invited!
The origin of this line appears to be the TV show The Simpsons, in an episode called “Flaming Moe’s.”
Vampirism: It does a body good.
“Milk: It does a body good” was an advertising slogan used by Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) during the 1980s.
Their five-year mission: to be hot, hot, hot. Wow!
A reference to the opening narration for the TV series Star Trek, which aired from 1966-1969. The full text: “Space: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before.”
I’m as mad as hell!
A famous line from the 1976 movie Network, in which the psychotic breakdown of TV newscaster Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch) is exploited by his network. His speech: “So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell, 'I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!'”
The Exorcist is a 1973 film about the demonic possession of a young girl (played by Linda Blair).
[Whistled.] Old Spice theme.
This is the longtime theme to the commercials for Old Spice, a men's cologne/aftershave that has used a nautical theme in its advertising almost since the brand was introduced in 1938.
“You’ll just have to come and get it.” The Badfinger murders.
Badfinger was a British rock band in the 1960s and 1970s, at one time touted as the successor to the Beatles. Their biggest hit, “Come and Get It,” was written by the Beatles’ Paul McCartney. The band broke up after their guitarist, Pete Ham, committed suicide in 1975.
Attention, Michelle Pfeiffer.
Actress Michelle Pfeiffer played Catwoman in the 1992 film Batman Returns.
Patty Duke is an actress best known for playing “identical cousins” Patty and Cathy Lane on the TV showThe Patty Duke Show, which aired from 1963-1966. Her big break had come in 1962 when she played Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, a role for which she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
Geraldine was the tall, wisecracking drag queen character created by comedian Flip Wilson (1933-1998), known for her catchphrases “The devil made me do it!” and “What you see is what you get.”
Kind of looks like Yogi Berra.
Yogi Berra was a baseball player and longtime Yankees manager. Berra is one of the most quoted figures in sports, including “It’s déjà vu all over again” and “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
We’re in the middle of a k.d. lang fantasy.
k.d. lang is a country/rock musician who has released such hit songs as “Constant Craving.” She has publicly declared her lesbianism and is an outspoken advocate of animal rights, both traits that have occasionally brought her into conflict with her country-music audience.
No, thank you, I don’t want to play the crying game.
The Crying Game is a 1992 film about a guilt-ridden IRA terrorist who becomes involved with the girlfriend of a slain soldier; the woman, Dil (spoiler alert), is actually a transsexual man.
Goodbye, pork pie hat.
“Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” is a song written by jazz great Charlie Mingus as a tribute to his deceased friend, saxophonist Lester Young, known for his trademark pork pie hat. Joni Mitchell later recorded a song by the same name. Sample lyrics: “When Charlie speaks of Lester/You know someone great has gone/The sweetest swinging music man/Had a Porky Pig hat on …”
Oh, and look—Andy Capp needs more cigarettes.
Andy Capp is the eponymous star of the long-running comic strip, which first appeared in Britain in 1957 and was then syndicated worldwide. He is, as the Toonopedia says, “lazy, belligerent, unskilled at any socially acceptable occupation, and usually drunk.” He always wears a hat pulled down low over his eyes.
I’m thinking Yogi Berra. –Yeah.
See note on Yogi Berra, above.
There’s a peeping Zorro outside!
Zorro is a fictional hero in nineteenth-century Spanish California, who protects the people from the tyranny of their Spanish masters. He traditionally dresses in black and carries a whip and a sword, with which he carves his trademark "Z" into walls, trees, and sometimes bad guys. He was created by pulp writer Johnston McCulley in 1919.
Good morning, College Republicans.
The College Republicans are a national student organization, consisting of college students who support the Republican Party. It was founded in 1892 at the University of Michigan and currently boasts about 200,000 members.
Wow, it’s casual day at Control Data.
Control Data Corporation was one of the early firms building supercomputers for the U.S. military after World War II. Founded in Minneapolis in 1957, it was one of the main computer companies of the 1960s, competing directly with IBM. The company had largely fallen apart by the end of the 1980s, however, with increased competition from foreign firms, and it broke off or sold its various divisions and closed up shop. Surviving pieces of CDC include Ceridian and Ticketron.
There’s a Mexican wrestler lurking outside! –El Santo.
Masked Man El Santo (or Samson, as he is known in the English versions of his films) was a popular Mexican wrestler in the 1960s who starred in a series of movies in which he bravely wrestled various incarnations of evil into submission. He can be seen in Show 624, Samson vs. the Vampire Women. He died of a heart attack in 1984 and was buried in his mask.
Oh, Beakman’s World.
Beakman’s World was a children’s TV show starring Paul Zaloom as the wacked-out Beakman, who, clad in a lime-green lab coat, taught kids all about science. It aired from 1993-1998.
The Aveda Corporation.
The Aveda Corporation is a company headquartered in Blaine, Minnesota, that makes skin-care and other cosmetics products. The company also teaches cosmetology at their Aveda Institute facilities, which are located in major cities all over the world. It was founded in 1978.
