Archive for the 'News' Category

15
Feb
20

Will There Ever Be a Rainbow?

“Hey, hey! I’ve been in Reno for six weeks, did I miss anything?” – Krusty the Klown

Back on Simpsons Day I mentioned a gigantic side project. Well, here it is.

“Global Warming: What’s In It For You?” is a (semi-illustrated) guidebook for climate change. It begins with the historic and scientific background, moves through the denier campaign and all the damage it has wrought, and debunks a lot of pretty myths and widespread misperceptions. It also affords me several opportunities to take big dumps on some truly vile people and conglomerates, including Exxon, InBev, and Disney.

Basically, I tried to make sense out of global warming the same way I tried to make sense out of Zombie Simpsons, by starting at the beginning and examining why it works the the way it does. Despite two years of trying, my agent and I have been unable to find a publisher for this would be book. Apparently, I lack a “platform” to credibly discuss the ur-issue of our time.

To build such a “platform”, I’ve published the first nine chapters on-line at

www.GreenNewDeal.Fun

(Shockingly, .com and such were taken, but .fun is growing on me.) Just like the Zombie Simpsons ebook, it’s released under a creative commons license and you can read it for free. There’s even PDF and eBook versions you can download for free.

I certainly hope everyone who still checks this site enjoys it. More importantly, though, tell someone else about it. The purpose of the book is to put climate into an understandable context, so that when you see stories about record heat in Antarctica, record fires in Australia, and record storms everywhere, you’ll know how they fit into the wider context of what we’ve done to the atmosphere – and why we continue to do it.

That said, it’s not all doom and gloom. Hell, it isn’t even mostly doom and gloom. The best kept secret about global warming is that the only people whose lives need to get worse are the kind who fly in private jets. Everybody else will/could be better off.

So please click through, and hopefully you’ll learn a few things that will help you make sense of the news and let you sleep a little easier. As a taster, have a look at the chart below, which appears in Chapter 1:

(That font is just one of hundreds of radical pro-Simpsons messages I sneak into every chapter.)

17
Dec
19

Happy Simpsons Day!

“Oh, Springfield Elementary, I will have you back again! After all, tomorrow is another school day!” – Principal Skinner

Happy Simpsons Day, everybody! Today marks the 30th anniversary of “Simpsons Roasting On an Open Fire” and the beginning of the best ten-ish year streak in television history. I’m sure there are a lot of retrospective pieces up around the internet today, but as you can tell from the near total lack of substantive posts around here, I don’t think there’s much left to be said, so you’re on your own for finding them.

About that total lack of posts: I was hoping to change that starting today, but deadlines are made to be blown. I’m currently in the middle of a rush of real job work, getting over a major hump in my gigantic side project, and moving at the end of the month. So time is scarce.

However, I’ve been plotting a renewed DHS for long enough now that I don’t feel entirely silly disclosing the rough plan. For starters, the site is going to get a facelift. Ten years on the same WordPress theme seems like enough.

As far as actual posts go, I have two ideas that I think would be fun and sustainable as far as time and effort go. The first is to get back into doing Spews Truth From Every Orifice, where I write up the DVD commentaries from good seasons. I’ve only ever listened to maybe a third of them myself, and I figure there’s enough to eat up several more years of this blog’s lonely existence on this has-been planet orbited by a cold indifferent sun.

The second is something I was vehemently against when we started this blog back in 2009: lists. Listicles have a deservedly poor reputation for the simple reason that they’re easy to do and hence mostly thrown together as filler. While I want to avoid warmed over drivel like top episodes or funniest quotes or “times the Simpsons predicted the future”, I think there are commonalities between episodes that lend themselves well to listing, plus it spares me from having to come up with transitions between topics/episodes/whatevers.

Finally, if and when I get some Simpsons posts up around here, I’m also planning to vent regularly about movies and other TV shows, old and new. Some of this will be the hottest of hot taeks about stuff that’s already had too much commentary (the new Star Wars is probably going to be bad, HBO Watchmen fell apart badly in the last three episodes and I don’t know why it’s getting universal praise, and the real reason the Marvel movies are forgettable ephemera: weak villains), some of it will be meta-criticism about the shitty state of movie and TV criticism itself (or at least the stuff I see), and some of it will be praise (fulsome and otherwise) of lower profile stuff I stumble across and end up liking.

So, it’s my usual promise: more posts! And my usual disclaimer: but not now! However, this time there is a plan (sort of).

In the meantime, please go enjoy some ye olde Simpsons on this Simpsoniest of days. Or just re-read my loving take on that very first episode. Happy Simpsons Day!

09
Sep
16

DHS on the Road

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“I’m tellin’ ya, all a man needs is an idea, and I’ve got an idea!” – Herb Powell
“Then how come you’re still a bum?” – Hobo
“Alright, a man needs two things: an idea and money to get it off the ground.” – Herb Powell

NOTE: Brooklyn October Simpsons Trivia here I (hopefully) come!

With the exception of some specific memories of the show and occasionally referring to my backbreaking, mind numbing labor, I try to keep my personal life off of this blog. Dave, Mad Jon, and myself started this as a Simpsons site, and even though I’ve gradually all but taken it over like some kind of not giving up school guy, I can’t make this a 100% pure Simpsons space. I like the idea of that in theory, but in theory communism works.

