Classic Simpsons: “I Married Marge” is an almost good exploration of employment and dignity.

3.12 I Married Marge

Homer tells the Simpson kids the story of Marge’s first pregnancy.

This is a better flashback episode than “The Way We Was,” which, despite outstanding voice acting from the regular cast as well as guest, Jon Lovitz, reinforced ahistorical myths about bra burning while romanticizing the type of courting behaviour that any reasonable person would consider harassment.

“I Married Marge,” on the other hand, is funnier and actually pretty darn romantic.

The funny: Homer choosing a brand of home pregnancy test based on it coming with a free corncob pipe. Homer making a kid cry because he did such a bad job making a wax candle. Homer spoiling the Luke-Vader twist in The Empire Strikes Back for a lineup of moviegoers (I remember laughing hysterically at that as a very young kid).

Like, that one Star Wars gag was funnier than every single joke in Spaceballs. Mel Brooks is overrated. Fight me.

The romantic: Marge’s line, “I’d by lying if I said this is how I pictured my wedding day. But you are how I pictured my husband.” Homer sending Marge an envelope full of money he scrounged together at his fast food job.

And, of course, the onion ring-ring. Diamond rings are the ultimate in romance, and by romance I mean sexism and forced relocation of Indigenous populations. Onion rings, which are disgusting, are far less so by comparison. Millennials can afford onion rings.

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Beyonce didn’t specify which kind.

While I appreciate the money-isn’t-everything message of this episode, I’m bothered by the idea that having a “real job” is what endows Homer with the status of manhood and puts him in a position to demand respect from Patty & Selma. While that moment was awesome and had me rooting for Homer, he is every bit as deserving of dignity when he’s sending Gulp n’ Blow money to Marge as he is when he has nuclear power plant money.

It should also be acknowledged that the economic climate of the time is what affords Homer the ability to be one of three candidates for a steady, well-paying job, let alone march into the power plant later, demand a position, and get it. That just doesn’t happen anymore.

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Great Charlie and the Chocolate Factory reference.

When Homer is first interviewed by Smithers, he is asked to name one of his weaknesses and answers, “It takes me a long time to learn anything” (I’ve said before that Homer is neurodivergent). Smithers immediately retorts, “That’ll do.” That is so on point. The only time I have ever gotten hired has been when I’ve successfully hid my cognitive impairments. I’ve not once received even an interview when disclosing. I’m adding a layer of analysis the writers didn’t here, but I still appreciated that moment.

Oh, and can we talk about the whole “As long as the kid has 10 fingers & 10 toes” comment expecting parents make? I get that the writers are riffing on that with the “8 fingers & 8 toes” line of Homer’s, and it’s a good riff, but the whole idea is ableist as fuck. We know what you’re really saying—you don’t want a kid with a disability/disfigurement. Well, guess what, if you’re not prepared to have a disabled child, you shouldn’t be having children, period.

Anyway. Those are my criticisms. Here are a few more compliments:

No wait, South Park has more disabled kids in its elementary school than The Simpsons does. Freaking South Park. The closest The Simpsons has to a neurodivergent kid is probably Ralph Wiggum, and the whole point of the character outside of the scrap of nuance they give him in “I Love Lisa” is that lol he’s not very bright, is he. Okay I’m done.

I’ve also said before that Homer is at his best when he’s being perceptive sort of. The baby naming conversation is a great example, as Homer nails a bunch of ways Bart could be made fun of with other names, but misses an obvious one in the name they end up choosing. Give your fool characters nuance, for Christsake.

Dan Castellanetta is so good at aging his characters. Early 1980’s Abe Simpson sounds somewhere in between 90’s Abe and the 70’s Abe we heard in “The Way We Was.” Also, Julie Kavner got an Emmy for this episode, and while it is 100% deserved, I will say the Jackie Bouvier moments are more golden in “The Way We Was” than they are here.

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The red eye effect in the wedding photo is an awesome little detail that I missed on every rewatch before this one.

I like how he writers turned the very staid “potential employee gets job by being confident and demanding” trope on its head by having Homer tell Mr. Burns he’ll be the best sycophantic employee a boss could ever hope for.

Finally, I loved how Homer opens his proposal to Marge, because it’s just absurd enough to be critical of how men deal with rejection. He says, “There’s something I want to ask you, but I’m afraid if you say no it’ll destroy me and make me a criminal.” That’s…appropriate.

Best Moment: Homer & Marge’s wedding ceremony.

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“Here’s ten dollars worth of chips, you may kiss the bride.”

Best Quote: “I like your attitude. Feisty, yet spineless.” —Mr. Burns

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Classic Simpsons: Ritualistic firing as-entertainment in Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk.

3.11 Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk

Homer becomes expendable when German investors purchase the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant.

