You will never change the faith of another by labeling their faith as stupid, you will only entrench them deeper in their beliefs.
I’ve had feelings, or sensations of dread whenever I’d be confronted with a fatty cut of meat for the last couple of months. I felt in my core that a dark time was coming, heralded by a malevolent being who would rain down fire and ennui from his teats. This creature would reek of barbecue and gristle, with outstretched arms and a disconcerting, tight-lipped smile that didn’t mask his grotesque desire to consume the world entire. After months I thought I had uncovered who would be the herald of this evil time.
And then Ted Cruz suspended his presidential campaign and I went back to the drawing board.
More accurately, I celebrated with a bottle of sake and some raw oysters. One less person to challenge the obvious Simpson/Hemstead candidacy. But when I went to sleep I had a dream. A dream of that same sensation of dread. In that dream I saw in the smokey, barbecue teat-fire a face. It was the face of this herald of doom, a long and oddly snouted face for a biped.
And he whispered to me.
“I love you.”
“We’ve only just met,” I said in return, in as demure a voice as I could muster when confronted by such a beast.
The beast mistook my tone for coquettishness, “Soon you will know me, my love. Soon you will all know me.”
I was taken back, and even slightly off-put that the herald of doom was so quick to reveal his polyamory. “Who are ‘you all’?”
Was I jealous? Of the beast that had been tormenting me for months? I didn’t have time to think through my emotional state, for the beast bear down on me with his wide-set and oddly vapid feeling eyes that glowed red like the forge of Hephaestus.
He narrowed those eyes at me and said, “Every beating heart will soon beat for me.”
I was taken back. One, that’s just scary. Two, it’s a helluva great pickup line for a swingers convention.
I stammered my response, “Wh-who are you?”
The beast chewed at something emptily in his mouth and then hissed his response.
No, not hissed. Something else. Something more guttural.
“I am Moocifer, and I am nigh.”
I woke up already sitting up in bed, called the ScienceWerks and described the creature I saw.
You will never change the faith of another by labeling their faith as stupid, you will only entrench them deeper in their beliefs.
Well we clearly didn’t win the recount for President. We even lost to Rosanne Barr which is it’s own kind of new confusing defeat. We even had Jim go through a life-threatening stroke (more updates on his recovery coming, the road is long and slow but fruitful) So now instead of racing to get another updated campaign sticker out the door, we’re switching gears.
Simpson/Hemstead would like to announce it’s candidacy for Pope. We see there is a vacancy coming up and we think that maybe we would be a nice fit for the Catholic church. You see, neither of us are Catholics, and we think that might be JUST what the church needs to carry it proudly into the new century; which we’ve just been informed started 13 years ago.
We’re not sure how popes are chosen, but we would like the College of Cardinals to know that we are available to start poping as soon as needed. I wear an XXL hat, so make sure that awesome napkin hat that popes wear has been let out some.
Really? “Poping” is not a word?
This is the first thing we’re changing when we start poping.
If a tornado is an act of God, and God’s plan cannot be known by man; then why would one pray to God for the safety of friends facing a tornado warning?
The Simpson/Hemstead Minister of Faith has just informed us that today is Ash Wednesday. Since we are devout followers of JesuAllaFasa and Hiz prime directive is “no day shall be lifted above the others in word or action so that the other days don’t feel less special” we weren’t exactly sure what that meant. So we got the ScienceWerks a palette of Four Loko (the good kind before the ban), and set them about uncovering the history of Ash Wednesday.
What they came back with was a 400 page explanation that used a lot of very big words characters we simply couldn’t latch on to without visuals, so the ScienceWerks put together this graphic for us.
So Simpson/Hemstead salutes you, Bruce Campbell for your contribution to film, history, and the human experience. And good for you, Catholicism for realizing the value of a damned fine character actor.
Now who do we talk to about Clint Thursday?
I was going to post something about the death of the large format film camera, and something about Quaddafi, but then I saw this and my brain needs a little bit of time to reboot.
My nerd region is so happy, but my good taste lobe is in exquisite, tortuous pain.
I need to sit down.
Well folks it’s true, Simpson/Hemstead has found its way into Pottermore! For those of you who don’t know, Pottermore is the online experience from J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books. If you who don’t know what a Harry Potter is, you probably have just arrived here from the 19th century by way of a time/space anomaly. And we do commend you for being clever enough to not only learn how to use a computer, but possibly teach yourself english and find your way to this website. Welcome to the future!