In stupid reality, which we all have to face again sooner or later, my real job has slowly eroded out from underneath me. Where once there was a prosperous Flancrest Enterprises, now there is but a roughed up and near destitute CompuGlobal Hyper Mega Net.* The bad news is that my personal finances are now in such a state that dying in the gutter is almost the only thing that is practical and within my means. The good news is that we have so few customers and potential customers left that I can throw off the shackles of the work-a-day world and follow a dream, of sorts.

(*Incidentally, this site owes its existence to the 2008 crash that crippled our business. Our sudden lack of customers gave me a lot more free time, and instead of taking up smoking, I pestered my friends into starting this site with me. As much fun as it’s been, I still really wish that cardboard cutout of George Bush Junior had never run for President.)

Donald Trump’s America isn’t going to last long, barely enough time for a half chewed piece of fish to hit the ground. I’m going to spend the  weeks between now and its November 8th landing observing the human peep show that is America’s political life. Since I haven’t deposited any forty-thousand dollar checks that haven’t cleared yet, I will be doing this on the utmost cheap, by bicycle and mostly sleeping in a tent.

Click here if you’re interested in my ideas, wish to subscribe to my newsletter, or just want to understand what the hell it is I’m doing on my little adventure. Truth be told, I’m not entirely sure; but the most likely outcome is that it will be just another detached piece of modern alienation. If you want to stalk me like Lenny and Carl, there’s also my oft neglected personal Twitter feed.

As for what’s going to happen on DHS, the Quotes of the Day will still have a home here, but we will also also learn about nutrition, self esteem, etiquette, and all the lively arts. I’ve also learned in recent weeks that once I’ve been on the bike for an hour or two, I don’t have any heavy head to carry anymore and can watch Simpsons episodes with a vile burlesque of irrepressible glee. Hopefully there will be a lot more of the sweet, beautiful, oxygen deprived drunk talk that informed my recent ramblings about “Lisa’s Substitute” a few weeks back, which I wrote fifty miles into a sixty mile ride.

Beyond that, I’m hopeful that my route will take me to the C.H.U.D. infested hellhole of New York City for Classic Simpsons Trivia on October 6th. Trying being the first step towards failure, I can’t promise that I’ll be there, but I promise that I’ll try to try. In the meantime, keep watching the skis.

(This may all backfire on me like a trip to a gay steel mill, but since I have no choice, I’m taking the alley.)

09
Aug
16

Season 28 Publicity Stunts Teased (No, You Shouldn’t Care)

Mid-Season

“It’s hard to believe someone that young could’ve risen to the rank of admiral.” – Marge Simpson

It’s August, which means that it’s time for the networks to show off their upcoming seasons to critics and advertisers. In addition to celebrating another meaningless milestone (600 episodes, 400+ of which are Zombie Simpsons), they’re going to have a two-part episode:

The animated Fox comedy will offer up an hourlong episode (including commercial time) that is a hip-hop homage to The Great Gatsby and features such guest voices as Taraji P. Henson and Keegan-Michael Key, the network announced at the TCA Summer Press Tour on Monday.

It’s going to be some kind of rap musical, which would’ve been awesome in 1996 and will undoubtedly be wince inducing when it’s broadcast in January of 2017. (Remember what happened the last time they did a cross-over with a music heavy FOX show? It wasn’t pretty.) Their other publicity stunt is to share Amy Schumer as a guest voice with Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers:

The comedian will guest-star on three animated Fox shows on Sept. 25, the network announced on Monday at the Television Critics Association’s Summer Press Tour. “She recorded all shows at once and they were very accommodating and they can pretty much record someone in any city,” Fox chief Dana Walden told reporters. “It was just very lucky and fortuitous. It was always designed for the same actor. That was our goal and what the shows anticipated, that there would be connective tissue throughout the night.”

The Inside Amy Schumer star will play different characters on Bob’s Burgers, The Simpsons, and Family Guy.

I’m not quite sure how to fully parse that. If “It was always designed for the same actor” doesn’t refer to a single character, then is the “It” there merely the publicity stunt of having one person on all three shows and they just happened to slot in Schumer? Either way: meh.

12
May
16

John Henry Was a Steel Drivin’ Man

MoldersBoy

“Can I pick the song?” – Bart Simpson
“No. The song will be John Henry Was a Steel Drivin’ Man.” – Mrs. Krabappel

Frinkiac.com, the lovable rascals who made creating Simpsons screen grabs far easier than I ever could, have now added .gif support. It’s just you and me now, lock of hair.

09
Mar
15

So Long, Sam Simon

SayonaraSam

“You’re a comedy writer?  My God, you’re so old!” – Roger Meyers Jr.
“I want my check!” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson
“Haha, you’re a writer alright!” – Roger Meyers Jr.

Sam Simon, one of the three godfathers of The Simpsons, died today at the age of 59.  It was almost exactly two years ago that he announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer, and from that moment until his death today he handled it with grace, generosity, and, befitting Simon, a lot of humor.  They gave him three-to-six months; he lasted nearly two and a half years, laughing about it all the way.

The tributes to him are pouring in from people who knew him and those who just knew his work.  I’ll only say this, the show he did so much to create treated life and death with a mirthful contempt that resonated with hundreds of millions of people throughout the world.  He’s gone, but he’ll still be making people smile for a long time to come.

Sayonara, Sam.

21
May
14

Last Night, On Twitter . . .

