Monday, January 9, 2012

We want . . . a shrubbery

HALLIE EPHRON: In moments of duress (as in when one of us, I'm not saying who, has done something like forgotten where she parked the car), you might find me looking at my husband and saying, "Don't panic!" He'll look back at me and raise the ante with a louder: "DON'T PANIC!" And then in unison we will clutch our (respective) heads and shriek "AAAHHH!" Hopefully no one is watching.

Okay, raise your hand if you recognize the source of this snippet of movie dialogue that breaks the tension and shortcuts the finger-pointing . . .

Give up? Okay, It's from "Chicken Run" a wonderful Claymation movie from the folks who bring us Wallace and Grommitt.

Here are a few other family favorites that get hauled out on appropriate occasions:

- "They're he-re..." (Poltergeist)
- "InconCEIVable!" (The Princess Bride)
- "Do or do not. There is no 'try.' (Empire Strikes Back)
- "Snap out of it!" (Moonstruck)
- "We want . . . a shrubbery." (Monty Python)
- "Walk this way." (Young Frankenstein)

Do your family ritual include similarly silly phrases pulled out of the odd movie, TV show, or book? Share!

LUCY BURDETTE: Oh that's completely hysterical Hallie! How I wish I could see the two of you in the parking lot!

Here's the one our whole family would recognize instantly--it comes up the instant we have a concern about how much something costs.

"There's GOT to be a way to earn twenty-thousand dollars!" (The Brady Bunch movie)

And from EB White, reading The Trumpet of the Swan, when someone strikes as unusually large: "He's no canary."

Gosh, they don't sound so funny standing on their own, but we crack up every time--and it brings us right back to the first time we heard the line.

HALLIE: "He's no canary." I love it. How did I miss reading The Trumpet of the Swan. I love White's Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web.

"Some pig!"

JAN BROGAN: What a great topic, Hallie. And I love, "he's no canary." Of course, there's the ubiquitous "I'll have what she's having" from When Harry Met Sally, which we often say with a sly smile in a restaurant. And lately, since we've been so completely engrossed in Downton Abbey reruns awaiting the new episode (only two days away) we've been asking each other if we're going to "dress for dinner?"

But the term we use most is "protector hood." Somewhere in some movie, or some TV show, someone used this phrase to describe those moments when what you are watching or experiencing is so embarrassingly bad, you just want to hide under a blanket or "protector hood." My husband and I use that term frequently, as in "this is just protector hood material." And sometimes we even apply it to politics!

Along those lines, there was a moment when I knew Jonathan and I were made for each other.

It was very very early on in our "relationship." We had driven from Boston to New York, to visit his mother, I think. and in the days before GPS, we got completely lost.

We wound up somewhere in Brooklyn, some skeevy creepy part, not the fun hip part. Lost as pie.

We were under a graffiti-emblazoned overpass, deserted, at twilight, and it was terrifying.

"Four little words," I said to Jonathan. Thinking that he'd have no idea what I was talking about, and I;d have the fun of explaining.

Jonathan didn't miss a beat. "Bonfire of the Vanities," he said.

Yup. Exactly what I'd been thinking.

RHYS BOWEN: My kids and grandchildren are all Monty Python fans and my grandsons spent all of Christmas quoting lines from The Holy Grail--including "We demand... a shrubbery." And for years my kids have insulted each other with "Your father was a hamster and your mother smelled of elderberries."

But the real family catch-phrase comes from British comedienne Catherine Tate and it's a cockney girl who says "I'm not bovvered. I'm above it."

ROSEMARY HARRIS: So funny...those lines are everywhere.

When we're leaving the house it might be "Leave the gun, take the cannoli" (The Godfather). Used a lot as we are in and out of the car constantly.

Others include -
"You're not too smart, I like that in a man." (Body Heat)
"Are you talkin' to me?" (Taxi Driver)
"You think I'm funny? I amuse you?" (Good Fellas)
"He was my BOYFRIEND!" (Young Frankenstein)
"As you wish!" (Princess Bride)

Clearly these lines are useful for all occasions.

And how could I forget - "We're gonna need a bigger boat." (Jaws) Used for everything that may be too small.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: We've used many of the above. But we're bigger on movie and TV theme songs. Something scary? Jaws. Something creepy? Theme from the X-Files. Something other-wordly? Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

And Rick loves to test me on the first couple of bars of old TV themes to see how fast I can identify them. But his favorite is the them from Rawhide, with re-worked lyrics, as the dogs' favorite play-time song. "Rolling, rolling, rolling, get them doggies rolling, rawhide!"

Glad to know everyone else is as silly as we are . . .

