Archive for January, 2014

31
Jan
14

Reading Digest: Super Bowl Menagerie Edition

Lisa the Greek16

“It’s a touchdown for halfback Dan Beerdorf!  Duff Dry has won the Duff Bowl!” – Commercial Announcer
“They wanted it more.” – Moe

As we here in America approach one of our most sacred high holy days, the internet responded with a torrent of Simpsons/football related links, references and usage.  There’s even one for the Super Bowl’s hapless sibling, the Pro Bowl.  In addition to that, we’ve a whole bunch of cool fan made stuff, most of which comes from an awesome Reddit collection of a painter who does Simpsons requests, a funny interview with Shearer, a harmless Zombie Simpsons-Super Bowl promo, and the first Choo-Choose Valentine’s link of the year.

Enjoy.

And Now For Something Completley Different……. Vol. 2: Will The Real Mr. Sparkle Please Stand Up? – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this brief collection of real life Mr. Sparkles, everything from window washers and women’s underwear to arm tattoos.  Cool.

I make real life Simpsons paintings for fun and here are few I made last year (including some that were commissions from this subreddit!) – A collection of fan made paintings and similar from Reddit.  My favorite is probably #14, the actual Super Nintendo painted to look like Chalmers.  The whole collection is fantastic.  (Many thanks to reader Jodi for sending this in!)

Harry Shearer: Nixon didn’t like blacks, Jews, communists, the French… – Shearer is the best:

How long has The Simpsons got left? We’ll be on the air until Fox finds another comedy show that can work at 8pm on Sunday – so I’ll say another 55 years. There are people who have voted in several elections who are younger than our show at this point.

Has anyone unexpected said they’re a fan of the show? I don’t talk to presidents or popes so I don’t know. What I find most interesting is if someone asks me to do one of the voices, whether they’re a five-year-old girl or a 70-year-old man, when they see the voice come out of a human body they all get the same look of bewilderment, surprise and delight. It’s really fun to see that.

Guess Who? – The beginnings of a Lisa (or Maggie) cross stitch.  And she’s doing one of Chef Bender as well.  Don’t forget to post the final results.

The Grammies Apparently Happened Recently – Now this is coverage of music industry self promotion I can get behind:

Legal Disclaimer: Mr. Simpson’s opinions do not reflect those of the producers, who don’t consider the Grammy an award at all

Excellent usage.

(A late!) Sunday Night Sketchbook 26/01/14 – Scroll halfway down for a cool fan made sketch of Ralph after he grew up to be a caterpillar.  (Also, the Iron Giant one is pretty damn cool.)

What If Our Favorite Fictional Characters Aged and/or Kept Up With The Times – Heh:

6) In ‘The Simpsons’, Bart and Lisa would be in their early to mid thirties.  Bart would probably be finishing up a five to ten year stint in Springfield State Prison or beginning a career in politics.  Lisa would probably have 2 or 3 PhD’s and well on to a Nobel Prize winning career.

Woo Hoo!! – Heh.  Nobody better dis your fly girl.

You Choo Choo Choose Me? – If you’re planning on sending out the perfect Wiggum Valentine’s Day card, now you can.

The Simpsons Take A Trip To The Super Bowl With Everyone’s Favorite New Girl – There’s a Super Bowl video with some of the Simpson characters in it.  It’s mildly amusing in places, and, more importantly, short.  There’s even a joke about football overruns being the only thing that’s keeping FOX a network.  I guess admitting that football overruns are the only thing keeping Zombie Simpsons from disappearing completely would’ve been too close to home.

The Year of the Backlog – A post about a daunting number of unwatched famous movies:

I can’t run from the fact that I haven’t seen a lot of very poI can’t run from the fact that I haven’t seen a lot of very popular and culturally significant movies. No wonder, as I spent the majority of my childhood and teenage years either skipping films altogether or watching the same ones over and over again. This offered me nothing more than the ability to recite Aladdin or Home Alone from beginning to end without skipping a beat. This is a valuable skill, no doubt, but it didn’t provide me much in the way of variety or the opportunity to discover new genres that I might have actually enjoyed. Most of my classic film knowledge exists only through reference or parody, and I owe shows like The Simpsons a great deal for keeping me in the loop. I never watched The Shining, but I knew almost word for word and shot for shot the popular lines and scenes from the Stanley Kubrick classic.

Don’t feel bad.  Lots of people, myself included, learned about a ton of movies from The Simpsons.

