Pop Culture References in The Colbert Report Apr 11-14, 2011

Pop Culture references from the Colbert ReportWelcome to No Fact Zone’s weekly roundup of cultural references on The Colbert Report. From Darcy to Danger Mouse, String Theory to Shakespeare, we’ve got the keys to this week’s obscure, oddball, and occasionally obscene cultural shout-outs (hey!).


1001000 1101001 Zoners! Another stellar week at The Report. I have to admit that the Walgreens sketch had me in stitches (do they sew those up there?) because even though it isn’t a service that pharmacies offer right now (even in their in house clinic) it does seem like we are fast approaching that reality. Let me break out my own charts and graphs and show you just how hilarious and insightful this week’s shows were……Ok, my webcam isn’t working so take my word for it – these graphics are great! Until I fix it – tell me, what were your favorite segments?

Monday

Thought for Food – Chocolate Air, Denny’s & Bacon Cologne

By the way “Mouth Experience” is the name of the very worst ride at Epcot.

Of course this isn’t related the recently closed Body Wars. After doing some careful research, I found little consensus among the opinionistas about what ride is considered the “worst” at Epcot Center. I did find some compelling arguments here, here and here. What I did find was an interesting article on attractions that have come and gone, and from what I can tell from other opinion sites, The Living Seas keeps coming up as a “most loathed” ride along with Journey into Imagination! with Figment. On the upside here’s a list of the Top 10 rides at Epcot, which includes Spaceship Earth, the ride that is inside the Epcot “golf ball”-like structure. If you are interested in more history of Epcot, here is a great site to check out.

Not to be confused with Essence of Bacon – a new vanity fragrance by Kevin Bacon. It is six degrees of sensual.

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is a trivia game based on the six degrees of seperation concept, which essentially states that we are a mere six steps away from being connected to other people on the planet. Frigyes Karinthy was the first proponent of this concept, which later became ingrained in popular culture when John Guare wrote a play based on the concept and screenplay for a movie starring Will Smith. The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game plays on the small world concept and proposes that you can link any actor to Kevin bacon through their film roles – within six steps. It was created in 1994 by three students at Albright College in Pennsylvania, and first appeared on The Jon Stewart Show to explain the phenomenon.


Tuesday

Mitt Happens

McCain got it because he finished 2nd to Bush in 2000, who was the son of the previous Republican President, who was the Vice President to Reagan, who came in second to Ford, who had pardoned Nixon who had been VP under the previous Republican President Eisenhower, who had defeated Hitler, who was forced out of New Hampshire by Alf Landon.

Dwight Eisenhower did indeed, defeat Hitler, but if Alfred Landon forced anyone out of New Hampshire, it was Idahoan Senaore William Borah, who lost the Republican nomination to him 924 to 19 after other challengers such as Herbert Hoover, Francis Townsend, and Earl Warren dropped out of contention. Landon was soundly beat in a landslide by FDR, earning only 8 electoral votes from Maine and Vermont to FDR’s 523. This is ironic considering one of his campaign slogans was “Let’s Make it a Landon-Slide.” He did have his own “six degrees” -ish connection to Hitler during that time: in 1936 Hitlers Germany continued to show the world it was not scared of anyone but during the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Hitler suffered public humiliation when his Aryan “supermen” were dominated by the great Jesse Owens, who publicly supported Landon for president. Landon opposed Hitler and his treatment of the Jewish, and spoke out against his actions along with President Franklin D Roosevelt in November of 1938 after hundred of Jewish people were killed during Kristallnacht.

Ray Kurzweil

Millions of tiny nanobots into our blood system — is there any way that couldn’t turn into a horror movie?

Actually, there are a couple good films out there that feature nanotechnology as a frightening technology. Of course, those of us who are Mystery Science Theatre fans have heard of the Nanites, but in 1995, The Outer Limits featured them in an episode. Dr. Stephen Ledbetter, played by Richard Thomas, is a scientist who creates nanobots capable of fighting curing disease inside the human body. The doctor’s friend (Andy) is told during the course of the episode that he has inoperable cancer and injects himself with the nanobots. They are successful in ridding him of cancer, but they continue to adapt his body for any obstacles he presents (including creating gills for him when he submerges himself in water). This ultimately leads to his demise. You can watch the episode on Hulu. Another film, One Point O tells the story of a computer programmer who is one of many subjects of a corporate experiment involving nanotechnology. Scary indeed!


