You’re Out of Your Element

 

A few weeks ago, I was watching Young Frankenstein. About halfway through, I realized that to the best of my knowledge, I hadn’t seen it before, yet due to the sort of people I associate with, I was already aware of all the most-referenced parts. It was not the first movie I’ve seen where previous secondhand knowledge somewhat diminished my enjoyment.

On the other side of the ledger, @hankrhody referenced Bartertown at work. In a group that could be expected to have known and asking other people afterward, he was only able to find 1.5 out of 19 people that knew who run Bartertown. (The half point was for knowing the movie.)

There are a couple reasons for telling these stories. The first is to point out ways that having common reference points and in-jokes can provide to bring people into a group or have a sidebar conversation that only a few people will understand. If someone asks me a yes/no question and I respond with “Is the Space Pope reptilian?” how they respond will probably have an effect on my opinion of them.

The second reason is to discuss exactly how much of a given medium one needs to be aware of in order to participate in a given conversation. If I know, for example: that the cake is a lie, you can’t fight in the War Room, that all your base are belong to us, that five is right out, that a man’s got to know his limitations, the Buster kept me out of handcuffs, that rug really tied the room together, if the light is green, the trap is clean, that word does not mean what I think it means, or that Shaft is one bad mother…, is it necessary to have actually consumed that media, or is it enough to know why it means what it means?

This principle can be applied to more than just movie and tv references. In another post, there was a discussion of the Fry’s Electronics chain and its legendarily bad customer service, which I was aware of despite not having been to one. Even Ricochet has some examples, although those will be left open as an exercise for the reader.

That’s all I’ve got, the floor is open. Anyone else have lines that they regularly use in conversation, whether or not anyone else will understand it?

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  1. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Yep, all the time. Since my wife and I have been together since…well, I don’t want to make any of you jealous, but it was before Noah built an Ark…we have many of the same films and TV shows as common reference points. My co-workers once knew them, too. 

    At the mention of a too-successful film festival rival, I’d turn into Clockwork Orange‘s Patrick Magee: “Food all right?? Tryyy the wiiine!”

    Or the Miss America pageant would bring forth Strangelove’s “Given a proper breeding ratio of ten ve-males to each male”. 

    Or Perry Mason‘s cynical, elderly detective, Lt. Tragg: “Well-ll, Perry, I’m afraid your client isn’t going to finish her song. (Pause) Because she’s going downtown with me. (Pause) Where she’ll be booked. (Pause). For murder”. 

    • #1
  2. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Never encountered anything like this before. Nope, never. Clear off, you blasted mud turtle! There’s no room!


    This is definitely a different take on our Group Writing theme of Understanding, the understanding of the in-group. If you, perhaps, have a different understanding of understanding, perhaps you would like to share it with us? Our sign-up sheet and schedule is here, and operators are standing by.

    • #2
  3. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Matt Balzer: he was only able to find 1.5 out of 19 people that knew who run Bartertown.

    I got that one covered.  Tina Turner.

    • #3
  4. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    My references are usually to Buckaroo Banzai or Firefly.

    • #4
  5. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Matt Balzer: he was only able to find 1.5 out of 19 people that knew who run Bartertown.

    I got that one covered. Tina Turner.

    @hankrhody?

    • #5
  6. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    My references are usually to Buckaroo Banzai or Firefly.

    “Need see Buckaroo!”

    ”Yeah, pal. Everybody ‘need see’ Buckaroo.”

    I don’t know why I repeat that little exchange to myself every time I see something that makes me shake my head.

    • #6
  7. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    “I aim to misbehave.”

    • #7
  8. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    My references are usually to Buckaroo Banzai or Firefly.

    “Need see Buckaroo!”

    ”Yeah, pal. Everybody ‘need see’ Buckaroo.”

    I don’t know why I repeat that little exchange to myself every time I see something that makes me shake my head.

    Pinky Caruthers, Blue Blaze Irregulars.

    • #8
  9. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?

    You’re gonna need a bigger boat.

    I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.

    They can’t do that to our pledges. Only we can do that to our pledges. (substitute [interns/customers/management] as appropriate.)

    Remember, no matter where you go … there you are.

    • #9
  10. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Now, there’s one thing that you men will be able to say when you get back home, and you may thank God for it. Thirty years from now when you’re sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you: ‘What did you do in the Great [insert project name here]?’, you won’t have to say: ‘Well, I shoveled s–t in Louisiana.’

    • #10
  11. Muleskinner Member
    Muleskinner
    @Muleskinner

    About half the lines in The Outlaw Josie Wales.

    But back when I was a kid, it took movies so long to hit the local bijou that I had the Mad Magazine parody memorized months before the movie came to town. Never sure how accurate the quotes were, but that was ok, too.

     

    • #11
  12. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Muleskinner (View Comment):
    About half the lines in The Outlaw Josie Wales.

    “Spit.”

    • #12
  13. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    @clavius has it covered for today, of course, but this could have been the Quote of the Day for the next week.

     

    • #13
  14. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Muleskinner (View Comment):
    About half the lines in The Outlaw Josie Wales.

    “Spit.”

     

    When we finished he shook our hands and said, “endeavor to persevere!” They stood us in a line: John Jumper, Chili McIntosh, Buffalo Hump, Jim Buckmark, and me — I am Lone Watie. They took our pictures. And the newspapers said, “Indians vow to endeavor to persevere.” We thought about it for a long time, “Endeavor to persevere.” And when we had thought about it long enough, we declared war on the Union.

    • #14
  15. danok1 Member
    danok1
    @danok1

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Muleskinner (View Comment):
    About half the lines in The Outlaw Josie Wales.

