Archive for August, 2011


Strangely Dull Mike Scully Podcast

I was hoping to have a meaty and informative post today based on an hour long appearance Mike Scully did on sportswriter Jonah Keri’s podcast last week.  Foolishly, I assumed that Scully talking television, The Simpsons, and pop culture for such a long time had to have a few blog worthy nuggets for a boring week in August.  I was wrong.  About halfway through I thought I was in trouble because I only had like three and a half sentences of notes.  But I stuck it out hoping for something, a snarky quote, an interesting behind the scenes story, anything. 

The most interesting thing that happened was that Keri wanted to discuss the fact that “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson” was pulled for syndication after the 2001 terrorist attacks.  But Keri didn’t do his homework.  First, he thought Scully had been in charge of that one because it’s in Season 9, and Scully had to correct him that it was one of the holdover episodes from the reign of Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein. 

Second, and this is the real killer, Keri thought the episode was still out of syndicated reruns after all these years.  He even had this little introductory speech about whether or not that kind of censorship was appropriate or not.  Unfortunately, it isn’t true; the episode was briefly pulled but is now back in the pool with everything else.  I was able to discern this fact with a quick Google search that led me to both Wikipedia (“the episode was initially taken off syndication in many areas following the September 11, 2001 attacks, but has come back into syndication in recent years”) and SNPP (“As time passed and sensitivity lessened, the episode began being aired again on a regular basis”).  Stuck with something he probably wasn’t expecting, Scully just mentioned that the episode is on the Season 9 DVDs, and that he thought it was also in one of those smaller home video packages that grab a few episodes.  So much for that. 

You can see a topic list at Keri’s site, and this is the direct mp3 download link, but there isn’t much for the informed Simpsons fan.  Scully talks in generalities about his time on the show, the two of them talk a bit about hockey and guest stars, and then Scully spends a little time plugging Parks & Recreation and the upcoming animated “Napoleon Dynamite” series.  I’m not saying it’s a complete waste of your time, certainly it’s no worse than this blog post, but this post is a lot shorter. 


Quote of the Day


Image shamelessly yoinked from here.

“Dad, I don’t understand.  What is she saying you did?” – Lisa Simpson
“Well, Lisa, remember that postcard Grampa sent us from Florida of that alligator biting that woman’s bottom?” – Homer Simpson
“Oh yeah, that was brilliant!” – Bart Simpson
“That’s right, we all thought it was hilarious, but it turns out we were wrong.  That alligator was sexually harassing that woman.” – Homer Simpson
“And the dog in the Coppertone ads, same deal, Dad?” – Bart Simpson
“That’s kind of a gray area.” – Homer Simpson


Quote of the Day

El Viaje Misterioso De Nuestro Jomer7

“I always just figured my wife was my soul mate.  But if it’s not Marge, then who is it?  Where do I begin looking?” – Homer Simpson
“This really goes beyond my training as a furniture salesman, sir.  Now, if you don’t want the sofa I’ll have to ask you to leave.” – Furniture Salesman


Quote of the Day

Bart's Comet4

“I am going to punish you for this, Bart, and it won’t just be a simple caning this time.” – Principal Skinner


Quote of the Day

Smoke Alarm Shopping Binge

Image used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user zappowbang.

“I thought we agreed to consult each other before any major purchases.” – Marge Simpson
“Well, you bought all those smoke alarms and we haven’t had a single fire.” – Homer Simpson


Quote of the Day

Homie the Clown7

“Being a clown sucks.  You get kicked by kids, bit by dogs, and admired by the elderly.” – Homer Simpson


Reading Digest: Reluctant (But Pun Free!) Guest Voice Edition


“Damn you, paparazzo!” – C.M. Burns

As a general rule, I tend to ignore Zombie Simpsons guest voice news.  Almost without exception, the guest voices fade instantly into the indistinguishable morass of forgettable episodes, so I don’t see the point in noting them beforehand.  However, and I give her and her publicists a lot credit for this, it’s basically impossible to ignore Lady Gaga.  Earlier this week it came out that she’s doing a guest voice on Zombie Simpsons, then the internet exploded, and as a result we have two links about it.  (And if I have to read one more headline using the word “gaga” as a pun I’m going to start shooting.)  Presumably, we’ll be treated to a similar online conniption when the episode airs next spring, but after that I fully expect this episode to disappear down the memory hole.  After all, this is Zombie Simpsons we’re talking about.  Forgettable and pointless is what they do, and even the white hot fame of Lady Gaga can’t resist their rigidly dull commitment to mediocrity.

Due to the explosion of Gaga background noise there’s a little less variety than usual this week.  But we’ve still got an awesome fan made embroidery project, some excellent usage, a nice takedown of the movie, and lots of people who don’t like Zombie Simpsons. 


Oh Simpsons, when did this happen to you? – A terrible, if necessary, question:

When did The Simpsons become what it is today: the ghost of a much greater show.

Was it the move to HD? Was it after, or before the movie? Is there even a defining moment?

I would really like to know what you (yes, you) have to say about this.

I voted for Season 10, but that may be related to the fact that we’re almost done watching all of them for the summer.

Phat Quarter Food Swap (or how I work the Simpsons into everything I do) – An awesome embroidered butcher’s diagram of a pig with Homer’s famous “wonderful, magical animal” quote.  Ten pounds of bacon to you.

Hot Shot Eastbound – Today’s post on the Springfield Historical Society is about the scene where Homer watches “Hail to the Chimp”.  I did not know that was a famous photograph.  Cool.

Top Moments of ‘The Simpsons’ – This list of great things from the show is gentler on Zombie Simpsons than I am, but all of the moments are from single digit seasons.  Bravo.

