Category Archives: Simpsons

11 Random Thoughts

Apparently, Wayne John couldn’t come up with an actual post. I’m so cool with that that I stole the idea.

1. At dinner last week, my wife and I actually had as conversation about The Three Bears. To wit, if all of them went for a walk because the porridge was too hot, then why was the porridge in Mama Bear’s medium-sized bowl too cold, but Baby Bear’s small bowl “just right”? Was it that Mama Bear was on a diet and took only a small portion? Or was the construction of their individual bowls so different that they had such radically different cooling times?

2. Does anyone know which DVD of the Simpsons includes The Raven? My wife needs it for educational purposes. Really.

3. I’m obsessed with branches that have broken off from trees but that have not yet landed on the ground. I worry that a stiff wind will tumble those branches onto someone. Last week, I dislodged one by flinging my backpack over my head.

4. I think if Obama wins, it’ll be because people got their third quarter 401(k) reports and blanched. Mine went down 12% so far this year, with half of that just in the last quarter. So did my wife’s. And my daughter also has a little account that tanked.

5, Conversely, McCain may have lost when he had to explain to some audience member that Obama was not an Arab. BTW, are there ANY Arab-Americans out there supporting McCain? Or any American Muslims, for that matter? If so, they remind me of Log Cabin Republicans.

6. I got out of painting the front porch last week by taking three children to the playground for an hour and a half. I’m not sure I got the best end of the deal.

7. The are people who have signed up for my Twitter feeds and I have no idea how they got there. I don’t tweet enough; I do so hope I don’t disappoint.

8. Every time my daughter’s sick, I’m the one who takes the first day off from work. This means that I only have about 139 sick days left.

9. My wife has an unusual item on her Christmas list: to hire someone to evaluate our home for a possible design redo.

10. I wish more sites I read had RSS feeds.

11. I’ve had a book called Play Bridge in Four Hours for years. It’s on my reading list. For 2016.
Every year, writer-editor Andy Mangels stages the Wonder Woman Day event to support women’s charities. Wonder Woman Day includes an auction of donated drawings from a wide assortment of artists. Every year, Wonder Woman Day gets bigger and raises more money, and from the looks of it, the 2008 event will be no exception. This year’s festivities will be held on October 26. If you’d like to see the selection of artwork that’s going up for sale and learn more about Wonder Woman Day, please go here.


2007 movies


I saw 14 movies in 2007. I’m not talking 14 movies in a movie theater, though most of them were. I mean 14 movies TOTAL in 2007.

Only two were on video: Raging Bull and the original Hairspray, probably when Carol and Lydia were away.

One was on a wide-screen TV at a resort: Spider-Man 2.

Four were movies I saw in movie theaters that came out in 2006: The Queen; The Pursuit of Happyness; Volver; and Notes on a Scandal.

Finally, seven of them were movies I saw in movie theaters in 2007 that I actually saw in 2007. No Michael Clayton or Lars and the Real Girl or Away from Her or No Way Out or I’m Not There or Ratatouille or the new Hairspray or Enchanted, all of which came and went in this market. Seeing videos just doesn’t seem to work in our one-TV household.

So here’s the paucity of my 2007-released films, ranked by what I liked best.

7) The Simpsons Movie: I liked the pig, I liked the Disney touch with the sex scene. I especially loved Bart going to Flanders for advice. But, as I think back on it, there was too much time when not much happened.

6) Knocked Up: Gross. But often funny.

5) The Namesake: quite touching, though it sags in the middle.

4) Once: The movie musical for people who hate movie musicals.

3) Waitress: I always hated the term “chick flick.” Vibrant character study, and Keri Russell was luminescent.

2) Sicko: Less Moore + incontrovertibly broken health care system = better Moore pic.

1)The Savages: Great acting, specific script. Think I mentioned it recently.

