Archive for November, 2010



20
Nov
10

Quote of the Day

Fish

Image used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user Franco Folini.

“You know, the whale is not really a fish.  They’re mammals like you and me.” – Tom
“Is that true?” – Pepe
“Pfft.  No.” – Homer Simpson

19
Nov
10

Reading Digest: Real World Usage Edition

Homie the Clown4

“You will now go back to your hometowns, and do kids parties, swap meets, and all the other piddling crap I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot clown pole.” – Krusty the Klown

This week we’ve got quite a few links to real world applications of Simpsons stuff.  It’s all here, from comparisons to SpongeBob, good homes for those promotional statues from the movie, building-sized murals, anti-mold remodeling, and what may be the greatest toilet paper dispenser in the long and glorious history of toilet paper dispensers.  There’s also an awesome Ned Flanders costume, a list of great B-plots, and much excellent regular usage.  Don’t forget, if you’ve found or written something Simpsons-related on-line, feel free to leave it in the comments.

Enjoy.

Double Humiliation WIN – This is genius.  All toilet paper rolls should end this way.

Bartman – A wall mural of Bartman and Batman from, it says, Portland in the 90s. 

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows…In 10 Words – Our friend Galileo e-mailed this in with the following explanation:

The entry both sums up the book and uses a Simpsons quote (well, most of one). Again, "blah blah blah Zombies Simpsons blah blah blah" but I feel a Simpsons reference is a Simpsons reference, regardless of when it was made.

I disagree, but that is a pretty good way to sum up Harry Potter 7. 

The Greatest B-Stories from The Simpsons – This, also from Galileo, is more like it.  It’s also Smooth Charlie’s Click of the Week as he runs down ten great B-plots (and one Zombie Simpsons one).  There’s YouTube, and screen caps and quotes galore. 

Bart Simpson Gas Mask – Mask 186 – I’m not sure what these are, but they look fantastic. 

Rewatching The Simpsons: Season One – Another person going through all the old ones starting with Season 1. 

Uncanny: Ned Flanders Costume(?) – Awesome Ned Flanders costume.  And check out the comments on the Reddit page, lots of Simpsons references, not so much with the Zombie Simpsons. 

Houston Texans — R.I.P. 2010 – If you can point to a reference of it on the show, it means you are not an egghead:

In her 1969 book Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross describes in detail the five stages of dealing with grief and tragedy. Simply put, the human progression is to exhibit feelings of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance (likely in that order).

Now, before you go thinking that I am some well-read, Ivy League wanna-be, just know that my first exposure to the Kubler-Ross theory was in an episode of The Simpsons where Homer discovers a morsel of poisonous blowfish he ate at a Japanese buffet might send him to an early grave. Homer amazingly goes through all five stages in about 11 seconds (or for Texans fans, about the same amount of time it will take Chris Johnson to execute his first 75-yard touchdown in a couple weeks).

Your progress astounds me. 

Back In The Game – Someone took those big Simpsons statues from the movie, got the couch, and put up the sailboat picture behind them.  Well done.  Also, nice WordPress theme.

Week 10 Wrap Up – There is a fantasy football league that has all Simpsons team names.  The game in this roundup was “Joey Jo Jo Junior Shabadoos vs. Apu Du Beamarchais”.  Those are the best team names I’ve ever heard (and no Zombie Simpsons).  Also, there is Joey Jo Jo YouTube in both English and Spanish. 

TrendEnding 11/18. – This is a bit harsh, even for me:

I’m not sure if it was before or after The Simpsons ruined The Simpsons that pop culture ruined The Simpsons’ famous “comic book guy“.  Probably after considering the former happened circa early-2000′s.  I miss the 90′s iteration.  Anyhoo, CBG was this massive douche who wasn’t even close to ever seeing the light of “cool”.  He was this sloppy, pathetic mass of a character who was never glorified in any way and the audience never came close to feeling anything for him but utter contempt.  So, I ask, why then did it suddenly become cool to utter his phrase “Worst. [Blank]. Ever”?  (Substituting “worst” with “best” is apparently acceptable; and any single lame thing one can imagine can be sandwiched in the middle)  The translation of this phrase to textual form really chaps my ass… as everyone who writes it, with the period after each word, thinks they’re clever.  I’ve got a new one… Fuck. That. Shit.

The, for lack of a better term, Ralph Wiggum-ization of Comic Book Guy has been one of the more durable hallmarks of Zombie Simpsons.  And while “Best/Worst X Ever” is massively overused, I still think it can be deployed with some panache if done in the right circumstances. 

D’oh! FOX bans Homer Simpson’s bare behind – Jean mentioned the nudity ban when discussing the Season 23 renewal, so the news on that has migrated from DVD commentaries into the wider world of news.  This is an MSN write-up of the fact that they can’t do nudity.  It is uninteresting except for this excellent usage at the end:

If the thought of not seeing Homer’s heinie in any new episodes has you down, here are some comforting words, courtesy of Bart, who refused to believe his father’s declaration that he’d "never wiggle my bare butt in public again."

"Dad, I know you’re discouraged," he said, "but please don’t deny the world your fat can."

‘Simpsons’ writer speaks at Co-Op – Mike Reiss continues his speaking tour.  You know you’ve done well when the 11-year-olds don’t hate it:

Her brother, 11-year-old Joseph Smith, said, "He was really funny and I liked that he joked around a lot. It wasn’t so bad; it wasn’t super boring."

Culture Club: How much longer can The Simpsons really go on? – These guys are far gentler on Zombie Simpsons than I would be, but other than that this is pretty much every Simpsons-meta conversation ever.  It can still be good!  It should go off!  Age the characters to make it fresh! 