Homer's Barbershop Quartet12

“I can’t remember the last time we were all together.” – Principal Skinner
“Last year, on that stupid Dame Edna special.” – Apu Nahasapeemapetilon

Al Jean continues to ever so gingerly dip his toes into the never ending torrent of love, hate and general bullshit that is Twitter.  Last night, he tweeted out this undated picture of some of the old staff:

JeanWritersPic

I wasn’t sure who everybody was, so I asked him, and he was kind enough to reply.  From left to right it’s him, Mike Reiss, Wallace Wolodarsky, Jay Kogen, Jon Vitti, and Jeff Martin.  He also said this:

Aren’t you the guys that trash us every week? Peace and love, man.

I’d quibble with “trash” and substitute “criticize”, but I don’t begrudge him his point of view on that.  Al, we love you all the same, and thanks for the picture!

31
Dec
13

Off Topic: A Friend’s Ripping Good Read

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“These Hardy Boys books are great, too.  This one’s about smugglers.” – Homer Simpson
“They’re all about smugglers.” – Bart Simpson
“Not this one, The Smugglers of Pirate Cove, it’s about pirates.” – Homer Simpson
If you’re reading this post then you’ve probably already read the “Zombie Simpsons” mini-book.  That little thing would’ve been much worse if not for the help of, as I said in the acknowledgements, “my friend Liz”.  Well, today Liz became a for-real published author with her first dead tree book, Hunted:
Elizabeth-Heiter-Hunted
As you can probably judge from the cover, it’s a mystery novel.  Specifically, it’s about an FBI profiler on the trail of an asshole who murders young women.  It’s a real page turner, the ending is both scary and great, and I can personally attest that she did her homework.  Liz has been to the FBI’s training center, has shelves groaning under books about modern homicide investigation, and has a sharp eye for which procedural details are cool and move the story and which ones aren’t and don’t.
The main Amazon link is here (Kindle or paperback), her Goodreads page is here (where Hunted has four stars on 28 ratings), and this is her website (yes, that is her in the sunglasses with the semi-automatic pistol).  This is the first book in a series, and if you like fun and pulpy mysteries, it will suck you right in and keep you turning pages long after you planned to be doing something else.
26
Oct
13

RIP: Marcia Wallace and Mrs. Krabappel

Bart the Lover12

“Bart, it’s such a nice day today, let’s have detention outside.” – Mrs. Krabappel

Sad news, Marcia Wallace, Mrs. Krabappel herself, died yesterday.  The cause was “complications from breast cancer”:

She would also build a second career as a voice-over actress, giving life to Edna Krabappel, Bart Simpson’s cynical and chain-smoking fourth grade teacher on “The Simpsons.” The role, a sublime parody of disaffected instruction, earned her an Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance in 1992. The show’s executive producer Al Jean said Saturday that the character would  be retired out of deference to Wallace’s death.

Good on Jean.  So long, Marcia.  We’ll miss you. 

RIP Marcia Wallace

Left image shamelessly yoinked from The Wrap link above.  Right image, one final “Ha”.

07
Aug
13

Simpsons T-Shirt Designs Galore!

Ripoff

“Eighteen bucks for this?  What a ripoff!” – Some Guy

Yesterday was the entry deadline for Threadless’s Simpsons design contest.  All told they accepted 820 submissions (and there was a real rush at the end because that number was 494 when I checked it yesterday afternoon).  You can view all of them here, and scoring goes on until Tuesday, so you’ve got plenty of time to vote. 

I’m not sure how many they are going to actually print, but there are definitely a couple that I’d consider actually buying.  Below are some of the ones I liked best, but there are a lot more at the site. 

Wow! Chocolate, half price! – It’s a little busy as a design, but it’s a very recognizable scene so it shouldn’t be a problem. 

BONESTORM – Oh, nothing, just the Bonestorm logo. 

Hitmen… best friends – Lenny and Carl in a fantastically well drawn guns out version of Travolta and Jackson from Pulp Fiction

Movie Poster – Man Getting Hit By Football, an official selection of the Springfield Film Festival.

The Stingy & Battery Show – The black and white broadcast look is a nice touch.

Monorail Emblem – Just what it says. 

They Fight & Bite – Giant Itchy head.

They Fought & Bit – Scratchy version.

Lincoln Squirrel – This is one of those you could basically never wear to anything but a gathering of geeks, but if someone recognized it you could probably be their best friend forever. 

You don’t win friends with salad! – Illustrated with all the constituent parts of a common hot dog.

I got toasted at Flaming Moe’s – This shirt would be ideal for taking off before you sit down to a family dinner.

Lisa&Marge&Homer&Maggie&ElBarto – Nice usage of the “bunch of names” t-shirt design. 

The Fraternity – The Stonecutters emblem with “Stonecutters” and “Est. 776 BC”.  I’d like this better if it was just the emblem, make people figure out what it is.  (Also, they were established long after 776 BC if their “fifteen-hundredth anniversary” was in 1995.)

Simpson & Son Tonic – You look like a man who needs help satisfying his wife.

A Vintage Intro – There are a lot of these that involve using the outlines of the characters, and this is probably my favorite.  The clouds are great, but it’s especially nice the way they worked in Snowball II and Santa’s Little Helper. 

Duff Beer Can Pop Art – Andy Warhol Duff is a great idea, and the colors are fantastic.

Spruce Moose – This could’ve done with a few less elements, plane and airport names alone would’ve been enough, but I can’t design for shit, so what do I know?

dnjk – The bullies.

Duff Ad ! – A pinup Marge selling Duff!  Viva life!

Silhouette Night – Again, this one is very obscure, even moreso because it comes from “The Principal and the Pauper”, but it’s still pretty cool.

