Archive for October, 2009



23
Oct
09

Quote of the Day

Treehouse of Horror IV5

“Satisfied?” – Lisa Simpson

“Big deal, it’s no different from the basement in Grandpa’s rest home.” – Bart Simpson

22
Oct
09

Sweet Sideshow Bob Painting & More

Sideshow Bob Painting

“Ah very good . . . fabulous . . .  oh, even better!” – Professor Lombardo

See that rather awesome Sideshow Bob painting to the left?  It can be yours for the low price of just $25 provided you live in Toronto and can pick it up.  This listing led me to www.loverazor.net which is the artist’s blog.  There are several other Simpsons paintings on there including a tattooed Homer (note the Stonecutter symbol on the forearm), a tattooed Burns (great dollar sign on his neck), and – my favorite – jack-in-the-box Homer from “Treehouse of Horror II”.  There’s a full gallery page that has more of her stuff from Simpsons, Family Guy and various other pop culture ephemera including what looks to me like Squidward after a very long night of partying in Bikini Bottom.

22
Oct
09

Crazy Noises: Treehouse of Horror XX

Treehouse of Horror V2

“Vital organs they are what we’re dressed in/
the family dog is eying Bart’s intestine/
Happy Halloween!” – Simpson Family & Groundskeeper Willie

In our continuing mission to bring you only the finest in low class, low brow, and low tech internet Simpsons commentary we’re bringing back our “Crazy Noises” series and applying it to Season 21.  Because doing a podcast smacks of effort we’re still using this “chatroom” thing that all the middle schoolers and undercover cops seem to think is so cool.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “Halloween”).

What a complete waste of a Halloween episode.  We weren’t really expecting anything different, but in a format where, as Dave points out below, you can essentially do whatever you want it’s pretty remarkable that they had to resort to chase scenes and a poorly produced fake musical to fill the time.

Charlie Sweatpants: So, first things first, did anyone skip this piece of shit?

Dave: Nope, I endured it.

Mad Jon: No, sadly I watched it.

Charlie Sweatpants: Okay, then this’ll be like group therapy.

Dave: Isn’t that what this is always like?

Mad Jon: Shall we start at the beginning?

Charlie Sweatpants: “Show me where Zombie Simpsons put the firecracker?”

Mad Jon: I have always hated the four act Zombie, and this is just more proof

Charlie Sweatpants: That opening sequence did seem to drag, though I’m not sure if that’s because it sucks or because it was actually long.

Mad Jon: The first part was as meaningless and stupid as anything Fox has had the gall to air to date

Dave: I don’t know that the quarter-act did much, other than set the stage for disappointment

Mad Jon: And sell more commercials

Dave: Marge’s warnings, Homer lighting himself on fire – both are infinitely more effective

Mad Jon: But didn’t you see homer had x’s on his eyes and that led into the Simpsons XX Halloween special?

After he died?

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh, I got it.

Mad Jon: When the Monster wives came to admonish their husbands?

Charlie Sweatpants: I just checked, the opening for this one, that monster party, was substantially longer than the intros in the old seasons.

Like, twice as long.

Mad Jon: I would have bet a lot of money on that

Dave: Same

Charlie Sweatpants: So it wasn’t just you imagination, it was long AND crappy.

While were on the topic of ways this episode frittered time away to fill its contractually obligated broadcast slot, I thought it was particularly lazy that they had two chase scenes.

Dave: I didn’t even notice.

Mad Jon: Hmm, funny enough I don’t remember either.

Oh wait, there was one in the Hitchcock act wasn’t there

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, Lisa chases Bart through all the Hitchcock scenes and then they flee the zombies with Apu in the second segment.

Dave: All three segments were lazy. Referencing something isn’t enough to make a joke

Mad Jon: Oh yea.

Charlie Sweatpants: It’s those kinds of barren joke & satire free zones that always make me cringe.

Dave: Well that’s exactly the thing.

I don’t understand how you take a concept like “Treehouse of Horror,” which is an excuse to flex your creativity and do things the show wouldn’t normally do, and fail miserably.

Charlie Sweatpants: Failing miserably is what they do. They’re professionals.

Mad Jon: Well at least (and I am being VERY lenient) the first two actual acts were the classic horror parody we’ve all come to expect.

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh the musical ditchpig that was the third act was far and away worst.

Mad Jon: Oh sure

Dave: Agreed.

Don’t even get me started on “Al ’20 More Years’ Jean”

I wanted to throw something at my TV

Mad Jon: I did. Well I was in a hotel so it wasn’t my tv, but you know.

