Posts Tagged ‘Saturdays of Thunder

09
May
14

Quote of the Day

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“Ugly . . . ugly . . . butch.” – Patty Bouvier
“What’s the matter, can’t you find a hairstyle you like?” – Marge Simpson
“Oh, hold the phone, that’s the one for me.” – Patty Bouvier
“Ed Asner?” – Marge Simpson
“No, next to him: Mary Tyler Moore.” – Patty Bouvier

Happy birthday James L. Brooks!

10
Nov
13

Quote of the Day

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“Attention everyone, I say to those who question the value of the space program: behold!” – Martin Prince

30
Mar
13

Quote of the Day

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“Whoa, where’s your helmet, son?” – Soapbox Derby Racing Official
“Helmets are for wusses, sir.” – Bart Simpson
“No, I don’t think I can let you go without a safety helmet.” – Soapbox Derby Official
“This is my son, and if he doesn’t want to wear one, you can’t make him.” – Homer Simpson
“Okay, fine, I want to get out of here sometime today.” – Soapbox Derby Official

31
Dec
12

A Little Unintentional Meta-Blogging Humor for New Year’s Eve

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“Good morning, everybody, and welcome to an event that harkens back to the carefree days of the Great Depression: the soap box derby.” – TV Announcer

Every once and a while I am moved to briefly praise the people up at WordPress HQ.  They do a regularly excellent job of making sure that everything works, the new features that they add tend far more toward “useful” than “bloat”, and their customer support, even for people who aren’t paying jack, is responsive, friendly and informative.  Sometimes, though, things go awry.

In this case it’s a very harmless awry, and it’s far more my fault than theirs, but I laughed when I saw it.  Unexpectedly, I got an e-mail from them yesterday, subject “Your Annual Report from WordPress.com”.  A quick search of my inbox reveals that in four years of blogging with them, this is the first time I’ve gotten an “Annual Report”.  Turns out it’s a new thing this year, a cutesy little flash graphic with your site’s stats that’s a way to encourage people to blog more.  This is part of the one for Dead Homer Society:

2012 Blogging Report

In case you can’t see the image, it’s titled “Crunchy numbers” and reads:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year.  This blog was viewed about 970,000 times in 2012.  If it were Liechtenstein, it would take bout 18 years for that many people to see it.  Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe! 

So this is some script that takes a look at your pageview stats, matches that with a predetermined list of numbers and figures, and then writes this paragraph into the e-mail.  If we’d had 50,000 pageviews this year, it’d probably say something like “About 12,000 tourists vomit on the Nauseator every year.  This blog was viewed about 50,000 times in 2012.  If it were the Nauseator, it would take about 4 years for that many people to vomit.  Your blog caused more people to vomit than a ride at Disney Land!”. They’re being a little disingenuous because that 970,000 number is pageviews, not unique visitors, so comparing it to tourists in Europe is like counting the number of visitors a country has by the number of people who request a brochure on their website. 

But those little idiosyncrasies aside, it’s the image at the right that cracked me up.  Unlike the cheery site stats and graphics that are supposed to make you the blogger feel good about all the time you spend complaining on the internet, it’s a chart that’s plummeting like a stone and has a distinctly depressing appearance to it.  They grabbed that particular image because the Zombie Simpsons page was by far our most popular this year (just north of 27,000 views), and if you include the child pages (which it obviously does), that graph is the first image.  It’s the average Amazon stars for the DVDs from Chapter 1, and the reason it’s dropping like a rock is because it’s about Zombie Simpsons.  Heh.

See you all in 2013. 

31
Dec
12

Quote of the Day

June, 2012

“Expiration date?  June, Nineteen Eighty Ni-uh, Two Thousand Twelve . . . yeah.” – Homer Simpson
“Homer, are you ordering junk of the TV again?” – Marge Simpson
“Shh, they’ll hear you!” – Homer Simpson

24
Sep
12

Bonus Quote of the Day

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“I’m actor Troy McClure.  You might remember me from such TV series as Buck Henderson: Union Buster, and Troy and Company’s Summertime Smile Factory.” – Troy McClure

Phil Hartman would’ve been sixty-four today.  Happy birthday.

