Posts Tagged ‘Lisa’s Substitute


Quote of the Day

“There are three things wrong with my costume. Anybody names those three things will get my hat.” – Mr. Bergstrom
“I believe I know the answer.” – Lisa Simpson
“What’s your name?” – Mr. Bergstrom
“Lisa Simpson.” – Lisa Simpson
“Well, go ahead miss Simpson.” – Mr. Bergstrom
“Um, one, your belt buckle says State of Texas, but Texas wasn’t a state until 1845.” – Lisa Simpson
“Very good.” – Lisa Simpson
“Two, the revolver wasn’t invented until 1835.” – Lisa Simpson
“That’s excellent.” – Mr. Bergstrom
“Three, you seem to be of the Jewish faith.” – Lisa Simpson
“Are you sure I’m Jewish?” – Mr. Bergstrom
“Or Italian.” – Lisa Simpson
“I’m Jewish.” – Mr. Bergstrom
“And there weren’t any Jewish cowboys.” – Lisa Simpson
“Very good,, that’s excellent! And I’m also wearing a digital watch! But I’ll accept that, here you go little lady. And, for the record, there were a few Jewish cowboys, ladies and gentlemen, big guys who were great shots and spent money freely!” – Mr. Bergstrom


Quote of the Day

“You’ll have lots of special people in your life, Lisa. There’s probably some place where they all get together and the food is real good and guys like me are serving drinks.” – Homer Simpson


Quote of the Day

“Wow, you made the front page.” – Homer Simpson
“Aw, Dad, it’s just a popularity contest.” – Bart Simpson
“Just a popularity contest? Excuse me, what’s more important than popularity?” – Homer Simpson


Saturday Morning Cartoons

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“Mr. Bergstrom!” – Lisa Simpson
“Hi, Lisa!” – Mr. Bergstrom
“Hey! You don’t have to pay! Read the sign!” – Homer Simpson
“And this must be your father.” – Mr. Bergstrom

When people talk about “Lisa’s Substitute”, it’s usually to praise the emotionally pitch perfect ending. First, there’s Mr. Bergstrom’s devastating departure (“That’s the problem with being middle class, anybody who really cares will abandon you for those who need it more.”); and then there’s Homer’s bumbling but ultimately successful attempt to explain to Lisa that he does love her even if they both know she’s a lot smarter than him (“You’ll have lots of special people in your life, Lisa. There’s probably someplace where they all get together and the food is real good and guys like me are serving drinks.”). Like the rest of Season 2, however, there’s a lot more to that episode, and today I want to briefly highlight the way this one uses wordplay.

The opening scene provides a couple of great examples. As soon as Miss Hoover walks in crying, Lisa remarks to herself, “My God, she’s been dumped again.” From there it moves right into Skinner frankly explaining what Lyme disease is, blithely unaware that he’s traumatizing Hoover:

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Skinner: Lyme disease is spread by small parasites called ticks. When a diseased tick attaches itself to you and begins sucking your blood…
Hoover: Oh…
Skinner: …malignant spirochetes infest your bloodstream eventually spreading to your spinal fluid and on into the brain.
Hoover: The brain, oh, dear God!

The episode is full of exchanges that are just as fast. Here’s Bergstrom and Lisa two scenes later:

Lisa: Three, you seem to be of the Jewish faith.
Bergstrom: Are you sure I’m Jewish?
Lisa: Or Italian.
Bergstrom: I’m Jewish.

And here’s Bergstrom and Homer later at the museum:

Homer: Well, if she’s so wonderful, give her and A!
Bergstrom: I am giving her an A!
Homer: Great, but don’t tell her it was a favor to me. Tell her she earned it.
Bergstrom: Mr. Simpson, she did earn it!
Homer: You are smooth, I’ll give you that.

Repartee like that – witty, two sided, and very fast – was one of the many comedy tools that The Simpsons could use that other shows of the time simply couldn’t. Exchanges like the ones above, even Lisa’s little aside about Hoover getting dumped, don’t work with a laughtrack.

Beyond that, animation also allows rapid fire cuts that augment the dialogue without becoming disorienting. There are five lines between Homer and Bergstrom above, but the scene actually has seven cuts, including a reaction shot from Lisa that takes less than a second. The scene would still work without that, but it works better with the imagery reinforcing the banter.


They were smooth, I’ll give them that.


Quote of the

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“Now, Bart, do you really think you can win?” – Homer Simpson
“Sure, why not?” – Bart Simpson
“Woo-woo! Alright! I always knew you had personality! The doctor said it was hyperactivity, but I knew better!” – Homer Simpson


Reading Digest: Perfectly Timed Door Slam Edition

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“I’m glad I’m not crying, because I would hate for you think that what I’m about to say is based on emotion.  But you, sir, are a baboon!” – Lisa Simpson
“Me?” – Homer Simpson
“Yes, you!  Baboon!  Baboon!  Baboon!  Baboon!” – Lisa Simpson
“I don’t think you realize what you’re saying.” – Homer Simpson
“Baboon!” – Lisa Simpson

First off, sorry for the lack of Compare & Contrast this week.  I’m still in the thick of it at work and didn’t have time.  (Things will – he typed hopefully – ease off starting next week.)  In regular news, we’ve got some great links this week, including outstanding fan art (there’s a whole exhibition of the stuff!), a brand new Simpsons blog, some excellent usage, and an on-point article about one of those perfect little subtleties in “Lisa’s Substitute” (which, coincidentally enough, aired for the first time twenty four years ago tomorrow).


The Timing of a Door Slam on The Simpsons – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this fantastic observation about the end of “Lisa’s Substitute”.  It’s one of those things you don’t notice because it’s so flawlessly done.  Well worth a click.

Simpsons-inspired art exhibition opens in Liverpool – With lots and lots of pics!  The Marge mirror and the Thrillhouse thing are outstanding.

The Simpsons’ top 30 movie references – Great list (although it bafflingly leaves out The Shining) at Den of Geek.  Two unsurprising things deserve note: 1) none of the entries are from Zombie Simpsons and 2) they don’t mention that at all because nobody wants the hassle.

