361. “Yep, Toshiro Mifune, right there.”

The episode:Cave Dwellers,” ep. 301

The riff: Acknowledged as confirmation by Tom after a group of samurai appear and he exclaims that the picture has suddenly “become a Kurosawa film.”

The explanation: Toshiro Mifune was a beloved Japanese actor who appeared in more than 170 feature films, but was best known for 16 separate collaborations with the legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. He appeared in the lead role in many of Kurosawa’s most famous pictures, including “Seven Samurai,” “Roshomon” and “Throne of Blood.” Kurosawa considered him the finest actor in the country.

Novelty factor: This one is right up my alley. If you want to see a great performance by Mifune, watch “Throne of Blood,” Kurosawa’s Japanese version of “Macbeth,” where Mifune plays the title role.


202. “Hey, it’s Timothy Leary! I guess Liddy will have to do the tour without him.”

The episode:Cave Dwellers,” ep. 301

The riff: Exclaimed with surprise by Tom as the hero’s mute manservant stumbles into a secluded tent and finds a white-haired old man being held hostage.

The explanation: Timothy Leary was a former Harvard professor of psychology who became a famous figure of the counterculture drug movement in the 1960s for his experimentation with and advocating of psychedelic drugs, particularly LSD. G. Gordon Liddy, on the other hand, was the head of the Nixon White House’s “Plumbers” security division that was responsible for the Watergate break-ins, ultimately taking the fall for them as well. The two former foes formed an unlikely friendship in the early 1980s when they went on a lecture/debate series on college campuses, both being formerly incarcerated. They debated social topics of the day, with Leary generally espousing the left-wing stances and Liddy the right. They both made a boatload of appearance fees off the largely rehearsed stunt.

Novelty factor: I knew who Leary was of course, and I was vaguely aware of G. Gordon Liddy’s role in the Nixon administration, but I had no idea they ever went on this tour together.


Best buddies.

36. “I want a Barney Clark bar!”

The episode:Cave Dwellers,” ep. 301

The riff: Said in sort of a sad-sack voice by Tom as a caveman chieftan messily munches on a heart that was just cut out of a dude’s chest.

The explanation: This one is complicated and fascinating (I think). So, Tom’s specific tone of voice is emulating a series of commercials that ran for candy Clark Bars, which are chocolate/peanut butter bars from Canada similar to Butterfinger in the U.S. I imagine they were probably available in Minnesota, where the show was being filmed. The “Barney” comes from a man named Barney Clark who was the recipient of the world’s first artificial heart successfully implanted in 1982. He lived for only 112 days more, but I suppose that’s better than zero days more. Servo combines the two references to form a heart-shaped “Barney Clark Bar.”

Novelty factor: I’ve heard of a Clark Bar, but always assumed that “Barney Clark Bar” was just the full name of the candy. This was a particularly interesting tidbit to learn. I guess the writers remembered the name “Barney Clark” from news reports on the heart transplant, almost a decade after it happened. Talk about obscure.