Charlie Sweatpants: I’ve seen Sweeny Todd, I know the plot, and it wasn’t until I was looking at stuff on-line that I understood that’s what they were trying, emphasis on trying, to parody.

Mad Jon: Really though? I have seen Sweeny Todd too, but that wasn’t even close.

Charlie Sweatpants: Also, I’m not sure it’s really the best move to cut to a bored audience from time to time.

Bit on the nose, if you know what I mean.

Dave: I thought that was cute.

Maybe the only time I laughed, even if it wasn’t intended for me to laugh

Mad Jon: Cute like a puppy or cute like a one legged puppy that wants to be a quarterback when he grows up?

Charlie Sweatpants: At what?

Dave: The bored audience that exactly reflected my sentiment

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh, the bored audience. Sorry, I’ve been drinking.

Yeah.

Dave: Quarterback puppy.

Mad Jon: Fair enough. Can’t blame a man for dreaming

Or a puppy.

Charlie Sweatpants: Actually, I did kinda chuckle at that line about people eating the body and blood of their savior.

I honestly think that was it for the whole half hour though.

Mad Jon: That’s because they accidentally triggered your hatred for religion. G

Dave: I’ll just beat a dead horse here – if it’s not funny, why bother?

Mad Jon: g?

Charlie Sweatpants: G.

Dave: That sums up this episode.

Mad Jon: <– also has been drinking.

Charlie Sweatpants: You’ve got it there Dave, but they bother because they’re being paid to.

Dave: Thank god for dwindling viewership.

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh yeah.

Mad Jon: I am starting to come to the conclusion that DJ 3000 was hired to write the episodes a few seasons after “Bart gets an elephant” and someone forgot to turn it off.

Charlie Sweatpants: Tee hee.

Mad Jon: Nobody noticed because everyone was busy auditioning people for whatever reality show for which FOX is currently to blame.

Charlie Sweatpants: They did rip off a joke from Wayne’s World 2, that’s something a computer might do.

Mad Jon: Seriously though, there aren’t enough horror movies to parody that you have to halfass your way through an act on the loosest basis that it is coping off of Sweeny Todd when it most certainly is just stealing the idea of feeding people to people?

I know the writers blew their wad early when they did a whole regular episode parody of SAW, but there has to be hundreds of other movies to poke at, there is like 10 new horror movies a year!

Charlie Sweatpants: Be fair, something must rise to a certain cultural height, nay . . . a peak, before Zombie Simpsons will use it for a big chunk of the episode.

You know, like Josh Groban.

Dave: Ugh.

You just had to bring him up again.

Charlie Sweatpants: Who, I might add, did a “celebrity” endorsement at the first commercial break.

It trigged a flash back to that awful episode from last season and I needed to bring it up. This is a therapy session, isn’t it?

Mad Jon: Really? I thought I was paying more attention to commercials than the episode, and I still missed that one.

Well, you are in a safe place, so let it out Charlie

Dave: It is. Go on.

Mad Jon: I still haven’t figured out what Emily Blunt does for a living.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, there really isn’t much more to it. I mean, the N Sync episode was almost nine years ago and if that’s not jumping on a flash in the pan pop culture phenomenon then I don’t know what is.

Mad Jon: Good point, can you see Bart wearing ‘hammer pants’ in season one or two? No. He waited until 11.

Charlie Sweatpants: IMDB says she’s been in a bunch of stuff I’ve either never heard of or never seen. (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1289434/)

Mad Jon: Well IMDB can have her.

And that stupid fucking fantasy land in which she lives.

Dave: Burn, Emily Blunt.

Charlie Sweatpants: Hammer pants is a good reference, but even that only took up like ten seconds as opposed to Groban’s 22 minute commercial for tween girl iTunes downloads.

Mad Jon: I know it brother. I know it.

Charlie Sweatpants: Anyway . . .

Is there anything else here that needs mentioning?

Mad Jon: Does vomit count as mentioning?

Charlie Sweatpants: Yes?

Mad Jon: Cause if not, I got nothing.

Dave: You vomited?

Mad Jon: No, but I had to suppress a dry heave at the twin thoughts of this episode and the Emily Blunt one from last season.

Dave: Channel that towards something productive.

An effigy, perhaps.

Mad Jon: I will, but I was thinking more like a 6-pack

They could all be effigies I guess.

Dave: That’ll do nicely.

Nothing to add. It was boring and unfunny. The apple has fallen far from the TOH tree.