Ted Cruz loves ‘The Simpsons,’ but he botched his favorite quote – He was close enough for moderate usage.

A Trap Music-Style Remix of Homer Simpson’s ‘Treehouse of Horror’ Meltdown – Pretty good.

10 Simpsons Characters As Real Humans – A decent collection of comparisons that have mostly been done before.

Cocktail Recipe: The Marge Simpson – I’d probably go with gin over vodka, but that’s just me.

MR. BURNS: A POST-ELECTRIC PLAY to Run 5/13-6/7 at Portland Playhouse – And the play goes to Portland.

The Character Files: Rafael – He’ll always be the Sarcastic Guy to me.

The Character Files: Very Tall Man – I do find him comic while driving his automobile, but I probably wouldn’t say that to his face.

Catch-23 No. 27 ‘Big Other’ Part 8 – Heh.

Instagram Crush: @madnails – Great set of Simpsons nail art.

5 ‘Simpsons’ Characters You Didn’t Know Were Voiced By Hank Azaria – Uproxx must do good pageviews on their endless array of Simpsons posts.  I’m certainly in favor of them keeping it up.

‘Simpsons’ Photos To Describe Losing Your Virginity – What about that Stock Footage Festival the kids went to?

Moving Away from Evergreen Terrace – For anyone wondering why the DVDs got canned, this, from a longtime fan, should explain things:

When the season 17 set was released last December, I held off on buying it because it didn’t feel worth the week-of-release sale price. We have to have it someday because Sideshow Bob is on the cover, but perhaps we can wait for Black Friday pricing. No hurry. We haven’t even cracked open the season 16 set.

Habit buying ain’t gonna pay the freight.

Top 5: Television Cartoon Dogs – Santa’s Little Helper comes in at #3, though I can’t really argue with Scooby at #1.

The Classic Simpsons Battle Royale! – Another site is going through the episodes, tournament style.

Round 1, Battle 1 – Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy VS I Married Marge – That’s a tough one.

Round 1 Battle 2 – Old Money vs Like Father Like Clown – Also a tough one.

Round 1 Battle 3 – (S. 12, Ep.6) The Computer Wore Menace Shoes vs (S. 10, Ep. 23) Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo – Whereas here I can just go with Season 10.

Crack open a virtual Duff with Homer Simpson on his legendary couch – Someone created a virtual Simpson home you can wander about if you happen to be wearing one of those VR headsets.

This episode of Mad Men felt like a spinoff – Excellent reference:

Todd VanDerWerff: Do you guys remember that one episode of The Simpsons “The Simpsons Spin-off Showcase”? Airing in season eight, it purported to show three separate proposed spinoffs from the series, including a cop show, a stupid gimmick sitcom, and a variety show. The terribleness of the ideas was the point — this is what television networks do when left to their own devices, the episode seemed to snark.
Well, I feel roughly similarly about “New Business,” which feels for much of its running time like “The Mad Men Spinoff Showcase.”

All shows must die — even Game of Thrones – Excellent usage:

In The Simpsons episode “Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie” — which, by virtue of being a Simpsons episode about the internal machinations of television, makes it one of our best excoriations about how stupid the internal machinations of television are — Homer is drafted to provide the voice of Poochie, a hip dog brought in to revitalize the flagging cat-and-mouse cartoon show. For his first voice session, he’s understandably nervous: “Is this episode going on the air live?” he asks. “Very few cartoons are broadcast live,” an old hand reassures him. “It’s a terrible strain on the animators’ wrists.”

New trending GIF tagged the simpsons homer simpson… – a deer, a female deer!

New trending GIF tagged simpsons weed homer simpson… – Homer disappearing into marijuana instead of a hedge.

CMW 2015 Preview: First You Get The Sugar – “Foreign Lands” – We’ve got another band named after a Simpsons quote.  I do so enjoy these.

“A Star Is Burns” – The Simpsons Season 6 episode review – A little love for one of Season 6’s many gems.

Ten funny gene names – part 2 – I learned something today:

2. Maggie – Fruit flies with a mutated Maggie gene results in arrested development, like Maggie Simpsons from the cartoon series The Simpsons.

Trial and Error – And finally, I get to end with some academic types who agree with us:

For the group survey and interview assignment my group and I have decided to look at how families are represented in television sitcoms and if it has changed over time, with specific reference to The Simpsons (pre 2000) and Modern Family.

No point going beyond that.


Quote of the Day

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“He says there aren’t any easy answers.  I say: he’s not looking hard enough!” – Bart Simpson


Quote of the Day

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“I think he’s taking the next train to Capital City.” – Apartment Woman
“The train, how like him: traditional yet environmentally sound.” – Lisa Simpson
“Yes, and it’s been the backbone of our country since Leland Stanford drove that golden spike at Promontory Point!” – Apartment Woman
“I see he touched you too.” – Lisa Simpson

Happy birthday Jo Ann Harris!  

Quote of the Day

How Kittens Are Born

“And here comes Snowball II, this is the one we kept.” – Bart Simpson
“Eww.” – Fourth Grade
“We were gonna keep the gray one, but the mother ate her.” – Bart Simpson
“Eww.” – Fourth Grade
“Mrs. Krabappel, he’s traumatizing the children.” – Martin Prince
“As usual, I agree with you, Martin.  Bart, shut that off and take your seat immediately!” – Mrs. Krabappel
“Oh, look, this is really cool.  When I hit reverse, I can make ’em go back in!” – Bart Simpson


Reading Digest: Personal Inspiration Edition

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“You’ll never go broke appealing to the lowest common denominator.” – Lisa Simpson
“You’re going to miss your brother’s antics.” – Mr. Bergstrom
“When?” – Lisa Simpson
“When?  When your life takes you places the rest of us have only heard about.” – Mr. Bergstrom
“Places where my intelligence will be an asset and not a liability?” – Lisa Simpson
“Yes, there is such a place.” – Mr. Bergstrom

[Quick Note: Sorry for the erratic posting this week.  I actually have three concurrent excuses: work, weather and illness, feel free to accept or disregard any or all of them.  I’m just glad it’s over.]