Usually when I’m curious to know some random, insignificant statistic, the internet delivers. After watching this episode I wanted to find out how many times Homer has been fired from his job at the power plant, but just as Rick Moranis hopelessly combed the desert in 1987’s Spaceballs, I couldn’t find a thing.

That’s surprising to me, because The Simpsons’ writers do this a LOT. Even if they aren’t outright firing Homer, his incompetence on the job is always comic fodder.

This is most piercingly addressed in Season 8’s “Homer’s Enemy,” which I consider to be the spiritual series finale. New employee, Frank Grimes goes on an episode-long tirade about how Homer’s ineptitude is constantly rewarded, while his own dedication and results go unnoticed. It’s an anthem to meritocracy, and (I think) a subtle jab at viewers for not being critical enough of Homer.

Anyway, it falls to me to come up with a Homer getting fired stat, which is too bad because I stopped watching in the early 2000s. The best I could come up with is nine times; in “Homer’s Odyssey,” “Diatribe of a Mad Housewife,” “Ice Cream of Margie,” “Simpson Tide,” “The Girl Code,” “Fat Man and Little Boy,” “Treehouse of Horror II,” “Treehouse of Horror IV (very briefly),” and of course this episode.

We’re obsessed with firings as a culture. A prominent figure screws up publicly? Twitter calls for their head. An overworked employee has a vulnerable moment and raises their voice at the wrong customer? Same result. A certain world leader who shall remain nameless became a global celebrity by ritualistically firing someone on national TV every week. Firings to us are not just entertainment, but a sort of restorative justice.

And if the firee has dependants? I dunno, that’s someone else’s problem, it’s the free market, whatever, fuck you.

Anyway (Oh God I started another paragraph with “anyway”). Given the fact we don’t have basic income yet, the proper way to view this episode is through a prism of complete and total cruelty. Which is way more fun anyway regardless!

That’s right, I’m taking Homer’s side on this one. Yes, of course he should lose his job for being dangerously incompetent, but there is no justice to be found in his kids collecting dirty old soap slivers in order to bathe themselves because their father has genuine difficulty supporting them.

This isn’t me saying this episode isn’t funny. It’s a riot. Homer is unable to pay attention while being interviewed by the German investors, and he trails off into a daydream where he prances through the Land of Chocolate. Gut busting; also Homer without question has a diagnosable attention deficit condition as well as anxiety. Hilarious. Fire his neurodivergent ass.

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Fun fact: This bit originally had a street called “Hershey Highway,” but the censors nixed it. If you don’t know why I can’t help you.

Homer’s stock broker (which he didn’t even know he had; poor guy) calls and says he can make 25 bucks if he sells his power plant stock now. He cashes out before the stock skyrockets, and finds out could have made $5200 instead—what a dolt, right?

Not so fast. All the other employees who make $5200 spend it on frivolous shit they don’t need. Yes, Homer spends it on a nice craft beer, but I’m giving him credit for having fantasized about spending his 25 bucks on a hair cut, a hot car wax, or a new hammer. An extra 25 dollars would have been of meaningful help to him. But he spent it on booze. How terrible. Wait, don’t the German investors later put the alcoholic employees through paid rehabilitation? Couldn’t Homer use that? Oh right they fire him for having ADHD.

Homer is actually kind of adorable in this episode. Like when he puts two and two together that two guys with thick German accents aren’t from Springfield. Or when he gives Burns the inside information he needs to get his plant back (and gets zero thanks for doing it). Or his line, “My job is my identity. If I’m not a safety whatcha ma-jigger, I’m nothing.”

Homer is doing his best and you’re terrible for laughing at him. (I hope my facetiousness is coming through here)

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Imagine for a second that Homer, despite his best efforts, just isn’t that smart. “You just spent $5200 on beer” becomes a deeply sad moment. See, this is fun!

Sidebar: I have two questions about Waylon Smithers. One, is his bee allergy in “22 Short Films About Springfield” canon? Because he seems unbothered by getting repeatedly stung in this episode.

Secondly, I’m neither L, nor B, nor G, nor T, so this is definitely a question rather than a statement, and if anyone wants to @ me on Twitter with their perspective, go ahead—Do you find that the writers tend to frame Smithers’ queerness as being central to his sycophantic nature? If so, that’s problematic, right?

Anyway (rule of threes), I think watching people get fired satisfies our urge to see power structures inverted. That sounds like a weird statement since it’s often the ones way down the totem pole we enjoy watching get axed, but our tiny little brains are very easily tricked into using people with very little actual power as stand-ins for more powerful figures or ideas. I know this to be true because I’VE WORKED IN RETAIL.

Also because I’m a disabled person on assistance; or, as they call us in fascist regimes, the first to be vilified and killed. I’m fun at parties I swear.