Part 119: Cereal – A blog about being single is missing out on some of life’s great pleasures:

There are all sorts of things that other people do and tell you about – in conversation or in blogs or in newspaper columns or similar – which they appear to find pleasurable, but which you have thus far failed to enjoy. Things such as fellatio, The Simpsons and any film the Coen brothers have ever made. Once or twice a year you try them out – because they do seem to make all the other people happy – although you really should have the courage of your convictions by now.

I can’t speak to blowjobs and award winning black comedies, but as for The Simpsons , give it a try at the start of Season 2 with “Bart Gets an F” and go from there.  The world is far too polluted with Zombie Simpsons for any other try to really count.

Super Bowl Sunday is About More Than You Think – A Super Bowl without beer is like a blog post without a .gif of Homer running around an overturned beer truck.

Flashback: Joe Giudice v. Joe Gorga Fight Voiced by Chief Wiggum & Moe – “He’s Bitin’ My Nuts, WTF?!” – This is from a while ago, but I’d never seen it before.  It’s Azaria doing voices over one of those fake fights on a reality show.  Kinda funny to hear Moe says, repeatedly, “He’s biting my nuts.”

Super Bowl Science: Could A Seahawk Beat A Bronco? And Other Important Nerdy Football Questions – Yet more gimmicky Super Bowl previews, but this one invokes Lisa:

In the words of Lisa Simpson, “what could be more exciting than the savage ballet that is pro football?” Perhaps the science of that savage ballet!

Excellent usage.

7 TV Joke Products That Became a Reality – The Leftorium and Tomacco make the list.

The Divine Comedy of the Pro Bowl – And finally, I get to end the way I like, with someone who agrees with us in this comparison of the sad state of the Pro Bowl and Zombie Simpsons:

The NFL Pro Bowl’s ill-fated demise is like tuning into a new Sunday night episode of the Simpsons.
It’s easy to recall a time when these showings were once compelling and even entertaining—albeit, during a time when our insight for amusement hinged on pedantic catchphrases and unfulfilled promises. But for the better part of the last two decades, both stagnant spectacles have nose-dived into a Homer Simpson-sized groove.
They’re outdated, overplayed, and they should have been axed ages ago.

Yup.

31
Jan
14

Quote of the Day

Homer vs Patty & Selma10

“Daddy has very important work to do; he’s looking through the want ads to find a part time job.” – Homer Simpson
“Dad, that’s a gag paper we got at the carnival.” – Lisa Simpson
“Oh.  No wonder I didn’t hear about Bart being elected World’s Greatest Sex Machine.” – Homer Simpson

30
Jan
14

Quote of the Day

Flaming Moe's13

“Hey, what’s this?” – Barney Gumble
“A sneeze guard.” – Moe
“Achoo!  Wow, it really works.” – Barney Gumble

29
Jan
14

Compare & Contrast: Marge in Therapy

Fear of Flying18

“Eww, you like the Monkees?  You know they don’t write their own songs.” – Girl on Bus
“They do so!” – Marge Bouvier
“They don’t even play their own instruments.” – Girl on Bus
“No!  No!” – Marge Bouvier
“That’s not even Michael Nesmith‘s real hat.” – Girl on Bus
“Ahhhhhhh!” – Marge Bouvier
“Kids can be so cruel.” – Dr. Zweig
“But it’s true, they didn’t write their own songs or play their own instruments.” – Marge Simpson
“The Monkees weren’t about music, Marge, they were about rebellion!  About political and social upheaval!” – Dr. Zweig

When The Simpsons would have one of its characters go someplace new or do something they’d never done before, whenever it introduced a new element to the show, it usually made that thing a harsh (if sometimes sympathetic) satire.  So, for example, New York City is filled with jerks and dickish parking officers, but it’s also got nice people who’ll yell back at the jerks in Tower One and glamorous (if inane) Broadway shows.  The sushi restaurant is friendly and delicious, but there’s still drunken karaoke and a map to the hospital on the back of the menu.  The dentist is a sadistic lunatic, but he’s also not wrong about calling you a liar when you tell him how often you brush.

Zombie Simpsons, of course, has a hard time sending the family anywhere novel or having them do something new because everything they come up with is a repeat of some kind.  Beyond that, though, when they do put the family in an unusual situation, they tend to put things in the most positively exaggerated light possible.  Cruise ships are idyllic paradises that are the most fun you’ll ever have.  Going to E3 or some other big show is awesome because you’ll get to run around with VIP passes and see all this cool stuff.  Trips to fancy restaurants are never too expensive or disappointing, and the staff will always treat you like gold.  It’s a completely different mentality, one that’s insulated from unhappiness and incurious about pretty much everything.  And, it goes almost without saying, seeing happy people have fun isn’t generally as funny as the opposite.

