Monday, December 28, 2009


I'm not familiar enough with the iconography of Homer Simpson to know exactly what each of the three Homer poses on my new sleeping pants might mean. One looks like he's dreaming of doughnuts, another has him posed arms akimbo, and the third has him doing a monkey dance, maybe. Also written on the pants: I AM SO SMRT. Which turns out to be a Homer quote, more or less.

The Homer pants were one of my Christmas gifts this year, one I'm glad to wear when unconscious on these long winter nights. It also reminds me that the 20th anniversary of The Simpsons premiere passed not long ago. Whatever I was doing on December 17, 1989, it didn't involve wasn't watching Fox. A few months later, I left the country without ever hearing of the show.

During the summer of 1990 in Osaka, I sometimes hung out with two Kiwis and a Californian, and one evening we visited a Frenchman we knew at his flat somewhere in the city. He had a VHS tape with an episode of The Simpsons on it. By this time I think we'd all heard of the show, so we watched it. Our little multicultural audience, even the Frenchman (whose English was well developed), enjoyed it immensely. Fittingly, the episode was "The Crepes of Wrath," in which Bart is sent to France in exchange for an Albanian student.

We knew it was something different from the usual run of cartoons. How could it not be, with dialogue like this, when Principal Skinner tells Homer and Marge that he's all too eager to get rid of Bart for a while by sending him to France:

Homer: Wait a minute, Skinner! How do we know some French principal over there isn't playing the same stunt you are?

Principal Skinner: Well, for one thing you wouldn't be getting a French boy. You'd be getting an Albanian.

Homer: You mean all-white with pink eyes?

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