Archive for November, 2013


Sunday Preview: The Kid Is All Right


Lisa’s new best friend turns out to not only be a Republican, but her opponent in their second-grade class election.

Eva Longoria will guest start tonight as Isabelle, who is Lisa’s classmate/friend/opponent.  Isabelle is also the first name of the character Longoria played on The Young And The Restless. Not that I or anyone else cares; I just don’t have anything else to say about this plot line.  Anderson Cooper also stars as himself, so if you didn’t have a reason not to watch before, there you go.




Reading Digest Supplemental: Tournament Links

Dead Putting Society8

Our old friend Nebel was nice enough to remind me on Twitter that I had forgotten to link his best episode ever tournament.  And, he’s not even the only one with an episode tournament I missed this week.  I may need to carve out a special section in Reading Digest while these things go on, but for today here are some links that I should’ve but didn’t include on Friday:

Round 86: The Secret War of Lisa Simpson vs. Homer’s Triple Bypass – The old directors (Silverman, Archer, etc.) really did give the show a distinctive look even beyond the yellow skin.

Round 87: The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular vs. Bart the General – Bart getting his eyeballs dried always looked painful.

Round 88: Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes? vs. Blood Feud – Always love the story of Hercules and the lion. 

Round 89: Lisa the Beauty Queen vs. Bart Gets Famous – You’ll have to speak up, he’s wearing a towel.

THE BEST EPISODE THINGY THERE EVER WAS ROUND 1 Moaning Lisa vs. Lisa’s Substitute – Great breakdown of “Lisa’s Substitute” here.


Quote of the Day

Cape Feare9

“But who’d want to hurt me?  I’m this century’s Dennis the Menace.” – Bart Simpson
“It’s probably the person you least suspect.” – Homer Simpson
“That’s good, Dad.” – Lisa Simpson


Compare & Contrast: Strikes and Strikebreakers

Last Exit to Springfield11

“Goodbye, Springfield, from Hell’s heart, I stab at thee!” – C.M. Burns

The line everyone knows from 1987’s Wall Street is, “Greed is good”.  Of course, Michael Douglas doesn’t quite say that; his actual line is “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good”.  Either way it’s not the best line in the movie.  That honor goes to Martin Sheen, playing the skeptical head of an airline mechanics union.  Sitting in Gordon Gekko’s excessively 1980s penthouse as the iconic bankster of the time licks his chops over wage cuts now for theoretical profit sharing tomorrow, Sheen sagely notes:

“The rich been doing it to the poor since the beginning of time.  The only difference between the Pyramids and the Empire State Building is the Egyptians didn’t allow unions.”

The fight between labor and management is as old as the hills, and labor has only one weapon: organizing.  Not that unions are all smiles and sunshine.  They can be every bit as corrupt, short sighted, and greedy as their opponents, and the conflict between the two are often complicated, messy and painful.  In other words, the whole thing is fertile territory for satire, parody and general yuk-yuks.

Like many rich comedy veins, whether fart jokes or mocking those clowns in Congress, taking a swing at employers, employees and their eternal struggle against one another can be done with verve, insight and wit, or it can be done quickly and cheaply with the barest minimum of thought or humor.  Not being particularly fond of either thought or humor, Zombie Simpsons went with the second option.

Lisa’s cheerleader union plot begins after she is twice magically transformed by the cheerleaders into and out of a cheerleader outfit, so things don’t exactly get off to a good start, but they do manage to cover the bare minimum of "strike" plot points.  Basically these:

1.  The need to strike

2.  The decision to strike

3.  The strike itself

4.  Management’s counter moves

5.  The resolution

All of these have been done by The Simpsons, of course, most completely in "Last Exit to Springfield".  Obviously the B-plot for “Labor Pains” has much less screen time than the A-plot of “Last Exit to Springfield”, so instead of comparing them in whole, just consider those five scenes that they have in common. 

1.  In Zombie Simpsons, Lisa discovers how poorly compensated the “Atomettes” are when the Rich Texan walks over to them and pays them their meager wages, helpfully expositing the amount just in case anyone wasn’t paying attention.  It’s perfectly hacktacular, with characters walking on and off as needed, repeated explanation, and no real connection to anything we’ve seen so far.  (And nevermind pulling a theoretically 8-year-old girl out of the crowd and putting her in a skimpy costume to dance around in front of a bunch of drunken dudes.)