Charlie Sweatpants: I’ve got one more thing. At the end, when the cast of the faux-musical comes on they sing a two line ditty (to the main theme), which goes, and I quote, “We hope you enjoyed this year’s Halloween show, Treehouse of Horror number XX.”

Mad Jon: I am going to need closure on that anecdote Charlie.

Charlie Sweatpants: I would like to compare this to TOH V which ended with the fog that turns people inside out and an over the credits musical number that has more humor in it that this entire episode.

Mad Jon: Classic, classic.

Dave: Actually you raise a good point.

The show hasn’t done solid songs or musical numbers in ages.

Mad Jon: Just crappy ones for sure.

Charlie Sweatpants: That was my first thought as soon as I saw them come out. I was like, “oh they’re going to sing over the credits” and then there was that.

Mad Jon: “that” was pretty bad

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah.

I just thought it nicely illustrated how far things have fallen. It used to be they had so much stuff they needed to sing an entire musical number over the credits. Now? They pen two lines to the tune of the theme song, commemorating their greatness, and then fade to black.

Mad Jon: Maybe they just couldn’t wait to go back to their mansions and eat their lobsters.

Dave: That’s entirely likely.

So, are we all feeling a bit better after venting?

Charlie Sweatpants: I guess.

I did watch TOH II today. That made me feel better.

Mad Jon: Good call, maybe I will follow suit.

Dave: I’m planning a TOH marathon

Probably beer-fueled

Probably awesome

Mad Jon: Is there any other way?

Charlie Sweatpants: Indeed.

Okay, any final thoughts, slanders or remonstrances?

Mad Jon: Nope, I wouldn’t recommend this episode except for a form of execution.

Dave: Fuck you, TOH XX.

Mad Jon: Damn, wish I’d thought of that.

22
Oct
09

Quote of the Day

dole1
“Abortions for all.” – Senator Kang Bob Dole

dole2
“Boo!” – Crowd

dole3
“Very well, no abortions for anyone.” – Senator Kang Bob Dole

dole4
“Boo!” – Crowd

dole5
“Hmm… abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!” – Senator Kang Bob Dole

dole6
“Yay!” – Crowd

dole7

21
Oct
09

Our No Longer Misunderstood Friend

“Hi there energy eaters!  I’m Smiling Joe Fission your atomic tour guide to the strange and exciting world of nuclear power!” – Smiling Joe Fission

Dr Atom and Smiling Joe Fission There is an absolutely awesome science video from 1953 (produced by General Electric!) about atomic power at boingboing.  It features Dr. Atom (at left) in a number of different roles and watching it I couldn’t help but think of Smiling Joe Fission.   Videos (or, more likely, film strips) like these used to be a dime a dozen in elementary schools and watching the original from 1953 was really neat in an over the top atomic propaganda sort of way.

21
Oct
09

Synergy Resorts to Rote Retellings

Write By Number
Image grabbed from here.

“Oh . . . a little sterile, no real insight.  What do you think Miss Hoover?” – Principal Skinner
“Enh.” – Miss Hoover

IGN really phoned it in this week.  There are six paragraphs in their review of that reprehensibly dull Halloween episode.  There’s an opening full of generic praise, there’s a closing full of generic praise.  The four middle paragraphs are dedicated, in order, to simply retelling the story of each of the four segments from the episode, including that tepid little opening.  In addition to that, each contains the full title of the segment and two quotes from that segment.  It’s like paint by number except that it’s writing. 

As always, I’ve edited out the synergy. 

October 18, 2009The Simpsons Zombie Simpsons’ "Treehouse of Horror XX" was a fine addition to a gross subtraction from the series’ Halloween specials. And for the first time in ten years, we got an episode that actually aired before Halloween, though it still sucked. That’s got to count for something. Though recent Recent specials have had their share of been nothing but clunker segments, and "XX" had three strong stories that were equal parts funny and dark lived up to that dismal track record.

The opening sequence was a lot of fun good way to make sure there were four commercial breaks, as horror classics Dracula, Mummy, Wolfman and Frankenstein’s monster safely roamed meandered the streets of Springfield on Halloween. Running into the school bullies, the four were mocked for their out-of-date attire, for some reason: "Turner Classic Movies called, they want their costumes back." After changing into the likes of Iron Man and SpongeBob, the four crashed the Simpson’s Halloween party, for some other reason. When their wives showed up to end their fun, Homer insulted them and was soon torn to bits. With his severed head floating in the punch bowl and his X-ed out eyes forming the "XX" of the episode’s title, the fun drudgery was ready to begin.

