Archive for the 'The Simpsons' Category



10
Mar
14

Behind Us Forever: Diggs & The Man Who Grew Too Much

Diggs and Man Who Grew Too Much Chalkboard

“Grasping the child firmly in his talons, Socrates here will fly him to safety.  Just watch . . . I don’t think he’s coming back.” – Falconry Guy 

First we got a nice long break from Zombie Simpsons, and then they made their triumphant return by dropping two great big steaming piles back-to-back.  The first one, “Diggs”, is among the more tone deaf episodes I can recall in a while.  It’s about a mentally ill kid who likes falcons and then gets hauled off to a loony bin for the rest of his life.  They play it for sad, but it’s so stupid and nonsensical that I couldn’t register anything more than bemusement.

The second was a Sideshow Bob episode where he’s a scientist.  In a turn that nobody could or should have seen coming, he’s also a genetically enhanced superman who throws himself off a dam for some reason.  Plus there were a bunch of teenagers in a church abstinence program that made no sense for them to be in.  They also briefly fought Sideshow Bob for some other reason.

- The couch gag, by Sylvain Chomet (a/k/a the Triplets of Belleville guy), was kinda interesting and managed to eat 60 seconds.  It’s all gonna be downhill from here.

- They should’ve made the couch gag longer.  The first two scenes, one in church the other a montage of Homer asking Bart to repay his $20, were pure filler.

- And now Bart is eating things for money, including a dead frog that Jimbo just happened to have on the playground.  Does any of this make sense?  Of course not!  It doesn’t even make sense within this scene, as Jimbo comes along offering Bart the full $20 he needs, making the rest of it pointless.

- Okay, having the Potter boy says “Habemus Papam” after the falcon craps was kinda funny.

- But is immediately followed by a Quahog style quick cut to Homer yelling at the dog to sit.

- “I wasn’t drinking, I was learning that nature isn’t a complete waste of space”, “That doesn’t sound like you”, “But it does sound like the kind of lie you’d make up after the first time you got blitzed”.  Telling us what we just saw, then telling us what we already know, and then returning to a joke that had already gone on way too long.  It’s hard to imagine how the writing on this should could get any worse.

- And how about some falconry montage?  Hey, at least there’s no dialogue!

- That’s right, Krusty’s just standing out in a field without his nose.  Carry on.

- Nice of the kid to just leap off the tree and get the plot moving.

- Why is Homer caring for the bird?  Better question: why am I asking?

- “I never heard of this new hospital, so I looked it up and printed it out” – Ah, there’s the pointless exposition that had been absent for almost twenty seconds.

- They’re really being weird about the fact that the kid is going to a mental hospital.  Like, that’s where their story is sending them, but they won’t even mention what it is at this dinner table scene.  It’s idiocy through a weird combination of sensitivity and insensitivity.

- “I obtained the pass to enter the Springfield falconry contest, which is what Freedom and I were training for when we first met you.” – This one sentence neatly encapsulates the entire mess that is this episode.  This comes with less than three minutes to go, but is the first mention of the “falconry contest” that makes up the ending.  It requires a nonsensical “one day pass” from the mental institute to which they haphazardly committed this (apparently parent-less) kid.  And it negates pretty much everything we’ve seen with this kid up to this point since none of it had any bearing on what he wanted to do.

-  The falcons are free.  And now he’s going back to the mental institute . . . on his bike which he has for some reason.

- And then Milhouse appears from nowhere to try and salvage the uber-downer of an ending.

What a complete and utter mess of an episode, and even they knew it.  (Why else would they dump it at 7:30?)  They got themselves in way over their heads with the lonesome schizophrenic kid, sent him to a nut house, then had to walk back their own story to wrap things up.  Meanwhile, Bart went through a wide range of short term emotions that also made no sense.  Then it ends with the family at dinner eating duck as the big pre-credits joke . . . which leads back to the sad piano music they played over the doomed and now incarcerated kid.  I don’t know what that was supposed to be, and I’m not sure they did either.  Whatever, it’s time for round two:

- A short couch gag, haven’t seen that in a while.

- So Taco Tuesday comes every week but kills Willie?  Remember when the stampede was just for PE signup day?

- This is the last episode with Marcia Wallace’s voice.  They give her a nice send off at the end, showing her happy with Ned.  I can’t be the only one who finds that completely spoiled by having Lunchlady Doris voice some utterly unnecessary lines at the beginning.

- “Helen Lovejoy is posting the spring volunteer sign up sheet, in five minutes every good task will be taken.” – Maybe they did remember PE signup day.  They certainly remembered “tell the audience what’s happening” day.

- Thrill to the crossing the street scene!

- There is no plausible reason for these kids to be in a church abstinence program.  But these are the teenagers they have in the cast, so in the abstinence program they shall be.

- Since we’re apparently feeling the loss of dead cast members in this one, this fake YouTube video really could’ve used Phil Hartman.  It’d still probably be bad, but it wouldn’t be this bad.

- It really is too much to ask for a single scene to make sense.  After the video, Lisa wants to run off to do research on a topic that she knew enough to call a PTA meeting about?  The mind reels.

- That GMO buffet went nice and quick.

- I don’t remember which episode it was that had people’s faces falling off, but it sure deserved a callback.

- Why would Marge think finger puppets(!) would help explain things to teenagers?

- Now Homer’s at the abstinence meeting for some reason.

- Hey, a plot point just literally fell on Lisa only to have Sideshow Bob demonstrate his superhuman strength by saving her.

- Bob tossed off his concrete block now instead of earlier because . . .?

- “And we’re scared of that because . . . “, then Bob explains.  Whew.

- They’re on top of a dam now.  No idea why, but they are.

- “We’re here to stop you” is Marge’s line right as she and the teens pull up from nowhere to confront Bob.  (Well, Marge pulls up in the car, the teens just appear.)  It’s expository and nonsensical, so at least that fits with the rest of the episode.  Everything else about the ending?  Not so much.

- Bob just jumped off the dam, remembered he had gills, and stepped on a rake underwater.  I’ve said this before and I’ll probably say it again, but this is fan service at the lowest common denominator.

In that interview with Jean I linked on Friday, he mentioned why they don’t do more Sideshow Bob episodes:

“I’m really, really careful about approving new Sideshow Bob episodes, because I think every one of them is so special, and I never want to feel like we’re burning the character out,”

You made him a genetic superman with fucking gills!  Could some reporter on his next conference call ask him what “burning the character out” would look like?  Would he have to become a cyborg?  Travel to another dimension?  What’s left?

Anyway, the ratings are in and they are the worst ever, both of them.  The awkward and unwatchable mental kid episode at 7:30 had just 2.65 million viewers wonder why he didn’t have any parents.  The Sideshow-Bob-Has-Superpowers-Now episode made just 3.73 million viewers wonder what they hell they just watched.  That’s good for places #1 and #2 on the all time least watched list.

09
Mar
14

Sunday Preview: The Man Who Grew Too Much

The_Man_Who_Grew_Too_Much_promo_5

 

On a research trip, Lisa is shocked to discover that Sideshow Bob is now the chief scientist at a massive chemical engineering company, but they bond over their appreciation for high-culture. Marge attempts to preach healthy sexual practices to a teen church group, which goes awry.

Now for part two of our special double episode extravaganza. Not only will Sideshow Bob grace us with an appearance, but apparently him and Lisa will buddy up tonight. I would say here’s hoping, but we all know what’s going to happen here.

09
Mar
14

Sunday Preview: Diggs

 

 

Diggs_Promo_1 (1)

A transfer student who is an aspiring falconer swoops in to rescue Bart from school bullies, but Bart soon discovers that he and his new friend are not birds of a feather.

Welcome back from the winter/Olympics/Oscars break.  We actually have TWO zombie episodes tonight. Apparently in the first one Bart makes friends with this strung out bird lover voiced by Harry Potter.  Enjoy.

 

07
Mar
14

Reading Digest: Promotional Selfie Edition

Homer's Night Out5
“Whoa, man, look at the size of this thing.  I wonder if it really works.” – Bart Simpson
We have a much shorter than usual Reading Digest this week because the show put out a Simpsonized version of the tweet that ate the internet.  (You know the one I mean.)  Once there was a Simpsons version of it, pretty much everything Simpsons related on-line mentioned it and that drowned out other Simpsons stuff.  Out of a sense of completeness, I’ve got one link to it below, but that’s all.  In addition to that, we’ve got another painting of a Springfield, a cool fan made rendition of Willie, several people who agree with us, and a guy doing a bunch of voices.
Enjoy.
Artist Tim Doyle Bids Farewell to ‘The Simpsons’ With Open Edition Poster – This is that same guy who did those other amazing paintings from the show and other fictional settings.  This one is Bart staring at the town, complete with tire fire, from behind the Springfield sign.  And there’s one that changes colors into glow in the dark.  Once again, bravo Tim Doyle.  
“Two Kyles, Both Alike in dignity, In Fair Cubicle Environment, Where we Lay Our Scene” – The epic tale of one office drone’s quest to protect his donut with the same sign Homer used for his soul donut.  Well, played, Sir Kyle.
The Simpsons do Ellen’s Oscar Selfie – If you’re reading this blog then you’ve probably already seen both the famous group selfie from this year’s movie industry promo night as well as the Simpsonized version of it the show put out.  In case you haven’t, however, here you go.
The Walking Dead’s Daryl Dixon Kills Homer Simpson With a Golf Club (PHOTO) – The guy who plays Daryl on The Walking Dead got one of the animators from the show to draw him killing Homer and put it on Instagram.
Impressions of 33 Characters From ‘The Simpsons’ in Five Minutes – This was making the rounds this week (it’s at half a million views already) and is worth a quick look:
Some are quite good, others less so, but at least he had Lovejoy, standing in for the audience, ask to limit quotes to the first ten seasons.  Good move.
Review: The Simpsons Game – A thorough and mostly positive review of that game they released along with the movie.
Random Simpsons Screencap of the Day 2/28/14 – The grand exalted one has requested a moment of her time.
Random Simpsons Screencap of the Day 3/4/14 – I never get tired of how sad all the other girls are.
Reasons to be Cheerful #63: Pancake Day – Some love for pancakes along with a .gif of Homer and Bart fighting over a lamb chop that is now a pancake.
Chelsea and The Simpsons: A Bridge too far? – A bunch of Chelsea players got Simpsonized as part of a marketing deal.  You can see the picture at the link.  (Thanks to reader Emma for sending this in.) 
Krusty Burger – A fan made recreation of America’s favorite meat flavored sandwich.
How To Correctly Open A Beer GIF – Animated .gif of the big Irish bartender serving Duff with a cleaver.
Tenuous Link – the Simpsons to Restorative Justice – A lot of people blog about the Tapped Out game.  Kudos for finding a new topic to connect it to.
Random #13 // Duff Beer tetoválás – Awesome Duff forearm tattoo.
Top ELEVEN TV shows! – A list that at least partially agrees with us:
11.  The Simpsons : I’ve seen nearly every episode from Season 1 and love it so much. But the reason it gets number 11 on my list is that I’ve not seen much of the last series to verify how good it is, and the last few series I have watched, there’s been like 4/5 episodes really good out of 20+ episodes, which is disappointing.
Disappointing doesn’t even begin to cover it.  My advice would be to ignore everything past Season 11, then you don’t have to slog through the mess.
“Groundskeeper Willie” – A cool fan made “digital illustration”.
Let It Die With Dignity – As if often the case, a list of shows that need to end includes Zombie Simpsons:
Once a legend now a shadow of what it once was. Just put it out to pasture.
Well put.
Last week I began my journey through every Simpsons episode from the 90s. I was not allowed to watch the Simpsons growing up, and I can only remember seeing part of one episode as a kid. I have never gone back and watched them until now. After only seeing two, I am very, very excited.
I am envious.  Not of the whole “couldn’t watch it in the 90s” thing, but of the getting to watch them for the first time thing.
A Tale of Two Cities – Agreed, The Flintstones has certainly not aged well, but pre-“doldrums” Simpsons has.
This… Is Something I Didn’t Consider Before – Would Nelson grow up to be Barney?
[Article] The Simpsons mania Jung Yong Hwa, run for that very day – The lead singer of a Korean rock band is something of a Simpsons fan, and there’s art of him posing with some of his stuff, including a rather well decorated guitar.
THE SIMPSONS: Al Jean Previews the Upcoming LEGO Episode, the Return of Sideshow Bob, Guest Spots by Daniel Radcliffe, Zach Galifianakis, and More – Jean did a conference call with reporters.  Nothing much in the way of news (lots of celebrities coming up, they’re working on next year’s Halloween episode).  They’re still renewed through just one more season and he gives his usual answer about hoping to continue it.
Theme Songs – And finally, I get to end with someone who agrees with us:
Also as I’ve mentioned before, I am a huge fan of cartoons.  Love ‘em.  I don’t get the chance to watch them as often as I used to.  My favorite animated show ever (and my favorite show ever) is The Simpsons.  I still watch it every week, even though the best season was season 8.  This is an inarguable fact.  That was 17 seasons ago.
It was.  In a few more years, Zombie Simpsons will be old enough to vote.
01
Mar
14

Unfortunately, Agreeing With Us Isn’t Enough

Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner8

“Well, what do you think?” – Homer Simpson
“This is a joke, right?” – Springfield Shopper Editor

Thought Catalog is one of those small, independent new media outlets that’s trying to make its place in this brave new on-line publishing world.  Their about page is full of noble sentiments and phrases like “an experimental media group”, “We believe all thinking is relevant”, and “help shape culture by empowering you”.  Their shtick is to be “value neutral” editorially, which means that you can publish a piece there about whatever the hell’s on your mind provided that you can string two words together.

This approach has its positives and its negatives, but inarguably manages to expose a wide array of viewpoints to the internet’s unflinching gaze.  So you’ve got Snow Days: The Ultimate Example Of White Privilege just a few spots down from Sluts With Daddy Issues And Stockholm Syndrome and Here’s How Porn Makes You A Rapist, all of which is interspersed with the near obligatory link bait parade of titles with numbers in them: The 8 Men Who Taught Me What I Don’t Want In A Relationship, 11 Things You Didn’t Know About Taco Bell, and 7 Artists You Should Absolutely Hear Now.

