RORY: Fine, but we have a real problem here. LORELAI: Oh, you think I don’t know that? You think I sit around all day swapping witticisms with Robert Benchley at The Algonquin? No! I am thinking and worrying and using the computer, and I hate using the computer!
Robert Benchley (1889-1945), a humorist best known as a newspaper columnist and film actor. He began writing for The Harvard Lampoon while at Harvard University, before writing for Vanity Fair, and most famously, The New Yorker, where his absurdist essays proved highly influential. He made several appearances in films, and his 1935 film How to Sleep, won an Academy Award in the Short Film category.
The Algonquin Hotel is a historic hotel in Manhattan, which first opened in 1902. It had a reputation for hosting a number of literary and theatrical celebrities, including The Algonquin Round Table (or as they called themselves, “the Vicious Circle”). This group of New York writers, critics, actors, and wits met for lunch each day at The Algonquin from 1919 to 1929, engaging in witticisms which were disseminated across the country through their newspaper columns.
Robert Benchley was one of its most prominent members, and Lorelai is probably referencing the writer and critic Dorothy Parker, previously discussed. Dorothy Parker was a close friend of Robert Benchley, and one of the founding members of The Algonquin Round Table.
[Picture shows a painting of Dorothy Parker at The Algonquin Round Table by Carl Purcell]
LORELAI: I was thinking about opening a Coyote Ugly lemonade stand.
The Coyote Ugly Saloon is a bar which opened in New York in 1993, founded by Lilliana Lovell. It is known for employing female bartenders who entertain the crowd by dancing on tabletops, singing, and giving sass to patrons.
Since then other Coyote Ugly Saloons have opened around the US and internationally, and the bar has inspired a 2000 teen musical comedy-drama film called Coyote Ugly, starring Piper Perabo as an aspiring songwriter who gets a job at the Coyote Ugly Saloon [pictured].
LORELAI: So it was the uniform, huh? MISS PATTY: Aw, it’s the Biloxi Naval Base all over again.
Biloxi is a coastal city in Mississippi. There isn’t actually a naval base there – there’s a military base for the air force though. Miss Patty might be thinking of the Naval Construction Battalion Center in nearby Gulfport, about ten miles further down the coast – the cities are so close that they share the same airport, and other facilities, and the air force and naval bases are close together.
Both these military bases provided training to new recruits in the second half of the twentieth century, beginning in World War II. It’s possible that Miss Patty, who seems to have been a New Yorker before she moved to Stars Hollow, entertained the troops at one or both of these bases, perhaps during the Vietnam War, when she would have been in her early twenties.
RICHARD: Well, I was appalled. Prague has played host to some of the greatest composers in history. Mozart named a symphony after it, for heaven’s sake. So what did I do? EMILY: I have tried so hard to forget this. RICHARD: I stood beside them and their boombox and I hummed Mozart’s Prague Symphony as loud as I could. [starts humming]
Symphony No. 38 in D major (K. 504), was composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, previously discussed, in late 1786. It premiered in Prague in 1787, during Mozart’s first visit to the city. Because of this, it is popularly known as the Prague Symphony. Mozart didn’t actually give it this name, and it’s not certain that Mozart wrote it in honour of Prague, although there is some evidence that he might have done.
RICHARD: So there we are, it’s a beautiful moonlit Prague night, and we’re strolling across the Charles Bridge when we come across this group of kids blasting this song …
Charles Bridge is a medieval stone arch bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague, Czech Republic. Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished in the early 15th century. Originally called Stone Bridge, it has been referred to as “Charles Bridge” since 1870. It’s been restricted to pedestrian traffic only since the late 1970s, hence Richard and Emily stroll across it while teenagers could congregate listening to music.
Emily earlier talked about Prague as if she had never been, saying it was “supposed to be lovely”. Now we discover she and Richard had already been there on one of their traditional December trips.
LORELAI: Hey, did you ever see that I Love Lucy where she goes to Buckingham Palace? RORY: Mom. LORELAI: She tries to get the palace guard to break character. That was a funny one.
Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the monarch of the UK, located in the City of Westminster, the centre of London. It was originally a townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703, and acquired by King George III in 1761. It was enlarged during the 19th century, and became the monarch’s official home on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837. Used for state functions and extending hospitality to visiting world leaders, it has been a focal point for the British at times of national rejoicing and mourning.
I Love Lucy, previously discussed and frequently mentioned. The episode Lorelai is talking about is Lucy Meets the Queen (1956), set during the season when Ricky is on his tour of Europe, and Lucy is accompanying him. Lucy visits Buckingham Palace as a tourist, and tries to make one of the Queen’s Guard outside the palace laugh by cracking jokes. The guards at Buckingham Place are famous for remaining stony-faced on duty – they are meant to be fined £200 if they don’t. They will sometimes smile and pose for pictures with polite, respectful tourists, especially children.
