Posts Tagged ‘Bart the Genius


Reading Digest: Math Class Edition

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“So Y equals R cubed over three.  And if you determine the rate of change in this curve correctly, I think you will be pleasanelty surprised. . . . Well, don’t you get it Bart?  Derivitive DY equals 3R squared DR over three, or R squared DR, or RDRR . . . harde-har-har.  Get it?” – Miss Milan
“Oh, yeah.” – Bart Simpson

This week we’ve got three links to that new Simpsons math book, including one upcoming author appearance and a writeup of a just completed author appearance.  In addition to that we’ve got some FCC complains, lots of YouTube, more Halloween stuff because we’re inside a week now, and plenty of usage and fan made items.  Enjoy.
Top 10 Songs from the Simpsons. Again I must stress that these aren’t in any order what so ever, because it is was too stressful to put any of these songs in order. – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week has lots of great YouTube, and the only entry from the Zombie Simpsons era is Spider-Pig, which I can’t really complain about.
The Comic Book Gal – Not that we really need further proof or anything, but The Simpsons was never a show you needed to see as a kid to get into:

When I was in college at the University of Florida in Gainesville in 1990, we had heard of this super funny bunch of shows on this network called Fox that we didn’t have.  But this deli that was frequented by the student body called Joe’s Deli had a satellite, and every Sunday night it was SRO to watch The Simpsons, followed by In Living Color, followed by Married With Children.  My cousin/sorority sister Stephanie and I would go early to grab a table, and I would quietly and without judgment eat an entire 9-inch-long turkey sub all by myself, plus a beer I somehow managed to order despite the fact that I was only 20, because those servers at Joe’s were the fucking shit.
Week after week we did this, and our minds were blown.  This was a show for us.

Indeed.  The author is a writer who later worked with Greg Daniels and some other Simpsons-alums, and she’s got a couple of tidbits at the link.
The Raven and The Simpsons – It’s the time of the year for appreciations of Poe and “Treehouse of Horror I”.  This one comes from someone who knows all about it:

My students love this poem even though the language is initially foreign to them. What helps them is viewing this poem told by Lisa Simpson. Yes, THE Lisa Simpson. This first aired in The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror on Oct. 24, 1990.

The one thing I wondered about was how the author would sustain such a long book when mathematics is essentially simple and elegant. And the answer is that the second half of the book on Futurama. This was mildly interesting, but I didn’t read it all – it didn’t resonate in the same way The Simpsons had through my life, exploding as it did anarchic and yellow into my schooldays, following me through Friday evenings and the beginning of the weekend with my friends at Uni, and then into entertaining my own children when they were young.

Notorious Baldies – Cool fan made images of famously bald pop culture dudes, including Homer, Yoda, and – awesomely – Mr. Miyagi.
Homer Pumpkin – by Manny Pavao – Exactly what it says.  Click through for all the elaborate Halloween awesomeness.
Around the Water Cooler: “The Simpsons,” Season 25 and Imminent Death – They’re talking about that announcement of an impending character death, but it’s most revealing that this is the pertinent question:

3) Who still watches the show, and how was the Treehouse this year?

10 Changes In A Springfield Without Homer – Speaking of the dead character publicity stunt, what might it do to Springfield if they did the “unthinkable” and killed Homer?  The possibilities are endless, but here’s ten of them.
Is ‘The Simpsons’ A Show For Children? FCC Complaints Leaked – Zombie Simpsons can’t do much, but it can still piss of Grampa Simpson types who like to write letters to the editor.

 On Monday, Mother Jones asked Al Jean, a longtime Simpsons executive producer, what he thought about this archive of complaints against his show. Jean sent along the following statement:
Well, at least they weren’t complaining about us being on too long.

That job is taken.
How Nancy Cartwright (and Bart Simpson) Mind Their Bodies – It’s Cartwright’s birthday today, and Parade magazine asked her how she takes care of herself:

If you could undo one bad health habit, what would that be?
Stop licking my plate.
How do you take care of your brain and your mental health?
My brain takes care of itself. As for mental health, laughter is the best medicine!

The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets with Simon Singh – Nov 6, 2013 – If you’re in D.C. on November 6th, you can attend an event with the guy who wrote that new Simpsons math book.
Review: Simon Singh talks The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets – And here’s a writeup of a talk he gave on the book in Ireland last week.
Video: Lunatic backflips over 72ft canyon gap on mountain bike – There was a video making the rounds earlier this week from the helmet cam of a guy who ran a dirt bike down half a mountain.  That video is here, as well as Homer’s attempt at something similar in “Bart the Daredevil”.
Enough of the heavy! Watch The Simpsons :) – Another video making the rounds this week is this one with ten Simpsons facts.  There’s nothing new here, but it’s got 1.7 million views in two days, so I figured I’d mention it.

