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.