Anyway, I’m planning to take off a day a month this year and see a movie, either at the cinemas or at home.
I was reading Ken Levine’s piece about why Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story bombed at the box office, a movie that, had I seen thrice as many movies this year as I did, probably would have made the cut. Maybe it was the middling reviews, or the fact that the target audience didn’t see the reference material, the movies “Ray” and especially “Walk the Line.” But the primary reason for the b.o. failure was that no one knew what it was supposed to be about. I subscribe to the latter school of thought, though in fact, I didn’t see either reference movie myself.
Here’s a scene:


MOVIE REVIEWS: Knocked Up and The Simpsons Movie

Sometimes, after eight years of marriage, my wife can still surprise me. In late July, the movie Knocked Up was showing only twice a day at the Spectrum Theater, at 1:10 and 9:40 pm, and I figured we’d just have to write the film off. No, she said, why don’t we get a babysitter and see the 9:40 pm show? On a Tuesday, a school night. This from a woman who generally wants to be in bed by 9:40 pm.

I was recounting that story to one of my racquetball mates. He told me that he had gone into the theater, watched Knocked Up for ten minutes, then walked out, disgusted.

Well, yeah, it IS one of that type of movies. Yet at its core, Judd Apatow’s film is VERY traditional – talk about “do the right thing” – and very sweet. Seth Rogan, who I’ve been following since the late, lamented Freaks and Geeks TV show, plays stoner Ben Stone, who, on a one-night stand, impregnates TV anchor Alison Scott, played by Grey’s Anatomy’s Katherine Heigl. Leslie Mann is Debbie, Alison’s sister, and Paul Rudd is Pete, Debbie’s somewhat beleaguered husband.

Ultimately, the drug-induced humor wore thin for me, but the relationship humor was often dead on. We laughed a lot, cringed a bit, but the funny stuff ultimately won out. My favorite line in the movie is when Alison says to her doctor, “But we have a birth plan!” which may not have the same effect if you haven’t been in a delivery room lately.

I was surprised what didn’t bother me: Heigl’s character bedding the nerdy guy here, just like Heigl’s Izzy Stevens slept with insecure George on Grey’s Anatomy.

Even more raucous than The 40-Year Old Virgin, which I liked a bit more, I’d recommend the film, but not to those easily grossed out.
As for the Simpsons Movie, which I saw alone in mid-August at the Madison Theater (because my wife was out of town, and not interested anyway), it was what many people have already said; a pretty good extra long episode of the show. I did like Bart and Flanders’ relationship and Grandpa’s religious experience. I know a couple people who’ve worked for the EPA, so thought it rather funny that the agency could be so efficient. It was a knowing touch to make the current governor of California the President, since, constitutionally, he cannot be. But my favorite scene was Homer and Marge, alone save for those Disney animals; I laughed out loud.
Note to Lefty: This is the real question:


A Couple Interrogatives

There was an article in the Wall Street Journal this week that I found quite disturbing, but true. Here’s the abstract:

Moving On: Are We Teaching Our Kids To Be Fearful of Men?
Jeffrey Zaslow. Wall Street Journal. (Eastern edition). New York, N.Y.: Aug 23, 2007. pg. D.1

When children get lost in a mall, they’re supposed to find a “low- risk adult” to help them. Guidelines issued by police departments and child-safety groups often encourage them to look for “a pregnant woman,” “a mother pushing a stroller” or “a grandmother.”

People assume that all men “have the potential for violence and sexual aggressiveness,” says Peter Stearns, a George Mason University professor who studies fear and anxiety. Kids end up viewing every male stranger “as a potential evildoer,” he says, and as a byproduct, “there’s an overconfidence in female virtues.”

TV shows, including the Dateline NBC series “To Catch a Predator,” hype stories about male abusers. Now social-service agencies are also using controversial tactics to spread the word about abuse. This summer, Virginia’s Department of Health mounted an ad campaign for its sex-abuse hotline. Billboards featured photos of a man holding a child’s hand. The caption: “It doesn’t feel right when I see them together.”

