Clarence Thomas

LORELAI: You’ll say hello, you’ll ask how his wife is, and that’s it. After that, you will say nothing, you will do nothing, you will sit in the corner and offer no opinions and pull a full-on Clarence Thomas, am I making myself perfectly clear?

Clarence Thomas (born 1948), associate justice of the US Supreme Court since 1991, the longest-serving member of the court to this date, and often cited as the most conservative.

At the time of his confirmation hearings that would see him confirmed for the Supreme Court position, Thomas was already reticent on answering questions from senators about his philosophical stance, in the belief that his conservative views could see him rejected.

However, he refused to answer any questions as his final approval was being debated, when a woman named Anita Hill accused him of sexual harassment involving making sexual comments to her. Hill was questioned aggressively, and Thomas defended his right to privacy. He said that they were turning his appointment into a circus, and he refused to participate in what he saw as a racist exercise. He was voted in a week later.

I think this is what Lorelai is referring to, telling Emily to keep her mouth as tightly shut as Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearings.

Blue Book Laws

JESS: I’m not really familiar with the blue book laws in this town, so you can be talking about a lot of things. Dropping a gum wrapper, strolling arm in arm with a member of the opposite sex on a Sunday.

Jess seems to have confused two different things and put them together (perhaps deliberately).

Blue laws are laws designed to restrict activities on a Sunday, such as banning certain retail activities eg buying alcohol. In Puritan times, they were very strict when Connecticut was a colony, which might be what Jess is implying – that Stars Hollow is still stuck in the colonial past. Examples of such old timey strictness include not allowing people to run anywhere, or to walk in their gardens on a Sunday. It’s not common, but some towns in the US do have their own blue laws, even today.

Project Blue Book was the code name for the study of UFOs by the US Air Force from 1952 to 1969. Did Jess make a simple error, a Freudian slip of the tongue, or is he saying that he feels like an “alien” being studied by the townsfolk of Stars Hollow?

(I have actually seen people make this same error in regard to “blue book laws”, so I don’t discount the idea that the writer, Daniel Palladino, may have had the same misunderstanding).

Sandra Day O’Connor

PARIS: And the connection you make with the Puffs, they last the rest of your life. My cousin Maddie got her internship at the Supreme Court because of Sandra Day O’Connor.
RORY: Sandra Day O’Connor was a Puff?
PARIS: Yes. She was Puffed in 1946, became the president in ’47, and in ’48 she actually moved the group to the very table you sat at today.

Sandra Day O’Connor (born 1930) is a retired attorney and politician who served as the first female associate judge in the US Supreme Court from 1981 to 2006. Prior to that, she was a judge and elected Republican leader in the Arizona Senate, the first female majority leader in a state senate.

O’Connor most often voted with the conservative bloc of the Supreme Court, and was sometimes named as the most powerful woman in the world. She retired in 2005, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2009.

In real life, Sandra Day O’Connor could not have gone to Chilton or been a Puff. She was born in Texas and lived on a cattle ranch, attending a private girl’s school in El Paso. For her final year of schooling, she took a 32-mile bus trip every day to attend Stephen F. Austin High School in El Paso (rather like Rory going to Hartford).

In 1946, aged 16, she enrolled at Stanford University, where she gained a BA in Economics in 1950, so she was far beyond the world of high school sororities by that stage. And even at university, she didn’t join a sorority, as they didn’t exist at Stanford at that time.

I think she was just too tough and sensible to ever bother about table allocation in the dining hall, or gossiping about Homecoming. I presume the ludicrousness of the idea is what gave it appeal as a joke.

We also learn that Paris has an older cousin named Maddie who interned at the Supreme Court with the assistance of Sandra Day O’Connor. Maddie must have been a Puff as well, and possibly has a career in law. In real life, membership of sororities and fraternities can gain you coveted positions, although I doubt a high school one would actually be that influential.

Yogi Berra

LORELAI: [giggle] Good one … Baseball the size of a cantaloupe … ‘Cause a baseball can only be one size, so it’s a Yogi Berra type thing.
SOOKIE: Yogi Bear?

Lawrence “Yogi” Berra (1925-2015) was an American professional baseball catcher who later became a manager and coach. He played 19 seasons of Major League Baseball between 1946 and 1965, nearly all of them with the New York Yankees. Berra was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972, and is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.

