CAROL: If you were to tell either of my siblings that there was another life choice outside of the Ivy League, I think their khakis would wrinkle.
Khakis, another name for chinos, trousers made from a cotton twill (see Cotton Dockers). Developed in the mid-19th century for British and French military uniforms, it has since migrated into civilian wear. Trousers of such a fabric gained popularity in the US when Spanish–American War veterans returned from the Philippines with their twill military trousers. The fabric was originally made in khaki, and this is still the most popular colour.
A round-robin tournament is one in which each contestant meets with every other contestant, usually in turn. It’s usually the fairest way of deciding an overall winner, but can be very lengthy. They are common in team sports – Darren’s love of sports might have prompted this idea. The word robin in this context is a corruption of the French word ruban, meaning “ribbon”.
Oddly, Marie (played by Anita Finlay, who, like her onscreen husband and children, had also been on Judging Amy) is never shown taking part in the quizzes or being expected to, as if her role is simply to bring out iced tea and say Darren is brilliant. It doesn’t seem very likely – surely Marie is also a college graduate? Perhaps we just never see her have her turn, and she takes her part during the round-robin tournament.
Lorelai looks very unhappy to be roped into the round-robin tournament. Jennifer looks like Christmas has come early, and Jack looks like he’s forcing himself to smile. I get the feeling he’s not quite as into the competitive quizzes as Jennifer. He doesn’t seem to be as good at them.
Alma mater, a Latin phrase used to identify a school, college, or university that one has attended or graduated from. It literally means “nourishing mother”, as if the student has gained intellectual nourishment from their school. It is related to the word alumnus, previously discussed – alumnus literally means “one who is nourished”.
The Latin phrase was originally a title for mother goddesses such as Ceres and Cybele, later given as a title to the Virgin Mary. It was first used academically in the English-speaking world in 1600, referring to Cambridge University, as part of the emblem for Cambridge University Press. You can see in the picture it was portrayed quite literally, with milk pouring out from the breasts of Cambridge – the milk of knowledge, I suppose.
LORELAI: So, alumna is a girl graduate … And alumnus is a man … And plural is alumni.
RORY: Right, and that can be girls and guys.
A quick run-down on the correct usage of the Latin word alumnus – all terms used more commonly in the US than in other countries.
An alumnus is a man who has graduated from a particular institution, such as “a Harvard alumnus”, while a woman in the same position is an alumna. The plural is alumni, which can be either a group of male graduates, or a group of both males and females. The plural of only female graduates is alumnae. There is also alum – which is a gender neutral term that doesn’t get used as much, but may become more common in the future.
LANE: [on phone] No, wait, wait, wait, progressive rock is a really passé style now but I listed it as an influence because it was a progenitor of great things that came afterwards.
Progressive rock, usually shortened to prog rock or just prog, a broad genre of rock music developed during the mid-to late 1960s, peaking in the early 1970s. Initially termed “progressive pop”, the style grew out of psychedelic bands who abandoned standard pop traditions in favour of instrumentation and composition more often associated with jazz, folk, or classical music.
Additionally, lyrics were more poetic, technology was harnessed for new sounds, music approached the condition of “art”, and the studio, rather than the stage, became the focus of musical activity, which often involved creating music for listening rather than dancing. Examples of prog rock bands include Emerson Lake & Palmer, Genesis, King Crimson, The Moody Blues, and Pink Floyd.
Lane says that progressive rock is passé, in that its heyday was in the 1970s, but in fact there were a wave of bands in the 2000s who revived the genre, such as System of a Down and Thirty Seconds to Mars. Perhaps that’s what she means by it being a progenitor of great things?
Lane is receiving responses to the advertisement she posted looking for a band that needed a drummer. Naturally she is deluged with enquiries, beginning early in the morning! Yes, the local area is filled with bands looking for a drummer, scanning the advertisements for one, and eagerly calling before breakfast to find them! We are in complete fantasy land here. Instead of being stunned that she gets any answers at all, Lane is irritated that they aren’t all on her musical wavelength.
PARIS: Personal anecdote – when I was twelve and I was writing the first of my trial essays in practice for the day I’d write my real essay, I chose Hillary Clinton. Then I realized every brain-dead bint in a skirt would be writing about Hillary, but it was good to clear the pipes.
Bint: British slang, derogatory term for a girl or woman. It dates to the late 19th century, and is borrowed from the Arabic بِنْت (bint, “girl, daughter”). It was adopted by British soldiers to refer to their girlfriends, as the Arabic word is reminiscent of English words for women such as bit, bird, and bitch.
Paris has not only been practising college application essays since she was twelve years old, but has also been a fan of Hillary Clinton since at least the same age. Paris would have been aged twelve in 1996/1997 – at this time, Hillary Clinton had been First Lady of the US since 1993. She took an important role from the very beginning, and was the first First Lady to receive her own office in the West Wing of the White House. She was considered the most openly empowered First Lady since Eleanor Roosevelt.
LOUISE: Dances help bring in money to pay for those stupid topiaries you want in the quad.
Topiary is the art of clipping evergreen trees and shrubs into clearly defined shapes as a part of landscaping grounds. Common plants used for topiary are box, conifers, laurel, holly, myrtle, yew, and privet. Topiary dates to ancient Roman times, declined in the 18th century, but was revived in the 19th, and became part of what we consider the “classic English garden”. The style was later adopted by wealthy upper-class Americans for their gardens. [Picture is a topiary garden in Newport, Rhode Island].
LORELAI: “Hello Headmaster Charleston, this is my stepfather, Kirk. Please don’t make any sudden movements, he’s a fear biter.”
Fear biter is a term given to dogs who bite when they are scared or panicked, especially by strangers. The dog may be normally placid and submissive, but will react aggressively when put in a stressful situation.