Could it be getting worse? Could we, like Milhouse Van Houten once soberly stated, be “through the looking glass” at this point? All conspiracies aside.
Though at this point, I’d take some reverse-vampire theorizing if it made sense as to how the Bears lost yesterday’s game and how on top of that we now have to deal with losing both Jay Cutler and Lance Briggs for a significant amount of time.

Diary of a Nerdy Kid: Life. Well. Spent. – The Tapped Out game has spawned an enormous number of websites and online activity generally.  This is a write up of everyone’s favorite geek curmudgeon built around his actions in the game.
The Simpsons Tapped Out- Halloween Update – It’s also worth noting that plenty of people who play the game don’t watch Zombie Simpsons:

When I clicked on the Simpsons house a few days into this update it asked me a question ‘what item of Moe’s does Homer Covet in this year’s Treehouse of Horror’s episode’ if you don’t live in America then you probably won’t know the answer – it is An Emerald Ring. This will give you Homer’s Strongman Costume!

The Smithers Test: How TV fails to depict gay characters – This is what I’m talking about when I say the show used to be way ahead of the curve and is now just as far behind it:

Much like Apu, his South Asian costar on “The Simpsons,” Smithers elicits guilty giggles but feels somehow retrograde. He’s funny because he’s a desperately lonely, effeminate gay man who collects dolls. He’s a gay character on television, but he’s more gay than character. It’s an open question as to whether or not the character would be put on “The Simpsons” were the show debuting in 2013, but as antique as the assumptions underpinning Smithers are, he’s hardly out of place on TV.

If the show had gone off the air after Season 11, Smithers and Apu would probably be remembered fondly as groundbreaking characters.  Instead they’ve hung on as outdated stereotypes that stopped being funny a long time ago.
462. Moe Letter Blues – Mike’s one good thing is sometimes hard to find:

One good line/moment: The boat smashing into the dock at Weasel Island and exploding. Random and stupid, but it was the only thing I smirked at the whole show. Also, it was a moment where something actually happened.

464. Judge Me Tender – Like, impossible to find:

One good line/moment: Nothing. Fuck this episode, and this show.

That American Idol episode was unbelievably bad.
Best. Episode. Ever. (Round 70) – Season 2 vs. Season 8.
Best. Episode. Ever. (Round 71) – Season 15 vs. Season 19 when so many better episodes go down in flames?  That randomized Excel sheet sucks.
Best. Episode. Ever. (Round 72) – Season 2 slaughters Season 15:

The writers love torturing Homer, and sometimes, with a little restraint and focus, that can make a good episode (“The Homer They Fall,” “Homerpalooza“), but this is season 15, and restraint and focus are long gone.

Ah, that’s more like it.
Best. Episode. Ever. (Round 73) – Season 5 easily handles Season 19.
Business as Usual Notebook-Paper – A paper design with sad little Bart.  I’d write on that.

Horns are blaring and Khan’s repenting—self-flagellation aplenty: “There is darkness in every inch of my veins”—but he can’t help backsliding to boasts: “I got two ladies on each arm and it ain’t doin’ me no harm.” It’s a collision between Brother Faith’s Revival and the “Twist And Shout” scene from Ferris Bueller.

The music video is . . . interesting.

As Homer Simpson once pondered: “What is mind? No matter. What is matter? Never mind”.
Debate of a more thoughtful nature takes place at Swedenborg Hall, Bloomsbury on 6 November.

   A mysterious love heart hanging from a Brighton bridge has had drivers craning their necks in curiosity.
The object, modelled on the retro Lovehearts sweets, current carries the message Eat My Shorts.
The Simpsons cartoon reference has replaced an earlier inscription which read Heartbreaker.

Cool, they broke his brain.  Click through for a picture.
Funny _____ of the Week: October 23rd, 2013 – Just some funny TV screen grabs, including Marge and Ruth Powers at Shot Kickers.
How is the Worst Show on Television Still on the Air? – This is about Dads, but this is a horribly frightening thought:

More importantly, Family Guy is a hit with audiences in a broadcast television landscape feeling the effects of lower ratings and quick cancellations. The show is in its 12th season, and the network has little impetus to cancel the momentum of one of their few hits. Factor in syndication deals with nearly every network that shows comedy, and it’s not inconceivable that Family Guy could challenge The Simpsons’ 25-year (and counting) record for longest-running television series.

UNSCRIPTED: It’s time to say ‘farewell’ to fading ‘Simpsons’ – And finally, I get to end with a Pennsylvania newspaper columnist who agrees with us:

It’s gone from something I used to plan my Sunday nights around to something I barely even remember to watch anymore. And when I do catch an episode, I’m inevitably disappointed.


