“Mom, there’s nothing to be alarmed about . . . but could you take one last look at the family and join me in the kitchen?” – Homer Simpson
Happy birthday Richard Appel!
“Take out wrenched ankle . . . Mom! Mom! Moooom!” – Homer Simpson
This week there are two examples of stunningly terrible merchandise, a Simpsons themed Operation game, and some USB flash drives that are so hideous that they might actually be knockoffs (official merchandise is often so terrible that it can be hard to tell the difference). In addition to that, there’s a lot of usage, only a one Olympics link, a revival of the “Black Bart” t-shirt, and a couple of people who agree with us.
[Programming Note the First: Due to schedule conflicts, there will be no Crazy Noises next week. However, since we’ve arrived at the heart of darkness of Season 11, I am planning to do Compare & Contrast posts on both the death of Maude Flanders and the jockey elves.]
[Programming Note the Second: After last week’s little setback, Box Score Cinema will return to the new site this afternoon at 4pm with Total Recall 2: Recall Harder.]
100 Simpsons Quotes, In Order Of Importance – This was making the rounds on Twitter earlier this week, and is indeed very impressive. Many of the quotes are off, but that’s okay. There are a lot of them, and there’s nary a Zombie Simpsons cut to offend the eye.
MCB REMAKES: Simpsons – Bart vs. The Space Mutants Remake (NES) – Reader DDCecil sent this one in, and as the link is in Spanish, I’ll let him explain:
An online friend of mine, Macbee from Brazil, has been taking old Nintendo title screens based on licenses, and updating them to look like their real life counterparts. Here’s one for The Simpsons: Bart vs the Space Mutants
It’s dead on. I love the internet.
Intro to TV Culture – This segues into YouTube from the box factory:
I can watch The Simpsons with my seven-year-old nephew and my dear old, highbrow dad. I really can’t praise The Simpsons highly enough, and I’ll cut myself off here before I start an essay on the cleverness of the writers, and the boundary pushing, and even the artwork, and the….
It is good beyond words, nothing more need be said.
Mishka ‘Gold Digger Black Bart Simpson’ Tee Shirt ft Kanye West – The return of Black Bart on a t-shirt almost had to involve Kanye West, didn’t it?
Tea with Chris: ‘Is Your Hate Pure?’ – I know that I’m hardly unbiased, and that I sound like a broken record when I say it, but The Simpsons really doesn’t get enough credit for being way ahead of the curve on gay acceptance:
Being a member of the cohort that learned about queerness from John Waters’ Simpsons cameo, this was the second thing: “Friends? Ha! These are my only friends: Grown-up nerds like Gore Vidal. And even he’s kissed more boys than I ever will.”
TV Seasons by Quality – Celebrity Pictures, Lol Celebs and Funny Actor and Actress Photos – This got linked in a few places this week. Without commenting on their evaluations of other shows, the high plateau for The Simpsons doesn’t last nearly long enough, and Zombie Simpsons is severely overrated.
Simpsons1: Maggie Simpson Cubee by ~TheFlyingDachshund on deviantART – Pretty much what it says. Print it, cut it, fold it, and you’re done.
Buy Operation Simpsons – Major Krusty Brand Seal of Approval on this one. It’s $50(!), for a shitty game where you get electrical shocks, but the cover image is actually kinda funny.
vw online shop – Awful looking cartoon character USB thumb drives, including a cross eyed Maggie, a Krusty who looks like he’s got Stage 3 cancer, and a way off color Marge.
Simpsons – Australia & Beer – A screen grab collection of Marge’s attempt to order coffee in Australia.
Ryan Lochte…In 10 Words – Our national supply of mutant swimmers is apparently inexhaustible.
Dressage…In 10 Words – He’s certainly tamed that horse, but what man could tame him?
A 10 Word Tribute to Gore Vidal – Thanks go to our old friend John Hugar for pointing this out on Twitter, but even though Vidal did a guest voice on Zombie Simpsons, the quick mention of him in “Summer of 4 Ft 2” (and “Krusty Gets Busted”) was invoked many, many, many more times this week. Guest voice on Zombie Simpsons? Nobody cares. Mentioned on The Simpsons? People will remember after you’re dead.
Mark Finds the Final Witness’ Donnah Winger Murder Funny? – Yeah, it’s funny:
The story unfolds gradually along with the audience being informed of Mark’s background, including his job and the location in which he lived.
My Mark says, “You’ve got to be kidding me. He’s a Safety Inspector at the nuclear plant living in Springfield? If his name was Homer it would be perfect.”
Getting Educated – A rather heartwarming tale of a kid impressing the hell out of his classmates with dead on Simpsons knowledge.