Lisa Simpson and why reform isn’t really reform – Using the failure of Lisa Lionheart to explain the vacuousness of most school reform:

In an old episode of The Simpsons, Lisa mounts a campaign against a Barbie-like doll called “Malibu Stacy” that spouts sexist phrases such as, “Let’s wear makeup so the boys will like us,” and “Math is hard.”

Talking Malibu Stacy doesn’t say “Math is hard”, and she wants to “buy” makeup, no “wear” it, but it’s quite apt so I’m going to call that moderate usage. 

Two Quick Things – Global warming deniers are funny (though not in the way they think they’re funny):

I walked past a number of protesters that had signs saying "Global Warming Is A Lie!"  Also, they had pictures of Homer Simpson and signs that read "Science By Homer Simpson."  My first thought was, I haven’t seen that episode of the Simpsons.  My second thought was, does Homer even know he’s the mascot for a "Global Warming Is A Lie" protest?  My third thought was, I wonder if that is copyright infringement?

Bart Simpsons rocks his kiteboard – The kiteboarding community took notice of last week’s Zombie Simpsons.  That is all. 

Bart Simpson Soundboard – Ninety-nine cents for twenty-five Bart Simpson quotes for your Palm device. 

Using Building Science to Transform a Damp, Musty Basement – From a blog post about renovating a building with a mold problem:

"In this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" Homer Simpson said that, and it’s good advice for all of us. Actually, we don’t really have a choice, you know. If, out of ignorance or dissent, we do things that go against the laws of thermodynamics or physics or building science, we don’t break the laws. But they sure can break us — and our buildings!

Excellent usage.

Partying with Lisa Simpson! – Someone finally put one of those giant statues left over from the movie promotion to good use as a party decoration.  Click through for the photographic proof. 

"Legends of Bikini Bottom": Tales of the Extremely Mundane – In describing the sorry state of SpongeBob, Maxie Zeus agrees with us:

A SpongeBob SquarePants review shouldn’t be the place for a lecture on the economics of Hollywood and cable television. Problem is, the SpongeBob franchise, even more than The Simpsons franchise, long ago stopped being a funny and innovative cartoon show and became a case study for the Harvard Business Review.

[…]

What I mean, of course, is what I’ve been saying every time I have to review a new SpongeBob SquarePants DVD: the cartoons are bland and boring and have about 1% of the personality of the first few seasons. But Nickelodeon will keep producing them as (creative) loss leaders for its merchandising business and because the little yellow sponge still draws eyeballs. Meanwhile, the real innovation is being executed by the marketing people, in devising ever more creative ways to package its shorts in ever more forms.

That sounds eerily like Zombie Simpsons.

19
Nov
10

Quote of the Day

Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song4

“I have had it!  I have had it with this school, Skinner!  The low test scores, class after class of ugly, ugly children.” – Superintendent Chalmers

18
Nov
10

Simpsons Alumni Update: George Meyer & the Mr. Burns Toad

Mr. Burns Toad

Both images from Conservation International.

“Why here’s the fellow.  Wiry, fast, firm proud buttocks, reminds me of me.” – C.M. Burns

Deep in the jungle primeval in Colombia, a couple of new species were discovered, a frog and two toads, to be precise.  One of them, pictured above of the genus Rhinella, was dubbed, in an excellent publicity ploy, the “Mr. Burns” toad.  Unlike that “Homer Simpson gene” from a few months ago, these scientists have a Simpsons alum to back up their gimmick.  Here’s Dr. Robin Moore:

"As for the new beaked toad, it is easily one of the strangest amphibians I have ever seen. Its long pointy snout-liked nose reminds me of the nefarious villain, Mr. Burns, from The Simpsons television series."

After seeing pictures of the new species, Simpsons series long time writer/producer and amphibian enthusiast, George Meyer said of the resemblance, "The toad’s imperious profile and squinty eyes indeed look like Monty Burns." Meyer is an active member of Conservation International’s Chairman’s Council.

Here’s the toad looking imperial and godlike:

Mr. Burns Toad2

(via Columbia Reports)

18
Nov
10

Quote of the Day

Lisa's Sax3

“Now son, on your first day of school I’d like to pass along the words of advice my father gave me.” – Homer Simpson
“Homer, you’re dumb as a mule and twice as ugly.  If a strange man offers you a ride, I say take it.” – Abe Simpson

17
Nov
10

Crazy Noises: Lisa Simpson, This Isn’t Your Life

Lisa's Sax4

“I’ll give you the address of a nice preschool.” – Dr. J. Loren Pryor

In our ongoing mission to bring you only the shallowest and laziest analysis of Zombie Simpsons, we’re keeping up our Crazy Noises series for Season 22.  Since a podcast is so 2004, and video would require a flag, a fern and some folding chairs from the garage, we’ve elected to use the technology that brought the word “emoticon” to the masses: the chatroom.  Star Trek image macros are strictly forbidden, unless you have a really good reason why Captain Picard is better than Captain Kirk.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on  “supposedly”).