14
Nov
11

Quote of the Day

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“Unfortunately, a century of neglect has turned this tombstone into a depressing eyesore.” – Dr. Nick Riviera
“So, what?  I guess we’re gonna have to throw it away.” – Troy McClure
“Not so fast, Troy!  With one application of Spiffy, you’ll think the body’s still warm.” – Dr. Nick Riviera

Happy 20th Anniversary to “Saturdays of Thunder”!  Original airdate: 14 November 1991.

27
Jul
11

“Saturdays of Thunder” Spews Truth

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“Dear God, not again!” – Dave from the National Fatherhood Institute

Toward the end of this commentary, right after Martin slaps Bart to get him to pay attention, Jean comments on how much violence there is in this one.  He laughs as he recalls that it might have been a reaction to how stressed out everyone was while they were doing this.  I can’t comment on that, but he’s right that there are a lot of violent images in here (Nelson whipping Bart as they race, Martin crashing and getting set on fire, even the unfortunate shark attack).  The difference is that none of it is drawn out or gratuitous.  The things Jean notes as violent wouldn’t even rate as such past Season 10 or so, even the shark attack.  It lasts less than two seconds, is completely bloodless, and is funny not just for being violent, but also for being completely absurd (made even better by the cry of “not again!”). 

Six guys on this one.

0:30 – This one premiered before the first televised showing of Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” video, and included the second part where he smashed up a car, which caused a lot of controversy.  On the plus side, the episode got great ratings.

2:20 – They were trying to come up with a name for a fake detergent, and the first eight or so they came up with were already real detergents before they got to Spiffy.

2:45 – When they were first designing Dr. Nick, they’d heard Azaria’s voice and thought he was doing an impression of Gabor Csupo, so they did a caricature of him. Azaria was actually doing Ricky Ricardo.

3:30 – Vlada from The Critic was also designed after Csupo.

3:45 – Ken Levine (who’s on the commentary) and his writing partner David Isaacs (who isn’t) worked on a show with Mary Tyler Moore for a year, so they thought the Mary Tyler Moore haircuts on Patty & Selma were hilarious. Jean cracks that Levine said “worked with Mary Tyler Moore” the same way other people say “I served in Vietnam for two years”. It was funny.

4:30 – They had a censor battle over Bart welding in horribly unsafe ways. Their reply was that it was hard for kids to get access to welding equipment so they wouldn’t really do it. I guess that worked.

4:50 – They only had one report of a kid ever getting hurt imitating the Simpsons. He was trying to skateboard down some stairs, but they were skeptical of the story.

5:40 – Discussing the avalanche of cliches they parodied in the scene where McBain’s black partner gets shot right before retirement.

6:00 – Someone, I think it’s Reiss but it’s hard to tell, was thrilled that they used the “Mendoza!” line on MST3K like a year after this.

6:20 – Jean thinks the fatherhood test was a real thing Sam Simon found.

7:20 – Reiss jokes that the years he and Jean were running the show were the years when people on the show were always watching TV.

7:30 – Jean discussing how they used that TV watching to do cutaways, which they did a ton of on The Critic, and which now has become the hallmark of Family Guy. Then Groening says what he thought was “great” about The Critic was that they got to do all the parodies they wanted to do.

8:10 – Jean’s discussing how making the family the center of the show makes it really tough for other shows to make relatable characters without being compared to The Simpsons. This brings up King of the Hill, which Reiss (again, I think) cracks has “Homer with glasses”, which leads to Groening kinda laughing and Reiss replying “Yes, I said it.” Ha.

8:40 – Jean recalls the irony of editing this episode at three in the morning instead of being home with his kid.

9:10 – They think “Ronny Beck” was a friend of David Isaacs.

9:50 – Jean describes the fatherhood institute guy’s voice as Harry Shearer doing Casey Kasem/Mason Adams.

10:20 – Laughing about Cosby’s dislike for the show.

11:00 – The design of the soapbox derby racer was based on some real life failures.

11:15 – Jim Reardon jokes that bad carpentry is a theme of his life.

11:20 – The Cosby book quotes are actually from the book.

12:00 – The censors also didn’t like Homer putting the welding torch in the gasoline.

12:40 – Laughing about Homer’s inability to construct a decent racer.

13:00 – Discussing the scandal that rocked soap box derby racing when one kid had a magnet in his car, which I assume is this

13:30 – Talking about how the idea for this one came from the throwaway line in “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge” when Bart describes building a soap box derby racer after the cartoons become lame and nonviolent.