Saturday AM – Homer abed in “Homer the Heretic”. We’ve all been there, but sooner or later everyone’s bladder betrays them.
Living Off the Game Grid – Cool:
The pre-show for “TRON” (Steven Lisberger, 1982) is no exception. Two video clips caught my eye in particular: “Homer3,” from The Simpsons’ “Treehouse of Horror VI” (1995), and “Scooter Computer and Mr. Chips” from “Schoolhouse Rock!” (1982-1984). On the run from Patty and Selma Bouvier (Julie Kavner), Homer flees into a mysterious land through a portal behind a bookcase where he is transformed into a 3D computer-generated character. Homer describes the world he has entered as looking like something from “TRON,” to which the majority of Springfield’s citizens, gathered in the Simpson living room, admit to never having seen. Chief Wiggum (Hank Azaria), who at first confesses that he has watched “TRON,” sheepishly recants.
Edna Krabappel vs Marge Simpson by ~jobberman214 on deviantART – I bet when you got up this morning you didn’t think you’d see a cartoon of Marge and Edna drawn as professional wrestlers, did you?
Homer eats all but the final bite, realizing that finishing it would seal the pact. Later that night, however, he inadvertently eats the last piece as a midnight snack. When devil reappears to claim his due, Homer’s wife, Marge, eventually stops Satan by pointing out that Homer pledged his soul to her years ago on their wedding day, thereby rendering the contract with the devil invalid.
"Marge says ‘I own Homer’s soul. He can’t give it away.’ And so the devil concedes," said University of Virginia law professor John Setear. "The devil is [Homer’s evangelical neighbor] Ned Flanders, by the way."
Homer Simpson was right! – Excellent usage:
“Everyone knows rock attained perfection in 1974, it’s a scientific fact.”
– Homer Simpson
Everyone of a certain age is going to be nostalgic for the music of their youth. But even so, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that mainstream pop and rock has devolved significantly in the past 20-30 years.
Should We Embrace Our Vegetarian Past? – More excellent usage:
In a classic episode of The Simpsons titled “Lisa the Vegetarian,” Lisa Simpson has an argument with her father, Homer, over why he insists on serving meat at a party. Homer, rarely known for his intelligent retorts, responds in the following fashion, and coins a catchphrase in the process:
Lisa: Dad! Can’t you have some other type of party, one where you don’t serve meat?
Homer: “All normal people love meat. If I went to a barbeque and there was no meat, I would say ‘Yo Goober! Where’s the meat!?’. I’m trying to impress people here Lisa. You don’t win friends with salad.”
Mmmm Donuts – It’s a Pokemon joke and it’s dumb, but still.
Wi-Fi local to where I am. Cool idea, or the first step in a federal agent getting fired? – My next WiFi network will be named “Flowers By Irene”.
The Simpsons Arcade Game – A video game review that agrees with us:
Out of the character/show/cartoon/comic book themed beat ‘em up games The Simpsons is definitely one of my faves, even though I no longer watch the show anymore.
Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012) (& The Longest Daycare) – I wholly agree with this:
Since it precedes a kids’ movie, The Longest Daycare is more family friendly than your average episode of The Simpsons (thought the Ayn Rand jokes are sure to soar over the heads of the wee ones). It is pretty funny though and strengthens my arguments for more cartoons before movies.
Hear that, studios? More cartoons before movies, please.
Cry me a river!: Tim’s top five tear jerkers – Among some other pop culture greats is “And Maggie Makes Three”.
We saw a grackle! – Someone actually did:
Not that grackles are at all uncommon, but every time I see one, I laugh and think of The Simpsons.
Good Show! (Or, What’s Wrong With The Simpsons) – And finally, I get to end the way I prefer, with someone that agrees with us:
Perhaps it’s best encapsulated in this quote by Lisa Simpson back in Season 2:
I heard you last night, Bart. You prayed for this. Now your prayers have been answered. I’m no theologian. I don’t know who or what God is exactly. All I know is he’s a force more powerful than Mom and Dad put together and you owe him big.
Would you ever hear that from Lisa in one of the later seasons? You would not. Why? Because Lisa has moved from being a brilliantly smart little girl to a pointy-haired midget channeling the whiny liberal indignation of Bill Maher.
Is there anything wrong with Lisa as she is today? Not really, no. If that’s who her character is, then that’s who her character is- only the hitch here is that’s not who Lisa started off as.
Perfectly quoted, and dead on.
Give Lady Gaga credit, she’s so popular right now that a little thing like Zombie Simpsons releasing a picture and short clip of her doing a guest voice for an episode that doesn’t even air for a week and a half caused a minor internet conniption. I’ve been expecting the Gaga explosion since last year when her guest spot was first announced, but even I didn’t think it’d start the week before the episode. It’s impressive, though next week when the full grown hysteria hits I’ll be lucky to find five links that aren’t about her.