HALLIE: Oooh, Rawhide. Was Clint Eastwood adorable as Rowdy? Which suggests yet another blog for another day.

We'd love to hear what snippets of dialogue or theme songs have taken root in your life.


  1. "I saw a boat!" from Finding Nemo. Used whenever we forget something obvious or repeat something said earlier.

    Actually Nemo is full of great lines that we use a lot. :) (Along with Monty Python, Young Frankenstein, etc.)

    Cathy AJ

  2. This may be my favorite blog post of the day!

    We're big fans of Princess Bride's "Everybody move!" and Muppet Treasure Island's "(I've got cabin fever) I've got it too!"

    Though, the biggest one is probably "I'm on vacation" from City Slickers. My brother, back in his elementary school days, was trying to walk our dog through a feild. Dog sees a squirrel. Dog takes off. Brother gets dragged across the feild. Brother yells, "I'm on vacation!" And it stuck.

  3. You are so right, Cathy, Finding Nemo is packed with great ones. "I love games. Pick me!"

  4. I can still quote (and sing) the lyrics from the theme song for the YV show "One Day at a Time", which starts:

    "This is it! This is life, the one you get, so go and have a ball./This is it! Straight ahead, and rest assured, you can't be sure at all." And so on.

  5. Susan Elizabeth - I'd forgotten about City Slickers. "Just reach in and pull out the calf."

  6. Oh, gosh, One Day at a Time - with Bonnie Franklin. That was after Mary Tyler More broke the glass ceiling in sitcoms for women. It got into some pretty heavy subjects, and as I recall one of its stars was in and out of rehab.

    It's funny how old songs like that are laid down like a record track in my brain.

  7. My family was addicted to the movie Arthur.

    Favorite line, "I'll alert the media." Used whenever anyone announced anything boring about to happen, although we never got Sir John Gielgud's level of vocal disdain quite right.

  8. Agreed - very fun post. I think I'll adopt the "Don't panic!" line, Hallie.

    "'E's not the Messiah. 'E's just a very naughty boy." Life of Brian.

    "Are you threatening me?" (With a very heavy some-kind-of-accent) - this from my beau who remembers all lines from all movies, and he's seen them all, so I have no idea where this one is from. But it's funny.

  9. Dudley Moore and Liza Minelli - remember when!

  10. Edith Maxwell, it's funny how we hear some of these lines WITH the actor's voice - like in the slow Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry drawl: "A man's gotta know his limitations"

  11. How could I forget:

    Go ahead. Make my day.

    I say this EVERY day, sadly...

  12. "I don't know. I'm making this up as I go" and "it's not the years, honey, it's the mileage" from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Love, love, love!

    Also from Buckaroo Bonzai: "No, no, don't tug on that. You don't know what it might be attached to." Works in archaeology, works in life.

  13. There's something else from Finding Nemo--hmm. Can't remember..looking it up..

    And how about, from Airplane! "It could be a brooch, it could be a pterodactyl...

    Oh, oh, or the parking announcer from Airplane.."The white lanes are for..." Don't you think of that every time you're at the airport?

    Got it--isn't "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming" from Nemo? Another thing I think every day.

  14. Laughing, Dana!

    Yes, indeed, Hank. Just keep swimming. I'm going to paste that one to my wall over my computer.

    Wondering if you could write an entire short story made up entirely of movie quotes.

  15. We quote the Princess Bride movie all of the time too!
    "Look who knows so much."
    "I don't think they word means what you think it means."
    Thanks for this fun post.

  16. Oops, THAT word not they word. Typing too fast,sorry.

  17. One that comes up for me frequently is "What we have here... is a failure to communicate," from... um... was it Cool Hand Luke? The other one, from a Few Good Men, of course (Do I even need to say it?)is "You can't handle the truth!" My favorite filmmaker to quote is Albert Brooks... I think he's a genius.

  18. Albert Brooks: "Say it! Say it! I lost the nest-egg!" (Lost in America)

  19. Fwo more winners from my friend Peter Brady, posted on Facebook:
    “The Wild Bunch”
    “If they move, kill’em.”

    From “If”
    ”Theres only one thing to do with a woman like that:
    Walk along the beach at sunset. Make love once. Then die.”

  20. Yes, the nest egg!! I also loved "The hundred thousand dollar box" from that movie!

    What a fun blog this is!

  21. I forgot about monty Pythton, Rhys - We always say,"he's not dead. He's just sleeping!) (From the Dead Parrot routine)
    Or I couldn't possibly eat one more morsal, from The Meaning of Life (right before the guy explodes)

    And then there's "DO NOT GO IN THERE!" referring to a bathroom after use, from Ace Ventura Pet Detective.