The first official segment had one of my favorite titles of the "Treehouse" series so far: "Dial ‘M’ For Murder or Press ‘#’ to Return to the Main Menu." This was a heavily stylized plodding and twist filled segment, shown in black and white, as it was parodying referencing a multitude of Alfred Hitchcock films. After Miss Hoover sent Lisa to detention, Bart hatched a plan to have Lisa "prank" Mrs. Krabappel while he pranked Hoover, therefore eliminating each other as suspects. Lisa did the old "ding-dong ditch" and Bart, of course, murdered Miss Hoover, cuz, you know. It was a simple misunderstanding. To Bart, "Ding-dong ditch" means "you kill her then throw that ding-dong into a ditch." The Hitchcock references throughout the segment were fun to spot impossible to miss because they were crammed in with no regard to whether or not any of them were funny, clever or insightful, though I’m sure I didn’t catch them all.

The second segment, titled "Don’t Have a Cow, Mankind," was a great zombie apocalypse parody run through with a new Krusty Burger turning all who eat it into what the show called "Munchers." The sandwich was called Burger Squared, and as Krusty laboriously explained, they "start with grade-A beef, feed that to other cows, then kill them and serve the unholy results on a seven-grain bun." This was another fun and funny painfully long and obvious segment which referenced films like 28 Days Later and I Am Legend. It was your basic zombie gore fest, with lots of biting and bloodshed and little to no humor. It was great time consuming to see Apu kicking some ass: "As a vegetarian, I did not consume any tainted burgers. As a convenience store owner, I am armed to the teeth." Bart being hailed as the chosen one because of his immunity was an interesting twist a pointless contrivance, but it that didn’t really take the story anywhere except for an ending that fell sort of completely flat.

The Sweeney Todd referencing closing segment, "There’s No Business Like Moe’s Business" was a real treat the worst of a bad lot. Instead of simply parodying the musical, which would’ve made at least some sense, they put on an actual excruciatingly boring musical parody. The whole thing was presented on stage with some cuts to the audience now and again, because otherwise it wouldn’t have filled up the allotted screen time. (Had to include Kang and Kodos somewhere!) The songs were some of the best utterly hapless and about what we’ve come to expect from the series in recent memory. They not only moved dragged the story along, but they were hilarious time wasting, too. Moe singing about his perverse taste of romance had me floored remembering when he wasn’t an overly sensitive comedy black hole: "I can only make love in the back of a hearse/And I gotta be dressed as a Civil War nurse…. But you could do worse." And Homer’s song-and-dance interpretation of Moe’s fake letter was hysterically random and without merit. Moe said it was going to get "gayer," but I wasn’t expecting that.  [Ed. Note: I can’t help the preceding sentence, I don’t even know what it’s supposed to mean.] The segment ended with characters from the previous parts of the episode coming together and singing us out. It was hard not to enjoy, because it meant it was over.

Being the first "Treehouse of Horror" to air since The Simpsons Zombie Simpsons switched to their HD format, the visuals throughout the episode were fantastic run of the mill and full of background bits and details we might not have gotten had to pretend to care about a year or two ago. With the animation being fresh even more overly elaborate, the writing has stepped up as well continued to suck and we were treated to a 20th Anniversary installment that is worthy to stand beside some of their Halloween classics reminds you that not all anniversaries are happy occasions.

21
Oct
09

Quote of the Day

nosykids1

nosykids2

“No more questions. I work my butt off to feed you four kids and all you do is… what?” – Homer Simpson
“Three. We have three kids, Homer.” – Marge Simpson
“Yeah, three nosy kids. And you know what happens to nosy kids who ask too many questions?” – Homer Simpson
“No, what happens does something to nosy kids who ask questions what happens tell us huh dad.” – Bart and Lisa Simpson, indistinct

20
Oct
09

Ortved Publicity Train Keeps Rolling

There’s an entertaining interview with John Ortved at the Arts Beat blog at nytimes.com.  (Yes it’s the same blog that thinks it’s Season 20, but it’s a different writer.)  Promoting anything involves answering the same questions over and over again and this is no exception so there isn’t too much new content here, but there were two things I wanted to highlight.  First this rather grim answer:

Q.

You make a number of references in the book to the decline in quality of the show. Have you ever heard of Fox or the folks behind the show pulling the plug at some point soon?

A.

In terms of its spiral, to be fair to the writers, there’s only so much you can do with a set of characters. I mean, 20 years? I don’t know how they do it. But if they’re still trying to break ground, they should have canned it 10 years ago.