Anyway, none of those Gaga links are below because they’re all just the same thing, and I feel no need to jump ahead and start letting next week’s Zombie Simpsons bother me before I get through with this week’s. Speaking of which, among the links we do have is a sad preview of Sunday’s episode from our old friend Lenny. On top of that, there’s a couple of people who agree with us, a kick ass Chicago punk band, a couple of Mother’s Day lists, some fan made stuff (including a cool Diablo 3 picture), a child star of the 1990s, two lists that brush against Zombie Simpsons without venturing too deep, and the people of New Zealand indirectly rebuking Zombie Simpsons.
Rising Stars of Geek Rock III: Hired Goons – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this post about a Chicago band called Hired Goons. There’s YouTube of one of their songs, “Stupid Sexy Flanders”, cover art from their album “Bigger Than Jebus” and lots of background about how they combine The Simpsons and The Ramones. Their other album is called “Everything’s Coming Up Milhouse”. Sweet.
The Simpsons Breaking Bad Mashup Makes Me Miss The Simpsons – A long, praise filled rant for our favorite show, and it agrees with us:
I don’t tape The Simpsons anymore, or rather I DVR it and immediately delete it. I stopped buying the DVDs and I sold the toys. I will watch it limp along to a landmark 25 seasons and then I kind of hope it stops.
The Simpsons at 500: your favourites – The 500th episode was finally broadcast in New Zealand, which prompted a website to ask people for their favorite moments and episodes. I didn’t read all the comments, but, as you’d expect, the overwhelming majority of favorites are from the before time, the long long ago.
Simply Cakes Melbourne: Homer Simpson and Marge Simpson Cupcakes set – Awesome professionally made cupcakes for a couple’s 10th wedding anniversary.
An Open Letter to Adele – If you are old enough to remember the 1990s, then you probably remember Mara Wilson, even if the name isn’t familiar. She was the cute little girl in Mrs. Doubtfire, Matilda, and that remake of Miracle on 34th Street. Well, she’s got a blog now, and she quoted an episode that first aired when she was about three years old, so good on her:
You have managed to capture the feeling of utter hopelessness perfectly. It has been said, by the late Bleeding Gums Murphy, that “Jazz isn’t about making yourself feel better; it’s about making other people feel worse – and making a few bucks while you’re at it!
She fumbles the first part of the quote, it’s actually “The blues isn’t about feeling better”, but she’s got the rest dead on, and anyone who had to deal with Robin Williams at the tender age of six deserves some slack, so it’s still excellent usage. (Thanks to reader Chase for sending this one in.)
Top 25 Episodes of The Simpsons: Part 1 – #26-20 . . .
Top 25 Episodes of The Simpsons (Parts 2,3 & 4) . . . and #19-1. This list has more Season 11/12/13/14 than I’d like, but it doesn’t have anything past that.
HOMER – Fan made, computer drawn Homer. This is basically accurate:
Homer looks high. And for whatever reason, one eye is swollen. Not sure what happened here.
As Ned Flanders would say, education in the U.S. is in “a dilly of a pickle.” At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the cost of education has become unsustainable.
Not only is this perfectly quoted, but it’s also from when Ned was trying to mediate the fight over school funding in “The PTA Disbands”. Well done.
5 Awesome and 5 Terrible Moms of Nerd-Dom – Marge makes the “Awesome” list at #1, and Mom from Futurama is on the “Terrible” one.
Woolly Mammoth hosts Simpsons-themed trivia – The post-apocalyptic Simpsons play that’s opening in D.C. soon is holding a series of Simpsons trivia nights in local bars as a promotional gimmick:
The specially-themed games will take place from May 21-31 at various destinations, which means you’ll have the opportunity to show off your smarts whether you live in Silver Spring (Fire Station 1) or along H Street (Star and Shamrock), in Fairfax (P. J. Skidoos) or Georgetown (Old Glory). And while a bar tab is nice, these quiz nights promise an extra special prize — tickets to the show.
A list of dates and participating bars can be found here. There are a lot of them, so if you’re anywhere in or around Washington, it looks like you’ll be covered.
The Avengers…In 10 Words – Heh, well done.
"Stopping" For Art – A little Bart themed alteration to an Atlanta area stop sign.
Homer’s Escape – Animated .gif of Homer fleeing the candy conventioneers.
Accidental Brilliance – Using “The Crepes of Wrath” to help ESL students learn to write English as well as they speak it. Bravo.