The ritualistic element of firing as-entertainment reminds me of the Saturnalia festival in Ancient Rome, where political and even gender roles were reversed. I don’t know who at the top OK’d this, but it was absolutely brilliant because it gave people the feeling of structural power while those in positions of authority didn’t have to give up jack shit.

It’d be nice if we had basic income so we could just admit our penchant for cruelty and enjoy our unemployment porn. But we don’t, so I guess I’m glad my parents didn’t suck at their jobs for reasons beyond their control.

Anyway. Good episode!

Best moment: The Germans trying to get a terrified Homer to agree to their meeting.

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Large man with tiny object. Comedy 101.

Best quote: “What good is money if you can’t inspire terror in your fellow man?” —Mr. Burns

2012 NHL Re-Draft: Fail for Nail, or Cramp for Hamp?

The 2012 NHL draft was a weird one. The first overall pick, Nail Yakupov, has been a bust. Heck, the top ten as a whole is underwhelming by comparison to other years. For funsies, I’ve re-drafted the entire first round. The order stays the same, and in brackets you’ll find the player the team originally picked.

Edmonton, you’re on the clock.

1. Edmonton: Hampus Lindholm (Original Pick: Nail Yakupov)

—The Oilers are cup contenders this year if Lindholm is in their lineup. Yak, as I mentioned, is one of the worst busts in draft history. Even though he’s actually third in career points as far as players in his draft year, I still don’t have him in the first round of my re-draft. He wouldn’t be close to his current career total of 117 points had he not been slotted with players like Eberle, Hall, and later Connor McDavid. Hampus Lindholm, on the other hand, is a possession monster, and arguably a top ten D-man in the league already.

2. Columbus: Filip Forsberg (Original Pick: Ryan Murray)

—Ryan Murray is a solid NHL D-man, and the jury’s still out on how high his ceiling is. Filip Forsberg is an elite winger who would perhaps give CBJ the scoring depth they need to get out of the Metro this year, though he’s had a slow start in Nashville. All this is of course assuming the Blue Jackets don’t trade Forsberg to Nashville for Martin Erat in one of the league’s most lopsided trades of the last decade.

3. Montreal: Alex Galchenyuk (Original Pick: Same)

—I wouldn’t change this pick, as Galchenyuk is the Habs’ best centre, and a guy who looks like he could top 30 goals a season if healthy. He’s not quite a top five centre in the NHL, but he’s a big, dynamic player and his chemistry with Alexander Radulov has been electric.

4. New York Islanders: Matt Murray (Original Pick: Griffin Reinhart)

—Good on the Islanders for getting Matthew Barzal out of Reinhart in a trade with Edmonton (they got a first rounder from the Oilers in that deal and drafted Barzal with the pick), but Matt Murray is an upgrade in goal over Jaroslav Halak & Thomas Griess (although Griess does have strong numbers this year). Reinhart is currently in the AHL, where he has struggled. I don’t have him in the first round of my re-draft.

5. Toronto: Morgan Rielly (Original Pick: Same)

—You could swap Rielly for Trouba, but I think the Leafs are happy with Rielly (there’s a video on YouTube of then-GM Brian Burke telling Gary Bettman at the draft that he had Rielly at first overall). In a perfect world, Rielly probably slots into your number two spot. Just imagine him on the left side with Kevin Shattenkirk on the right (assuming the Leafs could sign him).

6. Anaheim: Jacob Trouba (Original Pick: Hampus Lindholm)

—What can I say? Trouba is right-handed and has a ton of upside, but Hampus Lindholm, a lefty, is the class of the 2012 draft thus far.

7. Minnesota: Andrei Vasilevskiy (Original Pick: Matt Dumba)

—Even if you still luck out down the road in getting Devan Dubnyk, Vasilevskiy gives you a goalie of the future. (Though he did stumble a bit in the conference final last year)

8. Pittsburgh: Teuvo Teravainen (Original Pick: Derrick Pouliot)

—Good grief, can you imagine the Penguins’ forward depth with Teravainen? He’s on the last year of an entry level deal so you’d have to think they let him go after this season, but he’d all but guarantee you a long Cup run, whereas Pouliot hasn’t impressed so far.

9. Winnipeg: Frederik Andersen (Original Pick: Jacob Trouba)

—Goaltending problem: Solved. Sure you don’t have Jacob Trouba, but he’s trade bait at this point anyway, as the Jets’ D is set on the right side with Byfuglien and Myers. Andersen would be a massive upgrade over Hellebuyck & co.

10. Tampa Bay: Shayne Gostisbehere (Original Pick: Slater Koekkoek)

—Outside of Hedman and Stralman, defence has been a bit of a weak spot for the Lightning. Ghost playing on their second pairing in the conference final last year could have been a huge difference for them.

11. Washington: Tomas Hertl (Original Pick: Filip Forsberg)

—Well, gosh. They no longer have Forsberg (or the plug they traded him for—okay to be fair Erat was a good player at the time), but either he or Hertl would give them absurd scoring depth on top of their already absurd scoring depth.

