Can we talk about this Simpsons gag from 20 years ago?

The scene above is from the “Last Exit to Springfield” episode of The Simpsons, in which Homer becomes head of his union and negotiates a new contract with Mr. Burns on sheer strength of idiocy. Dorks will remember it as episode 9F15 of season four, which my college roommates and I remember as the Era of Big Pupils. This model style roughly coincides with Conan O’Brien’s tenure on the show and, probably not by coincidence, some of its most surreal gags. For example: On a tour of his mansion, Mr. Burns shows Homer a thousand monkeys typing on a thousand typewriters, who will soon produce “the greatest novel known to mankind.” He checks one monkey’s progress. “‘It was the best of times,” he reads, “it was the blurst of times?’ You stupid monkey!” That was your last chance to enjoy this joke, because I’d like to talk about why it’s so funny.

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Read “The Stench of Honolulu” by Jack Handey

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You probably know Jack Handey from the “Deep Thoughts” series of sketches on Saturday Night Live, which, along with PJ O’Rourke and Carolyn Jacobson, were probably the most significant influences on my writing before age 21. If you don’t think Deep Thoughts is funny, you can safely disregard the rest of this post. You and I will meet at Grown-Ups 3 someday, each of us wiping away a type of tear. Everyone else can read this excellent profile of Handey in the New York Times, in which we learn that A) he is in fact a real person who used to live next door to Steve Martin, and B) he has recently published The Stench of Honolulu, a comic adventure novel. I bought that novel and read it last week, and it is very funny. Excerpt after the jump.

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Glenn Beck writes book of “faction”

We’re fucked, you guys. Glenn Beck is a genius, and there’s no way to undo him now. Like Ozymandius before him, Beck has moved from crusader to architect of worlds. The conspiracy-oriented, anti-progressive television host has written a conspiracy-oriented, anti-progressive thriller called The Overton Window, which he describes as a work of “faction”—”completely fictional books with plots rooted in fact.” Exactly how faction differs from realism is not explained, although if early reviews are any indication, it has something to do with motivations, emotions and dialogue. I haven’t read The Overton Window yet—and I’m not sure whether my schadenfreude receptors can handle doing it—so I’m going to stick to what’s known: Glenn Beck has written a novel about a progressive conspiracy that attempts to install a one-world government by unfairly demonizing a grassroots patriotic organization called “The Founders Keepers.”

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