Germany’s Victory in the Franco-Prussian War

DARREN: What about the year of Germany’s victory in the Franco-Prussian War?

The Franco-Prussian War, often referred to in France as the War of 1870, lasted from 19 July 1870 to 28 January 1871. Germany won after besieging Paris for more than four months, and one of the main consequences of the war was the unification of Germany, leading to the formation of the modern German state, which became the dominant world power in Europe.

[Painting is Battle of Mars-le-Tour, August 16 1870 by Emil Hünten, 1870]

National Guard

JESS: Two weeks ago there was a run on snow cones. Machine broke, people went crazy, Taylor tried to call in the National Guard, but –

The National Guard is a state-based military force that is part of the reserve component of the US Army and Air Force when activated for federal missions – what would be called the Army Reserve in other countries. The idea of a local militia in the US goes back to the earliest English colonisation of the Americas, the first one formed in 1636. The title National Guard has been used nationally since 1903, and there are currently more than 400 000 people serving in the National Guard.

The National Guard may be activated in times of emergency, such as hurricanes, wildfires, riots, or terrorist attacks. Jess jokingly likens the snow cone machine breaking down to such disasters. This comment from Jess sounds as if he is beginning to fit in with the town better – the crack about Taylor and the snow cones sounds like something Luke would say, or even Lorelai. His summer in Stars Hollow, and perhaps dating a girl from the town, is helping him to feel more at home there.

“Gays in the military”

PARIS: You want the first stand I make against the faculty to involve a fashion choice? It would be my ‘gays in the military.’

Paris refers to the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in regard to allowing gay people to serve in the US military. Bill Clinton had campaigned in 1992 on the promise of allowing all citizens to serve in the military, regardless of sexual orientation. However, on being elected to the presidency, he had to settle with a compromise solution, called the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue” policy, popularly known by its first four words.

Essentially the policy allowed gay people to serve in the military, provided they remained in the closet, while openly gay military personnel could be dishonourably discharged if they “told” anyone they were gay. It was an offence to ask anyone about their sexual orientation, or to pursue an investigation into anyone who didn’t “tell” (remained closeted). Later they added a “Don’t Harass” to the title, to mean the military would not allow harassment or violence against anyone. The policy was repealed in 2010 under the Obama administration, allowing openly gay personnel to serve in the US military. Former president Clinton welcomed the repeal.

Paris is saying that if the first thing she brings in as president is shorter hemlines, it would look like she was starting out by giving in to Francine straight away, like Clinton gave in to Congress.

General Sherman

MRS. KIM: This was Sherman’s shaving table … General Sherman, famous man, burned Atlanta, liked a close shave.

General William Tecumseh Sherman, previously mentioned. A general in the Union Army during the Civil War, he invaded Georgia with three armies in the spring of 1864. His campaign against Atlanta ended successfully in September of that year with the capturing of the city, and he gave orders that all civilians were to evacuate the city before giving instructions that all military and government buildings were to be burned, although many private homes and businesses were too. This victory made him a household name, and ensured the re-election of President Abraham Lincoln in November that year.

In fact General Sherman had a slightly scruffy beard, rather than being close-shaven. This seems to be another hint that Mrs Kim is not always honest about her antiques.

Christopher’s Gift Basket for Lorelai


$25 savings bond

Youth Hostel card

What Color is Your Parachute?, by Richard Nelson Bolles (a classic guide for job-seekers)

The Graduate on DVD, the 1967 film starring Dustin Hoffman

The Portable Nietzsche, by Friedrich Nietzsche, translated by Walter Kauffman

Application to join the army

Disposable camera

Pearl necklace in a velvet box

They are all traditional graduation gifts, and/or joke gifts. The camera actually ends up becoming an essential item. Lorelai never seems to consider how Sherry would feel about her boyfriend sending another woman flowers and jewellery.


EMILY: I scaled back a lot. I cut two appetizers, I canceled the champagne fountain, and I reduced the catering staff to six servers, not counting the pointman.

Technically a pointman is the head of a military patrol, or in the US, the word is used to mean the person who is at the forefront of a particular endeavour. I think Emily just means the pointman is the person who is coordinating the party and giving the servers instructions, solving any little problem that might come up.

“Tiny fellow on that M*A*S*H* program”

RICHARD: Hm, maybe we should start a tab with them so we don’t have to pay cash everyday.

LORELAI: Already done.

RICHARD: Amazing. You’re like the tiny fellow on that M*A*S*H* program, always anticipating.

M*A*S*H* (an acronym for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital), a war comedy-drama television series set during the Korean War in the early 1950s which aired from 1972 to 1983. It was adapted from the 1970 film of the same name, which in turn was based on the novel MASH: The Story of Three Doctors by Richard Hooker, based on the author’s own experiences as a doctor in a field hospital in Korea.

Richard refers to the character Corporal Walter “Radar” O’Reilly on the TV sitcom M*A*S*H*, portrayed by Gary Burghoff. He seems to have extra-sensory perception, appearing at his commander’s side, with whatever paperwork is required, before being called, and finishing his sentences before the officer is anywhere near the end of them. Young and naïve, Radar tends to look up to his superiors as father figures, something Richard would probably like from Lorelai.

Although M*A*S*H* took a while to find its feet, by its second season it was one of the top 10 programs of the year, and stayed in the top 20 for the rest of its run. Becoming an allegory for the Vietnam War, it is considered one of the greatest TV shows of all time, and is still broadcast in syndication.

Napoleon and Elba

LOUISE: Someone’s not taking to Elba too kindly.

PARIS: What does that mean?

LOUISE: Just that Rory’s the leader of this group, Napoleon, and you’re not.

Napoleon Bonaparte, born Napoleone di Buonaparte (1769-1821), French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution, becoming Emperor of France in the early 19th century. He was one of the greatest military commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied in military schools worldwide.

After Napoleon was forced to abdicate in 1814 he was exiled to the island of Elba, between Corsica and Italy. Louise is saying that now that Rory is leader of their group, Paris is like a great leader forced into the political wilderness.

In fact, Napoleon didn’t waste his time on Elba, improving the island with his usual energy and vision. He escaped from it nine months later and briefly took control of France again before being defeated at Waterloo. Like Napoleon, Paris is unlikely to languish in the background for too long.

[Picture shows Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jacques-Louis David (1800)]

Navy Shower

RICHARD: I’ll be right back.

LORELAI: Right back, Dad, like right back. In fact, change on the way upstairs. And make it a Navy shower – quick soap, quick rinse and no excessive posing!

A Navy shower is a method of showering that saves water and energy by turning off the water while lathering, and then turning the water back on to rinse off. The total running time of this kind of shower can last less than two minutes. Navy showers originated on naval ships, where supplies of fresh water were often scarce.

In US naval parlance, the opposite of a Navy shower is a Hollywood shower, which is a long shower that uses up a lot of water – I think this is what Lorelai is referring to when she says “no excessive posing” (like a movie star posing for photographs).

Most likely, Lorelai talks about a Navy shower because Gomer Pyle, previously mentioned in this episode, became the star of his own show, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., which ran from 1964 to 1969. In this spin-off sit-com, the good-hearted Gomer Pyle joins the Marines, where he exasperates his drill sergeant with his frequent mistakes and misunderstandings.