12. Buffalo: Colton Parayko (Original Pick: Mikhail Grigorenko)

—Grigorenko was part of the lopsided Ryan O’Reilly deal, and has only five goals this season. He may still have some upside, but Colton Parayko was a revelation for the Blues in their long playoff run last year, and continues to get big minutes with them. He’d be a huge defensive upgrade for the Sabres.

13. Dallas: Matt Dumba (Original Pick: Radek Faksa)

—Faksa is having a respectable first year in Dallas, but Matt Dumba would be a huge boost to a very weak defensive corps. Maybe he pushes Dallas over the Blues in game seven last year.

14. Buffalo: Tanner Pearson (Original Pick: Zemgus Girgensons)

—Pearson already has 45 goals in less than 200 NHL games, and provided key scoring depth for the Kings in their 2014 cup run. He’d look awfully good on a line with Jack Eichel or Ryan O’Reilly. Looking back, this was a tough draft for Sabres fans. Just think about having Pearson & Parayko instead of Grigorenko & Girgensons. Ouch.

15. Ottawa: Jaccob Slavin (Original Pick: Cody Ceci)

—I’ve had occasion to watch some Carolina Hurricanes games this year, and Jaccob Slavin has been outstanding every time. Strong possession numbers, makes good plays, and he can put up points. Cody Ceci is maturing into a decent offensive defenseman, but hasn’t quite lived up to expectations

16. Washington: Andreas Athanasiou (Original Pick: Tom Wilson)

—Athanasiou might be the fastest skater in the NHL not named Connor McDavid. If Washington is going to win a cup, they’ll likely have to get through Pittsburgh, and what does Pittsburgh have loads of? Speed. Athanasiou would look tremendous as a Cap. Wilson has provided a bit of scoring depth, but I don’t have him in the first round in my re-draft.

17. San Jose: Olli Maatta (Original Pick: Tomas Hertl)

—Tough to tell whether Maatta will reach his lofty potential, as he’s still prone to making big mistakes, and he’s had a bit of the injury bug. Still, he’s got a ton of talent, and the Penguins are lucky to have him. Looking at last year’s Cup Final between the Sharks and Pens, if the Sharks had Maatta it would’ve obviously made a huge difference, but we’re also assuming the Pens get the Derrick Pouliot pick back…

18. Chicago: Ryan Murray (Original Pick: Teuvo Teravainen)

—They’d probably have to unload him real soon considering their salary cap issues, but defence has been the weakest position for the Blackhawks over the last few years, even in their Cup year in 2015. Either way, they did very well getting Teravainen at 18.

19. Tampa Bay: Jake McCabe (Original Pick: Andrei Vasilevskiy)

—McCabe has been Buffalo’s best kept secret this year, playing 20 minutes a game and putting up decent possession numbers. Yeah I know, his Corsi & Fenwick are under 50%, but he has played against quality competition as a rookie, and will surely be protected by the Sabres in the upcoming expansion draft. Also, keep in mind defence is an organizational weak point for Tampa, which is why I’ve moved McCabe up the board a little bit.

20. Philadelphia: Jimmy Vesey (Original Pick: Scott Laughton)

—Vesey was initially drafted by Nashville, but ended up signing with the New York Rangers out of college as a free agent, so who knows if he’d have still gone rogue had he been drafted by the Flyers. Philly has an outstanding prospect cupboard…actually, it’s really more of a prospect bomb shelter, particularly at the goaltending and defense positions. Vesey would make the forward position equally as intimidating moving forward.

21. Calgary: Joonas Korpisalo (Original Pick: Mark Jankowski)

—Calgary has had real questions in goal this year, with Brian Elliot and Chad Johnson faltering at times. Korpisalo isn’t ready to be a number one, but he is ready for more ice time than he’s getting in Columbus under Sergei Bobrovsky. Mark Jankowski just hasn’t panned out at all.

22. Pittsburgh: Cedric Paquette (Original Pick: Olli Maatta)

—While the Penguins are obviously happy with the Maatta pick, Cedric Paquette has been tremendous in the playoffs for Tampa Bay, providing sandpaper as well as scoring depth.

23. Florida: Ben Hutton (Original Pick: Michael Matheson)

—Hutton was a fifth round steal for the Vancouver Canucks, who don’t have many of those in their drafting history. He has already played in a World Championship, and has gotten big minutes with the Canucks, though he’s currently injured. His possession numbers are a little low for Florida’s tastes, but keep in mind he’s playing in Vancouver; everyone’s possession numbers are terrible.

24. Boston: Cody Ceci (Original Pick: Malcom Subban)

—Boston has a dearth of puck movers on the back end. Ceci is a puck mover. Match made in heaven.