14:00 – Joking that they did three father/child type plots in a row and nobody noticed or cared.

14:30 – The censors had no complaints about Martin being on fire, but they did get a lot of complaints, especially from Jean’s mother.

15:30 – Mentioning how the lettering on the shirts (“Team Simpson”) would probably be printed now instead of looking miserable and hand drawn, which leads to the usual discussion of how animating has changed thanks to computers. Nobody mentions that if Bart and Homer had nicely printed shirts it wouldn’t work as well. The fact that the shirts are just as crappy looking at the racer is what makes them funny.

16:40 – Laughing (for the second time) at the Honor Roller and the neat little sound it makes when it goes by.

17:00 – Russi Taylor does Martin, as well as Minnie Mouse, which lead to a digression about her husband who does Mickey but is actually a great big biker looking guy.

17:50 – The derby announcers, and their love of superlatives and exaggerated historical significance, come from Olympic announcers who do the same thing.

18:35 – Laughing at Homer blowing off Flanders.

19:10 – Laughing at their love of gratuitous violence here when Martin just slaps Bart.

19:25 – As usual Groening remains unimpressed at the crowd scene.

19:50 – Groening was told by someone at 20/20 that Ted Kennedy hates Quimby. Groening then gets in his little disclaimer that he supports Kennedy and donates to him, but that he does have a funny voice.  (Of course, this was recorded before Kennedy died.) 

20:50 – Laughing at the unexpected smallness of Ronny Beck and another strange character in the crowd.

21:30 – Everyone cracking up at Homer and Bart celebrating Bart being a bad winner.

22:20 – And we close on them jokingly complaining that they didn’t win any awards for this episode.

16
Mar
11

Blockbuster? I Know That Store!

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This is a minor point, but it goes to something larger.  The above image is from Season 3’s “Saturdays of Thunder”.  It’s just a brief establishing shot, but it manages to poke fun at the format wars of the late 1970s and early 1980s.  Notably, it needs no dialogue to set it up and it doesn’t take aim at any one institution.  It’s a joke at the expense of a general cultural artifact, and that means that all these years later it still works even though the specific conflict it describes is long over.  After all, vanquished video formats have been with us ever since, in everything from LaserDisc to DIVX to HD-DVD. 

Now take a look at the image below from this week’s “A Midsummer’s Nice Dream”:

Blockbuster, Hurrr

Here’s something that not only needed dialogue to set it up, but isn’t going to age nearly as well.  Yes, video rental stores are quickly passing from the scene, but Zombie Simpsons didn’t trust its audience enough to leave it at that.  Instead they had to go after Blockbuster specifically.  In fact, they have so little faith that people will get the joke that they made sure that the entire sign is visible. 

Again, this is minor in and of itself.  But however little it is, it’s a nice demonstration of how low Zombie Simpsons aims its jokes.  Given the chance, they’ll always go for petty, referential humor over a meatier target that requires a tad more from them.

04
Feb
11

Reading Digest: Mendoza! Edition

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“Mendoza!” – McBain

If you’re reading this site, then you have probably already seen the fantastic College Humor mashup of all the McBain clips.  I would like to point out two things about it.  First, between Tango & Cash, Lethal Weapon 2, and License to Kill, 1989 was the year of the suave, well protected drug lord and the heroes who break the rules to bring them down.  Second, none of those clips are from Zombie Simpsons.  And don’t give me any of that “Schwarzenegger stopped making movies to be the governor” crap.  He didn’t stop making movies until Season 15, well into Zombie Simpsons.  We’ve also got some great fan art, some excellent usage, a Simpsons story told entirely through Facebook updates, The New York Times trolling Wikipedia with a truly stupid Simpsons reference, and a couple of people vowing to write more on their blogs (good luck!). 

Enjoy.

Crazy Art by: Enkel Dika – Smooth Charlie’s Click of the Week is this set of sweet pop culture paintings, especially the one of Homer and Marge as Frankenstein’s Monster and Bride of Frankenstein.  I love the way the steam from the power plant bleeds into Homer-stein’s shirt. 

**QUIRKY MUST SEE HOMER SIMPSON MUG** – Live in New Zealand?  You can get this awesome fan made Homer mug for twelve dollars.  The way the mouth recesses into the mug is really cool.  