RICHARD: Say, when was the last time we were on a roller coaster? EMILY: Never. RICHARD: Didn’t we ever go to Coney Island? EMILY: That must’ve been your other wife.
Coney Island is a neighbourhood of Brooklyn in New York. Originally one of the Outer Barrier Islands, it became a peninsula in the early twentieth century when landfill connected it to Long Island. It became a seaside resort in the mid-nineteenth century, and by the late nineteenth century amusement parks had been built there.
The amusement parks began to decline after World War II, and by the 1950s were confined to a small area. At the time Richard and Emily would have been dating in the 1960s, Coney Island was considered crime-ridden and dangerous, so I don’t think Richard could ever have taken Emily there, and the last amusement park closed there in 1964, not to open again until the next decade. He might have gone there as a child though.
The amusement parks began to be revitalised in the early twenty-first century, and once more has many attractions. The famous roller coaster there is the Coney Island Cyclone, built in 1927, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991. Richard and Emily could have gone on it in 2001-2002 when it was part of Astroland, despite feeling as if Coney Island is something from another era.
BOOTSY: I spent a summer training horses in Montana.
Montana is the fourth-largest US state, situated in the north west region of the nation. Its name is from the Spanish for “mountainous country”, and the Rocky Mountains are in the west of the state, while the eastern side is characterised by prairies and badlands. It is sometimes called “Big Sky Country”. The economy is primarily based on agriculture, including cereal crops and ranching. Dude ranches are common here, and it’s possible that Bootsy is exaggerating a summer vacation on a dude ranch as “working with horses”.
EDIT: Thanks to sharp-eyed reader melcauble for pointing out a silly error in this entry, where I accidentally wrote Rune instead of Bootsy!
LORELAI (to Richard): You and Mom, you always go out of town this time of year. RORY: Last year it was the Bahamas.
Last year we discovered it was Richard and Emily’s annual tradition to hold a Christmas party in mid-December. This year we discover another tradition: they go out of town around Christmas time (presumably after the party, but possibly before).
I’m not sure whether they actually go away for Christmas, or if they travel in the week or so before Christmas, and get back in time for the 25th. Richard and Emily spoke about only seeing Lorelai and Rory at Christmas and Easter, so did that just mean attending the Christmas party each year? As that was attended by their friends, it doesn’t seem as if they spent much time together as a family at all, even in the holidays. Perhaps they meant the entire Christmas season – the party, and then Christmas itself.
Richard and Emily went to the Bahamas in December 2000, after Richard had been hospitalised for an angina attack. As Christopher’s parents, Straub and Francine Hayden, live in the Bahamas, it seems very likely the Gilmores either stayed with them, or visited them, during their vacation. It was only a couple of months later that Christopher’s parents come to Hartford just as Christopher arrives for a visit to Stars Hollow, suggesting it was a plan that the elder Gilmores cooked up to bring Lorelai and Christopher together – with devastating results.
LORELAI: For the Bracebridge Dinner. JACKSON: Geez, you guys are going crazy with this dinner. SOOKIE: Jackson, I told you, this dinner is not just about food. We are recreating an authentic 19th century meal. LORELAI: The servers are all gonna be in period clothing, they’re gonna speak period English. Here, look at the costumes.
The Bracebridge Dinner is an annual tradition which has been held at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, California since 1927, when the hotel opened. The interior of the Ahwahnee was an inspiration for the hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s film, The Shining – a hint as to how Lorelai may have become interested in holding her own Bracebridge Dinner.
The Bracebridge Dinner is a seven-course formal gathering held in the Grand Dining Room and presented as a feast given by a Renaissance-era lord. It was inspired by the fictional Squire Bracebridge’s Yule celebration in a story from the 1820 work, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., by American author Washington Irving. Music and theatrical performances based on Irving’s story accompany the introduction of each course.
Tickets to the Bracebridge Dinner cost around $400 and are generally difficult to obtain, sometimes being awarded in a lottery system. In 1992, there were 60 000 applicants for the 1650 seats available. This could be the reason why the Trelling Paper Company from Chicago have decided to hold their own Bracebridge Dinner at the Independence Inn.
Sookie says they will be serving an authentic 19th century meal, but in fact it is a Renaissance-themed meal. There’s not that much authentic about the dinner really, however I’m pretty sure the 19th century one wasn’t either. It’s a bit of fun and frolic, not a history lesson.