There are about four different episodes I could’ve done a compare & contrast post when it comes to “Lisa Simpson, This Isn’t Your Life”. For now I’ll content myself by pointing out how much better “Lisa’s Sax” is just in terms of allowing the viewer to follow the action without getting plot whiplash every three minutes. In “Lisa’s Sax”, Bart is having trouble at school; Marge and Homer go to talk to the school counselor about Bart. Toddler Lisa is sitting in her mother’s lap when the counselor notices her intelligence and recommends a good preschool. The family goes to the school where they find that they cannot afford it or get a scholarship. It’s very clean and simple and viewer friendly:

A (Bart has trouble in school) -> B (parent/counselor meeting) -> C (counselor sees how smart Lisa is) -> D (counselor recommends preschool) -> E (family checks out good preschool)

In “Lisa Simpson, This Isn’t Your Life” it goes like this:

A (Lisa disappointed in school) -> L (a bus drives by) -> C (family shows up at a school) -> Y (Homer dives out of a window)

It all makes perfect sense if you happen to have suffered cranial trauma recently, otherwise, not so much. Dave was once again unable to join us this week. He did send this in:

“I didn’t bother watching this year’s ToH episode, which means it has been a relatively enjoyable few weeks devoid of Zombie Simpsons.  ‘Lisa Simpson, This Isn’t Your Life’ irrevocably ruined this peace.  It made me contemplate throwing my water bottle at my laptop on multiple occasions.  It was remarkably unfunny, trite, and poorly rehashed any number of plot points from episodes past.  Not sure why anyone thought it was a good idea to send this piece of shit into production, but they did, and should be stoned as a result of their terrible decision.”

He, uh, didn’t like it.

Mad Jon: Opening shot?

Charlie Sweatpants: The Itchy & Scratchy thing?

Mad Jon: Ok. I was ok with it until it kept going.

One or two murders will cover it.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, it got old pretty fast, plus it was another one that was completely unrelated to the rest of the episode.

Mad Jon: Yeah, most of the old ones tied in a bit, e.g. the one when Homer became an astronaut.

Charlie Sweatpants: When I think about things like the look of pained joy on Krusty’s face after the thresher hits Scratchy Jr. and his dad, I can’t help but wish they’d do things like that just every once in a while.

  Still, the very beginning was probably the high point of the episode.

Mad Jon: Also, every I&S used to end with Bart and Lisa laughing or something, they didn’t even bother to stick around for the end this time.

They used to be entertainment for the characters, not just those willing to watch FOX at 8pm on Sundays.

  And I agree, it was probably the high point.

Charlie Sweatpants: Because once Homer began refilling his gas tank for no reason, it was all downhill from there.

Mad Jon: I think it would have been a much better episode if Homer didn’t show up at all.

Although the only chuckle I had was at his line about picking a dead end and waiting for death.

Charlie Sweatpants: Enh. That didn’t rise to chuckle worthy for me. It’s not a bad concept, but like everything else it was just too ham handed to be fun.

Mad Jon: Fair enough

Charlie Sweatpants: The gas station thing just went on forever, and when it finally did end all we got out of it was that they got lost on the way home (for some reason) and that bizarre scene at Marge’s old house.

Mad Jon: We never did find out anything about the current home owner either, did we?

Charlie Sweatpants: Not really. She was just there, and had apparently left Marge’s old room intact for some reason.

It’s another one of those lazy storytelling devices where the writers are so pleased with themselves for thinking of something that hasn’t been beaten into the ground yet that they don’t bother to develop it at all.

The trip to Marge’s old house was about twenty seconds of content stretched over a minute and a half.

Mad Jon: Which is obviously a lesson they forgot the rest of the episode. That was like 4 old plot lines rehashed in one episode.

Charlie Sweatpants:  That’s the other problem.

The Bart-Nelson subplot felt like something Sam Simon would’ve burned the moment it came off his typewriter.

  It just keeps making less and less sense, right up until the end when they walk in together at four in the morning for one of the more random endings I can recall in a while.

Mad Jon: Yeah, that caught me pretty off-guard. If apple juice made you drunk I would have an extra decade or so of substance abuse under my belt.

Charlie Sweatpants: And let’s not forget that it all got started when Bart went kite-boarding in the playground for some reason.

Mad Jon: Is Kite-boarding a current fad or something?

  Although I must say last time I was in Miami for business I watched some guys do that and it looked pretty freakin’ sweet.

Charlie Sweatpants: I don’t think so, but they had that “Sonny & Cher” kite, and that was too good not to use again.

Mad Jon: Definitely not as good as the Ringo Starr portrait.

  “Gear.”

  I’m going to watch that episode tonight.

Charlie Sweatpants: That will make you feel better.

  Before you get to that though, we have to discuss the A-plot.

Mad Jon: Oh, I’m not going anywhere yet.

Charlie Sweatpants: I know I ranted about this in that post about how awful Marge was, but what was the point of this story?

Did it have a point?

  Or even a climax?

  A conflict of any kind?

Mad Jon: I think maybe the climax/resolution was supposed to happen at the end when Lisa realized her mother led some sort of good life, but then she had that look in her eyes that in a soap opera would mean an evil twin would show up next episode.

  But that only covers the “Separate Vocations” plot.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, then there’s the “Lisa’s Pony” part, except without the humanity, and the “Lisa’s Sax” part, except without any kind of resolution.

  I don’t know, maybe I’m asking too much of an episode that had its main point of contention literally drive by on the side of a bus 2/3 of the way through.

Mad Jon: Most assuredly.

It was even harder to watch as apparently Lisa, IQ 156, thinks that to have a full life means you must eliminate all forms of everything, but then falls back on that when it goes well for her.

  Weak.

  Bill Gates would have let his mom do the laundry.

Charlie Sweatpants: That part also felt like some kind of bizarre flight of fancy.

Mad Jon: I was waiting for her to eliminate 2 of 5 senses.

Charlie Sweatpants: Okay, you lost me there.

Mad Jon: Well, soon she would have decided that smelling things was a distraction, and comfortable clothes? That will only get you into Brown, say goodbye to Harvard.