Yogi Berra was known for his malapropisms, paradoxical statements, and seemingly unintentional witticisms, known as Yogi-isms. Yogi’s nickname came from a friend thinking that the way he sat with his legs crossed made him look like an Indian yogi.

Sookie mixes him up with cartoon character Yogi Bear, previously discussed. Yogi Berra sued Hanna-Barbera for use of his name, but they claimed the similarity of names was a coincidence. Berra withdrew his suit, although Hanna-Barbera’s defense was considered implausible.

Anna Nicole Smith and Mary Kay Letourneau

(Older man walks by.)
LORELAI: Pass.
RORY: Why?
LORELAI: Because I’m not Anna Nicole Smith. Next.
RORY: Two.
(Teenage boy on a skateboard goes by.)
LORELAI: Hmm, pass.
RORY: Why?
LORELAI: Because I’m not Mary Kay Letourneau.

Anna Nicole Smith, born Vickie Lynne Hogan (1967-2007) [pictured] was an American model and actress who first gained fame as a Playboy model, winning Playmate of the Year in 1992. She was perhaps best known for her 1994 marriage to J. Howard Marshall, an 89-year-old petroleum tycoon she had met while working at a strip club. It was speculated that she had married him for his money because of the age difference. Marshall died the following year, and there was a protracted legal case over his will; during it, Smith herself died, gaining no money from his estate.

Mary Kay Letourneau (born Mary Katherine Schmitz in 1962) is an American former schoolteacher who in 1997 pleaded guilty to raping a child, her twelve-year-old student Vili Fualaau, to whose baby she gave birth while awaiting sentencing. Due to a plea agreement, she was sentenced to three months in prison, and was not allowed contact with Fualaau for life. She broke the no-contact order soon after being released from prison, and was imprisoned again, this time for seven years, giving birth to another child in prison. After Letourneau was released in 2004, Vili Fualaau, now an adult, asked that the no-contact order be revoked, and they married in 2005. They legally separated in 2017, although they apparently still live together and are still in a relationship.

Rory Shows Emily the Potting Shed

(Rory opens the door and walks in. Emily looks in from the doorway.)
RORY: I know it’s looks small, but it’s really pretty. Come on. See, we had our bed right over there, and Mom put up this really pretty curtain around the tub so that it looked like a real bathroom. And we would just sit outside at night when the Inn would have parties, and we’d just listen to music and feed the ducks and . . . (Emily walks away) Grandma? Grandma wait, what’s the matter?

This is the potting shed next to the duck pond at the Independence Inn that Lorelai and Rory lived in when they first moved to Stars Hollow, as they had no money for accommodation (like the Holy Family, there was “no room at the inn”, and they were put in an outbuilding, so Baby Rory was just like Baby Jesus).

The shed is sturdy but rustic, and is stocked with gardening tools and plants, like any potting shed: it isn’t clear if those things were there while Lorelai and Rory lived there. Their bed is no longer there (they must have shared a single bed together), but the bath has been left, including the curtain that Lorelai put around it to serve as a bathroom wall. Lorelai mentioned that it has rosebud wallpaper, but the shed is painted white inside and doesn’t look as though it’s got the kind of walls that you could easily wallpaper.

It looks impractical for bringing up a baby, and we learn later that they moved to Stars Hollow in the autumn, so it would have been very cold as well (we don’t know what they used for heating). We don’t know how long they lived in this temporary accomodation, but long enough for Rory, who was only a baby when they came to Stars Hollow, to have some memories of it, and long enough that the weather became warm enough for them to sit outside at night. I would guess at least a year, and possibly two. Who looked after baby Rory while Lorelai was working is unknown.

This is the first time that Emily has ever seen the potting shed, and she is clearly distraught to discover the conditions her daughter and granddaughter lived in. Lorelai told Sookie that her parents visited them a few times at the inn while Rory was a baby, but they never saw where they slept at night. Lorelai was probably clever at keeping them away from the shed, but their lack of curiosity is surprising. Perhaps they were scared to push it in case Lorelai ran even further away.

In this case, it is Emily who runs away, too upset to spend any more time with Rory or even say a proper goodbye to her. This incident serves as a device to keep Emily at a distance from Stars Hollow. Emily was having a good time with Rory, and was fitting in well with the townspeople, finding that she had things in common with Mrs. Kim and Michel. By showing her in the potting shed, it explains why Emily doesn’t visit Stars Hollow more often in the future.