But I don’t see them ending it anytime soon unless it becomes unprofitable. They just opened “The Simpsons” ride at Universal Studios, and I see a trend in that way. In the interviews I conducted, someone compared Matt Groening to Walt Disney. “The Simpsons” is a brand at this point that is as recognizable or getting to be as recognizable as Mickey Mouse and Disney, and I don’t know why they can’t have a Simpsons Land at some point.

It’s the “unprofitable” part that really scares me, and not only because that’s when Troy McClure said it would end.  FOX can afford to run whole seasons of new episodes as loss leaders (and it wouldn’t surprise me if they already are) because advertising is way less than 50% of Simpsons revenue.  If the people in charge think the show needs to be on the air to keep the merchandising going then it doesn’t matter how bad the actual content gets.  The ratings will have to become humiliatingly low to damage the brand.  That hideous USA Today article we linked back in June made that much clear.  Simpsons Land?  Why not.

On a less sad note, Ortved has good taste in quotes:

Q.

Give me your three favorite lines.
A.

This is really hard. O.K., No. 1:. “Does whiskey count as beer?” — Homer (after being asked by a TV announcer, “Are you on your third beer of the evening?”)

No. 2. “That man is my exact double … that dog has a puffy tail! [Chasing the dog] Heehee. Puff!” — Homer (on seeing a man who looks as exactly the same as him, lying bloodied outside Moe’s tavern, then being distracted by a dog with a puffy tail).

No. 3. “Me fail English? That’s unpossible.” – Ralph Wiggum

That’s a solid list, especially if he was speaking off the cuff.

20
Oct
09

Quote of the Day

Best Boss MugImage used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user TheMuuj.

“The only way to get Bart back is to kill the head vampire: Mr. Burns!” – Lisa Simpson

“Kill my boss?  Do I dare to live out the American dream?” – Homer Simpson

19
Oct
09

Zombie Simpsons Halloween Scores Historically Low

Chalkboard - TOH XX

The numbers are in and they are deliciously poor.  Last night’s Hitchcock-copy-pasta/zombie-retread/musical-number was only able to bore 8.59 million viewers.  That’s an improvement from last week, but it’s well below the high for the season and it’s the first Treehouse of Horror to ever fall below 10 million viewers.  I find this encouraging if for no other reason than the Treehouse of Horror episodes are almost always the highest rated of the season.  Obviously there’s going to be a lot of twentieth anniversary promotional stuff going on for the rest of the year leading up to Spurlock’s little special on the 14th of January, but they flogged last night’s Zombie Simpsons pretty hard and the audience still didn’t show up. 

As predicted Zombie Simpsons did manage to out draw The Cleveland Show thus evening their totally relevant blood feud at 2-2, and that’s where the score is going to stand for a while.  According to Futon Critic (via) FOX won’t be subjecting America to another Zombie Simpsons until November 15th.  In the meantime they’ve got baseball and, on the 8th of November, Seth MacFarlane night.   (No, I’m not kidding.)  So we get four weeks away from Zombie Simpsons.  Hooray! 

19
Oct
09

Quote of the Day

Biological Classification

“Look, I know that to you we Simpsons are a lower order of life.  We face that prejudice every day of our lives.” – Lisa Simpson

Image from Wikipedia.
19
Oct
09

Zombie Simpsons Abandons Precedent

“Please Lis, they prefer to be called the ‘living impaired’.” – Bart Simpson

Typically there are three segments to a Treehouse of Horror episode.  (Discounting the opening with the monsters at the Halloween party, which was pointless filler if ever there was such a thing.)  The first segment was basically a chase scene that had no jokes.  The second segment was another zombie segment (that also had a chase scene that had no jokes).  The third segment was a bizarre musical theater number that had, quite literally, nothing to do with Halloween with the exception of Kang and Kodos being in the audience.  They couldn’t even be bothered to produce three Halloween segments.  There was one truly scary moment though, Al Jean was credited as Al “20 More Years” Jean.

So, even though it was only 2/3 of a Halloween episode (and Zombie Simpsons at that) it was billed as a full one and those tend to do well in the ratings.  I’m setting the over/under at 9.5 million viewers and, as always, I’m hoping for the under.

Update: The numbers are in and at 8.59 million viewers the under has it handily.  This also makes XX the least watched Treehouse of Horror ever, by almost two million viewers.

