08
Jun
12

Reading Digest: Artistic Crossover Edition

Lisa the Simpson7

“Aw, they just came for the buffalo wings.  But you really got through to me.” – Lisa Simpson
“Oh, good.  I figure, if you’ve got something special to say, you have to share it with the world.” – Jazz Musician
“Yeah, while you still can.  Thanks.” – Lisa Simpson
“Damn, that felt like a sale.” – Jazz Musician

This week’s Reading Digest is loaded with Simpsons inspired pieces of creativity.  We’ve got everything from a small drawing to a gigantic sand sculpture, as well as cheap laughs and honest-to-Jebus highfalutin music of the choral and jazz varieties.  There’s also a chance to see Dan Castellaneta live (if you’re in Los Angeles tonight), more reviews and pictures about the post-apocalyptic Simpsons play (the free tickets have been claimed, and we should have a review soon), Duplo Legos(!), lists, YouTube, excellent usage, a new Harry Shearer album, and I haven’t even mentioned Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week yet.  Some weeks the internet is generous; this was one of them.

Enjoy.

Momentos de cine (40) – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is in Spanish, but that doesn’t matter.  It’s an amazingly comprehensive shot for shot comparison between “Treehouse of Horror V” and The Shining.  You don’t need Google Translate to understand that, and, there’s a ton more.  Viva Actualidad Simpson!  (And thanks to reader Stephen for sending this in.) 

Opening Night: The Improvised Musical! w/ Dan Castellaneta & Deb Lacusta – Attention L.A. readers!  Castellaneta is performing in this, tonight in Los Angeles:

OPENING NIGHT: THE IMPROVISED MUSICAL!® is exactly that: a Broadway-style musical that is made up on the spot, based on audience suggestion. So every night is the `Opening Night’ of a musical that has never been seen!

As near as I can tell, this is one night only, tickets are $25, and it’s a small theater so you’ll be up close and personal if you decide to go.  (Thanks to Elizabeth from iO West for the e-mail.) 

Fountains of Wayne, Dr. John and Other Guest On New Harry Shearer CD – Castellaneta isn’t the only one keeping busy.  Harry Shearer is releasing a new album.  It promises to be awesome:

• "Macondo" (Rob Brydon, vocals; Bruce Gaitsch, guitar; Chris Tedesco, trumpet; Shearer, bass; CJ Vanston, track): The song is written from the vantage point of the BP Petroleum executive who famously wanted his life back after the oil spill. Singing on the Randy Newman-esque track is Welsh actor/comic Rob Brydon, known for co-starring with Steve Coogan in "The Trip."

Rob Brydon as Tony Hayward?  Can we start filming the movie now, please?   

Song Premiere: Harry Shearer’s ‘Celebrity Booze Endorser’ feat. Fountains of Wayne – And here you can listen to one of the other songs, which the above link describes thusly:

• "Celebrity Booze Endorser" (Harry Shearer, vocals; Fountains of Wayne, guest band): Shearer came to love the title phrase when Variety reported Madonna had joined the ranks of celebrity booze endorsers.

Jazz Columns: Brandon Wright: Thanks to Matt Groening (and Lisa Simpson) – Awesome:

Brandon Wright: Well, the funny story there is when I was eight years old The Simpsons was just being aired in its first season and the character Lisa Simpson, who they made a saxophonist…in the very first season they had her paired up with the jazz musician “Bleeding Gums Murphy”; this is over twenty years ago now. They sing this Blues song together and in the lyrics she says that she is in the second grade and I was in the second grade when The Simpsons came out and I just found her extremely relatable because she could have been my peer in real life and at eight years old you just have such an imagination that I just thought she could be my friend ‘cause she plays the saxophone and it would be so cool. I just knew when band came around that I would want to play the saxophone.

You have no idea how unique that story is!

I still need to write Matt Groening and all of the creators of the show. Thank you. I keep saying I am going to do it and then I put it off, so that’s something I need to do. I did meet the composer, Alf Clausen of the show as well as Terry Harrington, who plays the baritone sax.

Good things continue to flow from The Simpsons, even if Zombie Simpsons ain’t one of ’em.

The Westminster Choir offers a magical marriage of music and memory – Choral music inspired by the Simpson family:

From there, the music was all-American, while remaining mostly attuned to the concept of how each of us is a product of our particular native environment, and, via memory, how we remain forever attached to and influenced by it. A humorous, yet touching aspect of said concept was expressed in three short excerpts from Paul Crabtree’s Five Romantic Miniatures from The Simpsons — yep, you got it, the same Simpsons that we’ve all watched on TV in recent decades. One of the pieces raved about Marge’s winning ways with pork chops; another (“Marge, I need you”) was a tender declaration of love: something that can even bind satirical cartoon characters.

I couldn’t find video of that choir, but I did find at least part of it being performed by a college choir:

Sadly, lyrics were not to be found.  Skip to about the 1:45 mark for the Marge/Pork Chops part.  (Here’s another video of the same choir with a different performance.)

Maggie Simpson by ~snowbloodqueen on deviantART – Charcoal?  Pencil?  I don’t know squat about drawing, so I can’t say, but that is a nicely stark looking Maggie.  Bravo. 