25. St Louis: Damon Severson (Original Pick: Jordan Schmaltz)

—Severson has seen a lot of ice on a weak Devils’ D-core. He’s a minus 24, but that’d different under Ken Hitchcock/Mike Yeo. Original pick, Jordan Schmaltz has the dubious honour of being the only 2012 first rounder who has yet to play an NHL game.

26. Vancouver: Connor Brown (Original Pick: Brendan Gaunce)

—While Brendan Gaunce hasn’t merited anything more than fourth-line minutes in his career so far, Connor Brown has shown scoring acumen in Toronto. Granted, he has the benefit of playing with Auston Matthews, but he has put up numbers at every level, and would give the Canucks a nice scoring option on the right side of Bo Horvat.

27. Phoenix/Arizona: Chris Tierney (Original Pick: Henrik Samuelsson)

—While he hasn’t exactly broken out offensively yet, his points per game has increased steadily, as have his minutes played. He’s playing behind Thornton and Pavelski, so the Sharks can afford to be patient. In Arizona he’d get more of a look, as they’re very weak at centre (and everywhere else). The Coyotes have already given up on Samuelsson, sending him to the Oilers in a trade this year.

28. New York Rangers: Brady Skjei (Original Pick: Same)

—Skjei has done very well in his first full season with the Rangers. They’re not a great team defensively, so it makes sense that they’d keep Skjei at this position if they could do it over again.

29 New Jersey: Zemgus Girgensons (Original Pick: Stefan Matteau)

—Girgensons might be a bit of a reclamation project at this point, but he did score 15 goals a couple seasons ago. He’d certainly get a look on a Devils team that lacks scoring depth.

30. Los Angeles: Connor Hellebuyck (Original Pick: Tanner Pearson)

—Hellebuyck struggled with an increased workload as a Jet this year, but he still has a lot of upside, and would have been able to take some of the pressure off Peter Budaj this year with Jonathan Quick injured.

5 final observations:

—Other than Galchenyuk, there isn’t one surefire number one centre to come out of this draft. Forsberg was drafted as a centre, but he’s playing wing now. Maybe a Hertl or Girgensons could develop into one late, but that’s doubtful five years after the fact.

—Despite being a generally weak year, 16 of the top 18 scorers were still first round selections, so it’s not like this draft was full of diamonds in the rough either. Only five sixth round selections have an NHL goal; no seventh round selections do.

—Of the 24 goalies taken in this draft, only four have played more than 30 NHL games.

—Carolina & Nashville have the most picks who’ve played at least one NHL game, with five each.

—Number of goals the Calgary Flames have gotten out of their 2012 picks: One. Eep.

Would you have re-done the 2012 draft any differently? Feel free to leave a comment so I can ignore it in my inbox forever.

Classic Simpsons: “Flaming Moe’s” is the series’ finest argument for (and against) corporate personhood.

3.10 Flaming Moe’s

Homer seeks revenge after Moe steals his secret drink recipe.

“There’s a party in my mouth and everyone’s invited” is a thing people say without even intending to reference The Simpsons—this episode is that popular.

I’ve always loved the “Eye on Springfield” bit, followed by Homer’s comment, “Wow, infotainment.” The low-status fool functions to provide piercing insight laterally and/or unintentionally. I always say Homer is at his funniest when he is aware of what’s going on sort of.

Also what is infotainment if not intellectual cough syrup (more on that in a moment).

Side note: Look at the storyboarding here as Lisa’s friends chase Bart down to kiss him, then give him a makeover:

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I’m less equipped to critique direction than, say, voice acting and storytelling, but damned if this scene isn’t just…logistically well done.

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The light from the fridge, the girls in the darkness, the position of the camera…just bravo, animators.

 

So, cough syrup. That the secret ingredient to Homer’s drink is the Krusty brand variety has me thinking about branding, and how the Flaming Moe (the drink) represents Homer—the character as well as the archetype he embodies.

The Flaming Moe is a combination of what’s left of bottles in the liquor cabinet. Homer is a bunch of leftovers from fool characters that have come before him. He’s a teaspoon of John Falstaff, a dash of Archie Bunker, and a pint of Fred Flinstone.

Homer is a pastiche of things that everyone gets. I could say “D’oh!” in most parts of the world and people who know a dozen words in English would exclaim, “Homer Simpson!” Like that German soldier in Saving Private Ryan who, cornered by the good ol’ American boys, rattles off a bunch of names like Betty Boop in a desperate attempt to get the Yanks on his side.

It’s a party in your mouth, and everyone’s invited.

Krusty cough syrup is an homage to Flintstones vitamins. So, the Krusty brand within the Simpsons brand is referencing a Flintstones-branded brand, and we in 1991 or 2017 are more or less all in on the joke. If you don’t get Flintstones, you at least get Krusty. Layers of branding like sediment compress together and form a map we use to understand one another in the era of the brand.