There is, of course, criticism of this method, expressed neatly in a post published there a couple weeks back, Dear Thought Catalog, I Still Love You:

Criticism of Thought Catalog and other similar websites is insightful. But I still love to read it.
Yes, you do have a moment. Just Google “Thought Catalog criticism”. The auto-detector spells it out for you before you finish typing the search term. You may find some interesting writers that argue against this forum.

[...]

Words are thrown about like: entitlement, over-privileged, hate-reading, trolling and best of all, smug.

And Google does indeed think of those as the prime critiques.  This one is from Gawker two years ago:

Me-centric angst dump Thought Catalog is like some superhuman internet time-wasting android, rotely performing ever more jaw-dropping feats of repetitive navel-gazing as we wait nervously for the moment that it will become self-aware and DESTROY US ALL.
Rest easy; self-awareness is not coming any time soon.

First of all, let’s just stop for a second and marvel at Gawker(!) criticizing anyone for time wasting, navel gazing, and a lack of self awareness.  Nick Denton’s occasionally impressive monstrosity doesn’t have half a pixel to stand on in any one of those categories.  That does not, however, mean that they are wrong about Thought Catalog and the things they publish being unaware to the point of self ruin.

Case in point would be a new Simpsons ebook by Justin Sedgwick titled “We Put The Spring in Springfield: Chronicling the Golden Era of The Simpsons“.  The ebook, an ambitiously priced five bucks at Amazon, is an earnest exploration of the best years of the show and what made it so popular and endearing.  It’s got chapters on some of the brightest and biggest guest stars, Halloween episodes, musical numbers, and all that other fun stuff.  It’s a little light on research (O’Brien, Reiss and Jean are the only writers mentioned in more than passing) and a little heavy on personal assertion for proving this or that the best thing the show ever did, but it’s a Simpsons geek unabashedly geeking, so neither of those are fatal flaws.

The problem is that whatever fun that can be had along the way is impossibly buried behind a seemingly endless stream of half formed sentences, gross misquotes, and other basic problems.  Some of the sentences, if that is the right word, are so hopelessly mangled that they read as if translated to Japanese and back again by Google.  A few random examples:

- “Last Exit” seemed as some sort of wonderful experiment in taking every single possible reference and offhand gag the writers could get their grasp on and blending it into a delicious Simpsons stew.

- But in “Stark Raving Dad”, Jackson isn’t voicing an animated version of himself or a stranger, but a fat white bald character who is so utterly convinced and convincing that he is truly Michael Jackson despite all the evidence contrary.

- Only until the family captures the doll do they realize that Krusty has been accidentally switched to the “evil” setting.

- “A Fish Called Selma” is the episode most divergent of common Simpsons storytelling but still arises to be one of the best.

In between great white whales of editorial fail like those are plenty of glaringly obvious grammatical problems: erratic capitalization, splattershot apostrophes and commas, near miss homophones, straight up incorrect words (“implore” instead of “explore”, “skimpy” instead of “skinny”) . . . and it goes on like this.  The carelessness is everywhere on display, including in numerous misquotes of the show:

- “Truckosaurus the movie, starring Marlon Brando as Truckosaurus” (Actual quote: “Coming soon, it’s Truckosaurus the Movie, starring Marlon Brando as the voice of John Truckosaurus.”)

- “Surely no man who speaks German could be evil” (Actual quote: “No one who speaks German could be an evil man.”)

- “the bee bit my bum, now my bum is big!” (Actual quote: “The bee bit my bottom, now my bottom’s big!”)

Those are perfectly understandable mistakes if you’re sitting around quoting the show with friends, but to publish them in a book for which you’re charging real dollars bespeaks a woeful sloppiness.  Nobody should have to pay to read things like this:

“When Burns finally surmises to the hands of Homer, he lets out a phrase that would sum up the inevitable mistake of all of Homer’s enemies in the future: “I’m starting to think Homer Simpson isn’t the brilliant tactician that I thought he was.””

That’s enough to make even the most embittered and alcoholic English teacher cringe, and that’s before you get to the mangled quote, which two minutes with a Simpsons DVD could’ve easily corrected: “Smithers, I’m beginning to think that Homer Simpson was not the brilliant tactician I thought he was”.  Even the most basic editorial review should catch sentences like that, but from the text it isn’t clear that anyone except the author actually read it before Thought Catalog (a publishing company complete with full time employees) slapped a price tag on it.

So, what’s underneath that thick carapace of typos, misquotes and middle school grammatical mistakes?  It’s hard to say for sure.  It’s a mildly interesting Simpsons book that would serve as a decent refresher course for a casual fan on some of the show’s highlights, but, with one exception, doesn’t touch on any topics that are likely to be new or terribly interesting to actual Simpsons geeks. 

That exception pops up at the beginning and end of the book: the way The Simpsons helps people relate to each other.  The first involves young Sedgwick as a fresh arrival in New York City making friends with shared Simpsons quotes.  The second is father-son bonding on Sunday evenings, even through the toughest of times.  They are moments of genuine affect that touch on heartfelt realities that should’ve been the core of the book.  More like them, and a broader look at why that happens between so very many people, would’ve been welcome.

Whatever those are worth, however, doesn’t begin to make up for the unreadable shambles that is the rest of the text.  In its current condition, this book isn’t worth five cents, much less five dollars.  It isn’t doomed to stay that way forever, of course, and really feels more like a first draft than a completed product anyway.  And that’s the beauty of ebooks, you can revise and edit and make updates, which is exactly what Thought Catalog and Sedgwick should do.  Put it through the wringer a couple more times (and fix all those grotesquely broken sentences) and they’d have something worth selling.

Or they could pull it from Amazon.  It’s their call, but leaving the book up for sale in its current condition is an all around shitty thing to do and would reflect even worse on author and imprint than the decision to go ahead with an obviously unfinished tract in the first place.  Sedgwick is a first time author, Thought Catalog is but four years old, both could have promising futures.  But they won’t if they keep trying to sell incomplete work like this.  After all, it’s okay to put yourself at the center of a story; it’s not okay do a half assed job of it.

28
Feb
14

Reading Digest: Head Art Edition

Blood Feud13

“Marge, what does it do?” – Homer Simpson
“It doesn’t do anything.” – Marge Simpson
“Marge, really, what does it do?” – Homer Simpson
“Whatever it does, it’s doing it now.” – Marge Simpson

This week we’ve got two links to serious artists making Simpsons heads.  One is Bart made from old toys and is appropriately creepy, and the other is a series of awesome Krusty drawings that I’m not even going to try to describe.  In addition to that, we’ve got an excellent Ralph t-shirt, Olympic and international cricket usage, a completed Lisa cross stitch, a great first family portrait, several people who agree with us, Lego YouTube, and lots more.

Enjoy.

Animating the Show – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this detailed breakdown of animating for TV.  I learned stuff today.

UTBNYC Announces The Next Piece In Pez’s “Distroy” Series: “Skrutchy” – A few months ago we had a link to a project by an artist called Pez doing wonderfully elaborate renderings of characters like Homer and Mickey Mouse.  Well, the Homer ones are done and they’ve moved on to create some awesomely creepy Krustys.  Damn cool and well worth the click.

Baby Names I Want to Use From The Simpsons – I’d vote for Hortence or Langdon.

The Simpsons – The show that was a huge part of my growing up yet now I completely ignore, kind of like my family. – Good move:

For me it all ended years ago, I live in a world where they took the Seinfeld route and quit while they were ahead. I look back with only the fondest memories to the earlier seasons. The newer seasons I refuse to acknowledge.

My Top Twenty Favourite Sitcoms Of All Time – From the same blog as the above link, this is a great entry:

1. The Simpsons (Season 1-11)

It makes the top of many people’s lists, but most don’t think to exclude Zombie Simpsons right in the title.  Bravo.

Are you alive? – After you click, scroll to the bottom to see the sweet, sweet photographic evidence:

My dearest friend in the whole wide world had a birthday recently. And, as she invited all of us to celebrate, we all canceled… I told her I had a conference to go to. Then we surprised her with a party anyways! As known die-hard Simpsons fans, naturally the cake was dedicated to “A Whale of a Wife.” We added “and a Super Friend” because, well, we aren’t all married to her.

9 Simpsons Facts to Satisfy the Biggest Fans!! – YouTube – There’s nothing terribly new here, but it’s very lite on Zombie Simpsons and mildly amusing.  (via @dailysimpsons)

Happy 2nd Birthday Tapped Out. – A little reminiscing from the writers of tstogame.com.  I particularly liked Micah’s:

TSTO has been a pleasure. It’s been a pain. It’s been fun, but it’s also been a drain.Rapper Bart
My index finger has become strapping from these past two years of tapping.

Speed skating: U.S. pursuit teams fail, medal hopes over – At least he’s got a sense of humor about it:

The U.S. team had predicted they were capable of winning eight medals prior to the Games but after Saturday’s failings meant all 17 members of the team ended empty handed, Davis offered a blunt assessment.

“If I could do a parody from a Simpson’s character, I would pick Comic Book Guy and he would say in these exact words: “WORST OLYMPICS EVER,” Davis told reporters of the long-running U.S. television show about an animated dysfunctional family.

Excellent Olympian reference.

Artist Turns Old Toys into Creepy Faces and Human Forms – Scroll down for an awesome Bart head.  (via It’s Hip)

La famille Simpsons – This is a new Simpsons site based in Quebec that’s cataloging people, places and news from the show.  Those of you who speak or read French better than I will probably get more out of it, but it’s neat nevertheless.

Need – Oh, dear Jebus, yes!  That may be the best Ralph t-shirt design I’ve ever seen.

feeling safer now – Neighborhood watch, indeed.

Round 102: When You Dish Upon a Star vs. Boy-Scoutz ‘n the Hood – Season 5 in a walk:

And it’s only in the context of the tournament that I find flaws with it, but I’ll go into them (hint: it starts with an “H” and ends with “omer is too much of a jerk”) when we see 1F06 again, because…

… the winner is: 1F06, “Boy-Scoutz ‘n the Hood.”

Celebrating The Simpsons’ retired characters – This is a pretty weak list.  They don’t even have Marvin Monroe or Bleeding Gums on here.  (But they were never popular.)

Lisa Cross Stitch Complete! – Just what it says.  Love the eyeroll.

The Simpsons’ Nancy Cartwright coming home to Dayton – Cartwright will be in Central Ohio next weekend:

Cartwright,  a 1976 graduate of Dayton’s Fairmont West High School, will narrate Norton Juster’s classic ”The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics” while conductor Neal Gittleman leads the orchestra playing Robert Xavier Rodriguez’s composition.

The Philharmonic also will play Weber’s “Der Freischütz Overture” and Tchaikovsky’s “Winter Dreams” from “Symphony No. 1.”

Cartwright also promises to conduct “a very special piece of music.” (My guess is that fans of “The Simpsons” hear this musical selection at the start of every show.) Aye carumba!

13 Diddly-Doo Details in the Lego ‘Simpsons’ House Set – Lots of detailed pictures and this YouTube video of the entire 10-hour assembly process sped up to 2 minutes:

Top 5 Feminist Icons in Television – Lisa comes in at a healthy #2.

The Simpsons: Tapped Out – A Nostalgic, Delightful Simulator – A nice review of the game with lots of screen grabs.  Also, this:

For now, I’ll keep saving up money to build Rainier Wolfcastle’s mansion.  Up and at them!

That thing was damned expensive.

Why is Homer Simpson Yellow (And Why It Doesn’t Matter, Kinda)? – This was always part of his charm:

Once the viewer acclimates to his skin tone, she will soon realize that Homer’s design is intentionally unremarkable; he is meant to represent the average middle-aged white collar middle class (as evidenced by his white-collared shirt).

But he’s just an ordinary blue collar slob!

The Accidental Artist – A fan drawn Sideshow Bob by someone who usually can’t draw.  (It’s still much better than I could do.)

Australia doze at wrong moment – Excellent cricket reference:

Unable to find his permission slip to join the rest of Springfield Elementary on their afternoon trip to the chocolate factory, Bart Simpson is consigned to the numbing task of licking envelopes in the office of Principal Skinner. As he does so, the wall clock ticks slowly and tortuously towards 3pm and the end of the school day. Losing momentum with every stroke, it eventually begins to tick backwards.

Something of Bart’s interminable wait ensnared Australia on the second day in Port Elizabeth, as they were frustrated and ultimately brought to heel by a South African side well attuned to playing Test matches at the kind of deliberate pace unfamiliar to, and unloved by, the touring captain Michael Clarke and coach Darren Lehmann.

Pizza Snob: Pies in the Sky – Nice pizza reference:

If you accept what’s implied by the signage near Pizza Snob’s front door, putting more than four toppings on your pie is trés gauche. It’s probably even boorish, the pizza-enthusiast equivalent of Homer Simpson yelling at Bachman Turner Overdrive to skip their new material and go directly to the chorus of “Taking Care of Business.”

Some boots were not made for walking. – The sad tale of a college student who got her car booted.  Smartly, she did not resort to any of Homer’s un-booting methods, but she did include a .gif of them at the link.

Simpsons – Nothing but cats (gif) – Exactly what it says.

Homer Loading Bar – Another excellent .gif.

The Simpsons Can Ward Off Any Bad Spirit – This is definitely true:

If you are looking for a good way to have a chill pill watching a few episodes of The Simpsons is where it’s at. They ward off bad spirits.

The politics of Homer Simpson – Heh.

Random Simpsons Screencap of the Day 2/21/14 – Heh again.

Our first family portrait… – Expectant Mother gets her new family Simpsonized for $5.

The Simpsons x Medicom Toy Bart & Homer Simpson Bearbricks – Conquering Lego wasn’t enough.