Iowa landfill fire likely to last until next week – Not quite twenty-five years, but:

City officials say their main strategy remains to let the fire burn out on its own, but they are considering other methods such as specialized wetting agents and burying burning tires with ground cover.

A week later it’s still going (thanks to reader David for sending this one in).

FIESA SAND SCULPTURE FESTIVAL in PORTUGAL – I’ve linked sand sculptures here before, but I don’t think I’ve seen this one.  I have no idea how Marge’s hair is standing up. 

NUReviews Episode 6: The Simpsons Arcade Game – A mix of live action and game footage YouTube review. 

Richard Ford–”The Bank Robbery” [excerpt from Canada] (Harpers, June 2012) – A librarian reviews a Phish live set:

Similarly, “Wilson” takes a really long time to get going, including a nice little nod to “The Simpsons” in the intro.  And then there’s a really long pause before the “blap boom” part comes in.  It’s a fun version of the song.

From Shearer to jazz to choir music to Phish, that about covers it. 

Mermaids Embodies the Rotting Carcass of Science TV – Amidst shredding a pathetic Animal Planet show that purports to prove the existence of mermaids (yes, you read that correctly), the debunker invokes Sideshow Bob:

But rather than being a hook for communicating actual science, Mermaids was a sensationalistic end in itself. The show was meant to titillate and deceive – yet another bit of noxious rot in what I have often called television’s bottomless chum bucket (hat-tip to Sideshow Bob). I’m sure Animal Planet would defend itself by saying that it issued a disclaimer, but clearly viewers either tuned out or just didn’t pay attention. When a science fiction show, dressed up as a documentary, presents the “Dramatic Re-Enactment” caveat at the bottom of some scenes, it’s not surprising that some viewers were confused about what they were actually seeing.

At least Vanessa Redgrave wasn’t involved. 

Congressman cites Homer Simpson, hockey player on House floor – A little Simpsons infused spat between a Congressman and some watchdog group. 

We Love Arts: Mr. Burns, a post-electric play – Another glowing review of the apocalypse play.  Click through for a couple of pictures, including what I think are Itchy & Scratchy dancing with Sideshow Bob in the distant future.

The Survival of ‘The Simpsons’ – More nice press for “Mr. Burns, A Post Electric Play”.  This one has a great picture of Future Sideshow Bob/Burns. 

Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play: When society crumbles, we’ll still have The Simpsons – Yet more fawning words, and these even manage to agree with us:

Yes, it’s never again been as good as its early-’90s pinnacle, blah blah blah. If my abiding affection for the show is now largely nostalgic, well, that’s kind of Washburn’s point.

The Simpsons – Lego Duplo versions of all five family members.  

Paul Lewis: Boxing circus hits new low – Moderate usage from New Zealand in regards to a “boxing” match between two “glamour models”:

These two "glamour models" (is there any other kind … ?) might be models though the glamour is elusive. Ridge is known only for briefly being Sonny Bill Williams’ girlfriend and Arkle for being in that reality show of couth and breeding, The GC – though her website reveals that she was once in a TV commercial for Munchos and featured in Zoo Weekly’s Best Bum competition 2011. Ah, the glamour …

But back to The Simpsons – in one episode, the series’ misanthropic millionaire, Montgomery Burns, was shot and the pompous TV newsreader said: "Local autocrat Montgomery C Burns was shot, following a tense confrontation at Town Hall. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was then taken to a better hospital where his condition was upgraded to alive."

At this stage, you’d have to say that boxing, which regularly touches new lows presaging death by its own hand, could be pronounced dead in this country with this bout.

The quote is slightly garbled, Brockman actually says, “At 3pm, Friday, local autocrat C. Montgomery Burns was shot, following a tense confrontation at town hall.  Burns was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.  He was then transferred to a better hospital where doctors upgraded his condition to alive.” But it’s still good enough for moderate usage. 

Pliny The Elder and Citizen Kane – A discussion of beer takes a turn:

The truth is that most of you probably will not have seen the movie.

That doesn’t matter. The influence of damn near every scene in the movie is culturally omnipresent. If you’ve seen the first six seasons of The Simpsons, you have more or less seen Citizen Kane. Monty Burns is basically Charlie Kane. His bear, Bobo is Rosebud. His hound-releasing estate is Xanadu. The show references it with an almost maniacal fervency. Charles Foster Kane. C Montgomery Burns. Smithers even organizes a song and dance tribute to Mr. Burns that’s basically identical to the original.

The first time I watched Citizen Kane was head spinning in the number of things I recognized from the show. 

2012 Saturn Awards: Special Achievement Awards Recipients Announced – The show is getting another award.  It goes almost without saying, but it’s a lifetime achievement type deal, not for anything specific Zombie Simpsons crapped out. 

How to land your dream job in tech – Ouch:

You know that a trend has run its course when you see a parody of it on the long running cartoon series The Simpsons.