This week we’ve got two links to young women who love them some Lisa Simpson for all the usual reasons that everyone loves Lisa, plus we’ve got another way in which life has imitated The Simpsons, a revisit with the fake dead girlfriend story, an awesome Simpsons sculpture made out of snow, some love for the Simpsons comics, a couple of people who agree with us, and a new Simpsons podcast.


Snapshot Into My Childhood: Simpsons Quizzo at Drinker’s – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this Q&A with some guys who put together a Simpsons podcast by a guy lady [note to self: always check your gendered pronouns] they met at yet another classic Simpsons trivia night, this one in Philadelphia:

Circling back, a friend who works at Drinker’s sent out the official Facebook invite in November for an impending Simpsons Quizzo event. The questions would be from seasons one through 10, and it. was. on.

The podcast, which is called “The Jerks from Tower One” and of which there are so far five episodes (none of which I’ve listened to due to above mentioned excuses) can be found here.

My 5 Favorite Simpsons Episodes – A great list from a blog that’s almost named after an episode:

I am absolutely obsessed with The Simpsons. I have been for about five months straight. Usually I’ll become bored with a show after maybe a month of hardcore obsession, but I truly believe Homer and the clan are here (I’m pointing to my heart) to stay. No characters are more perfect, well-developed, hilarious, or yellow than these guys. By no means are these five episodes my only favorites: I have so many more, but it’s almost 1 a.m. on this side of the world and I’m a tad delirious.

No shame in that, and no Zombie Simpsons episodes make the list.  Well done.

Welshman’s stunning snow sculptures of The Simpsons and Gandalf draw the crowds – He made the whole family on the couch out of snow.  That’s damned impressive.

Lisa Simpson: Teacher’s Pet Icon [Saturday Flashback] – Everybody loves “Summer of 4ft 2”:

The episode is one of my favorites now, because it’s presents an always timely question about any generation’s youth: Why is acting indifferent toward everything cool? It was my favorite at seven years old because, although I wasn’t a teacher’s pet, I was quite the overachiever and knowing “big words,” having cultural references and trivial knowledge wasn’t exactly winning over my peers who were  more interested in Barbie dolls than writing horror stories.

How Lisa Simpson Taught Me To Be Myself – More love for Lisa:

But she’s also cripplingly self-conscious, shy, and unsure of herself. The fact that she can be both sure of herself and terribly insecure shows that she is just a little girl. But the point is, she inspired me. She literally gave me the courage to say that I wouldn’t ever fit in but never mind. She made me sure that voicing my opinion might not make me popular, but that if it was necessary, I should do it anyway. She taught me to find my principles and stand on them no matter what people say, she taught me that something you believe in is something worth fighting for. All this from a little cartoon girl in an orange dress. That’s a lot to absorb. But Lisa Simpsons, thank you for making my life a little easier every day.

Real Life Imitates The Simpsons – First it was the trillion dollar coin, now it’s Whacking Day down in America’s Wang.  Next week Tom Jones will probably disappear and then the world’s largest cubic zirconia will vanish.

Duffman Runner – A guy running a marathon in a kick ass homemade Duffman costume complete with Duff Beer cans.  Bravo.

More Simpsons – More recreations of Simpsons frames as animation practice, including a link through to Reddit where they’re all stored.

Top Ten Thursday #2: Simpsons Episodes That Spring To Mind – Good list:

I’ve been watching The Simpsons for as long as I can remember, and am STILL planning to one day write the biggest blog post in the history of the world about what it means to me/what it’s taught me etc. :)

I can’t decide on ten definitive episodes that summarise the show (not attempting it today, anyway), but I’d like to have a think about the top ten episodes that spring to mind…because there are some that definitely just pop up in my brain (whether because of frequency of broadcast, frequency of viewing, funniest jokes etc).

And there’s nothing past Season 11.  Bravo.

GeekIt! Top 5 Defining Kids’ Shows – I watched a lot of TV and I turned out TV:

The writers of the show continuously pokes fun at the American lifestyle, culture and human condition, and this is mainly epitomized via the Simpsons family and the Springfield neighbourhood. According to Harry Potter‘s Daniel Radcliffe, we learn approximately 90% about life from just watching Simpsons.

She’s a little easier on Zombie Simpsons than we are, but that’s okay.

Top 5 Cartoons On TV – The show comes in at #5 here, more or less entirely because of what it used to do rather than what it does now.  Sounds about right.

comics: yeah! – Nice reference:

I love Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns. It was the first comic I ever read. Like millions of others I was sucked in when Batman Begins came out. This was followed by Year One, Killing Joke, Long Halloween and all the other Batman collected edition listed on Amazon’s top 100 graphic novels.

After I finished TDR I felt like I had unlocked a new media, comics! Before then, comics were things that cartoon characters talked about. I’m thinking of Bart and Milhouse reading Radioactive Man in the treehouse before Samantha Stanky came along to ignite Milhouse’s interest in girls (remember that episode? It’s the one that starts with the amazing Raiders of the Lost Ark parody).

I never got past issue two of Bonnie Crane: Girl Attorney.

Snowy Pentlands – Scroll to the bottom for a look at a Mr. Plow windshield cover.  I’m honestly not sure if it’s homemade or not.

Downton Abbey Review: “Episode Three” (Episode 3.03) – A little aside that agrees with us:

In a long-running American show, it’s usually a treat when an old supporting character returns and we get to see how they’re doing with their lives. Sideshow Bob was a longtime favorite until he went the way of the rest of The Simpsons, and it’s easy to see why.

It was pretty depressing when even the Sideshow Bob episodes weren’t any fun any longer.

COFFEE TABLE fourth fix – Want to see some Simpsons soccer figurines and the Comic Book Guy comic book cover that’s the same as the first one for the Fantastic Four?   Here you go.

The Simpsons @ Universal Studios Hollywood – Just some pictures of exactly what the title says.

