The episode: “The Final Sacrifice,” ep. 910
The riff: Credited by Servo as the camera quickly cuts a demonic, fanged carving that is oddly colored and lumpy. It kind of looks like bad papier mache.
The explanation: Red Grooms is an American multimedia artist and painter who is known for his expansive, three-dimensional depictions of urban life and decay. The face in the film more closely resembles some of the paintings he did of celebrities and famous people. Additionally, the structure of the joke, calling it “Red Grooms’ Dracula” is probably a play on the 1992 adaptation of the classic Dracula story, “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” starring Gary Oldman.
Novelty factor: I’m familiar with the Oldman movie but I had to look up who Red Grooms was.
Hello, readers. There’s not a ton of you out there, but I would just like to say thank you for reading along with my MST3k project throughout the course of this year.
This blog began as a response to “thing a day” projects that friends and acquaintances were attempting, and went on to be an unqualified success. I learned the origins of many riffs I never understood before, and was able to educate other viewers in the same. In the year’s time, I never missed a daily update.
Now, though, there is only one week left in the initial 365-day challenge, and I’ve decided not to continue MST3k Riff-a-Day after that time is up. Although I’ve enjoyed writing it, the daily updates have been wearing on me, and I won’t miss having to ensure there’s a new post ready to go up each morning.
And so, thank you for reading. I’ve really appreciated all the comments over the course of the year. I will leave you with Joel’s wise words regarding the Circus of Doctor Lao.
EDIT: Somebody asked in the comments if I would still look up, research or otherwise figure out obscure riffs if they are suggested to me here, and I don’t see why not. Simply leave them on the “Suggest-a-Riff” page.
The episode: “Hercules Against the Moon Men,” ep. 410
The riff: Mumbled by Crow as an old, weathered man scribbles with his quill on a sheet of parchment.
The explanation: Aristophanes is one of the founding fathers of ancient Greek theater, specifically in the genre of comedy. His surviving works essentially define the Greek style of “old comedy” and give the most complete portrait we have of daily life in ancient Athens. They were typically politically charged and full of satire, singling out individuals such as the philosopher Socrates. Through his plays, Aristophanes wielded considerable political clout of his own.
Novelty factor: I’ve never actually seen a play by Aristophanes, but I know a handful of them and I’ve read about the playwright before.
You just got told by Aristophanes.
The episode: “The Brute Man,” ep. 702
The riff: Sung off-key by Mike as a blind woman plays the piano. Tom is briefly singing “O Holy Night” the same way just before him.
The explanation: This seems to be a reference to the lyrics of the Elvis Costello song “Stranger in the House,” from his debut 1977 album “My Aim is True.” As for the context…I have no idea at all. It’s possible they’re making a very literal reference because the “Brute Man” is hiding in her apartment during this time, so there’s literally a “stranger in her house.”
Novelty factor: No way in hell I knew this. I barely know any Elvis Costello.
The episode: “The Giant Spider Invasion,” ep. 810
The riff: Sagely observed by Mike as an unkempt country dude tries to split a rock apart by grabbing a hammer and chisel.
The riff: A mohel is a Jewish person trained in the rites of brit milah, also known as the bris. Specifically, he’s the guy who performs a circumcision on the young baby or child with a small knife. Many mohels are also rabbis.
Novelty factor: I recognized the riff, as many TV viewers of the 1990s would, because of the “Seinfeld” episode “The Bris,” which features an argumentative mohel. Judging from the pronunciation, though, I always assumed it would be spelled like “moil” or “moyl.”
The episode: “The Undead,” ep. 806
The riff: Intoned by Mike as a “medieval” knight inquires to a peddler about an escaped witch.
The explanation: I believe he’s referring to the knight’s rather uninspired vocal delivery or lack of attempt at a “period accent” like most of the other characters have. Muncie, Indiana is a small city in East Central Indiana, to the northeast of Indianapolis. It’s home to Ball State University and is the birthplace of the “Garfield” comic strip.
Novelty factor: I have been to Muncie exactly once. I volunteered at a beer festival there and had a pretty good time.
The episode: “The Sinister Urge,” ep. 613
The riff: Inserted incredulously by Crow as dialog after a man talking on the phone says “What? A spot?”
The explanation: Dinah Shore was an American pop singer and actress who achieved unprecedented fame as a solo singer in America’s big band era, the 1940s and 1950s. Later in her career she moved to television acting, including hosting the popular “Dinah Shore Chevy Show” from 1956-1963. A musical variety show, the theme “See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet” lived on for many more years in Chevy advertising.
Novelty factor: I’ve never heard of this woman or her show, but judging from the photos she was one gorgeous lady.