Reading Digest: Still Digesting Edition

'Round Springfield7

“Oh look, here comes Lumpy, the school snake!” – Principal Skinner

The huge spike in on-line chatter leading up to last week’s forgettably indifferent episode of Zombie Simpsons didn’t subside when the credits rolled, so this week’s Reading Digest is just as gargantuan as last week’s.  Once again there was just too damn much going on at once to digest (as it were).  Below you’ll find a few more “500 yay!” type articles and, just like last week, they are an implicit statement about just how very little people care about Zombie Simpsons.  There’s also lots of stuff about Groening, Hank Azaria’s favorite episode, an awesome Georges Seurat-Simpsons mashup, plenty of excellent usage, a new video game, and a ton of great YouTube.


‘The Simpsons’ Had A Message for Fans Last Night – I put Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week up on Twitter yesterday because even though this video is nearly four years old, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it.  And it is eleventeen kinds of awesome:


‘The Simpsons’: Q&A with Matt Groening on reaching 500 episodes – Reason number five million to love Matt Groening:

On Valentine’s Day you’re getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In my previous life working for the Los Angeles Reader, I used to type up the calendar section, and any time any celebrity would get a star on Hollywood Boulevard I would type up the press release. But as an investigative journalist I would actually drive to the address where the star was going to be, and I would note what store it was in front of and write, say, "Curly Joe DeRita is receiving his star in front of the Pussycat Theater," or whatever it was — Joe’s Bong Shop. And I remember getting calls saying, "Please don’t. Please don’t put what stores are at these addresses."

Ha!  And, from the same interview, an (apparently un-ironic) discussion of that computer animated Tintin movie:

Also, for me, as a viewer, perfection is unengaging. And when you see things that are physically impossible, there’s so much physically impossible imagery that can be thrown at you before you stop caring.

Mr. Groening, please call your office.

The Sunday Intertitle: Give Chase a Chance – Apparently, when Selma imagines what her kids by Hans Moleman would be like in “Selma’s Choice”, it was based off an old silent movie where a guy imagines what his family would look like if he married a woman with a wooden leg.  I did not know that.  Cool.

Real Geeks Dine At A Periodic Table Table – A guy named Theo Gray has a wooden table of the periodic table:

You can catch a glimpse of Homer etched into a silicon disc at the 3:45 mark.  It’s in a case with a bunch of other odd samples, which he introduces by saying, “There’s a bunch of stuff in here.  It’s not terribly well organized.”  I love it when chemistry geeks aren’t “terribly well organized”.  That makes things more fun.

Alison Krauss covers The Simpsons theme – Earlier this week I said I liked the rendition of the theme that was done over the closing credits of “At Long Last Leave”.  Turns out it was Alison Krauss:

I somehow missed that in all the 500th hype.

FILTER Magazine Celebrates The Simpsons 500th Episode – There’s an excerpt of an interview with Groening here, but the real treat is the cover image, which is a way cool drawing of a pissed off Homer getting yellow paint all over himself.

The Simpsons’ 500th Episode…In 10 Words – Yeah, but I don’t have a Nielsen box so it didn’t help them.

E o carnaval espanhol? – This is in Spanish, so I’m not sure, but I think it’s pictures taken at a street carnival in Madrid.  I can’t decide which is more terrifying, the Smurfs costumes or the Simpsons ones.

Muppet Show Alfabesi! – I’ve linked Simpsons related picture alphabets before, but not this one.  Some of the faces are a little disturbing, but I like Marge’s hair billowing all the way up to Homer.

The Simpsons – a tale of love and pain – A longtime fan relates a long time spent with the show, though years and continents.  Aww.

the simpsons @ 500 – I couldn’t find a link to the original artist, but click through for an amazing rendition of “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of the Grand-Jatte” with Simpsons characters.  I don’t think I’ve never seen this before, but it is sweet.