Charlie Sweatpants: Okay, it makes sense now.

But that’s part of the problem isn’t it? Ditching the activities that make her such an overachiever is the opposite of what Lisa would do.

  And that’s before we got to the school, which supposedly had everything.

Mad Jon: If anyone should know that the variety of activities Lisa has makes her the person she is, it would be Lisa. Also I think that was a plot line for an episode 4 or 5 season ago.

Charlie Sweatpants: That would not surprise me. But this is another example of them ratcheting back and forth between concepts with no regard for what just happened.

One moment Lisa demands only to study, the next she’s off at a school that has other things going on.

Mad Jon: Like imagination, which may be the single most time sucking activity in which I engage daily.

Charlie Sweatpants: But we also know they have a pool because . . . well, you know.

Mad Jon: Oh, I know.

Charlie Sweatpants: Though, for my money, the three story plunge into the pool actually made more sense than Willie’s floor waxer thing. Admittedly, they are both so close to absolute zero on the humor scale that it’s hard to tell.

Mad Jon: Oh, I have to say that the Willy thing was more obviously insane. What, you couldn’t fit Homer into enough jerk-ass scenes? You had to drag the cleaning staff into this?

Don’t worry, I will also scream it out.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, they long ago gave up on having the supporting characters appearances make sense. I think Chalmers lives at the school now.

Mad Jon: Well, at least they disposed of the subtle hatred/co-dependency that made the Skinner- Chalmers relationship entertaining.

  I know it happened a while ago, but until then it was like waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Charlie Sweatpants: Though apparently Skinner has been principal since Marge was in second grade, so, you know. That’s kinda odd too.

Mad Jon: Especially since they are basically the same age.

  Was he in nom in the mid-late 60’s?

  And also like 22?

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, the Skinner as Vietnam vet thing has kinda backfired on them over the years.

  He’d need to be in his sixties now.

Mad Jon: Which is too bad, as it is one of the funnier long running jokes.

I think I get hard each time I see the shades fall on his slumped reminiscence.

  Whoops, that was the beer talking.

Charlie Sweatpants: It happens. Skinner’s flashbacks are another one of those pieces of humor they long ago forgot how to use.

Anything else?

Mad Jon: No, I think a few commenters got it right, it wasn’t as terrible as most of the latest episodes. It was still pretty terrible, and literally had to recycle 4 or 5 plot themes just to make it to 22 minutes. It just wasn’t quite as terrible.

Charlie Sweatpants: I’m not sure if I can even go that far. The fact that it had a few decent ideas that it failed to develop doesn’t mean all that much in the grand scheme of things.

  It still whirled around, killing time and making no sense, and had its characters act loopy for no reason.

Just because they didn’t go to Switzerland or have Homer get a new job doesn’t mean squat.

Mad Jon: I agree with all of your points.

  All I was trying to say is that I didn’t have to try quite as hard to make it thorough the episode without shutting off the TV or gouging out my eyeballs.

Charlie Sweatpants: That’d make a good slogan for a show with such low standards: Now with Less Urge to Shut Off the TV!

Mad Jon: And also I can’t imagine spending any more time defending my assessment of “not quite as terrible as lately” is even remotely worth it.

My time may be better spent rubbing my index finger over my uvula.

17
Nov
10

Quote of the Day

Blocks of Ice

Image used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user grahamc99.

“Akira, my good man, when do we break blocks of ice with our heads?” – Bart Simpson
“First you must fill your head with wisdom, then you can hit ice with it.” – Akira

16
Nov
10

Compare & Contrast: Marge & Lisa At Breakfast

Separate Vocations6

“Lisa, there are a lot of people in world who like to tell you what you can’t do.  But they don’t always know what they’re talking about.” – Marge Simpson

In both “Lisa Simpson, This Isn’t Your Life” and “Separate Vocations”, Lisa becomes afraid that, despite all her ambition, talent and drive, she’s going to end up like her mother.  The two setups are as close to identical as can be expected given that they were broadcast nineteen seasons apart.  But they take radically different directions once Marge learns of Lisa’s fears.  In The Simpsons, Marge reacts like a loving parent, albeit somewhat naive and misguided; in Zombie Simpsons, Marge reacts like a butthurt child herself. 

The differences are immediately apparent in the scenes where Marge finds out how Lisa feels.  In “Separate Vocations”, the family is sitting at the dinner table.  Marge gives a defensive but understandable “It’s not that bad” when Lisa expresses her contempt for Marge’s lot in life.  It’s one line, and the very next thing out of Marge’s mouth is her desire to help Lisa realize her dream of becoming a jazz musician.  Both things, Marge’s (extremely) mild disappointment and her immediate recovery into being a supportive parent work into the larger scene, which sees both Bart and Lisa’s plot lines advanced as well as both Marge and Homer realize that their kids want to be nothing like them.  And, it goes almost without saying, the dialogue is rife with jokes, including Homer’s inability to join the army or the police and Lisa’s wonderfully elaborate musician fantasy. 

In order to reveal the exact same information, that Lisa doesn’t want to become Marge, Zombie Simpsons has a scene with Marge and Homer in which that is the only topic of conversation.  Marge immediately reacts like a spoiled kid, and most of the scene is her (very out of character) wallowing in self pity while Homer acts manic to try and distract her.  No other plot points are advanced (or even mentioned), and it takes longer too. 