In The Simpsons, Burns decides he wants to cancel dental insurance for his workers more or less out of spite.  He remembers the good old days when you could wall up impudent employees and wants to get back to that.  He doesn’t specifically target the dental plan because it’s expensive or he needs the money, he just wants to screw his workers on the principle that workers should be screwed.  This being The Simpsons, the union doesn’t come off any better.  They almost accepted a keg of beer in exchange for dental coverage and then elected Homer as their leader.  Not only does all this mesh with the B-plot of Lisa needing braces, but it’s a lot more interesting and involved that some simple and heavily exposited pay dispute.  The conflict flows directly from the evil of Burns, Homer gets naturally caught up (instead of just happening to be there), and things can proceed.

Last Exit to Springfield10

“Unless you’re crooked.” “Woo-hoo!”

2.  From there, we see our two opponents, Burns and Homer, hilariously misunderstand each other, starting with Burns trying to bribe Homer and Homer thinking Burns is hitting on him.  Homer hates his new position so much that he goes to resign, but the hotheads in the union cut him off and assume he wants to go to war with Burns instead.  The whole strike is a farce, built on one comic misperception after another.  In "Labor Pains", Lisa and the Rich Texan both wander to cheerleading practice for another exposition and coincidence filled meeting that sees both of them going through the motions.

Cheerleader Padyday

I’m sure Jerry Jones has done some terrible things to Cowboys cheerleaders over the decades, but even he doesn’t pay their pittance  personally.

3.  Both episodes feature quick strike scenes and little montages, but all you really need to know is that The Simpsons wrote a strike song and had Lisa sing it whereas Zombie Simpsons grabbed an old Woody Guthrie song called “What Are We Waiting On”.  That’s pretty lazy, but it’s even worse than it first seems because while the song does contain the word “union”, Guthrie isn’t referring to a labor union, but rather the Union (as in the United States of America).  The song is about fighting Hitler, not fighting management.  So not only did Zombie Simpsons just buy a song, they picked a song by Woody Guthrie, most famous for singing about the lives of working people, that isn’t actually about working people.  Jebus.

Weak Scabs

Oh, Patty & Selma, remember when you were awesome and didn’t take shit from people?

4.  When Burns counterattacks the union, he goes with head busting strikebreakers, fire hoses, and robot workers.  His ideas are very Burns like: outdated and/or insane, but ruthless and at least theoretically effective.  The Rich Texan, on the other hand, makes just a single countermove: hiring Patty, Selma, Nelson’s mom, and the Crazy Cat Lady to replace the hardbodied twenty-somethings who make up his usual cheer squad.  Say what you want about the robot workers, but the box did say they’d be “100% Loyal”.  It could have worked.  Crazy Cat Lady in spandex, on the other hand, is weak tea gross out humor that nicely demonstrates just how empty this conflict really is.

Last Exit to Springfield12

The kind they had in the 30s . . .

5.  And what happens at the end?  Well, the Rich Texan goes to the Simpson house (which is where the strike is being organized because shut up that’s why) and concedes because apparently it never occurred to him to hire more hardbodied twenty-somethings.  Compare that meek surrender to Burns, who deliberately blacks out all of Springfield (even the red light district and the fake vomit factory) while quoting Captain Ahab’s speech from the end of “Moby Dick”.  Having tried to destroy the entire town rather than surrender, Burns finally admits defeat.  The Rich Texan went down with hardly a peep.

Tried Nothing and I'm All Out of Ideas

Ladies, I’m here to wrap up this B-plot because the A-plot has scenes even worse than this coming right up.

The Simpsons mocked both labor and management to within an inch of reality and let the good guys win only because the bad guy is irredeemably insane.  Zombie Simpsons had some cheerleaders giggle and shake their stuff.

The tragedy of all this is that “cheerleader union” is a fantastic idea.  Real NFL cheerleaders are basically paid in pompoms, and an actual Simpsons episode about them unionizing or just getting something more than a token salary (most make well under $100 per game, and they have to do lots of uncompensated non-game stuff as well) could be hilarious.  Instead we got this.  Oh well.