Sermon: “Ralph Wiggum Apocalypse!” – The first draft of some preacher’s sermon is about the “Ralph Wiggum Apocalypse”. Click through for a picture of the excellent sign.
Appointment Viewing: May 7-May 13. – Lenny reminds us that Sunday will be here sooner than we think:
8:00 – The Simpsons (Fox): When word gets out that Edna and Ned have secretly wed, Marge offers to throw them a party. But bringing folks together makes them all realize that no marriage is perfect. Meanwhile, Edna tries to help Ned’s children become more socially acceptable by changing some of the rules. Screw the advisory board, Edna, I said no sugar!
Oh goody, an episode with lots of pointless, fake character development.
The Ten Best Simpsons Sports Episodes – This list is mostly non-Zombie Simpsons, though there’s a few episodes from the twilight of the show.
Simpsons Sums Up: 90210 – Nits must be picked, Lisa actually says “never be anything more”, but other than that it’s dead on.
Pikachomer – A picture of what looks like socks with a very odd pop culture mashup.
Day 08: 10 Things We Don’t Know About You – I’m just going to assume he’s not referring to Zombie Simpsons here, because that way I can completely agree with him:
Out of anything in the world, The Simpsons is the only thing that I can enjoy from A-Z/1-100/all the way through. There’s something so pleasant and wonderful about The Simpsons and it’s not just the simplicity that it’s a television show that rarely repeats itself. It’s the fact that the writing is so great. Each time you watch it, you tend to see something new that you hadn’t seen before, you’ll understand a new joke or you’ll laugh at something you’ve never laughed at before.
Matt Groening Original Marge Simpson Cartoon Drawing – This is an auction for a sketch Groening did of Marge. I like the marketing chutzpah of this description:
A minimalist original drawing of the head and shoulders of Marge Simpson.
It’s not a quick sketch, it’s a “minimalist original drawing”. The “current bid” is £150.00. Good luck with that.
SideShow Bob – TrueArtist Photo (30672728) – A fan made minimalist original drawing of a maniacal looking Sideshow Bob.
10 Great TV Moms – These sorts of lists are pretty common around Mother’s Day, but this one stands out for including not only Marge, but Morticia Addams as well.
Damned Yankees – The New York Yankees have been somewhat bitten by the injury bug this year, prompting excellent usage:
Somehow, Mr. Burns’s speech in “Homer At The Bat” keeps resonating this week:
“Three misfortunes, that’s possible. Seven misfortunes, there’s an outside chance. But nine misfortunes? I’d like to see that!”
Everybody hates the euro. Sorta. – More excellent usage:
"He slept, he stole, he was rude to the customers. Still, there goes the best damned employee a convenience store ever had."
The euro’s "strength" is all relative. It may just be the cream of a sorry crop of currencies.
The Simpsons As Diablo 3 Characters – Fan made drawing of the family as classes from Diablo 3. Homer’s tattoos are pretty good.
My 2012 Season Finale Predictions, 100% Accurate on Some Alternate Earth – And finally, someone who agrees with us from the future:
The Simpsons: Absolutely nothing of consequence occurs, except maybe another great couch gag by outside artists. My vote is for Studio Ghibli.
“Simpson, stop frolicking and get to work!” – Mr. Smithers
“Right away, Mr. Smithers, I’ll just walk across these slippery rocks . . .” – Homer Simpson
Near the end of “The Man in the Blue Flannel Pants” a man on a jet ski appears from the sky just before a raft with several able bodied men plunges over a waterfall because another able bodied man wouldn’t push them slightly to shore. At that point, Zombie Simpsons could safely assume that its audience was completely numb to plot whiplash. I certainly thought I was. Then Homer, who less than a minute before had possessed the power to swim away from the falls while pushing a raft, fell back into the river and went over the falls by himself. My whiplash came back.
That was the end of the A-plot. There was also briefly a B-plot, but Zombie Simpsons dropped it completely after only its third scene. Maybe that was for the best, because it was bizarre enough already with Bart and the bullies (who are apparently bullies again) suddenly finding their love of Little Women, especially since the whole thing was a repeat of a much better joke from “Homer Loves Flanders”.
On the plus side, John Slattery was there, and since he’s not quite famous enough to play himself they had him play a role virtually identical to the one he plays on Mad Men. I thought he had a couple of decent lines, though there was an awful lot of crap around them (Lenny and Carl at the diner was a particular lowlight). Of course, he’s a lot funnier on Mad Men than he was on Zombie Simpsons, but that’s hardly his fault.
