The Construction Foreman

[Rory taps on a man’s shoulder while he’s sawing a piece of wood.]
RORY: Excuse me.
MAN: Hey, you’re touching a man with a saw. You don’t touch a man with a saw. What are you thinking?
RORY: I’m sorry.
MAN: I could’ve hurt myself. I could’ve hurt you. There’s a ton of hurt that almost happened here.

The construction foreman for Rebuilding Together in Hartford, played by Biff Yeager, is named Tom in the credits. He seems to be the same person as Tom the contractor who will later be seen in Stars Hollow whenever anyone needs some building or renovating work done, but it isn’t made completely clear. He doesn’t have a beard, while Tom the contractor does, but he might have grown one. It’s also uncertain whether he lives in Hartford but travels to Stars Hollow when needed, lives in Stars Hollow but took this job in Hartford for Rebuilding Together, or originally lived in Hartford but later moved to Stars Hollow.

Busan

Busan is where Lane’s cousins live, and where she will be spending the summer from June to August 2001. The city was called Pusan until 2000, and is pronounced like Pusan (at least that’s how it sounds to English-speakers).

Busan is the second-biggest city in South Korea, and has a population of over 3 million. It is the economic centre of south-eastern Korea, and has a large industrial area, and the biggest port in Korea. It is called the summer capital of Korea, since it has a number of beaches to attract tourists, along with cafes, restaurants, and shopping districts to cater to them.

It is unknown whether Mr and Mrs Kim, or their families, are originally from the Busan area as well as the cousins, but it doesn’t seem too unlikely.

Porn Star Tee-Shirt

LORELAI:  If you cut him [Richard] a little slack, I’ll wear my Porn Star tee-shirt to dinner next week.

Presumably a tee-shirt which has “Porn Star” written on the front. Such tee-shirts are still common, and it is hard to say what Lorelai’s might look like. We never see it, and it seems unlikely she would wear it to dinner with her parents.

Beefaroni

RORY: Grandma, I can’t believe you found the recipe for Beefaroni.
EMILY: It wasn’t easy. Antonia thought I’d gone insane.

Beefaroni was earlier mentioned as a food Rory liked, and now we discover it is actually her favourite meal, requested for her special dinner.

Because home made Beefaroni is basically just macaroni, beef mince, tomato puree, and cheese, even a very average home cook could easily make up their own recipe for it. Non-cooking Rory is amazed to discover that homemade Beefaroni even exists, while equally non-domestic Emily apparently had great trouble finding a recipe.

If Antonia the cook is from Europe, and most especially from Italy, no wonder she thought Emily had gone insane with her request. She had probably never even heard of Beefaroni before.

Emily said the “secret” to Beefaroni isn’t beef. She may have got Antonia to reproduce Beefaroni based on the list of ingredients on a can, which involves all sorts of things that a regular home recipe would omit, including textured soy protein, caramel, yeast, ammonium chloride, citric acid, and the like.

Lorelai and Rory seem to assume she means the Beefaroni is made from some kind of mystery meat, and quickly stop eating. We never discover exactly what Emily means.

Rory Invites Dean to Dinner at Her Grandparents’ House

While Dean is changing the water bottle for Lorelai on the back porch, Rory comes out to talk to him. (Apparently the Gilmores always drink bottled water – I don’t know if the Stars Hollow water supply is undrinkable, or if Lorelai and Rory prefer the taste of bottled water, or drink it for health reasons, or some other reason. Much of the Connecticut water supply has chromium-6 in it, the cancer-causing agent that featured in the 2000 biographical film Erin Brockovich, but the official statement is that it is at levels too low to be dangerous. The Gilmores may be playing it safe, especially as eleven other cancer-causing agents have been detected in the Connecticut water supply at levels above the legal limits).

Rory invites Dean to come with her to the special dinner her grandparents are giving in her honour. Emily told Rory she could “invite her friends” to the dinner, probably meaning her “friends” from Chilton (Emily doesn’t know that Rory is currently at outs with the few friends she has made at school). She almost certainly did not mean Rory to invite Dean, who she last saw taking Rory to a school dance, which ended in disaster when the pair of them fell asleep and didn’t get home until dawn.

Dean has the good sense to point out that Rory’s grandparents probably aren’t madly keen to see him again, but eventually accepts Rory’s invitation to please her (their relationship has only just re-kindled, and he probably doesn’t want to start off by saying no to her).

The scene is shot almost like a proposal – Dean is kneeling at Rory’s feet with the water bottle, while she holds out her hands in supplication, as if ready to receive a ring. It’s a reminder that Lorelai never got this traditional down-on-your-knees proposal from Max. If you look at how happy and excited Rory appears at the thought of taking Dean to her dinner, it’s in stark contrast to the sad, anxious face Lorelai has when we see her and Max getting engaged over the phone.

The show seems to be saying, “This is what you deserve, Lorelai: this is how happy you should be”.

“Silly rabbit”

RORY: When is dinner ready?
LORELAI: Do I look like a timer?
RORY: I thought you might have set one.
LORELAI: Silly rabbit.
RORY: Timers are for kids.