Pons and Fleischmann, still at it.
In 1989, two scientists at the University of Utah, Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann, announced that they had achieved cold fusion in their lab. Long a dream of scientists for its promise of cheap, clean energy, cold fusion involves achieving the same process of nuclear fusion (as opposed to fission, which is what generates energy at nuclear power plants) that takes place inside the sun, only doing it at room temperature. Pons and Fleischmann’s claim made headlines around the world, but the scientific community reacted with skepticism, with one prominent physicist referring to it as “pathological science.” Pons and Fleischmann proved unable to replicate the results of their experiment, and the story quickly faded from the news.
I will pet her and keep her and call her George.
An imitation and paraphrasing of the Abominable Snowman as the character appeared in some Looney Tunes shorts. His name was Hugo, and he first appeared in 1961’s The Abominable Snow Rabbit, directed by Chuck Jones and voiced by Mel Blanc. The character was itself a reference to Of Mice and Men, a 1937 short novel by John Steinbeck, and the character of Lennie. Lennie has a love for soft things (including rabbits) but doesn’t know his own strength, and things go tragically awry.
An imitation of Marlo Thomas in her role as Ann Marie on the TV series That Girl; her boyfriend on the show was Donald Hollinger (played by Ted Bessell).
It’s Mr. Bill, and he’s all grown up!
Mr. Bill was a plasticine character on the TV sketch-comedy series Saturday Night Live. Created by Walter Williams, Mr. Bill made his debut appearance in 1976. The premise was simple: poor Mr. Bill is tormented by his mortal enemies, Sluggo and Mr. Hands, and at some point utters his trademark phrase: “Ohhhhh, noooooo!”
My friend, Nicely-Nicely.
Nicely-Nicely Johnson is a character from the musical Guys and Dolls, a rotund, happy, simple-minded fellow who runs errands for the main character, Nathan Detroit.
“I’m known as Tiger.” I’m grrrreat!
Tony the Tiger is the longtime spokescreature for Kellogg’s Sugar Frosted Flakes, with his catchphrase “They’re grrrrrreat!” The advertising icon was first created in 1952.
One nation under Hef!
Hugh Hefner, a.k.a. “Hef,” is the founder of Playboy magazine and one of the last bastions of the 1960s bachelor lifestyle.
Next time, can we just say the Serenity prayer?
The Serenity prayer is a short prayer written by Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in 1943. The most commonly used text (although alternative versions exist): “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change/Courage to change the things I can/And the wisdom to know the difference.”
Looks like Tony Fields with a tattoo.
Tony Fields (1958-1995) was a dancer and actor who was one of the Solid Gold dancers. He is perhaps best known for his 1986 turn as undead rocker Sammi Curr in the flick Trick or Treat.
Robert’s rules of wow!
Robert’s Rules of Order are a standard set of rules for parliamentary procedure, loosely modeled on the procedures used by the U.S. House of Representatives. They were created in 1876 by Army Major Henry Robert as a way of bringing order to meetings. They are widely used in the United States.
“Do you know whose voice you’re listening to?” Dennis James?
Dennis James (1917-1997) was the host of numerous television game shows, including Name That Tune and The Price Is Right.
I’ve introduced her to Phil Donahue.
Phil Donahue was for twenty-seven years the host of The Phil Donahue Show, a daytime talk show that was the forerunner of all the tabloid talk shows that would infest the networks in the 1990s and beyond. Both Oprah Winfrey and Sally Jessy Raphael modeled their shows after Donahue's.
Here, have a Mentos. Fresh goes better.
Mentos, a brand of chewy mint candies, ran a series of commercials in the 1990s featuring people having the guts to do really annoying things after downing a Mentos. The jingle went, in part, like this: “Fresh goes better, Mentos freshness, fresh goes better with Mentos, fresh and full of life!”
Dreezle, drazzle, drozzle, drome. Time for this one to go home.
From the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide: "Kevin tells me that this comes from the Tutor Turtle cartoon. Uh-huh. That's great, Kevin. I know it from the Replacements' song 'Hold My Life' off the album Tim. Now, which would you rather do, try to find old episodes of a really stupid, ancient cartoon and wade through looking for a dumb reference, or simply buy the classic 'Mats album and enjoy hours of listening pleasure?"
Just park your bucket, Cher.
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.
This is like a Warhol movie, except it’s kind of weird.
Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was an American artist who was a central figure in founding the Pop art movement. He became famous for his multicolored portraits of pop culture icons like actress Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s soup cans. He was also known for making bizarre films, including Empire, an eight-hour stationary shot of the Empire State Building, and **** (Four Stars), which clocks in at a whopping 25 hours long.
Chaka Khan would be ashamed to dress like her.
Chaka Khan is an R&B singer who got her start in the 1970s with the funk band Rufus. Her solo career took off in 1978 with her disco hit “I’m Every Woman”; her biggest hit was 1984’s “I Feel For You,” written by Minneapolis musician Prince. Her career had pretty much peaked by the end of the 1980s.