Use the Forks, Luke – A high resolution scan of a Simpsons comic this guy drew when he was ten.  The premise is that Homer is stuck in a door.  Honestly, this is better than Zombie Simpsons.

Hello Kitty – A list of some of television’s most famous cats, including Snowball II. 

Lady Gaga set for lesbian kiss in new Simpsons episode – I could’ve picked any one of a dozen links for this less than shocking news, which every write up was sure to mention:

Lady Gaga revealed that her character ends up kissing Marge.

Oh, Zombie Simpsons, you do love trite, faux-lesbian exploitation, don’t you?

Lisa Goes GaGa for Guest Star Lady Gaga on ‘The Simpsons’ – And the second and final Lady Gaga link is for this:

Simpsons executive producer Al Jean said that it was the first time the show has had a “show business legend” younger than the series itself.

C’mon, Al, that isn’t even kinda true.  Wikipedia has her as being born in 1986, she isn’t even younger than the Tracey Ullman shorts.  To be fair to Jean, I didn’t actually see him quoted at the link, and is about as reliable a source of information as an astrology fortune cookie.  It does sound like something he’d say, though.

Best Animated TV Comedy Of All Time – Your Vote – I saw that the water wing and rubber pants crowd at Entertainment Weekly was holding a stupid vote on this.  Happily I can link to our friends at Stay Tooned In instead.  Oh, and The Simpsons came in first, naturally.

The East Coast Earthquake…In 10 Words – Pretty lame, earthquake. 

Chicago-Style Hot Dogs…In 10 Words – A dead on Apu quote for the tooltip here. 

Branson, Missouri…In 10 Words – Sadly, the tooltip quote here is a bit off and nits must be picked.  Bart actually says, “My dad says it’s like Vegas, if it were run by Ned Flanders.”

Can You Imagine a World Without Lawyers? – YouTube of Hutz’s worst nightmare.  I never get sick of that.

Worst TV to Film Adaptations: Friday Fiver – No arguments here:

The Simpsons Movie (2007)
Alright, so this film adaptation of Fox’s long-running animated comedy wasn’t exactly a massive drop in quality from what we’re currently getting on television – The Simpsons has been declining steadily for at least ten years – but that’s not really an excuse. Fans had been waiting for a big screen outing from Springfield’s first family for years, and what they did they eventually get? About two decent jokes, both of which were in the trailer.

Is oil from Alberta really climate’s linchpin? – Excellent usage:

There’s an old episode of "The Simpsons" in which Bart pleads with his father to cease his verbal abuse of the local baseball team, the Springfield Isotopes. “You’ve got to support the team, Dad,” Bart insists. “They’re already threatening to move to Moose Jaw!” I felt a little tummy-tickling thrill when I first saw that episode, because as brief a mention as it was, the little Canadian prairie city where I was born had just been referenced on "The Simpsons"! It was like having my picture taken with a favorite celebrity or something.

This isn’t reality – Animated .gif of Homer melting out of, then back into, the hedge from “Homer Loves Flanders”.

Random Look – Weeks Photos – Someone bought one of those Homer skateboards and took a close up picture of it.  Also, I too enjoy drinking on patios. 

The TV Talk’s Shows I Can’t Get Into – And finally, won’t somebody please think of the children?:

“The Simpsons” – Slightly different situation from “Supernatural,” I feel as if I missed the prime years of “The Simpsons.” A few years ago, I decided that if I liked “Family Guy,” the rest of the Animation Domination Sunday Line-Up could be for me. I watched nearly an entire season of “The Simpsons” before I realized it didn’t do anything for me. It wasn’t necessarily bad or anything, but it also didn’t really make me laugh or make me feel something in a way that “Family Guy” can.  And while the merits of both shows can be debated, it seems “Simpsons” fans pretty much agree that the show isn’t what it used to be. The social satire of older seasons wouldn’t have the same bite now, so it seems like a lost cause.

A very lost cause.


Quote of the Day

Charlton Heston NRA

Image yoinked from here.

“Tell you what, you come with me to an N.R.A. meeting, and if you still don’t think guns are great, we’ll argue some more.” – Homer Simpson


Simpsons Go Canyonero: The Indifference of Selling Out

– By Hank Pumpkins of Love in the Time of Sausage

“I’m so hungry, I could eat at Arby’s”. That one line, delivered by Sherri—or maybe Terri—worked wonders on my young, impressionable mind, and only nearly eight years later, on a dare in college, did I finally try Arby’s. It turns out, the fries are pretty good. There’s a secret shame in admitting that The Simpsons held such political sway over my taste-buds, but in the years since, I’ve come to see I haven’t been the only one—which makes me wonder if there was a marginal dip in sales after “Das Bus” came out.

It’s probably overstated that The Simpsons has always had a cache of consumer power, both as an economic consumer power and as a commentator of consumerism. From its early days the show has been keenly aware of dual-life it led as a biting satire on American economics while also being prostituted out on everything from t-shirts to “blues” records to Butterfinger bars. For a show with such sheer size and success, unparalleled with, well, pretty much any other television show, ever, they did a fine line of playing both roles, though looking back at the last thirteen years, it seems inevitable that the show would eventually teeter, then topple on one side.

It’s not surprising which side that ended up being.

Season 9 is about as good a place as any to see the axis tilt on The Simpsons for a variety of reasons, but what concerns me are the ominous signs that point to the philosophical sea-change which, to me, signaled the point where The Simpsons lost their bite and settled down into somewhat inspired, but mostly mediocre entertainment filler.

