“Mr. Cosell”

EMILY: She [Rory] got home from school, but she just went right upstairs. Now she didn’t want a snack, but I had Rosa make her one anyway. I haven’t checked to see if she’s eaten it. She had a decent breakfast this morning, but she did seem a little tired, and when I went into her bathroom the aspirin bottle was out, so I assume she had a headache. Now, I don’t know if it was last night or …
LORELAI: Excuse me, Mr. Cosell. I appreciate the play-by-play but I just want to talk to my daughter now.

Howard Cosell, born Howard Cohen (1918-1995) was an American sports journalist who entered sports broadcasting in the 1950s, and in the 1970s became the commentator for Monday Night Football on ABC. He completely changed the style of sportscasting towards one of context and analysis, similar to hard news journalism, and is regarded as the greatest American sports commentator of all time. Lorelai compares Emily’s blow-by-blow account of Rory’s activities to Cosell’s in depth analysis of a football game.

Emily’s speech shows her hyper-controlling style of micromanagement. Rory has only been home from school for around an hour, but has had her every move and mood scrutinised, been given a snack after saying she didn’t want one, and had her bathroom searched after leaving it. It’s a telling insight into what Lorelai’s childhood must have been like, and into what Rory’s would have been like if Lorelai had remained living with her parents after becoming a mother.

Emily allows no autonomy, choice, or privacy, and keeps people under surveillance as if they are in prison (remember Lorelai, an adult, could not even say she was going to the toilet without being followed?). It’s really hard to blame Lorelai for fleeing her childhood home because of these circumstances, fearing that Rory would have to endure the same childhood she did.

Chequered flag

EMILY: I mean, it [Rory’s bedroom] may not be exciting or bohemian, but at least it doesn’t have shovels propped up against the sofa either, now does it?
LORELAI: I’m sorry. I missed the chequered flag, when did the argument start?

Motor sport races traditionally end with a black and white chequered flag waving to signal their completion. However, Lorelai seems to think that the flag is waved at the beginning of a race, as she wonders where the signal was that she and Emily were about to have a fight. (She can’t think that the fight is over – they are clearly in the middle of one).

Williams Sisters

LANE: It’s like watching the Williams’ sisters [referring to Emily and Mrs. Kim haggling].
RORY: I wish we had popcorn.

A reference to American professional tennis players Venus Williams (born 1980) and Serena Williams (born 1981). Venus is on the right in the picture, and her sister on the left.

The sisters dominated the sport in the 2000s and often played against each other; the first time was in the second round at the 1998 Australian Open, which Venus won. The previous year to this episode’s airing, they met in the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2000, which Venus also won. In all, the sisters have met at 29 matches to date, with Serena leading 17-12.

“Arcade game”

LORELAI: Oh no, it’s that arcade game where the mole keeps sticking his head out and you have to pound him as many times as you can with the mallet. You would be a master at that game. … They would erect a statue of you next to it with perfect hair and pearls and a big bronze mallet.

Lorelai is referring to Whac-a-Mole, a popular arcade game first introduced in the mid-1970s. A Whac-a-Mole machine is a cabinet with five holes, from which the moles pop up at random, while the player has to hit them with a large plastic mallet.

Lorelai says that Emily would be a master at Whac-a-Mole as she’s so good at continuing to “whack” at Lorelai, but in colloquial use when people refer to a situation being like Whac-a-Mole, they mean that it’s futile as the moles keep popping up annoyingly no matter how many times you hit them. Lorelai is unwittingly (?) providing a testament to her own resilience and cockiness in the face of Emily’s assaults.

Fred Mertz

LORELAI: My father almost hit someone. My father has probably only hit another man in college wearing boxing gloves and one of those Fred Mertz Golden Gloves pullover sweaters.
CHRISTOPHER: Fred Mertz?
LORELAI: I Love Lucy – Fred Mertz.
CHRISTOPHER: Landlord to Ricky, husband to Ethel, I know. It’s just a weird reference.

Lorelai and Christopher pretty much annotate this one themselves. On the 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy, previously and frequently mentioned, Fred Mertz (William Frawley) was Ethel’s (Vivian Vance’s) husband, and the landlord of Ricky and Lucy Ricardo in New York. After the Ricardos moved to Connecticut to start chicken farming, Fred and Ethel followed them, and the Ricardos ended up being the Mertz’s landlords.

In his heyday, Fred was a boxing champion, and in the episode Changing the Boys’ Wardrobe (December 1953) he can be seen wearing a sweater which says GOLDEN GLOVES 1909. In fact the first Golden Gloves amateur boxing championship took place in 1923 in Chicago, after which the name was applied to any number of amateur boxing contests.

Softball

Rory asks her dad to accompany her to a local softball game that Dean is playing in. Luke is a player on the opposing side, meaning that Stars Hollow has at least two softball teams! This episode provides another inside-joke by alluding to Scott Patterson’s professional baseball career – he was a baseball pitcher in real life, and also the pitcher at the softball game in this episode.

Softball is a variant of baseball, played with a larger bat on a smaller field. It was invented in Chicago in 1887, giving it a connection with Dean’s home town. It’s a popular sport for amateurs as it can be adapted to almost any skill level, and the rules can be changed to suit the circumstances (in Stars Hollow, the rules are almost Wonderland-level – they stop when they get tired, and the first team to get even one run wins). The softball season usually begins in February, so this game is relatively early in the season.

Pitcher: During the baseball scene Luke is the “pitcher”, meaning he is is the one pitching balls to the opposing team’s batter.

On-deck circle: When the softball scene opens, Dean is standing in the “on-deck circle”, the area where a player stands when they are next up to bat.

Strikeout: The batter ahead of Dean “strikes out” by failing to hit the ball three times in a row. Luke notes that he is the second member of Dean’s team to do so.

Fielders: The players on the non-batting team who aren’t pitching spread out in order to catch the ball, thus potentially catching the batter “out”. When it is Dean’s turn to bat, he suggests that Luke sends his “boys a little further into the field”. He means that he is planning to hit the ball a long way, so that the fielders on Luke’s team had better get further out onto the field.

Whiffing: Luke suggests that the only reason his fielders would need to get further out is so they can get a better view of Dean “whiffing”. In baseball and softball, whiffing means to swing at the ball without hitting it – in other words, to strike out.

The softball scenes were filmed at the Hartunian Baseball Field in the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area in Encino, Los Angeles. You can see some very un-Stars Hollow-like homes overlooking the field, which are in Encino Village.

Rincon

CHRISTOPHER: [sighs] Why does your dad have more faith in me than you?
LORELAI: My father hit his head surfing Rincon a couple of years ago. His judgement’s a little off.

Rincon Beach is a surf spot in California, between Malibu and Santa Barbara, and closer to the latter. It’s one of the most famous surf beaches in California, and is well known around the world. It hosts the Rincon Classic surf event each January, and is mentioned in The Beach Boys’ song Surfing Safari.

Obviously Lorelai is joking – surfing Rincon is one of the last things Richard Gilmore would ever do. The real reason for his misplaced faith in Christopher is explained later in the episode.