But before you go along thinking “Harry Potter” is slang for a woman’s doo-dad, let me explain what the phenomenon of Harry Potter is so you can understand what’s coming next:
Harry Potter is a series of books about three awkward 12 year old kids who go to a really exclusive private school for wizards called Hogwarts that many believe to be located in Scotland. These kids are consistently NOT ONLY left unsupervised, but often times put into harm’s way INTENTIONALLY by the staff of the school, with predictably tragic results. Also it would appear that one of the pre-requisites for graduation is the murder of at least one of your classmates or instructors in a “winner takes all” pass or fail final exam against the school’s biggest bully. Not just YOUR class’s biggest bully, but the biggest effing bully the school has ever seen, who kinda hates you and your whole family for trying to kill him.
These wildly successful books about wizardry, witchcraft, and really spotty supervision begat wildly successful films about wizardry, witchcraft, really spotty supervision. The films themselves created an almost epidemic level of “when will he/she be 18 so I can stop being confused by my thoughts” throughout 20/30 somethings, but that’s another post.
And so now the highly successful book series about consistently endangered magically-inclined youths that spawned a highly successful film series about consistently endangered, magically-inclined youths has spawned Pottermore,* the highly successful web experience that recounts the adventures of consistently endangered, magically-inclined youths; all the while allowing the reader/watcher to become part of the experience.
The general overall experience of it is entertaining, if not a little unintuitive for the beginner. The first book (all that is unlocked at the time of writing), is presented as chapters along the ornate vines on a golden gate. Chapters for all the books are found woven into this gate, and it becomes the launching point for your adventures through the books. The player, or student, relives important details from each of the tomes told through multi-planed digital paintings rife with clickable content and collectable items. These are things you will ultimately need during your tenure at Hogwarts. Things like galleons for purchasing items in Diagon Alley or ingredients for potions, or chocolate frog cards. Each chapter also contains excerpts from the book, as well as some original “behind the scenes” content such as J.K. Rowling’s character sketches, interviews, and occasionally video messages from the blonde creator herself.
Outside of touring the books, the player/student can also learn and make potions for points toward their house (this idea of houses will be discussed later), as well as learn spells to duel other player/students. Although at the time of this writing that function has never worked and has been down for maintenance. It is a beta release after all.
And that, in a rather large nutshell is the basic idea behind Pottermore, so now let’s get into the cool stuff.
Part of the experience of Harry’s first day at Hogwarts, and chapter seven in Pottermore, is the sorting hat. In the books, the sorting hat judges the character of a young wizard on their first day at Hogwarts School of the Possibly Criminally Insane and Infinitely Powerful, and puts them into one of four houses; Gryffindor (the brave), Ravenclaw (the nerdy/smart), or Slytherin (the cunning/devious), and Hufflepuff (the emotional core). These are somewhat like fraternities or sororities, or fraterorities since they’re mixed company. I think it’s in place to help introduce the Future Sociopaths of Great Britain with a friendly way to compete, hate, and be afraid of one another while being taught God-like powers*citation needed. Picture Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, but where Captain Picard holds gladiator games with the students on Thursday nights.
In Pottermore, the experience of the sorting hat is a series of questions written by J.K. Rowling herself, run through an algorithm that I believe assigns a point value to each answer, and subsequent questions are asked based upon the values tallied in different categories (but I am just guessing, I have no idea.) Simpson/Hemstead ran through this process and it’s pretty well done, leaving very little room to attempt to fix the results (we didn’t try, we wanted to see where we fit into Rowling’s universe honestly), and asking some fun and thought provoking personality questions to boot.
The interesting thing that has come out of this is that there are many people, male and female, mostly around high school/college age, who are going through severe identity crisis over their house placement by J.K. Rowling. At first I thought it was kinda funny, the way that people who started support groups after Avatar came out to help them get through the idea that they can’t actually go to Pandora are funny. But then I started talking with people, people who have lived with Harry Potter since 1998 and grew up into adulthood with Harry Potter as their contemporary. I came to the realization that in many cases the first culturally significant role-model of their lives who is still AS relevant 15 years later. I don’t have something from my childhood to compare that to.
