“Aw, cheer up, Lis. You got a good grade without even reading the book. That’s win-win.” – Bart Simpson
“Can’t you see the difference between earning something honestly and getting it by fraud?” – Lisa Simpson
“Hmm, I suppose, maybe . . . if, uh . . . no. No, sorry, I thought I had it there.” – Bart Simpson
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“Aw, cheer up, Lis. You got a good grade without even reading the book. That’s win-win.” – Bart Simpson
“Egad, man! How are we supposed to pass the time?” – C.M. Burns
“Best bet is to stake yourself out a good spot at the starin’ window.” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson
It’s another short Reading Digest this week. As always we’ve got some good stuff, including an insane Lego video, the magical touch of Harry Shearer’s Twitter account, a sexually unusual farm animal, more clothing, and several great pieces of usage, but overall volume remains pretty low. Not sure why. Anyway . . .
Fast Food Formations: Homer Simpson Built From Junk Food – Some crazy geniuses constructed a life size Homer (waist up, anyway) out of things like marshmallows and licorice, and there’s a video of the construction. Excellent.
The Simpsons: 10 Deleted Scenes You Must See – This is one of those annoying pageview whoring things that makes you click for each entry, but they are all deleted scenes from the DVDs, so there’s some good ones. Sadly, no video, though (via @DailySimpsons).
▶ Itchy and Scratchy in STAR GORE – (Lego Simpsons Star Wars) – Lego Star Wars, meets Lego Itchy and Scratchy in this blood soaked YouTube video. I laughed when Scratchy got sucked into the engine on Luke’s speeder. Thanks to reader David for sending this in.
GIF Life Lessons: The Simpsons – Seven Deadly Sins – Pretty much what it says, and only one is from Zombie Simpsons. Personally, I’d have gone with Homer fantasizing about his body in “Duffless”, but that’s just me.
The Simpsons El Barto / Monorail / Pin Pals Badge Set 3 Original Pop Art Pinbacks 90s TV Pins | Picture Blog About Pinback Buttons – Three more. An “El Barto” tag on the monorail is a nice touch.
Homer V. Simpson gets honorary street sign in Madison – This may be the most Wisconsin story you’ll see all day:
Homer Simpson made his mark in Madison long before a character of the same name became a cultural icon on the small screen.
Legend has it that Homer V. Simpson, a prolific gambler, won half of Antler’s Tavern in a poker game and bought the owner out of the second half in 1943. He also bought land around the West Broadway bar, eventually donating some to the city. Simpson Street — which runs parallel to Broadway — was named in his honor.
Everything’s Coming Up Millhouse – Awesome Milhouse van in Sacramento, photographed by a woman wearing her Milhouse t-shirt. So . . . this is what’s it like . . . when doves cry.
On My Wish List: The Simpsons x Hello Kitty – The fashionable clothing has now had some crossovers of its own.
Ireland’s gay bull Benjy saved from slaughterhouse – National – Simon continues his good deeds:
He faced execution for failure to perform. But Benjy, the gay bull of Ireland, has been saved following a worldwide appeal backed by The Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon.
Ireland’s Animal Rights Action Network said Tuesday that Simon is paying for Benjy’s transportation to an animal sanctuary in England.
Every Sideshow Bob Episode Of ‘The Simpsons,’ Ranked – Unsurprisingly, the Zombie Simpsons episodes are all at the bottom. Of course, they’ve crammed him in as a cameo a couple of times now as well, but I don’t think those are on here.
B+ Blogging – Excellent reference:
Due to recent injury to my left pinky finger, typing correctly is currently tricky. If using proper home row typing form, which I insist upon doing to eschew greenhorn-ish hunting/pecking, multiple keys become impossible to type, including one biggie directly preceding “b.” I’ll try to blog without using these letters, much like how Lenny, the Simpsons’ self-described “good work guy,” once begged for continued employment without use of the letter “e.”
Think before you speak (but not too much) – Another excellent reference:
The whole thing reminds me of that episode of The Simpsons where Marge thinks a woman named Becky is trying to steal her family away from her. While driving to the store, Marge laments over the fact that she didn’t use her brilliant comeback of “Shut up, Becky!” when she got the chance. Of course, by the time she gets around to use it, it makes absolutely no sense but in typical Simpsons fashion, it’s still pretty hilarious.
Tee 469 – The Sgt. Pepper’s cast image.
How to Germans Adapt to Watching American Television? – Germans might not like Uter, so in Germany they made him Swiss. I learned something today.
Brush with Greatness: Harry Shearer and Me! – Nothing will improve your standing with your kids like getting a tweet from the voice of Otto and Burns.
“I am not steak. You can’t just order me.”* – A discussion of Mike Nichols movies ends with something that never hurts:
So what to recommend? How about “Lady Bouvier’s Lover” from season five of The Simpsons? Mrs. Bouvier!!
Hello, Grampa, my old friend . . .
New trending GIF tagged the simpsons snow winter… – Homer getting doused in snow in “Mountain of Madness”.
10 Categoric Reasons Why The Simpsons Is Better Than Family Guy – Reader Arvin sends in a pretty good list. “Quotability” alone is probably enough to win this.
This Day in Music History — November 21 – Know your history, kids:
1991 : An animated Aerosmith perform Walk This Way on the “Flaming Moe” episode of The Simpsons. The band is one of the first musical guests on the show.
And Mrs. Krabappel stole Joey’s drumsticks.