    “Spit.”

    “Get ready little lady. Hell is coming to breakfast.”

    • #15
  16. PHenry Member
    PHenry
    @PHenry

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Matt Balzer: he was only able to find 1.5 out of 19 people that knew who run Bartertown.

    I got that one covered. Tina Turner.

    Master Blaster run Bartertown.  Auntie just thinks she does. 

    • #16
  17. PHenry Member
    PHenry
    @PHenry

    Matt Balzer: Anyone else have lines that they regularly use in conversation, whether or not anyone else will understand it?

    ‘I’m your Huckleberry’. 

    • #17
  18. Major Major Major Major Member
    Major Major Major Major
    @OldDanRhody

    Duck, you sucker!

    • #18
  19. Juliana Member
    Juliana
    @Juliana

    Game over, man, game over! (Aliens)

    If you’re gonna shoot, shoot. Don’t talk. (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly)

    Could be worse…could be raining. (Young Frankenstein)

    In theory, communism works. (Homer from The Simpsons)

    In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics. (Homer from The Simpsons)

    I can’t be expected to keep track of all my wacky schemes. (Homer from The Simpsons)

    Pretty sure there is a Simpsons quote to cover any situation. That is one of the few points of reference I have in common with my younger colleagues at the high school.

    • #19
  20. Hank Rhody, Possibly Mad Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Possibly Mad
    @HankRhody

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Matt Balzer: he was only able to find 1.5 out of 19 people that knew who run Bartertown.

    I got that one covered. Tina Turner.

    hankrhody?

    Half a point. I asked another group on Thursday and I got a correct answer out of them. One guy said “I was getting there; I had gotten as far as Tina Turner but the I got stuck on the chain-link bra” which is worth half a point right there.

    • #20
  21. Hank Rhody, Possibly Mad Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Possibly Mad
    @HankRhody

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

     

    Or the Miss America pageant would bring forth Strangelove’s “Given a proper breeding ratio of ten ve-males to each male”. 

    At work we have a conference room called “The War Room”. Every single time I go there I think to myself. “Gentleman! You can’t fight here; this is the War Room!”. Every single time.

    • #21
  22. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    “Why?  Because we like you.”   Ring a bell?

    I still can’t get Annette out of my mind.  Boy, her life ended badly, didn’t it?

     

    • #22
  23. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge
    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.
    @BartholomewXerxesOgilvieJr

    No discussion of this subject would be complete without bringing up the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Darmok” (if you haven’t seen it, it’s available on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video).

    In the episode, the Enterprise encounters a species whose language consists entirely of allusions of this sort. Starfleet’s “universal translator” technology is no help, because if you don’t know the stories, translating the grammar and the vocabulary won’t do you any good. As science fiction, the premise doesn’t bear close scrutiny. Even so, it’s a great episode, a fascinating exploration about the importance of cultural literacy.

    (Interestingly, the episode itself has contributed to the phenomenon. If you ever hear someone say “Shaka, when the walls fell,” and you have no idea what they’re talking about … that’s why.)

    Sometimes I feel like Internet culture has developed a similar language, and unfortunately I am not fluent. It’s quite common for me to come across a Facebook post or tweet from one of my millennial acquaintances that I simply can’t make sense of, even if I know all of the words in it. Usually that’s because it’s based on shared knowledge of some Internet meme, and without being familiar with the meme in question, I have no hope of deciphering it.

    • #23
  24. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge
    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.
    @BartholomewXerxesOgilvieJr

    Deleting duplicate comment that got created somehow.

    • #24
  25. Matt Balzer Member
    Matt Balzer
    @MattBalzer

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. (View Comment):
    Sometimes I feel like Internet culture has developed a similar language, and unfortunately I am not fluent. It’s quite common for me to come across a Facebook post or tweet from one of my millennial acquaintances that I simply can’t make sense of, even if I know all of the words in it. Usually that’s because it’s based on shared knowledge of some Internet meme, and without being familiar with the meme in question, I have no hope of deciphering it.

    That’s definitely the case, and another example of whether or not it’s necessary to have gone through the whole process, or if it can be learned by osmosis, which is how I’ve picked most of it up.

    • #25
  26. JosePluma Thatcher
    JosePluma
    @JosePluma

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. (View Comment):

    Deleting duplicate comment that got created somehow.

    LOL. That one always breaks me up.

    • #26
  27. Suspira Member
    Suspira
    @Suspira

    In my family, we use quotes from the magnificent ’80s miniseries, “Fresno,” which we may have been the only people to see. Hilarious and eminently quotable.

    “Juan, there are two types of people in the world: those who have, and those who have not. I have. You have not.” “Do I have the raise, then?” “No, Juan, you have not.”

    “These grapes taste like fresno!”

    “Was he…boxed?”

    • #27
  28. Matt Bartle Member
    Matt Bartle
    @MattBartle

    “Pie is never free.”

     

    • #28
  29. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    I will not buy this record, it is scratched

    Where did it go?  Into the lumberyard (Caddyshack)

    I think this calls for a really futile and stupid gesture to be done on someone’s part. 
    We’re just they guys to do it.

    Face it Kent, you f**ked up, you trusted us

    • #29
  30. Matt Balzer Member
    Matt Balzer
    @MattBalzer

    Clavius (View Comment):

    I will not buy this record, it is scratched

    Where did it go? Into the lumberyard (Caddyshack)

    I think this calls for a really futile and stupid gesture to be done on someone’s part.
    We’re just they guys to do it.

    Face it Kent, you f**ked up, you trusted us

    Forget it, he’s rolling.

    • #30
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