So, as the article notes: The implied message: Men, even dads pushing strollers, are “high-risk.” “Very sad” doesn’t begin to cover it. What are your thoughts? Anyone wanting the whole article, please let me know.
On a much lighter note, Jaquandor tagged me with 7 Things, but added a twist; one of these is false. Which one?

1. I had a nosebleed so bad that I was hospitalized.

2. I enjoy sushi.

3. I’ve talked with a Supreme Court justice.

4. I was terrible as a percussionist in my junior high school orchestra.

5. One of my favorite books is “Growing Up” by Russell Baker.

6. I’m cited in two books.

7. I’ve never read, never even started, the Lord of the Rings trilogy.


My Fortune Cookie told me:
You will risk becoming eternally dependent upon misguided bishops.
Get a cookie from Miss Fortune

Amazon has on sale a Mel Brooks box set. It features one of my favorite films of all time, Young Frankenstein, and one of my least favorite movies of all time, History of the World, Part 1.
I own only about a half dozen Lyle Lovett albums. He has a new one, which he describes here.
I thought there were only eight candidates running for the Democratic nomination for President. I was wrong.
Oh, yeah: according to my previous poll question, 13 of you have already seen the Simpsons movie, 3 will in theaters, 3 will on DVD.
Albanians: listen to WMHT-FM (89.7) tomorrow, Sunday, Aug. 26 at 6:00 p.m. — they are broadcasting Albany Pro Musica’s ‘s March 2007 concert, “From Holocaust to Hope.”


50 Things I Love About the Simpsons

OK, Tosy did this 100 Things I Love About the Simpsons last month. Then Jaquandor did the same, but said it wasn’t a meme. Now, in honor of the opening of the only summer movie I’m really interested in seeing, I’m doing it, too, but it’s only 50 things. So, is it a meme yet?

1. Mayor Quimby: Now wait just a minute! We’re twice as smart as the people of Shelbyville! Just tell us your idea and we’ll vote for it! (It’s “monorail!”)
2. The evolution of the drawing style from the Tracy Ullman Show.
3. Phil Hartman ‘s many voices.
4. Homer: It takes two to lie, Marge. One to lie and one to listen.
5. Homer: Oh, so they have Internet on computers now!
6. Homer catching Apu “lying in song”; he HATES that.
7. Homer: Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.
8. Homer discussing with his brain how $20 can buy LOTS of peanuts. Actually, any debate with Homer and his brain.
9. McCartney, Harrison, and Starr all showing up, separately.
10. “Baby On Board”, with Barney not getting the “Let It Be” reference.
11. Marge: This is the worst thing you’ve ever done.
Homer: You say that so often that it’s lost its meaning.
12. Teen Marge with her hair down.
13. “Hello. I’m Leonard Nimoy. The following tale of alien encounters is true. And by true, I mean false. It’s all lies. But they’re entertaining lies. And in the end, isn’t that the real truth? The answer is: No.”
14. Mrs. Krabappel and Principal Skinner.
15. Homer: Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true!
16. Bart as “The Raven”.
17. Maude Flanders’ absurd death at a sporting event.
18. Sideshow Bob: Because you need me, Springfield. Your guilty conscience may force you to vote Democratic, but deep down inside you secretly long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king. That’s why I did this: to protect you from yourselves. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a city to run.
19. Homer to Billy Corgan (of the Smashing Pumpkins): Thanks to your gloomy, depressing music, my children no longer hope for the future I can not afford to give them.
Corgan: Yeah, we try to make a difference.
20. Grandpa: I’m an old man, no one listens to me.
Lisa: I’m a young girl, no one listens to me.
Homer: I’m a white male aged 18 to 49, everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are.
21. Lisa: Why are you dedicating your life to blasphemy?
Homer: Don’t worry, sweetheart. If I’m wrong, I’ll recant on my deathbed.
22. Proctor: All right, here’s your last question. What was the cause of the Civil War?
Apu: Actually, there were numerous causes. Aside from the obvious schism between the abolitionists and the anti-abolitionists, there were economic factors, both domestic and inter–
Proctor: Wait, wait… just say slavery.
Apu: Slavery it is, sir.
23. The classic A Streetcar Named Desire musical.
24. The Itchy and Scratchy theme song.
25. Homer: To start, press any key. Where’s the ANY key?
26. “Everything’s coming up Milhouse.”
27. “Mmmmmmm…” Whatever, donuts, initially, but just about anything that’s unhealthy, unsafe or ill-advised.
28. The various end theme variations
29. The three-eyed fish.
30. Homer: I love these lazy Saturdays!
Marge: But Homey, it’s Wednesday.
31. Bart: I never thought it was humanly possible, but this both sucks and blows.
32. Homer: I was working on a flat tax proposal and I accidentally proved there’s no God!
33. The opening credits when they all rush to the couch in so many different ways.
34. Kent Brockman’s Eye on Springfield montage.
35. Lisa’s wedding.
36. Lisa’s birthday – Bart DOES love his sister.
37. Tony Bennett’s Capital City song.
38. Homer: It’s wonderful, Marge. I’ve never felt so accepted in all my life. These people looked deep within my soul and assigned me a number based on the order in which I joined.
39. Jerry Ford inviting Homer over for beer and nachos.
40. Apu: An all-syrup Super Squishy? Such a thing has not been done!
41. Bart gets a nice photo of himself made for his mom for Christmas; indeed, any time Bart’s dressed up.
42. “Who keeps the metric system down? We do! We do!”
43. The Krusty Comeback Special.
44. Homer: Marge, I’m not gonna lie to you. Well, goodbye!
45. Marge’s flirtation with her bowling instructor.
46. Maggie’s first word, unheard by anyone else.
47. Homer: And how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home winemaking course, and I forgot how to drive?
48. Homer: I’m normally not a praying man, but if you’re up there, please save me, Superman.
49: Ralph: Me fail English? That’s unpossible.
50. Bart: Your half-assed underparenting is a lot more fun than your half-assed overparenting.
Tosy returns with his Top 10 episodes. Gordon is looking forward to the movie, too.

