Archive for the 'The Simpsons' Category

11
Apr
20

Saturday Morning Cartoons

“Perhaps you’d be more comfortable talking to Snappy the Alligator.” – Mr. Smithers
“Maybe.” – C.M. Burns

The episode where Burns sells out to the Germans occurs halfway through Season 3. By this early point in the series we’ve already seen him gleefully cancel employee Christmas bonuses, run for governor, run down a child in his car, commit Homer (involuntarily) to a mental hospital, and rage scald Smithers with hot tea. As a human being he is comprehensively vile, uncaring about the pain his actions inflict and rich enough to cause damage on a scale most evil people could only dream about.

And yet . . . as Smithers himself says, “People think that because he’s rich and powerful and cruel he doesn’t have feelings like other men, but he does.”

This is part of what makes Burns such an enduring villain. Sure, he’s a grotesque; but there’s a logical (albeit vile) humanity to him. Like many an old person, he has regrets about how he could have spent his younger years, but his are about “wiping out nations with the stroke of a pen”. And as twisted as he is, he does have a tender side. Expressing it and indulging it just happens to destroy people’s lives, but to Burns that is incidental.

Enter Snappy the Alligator, a hand puppet Smithers uses to soothe his boss and coax him into revealing what he’s really feeling. It’s ludicrously childish, but it’s also funny as hell. A hundred million dollar decision upon which the fates and livelihoods of his workers depend comes from an old man talking to some green felt.

That’s Burns in a nutshell: bugfuck crazy, indiscriminately cruel, and deeply, deeply sad. Lucky for no one, his folk guitar class was cancelled and he bought the plant back. Capricious comedy at its finest.

05
Apr
20

Sunday Evening Cartoons: Brad Goodman vs. Rona

 

“Let’s look at the rainbow. What’s in there?” – Brad Goodman

I’ve never had much use for “best episode” or “favorite season” discussions. I always enjoy talking Simpsons, even when I’m drinking my chicory, but trying to definitely say this essentially flawless episode is better than that essentially flawless episode has never seemed fun to me.

That being said, I recognize that “Marge vs. the Monorail” will always top “Bart’s Inner Child” in terms of popularity. The song alone puts the monorail episode ahead. But the one and only thing I never liked about “Marge vs. the Monorail”, even as a kid, was that Lyle Lanley gets caught. I get the joke (“Where have I heard that name before?”), and it is funny, but it implies an improbable karmic justice that the show usually doesn’t indulge.

“There he is, seat 3F!”

Lanley is a con artist who happens to sell monorails instead of band uniforms or patent medicine, and he fits right in with the show’s love of the lowest of the low brow aspects of American business. The man is an obvious charlatan, full of shit from tip to toe and not the least bit shy about it. He’s great. But the only way the show can give him his comeuppance is to have his plane make an unscheduled stop in North Haverbrook. Again: it’s funny, but the need for a justice is a little teevee.

On that score, I’ve always preferred “Bart’s Inner Child” for the simple reason that Brad Goodman is a *much* better con-man than Lyle Lanley for one simple reason: he gets away. By the time the people of Springfield realize that his self help bullshit is actually bullshit, they’ve built him a statue and he’s five towns down the road telling another sold out auditorium about the Feel Bad Rainbow.

“God is angry. We’ve made a false idol of this Brad Goodman!”

Goodman was based on Tony Robbins and a bunch of other 80s/90s scam artists who specialize(d) in acknowledging that people’s lives are bad and then peddling false hope. And if you’re wondering how Brad Goodman would be doing in the age of corona, well, Tony’s Twitter feed tells you all you need to know:

As the plague descends on the entire world, he’s plugging a movie and linking to crazy winger bullshit that says coronavirus isn’t that big a deal. When the plague passes, Robbins and guys like him will be running the exact same scam because that’s what Brad Goodman would do:

We all suffered during coronavirus, but we’ve survived, and that kind of toughness can help you succeed in life and in business. In my new book, I chart the seven paths of excellence . . .

The grift must go on. That’s what high hats like Goodman and Robbins believe, that there is no problem people face that cannot be solved by them giving you money.

In less immediately trying circumstances, this is the kind of admirable crookedness upon which fortunes are founded. In this perilous moment, it is, to quote the inimitable Al Swearengen, “Sick fucking ghoulish thinking.”

“What a type you must consort with, that you not fear beating for such an insult.”

A lot of people are going to die. No getting around that. But past the millions of sudden and unnecessary deaths that will traumatize populations the world over, there are the shitheel cockdents that believe they will get away with it. And they’re probably right.

Fuck them. Let’s go to the old mill anyway. Get some cider.*

(*2m social distancing still applies.)

 

 

02
Apr
20

Thursday Evening Cartoons

“We need a cure! We need a cure!” – Mob
“Why the only cure is bedrest. Anything I give you would only be a placebo.” – Dr. Hibbert
“Where do we get these placebos?!” – Panicked Woman
“Maybe there’s some in this truck!” – Panicked Man

Howdy, campers, how’s everyone doing with the ongoing unpleasantness? My life has certainly been turned upside down, though I’m on team “Stuck At Home” not team “Doing All the Real Work”, so I’ve got it fairly easy. And while there are a lot of people that I love and care about who are at risk or already suffering, so far nobody has died or lost their home. Don’t know how long that’s going to last, but [fingers crossed].

I have been knocked off my tram lines on doing Quotes of the Day. Those got shaky a couple years ago and moreso of late. Then with the “wait, what day is it” experience of the last three weeks, I finally fucked it up and let it lapse all the way. I guess eleven years and change will have to suffice for now.

Instead, let’s take a look at a timely Simpsons episode, the first act of which has nicely captured our real life episode of Love in the Time of SARS-CoV-2, or, more festively, SARS 2: Corona Boogaloo.

The “Osaka Flu” opening of “Marge in Chains” goes from Homer ordering useless junk off the TV to the town being abandoned by its rich and powerful to irresponsible media coverage and panicked mobs run amok in search of any protection (no matter how ineffective). About the only thing the episode wasn’t cynical enough about was that nobody blamed Akira for it, though, given that it was written at a time when the federal government was trying to make amends with Japanese-Americans and seemed to be progressing in many areas, that’s at least understandable.

But for the most devastatingly on the nose from a quarter century ago, we have Ned Flanders’ lament. A wealthy, white, Evangelical father of two who almost certainly would’ve voted Republican in 2016, Ned cries out, “Oh, the network slogan is true! Watch FOX and be damned for all eternity!”.

 

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!

17
Nov
19

Quote of the Day

“I think we’ve heard enough about Larry Burns for one evening.” – Marge Simpson
“Why? It’s not like anything interesting happened to anyone else today?” – Homer Simpson

22
Aug
19

Quote of the Day

“Bart! Lisa! If you don’t behave we’ll turn this car right around and go home!” – Marge Simpson
“But, Marge, I want to see my brother!” – Homer Simpson
“Oh, for God’s sakes, Homer, it’s an empty threat.” – Marge Simpson




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