Behind the Scenes of the THR’s ‘Simpsons’ Cover Shoot – Speaking of cover images, this is a promotional video from The Hollywood Reporter that’s one half them putting together their cover, and one half David Silverman giving a tour of the studios.

At the 3:30 mark you can see a FOX guy working on one of those Wacom tablets.  He clearly knows what he’s doing, but the computer is also clearly smoothing things out for him as he draws.

YouTube HOF: Best. Simpsons. Moments. Ever. – The writers at Grantland pick some favorite Simpsons moments.  There’s a lot of good YouTube here, and the only thing even remotely from Zombie Simpsons is sexy Flanders from Season 11.

Comparing Each NFL Team to a Character from the Simpsons – Meh.

Love, Death and Bananas: The Early Woody Allen – A long article about Woody Allen twice references Flanders:

There’s a line in an episode of The Simpsons that I believe encapsulates many people’s feelings toward Woody Allen (those who know who he is): during a dinner party, Ned Flanders confesses, “You know, I like his films, except for that nervous fellow that’s always in them.”

Excellent usage.

‘The Simpsons’: It turns out your favorite episode was … about 100 episodes. None of them, uh, hit a homer, but all of them were hits – Yet another reader survey turns into an implicit rejection of Zombie Simpsons.  This one’s from Oregon.

Doug Webb, Ehud Asherie – The guy who does Lisa’s saxophone parts in the opening just put out a new album.

500 Days of Simpsons – Our friend The Byronic Man lists a bunch of old favorites and asks his readers for their suggestions.  As you’d imagine, Zombie Simpsons is thin to non-existent amid all the hilarity.

23 Seasons of The Simpsons, 23 Favorite Episodes – Denise picks a favorite from all 23 seasons.  That looks exhausting.

‘Simpsons’ celebrates 500th episode – Apparently Hank Azaria’s favorite episode is “Homer’s Enemy”.  I saw a lot of love for that one over the last couple of weeks.

The Making Of "Homer At The Bat," The Episode That Conquered Prime Time 20 Years Ago Tonight – A fantastic baseball focused writeup of “Homer at the Bat”.  Which leads to . . .

How a Farmington Hills hardware store helped The Simpsons accidentally spoof George Steinbrenner and make tv history – . . . some even more fantastic local color follow up:

Feb. 20, Deadspin: Most fans assumed that the show had cribbed from real-life events. In fact, Mr. Burns’s sociopathic infatuation with sideburns was inspired by showrunner Al Jean’s grandfather, who owned a hardware store in the ’70s and would constantly berate his employees for their excessive follicular growth. Mattingly had recorded his dialogue a full month before his dustup with the Yankees.

Who knew Al Jean’s grandfather was George Steinbrenner 20 years before George Steinbrenner? One wonders if they wear turtlenecks and blazers in Farmington?

Jean’s Hardware is still in business, and Al Jean’s metro Detroit roots possibly explain the many, sometimes subtle, Michigan references on the iconic show. For instance, Homer once shouted at a pack of elk to “go back to Grosse Pointe,” and another time he dreamed of taking a RV to the Holland Tulip Festival.


How the Simpsons will spark EA’s freemium push – There’s a new game coming out for iOS soon, though the actual gameplay details are pretty light on the ground.  Here’s a couple more images, for whatever they’re worth.

Slo-Mo Thing of the Day – Some mad genius took the one minute long couch gag from “At Long Last Leave”, slowed it down to 1/4 speed, and then set it to the Portlandia theme.  Gaze in horror as the series degrades before your eyes:

‘The Simpsons’ Creator Matt Groening Donates $500,000 to UCLA – In other Groening news:

Matt Groening has donated $500,000 to the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (TFT) for the endowment of the Matt Groening Chair in Animation.

The endowment will allow visiting artists to teach classes in TFT’s animation program.

Top Fifty Simpsons Episodes (# 30 – 21) – This is the continuation of the list from last week.  There’s one Zombie Simpsons episode here (the 24 one), but that’s it.