Anyway, the numbers are in and they are sinking to depths Madison Avenue wouldn’t even consider. Just 5.61 million people reached for bourbon last night, that’s the lowest ever for the fall half of the season, the fifth lowest in the history of the show, and so bad that it’s brought the Season 23 average down to just 6.98 million. Season 22’s average, the lowest in history, was 7.10. If they stopped showing new episodes right now, Season 23 would already be the least watched ever, and the lowest rated part of the schedule is still to come. I hope they have a good accounts man.
“Are you sure this is the woman you saw in the post office?” – Joe Friday
“Absolutely. Who could forget such a monstrous visage? She has the sloping brow and cranial bumpage of the career criminal.” – C.M. Burns
“Uh, sir, phrenology was dismissed as quackery a hundred-sixty years ago.” – Mr. Smithers
“Of course you’d say that, you have the brainpan of stage coach tilter.” – C.M. Burns
Happy birthday Richard Appel!
“Excuse me, sir, I think there’s been a mistake.” – Marge Simpson
“Oh no, no mistake. Your electricity’s in the name of Homer J. Simpson, deceased. The juice stays off ’til you get a job or a generator . . . oh and, uh, my deepest sympathies.” – Sympathetic Utility Guy
“This is so weird, it’s like something out of Dickens, or Melrose Place.” – Lisa Simpson
A little while back, Dave, Mad Jon, Bob Mackey and I chatted about that most infamous of Season 9 episodes, “The Principal and the Pauper”. Mackey had me stumped in several places because he, unlike the rest of us, had listened to the DVD commentary. The very short version of all that was that Ken Keeler, who wrote the episode and has since gone on to a long and gloriously funny career at Futurama, had defended it in ways Mackey more or less agreed with. I finally got around to listening to that commentary.
Keeler’s defense of his episode breaks down into two related parts. First, he thinks his point was missed. He was trying to satirize the audience of the show for being irrationally committed to what they already knew and too resistant to change. Second, he thinks fans take too much to heart in general, and that as a result they were overly harsh to an episode that had a lot going on besides its unorthodox plot.
Before we get to that though, it’s worth remembering that Keeler is one of the good guys and deserves a very big benefit of the doubt. In addition to being on The Simpsons for its last really good years, he wrote for The Critic, and he’s done a lot of Futurama. The man can write, and I enjoy a lot of his work.
It’s also worth pointing out that this commentary, unlike so many of a more recent vintage, doesn’t shy away from talking about the episode itself. Keeler is joined by Josh Weinstein and Bill Oakley, and while the latter two are far less defensive, all three are willing to acknowledge that things don’t always turn out quite right. (Steven Dean Moore is there too, but he mostly stays out of it.) Many Zombie Simpsons commentaries are just a bunch of people hanging out with the television on in the background, this is actually substantive. From a fan point of view, having pertinent commentary, even if I don’t agree with it, is far more informative and entertaining. So, have we all been unjustly maligning “The Principal and the Pauper” all these years? Does either or both of Keeler’s defenses hold up?
Ken Keeler surveys fans of “The Simpsons” in an undated photograph.
Point the First: The Audience Missed the Point – On the commentary track, Keeler himself acknowledges that his attempt to satirize the audience itself was harder to understand than it should’ve been because two speeches that explained what was happening ended up being cut for time. He dismisses this, and says that even without those we still should’ve been able to see what he was doing. I don’t know what was in those two cut speeches, but sending up the audience isn’t something I see in this episode. Even watching it after I heard the commentary and knew what to look for, it just isn’t something the episode does.
There’s nary a moment of self satire or recognition in “The Principal and the Pauper”. There isn’t even something akin to Lisa’s Dickens/“Melrose Place” meta-joke from “Mother Simpson”. Quite the opposite, not only does the episode not wink at itself, it treats its interminable retconning with relentless seriousness. To take only the biggest example, the nearly four minutes of flashbacks it uses to get from Skinner/Tamzarian’s infamous line “My real name is Armin Tamzarian” back to the present are light on the jokes and heavy on improbable plot twists. Even having seen it several times, it’s awfully hard to detect a whiff of self awareness among all that backstory offal, much less a meta-point about television audiences.
Further undermining Keeler’s defense is “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show”, which they mention as having a similar concept in the commentary. (Though broadcast the season before, the two are actually part of the same production run.) At numerous times throughout the episode, from the focus group, to Roy, to the very end when Bart and Lisa change the channel, it’s crystal clear that the episode is at least somewhat aimed at the audience. There’s never any doubt that the show understands the terribleness of Poochie and is using it deliberately, not so for Tamzarian. Keeler is certainly right that his point was missed, but even knowing what he was going for I still don’t see it in the episode itself.