The Simplesons – Another silhouette one, but very, very minimal.  It especially looks good on the black background of the t-shirt.

Bleeding Gums Murphy – A jazzman deserves a portrait with some style. 

Meet the Be Sharps! – There were a few Be Sharps designs, this one is their album cover in all its silly glory. 

Worker & Parasite – Exactly that.  Are those letters even actual Cyrillic?  I have no idea.

Brave Corporate Logo – Mr. Sparkle says “Join Me or Die!”.

TRONUT – Ah, old school Tron.

A Super-Simpsons-Spectrum – Yet another silhouette, the colors are nice but I might get rid of the logo at the bottom.  It’s pretty obvious what this shirt is.

Up and Atom! – Radioactive Man and Fallout Boy in a simple, 2-d design. 

Food Chain – The food chain, with Homer at the center. 

The Frogurt is also Cursed – Like so many of these I think this one is trying a little to hard to make people get the reference, but evil frogurt is evil frogurt. 

Lisa Plays – And if a jazzman deserves a portrait in style, so does one of the great little ladies of jazz.  The spotlight is a nice touch.

The Painting – Just the sailboat from behind the couch.  It’s simple and generic looking, and would probably fly over the heads of even casual fans, but that’s what makes it cool.

THRILLHO_ – 8-bit (16?), monochrome Thrillhouse.

Shudder – Translating the rake scene into a still image is tricky, but this design pulled it off.

Mr. Plow – Just the logo with an enjoyably pleased looking Homer.

Everything’s Coming Up Milhouse – Milhouse jumping from the end of “Lisa’s Date with Density” combined with his winning phrase from “Mom and Pop Art”.

Precious Venus – Mmmm, gummy Venus.

Doof – From Sweden! 

Angry. Angry Young Man. – Sideshow Raheem with black power hair picks.  Nice.

Ben – Just a bear with a microphone strapped to his head. 

YELLOW – I like the inventive nudity and all, but how come Marge doesn’t have a mouth?

The Happy Sumo – The neon sign from the outside of Springfield’s first sushi restaurant.

Down With Homework – Simple and effective for starting riots.

Guy Incognito X Homer – A great design showing off Homer and his exact double. 

Can I borrow a Feeling – It’s got his picture on it!

JARRING MIX – Nice little Futurama cross over. 

Eye On Springfield – And now, Part 7 in our eye opening look at the bikini. 

The Be Sharps – Another Be Sharps design, this time just of their name and a hat.  Cool.

3 Ralph Moon – Three Wolf Moon is nigh ancient in internet time, but this is pretty funny. 

Yay! It’s laser day! – Speaking of Ralph, here he is in another meme that’s not exactly fresh but really works well with him.

Springfield: Good – A Springfield postcard design with Jebediah’s motto. 

let your spirit soar – Mona’s painting of Homer as a kid would probably be good for a real life kid, particularly the kind who enjoy running around naked. 

It’s just a little airborne! – Just a flying pig with an apple in its mouth.  Simplicity itself. 

The Godburns – Finely detailed drawing of Burns as Vito Corleone. 

Demoiselle D´Simpson – An artsy Homer, Marge and Maggie. 

The Simpsons’ Present… – Homer’s Hitchcock outline from “Treehouse of Horror III”.  This would get double pop culture reference points on a t-shirt. 

WITH IT! – I’m generally not a fan of t-shirts that have more text than Ivanhoe on them, but Grampa’s quote about not being with it anymore is awfully tempting. 

As I said above, there are a lot more.  The list here isn’t even 10% of them, and Threadless’s site is easy to scroll through (it’s 30 designs to a page), so check ’em out and vote for your favorites.

17
Jul
13

Free San Diego Swag and Summer Guest Posts

Itchy and Scratchy Land14

“As Roger Meyers Jr., the owner of the park, I’d like to thank you for stopping the killer robots.  And to show my appreciation, here are two free passes.” – Roger Meyers Jr.
“But there are five of us.” – Homer Simpson
“Here are two free passes.” – Roger Meyers Jr.
“That’s better.” – Homer Simpson

Last week I mentioned that Simpsons singing group from New York that will be performing in San Diego this Saturday.  Well, they’ve been very generous and offered us two free tickets to their performance.  Like last year with the Mr. Burns play in D.C., none of us can go, but we’ll be giving those tickets to the first person who offers to see it and write us a quickie review for it.  You pick, 5:30pm or 9:30pm on Saturday the 20th at the C3 Performing Arts Center.  (You can watch the trailer video here.)  If you want to see the show but don’t want to write a review, you can always toil in our underground sugar caves or work the lima bean harvest for the first 100,000 years, but we’d rather have a few hundred words about whether or not you liked what you saw.  

I’ve also been reminded via e-mail that it is now summer, which means that it’s also the season for guest posts.  I’ve got a couple in the hopper, but if you have a Simpsons related rant/theory/favorite episode/personal story/editorial reply, we’d love to read it.  Pictures and images are welcome, and we’re happy to link back to your blog, Twitter account, or other on-line haunt.  As always, no money and (very) minor internet fame can be yours! 

Please e-mail us if you want the tickets or if you have a guest post or post idea.