McBain: the Movie – I put this up on Twitter on Wednesday, but it deserves its own link because it’s been all over the place since.  If you take all of the McBain clips the show ever did and patch them together, you can make a pretty decent short film (via Springfield Springfield’s Twitter feed). 

Mauve his mop and other mashed up movies – This is a link to the McBain movie above, but it’s also got a sweet McBain poster and some other movie mashup videos. 

GOOD GRAFFITI – SKARY – Excellent Simpsons related graffiti, I like Gil and Jimbo the best.

Donut – I found this on Banksy’s site yesterday when I was writing that post about Murdoch.  That is a police escort Homer would stand up and salute. 

It’s funny because it’s true! Plus some thoughts on mortification practices outside of graduate school. – Tisk tisk, only moderate usage in a jokey but interesting post about how much better Ph.D.s are than the rest of us.  In “Lisa vs. the Eighth Commandment”, Homer says “It’s funny cause it’s true”, and in “Bart the Murderer” Fat Tony articulates the “because”, but to my knowledge Homer never actually says “It’s funny because it’s true”.  Philosophiae doctoris indeed, cite your sources! 

A good sit: Not so good for the heart – Excellent usage:

Once, on “The Simpsons,’’ Homer and his boss, Montgomery Burns, were trapped by an avalanche in a mountain lodge. Burns expounded on the virtues of a favorite human pastime. “Oh, yes, sitting — the great leveler,’’ he said. “From the mightiest pharaoh to the lowliest peasant, who doesn’t enjoy a good sit?’’

Burns may have been right that sitting is enjoyable, but a growing pile of scientific evidence is suggesting that too much could be deadly.

No, I will not get off my ass.

I Need Music To Think – Animated .gif of “You know Lisa, music helps Daddy think.”

Aled’s Make Something 365 – Making even 8-bit games more realistic.  Both the Mario one and the Simpsons/Paperboy one are great. 

Alfred Pennyworth vs. Waylon Smithers – Comparing two intensely devoted men. 

I’ll do it this afternoooooon! – Now this is how you launch a blog, with procrastination. 

i SAID ha-ha – A little “Bart of Darkness” YouTube. 

Hoy Hoy – A short Simpsons story crafted by Facebook artisans who work exclusively in the medium of Facebook. 

Scully saw benefits in benefits – If there’s one thing I don’t mind about Zombie Simpsons, and there may indeed only be one, it’s that a lot of people who worked on the show when it was good were making peanuts at the time and now many of them are actually getting paid.  They didn’t even have health insurance for the writers until sometime after Season 9?  Cheap bastards. 

Chowdafest ’11: Chefs vie for chowder bragging rights in Westport – I think you know where this is going:

I should probably be embarrassed to admit this, but whenever I see chowder on a menu, I feel inclined to repeat the scene from "The Simpsons" where a French waiter places a bowl in front of Freddy Quimby.

"Hey, what the hell is this?" asks the Boston-accented Freddy.

"It’s a bowl of show-dair, sir," says the waiter.

"What did you call it?" asks Freddy. "Show-dair? It’s chowda! Say it right! Say it Frenchy! Say chowda!"

There are more than a few omitted lines there, but a transcription of them all would’ve taken up most of the article and all of those lines are in the episode so I’m still calling this excellent usage.  And no, there’s no reason to be embarrassed to admit that. 

Your say: readers rant on TV – That’s a bloody outrage, it is:

We’ll take Bart, any day

MY TWO young kids used to eat their tea watching The Simpsons at 6pm. So what has Channel 10 done? Put on another current affairs show with over-the-hill George Negus. How much dribble do you think viewers can take? Geoff, email

I’m gonna take this all the way to the Prime Minister.  Julia! 

Define Gender Gap? Look Up Wikipedia’s Contributor List – You can file this under “it’s not news until the Times notices it” since this is something that’s been known for a while but only received a shower of links and attention in the wake of a New York Times story with this little bit of blogger bait:

Is a category with five Mexican feminist writers impressive, or embarrassing when compared with the 45 articles on characters in “The Simpsons”?

It’s neither.  You just made a classic apples to oranges, lemons to lemon shaped rocks comparison. 

Infrequent Short Stories – There should be a “you” before “failed”, but other than that this is spot on.  The lesson remains excellent usage, however. 

5 Current TV Shows That Have Degraded Since It Began – And finally, I get to end the way I like to, with someone who agrees with us:

The two biggest factors here are the age of the show and the overturn of writers from the beginning to now. Conan O’Brian used to be a writer for goodness sakes.