Why so many guest stars? – And finally, I get to end the way I like, with someone who agrees with us in an epic anti-guest star rant:

Of course, there’s one thing we have to blame for all this. The veritable army of guest stars is a sign of the end, because the main problem with the show is that the writers can’t make an original episode with a well-written plot anymore without it already having been done before. In this situation, it’s become a lot easier to just slap in more than a few shameless guest appearance.

Indeed it does.

21
Feb
14

Reading Digest: Excited Edition

Homerpalooza12

“This is so exciting.  Last time I got to go backstage was when Bart ripped his pants at the Christmas play.” – Marge Simpson
“Mom!” – Bart Simpson
“Ha ha.” – Eric “Bobo” Correa

The torrent of new Simpsons merchandise continues this week, and what I’ve noticed isn’t so much the amazing breadth of the products (clothing, ice cube trays, figurines) as the way that every single company describes themselves as “excited” to be selling crappy Simpsons stuff.  They all do it, and the consistency is terrifying.  On the subject of merchandise, they announced the date of the long ago promised Lego crossover episode this week and repetitions of that press release clogged my inbox from better stuff as a result, so this week’s link collection is a little thinner than usual.  However, we do have excellent verbal and visual usage, several people completing projects ranging from computer wallpapers to embroidery, a list of Groening’s favorite episodes from Seasons 1-11, an article about John Swartzwelder, some Bacon Day leftovers, and a new book that mashes up pop culture and classical politics.  

Enjoy.

The reclusive genius behind the funniest episodes of ‘The Simpsons’ – There’s nothing terribly new here, but it’s a nice writeup of Swartzwelder that includes a YouTube of that time he may or may not have been on one of the commentaries.

Richard Hinds on baseball great and Simpsons icon Don Mattingly – Damn hippie:

Even in the US, where “Donnie Baseball’’ is a Yankees’ legend, Mattingly is still reminded about his animated likeness.

“I spent my whole career in New York but when I came to LA I was getting a lot of people saying, ‘Hey Mattingly, shave off those sideburns’,’’ he says.

EXCLUSIVE: We Take A Look Inside ‘The Simpsons’ World – An Australian writer took a trip to the new Simpsons area at Universal Studios and made note of some of the omissions:

- I’m slightly sad that the gift shop has no Bort licence plates – a golden opportunity missed.

- The statue of Jebediah Springfield doesn’t have the plaque with the town’s motto.

- The Flaming Moes on sale look amazing but contain neither alcohol nor cough syrup.

- You can’t get a Krusty Partially Gelatinated Non-Dairy Gum-Based Beverage with your burger (although there are shakes there from memory).

Shakes, you don’t know what you’re getting.

Hands-on: Lego The Simpsons House review – Just what it says, including some more pictures.

Ranking all 24 episodes of The Simpsons, season 3 – Now this is how you do a list:

The third season of The Simpsons is so great that I didn’t even bother eliminating any episodes and instead, I just fit them into categories ranging from “All Time Classics,” “Good Examples of Season 3″ and “Just a Good Ol’ Fashioned Simpsons Episode!”.

“Dear ‘Life in These United States,’ a funny thing happened to me…” | Where in the World is Sideshow Bob? – Lots of people do travel blogs, especially when they do study abroad.  Not once, though, have I seen someone write the blog with Springfield’s favorite attempted murderer at their side though.  Great idea.

Round 100: Separate Vocations vs. Das Bus - Holy crap, round 100!

VIEW: New forecasts, same delusions for Port Mann Bridge – Excellent usage:

I’m old enough to remember the episode of The Simpsons when Homer Simpson, after 22 minutes of serial idiocy, wraps up the show by proudly declaring: “Marge, my friend, I haven’t learned a thing.”

Well, it seems that British Columbia’s transportation officials are now treating The Simpsons as an instruction manual.

LegD’oh! – The big news this week was that the long ago announced Lego episode of Zombie Simpsons will be broadcast on May 4th.  If they fail to include a Star Wars joke I will not be surprised.

Beechdean Group to launch The Simpsons ice cream products – The barrage of merchandising, which is only loosely connected to this December’s upcoming 25th anniversary, continues unabated:

Beechdean Ice Cream Group has signed an exciting new licensing deal with Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products to become the UK’s ice cream and frozen desserts category partner for The Simpsons and is kicking off with two ice cream split products.

The 85ml products will be produced using Beechdean’s newly acquired lolly machine and moulds, are available in Raspberry and Strawberry flavours with an RRP of 90p.

I’m starting to think that one of the standard clauses in FOX’s merchandising contracts mandates use of the word “excited” or a variation thereof in the announcement:

Andrew Howard, MD, Beechdean Ice Cream Group says: “We are incredibly excited about introducing our next generation of licensed products inspired by The Simpsons.

They all say it.

Special Lego Episode Coming to The Simpsons – See?  Every single time (bold mine):

“We are thrilled to collaborate with Fox during the 25th anniversary year of The Simpsons,” said Jill Wilfert, VP of licensing and entertainment at The LEGO Group states. “We know our fans will love the challenge of building the Simpsons’ family home in great detail and the ability to collect quintessential characters in LEGO minifigure form will let them showcase their love of the show in a whole new way. We are also excited that The Simpsons will be created in LEGO form, truly bringing this partnership to life.“

Gotta be in the contract.

The Simpsons 25th Anniversary 5″ Celebrity Guest Stars Action Figure – Series 02 – Here are some more celebrity figurines.  Meh.

JOYRICH X THE SIMPSONS : SPRING/SUMMER 2014 COLLECTION - Hats and jackets, more more more.

Matt Groening 10 Favorite ‘Simpsons’ Episodes – Happily there’s no Zombie Simpsons.  Unfortunately, that’s because he originally came up with this list during Season 11.

Reality versus fiction: concept of space and time in architecture – Pictures from the real Flintstones and Simpson houses.  Dick Clark clearly had more money to spend on his Bedrock replica than whoever ordered that Simpson home giveaway.

Animated Review: Another Companion To Books From The Simpsons In Alphabetical Order – A French artist likes to alphabetize things from the show.

What Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About Politics – Wisconsin public radio on a new book called “Homer Simpson Ponders Politics” with lots of essays about pop culture’s connection to the art of the possible.  This is an interview with the editors, and the word “Aristotelian” features prominently.

Holiday Film Reviews: The Simpsons – “I Love Lisa” – Both reviewers give it three and a half hearts out of four.

The Dr. Nick ‘coloured-in’ embroidery job – This went up too late for last week’s Bacon Day post, but if this isn’t love, what is?:

So I started seeing a guy called Nick with a PhD in Chemistry. His mates call him “Dr Nick” for fun, so this is what I whacked together for his Christmas present.

Click through for the awesome finished result.

The Simpsons Homer Ice Cube Tray - Hmm:

Only $9.38 from Hot Topic.

Most of what I know about Hot Topic came from the “Ungroundable” episode of South Park, so I’m not really sure what to make of that.

Drunk Texting – Scroll to the bottom for a sweet sketch of Lisa telling off those fucktards at misspelled Chick-Fillet.  (Also, good luck with “The Boy”.)

Simpsons Effect Wallpaper – In other finished fan art, the Simpsonized version of Mass Effect we’ve been linking is done.  Cool.

Random Simpsons Screencap of the Day 2/16/14 – He’s 31 years old!

Footage of Finnish Celebrating Big Win – Heh.

The East Asian Studies Department Tackles Orientalism in Modern Television - Damn Zombie Simpsons:

The event screened two recent episodes of The Simpsons and How I Met your Mother, both of which have stirred controversy in how they depicted the Eastern World, particularly East Asia, as constructs of a Western Orientalist perspective.

Both episodes discussed at the event featured Asians as stereotypes. For example, The Simpsons depicted sexualized Asian women

Are You a 50 Year Old Kiss Virgin? Do You Even Kiss? – Breaking down various kiss types to the point of absurdity, including:

Kiss # Three. The Simpsons Kiss.

Step 1: Pout so hard that not only are you doing the duck face, you are a duck.

Step 2: Find someone who is willing to look as stupidly fowl-like as you.

Step 3: Loudly smack you lips against the outstretched lips of the other person (or duck), as if you’re chastising them for being tardy.

Step 4: Keep going until you die of exhaustion.

Step 5: Or at least until you become yellow.

An Unusual Source of Inspiration – YouTube of Lisa encouraging Homer with crisatunity.

Mini Marge Simpson Cross Stitch – Just what it says.  And it can apparently be done in a single ferry ride.  Bravo.

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY SIMPSONS CLIPS ARE SO HARD TO FIND ON THE INTERNET. – Somebody got a Choo-Choo-Choose valentine, which was nice.  To answer the title, however, you simply need to remember that FOX is run by assholes.  Big ones.

I Choo-choo-choose Mr Pigalina – Here the card finds a happy home on the fridge next to infamous nevernude Tobias.

Choo-Choo-Choose This Printable Valentine – For the belated Bacon Day recipient in your life, or to save for next year.  (Also, that blog is titled The Feminine Miss Geek.  Ha!)

Are refugee advocates out of touch? – Excellent visual Skinner usage.

The 100 Best Classic Simpsons Quotes – The good news: no Zombie Simpsons and all the quotes are subtitled screen grabs.  The bad news: it’s Buzzfeed.

Watch The Simpsons In 7 Different Languages, But Homer Is Still “D’oh!” – Speaking of Buzzfeed, here’s a genuinely clever YouTube video of parts of “Mr. Plow” and “Marge vs. the Monorail” dubbed into six other languages.

Of hardship and heroin – And on the topic of foreign language voices, the guy who does the French Canadian voice of Krusty is in a play in New Zealand as Jean Cocteau.

Everyone is a MUA these days. – Animated .gif of Homer’s makeup shotgun.

The Simpsons Tapped Out- Award For Outstanding Achievement In The Field Of Excellence – And finally, I get to end the way I like, with someone who agrees with us.  From a review of Tapped Out:

Tapped out is the perfect game because it refers back to episodes of The Simpsons that were actually good, although I do have a tendency to become attached to characters and despite of my growing lack of interest will stick through with a show until the bitter end, I gave up on The Simpsons long ago. I understand what is special about it, and it truly is impressive how long it has stayed on the air. It taught me a significant amount of life lessons as I repeatedly watched episodes of it growing up. It still remains one of my most quoted and referenced TV shows, but I gave up probably after season 11.

That was a good time to quit.

14
Feb
14

Reading Digest: Happy Bacon Day Edition

Bacon Day

“And this is for my huggy bug in honor of this special day.” – Marge Simpson
“Special day?  Oh, what have I forgotten now?  Now, don’t panic.  Is it Bacon Day?  No!  That’s crazy talk.  She’s getting impatient, take a stab at it . . .” – Homer’s Brain
“Happy . . . Valentine’s Day.” – Homer Simpson
“Oh, thank you, dear.” – Marge Simpson
“Woo-hoo!” – Homer Simpson

Today, as we all know (even Reddit), is Bacon Day.  Like most holidays on the American calendar, whatever was once good and fun about Bacon Day was acquired in a hostile takeover by Hallmark and Disney, homogenized, and sold off piece by piece so thoroughly that the backlash against those decades of commoditization now has its own annual meta-backlash.  Personally, I’ve never understood what all the fuss is about.  Some people eat bacon today, some people don’t; and tomorrow begins the year long countdown to the next time people will once again fret and stress over who’s eating bacon, who’s not eating bacon, what their bacon eating (or lack thereof) says about them, and all manner of other non-bacon related subjects.

Naturally, we have some Bacon Day related links this week, so feel free to enjoy them or not as you see fit.  In addition to that, there is yet more new merchandise this week, lots of excellent usage (even on that’s misquoted), an update on fan made cross stitch, a chance to vote on what Simpsons episodes people in the Bay Area will get to watch next month, and a scandalous episode of all caps plagiarism in a barbecue joint that I demand be corrected by next Bacon Day.

Enjoy.

-

Before we get to this week’s links, here’s Sam Simon’s speech from that award the Writer’s Guild gave him a couple of weeks ago (via):

As I’ve said before, it’s hard to imagine someone dealing with that kind of news better than he is.  I mean, how often do people with nasty cancer crack jokes at the expense of the Make A Wish Foundation?

-

PLAGIARISM! – Some BBQ joint attributed “You don’t win friends with salad” to some anonymous scoundrel named “Shane”.  Our author got “full on, fan-girl annoyed”, and deservedly so!

20th Century Fox details toy partners for The Simpsons’ 25th anniversary | Latest news from the licensing industry - There’s gonna be Hot Wheels, there’s gonna be six feet tall inflatable Homers, there’s gonna be more figurines.  They are going all out because there can never be enough merchandise.  Never!  (For pics of some of it, see here.)

Mmm… Unexplained Bacon – If you make your own bacon, then every day can be Bacon Day!

Thank You One Tree Hill, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Simpsons, and Harry Potter – A big old wet kiss to some popular media, including the show and including a ton of great YouTube.

Pick-a-Side – >>>>> Classic Simpsons Marathon! <<<<< Pick The Top ‘Simpsons’ Episodes! – That San Francisco tv station that separates Simpsons reruns from Zombie Simpsons reruns is having a viewer contest to pick which episodes they’ll show during a marathon on March 15th.  It’s a good list and you can vote.

The Other Shoe has Dropped – I’ve lost track of all the Converse Simpsons shoes, but here are some of them.

Heres a red ball….. – This is . . . this is brilliant:

I don’t know about you, but I think I its a great idea to carry a red ball in ones pocket for every time some asshole says something completely stupid.  Just for the sole purpose of asking them if they’d like to bounce it.  Anyone know where one could buy these wholesale? Just asking for a friend….

A quick Amazon search did not reveal any bulk purchase options.

From the same site as the above, it’s Simpsons screen caps of the day: Ratboy, Bogeymen, no good Lisa running wild, and horrible aftermath of the Lizard Queen.  Bravo.

CAN I BORROW A FEELING? – As usual with Valentine’s Day, 95%+ of what seems to be on the internet shits on the holiday, and when people do it with Simpsons it’s usually Choo-Choo-Choose related.  Kudos for going with Kirk’s abortive singing career.

Simpsons – I choo choo choose you (gif) – Of course, you can’t go wrong with animated .gifs of the classic.

