“A friend to all of us dispossessed”

JESS: [Looks at Rory’s cast.] I like this Emily chick. Friend of yours?

RORY: She’s a friend to all of us dispossessed.

Jess refers to the sticker of Emily the Strange, previously discussed.

Rory refers to both herself and Jess as “dispossessed”, deprived of what they deserve, of their birthright. It’s the first time that Rory hints at any possible resentment that Lorelai removed her from Richard and Emily’s world, the world of wealth and privilege she had been born into.

She is also identifying both Jess and herself as having been literally de-possessed, cast off by one or more parents. Apart from literature, this is the main thing that binds Jess and Rory together. The casual way she says this to Jess suggests that they might have talked about it previously.

And more generally, Rory and Jess are both part of that “dispossessed” generation of the 1990s, the Millennials who would later be jeered at by A Year in the Life. You can see the emo-esque Emily the Strange as one of their unofficial spokespeople.

Hummel

RORY: And a couple years ago Mom drove us in to shop, and she couldn’t find a good parking place and all of the parking lots were a total rip-off, so she kept making U-turns and cutting off taxis and we were being screamed at in so many different languages that we just turned around and drove home and bought a Hummel at the curio store in Stars Hollow.

Hummel figurines, often just called Hummels, are a series of porcelain figurines based on the drawings of Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel, a German nun from the Franciscan Order. These sketches began to appear in Germany and Switzerland during the 1930s, mostly pastoral scenes of children.

Porcelain-maker Franz Goebel acquired the rights to turn the sketches into figurines, the first line produced in 1935. Introduced at the Leipzig Trade Fair, they quickly found American distributors. The popularity of Hummels grew after World War II as American soldiers stationed in West Germany began sending them home as gifts.

Nostalgia was a big factor in the figurines becoming popular, and they were commonly purchased during European travel as souvenirs. During the 1970s, prices began to skyrocket, and the M.I. Hummel Club was founded in 1977. Today a genuine Hummel would cost over $100 for a small piece, to more than $1000 for a larger and more elaborate one.

Lorelai bought a Hummel in 2000, presumably before the show opens in September of that year. Although I can see how Lorelai would appreciate the kitschy appeal of these collectables, I cannot recall actually seeing a Hummel on display in their house.

“Angry girl for an angry arm”

LANE: Okay. Here – angry girl for an angry arm.

RORY: Oh, cool! Thank you.

LANE: You’re welcome. [Lane puts a sticker on Rory’s cast]

The sticker Lane puts on Rory’s cast is one of Emily the Strange, a fictional character from graphic novels, comic books, and merchandise. She is a Gothic little girl with long black hair, a short black dress, and white Mary Jane shoes.

Often accompanied by four black cats, Emily is frequently depicted with crossed arms or her hands on her hips, and has cynical sayings such as “Get lost”, or “Glad you’re not here”. The sticker Lane gives Rory says, “I want you to leave me alone” – possibly the message Lane wants Rory to send to Jess.

Emily the Strange was created in 1991 by Rob Reger for his company Cosmic Debris Etc Inc, in San Francisco, and designed by Nathan Carrico for Santa Cruz Skateboards. The first Emily the Strange graphic novella was released in 2001, the year previous to this episode.

Emily the Strange bears a marked resemblance to a character named Rosamund from the 1978 children’s book Nate the Great Goes Undercover by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, but after several years of protracted legal wrangling, both sides resolved their differences.

Campbell’s

TROUBADOUR #2: A lot of vegetable soup being eaten tonight, yesiree. Hope I don’t put the good people at Campbell’s out of business.

The Campbell Soup Company, trading as Campbell’s, processed food and snack company that is the largest in the US, most closely associated with its flagship canned soup. The classic red and white design of their soup cans have become American icons, and famously the subject of pop artist Andy Warhol’s series of prints [pictured]. The company was started in New Jersey in 1869 by Joseph A. Campbell and Abraham Anderson.

Of course the Second Troubadour/Second Market Guy won’t put Campbell’s out of business – they are massive. He is referring to putting Taylor out of business, and this is another jab at him.

Christopher’s Request

CHRISTOPHER: Now it’s totally your call and I don’t want to step on any plans you’ve already made, but I know Rory has a break in school coming up, and I was wondering if you’d be cool with her coming to visit for a couple of days.

Christopher finally shows some interest in his daughter, inviting her to spend a couple of days of her Christmas break with him in Boston. The fact that he mentions Sherrie had fixed up the spare room for her suggests that it might be his girlfriend encouraging him to make contact with Rory.

Although Lorelai said she’d always left the door to Rory open for Christopher, she doesn’t sound thrilled with this plan. She never seems to have considered it might mean leaving the door to Rory open for another woman as well.

Note the picture on the wall of the ominous all-seeing eye and the word OBEY on it – does Christopher feel as if he is under Sherrie’s surveillance, that he is doing her bidding? Is the phone call something she instructed him to do? It’s a hint that Christopher may be finding his first committed domestic relationship rather confining.

(I’m not sure, but I think the artwork might be by Shepard Fairey, a graphic artist and founder of OBEY Clothing who emerged from the skateboarding scene in the mid-1980s. He would later become well known for his picture of Barack Obama together with the word HOPE).

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.

Thousand-Yard-Stare

RORY: Yikes. What kind of vibe are you giving her?
LANE: Oh, my patented Keith Richards circa 1969 ‘don’t mess with me’ vibe, with a thousand-yard Asian stare thrown in.

The thousand-yard stare is a phrase often used to describe the blank, unfocused gaze of soldiers during wartime who no longer react to the horror they’re living through. More generally, it can apply to any victim of trauma.

The phrase was popularised during World War II after Life magazine published a 1944 painting by Tom Lea, titled The Marines Call It That 2000-Yard Stare [pictured], but became especially known during the Vietnam War, when it decreased to a slimmer, punchier 1000-yard stare.

Lane dramatically compares her life being brought up in a traditional Asian-American household as akin to that of someone with PTSD on a battlefield.

Stenciling

LORELAI: Oh, maybe we could add a little stenciling on the ceiling.

Stenciling is adding a picture or pattern to a design by using a stencil – a thin sheet of material with a pattern cut into it that can be painted over so the paint only goes into the patterned area. Stencil refers to the material itself, and the design it produces. One of the earliest of art techniques, found in prehistoric cave paintings, stenciling is commonly used in home decorating and DIY projects.