To go a little further on this tangent, as a species we’re adapting to living in pods of five rather than fifty. In our pods we’re exposed individually to branded concepts—let’s say the concept is a Starbucks latte. You might think the Starbucks latte is a goofy concept. Or you think it’s something that; if you don’t get one, you will function badly for the whole day.

Pumpkin Spice? It’s either something you spent September looking forward to or something you laugh at the omnipresence of. If you’re in the latter group, you’re not a whole lot less useful to Starbucks than the former group, because at least you’re having a reaction at all.

Wherever you are on the “lattes are goofy” spectrum, you can emerge from your pod and relate to people who react to the concept of a Starbucks latte in similar ways. You can go from your house to a larger, less intimate group—let’s say a workplace, and use that shared concept to more or less engage with people you could more or less live without.

You drop your name tag.

“Haven’t had my Starbucks yet.”

The customer laughs, and no one dies. That brands have infiltrated the language of these relationships is, for better or worse, where we’re at. All Wikipedia entries for specific Simpsons episodes (as is the case with many TV shows) have an entire category called References. We’re a culture that struggles to function without them.

If the Bible were written today, perhaps References would be a chapter. Maybe it’d feature a rebuilding of the Tower of Babel, except now the tower has a brand name slapped across it in massive type. Maybe that brand gets so recognizable that it too can one day grow up to be Pres—Ok I’ll shut up.

Homer describes the final addition to the drink: “I don’t know the scientific explanation, but fire made it good.”

Why is “Flaming Moe’s” an episode we all get? Were the Cheers references such a gateway that everyone talked about those, which in turn led to everyone talking about The Simpsons more? It’s common nowadays to know the words to the parody better than the original, as was the case for me and the “Flaming Moe’s” song that parodies the Cheers theme.

The song, by the way, opens the third act, serving as a perfect emotional reset in building to the climax of the episode. This episode is so dense with stuff to analyze, has a laugh every few moments, and is just incredibly well-structured.

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My single most favourite thing about The Godfather is how Francis Ford Coppola uses windows, doors, and long shots to represent not just power, but inclusion. Comedy brings with it a competitive social element. Are you in on the joke? Do you get the reference? Are you invited to the party?

The man who offers to buy the Flaming Moe works for Tipsy McStagger’s Good Time Drinking & Eating Emporium. He confesses that there’s no real Tipsy McStagger; that he’s just a composite of other successful logos. I choose to believe the writers were remembering the bottles-in-the-liquor-cabinet makeup of the Flaming Moe when introducing Tipsy McStagger.

This episode couldn’t have worked as well if it was Moe inventing the drink only to lose exclusive rights to it. Having it go from Homer, to Moe, to the whole city owning it makes a larger point about the chain of human ideas and how capitalism funnels them to consolidate money and power; likes and views.

Even this blog entry has been me communicating my own ideas about life and politics through The Simpsons. If I just pontificated for 1000 words on branding and intellectual property, would it be as relatable? Sure, I’m the author of this piece, but it’s also a combination of thoughts I’ve heard from others and am now filtering through my own reference points. Then it’s sweetened with Simpsons quotes so it can go down easier. Which is a convoluted way of saying an also-convoluted thing—this is my brand.

“Flaming Moe’s” is not without its problems. Colette, the waitress character, exists only to convince Moe to sell the drink and split the earnings with Homer. Her character serves the exact same function as Ms. Pennycandy in the otherwise excellent “Like Father, Like Clown”: To humanize the more-important male character who is Being Kind Of A Dick.

I’m not saying take all The Simpsons’ Emmys away; I am saying this is a fucking bullshit trope and the writers deserve criticism for relying on it.

Moe’s line, “I sleep with a chick once and it costs me half a million bananas” doesn’t make fun of sexism, it simply reproduces it for a cheap laugh. It’s not funny now, and I struggle to understand how it was funny then, other than as a point of recognition for misplaced male anger. (Which, if that’s your idea of funny…)

And can we just acknowledge that chasing a boy down and kissing them forcefully is like…y’know, assault?

Anyway.

From the “Eye on Springfield” bits to the Aerosmith cameo plus Phantom of the Opera reference; to the Flaming Moe derivatives that crop up across Springfield when Homer reveals the secret ingredient, this episode is about the ramifications of mass media and intellectual property, expressed through the everyday conflict of jealousy between peers.

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The Simpsons’ writers love to explore genesis states followed by a boom, be it the frogs in Bart vs. Australia or early explorations of the Simpson family’s fame in Treehouse of Horror.

That Homer reveals the secret ingredient publicly is perhaps the best possible outcome, as now everyone has access to the drink, even if he and Moe were unable to make a living off of it. We’re left with Marge’s line, “Take some consolation in the fact the something you created is making so many people happy.” Maybe so, it’s not like this episode is naive about the fact that we’ve built a society where accessibility has costs.

