Saturday, December 17, 2011

Twice in One Week!?

SLOW DOWN!! You're making us look like geniuses!

Photo taken of our TV while watching "Jeopardy!" on 12/15/2011, the category was "TV Show Supporting Characters." #Winning, #HiDrNick, #ETC.

(Technically, this is the third "Simpsons" related question from "Jeopardy!" in the last week, but we didn't want to bore you all with our amazingness, so we didn't blog about that one).

New post coming soon, we promise. We've been busy preparing for Christmas!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Simpsons are EVERYWHERE...We told you so!

We predict the future.

The above screen cap is from Jeopardy! on 12/09/2011. We wrote a blog entry about it a month ago. Coincidence? We think not.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

We here at "Things We Learned From "The Simpsons"" want to wish all of our readers a very happy Thanksgiving! Share it with the people you love, be safe, and we will be back shortly with another life-altering blog.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A BONUS Quick Fact!

Quick fact learned from Lisa Simpson: Valhalla is where Vikings go after they die.

More specifically, a place in Asgard reserved for Vikings who died in battle.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lesson #3: From "The Telltale Head" [S01, E08]

Lesson #3: Peer pressure makes you do idiotic things.

At one point or another, you have experienced or will experience peer pressure in your life. It's just a fact.

In the pursuit of acceptance, people are often willing to do whatever it takes to be part of the "in crowd." From something as simple as buying the right fashion to things as serious as taking drugs and participating in illegal activities, peer pressure happens in every stage of life.

In season 1 episode 8, "The Telltale Head," Bart gets himself into trouble by cutting off the head of the statue of Jebediah Springfield. This act goes far beyond anything Bart would think to do on his own, so why would he do it in the first place? He did so in an attempt to gain the approval of an older group of delinquent boys.

After an unfortunate accident on his skateboard, Bart meets Dolph, Kearney, and Jimbo, the baddest kids in school (whom Bart highly reveres), outside of the local movie theater. Bart's admiration for Jimbo immediately leads him to give in to the will of the group. They start by sneaking in a movie theater to watch the new Space Mutant movie. Bart questions this action, asking, "isn't this like stealing?"  They assure him that it is, in fact, stealing. Bart makes fart noises as they all make silly comments, hamming it up for the bad boys. Of course, this leads to the whole group to be thrown out of the theater, which seems to be a common occurrence for Jimbo and his cronies.

The boys head to the Kwik-E-Mart where Bart purchases a round of Squishies for them all; unbeknownst to him, the other kids have helped themselves to magazines, food, and candy ("five finger discount, man"). They then stop in the town square to throw stones at the statue of Jebediah Springfield. Bart is bothered by this at first, as he holds deep respect for Jebediah Springfield as the town founder. Nonetheless, Bart eventually gives in to peer pressure and chucks his own rock, nailing the statue right between the eyes.

They then head to a hill top to finish their Squishies, and lay in the grass to look at clouds. The hooligans remark that the clouds look like cherry bombs, a man with a knife in his back, etc. Bart notices a cloud which looks like the statue in the town square, but without a head. The group quickly remarks how great it would be if someone cut off the head of the statue and how it would "cheese everyone off." Bart is quick to defend the town founder, which leads to his quick ostracism from the group.

Bart would do anything to regain acceptance and popularity, so he goes to his dad for advice. He asks if it would it be OK to do something you knew was wrong in exchange for popularity. Homer, in his ignorance, tells Bart, "Being popular is the most important thing in the world." For Bart to regain favor with the group, in his mind, he must cut the head off the statue of Jebediah Springfield. Of course, this action does not turn out like Bart expected, and he feels deep regret; instead of becoming more popular, he is shunned by the group and hated by the town.

