Reading Digest: Audio Visual Club Edition


“The hometown show’s the big one, Homer.” – Jimmy Chamberlin
“Yeah, people who called you a weirdo in high school get to see what a successful freak you’ve become.” – James Iha
“Hey, I wasn’t a weirdo.  I was in the audio-visual club.” – D’arcy Wretzky  
“Really?  Me too.  But I got kicked out cause of my views on Vietnam . . . also, I was stealing projectors.” – Homer Simpson

Happy Whacking Day everybody!  This week we’ve got two links to those cool geeks at the A.V. Club, and while both take specific episodes (“Homer’s Enemy” and “Lady Bouvier’s Lover”) as their starting points, they also both end up in broader discussions of the show and television in general.  In addition to that, we are positively swamped with cool fan made stuff this week, from arts & crafts projects to drawings to a simple Star Wars/Simpsons sketch that I can’t believe someone hasn’t turned into a painting yet.  And, of course, we’ve also got the usual assortment of lists and random stuff, from usage to the widely linked obituary for Groening’s mom. 


Wacking Day! – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week (Whacking Day Special Edition) is this fantastic fan knitted . . . you know what?  Just click the damn thing.  It’s not quite hat, it’s not quite a scarf, but it is damned cool.

Works In Progress: “Portraits Of Awesomeness” solo show. – This is just some sketches, but scroll down for the one of Chief Wiggum, as Darth Vader, telling Luke/Ralph that he’s his father.  I’m going to have Mark Hamill’s voice screaming, “That’s unpossible!” in my head for the rest of the day.  Bravo.

Don Draper vs. Principal Skinner – I put this on Twitter yesterday, but it’s worth linking twice.  (And when you think about it, one of Draper’s early sexual conquests could’ve been Agnes.)

The Simpsons, the Welsh designer and the new book celebrating Pembrokeshire – Josh Weinstein has a Kickstarter set up for a Welsh kids book:

Sir Benfro’s Big Adventure by Tim Fishlock & Josh Weinstein

For £15 you get a signed copy of the book.

D’oh(nt) Cancel Them Just Yet – Take this as a sign of just how low Zombie Simpsons has sunk on the pop culture totem pole.  This is a defense of the show, and even it contains this:

I know, of course, that the show is not as good as it once was. And ratings are showing this. Season 2 of the show, brought highs of 33 million viewers, whereas season 24 brought lows of 3 million.

I’ve got the current all time low at a flat 4.00 million (for that vile episode where Flanders and Krabappel start dating), but the point stands.

The Simpsons Season 9: The Beginning of the End. – A detailed breakdown of Season 9, including best, worst and one underrated episode.

FULL MCBAIN MOVIE HIDDEN THROUGHOUT ‘THE SIMPSONS’ – Hey, that McBain mashup is back from copyright hell.

Today in Period #3 (Wednesday, May 8) – You can’t discuss Tennessee Williams without Llewellyn Sinclair:

We finished reading/watching/discussing A Streetcar Named Desire – there will be a final quiz on the entire play tomorrow.

We also discussed parody and how an episode of the The Simpsons (“A Streetcar Named Marge”) so effectively parodied the play.

Was The Simpsons Arcade the best of all? – Some nostalgia for the arcade game includes YouTube of the ending that I never even got close to seeing in the arcade.

Maggie Simpson | Hama Bead Patterns – The whole family done in those little beads, with guidelines on how to make them yourself.

Style Inspiration: Homer and Bart Simpson – From the same blog that brought you how to dress like Marge without it being Halloween, here’s Bart and Homer (provided you’re a lady).

Springfield is about to E X P L O D E – Bartkira rolls forward.

15 Common Struggles For Music Lovers (As Told Through Simpsons GIFs) – Pretty much what it says, and except for the first one there isn’t any Zombie Simpsons.

Homer Simpson’s Thought Bubbles: A Collection – Also what it says (and most of them are .gifs).

27 Things "The Simpsons" Taught Us About Love – Buzzfeed does good with a Zombie Simpsons free list.  Some good animated .gifs here as well.

This Week in Music History (May 8th-May 14th) – I like how this is important enough to count as music history:

5/13- On this day in 1993, Fox aired the season 4 finale of The Simpsons, “Krusty Gets Kancelled”. Guest voices on the show included the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Barry White and Bette Midler.

Patented Skinner Burgers – Heh.