Here’s some Rolaids—for the calcium.
Rolaids is an over-the-counter antacid containing calcium carbonate. They are also used as a dietary supplement for getting the RDA of calcium, which is particularly important for women. Rolaids has even come out with a “calcium-rich” version marketed specifically as a dietary supplement.
Now you might think the iocane powder is in this one!
An imitation of Wallace Shawn in the 1987 movie The Princess Bride. In one scene, Shawn faces off against the mysterious Man in Black over a pair of goblets of wine, one of which has supposedly been poisoned with iocane powder.
We will destroy Miracle-Ear and rule the world!
Miracle-Ear is a brand of hearing aid that has been around for more than 50 years. It was invented by Ken Dahlberg.
A reference to the title character in the film Dr. Strangelove (see above note).
I got the music in me!
A reference to the 1974 song “I’ve Got the Music in Me,” by the Kiki Dee Band. Sample lyrics: “When something gets in my way I go round it/Don't let life get me down/Gonna take life the way that I found it/I got the music in me.”
The only lyric to the instrumental song “Tequila,” originally recorded by a group of studio musicians (later dubbed the Champs) in about ten minutes in 1957. It won a Grammy for Best R&B Song in 1958.
Larry Tate, that’s rich.
Larry Tate was a character on the television series Bewitched, which aired from 1964-1972. The role was played by actor David White (1916-1990). Tate was the neurotic boss of Darrin Stephens, who was played at various points by Dick York and Dick Sargent.
“Look, Flanagan.” [Sung.] That’s me.
A reference to the song "Harrigan," from the musical Fifty Miles from Boston. Sample lyrics: "Who is the man who will spend or will even lend?/Harrigan, that's me!/Who is your friend when you find that you need a friend?/Harrigan, that's me!/For I'm just as proud of my name, you see/As an Emperor, Czar or a King could be ..."
I’ve hired Willie Tyler and Lester.
Willie Tyler is a ventriloquist who has been touring for decades with his dummy, Lester; they were regulars on the old Laugh-In TV show and have made numerous guest appearances on other shows.
And I didn’t steal no bike neither!
A reference to Show 514, Teenage Strangler.
“I think I’ve got it!” The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain!
A reference to the song “The Rain in Spain” from the musical My Fair Lady. Sample lyrics: “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain!/By George, she's got it! By George, she's got it! Now, once again where does it rain?/On the plain! On the plain!/And where's that soggy plain?/In Spain! In Spain!”
Hey, weren’t you in Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time?
Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time is a 1991 sci-fi movie starring Marc Singer as a loincloth-clad fellow who can communicate with animals. The movie is a sequel to the 1982 original The Beastmaster.
Toccata and Wow in D-minor.
The Toccata and Fugue in D-minor is one of the most famous pieces of music for the organ ever written; it is attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach. The Toccata and Fugue is that piece you hear in the movies whenever a demented genius is seated at an organ, most famously in the 1962 horror film The Phantom of the Opera; it has become something of a cliché as a result.
After six months of lessons from Schmitt Music, I’m playing for my friends!
Schmitt Music is a chain of music retailers with seven locations in Minneapolis. In addition to selling musical instruments, the stores offer music lessons. I presume the above is from a Schmitt ad, but I have not confirmed this.
That was Michael Murray on Pipedreams.
Pipedreams is a nationally syndicated radio show focusing on organ music. Michael Murray, unsurprisingly, is an American organist who has performed across the country.
Jell-O shot, ma’am?
Jell-O is a sweetened gelatin dessert made by General Foods Corporation. Jell-O shots are Jell-O made with booze instead of with water and then cut into little squares for consumption by college students.
Jim Beam is a brand of bourbon whiskey made in Kentucky.
Justice Brothers Inc. is a company that manufactures automotive products—fuel additives, brake fluid, etc. They are also well-known as sponsors of race cars.
Heathcliff shops at Tatters.
Tatters is a vintage clothing store in Minneapolis.
I will stop talking like Gandhi.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) was a spiritual and political leader who led the independence movement of his native India against the British government, which had claimed India as a colony since 1750. He is revered for his philosophy of nonviolent protest to achieve change.
[Sung.] Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends …
“Karn Evil 9” is a nearly half-hour song by British progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, from their 1973 album Brain Salad Surgery. The song’s most recognizable portion is “First Impression, Part 2,” and its opening lyrics: “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends/We’re so glad you could attend/Come inside, come inside.”
It was a dark and st—oh.
“It was a dark and stormy night” is the opening line to the 1830 novel Paul Clifford by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. It has become known as the epitome of hackneyed writing, to the extent that a Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest, sponsored by the English department at San Jose State University, is held annually to choose the worst opening sentence to an (imaginary) novel.
What’s Dwight Eisenhower doing here?
Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower (1890-1969) was the thirty-fourth president of the United States and the supreme commander of Allied forces in World War II.