Best Moment: The Cheers-inspired Act 3 opener.

Best Quote: “Take those to the teacher’s lounge! You can have what’s left at the end of the day.” —Edna Krabbapel (when Bart reveals the liquor bottles in his backpack)

 

Classic Simpsons Reviews: “Saturdays of Thunder” shows how the writers are better with father/son storylines.

3.9 Saturdays of Thunder

Homer realizes he knows nothing about Bart after taking a fatherhood quiz, so he helps Bart build a soap box racer.

I’m trying to work out why I like “Saturdays of Thunder” better than “Lisa’s Pony,” which tackles similar themes around parenthood and, for me anyway, has far fewer laughs.

I like this episode’s twist of Bart choosing to drive Martin’s far superior soap box racer, as it accomplishes three things.

One, it makes it so there is more than one or two things going on in the episode, as opposed to the more straightforward plot of “Lisa’s Pony.” I actually cared about the dinky soap box racer more than I did about the pony, particularly given that it couldn’t possibly compete with Martin’s far superior racer. The difference between Bart and Martin’s racer is basically the difference between Homer and Ned Flanders as fathers.

Masculinity and competition get explored with depth and symbolism here, whereas in “Lisa’s Pony” Homer has a throwaway line where he worries about turning gay from hanging out with his daughter. That’s just not as fun, besides undercutting the show’s right to look good making a pro-gay statement with “Homer’s Phobia” in season eight.

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General rule about Characters On Fire: If it’s a long shot, it’s funny.

Two, the better soap box racer allows Bart to drive the episode more than Lisa was given an opportunity to with the horse. I’ve complained before that Lisa and Homer episodes tend to become just Homer episodes (see “Homer vs. Lisa and the Eighth Commandment”), whereas in Bart and Homer episodes they get more or less equal time (see “Dead Putting Society”). This pains me to say a little, as Lisa is in my top five favourite characters, but it makes the Bart and Homer episodes better.

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The writers have a lot more fun playing with father/son storyline tropes, as we see here. They seem lost in trying to find similar sight gags when it’s time for a Homer/Lisa episode.

And Three, Homer cheering Bart on even though he chooses a racer someone else built makes Homer much more altruistic and likeable as a parent. I also like how Homer more or less takes the initiative in terms of the fatherhood quiz.

That being said, the ease with which Homer decides to spend time with Bart as opposed to the struggle to pay attention to Lisa a week ago (which amounted to him buying her off) does not go unnoticed.

I do like Homer a lot better in this episode though, so I’d rank “Saturdays of Thunder” a couple spots higher than “Lisa’s Pony” for season three. The bits with the National Fatherhood Institute (particularly their NASA-style mission control celebration at the end when Homer and a victorious Bart embrace) are hilarious, and make it so we don’t take Homer’s foibles as seriously.

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This sort of thing is what was lacking in “Lisa’s Pony.”

I also love when The Simpsons throws in cultural references that are thematically tied to the episode (something I trash Family Guy for not giving two shits about). In a clip playing at the local video store, McBain’s partner dies within a couple days of retirement. Besides being a hilarious Lethal Weapon reference, it ties into the episode’s theme of fatherhood, as McBain’s partner talks about his kid going off to college.

Best Moment: The Lethal Weapon spoof.

Best Quote: “Oh, I don’t know if I should do that. My dad and I build our car together, and if I drove somebody else’s it’d kill him! On the other hand, I’ll do it!” -Bart

Why you should refuse to #DiagnoseTrump and interrogate mainstream bigotry instead.

An online petition created by Democratic congresswoman, Karen Bass is calling for a mental health evaluation of Republican Presidential nominee, Donald Trump. It has over 12,000 signatures as of this writing.

Emboldened by the petition, armchair mental health experts and self-identified Progressives are now using the #DiagnoseTrump hashtag to suggest Trump has narcissistic personality disorder or is on the autism spectrum.

Never mind that even psychiatric experts would be in violation of the APA’s ‘Goldwater Rule’ in armchair diagnosing a public figure; suggesting that a mental health condition is at the core of why Trump is a threat is both profoundly ableist and ignorant of the United States’ political past and present.

First, let’s unpack the suggestion that a mental illness and/or neurodivergence should inherently disqualify someone from the Presidency. A recent survey found Abraham Lincoln to be the most popular President in US history, with Thomas Jefferson ranking fifth. Lincoln lived with depression and suicidal ideation during his Presidency, and historical records strongly suggest that if Jefferson wasn’t autistic, he was certainly far from neurotypical.

The idea that Trump has autism is based on the ableist myth that autistics are incapable of empathy and prone to violence. Linking Trump’s bigotry to neurodivergence is every bit as bigoted as suggesting Hillary Clinton’s lady-brain renders her incapable of being President.