  22. Lawyer Guy and The Only are Python fanatics and often quote huge chunks of dialogue to each other. Failure to communicate line from "Cool Hand Luke" is a favorite. Our current favorite is "Squirrel!" from the movie "UP!", used whenever something shiny or dis..."Squirrel!"

    Where was I? Oh, yes. Or when something distracting occurs. Love this post! I'm sure there are others but I can't think of any at the moment.

  23. These all crack me up!

    Dana, love the Raiders of the Lost Ark line!

    And who could forget, from Buckaroo Bonzai, "No matter where you go, there you are."

  24. "This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

    Mr. Right loves to quote Bruce Lee and The Terminator. I'm prone to singing bits from the Sound of Music or Wizard of Oz. We find common ground in Casablanca.

  25. I missed adding my 5 cents to this! (Maybe because Ross was refreshing the page every 5 minutes to see who commented on his tell-all blog entry...)

    Clearly, Ro Harris is related to us, because our family uses ALL of those quotes. My son had to create a business plan for his Econ class this fall, and the motto for his marine security business was, "You're going to need a bigger boat."

  26. Rod and I are dreadfully geeky. We're not above intoning, "Indeed," like Teal'c or "It's what we do," also from Stargate: SG1.

    Something new is "shiny!" (Firefly/Serenity.). Something breaks? "And exploded!" (Galaxy Quest). Any multi- anything: "Muuultipass!" (Hallie knows this one) and any chicken dinner, "Chicken good!" (Both from The Fifth Element).

  27. Whenever anyone in our family ends up in a situation that we definitely did NOT choose: "someting tells me we're not in Kansas anymore", from The Wizard of Oz. We use that one an awful lot!

    I don't remember if the next one is from a book or a movie - maybe someone can enlighten me: "Someday we'll be able to laugh at this". Since we happen to be an eccentric lot, we usually end up laughing sooner rather later!

    WHY did someone have to mention theme songs???? I can't get the theme song from Mr Ed out of my mind! I will NOT type it out because then it will set up housekeeping in my brain!

  28. "Something" , not "someting". Brain not working. Darn Mr ED fighting for space in there.

  29. Rhonda Lane, clearly we come from the same time warp. Beam me up!

  30. You did it, Deb - now my brain is going A horse is a horse, of course, of course...

  31. "Face it girls: I'm older and I have more insurance."
    Evelyn Couch, Fried Green Tomatoes

  32. "Snakes. Why'd it have to be snakes?"

    ( Harrison Ford - Raiders of the Lost Ark)

  33. Keep in mind my kids are only one and two, but in a "Down by the Station" book there is a picture of a cat sitting on a pile of turnips. "Ay yi yi!! There's a CAT in my turnips!!" is our go-to phrase if we need a change of scene or mood...

    Hilarity ensues.

  34. Ay yi yi! I love that, Paula.

    Reminds me of a line from a wonderful children's book, Many Moons by James Thurber, about the king's magician who could "squeeze blood out of turnips and turnips out of blood."

  35. What fun! Our family does this all the time.

    From the Poltergeist movies:

    "They're heeeeerrrree!" to described some unwelcome but forecast visitors, i.e. door-to-door salespeople, et al.

    "This house is clean!" to describe an unusually aggressive cleansing project, household or otherwise...

    From the Sound of Music:
    "Why don't I feel any better?" when some prescribed remedy or fix has failed to raise our spirits.

    "It got Friedrich's teeth." to describe how injury resulted from some particularly intricate or clumsy move.

    we've got a million of 'em! lol

  36. Another one from Poltergeist, i think:
    "Don't go into the light!" for when some temptation should be resisted.

    From An Affair to Remember:
    "If you can paint, I can walk..." for describing impossible odds.

    We also use the Nemo, "just keep swimming" line...

    Also from Nemo, when we want to change a subject, we'll interrupt someone's monologue with "ooh, something shiny!"


  37. Carla - I want to steal "It got Friedrich's teeth." - what's it from?

  38. It's from Sound of Music... Maria returns to the Von Trapp home and finds tiny little Gretl with a bandaged injury. "What happened to your finger?" Maria asks. Bravely, Gretl replies with great comic timing. "It got Friedrich's teeth."


  39. Mrs. Slocombe on "Are You Being Served": "And I am unanimous in this!" Said when she thinks her way is the only way to do something.

  40. John Cleese as the Python's Cheese Shop sketch customer: "Shut that bloody bazuki off!" Said when music is too loud or annoying.

  41. "And I am unanimous in this!"
    So perfect. My husband thanks you.