Like Bart, all of us do things crazy things in pursuit of popularity. Anyone rushing a fraternity or sorority may know the lengths people will go to for acceptance. It may be something insignificant, like wearing a Speed-O at a social event, eating ridiculous amounts of food for entertainment and shock value, or something worse, involving illegal drugs and underage drinking. Here's Josh's first experience with peer pressure:

I know my first experience with alcohol was from peer pressure. I was 19 years old at a small party with a group a friends. While we all sat in my friend's Jacuzzi, I was offered a drink. I turned it down, like I had many times in the past. I always used the excuse that I didn't like the taste, but they had an answer: a Bartles & Jaymes wine cooler. I made it through all of my high school years without drinking a drop, but, of course, I made it through all of high school not being very popular, either. Now, I was in college and things were going to be different, so I gave in to the will of the group and drank up. From then on, I pretty much drank at every party. The drinks had to get harder and less "girly" (and tasted far worse), but hey, I had to fit in. 
As we've said before, you don't need us to tell you peer pressure is alive and well. Between online bullying and cliques becoming more prevalent in schools, kids all across the world are being pressured into conforming to an almost "mob-esque" mentality. Hell, there are entire companies built around peer pressure (read: Girls Gone Wild). With the rise of the internet, social media and reality television, a switch got flipped and now every drunk, loud, annoying degenerate in the country is vying for their own 15 minutes of fame (go watch any video on YouTube that doesn't involve cats). With this mentality, giving in to peer pressure in the pursuit of popularity isn't just encouraged, it almost seems as if it is expected. Take "Jersey Shore," for example: millions of viewers tune in to see is how obnoxious Snooki and Deena were at the bar this week. Behind the scenes, people on reality TV are encouraged by producers to drink more, sleep around more, and get into fights (whether they are staged or not), all in the name of entertainment and ratings.

Where do we, as a society, go from here? Peer pressure will never go away. It's written in our DNA to be part of groups, like social animals. As long as we crave acceptance to be in groups, to be popular, to be wanted, peer pressure will get the best of us every single time.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wednesday's Word

We fail at updating. It's just that going from no blog to something of substance is quite challenging! We wanted to get a few notes taken on other episodes before we jumped into another full-on blog post.

So today, we bring you Wednesday's Word (well, more like phrase): pulled a boner (season 1, episode 8: "The Telltale Head").

Wait, wait, hear us out, first...

We were a little puzzled by this phrase. You probably are, too. First of all, "The Simpsons" have been on the air since 1989, and words meant different things back then. As Homer and Bart are being chased by an angry Springfield mob, Homer reluctantly says, "you know son, I've pulled a few boners in my day." Here, this phrase means to commit a silly or foolish mistake. Yeah, that's what we thought.

Write-up #3 coming soon. Be sure to tell your friends.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tuesday's Trivia answer

Pardon our sluggishness, but we forgot to give you the answer to last week's trivia question! Sorry for the influx of posts, we're still trying to work our scheduling out.

The answer is: C) Albert Brooks. He was the first celebrity to guest voice on "The Simpsons," in season 1, episode 7 as Cowboy Bob the RV salesman.

It was certainly not his last appearance on the show, either!

Wednesday's Word

Today's word is: cuspidor (from Season 1, episode 2).

After Bart lies on his aptitude test and is declared a genius, Marge gets tickets for the opera, hoping it will foster his intelligence.

Bored out of his mind, he changes the lyrics in the musical "Carmen" to: "Toreador, oh, don't spit on the floor. Please use the cuspidor, that's what it's for!"

Turns out a cuspidor is a spitoon, or a pot used for spitting. Gross, but when you think about it, it is a much better location for spitting than the floor, so thanks, Bart!

Lesson #2: From "Homer's Odyssey" [S01, E03]

Lesson #2:  Our jobs are often our identity. Also, unemployment sucks.

"What do you do?"

So often in this life of ours, we are asked this seemingly simple question. Harmless, short, a great way to kick-start a conversation with strangers. For many of us, the answer is simple: "I work [insert job here]. I am [insert occupation here]. I do [this], I do [that]. This is who I am." Well folks, you don't need us to tell you that things aren't always what they seem.

In today's society, the jobs we take are not just places or professions we occupy from 9-5: they define us. They make and mold us. They can even become our everything.

In season 1, episode 3, "Homer's Odyssey," this is absolutely what we are told. And trust us, we know a little something about how this works from (recent) past experience.