“That’s not a funny story.” – Marge Simpson
Point the Second: Fans Take Fictional Characters Too Seriously – This one is a bit more complicated, because on some level it’s true. People get invested in characters, even animated ones, the same way they get invested in real people. Hell, that’s almost the point of well crafted fictional characters, to trigger that sense of human recognition deep within the brain even as the audience knows on a surface level that everyone is just pretending. When something, radical plot twists included, disturbs that rather pleasant illusion, it can make people cranky.
Keeler mentions numerous times that he didn’t realize how very attached to the characters the fans had become. He was surprised at how much emotion people had invested in Principal Skinner. Ultimately, he finds that level of attachment silly, and thinks part of the negative reaction was just people being unable to take a joke.
Now, I have no way of knowing what specific porly splled and/or ALL CAPS rants Keeler read on-line. (It’s also worth pointing out, yet again, that the internet is a much different place now than it was back in 1997. They mention this explicitly on the commentary.) But people’s feelings about Skinner have never been the big problem with this episode. Don’t get me wrong, the idea that Skinner has been an imposter all this time is certainly off putting and attracts a lot of derision, but the general inertia and resistance to change of the audience isn’t the main reason Skinner’s secret history fell flat.
The main problem is that the episode has so many convoluted and improbable plot twists that is has to spend an enormous amount of screen time explaining and justifying things. Remember, Skinner goes through two enormous changes here, not just one, and taking the audience through those step by step means that there’s very little room left for comedy. Just because “Fraudulent Skinner” has a higher degree of difficulty than “Krusty Retires” or “Flanders Snaps” doesn’t mean the concept is fatally flawed. But if you can’t do it without subsuming the episode in awkward tension and out of character flights of fancy, then maybe you shouldn’t have done it at all. The two cut speeches Keeler mentions got cut for a reason: there was hardly any time left once they got done lurching through all the exposition.
Ultimately, the answer to the question of whether or not the fans have been unduly harsh toward “The Principal and the Pauper” is, “Sort of, but not really”. Yes, a great deal of the vitriol hurled on-line was probably over the top and dumb. And yes, people get overly attached to what are ultimately figments of other people’s imaginations. However, if great swaths of your script are tedious exchanges of the “I’m your real son/touching Vietnam flashback/come back all is forgiven” variety, you may have bitten off more than anyone could chew in twenty-two minutes of television.
Now let us never speak of this again.
“You were a rotten wife and I’ll never, ever forgive you! . . . Can we have sex, please?” – Abe “Grandpa” Simpson
“Oh, Abe.” – Mona Simpson
“Well, I tried. What’s for supper?” – Abe “Grandpa” Simpson
There’s even less rhyme and reason than usual to this week’s stochastic smorgasbord of Simpsons links. But there are two unrelated links that mention “Mother Simpson” so that gets to be the title. Other than those there’s some nervousness about pronunciation, some fun YouTube, a jerk who doesn’t like Zombie Simpsons but also seems to not like The Simpsons, someone who agrees with us, two links to people who found a little Simpsons joy in their days, and a bunch of usage.
Author Mona Simpson reads from newest novel on campus – File this under interesting trivia:
Mona Simpson can boast of having a television show character named after her (Homer Simpson’s mother), courtesy of ex-husband Richard Appel, a writer for “The Simpsons.” She is currently the Sadie Samuelson Levy Professor in Languages and Literature at Bard College.
Maybe everyone else already knew that, but I sure didn’t.
Words pronounced incorrectly by me – One of the joys of text is that you don’t need to worry about stressed syllables and all that other bullshit. Sadly, sometimes we must speak with people:
Do you ever find yourself reading aloud or speaking in public when, to your horror, you come across a word you don’t know how to pronounce? Especially one that you’ve read in your mind as a written word all the time, but you’ve never heard it spoken out loud?
I was doing fine with "oregano" until Marge Simpson pronounced it o-re-GAH-no. Now I’m always afraid that pronunciation will escape my lips before the proper one.
As for me, my parents never bought me that pony I was always asking for and so I never learned proper pronunciation.
How to Use The Simpsons to Enhance your Lessons – A rather skeletal guide for teachers on how to use the show.
How to Speak Like Homer Simpson! – This is a YouTube video of a slightly hyper youngster doing a Homer voice (amongst others). His Homer’s pretty good.
The Real Marge Simpson – It’s a real life Marge Simpson on the train. (Also, nice WordPress theme.)
The Will to Resist – This person lives in Los Angeles without a car. Lisa’s struggle against the overwhelming pressure to eat meat springs to mind. The actual quote is “I can’t fight it anymore!” but this still qualifies as decent usage for being very applicable.
Marge Simpson is Britain’s favourite TV mother – It’s time for another cheap, holiday tie in. At least Marge won.