The faces behind “The Simpsons” - A nice little collage of the six main voices with their various characters.

want: lego simpsons house…that opens. – This is from a blog awesomely titled “Lenny Loves Carl”:

Anyway, if I do obtain this masterpiece of the Lego Gods, I’ll probably keep it in the box until my brother is in town and can put it together for me.  Then I’ll proudly display it in my house and not let friends’ kids play with it when they come over because they’ll do terrible things like put the Jazz Fest poster on Bart’s bedroom wall and make Lisa eat hot dogs when we all know she only wants to eat gazpacho!

Thomas A. Edison’s doodle – A drawing of Homer dressed as Edison, if he ate hoagies and drank Duff.

The Simpsons’ Parody of Famous Photos (12 photos) - Exactly what it says.

Mike Lynch Cartoons: THE SIMPSONS “Please Stand By” Interstitials - Also exactly what it says.

Barbie’s SI Cover Steps Up the Sexualized Children’s Toy Game - Good comparison:

Billed under an “Unapologetic” tagline, Barbie will get a four pages of swimsuit-wearing photos — all taken by longtime SI photographer Walter Iooss Jr. — as well as a limited-edition Sports Illustrated Barbie (only at Target!). And most importantly, 1,000 issues with Barbie in a swimsuit on the cover.
While perhaps the most brazen example yet of sexualizing the children’s toy, the concept isn’t exactly novel. Look at how Marge Simpson’s image has been tarted up over the years. “Springfield’s sexiest MILF,” Maxim called her in 2004 when she appeared on the cover of the magazine. Marge also posed on a bunny chair in Playboy in 2009 as a tag to “The Devil in Marge Simpson.” Weird.

It was.  Really weird.

Sirs, madams, our airs and graces are on the wane - Excellent usage:

Homer Simpson only ever got called “sir” when it was followed by “you’re making a scene”. Unless you’re a teacher or a drill sergeant, you’re likely to be in the same boat.

Berlinale 2014: Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? Review - Excellent reference:

It’s easy to greet the prospect of Michel Gondy making a doodle movie about the ideas of Noam Chomsky like that aggrieved nerd on The Simpsons: “Ugh, why does it have be zany?”

Kraft Singles Get Very Slightly Less Horrid - Another excellent reference:

The enduring image of Kraft Singles in my mind comes from the Simpsons episode where Homer inadvertently thwarts Mr. Burns and Smithers from burglarizing his home by sleepwalking into the kitchen for “Mmmmm…64 slices of American cheese.” It takes him all night to unwrap and eat them individually, by which time the burglars’ suction pads lose their grip and they nonchalantly drop off the ceiling to bid him a good day.

Get to know Midwest brewers in Locally Brewed by Anna Blessing - Intentional misquotes still count as excellent usage:

To misquote Homer Simpson, “Craft beer. Is there anything it can’t do?” Of course Homer, the great devotee of Duff, probably wouldn’t know what to make of an IPA.

The Simpsons Duff Beer-Themed Energy Drink - Now you can buy it outside the theme park.  Still looks gross.

You’ll Feel Inspired to Play Your NES After Seeing this Nostalgic 8-bit Art (10 Images) – These are great, not only the Simpsons one, but also Bob Ross, Monopoly, and the bunch from Star Wars. (via Content for Nerds)

Shirley Temple Offered Guest Role On ‘The Simpsons’ But Said F*ck Off - They wanted her to play Little Vicki.

Bart’s Dog Gets An F – Episode #029 – Lots of people think only mules can pull carts.  Impatient people think that, but patient people know better.

12 Things The Simpsons Can Teach You About Family, Hard Work, And Happiness – This is to promote that same new ebook I linked last week.  I’ll have a review of it next week, but for now I’ll just recommend against a purchase.

Word Mystery: butterfly / mariposa / papillon / farfalla – The show gives us all kinds of options for daily usage:

My BFF and I decided a million years ago that “butterfly” would be our code word for “help” in any situation. If one of us couldn’t remember another person’s name while talking to them, we’d mention how odd it was that we’d seen a butterfly earlier that day and the other would come to the rescue.

[…]

It’s the perfect word for all kinds of situations since it’s innocuous, not commonly said, and, as Bart Simpson learned years after I had, “Nobody ever suspects the butterfly.

Harry Potter and the Happy Squirrel: Hermione, as Page of Coins, considers Ron and Harry – I did not know this:

“The Happy Squirrel has become a bit of an in-joke in the tarot community since  it first appeared in the Simpsons episode Lisa’s Wedding in the mid 1990′s.” —   A review of the Touchstone Tarot

But is it bad?

EYE CANDY: Bartmania Nostalgia in Time for Black History Month – Pretty much what it says, some old stuff and some new stuff being used to promote an album.  Cool.

Progress on Lisa – That cross stitch I linked a couple of weeks ago is definitely Lisa and not Maggie, and looks to be coming along nicely.

The Perfect Compliment – Star Wars Valentine for the win.

My Thoughts: The Simpsons – Good move:

the show has stopped being funny. It’s not even interesting to entertaining anymore. I took it off my Hulu watch list back in 2012 because for the last few seasons before then, I’d watch each episode and think, “Let’s get this over with” before clicking it. I think out of two seasons prior to 2012 I laughed maybe three times total.

It’s time to love up all on Thursday. – And finally, I get to end with someone who agrees with us:

I love the Simpsons – up to a point. The older stuff is so genius. I will still pepper conversations with random quotes to this day, I can sing along with all the musical numbers. It’s become one with my brain.

I know the feeling.  (It closes with a .gif of Homer’s brain explaining to him that $20 is better than a peanut.)

07
Feb
14

Reading Digest: Hooray Season 2 Edition

Dancin' Homer11

“Look, there’s only one thing worse than being a loser.  It’s being one of those guys who sits in a bar telling the story of how he became a loser, and I never want that to happen to me.” – Homer Simpson
“Please, Homer.” – Barney Gumble
“Yeah, come on, Homer.” – Moe
“Well, okay.” – Homer Simpson

We’ve got three links about Season 2 this week, and not just “here’s a thing that happened in this episode”, but lots of love for the whole season.  Excellent.  In addition to that, Hank Azaria got a new part, there’s some cool fan art, further evidence that old sitcoms were atrocious, a new ebook about the show, and a cool retrospective on Julie Kavner’s non-Simpsons career.

Enjoy.

An alternative Simpsons timeline – I don’t agree with everything in Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week, but it is a very thoughtful overthinking of what the show could’ve been if it had aged the characters and gone off the air before the Fall.

More early rough sketches and drafts from David Silverman – I love the one of Homer ridiculing Marge from “Blood Feud”.  They don’t even attempt that kind of expressive animation anymore. 

The Hollywood Bowl’s 2014 summer season includes Beatles, ‘The Simpsons’ tributes - The weekend of September 12-14 there will be three concerts at the Hollywood Bowl celebrating the 25th anniversary of the show with fireworks.  Sounds fun, but tickets don’t go on sale until May.

Marge Simpson’s Julie Kavner Is a National Treasure - Indeed she is.  Click through for a recounting of her career and a picture of her from what looks like her mid twenties.

Fashion Spotlight: Big Trouble Mixes The Simpsons and Big Trouble in Little China – Fan made mashup image of the two.  I especially like Burns as Lo Pan with Blinky on his forehead.

Scripting (Comedy): The Simpsons, Season 2 – Oh, nothing, just some quotes from the first seven episodes of Season 2.

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? – Episode #028 – Ash is down on this one:

Infuriated, Herb hops on a bus but before leaving he hisses to Homer that he has no brother. As Lisa said, “his life was an unbridled success until he found out he was a Simpson.” I guess all Simpsons are meant to have bad luck in their lives.

It’s more than just luck, it’s that they’re inherent losers who expect defeat and keep going anyway.

Robert & Homer Simpson: When Composers and Comedians Share a Name… - As even the post itself admits, there isn’t much at this link.  There is, however, a cool drawing of Homer playing a guitar with the lines coming out of some sheet music.

My 14 Favorite Episodes of The Simpsons, season 2 – It’s just a Season 2 kind of week:

This was a tough list to make as the second season of The Simpsons doesn’t really have any bad episodes.

Proof of that is a list of favorites that covers nearly 2/3 of the season.

The Simpsons’ Hank Azaria Lands Major Arc on Ray Donovan - It’s a Showtime show, so he’ll probably get to say “fuck”:

The actor – who most notably lends his voice to several characters on The Simpsons – will play James Cochran, the ambitious head honcho of the Los Angeles FBI who becomes a thorn in Ray’s (Liev Schreiber) side.

Tim Doyle Teams Up With Spoke Art For His Third Solo Show And The Continuation Of His Uber Successful: “UnReal Estate” Series – Yet more of those pop culture paintings, including one of the First Church of Springfield (complete with one of the best signs they ever did).

So, Bob Dylan Made A Super Bowl Commerical (and the Broncos Lost 43-8) – Was it a Canyonero moment?  Also, excellent usage:

In the words of Principal Seymour Skinner: “The times they are…becoming quite different.”

Week 4: What Cartoons Did I Watch Growing Up? – The Simpsons, of course, especially good old Lisa.

Ugggh Broncos! – Marge just doesn’t know about football.

Round 99: Kiss Kiss Bang Bangalore vs. Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious – Hey, that’s not Season 17, that’s footage of Kent Brockman interviewing the Pope!

Round 98: The Old Man and the Lisa vs. ‘Scuse Me While I Miss the Sky – You could write this about a lot of Zombie Simpsons:

I remember liking this episode when it first aired, but it really doesn’t hold up. Compared to “The Old Man and the Lisa” the script’s flaws and gaping plot holes become obvious, and the few jokes and gimmicks that might have made you chuckle at first don’t offer anything worth revisiting.

Round 97: A Milhouse Divided vs. King of the Hill – Most of Season 9 isn’t going to be able to hang in late rounds.  There are some great episodes in there, but the rot had clearly set in by that point.

No, The Simpsons Did Not Predict The Super Bowl Nine Years Ago - Headline says it all.  Also, it’s Zombie Simpsons.

Sitcom sports: Classic episodes featuring skating or hockey - “Lisa on Ice” is here, as well as this excellent reason to never watch “Leave It to Beaver”:

“Leave It to Beaver” (“Beaver’s Ice Skates,” 1961) Beaver (Jerry Mathers) is too embarrassed to tell his parents that a salesman pressured him into buying ice skates three sizes too big.

Meet the real-life ‘Simpsons’ kids in a 1969 film made by Matt Groening’s father, Homer - This is old but was making the general internet rounds again this week.  Basically, Matt Groening’s father made short nature documentaries, and one of them had his kids in it.  It’s six minutes and you can watch it at the link.

Simpson Effect [WIP#2] – The slow but steady progress of a fan made Simpsons/Mass Effect combination.

Simpsons or family guy?-One month on – No surprise:

One month(And a week) ago,we asked you whether you liked The Simpsons or Family Guy,since then, we have had a lot of voters. So I am pleased to announce the results:
1st-The Simpsons-60%
2nd-Family Guy and Both-20% each

New HUGE Art Bust Statue – Homer Simpson as Batman, The Dark Knight! – However you look at it, this giant Homer/Batman head is a pretty cool eBay find.

Why Channel 4 officially sucks – Shame on you, Channel 4:

I only ever bother going to Channel 4 for episodes of The Simpsons, but even then…

They censor some episodes of The Simpsons

The nail in the coffin, however, is that they’re apparently big enough wusses to censor certain episodes of the Simpsons, even if some of that censorship doesn’t exist on Sky 1.

Alex Gordon, Royals Aim to Stop Traffic with Creative Billboard – Heh:

As with almost everything, the billboard allows for a golden era Simpsons reference. Hopefully the Royals will have as much success with their new billboard as Springfield-area English Muffin advertisers.

This year, get her Kansas City Royals tickets, whatever you say, Mr. Billboard!

Yungaburra & Cairns Shop-a-thon – Scroll all the way down for further evidence of the global reach of cheap merchandise: Simpsons flip flops in Australia (where they are apparently called “thongs”).

The Twilight of Charlie X – A little background on, among other things, the Twilight Zone episode that was the basis for the Bart the Monster segment of “Treehouse of Horror II”.

15 Best Guest Voices Of The Simpsons’ Golden Era – This is a promotional list for a new book about the “Golden Era” of the show.  (Pro tip: You can just say Simpsons, everything else is Zombie Simpsons.)  Anyway, it inherently agrees with us and have some good YouTube, but what I’d really like to point out is that only three of these are for celebrities voicing themselves.  The book is five bucks on Kindle.

31
Jan
14

Reading Digest: Super Bowl Menagerie Edition

Lisa the Greek16

“It’s a touchdown for halfback Dan Beerdorf!  Duff Dry has won the Duff Bowl!” – Commercial Announcer
“They wanted it more.” – Moe

As we here in America approach one of our most sacred high holy days, the internet responded with a torrent of Simpsons/football related links, references and usage.  There’s even one for the Super Bowl’s hapless sibling, the Pro Bowl.  In addition to that, we’ve a whole bunch of cool fan made stuff, most of which comes from an awesome Reddit collection of a painter who does Simpsons requests, a funny interview with Shearer, a harmless Zombie Simpsons-Super Bowl promo, and the first Choo-Choose Valentine’s link of the year.

Enjoy.

And Now For Something Completley Different……. Vol. 2: Will The Real Mr. Sparkle Please Stand Up? - Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this brief collection of real life Mr. Sparkles, everything from window washers and women’s underwear to arm tattoos.  Cool.

I make real life Simpsons paintings for fun and here are few I made last year (including some that were commissions from this subreddit!) - A collection of fan made paintings and similar from Reddit.  My favorite is probably #14, the actual Super Nintendo painted to look like Chalmers.  The whole collection is fantastic.  (Many thanks to reader Jodi for sending this in!)

Harry Shearer: Nixon didn’t like blacks, Jews, communists, the French… - Shearer is the best:

How long has The Simpsons got left? We’ll be on the air until Fox finds another comedy show that can work at 8pm on Sunday – so I’ll say another 55 years. There are people who have voted in several elections who are younger than our show at this point.

