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  1. #1
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    Apr 2005
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    Question about The West Wing

    What does " secret pumpkin" mean here? Thank you!

    SAM
    That hurts, Billy. Why would I lie to a journalist of all people?

    BILLY
    Why do you keep looking over my shoulder?

    SAM
    Why?

    BILLY
    Yes.

    SAM
    ‘Cause Alger Hiss just walked in with my secret pumpkin.


    BILLY
    What?

    SAM
    There’s a woman over there. I think she’s looking at me.

    BILLY
    Really?

    SAM
    I don’t know. I never know if they’re looking or not.

    Billy turns 180 degrees to see a woman sitting on a couch with a drink. She looks
    to see him obviously eying at her. Sam sighs.

    BILLY
    Yeah, I think she was.

    SAM
    I want to thank you for the casual way that you did that just now. She probably
    didn’t notice that.

  2. #2
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    Dec 2004
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    Default Re: about The West Wing

    SAM
    ‘Cause Alger Hiss just walked in with my secret pumpkin.
    SAM
    There’s a woman over there. I think she’s looking at me.

    She is making a reference to William Manchester's book called "The Glory and the Dream". She calls the woman Alger Hiss who is one of the characters in that book. Hiss' secret documents and a microfilm were kept for many years in a hollowed out pumpkin. Ten years later the truth was revealed and those papers were used against Hiss in a purjury trial against him.


    Cause Alger Hiss just walked in with my secret pumpkin.


    I think Samantha thinks the woman that just walked in (she calls her Alger Hiss)has some incriminating evidence against her in, what she widely refers to...a pumpkin.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: about The West Wing

    Two minor corrections.. it's Sam Seaborn, played by Rob Lowe, right?

    And the Alger Hiss affair actually is a historical case, spanning many decades... probably a large factor in eventually getting Nixon elected president, long after the trial ended.

    If I remember this episode correctly, Sam is just joking with the reporter, making a very obscure political reference... not one in ten thousand Americans would remember Hiss's pumpkin.

    Alger Hiss was an American communist, and was possibly a spy for Russia. A fellow communist had some evidence about Hiss, and, for one night, hid it in a pumpkin. All pretty stupid, actually.

    So, Alger Hiss actually never had a pumpkin, but the Hiss case DID involve a pumpkin, hence, Alger Hiss walking in with a pumpkin.

    What that line really was, I believe, was the show's attempt to inform everyone watching that they intended The West Wing to be a very, very, very intellectually challenging and stimulating show. The TV equivalent of the NYT Crossword Puzzle. And, IMHO, it was.

    I realize that all this English is a bit advanced, and I should tone it down a bit, English Learner, but I want to applaud you for working your way through West Wing scripts. If you can master, or even half-master, either the written or spoken English in those episodes then you will have truly mastered English--it doesn't get any harder than those scripts.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: about The West Wing

    Two minor corrections.. it's Sam Seaborn, played by Rob Lowe, right?

    I have no clue. Never watched West Wing...not my bag.


    [I]And the Alger Hiss affair actually is a historical case, spanning many decades...
    Right, and it's all well documented in Manchester's book since that book is an American account of all major historical events. The script makes a direct reference to that particular affair.

  5. #5
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    Question Re: about The West Wing

    Thanks Marylin and Robert.

    But I still don't quite get Sam's joke here. Could you please help me again with what Sam's joke really is and what he is referring to. Thanks a lot!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: about The West Wing

    Well, it is not a funny ha-ha joke, more like, Sam saying something... cute? Silly? so that he could impress the reporter.

    Imagine:
    You are in a bar talking to your brother. A pretty female classmate of yours walks by and says Hello to you as she walks by.
    Your brother says, "Was that a friend of yours?"
    You say, "No, it was Marilyn Monroe the famous movie actress, she wants me to buy her a drink."

    Well, of course it was not Marily Monroe, but you are trying to be funny and, maybe, 'show off' your intelligence or your wit a little bit.

    It is not a joke that some one would laugh at, but later, your brother would think, hmmmmm.... my brother, he is so fast and intelligent.

    A lot of that show has lines just like that one... the actors say very, very intelligent things just to impress other people with how smart and fast they are.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: about The West Wing

    Thanks a lot Robert!

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