14
Feb
13

Zombie Simpsons on Wikipedia

Wikipedia Logo

“Lisa, I’m afraid we’ll have to stop getting you those volumes of Encyclopedia Generica from the grocery store.” – Marge Simpson
“But, Mom, next week is Volume IV, Copernicus through Elephantiasis.” – Lisa Simpson

Wikipedia has a simple test for whether or not something merits its own article: notability.  Like the rest of Wikipedia, it doesn’t work in theory, only in practice, and the current guidelines list five criteria:

  • "Significant coverage" means that sources address the subject directly in detail, so no original research is needed to extract the content.
  • "Reliable" means sources need editorial integrity to allow verifiable evaluation of notability
  • "Sources", for notability purposes, should be secondary sources, as those provide the most objective evidence of notability.
  • "Independent of the subject" excludes works produced by those affiliated with the subject or its creator.
  • "Presumed" means that significant coverage in reliable sources establishes a presumption, not a guarantee, that a subject is suitable for inclusion.

Basically, “notability” means that someone besides the subject or its author is discussing something and that there are multiple citable sources of such discussion.  In that vein, Wikipedia has now brought us:

Quality issue of The Simpsons

The missed capitalization and odd phrasing of the title are in the original, but don’t let that throw you, the article is a remarkable piece of work.  (And I’m not just saying that because it cites us several times.)  There are two primary authors, Coin945 and Martarius, and while I have no idea who they are, they have pulled together a staggering number of sources and references from articles discussing the decline and fall of the show.

From a readability standpoint the article is way too long (someone on the Talk page pegs it at 17,000 words).  But they have amassed 173 individual sources documenting criticisms, and a few defenses, of the quality of the show.  As someone who has a little experience researching and writing about the show and its descent, I am awed by that.  Just organizing all of those had to be an enormous amount of work, and good on them for doing it.  The sheer scale may make it tough to read all the way through, and I’m sure it’ll get pared down eventually, but they’ve got an outline of the opinions around the show that looks fairly accurate, and that’s a valuable thing to have.  Three cheers for notability and diligent Wiki/Simpsons geeks!  Well done. 

14
Jan
13

The Simpsons 23rd Anniversary Yellow Jubilee

King Size Homer12

“Push out the jive.  Bring in the love.” – C.M. Burns

If there is one persistent misperception about this blog on the wider plains of the internet, it is that we simply hate Zombie Simpsons and that’s it.  Beneath that strong and oft expressed dislike, however, is the real reason we’re all here: love.  We love The Simpsons.  It was a show beyond even the most enthusiastic superlatives, and it remains so more than two decades after it took America and the world by storm.  Its creation was a once in a lifetime alignment of immensely improbable coincidences that came together with perfect timing.  It never should’ve happened, but it did, and the world is a much funnier place for it. 

That incredible show has endured so well that, in nearly four years of weekly Reading Digest posts, we’ve been able to link to thousands of Simpsons related pages that were viewed by untold millions of people, and that’s just the stuff that came into the narrow slice of the internet that we survey.  Every week there are blog posts about favorite episodes, fan art of various kinds, and an endless stream of people who quote the show when something in their life resembles that collection of twenty year old television episodes.  All the time, thought, attention and creativity that goes into generating that endless torrent of words, images and real world stuff is a testament to how much joy The Simpsons still produces.  It seems unlikely that any other two decade old piece of culture – in any medium – still generates even a significant fraction of that interest and activity.  So we are hardly alone in our love of this show.

To celebrate that, and keeping in mind the show’s traditional disdain for meaningless milestones, today we are launching The Simpsons 23rd Anniversary Yellow Jubilee.  What is that?  Well, we’re not entirely sure yet.  For starters, we’re going to be watching Season 1 and following along as the episodes move through the 23rd anniversary of their original broadcasts.  Starting today and continuing throughout the week with “Bart the Genius”, we’ll be looking at the DVD commentaries, the animation, the quotes, the sign gags, and the episodes as a whole.  As for what precisely that entails in terms of recurring posts, well, that’s what we’re still figuring out.

And we want to hear from you.  (Yes, you!)  Whether in comments or via e-mail, we want to hear about your favorite parts of the episodes, personal memories, and anything else you can think of.  Guest posts about each week’s episode are most definitely welcome, but this is much more “Do What You Feel” than “Do As We Say”. 

The important thing is that we’re watching television.  So if you’ve got the DVDs at home, know where to watch them elsewhere [legally unactionable stage cough], or can score them from a library, Netflix, or Amazon (Season 1 $25 new, ~$6-10 used), sit down and bask in television’s warm glowing warming glow with us. 

31
Dec
12

A Little Unintentional Meta-Blogging Humor for New Year’s Eve

Saturdays of Thunder12

“Good morning, everybody, and welcome to an event that harkens back to the carefree days of the Great Depression: the soap box derby.” – TV Announcer

Every once and a while I am moved to briefly praise the people up at WordPress HQ.  They do a regularly excellent job of making sure that everything works, the new features that they add tend far more toward “useful” than “bloat”, and their customer support, even for people who aren’t paying jack, is responsive, friendly and informative.  Sometimes, though, things go awry.

In this case it’s a very harmless awry, and it’s far more my fault than theirs, but I laughed when I saw it.  Unexpectedly, I got an e-mail from them yesterday, subject “Your Annual Report from WordPress.com”.  A quick search of my inbox reveals that in four years of blogging with them, this is the first time I’ve gotten an “Annual Report”.  Turns out it’s a new thing this year, a cutesy little flash graphic with your site’s stats that’s a way to encourage people to blog more.  This is part of the one for Dead Homer Society:

2012 Blogging Report

In case you can’t see the image, it’s titled “Crunchy numbers” and reads:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year.  This blog was viewed about 970,000 times in 2012.  If it were Liechtenstein, it would take bout 18 years for that many people to see it.  Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe! 