Top Fifty Simpsons Episodes (# 20 – 11) – This is all good stuff.

Top Fifty Simpsons Episodes (# 10 – 1) – As is this, with plenty of Season 2 in the top 20.

(Semi)Counter Post – Top 25 Simpsons Episodes – The top 50 guy’s co-blogger wrote up his own list.  There’s a few Zombie Simpsons episodes on here, but not many.  The final score across both bloggers at Bloggius Maximus?

The Simpsons (Season 11 or earlier): 67 
Zombie Simpsons (Season 12+): 7

You suck, Zombie Simpsons.

Classic Moments From The Simpsons – Yet another 500th inspired post.  This has three short YouTube videos, none from Zombie Simpsons.

Episode 13 – Take Two, From the Top – A long Canadian podcast touches on Zombie Simpsons around the 53:50 minute mark.  My favorite exchange:

“You watched it forever.  What do you think of it now?  ’Cause a lot of people are back and forth on it.”
“Uh, well, I don’t know.  It’s kinda garbage, to be honest.”


Simpsons Hockey Jerseys – Mockups of Lisa and Bart’s sweaters from “Lisa on Ice”.

Simpsons marathon sets record, spans 10-plus seasons – One final follow up on those two people who broke the official record for consecutive viewing:

The marathon started with Episode 1 on Wednesday at 5 p.m. and the winners made it up to the 11th episode of the 11th season, or through 239 total episodes.

Sadly, this does not clear matters, as the eleventh episode of Season 11 is “Faith Off”, which is episode #237.  Whatever.

Best of the Bull-ogosphere: February 14 – Voodoo Five – Much excellent Valentine’s Day usage in relation to University of Southern Florida football.

a stoned family, is a together family – A fan made image of the entire family stoned.  Since it’s from a blog called The Stoned Dude, it makes perfect sense.

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 24.2.2012 – A top five Simpsons guest stars:


1. Ringo Starr
2. Michael Jackson
3. Dustin Hoffman
4. Stan Lee
5. Adam West

Stan Lee was Season 13, everything else is solid.  And even if there is one from Zombie Simpsons, it’s still ten years old.

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of “Homer at the Bat” — the smoothest Simpsons episode ever – Agreed:

Most episodes from the show featured a main story and a side story. But this was one entire story from beginning to end. It didn’t involve anything out of the ordinary. And I think that’s what attracted the audience to it.

There weren’t any distractions throughout the show. It was just one story the entire way. It was just smooth.

The way that they got nine separate guest stars to fall victim to nine separate subplots remains one of the most amazing features of that episode.  Smooth, indeed.

At 500 Episodes, “The Simpsons” Remains Tiresome – This is gentler on Zombie Simpsons than I am, but I agree totally with the sentiment:

The new episodes are not particularly bad, but rather unable to measure up to the gems that made the show so iconic in the ‘90s. But with the show’s increasing number of unmemorable episodes, the duds now outnumber the classics. Each episode feels like a repeat of an idea that the show has already had, though in the show’s defense, such a fate may be impossible to avoid after 23 years on the air.

The Simpsons Tell Gen X Jokes – A look at the humor of the show, and its decline, for people who were in college when it debuted.  (This is what I’m talking about when I say it’s ludicrous to hide behind childhood nostalgia as a way to defend Zombie Simpsons.)

In Which I Discuss Pop Culture References and The Simpsons – As a prologue to a longer discussion about references in the show, we get this excellent summary:

Alas, I no longer turn my TV to FOX every Sunday night at eight. And the reason is simple- The Simpsons is terrible. Awful. Unfunny and sad (alcoholic clown-sad, not Bambi’s mom-sad).

It wasn’t always this way, of course- back in the early to mid nineties, The Simpsons was the smartest, fastest, funniest show on television, and a monstrously huge pop culture phenomenon to boot. Nowadays it’s a shell of it’s former self.