Simply put, the writing isn’t nearly as funny as it used to be. Most of the jokes or the gags are old and tired and coming up with new material for a show that’s had 500 episodes isn’t easy.

[…]

My guess is that it will take one of the main voice actors to leave before this gets cancelled, but it’s probably long overdue. It’s really just become that lead in show for FOX’s Sunday night animated block.

Got that right.  Interestingly enough, Simpsons was only #2 on the list.  You’ll never guess what’s #1. 

25
Jan
11

Compare & Contrast: Mocking 80s Fatherhood

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“‘Cosby’s First Law of Intergenerational Perversity: No matter what you tell your child to do, he will always do the opposite.’  Huh?” – Homer Simpson
“Don’t you get it, you gotta use reverse psychology.” – Homer’s Brain
“That sounds too complicated.” – Homer Simpson
“Okay, don’t use reverse psychology.” – Homer’s Brain
“Alright, I will!” – Homer Simpson

A few months ago, I wrote a post about how you couldn’t really understand where Season 1 was coming from without some grasp of 1980s American television, particularly the enormous number of cookie cutter family sitcoms.  The Simpsons, especially in Season 1, reveled in directly attacking those shows.  It was written by exceptionally talented guys who had worked in television and finally had a vehicle that allowed them to fire away with every joke they could muster at its expense. 

The shows The Simpsons was aimed at have all been off the air for twenty years or more at this point, so it’s no surprise that they’ve faded from the cultural scene.  Most of them were extremely forgettable in the first place, and even the ones that were big hits are now almost impossible to find on television.  The Cosby Show, a two hundred episode behemoth that was the #1 show in America for five straight years, is now only rerun on a spin off of BET that’s available in less than a quarter of US households.

This image is the one I created for the post I linked at the top:

80s Sitcoms

On the left is, of course, The Cosby Show; the right image is Family Ties, another enormously popular 80s family sitcom that, with the exception of Michael J. Fox, has fallen almost completely down the memory hole.  (Like The Cosby Show, these days it is only rerun on an obscure down guide channel, a Discovery Channel spinoff for kids called “The Hub” that is half owned by toy company Hasbro.)  The center image is of a show that was never as big as the other two, and is remembered these days mostly for producing Kirk Cameron, who’s since kept a toehold on fame by being very keen on Jebus (and bananas, no judgment, Kirk!).

Growing Pains was clearly the prime inspiration behind Zombie Simpsons’ agonizingly glacial “Thicker Than Water” filler segments in “Homer the Father”.  The show revolved around the dad, played by Alan Thicke (get it?), a psychiatrist who worked from home and spent most of the episodes dispensing oft ignored advice to his children.  Like most family sitcoms, the show featured low grade hijinks and usually came with a lesson at the end wherein it was revealed that, as usual, dad had been right all along.  I don’t know if he invented the term, but when Alan Ball (of True Blood and Six Feet Under fame) was writing on the equally reprehensible Cybill, he and the other writers called this the “moment of shit”.  I read once that they would start with that and then work backwards; that’s how predictable these shows were. 

Sweater Dad & Repentant Child

The 80s were a horrible time on television I prefer not to relive. 

Making fun of these kinds of shows really isn’t that difficult, they are rigidly formulaic and terrible, but Zombie Simpsons still managed to fall flat on its face.  In an episode that was already running way short of twenty minutes, they put a laughtrack infused simulacrum of Growing Pains on screen for more than a minute and a half.  (I’m not counting any of the behind the scenes stuff either, just the actual show itself and its jokeless theme song opening.)  In case that didn’t bludgeon the audience quite hard enough with what they were doing, they put Homer in a sweater for the entire middle of the episode. 

Right from the get go, The Simpsons was always more subtle when pulling these shows apart at the seams and and ridiculing them into obsolescence.  In Season 1 you have episodes like “The Telltale Head” and “Moaning Lisa” that openly subvert the usual television morality, in no small part by showing both Homer and Marge as being just as capable of petty, shortsighted foolishness as their kids.  In the same vein, Season 2 has “Bart the Daredevil”, “Bart Gets an F”, and “Homer vs. Lisa and the Eighth Commandment”.  But the most precise comparison here is Season 3’s “Saturdays of Thunder”. 