  42. How about "Nobody puts Baby in the corner"?
    Dirty Dancing

  43. A chicken's in the rotisserie oven. Later on, smart money says that one of us will utter those immortal lines: "Chicken good!"

  44. Wha a great blog posting!I had forgotten how some of our favorite expressions had come into our lives.
    I haven't thought of anything new since my lunch break but just wanted to say how exciting it is to see that my family is not the only one that adores Monty Python! Really; readers of this blog are the only people besides us - and a priest who was like Family to us - I have ever encountered who love Python "stuff". Most people I mention Monty Python to say things such as "Oh. That. I don't get that sort of thing".

    You are all MY kind of people!

  45. I think the world is FULL of people who are FULL of Monty Python-isms and don't even know it.

  46. "And I think you know what I mean!" Said after blurting out a confusing, nonsensical sentence. Sarah Jessica Parker in Mamet's STATE AND MAIN. (Emphasize the words Think, Know, & Mean for the right cadence.)

    "Don't be a fool, Jim," or "I'm a fool, Jim," and other forms for the occasion. Bones (Doc) to Capt Kirk on the original TV STAR TREK. I quote this one a lot.

    "Double dumb ass on you." Capt Kirk, STAR TREK IV VOYAGE HOME. My husband loves to quote this one.

    "I'm shocked-shocked!" Claude Raines' character, CASABLANCA. Versatile quote, for all occasions.

    This is a great topic today. You already named many of my favorites. Shiny!

  47. So many good ones listed. Whenever anyone asks hubby or I if they can ask a question we immediatly answer "42". Which, according to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, is the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

  48. "The ring is "bubkis,"
    says Yogurt in my all time favorite
    Movie, Spaceballs.

  49. My sister and I are always quoting from the movie "What's Up Doc?" It drives my other sister crazy.

    "Don't you know the meaning of propriety?" "I can't see! Well, there's not much to see. We are inside a Chinese dragon." and on and on

  50. "That parrot--is pushing up daisies!"

    Monty Python meets Rosemary Harris. It doesn't get better than that!

  51. So many delicious quotes from so many delightful sources. I won't bother repeating our favorites among them, but I will add two of our most used quotes from Anne Lamott.

    From Operating Instructions, "We are a simple people." Used when we find ourselves enjoying some embarrassingly stupid or nerdy pastime such as watching Reno 911 or checking out a new hardware store, aisle by aisle.

    The second one is from Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, “I thought such awful thoughts that I cannot even say them out loud because they would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish.” We take the essence of this and say such things as, "I can't believe he said that! He's such an ignorant racist he'd make Jesus wanna drink gin out of the cat dish."

    It's quite flexible too. I expanded on it last month when I told my husband that every time he pissed me off Baby Jesus got diaper rash.

  52. Lynda, you are hilARious! What a great sense of humor!! It'll get you through more than a few of life's scrapes.

  53. Catching up on this! what a great post!

    Some of our favorites...from "Mr.Mom"
    "220, 221 whatever it takes" whenever we don't know how to do something and we are obviously faking the movie, Jack is trying to be macho and talks of re-wiring the house...

    "You arrogant ass; you've killed us all" from Hunt for Red October, when one of us is going to do something really stupid. Hunt has some other good ones..."The hardest part about playing chicken is knowing when to flinch"

    "Houston, we have a problem" whenever something is going wrong.

  54. Lots of my faves mentioned here too, especially the SF ones, although my son and I during his terrible teens communicated almost entirely in quotes from 'Are you Being Served?' and 'Keeping Up Appearances'.

    Most common these days, though, are LOTR lines. There's one for every occasion, from breakfast to a desire to get out of town for the day.


  55. Our family does this all the time. Some favorites:

    "I have a bad feeling about this." (Star Wars - the older trilogy)

    "Fascinating." (Spock, in Star Trek)

    "It comes in pints?!" (LOTR) Our daughter's violin is also nicknamed "The Precious."

    Winnie the Pooh (the movie and the books) are a great source for us when things aren't going well: "You, sir, are stuck. A wedged bear in a great tightness. In a word, irremovable." (Owl, in Disney's Winnie the Pooh.) / For describing the weather, either "It's a very blustery day... outside." Or we'll start singing "And the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down, in rushing rising riv'lets."

    From the children's TV series, Little Bear, we like: "Dusty, dusty, dusty! I like a nice clean house!" (Hen)

    We have a few from Arthur, as well: "I'll alert the media" and "We're talking SMALL."

    We also quote extensively from fantasy and children's books, and there's not room to put them all here.

    But my very favorite quote? Winnie the Pooh: "Oh, bother."