DVD Commentary: Bart the Genius


Be gentle, it’s my first one of these.

Four guys on this commentary, David Silverman, Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, and Jon Vitti.

David Silverman talks about the popularity of the show after the Christmas Special

Matt Groening talks about the development of the now classic “Simpsons” main titles music

Blackboard and main titles were originally a way to pad the show length, but as the show got more sophisticated the writers didn’t want to cut anything

This episode was Jon Vitti’s first 30-minute script, and David Silverman’s first full-length directorial debut

Koreans don’t have bananas, hence the miscoloring

KWYJIBO was also later used as a name for a computer virus

Milhouse’s hair is inconsistently colored in this episode, occasionally black, occasionally blue

Jon wrote a  list of 100 bad things that Bart could do, and cheating on a test was the only thing that stuck

Series was not going to do fantasy sequences initially, but that stipulation was relaxed after the directors started using them very creatively (dream sequence with numbers)

Matt wanted a full orchestra to play the emotion that the show otherwise could not have depicted using animation

It was very controversial how stupid Homer’s handwriting was on the check

Loren Pyror sounds a lot like Mr. Burns in this episode

Matt considers this episode, like the other 12 in Season 1, to be experiments in the visual language of the show. Things like giant plants which featured somewhat prominently in the background were later removed

It used to be Skinner’s persistent goal to get Bart out of Springfield Elementary

There’s a discussion/mea culpa about Bart’s many, likely unoriginal, catch phrases, from “eat my shorts” to “cowabunga” etc.

The school that Bart goes to is a product of co-creation from the writers, not necessarily based on any actual school that the writers went to

The first draft of this episode was over 71 pages long!

Matt initially could not wrap his head around the fact that the sketches were moving, owing to his background in print media, but loved what he was seeing all the same

It was easier to merchandise villains than friends, so that’s why the show’s writers kept adding more

One can’t help but notice the crudeness of the animation in the opera scene

They’re all chuckling at the leisurely pacing of this episode, a result of the show’s creators learning on the fly

Kids playing with marbles is a cute anachronism

Shadows were used sparingly in early episodes out of concerns that they couldn’t afford them

The hamster gets to escape after Bart’s chemistry mishap, otherwise the joke earlier about the hamster being dissected would’ve been too cruel

Bart’s confession was animated in the US, not Korea

David enjoys having a yellow character talk to a green character


Animation Alley: Bart the Genius

[Note: Mike Amato of Me Blog Write Good is going to be writing about the animation for the Yellow Jubilee.]

If we’re gonna talk about the animation from the first season, then we must start with the first cut of the very first episode, “Some Enchanted Evening” (feel free to mute the video, it’s just the schmucky uploader doing “commentary.”) The brunt of the animation for the show, and a sizable amount of all American animation, is done overseas, and because of how long the animation process is, and with the speed and the technology back then, a whole season could be in production before people State-side get to see any of it. So when everyone sat down to watch the first cut of “Evening,” it was quite a surprise (James L. Brooks’ famous initial statement: “This is shit.”) The thing is, no one was really doing this “realistic” type animation at the time; the creators didn’t want the very bendy, loose, rubber hose style animation that they were seeing. But thankfully, the second show in was in much, much better shape, giving Groening and co. a sigh of relief. So behold, “Bart the Genius,” the episode that saved the series.

Now, if I pointed out every shot or moment I liked in this show, this article would be endless. For these write-ups, I’m gonna try to boil it down to three scenes or specific moments that I feel are particularly strong, or have neat stuff to say about them.

First is the opening to our show, with the family playing a game of Scrabble in the living room. Of course we open up with Maggie, our infant savant, spelling “EMCSQU” with her blocks, then we pan up to see she’s right at the leg of the table where the rest of the family are none the wiser to her sudden stroke of intellectualism.

Here we have our first use of animation smears, which are always fun to freeze frame on. They’re done during quick movements to accentuate the speed, you see them in a lot of Disney and Warner Bros. cartoons. Most of these “cartoonier” techniques were phased out after the first few seasons or so. Also, another first season hallmark: bizarre photos on the wall. Why would they frame and hang a photo of an aghast Homer screaming? Well, why not?

Bart places down his game-winning word: ‘kwijibo.’ He places the letters down off-center so haphazardly, speaking to his messy nature as a little boy, but also because of how desperately he wants to get the hell out of this quality family activity.

Fantastic straight-ahead drawings of Homer, getting very subtly more irate as his thick skull registers that Bart is making fun of him.