“Saturdays of Thunder” is one of those masterpieces of television that manages to be sweet and have a happy ending without ever dropping its cynical, borderline nihilistic mentality.  (“Martin!  Martin!  I’ll curse that name ’til the day I die!”)  More to the point, unlike “Homer the Father”, it manages plenty of 80s sitcom gags without turning them into the focus of its own episode.  I don’t even need to explain this, I can farm this out SNPP’s twenty year old Usenet comments:

>> Cosby references

David Hyatt {dh2}: One brilliant reference was the taking of the baby carriage wheels to make the go cart racers with. This is a blatant reference to a stand-up routine by Bill Cosby, in which all the kids in his neighborhood build go-carts from baby carriage wheels and ride them down Dead Man’s Hill. So in that one episode, you had “Bill Cosby saved the Simpsons”, “Fatherhood”, Dr. Hibbert, and a take-off of one of Cosby’s own old standup routines. [Don't forget the quasi-Cosby sweater Homer tried to wear. --rjc]

That, boys and girls, is sublime parody.  And how about that sweater?  Homer wears it in one scene and the show trusts the audience to get the gag.  It doesn’t need to be beaten into the ground by showing it over and over and over again; and it certainly doesn’t need to fill large chunks of the episode with straight ahead rehashes of shows that weren’t any good in the first place. 

(Incidentally, while searching for some of these old shows I came upon this recent A.V. Club piece about 80s sitcoms.  It’s less harsh on them than I am, but it’s also pretty thorough at describing what teevee was like when these shows dominated comedy.) 

21
Oct
10

Idiot to Again Set Bad Example for the Children

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“It’s my dad, lying there on the couch, drinking a beer, staring at the TV.  I’ve never seen him like that.” – Bart Simpson

It turns out I have nothing to do this Saturday other than celebrate Mole Day.  It also turns out that it’s been five months since I set aside some time for a serious day of drinking and Simpsons watching.  That means I can celebrate Mole Day by conducting one of my favorite bio-chemistry experiments: my liver, brain and blood oxygen levels versus my old friend ethanol in another Simpsons-Beer Marathon.

As with the previous two times I’ve done this on-line, I’ll be starting around 8:00am Eastern Time (12:00 GMT) this Saturday.  For those who are new to this site, the background details are here.  All you really need to know is that I’m going to watch an entire season of The Simpsons while downing one beer per episode, and I’ll post (increasingly inebriated) updates all day.

The poll at right is active, and I’ll watch whichever season you fine individuals select.  I’ve already done Seasons 5 and 6, so they aren’t included.  For the protection of my good time, Season 7 will not include “Marge Be Not Proud”.  Since I’m not giving nearly as much notice this time around, I’ll leave the poll open until Saturday morning.

Update 23 October: And it’s Season 4!  Thanks to everyone who voted. 

Season 4 Poll

24
Jul
10

Saturday Morning Cartoons

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“Deploy, damn you!  Deploy!” – Martin Prince

This episode is rock solid genius, and while I could go on and on about almost any scene, I’ll just point out one thing and be done.  The image above is of a ten-year-old child on fire, not only is it hilarious, it’s not even the only joke on screen.  There is The Simpsons, and there is everything else. 

23
May
10

Quote of the Day

“I might remind you both I did design that racer. The driver is essentially ballast.” – Martin Prince

26
Apr
10

Jumping Sharks and Riding Whales

Chalkboard - The Squirt and the Whale

“Now, Henry Winkler, there’s a father.  Listen to what he told a close friend, ‘I don’t always keep my cool like the Fonz, but my love for my kids has given me plenty of happy days’.” – Selma Bouvier

While Homer was being menaced by sharks this week, I couldn’t help but think of that most damning of cultural epitaphs: jumped the shark.  Isn’t falling into the ocean from a magically conjured motorboat, getting hit in the head by a bucket (why a bucket?), and then being saved from sharks by riding a whale at least as bankrupt an idea as having a leather jacketed stunt double on water skies jump over a pen that has stock footage of a shark inside of it?  At the very least it’s in the same category.  Sadly, Happy Days went on for six more seasons after that fateful episode, let’s hope this one doesn’t take as long. 