Security guards of foreign wars.
Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is a national nonprofit organization with more than 2 million members. It exists as an advocacy group for veterans and also does a great deal of charity work.
The last brownshirt.
The Sturmabteilung, or storm troopers, were a paramilitary organization, a branch of the German Nazi Party. They were known as “brownshirts” because of their uniforms (the SS, by contrast, wore black shirts). Probably also a reference to The Last Boy Scout, a 1991 film starring Bruce Willis as a detective who teams up with a quarterback (played by Damon Wayans) to solve a murder.
“Duce” is an Italian word meaning “leader.” Fascist leader Benito Mussolini adopted the title “Il Duce” in the 1920s.
Even your Marky Mark poster.
“Marky Mark” was the stage name of musician and actor Mark Wahlberg, who toured as the front man for Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch in the 1980s (his brother Donnie was a member of New Kids on the Block). He achieved greater fame in the 1990s as an actor, appearing in such films as Boogie Nights (1997) and The Perfect Storm (2000).
Baskin-Robbins is a chain of ice cream retail stores founded in 1945, with more than 5,000 locations worldwide. Its cartons bear a distinctive pattern of pink and brown polka dots, first adopted in 1953.
It’s the White House Plumbers, only it’s funny!
The White House Plumbers were a group of aides to President Richard Nixon whose job was to ferret out leaks to the media (hence “plumbers”). In the course of investigating said leaks, the Plumbers carried out several burglaries; Plumbers E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy were later involved in the Watergate burglary that brought down the Nixon White House.
There’s funny Cheech Marin in the back!
Cheech Marin is a comedian and actor best known as half of the pot-happy comedy duo Cheech & Chong. He has also appeared in a number of movies and television shows, including Desperado (1995) and From Dusk Till Dawn (1996).
I’m Norm Crosby.
Norm Crosby is a Borscht Belt-style comedian known especially for his malapropisms, such as drinking "decapitated" coffee and speaking from his "diagram." He made regular appearances on the old Ed Sullivan Show.
Stanley Owsley is smiling somewhere.
Owsley Stanley (1935-2011) was one of the first mass manufacturers of LSD during the 1960s. Satisfied clients included Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters as well as the Grateful Dead, for whom he also ran sound and designed their famous lightning bolt/skull logo.
Oh, he’s reading Mr. Drysdale Monthly.
Miburn Drysdale was the wealthy banker on the TV series The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-1971). The part was played by Raymond Bailey (1904-1980).
An imitation of Montgomery Burns, the greedy millionaire owner of the nuclear power plant on the TV show The Simpsons. The voice was supplied by Harry Shearer.
Robert Guillaume is Miss Benson.
Actor Robert Guillaume played the title character on the TV sitcom Benson, a show about the butler to a scatterbrained governor (James Noble).
[Sung.] Listen to this story ‘bout a man named Jed, poor …
A reference to the theme song to The Beverly Hillbillies. Sample lyrics: “Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed/A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed/Then one day he was shootin at some food/And up through the ground came a bubblin crude.”
Oh, just when I thought the movie couldn’t get any worse, Ringo’s in it!
Ringo Starr was the drummer for the Beatles. He also occasionally tried his hand at acting, including the 1981 epic Caveman.
Looking very relaxed, Hugh Beaumont on sax.
Hugh Beaumont (1909-1982) was an actor best known for playing all-knowing father Ward Cleaver on the TV series Leave It to Beaver (1957-1963). He appeared in several MST episodes, including Show 420, The Human Duplicators, and Show 803, The Mole People.
Oh, Justice Ginsburg arrives.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a Supreme Court justice, the second woman ever appointed to the court. She was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993. She is considered among the more liberal members of the court.
The Hudson Brothers in their wackiest comedy yet.
The Hudson Brothers were a pop group during the 1970s, consisting of siblings Bill, Mark, and Brett Hudson. Their more popular songs included “So You Are a Star” and “Rendezvous.” They also had a couple of short-lived TV variety shows during the mid-1970s.
Oh, no, they’re going to drug Gerry Mulligan!
Gerry Mulligan (1927-1996) was a jazz musician. A saxophonist, Mulligan is considered one of the founders of West Coast jazz. Mulligan worked with most of the big names in jazz throughout his long career, including a seminal stint with Miles Davis.
This is like a Mentos ad!
See note on Mentos, above.
That’s the LSD-25 for you, and you had the LSD-25, and over here, hot LSD-25 …
LSD-25, or simply LSD, is the shorthand for the chemical lysergic acid diethylamide, a hallucinogenic drug whose usefulness in psychiatric treatment has been the subject of much debate. The “25” in the name appears to merely refer to the fact that it was the twenty-fifth type of lysergic acid compound distilled by Dr. Albert Hofmann, who discovered the drug in 1938.
Hey, Hitler! We want to order over here!
Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) was the dictator of Germany during World War II (1939-45).
Gloria Steinem gets down.