Season 9’s plots seem to constantly revolve around battles for integrity. Homer needs to choose between buying a saxophone or an air conditioner; Lisa fights the town on the angel; Homer gets into a brawl over a sports car while Marge struggles to make a sale; Bart burns down the Christmas tree, including the sausage for little Homer; Homer and Bart become carnies and learn their wicked carnie games; Movementarians; and, to cut basically a list of all of the season’s episodes short, “The Last Temptation of Krust”, which literally revolves around Krusty realizing he is, has been, and always will operate not as a comedian, but as a shill. In a season rife with issues of integrity, and a show already feeling the strain of its own success and legacy, “The Last Temptation of Krust” feels like a breaking point where the show seemed to run completely out of steam. Krusty’s conflict was his battle with integrity, and his resolution is a quiet, somewhat disconcerting acceptance that he is a whore. Doubtful that the writers were mirroring their own show, or being prescient about the lazy, belabored comedy to come in years hence, but as The Canyonero commercial plays, and drags on and on, it’s difficult for Future Me to watch and wonder, “Oh. That explains it.”

Compare Krusty in season 9 with another episode dealing with integrity over money: “Lisa Vs. Malibu Stacy”, aired four years prior, where in the end, Malibu Stacy seemingly wins—except for the one girl who takes the Lisa Lionheart doll and cherishes it. We get the usual cynical Simpsons nod that our world is run by money, and baseless corporate greed which slakes its thirst on the naïve and unwitting, but at least there’s a sentimental twist to the end (which is pretty well earned, I’ll add).

There aren’t many times I bother to check in on The Simpsons anymore, but when Banksy’s guest couch gag went viral, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. True to Banksy form, it had a nasty anti-consumer bend, but it felt out of place as a Simpsons gag. The show had long ago lost its teeth, and instead of being a purveyor of biting satire, it felt like an outsider was just doling out a blow, and the show could care less, as long as it got the ratings boost. In the past thirteen years, The Simpsons lost a lot of credit and value it once so richly earned. When the tight walk between sharp consumer satire and consumer salesman gave way, the show gave a weary, resigned “meh”. And now, it’s just a truck with four wheel drive, smells like a steak and seats thirty-five.

Lisa Lionheart is dead; all hail Malibu Stacy.


Quote of the Day

Marge vs. the Monorail6

“Well, sir, where should we dump this batch?  The playground?” – Mr. Smithers
“No, all those bald children are arousing suspicion.  To the park!” – C.M. Burns


Crazy Noises: The Old Man and the C Student

The Old Man and the C Student1

“They cut out the best word!” – Bart Simpson
“Didn’t that movie used to have a war in it?” – Hans Moleman
“C’mon!  You’ve been warned.” – Orderly

For the third summer in a row, we at the Dead Homer Society are looking to satisfy your off-season longing for substandard commentary on substandard Simpsons.  This summer we’ll be looking at Season 10.  Why Season 10?  Because we’ve already done Seasons 8 and 9 and we can’t put it off any longer.  Prior to Season 10, we watched as the show started falling over, this is when it fell over.  And while the dust wouldn’t settle completely for another season or so, there is no bigger gap in quality than the one between Season 9 and Season 10.  Since we prefer things to remain just as they were in 1995, we’re sticking with this chatroom thing instead of some newer means of communication that we all know just isn’t as good.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “disheveled”).

Today’s episode is 1020, “The Old Man and the C Student”.  Yesterday was 1019, “Mom and Pop Art”.

Charlie Sweatpants: Even though this episode isn’t really much worse than the typical dregs of Season 10, I have a certain dislike for it.

Primarily this is because when the show was still itself there wasn’t a single group on it that got it worse than old people. Here it feels like they’re getting kid gloves treatment, and I don’t like it.

Mad Jon: I was typing something to the same effect. It really REALLY angers me to see how things go down with the old folks in this one.

Yeah, they come out worse in older episodes, but at the same time, they are bitter, angry at the younger generations, and disagreeable in all ways. Which is what makes them awesome.

Charlie Sweatpants: It’s not so much that as it is the way their helplessness is played for cutesy points.

Mad Jon: In this one, they are basically wind up toys for Lisa and Bart to use in some pithy battle about what freedom means, or something.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yes.

Mad Jon: The old folks are funny in every classic Simpsons episode. They are not so here.

This wasn’t so much a bad episode as it was the destruction of an institution that I love and cherish.

  This is why I hate this episode.

Charlie Sweatpants: That short scene in "Bart vs. Thanksgiving" where Homer picks up Grampa from the Retirement Castle, now there’s a joke on the truly horrific nature of retirement homes. It’s mean, sure, but it’s funny because it’s got teeth and isn’t afraid to pull a punch. I’ve spent time in old folks homes like that, and they are awful places I hope to fuck don’t exist if I happen to live that long.

  Here, it’s too happy to be funny.

Mad Jon: Yeah me neither.

But the reality of the depressing nature of the old folks in the Simpsons is why it is great. That is all I am saying. When everything is "happy", as you say and I agree, it is not great. It is the opposite of the role that the old folks have always played in this show.

The bitter, disheveled, overlooked and I assume medicinally smelly nature of these characters is what makes them great, and this episode wiped all of that clean.

Charlie Sweatpants: Right. Here they’ve got things too good to be true residents of Springfield, especially marginalized residents of Springfield.

This episode apes "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest" more than a little bit, but there the joke was eventually on Jack Nicholson because it never occurred to him that the other patients didn’t want (or need) to rebel as much as he did. Here, Bart tries the same thing, but there is no joke. They just sort of blunder forward and nothing ends up happening to them.

Bear in mind that the ending involves the ship sinking (and lots of string music of suspense) and that whole thing wasn’t introduced until there’s only two minutes to go.

Mad Jon: Also the ending involves ~875 springs at the bottom of the ocean, and Jack LaLanne.