Why this "Old" Company Might Deserve a Place in Your Portfolio – Excellent usage from a financial guy:

Whenever I hear the term "buggy whip," I think of Homer Simpson’s boss, Charles Montgomery Burns, the billionaire character in "The Simpsons" whose quirks lampoon the attitudes of the robber baron class of America’s Gilded Age. One of my favorite bits in the cartoon is when some of Mr. Burns’ portfolio holdings are mentioned: Amalgamated Spats, Transatlantic Zeppelin, U.S. Hay, and "the up and coming" Baltimore Opera Hat Co. If these had been real companies, then I’m certain they’d be shown the dustbin of history by now.

But what about the Congreves? 

The most shocking TV deaths – in videos – Maude Flanders is on here.  That is all. 

The simpler life as a Simpsons character. – The lighter and practical advantages of being a Simpsons character. 

Thieves steal grease; slip away – You can’t commit that crime without someone using it as an excuse to post a Simpsons video. 

27 Funny Vehicles From the Simpsons – There’s a few Zombie Simpsons examples on here, but not many. 

"Helen": Not as sweet as she looks – Excellent usage:

Yeah. I can’t believe I went for the towel in the middle of a Benchmark. That was like when Homer Simpson was in that giant-steak-eating contest, and they yelled "Go," and the first thing he did was start buttering a dinner roll.

"Homer!" Marge called out. "Don’t fill up on bread!"

Marge actually says, “No, Homer”, but that’s okay. 

Poll names Anchorage residents worst-dressed – There’s no real point to this story, but if you click through you can see a picture of a guy’s Simpsons themed bowtie. 

The Most Lovable Geek Heros in Pop Culture History – A pagewhoring slideshow of famous pop culture geeks includes Lisa. 

Greatest TV Theme Tunes: Friday Fiver – Exactly what it says, with YouTube. 

Fun w/ The Simpsons in Spanish. – I chuckled. 

Side Show Bob Organic Catnip Cat Toy Plush With Crinkle Sound – Vegan Salvaged Eco Friendly Materials – I can’t say for sure that this is the Etsy-est thing to ever Etsy, but it’s gotta be close.

Mike Brady avoids upset, reaches Pop Culture Dad final four – Give Tampa Bay Online credit, their Father’s Day tie in is a tournament of famous fictional Dads.  Sadly, Homer lost to Atticus Finch. 

Nostalgia Critic: Top 11 Simpson Episodes – And finally, I get to end the way I like to, with someone who agrees with us.  In this case, it’s one of the best known geeks on the internet, that guy with glasses: 

Goddamn it!  It’s still on?

Sort of.  Whatever it is, it ain’t The Simpsons.  Thanks to everyone who e-mailed this in, and special thanks because literally every one of you prefaced it by saying something like “you’ve probably been e-mailed about this already”. 


8 Responses to “Reading Digest: Artistic Crossover Edition”


  1. 1 Victor Dang
    8 June 2012 at 1:58 pm

    The best (or most surprising?!) thing about the Nostalgia Critic’s video is that “Last Exit to Springfield” isn’t anywhere on that list, not even where I expected it to be, at #1.

    • 2 The Entire Score of the H.M.S. Pinafore
      8 June 2012 at 3:49 pm

      Did he really think people were going to hate on him for picking Bart Gets an F? It’s not wall-to-wall hilarious like Cape Feare (ahem) or the monorail episode, but I was really surprised when it came up after all the ‘you’re gonna hate it but I like it personally.’ Who hates Bart Gets an F? Another quibble: Halloween episodes are just as good as they always were. Apparently.

      • 3 Thrillho
        8 June 2012 at 4:04 pm

        “Did he really think people were going to hate on him for picking Bart Gets an F?”

        I think that stems from something that’s been discussed on the comments section of this blog lately: Season 2 is often left out when people discuss the classic seasons. Everybody always says “The show really got good during Season 3 or Season 4,” and I never got why. Season 2 was really where the show ironed out the kinks from Season 1 (which was still very good, but they were still finding their footing) and established the identity we’ve come to know. It doesn’t have as much as the absurdist humor of the later classic seasons, but it’s still just as classic.

        Still, I think there are more surpising episodes he could have picked for number one. Still a solid list overall. I love how everybody’s “favorite Simpsons episodes” list always has different choices, which really shows how many classics they had for a while.

        • 9 June 2012 at 12:18 am

          I’m sorry to say I was in that group. It wasn’t until I started my blog that I really realized how amazing the show really was right out of the gate. Season 1 is damn good but the show was still finding its legs, and season 2 is fucking outstanding.

        • 9 June 2012 at 5:16 am

          What are people’s opinions of the Ullman shorts? They NEVER seem to get mentioned (maybe because as far as I know they’ve never “officially” released them all). I know it’s not fair to compare them to actual 22 minute episodes, but in recently rewatching them all (!) I was surprised by how interesting most of it was. It didn’t allow for much character depth or a bunch of jokes, and it has a different atmosphere than the show itself but I still find them pretty watchable…

          • 8 Charlie Sweatpants
            10 June 2012 at 10:16 am

            “What are people’s opinions of the Ullman shorts?”

            I’ve only ever seen about 15%-20% of them. They have a very good sense of humor, but they’re clearly not the real thing.


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