RORY: Hey, Henry?
LANE: Called him.
LANE: He likes me. He’s perfect. I’ll never see him again. You’ll read about it in my novel, A Connecticut Yankee in Busan.
Lane is parodying the title of the 1889 novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, by Mark Twain. The novel is a satirical fantasy about a 19th century American engineer who is mysteriously transported to 6th century Britain in the time of the legendary King Arthur. It may be a novel that Lane and Rory once read for English class at Stars Hollow High.
At least Lane and Henry have finally spoken to each other, and everything went well – just as Lane is about to be shipped off to Korea for several weeks.
LORELAI: Call me when you get home, and please be careful.
RORY: I will.
LORELAI: I mean it Timmy, no falling down the well.
Lorelai is referencing an old joke relating to the television show Lassie, earlier discussed.
In the show, Lassie would bark to give warning of danger, with her human friends apparently understanding exactly what she was saying. Thus it was parodied as, “Woof, woof!”, “What’s that, Lassie? Timmy’s fallen down the well?”. The joke relates to the 1957-1964 period, when the little boy on the show was Timmy Martin, played by Jon Provost (who called his memoirs Timmy’s in the Well: The Jon Provost Story).
In actuality, Timmy never fell down a well, although he suffered a number of similar situations, such as falling in a lake and getting trapped in an old mine, a pipe, and down a badger hole. The list of Timmy’s perils is very long, and includes wandering onto a minefield and being exposed to radiation, not to mention more mundane concerns like tigers and bears. Lassie did once get stuck down a well herself, though.
RORY: Oh, Henry, hi. Nice to see you.
HENRY: You too. What classes are you taking?
RORY: Shakespeare, physics, obscure Russian poetry.
Rory got a D for her first English Literature assignment, so it makes sense for her to enrol in two Literature classes to improve her grades further. One is the ubiquitous William Shakespeare, while the other is “obscure Russian poetry”, which doesn’t sound like a real subject. Possibly Rory is being facetious, and the subject is actually Nineteenth Century Russian Poets, or Modern Russian Poetry, or something like that. It may seem obscure to Rory, but probably isn’t – Chilton seems to cover the classics rather than anything left-of-field.
Rory has also enrolled in Physics, quite possibly towards credit in the next academic year, as she didn’t study Physics at Chilton in her sophomore year (Biology and Chemistry were her science subjects).
Henry is taking Trigonometry at summer school – just like Lane, this is his worst subject (an aversion of the stereotype that people of Asian heritage are gifted in mathematical subjects). Rory offers to help Henry with Trig, but we never see if she actually does so. It seems plausible enough since they’re both at summer school and Rory has experience in helping Lane with the subject.
RICHARD: I wanted to see La Traviata at the La Scala opera house.
La Traviata (“the fallen woman”) is an opera by Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi. It is based on the 1852 play La Dame aux Camélias (“the lady with the camellias”) by French author Alexandre Dumas, fils, adapted from his own 1848 novel of the same name. The first performance of the opera was a failure, but today it is extremely popular and an operatic standard.
The Teatro alla Scala, nearly always abbreviated to La Scala, is an opera house in Milan, Italy which opened in 1778. Many of the world’s great opera singers have appeared at La Scala, and it is regarded as one of the world’s leading opera houses.
EMILY: Richard, don’t you dare get on that phone. They’ll be here any second.
RICHARD: I’m not getting on the phone. I’m going to give Rory that first edition of Mencken’s Chrestomathy.
Mencken’s Chrestomathy was earlier discussed as a book that Richard called Rory about after they first bonded at Richard’s country club. A first edition is difficult to find and would most likely cost more than $100 today.
The special family dinner may be Friday June 1, meaning that the school year just finished for Rory, and they are celebrating the end of her first year at Chilton, and the success she attained during it.
RORY: Did you pick out your ring?
LORELAI: Yup, he’s gonna surprise me with it tomorrow.
RORY: Twenties Deco?
LORELAI: Supposedly ripped right off of Zelda Fitzgerald’s cold dead hand.
Zelda Fitzgerald, born Zelda Sayre (1900-1948) was an American socialite, writer, artist, and the wife of author F. Scott Fitzgerald. The couple became icons of the Jazz Age, and her husband dubbed Zelda “the first American flapper”.
The Fitzgeralds’ marriage deteriorated, and Zelda was admitted to psychiatric care, diagnosed as schizophrenic. She spent the rest of her life in and out of sanatoriums. Like Amy Sherman-Palladino, Zelda studied ballet as a child, and as an adult, became obsessed with it again to the detriment of her health.
Lorelai is joking about her engagement ring being Zelda Fitzgerald’s, just that it is from the 1920s. It is telling that she links her engagement ring with a woman who had a famously disastrous marriage.
RORY: So, what kind of dress are you thinking of?
LORELAI: Um, the one Stephanie Seymour wore in the Guns N’ Roses video.
Lorelai is referring to the music video to the 1992 power ballad November Rain, written by Axl Rose and from Guns N’ Roses’ 1991 album Use Your Illusion I. The song got to #3 on the charts, and at over eight minutes long, is the longest song to ever get into the Top Ten.
The music video, directed by Andy Morhan, shows Axl Rose getting married to his then-girlfriend, model and actress Stephanie Seymour, intercut with a live performance of the song. Seymour is wearing a traditional white wedding dress with a long train and a veil, but the front of the dress puffed up to be as short as a mini skirt. On a budget of over one million dollars (with $8000 spent on the dress), the video won the MTV Award for Best Cinematography.
The song is about a man’s unrequited love for a woman who no longer loves him in return, another foreshadowing of what is to come between Lorelai and Max. (The name Axl even looks and sounds a little like the name Max). The music video is based on the short story Without You by Del James, a friend of Rose’s; in the story the girl shoots herself, but the music video is ambiguous whether the Stephanie Seymour character’s death is a suicide or a murder. Yet another love leads to death reference in Gilmore Girls!
In 1993, Stephanie Seymour abruptly left Axl Rose to be with someone else – a foreshadowing of Lorelai’s future behaviour.