Charlie Sweatpants: I had forgotten the Jack LaLanne thing. Jebus what a lazy ending.

Mad Jon: I will point out that this episode again had some good written jokes, e.g. "Pickpockets call up reserves."

Charlie Sweatpants: Think about Bart and Mrs. Glick in "Three Men and a Comic Book", he hates her guts, but she gets the better of him without meaning to. Here, the old people are barely even characters.

I did like the "edited for seniors" ending to "Gone with the Wind", but there isn’t close to enough of that to salvage this.

Mad Jon: I especially liked the "Didn’t that movie used to have a war in it?" Followed by the orderlies telling him he’d been warned.

Charlie Sweatpants: When the drag off Hans Moleman is just about the one scene in the episode that has the old "Thank you for not discussing the outside world" bite to it.

  And we haven’t even gotten to the B-plot, which is one of the lamer excuses they ever came up with for slightly gross and mostly boring pratfalls.

Mad Jon: The Springs that lead to homer and his friends getting repeatedly beaten and injured?

  I can’t think of that so much as a B -plot as I do a continuation of the opening scene.

Charlie Sweatpants: It’s the worst of both worlds. The completely unrelated (and nonsensically dull) opening act combined with a B-plot that can’t go anywhere.

Mad Jon: Except down the shitter.

Charlie Sweatpants: Literally.

Mad Jon: Bit of a side note, when I was living with those dudes in the old farm house, whenever someone broke something or had another incident due to clumsiness, or more likely drunkenness, the accepted excuse was always "Two glass eyes".

So that always brings a smile to my face.

  But it doesn’t cover the basketball game Homer has with Maggie as the ball.

Charlie Sweatpants: The spring scenes are like watching a beginners acting workshop. Hey, what can you do with something that makes people bounce and punctures their skin? How about have Homer become a punching bag, Maggie a basketball (which Homer dribbles like a champ for some reason) and Moe and Lenny become stuck in a way that’s just gross enough to be weird but well short of gross enough to be funny.

Two glass eyes is okay, for throwaway lines that are surprisingly useful I go with "I want some taquitos", which you can use pretty much anytime there’s food.

Mad Jon: Yeah, not much in the way of usable material in this one. Or much of anything in this one, the only other line that makes me laugh is the "wide-spread de-shawling".

Charlie Sweatpants: Meh. That line too falls flat compared to "Old Money" when Grampa and Bea flirt, or when she says she has to keep her "good eye" on him, or when they describe the wool shawl as "active wear".

Mad Jon: Can’t argue with that.

Charlie Sweatpants: That’s my big problem with this one. Much of the okay stuff feels like leftovers from years previous, and in between that is crappy slapstick.

Mad Jon: The defamation of the old people still trumps that for me, but I guess that’s a personal preference.

Charlie Sweatpants: I guess it is, but it still can’t redeem the ending. I mean, Lisa, Burns, Smithers and a helicopter just materialize.

Mad Jon: Ha, the ending is even less of an ending than Mom and Pop Art.

  No redemption there.

Charlie Sweatpants: When the boat can’t even sink, it’s not a good sign.

  Season 23 off the port bow!

Mad Jon: I think I just spontaneously developed an ulcer.


Quote of the Day

They Saved Lisa's Brain3

“Principal Skinner, how’s your transportation project coming?” – Lisa Simpson
“Oh, excellent.  Not only are the trains now running on time, they’re running on metric time.  Remember this moment, people, eighty past two on April 47th, it’s the dawn of an enlightened Springfield.” – Principal Skinner


Crazy Noises: Mom and Pop Art

Mom and Pop Art4

“You’ve gone from hip to boring.  Why don’t you call us when you get to kitsch?” – Gunter

For the third summer in a row, we at the Dead Homer Society are looking to satisfy your off-season longing for substandard commentary on substandard Simpsons.  This summer we’ll be looking at Season 10.  Why Season 10?  Because we’ve already done Seasons 8 and 9 and we can’t put it off any longer.  Prior to Season 10, we watched as the show started falling over, this is when it fell over.  And while the dust wouldn’t settle completely for another season or so, there is no bigger gap in quality than the one between Season 9 and Season 10.  Since we prefer things to remain just as they were in 1995, we’re sticking with this chatroom thing instead of some newer means of communication that we all know just isn’t as good.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “snorkels”).

Today’s episode is 1019, “Mom and Pop Art”.  Tomorrow will be 1020, “The Old Man and the C Student”.

Charlie Sweatpants:  Shall we begin?

Mad Jon:  Sounds good.

Mom & Pop Art?

Charlie Sweatpants:  Yes.

Which strikes me as one of the more peculiar episodes in Season 10.

Mad Jon:  How do you mean?

Charlie Sweatpants:  It’s dumb pretty much all the way through, has premises and twists that even by the standards of Season 10 are lazy and poorly conceived, and yet it also has more really excellent lines than almost any other episode in the entire season.

Mad Jon:  Well put.

The insanity is quite thick, but I don’t really dislike it at all.

Charlie Sweatpants:  I should hate this episode a lot more than I do.  I mean, it’s brimming with Jerkass Homer, the entire town floods for no reason, and Homer gets a new job.

Yet, whenever I’m skimming the list of Season 10 episodes, this one always seems like one of the better ones despite all of that.

Mad Jon:  I really don’t mind it, but there are many terrible problems.

I specifically hate the Homer the artist vs. Marge the artist wannabe crap.

Charlie Sweatpants:  Right?  It’s cheap, just cramming Homer into a situation where they can make him be wacky.  Castellaneta screams so much I hope he had lozenges in his contract.