Following those scenes, Zombie Marge and regular Marge follow radically different paths.  But they both end up at the breakfast table with Lisa, and here the massive differences between the two become crystal clear.  In “Separate Vocations”, Marge tries to reassure Lisa that homemaking provides plenty of opportunities for creativity.  (This is after Marge’s plan to show Lisa that she can be a jazz musician hilariously backfires with the immortal line, “You’ve inherited a finger condition known as ‘Stubbiness’.”)  Here’s the dialogue:Smiley Breakfast

Marge: This morning, I turned bacon, eggs and toast into a nice smiley face for Bart and Homer.  

Lisa: What’s the point, they’ll never notice.

Marge: Oh, well you’d be surprised.

Homer and Bart immediately appear to demolish Marge’s carefully constructed breakfast without so much as a thank you, though Homer does manage a satisfied belch.  Just as with the outing to the music store, Marge acts perfectly in character, and the comedy comes from the utter failure of her earnest attempts. 

In Zombie Simpsons, Marge also cooks breakfast.  Only this time, she’s not trying to reassure or encourage her daughter.  She’s attacking her daughter in a way that’s petty, venomous, passive-aggressive, and very un-Marge:Frowny Breakfast

Lisa: Mom, is something wrong?

Marge: Would it be so bad to turn out like me?

Lisa: Mom, I admire everything you do!

Marge: But it’s not good enough, is it?

Yikes.  And Lisa didn’t even do anything to Marge.  All Lisa did was mention to Homer that Marge’s grades declined when the two started dating.  Lisa never said anything to Homer about not wanting to become like Marge but, thanks to Zombie Simpsons’ inimitable contempt for storytelling, that doesn’t matter.  Marge lays into her daughter as though Lisa had deliberately and maliciously set out to personally insult her.

Nor does Marge redeem herself with her laundry scheme.  She goes right on laying the serious guilt trip on her daughter:

Lisa, honey, I insist, because it’s important to you that you don’t turn out like me. 

It works, and Lisa gives up the school so Marge’s feelings won’t be hurt any longer.  This is the diametric opposite of Marge’s behavior in “Separate Vocations”, when she goes out of her way to encourage and support Lisa. 

In a final bit of what is either sloppy editing or simple meanness (Zombie Simpsons often makes it hard to tell the difference), the last shot of Lisa is of her looking regretful about her decision as she hugs Marge.  This is different than a funny-sad ending where a comedy character loses or gets thwarted, this is just sad. 

The Simpsons kids have been embarrassed, stifled, or just plain let down by their parents many times, but not intentionally.  Even some of the most traumatic moments caused by Homer’s awful parenting, such as his failure in “Lisa’s Pony” (which this episode also apes more than a little bit), are accidental.  Here, Marge is intentionally harming her kid, and that isn’t so much funny as it is cruel and tragic. 

But let’s not end on a sad note.  Let’s remember that in “Separate Vocations”, not only does Marge support Lisa, but Lisa eventually regains her self confidence after Bart acts like more of a decent human being that Marge does in all of “Lisa Simpson, This Isn’t Your Life”:

You got the brains and the talent to go as far as you want, and when you do, I’ll be right there to borrow money.

16
Nov
10

Quote of the Day

Bart the General4

“Why don’t you go see Grampa?” – Lisa Simpson
“What can he do?” – Bart Simpson
“He’ll give you good advice, he’s the toughest Simpson alive.” – Lisa Simpson
“He is?” – Bart Simpson
“Yeah, remember the fight he put up when we put him in the home?” – Lisa Simpson

Happy birthday John Swartzwelder! 

15
Nov
10

Marge Acts Like a Child, Until She Doesn’t, Then It Ends

Chalkboard - Lisa Simpson, This Isn't Your Life

“A homemaker?  I might as well be dead.” – Lisa Simpson
“Lisa, it’s not that bad.” – Marge Simpson

For all those who have ever wondered what would happen if Zombie Simpsons took “Lisa’s Sax”, “Separate Vocations”, and “Lisa’s Pony” and added in a hash of “Bart the General” as a B-plot, wonder no more.  It lasts about twenty-two minutes, moving glacially from one overwrought plot point to another, pausing occasionally for a bizarre aside that the writers think is clever.  In that last category, we have the interminable gas station scene at the beginning, Willie’s bizarre floor-waxer conniption fit, Bart’s kite-boarding montage, and Homer’s clock eating slow motion dive out of a window. 

To my surprise, there were a couple of decent ideas here.  But, as usual, they shied away from anything that could be called insightful.  Case in point, concealing from the consumer which toy they’re actually buying.  It’s a good concept, especially because the toy is supposed to be an apology from an oil company.  But instead of doing anything clever with it, they use it as an excuse for more of their usual crazy Homer antics, including having him spray himself with gasoline for some reason. 

The numbers are in, and while they are up from last week, they are also probably going to get revised down on account of football overrun.  Right now Zombie Simpsons is rocking a 8.97 million viewers, but that is almost certain to come down significantly once the final numbers are posted.  When the revised figure gets to TV By the Numbers, I’ll take another look.  Here’s hoping it plummets. 

15
Nov
10

Quote of the Day

Dead Putting Society3

“Marge, where’s the Duff?” – Homer Simpson
“We’re all out, Homer.” – Marge Simpson
“D’oh!” – Homer Simpson
“Would you like some fruit juice?” – Marge Simpson
“Don’t toy with me, woman.” – Homer Simpson

Happy 20th Anniversary to “Dead Putting Society”!  Original airdate: 15 November 1990.

