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31
Oct
14

Reading Digest: Ranking ToH Segments Edition

Treehouse of Horror III13

“What kind of show you got for us, Mr. Burns?” – Reporter
“Well, the ape’s going to stand around for three hours or so.  Then we’ll close with the ethnic comedy of Dugan and Dershowitz.” – C.M. Burns
“Sensational!” – Reporter

Happy Halloween, everybody!  This week we’ve got a bunch of Treehouse of Horror related links, include quite a few to people who decided to list individual segments.  As always, some are better than others and Zombie Simpsons only gets the occasional pity mention (if that).  In addition we’ve got some live sightings of Simpsons clothing, video game ideas, cool tattoos, and a new food blog.

Enjoy.

Patented Space-Age Out of This World Moon Waffles – Someone actually made them.  And it’s part of a new Simpsons food blog.  And that blog is called “Eats Like a Duck”.  Yes!

Along came these two cool dudes…. – Some truly excellent Simpsons tattoos, including donut-headed Homer, Kirk van Houten’s album, the Space Coyote, and Scrabble letters.

The Definitive List of the Best Simpsons Episodes Ever – This certainly isn’t definitive, but it’s a very good list and has lots of great YouTube.

Five Simpsons Games that Need to Get Made – The kart racing idea pops up from time to time, and done right it would be excellent and have tons of things that put the Luigi Stare to shame.

What Do You Think of the Simpsons World? – Let us hope that these things will be fixed:

Not all the features FXX promised are up and coming yet, the video playback is not quite as consistent as that of Netflix or HBOGo, and most importantly, the show isn’t screened in its original 4:3 ratio, cropping the older episodes and hurting many of the sight gags (fortunately, FXX has promised these problems will be resolved soon).

Have they actually said that they’re going to change the player to do 4:3?  I don’t think I’ve seen that anywhere, and they seem really wedded to everything being widescreen.

Simpsons World: Maybe Not The “Worst. App. Ever.” – One more very mixed review.

Does Anybody Want the Last Homer? – A clever cartoon, possibly from the Planet of the Donuts.

13 great Simpsons Treehouse Of Horror Halloween stories – The only thing from Zombie Simpsons is “Night of the Dolphin”, which I’ve always kinda liked, so hooray for this list.

The 9 Best Treehouse of Horror Segments According to Critics – Some schmuck from NPR picked a Zombie Simpsons segment, but other than that this one is great.

Top 5 Halloween TV Episodes – Wisely, the kids at the University of Arizona didn’t try to cram all the Treehouse of Horrors in, they just said watch ‘em.

Spooky Wednesday List: Top 5 Halloween Specials – This one just recommends “Treehouse of Horror V”, but sagely points out that there are many more.

Big Ten Power Poll: The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Edition – Two of these are from Zombie Simpsons, but it’s mostly very good.  (And, dear god, does Michigan need access to a time machine.)

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe – It just wouldn’t be Halloween without Poe, James Earl Jones, and The Simpsons.

Subsequently Strange – A top five list of Treehouse segments, with nary a trace of Zombie Simpsons.  Bravo.

Where Have I Seen Dan Castellaneta? All His Non-Simpsons Acting. – Shame on you, Uproxx, you neglected to include his stint as the very Hibbert like “Dr. Stein” on Arrested Development.

All 25 ‘Treehouse Of Horror’ Episodes Of ‘The Simpsons,’ Ranked – Better, Uproxx, better.  Though why you ranked this year’s above “X” or “XI” is beyond me.

Halloween 2014: The best Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episodes to watch this Halloween – There’s one Zombie Simpsons episode in here for some reason, but other than that it’s solid.

Now that it’s happened how do we hide the fact that it’s happened? – Bad husbanding, here:

Apparently when your pregnant wife tells you to hold her drink while she goes to the toilet you’re supposed to drink it, not stand there like an idiot and return it in its undisturbed state. This happened to me more than once. I’m pretty sure that Jo viewed me like this scene from The Simpsons.

Heh.

