Ernest Builds a Snowman

LORELAI: And we’re Ernest Builds a Snowman.

Lorelai is referring to the Ernest film franchise, starring Jim Varney as a well-meaning simpleton named Ernest P. Worrell. The films came out of a series of advertisements in the 1980s, which then became a television sketch show, then a series of low-budget films, beginning with Ernest Goes to Camp in 1987, and ending with Ernest in the Army in 1998 (by this stage, the films were going direct to video). The films were not critically well-received, but quite profitable.

Although Ernest doesn’t seem to have built a snowman, he did have a winter-themed outing in Ernest Saves Christmas (1988), generally considered one of the best of the Ernest films.

Michelangelo

RORY: We’re competing against the Michelangelo of snow.

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, known by his first name (1475-1564), Italian Renaissance sculptor and painter of unparalleled influence on Western art, often described as the greatest artist of his age, and sometimes as the greatest of all time. His best-known sculptures are the Pietà, and David, and he is famous for painting the Sistine Chapel in Rome.

“Does she ever sleep?”

RORY: Paris wants the first issue back to be a double issue, so we have to prep over break and she says the news never sleeps.
LORELAI: What about Paris, does she ever sleep?
RORY: I think she periodically makes a whirring noise and then just shuts down.

Paris is an extremely hard-working, driven, and passionate editor of the school newspaper – and she doesn’t even want to be a journalist. It would be nice to see Rory show some of this enthusiasm for her chosen future profession. Without Paris, how much would Rory even care about the paper?

I think it’s meant to show us that Paris is an overly demanding lunatic with no life, while Rory is rational and relaxed about life-work balance. However, it just makes it seem as if Rory isn’t that interested, and is willing to let Paris set the pace for her.

Godfather 3

RORY: Oh, we have to rent Godfather 3 on DVD.
LORELAI: You’re kidding.
RORY: In the audio commentary, Coppola actually defends casting Sofia.

The Godfather Part III, the 1990 crime film that is the third of the Godfather films, previously discussed. Although packaged as a trilogy, director Francis Ford Coppola himself considers the first two films a duology, and the third film as their sequel.

The film was a commercial success and received positive reviews, although it is generally regarded as a lesser work than the first two. Critics praised Al Pacino and the screenplay, but criticised the convoluted plot, and Sofia Coppola’s performance as Mary Corleone, Michael’s daughter. It is the only film in the franchise not to win any major awards, while Sofia Coppola received two Razzies for Worst Supporting Actress and Worst New Star.

Francis Ford Coppola answered his critics by writing a letter to the New York Times in 1991, and in several interviews. Sofia was not his first choice for the role, but Winona Ryder had arrived late on set so exhausted from filming Mermaids that doctors advised she be sent home to recover. With no other suitable actresses, and filming already delayed by Ryder, he decided to cast Sofia as she was the perfect age and already knew the script. Furthermore, he had originally based the character of Mary on Sofia.

In 2019 while promoting the 2020 director’s cut of the film, Francis Ford Coppola insisted that Sofia may not have been a professional actress, but she was beautiful, touching, and authentic. His defence of his daughter has remained ongoing and heartfelt – way more than just one remark on the DVD audio commentary.

It’s interesting that in an episode where Lorelai hears from Christopher, hoping to see Rory, it opens with a mention of a Godfather film, and a fond father. Not only that, it is Rory who wants to watch the film specifically so she can listen to the audio commentary of Coppola’s defence of his daughter Sofia.

Set of New US Quarters

LORELAI: Someone recruited him, promised him a handsome sum, financed his theatrical snowman accoutrements, so he could snatch victory away from a deserving local in order to bag the contest prize for himself.
RORY: Seems a little elaborate considering that the prize is a set of new US quarters.

A quarter is a 25 cent coin – a quarter dollar. The head of George Washington is on the obverse side, and originally, the reverse side was an American eagle.

In 1999, the US Mint began issuing commemorative quarters with a reverse which featured each of the fifty states of the US. It was the most successful coin-collecting program in history, with about half of the country’s population collecting the coins. I think this is the set of new quarters that Rory is talking about.

By late 2001, the set of quarters included Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Kentucky.

The program was completed in 2008, after which the Mint went on to do DC and US Territories, then national parks and monuments. You can buy a full set of the Fifty States coin sets for around $25 today.

Ringer

LORELAI: He’s a ringer.
RORY: How do you figure?
LORELAI: Someone recruited him, promised him a handsome sum, financed his theatrical snowman accoutrements, so he could snatch victory away from a deserving local in order to bag the contest prize for himself.

Ringer is slang for a contestant who enters a competition under false pretences, such as a professional entering an amateur contest. It comes from horse racing, where a fast horse was sometimes substituted for a slower one, known as a “ring-in”.

Although Lorelai is being deliberately preposterous, it does seem a little mean for such an experienced competitor to enter a local contest in a small town, especially when there isn’t even a large prize to act as an incentive. He isn’t actually building a snowman anyway – he’s creating an ice/snow sculpture, which is a different entity. I feel as if he should be disqualified.

Mrs Potato Head

LORELAI: Fine, I’ll just use the Mrs. Potato Head lips [on the snow woman].

Mr Potato Head is a toy consisting of a plastic potato “head”, to which you can attach a variety of body parts, such as eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. First manufactured by Hasbro in 1952, it was the first toy to be advertised on television. Mrs Potato Head was added in 1953, with Brother Spud and Sister Yam soon following.

Mr and Mrs Potato Head joined the Toy Story franchise in 1995, and Mr Potato Head got his own short-lived television show in 1998. They have lent themselves to several advertising campaigns and become spokespeople for various causes, such as giving up smoking, getting fit, and women voters.

Lorelai apparently has some Mrs Potato Head lips to use as a backup, but doesn’t get the chance to try them as the snow woman’s head unfortunately falls off.

“Just checking”

LORELAI: I don’t have very many people in my life who are in my life permanently forever. They will always be there for me. I will always be there for them, you know? There’s Rory, and Sookie, and this town and … you. I mean, at least I think I’ve got …
LUKE: You do.
LORELAI: Good. Just checking.

At the end of the episode, Lorelai lets Luke know that she sees him as someone who will be part of her life forever. She does sort of throw him in after the rest of the town, but nevertheless, lets him know that he is part of the family she has managed to find in Stars Hollow. He confirms he has no intention of leaving. For now, that is enough, and all is harmony between them.

“A lady never kisses and tells”

DEAN: So, did you and Paris actually kiss or was that like a stage thing?
RORY: A lady never kisses and tells.

Very clever, because Rory is not telling Dean about her kiss with Tristan. (A slight callback to Kiss and Tell, the episode where Rory and Dean first kiss, and everyone knows about it).

It was quite obvious that Paris and Rory didn’t kiss, Paris didn’t even pretend to kiss Rory. I’m actually not convinced they could have got a good mark for the project. Two members of their group dropped out at the last minute, they didn’t offer a unique perspective on the play, Paris as Romeo sounds irritated more than anything else, and there’s no tragically romantic kiss. As it was fifty percent of their grade, that doesn’t sound good for their overall result.

“Don’t you understand that Luke is so into you?”

LORELAI: One minute he’s all sweet and building me a chuppah, and the next he’s being a total jerk for God knows what reason.
SOOKIE: For God knows what reason? Come on Lorelai … Don’t you understand that Luke is so into you?

By this point, it’s pretty unbelievable that Lorelai doesn’t realise that Luke has feelings for her. Does she really need Sookie to spell it out for her yet again?