Pop culture references: How many do you know?

My novels contain occasional pop culture references. Such as:

“Guess I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue.” (Tommy Chang in Crosscut)

“For a second he looked like Niedermeyer in Animal House, waiting for her to assume the position and to beg, ‘Thank you sir—may I have another?'” (Sarah Keller in The Shadow Tracer, who then notes: “She felt a violent urge to head butt him through the wall.”)

Here’s a pop quiz  — or market research, depending on your point of view. Can you identify these TV and movie references?

  • A woodchipper
  • A clown peering from a storm drain
  • “These go to eleven.”
  • “Clever girl.”
  • Skynet has become self aware.
  • “If it bleeds, we can kill it.”
  • “Tastes like… burning.”

Answer in the comments!

UPDATE: Add your own pop culture references in the comments.

12 responses to “Pop culture references: How many do you know?

  1. Without cheating: Clown = Pennywise from IT, Eleven = This is Spinal Tap, “Clever girl” = Jurassic Park, Skynet = Terminator (although not sure if that specific quote relates to a specific one, if so I’ll go for No.3, and “If it bleeds…” = Predator.

    Don’t know the first and last (although will now Google).

  2. Stacy McKitrick

    A woodchipper I believe is from Fargo. I know the clown and clever girl (given above), but not the others.

  3. Two. Two only.

    But I know lots of others, if that’s worth anything.

  4. Picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue is also a quote from the movie Airplane.

    I love pop culture references and anything from Animal House works.

  5. Susan: add some new ones and we’ll check our knowledge.

    Everyone else: follow suit if you want to.

  6. I only recognized a couple, too. But typically when reading your books, there’s enough ‘around’ the quote that I can figure out that you are quoting a book, movie, etc. It never takes me out of the story like some references can. How about ‘She walked through walls because no one told her she couldn’t.’ Always loved that quote and have used it to show anything is possible. Sometimes. Then there’s this possibly easy one for many – ‘You killed my father. Prepare to die.’ Or one of my favorites – ‘that rug really tied the room together’.

  7. Woodchipper from “Fargo;” clown from Stephen King’s “It” … Um…that’s it. One of the things about pop-culture references is that what is inclusive is also exclusive. It can be a bit disconcerting to bump into Secret Language in a story. I suddenly realize that despite my wearing Cool Girl shades, I’m obviously not one of the Cool Girls after all. Then I pretend to pay attention to the story again while I glance around surreptitiously, wondering if anyone else noticed that I laughed a little too late, a little too loudly…

  8. I got three right and a couple of oh, yeah, that’s it’s. Fun!

    “Is that your homework Larry?”
    “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”
    “Who are those guys?”
    “Thank you, sir!.. May I have another?”

  9. Donna: Your point is so valuable. References that are too arcane can leave the majority of readers cold — and confused. It’s a balancing act for authors.

    Writers also need to check that their references aren’t out of date. Or else the pop goes out of pop culture.

    Lisa: Princess Bride references are always welcome!

  10. I knew them all except the Skynet one.

    Just what do you think you are doing, Dave?
    Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.
    That’s what she said.
    It’s good to be King.
    Is it safe?

    “Then it don’ matter. Then I’ll be all aroun’ in the dark. I’ll be ever’where – wherever you look. Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. If Casy knowed, why, I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’ – I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build, why, I’ll be there.”

  11. Yes I did. And yes, you are so right. Someday, I will read that thing again. I’m more mature now. I’m sure I’ll just love it.

    I just spit up in my mouth — a lot.

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