Wednesday

The Word: Buy and Cellulite

Underarms are just the pit of the iceberg: what about that hideous spot behind a woman’s knee – the leg pit? Or the elbow waddle? Or this nasty little nook right here? I call it the thumb crotch. Why hasn’t Victoria’s secret come out with a line of thumb thongs? Then we can sell women thumb crotch wax.

I know what you’re saying, you’re beauty is about what’s on the inside. Yes, that’s why we need to make women feel bad about their internal organs too. I mean just check out this chunky pancreas. This girls got some serious pankles.

I wanted to hit on two things here: First of all, it appears that there are already people out there who appreaciate a nice thumb crotch, but so far, the only products I can find that refer to them are gloves, as well as police officer training articles stressing the importance of hand size, and thumb crotch position in selecting a sidearm and video game controller techniques. So, maybe there is a market!

The term “pankles” evokes memories of other obsessions conjured up to make us all develop some level/form of body dysmorphic disorder. “Cankles” became a phenomenon in the late 2000s, and were prominently featured when Gold’s Gym created a (now defunct) website to help “conquer” this issue.

Morgan Spurlock

I have a special place in my heart for Mane and Tail because they have a shampoo for both people and horses

If any of you have ever used their products, you can attest to the existence Mane and Tail shampoo. I’ll admit it, I have used it – and the conditioner! The products originate from the Katzev family horse farm in rural New Jersey, and were originally intended for show horses. They have since found that many of the products work well on human hair, skin and nails as well. They also have other products such as grooming, finishing, first aid, treatment, and styling for both humans and equines, and they have branched out into canine products.


Thursday

Easter Under Attack – Egg Edition

The message of Easter is, and always has been, eggs.

Easter has origins in Pagan and Christian traditions. The word “Easter” is derived from the Old English and German Eostur-monath, in reference to the celebration of Eostre, goddess of spring by the Saxons of Northern Europe (Ostara to the Norse) . A festival was held during the vernal equinox to honor her. The goddess Eastre’s symbols were the hare and the egg, which symbolize fertility.

The Christian celebration of Easter centers around the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It occurs on Sunday, two days after his crucifixion and death (Good Friday). Some common religious observances found include baptisms, the Eucharist (the Lord’s Supper), and feasting, – which is often welcome after the fasting associated with Lent.

So what about the eggs? Even before its association with Easter, the egg has, for many cultures, symbolized fertility and rebirth. It is one of the six traditional items on a Passover Seder plate is the beitzah – a hard-boiled egg, symbolizing the korban chagigah (festival sacrifice) that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem. Dyed eggs were used in Babylonian festivals and were also suspended from the ceiling in Egyptian temples. In Christianity it is a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (although for a time, eggs were forbidden during Lent, so it was a treat to have them afterwards). So how did the Easter bunny come to deliver the eggs? German settlers in Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania Dutch) brought the tradition of the Easter bunny delivering eggs to American folklore in the 1700s.

Bunny Eggs

Something in this picture doesn't fit...


Caroline Kennedy

What was the first poem you had to memorize?
Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand.

This is the poem “Second Fig” by Edna St. Vincent Malley. The poems First Fig and Second Fig were the opening poems in her volume entitled A Few Figs From Tistles, published in 1922. It appears (in my interpretation) to be a commentary on the differing outcomes of a life lead with a solid versus a transitory foundation. The author was known for her known whimsical nature, and her poetry often celebrated freedom and individualism.

Here’s mine: Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower; But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.

Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” You may also remember it from S.E. Hinton’s novel, and the filmThe Outsiders, where Ponyboy recites the poem during their stay at an abandoned church. The poem, on it’s surface, appears (in my interpretation) to say that “all good things must come to an end.” The poem uses metaphors from nature to convey the impermanence of innocence. On a deeper level it is an evocative use of the felix culpa or the Fall of Man. “So Eden sank to grief” refers the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and are subsequently banned from Eden (hence Eden sinking to grief). Johnny wishes for Ponyboy to keep his innocence in The Outsiders when he tells Ponyboy to “stay gold.”

I am interested in hearing your interpretations of these poems in the comment sections!

Comments

  1. “If any of you have ever used their products, you can attest to the existence Mane and Tail shampoo. I’ll admit it, I have used it – and the conditioner!”

    Me too. I’d heard it makes your hair thicker, and boy did it ever. I had to stop using it when it got to where I could barely run my fingers through my hair!

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  2. Can I just say how good it is to be back! I missed this place, and everyone, when the “technical difficulties” were dominating the ether for awhile.
    I have also heard of Mane and Tail products, but I’ve never tried them. Although I’m assuming one does not suddenly develop a craving for hay after a certain number of uses. (I wouldn’t mind running faster, however.)
    I know I posted this previously somewhere else, but I just have to say it again. That poetry. Oh. God. That. Poetry.
    Stephen reciting poetry from memory is… just… just… well, there are no words. Not even poetry.

