Ringer

LORELAI: He’s a ringer.
RORY: How do you figure?
LORELAI: Someone recruited him, promised him a handsome sum, financed his theatrical snowman accoutrements, so he could snatch victory away from a deserving local in order to bag the contest prize for himself.

Ringer is slang for a contestant who enters a competition under false pretences, such as a professional entering an amateur contest. It comes from horse racing, where a fast horse was sometimes substituted for a slower one, known as a “ring-in”.

Although Lorelai is being deliberately preposterous, it does seem a little mean for such an experienced competitor to enter a local contest in a small town, especially when there isn’t even a large prize to act as an incentive. He isn’t actually building a snowman anyway – he’s creating an ice/snow sculpture, which is a different entity. I feel as if he should be disqualified.

Women’s Basketball

LUKE: I asked [Sookie] how your plans were going with the new inn, and she very awkwardly changed the subject to women’s basketball … She’s never shown much interest in sports before … What’s going on with that?
LORELAI: Oh well, you know, women’s basketball is getting super popular. That’s good, I think. The tall girls need an outlet.

Rune thought Lorelai was too tall, even referring to her as a basketball player. Here Lorelai is quick to imply she’s not a “tall girl” who needs the “outlet” of playing basketball. (She’s about an inch shorter than average for a female basketball player).

Luke says that women’s basketball is in season and maybe Lorelai and Sookie could go to a game together. I think he must mean the women’s college basketball tournament (NCAA Division 1), which opens in November, as the professional league, the Women’s National Basketball Association, has a season running from May to September.

“And then there were three”

DEAN: Tomorrow you start paying. Bye. [leaves]
LORELAI: Bye. And then there were three.

A reference to the American counting game, originally called “Ten Little N*iggers”, and later “Ten Little Indians”, and now “Ten Little Soldiers”. A standard of black and white minstrel shows, the original title was used for a 1939 mystery novel by Agatha Christie, now less controversially called And Then There Were None. In the novel, a series of ten murders are planned to fit with the structure of the original black and white minstrel rhyme; the pertinent line is, “Four little n*gger boys going out to sea, a red herring swallowed one, and then there were three”.

Lorelai may be thinking of the 1978 album … And Then There Were Three, by English rock band Genesis. The title was chosen because it was the first one they released as a trio, following the departure of their guitarist. It reached #3 in the UK and #14 in the US. Its most successful single was Follow You Follow Me, which coincidentally or not, is a title vaguely reminiscent of Where You Lead (I Will Follow), the theme song of Gilmore Girls.

Ju-jitsu

LORELAI: Mom, there’d have to be a 12k run and a jujitsu demonstration for her to go through twelve pairs of pantyhose.

Ju-jitsu (or jujutsu) is a Japanese martial art. Its name translates to “yielding art”, because it is based on using your opponent’s force against them, rather than providing an opposing force.

There are often references to sports and games of conflict in conversations between Lorelai and Emily.

Poker

Jess asks Luke if he would like to play poker with him. He seems practised in shuffling the deck, and offers to lay bets, although says he can’t go any higher than $15 a hand.

Poker is an extremely popular American card game, first developed in the 19th century, in which players lay bets according to how much they believe their hand is worth. Players must then match the maximum bet, raise the wager further, or fold by throwing in their hand (losing the money they have bet so far and all involvement in the current hand). As players may bluff by staking a higher wager than their hand justifies, winning the game involves a subtle mixture of luck, psychology, probability, and game theory.

A good poker player needs to be intelligent, disciplined, independent, have a good memory, and exceptional emotional control. They need to “keep their cards close to their chest” – that is, give away very little about themselves. That’s telling us quite a bit about Jess already. Another character has already been shown to be clever and strategic through their choice of card game: the bridge-playing Emily Gilmore. It would be interesting to see a showdown between the two of them.

Jess smoking and playing poker is shorthand to show what a stereotypical bad boy he is. If he’s been involved in gambling, that would be a clue as to what sort of “trouble” he might be headed for. At this point, Luke may be worried that Lorelai’s instincts might be right about Jess. Interestingly, Fredo Corleone from The Godfather Part II worked in the casino trade …

Twenty Questions

LUKE: So you get unpacked?
JESS: Yup.
LUKE: Get enough space in the closet?
JESS: Plenty.
LUKE: You hungry?
JESS: Eighteen.
LUKE: What?

JESS: Just counting how many questions ’til we hit twenty.

Jess is referring to Twenty Questions, an American parlour game originating in the 19th century. One person chooses a particular object or subject, but keeps it a secret. Players take turns asking them questions about it, which can only be answered by “yes”, “no”, and “maybe”. Winning the game involves correctly guessing the answer within twenty questions – if not, the answerer wins the game. Twenty Questions has been made into several successful radio and television quiz shows.

Of course, Luke isn’t trying to guess anything, just asking if Jess has everything he needs, but Jess is clearly not in the mood.

Giant Foam Fingers and Wazoo

RORY: You know what I love most about Harvard?
LORELAI: No, what?
RORY: They don’t sell giant foam fingers.
LORELAI: No, they’ve got class out the wazoo.

Outsized hands cut out of foam are sports paraphernalia worn on the hand to show support for a particular team. They have been in use since the late 1970s.

The wazoo is American slang for “the anus”. To have a particular attribute “out of the wazoo” means to have it in abundance or to excess.

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.

Speedos

KIRK: And those are some self-portraits.
LORELAI: Aahh! Kirk, you’re nude!
KIRK: No no, I’m wearing Speedos. They’re kind of flesh coloured.

Speedo is an Australian brand of swimwear, founded in 1914 by Alexander MacRae, and now part of the British Pentland Group; in North America it is manufactured for and marketed by PVH. Due to its success, the name Speedo has become synonymous with racing bathing suits, particularly for men.

(In fact it turns out Kirk was actually naked, but Lorelai and Max agree never to discuss it again).