I had Star Wars. It was groundbreaking. It created a new mythology and new characters that fueled imagination like nothing in it’s decade. But I didn’t grow up with Luke Skywalker as a contemporary. He was older than me. He lived a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. I had no means of travel to get to where he was, no TARDIS, Time Machine, or Transwarp spaceship to be found.
My generation could only WISH. Also, we only had 3 movies, spread over 7 years to contend with. Well, that and a shit-ton of marketing, toys, a weird Christmas special, a bitchin’ Muppet Show episode, and some non-canonical books.
We had no internet. We had no books that became movies. We didn’t have interactive gaming, and easy to access fan fiction. It was just those three movies, our toys and our imaginations; and for most of us probably countless futile hours straining to roll a Matchbox car or turn the page of a book with gnarled, white-knuckled fingers tensed against our outstretched arms.
In stark contrast, the Harry Potter universe is set in a world that could very easily be our own, and indeed happening as we speak. Any muggle-born child with an aptitude for magic could find themselves standing on platform 9 and 3/4 at King’s Cross Station sometime around 10:45 in the morning waiting for a very special train.
Beyond that, the Potter generation has had, since 1997 the following: 7 books, 8 movies, 10 videogames, internet forums, fan fiction, tumblr, fan art, facebook groups, myspace groups, fan films, toys, clothing, and now an interactive immersive web experience. This is a generation that has grown up, part and parcel with Harry Potter as a constant participant in their lives, as an external entity constantly rife with fresh input in some manner rather than the imagination of childhood playtime. Although I imagine every kid who saw an owl in the woods, barn or even a zoo hoped and prayed it would fly right to them carrying a letter in his talons…
To illustrate the bombardment, here is a list of release dates for the Harry Potter franchise in the US (the first two books released a year earlier in the UK)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 1 September 1998
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on 2 June 1999.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 8 September 1999.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on 8 July 2000
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 21 June 2003.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 16 July 2005,
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 21 July 2007.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 14 November 2001.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, 15 November 2002.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, 4 June 2004.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 18 November 2005.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. July 2007
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 15 July 2009.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 19 November 2010
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 15 July 2011
That is an astounding assault of input! Look at those numbers: from 1998 to 2011, that’s 14 years, there have only been 3 years WITHOUT a new Harry Potter intellectual property released from the creator of that universe. 11 out of 14 years! For many in the Potter generation, that’s 50% of their lives, the same as kindergarten through middle school.
Harry Potter is a friend. Dumbledore a mentor, Hagrid a weird uncle that you only see on holidays and who always is the most fun to be around, and Tom Riddle is that kid in class that scares the shit out of you who seems to hate you for some reason. You’ve imagined yourself having a feathered messenger drop out of the sky with an acceptance letter. You’ve fantasized about standing before the Sorting Hat and being placed in Gryffindor (the brave), Ravenclaw (the nerdy/smart), or Slytherin (the cunning/devious). Just please God not Hufflepuff (the emotional core). You knew where your loyalties lay, and you knew, without a doubt, where the hat would place you.
In Pottermore, you get closer to that dream of your childhood. You got a digital letter delivered by a painted owl. You went to King’s Crossing Station. You stood on platform 9 and 3/4. You walked through the shops in Diagon Alley. Your wand chose you. And then, you answered the questions J.K. wrote herself. You were sorted…
…into a different house.
How could this be? The creator of the world that has been a part of your life since early childhood told you that you were someone different in her world than you had always imagined. Maybe you always felt like the hero and were sorted into Slytherin, or maybe you always thought you were the brain and you were sorted into the dreaded Hufflepuff. It didn’t make sense. Was it a feeling of confusion? Betrayal? Gassy rage?
Where did the feeling come from?
I’ve been asking a number of people this question, both from the Potter generation and from the Skywalker generation to get opinions. I tried asking the baby boomers but they’re too concerned with making sure Social Security doesn’t collapse they had no time for it, and the Great Generation just says, “are you f@cking kidding me?” From both the Potter and the Skywalker generations, these are the most likely culprits:
What are your thoughts? I’m really very interested to hear your experiences, good and bad with the sorting hat. The phenomenon is unlike anything we have ever as a culture been presented with, and Simpson/Hemstead is very interested to understand it from the point of view of those who have gone through the process.