That Progressives are so ready to throw neurodivergent people under the bus should be astonishing given the popularity of #BellLetsTalk, a movement to destigmatize mental illness and tell people it’s safe to come out and talk about it.

It has been very troubling to watch #DiagnoseTrump trending when the #Sagamihara hashtag died on the vine after 19 disabled people were killed by a eugenics advocate in Japan. I thought abled Progressives, after expressing moral outrage at Trump’s mocking of a disabled reporter, would have been better allies than this.

Abled Progressiveshave been happy to compare Trump to Hitler, who killed a quarter-million neurodivergent people in the holocaust. Watching them now call Trump neurodivergent to score political points should give everyone’s sense of irony a workout.

I had a lot of randoms in my Twitter mentions when I spoke out against #DiagnoseTrump, most of them Progressives. My favourite was someone pointing out that Lincoln and Jefferson didn’t have access to nuclear weapons.

Besides the hilarity of suggesting that the man who said “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends” would have been a prime candidate for World Destroyer, the idea that we would somehow only be ableist when it comes to the job of POTUS is patently absurd. Employment discrimination is rampant for mentally ill people because of attitudes like the one driving #DiagnoseTrump. I have not once received a job interview when disclosing my disabilities, and I have been taken off a work schedule immediately upon disclosing a mental illness.

I wasn’t handling nukes. Just cash.

So why do Progressives feel they need to chalk up the callousness of Trump to mental illness? Well, like with every time a white person targets a marginalized group in a mass shooting, it’s easier to invoke mental illness than it is to interrogate the ableism, white supremacy, unchecked privilege, and toxic masculinity in the mainstream of our society that the Donald Trumps and Dylann Roofs of the world are merely an extension of.

Even if Trump were neurodivergent, it would be far from the reason why he’s so dangerous. Bigotry is not a mental illness; suggesting that it is only hurts us. So instead of throwing disabled and mentally ill people under the bus, Progressives ought to clean their own house first.

Stop acting surprised by the murder of disabled people.

[Content warning: Ableist violence.]

Stop treating the knifeman who killed 19 disabled people in a Japanese care facility as some baffling outlier. Stop treating his comment, “I want to rid the world of disabled people,” as some derangement or lunacy.

Autism Speaks and other ‘disability orgs’ that openly support eugenics want the same thing he does; the functional differences are bureaucratic. (Please, if you have considered donating to A$, instead donate to the Autism Self Advocacy Network)

GTFOH if you really think that those who view noncompliance with police as justification for extrajudicial slaughter care for one second about keeping neurodivergent people, who make up half of those killed by police, alive.

When media outlets sympathize with parents and caregivers who murder disabled children, they embolden killers like the one in Japan; like the officer who killed Abdirahman Abdi. Broadcasting sympathy for ableist filicide has been proven to create copycat killers, and such incidents are increasing.

When the workforce discriminates against us; when governments treat us as second-class citizens and economic burdens, the proper term for those who view it as prudent to exterminate us isn’t “deranged” or “crazy” or “lunatic,” it’s inevitable.

If I seem angry, it’s because I am. I’m angry that we’re being killed; either quickly by summary execution or slowly by bureaucracy. I’m angry that you aren’t angry.

When police shot at Arnaldo Rios for being unable to comply with their instructions, many referred to him as an “autistic kid.” Some felt it necessary to excuse the officer’s act on the basis of Rios’ neurodivergence. First of all, Rios is a 26 year old Latino autistic man; by infantilizing him we reduce his value to his productivity and participation in abled society. He is a grownup who matters. Secondly, when are we going to admit that policing as it is currently practiced (yes, in Canada too) poses an inherent threat to disabled lives, particularly disabled people of colour?

When conversations around the pay gap make no mention of sub-minimum wage or towering unemployment rates or miserable government stipends for disabled people; when conversations around sexual assault stress the 1 in 4 stat while failing to mention that in the United States as well as Canada it’s 4 out of 5 for disabled women and 3 in 10 for disabled men, we are saying by repeated omission that the prosperity and safety of disabled people does not matter.

So stop acting like the Japanese mass killer’s comment doesn’t have a direct line to structural ableism that abled, neurotypical people benefit from daily as they share their “inspirational” Facebook memes about us. You might assume that you think we matter, but when was the last time you signal boosted our activists? Wrote your MP about the incarceration of disabled youth? Irrespective of whether you ID as an activist or an ally, when was the last time you confronted ableism in your own words and actions?

Stop using disability and mental illness-stigmatizing language to describe people who harm disabled and mentally ill people. The mass killer in Japan wasn’t some “crazy;” he was an ableist bigot, and bigotry is not a mental illness. By continually suggesting that it is you further blur the line between perpetrator and victim. You ignore how mainstream bigotry is.

Stop stigmatizing and erasing us and then acting surprised when these things happen.