And yet . . . I know what I hate, and I don’t hate this.

Mad Jon:  Quite apt.

I have "Homer crying…" several times in my notes.

Charlie Sweatpants:  Burns’ line about "White Christmas", Moe offering to buy the bird, the video at Not Home Depot, the Eurotrash, and, of course, "Everything’s coming up Milhouse!"

Mad Jon:  I especially hate when he cries and demands people should fear his wrath.

Charlie Sweatpants:  Homer is in total ass mode here, and not in a good way.

Mad Jon:  Milhouse and the Eurotrash are worth the watch alone.

Charlie Sweatpants:  I can’t stand him when he’s this stupid and enthusiastically self centered.

And the rest of the cast just aids and abets him, like they know their job is to set him up and get out of the way.

Mad Jon:  He took a hell of a couple beatings as well.

Charlie Sweatpants:  He did.

I could definitely do without the dream sequence, which they staged in the fucking museum for some reason.

Mad Jon:  And put a shotgun in Maggie’s crib.  That was about the time I was fully onto the Homer the Jerk phase.

Charlie Sweatpants:  There’s a lot of that here.  When he tells Isabella Rossellini about the average out of court settlement you know he’s no longer a regular guy but an elastic cartoon figment.  Ditto his screaming, "Not the Reichstag!", which always bothers me because a) yelling is usually what they do when they know shit ain’t funny and b) it’s such a weak contrast to his questioning of Lisa in "Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk" where he doesn’t even know Germany is a country in Europe and thinks we send them money.

Mad Jon:  Being that this episode is more than a decade old, I am not surprised by this, but did it seem relatively homophobic by today’s standards?

Charlie Sweatpants:  The Bart joke didn’t, "I’m flunking math and the other day I was a little attracted to Milhouse" just makes me laugh.  But that sketching Lenny and Carl in the shower scene, yeah.

Homer was sketching them . . . why?

Mad Jon:  I was going to exclude the Milhouse comment due to its hilarity, but still, he freaks out pretty hard.

Charlie Sweatpants:  He does, but I chalk that up to general Homer freakout in this episode.

Mad Jon:  Fair enough.

Charlie Sweatpants:  The sketching Lenny and Carl thing, on the other hand, doesn’t really have a joke.  It’s just Homer acting like a calm, slightly predatory closet case, and that’s a) not anything he’d do and b) not that funny regardless.

Bart trying to get a rise out of him is a very Bart thing, the shower scene not so much.

Mad Jon:  True true.

That reminds me of how Homer decides to flood the town, but first he snorkels the animals.

Which, I think is a pretty good representation of the entire plot. We are going to do ‘A’ but first something else!

Charlie Sweatpants:  Well, this was another one of those out of left field endings that really marked the end of the show giving half a shit about plot or story.

Jasper Johns "so long suckers" (a classic line the show liked using) gets me, but other than that the ending is just too bizarre to work.

Mad Jon:  The ending is basically a non-ending. With one swift move, everything is back to good and nobody gets hurt.

And it takes less then a few minutes to do.

Charlie Sweatpants:  Case in point, the "Heaven’s easier to get into than Arizona State" line.  I’ve been to Tempe, I get the joke, but it’s the kind of thing that’s so cheap you expect it to be followed by canned laughter.

Mad Jon:  Very Teeveeish.

Charlie Sweatpants:  You’re right, though, it’s not an ending.  It’s doesn’t resolve anything, it doesn’t have any consequences, it just happens and then it’s over.

Mad Jon:  And then Homer and Marge go from a one-sided argument to kissing on the roof with freshwater dolphins and lions existing peacefully.

Charlie Sweatpants:  Like I said, this was around the time they just stopped caring.

I haven’t listened to the commentary for this one, but on so many of the commentaries from this era they get to whatever shambling excuse they have for the third act and are just like "whatever".  This feels exactly like those.

Mad Jon:  I’d buy that.

All told though, the plethora of one-liners and whatnot actually cover for enough of the crap to keep this high on my Season 10 list.

Charlie Sweatpants:  I, too, remain strangely fond of this episode.  I like Picasso’s cranky letter to the editor, I like the snorkel on the bear at the feet of the Jebediah Springfield statue, I like the haplessly incomplete paint job on the garage door at the beginning.

Mad Jon:  The Picasso letter to the editor is very very funny,

Charlie Sweatpants:  It’s enough to make me overlook things like Homer shaving his shoulders and singing a song when his instant five o’clock shadow in Season 1 was so much better.

Mad Jon:  Instant and silent.

Charlie Sweatpants:  It’s even enough that I can overlook the drawn out Ray J. Johnson joke, if for no other reason than they actually had him on in Season 13, so I know that things still have a ways to fall from here.

Mad Jon:  Quite a ways.

But that’s a later problem.

Charlie Sweatpants:  Yeah, though the next one is pretty bad.  Ready to move on to springs and weak jokes at old people?

Mad Jon:  Yeah, I guess so.

Charlie Sweatpants:  Alright, time to angry up the blood.