Before that unimaginably boring ending, however, the writers had to reach deep into their bag of tricks to fill that ever more onerous 20 minute minimum.  There was a long couch gag, a 45-second montage, a completely pointless dream sequence, and an “action” sequence that finds the cartoon trope of circling shark fins new and exciting.  And even that wasn’t enough, so they had to kill some more time by having Homer regurgitate ideas that were too stupid to even be animated.  Also, it’s generally not a good idea when the actual event you’re basing a scene on is funnier than your cartoon version. 

I’d also like to commend the writers for dumping their opening plot line in an unusually abrupt manner, even by Zombie Simpsons standards.  The opening segment is often totally unrelated to the rest of the episode, but they don’t usually completely abandon a giant plot conflict (the whole electricity thing).  I’m not sure what’s keeping them from dropping all pretense and doing those segmented mini-story episodes every week.  

The numbers are in and they’re almost identical to last week’s: 5.94 million people tuned in an hour early for Family Guy last night.  That ties the number for 11th worst all time.  Since the 20th anniversary crap wore off, Season 21 has been down an average of half a million viewers from the same period of Season 20.  I’m going to keep saying this until someone listens: the show is getting historically low ratings.  The 20th anniversary stuff will save Season 21 from being the least watched ever, but more people than ever are simply ignoring this show. 

29
Jan
10

Reading Digest: Fan Made Edition

Homeric Craftsmanship

“But you can use me, I’m good!  I built a lot of things around the house, the spice rack . . . the birdfeeder . . . the gymboree . . . what was that?  Ah, who cares.” – Homer Simpson

We’ve got lots of fan made Simpsons stuff this week, from YouTube videos, to Lego statues, to unsourced artwork.  There’s also a political divide I feel no hesitation to take sides on, some excellent Zombie Simpsons hate, Aurora Indianalis, a clever New Zealand marketing ploy, and plenty of usage of all varieties.  Enjoy.

Whoops! Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay by John Lanchester – This is a book review:

Whoops! is funny in a Jeremy Clarkson sort of way. In other words it is larded with leaden similes and blokeish "wit". So, for example, a complex but entirely accurate description of the construction of collateralised debt obligations is interrupted by such ­observations as "the initial lender was free to quote Bart Simpson: ‘sayonara, sucker’."

I don’t know who Jeremy Clarkson is, but to my knowledge Bart has never said “sayonara, sucker”.  Bad book author, bad.

my woman of the year (and this week’s column) – It’s Marge.  (Duh, or it wouldn’t be linked here.)

The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien (GUEST REVIEWER ANITA DEELY) – This is a long review of Conan O’Brien’s last show and it ends with some very poor usage:

My final words of wisdom from a clown come from Homer Simpson. Hearing these words (or word) was a small awakening for me. Homer is dealing with some crisis or other that I can’t recall right now what. Sometimes, I have a terrible memory for the Simpsons which is good since it allows me to see episodes over and over again and still find them funny. The other day I caught the Monorail episode (by Conan O’Brien, if I’m not mistaken) and I marveled at it. Anyway, Homer is having some big thing happen to him and Lisa says: “You know, Dad, the Chinese have the same word for crisis and opportunity” And Homer says: “Yeah. Crisatunity.”

That exchange isn’t from the monorail episode, it’s from Season 6’s “Fear of Flying” and while the gist of it is correct the actual exchange goes like this:

Lisa: Look on the bright side, Dad.  Did you know that the Chinese use the same word for “crisis” as they do for “opportunity”?
Homer: Yes!  Crisatunity!

It’s an excellent and appropriate sentiment, but a big miss on the execution. 

Weekly Best Of: The Best Fictional Bands/Songs From TV – The Be Sharps make an appearance. 

Homer Simpson – Just a bunch of Homer Simpson background images for your computer. 

D’oh! – There is at least one person who doesn’t know who Bart Simpson is. 

I Never Ever Saw The Northern Lights. Well, False. – I’m pretty sure if you see an aurora in Indiana it isn’t the “northern” lights, but other than that, yeah.  Plus he properly quotes Simpsons and it applies perfectly.  Excellent usage.

These pretzels are making me thirsty. – From the same blog as the link above it’s a video of Seinfeld quotes (which I didn’t watch) and a video of Simpsons quotes (which I did).  All the Simpsons quotes are from the early years so if you’ve got 2:29 to kill you could do worse things with your time. 

How Air New Zealand Started the Process of Creating a New Cabin Environment – A consulting firm working with Air New Zealand identified several passenger types by associating them with Simpsons characters.  I don’t think this has as much to do with The Simpsons as it does with a consultancy knowing how to brand something, but it’s kind of neat. 

