Magic Twangers and Other Obscure References

Now I Get It
It occurs to me, in fact, every Saturday for the past 30 years, that some of the references moistening my dry humor might not be shared by those not in my demographic or what’s left of it. Not everyone has Buffalo Bob and Peppi Mint embedded in their primitive forebrains, along with the way Bob leeeered (no typo) at her. For many a lad their first taste of oh my my occurred on Howdy Doody, and that, kids, was what time it was. “Plunk your magic twanger, Froggy!” didn’t help either. By 8 you knew what a magic twanger was–today it’s probably 4. While many youth of old wanted to put the romper on Romper Room’s Miss Nancy she remained blissfully unaware, and nothing of that nature ever turned up in Do Bee or Don’t Bee.
So, any reference to Buffalo Bob, Froggy, magic twanger or Miss Nancy will be lost on those not damaged by them those many years ago. Yet, all these characters, every TV show and movie, every date in 9th grade American history, all events of importance going on locally and in the world, everything we’ve read or even skimmed become our references for life, ad vitam aeternam and ad nauseam. We spend our lifetimes collecting things that stuck out at the time: “out, out brief candle!”; “take up our battle with the foe!”; IGY; crib memories of Dick Nixon holding up a cloth coat and a puppy; all things November 22, 1963; one small step for a mankind (wait . . .); shoe x-ray machines at Tom’s Shoe Store; breaking (nickel) popsicles on the corner of the brick law office on Center St., Ann Margaret at her height (or whatever); a searchable database of the complete lyrics of the Beatles, Dylan, Stones and, for some reason, Glenn Campbell; locker numbers–37-7-17 and 16-35-1–for just two; a goodly chunk of your Bar Mitzvah maftir you can still sing; the lineup and starting rotation of the 1957 World Champion Milwaukee Braves, etc, etc, etc, as the King of Siam used to say.



Shackled with all these unusable references, what to do? You could write the definitive Reference Book of Me, where those who wanted to take the trouble could leaf through and, so, learn that kemosabe,* as used by Tonto in the Lone Ranger to appease the masked man did not mean “trusted friend” but “silver bullet kind of gay” in Ojibwe. But no one uses reference books anymore, so the only option is to footnote each archaic usage immediately upon citation–or don’t cite them at all! Footnoting off the top of your head in real time takes a little getting used to, but I think it can be done if you truly feel some of these rough diamonds deserve at least one more generation of usage. Just to get the ball rolling, I’ll start things off by footnoting the very tippy tip-tip of the iceberg of a few recent obscure references I’ve made:

A serviceable Amazing Grace, but President Obama did not exactly trance-channel Paul Robeson*.
–*Paul Robeson, 20th century actor and singer who blended athletics, artistry and humanitarianism into an inspiring legacy.

In Dodge City they’ve finished the new Wyatt Earp* Brave Courageous and Wet Water Park.
–*Wyatt Earp, legendary sheriff of Dodge City; the theme song of the Wyatt Earp TV show called him “brave, courageous and bold.”

Still have the Taft bathtub* in the White House basement, so I wouldn’t rule Chris Christie out.
–*William Howard Taft was 27th President of the United States, and a large man requiring a custom bathtub in the White House; Chris Christie is fat.
Google agrees to European Union ‘right to be forgotten’ after suit brought by a Heinrich Himmler*.
–Heinrich Himmler, currently burning in Hell, was Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel in Nazi Germany.

EU Greek aid comes in huge wooden horse.*
–Trojan Horse, of course, of course**
–**To paraphrase Mr. Ed, gelding Bamboo Harvester to his friends, a talking horse on CBS, 1961-66.

Ben says the Afflecks leased, they did not own*.
–*Ben Affleck asked the PBS show “Finding Your Roots” not to mention the Afflecks who had slaves.

Putin bribed Sepp Blatter with a Super Bowl ring*.
–*Robert Kraft of the Patriots says Putin stole his Super Bowl ring after shaking hands with him in 1975. Sepp Blatter, soon to be an obscure reference, is head of FIFA.

The only Supreme Leader* I recognize is Diana Ross*.
–*Ali Khomeini is Supreme Leader of Iran; Diana Ross Supreme Leader of the Supremes.
Ted Cruz is the guy in the fallout shelter game* who never gets saved.
–*Not the current number one game app, but the thought-provoking values excercise where there are 6 people who can be saved from nuclear apocalypse in a fallout shelter that can only hold 4, with implications for the future of mankind.
FAA approves Amazon flying-monkey delivery*.
–*C’mon, Wizard of Oz. Flying monkeys, man.

Ben Carson, MD: Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Stupidity*.
–*Slight variation of Dr. Zorba opening of Ben Casey, MD TV show (1961-66). Zorbals final word was Infinity.

The CPAC conference adjourns for round of flamingo croquet with hedgehogs*.
–*How it works in Wonderland.

Reexamination of Warren Commission photographs shows little Bill O’Reilly was on the grassy knoll in Dallas that day in November*.
–*How 13 year old Bill O’Reilly got the inside scoop for “Killing Kennedy.”

Dennis Rodman dressed as Marilyn Monroe sings Happy Birthday, Mr. President to Kim Jong Un*.
–*The upside of being JFK was having Marilyn Monroe sing Happy Birthday to you; there is no upside to being Dennis Rodman or Kim Jong Un.

VW recalls 150,000 cars making an achtung* noise.
–*Hitler supposedly designed the VW bug, way low on the list of his grievous offenses.

Now confirmed that was Richard III in the English car park because he was buried under a two door*.
–*Two door, Tudor, thought I had something there.

Pope given a CD by a singing nun with her version of “Like the Virgin”*.
–*Alternative name to Madonna’s first big hit.

Gas prices drop any more Chico and the Man* will come back.
–*Chico and The Man, 55 cent gas, 1974.

Paul Revere’s 1795 time capsule found to contain a coupon for Revere Ware*.
–*I just refurbished my revered Revere Ware so, for me, a contemporary reference.

Charles Manson’s comeback going a lot better than Bill Cosby’s*.
–*If this is not self-explanatory I retract rather than explain.

Long-term marijuana use linked to abnormalities in far-out region of the brain*.
–*Back in the day we also had uptight, out of sight, groovy and wasted regions of the brain.

Jihadists are reaching ISIS lines via Carnival Cruise Ships: If they could see me now!*
–*By no means implies that Kathie Lee Gifford is a Jihadist or ISIS sympathizer.

Derek Jeter leaves Yankees without disease named after him*.
–*I mean, I’m glad there is no Derek Jeter’s Disease.

Crest with microbeads has been shown to be an effective decay-preventing dentifrice when used in a conscientiously applied program of oral hygiene and regular professional care*.
–*There’s no longer a subliminal fluoride message to memorize on the back of the tube three times a day, every day of your childhood, but, there are microbeads!

Obama ISIS strategy: send in South Vietnamese regulars*.
–*Kind of weak, since they’re in their 80’s now and living in Florida.

In Scotland the Royal and Ancient Golf Club votes to accept Royal and Ancient Women*.
–*Believe me, you’re an ancient golf-playing woman in Scotland, this is a breakthrough.
If you don’t want your photos hijacked from the Cloud, stash all Polaroids under your undies, second drawer from top.*
–*This is just folk wisdom.

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One Comment on “Magic Twangers and Other Obscure References”

  1. Suds Terkel Says:

    In the words of ‘Lil Abner, “Ah feel redeemed!” I never thought I’d ever see a reference to Peppi Mint and one so well annotated as I thought I was the only so affected. Many thanks, you’re a giant among men. Or certainly, radio personalities, at the very least.


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