Gloria Steinem, a journalist who founded the magazine Ms., was one of the leaders of the feminist movement in the 1970s. An attractive, articulate woman, Steinem was a media darling, to the extent that some other feminist leaders felt they were being denied a voice at a time when the feminist movement was a collection of quite disparate groups and attitudes.
These Applebee’s are getting really zany.
Applebee’s is a casual dining restaurant with more than 1,700 locations worldwide. It was founded in 1980.
I’ve never seen Solzhenitsyn look quite so giddy.
Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) was a Soviet dissident who was imprisoned for more than a decade for making insulting statements about Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in a letter to a friend. His most famous work, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, follows the titular character through a typical day as a prisoner in a Siberian labor camp.
All right—let’s do that Steve & Leo bit.
Steve & Leo are a pair of Chicago standup comedians.
Check out Shirley Chisholm in the background.
Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005) was the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Congress, where she served from 1968-1982. In 1972 she made a bid for the Democratic nomination for president, losing to George McGovern.
[Sung.] Chisholm, Shirley Chisholm ...
See previous note. Tom is singing the theme to the 1970 John Wayne movie Chisum. (Thanks to Makkai for this reference.)
An imitation of David White in his role as Larry Tate on the TV show Bewitched (see above note).
Now this is how the NRA wants the world to look. And frankly …
The National Rifle Association, or NRA, is a national organization dedicated to promoting gun ownership. It is a powerful lobbying organization, successfully and fiercely resisting any and all gun control measures.
The Maidenform woman. You never know where she’ll show up.
“The Maidenform woman. You never know where she’ll turn up” was the tagline for a series of advertisements for Maidenform bras that ran during the 1970s. The campaign was phenomenally successful, boosting sales by as much as 200 percent. The ads continued to run until the mid-1980s.
Hey, Frank Sinatra Jr.!
Frank Sinatra Jr. is the son of the famous crooner by his first wife, Nancy Barbato. He too is a singer, but he has always been overshadowed by his famous dad.
The Landers sisters get down.
Judy and Audrey Landers were actresses who did a series of guest appearances on various television shows during the 1980s.
I’m Peter Graves. Tonight on A&E Biography, we’ve repackaged a documentary made years ago.
An imitation of Peter Graves in his role as the host of the documentary show Biography on the A&E cable channel, which he appeared in from 1987-1994.
There’s a man on the wing of the plane! –No, there isn’t. –Oh. Sorry.
A reference to the Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” in which an airline passenger (played by William Shatner) sees a hideous ape-like monster sabotaging the wing of the plane.
Are you the Beatles? You must be the Beatles.
The Beatles were a staggeringly influential British rock band, consisting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. They produced a lengthy string of number one hits, inspired countless bands, caused riots among female teenage fans, annoyed the Establishment, and generally set the stage for the rock & roll revolution of the 1960s.
Geraldine Ferraro (1935-2011) was a politician who, in 1984, became the first woman to be nominated as vice president on one of the major party tickets. She and the Democratic presidential candidate, Walter Mondale, were defeated by incumbent Ronald Reagan in the 1984 election.
“Is this the Ajax Development Corporation?” Is Perseus in right now?
In Greek mythology, Ajax was one of the greatest warriors among the Greek forces during the Trojan War, second only to Achilles. He went mad after he was denied the prize of Achilles’ armor after that soldier’s death, and later committed suicide. Perseus was the son of the Greek god Zeus, the product of one of Zeus’s many, many seductions of mortal women. He is famous for killing Medusa, a fearsome gorgon whose gaze turned people to stone.
I’m here with Doodles Weaver.
Doodles Weaver (1911-1983) was a comic actor who appeared on the old Spike Jones radio program as Professor Feitlebaum and appeared in a series of silent comedy shorts for TV in the 1960s.
They’ve renewed Mad About You?
Mad About You was a television sitcom starring Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt. It aired from 1992-1999.
We’ll take D.C. Cab.
D.C. Cab is a 1983 movie starring Adam Baldwin as a man who dreams of opening his own cab company.
Special appearance by George “Goober” Lindsey.
George Lindsey (1928-2012) was an actor whose best-known role is Goober Pyle on the TV series The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968); he was so identified with the part that he is usually referred to as George “Goober” Lindsey.
Judy Judy Judy!
An impersonation of Goober Pyle (see previous note) impersonating Cary Grant. Goober was known for his bad imitations of celebrities.
“I … am …” Iron Man.
“I … am … Iron … Man” is the opening line to “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath, off their 1972 album Paranoid.
They’ve contacted Leonard Cohen.
Leonard Cohen is a Canadian singer/songwriter known for such hits as “Bird on a Wire.” A number of other artists have also recorded his songs, including Neil Diamond, Diana Ross, and Joe Cocker.
I am the North Wind …
A reference to Show 422, The Day the Earth Froze.
Who is it, Eek-a-Mouse?