My next scene is Bart’s math dream, back when the show used to take great artistic license with dream sequences. Done all in monochrome, we see Bart attempt to solve one of those over-complicated “if two trains left the station” questions imagining himself on one of the said trains. As the sequence goes on, we see numbers appear more and more as parts of the background until Bart encounters the conductor: a manically insane Martin. From that point, it’s a series of quick cuts as Bart panics, about to be in a head-on collision between the two trains, until he falls backwards back to reality and out of his seat in the classroom.

My last moment really isn’t done justice with framegrabs, unfortunately, but if you’re reading this blog, surely you’ve got these DVDs on your shelf somewhere, and if not, then I am filled with shame. Anyway, it’s when Homer and Marge are called to Principal Skinner’s office regarding Bart’s transgressions. In the early days of the show, and particularly in this episode, Bart is our star, so we’re seeing things from a kid-like perspective. He’s in trouble, and then the parents show up, the frame cut so you don’t even see their faces as they enter from camera right. First is Marge, who greets Skinner cordially, walking in quite daintily, her left arm held out fancily, overall a very delicate and docile creature. Then follows Homer, a large presence, stomping in with his fist at the ready to accuse Bart. This one quick moment perfectly communicates Homer and Marge’s characters and their feelings on the situation at hand. The staging, the animation, the acting, all of it comes together in this short four seconds or so to tell so, so much.

As I said, I can go on so much longer, but these are just a few great moments from a great episode.


Permanent Record: Dr. J. Loren Pryor

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“Ah, finished already?  Principal Skinner will be very interested to . . . oh. . . . You know, you misspelled ‘confession’.” – Dr. J. Loren Pryor

Even at its earliest stages, The Simpsons was always careful not to pass up comedy opportunities.  Whether it was minor characters, secondary locations, television shows, or anything else, the show made sure to populate the universe of Springfield with people, places and ideas that were just as delightfully twisted as the main family.  A school psychologist evaluating troublemaking Bart could easily have been portrayed as a straight ahead public servant, a caring individual who tries to help steer the wayward young man.  But that wouldn’t have been any fun, so instead the show gave us Dr. J. Loren Pryor, a book smart quack who can’t see past his own glasses to the obvious fact that Bart Simpson is scamming him.

This is the first episode with “Dr J.”, and while he pops up a few more times in the show, this is his definitive performance.  Consider his first interaction with Bart.  The show lets us know right from the get go that this guy is not nearly as smart as the tie and vest would have you believe.  Not only is he measuring Bart’s head with calipers, but he’s getting quickly, thoroughly and easily had:

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Sir, phrenology was dismissed as quackery a hundred sixty years ago.

Dr. J. Loren Pryor: Tell me, Bart, are you ever bored in school?
Bart: Oh, you bet.
Dr. J. Loren Pryor: Mmm-hmm, ever feel a little frustrated?
Bart: All the time, sir.
Dr. J. Loren Pryor: Do you ever dream of leaving your class to pursue your own intellectual development on an independent basis?
Bart: Wow, it’s like you’re reading my mind, man.

Look at those questions!  Bart’s sold a lot of adults on a lot of crap in his time, but Pryor is such a sucker that all Bart has to do here is agree with him.

This is only the second episode, but the societal nihilism that underpinned so much of the show’s satire in later years was already apparent.  The only person who sees through Bart’s con is Lisa.  Everyone else, from his parents to the principal to the “learning coordinator” are all fooled.  Pryor, the supposed expert, is the worst offender, and we get further payoff from his academic obtuseness at the end.

Sitting in his office, which is adorned with a picture of Bart next to a picture of Albert Einstein, Pryor falls hook, line and sinker for Bart’s plan to return to his regular school.  Even after the chemistry explosion, Pryor still doesn’t understand that Bart isn’t a genius.  Indeed, he leaps at the Jane Goodall comparison and rushes from his office to put Bart’s plan into action.  It isn’t until Bart literally spells it out for him in his confession that Pryor finally realizes how big a fool he’s been.

Though he’s only a small part of the episode, “Bart the Genius” leaves no doubt about the fact that Dr. J. Loren Pryor is a nebbish idiot.  So as the series progresses we understand why he can be so callous in telling Lisa that a homemaker is “like a mommy” or careless when he gets mixed up and thinks that Bart is the kid with the “flamboyant homosexual tendencies”.  He’s a doctor, but he’s also a dolt.


Quote of the Day

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“Bart, there are students in this class with a chance to do well.  Will you stop bothering them?” – Mrs. Krabappel


Quote of the Day

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“Don’t be discouraged, son, I bet Einstein turned himself all sorts of colors before he invented the lightbulb.” – Homer Simpson


Quote of the Day

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“Now, I don’t want you to worry class.  These tests will have no effect on your grades.  They merely determine your future social status and financial success . . . if any.” – Mrs. Krabappel


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