“Yeah, I might’ve seen her. It’s hard to tell from this old picture, you know?” – Cabbie
“Well, according to our computer aging program, she should look about twenty-five years older.” – Bill Gannon
“Yeah, I seen her! Uh, that is to say, I saw her.” – Cabbie
“Kids have been doing that one since my day.” – Marge Simpson
Rather than get into the nonsensical pageant of the transmundane that was the last third of “Blazed and Confused”, I’d like to take a look at a small moment from the beginning that illustrates the general shallowness of this episode. Specifically, the way that Bart’s closet/skeleton “prank” fails as both a prank, a joke, and as a part of the rest of the episode, especially when compared with Bart’s similar actions in “The PTA Disbands”.
While the backstories differ considerably, the immediate situation in both episodes is remarkably similar. In each one, the kids have a new teacher about whom they know basically nothing other than, as Bart says, “They’re trying to teach”. Also in each, Bart has prepared an elaborate booby trap to welcome the newly unfortunate teacher. This is where the two episodes diverge.
In “Blazed and Confused”, Bart has hidden a remote control car and a skeleton in the closet at the back of the room. His plan is to bump the car into the door a couple of times to get the teacher to investigate; when the door is opened, the skeleton drops from the ceiling, presumably frightening the teacher.
This is, to put it mildly, a very pedestrian prank. It wouldn’t be all that hard to set up in real life. Unless the person involved was very high strung or this was being done late at night on Halloween or something, it probably wouldn’t frighten anyone so much as briefly puzzle them. For proof, look no further than “Bart Carney”, which did the exact same thing as an example of something that was indefensibly lame.
“That was just confusing.”
To be fair to Zombie Simpsons, upon seeing Bart’s hapless skeleton trick, Milhouse says that it’s only kinda scary. So they’re aware that this is not one of Bart’s masterpieces. But they still have him go through with it, thinking it’ll work. It’s Bart doing what so many characters do in Zombie Simpsons: act contrary to who he is. Similarly, later in the episode, Marge will blindly trust Homer to do something that the Marge of Season 6 would never blindly trust Homer to do. The situations and story requirements are so dumb that they require the characters to act like lifeless versions of themselves just to get from scene to scene.
Bart’s prank, which they show us twice, is something the Bart of “The PTA Disbands” would scoff at. He’s the kid who hung a giant log from the ceiling to smash some unsuspecting teacher back into the blackboard. It would probably be fatal in real life, but that doesn’t matter because this is a cartoon and nothing bad actually happens. Bart leaps to his mother’s rescue, and she, having nearly just killed, fondly intones that kids have been attacking their teachers Ewok-style since she was in school.
This is one of those multi-layer jokes that made this show so damned funny. There’s 1) the over the top violence of it, 2) the fact that little 10-year-olds are vicious enough to plan it, 3) that 10-year-olds have always been doing that, and 4) that all of this is considered so normal that nobody is even upset. And none of that even takes in the context: Bart having to be reminded of them by Milhouse, the list of already dispatched teachers, and Bart suffering the beginnings of the perpetual embarrassment of being one of his earnestly uncool mother’s students.
And Milhouse didn’t even have to stick his nose through the hole.
The blackboard shattering impact of the log isn’t any kind of stand alone joke or punchline. It’s a fast and necessary part of a complete scene where each element complements and exaggerates every other. The last line before it comes crashing down is Milhouse’s, “I meant the other bobby trap!”, a statement that wouldn’t make sense if we hadn’t already seen Bart brush the thumb tack off Marge’s chair, or rush up there in a panic, or the rest of the scene that explains what they’re doing.
By contrast, the last line before Season 26 Bart starts his effort at teacher warfare, is Bart saying, “I will not. Anything to delay a spelling test”. What spelling test? What is Bart hoping this hapless thing he once saw in a broken down carnival ride is going to accomplish? Cause this guy to run off screaming? Prime him for the most traumatic hose soaking of his life? We sure don’t know. He’s trying to get out of something the audience neither knows nor cares about, and what he’s doing wouldn’t work anyway. In and of itself, the prank is dumber and weaker, and outside of that it dangles (literally) in the middle of the scene with hardly a connection to outside events.
You can see this same isolation and lack of connection throughout “Blazed and Confused”. The scene where Jason shows up to murder the park ranger was just a random thing dropped into the middle of the episode. There are literally no characters at “Blazing Guy” other than Lassen. Everyone else in attendance is just a one note blip, on and off the screen for whatever reason they happened to be there. Lassen introducing himself in Skinner’s office hardly needed to be there. And, given that his face cutting was probably the creepiest thing he did, the episode likely would’ve been better off without that entire scene.
Zombie Simpsons never bothers to weave a joke or a scene together with everything else. They just stack a few things up and hope a couple of them land. And if Bart’s prank doesn’t work, who cares? Maybe the next thing will. The Simpsons didn’t do that. It made each part of the script, down to individual lines and words, aspects of a coherent whole that builds on itself. That intrinsic context and support can make a murderous “prank” hilarious, just as not having context and support can drain the fun from great ideas, and leave bad ones hanging lifelessly from a thread.
“The torch has been passed to a new generation of, uh, snow plow people. . . . Come on, gimme the key . . . these look like teeth marks.” – Mayor Quimby
“I thought there was chocolate inside. . . . Well, why was it wrapped in foil?” – Homer Simpson
“It was never wrapped in foil!” – Mayor Quimby