Movie 99 Plump Fiction (1997) – Apparently Castellaneta was in a Pulp Fiction spoof so atrocious that it’s currently #98 on IMDb’s Bottom 100.  This is a rather amusing write up of it.

10 marvelously funny cartoon scenes – Just some screen grabs and .gifs from various cartoon shows.

Peaceful Tuesday – A tale of ditching cable includes this excellent reference:

Also, don’t you just think that the very idea of stating things like “I’ve got to catch up on my shows” not only sounds like its work, but also kinda like “I’ve gots to get ma dialin’ wand” or “I wash ma self wit a rag on a stick.” And yes, those are both references to The Simpson, where Homer gets really fat and wears a muumuu.

I haven’t had regular TV in a while, and I really can’t complain.

A classic Simpsons episode explores the universality of being Frank Grimes – A long A.V. Club discussion of “Homer’s Enemy”, including how dark it is or isn’t and how it makes Homer relate to the real world. 

Play It Again – Westworld – Agreed:

The malfunctioning robots at Itchy & Scratchy Land in The Simpsons prove to be more entertaining than their aged source material, Michael Crichton’s 1973 sci-fi western Westworld.

I hadn’t seen Westworld until a couple of years ago, but it definitely hasn’t aged well.

TV – The Top 15 episodes of “The Simpsons” (Part 1) – Nary a trace of Zombie Simpsons at spots 15-11.

Everything I Need to Know, I Learned From Marge Simpson – Ten things Marge taught us, with little to no Zombie Simpsons used as examples.

Bringing The Simpsons to North Korea – Presumably kids getting taught by an Aussie aren’t among the nation’s downtrodden, but still:

From 2010 to 2012, Lone, a history professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia, traveled every six months to North Korea to teach high-school boys (and occasionally girls).

“I wanted to explain that there is a variety of experiences,” he said. “My experiences were different.”

For instance, when Lone brought an English-language comic book of The Simpsons for his classroom, he was surprised to learn that everybody was already familiar with the American cartoon.

Whacking Day…In 10 Words – No, it says here Larry White.

Iron Man 3…In 10 Words – Professor Frink has really pulled himself together. 

Nancy Grace…In 10 Words – Of course, this is just a television show, which is not legally binding, unless proposition 304 passes, and we all pray it will.

I’m pretty selfish – Kicking off a new travel blog with some excellent usage:

As it’s a self-confessed obnoxiousness, I’m reminded of Troy Mcclure:

Selma: Is this a sham marriage?
Troy: Sure baby, is that a problemo?
Selma: But… don’t you love me?
Troy: Sure I do! Like I love Fresca. Isn’t that enough? The only difference between our marriage and any one else’s is: we know ours is a sham.

And so too is the difference between this and other travel blogs: we know this one is obnoxious.

The quote’s had some stuff excised from the middle, but it’s dead on, so that’s excellent usage.

Matt Groening’s mom dies; maiden name Wiggum, she inspired Marge Simpson – She was 94 years old, and the on-line guest log has filled up with fan tributes from around the world.  Condolences.

Maggie as a Teenager – Maggie Simpson Fan Art (653742) – Pretty much what it says.  Well done.

Rafa Benitez refuses to be drawn into discussing Simpsons characters in press conference – Heh:

When asked about The Simpsons character to whom Luiz is so often compared, Chelsea interim manager refused to divulge any knowledge of him.

From PA Sport:

Asked if he was aware who Sideshow Bob is, Benitez said: "I’m aware David Luiz is one of the best players in the Premier League, by miles – miles away from a lot of players. He’s one of the best, without doubt.

According to the Telegraph’s Ben Rumsby a Sky Sports reporter even produced a picture of Sideshow Bob to show Benitez, which is just a bit weird.

That’s right, professional soccer coaches are being belittled with pictures from The Simpsons

homer simpson – An animated .gif of Homer doing the shifty eyes thing from “Beyond Blunderdome”.

Dag 089 – Another vintage Homer t-shirt. 

“Lady Bouvier’s Lover” – And finally, this A.V. Club writeup includes a summation of why The Simpsons was so damned good:

That’s the thing I find when I return to these old episodes of this show. They’re crammed with gags, yeah, but they’re also crammed with gags I remember incredibly well and maybe even think about in my day-to-day life. I wouldn’t call “Lady Bouvier’s Lover” one of the finest half-hours the show ever produced—unless we’re going wide-scale and pulling in every episode ever, in which case it’s in the top 100 or so just by dint of being in this season—but it’s got so many jokes in it I didn’t even know were part of this particular episode that I’m sort of in awe of it. For instance, I remembered that the “Play It Cool” sequence between Homer and Grampa was here, because it was directly related to the plot, but not, for instance, the bit about Homer imagining the kids as looking what we might perceive as “normal.”