Eek-a-Mouse (real name Ripton Hylton) is a Jamaican reggae singer who was popular in the 1980s. Songs include “Ganja Smuggling” and “Assassinator.”
Yoko Ono is a Japanese conceptual artist known for her atonal and highly experimental music. She is also known, perhaps unfairly, as the woman who broke up the Beatles, due to her influence on her husband, John Lennon, with whom she released a number of albums.
Captain Jeffrey T. Spaulding is the name of Groucho Marx’s character in the 1930 Marx Brothers film Animal Crackers.
What, did they rip that thing out of a Chevy Vega?
The Chevrolet Vega was a car model sold during the 1970s. It sold strongly at first, but suffered numerous problems with design flaws, including carburetors that had a tendency to burst into flame.
Watson, come here. I hate you.
On March 10, 1876, “Mr. Watson, come here—I want to see you” were the first words ever transmitted by telephone, spoken by inventor Alexander Graham Bell to his assistant, Thomas Watson, in the next room.
The hilarity of Drop Dead Fred.
Drop Dead Fred is a 1991 movie starring Phoebe Cates as a young woman who is tormented by her childhood imaginary friend (played by Rik Mayall).
[Sung.] Keep your eye on the road and your hands upon the wheel …
A line from the song “Roadhouse Blues” by the Doors. Sample lyrics: “Ah keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel/Keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel/Yeah, we're going to the roadhouse/Gonna have a real good time …”
Edith Prickley goes at it with Lumpy Rutherford.
Edith Prickley was the leopard-print-clad station manager on the sketch comedy series SCTV; the part was played by Andrea Martin. Clarence "Lumpy" Rutherford was the local bully on the TV sitcom Leave It to Beaver (1957-1963); he was played by Frank Bank.
Barbra Streisand is an actress, singer, director, and all-around showperson, one of the few female performers to have earned the rank of diva. She has performed on Broadway, in movies, and in concerts, where she can command hundreds of dollars per ticket.
This is before they invented Librium, isn’t it?
Librium, a.k.a. chlordiazepoxide, is a hypnotic drug used as a tranquilizer. Although it, like related drugs such as Valium, has dependency issues, it is still used for treating anxiety disorders. It was first synthesized in the mid-1950s by Leo Sternbach.
An imitation of Frank Sutton (1923-1974) as the long-suffering Sgt. Vince Carter on the TV series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., which ran from 1964-1970.
Is this any way to run an airline? You bet it is! Please kill me.
“Is this any way to run an airline? You bet it is!” is an advertising slogan for National Airlines (now defunct) that ran during the 1960s.
Jane Goodall works her magic.
Jane Goodall is an anthropologist who achieved worldwide fame for her struggles to study and protect chimpanzees in Tanzania. Her most significant contribution to science was her discovery that chimpanzees use tools (such as small sticks) to obtain food; previously it had been thought that only humans used tools.
Baywatch. Yes, Baywatch.
Baywatch is a television series about lifeguards on a resort beach that aired from 1989-2001. It starred David Hasselhoff as a veteran lifeguard who watches paternally over a string of younger, extremely good-looking lifeguards.
When Gidget meets Zorro.
Gidget was a 1959 movie about a young girl who discovers the joys of love and surfing with a fella named Moondoggy. Actress Sandra Dee played the title role. See also note on Zorro, above.
Mom, do you ever have a problem feeling fresh? Mom? Mom?
Probably a reference to the classic douche commercial in which a mother and a daughter take a companionable stroll while discussing feminine hygiene. The line “Mom, do you ever get that not-so-fresh feeling?” became an instant classic of euphemism and is still frequently referenced today.
Bad touch, El Santo!
See note on El Santo, above.
Here’s Charo, waiting to be abducted.
Charo is a singer, actress, and flamenco guitarist originally from Spain. She was a regular on The Hollywood Squares during the 1970s and appeared frequently on The Love Boat. She now performs regularly in Las Vegas.
Taming of the bat-shrew.
The Taming of the Shrew is a comic play by William Shakespeare, about an independent young woman, Katharine, whose husband Petruchio teaches her to obey and look up to him, a construction that has proved hard for modern audiences to swallow.
One Adam-12, domestic disturbance at …
“One Adam-12” was how the police dispatcher opened her bulletins on the TV cop show Adam-12, which ran from 1968-1975. The part was played by Shaaron Claridge, who worked as an actual dispatcher for the Los Angeles Police Department.
Tethered to the mob.
Married to the Mob is a 1988 film starring Michelle Pfeiffer as a Mafia widow trying to start a new life for herself while being pursued by a lustful mobster and the FBI.
Sounds like Bernie Krause turning up his Mellotron.
Bernie Krause is a musician who got his start in the folk scene of the 1960s. He has become renowned as a “bioacoustician,” a musician who makes use of the ambient sounds of nature as the centerpiece of his work. Mellotrons are an electronic keyboard popular during the 1960s and 1970s that provided sound samples for recording effects such as strings, brass instruments and choirs. Bands that used Mellotrons include the Moody Blues, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones; some bands use them even today.