New breed of dolphins venture on land in hunt for food – The dolphin apocalypse is still a long way off, but you can’t talk about them eating on land without mentioning that one segment from Season 12 (with .gif).

Today on the tray: Greasy foods – Apparently last Saturday was Greasy Foods Day.  Dr. Nick approves.

Enjoying a Beer With Irish Zombies on the Boardwalk: A Quick Recap of the Last Five Days – Now that’s truly scarifying:

I took a vacation day to await the arrival of my new pantry. David Henne told me that was the least manly reason to take a day off from work, but I think that’s hyperbole. Maybe it would’ve been more acceptable if I spent the day watching 10-15 episodes of The Simpsons, but the best my DVR had to offer was latter-day “Treehouse of Horror” episodes.

Classic Vintage “The Simpsons” Neck Tie – That’s actually a pretty good Simpsons tie, what with it having just the kids and an actual pattern on it.

It’s a Simpson’s Family Pizza Dinner – Lego Simpsons sitting down to eat.

Artist creates comic posters titled ‘Homerization': Indianised version of Homer from Simpsons – And lots of them.

When Flanders Failed – Episode #038 – Ash is back on his game with a twofer this week.

Bart The Murderer – Episode #039 – Nobody ever said Homer was a good parent:

Two things I noticed during the scene with Bart’s room being stocked with cigarettes due to his boss’ warehouse being full:
1. How did that amount of cigarettes get into the house without anyone even noticing? That was until Homer walked by and
2. How does making Bart smoke every single cigarette teach him a lesson? What lesson was Homer trying to teach him here? How to smoke?

The life of a Writer … – Heh.

#TBT post – Simpson fashion in the wild at Universal Studios.

New trending GIF tagged tv television the simpsons… – Teacher.  Mother.  Secret Lover.

New trending GIF tagged cartoon loop the simpsons… – Homer, trying to see what Bart wrote on the back of his skull.

New trending GIF tagged the simpsons nicki minaj… – Skinner tying his shoe, and the Sir Mix-A-Lot subtitle is great.

31
Oct
14

Quote of the Day

Treehouse of Horror II13

“Well, Kang, it seems the Earthlings won.” – Kodos
“Did they?  That board with a nail in it may have defeated us, but the humans won’t stop there.  They’ll make bigger boards and bigger nails, soon they will make a board with a nail so big it will destroy them all!” – Kang

30
Oct
14

Book Review: The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets

Bart's Dog Gets an F10

“What’s your favorite subject?” – Dr. Hibbert
“Arithmetic.” – Lisa Simpson 
“Oh, arithmetic.  Now, before you know it, you will be back among your polygons, your hypotenuse, and your Euclidean algorithms.” – Dr. Hibbert 

As an academic subject, math has always stood at the extreme end, as the hardest of the “hard” sciences.  Even physics has uncertainty built right into it; math simply has things that have not yet been proven.  That’s all well and good for mathematicians when it comes to inter-disciplinary dick measuring contests, but it also makes math more abstract and difficult to explain to the uninitiated.  Worse still, that very “purity” makes math more resistant to analogy and simplification than any other field of study because the big things in math are irreducibly incomprehensible.

The physics of a black hole, the biochemistry of a chameleon, the geology of a volcano, years of study and graduate degrees lend the best possible understanding of them, but the basics can be grasped by anyone.  Textbooks, TV specials, and museum exhibits can contain simple diagrams and awe-inspiring pictures that make even hideously complicated events and processes seem kindergarten simple.  Math is too abstract for that kind of stuff.  You can come up with pretty visualizations of prime numbers, for example, but someone who doesn’t have a day-to-day familiarity with them or their underlying concepts isn’t going to understand it in the least.  Prime numbers can’t be analogized to anything else, nor can they be simplified (almost by definition), you simply have to use them a lot to really get them, and most people don’t.

That abstract unfamiliarity has always been the great bane of popular writing about math.  The most fundamental concepts exist only on sheets of paper or inside someone else’s mind, so all an expert writing for a lay audience can do is cite fun examples and hope that at least some of them click.  Wisely, Simon Singh’s The Simpsons And Their Mathematical Secrets follows exactly that template, and does so rather well.