Death of a Saleswoman – Interviewing for jobs sucks:

I thought all of the best things to say as I was driving away. It’s like I was insulted and 10 minutes later I came up with a comeback. I hate being nervous, but once on the floor, I can sell.

I know they’re hesitant because I am a girl, but I’ve sold everything but cars. I’ve been Al Bundy, climbed up ladders in skirts, and now it seems like I’m gonna be ol Gil from the Simpsons.

This will be the death of me.

Congratulations.  Don’t forget to push the rust proofing.

Is That You, Martin? – MLK clip art that kinda looks like Lisa Simpson is standing behind him.

DVD: Simpsons Season 15 – This is much more generous to Zombie Simpsons than we are here, but it’s pointed in the right direction:

I think by this point in the seasons DVD releases only the truly obsessed fans will still be buying, so of course I received it as a Christmas gift. While the series began to decline a few seasons back it still has its moments, and is generally funnier than Family Guy.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Friday 11th January 2013 – A nice reference for an image where the feet don’t quite fit the slippers:

This just reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Lisa and Bart figure out that Krusty was framed by Sideshow Bob

At least you’ve got little feet like all good hearted people.

Trolling the media down under: Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder? – This is that picture with monorail comments from The Newcastle Herald I linked a few weeks ago.  This one comes with bonus quotes:

And that was the only folly the people of Sydney ever took on… Except for the popsicle stick skyscraper, and that 50 ft magnifying glass, and the escalator to nowhere.

Double bonus points because the tagline of the blog is “You know me, and I’m a superstar at the cracker factory”.  Well done.

The Last Stand…In 10 Words – Maria, my mighty heart is breaking.  I’ll be in the Humvee.

Manti Te’o’s Imaginary Girlfriend…In 10 Words – When I read your tweets, I feel as if you are right here watching me.

The Simpsons is Weird Now – And finally, I get to end the way I like, with someone who agrees with us:

I don’t really watch The Simpsons any more. I have it favorited on Hulu, so the episodes pop into my queue, and generally they pop out again when they expire without me having watched them. I think I watched a couple episodes last season. I haven’t watched it regularly since I was in college, probably, in the early aughts.

Yet, I had a spare 20 minutes recently, and so I watched an episode called “The Day the Earth Stood Cool.” It was the episode that had the cameo from The Onion and Onion AV Club in it, and featured hipster characters voiced by Portlandia’s Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. I watched the episode and I was so creeped out by it that it sent shivers down my spine.

Zombie Simpsons will do that.  The whole thing is worth a look.


Quote of the Day

Overlords of the Genre

Left to right, Isaac Asimov, Alfred Bester, Arthur C. Clarke, and Ray Bradbury.
Images for Asimov, Clarke, and Bradbury from Wikipedia, Bester from NNDb.

“Boys and girls, today we will begin selecting a class president.  I’m not allowed to vote, but I strongly suggest you elect Martin.  Martin?” – Mrs. Krabappel
“As your president, I would demand a science fiction library featuring an A-B-C of the overlords of the genre: Asimov, Bester, Clarke!” – Martin Prince
“What about Ray Bradbury?” – Wendell
“I’m aware of his work.  Thank you, and keep watching the skies!” – Martin Prince

So long, Mr. Bradbury.

Thanks to reader Harley for the suggestion.


Reading Digest: Future Canadian Prime Minister Edition

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Google didn’t turn up the usual amount of stuff and WordPress had one of its occasional hiccups where it didn’t correctly index the Simpsons tags for a couple of days, so this week’s Reading Digest is shorter than usual.  Despite the abnormal length we’ve still got a hallucinatory pepper, a real Duff beer advertising campaign, my new favorite cover band, ancient chess pieces, and the greatest MP in the history of Canada. 


Bad Rooster – Rolling in the Deep, featuring Marge Simpson – It’s a five piece bad whose lead singer is wearing a Marge Simpson costume while she cover’s Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”.  It’s awesome:

NDP MP doesn’t delete Twitter F-bomb, won’t apologize – I love Canada:

New Democrat MP Pat Martin is standing by an expletive-laced expression of anger and frustration on Twitter Wednesday night, saying even politicians are allowed to vent.

Martin lost his cool on Twitter while the Conservative-dominated House of Commons voted to shut down debate on the federal budget bill.

"This is a f—— disgrace…closure again. And on the Budget! There’s not a democracy in the world that would tolerate this jackboot sh–," Martin tweeted.


But the initial Tweet wasn’t all, he said. Martin went on to tell off followers who criticized his post, telling one person to "F— off" and directing the Bart Simpson-coined expression "Eat my shorts" at another.

I want this man to be the Prime Minister of Canada right now.  And while the delicate sensibilities of CTV Calgary require petty, hyphenated censorship, the internet feels no such bounds.  Here’s the original, in all its glory:

Pat Martin for Prime Minister1

And here’s his Bart impression:

Pat Martin for Prime Minister2

Vote Pat Martin

Homer Simpson’s Thankgiving by David Penso – Papercraft Homer, with papercraft ax, menacing a papercraft turkey.  Sweet. 

DOWN WITH LITERACY! – Yeah, that Herman Cain/President Schwarzenegger thing was funny.  Shame his fifteen minutes are almost up. 

Wow. And you thought YOUR job was crappy… – An NPR reporter in North Carolina tried a merciless pepper grown deep in the Piedmont primeval by an insane local crank who believes he has the world’s hottest chili pepper.  Whether or not that’s true, the NPR guy doesn’t handle it well, and the YouTube video of him is shockingly similar to the one of Homer at the chili cook-off (which is also at the link).  That guy was lucky there wasn’t a golf course nearby. 

Cerveja Duff finalmente no Brasil minha gente! – This is in Portuguese, but apparently there is now an advertising campaign for Duff in Brazil that comes with appropriately gorgeous photos.  The one at the top of the Duff on ice is particularly “mmm, beer”. 

THE 1% – Money fight! 

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim…In 10 Words – I’m not sharing with Kaitlin! 

