Thursday, December 23, 2004

Broken Planet

Apathy Jack writes:

There’s the Malibu Stacey episode of The Simpsons where (Metro Newsreader of the year) Kent Brockman is doing an expose on the craze over the new doll, and he asks if it is “arglebargle or fooferal?”

That sentence stuck in my mind, the way some random sounds do. However, the other day, in the course of my scrabble adventures (I’ve found calling them “adventures” removes some of the nerd stigma associated with scrabble, as does replacing the word “scrabble” with “lexicographic ninjitsu”) I discovered that arglebargle is actually a word (meaning a verbal dispute or a wrangling argument, just for those keeping score). The closest I could find for fooferal is furfural, which is a liquid aldehyde made from corn cobs, which doesn’t really make sense in the context...

But still, arglebargle, then. Who knew?

Does remind me how clever The Simpsons is though. They’ve started replaying the first season again. These are the episodes I can pretty much recite due to fourteen years of over exposure. However, I still notice new things. I’ve seen the episode where Bart builds a soapbox racer a bunch of times, but all before I saw Ben Hur, so until last week I never noticed the homage to the chariot race scene. Likewise the episode where Bart feuds with Nelson for the first time – It was repeated so often in the early and mid-nineties that I can still remember the inflection with which a lot of the dialogue is delivered, but I had never noticed the scene lifted directly from Patton.

Of course, then there are the (almost post-modern) down sides: My flatmate and I started laughing the other day while watching the episode where Germans buy the power plant. But we were laughing at a joke that hadn’t happened yet – we knew the punch line that was being led up to, and we started laughing over thirty seconds before the joke was actually delivered.

Ah hell, this is all an attempt to justify spending perfectly good hamburger money on Planet Simpson, a five hundred page book exploring the impact of the show from a sociological viewpoint.

What’s that? The Simpsons hasn’t made that much of an impact onto the zeitgeist you say? Well, when I started this rant with “There’s the Malibu Stacey episode of The Simpsons...” you all knew which one I meant, didn’t you?


Josh said...

Two things:

I believe the word is foofaraw.

I feel much cleverer about the episode where Homer takes Maggie to the Ayn Rand Daycare Center now that I know who Ayn Rand is.

Lucifer Sam said...

I've got an even better Simpson joke - this one is quite involved and intricate...

It is in the episode where Homer becomes Mr Burns' new "Smithers". I believe the episode is actually entitled "Homer the Smithers", but anyway. Homer becomes Burns' assistant for an episode, and, due to the constant demands and reproaches, gets pushed over the edge, punching the old man. Scared, Burns tries to become sulf-sufficient without Homer - even going to the lengths of grinding his own coffee beans.

Now, the joke of this matter is, when Burns learns to use the telephone, he answers his calls (and calls in subsequent episodes) by the greeting "Ahoy-hoy".

After Bell first invented the telephone, as the first networks were being created, there were plans to create new language for this new device. One of these, was a "telephonograph greeting". Bell's suggestion of answering a "telephonograph" with "Ahoy-hoy" lost out to Edison's suggested creation of the word "Hello". Thusly, Edison created the word "Hello", which we use today.

The whole joke in this matter is basically just how old Burns is. Burns is so old that he remembers (in a way) that the correct way to answer the "telephonograph" is by saying "Ahoy-hoy". And it's a joke that no-one would get without knowing the background of the creation of the telephone. All in all, very impressive, I thought.

By the way, I learnt this in a book entitled "Planet Simpson" which has just come out. And I highly recommend it - AND it's written by a Canadian. How can you lose?