That was the genius of The Simpsons—likely my favorite TV show ever made—when it was on a roll. The show did lots and lots of jokes, yes, but it also did many different kinds of jokes. The slapstick of Bart getting punched in the face bumps up against Grampa lifting wholesale from old movies (and getting trouble from legal departments representing the Charlie Chaplin and Jimmy Durante estates), which bumps up against a surrealistic cutaway gag like Homer’s imagination running wild. I’ll occasionally read sniffing from people who don’t like early Simpsons saying that it’s “just” a bunch of pop-culture gags, like, say, Family Guy (and even if it was that, the pop-culture gags draw from so many varied sources that they’d win just based on sheer scope), but even a less instantly classic episode like this one gives the lie to that notion. In addition to strong, heartfelt stories, the show packed in gags as far as the eye could see, then made sure that they hit so many different targets that there would be something for everyone to laugh at. I don’t suppose I need to make the argument here that The Simpsons was the birth of what we think of as much of “modern” TV, but it sure seems that way to me, and that idea gets reinforced every time I go back and look again.


8 Responses to “Reading Digest: Audio Visual Club Edition”

  1. 1 Monty Python Forever
    10 May 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Another list with no Ren and Stimpy: Hang your head in shame, disgraced by your perfidious dismissal of the second greatest cartoon ever.

    Seriously, though, the New York episode, the naval episode, the angel episode, the Movementarian episode and the Last Temptation of Krust are some of my favorites. Those and Sherri Bobbins, Scorpio, the boxing episode, Larry Burns, Cecil Terwilliger, the pretzel episode, Homer’s Phobia–why does anyone think Zombie Simpsons started before season 10?

    • 2 ThisCannotBeTheFuture
      11 May 2013 at 5:19 pm

      I agree that the writing was still plenty sharp through season 10.

      But, sorry, “Dr. Katz” is the second greatest cartoon ever. :)

  2. 3 Monty Python Forever
    10 May 2013 at 5:28 pm

    I saw John Dies at the End a couple of days ago, and it was pure awesomeness: It captured the humor and surrealism of Pointless Waste of Time perfectly, the characters were great, the pace was fast and fun, and the story was completely original and unpredictable, except for guys like me who actually read the website. There were some awful changes–Amy turned from an important character to being virtually nonexistent, but still factored into the ending; Dave’s fate was removed; the whole part where they hid at the cabin, essential to the story, was removed–but otherwise, I loved it.

  3. 10 May 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Did anyone here feel any sympathy for Homer in ‘Homer’s Enemy’ besides me? I mean, Grimes had it bad, but Homer did have a pretty crappy life in most previous episodes; Grimes was just smarter and more conscientious. ‘Homer Loves Flanders’ did a better job of getting sympathy out of Homer’s ‘victim’, because Flanders is such a sweet-hearted pushover that seeing him abused by such grating boorishness is that much more humorously sad, making the ‘payoff’ of him snapping in church so satisfying (and Flanders doesn’t die; their relationship goes back to the status quo after Homer stood up for him!). Plus, incompetence & greed have been RAMPANT, not only at the whole power plant, but throughout the whole town! You’d think a guy who’s been through the stuff he has would be much more rugged & thicker-skinned, with scars to show it, especially considering he’s from the ‘real world’. Also, he would probably be more quiet, gruff-sounding & standoffish, considering how long he’s been beat up by the world, leading the coworkers to stay out of his way, but that’s just my take. (Reading the article & comments solidified my views & gave me strong observational points.)

  4. 10 May 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Thanks so much for the props and link to my blog! I adapted Marge’s body into a design I called “The Hank” which is a neck cowl designed to better cover your nose and ears. Glad to see there are still some cool Simpsons fans out there

  5. 11 May 2013 at 5:31 pm

    I believe the shifty-eyed Homer gif is from “The Mysterious Voyage of Our Homer”? The stylization reminds me of that episode.

  6. 12 May 2013 at 12:28 am

    Did You Kno on Facebook and Tumblr posted about The hidden McBaine movie i.e. the clips of McBaine forming a coherent movie.

  7. 13 May 2013 at 3:54 am

    My programmer is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of the costs.
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