So this is some script that takes a look at your pageview stats, matches that with a predetermined list of numbers and figures, and then writes this paragraph into the e-mail.  If we’d had 50,000 pageviews this year, it’d probably say something like “About 12,000 tourists vomit on the Nauseator every year.  This blog was viewed about 50,000 times in 2012.  If it were the Nauseator, it would take about 4 years for that many people to vomit.  Your blog caused more people to vomit than a ride at Disney Land!”. They’re being a little disingenuous because that 970,000 number is pageviews, not unique visitors, so comparing it to tourists in Europe is like counting the number of visitors a country has by the number of people who request a brochure on their website. 

But those little idiosyncrasies aside, it’s the image at the right that cracked me up.  Unlike the cheery site stats and graphics that are supposed to make you the blogger feel good about all the time you spend complaining on the internet, it’s a chart that’s plummeting like a stone and has a distinctly depressing appearance to it.  They grabbed that particular image because the Zombie Simpsons page was by far our most popular this year (just north of 27,000 views), and if you include the child pages (which it obviously does), that graph is the first image.  It’s the average Amazon stars for the DVDs from Chapter 1, and the reason it’s dropping like a rock is because it’s about Zombie Simpsons.  Heh.

See you all in 2013. 

25
Nov
12

Attention Pittsburgh Readers: Simpsons Trivia Tonight

Treehouse of Horror IV17

“It sure was nice of Mr. Burns to invite us for a midnight dinner at his country house in Pennsylvania.” – Homer Simpson

Classic Simpsons trivia is spreading.  First there was Toronto, then New York City, then Chicago, and now Pittsburgh:

Pittsburgh Simpsons Trivia Makes our big debut Sunday November 25th at 8pm at Hambone’s in Lawrenceville. We’ll be showing episodes and drinking and giving out prizes to the winners. This is for true fans of CLASSIC Simpsons episodes (nothing after season 9) so bring your A-GAME and come compete against some of Pittsburgh’s finest Simpsons fans. Play by yourself or form a team of up to 4 people. It’s free to play and you might win prizes and/or the respect of others!

If you’re in or around the area, the address is at the link.  And, as a bonus, if you’re out doing this you won’t have to be home to watch tonight’s episode of Zombie Simpsons.  Thanks to reader Tram for sending this in, and have fun! 

11
Sep
12

Season 15 DVD Announcement

The Otto Show12

“Otto!” – Bart Simpson
“That’s what my driver’s license says!” – Otto

We got an e-mail from one of FOX’s hip, edgy Web 2.0 marketing firms announcing some upcoming home video releases, including Season 15 on December 4th.  This being a press release, there is very little interesting information contained within.  In fact, there’s no text at all about Zombie Simpsons, just two images, one a cover mockup with Otto on the front, the other a recycled idea:

Season 15 DVD

Based on this, it’s a standard release with all the usual home video bells and whistles: audio commentary (ugh), deleted scenes, and sketches.  I’m slightly curious to see “The Commercials” on there, but since it’s Season 15, I don’t actually care either. 

As a bonus, we can see that not only are they now cribbing from The Simpsons for their marketing materials, but there are also now “Blu-ray Bonus Episodes” (which I don’t think were on earlier seasons).  Basically, FOX likes the premium they can charge for Blu-Ray* but is hampered by the fact that Zombie Simpsons didn’t get to HD until Season 20, so to get you to pay the extra $10 (or whatever), they’ve included one episode each from Season 3, Season 9 and Season 11.  It’s hard to imagine that there are all that many people out there who are interested in Season 15 and who don’t already own the previous seasons, but they stopped putting a lot of thought into these releases a long time ago. 

Also, check out how much better the Otto drawing from “The Otto Show” is than the promotional one.  His cap is more disheveled, his headphones are on crooked, his teeth aren’t uniform, even his eyes look crazier and dumber.  Once again, the older animation has much more personality. 

*Humble suggestion that I would buy in a heartbeat:

  • Season 1-8 box set
  • One Season per Blu-Ray disc
  • Best possible resolution from the existing master copies

I’d easily spend $100 on that, and I don’t think I’d be alone. 

05
Jun
12

Summer Schedule, Guest Posts, and Free Swag

“Not long ago, the FOX Network approached the producers of The Simpsons with a simple request: thirty-five new shows to fill a few holes in their programming lineup.  That’s a pretty daunting task, and the producers weren’t up to it.  Instead, they churned out three Simpsons spin-offs, transplanting already popular characters into new locales and situations.” – Troy McClure

With Season 23 now rapidly fading into the indistinct blob that is Zombie Simpsons, it’s time for us to get started on our summer schedule.  As you can see from the chart below, there are some blank spots on it. 

DHS Schedule

We will be doing Crazy Noises for Season 11, and the first of those should be along later this week.  I’m also going to do some more commentary posts from earlier seasons.  But even that will leave lots of days around here that can only be filled by exploiting other people’s time and labor.

So, just like last summer, we’re going to pass the days by not paying other people to write blog posts for us.  Last year we had a bunch of great entries (check out out Company Eating Rules category), including several lists, personal essays, and analyses of different show eras.  If you’ve got a blog or other website, we’ll not only link to it, but you can cross post your article there as well.  Pictures and images are welcome, and just about any topic that’s Simpsons related is okay by us.