Cartoons and Advertising – An ad for some kind of hair cream with Marge.  I don’t recall seeing this before, but the picture resolution is too low for me to tell if the copyright is new or old. 

Bart Simpson Cufflinks – Cute Christmas present – For those of you in Australia, used cufflinks of a mooning Bart can be yours for $10. 

‘The Game of Kings – Medieval Ivory Chessmen From the Isle of Lewis,’ at the Cloisters – The Metropolitan Museum of Art has some apparently very famous (they were used in Harry Potter 1) eight hundred year old chess pieces on loan from the British Museum.  This prompted The New York Times to write them up, and include this:

If, by some typically improbable turn of events, Homer Simpson were to unearth from his backyard an old chest containing a chess set from medieval times, what would the pieces look like? Chances are they would resemble the lovable little contestants beautifully carved from walrus tusks by anonymous artisans in the famous cache known as the Lewis Chessmen.

Except for the pawns, which are shaped like tombstones and dome-topped, octagonal towers, each king, queen, bishop, knight and warder, as rooks used to be called, has the bug-eyed, stupefied expression of a Simpson. They could be Homer’s ancestors.

Normally I’d say that was a bit of newspaper reader bait, but I grabbed this still from the accompanying video:

Lewis Chessman

There is certainly a resemblance there, especially around the eyes and the lack of chin.  But please ignore the cutesy conclusion:

Meanwhile, a word to “The Simpsons” producers: How about an episode starring Bart as Harry in “Harry Potter and the Lewis Chessmen”?

How about not? 

What cars are pure fiction? – A list of famous fictional cars that leads with this:

Powell ”Homer”. An everyman’s car designed by Homer Simpson, following the discovery that his lost half-brother, Herb Powell, owned his own major automobile company.

Homer let his design muse run free, giving his car twin dome cockpits, three horns, tailfins and an exhaust note that sounds like ”the world is coming to an end”. Homer’s handiwork sent Powell Motors broke but Bart thought it was cool.

Excellent usage.

Fun for the whole family – And finally, this isn’t quite someone who agrees with us (though the quotes are from Seasons 2 and 4), but it’s too great not to end with:

I’m sure the Parents Television Council will call me to the carpet for this one, but the strongest bond between me and my daughter Allyson is the one we forged by watching The Simpsons together. I am thankful I married a woman who—while she doesn’t actually love the series the same way I do—at least finds it funny, and our holiday gatherings rarely expand beyond ourselves and our respective parents, who also tolerate the show. Mind you, as it’s obviously not intended for kids, we’d debated how we would handle the show’s occasional obscenities, but in the end, we decided we’d just keep watching it around Ally until she repeated something inappropriate, at which point we’d take it off the table for family viewing. When she finally committed this sin at age 2, however, we were hard-pressed to punish her, as she used the word in the right context. (“Daddy, I want to tell you a story about a monster. A monster… from HELL!”) Instead, we took a different tactic, underlining that some words were “TV words,” i.e. only to be spoken by people on TV, and that if we heard her repeating any such words, she’d get one warning for clarification purposes, but anything after that would mean the end of The Simpsons for Ally. She’s now 6 years old, and not only are we still watching The Simpsons together—who says threats don’t work?—but she’s absorbed so much of the show that when I say the words “Lisa needs braces,” she immediately responds, “Dental plan!” True story. You’re welcome, next generation!



Reading Digest: Pre-Halloween Creepiness Edition

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“Actually, Mr. Simpson, they do know a great deal about the process of mummification.  First they pulled the brain out through the nose with an iron hook, and stuffed the insides with sawdust and onions.” – Mr. Bergstrom
“Eww, gross.” – Lisa Simpson
“Ooh, pretty creepy.  Still, I’d rather have him chasing me than the wolfman.” – Homer Simpson

We’ve got two pre-Halloween links to rather disturbing images this week.  One is directly from the show, the other is what even I assume is an un-licensed advertisement for products which are themselves creepy.  There’s also a couple of fan made things, including a non-Lego Bart, some medical edification, a piece of non-news news from FOX, and a Canadian college student who knows what the score is.


[Brief programming note: We’ll be finishing up Season 10 next week, including the final three Crazy Noises, two of which include our old friend and special guest star bobservo.]

Nanoblock Bart Simpson Build Process on Vimeo – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is exactly what it says it is.  Very cool. 

Flanders Is an Apple Fanboy – Heh.

“Oh, rats” – An awesome, four-minute YouTube of Hans Moleman clips.  No Zombie Simpsons.

25 Incredible Sand Sculptures – Includes one of Homer on the couch with Santa’s Little Helper literally at his feet.  There’s also a real fire in the fireplace.  Many of the rest of these are even more incredible.

posses – Creepy black and white animated .gif of devil Lisa from “There’s No Disgrace Like Home”. 

High Low of the Week – Extra creepy British primping advertisements featuring a ludicrously muscled Bart and a come hither Marge.  I’m assuming they’re British because Marge is advertising “Sun Beds”, not tanning beds.

Stupid Tuesday questions, DSM-IV edition – This was written by a real doctor, so get ready to learn something:

A clang association, you see, is a kind of speech pattern that often accompanies thought disorders, typified by the speaker stringing words together because they sound alike.  When, in a classic episode, a stimulant-addled Lisa Simpson mutters “pep pills, pep pills, Beverly Sills” under her breath, that is an example of a clang association.

She actually says, “Who’s gonna stop me, you pep pill boy?  Pep boys, pills, Beverly Sills”.  But I’m still calling that excellent usage under the medical+educational exemption. 

Could Homer Simpson get his own channel? – This got linked in a lot of places this week, but it hardly qualifies as news.  A FOX executive said:

the company is starting to have internal discussions about how to create additional revenue streams for the animated hit that goes beyond reruns on TV stations and DVD sales.

One of the ideas floated was a “Simpsons channel”, whatever that means.  It wasn’t an announcement or even close to one.  It was just a bunch of FOX people trying to figure out how to wring more money out of the franchise.  In other news, the sky is blue and he was probably breathing when he said that.  Carry on.