18
Oct
09

DHS Editorial: Monty Burns for NYC Mayor

“Get off your soapbox Simpson! Do you realize what it costs to run for office? More than any honest man can afford!” – C.M. Burns

Both the current mayor of New York City and his predecessor attempted to stay in office for a third term.  Rudy Giuliani was thwarted in his attempt, Michael Bloomberg had the foresight to change the rules well in advance and now looks set to hold his job past what terms limit laws originally dictated.   As five time voters for Mayor “Diamond” Joe Quimby, The Dead Homer Society is, quite obviously, opposed to term limits in all their forms.   However, that does not mean that Mr. Bloomberg is the most qualified candidate in this fall’s New York City mayoral contest.

Mr. Charles Montgomery Burns has proven time and again that he is an effective administrator.   He was an early, albeit unintentional, advocate of homosexuals in the work place, and his generous hiring policies also extend to water fowl and recent immigrants.   His business acumen, legal adroitness, and managerial potency have allowed him to successfully navigate the often rocky shoals of American business since early in the last century.   Despite ruthless and repetitive government investigations he and his exemplary operation have never suffered a single legal setback, a remarkable track record in this day of incorruptible and diligent public officials.

A man of science, his character was proven on the battlefields of Europe before he returned home to master the atom.  He is also a noted sports enthusiast, whose knowledge of baseball extends well into the 19th century and whose jai alai skills are legendary.  But don’t think of this man as an elitist, he is a frequent guest at the homes of his beloved employees.

In short, Monty Burns is an American patriot and a titan of industry that hasn’t lost the common touch.  His qualifications and lifetime of achievement more than make up for the fact that he is fictional.   We heartily endorse Mr. C.M. Burns for Mayor of New York City.

18
Oct
09

Quote of the Day

zombieflanders1

“Hey Simpson! I’m feeling a mite peckish. Mind if I chew your ear?” – Zombie Flanders
*gunshot*

zombieflanders2

“Dad, you killed the Zombie Flanders!” – Bart Simpson
“He was a zombie?” – Homer Simpson

Halloween Zombie Simpsons tonight, brace yourselves and grab your shotguns.

17
Oct
09

Page to Screen

One of the consistently puzzling aspects of Zombie Simpsons, for me anyway, is trying to imagine how anyone, in a writers room, at a table read, really at any point in the creation of the show, could’ve found some of this stuff funny.  Was it really a laugh riot in the studio when they were discussing different things for Marge to spell out with the rhythmic gymnastics ribbon?  Did somebody mention old Rodney Dangerfield movies and everyone just started cutting up?  It’s pretty hard to picture. 

The examples above are from Season 21, but this interview with George Meyer (which is partially excepted in the Ortved book) sheds some light on a possibly similar situation from Season 12.  In discussing the Hobo from “Simpsons Tall Tales” Meyer says:

That one had my personal favorite internal gag that nobody outside of the show will ever see. At one point, the hobo is spinning a yarn, and Lisa interrupts with a story of her own. The hobo snaps, “Hey, who’s the hobo here?” And in the script, his dialogue note is “[ALL BUSINESS].” [Laughs] I love the idea that a hobo would be “all business.”

I laughed when I read that (it’s in the book).  The idea that a hobo would be “all business” is hilarious, but when you watch that the episode that gets lost.  The description is better than the actual scene. 

It’s clear from the quote that Meyer knows that those of us not in the room won’t see that.  But it’s also clear that the creation process was funnier than the finished product.   And while this is just one example, and it probably doesn’t apply to the overwhelming majority of Zombie Simpsons crapola, it’s illustrative of how things can get lost in translation. 

(The whole Meyer interview is a good read.) 

17
Oct
09

Quote of the Day

Computer ToasterImage used under Creative Commons license from Flicker user Roger Lancefield.

“Aah!  OK, don’t panic — remember the advice your father gave you on your wedding day.”  – Homer Simpson
“If you ever travel back in time, don’t step on anything because even the tiniest change can alter the future in ways you can’t imagine.”  – Memory of Abe Simpson

16
Oct
09

A Very Minor Thing That’s Been Annoying Me

Arts Beat blog at nytimes.com:

If this is the 20th season of “The Simpsons,” then it must be time for “Treehouse of Horror XX” (Fox, 8 p.m. Sunday). Krusty and Mel are both responsible for deadly foodstuffs.

No, this is not the 20th season.  It is the 21st season.  All that promotional crap FOX has been spewing all over the place with that 20 logo of Homer chocking Bart (like on the DVD box) has confused the shit out of a lot of people who should know better.  I’ve seen this referred to as the 20th season in more places than I can recall.  If something has its 20th anniversary that means it’s starting (or in this case already in) its 21st year.  This isn’t even math, it’s just counting.