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  3. Yes, after whooping with recognition when Mane And Tail was mentioned, I was then forced to wag my finger after hearing Stephen say that nobody used it. Why, I use it all the time, Mr Colbert, as nature intended – on horsies! We get through bottles of it at the stables.

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  4. I’ve tried it once. It made my hair silky-smooth, but because my hair’s very fine and needs lots of volumizing, Mane And Tails was also a little heavy and weighed it down.

    I love the book “The Outsiders” and that one quote: “Stay gold, Ponyboy.” Wish we all could.

    And Stephen reciting poetry…*sighs with mixed emotions*

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  5. Actually, there are a couple good shows/movies out there that feature nanotechnology as a frightening technology.

    There are also a slew of novels on the subject. The most famous is probably Michael Critchton’s Prey, about swarms of nanobots that eventually start hunting like pack animals, but Dean Koontz wrote a genuine horror novel (as opposed to the thriller I would classify Crichton’s as) about injected nanobots that would eat the body for fuel.

    I’d have to say that the most popular pop culture reference in the last 20-odd years, though, has to be the Star Trek: The Next Generation’s nanites, which range from harmless medical aids to GOING TO KILL YOU NOW. (The Borg also have nanobot-like things.) And on a recent season of Eureka, nanobots used in nanomedicine specifically went off and started eating people.

    What I’m surprised Kurzweil didn’t mention is Project Cyborg by Kevin Warwick. Prof. Warwick has slowly been, well, turning himself cyborg, from the simple implantation of an RFID chip in his arm (allowing doors to open, computers to log in, etc, when he got near) to actually connecting his nervous system to the internet. Very interesting stuff – there’s a whole host of literature out there on the cyborg, from theoretical (N. Katharine Hayles) to much more practical and pragmatic. There’s also, scary or otherwise, a very large group of hobbyists pursuing this sort of thing on a DIY level.

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    • I got to go to a lecture of Kevin Warwick’s a few months ago when he came to the British Museum. Seriously fascinating stuff. He showed this one clip where he and his wife managed to link their nervous systems, to where she could think something like “I want to move my right arm,” and he would feel it. The implications some of his studies have for the the future are pretty astounding. And he’s incredibly passionate about his field, really engaging. When I was listening to him, I literally thought “he’d make a great guest for TCR!”

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  6. As for Frost, I’ve always enjoyed the paradox in the poem – green is not gold, for example. It’s interesting to note that several versions of the poem existed before we got the current “frozen” version; it was really common back in the 1920s for authors to release multiple editions of their work, changing meaning and expanding poems in each edition.

    In the case of Frost, the Edenic metaphor was missing from the first round of the poem, making it seem a lot more like a tribute to lost love than a fall of man reference. Interesting bits about that can be read here:
    http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/a_f/frost/gold.htm

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  7. I thought of the nanites on MST3K when he mentioned the nanobots. Love that show!
    I also love the Frost poem and always think of The Outsiders when I hear it. I was excited in more ways than one, when I heard Stephen reciting it, but this is a family blog so that’s all I’ll say about that. :-)

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  8. I love this place.
    And I just bought a book of Robert Frost poems online. I am inspired. Either that, or those nanobots I got from watching the show have done their job.

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    • SW: You should watch that One Point O movie, that’s not far from the premise. Creepy film.
      I love love love Frost, and Sandburg, and Whitman. (Chopin is still my favorite author though, since there’s been a lot of English lit discussions going on.) That Outer Limits, uuugh still can’t shake the images from that one, which is why it jumped out at me (I still can’t believe as a giant Trek nerd, I missed that boat).

      ::goes back to the shadows:::

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      • Galadriel says:

        I know it’s oft-quoted, but this is still my favorite Frost poem: (last stanza from The Road Not Taken)

        “I shall be telling this with a sigh
        Somewhere ages and ages hence:
        Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
        I took the one less traveled by,
        And that has made all the difference.”

        Hasta manana, Toad!

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  9. Gratefull says:

    Charge of the Light Brigade

    Half a league, half a league,
    Half a league onward,
    All in the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.
    “Forward, the Light Brigade!
    Charge for the guns!” he said:
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.

    This is the first stanza of my first poem, if we don’t count prayers. My brother had memorized it so not being undone, I did too. There I was, little and determined, booming it out at the supper table and embarrassed when everyone laughed. *Sigh* Still, the start of a long love of poems.

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