As a special incentive for anyone in the Washington D.C. area, we’re giving away free tickets to “Mr. Burns, A Post Electric Play”.  Thanks to my relentless linking to their blog the last few weeks, the theater’s social media person got in contact with us last Friday.  Neither Dave, Mad Jon, nor myself are in D.C. or are going to be there before the play closes, but rather than turn down free stuff, we thought it better to give the tickets to the first person who offers to see it and write a review for us.  So if you can make it down to the Woolly Mammoth theater in the next couple of weeks, and you’ve got a 500-1500 word review in you, e-mail me and we’ll talk. 

Anyone else who wants to write a guest post for us should e-mail me as well, though your only compensation will be the enjoyable pride of a job well done.  That’s not as cool as free tickets, but we have always depended on the kindness of strangers.

24
May
12

Strange New Places

Homer's Barbershop Quartet10

“And where’s Barney?” – Homer Simpson
“Oh, he’s with his new girlfriend, the Japanese conceptual artist.” – Principal Skinner
“Barbershop is in danger of growing stale. I’m taking it to strange new places.” – Barney Gumble

In the interest of not burying the lead: mocking Season 23 has been fun, but it’s also the last time we’re going to go full tilt for a new Zombie Simpsons season around here. Don’t worry, we’re not taking the site down or anything; in fact, for the next few months you shouldn’t notice much difference. Quotes of the Day will continue as normal, and, just like the last three summers, we’ll be doing Crazy Noises for old episodes. This year it’s going to be Season 11, the last one the Manifesto lists before Zombie Simpsons.

After that, the Magic 8-ball becomes less clear. Season 24 (ugh) will likely start sometime in late September, but we won’t be doing our full Preview-Ratings-Crazy Noises-Compare & Contrast schedule. I’m sure we’ll do something (and suggestions are welcome), but whatever it is will be much less comprehensive.

As for why we’re doing this, there’s only one real reason and it is not intended ironically. We think it best to stop before we get dull and do nothing but repeat ourselves.

For all its manic bumbling and endless stream of pointless cameos, the only enduring characteristic about Zombie Simpsons is how blandly repetitive it is. Episodes consistently have no coherent story, few jokes, fewer funny jokes, wasted guest voices, hacktacular pop culture references, and all manner of things poorly lifted from old episodes. And then every once in a while the animation goes off the rails too, though that’s usually because the writers have once again managed to string together something too dumb to convey.

In Crazy Noises and elsewhere, I’ve begun to get the sense that we’re often doing little more than citing examples of the same kinds of things each week: it sucked when they made Homer do this, that joke went on too long, that’s not even a joke, this voice sounds terrible, that was done better years ago, this made no sense, etcetera etcetera. We are trying to put a tiny thrill into these gray little episodes, but they rarely give us something novel enough to make criticisms we haven’t already made dozens of times before. Whatever points we’ve tried to articulate over the past few years here, another few thousand words per episode are unlikely to change them. In short, it seems very unlikely that most of the episodes in Season 24 (or Season 25, or Season 26, or Season Whatever) are going to be worth a close examination and serious criticism.

On a related personal note, I simply find Zombie Simpsons boring. I stopped watching regularly sometime in Season 13, and didn’t catch more than a handful in total from Seasons 14-19. When Dave, Mad Jon and I started getting serious about this site in early 2009, I picked up at the beginning of Season 20, and very little had changed. I’ve seen every episode since, four full seasons, and I can honestly say that’s enough. Apart from its vague resemblance to my favorite show ever, Zombie Simpsons just isn’t that interesting; and I’d rather not spend my time watching it.

Long story short:

  • No change to Quotes of the Day
  • Still doing Crazy Noises for Season 11 this summer
  • Greatly reduced schedule for Season 24 this fall

On two happier notes, Chapters 7 & 8 of the book are now on-line, and to celebrate the end of Season 23, I’m going to do another Simpsons-Beer Marathon this Saturday.

For those of you who’ve started reading this site since the last time I did this, you can find a full explanation of how this works here. Basically, I watch an entire season of the show, drinking one beer per episode, and post updates along the way. I’ve done marathons for Seasons 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6 already, and you can check them out by clicking on our “Living Life to Its Fullest” category.

You can vote for which season you’d like me to watch on Saturday in the poll at right. And, no, if Season 7 is selected, I won’t be including “Marge Be Not Proud”. I dislike that episode, even if it does have some very funny parts (see the freshly posted Chapter 7 for details).  The marathon begins at 8:00am Eastern Daylight Time (US), which is 12:00 UTC, Saturday May 26th.  The poll closes at midnight Eastern Time tomorrow.

Update 26 May: It’s Season 2 in a landslide:

Season 2 Beerathon Poll

Thanks to everyone who voted.

18
May
12

Will There Ever Be a Rainbow?

Buy My Book

“I’m not some dizzy starlet who can’t string two words together!” – C.M. Burns

It is my great relief to announce a project that has been the better part of a year in the making: “Zombie Simpsons: How the Best Show Ever Became the Broadcasting Undead”.  It’s a mini-book (~22,000 words) that is as close as I can come to a definitive statement on how The Simpsons became Zombie Simpsons.  Table of contents:

Part I – Putting the Spring in Springfield
1 – What Is Zombie Simpsons?
2 – The Terrible World of 1980s Television
3 – The Most Anti-Authority Show Ever
4 – You’re Watching FOX, Shame on You

Part II – Show Business Is a Hideous Bitch Goddess
5 – The Retirements
6 – The Deaths

Part III – Stories of Degradation and Humiliation
Season 7 – A Very Special Episode
Season 8 – Frank Grimes and the Phony Kidnapping
Season 9 – Armin Tamzarian and the Death of Story
Season 10 – Jerkass Homer Gets a Job
Season 11 – The Destruction of Springfield
Season 12 and Beyond – Zombie Simpsons

Appendices
Appendix A – A Note on the Term Zombie Simpsons
Appendix B – Episode Numbers vs. Production Numbers
Appendix C – December 17th: Simpsons Day
Appendix D – A Defense of Mike Scully
Appendix E – Yeah, It Was That Good (1,000,000 A.D.)