Let’s use the water we have – This is an article about the stupidity of modern water usage. It begins:
On a camping and rafting expedition gone haywire, Homer Simpson, Flanders and Bart were stranded at sea with only one canteen of water. Unfortunately, Homer used the water to wash his socks. San Diego’s use of water is similarly inefficient.
Griffey Junior still swinging for the fences, but with more comedy – All these years later no one can escape the Simpsons vortex:
"[Shoot], I must have done 2,000 takes when I did my lines, I was so nervous," Griffey said of the classic episode from — gasp! — 18 years ago.
I think we can safely presume “shit” at the beginning there. I’m pretty sure Griffey is the only player still playing from “Homer at the Bat”. Hell, Mike Scioscia has been managing for a decade and Daryl Strawberry isn’t even in rehab anymore. Speaking of Straw . . .
Strawberry takes a swing at ‘Apprentice’ – He’ll be on the latest season of Donald Trump’s ongoing vanity project.
MetroRail Good to Go – Austin, Texas gets light rail, and a YouTube of the monorail song to boot.
Red Carded – This is about wineries giving warning cards, a la soccer, to rowdy tasters. It concludes thusly:
My limited understanding of soccer is that one red card equal automatic expulsion. I have already accumulated multiple red cards in both Sonoma and Napa counties. I face ejection from my both my own and adjoining cities. I’m reminded of Marge Simpson lamenting to Homer, “Oh Homer, we’re the worst family in the neighborhood.” He brightly replies, “Maybe we should move to a larger community, dear.”
He’s got his Simpsons backwards there, it actually goes:
Homer: I’m sorry, Marge. But sometimes I think we’re the worst family in town.
Marge: Maybe we should move to a larger community.
Still, that’s very applicable, relatively well remembered, and I’m a sucker for anyone who quotes Season 1 so I’ll call that good usage.
Time Change This Weekend – Even by my standards this is tangential, but this guy did put up a picture of a Homer clock and tagged this post “the simpsons”, so it’s fair game. Behold stupidity:
Honestly, I don’t understand why we “spring forward” so freakin’ early, now. I thought the whole idea was to have more sunlight when we’re doing things outside after work and school. Ok, it’s kinda nice now, but this is Michigan. I don’t know about you, but…I don’t get out in my yard much until it’s well north of 65. And I think I’d rather have the light in the morning when kids are walking to school. They still do that, don’t they? Hey, if the budget crunch gets any worse, they ALL will be. Well, anyway, remember to set your clock FORWARD on Saturday night. And if you have any idea how to work the clock in my truck, then come up here and set it for me. Otherwise, it’ll just be an hour off until we fall back.
I generally try to be subtle about the hundreds of radical right wing messages I insert into every post here, but the rant above is a disgrace that deserves to be called out. (Granted I don’t know this guy’s politics, but I can tell my own kind, and he 1) works for a country music station, 2) refers to his car as a “truck”, and 3) complains about the budget.) We move the clocks “so freakin’ early” now because America’s Most Underrated President, our dearly missed Glorious Leader, decided it should be so back in 2005. Have you forgotten already? He did this because he had the moral fortitude to trust his gut that it would save energy despite there being only mixed “evidence” in support of that contention. Now get out of my office.
…and now for something completely different! – Double your YouTube pleasure here, with a quick clip from “So It’s Come to This” and the argument sketch from Monty Python. (A lot of the old Flying Circus stuff hasn’t aged well, but that one’s still hilarious.)
Look Ma no Job, but at least I still got hands! – Life changes are always best accompanied by Kang quotes. Excellent usage.
“Its Over, Get a New Show” – Can I agree with part of what someone says and still think they’ve got their head up their ass in general? Yes, yes I can.
Josh’s Little Moment of Win – Proof that The Simpsons is still relevant despite what the asshat in the previous link thinks:
I was putting Simpson stamps on the envelopes of bills I was preparing to mail. When I finished, I noticed that I had put a stamp of Homer belching on the envelope for the gas company. IMMD
At least it wasn’t a reply envelope to a wedding invitation.
Emanon – Another little moment of Simpsons related win:
I was searching for a new desktop picture on Google images and saw one thumbnail that said, "Click to embiggen". IMMD
The comments on this are good too.
Me Simpsonized – Cool Simpsonized self portrait.
Improvisation: The Theme from The Simpsons – Click here for a nine minute take on the theme song played on one of those big assed church organs. I thought I’d just listen to a little of it, but I got hooked and listened to the whole thing.
The Story of “Mother Simpson” – This is about the driest recap of a Simpsons episode I’ve ever read. It was sort of strangely fascinating though.