Six TV-Inspired Video Games That Were Nothing Like The Shows That Inspired Them – A very crappy old Bart game is on here.

Simpsons – Try to be nice to people – Subtitled screen grabs of Moe wondering why he struggles to resist the urge to punch people in the face.  I wish they’d gone on a couple frames more.

That’s the American way… – A couple of weeks ago I linked to a post where a guy had put up Simpsons cartoons he did when he was ten.  This is another one, in which Homer explodes the plant with popcorn chicken.  I’m kinda surprised Zombie Simpsons hasn’t used this plot line.

“Tooning In” With Mark Kirkland – Longtime Simpsons director Mark Kirkland is being honored at the Burbank International Film Festival this year.

Joey Jo Jo – YouTube of exactly what you think it is.

Iconic Threads – A cute drawing of nine famous sweaters, including Flanders’.

WHAT ABOUT TOODY AND MULDOON?? – A list of fictional cops, including Chief Wiggum.

Simpsons Blooms Taxonomy and Multiple Intelligences Posters – Simpsons clip art used to improve otherwise boring cognitive posters.  Nicely done.

Kids Meal Toys of the Day – Apparently Burger King is bringing out some more small plastic collector crack for this year’s Halloween episode.

CNN’s Tea Party Republican Debate…In 10 Words – Miniature American flags for all!

Why You Little Derp! – Someone put “DERP” on a screen grab of Homer choking on a donut.  I’m proud to say that even though it’s cropped very tight on him I recognized the episode instantly. 

Bad To The Bone – This is a blog run by a local CW affiliate listing “The Best Of The Worst Bad Guys On CW50”.  Even in reruns Mr. Burns tops the list.  Stewie from Family Guy checks in at #4.

“The Simpsons” website given new design – Don’t care.

Buying the flowers yourself – the importance of opening lines – A list of some of literature’s most famous opening lines, including YouTube of the thousand monkeys that are even now toiling at Burns Manor. 

’90s-era Simpsons was so smrt — er, smart – And finally, we get further evidence that the kids are all right as this column from the University of Saskatchewan’s student paper agrees with us:

Before The Simpsons became a cheap Family Guy clone, it was perhaps the most significant show on television. During the 1990s, The Simpsons was not the gag-reel that it is today. Instead, the show was a scathing review of American society.

Got that right, my friend to the north. 


Quote of the Day

Lisa's Substitute3

“They need me over in the projects of Capital City.” – Mr. Bergstrom
“But, I need you too.” – Lisa Simpson
“That’s the problem with being middle class, anybody who really cares will abandon you for those who need it more.” – Mr. Bergstrom

Happy 20th anniversary to “Lisa’s Substitute”!  Original airdate 25 April 1991.


Homer’s Enemy: Widely Acknowledge Turning Point

Homer's Enemy5

“Would you like to see my Grammy award?” – Homer Simpson

Last summer, when Dave, Mad Jon and I were going through Season 8, we deliberately held “Homer’s Enemy” until the end.  It was a turning point in the series, when Homer started to realize how awesome he was.  By coincidence, I recently came across two different takes in the same vein.

The first is an A.V. Club review of Futurama’s return.  It contains a long digression about Frank Grimes:

To put it another way: I love The Simpsons, like any reasonable person should, and I can’t stand what the show has become. I blame Frank Grimes. Season 8 is the last full season I own, and while I’ve seen later episodes, and enjoyed many of them (and yeah, I liked the movie), "Homer’s Enemy" is where I mark the beginning of the end. Not because it’s a terrible episode, but because it fundamentally and permanently undermines the series’ core.

It goes on to talk about how in the long run the show couldn’t support something that “dark”.  Writer Sam Downing replied (Handlen is the one who wrote the A.V. piece):

I disagree (though I do agree with Handlen’s other point, that the episode is “a clever piece of meta-commentary on certain basic elements that have been with the show since the beginning”), because The Simpsons has always had dark elements, particularly concerning Homer’s behaviour – consider ‘A Streetcar Named Marge’, in which he flat-out tells Marge he doesn’t care about her interests, or ‘Lisa’s Substitute’, where he says pretty much the same thing to his eight-year-old daughter. Both stories are wrapped up tidily, though in neither does Homer really earn his redemption (I remember being shocked by his selfishness in ‘Streetcar’ even as a small child)1.

Note that both these episodes are from early on in The Simpsons‘ run (seasons four and two, respectively); Homer was a much darker, more selfish character before he morphed into the loveable idiot we’re familar with. ‘Homer’s Enemy’ really just combines those two sides of his character  in a single episode.

I basically agree with the first paragraph here, and disagree with the second.  Homer was always an extremely bad father (“Homer, I couldn’t help overhear you warp Bart’s mind.”/”And?”, “Here’s your turtle, alive and well.”, etcetera), but the show made it funny.

One of the big reasons such a selfish and destructive person could be so funny and so likable was that, with the occasional exception for Bart or Flanders, Homer was never malicious.  Homer’s life is one defeat after another, punctuated by a few, brief moments of happiness, almost all of which involve either Marge or Lisa.  He can’t be malicious because if there’s one thing life has taught him, it’s that he’s not going to get away with anything.

Time was, the horrible things Homer did were unintentional.  Consider “Colonel Homer”, Homer simply can’t conceive that Lurleen is trying to seduce him; cheating on Marge hasn’t even occurred to him.  (“Oh, that’s hot.  There isn’t a man alive who wouldn’t get turned on by that . . . well, goodbye.”)  When she makes it explicit, he stops after one chaste little kiss because he remembers that every aspect of his romantic life except for Marge has been a complete and humiliating failure.  (He can’t even get his dollar back at the kissing booth.)  Or “The War of the Simpsons”, Homer’s battle against General Sherman is accidental; he left his fishing gear in the cabin because he was trying to be a good husband and do what Marge asked him to do.  Or “Homer Badman”, when his perversion isn’t a lust for grad student booty, but a lust for candy.