SimpsonsMathematicalSecretsThe book isn’t a grand explanation of math or its history, it’s a collection of math concepts and back-stories that have surfaced in The Simpsons or Futurama over the years.  Singh naturally focuses on the many writers (of both shows) who have serious academic credentials, and we even get pictures of both Al Jean and Mike Reiss with their high school math clubs.

The best parts of the book are the ones that directly combine the shows and the numbers.  For example, in the chapter about pi, there’s a long discussion of Apu testifying against Marge in “Marge in Chains”.  When Apu says that he can recite pi to forty-thousand places, that was indeed the record for memorization of pi at the time.

Further, and I certainly didn’t know this, the 40,000th digit really is 1.  They literally sent away to a guy at NASA, who printed out the whole thing and mailed it to them.  (That, in turn, was referenced in “22 Short Films About Springfield”, when Moe sent away to NASA to calculate Barney’s bar tab.)  There’s a whole chapter about the various equations and numbers that pop up in the “Homer3″ segment of “Treehouse of Horror VI”, and another dedicated to the smart kids in “Bart the Genius”.

Later in the book, Singh gets into Futurama and the many (many) math heavy jokes, references, and even entire plots they went through.  Like The Simpsons sections, some of these are dedicated to the general nerdery of the show, while others are about specific concepts and equations.  The best of them is about “The Prisoner of Benda”, the episode that famously led Ken Keeler to write a proof of the “brain switching” problem the writers created for themselves.  It’s a really clear explanation, and there’s even a picture of Keeler standing on the office couch, scribbling away on a white board.

Since the book is by necessity somewhat scattershot in the subjects it can broach, some parts are weaker than others.  In particular, one of the longest chapters in the book is little more than a rehash of Moneyball, (based on that crashingly dull Zombie Simpsons episode “MoneyBART“).  True, there’s math and the Simpsons here; but when the text gets to the 2002 Yankees buying up all the players, it’s wandered pretty far from the subject at hand.

Happily, though, most of the chapters are much shorter and on point.  The trickier concepts are explained cleanly, and illustrated where necessary or possible.  And Singh manages to walk the line of keeping the tone light while simultaneously keeping the math serious.  You can always tell someone is a real math and/or programming geek when they start things with 0 instead of 1, as confusing as that is to most people.  But while this book starts with “Chapter 0″, it also has an “Eπlogue”, and that balance is maintained throughout.

All in all, it’s a short and easy read that will either introduce (or refresh) a lot of mathematical ideas for casual readers.  And along the way you’ll even learn some Simpsons and Futurama trivia, what’s not to like?

Note: Thanks go to Diana Morgan at Ruth Killick Publicity for sending me a copy all the way from merry old England.

30
Oct
14

Quote of the Day

Treehouse of Horror V13

“Hello, once again.  As usual, I must warn you all that this year’s Halloween show is very, very scary.  And those of you with young children may want to send them off to bed- . . . Oh, my, it seems the show is so scary, that Congress won’t even let us show it.  Instead, they’ve suggested the 1947 classic Glen Ford movie, ‘200 Miles to Oregon’.” – Marge Simpson

Happy 20th Anniversary to “Treehouse of Horror V”! Original airdate: 30 October 1994.

29
Oct
14

Quote of the Day

Treehouse of Horror VI10

“Homer, just give him the donut!  Once he has it, that will be the end of all this horror.” – Marge Simpson
“Well, okay.  If it’ll end horror. . . . Don’t you ever get tired of being wrong all the time?” – Homer Simpson
“Sometimes.” – Marge Simpson

Happy birthday Dan Castellaneta!  

28
Oct
14

Quote of the Day

Treehouse of Horror IV19

“I’m sorry, Mr. Blackbeard.  We’re low on chairs, and this is the last one.” – Marge Simpson
“Arghh, this chair be high, says I!” – Blackbeard

27
Oct
14

Quote of the Day

Treehouse of Horror VII10

“What are you spraying me with?” – Homer Simpson
“Rum!  So no one will believe your story.” – Kang




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