Quote of the Day

Homer the Vigilante5

“We are insured, aren’t we, Mom?” – Lisa Simpson
“Homer, tell your child what you bought when I sent you to town to get some insurance.” – Marge Simpson
“Curse you, magic beans!” – Homer Simpson
“Oh, stop blaming the beans.” – Marge Simpson


Quote of the Day

Radio Bart8

“So, I’m afraid your son is trapped down the well.” – Lou
“You must think we’re the worst parents in the world.” – Homer Simpson
“Yes, that’s pretty much the feeling down at the station.” – Eddie


Quote of the Day

Homer's Triple Bypass2

“Clear!” – Dr. Hibbert
“Oh, doctor, I was in a wonderful place filled with fire and brimstone, and there were all these guys in red pajamas sticking pitchforks in my butt.” – Homer Simpson


Quote of the Day

King of the Hill2

“Now step over to the abdominator and I will shout slogans at you.  Push!  Harder!  Go past the max!  Reach over the top!  Master your ass!” – Rainier Wolfcastle


Reading Digest: Quadruple Agreement Edition

The PTA Disbands6

“Well, I guess this is a case where we’ll have to agree to disagree.” – Ned Flanders
“I don’t agree to that.” – Principal Skinner
“Neither do I.” – Mrs. Krabappel

Most weeks I come across at least one person who, in talking about The Simpsons, will mention its precipitous decline in quality.  This week I came across four – count ’em four! – such people.  (One of them even used the term “Zombie Simpsons”.)  So the end of this week’s Reading Digest is pure catnip, but there’s a bunch of other fun stuff as well.  There’s a crazy fun Simpsons mural, a nice little anecdote about the show’s global ability to teach English to the youth, plenty of usage, and even an interview with the woman who played Marge in the Simpsons porn parody.


Five and Alive: Simpsons Melos – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is a breakdown of some excellent quotes from “Homerpalooza” and how they apply to music and the music business today.  Example:

Lisa Simpson: "It may be bleak, but this music is really getting to the crowd."
Bart Simpson: "Eh, making teenagers depressed is like shooting fish in a barrel."

Why is this funny now? The term "emo kid" and how ’90s mainstream alt rock was as depressing as its underground parallel.

Nick’s commentary: Bummed out teenagers don’t want to listen to lame, happy-sounding music- they want to sink even deeper into their own heads and listen to bleak, depressing music. for some reason that’s just a psychological thing and it always has been. I’m sure that scientific studies can trace it back to fucking Joy Division.

Like “Homer at the Bat”, it’s amazing that an episode so obviously of its time has aged so well.  That episode was first broadcast fifteen years ago, hip-hop and rock have been through like ten phases each since then.

Jordan J Weber: Molly Free and I killin a mural outside Best Place Ever in Dogstown Des Moines (24th and University) – Several pictures of an amazing, surreal and enormous Simpsons mural in Iowa (via).

If the Republican frontrunners were Simpson characters – This is all images and is pretty good, though I might have gone with Helen Lovejoy or Lindsey Naegle for Michele Bachmann.

Film News In Brief 08/15: Edgar Wright, Alex Pardee, Kevin Smith, AMC Sucks, Film Quotes, Simpsons – Scroll to the bottom for an indisputably awesome cosplay picture that has been making the rounds all week.  I wonder if these people were the same ones referenced in the article about Classic Simpsons trivia night I linked last week:

Another woman came dressed as “Floreda,” the awful state costume Homer made for Lisa.

Create The Itchy and Scratchy Show Retro Version on Illustrator – Extremely detailed instructions for drawing an authentic looking retro-1950s Itchy & Scratchy title card.

Walkers crisps is top children’s brand in the UK – The Simpsons are the second most recognized brand among British children age 7-15.  Here’s the top ten:

1. Walkers Crisps
2. The Simpsons
3. McDonald’s
4. Coca-Cola
5. Nintendo Wii
6. YouTube
7. Maltesers
8. Haribo
9. Nintendo DS
10. Wii Sports

Keep that crappy merchandise coming.

America through Travelers’ Eyes – Awesome:

The other day I had a family from France who I served pancakes with maple syrup, and omelets with white toast. The three children spoke English better than most other French kids I had met. I asked the parents why their English was so good. They said it was because they watch T.V. in English.

“Great! What’s your favorite T.V. show?” I asked the kids.

“Zee Simpsons!” each child declared in a lilting French accent.

What a way to learn English.

I’d go so far as to say that it’s a perfectly cromulent way to learn English.  I learned a boatload of words from the show when I was a kid.

Ned Flanders Totally Looks Like Eddie Murphy as a white guy on SNL – Wow, yeah.

‘The Last Circus,’ ‘It,’ ‘The Simpsons’: 13 Terrifying Killer Clowns – A pageview whoring slideshow of some of pop culture’s most famous scary clowns.  The link is to the Evil Krusty Doll from “Treehouse of Horror III” with a short YouTube of Homer in the tub.

Happy Fatties: Phil Hartman’s Influence – As if we needed more evidence that Phil Hartman was unconquerably awesome, here’s a letter he took the time to write to an aspiring comedian back in 1997 (via).

Sideshow Bob – Phenomenal fan made painting of Sideshow Bob complete with crazy eyes and bloody knife.

Andy San Dimas Shows Range as Leading Lady – An interview/article with the woman who played Marge in the Simpsons porn movie:

In the “Simpsons” porn, San Dimas wore a giant blue wig and yellow body paint for the entire one-day shoot.

“That’s probably like the weirdest movie that I’ve been in,” she says. “And of every movie that I’ve done it’s the one that people in my hometown have recognized me the most from which blows my mind.

Ha.  That’s hilarious.  She’s been in adult parodies of Tron, Superman, and Charlie’s Angles, but apparently even in porn The Simpsons is more powerful than other franchises.

Will evicting rioters be a bear patrol? – Excellent post-riot UK reference usage:

In a 1996 episode of The Simpsons, a bear frightens residents of Springfield by strolling down from the mountains. Homer rallies an unruly mob and convinces the town mayor to create a state of the art Bear Patrol, including branded stealth bombers. All is well until Homer receives his pay cheque, which includes an additional $5 “bear tax”.

Which of the proposed responses to this month’s rioting and looting will be a bear patrol, that is a disproportionate and expensive response prompted by an unruly mob of citizens demanding action?