In Season 5, when Homer does think about cheating on Marge, he only considers it after everyone from his guardian angel, to teevee, to his dessert has basically told him to.  Homer is a decent guy who gets into trouble not because he’s some zany character, but because he makes a lot of poor decisions on account of he’s just not that bright.  He’s selfish, yes, but never knowingly so.  As soon as he gets called on his selfishness, he backs off because he doesn’t want to hurt anyone, especially Marge.

We can see this perfectly in the exchange Downing refers to from “A Streetcar Named Marge”:

Marge: Why can’t you be a little more supportive?
Homer: Because I don’t care, okay?  I can’t fake an interest in this, and I’m an expert at faking an interest in your kooky projects.
Marge: What kooky projects?
Homer: You know, the painting class, the first aid course, the whole Lamaze thing.
Marge: Why didn’t you tell me you felt this way?
Homer: You know I would never do anything to hurt your feelings.

Homer’s not being mean intentionally, if he knew that what he was doing was hurting Marge he never would have done it.  At the end, Marge forgives him for all that because he genuinely appreciated her performance in the play, even if he’s not good at expressing it.  The close is them laughing about his similarity to Stanley.

In “Lisa’s Substitute”, Homer knows he’s an inadequate father, he just doesn’t know what he can do about it.  (“She looks around and sees everybody else’s dad with a good education, youthful looks, and a clean credit record, and thinks ‘Why me?’”.)  His argument with Lisa is resolved not because he becomes a better father, but because he’s able to explain his inadequacies to her.  (“You’ll have lots of special people in your life, Lisa.  There’s probably some place where they all get together and the food is real good and guys like me are serving drinks.”)  The very last thing Homer thinks is that he’s better than anyone else.

Which brings us back to Frank Grimes and “Homer’s Enemy”.  Grimes is unwilling to forgive Homer the same way everyone else does, and it drives him mad.  It works extremely well in that one episode, but it allows Homer to be aware of how great his life is, and it’s all downhill from there.  In the very next season, Homer’s telling Lisa that taking crazy risks is a fundamental part of his life.  Shortly after that he’s unselfconsciously hanging out with movie stars, escaping from jail at the Super Bowl, and gleefully taking up grifting.

When Frank Grimes declares that he’s Homer Simpson and Homer’s response is to say “You wish”, something very fundamental is broken.  Homer isn’t supposed to like his life.  In “Bart Gets Famous” Homer despairingly wails “It just gets worse and worse!” after his horoscope says “Today will be a day like every other day”.  In “Dancin’ Homer”, Homer openly admits that he’s just a loser sitting in a bar.  In “Homer Defined”, Homer cracks under the pressure of people thinking highly of him because he knows he doesn’t deserve his success.

Grimes’ death at the end of “Homer’s Enemy” gives things a dark tint before the credits roll, but the fundamental problem isn’t the death, it’s Homer bragging about his life.  The show has never been the same.


Compare & Contrast: Absent Teachers

There were a lot of recycled ideas, gags, and scenes in “Stealing First Base”.  Besides the narrative repetition of Bart getting another girlfriend and Lisa feeling unloved, there were a few specific things as well.  The most direct of these came near the beginning, when Bart walked into class to see chaos in Mrs. Krabappel’s absence.  Of course, this is extremely similar to the opening of Season 2’s “Lisa’s Substitute”.

In “Stealing First Base” the opening chaos in the classroom runs for twenty seconds before we have any dialogue.  It includes Nelson spitting in books, Lewis putting a firecracker in the pencil sharpener, and the school snake puking up a mouse who enjoys stealing lines from space ants.  Skinner finally arrives and spends the next twenty seconds telling (not showing) why Krabappel isn’t there and then expositing another fourth grade into existence.

By contrast, in “Lisa’s Substitute” we move immediately to dialogue, with the kids speculating that Ms. Hoover drank drain cleaner or fell down a well.  Less than ten seconds in, Hoover and Skinner appear, with Hoover crying.  That prompts Lisa to say, “My god, she’s been dumped again.”  (That one single line, just six words, tells us volumes about both Hoover and Lisa.)  The episode then moves immediately to Skinner’s detailed description of the horrors of Lyme disease, while a terrified Hoover looks on.  The entire episode set up is shot through with jokes, we are shown what’s going on instead of told, and there’s no need for improbable plot leaps.

Both of those sequences take forty seconds.  But when placed within the larger context of their respective episodes, the one from Zombie Simpsons looks even worse by comparison.  Not counting the opening or the credits, “Stealing First Base” clocks in at 19m:5s, “Lisa’s Substitute” clocks in at 21m:13s.  In “Stealing First Base” we don’t even get inside the school for more than a minute (on account of a GPS scene* that is never referenced for the rest of the episode).  On the other hand, “Lisa’s Substitute” starts at the school immediately.  The very first shot is of the classroom clock showing 9:15, so we know Hoover is late.  Add all that up and “Lisa’s Substitute” has three and a half minutes more screen time left to play with after the initial set up.  So not only is Zombie Simpsons shorter, but it has to drag its feet right from the opening just to fill its abbreviated time.

Brilliant Writing

Zombie Simpsons, clearly still a “writer’s” program.

What we can see here, in simple terms of screen time, is the way Zombie Simpsons has to huff and puff to fill its quota.  And while it’s not exactly news that Zombie Simpsons is shorter, if you subtract out the more than two minutes “Stealing First Base” spent on dialogue free montages you get an episode that’s almost 20% smaller than “Lisa’s Substitute”.  (Not only is this food terrible, but such small portions!)  I’ve said this before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again: this is not the same show as The Simpsons.  It’s not even close to the same show.  If you took the “Stealing First Base” script to a network as a pilot, it would never get made.  This is low quality television masquerading as a long-lived classic, nothing more, nothing less.

*Lest you think I’m being overly harsh about the GPS thing, consider that “Marge vs. the Monorail” opens with Homer doing his own version of the “Flintstones” opening.  That too ends with a car crash is never referenced again, but it takes half as long, involves a genuine parody, and is never played for action/suspense, only humor. 