Has anyone unexpected said they’re a fan of the show? I don’t talk to presidents or popes so I don’t know. What I find most interesting is if someone asks me to do one of the voices, whether they’re a five-year-old girl or a 70-year-old man, when they see the voice come out of a human body they all get the same look of bewilderment, surprise and delight. It’s really fun to see that.

Guess Who? - The beginnings of a Lisa (or Maggie) cross stitch.  And she’s doing one of Chef Bender as well.  Don’t forget to post the final results.

The Grammies Apparently Happened Recently - Now this is coverage of music industry self promotion I can get behind:

Legal Disclaimer: Mr. Simpson’s opinions do not reflect those of the producers, who don’t consider the Grammy an award at all

Excellent usage.

(A late!) Sunday Night Sketchbook 26/01/14 - Scroll halfway down for a cool fan made sketch of Ralph after he grew up to be a caterpillar.  (Also, the Iron Giant one is pretty damn cool.)

What If Our Favorite Fictional Characters Aged and/or Kept Up With The Times - Heh:

6) In ‘The Simpsons’, Bart and Lisa would be in their early to mid thirties.  Bart would probably be finishing up a five to ten year stint in Springfield State Prison or beginning a career in politics.  Lisa would probably have 2 or 3 PhD’s and well on to a Nobel Prize winning career.

Woo Hoo!! - Heh.  Nobody better dis your fly girl.

You Choo Choo Choose Me? - If you’re planning on sending out the perfect Wiggum Valentine’s Day card, now you can.

The Simpsons Take A Trip To The Super Bowl With Everyone’s Favorite New Girl - There’s a Super Bowl video with some of the Simpson characters in it.  It’s mildly amusing in places, and, more importantly, short.  There’s even a joke about football overruns being the only thing that’s keeping FOX a network.  I guess admitting that football overruns are the only thing keeping Zombie Simpsons from disappearing completely would’ve been too close to home.

The Year of the Backlog - A post about a daunting number of unwatched famous movies:

I can’t run from the fact that I haven’t seen a lot of very poI can’t run from the fact that I haven’t seen a lot of very popular and culturally significant movies. No wonder, as I spent the majority of my childhood and teenage years either skipping films altogether or watching the same ones over and over again. This offered me nothing more than the ability to recite Aladdin or Home Alone from beginning to end without skipping a beat. This is a valuable skill, no doubt, but it didn’t provide me much in the way of variety or the opportunity to discover new genres that I might have actually enjoyed. Most of my classic film knowledge exists only through reference or parody, and I owe shows like The Simpsons a great deal for keeping me in the loop. I never watched The Shining, but I knew almost word for word and shot for shot the popular lines and scenes from the Stanley Kubrick classic.

Don’t feel bad.  Lots of people, myself included, learned about a ton of movies from The Simpsons.

Part 119: Cereal - A blog about being single is missing out on some of life’s great pleasures:

There are all sorts of things that other people do and tell you about – in conversation or in blogs or in newspaper columns or similar – which they appear to find pleasurable, but which you have thus far failed to enjoy. Things such as fellatio, The Simpsons and any film the Coen brothers have ever made. Once or twice a year you try them out – because they do seem to make all the other people happy – although you really should have the courage of your convictions by now.

I can’t speak to blowjobs and award winning black comedies, but as for The Simpsons , give it a try at the start of Season 2 with “Bart Gets an F” and go from there.  The world is far too polluted with Zombie Simpsons for any other try to really count.

Super Bowl Sunday is About More Than You Think - A Super Bowl without beer is like a blog post without a .gif of Homer running around an overturned beer truck.

Flashback: Joe Giudice v. Joe Gorga Fight Voiced by Chief Wiggum & Moe – “He’s Bitin’ My Nuts, WTF?!” - This is from a while ago, but I’d never seen it before.  It’s Azaria doing voices over one of those fake fights on a reality show.  Kinda funny to hear Moe says, repeatedly, “He’s biting my nuts.”

Super Bowl Science: Could A Seahawk Beat A Bronco? And Other Important Nerdy Football Questions - Yet more gimmicky Super Bowl previews, but this one invokes Lisa:

In the words of Lisa Simpson, “what could be more exciting than the savage ballet that is pro football?” Perhaps the science of that savage ballet!

Excellent usage.

7 TV Joke Products That Became a Reality - The Leftorium and Tomacco make the list.

The Divine Comedy of the Pro Bowl - And finally, I get to end the way I like, with someone who agrees with us in this comparison of the sad state of the Pro Bowl and Zombie Simpsons:

The NFL Pro Bowl’s ill-fated demise is like tuning into a new Sunday night episode of the Simpsons.
It’s easy to recall a time when these showings were once compelling and even entertaining—albeit, during a time when our insight for amusement hinged on pedantic catchphrases and unfulfilled promises. But for the better part of the last two decades, both stagnant spectacles have nose-dived into a Homer Simpson-sized groove.
They’re outdated, overplayed, and they should have been axed ages ago.

Yup.

29
Jan
14

Compare & Contrast: Marge in Therapy

Fear of Flying18

“Eww, you like the Monkees?  You know they don’t write their own songs.” – Girl on Bus
“They do so!” – Marge Bouvier
“They don’t even play their own instruments.” – Girl on Bus
“No!  No!” – Marge Bouvier
“That’s not even Michael Nesmith‘s real hat.” – Girl on Bus
“Ahhhhhhh!” – Marge Bouvier
“Kids can be so cruel.” – Dr. Zweig
“But it’s true, they didn’t write their own songs or play their own instruments.” – Marge Simpson
“The Monkees weren’t about music, Marge, they were about rebellion!  About political and social upheaval!” – Dr. Zweig

When The Simpsons would have one of its characters go someplace new or do something they’d never done before, whenever it introduced a new element to the show, it usually made that thing a harsh (if sometimes sympathetic) satire.  So, for example, New York City is filled with jerks and dickish parking officers, but it’s also got nice people who’ll yell back at the jerks in Tower One and glamorous (if inane) Broadway shows.  The sushi restaurant is friendly and delicious, but there’s still drunken karaoke and a map to the hospital on the back of the menu.  The dentist is a sadistic lunatic, but he’s also not wrong about calling you a liar when you tell him how often you brush.

Zombie Simpsons, of course, has a hard time sending the family anywhere novel or having them do something new because everything they come up with is a repeat of some kind.  Beyond that, though, when they do put the family in an unusual situation, they tend to put things in the most positively exaggerated light possible.  Cruise ships are idyllic paradises that are the most fun you’ll ever have.  Going to E3 or some other big show is awesome because you’ll get to run around with VIP passes and see all this cool stuff.  Trips to fancy restaurants are never too expensive or disappointing, and the staff will always treat you like gold.  It’s a completely different mentality, one that’s insulated from unhappiness and incurious about pretty much everything.  And, it goes almost without saying, seeing happy people have fun isn’t generally as funny as the opposite.

For a clean example of how weak this soft focus mentality is, look no farther than the therapist’s office in “Specs and the City” and the huge differences with Dr. Zweig’s office in “Fear of Flying”.  Zweig is certainly a competent therapist, but she also straight up lies to Homer about not blaming him and interrupts Marge’s big realization because a measly $30 check bounced.  The doctor in Zombie Simpsons barely gets any lines because he’s more prop than person.  (He ends the episode cutting Homer’s hair in his office because comedy.)  But beyond his almost nonexistent characterization are the ways that Marge going to therapy is handled.

On The Simpsons, therapy is a almost prohibitively expensive and really can lead to families breaking up.  (Not that ditching Homer would entirely be a bad thing for Marge.)  But it also bears enough of a resemblance to real therapy that it provides plenty of opportunities for jokes, parodies and satire.  So we see Marge’s flashbacks to her traumatic first day of school and seeing her father as a stewardess, get her Lost in Space dream, and have Zweig cracking jokes about copyright, and sarcastically mocking the “rich tapestry” of Marge’s problem after Marge ignores her about the unpaid bill.

Fear of Flying19

Zweig may charge on a sliding scale, but she still charges.

By contrast, Zombie Simpsons has Marge complain about Homer in some rather serious terms but lacks the skill or coherence to turn them around and make them funny at all.  Instead they just give the therapist a bunch of bland therapy lines:

So, Marge, how’ve you been?

And has there been any improvement in Homer’s drinking?

Maybe if you just concentrate on one problem, like his temper.

The jokes, if that is what they are, consist solely of Homer acting outraged at Marge’s legitimate sounding complaints.  This is startlingly emotionally tone deaf, even for them.  The sympathy and audience here are with Marge complaining about Homer, which is portrayed quite seriously.  But the show sticks with Homer’s shock because, hey, that’s where what passes for the punchlines are.

More to the point, the therapy is, well, just therapy.  No attempt whatsoever is made to goose it into something funny and insightful.  It’s left alone and is so dry and straightforward that the doctor’s dialogue wouldn’t be out of place in an instructional video.  He never even comes close to something insane and hilarious like a buttoned down shrink yelling out her love for an all but forgotten mock 60s pop band.

World's Least Interesting Therapist

This man does not love the Monkees.  He’s so boring he may not listen to music at all.

Compounding the dullness is the fact that, in Zombie Simpsons at least, straight ahead therapy works, really really well!  After her bland (and more than a little depressing) appointments, Marge is a cake baking sex machine!  Chalk up another awesome point in the life of Homer Simpson.

Compare that to the just-good-enough and probably temporary (her next flight does crash on takeoff) relief Marge gets from her much funnier and more involved therapy.  Even her final, successful session doesn’t end triumphantly, it ends with Dr. Zweig saying Marge is “nuts” for thinking her father was “an American hero” and Marge immediately getting her name wrong.

The Simpsons created a joke laden, topsy-turvy satire of therapy that worked only to the barest minimum of the definition of success.  Along the way they had a smart but callous therapist, some understandable (if cartoonish) spousal paranoia, and a bunch of pop culture parodies, from campy sitcoms to Alfred Hitchcock. They also managed to treat Marge and her doctor like real people, with concerns and flaws.  Zombie Simpsons had textbook dull therapy work perfectly in that it kept the kickass life Homer loves completely intact without him having to do anything.

24
Jan
14

Reading Digest: Blank Potato Merchandising Edition

Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song13

“Why don’t you bring this potato?  It’s pretty big.” – Marge Simpson
“Mom, you’re always trying to give me potatoes.  What is it with you?” – Bart Simpson
“I just think they’re neat.” – Marge Simpson

Between the internet echoes of last week’s streaming news and the announcement of a, wait for it, Mr. Potato Head Homer, the signal to noise ratio was pretty bad again this week, so it’s once again a shorter than usual Reading Digest.  When they announced last year that they were kicking the merchandising into overdrive, they weren’t kidding, and it seems like hardly a week goes by without a new tie in or marketing campaign.  Not only did we get Mr. Homer Head this week, but there was also a contest to draw Simpsons characters in an officially license notebook.  Yes, they’re now endorsing blank paper.  The good news is that we got some cool fan art, both of the marketing and non-marketing variety, along with quite a bit of excellent usage, some sketches from early in the show, and several people who agree with us, implicitly and explicitly.

Enjoy.

Early rough sketches and character sheets from David Silverman – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this collection of David Silverman sketches compiled by our old friend Sebastian.  I put this up on Twitter last weekend, but if you didn’t see it then, click it now.  The ones from when Homer bangs on the door in “Bart the Genius” and the Land of Chocolate alone are worth it.

16 Timeless Business Lessons from The Simpsons – These are actual business tips (with words like “liability” and “regulation”) but they come with good YouTube and not a single example cited is from Zombie Simpsons.

The Simpsons Embroidery – Two very cool fan made Simpsons embroidery pieces, one of a Duff can, the other of Homer with a donut.  Bravo.

ACT’s 2014-15 season to include 2 N.Y. hits – The post apocalyptic Mr. Burns play is heading to San Francisco.

Emmanuel Mauleon Black Bart Simpson – I’ll just let them explain:

It seems like just about everyone has a soft spot for Bart Simpson these days. Photoshopped images of Odd Future dancing with Bart and Lisa flood Tumblr, streetwear blogs seem to worship the Simpson son, and artists like Emmanuel Mauleón have also caught onto this trend as well.
Mauleón, a Brooklyn-based artist originally from Puebla, Mexico, created these dope illustrations of Black Bart Simpson as promo pieces for electropop singer Gordon Voidwell’s mixtape Bad Études.

Check out the full collection at Tumblr.

Round 96: The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace vs. My Mother the Carjacker – Season 10 easily triumphs over this:

Not a fan. I’m willing to forgive outlandish plots, and abandoning all logic and character traits, if an episode at least manages to make me laugh, or if it has something to say.

This one didn’t, and it hasn’t.

Heh.

Round 97: A Milhouse Divided vs. King of the Hill – This happens a lot in Season 9:

An interesting side-effect of this tournament, and one that I didn’t expect to happen, is that I look at episodes much more critically than I ever did in the past. I always enjoyed “King of the Hill,” and I still did, for the most part, on this viewing. But compared to not only the episode above but also to the kinds of episode I expect to make it to the last rounds of the bracket, a few things stood out to me. Homer is once again a tad too much of a jerk, he’s victim of too much physical abuse, and the (always lose) fabric of the show’s plausibility is  stretched too thin a few times.

Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon talks PETA, Obama, NRA and dealing with cancer – A wide ranging Simon interview.  No surprise in that there isn’t much Simpsons content, but this is pretty cool:

I think I have one of the most expensive hobbies in the world, which is buying roadside zoos and setting the animals free. That is kind of the new activity around here. It is really gratifying to see these animals that have been so abused, animals that have never been outside of a concrete pit, taking their first steps on grass.

Hasbro releases Homer Simpson Mr Potato Head – God bless marketing euphemisms:

Hasbro is celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Simpsons this year with the release of a Homer Simpson Mr Potato Head.