The Fittest TV Cartoon Characters – Flanders makes the list here, along with some other choices I did not see coming, like April from the old Ninja Turtles cartoon.

Frank Grimes’s Speech From The Simpsons – Some epic love for when Grimes chews out Homer after getting invited to dinner. 

30 DAY SONG CHALLENGE: 08 – A Song That You Know All the Words To – The Flaming Lips, “Bad Days” – If you’re feeling like listening to the songs from “A Streetcar Named Marge” today, you’re in luck.

Top 100 Favorite TV Opening Theme Songs (#20-1) « Inside My Head – Lots of good, nostalgic YouTube here, and the #1 spot goes to The Simpsons.

10 Best Comedies of All Time – However, the show only manages #6 here.

Geeky Bento Boxes – The Simpsons one is quite awesome, but the Bioshock one is even more impressive.

Elvis Presley’s Legacy…In 10 Words – I thought the mouse-over text was going to be the three TVs for sure.

He does have a heart – Some love for “Bart vs. Thanksgiving” and Simpsons in general.

Best Birthday Song Ever … – YouTube of Bart’s birthday song from the ultra-flammable animatronic animal band.

Costco Sydney – My Experience – Oh sure, Costco is like Monstromart, but where is the love?

“A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.” -the Springfield town motto (The Simpsons) – This week’s Freakoutville quote comes with a nice little Simpsons graphic for “d’oh-nuts”.

Our baby does a great Homer Simpson impersonation – And now, the first of our four ending posts.  This one is about the remarkable ability of a newborn to sleep for Homer-esque lengths of time and includes this:

On a side note, one crazy thing is that the Simpsons will probably still be on the air by the time Zachary is old enough to watch. And, by then the number of terrible seasons of the Simpsons will outnumber greatly the number of good seasons. The Simpsons had a golden age when it was the funniest show on television. Now, it is mediocre crappy show that should have been cancelled over ten years ago. I wish Conan O’Brien would give up his late night gig and go back to writing for the Simpsons.

If Zombie Simpsons is still on the air in ten years or so, the number of terrible seasons will be approximately three times the number of good ones. 

NFL Players That Remind Me of TV Characters This Season – Our second ending comes from the world of professional football:

Donovan McNabb/Homer Simpson (The Simpsons) – D’Oh! That is what these two say when they make mistakes and they both make them often. It is amazing that both are still around considering neither is that great anymore. At one time they both had potential and got very close to fulfilling it but now they are just living on reputation.

I’d say Homer did fulfill his potential, and McNabb could’ve been a champion if Terrell Owens hadn’t gotten hurt that one year the two of them were unstoppable.  But both of them are clearly shadows of their former selves at this point, no arguments there.

Breaking News: Fabregas to Join Mascherano on Barca Bench! – Part three is from the other kind of football.  And while I don’t follow international soccer closely enough to understand most of this, I do understand this:

It’s like being one of the creators of the Simpsons versus being one of the people who now contribute to the production. Sure, you can tell your grandkids that you were part of one of the most successful TV shows of all time, but deep down you’ll know that you were never more than a passenger along for the ride as opposed to one of the stars that rocketed that show into comedic heaven.

Half the time when I come across a news item that says Channel X has ordered a pilot from writer/producer Y who worked on “The Simpsons”, it’s a guy who was there from Seasons 14-18 or something like that.  Technically it’s true, but it’s like saying that Michael Caine and Dennis Quaid were stars of the “Jaws” franchise. 

Saturn Valley: Simpsons and Sports – And finally, the fourth and final “agrees with us” link not only ends by saying, “Writing this list has made me sad, because good Simpsons is long dead. Only Zombie Simpsons exists”, but includes this appropriately stomach churning description of Zombie Simpsons:

Well, it used to be like that. The Simpsons post-season 10 isn’t exactly something that is watchable. It’s like sticking your hand into a blender, pulling your hand out, noticing that you are missing your hand, and being asked if you would like another go-around with the blender.

Preach it!


Quote of the Day

The Pretzel Business

“Homer, did you tell the mafia they could eliminate my competitors with savage beatings and attempted murder?” – Marge Simpson
“In those words? . . . Yes.” – Homer Simpson


Anyone But Steve Allen OR 10 Gifts The Simpsons Gave To Comedy

– By Django Gold, head curator at

The Simpsons was a special show, and like any other popular creative work that found a large audience, it was only a matter of time before its influence started popping up elsewhere. It’s been over twenty years since the show debuted, and in that time a generation of comedy writers who grew up watching, re-watching, and quoting the show has made their own bones in show business. What follows is a sampling of certain aspects of The Simpsons that have since shown up in countless other comedy bits.

I’m not claiming The Simpsons actually invented any of the following ideas. I’m no historian, and people were of course telling jokes a long ways before Groening & co. got to work. But I will argue that the show’s creators advanced and modernized these joke-telling methods better than anyone else, and in crafting them so well inspired others to adapt them to fit their own ideas (or just flat-out steal them). So, like I was saying…

1. Repetition/Extra Beats (Sideshow Bob and the rake)


Airtime is expensive, and in 1993 it was a risky move to blow 30 seconds of it for the sake of a repeated slapstick joke that might not hold up. Luckily, in “Cape Feare”, it did, mostly because of the enduring funniness of Sideshow Bob’s dry grimaces of pain (“Hey Hal, pie job for Lord Autumnbottom there!”). As literary review Entertainment Weekly put it: “If ever there was a gag genius in its repetitive stupidity (progressing from funny to not so funny to the funniest thing ever), this is it.” Years later, many shows have attempted to replicate this type of extended joke whose humor draws on the audacity of its length, to varying degrees of success. Family Guy, of course, pulls it off constantly (the bruised knee scene, et al), but anytime I see a comedian attempt to stretch a sprint into a marathon, Terwilliger’s scowl comes to mind.