Lorelai and Rory are referring to the advertising campaign for Trix – a corn-based, very sugary, artificially coloured and flavoured breakfast cereal manufactured by General Mills, and first brought out in 1954. The highly popular marketing campaign began in 1955, and shows a cartoon rabbit who tries to trick children into giving him their cereal. The tagline is, “Silly rabbit – Trix are for kids!”.

Whether the breakfast cereal had anything to do with Richard Gilmore’s pet name for his mother is unknown, but he would have been ten or eleven when the cereal came out, and part of the company’s target demographic.

Lane’s Korean Name

Lane tells Rory her “Korean name” – it is unclear whether this is her legal name, and Lane is a name to be used among English-speakers, or whether Lane is her legal name, and her Korean name is a middle name given to help preserve her culture, and to be used when she is among people of Korean heritage. I suspect the latter.

The teletext says that Lane’s Korean name is Hyung-Hyung, which is highly improbable. Hyung is not a Korean name, but a title of respect given to address a male, literally meaning “older brother”. The Kims would have been completely nutty to choose that as Lane’s Korean name, and if done deliberately, must be a joke by the scriptwriter (Amy Sherman-Palladino).

It is possible that Lane actually says her Korean name is Hyun-Kyung, which can be translated as “virtuous respect”. It’s a reasonably common Korean name for girls, and there are several famous women with the name.

(Lane seems to have bought two lava lamps from Andrew’s bookstore, Stars Hollow Books).

“A study on rats”

MICHEL: I am weighing my turkey.
SOOKIE: Why?
MICHEL: A group of scientists did a study on rats where they cut their daily calories by thirty percent.
SOOKIE: And you felt left out?
MICHEL: No, the rats lived thirty percent longer. And the scientists were so impressed that they cut their own calories just like the rats.

Michel is referring to a famous and oft-cited 1934 study, which found that when scientists cut the calories of mice by 30-40% but still gave them all the nutrients they needed, they lived longer than expected – sometimes twice as long as the expected lifespan.

It has been difficult to prove conclusively that this works on humans also, and sometimes it doesn’t even work on mice – the mice have to be young and well-fed to begin with for the calorie reduction to be of any use. Older and leaner mice died earlier than expected when on a calorie-restricted diet (which doesn’t seem like good news for Michel, who isn’t all that young, and already slim). Furthermore, mice on a calorie-restricted diet can find it harder to fight infections.

Since 1997, The Calorie Restriction Society has been collecting data on its 900 human members who are on calorie-restricted diets, but it may be decades before a definitive answer is reached. However, a 2012 study on monkeys found no difference in lifespan between subjects who ate a normal healthy diet and those who ate a calorie-restricted healthy diet.

It’s notable that Michel is eating turkey, since in the Pilot episode he said he didn’t eat meat. Possibly that was a dietary fad, or perhaps he only considers red meat to be “meat”.

“Yo prefiero tener los huevos suave”

SOOKIE: Carlito, we’re running out of clarified butter. Ooh, chop that finer. No hard boiling. Yo prefiero tener los huevos suave. Ooh, that looks good. Add a little pinch of oregano, I think we’ve got it.

As Sookie gives instructions to her assistant Carlito, she partly speaks in Spanish. Her one sentence in Spanish can be translated as “I’d prefer the eggs to be soft” – I think she means the eggs to be poached or perhaps soft-boiled, but you can’t actually see what Carlito is doing.

I’m not completely sure, but as Sookie receives her lobster order just after this, it’s possible she is planning to make a variation on Lobster Benedict, where you serve lobster with poached eggs and a hollandaise sauce. Another possibility would be lobster salad with soft boiled eggs – or possibly the eggs and lobsters are for two separate dishes.

Lorelai and Max Get Engaged

At her parents’ house, after spending some time restlessly examining her empty ring finger, Lorelai phones Max in a panic. After her conversation with Luke, she begins demanding of Max where they will live, tells him that she wants to keep working, and doesn’t want to change banks. It turns out Max hasn’t thought about these issues either, but figures that if Lorelai is asking about details like which bank they will use and where they will keep their shopping coupons, she is saying yes.

We never get to see how, or even if, Lorelai accepted Max’s proposal. He seems to assume that she is saying yes, but just wants to iron out a few details. We see Lorelai’s face when she realises what Max is saying, and she looks sad and anxious rather than joyful. We never see the rest of their conversation – the next thing is Lorelai coming in, smiling at Rory, and them screaming and hugging.

Did Max and Lorelai get everything sorted out, and did Lorelai truly say yes, or has Lorelai allowed herself to be railroaded into marriage because it’s what Max and Rory want? It’s dubious whether Lorelai would have agreed to the engagement if she saw Max face to face rather than talked to him over the phone.

It’s ironic that Luke’s insistent questioning of Lorelai about her future marriage with Max, designed to put her off the idea or make her think twice, actually had the effect of pushing her into an engagement with Max. He has been well and truly punished for his poor behaviour.