Jumping Frog

LORELAI: We don’t patronize the next town.

RORY: Since when?

LORELAI: I don’t know, didn’t they feed lead to our jumping frog or something?

Lorelai references the 1865 short story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” by Mark Twain. The narrator of the story relates a tall tale he heard at a bar in Angel’s Camp, then a gold-mining town, in Calaveras County in northern California.

An inveterate gambler named Jim Smiley catches a frog and spends months training it to jump. He bets a stranger that his frog can out-jump any frog the stranger can find, but when the time comes, Smiley is dismayed to find his frog has been beaten. He pays up and the stranger departs, but Smiley later discovers that the stranger has poured lead shot down the frog’s throat, making it too sluggish to jump. He chases after the cheating stranger, but is unable to catch him.

First published in The New York Saturday Press as “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog”, the story was an immediate success and made Twain’s name as a writer. Later that year it was published in The Californian under its current title. Twain used the story in his first book, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Stories, published in 1867.

Bees

EMILY: How did this [Rory’s fractured wrist] happen?

LORELAI: Bees.

An amusing callback to the previous episode, when Lorelai was trying to think of excuses she could use on her parents to explain why Rory was wearing a cast. All she had come up with was, “Really big bees”. Notice that Rory has a cute bee sticker decoration on her cast, the possible inspiration for this ridiculous lie (or the lie inspired the sticker?).

“I’d love the comparison to stop there”

LORELAI: It’s as close as you’ll ever come to being a dog.

EMILY: I beg your pardon?

LORELAI: You know, a whole life of nothing but eating, sleeping, lying on your back and getting rubbed.

EMILY: I’d love the comparison to stop there.

Emily probably asks Lorelai to stop comparing her to a dog because she’s thinking the next thing on the list is cleaning her own private areas with her tongue! Or that Lorelai is getting perilously close to calling her mother a “bitch”.

Turkey-Calling Contest

DEAN: So buck tradition.
RORY: Are you kidding? Do you remember how mad Taylor was when I was sick and I couldn’t go to the turkey-calling contest?

Turkey calling is a type of contest held in North America, where contestants must try to mimic the sound of a turkey so successfully that judges cannot tell the difference between the human and a real turkey. They may use their voice (“natural turkey calling”), or use instruments made of wood, glass, metal, etc, and must perform five different calls.

Turkey calling contests are usually held during the turkey hunting season, in the fall, with Thanksgiving providing a natural occasion to include one. The other season for turkey calling contests is the spring, during the turkey mating season.

If Stars Hollow holds theirs at Thanksgiving, it isn’t mentioned in the Thanksgiving episode we see (that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen offscreen, of course). Also, Rory wasn’t sick the previous Thanksgiving – she seemed fine at the Chilton play, which occurred around the same time. That means that if it’s held at Thanksgiving, Rory must have been sick at Thanksgiving 2000, which took place between “Love and War and Snow” and “Rory’s Dance”. She and Dean had just begun dating then, so he would be able to remember her being too sick to participate.

Another possibility is that it’s part of the Autumn Festival, in early November. Rory wasn’t sick for the 2000 one, but is just possible she was sick the previous year, in 2001. We see her just before and after the festival but not on the day itself, so if she was sick, it would have just been a 24-hour bug (food poisoning from leftovers???).

This is the first mention we get of Taylor apparently insisting that Rory participate in every Stars Hollow activity, even though she didn’t go on the teen hayride in the pilot episode. It puts a slightly sinister spin on the enforced fun that Rory seems to have been pressured into.

Ling Ling the Panda Bear

LORELAI: I have to go call Patty and stop the forced mating process. I feel like Ling Ling the panda bear.

Ling Ling was a giant panda born at Beijing Zoo in China in 1985. In 1992 he was given to Japan and the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo in exchange for a panda born in Japan. He was paired with a female giant panda named Tong Tong, but they were unable to breed successfully and produced no offspring. Tong Tong died in 2000, and from 2001, the zoo began trying to breed him with other giant pandas, using artificial insemination, to no avail. This is the forced mating process that Lorelai refers to. Ling Ling died in 2008.

A Plane That Looks Like Shamu

LORELAI: Dean, now that you’re done with that, will you build me a plane? One that looks like Shamu?

Shamu is the name given to various killer whales (orcas) at Seaworld parks. The first Shamu was captured in 1965 and died in 1971. Her name means “friend of Namu” – Namu was a male orca captured in 1965, named after a fishing port in British Columbia, Canada, close to his site of capture. The whales named Shamu were always the “star” of the killer whale show.

In 1988, Southwest Airlines designed a plane called Shamu One, a Boeing 737 painted to look like a killer whale, to promote travel to Seaworld in Texas.

Southwest Airlines ended their relationship with Seaworld in 2014, after the release of the 2013 documentary Black Fish focused on the mistreatment of orcas in captivity. In 2016, Seaworld discontinued its orca breeding program.

Rabies

PARIS: I think I got rabies.
RORY: It’s just a bus, Paris.

Rabies is a viral disease causing inflammation of the brain. It usually begins with a fever, progresses to nausea, vomiting, confusion, and loss of consciousness, and almost always ending in death. It is spread from bites from an infected animal, such as a dog (globally, the most common cause of infection). In North America, where dogs are usually vaccinated against rabies, it is nearly always spread by bats. Most deaths are in Africa and Asia.

Termites

KIRK: You have termites … Tens of thousands of them. Subterranean, drywood, the whole gamut.

Termites are an insect closely related to cockroaches, and sometimes called “white ants”, although they aren’t ants, or even close to them. They are considered a pest because of their wood-eating habits, and can cause significant damage to wooden structures.

There are three groups of termites: dampwood, drywood, and subterranean, which would be the “whole gamut”. Subterranean termites live underground in nests or mounds, dampwood termites eat wood exposed to rain or soil, while drywood termites thrive in warm environments – which, if you live somewhere cold, means that they live living in your nice warm wooden house!

It seems unlikely that Lorelai has all possible types of termites, but it also seems unlikely Kirk is qualified as a termite expert. She almost certainly has a serious infestation of drywood termites.

“One grub too many”

SOOKIE: You just had one grub too many. Just drink lots of water to rehydrate.
JACKSON: I will.

I think Sookie is referring to mezcal, a Mexican spirit distilled from the agave plant, similar to tequila, and extremely intoxicating. Some brands include an edible mezcal “worm”, an insect larva which is the caterpillar of a moth, or occasionally the larva of a weevil, both of which naturally infest agave plants. The manufacturers added it in the 1950s as a marketing ploy. I think this is the “grub” Sookie means.

Mexican Bean

MICHEL: Stop jumping like a Mexican bean.

Mexican jumping beans are not really beans, but seed pods of the plant Sebastiana pavonia, native to Mexico and Costa Rica. The seeds can become inhabited by the larva of a small moth, and if it becomes warm, it will move to eat, causing the seed to “jump”. Holding one in your hand will warm it to the point it becomes quite lively. They are sold as children’s novelty items in the US, and it is common to say that an excitable child is hopping about “like a Mexican jumping bean” .