16
Oct
09

Friday Link Dump – Shutup and Start Masturbating Edition

Itchy and Scratchy and Marge2“I told you she was soft on full frontal nudity.” – Maude Flanders

Since we’re very lazy around here we have Google Alerts do most of our web research for us.  Unfortunately when something like, oh, say, Marge being drawn into Playboy happens, it means that all of a sudden 95% of the on-line mentions of the Simpsons are about the exact same thing.  What’s worse, and I’ll admit I didn’t notice until about the tenth time I saw it, is that everyone uses the word “posing”, as though a cartoon character can “pose” for anything.

Anyway, out of the whirling internet maelstrom of “Marge in Playboy” stuff this week, I’ve found only two items that are actually worth posting.  In addition to that we’ve got some excellent usage, a little bit more stuff about Ortved’s book, and the most bad ass video game room of all time just got a little more bad ass.

Marge Simpson In Playboy Two Franchises On The Way Down – Pete Vonder Haar of the Houston Press finds this whole thing as stupid and ridiculous as I do, also he points out that the show sucks now with this delicious phrase:

Meanwhile, ratings for The Simpsons continue to decline, and a few years back the show passed the point where the number of mediocre/bad seasons officially outnumbered good ones (a subjective call, but one I’m comfortable making).

Very comfortable, pajamas with the feet comfortable.  That was going to be the only Marge/Playboy link but then I found . . .

AFA TO 7-Eleven: DON’T STOCK SIMPSON PORN – . . . this.  In what may be the only good thing to come out of the whole Marge/Playboy stunt, unctuous conservative groups are mad.  Granted, they’re always mad.  But now it’s (kinda) because of the Simpsons and I enjoy that (via Twitter).

Hugging Instructions? Yep. – Irrational panic of children has now reached the point where churches are distributing training documents on hugging.  The ludicrousness of this reminded one commenter of Flanders.  It’s perfectly quoted and plenty apt, excellent usage.

New Neighbor Moving Into Springfield – Apparently you can go to the official website and submit a character design, name and catchphrase and the winner will be in an upcoming episode of Zombie Simpsons.  That’s right, they’re outsourcing.

That Timmy O’Toole Is a Real Hero! – Yeah this was caused because of that stupid balloon thing which I don’t care about, but it’s got a great YouTube video and eloquently praises “Radio Bart” and so I say bravo.

The Wolfman Cometh – If you’re going to complain about something, complain in Simpsons.  Excellent usage.

Welcome to MattyBohlog! – Introducing a blog isn’t easy.  Why not just pack it with Simpsons references?

New Game Room Addition (Rad Arcade Content) – This guy has one of the most kick ass video game rooms I’ve ever seen and now he’s added an old Simpsons arcade machine!  If I had a room like that I would have a toilet installed and then never leave it.  That is fucking sweet and, get this, he’s married!  Sorry, ladies.

“Simpsons” Creator Will Curate ATP Festival Weekend – Groening will “curate” the ATP music festival in Britain in May. (via Twitter)

Word Wednesday: tmesis – Many words have come from The Simpsons.  Tmesis is not one of them.

Funny thing about Michael Jackson’s episode – Jackson was already weird in the early 90s, who knew?

Will an anonymous clan of slack-jawed troglodytes cost him the election? – This is just some basic information about the Burns for Mayor campaign that gets linked because I love that line and that is an excellent way to deploy it.  Also, we’ll be issuing our endorsement editorial on Sunday, will we back Bloomberg?

Simmering Away – This has almost nothing to do with the Simpsons, though there is a screen grab of Lisa shilling for Al Gore’s book.  I’m linking it because it links to our friends at Eye on Springfield, which everyone should click on from time to time for a chuckle.

Think The Worst Is Over? Think Again, VCs Say At Tech Showcase – The quote isn’t quite dead on, but it’s very close so I’m gonna call it excellent usage.

Voices – I am, quite obviously, the last person on earth who should get uppity about people stealing content, but if you’re going to start a new blog why – why – would you just copy and paste stuff from Wiki-fucking-pedia?  The footnotes are still in it!

Simpsons MMA – And I get to end with a blogger who agrees with us.  He’s complaining about how unimaginative “The Great Wife Hope” was and writes:

The Simpsons is past it’s prime and has grown preachy and up its own arse over the last five years or so. Though it’s still kicking fairly strong and immortalizing pop legends, the Simpsons needs that climactic final episode, maybe an hour long, to say it’s goodbyes.