Simpson eh? – Catching Larry King looking a lot like Mr. Burns.
Comics and Cartoons – Serious Business! – This is a long and well read discussion of, like the title says, comics and cartoons. Happily it includes this:
But cartoons are more tricky aren’t they? It’s hard to come up with a cartoon aimed at adults, not about super-heroes and not totally puerile I can talk about in such hushed tones as Watchmen up there. The most successful examples are obviously The Simpsons and Family Guy but they were never meant to be taken seriously (besides, both have turned into hideous parodies of themselves these days).
“hideous parodies” indeed.
“Hey Mom, look at me, look at what I can do!” – Homer Simpson “I see you Homer, that’s very nice.” – Grandma Simpson
Season 12 was nothing if not a pageant of the trans-mundane and this episode fits right into its dull kaleidoscope. In case you’ve forgotten, this is the episode where they tell three weird stories that are happening concurrently and link them together in various ways. Listening to the commentary it’s very clear that the people behind the scenes were quite impressed with how well all the disparate little events tied together, and they’re right about that. Stringing together all of this stuff into a twenty-two minute show, and having it mostly make sense (from a strictly could-this-all-have-happened-in-this-sequence point of view) is a triumph of skill. What they ignore is that this is akin to bringing an intricately designed monster truck to a regatta.
I can appreciate the effort and skill that went into melding all these things together, but that’s not what The Simpsons is supposed to be about. These kinds of gimmicks would make for arresting television if they were used in an episode of The Sopranos or Battlestar Galactica, or some other show where dramatic tension was useful. Here they just waste your time.
Ten guys on this one, including Al Jean and Matt Groening.
1:30 – Talking about cribbing the plot structure from the movie Go.
2:30 – This could’ve been worse, the original Lisa plot had her getting on the short bus with a bunch of disabled kids whose disabilities were actually super powers.
4:00 – “It’s a pretty crazy first act, and you don’t know that there’s a huge, dramatic conceit to the show. And the viewer must be like ‘Wow, this is a crazy stream of really nutty things happening at a really fast pace. Is this a regular episode?’ I hope they’re saying, I’ll find out after the commercial.” Let’s review this statement:
- “huge, dramatic conceit” – Taken individually none of these three words describe good Simpsons, combine them and it’s even worse.
- “crazy stream of really nutty things happening at a really fast pace” – They lost most of the audience at ‘crazy stream’, but ‘nutty things’ and ‘really fast pace’ don’t help.
- “find out after the commercial” – because if there’s one thing great Simpsons was known for, it was its cliffhangers.
4:35 – It gets worse. They’re still discussing just how neat and peachy keen this plot structure is and then, “We went back and forth a lot on how much, at the beginning of each act, when you’re restarting the story, how many of the same jokes do you show again and again, they’re not going to be funny the second time, but they’ll say, ‘Hey viewer, loot at this, something’s up, you’re seeing this again!’” I understand that it can’t have been easy to come up with a plot structure like this, at the same time, why would you do this? This is the very definition of a gimmick. Also, jokes on The Simpsons are funny the second time, and the third time, and the hundredth time, these can’t pass muster once.
5:45 – Still discussing how cool this plot is while more or less ignoring the fact that it’s mostly action and almost completely joke free.
6:50 – “It’s hard to make shows that are almost all plot funny.” I did not make that up.
7:30 – They’re really impressed with how gross the severed thumb looks.
7:45 – Robot head flies through sky: “This has to be surprising for the viewer at this point.” No, we’ve learned to just go limp through shit like this.
8:15 – These guys just laughed heartily at Marge yelling “Breakfast!” I have no idea why.
10:00 – Patting themselves on the back, yet again, for how interconnected the plots are.
11:45 – Cross promotion with the kid from Malcolm in the Middle.
13:00 – Discussing the merits of Go versus Run, Lola Run, versus this. Really, that’s all they seem to care about.
15:00 – Discussing how there aren’t any major continuity gaffs here and that “the internet” really loves this one.
16:30 – Devolving into silence as the Bart plot meanders around.
18:40 – Laughing at the stupidity of Bart’s wire.
20:30 – Long silence as whatever it is that’s the solution to this unfolds.
21:30 – Talking about how Mantegna is such a loyal voice over guy, he always wants to do the voice. Sigh. I wish Mantegna was here.
22:10 – They’re literally applauding themselves as the credits roll.
“Mother Simpson” is an excellent episode for any number of reasons, primarily because it is terribly funny. But considering it in the context of the writhing horror show that is Zombie Simpsons there are two salient points:
*They still had the good sense to make fun of themselves for all the drama with the Dickens/Melrose Place line.