George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama, The Simpsons and the perils of being a “really good one-term president” – This guy’s a lefty worried about President Obama, he cites “Two Bad Neighbors” to help make his point. 

Mayor Quimby, Homer’s alcoholism, and the federal budget – This guy’s a righty angry at Obama, he mentions two Zombie Simpsons episodes to help make his point.  I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’. 

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs – DVD Review – I really liked this movie, in no small part because this is basically true:

While it may have been impressive in the cinema, 3D would have detracted from a film packed with the type of gag rate and gooey centre that hasn’t been around since The Simpsons jumped the shark at the turn of the millennium.

I’ve been thinking about this line all week. – Whole post (minus the image):

Skinner: I’ve always admired your tart honesty and ability to be personally offended by broad social trends.

A great quote that’s perfectly cited, bravo. 

Simpsons Mashups. – This doesn’t have links to the original sources (some of them have deviantART watermarks), but this is a pretty spectacular collection of Simpsons crossover art. 

Something feels wrong here. – Knockoff “Bant” t-shirt featuring Evil Eyes. 

Knight Rider Starring Homer Simpson – This is a fan made YouTube video of the Knight Rider opening with Simpsons characters instead:

Can you say David Hasselhoff?  (via Twitter)

The Simpsons – Itchy & Scratchy Land for BlackBerry – Pretty much exactly what it says. 

See My Vest! – I find Hulu more annoying than YouTube, but video is video. 

Bomb Lego Sculptures » lego3 – Awesome, life size versions of Bart & Milhouse done in the medium of Lego. 

U.S. Bus and Truck Drivers Banned from Texting Behind the Wheel – Swing and a miss:

Despite The Simpsons showing us that truck drivers don’t actually do their own driving, Otto’s driving record must’ve convinced legislators that there needs to be a ban on texting behind the wheel for truck and bus drivers.

Taken on its own with no context I’m not even sure what that sentence means. 

My book report is on The Time Machine Did It by John Swartzwelder – And finally, in this review of one of Swartzwelder’s novels we get this excellent piece of Zombie Simpsons bashing:

John Swartzwelder is arguably best known for writing a good hunk of Simpsons episodes back when they were still considered good. At least, considered good by people I consider good. Fans of the current Simpsons episodes I barely consider at all.

Yes indeed. 

19
Jul
09

Everything I Need to Know I Learned From The Simpsons

I love The New York Times.  It’s full of new information and it comes right to your house; you don’t even need to turn your computer on to read it.  It’s not all good though.  Every Sunday morning it contains an irresistible nugget of shit, the “Ethicist” column.  Wealthy, mildly deranged people with slightly guilty consciouses write in to have their sins absolved by The New York Times.  They ask piddling, self justifying questions that sometimes end with the one word sentence “Ethical?”.  As much as I loathe this part of the paper it’s always one of the first things I read on Sunday mornings.  I’m impossibly drawn to it,  like sheriff Bullock said about “Family Circus”, it’s just there, “waiting to suck“.  I almost never read the answers (why should I give a shit what the NYT guy thinks?), it’s the questions that make it so wretchedly attractive and this morning’s contained a doozy:

My husband and I spent substantial time and money to entice bluebirds to our yard. This included a squirrel- and snakeproof bluebird house, special tasty food (which entailed keeping mealworms in my refrigerator), available water and other amenities. Then an interloper nested in our bluebird house and laid five eggs. When is it permissible to destroy a nest of undesirable feathered folk? We want bluebirds, not common yard sparrows.

First of all: fuck you, lady.  Second:

Homer's Birdfeeder

06
Jun
09

Quote of the Day

Saturdays of Thunder2

“Dad, you gotta come.  I just got your hat out of the fridge.” – Bart Simpson

03
Apr
09

Quote of the Day

“You know Marge, that Bart of ours is a little miracle. His winning smile, his button nose, his fat little stomach, his face alight with wholesome mischief. He reminds me of me, before the weight of the world crushed my spirit.” – Homer Simpson

24
Mar
09

Quote of the Day

“Bart, if she breaks up on you steer away from the grandstands or else you might kill hundreds of innocent spectators. . . . Bart, what did I just tell you?” – Martin Prince
“Kill spectators.” – Bart Simpson



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