For a clean example of how weak this soft focus mentality is, look no farther than the therapist’s office in “Specs and the City” and the huge differences with Dr. Zweig’s office in “Fear of Flying”.  Zweig is certainly a competent therapist, but she also straight up lies to Homer about not blaming him and interrupts Marge’s big realization because a measly $30 check bounced.  The doctor in Zombie Simpsons barely gets any lines because he’s more prop than person.  (He ends the episode cutting Homer’s hair in his office because comedy.)  But beyond his almost nonexistent characterization are the ways that Marge going to therapy is handled.

On The Simpsons, therapy is a almost prohibitively expensive and really can lead to families breaking up.  (Not that ditching Homer would entirely be a bad thing for Marge.)  But it also bears enough of a resemblance to real therapy that it provides plenty of opportunities for jokes, parodies and satire.  So we see Marge’s flashbacks to her traumatic first day of school and seeing her father as a stewardess, get her Lost in Space dream, and have Zweig cracking jokes about copyright, and sarcastically mocking the “rich tapestry” of Marge’s problem after Marge ignores her about the unpaid bill.

Fear of Flying19

Zweig may charge on a sliding scale, but she still charges.

By contrast, Zombie Simpsons has Marge complain about Homer in some rather serious terms but lacks the skill or coherence to turn them around and make them funny at all.  Instead they just give the therapist a bunch of bland therapy lines:

So, Marge, how’ve you been?

And has there been any improvement in Homer’s drinking?

Maybe if you just concentrate on one problem, like his temper.

The jokes, if that is what they are, consist solely of Homer acting outraged at Marge’s legitimate sounding complaints.  This is startlingly emotionally tone deaf, even for them.  The sympathy and audience here are with Marge complaining about Homer, which is portrayed quite seriously.  But the show sticks with Homer’s shock because, hey, that’s where what passes for the punchlines are.

More to the point, the therapy is, well, just therapy.  No attempt whatsoever is made to goose it into something funny and insightful.  It’s left alone and is so dry and straightforward that the doctor’s dialogue wouldn’t be out of place in an instructional video.  He never even comes close to something insane and hilarious like a buttoned down shrink yelling out her love for an all but forgotten mock 60s pop band.

World's Least Interesting Therapist

This man does not love the Monkees.  He’s so boring he may not listen to music at all.

Compounding the dullness is the fact that, in Zombie Simpsons at least, straight ahead therapy works, really really well!  After her bland (and more than a little depressing) appointments, Marge is a cake baking sex machine!  Chalk up another awesome point in the life of Homer Simpson.

Compare that to the just-good-enough and probably temporary (her next flight does crash on takeoff) relief Marge gets from her much funnier and more involved therapy.  Even her final, successful session doesn’t end triumphantly, it ends with Dr. Zweig saying Marge is “nuts” for thinking her father was “an American hero” and Marge immediately getting her name wrong.

The Simpsons created a joke laden, topsy-turvy satire of therapy that worked only to the barest minimum of the definition of success.  Along the way they had a smart but callous therapist, some understandable (if cartoonish) spousal paranoia, and a bunch of pop culture parodies, from campy sitcoms to Alfred Hitchcock. They also managed to treat Marge and her doctor like real people, with concerns and flaws.  Zombie Simpsons had textbook dull therapy work perfectly in that it kept the kickass life Homer loves completely intact without him having to do anything.

29
Jan
14

Quote of the Day

Brother From the Same Planet14

“Come on, Bart, you know better than to talk to strangers.” – Tom
“For your information, I’m his father.” – Homer Simpson
“His father?  The drunken gambler?” – Tom
“That’s right, and who might you be?” – Homer Simpson

28
Jan
14

Behind Us Forever: Specs and the City

Chalkboard - Specs and the City

“This is my pride and joy: I’ve had hidden cameras planted in every home in Springfield.  I got the idea from that movie ‘Sliver’, what a delightful romp.” – C.M. Burns

If there’s one thing Zombie Simpsons has perfected, it’s taking familiar elements of The Simpsons, blasting away everything that made them wonderful, and then propping up the barely recognizable remains as though they weren’t decrepit garbage.  In its own ass backwards way, “Specs and the City” was a tour-de-force of that.  Homer actually spent time at the nuclear plant and stopped for a beer at Moe’s when he was done.  Marge was running the house.  The kids even managed to go to school.  There weren’t any magic powers or post-apocalyptic hellscapes, there was nary a drawn out chase scene nor even a bizarre celebrity cameo.  But even within those relatively calm confines, Zombie Simpsons still managed to create a husk of an episode with few to no jokes, nothing that could be called a coherent story (or ending), and lots of expository filler.