The Simpsons

I first became aware of Matt Groening through a series of books reprinting the Life In Hell comic strip: Work Is Hell and School Is Hell – the latter cover features a one-eared rabbit writing on the chalkboard repeated, “I must remember to be cheerful and obedient.” My favorite, though, was Love Is Hell, part of my off-and-on philosophy at the time.

I was watching The Tracy Ullman Show when this strange, dysfunctional cartoon family came on. The characters reminded me greatly of the Hell characters, and I was instantly drawn in. Then, a couple years later, they got their own show. I watched it fairly religiously for the first eight or nine seasons, not quite so faithfully in the last eight or nine years.

I had never been able to convince my wife that the Simpsons are good, clever. She seemed to find them coarse and crude, which, of course, they are. But there’s more to them than that. Finally, I had borrowed a Simpsons DVD of an early season from the library, and my wife caught a Treehouse of Horror segment when Homer reads “The Raven”. She LIKED it!

I went to a presentation by a librarian last year who was talking about copyright, and at one point, he ran a segment from the Simpsons that addressed why they couldn’t sing Christmas carols that weren’t in the public domain. The speaker said that 30-second piece addressed most of the major concerns of copyright law. (It’s on this video, starting at about 50 seconds in.)

Just one example of their culture impact: The Rhetoric of Homer Simpson.

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the first appearance of the Simpsons. I may have to pull out my soundtrack, sing along with the musical version of Streetcar Named Desire or “Monorail” or “Baby’s on Board.” The longest-running animated program, one of the longest running primetime shows PERIOD, has definitely passed the audition, even if Barney still doesn’t get it.
Thanks to rain for the last two or three days, Lake 54 almost crested. Actually, we’re better off than our next door neighbors, whosee lawn is lower than ours and is still covered with nearly a foot of water. Our basement is damp; theirs is flooded.