Voting Reminder

“I didn’t vote, voting’s for geeks.” – Nelson Muntz

You’ve got a little less than a day and a half to vote in our drinking/Simpsons marathon poll.  As of right now Season 5 is leading Season 3 by just one vote.  Remember, if you’re not sure which episodes are in which seasons you can check out epguides for a complete list or SNPP for season by season breakdowns with descriptions.  The poll will be open until midnight tomorrow US Eastern time (0500 Saturday 6 March GMT).


A Review Worthy of Zombie Simpsons

Book Learnin'

Image used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user g_kat26.

“No children you’re not seeing things.  This, my little friends, is a schwa.” – Principal Skinner

I generally avoid criticizing the tics and tacks of other people’s grammar and sentence construction.  When it comes to the rules of the English language my knowledge is scant; the whys and wherefores of clauses and participles have always eluded me.  On top of that I have a principled objection to the idea that my communications with other people should be rigidly governed by rules that were created long before I was born.  If I am able to get my point across without sounding like the village idiot, that’s enough.  That I occasionally cause a throb in the forehead vein of some rule crazy grammar nut doesn’t trouble me.

In the case of this review of the Season 20 Blu-ray release, however, I am going to set aside my usual detente with the other woeful writers of the world.  The entire article is one big shitmine of sloppy writing, poorly deployed cliches, and textual incoherence.  This is from the first paragraph:

The show has been anything but typical and nobody would ever have expected it to become the longest running sitcom of all time. A typical show doesn’t need to follow typical thinking for video releases and Fox has decided to throw a curveball to the show’s fans and the 20th season is now being released out of order so that fans may enjoy the recent episodes now.

Yegods.  I think I got whiplash from that first sentence and the second one is even worse.  “A typical show doesn’t need to follow typical thinking”?  I think that’s the rarely seen triple contradiction.  The preceding sentence said that the show isn’t a typical show, but now apparently it is, except that you’d think a typical show would have to follow typical thinking, except that this doesn’t have to follow typical thinking so maybe it isn’t a typical show.  Or something.  And that’s just the first nine words of that monster sentence.  It runs on from there and seems to end on account of exhaustion.  Can I interest you in a period, or at least a semicolon?  Would you like some of Mitch Albom’s commas? 

The first sentence of the second paragraph got to me, though only partly because it obliquely refers to my opinions:

Some could argue that "The Simpsons" are no longer relevant and that the writing has become stale over the past countless years for Matt Groening’s creation.

“Some could argue” is about the laziest strawman setup conceivable.  It does get points for efficiency though, using just three words to stack three unsteady concepts atop one another.  That’s a vapidity batting average of 1.000!  Let’s break it down, shall we?

It leaves the subject of the accusation completely undefined, “some”, who the hell is that?  It then says that these unknown parties “could” (we don’t know!) be doing something (unless they’re not).  Finally, it finishes with “argue”, a word which in this position has a milquetoast double meaning; it could be that this argument is valid, or it could be that the argument sucks.  No position is taken. 

And what the hell are “past” and “countless” doing in the middle there?  We already know you’re talking about the past and the use of “countless” is plainly invalidated by the fact that you’re reviewing season number 20.  Toddlers can count to 20. 

This is a good time to take a break and point out that this isn’t some fly by night blog.  It’s a thirteen year old commercial website.  The staff page lists no fewer than six people with the word “editor” in their title.  Keep that in mind as we go through the rest of this. 

The third paragraph easily wins the stochastic award.  Presented here, sentence by sentence:

Season twenty is the first season where the show was released in high definition and it is the first season released onto Blu-ray and the first season where the voice talent is all under new contract.

Maybe Mitch Albom did use all the commas. 

The transition didn’t occur till the season’s midway point, but "The Simpsons" are at least evolving behind-the-scenes.

I think I understand what “evolving behind-the-scenes” means.  But I don’t know what it has to do with anything else being said here, though maybe the unnecessary hyphens are throwing me off the trail.

There is guaranteed to be a twenty second season and the twenty first season is now long underway.

This has what to do with what?

The show garnered five Primetime Emmy Awards and Dan Castellaneta won for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance for the episode "Father Knows Worst."

Okay, but weren’t we talking about high definition, or Seasons 21 or 22?

This twentieth season is also the first where the voice of Homer Simpson is now given credit for being a consulting producer on the show.

I think he’s free associating at this point.  Cat . . . Dog . . . Food bowl! 

While the cast and general theme of "The Simpsons" hasn’t changed, Groening and crew are taking steps to guarantee the show has many years ahead of it.

Linoleum . . . Refrigerator . . . the future!

For brevity’s sake we’re going to skip down a bit here.  After spending a couple of paragraphs recounting various guest stars and episode titles, and then listing all the episode titles anyway, it concludes with a confession that wouldn’t have been out of place in the Cultural Revolution:

I do look forward to the releases on video and was excited to dig into these episodes. I feel a little ashamed that I do not try to watch "The Simpsons," because I do place the show as one of those I actually do like. It is such a refreshing break from the fecal matter we call "Reality Television" and for a show that continues to entertain millions of people, I should be one of them.

Several years of hard labor in a rice paddy will teach you to appreciate the proletariat.  Take him away! 

[What do you mean there’s a second page?  Okay, I’ll read it, but if it’s more of the same I’m not doing any more of this.  Yup.  I’m outta here.  Call the weekend guy, I don’t care.] 


Quote of the Day


 Image used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user ktheory.

“In a sample taken in this very classroom a state inspector found 1.74 parts per million of asbestos!” – Martin Prince
“That’s not enough!  We demand more asbestos!” – Bart Simpson


Quote of the Day

Lisa's Substitute2“You see class, my Lyme disease turned out to be psychosomatic.” – Miss Hoover
“Does that me you were crazy?” – Ralph Wiggum
“No, that means she was faking it.” – Janie
“No, actually, it was a little of both.  Sometimes, when a disease is in all the magazines and on all the news shows, it’s only natural that you think you have it.” – Miss Hoover

Happy Birthday Maggie Roswell!


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