To take just one particularly wretched scene, Nelson is for some reason obsessed with the Valentine’s Day cards he gets from the other kids.  (Did I mention that it was Valentine’s Day?  Well it was, until it wasn’t anymore, and then it was again.  Yeah.)  Not only is the entire classroom set up as a line to Nelson’s desk (there was a notable and distinctly awkward absence of Mrs. Krabappel), but for some other reason Dolph and Jimbo(!) are acting as fourth grade muscle to punish kids whose cards don’t meet with Nelson’s approval.

And they weren’t the only ones who were just slapped into scenes with no regard for who they are (or were).  Incompetent Burns was back, letting Homer easily break into his office, stay there for several hours, and then allowing Homer kick him out.  Marge got mad at Homer for wearing his Google Glass thing while they were fooling around, but didn’t notice until Homer told her he was wearing them even though they were glowing through the damn sheets.  Moe gave Homer atrociously terrible advice, which wouldn’t have been bad in and of itself, except that it worked like a charm.

– So the couch gag has stopped even being a couch gag and just become another way they can kill a minute before they have to start the actual episode.

– The stress ball was dumb the first time someone swallowed it.

– “You wear them like eyeglasses, but inside the lens you see information about the people and places around you”, thanks Exposition Smithers!

– So Burns had a wall of TV screens installed behind his wall of TV screens?

– And he spent too much money on them?  Here’s a mini-compare & contrast for you, this dialogue . . .

Burns: Smithers, how much did this company lose to office supply theft last year?
Smithers: Seven thousand, forth-three dollars.
Burns: Yes, well, no more of that thanks to this twenty-six million dollar surveillance system.

. . . and this quote about the same thing from Season 3.  Notice how in one Burns is evil and competent and in the other he’s hapless and costing himself money.  These are two very different Mr. Burnses.

– And we’re supposed to be surprised that he’s spying on his employees when he’s been doing that since the start of the show?  Not to mention the whole town?  And why is Smithers shocked?

– Apparently this is also a Valentine’s Day episode.  Huh.

– Frontline/Firstline, comedy gold!

– “right after I decide if these videos are funny or die” – ah, a preview of the exact thing you’re about to do.

– Why is Marge surprised he’s wearing the glasses in bed?  He was already doing that and she can clearly see them.  And they could’ve handled his getting caught wearing them during sex well if they were so inclined.  Homer could sneak the glasses on, whisper something to them to get some information, turn on a sex app, anything but having him just wearing them and Marge somehow not noticing would’ve shown at least some care toward what they’re doing here.

– “Burns gave us those glasses so he could spy on us”, for the sweet, uncompromising love of Jebus, please just give us one scene where something happens without you telling us what it is.  Just one!

– And then he tells us exactly what we’re seeing on the monitors.

– The floating head Moe scene certainly took up some time.  Well done.

– Apparently the Valentine’s Day plot is going to drag on past actual Valentine’s Day.  (And let’s not even get into the weirdness of having an A-plot where Marge and Homer are fighting and a B-plot where it’s Valentines Day and yet the holiday never comes up in the A-plot.)

– We see the happiness (Wednesday) and sadness (Tuesday) montages, and then Homer explains what we just saw in case nobody noticed the several times they put the day on screen.  Six-year-olds don’t need things explained to them this many times.

– That ending was . . . unexpected.  This episode basically had three things going on, Burns spying on everyone with Google Glass, Homer spying on Marge’s therapy sessions, and that bizarre, unconnected Valentine’s Day plot with the kids.  Not a single one of them had an ending, or even really a conflict, and they wrapped it up with a completely unrelated scene with Ralph drawing on his face.  I was actually surprised when the credits rolled.

Anyway, the ratings are in and we have a new champion for least watched episode ever.  On Sunday, just 3.91 million people wished they were playing around with Google Glass.  That easily breaks the previous record of 4.00 million people set back in Season 23.  We’ve still got half the season to go, but it looks like Season 25 is going to easily break Season 24’s recently set record for least watched ever.  But hey, there’s Legos and Mr. Potatohead now, so we’ve got those.

28
Jan
14

Quote of the Day

The Otto Show14

“That’s it, he’s out of here!” – Homer Simpson
“Homer, we’re the only family he’s got.” – Marge Simpson
“I don’t care.  This is not Happy Days and he is not the Fonz.” – Homer Simpson
“Hey, Mister S.” – Otto




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