Celebrating?  The only thing they’ll celebrate is if this makes them enough money to cover whatever ungodly licensing fee they paid FOX.

The official way to draw Lisa Simpson is pretty damn neat – We’ve seem these before for other characters, but they are pretty neat.

The 7 Best Episodes of The Simpsons, season 1 – Cool list, but extra worth the click for the YouTube video of “Bart the General” at 200% speed.  I didn’t watch the whole thing, but at a couple of points Bart’s talking so fast he almost sounds like he’s rapping.

TV Character Bracket Elite 8: #5 Homer Simpson vs. #11 Dr. Cox – Homer beat Omar last week and he’s ahead of Dr. Cox from Scrubs at the moment, but could certainly use more votes.

The toilet drains the other way in Australia… – Flush capacity as a bigger cultural difference than swirl direction.  Also, there’s a .gif of Homer bouncing back and forth across the border at the embassy.

The Simpsons: Tapped Out(Android, iOS) – This is certainly true:

This game does have problems though, with the EA name attached to it, it’s really no surprise. This game has frequent server crashes, just trying to get into the game can be a pain, you’ll get one or two screens telling you to either hit retry or telling you to wait for it to reconnect, when it’s because of an update that is fine, but it does it a lot at random times.

Album Review: David Crosby – Excellent usage:

Crosby has virtually disappeared from the singer-songwriter landscape for 20 years. Sure, he’ll crop up singing backing vocals alongside Graham Nash every now and then, but for many people the man with the walrus moustache is probably better known for his cameos on The Simpsons, his time in prison for drugs and firearms offenses, or even his role as a surrogate father for Hollywood’s Sapphic community. In fact, a joke from The Simpsons sums it up perfectly -

Barney: David Crosby? You’re my hero!

David Crosby: Oh, you like my music?

Barney: You’re a musician?

Recap: Irvine International Film Festival Brings Indie Flair to Laguna – More excellent usage:

When describing Branson, Missouri to his friends, Bart Simpson recalls Homer’s comparison that it was, “like Vegas, if it was run by Ned Flanders.” That’s more or less the vibe of the Irvine International Film Festival that ended its week-long run last week at Laguna Hills Cinema. When looking at the fledgling festival and comparing it to other festivals in OC like the Newport Beach Film Festival, IIFF is the most relaxed, family-oriented fest of them all, where Flanders himself would give two ecstatic “thumb-diddly- umbs” up.

Whoopidoo…ings: Portrait No.7 of 40 – Zombie Bart Simpson – Fan made drawing of Bart for a marketing competition being run by those notebook people.

Fan Creates Phish Simpsons Mashup on JamBase – Just what it says, with lots of clips from various episodes and outtakes.  Definitely more fun if you’re high.

A visto a este sujeto? – Spanish language Handsome Pete .gif.

GIFs de la semaine : les graffitis fluos – This isn’t in English and mostly isn’t Simpsons related, but there is a great .gif of Bart high on the all syrup squishy.

The Simpsons season 16 on DVD (Leeds Student, 2013) – And finally, I get to end the way I like, with someone who agrees with us:

It hasn’t been the best of times for The Simpsons. Oh sweet Jebus, let’s just say it: it has been the very blurst of times. Yes, the show still rakes in the big bucks and yes, while it continues to do so FOX will probably renew it into oblivion. But there’s been something painfully off about The Simpsons ever since the seasons hit double digits. These more recent outings, led by current showrunner Al Jean, have been called forgettable, lazy and disappointing.

Truly the blurst of times.

19
Jan
14

Smooth Jimmy Apollo on the AFC Championship Game

Lisa the Greek14

“And now with his picks for today’s games, the man who’s right 52% of the time, Smooth Jimmy Apollo.” – Brent Gunsilman
“Thank you, Bret.  Our first game today, Denver and New England, is too close to call.” – Smooth Jimmy Apollo
“Oh.” – Homer Simpson
“But, if you’re one of those compulsive types who just has to bet, well, I don’t know . . . Denver.” – Smooth Jimmy Apollo
“Woo-hoo, Denver, yeah!” – Homer Simpson

But don’t lose heart, Patriots fans, because we all know how that ended:

Lisa the Greek15

When you’re right 52% of the time, you’re wrong 48% of the time.

17
Jan
14

Reading Digest: Legal and Illegal Streaming Edition

The Mansion Family2

“See that ship over there?  They’re rebroadcasting Major League Baseball with implied oral consent, not expressed written consent. . . . Or so the legend goes.” – Homer Simpson

The big news this week was the official announcement of the streaming package for The Simpsons and Zombie Simpsons.  It’s today’s second link, and it sounds like it’ll be pretty cool . . . if you’re one of the few people who’ll be able to get it, as there are an appellate court’s worth of restrictions and hoops to jump through.  A young Canadian who got around all that has been rendered penniless by FOX for . . . I dunno, embarrassing them by doing their job better than they could, or something, and we’ve got a short interview with him as well.  There were enough links to the news about the streaming app, none with further information as far as I could tell, that they kinda drowned out other news this week, so the rest of this is a little light.  However we do have a nice stock reference, a poem, some more kick ass Simpsons art, a couple of links to people complaining about Tapped Out, and what may be the world’s most evil raccoon.

Enjoy.

FOX Bankrupted a 23-Year Old Canadian Pirate for Streaming The Simpsons - Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this article about the kid behind Watch the Simpsons On-line, which was probably a lot more user friendly that whatever fucked up streaming app FOX is going to come up with.  He e-mailed us a few years back about a link exchange, but I politely declined for reasons that should be obvious.

Soon you can (legally) stream the Simpsons—but there’s a catch – You still need to have cable (ugh, who wants that?), and FXX, and your giant evil cable company has to work out an arrangement with giant, evil FOX, which only half of them have done, so there’s actually like four catches.  (There were a lot of links to this story, of which Ars Technica had by far the best headline: “FXX app to stream all The Simpsons seasons, including the 9 good ones”.)

What Your Favorite Episode Of ‘The Simpsons’ Says About You - A jokey little list that does have the good sense to limit itself to Season 1-11.  Though I’m not sure if having “Lisa the Greek” as your favorite makes you a daddy’s girl so much as a gambling fiend.

Simpsons Lego, a haiku – Well done.

UnReal Estate by Tim Doyle – Some more of those amazing Simpsons paintings, including what I think is a new one of the Android’s Dungeon and one of Planet Express from Futurama.

The 15 Worst Corporate Logo Fails - These aren’t so much fails as they are unintentional sex acts/genitals, but you know London 2012 made the list either way.

BEST EPISODE THINGY THERE EVER WAS ROUND 1 Homer’s Triple Bypass VS. So it’s come to this: A Simpsons Clip Show – True:

“So It’s Come To This” may be a clip show, but it’s the best damn clip show any show has probably ever done. Only The Simpsons could take the tired clip show concept and turn out an episode that was entertaining, original, hilarious, and even heart warming at times.

Round 64: There’s Something About Marrying vs. Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment – An easy win for Season 8.

Principal Charming – Episode #027 – It is a bit different for Skinner:

I realise that this is the second season and characters are still being worked out but seriously, Seymour manages to propose to Patty with no problems at all, but when in came to Edna Krabappel, his mother, and the fact that he had no spine, he just couldn’t do it at all. I find that interesting.

But he still fails, so that’s always been there.

Homer Simpson and Road Runner helping police catch passing criminals driving by - In Britain, when the cops use machines to catch speeders, they can customize the noise it makes to alert them.  Apparently, “D’oh” and “Meep” (they only paid for it once, cheap bastards) are popular choices.

Mapache’s Gettin’ Big and Mapache’s Gettin’ Bigger – This raccoon looks like Mr. Burns.  That is all.

365 Days of The Simpsons – A popular point:

What I’ve learned from The Simpsons in the past year
It’s my belief that The Simpsons jumped the shark in season 9, with ‘The Principal and the Pauper‘. It’s hard to pinpoint why this is the ep where it all started to go downhill. The writers hadn’t changed (maybe that was the problem, the show needed fresh blood?) but the plot was so ridiculous that there’s no way you can recover from it. It’s like the writers gave up- they’ve had one bad idea and threw everything else to hell.

The writers had changed by that point, but to my eye, the bigger factor was that there just wasn’t much left to say.

Disturbia – Excellent usage:

Just watch the 1954 original, or The Simpsons version Bart of Darkness, in which a housebound Bart fears that Flanders is murdering his own family – “He’s going to kill Rod and Todd too, that’s horrible! In principle.” Disturbia even has one of the worst taglines ever: “Every killer lives next door to someone.” When I read that I couldn’t help but laugh to myself. It’s not even accurate. But what do I expect from an uncredited remake of Rear Window, named after a Rihanna song, starring Shia LaBeouf.

Keeping up with the Simpsons – A look and not one, but two new collections of Simpsons clothing.

Simpsons Tapped Out – Tapped to Tedium – I’m not quite at the top level yet, but I can already sympathize with a lot of this.

TV Character Bracket Sweet 16: #1 Omar Little vs. #5 Homer Simpson – Homer’s ahead, but could use some more votes.

today’s stickers – A worried looking Homer sticker in Brussels.

An ETF Mr. Burns Would Love - Nice reference:

Mr. Burns, the plutocrat from The Simpsons, didn’t get rich by investing in newfangled companies.  He is more of a traditionalist. On the show, his portfolio included Transatlantic Zeppelin and Amalgamated Spats. These old-fashioned companies seem silly, but Mr. Burns may have had an innovative idea there: invest in longstanding companies.

Unsurprisingly, thestreet.com chose not to mention his investment in Confederated Slave Holdings.

Throwback Thursday: “Bart vs. the Space Mutants” - A quick playthough writeup.

Simpson’s Paradox – Going off the new Simpsons math book, why not take a look at some math problems?

Homer Simpson stars in…The Day Of The Locust? – Old movie trailers were really bad, but if you want to see Donald Sutherland as Homer Simpson, skip to the 1:45 mark on the YouTube video.  It’s kinda funny: “I’ve always wondered what the point was of Homer Simpson.”

I Love the Simpsons! – If you’re going to start a blog, you could do worse than this as your first post:

Almost finish watching the 5th season of The Simpsons.

It is so good and I love it!

I would like to write a review for every episode if I could stop being a lazy sloth.

Don’t forget, trying is the first step towards failure.

App Review: Simpsons Tapped Out – And finally, I get to end with someone who agrees with us.  This time, it’s in a review of EA’s buggy money gusher:

By all 25 unholy seasons of this show I don’t know why I keep on playing this game. It’s a time drain, it’s not fun and it doles out measly increments of original content if don’t want to pay. It’s as stale as the show.

[…]

Verdict: Watch classic reruns instead.

Amen to that.

17
Jan
14

Compare & Contrast: Overprotective Fathers

Bart's Friend Falls in Love15

“Samantha!” – Mr. Stanky
“Dad!” – Samantha Stanky
“Noooooo!” – Mr. Stanky

As far as nothingburger girlfriend characters go, Kumiko is so empty that she makes the relatively one-dimensional Rene from Season 9 look like Katniss Everdeen.  Rene at least talked to Moe before dating him out of pity.  Kumiko apparently fell in love with Comic Book Guy without even so much as meeting him.  But even that vacuous characterization is rich and deep compared to Kumiko’s father, who shows up out of the blue and instantly becomes the focus of the episode despite failing, after his very first scene, to do what he said he was there to do.  And, of course, per standard Zombie Simpsons operating procedure, he doesn’t get a name.

Back in Season 3, the show gave us another father who didn’t want his daughter dating one of Springfield’s losers.  He also didn’t get a first name, but in that case it didn’t matter because by the time he was on screen for his one scene, he’d already been a shadow over their doomed romance from the beginning of the episode.  I speak, of course, of Samantha Stanky’s father, Mr. Stanky, in “Bart’s Friend Falls In Love”.

To understand how The Simpsons could make a better character despite his having only one scene on screen and just four lines, it helps to look side-by-side at how and when each of them is introduced and expanded.  Mr. Stanky (which is hard to type without giggling a bit) is mentioned for the first time in the middle of the first act, just three minutes into the episode, when Samantha, forced by Mrs. Krabappel to introduce herself in front of the class while being graded on grammar and poise, says:

We just moved here from Phoenix.  My dad owns a home security company.  He came to Springfield because of its high crime rate and lackluster police force.

Right there, with the man himself most of the episode away from even being seen, we can form a mental picture of the guy.  He owns a security company, and he’s willing to uproot his family and move across the country to a city with lots of crime because of it.  We know right away that he’s not a sentimentalist and probably isn’t someone you’d want to screw around with.

By contrast, Kumiko’s father doesn’t show up until twelve minutes into the episode, at what I guess is supposed to be the first or second act break (Zombie Simpsons makes it hard to tell).  Up to this point we hadn’t heard of him at all.  He didn’t rate so much as a toss off line from Kumiko or Comic Book Guy about her father maybe not wanting his daughter pulling up stakes and moving to America to live with some dude he’s never met.  They had eight minutes left to fill, so you knew something had to keep the new lovers from riding off happily into the sunset, but the episode is so poorly set up and written that it could just as easily have been an argument about Marvel vs. DC, the superiority of American or Japanese animation, or really anything, up to and including a meteor strike or General Zod showing up.  Having dropped in from nowhere, he and Homer proceed to recap the episode and explain who he is and why he’s there.  We don’t see him confront Comic Book Guy or Kumiko, he just stands there.

Two Men Talking (Part 1)

Men of action!

The next scene is Kumiko crying and walking out of the store, escorted by her father.  They proceed down the sidewalk and, for all intents and purposes, his story is completed barely a minute after he arrived on screen.  He came to get his daughter.  He got his daughter.  The end.  Naturally, Zombie Simpsons can’t drop things there, but whether they know it or not, that’s the story they just told us.

Compare that clumsy plot advance to the second time we hear Mr. Stanky mentioned, when Milhouse and Samantha are, as the old children’s rhyme goes, kissing in a tree.  Samantha puts a halt to things because:

Milhouse, I’ve gotta go.  My Dad thinks I’m having my braces examined.