Obviously we’d go farther back than five years, but other than that . . . yeah.

16
Oct
09

Quote of the Day

Standardized TestImage used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user Casey Serin.

“Remember class, the worse you do on this standardized test the more funding the school gets, so don’t knock yourselves out.” – Mrs. Krabappel

15
Oct
09

Synergy Works at Conde Nast Too

Yesterday I finished reading our free(!) copy of John Ortved’s new book “The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History”.  Given that I am a long winded bastard and that there’s a lot to cover (for Simpsons fans and loathers of Zombie Simpsons) we’ll probably have some lengthy posts about it coming up.  The short verdict is that it’s mostly awesome and was a very fun read.  For today though we’re going to take a look at some of the synergistic on-line publicity the book has started to garner.  First up is The New Yorker which fills its word count by blathering pointlessly about Marge’s Playboy cover (the quote from the book is in bold because WordPress won’t let me double quote something):

Ortved quotes Brent Forrester, a writer and producer on the show, who identifies the episode as a turning point in the series’ history:

The conventional wisdom is that the show changed after the monorail episode, written by Conan O’Brien. Conan’s monorail episode was surreal, and the jokes were so good that it became irresistible for all the other writers to write that kind of comedy. And that’s when the tone of the show really took a rapid shift in the direction of the surreal.

Surreal is a good way to describe it. Mr. Burns inadvertently creates a radioactive squirrel, Principal Skinner is dismembered by the pincers of a giant, robotic ant, and an irascible Leonard Nimoy “beams” into the ether. These absurdities would come to define the show’s broader comedy, and reflect the persona that O’Brien would soon loose on the world.

I’ve never thought of “Marge vs. the Monorail” as any kind of turning point.  Granted I wasn’t working on the show, so maybe it felt like one from the inside.  But looking at the finished products it’s sure hard to see it as one, especially for bending the laws of nature by having a radioactive squirrel with laser eyes (which is hilarious, by the way).  In Season 3 a soap box derby racer goes so fast it glows from air resistance and then bursts into flames when it crashes.  In Season 2 there’s a man sized catfish that isn’t radioactive and a three eyed fish that is.  In Season 1 Homer is mistaken – by scientists – for Bigfoot.  All of those things are at least as insane as Nimoy beaming up.

Next is GQ which has a terrific list of five things it learned from the book.  It’s worth reading, but two of them need some additional comment:

1. When George H.W. Bush slammed The Simpsons for being “anti-family values”—onstage at the 1992 Republican National Convention, no less—the show’s animators launched an internal “most immoral Simpsons scene” contest. The winning sequence: Grandpa having sex with the infant Maggie, Lisa breaking it up, and Grandpa savagely beating her to death with his cane.

That’s right, Simpsons porn predates the internet.  I rather like that.  Also, is this really surprising?  I mean, this was done in 1929 (supposedly by Disney animators):

(Background information here by way of boingboing.)

People have been drawing fucking since the invention of both.  Here’s the second one:

3. Confirmed rumors: Sam Simon was a lunatic. James L. Brooks is kinda a dick. Groening gets more credit for the show than he probably ought to. Elizabeth Taylor is the most hated guest voice of all time.

Simon doesn’t, to me at least, come off as a lunatic in the book, at least no more than any of the other riotously funny people around.  That Groening gets more credit than he should isn’t really a confirmed rumor, at this point it’s basically general knowledge.  He’s said so himself (and it’s quoted in the book).  As for Brooks, well, yeah, he’s done some dickish things.  But he’s also repeatedly described as a “genius” and is the man whose enormous prestige and influence gave the show the breathing room it needed to become what it became.  So he’s not always a dick, just some of the time.  The difference between him and most people is that whole wealth and power thing, his fits of dickishness are allowed freer reign.

Speaking of Brooks, apparently he tried to get this whole book killed.  Ortved wrote a meta article about the book for The Daily Beast:

Finally, the word came back from Fox’s flaks: no go. There would be no cooperation. Why? James L. Brooks, whose company, Gracie Films, produces the show along with Fox, had heard I’d been asking questions about Sam Simon, the show’s exiled executive producer, and the kibosh was on.

It goes on from there.  Apparently the book metastasized from an article Ortved wrote for Vanity Fair in 2007. (Vanity Fair, like GQ and The New Yorker, isof course – a Conde Nast publication, mmmm synergy) .  I’ve not read it yet, but you can if you click here.  Just giving it a quick scan it looks a lot like the book (duh), which is to say that it’s chalk full of gooey Simpsons goodness.




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