You can read the first two chapters right here, right now.  And though the entire text will eventually be available for free on-line, before that happens we’re going to conduct an experiment in the strange new world of digital publishing.  If you want to read the entire book today, you can purchase it from Amazon’s Kindle store for $2.99.  (Why $2.99? Because that’s the minimum price Amazon demands for only taking 30% of the gross instead of 65%.)  It will remain available in that format and at that price indefinitely; meanwhile, it will be published in chunks here at Dead Homer Society until every dot, tittle and citation is on-line for anyone to read whenever they like.

The thinking behind this is that some people (especially the kind of people with the disposable income to own Kindles and iPads) are willing and able to pay for words if the price is reasonable and the payment is easy to make.  At the same time, making it available only in a paid version is self defeating and stupid.  Not only do fewer people read it, but using digital rights management and other convoluted anti-“piracy” measures to police the internet is a fool’s errand.  Therefore, the only sensible thing to do is make it easy for people to purchase and easy to get for free, however odd that may seem at first glance.  We’ll see how it goes.

You can purchase the book from Amazon right now, or you can read the first two chapters by clicking the new “Zombie Simpsons” button in the navigation bar at the top of this page.  This is the current schedule:

Today: Chapters 1 & 2
Tomorrow: Chapters 3 & 4
Sunday: Chapters 5 & 6
Next Week (Probably Thursday): More

One final note, I am not the least bit above making revisions should any of you fine Simpsons fans out there discover that I’ve made any factual errors.  My sources are all stated plainly, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t made an unfounded assumption somewhere or screwed up some part of the history of the show.  If you (yes, you!) come across something where I’m just flat out wrong and you can point me to some credible evidence of my wrongness, please tell me.  It’s the only way I’ll learn.

Buy from Amazon

Read Chapters 1 & 2 On-Line

29
Mar
12

Mike Reiss Takes You Behind the Scenes

Lisa vs Malibu Stacy7

“Welcome to Enchantment Lane, where all the parts come together and Malibu Stacy is born.  Some folks say there’s a little touch of fairy dust in the air.” – Tour Lady
“Aw, crap, there’s a clog in the torso chute!  Leroy, get your ass in gear!” – Assembly Line Worker
“Shut your hole.” – Leroy

On Monday this week, Mike Reiss gave a speech at Virginia Tech.  This comes from an interview conducted by the student paper in advance of that:

CT: What is your involvement with the show?

I’m currently a consultant. I go in every Wednesday, I fly in there – there’s nothing special about Wednesday, it runs like a factory and its always in production. Every Wednesday I just come in and sort of step onto the assembly line and help out. The show is written by 8-10 people sitting in a room just throwing out ideas and jokes. Every Wedneday I’m just one more guy who goes in to help it.

CT: Are you considered something of an elder statesmen around there because you were since the show’s inception?

Reiss: Sometimes I feel that way. Sometimes I feel like they’ll put in one of my jokes just because I’m an old man and not because its particularly funny. I’ll get embarrassed sometimes, like I’ll throw in a joke where I know its not that good and they’ll put it in. People are very nice to me, it’s just a nice job. I think people – it’s the rare show on tv where the average tenure there is about 10 or 12 years. People like it, we all get along on, we all respect each other.

I don’t have any direct experience with what does or does not make for a truly great television writing room, but that kind of polite comity doesn’t exactly scream “high standards”.  The only other piece of interesting not-quite-news was about a possible movie sequel:

CT: If you do make another one do you think you’ll wait until the show has finished its run on TV?

Reiss: I think that’s the general plan, I think the day the show finally goes off the air, like a year later we’ll all going to miss it and I think then we’ll be a little more interested to do the movie.

I’d be fine with that.  The first movie wasn’t very good, but FOX is going to do something with these characters after the show goes off the air, and another movie done without the background pressure of the ongoing series would be about the best we can hope for. 

There’s more at the link.  He talks about how it was easier back in Season 3 and 4 because, “we had all the tricks and all the architecture in place but the show was new, it wasn’t like we’d done 10,000 ideas like we have now where it’s hard to find things to write about”.  But it was the part about the assembly line nature of the place letting in embarrassingly weak jokes that caught my attention. 




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Even though it’s obvious to anyone with a functional frontal lobe and a shred of morality, we feel the need to include this disclaimer. This website (which openly advocates for the cancellation of a beloved television series) is in no way, shape or form affiliated with the FOX Network, the News Corporation, subsidiaries thereof, or any of Rupert Murdoch’s wives or children. “The Simpsons” is (unfortunately) the intellectual property of FOX. We and our crack team of one (1) lawyer believe that everything on this site falls under the definition of Fair Use and is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. No revenue is generated from this endeavor; we’re here because we love “The Simpsons”. And besides, you can’t like, own a potato, man, it’s one of Mother Earth’s creatures.