14
Nov
10

Sunday Preview: “Lisa Simpson, This Isn’t Your Life”

Tonight’s follow up to last week’s underwhelming Treehouse of Horror episode is “Lisa Simpson, This Isn’t Your Life”.  We’ve got a dull, lifeless description from Simpsons Channel, which merits a dull, lifeless response:

Discovering that Marge was once a stellar A+ student whose grades plummeted after being distracted, Lisa fears that she will end up just like her mom unless she pledges to focus solely on academics in an encore episode. When Marge makes a secret deal allowing Lisa to attend her dream school, Lisa learns a lesson in family and altruism. Meanwhile, Bart puts Nelson in his place and unintentionally claims the title of “School Bully.”

Oh goodie.  No blood this week, I just don’t have it in me.

14
Nov
10

Sunday Morning Roundup

Worker_and_Parasite_by_spacecoyote

spacecoyote!

The above image is full of win.  And I mean full.  All linguistic efforts, be they praise or criticism, will fall short.

In other news, Kokairu posted her Season 2 roundup.  All I’ll say is that, if you’re in an old enough post office, a mural like the one from “Blood Feud” is not uncommon.  But that doesn’t make that one any less awesome.

Third, what appears to be the main thread on No Homers about the Season 23 renewal is titled:

Renewed! Zombie Simpsons lives on to 2012

That’s right, it’s called “Zombie Simpsons”, and it is not the same thing as our favorite show.  Join the conspiracy.

And finally:

Kids love me, you could swear I’m Bart Simpson in real life.

First of all, I can’t skate.  Second of all, this is sweet.  And third of all, overseas flights is rough; and, oh by the way,  “Bart Simpson” is a great name for a song.

14
Nov
10

Quote of the Day

Marge in Chains3

“From now on I’ll use my gossip for good, instead of evil.” – Helen Lovejoy

Happy birthday Maggie Roswell! 

13
Nov
10

Quote of the Day

Big5

Image taken from Wikimedia Commons.

“We need more ammo.  Let’s go to Big Five.” – Fat Tony

Happy birthday Joe Mantegna!

12
Nov
10

Reading Digest: Premier and Renewal Edition

Treehouse of Horror IV10

There were two events that generated quite a bit of Simpsons related internet activity this week.  The first, obviously, was the unfortunate refusal of Zombie Simpsons to die.  The second was the premier of Simpsons alum Conan O’Brien’s new show on TBS.  Both generated multiple links below.  There’s also some excellent usage, some fan made stuff, even more Treehouse of Horror lists, and an ex-teacher who uses the show (among other things) to get kids to learn math, er, “maths”, as he is British.

Before the links though, I’d like to introduce something new.  (I was going to do this last week, but I got distracted by that conspiracy numbskullery.)  In the comments to Reading Digest from two weeks ago, Andreas posted a link to his excellent Treehouse of Horror post:

Not to self-promote, but I did a ToH piece partially talking about the ridiculously low depths to which Zombie ToH episodes have stooped:
http://mendthiscrack.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/the-best-and-worst-of-the-treehouse-of-horror/

Hope the reading value outweighs the linking-to-myself sleaziness. Thanks for these links, and happy Halloween!

In general, posting links to your own stuff in blog comments is frowned upon, and probably for good reason.  But there’s no reason that custom should apply to Reading Digest.  After all, these posts are nothing but collections of Simpsons links, and I see no harm in people using it to promote Simpsons related things they’ve done themselves or just seen elsewhere.  Obviously, we still accept links via e-mail, of which we had quite a few this week, but if you’ve written, drawn, painted, crocheted or otherwise created something Simpsons related and it has a URL, go for it.

Enjoy.

Moe-Saic – Smooth Charlie’s Click of the Week is this sweet fan made Moe image.

Not Just the Ticket — #77, Curve, November 24, 1993 – A concert story from 1993, complete with a Matt Groening encounter.

The Simpsons Squeaking Pork Chop Thing. – A heartwarming tale of one man’s quest to find a squeaking pork chop, and the awesome ending when he finally does.  I like the cartoon dog that represents, but is legally distinct, from Lassie.  Thanks to reader Galileo for the link!

Simpsons & Canada – What must be a circa Season 13 news report from Canada about Canadian references on the show:

(Via Bob’s Place… Exploring Winnipeg and Beyond.)

22 years of Coco: Conan’s Best Moments – Looking at the career of Conan O’Brien from the perspective of someone who isn’t old enough to remember all of it.

Huge Screen v.2 Review – This entertaining review of a terrible video game system comes courtesy of reader James:

The “Simpsons” part, if you can call it that, starts at about the 2:00 minute mark.  But you’ll understand it a lot better if you watch it from the beginning.  It is terrible.

Familiar Faces #42: Top 13 Treehouse of Horror – Before we get to the regular Treehouse of Horror lists, here’s a video one.  There’s some Zombie Simpsons (as usual, largely at the bottom of the list), but it’s mostly good and I ended up watching pretty much the entire thing.  If you’re not in for the whole thing (it is almost fifteen minutes long), skip to the end.  Marge’s “We’re just gonna have to wait and see” really should be the tag line for all horror movies where characters seem to be begging to get brutally murdered.  Thanks to reader Sean for the link!

Simpsons Classics: Treehouse of Horror – Another best segments list from Treehouse of Horror.  The only Zombie Simpsons on the list isn’t all that Zombie-ish:

9. “Night of the Dolphin” (ToH XI, 2000)

The last genuinely intriguing Treehouse of Horror short came an even decade ago, with Snarky talking man and plenty of imagery from The Birds (I’m such a sucker for Hitchcock that I don’t mind that the odes to The Birds in “A Streetcar Named Marge” were better). It also included another bumbling effort from Chief Wiggum (“Bottlenose bruises, blowhole burns, flipper prints—this looks like the work of rowdy teens. Lou, cancel the prom”)* and the physical comedy of dolphins beating up Springfieldianites. In the end, you’ve got to hand it to those dolphins. They just wanted it more.