Fritz Lang’s Beaches.
Fritz Lang (1890-1976) was an Austrian expressionist film director best known for his 1927 film Metropolis, about a workers’ revolution in a futuristic dystopia. Beaches is a 1988 film starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey as two friends who share a conflicted friendship from childhood and into adulthood.
Hey, wait a minute! This is The Mole People! These movies have crashed!
The Mole People is a 1956 film starring John Agar as an archaeologist who discovers a race of people living underground. Mike and the bots gave it the usual treatment in Show 803.
You got your Mole People on my Batwoman! –You got your Batwoman on my Mole People!
An imitation of the television ads for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that aired during the 1980s: “You got peanut butter on my chocolate! No, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter!”
[Sung.] Aieee would walk five hundred miles …
A line from the song “500 Miles” by the Proclaimers. Sample lyrics: “But I would walk five hundred miles/And I would walk five hundred more/Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles/To fall down at your door …”
The doctor dresses like an off-duty Denny’s manager.
Denny’s is a budget chain of restaurants found across the length and breadth of this fair land.
Fashions by Jean Paul Gaultier.
Jean Paul Gaultier is a French fashion designer known for having designed much of Madonna’s wardrobe during the 1990s, including her famous “cone bra”; he has also worked on a number of films, including The Fifth Element and The City of Lost Children.
Oh, he must be going to a Packer game later.
The Green Bay Packers are a pro football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Oh, God, he’s gonna drink Liz Taylor’s Poison!
Poison is a brand of perfume introduced by Christian Dior in 1985. Actress Elizabeth Taylor has launched several perfumes under her name, including Passion and White Diamonds.
Who will be Miss Chrysanthemum?
Probably a reference to an episode of Charlie’s Angels, in which the Angels go undercover at a Miss Chrysanthemum pageant.
Like how did Thea Vidale get a series?
Thea Vidale is a standup comedian who starred in the eponymous Thea, a 1993 sitcom about a widow struggling to raise her children that lasted only eighteen episodes before being canceled.
[Sung.] … Jingleheimer Schmidt … Hi! We’re back from Camp Snoopy!
A reference to the kids’ song “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.” Sample lyrics: “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt/His name is my name too/Whenever we go out/The people always shout/There goes John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt/Dah dah dah dah dah dah dah [repeat forever]." 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.
You know, David Bowie did the stage version. –Oh, yeah.
David Bowie is a British rock musician who rose to fame during the era of glam rock in the early 1970s, with such albums as The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Since that time his music has undergone a number of evolutions, from flirtations with soul and R&B to the dance craze of the early 1980s. He is considered one of the most influential rock musicians of all time.
He had King Vitaman for breakfast.
King Vitaman is a cereal produced by Quaker. In its original incarnation, the box sported a photograph of a gray-haired gent in a crown, happily holding a spoonful of cereal. Later the photo was replaced by a cartoon drawing of a king, a change that appears to have upset a lot of people, judging by the scathing websites.
“Never mind the monsters, Leon.” 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.
And you, Tin Man, step forward.
“Step forward, Tin Man” is a line from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
At what point do they free Willy?
Free Willy is a 1993 movie about a young boy trying to rescue a killer whale from an aquarium.
A reference to a scene in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, in which the hunchback Quasimodo carries the limp, unconscious body of the condemned Esmerelda up into the bell tower and cries out to the crowd, “Sanctuary! Sanctuary! Sanctuary!”
I think it’s going to be Tony Roberts.
Tony Roberts is an actor who has appeared in a string of Woody Allen movies, including Annie Hall and Play It Again, Sam. He was also a regular on The Carol Burnett Show.
Maybe it’s Ron Liebman.
Ron Liebman is an actor who has appeared in such movies as Slaughterhouse-Five, Norma Rae, and Zorro, the Gay Blade.
Maybe it’s Madonna, John Candy and Adrienne Barbeau.
Madonna is a pop singer and cultural icon, a woman whose skill at manipulating the media and outrageous lifestyle often overshadowed her music. She first rose to fame in the early 1980s with such hits as “Lucky Star” and “Material Girl.” John Candy (1950-1994) was a portly comedian who became well-known on the Canadian skit comedy show SCTV and later on Saturday Night Live. Adrienne Barbeau is an actress known for her role as Maude’s daughter on the TV sitcom Maude, and for her appearances in several 1980s horror movies, including The Fog and Swamp Thing.
You know a movie is bad, bad, bad if it makes the Monkees look good!
Following the success of the Beatles, the Monkees were a band created specifically to star in a TV show,The Monkees, which aired from 1966-1968. Although they started out as purely a media creation, with the members of the band not actually playing their instruments, they later toured as an actual band with great success. Hits included “I’m a Believer” and “Last Train to Clarksville.”