2. Guest Stars Making Fun Of Themselves (“Now I’m gonna grab me something sweet.”)


Though you could argue that Dick Nixon started this trend on Laugh In in ’68, The Simpsons perfected the idea of bringing on guest stars so that they could send themselves up. While celebrity cameos don’t generally go beyond allowing a photogenic guest star to preen for the camera, Leonard Nimoy, George H. W. Bush, Sting, several major leaguers, Ernest Borgnine, Gerry Cooney, Rodney Dangerfield (doesn’t really count), and, of course, Dennis Franz weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. Examples of this are too numerous to list, so I guess I’ll go with Neil Patrick Harris (“Where do you want it, Skinner?”) in Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle and move on.

3. Writers Making Fun Of The Network (“We are watching Fox.”)


Similarly, The Simpsons was never afraid to bite the hand that feeds when it came to pointing out how desperately crappy Fox Broadcasting Co. was in the 90s. This is of course easy to do when your show is pretty much the only thing holding the network up. You see this same sort of gentle ribbing on Comedy Central pillars The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, and Family Guy also continues the proud tradition now that The Simpsons is off the air.

4. “By X, I Mean Y” (Judge Snyder’s dog/son)


I have not managed to find any concrete examples of the Judge Snyder construct in recent comedy, but if my own personal experience is any judge, it is ubiquitous. The Simpsons generation (that’s us) has taken an excellent Lionel Hutz line and turned it into a device for sarcasm; by substituting whatever zany mad-libs you like into an otherwise straight-forward expression, hilarity results. Though the X becomes Y construct pops up on the Internet constantly, I couldn’t possibly solve the mystery of coming up with any mainstream examples. Can you?

5. Intentional Monotony (Canada Stalls On Trade Pact)


Television is a flashy, fast-paced medium, so its rare moments of silence can do a lot to change things up. The Simpsons creators were masters of using intentionally tedious pacing to get laughs, and the box factory manager’s uproariously uninteresting speech in “Bart Gets Famous” is a perfect example of this. Though he got started in 1986’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Ben Stein made a career out of this after being a hack economist didn’t work.  Notable post-Simpsons examples include South Park (when Cartman is forced to watch the serial killer’s slide show) and, naturally, Family Guy’s occasional burst into deliberate boredom (Conway Twitty).

6. Old-Timey References (the onion and the belt)


Here, I’m specifically looking at any pre-Great Depression references that the Simpsons writers so enjoyed tossing in, usually through Monty Burns or Abe Simpson. As in the previous example, the use of antiquated, often-misremembered cultural references in The Simpsons succeeds largely because it goes against context. Instead of being entertained with the latest and greatest, the audience is presented with the ridiculous, largely irrelevant relics of a bygone era. Modern-day humorists love poking fun at our country’s creaky past: Conan O’Brien’s beloved “old-timey” baseball game sketch, for example.

7. The Selfish Assumption (“Like people, some of them are just jerks.”)


As The Itchy & Scratchy Show demonstrated in its brief period of docility in “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge”, kindness and camaraderie are all well and good when it comes to lemonade consumption, but it just isn’t funny. No, selfishness and needless cruelty pay the bills when it comes to good comedy, and the Simpsons writers understood this. Now, I want to emphasize that I’m not claiming The Simpsons invented the notion of meanness being funny. But I will make the argument that they did the best job of casually imbuing the Springfield citizenry with the kinds of character flaws that gave rise to laughs. Carl’s answer to how the pastry spinner works, Quimby’s muscle-memory embezzlement, Marge’s cryptic theft of Milhouse’s teeth…these and constant other acts demonstrate how much funnier it is when someone behaves badly. Tons of modern shows pull off this kind of casual meanness, but shows like Strangers With Candy and Children’s Hospital take it to a new level.

8. Freeze-Frame Jokes (“where the buyer is our chum”)


One of the reasons for The Simpsons’ rewatchability is the sheer volume of its jokes makes it impossible to catch and process everything in a single sitting—it takes time to appreciate what the writers are laying down. I remember one of the show’s creators calling The Simpsons the first-ever VHS show (or something like that), as it was the first show that rewarded re-viewings (hence the show’s immense success in syndication). From an artistic standpoint, packing the jokes in like this is just good common sense; but it’s also a valuable commercial tool, as it makes people more likely to watch again, buy the DVDs, etc. Many, many shows have tapped into this joke-a-second type of pacing. Archer, Futurama, Parks and Rec, you name it.

9. Film Homages (Debbie Does Springfield)


Once the show’s artists found their groove, The Simpsons was able to pull off the kind of animation tricks that no other show could dream of at the time. This included the ability to capture scenes much in the same way that filmmakers did with different “camera” angles and framing techniques…which also allowed the writers to throw in homages to their favorite films. Citizen Kane, The Godfather, and various Hitchcock films got their due, and the shot-for-shot remake approach is now a comedic trope, in animated and live-action shows alike.

10. A Cast Of Thousands (“We’ve given the word ‘mob’ a bad name.”)


Large casts are expensive to maintain for a live-action show, but it’s a pretty thrifty option for a cartoon, especially if most of them are voiced by the same six people. The huge ensemble cast that filled Springfield allowed the show’s writers to move beyond the core Simpson family members and flesh out those minor characters that we the viewers would eventually come to know just as well. Apu living with the Simpsons? It happened…and shows like Arrested Development and The Office took advantage of the example.

Agree? Disagree? Got some other examples to give? Sound off in the comments.


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