Quote of the Day

Bart Sells His Soul10

“Come to Uncle Moe’s for family fun, it’s good good good good, good good good.” – Uncle Moe’s Commercial
“Hmm, sounds good.” – Homer Simpson


Reading Digest: Thanks Chicago Edition


Image shamelessly yoinked from Wikipedia

“Wow, Capital City, the Windy Apple!” – Mindy Simmons 

Before we get to this week’s links, I’d like to say thank you to everyone at classic Simpsons trivia in Chicago on Monday at Pizzeria Serio.  There was Neil Arsenty and his two man cadre of fanatics, who ran the show and graded our poorly scrawled answers while the rest of us laughed at “Bart’s Friend Falls in Love” and “The PTA Disbands”.  There was the nice bartender dude who gave us the list of cheap bottle beer they were trying to get rid of.  There was the cool but semi-bewildered manager guy who couldn’t quite believe that there were more than enough Simpsons fans to pack his place on an off night and wolf down pizza and drinks like it was the weekend.  There were the fine members of the upstairs staff who gave me a free shot of whisky and toasted it with me.  And, of course, there were all the other Simpsons fans, that shushed conversation when the episodes were on, answered some very tricky questions, and laughed and laughed and laughed.

Best of all, “L’il Bandits”, the team that came in dead last (32nd out of 32), answered every question and stayed for the whole thing.  A team had to be 90% correct or better to place in the top five, so competition was fierce, but whether people had the answers or not, everyone had a good time: watching episodes (“Homer at the Bat” started the evening), quoting lines, and laughing at answers, questions and quotes.  So, thanks again to all involved, participants, organizers and hosts; let’s do it again sometime.

In terms of actual Simpsons news, we’ve got quite a few links to video games old a new this week, including some great suggestions for making Tapped Out less crappy and exploitative than it is.   There’s still no word on what the FXX cable syndication deal will actually mean for us lowly fans, but someone got’s a great suggestion, plus there’s some usage, a couple of great fan made items, an interesting tidbit about Bono, and all the Krusty Brand Seal of Approval merchandise you can shake an upscale clothing store at.


“Distroy” by PEZ Λrtwork – Smooth Charlie’s link of the week is this collection of awesomely elaborate drawings of famous cartoon characters, including Homer and a very creepy Bart.  Excellent.

So It’s Come To This: The Case for the Simpsons Clip Database – Harrumph:

So here’s my pitch to FX and FXX: Work with 20th Century Fox to create the Simpsons Clip Database. Launch it in Summer 2014. At the end of every clip created through the database, append a brief reminder that all episodes of The Simpsons will be available streaming on FXNow, and on the FXX linear channel starting in August. Rather than having to promote the launch yourself, let the show itself do the work for you, and weaponize the series’ cultural capital to let the show’s fans spread the word of the show’s new home.

The meager collection of legal clips on Hulu and YouTube is an insult to the show.  Three cheers for the Simpsons Clip Database!

A Hierarchy of Quoting ‘Simpsons’ Characters – This was making the rounds this week, it’s a list of what I guess are supposed to be the coolest or dorkiest Simpsons characters you can quote.  So quoting Ralph is lame but quoting Sideshow Bob is cool.  Meh.

‘The Simpsons’ Sam Simon to Receive WGA Award – Last night he got a lifetime achievement award. 

Converse x XLarge ‘The Simpsons’ Pro Leather Canvas Hi – More sneakers with Bart on the side.

UK’s first The Simpsons ice cream on way for 2014 – They are running out of things to license.  Clown college, ho!

Twentieth Century Fox signs fashion labels for The Simpsons – And from the same site as the above link:

“It’s clear that The Simpsons is more relevant than ever and the 25th anniversary next year is set to be an even more exciting year in the history of the brand.”
Additionally, new collections will be introduced for existing global partners such as Bershka, Pull and Bear, H&M, C&A, Zara Kids and Original Marines.
The Simpsons collections have launched in the UK this year across high street fashion outlets including, Topshop, Topman, Pull and Bear, Bershka, H&M, C&A, New Look, river Island and Urban Outfitters.

Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money from the teevee show is made.