I know I’ve said this before, but that segment is pretty decent.  The rest of the list is Zombie free.

The 10 best moments from The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror – The next two come via No Pun Intended (the same site as the above list).  This one’s from io9 and contains some actual Zombie Simpsons in addition to “Night of the Dolphin”.

11 Best Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Stories, In Order – This one also has “Night of the Dolphin” and the obligatory token Zombie Simpsons at #11.

Which is more real? – An odd little thought experiment:

Here are the rules: You have two choices. Select the one you feel is “more real.” You MUST choose one and be prepared to defend your answer.

Here are the two Simpsons ones:

  • Avatar vs. The Simpsons
  • The Simpsons vs. South Park

For both I’d have to say The Simpsons is more “realistic”, but Zombie Simpsons isn’t.

Renault to launch The Simpsons branded car – Near as I can tell, “branded” in this case means including that GPS system with Homer’s voice.  You know, the GPS system that keeps getting people lost.

Locutio Awarded for Homer Simpson GPS Voice – Apparently FOX has created an award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence for companies that make above average Simpsons crap.  Seriously:

Each year, Krusty awards are given to a very select few of the hundreds of licensees of The Simpsons for outstanding achievement in areas such as creativity, innovation and partnerships.

Now that’s quality control!

11 Websites Featured On The Simpsons — And What You Get When You Visit Them – This is a list of URLs that have been on the show and what you get when you actually steer your browser there.  It’s almost exclusively from Zombie Simpsons for the obvious reason that there wasn’t much internet while the show was still itself, but it’s interesting nonetheless.  Again, thanks to reader Galileo for sending this in!

The freedom of speech – lessons from DH Lawrence to al-Qaeda – A censorship discussion that begins with excellent usage.

Stand-up comic using The Simpsons to get kids excited about maths – More ways to educate through cartoons.

Springfield plant tower falls the wrong way – but it’s not Homer’s fault – This is tenuously connected to the show, but when a power plant smokestack collapses in a place called Springfield, it’s probably inevitable.  It is a hell of a picture, though.

Homer Simpson’s Guide to Life – Ten Homer quotes and some ironic meanings for them.  I didn’t check the quotes, but they look close enough on a quick glance.

I usually remain humble on things. But your Level of Conan O’Brien appreciation is not on MY Level. – A fan of Conan O’Brien from his Simpsons days went to the first tapings of both his ill fated Tonight Show stint and his new one.  That’s dedication.

The Simpsons Series 2 Minis Now Available from KidRobot – I’ll Take One Zombie Homer Please – Actual Zombie Simpsons figurines.  (Of the kids, at least.)

Bart Simpson Board Android App Review – This is apparently the Android version of that Bart Simpson chalkboard generator I usually (whoops, forgot this week) use for the ratings posts.

Fox Renews The Simpsons for a 23rd Season – And now, for the renewal news portion of this post.  Even nominal fans are apathetic:

I’ll admit, I haven’t been the most faithful watcher these past few seasons, but I was once a die-hard Simpsons fan and really can’t picture Sunday on Fox without it.

Obviously, I don’t agree that renewal is a good thing.  But this is fairly representative of a lot of the reaction I saw on-line after it was announced: “Wow, that’s amazing! Now I will continue to rarely if ever watch the new ones.”

The Simpsons Renewed For One Billionth Season – Gabe at VideoGum agrees with us:

FOX has renewed The Simpsons for a 23rd season, during which they will broadcast their 500th episode. That is so many episodes! That is literally too many episodes. Go to bed, The Simpsons.

The Simpsons…Someone Needs to Cut Them Off – And finally, another Gabriel with a truly epic rant:

I was just old enough to watch this show when it first aired in 1989.  And like most folks in my generation, I believe in the Golden Age of the show that really petered off somewhere between seasons seven and nine.  The Simpsons, you break my heart.  I look at you, and all I see is someone’s parents vainly attempting to convince their kids that they’re still cool and hip.  Quit it already.  No one wants to see that level of embarassment.

Preach on!

[Edited to at least partially fix strange YouTube issues.  Not sure what’s going on there.]

12
Nov
10

Quote of the Day

Pocket Bread

Image used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user Qfamily.

“Pita?  Well, I don’t know about food from the Middle East.  Isn’t that whole area a little iffy?” – Helen Lovejoy
“Hey, I’m no geographer.  You and I, why don’t we call it ‘pocket bread’, huh?” – Fleet-a-Pita Saleswoman

11
Nov
10

Bad News

Homie the Clown3

“Stop, stop, he’s already dead.” – Adorable Child

The headline here tells you everything you didn’t want to know:

The Simpsons Renewed, Will Pass 500 Episodes

On one level, this is expected.  While the show was only officially renewed through Season 22, they’ve already talked publically about a Season 23 Christmas episode that was in production.  Contained within the article is both good news and bad news.  The good news:

Vulture has learned that Fox has renewed The Simpsons for a 23rd season of animated adventures, taking it through its landmark 500th episode (specifically, it takes the show up to episode 515).

It’s only for one more season, whereas the last renewal was for two.  But before dark hope lets you believe that our long nightmare will finally putter out with Season 23, here’s the bad news:

Jean expects the 500th episode to be broadcast in February 2012. “We’ll actually have enough episodes to go into a 24th season,” even if Fox doesn’t officially order that season.