[Sung.] I know that you are out there somewhere having fun …
A paraphrase of the Don Gibson song “Oh Lonesome Me.” Actual lyrics: “Everybody's going out and having fun/I'm just a fool for staying home and having none/I can't get over how she set me free/Oh lonesome me." (Thanks to Makkai for this reference.)
This is like a classic Lucy episode except I want to kill myself.
A reference to the television show I Love Lucy, which aired from 1951 to 1957. In a typical episode, Lucy Ricardo (played by Lucille Ball) and Ethel Mertz (played by Vivian Vance) would get themselves hopelessly entangled in some hairbrained scheme to satisfy Lucy’s lust for fame and showbiz.
Whoa, there’s a bride for every brother!
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a 1954 MGM musical about seven brothers who plot to get the wives they want by kidnapping them.
Okay, okay. People, if I could get all the dancing Rat Finks to one side of the stage, and all the singing Rat Finks to the other, please ...
This is probably a reference to the Hitler auditions in The Producers (1968). The actual line is “Will all the dancing Hitlers please wait in the wings? We’re only taking the singing Hitlers!”
I’m trying to get All Things Considered.
All Things Considered is a daily news radio broadcast that has been airing on National Public Radio (NPR) since 1971. (Thanks to Brandon Hollingsworth for correcting the original airdate.)
William Faulkner (1897-1962) was a novelist who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1949. Among his best-known works are The Sound and the Fury and the Snopes trilogy.
Dove Bars. I love ‘em.
Dove Bars are a brand of ice cream bars manufactured by Mars Inc. They were created in 1956 by a Greek immigrant from Chicago, Leo Stefanos.
I stalk Rue McClanahan.
Rue McClanahan (1934-2010) was an actress who appeared in All in the Family and Maude, in addition to a regular role on Mama’s Family. But she is probably best known for playing Blanche Devereaux on The Golden Girls (1985-1992).
[Sung.] People try to put us down … talking ‘bout my generation …
A line from the Who song “My Generation.” Sample lyrics: “People try to put us down/Talkin' 'bout my generation/Just because we get around/Talkin' 'bout my generation …”
[Sung.] I’ll shoot myself if we ever meet again/Doesn’t matter where, doesn’t matter when …
A paraphrase of the song “We’ll Meet Again,” which was famously used over the shots of nuclear annihilation at the end of Dr. Strangelove (1964).
In Grant Park, on Lake Shore Drive.
Grant Park is a large public park that runs along the shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago. It was carved out as public land in the 19th century. Lake Shore Drive is an expressway running north-south through Chicago along Lake Michigan.
They look like Drift Babies.
Probably a reference to Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies, an animated television series that aired from 1984-1991.
Now it’s Flowers for Algernon.
Flowers for Algernon is a 1966 novel by Daniel Keyes about a mentally disabled man who is chosen as the subject of an experiment to increase his intelligence. The experiment works, but soon he feels his newfound intelligence slipping away.
[Sung.] And your brains aren't up to par/And your ears stick out too far.
Lines from “The Dropouts’ March,” an Allan Sherman song. Other, perhaps better-known lyrics: “No more pencils, no more books/No more teachers’ dirty looks/Dropouts, dropouts, yeah team.”
Huh. Hamburger Hill.
The Battle of Hamburger Hill was a 1969 battle between American forces and the Vietcong for control of Ap Bia Mountain. (The G.I.s dubbed it Hamburger Hill because it chewed up the soldiers like ground meat.) About 70 Americans were killed in the battle; not a huge amount for the Vietnam War, but because the hill was surrendered to the Vietcong shortly after the Americans laid down lives to take it, it was seized on by anti-war forces as an example of the futility of the war.
Oh, no, Jackie Vernon joined up with them!
Jackie Vernon (1924-1987) was a standup comedian who made frequent appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show; he also supplied the voice of the main character in the Frosty the Snowman Christmas special.
It’s that one Kid in the Hall!
Probably a reference to Scott Thompson, the openly gay member of the comedy troupe Kids in the Hall.
He’s turned into Paul Lynde here.
Paul Lynde (1926-1982) was a comedian who was known for playing Uncle Arthur on the TV show Bewitched. He was also a longtime guest on the game show Hollywood Squares, occupying the center square from 1968-1981.
Hi. I’m Merv Griffin.
Merv Griffin (1925-2007) started out his career as a singer, but he came to fame as a TV talk show host during the 1960s and 1970s. The Merv Griffin Show was the source of much controversy, as it frequently espoused anti-war views and invited such controversial guests as comedian Dick Gregory. Later Griffin developed game shows, including Wheel of Fortune.
Oh, what a talent. Shelley Berman, folks!
Shelley Berman was a popular standup comedian during the 1960s.
Not since Dean Jones and the Love Bug, eh?
The Love Bug is a 1968 film about a lovable Volkswagen Beetle named Herbie. It starred Dean Jones, veteran of many a wholesome Disney flick, and nightclub comedian Buddy Hackett.
Oh, Donald! Oh, Donald! Oh!
See note on Marlo Thomas, above.