I saw Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid when it came out in 1982. In it, Steve Martin, as a 1940’s-era film noir private eye, is cleverly intercut with scenes from actual film noir classics from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s.
At one point he visits Burt Lancaster in a scene from The Killers and finds him apparently hungover, so offers to make him a cup of his “famous java.” He goes to the kitchen, gets a saucepan, and shakes coffee grounds into it from a bag. He shakes and shakes and shakes and shakes and it goes on so long it becomes hilarious.
Finally he tosses in two whole eggs, breaking them open with a fork and stirring them into the coffee grounds, shells and all.
I always thought that the eggs were a bizarre little comic button on the coffee-making sequence. He stirs whole eggs into coffee grounds, haha, the weirdo! But as I learned just recently, this is in fact a common practice in some places.
What’s more, this is often referred to as “Swedish coffee,” and Burt Lancaster’s character in The Killers is “Swede Anderson.” I get it now!
I’m fifty-one, and I’ve read A Visit From St. Nicholas nearly every Christmas Eve my whole life. But it’s only this year that I finally realized that “his droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow” refers to a smile, because that’s the shape of an archer’s bow, and does not refer to some sort of concentration pucker, looking like a bow you wrap gifts with. (Previously.)
Ringo: Hey, I wonder what’ll happen if I pull this lever? Old Fred: Oh, you mustn’t do that, now. Ringo: Can’t help it, I’m a born lever-puller.
This quote comes near the beginning of Yellow Submarine, which I have seen dozens of times since age eight or so. I’ve been a Beatles fan for about as long.
Ringo pronounces lever with a long “e” (rhymes with Tom Seaver). It only just now occurred to me that this is a pun: Ringo is a born Liverpool-er.
This breaks my previous record of not realizing for about twenty years (mid-70’s to mid-90’s) that Gnip Gnop was Ping Pong spelled backwards — which in turn displaced ten or so years of not getting the gag behind Fargo North, Decoder.
Can’t help wondering what long-overdue realization is next…