Guh.  This Sunday’s episode will be number 469, which means there will be at least 46 more after it.  A February 2012 broadcast of #500 would mean they’d have fifteen left heading into the end of Season 23.  They have never broadcast fifteen episodes between February and the end of a season.  There will very likely be some leftovers at the end of Season 23.  Whether that guarantees a Season 24 or not, I have no idea.

Given the lead time, we can push back the date at which production would halt to roughly summer of next year.  If the show’s going to end with 515 episodes, that’s about when they’d stop writing new ones.  Assuming the stoppage would leak on-line, next summer is the earliest at which we can hope for good news.  But hey, maybe they’ll end with a half Season 24 and a 2012 Christmas special?  Yeah, probably not.

Oh well, until then I’ll just go back to living in denial that this show will someday collapse under the weight of its own accumulated suck.

Thanks to Al Jean (seriously, could be a prank but didn’t feel like one) for the tip!

11
Nov
10

Quote of the Day

Three Men and a Comic Book4

“Who’s that?” – Bart Simpson
“Oh, that’s my brother Asa.  He was killed in the Great War.  Held a grenade too long.” – Mrs. Glick
“This one’s for you Kaiser Bill, special delivery from Uncle Sam and all the boys in D Company.  Yeah, Johnny, Harris, Brooklyn Bob, and Reggie, yeah, even Reggie, he ain’t so stuck up once you get to-” – Asa

11
Nov
10

Compare & Contrast: Vampire Segments

Treehouse of Horror IV9

“This cape is giving me a rash.” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson

In Season 5’s Halloween special, the final segment is a vampire story.  In Season 22’s Halloween special, the final segment is also a vampire story.  Let’s take a look at them, shall we?

The difference is apparent immediately.  The Simpsons starts things off with the family quietly watching television, complete with the dogs playing poker painting in the background as a transition from the lead-in.  The news report situates things firmly in the Springfield we’ve all come to know and love: the police are incompetent, Brockman is an idiot, Burns is evil.  Everything necessary to set up the story has been established in one quick and joke filled scene.  Zombie Simpsons begins with thirty seconds of dialogue free nothing that would be utterly irrelevant to anyone who hasn’t seen Twilight.

That’s followed by a glacial setup full of painfully poor dialogue (“I should be scared, but I’m not.”) and repetitive jokes that, again, would be unfamiliar to anyone who hasn’t seen the source material.  It’s not until two-and-a-half-minutes into a six-and-a-half-minute segment that one of the main characters is introduced, a warmed over vampire complete with cliched costume and accent.  By contrast, two and a half minutes into “Bart Simpson’s Dracula”, the family has met Burns, dined with him, and the kids are off exploring his castle after Lisa, completely in character, figures out what’s really going on.  It’s packed with jokes, some referencing Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Burns’ shadow is great) and others not (“Lisa, vampires are make believe, just like elves, gremlins and Eskimos”). 

It should also be noted that the fact that Season 5 is working with much stronger source material is no excuse for Season 22’s abject humor failure.  If you want to make fun of Twilight, make fun of Twilight.  There is no shortage of things that can be mocked: vampires that don’t drink blood, sparkle in the sun, and enjoy baseball.  There are even fantastically sexy supernatural superhunks who inexplicably fall in love with a heroine that, to make her easily relatable for every member of the target demographic, has been deliberately excised of all personality.  This sort of thing is a satirist’s wet dream and they don’t use any of it.  Instead, they sketch up the world’s least imaginative vampire . . . and name him “Dracula”.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the culmination of hundreds of hours of work by the staff of Zombie Simpsons, as well as the first Google Image result for “Dracula Costume”:

World's Least Inventive Vampires

One of these is the work of cheap knockoff artists, the other is a costume.

Then we get to the respective endings.  The Simpsons takes the story back to the scene of the crime for its finale.  We know where Burns’ hideout is, and the family is going back there to reclaim their son.  Along the way the show never takes things seriously, tossing off jokes (a callback to the Super Fun Happy Slide, Homer stabbing Burns in the crotch) and absurdist observations (Marge wishing they could’ve gotten a sitter, Burns firing Homer and Homer being dumb enough to think it matters). 

Zombie Simpsons, on the other hand, takes us to a place we’ve never seen and that has no relevance to anything, all so they can waste some time on background vampires.  (That Springfield has a vampire district would come as a surprise to the Lisa of the opening who didn’t know they existed, but those scenes happened whole minutes apart, and that’s an ocean of time for Zombie Simpsons.)  Even once it finally has all four characters in the bell tower, it can’t wrap things up neatly.  Several bodily threats are played for suspense, and yet more expository dialogue fills out the rest of the time. 

The whole thing ends with Homer actually turning into a vampire before falling off the bell tower for no reason.  Lisa is, I guess, just sort of stuck up there with the other two vampires.  Despite the fact that they opened the episode with Frink using a TiVo remote, no further meta gags are brought it to tie things up or send the audience off with a smile.  It’s just over, a random series of events ending as suddenly and pointlessly as it began. 

Of course, that’s not how The Simpsons ended it’s vampire segment.  After Burns is killed, we return to the family breakfast table for a joke filled wrap up that takes advantage of the audience not knowing that the segment is already over.  Even then it’s not played for serious suspense, Grampa is still inept, Marge is still underestimated, and the whole thing turns out to be a “holiday wishes” type message.  But no seconds of screen time are wasted, as it immediately transitions into a brief but evocative “Peanuts” joke, complete with Santa’s Little Helper as Snoopy and Milhouse on Schroeder’s tiny piano. 




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