Without the man himself so much as coming close to the screen, we know that he has no idea that some local kid in a city he probably doesn’t even like is kissing his precious baby girl.  We also know that if he did know, he wouldn’t approve, because otherwise, why would she lie to him about going to the orthodontist?

Bart's Friend Falls in Love14

She kinda, sorta is having her braces examined, but her father is unlikely to see it that way.

The next time he’s mentioned is at the end of what is very clearly the second act, when Bart has grown exasperated with being the third wheel and losing his best friend to a skirt.  Milhouse, desperate to continue his closed-mouth-kissing, pre-adolescent romance asks if they can still use Bart’s treehouse because:

If her father finds out, he’ll kill her.

This is tight as a drum storytelling.  Milhouse is making explicit what was hinted at earlier and giving Bart the crucial piece of information he needs to break them up, all in a single, eight word sentence.

The third time we hear from Mr. Nakamura (which isn’t funny at all, especially compared to Stanky), it’s when he’s inexplicable sitting in a Japanese restaurant getting drunk with Homer.  The last time we saw him he was walking off with his daughter and talking about taking her back to Japan.  Did she object or disappear?  Was the flight delayed?  Is she locked in his hotel room right now?  Why would he listen to Homer anyway, a man he barely knows who clearly knew his daughter was with the man he wholeheartedly disapproves of?  Who knows?  Zombie Simpsons doesn’t care about any of those questions and thanks you for not caring as well.

Nakamura’s next scene comes after he and Homer get into the hallucinogenic snake wine.  It’s the very pretty centerpiece to the episode wherein they cram as many Simpsons characters as they can into Miyazaki references.  This all ends with Nakamura coming face to face with one of the masked guys from Spirited Away and telling us all out loud that he now doesn’t mind Comic Book Guy marrying his daughter.  Like I said, it’s pretty, but it’s also gratutious filler that advances the already shambling story roughly two (very obvious) centimeters.

The fourth time Mr. Stanky comes up is when Bart narcs on Samantha and Milhouse’s little love nest.  Again, this is superb storytelling, as the threat he poses to the young romance, implicit at first and growing ever more explicit, is now approaching at full speed.  Hitherto he’d only been referenced, now he’s on the phone with Bart and bearing down on the treehouse like a parental hurricane.

The fifth and final time he’s part of the episode is the culmination of the previous four.  His abrupt and unexpected appearance at the treehouse shows us that he’s exactly who we’ve been told he is: a take charge kinda guy who doesn’t want his little girl anywhere near some punk kid she thinks is a good kisser.  He grabs Samantha (literally), tosses her in the car, and speeds her out of Milhouse’s life.  It’s the climax of the episode, with the remainder being Bart and Milhouse reconciling and the bittersweet ending with Samantha at the penguin house.

The last couple of times we see Mr. Nakamura, he’s expositing his new found approval of his daughter’s dumpy boyfriend, showing up to their wedding in a silver C-3P0 costume (the fuck?), and then getting drunk with Homer some more on an elementary school playground because those last thirty seconds aren’t going to fill themselves.  It’s a sticky sweet ending that’s no different than what was happening before he arrived, which isn’t surprising since he is, as most Zombie Simpsons characters are, more prop than person.  His reason to be there was so flimsy that no one even mentioned him for the first two thirds of the episode, and when he did show up it had little to do with his stated intentions and everything to do with Zombie Simpsons shoving some movie references into a previously blank spot on their storyboard.

Mr. Stanky, on the other hand, was a constant and growing off screen threat who did exactly what his daughter and her brief boyfriend knew he would.  Both of them were killjoys in their way, but one of them was good at it and lent the episode and the ending the kind of character, depth and complexity that make the jokes hit home and the story relatable.  The other was just there.

15
Jan
14

Behind Us Forever: Married To The Blob

Chalkboard - Married to the Blob

"Tell me, how do you feel about forty-five year old virgins who still live with their parents?" – Comic Book Guy
"Comb the SweetTarts out of your beard and you’re on." – Comic Babe
"Don’t try to change me, baby." – Comic Book Guy

[Note: Sorry for the extremely late posting on this one.  That kind of week.  Compare & Contrast should be along tomorrow.]

Over the last ten years or so, Hollywood has become extremely adept at giving "geeks" (for lack of a better term) what they want.  The most visible expression of this is the way that comic book movies have come to be routine fixtures in each year’s list of box office champions, but down on the small screen things have been going along just as well.  Between the Battlestar Galactica remake, yet more comic book properties, the uneven but occasionally glorious return of Futurama, and plenty more, there is stuff beyond Star Trek that your stereotypical fat guy geek can love.  Over that same span of time, The Simpsons went from one of the most beloved things on television to the pale imitation of itself that exists today, something so cluelessly mediocre that pretty much nobody outside of the entertainment industry and its various paid shills will say anything good about it in public.  "Married to the Blob" is like a tiny microcosm of that, with the once razor sharp satire of Comic Book Guy getting the full Moe treatment of lovesick lonely heart before falling ass backwards into a one-dimensional wish fulfillment girlfriend who is, wait for it, a hot, Asian manga artist.  I guess there’s something to be said for the completeness of that collapse into hapless pandering, but it sure doesn’t make for entertaining television.

- Once again, the couch gag goes on for a very long time and is possibly the most creative part of the episode.

- This Radioactive Man movie/show/comic-imagining/whatever it’s supposed to be would have worked better without each character explaining themselves, sometimes twice.

- Lisa just walked in from nowhere to tell us what’s about to happen . . . and now it’s happening.

- A pointless, self voiced celebrity.  Thanks, Mr. Ellison.  No, there won’t be a check in the mail.

- So this other comic book guy, whom they had to remind us who he is, just barged in front of Homer in line to exposit and get the plot started and brag about being married.  I don’t think it would kill them to have at least one scene make sense, but they seem to think it would.

- And now Homer’s impatient at being made to wait.  He wasn’t for the minute it took them to have rival comic book guy appear and disappear, but the show conveniently forgot he was there for that stretch of time.  Infants have a better sense of object permanence than Zombie Simpsons, and it’s not even close.

- Well, give them this, they know their songs suck even if they do hide it behind their mask of low key, Comic Book Guy hostility calling it cliched.  Seriously, they rhymed "it" with "it".

- Stan Lee’s here as both a real person and a hallucination, and they still had Comic Book Guy exposit exactly what he did.

- Kumiko’s first lines involve her telling us what she’s doing and the pulling out a copy of her manga which she then tells us about as we see it.

- Comic Book Guy immediately goes to the Simpson house for advice because what else would he do?

- They switched it up, now Marge is telling us exactly what’s going on.

- Okay, Mr. Sparkle being a popular form of suicide is kinda funny.

- Nothing says good writing like conflict free explanation of what a character is feeling at exactly that moment: "Oh, I don’t mind.  If you think it’s stupid, say it’s stupid."

- Which is followed quickly by "I’m in love, and yet still a little bitter.  It’s surprising."

- Montage!

- They say the first rule of screenwriting is "show, don’t tell".  The post-montage scene is Comic Book Guy and Kumiko telling Marge and Homer that they’re moving in together, which is followed by Marge and Homer in the backyard telling us about a housewarming gift.  They broke it twice in two scenes.  Three more and they get a free Subway sandwich.

- The guy who is obviously Kumiko’s father is here, but Homer told us who he was because otherwise it would’ve been confusing.

- They are really angling for that free sandwich: "So an obese nerd has stolen my daughter to live in his basement?".

- Comic Book Guy is on the couch and straight up telling us who he’s referencing.  I can almost smell the low grade meatballs.

- Now Kumiko’s father is drinking with Homer . . . even though we just saw him walking off screen saying he was going back to Japan with his daughter.  It’s amazing, when they do almost show us something they don’t seem to think it counts.

- And we’re back to montage, though at least this one is kinda pretty in that, "Hey, we’ll animate something in someone else’s style so people will say nice things about us on-line for a change" way.  This is their go to stunt these days.

- And yet they still had Bart and Lisa show up to explain what’s going on in the montage.  Honestly, it’s like a neurosis.

- "Enough non-sense, I came here for my daughter" – who was with you two scenes ago.  How you lost her again will never be explained or even mentioned, but you did have her back not all that long ago.

- And now Kumiko is singing the exposition.

- That’s like ten scenes in a row: "Homer, drinking that rice wine and going to White Castle really opened my eyes."  That punch card has been filled out, free sandwiches for all!

- And because all that exposition didn’t fill up enough time, we’ve got a completely unconnected final scene where Milhouse lays an egg.  A fitting metaphor for this piece of dreck.

Anyway, the ratings are in and, as expected, they crashed back to earth with no football as a lead in.  Just 4.71 million people wondered why they weren’t watching a Miyazaki movie instead on Sunday.  That’s not quite enough to break into the ten least watched all time, but it’s not far off the pace either.  There’s no Zombie Simpsons this Sunday because of football, but non-football-lead-in Zombie Simpsons appears to be just as bad in 2014 as it was in 2013, and 2012, and 2011 . . .

12
Jan
14

Sunday Preview: Married To The Blob

untitled (2)

Homer offers dating advice to Comic Book Guy when he meets a Japanese manga author who catches his fancy.

Oh CBG, how I miss you, and how I loathe what you have become.  From what I’ve read they unfroze Stan Lee to say a few lines, and although that isn’t a new thing for Zombie Simpsons, I think it has at least been a while.

10
Jan
14

Reading Digest: Simpsonized Politicians Edition

Two Bad Neighbors9

“Just gonna relax with my U.S. News and World whatnot.  Ah, good, roasting the new guy.” – Bush the Elder

Before we get to this week’s links, I’d like to show you something that illustrates just how different the attitude of the Zombie Simpsons writing staff is from that of The Simpsons.  Yesterday, Matt Selman, who is the longtime second-in-command at Zombie Simpsons and who’s been running some of his own episodes the last two seasons, tweeted this:

Sell-out Man

Zombie Simpsons has long acted as unpaid advertising for businesses The Simpsons genuinely mocked, but it’s another level of commercial apathy to have one of the head writers take to Twitter and personally help his “pals” at Axe advertise the shitty and laughably stupid perfume they sell to insecure and sexually naive adolescents.  (Selman, by the way, is in his 40s.)  Twitter didn’t exist twenty years ago, but it’s damn hard to imagine the guys who wrote the beer parody ad where dour feminists turn into giddy bikini babes at a splash of Duff personally endorsing Budweiser or Miller Lite in their spare time, much less repeating the ads they mocked so harshly.  That tweet is some shameful shit.

In more pleasant Simpsons news, the big story this week was the release of official pictures of the new Lego Simpsons set.  There were uncountable tweets, blog posts, and articles about this, but there’s only one link below because all of them were just reposting the same pictures and information.  In addition to that, we’ve got two links each this week to people getting themselves Simpsonized and politicians invoking the show to lambaste their enemies.  And in addition to that, we’ve got quite a few excellent fan made drawings, some excellent usage, several people who agree with us, and some real life turnip juice, just like they make in Shelbyville.

The Merciless Peppers of Quetzalacatenango – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this scientist’s discussion of those merciless peppers:

When Homer just barely puts one of these peppers on his tongue, it burns so much he has to find something to drink; beer is at hand, but he doesn’t drink it only dipping his tongue in it to remove the heat (capsaicin is not water soluble, but is in fat, so milk or drinking straight up butter is the way to go, alcohol actually makes it worse),

Say cheese! You’re being Simpsonized – The first of our two Simpsonizing posts this week has the entire process, from sketch to done, of Simpsonizing a picture of two young women.  Looks great.

You Can Add Lego’s Simpson Set To Your Must Have List For 2014 – All New Pics AND A Video! – Lots and lots of pics from the Lego set, including a video of nice Scandinavian people explaining how they were designed.  You can buy it next month for $200 (ouch).

Turn Your Handsome Face into a Simpsons Cartoon – The “Simpsonize Me” site has been dead for a few years now, but you can get yourself done that way for a mere $5 if you’re so inclined.

homer.jpg – Just because it was 15 KBBL degrees below zero on my way to work Tuesday doesn’t mean it isn’t blazing hot on the other side of the planet.  Heh.

How ‘The Simpsons’ Taught ‘Parks and Recreation’ to Create Rich, Memorable Characters – Sadly, this stopped being true about fifteen seasons ago:

The success of the formula boils down to the writer’s diligence for giving each character a specific role to play from episode to episode. Dr. Hibbert is the doctor, and that’s it; we see him every time there’s a storyline related to medicine. Moe is always serving drinks at Moe’s, and Apu is always behind the counter of the Kwik-E-Mart. Similarly, you’ll rarely see Groundskeeper Willie away from Springfield Elementary.

They have turned most of the secondary characters into goo and will mash them willy-nilly into any scene, no matter how out of place they are.

Hank Scorpio – #310/#365 – Somebody slapped a Scorpio sticker on a trash can in Ireland.

The Boy – Cool fan made drawing of a very pissed off Homer.

Bartfink – An awesomely creepy fan made Bart drawing.

Kick-flip Triptych: Rad Dogs. The United Geekdom Geek Dogs Expo. – Fan made drawing of Santa’s Little Helper flipping over a car on a skateboard.  (The Back to the Future one is pretty good, too.)

Ogni volta che un autore spagnolo usa un laismo, in Italia un traduttore muore. – Nelson photoshopped into laughing at the Death of Marat.

The Simpsons – Fan made drawing of the Simpsons swimming.

The Proverbial Skeptic’s 5 Buzzwords to Stop Using in 2014 – Excellent usage:

There is a scene in an old episode of The Simpsons from 1997 which depicts a corporate meeting held to create a new cartoon character (Poochie, who ends up being voiced by Homer). The executives in the meeting keep throwing out buzzwords until a writer, clearly fed up that the conversation is going nowhere, interrupts to say “Excuse me, but ‘proactive’ and ‘paradigm’? Aren’t these just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important? Not that I’m accusing you of anything like that. I’m fired, aren’t I?”