Homer works at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant as a technical supervisor until an unfortunate screw-up, albeit his own gross incompetence, leaves him unemployed. He tries very hard to find a new job. We see door after door slammed in his face, and each missed opportunity leaves him a little more distraught. His old pal, Duff Beer, is there to temporarily fix his woes; at the bar, however, Homer is unable to pay for his drinks. Moe tells Homer he won't cover the tab because he doesn't think Homer will ever get another job. Defeated and broke, he lays around the house like a lump, day after day, sinking deeper into his depression. He becomes unresponsive and distant from his kids. It seems alcohol is the only way to fix his sadness; alas, he still finds himself unable to afford the delicious brew he loves, so much so that he steals Bart's piggy bank only to find a few measly cents. Homer is at rock bottom. He writes a suicide note to his beloved family, ties a huge boulder to a rope, picks it up, and begins marching to the nearest bridge. Homer is his job.

American society is in a rut, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out. As of today, California has an 11.9% unemployment rate, and it doesn't seem to be getting any better. In a time where so many people define themselves based on their profession, the high unemployment rates across the country have left many of us without an identity. Something as harmless as standing in line at the grocery store can become awkward reaaaally fast for someone who is unemployed. A common conversation starter, like "where do you work?," can become a conversation killer within nanoseconds. While this question was meant to be friendly or light in context, it quickly turned into an embarrassing situation for the unemployed grocery store patron. Seemingly trivial incidents like this may lead to a deflated sense of self-worth or deep depression, like in Homer's case.

Fortunately, Homer stumbles upon an idea that gives him a new sense of purpose: a much needed stop sign at a dangerous intersection. From there, he begins a crusade to make Springfield safer by adding speed bumps, traffic and warning signs, etc. Homer even goes as far as challenging his old employer to change their safety regulations. Seeing that his company might be thrown under the bus for being dangerous, Mr. Burns offers Homer a new position as "safety inspector" at the plant, with a raise. Homer's "movement" to get people to pay attention to safety eventually paid off for him in the end, and he was able to find something he was passionate about and turn it into a job.

What we took away from this episode is not just that it sucks to be unemployed (because IT DOES). In fact, it's much more than that. If you have a full-time job, you're spending over 2,000 hours each year doing it. In that respect, it's hard not to identify yourself by your profession. When you lose your job, it's more than just not having it, but also the baggage follows: being broke, being depressed, feeling worthless or feeling unable to provide for the ones you's losing a piece of who you are. We need to find a way to discover who we are outside of our professions. Define yourself first, then get a job that fits your definition of yourself.

PS: It has only been two weeks and we have already spawned many philosophical discussions and soul-searching within ourselves, not even related to "The Simpsons." This is going to be AWESOME. :)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

From all of us at Things We Learned From "The Simpsons," we hope you have a scary and safe Halloween!

We will be back tomorrow with a write-up and last week's trivia answer, plus a new fun-filled question!

Happy Haunting!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday's Word

For Wednesday's Word, we will be picking choice words and short phrases from "The Simpsons" we think are humorous, valuable, or just plain fun!

Today's word is: Boss.

Yes, like a boss.

The word was used in season 1, episode 1 in reference to Bart's tattoo. People have used this word in the past and still it today as a term to describe something awesome or totally cool, man!

This blog is boss, yo. :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Trivia Tuesday!

Hey, everyone!

We will be doing weekly installments of a few fun things, such as Trivia Tuesdays, Wednesday's Word, Fun Fact Fridays, etc. We've got big plans for this blog as it becomes a bit older, and hopefully we can keep up our momentum!

Today's trivia question is:

Who was the first guest actor/voice on "The Simpsons"?

A) Phil Hartman
B) James Earl Jones
C) Albert Brooks
D) Kelsey Grammer 

The correct answer will be revealed later on in the week, so take your guess in the comments section and keep checking back to see if you were right!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lesson #1: From "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" [S01, E01]

How exciting, our first (real) blog entry!

Lesson #1: Adults will lie about anything to keep people happy.

As children, many of us were taught that lying was wrong under any circumstance. Many parents tell their kids lying will make them a "bad person." Even the Bible states that lying is a sin and doing so would be breaking a commandment. Yet, somehow, the farther away from childhood we get, the more lying becomes acceptable and even necessary to get by in society.

