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When Dark Helmet orders Spaceball One to go to ludicrous speed, we see it leave a trail of plaid behind.

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Is this a reference to a specific movie or language idiom?

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Although I think it is just a coincidence, I'll point out that warp and weft are the two directions of yarn in weaving (of plaids and other things). It might be a very meta joke since plaid is at much higher level than warp. On the other hand, it's Mel Brooks. On the gripping hand, he was born in Brooklyn in the mid 20's and might have been exposed to the basics and vocabulary of the tailor at a youngman age. –  James McLeod Apr 7 '14 at 22:30

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

It's a play on the phrase, "They've gone to warp," from Star Trek, and the warp trail effect a ship causes when it goes to warp speed.

The ship has hit ludicrous speed, so they chose a "ludicrous color" such as plaid to represent that.

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There's also an old Warner Bros. cartoon that uses this reference. There are 2 mice being chased by a hypochondriac cat. At one point, the smart mouse says, "He's turning pink!" The cat is frightened and turns pink. The mouse says, "He's turning blue!" The scared cat turns blue. The dumb mouse says, "He's turning ... plaid!" The cat suddenly gets kilt-colored and Scottish bagpipe music plays.

So it COULD be a reference to this cartoon. But I have no evidence.

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It could also be a reference to a line in the broadway play "Forever Plaid", where the band talks about careening through space on a road of plaid.

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Welcome! You might want to check the dates on this one... the play came out in 1990 and the film came out in 1987... so I think, if anything, it's the other way around. –  Catija Mar 7 at 8:53

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