How to make friends: Wear a Simpsons Shirt – And here’s why they’re doing it:

Yo looking for friends? Just hop on over to the mall, grab yourself this Simpsons sweatshirt at Forever 21 and walk outside your apartment. Seriously never have I seen people more excited or interested in talking to me than when I wear this. It’s like a love connection, but weirdly I’m into it. Although, if you don’t like compliments and avoid people at all costs, DO NOT wear this. You will probably go rogue bitch on everyone and no one wants that. So be warned: wear Simpson apparel with caution.

Marge Simpson AleXsandro Palombo Iconic Dresses – Someone drew Marge wearing a bunch of dresses.  That is all.

Marge Simpson Felt finger puppet – Cool fan made Marge puppet to go with a previously made Homer one.

Eight of our favourite Mayor Quimby moments in The Simpsons – Plenty of good YouTube here.

Homer Simpson beer moments. – More good YouTube here.

Copyright? – A hair salon in Seoul using a little unauthorized marketing.

As New Jersey Prepares To Launch Internet Gambling, Congress Has Plan To Tax The Industry – Excellent usage starts an article about on-line gambling:

Gambling is the finest thing a person can do; IF he is good at it.”

Krusty the Klown’s lawyer, lamenting his client’s decision to bet on the Washington Generals against the Harlem Globetrotters because, as Krusty put it, they were “due.”

Bart Simpson and the cone of ignorance – The 3D map is just devastating.

scribble #41 – Heh, clever.

5 Shocking Revelations About U2’s ‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’ Broadway Musical – I’d kinda like to see this:

5. Bono does a killer impersonation of Mr. Burns on The Simpsons.
During one meeting, Bono turns to Berger and says, “How long have you been with us, Smithers?”

The link between Bart Simpson and the Irish Language. – The etymology of the word “brat”.

Gamecube Review: The Simpsons Hit & Run – A video game review:

Overall, it’s not great, but it’s better than most other Simpsons games out there, and that in itself is an accomplishment because most Simpsons games are terrible.

Indeed they are.

Top 10 Most Requested Features for Tapped Out – Speaking of which, I wholeheartedly endorse #3 and #1 here, but let’s be clear about one thing:

#4 – Voices for the Regular Cast

Due to some legalese, only characters voiced by the main cast are permitted to have voices in the game. At the very least a deal to add-in characters voiced by Tress MacNeille and Pamela Hayden would be welcomed, as each of those two women voice a dozen different characters in the show.

Their absence, and that of many other voices, has nothing to do with legalese and everything to do with FOX and EA being a bunch of cheap bastards.

Dag 289 – T-shirt of Homer asleep on the couch.

Whatever you say, Mr. Billboard! – Heh.

The Best Episode Thingy There Ever Was Round 1 Homer’s Odyssey vs. Homer’s Night Out – Amen to this:

I like how Princess Kashmir, aka April Flowers, is portrayed in this scene. Despite her wings and halo, she is neither an angel nor a sinner. She neither loves nor hates what she does for a living. She’s just a woman doing her job. A lot of shows back then, and even today, would have gone down the road of having her be some poor lost soul who needs to be saved from an industry she hates.

Fish koozies and Bart’s Comet: Pre-class overheads (November 4 – 8) – A science teacher employs “Bart’s Comet” in class:

In the Thursday class, we used one of my favourite Simpsons clips, taken from the “Bart’s Comet” episode. This clip connects to energy and somewhat bridges to the topic of electricity via the bike light generator Bart uses. In the clip, Principal Skinner has a fun quote: “Ah, there’s nothing more exciting than science. You get all the fun of sitting still, being quiet, writing down numbers, paying attention… Science has it all.”

S1E7 “The Call of the Simpsons” – I always like this joke:

The Bigfoot message on television interrupting the presidential address is pretty silly, and easily missed if you aren’t listening.

Brockman’s clipped and hurried delivery makes it.

Halloween Art – The Homer Devil jack-o-lantern is great.

WedNESday: The Simpsons’ Video Games – A detailed look back at the earliest of the Simpsons games.


Quote of the Day

Homer the Great12

“Lenny and Carl are never around on Wednesdays and they don’t tell me where they go.  It’s like a conspiracy.” – Homer Simpson
“A conspiracy, eh?  Do you think they might be involved in the Kennedy Assassination in some way?” – Bart Simpson
“I do . . . now.” – Homer Simpson


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