Season 1, episode 1 provides many examples of our first life lesson. From the beginning of the episode, Homer and Marge lie to Bart and Lisa about the existence Santa Claus. We know, we know, many parents do this for their children to enhance the holiday and make it more fun for their kids. Bart, who is older than Lisa, already knows Santa is a myth; Lisa, however, still believes that Santa will bring her a pony, which has been a request for three years in a row, causing Marge to tell her to "take a hint." Marge lies to Lisa again, saying the pony "won't fit in Santa's sleigh," even though they really just can't afford to buy a pony, let alone house and care for the animal. Parents tell a small, fun lie in the beginning of their children's lives to further a holiday tradition, but might not realize how big or messy the lie could get. The majority of the children find out the truth from someone other than their parents, be it self-discovery (waking up to find out their parents are putting presents under the tree), a school friend (thank a lot, Gosselin children!), the media/internet, etc. Even though it might seem petty, learning Santa Claus wasn't real was devastating, for me at least. I realized my parents were Santa Claus when I compared the handwriting on two gifts. Insert crying-for-days here.

After Marge is forced to spend the family's savings removing Bart's tattoo and Homer learns the unfortunate truth about not receiving his Christmas bonus, Homer chooses to deceive to his family about their financial status to keep spirits high and happy, instead of telling them the more painful reality. Forced to take a second job, Homer's mountain of deception keeps getting bigger. Many of us, especially in a downward economy with high unemployment rates, know how easy it is to pad a resume or expand upon the truth in job interviews. We learn, as applicants, that we are often forced to tell interviewers what they want to hear as opposed to what we really think. Homer is no different. In an interview to become a mall Santa, he fibs about liking children in order to procure a position. Even this job involves telling lies! Homer is instructed to tell any child questioning his authenticity that Santa is a very busy person and he is simply "one of Santa's helpers."

Many of today's lies seem to come from the desire to to keep up positive appearances. In the beginning, Homer doesn't tell anyone else about even having the second job, which makes him fabricate his whereabouts all of the time. When he returns home from work, he bites his tongue and goes out of his way to make Marge's sisters feel welcome, complimenting them even when they are rude and snarky. We know this is probably true for many people who don't get along with their in-laws; people act cordial to one another even though, secretly, they feel like heads should roll...but, back to the point. Since Homer can't even afford a Christmas tree, he goes to someone's private residence, cuts one down, and steals it in the middle of the night to save face in front of his family. When Bart comes to see the mall Santa and realizes it is his father, Homer then forces Bart to keep his secret, bringing his child into his web of lies.

Bottom line? People lie. Adults lie to their kids, kids fib to their parents, people tell white lies and untruths in job interviews, family members deceive one another, all in the name of preserving dignity and, often, with good intentions in mind. "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" shows us that, while his life is seeming spinning out of control, Homer does everything he can to keep his family content on believing that Christmas is still within their grasp, even if it means putting up a front to do so.

Everything We Needed to Learn in Life, We Learned from "The Simpsons"

Have you ever been watching "Jeopardy!" on a warm summer's night and gotten a correct answer to a subject you had no idea you knew anything about?


Well, we have. Several times. Alex Trebek would be impressed by how much we know about random nothings.

In fact, it happens a lot more than you'd think...

After a little bit of time, we realized that many of the random facts we know we had actually learned from (and you've probably already guessed it from the title): the fabulous, witty, and long-running show, "The Simpsons."

Here's where we come in.

My name is Lauren, and my husband and cohort-in-blog is Josh. We live in San Diego, and we love "The Simpsons." When it started, I was only 3, but Josh was 10. My, how time flies. This show has basically taught us everything we ever needed to know about life, love, the pursuit of happiness, and, well, beer. We love it so much, in fact, that we started devoting all of our spare time (and thanks to the terrible economy and unemployment rate, we have lots of it!) to compiling a comprehensive list about the life lessons and facts we learned from the show.

Since we think the questions writers from "Jeopardy!" may have the same philosophy as we do, we decided to put it in blog form, so others could enjoy and share any valuable (or invaluable, take your pick!) lessons, trivia, or facts we learned from this timeless show.

Let the fun begin!