But that was 1997. It’s a new year, and it’s also National Hangover Day, so, as The Proverbial Skeptic, it is only right for me to suggest some resolutions. People don’t say “paradigm” or “proactive” or the all-time classic, “synergy”, anymore.

He keeps on rockin’ and stompin’: Greg Rekus stomps his way to the Park Theatre Wednesday – And excellent reference:

Armed with an acoustic guitar and a tambourine-clad stomp box, Winnipeg musician Greg Rekus often gets the “one-man band” tag, a musical term that, according to The Simpsons, will get you attacked by a monkey.

Go for the face!

Isaac Newton in the Simpsons – Did you forget Isaac Newton’s birthday last week?  I sure did.

Round 46, Part 2: The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star – The winner by default wins again.

THE BEST EPISODE THINGY THERE EVER WAS ROUND 1: When Flanders Failed VS. Homer The Heretic – True:

After dancing around in his underwear, Homer heads to the kitchen for something to eat. What’s he cooking? Comedy gold.

THE BEST EPISODE THINGY THERE EVER WAS ROUND 1: Stark Raving Dad VS. Separate Vocations – This line always gets me:

Marge: Doctor, if you just talk to him for five minutes without mentioning our son Bart, you’d see how sane he is.
Doctor: You mean there really is a  Bart?! Good Lord!

Blurst of times – YouTube of those blurst times.

The Simpsons: The Sixteenth Season – True:

There are a few laughs, but overall the 16th season reminds us just how good we had it during seasons 4-8.

IL Gov. Compares GOP Candidates To The Simpsons’ Mr. Burns – He even got the full name right, calling him “C. Montgomery Burns”.  Well done.

‘The Bart Simpson defence’: Surprising pop culture references in the Dáil and Seanad – Irish politicians like quoting Bart.

Istanbul Grill’s Turn of the Turnip – Excellent reference:

Remember that episode of The Simpsons in which Bart and his pals meet their Shelbyville doppelgangers after the latter steal Springfield‘s hallowed lemon tree? Remember how the episode ended, with Springfield kids quenching their thirst with sweet lemonade, while Shelbyville’s youngsters chugged turnip juice in disgust? And remember how your palate recoiled at the thought of the beverage, even if you had never conceived of it in your life, let alone tasted it? Well, turnip juice has been a Turkish staple for centuries, and you can order a glass of it at Istanbul Grill in Fountain Valley.

Poll: An Affair to Remember – I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that this pretty much sums up my relationship to the Tapped Out game, and I’ve only been playing it for four months:

Longer than the grueling hours it used to take to play Monopoly. Longer than the occasional dalliance with solitaire. Longer than my late night virtual gambling phase with Blackjack and Poker. And longer than any marathon session with Donkey Kong, Solid Snake, or Zelda.

TSTO and I have basically been having an affair for 15 months now – it’s been an illicit affair, one my family and friends don’t quite approve of.

The Liebster Award!!! – Good answer:

5. What is your favorite TV show?

All time? Probably “The Simpsons”. There was a time in my life when a 24-hour all-Simpsons channel would have made perfect sense to me.

An Important Announcement From In 10 Words – This post is actually 130 words, but I’m glad it’ll keep going.

Line(s) of the Day #TheSimpsons – Heh.

‘The Simpsons’: Judd Apatow on playing ‘self-involved’ Judd Apatow – A short interview with Apatow.  No real news, but there wouldn’t be, would there?

The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets by Simon Singh – A book review that agrees with us:

Another fun thing about this book is reminiscing about old Simpsons episodes from my childhood. This book describes different episodes that have secret mathematical equations or anecdotes built-in. When the author describes the episodes and the deeper mathematical meaning, I gain a newfound appreciation for the episode. Nothing beats old Simpsons episodes in my humble opinion, and now I know why – the writers are so smart!

Wendy Wept – This is about the most recent finale of South Park, but it does nicely agree with us:

The show filled a subversive void that The Simpsons had left back in the nineties, when they transitioned from being edgy to over to just plain sad.

True.

09
Jan
14

Compare & Contrast: Federal Hardasses

Homer vs. The 18th Amendment9

“With rum running hoodlums in the catbird seat, Springfield sent for the one man who could clean up the town and shoot the gangsters: Rex Banner.” – Narrator Who Is Not Walter Winchell

These days there are more teevee cop stereotypes than you can shake a nightstick at.  There are the gruff loners who play by their own rules, but they get results, damn it.  There are the emotionally haunted forensics experts.  There are the (always model pretty) lady detectives who are just as tough as the boys.  In the subset of federal teevee cops, we’ve got everything from savvy military investigators and yet more forensic experts to the ever reliable, order barking modern super-agent.  Epitomized by Kiefer Sutherland, he’s tough, he’s ultra-competent, he’s had way too much coffee, and he likes yelling orders into cell phones.  That, in a nutshell, was Will Arnett’s character in “Steal This Episode”.

Set the clock back to a time before cell phones and SWAT teams, and those same upright federal crusaders with haircuts you could set your watch to were still there, they were just less excitable.  In place of Sutherland’s unrestrained id, there was Robert Stack, battling crime week after week in gangster ridden Chicago.  And that, in a similar nutshell, was Dave Thomas’s Rex Banner in “Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment”.

Both characters are hard charging, rule crazy feds, but that’s about where the similarities stop.  Like the Capital City Goofball or Race Banyon before him, Rex Banner is the kind of one-off satirical archetype at which The Simpsons excelled.  His clipped speech and complete lack of humor are instantly recognizable even if you’ve never seen Robert Stack wear a fedora.  The same way that you don’t need to know the name of a single square shouldered astronaut or giant fuzzy mascot to get Banyon and the Goofball, you don’t need to know a single teevee cop to understand that Banner is a ramrod straight G-man from the old school.

Banner’s dialogue matches his posture.  He speaks in short sentences that are nevertheless laced with old time slang worthy of an untouchable 1920s prohi:

“Listen, rummy, I’m gonna say it plain and simple: where’d you pinch the hooch?  Is some blind tiger jerking suds on the side?”

“Open up, curly, this is a raid!”

“Don’t crack wise with me, tubby.”

“It’s not up to us to choose which laws we want to obey.  If it were, I’d kill everyone who looked at me cockeyed.”

There he is, a minor character never to return, who nevertheless becomes a full, if batshit crazy, human in just a few minutes of screen time.

Compare that to the grossly underwritten and underthought agent in “Steal This Episode”.  I’d call him by his name, but they didn’t bother to give him one.  Other characters only address him three times: once as “sir”, once as “hotshot”, and one final time at the end when Lisa just walks up to him in court and starts talking.

Just as damning is the fact that we don’t seem him do much of anything.  He swoops into Homer’s backyard theater, then goes away while the show has Homer escape and Marge repeatedly (like, a lot) feel bad about turning him in.  (Incidentally, Marge didn’t mean to do it, but that kind of story subtlety is instantly lost in the seemingly endless scenes where Homer unknowingly guilts her over and over again.)  The next time we see our federal Javert he’s outside with the lead singer of Judas Priest, then he’s in court, and then he’s done.  The man has no story, no resolution, no nothing.

Worse still are his lines.  There’s no consistency to them.  They’re a mash of the usual Zombie Simpsons expository sitcom banter:

“Men, set your guns on kill.  We’re going after Homer Simpson.”

“Earplugs in, blinders on, we trained for this.” [copious screaming]

“Hollywood may be run by big corporations trying to squash people, but they make movies about people standing up to big corporations trying to squash them, and winning.”

He tells us what we already know, tells us what we’re about to see, and sums up the ending in case the other half-dozen times it was explained to us didn’t take.  These aren’t the words of a hard-ass, take no prisoners federal agent.  They’re the words of a nameless nobody with no core and no character.  He’s on screen, he yells some things (most of which have nothing to do with one another), and then he’s gone.

It’s been a long time since Zombie Simpsons created a character anyone would remember more than an hour after watching the episode, and this nameless Rex Banner wannabe is a perfect illustration of why.  They don’t deal in characters anymore, they deal in props.  The audience for Homer’s movies includes Miss Hoover, Sideshow Mel, the Squeaky Voiced Teen, Chief Wiggum and a bunch of other characters who probably would never have been there in Season 8.  When Superintendent Chalmers gets singled out by Homer, it could’ve been anyone else in the back yard without changing the scene one whit:

Bizarre Town Meeting

Jimbo and Frink have always been best friends.  They have so much in common.

Agent Whathisname is a recognizable archetype that they treat like any other replaceable part.  They don’t give him a story, don’t make him move the main plot (he doesn’t chase Homer to the consulate, the family just goes there and he somehow knows they went), and don’t even bother to give his lines the least bit of personality.

Rex Banner is a precisely distilled take on fictionalized Elliot Ness: body and mind carved out of solid wood.  The other guy, whoever he was, flitted in and out of a few scenes and then vanished, his presence and personality as insubstantial as a wisp.

07
Jan
14

Behind Us Forever: Steal This Episode

Chalkboard - Steal This Episode

“Come on, Milhouse, you have to do this.  If not for yourself, then for the movie going public, and for the foreign markets that more important than ever nowadays, and finally, for me, the Mickster.” – Mickey Rooney
“No.” – Milhouse van Houten
“Alright, I tried.” – Mickey Rooney

I’m on record as saying that the “travel” episodes tend to be the least unwatchable.  They still can’t tell a story for shit, the dialogue remains hamfisted and expository, and nothing makes sense even within individual scenes, but giving them a fresh topic usually does result in a couple of decent laughs.  “Steal This Episode” was basically that, except instead of traveling somewhere, Zombie Simpsons turned its cataract clouded eye towards movie downloading.  It lent itself to some decent jabs at the entertainment industry for a while until, as they always do, things went haywire with prison bus crashes, Swedish consulates, weird courtroom drama, and the almost obligatory crush of self voiced celebrities.  

- This Radioactive Man spoiler thing got tiresome quickly.  It’s fun to make fun of absurd comic movie plot twists and all, but it probably shouldn’t take the first five minutes of the episode to do so.

- “Joke?” on the church sign may be the laziest thing ever put there.  It’s like a script note that never got looked at.

- So, Bart hasn’t seen the movie even though he was sitting at Krusty Burger with Milhouse getting the toy thirty seconds earlier?  I guess they didn’t specifically say he saw it, but they have intra-episode continuity problems so often that they don’t get the benefit of the doubt anymore.

- “Hey, they tricked us, that’s a commercial.”  Just once this season I’d like to get through an episode where what I just saw isn’t explicitly explained to me immediately after.  This is the ninth episode, so there’s probably about thirteen to go.  I don’t like my chances.

- The FOX logo with the NASCAR thing keeping people from finding out how to download stuff was funny.  The callback was weak, but at least it was brief.

- Steady stream of animated misfires was good, too.

- But the FBI angle is getting worn out already.

- The Star Wars crawl was pretty good even if things are starting to spin out of control.

- And the FBI thing has officially disintegrated with earplugs, blinders and all kinds of screaming.  The whole thing is pointless filler.

- “It’s probably someone I would never suspect, never suspect.  Your moans of sympathy are all I have!  Whoever did this to me will be haunted by unbearable guilt forever . . . forever.” – This kind of intentionally silly exposition could be funny if it were a) done better and b) not done every other damn scene.

- Someone thought prisoners talking like entertainment industry insiders was very funny.  You know, up until the pointless bus crash.

- And now we’re at the dinner table for more of Expository Guilt Theater: “I just can’t imagine anyone turning him in.”

- So, why are we in a Swedish consulate?

- “You like this?” – said the audience incredulously

- “Consulate.  Consulate’s are regional offices which serve the embassy in the capital.” <- Filler Sentence That Did Not Need to Be Written, Much Less In the Actual Episode

- Here’s Apatow for some more weak Hollywood insider ranting.

- Wow, they’re throwing celebrity guest voices at us with a remarkable clip.  It’s not funny or anything, but it’s kind of impressive in its own manically sad way.  I suppose it was nice of them to let all these people show up to gently mock their industry even as they promote it and themselves.  

One of the big reasons why the show will never regain even a scrap of its former greatness is the unavoidable repetitiveness of it.  Movie downloading isn’t exactly a fresh topic generally, but it was something mostly new for Zombie Simpsons.  But while it gave them a couple of relatively easy and untouched topics to make fun of, they immediately fell into their familiar pattern of bashing Homer around for no real reason, piling on celebrity voices just because they can, and hanging everything on a frayed string of a story that snapped completely right around the time it was literally thrown under the bus.  So while they got a nice writeup on Torrent Freak and a .gif of Homer yelling at the rude movie patrons was one of the biggest items on Reddit yesterday, no one is going to care about or really remember this episode even a year from now, much less twenty or more.  Like that YouTube picture-a-day takeoff from back in Season 19, one little part might earn some minor internet renown, but the rest of the episode will quickly fade to indistinguishable nothing because it’s a forgettable mess.

Anyway, the ratings are in and they are hugely improved, though it’s a one time only deal that had nothing to do with the episode itself.  FOX had the 49ers-Packers playoff game (Zombie Simpsons started seven minutes late), and that bleed through gave them 12.04 million viewers.  That number will come down on a final revision, but even after that it’s almost certain to be the highest rated episode of the entire season.  Next week, CBS has the late playoff game, and the weekend after that there won’t be a new episode as the respective NFC and AFC championship games start later than usual to get into those sweet, sweet primetime advertising hours.  




E-Mail

deadhomersociety (at) gmail

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Twitter Updates

Useful Legal Tidbit

Even though it’s obvious to anyone with a functional frontal lobe and a shred of morality, we feel the need to include this disclaimer. This website (which openly advocates for the cancellation of a beloved television series) is in no way, shape or form affiliated with the FOX Network, the News Corporation, subsidiaries thereof, or any of Rupert Murdoch’s wives or children. “The Simpsons” is (unfortunately) the intellectual property of FOX. We and our crack team of one (1) lawyer believe that everything on this site falls under the definition of Fair Use and is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. No revenue is generated from this endeavor; we’re here because we love “The Simpsons”. And besides, you can’t like, own a potato, man, it’s one of Mother Earth’s creatures.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 389 other followers