Where they lived between the potting shed when Rory was a baby/toddler, and moving into their own house when Rory was eleven, is a complete mystery and never mentioned. Perhaps Lorelai saved up enough money to rent a cheap apartment for them, but renting would make it hard to save for a house. They could have lived in a friend’s house (with Sookie?), but if so, nobody ever refers to it.

In real life, it wouldn’t be legal for anyone to live in the potting shed under Connecticut zoning laws, but I’m not sure that would stop Lorelai anyway – rules were made for non-Gilmores!

Quarter Sessions Court

PARIS: We are talking about Government class, not the movies. God, why can’t I get one person to care about this as much as I do?!
LOUISE: Okay, fine. I’ll be the head of the Quarter Sessions court, but I’m still wearing the dress.

The Quarter Sessions courts were local courts held in each county – named such because they were held four times a year. Their reputation was very poor, and the chairmen did not not need legal qualifications. Even in imaginary situations, Louise doesn’t seem to aim very high.

Michael Douglas

LORELAI: Okay, so now the fact that I suggested painting Luke’s diner also means that I wanted to get him in bed. All of a sudden I’m trying to get any poor, unsuspecting person in bed with me. I’m like – I’m Michael Douglas!

Michael Douglas (born 1944) is a multi award-winning American actor and producer, with a long career in theatre, film, and television. He is married to Catherine Zeta-Jones, earlier discussed as one of the “pretty women” that Lorelai wonders if Luke’s ex-girlfriend Rachel resembles.

In 1993 it was widely reported that Michael Douglas was a sex addict and had entered rehab to be treated for his addiction (leading to much mockery). He refuted these claims, saying that he had gone into rehab to be treated for alcohol addiction, but the rumours persist – they were even published again in his 2012 biography by Marc Eliot, Michael Douglas: A Biography.

Diagnosed with cancer in 2010, Douglas told the public he had throat cancer caused by giving cunnilingus to many women, which did nothing to calm down the sex addiction rumours. In 2013 Douglas revealed he had actually had tongue cancer, and denied that there was any link with performing oral sex.

In January 2018, journalist Susan Braudy went public with claims that she had been sexually harassed by Michael Douglas in 1989 while working for him, including that he used inappropriate sexual language, and masturbated to orgasm in front of her. Douglas denies the allegations, although Braudy has shared corroborating evidence with the press. This has reignited the “sex addiction” rumours all over again.

Lorelai seems to have the common belief that people with “sex addiction” must be constantly trying to get random people to have intercourse with them, although such behaviour is probably rarer in real life than people think.

(Note: “Sex addiction” has not been accepted as a diagnosis by any mainstream psychological or psychiatric body, but there are support groups and treatment programs for it).

Charles I

Rory’s teacher Ms. Caldecott tells the class they will be debating “Did Charles I receive a fair trial?”. It’s not clear which class this is – it may be History, and Ms. Caldecott has replaced Mrs. Ness as the teacher for the subject this semester, or it may be Government.

Charles I (1600-1649) was the king of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1625 until his death. Charles was in conflict with the Parliament of England, which tried to place limits on his royal prerogative – the authority and privileges which belong to the monarch alone. Charles believed in the divine right of kings, and that he was subject to no earthly authority, but could rule as he pleased through the will of God.

From 1642, Charles fought the armies of the English and Scottish parliaments in the English Civil War, was defeated in 1645 but still refused to accept demands for a constitutional monarchy. He was tried, convicted, and executed on charges of high treason in January 1649. The monarchy was abolished before being restored in 1660.

At his trial, Charles was held responsible for all the damage done to his country during the Civil War, including the deaths of 6% of the population. He refused to plead, claiming that no court held authority over a monarch, and that his authority to rule came from God and from the laws of England. He said that the trial was illegal, and its power only came from the force of arms.

The court challenged the idea that a monarch was immune from prosecution by the state, proposing that the “king” was not a person, but an office whose occupant had to govern by the laws of the land. They went ahead with the trial without the king’s royal assent. Charles was not present to hear the evidence against him, and had no opportunity to question witnesses, so there would be material for both sides of the debate.