Review of The Simpsons’ 500th Episode, "At Long Last Leave"Time magazine agrees with us:

It probably won’t surprise you that every single episode I came up with was from the show’s first decade. I would love to write the contrarian article saying that 2000s Simpsons is better than 1990s Simpsons, but come on.


That said, the whole question of whether The Simpsons should go off the air doesn’t excite me, because it’s moot. The Simpsons, which is to say the classic, worldview-defining show that provided me a memorable quote for pretty much every occasion in life, already went off the air. It had a great run–eight or ten years, depending who’s counting, which is far, far longer than even most great TV shows maintain their greatness.

It was replaced by a second Simpsons,** which began around the late ’90s, give or take. This was not as great a show, it was less focused on the Simpsons as a family unit, and in some ways wasn’t even really a sitcom, so much as an institution, like Saturday Night Live, which became known for its famous guest cameos and its parodies and takes on topical issues. It was a lesser show, but that was fine; the world also needs comedies that are just often pretty funny, and to me its existence took nothing away from the preceding seasons.

Preach it, mainstream media brother!

It Ain’t What It Used To Be – And finally, I get to end with a top ten list that wholeheartedly agrees with us:

Last Sunday, The Simpsons broadcast it’s 500th episode. 500th. I mean, that’s just ridiculous. And whilst it’s become a cliché to say that it’s gone considerably downhill in the last ten years, it should never be overlooked that for about 5-6 years, The Simpsons was the funniest, wittiest, cleverest thing on TV, and when it was at it’s best, I’d say it was the greatest thing that has ever been on television.

Thus, I have decided to do a little celebratory post, specifically my top 10 episodes ever, in honour of the greatest programme that ever was, that has now become a sub-Family Guy crapfest. Never forget the good times.


6 Responses to “Reading Digest: Still Digesting Edition”

  1. 1 Bea Simmons' Rotting Corpse
    24 February 2012 at 1:02 pm

    How ’bout this section of the Groening interview:

    “What are the limits of reality within that universe? Is there a point where you say, “We’re over the line”?

    We debate it all the time. My attitude is that things can be improbable but not physically impossible; it’s OK for Homer to fall off a cliff and survive, but he’s got to be pretty banged up. There’s got to be blood. I always say that we can put the Simpsons in whatever situation we want as long as they behave the way somebody in that situation would behave. I think I’m the only one who really cares about that rule; we violate that rule a lot.”

    BTW I use a Wacom Cintiq, and I can assure you photoshop doesn’t smooth things out for you. It’s actually pretty hard to get smooth lines in photoshop. The Cintiq has a pretty thick layer of glass between the screen and the pen, so the cursor is never exactly on the same place as the pen. Especially filmed at an angle it may look like the lines are appearing behind the pen and are being smoothed out, but they really aren’t.

  2. 2 lennyburnham
    24 February 2012 at 2:47 pm

    I also really liked the Alison Krauss theme. That and the kinda cool couch gag make me think they should re-tool Simpsons into just being a half hour showcase of homages and fan love for what it used to be.

  3. 24 February 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Always loved all the Woody Allen references on the Simpsons. Especially Wolfcastle’s impression of him.

  4. 4 Shane
    24 February 2012 at 9:28 pm

    That Homer At The Bat writeup is great. What also strikes me about that episode is how the plot starts realistic and heads for surrealism (its hard to get more surreal than Ozzie Smith vanishing from the face of the earth), yet its so well written that it feels organic.

  5. 24 February 2012 at 10:36 pm

    It’s really amazing how well “Homer at the Bat” works, especially speaking as someone who knows pretty much nothing about baseball. Imagine what it would be like today if the writers tried juggling so many guest stars, like so many juggling balls. (Ten, I suppose.)

  6. 27 February 2012 at 8:00 pm

    re: simpsons @ 500…i have a poster of the painting. it’s called “a day at the river” and i believe it was done by matt groening (his name appears next to marge’s shoe).

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