Please comment below, please forward to others, and leave your house assignment and screen name as well if you’d like.
Oh, and for those who are curious, we are Simpson/Hemstead. We are Slytherin.* And we are called GoldVine100.
*Yes, that’s the house we thought we’d get in.
NewSouth Books publishing is releasing a controversial printing of Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “Tom Sawyer”as many of you know, and many of you have been asking about Simpson/Hemstead’s stance on this controversy.
For those of you unaware of what makes this printing controversial, it comes down to primarily two words that Twain used in his original publishing that many Americans find insensitive now-a-days. The first word is the name of one of the characters, “Injun Joe.” Apparently “Injun” is heap no-goodum in today’s society and we need to be more racially aware, so the publisher is changing the name to “Indian Joe.” Ahh, don’t we all feel less oppressed by a 125 year old book that was written as a scathing look at southern racism?
The other word is I’ve been told, the most offensive word ever to be created. It starts with an “N” and ends with an “R” and has a spattering of repetitious consonants and common vowels in between. That word is so thoroughly reviled that journalists are afraid to use it when commenting on the subject of racism. It carries the same media charge and fear as printing an image of Muhammad did in 2010, but not before 2005.* Weird.
That word is of course, nibbler.
Goddamn you so much censorship. Really, I can’t even write the word? Seriously? I can’t even write the word for fear of appearing racist. It’s the name of one of the Goddamned characters. Really? Are you kidding me?
So anyway, Nibbler Jim is a character in this book that is a scathing look at southern racism from the point of view of a boy who befriends a black man in the time of slavery.
These changes were made to reflect teacher’s concerns, primarily in Alabama, that students found the word “Nibbler” off-putting, and in turn, this great work of American Literature was going unread in schools. That’s a problem…
But what does Simpson/Hemstead think of changing history for the sake of smoothing out the emotions of our progeny?
WE ARE ALL FOR IT!!!!
Why make our kids think in abstracts? Why make them confront the dark pockets of U.S. and World history if they find it emotionally challenging to do so? We should, as a nation, sculpt history, art, religion and the natural world into whatever we find the most physically, intellectually and emotionally pleasing! There is absolutely nothing wrong with updating history to reflect current sensibilities.
In fact, Simpson/Hemstead will start the initiative by creating the Office of Historical White Washing. Let’s take a look through history and see if we can’t make a few of history’s undigestibles more digestible.
Religion is a hot button topic with a lot of people, many fearing that religions other than their own create an unsavory environment in which to raise their children. Especially a religion like Christianity, which has been responsible for a lot of plundering and violence against indigenous people on this continent… They might see the book of Genesis as a bit rough…
But what if we replaced every instance of “God” with “Peter Gabriel.”
Every instance of “Adam” with “Phil Collins.”
And every instance of “Eve” with “Mike Rutherford” because a bitch playing bass is pretty rad.
Why, suddenly the book of Genesis doesn’t offend anyone, as it’s just a rock doc.
If we’re going after Mark Twain, who is a champion of freedom and equality, then I can imagine some more controversial authors should probably be censored as well. I mean, who really wants to read this book by the king of creepy uncles? A man responsible for the death of more than 12 million people.
Adolph Fucking Hitler. It’s not a good book, I’ve read it. It’s not good, but it’s an important book. It’s a window into the mind of a man who would lead one of the most fearsome revolutions against freedom in the history of the industrialized world. But some people think Nazis and it makes them uncomfortable, and sure, I get that what with the whole genocide thing.
But what could make an Adolph Hitler book more palatable to the American sensibility?
J.K. Rowling. The British Queen of American Literature. Sure she has the grammatical sensibilities of a web blogger, but people eat this shit alive. We take Hitler out of the book and change every reference of Jews to “Muggles.” Problem solved.
Social protest is a bitch. It’s an uprising of the people against the government. Unless it’s East Germany or North Korea, Americans can’t really handle it. It’s not their thing. And Peter Gabriel forbid we should ever have to roll up our sleeves and dig elbow deep in the social protest of the Vietnam War. American college students experiencing the Timothy Leary vibe, connected to a war in what felt like real time through television for the first time in history, shit got real. And it got very real.
Kent State massacre. Man. This is rough. Nervous National Guardsman opening fire on protesting students at Kent State University. Horrible tragedy, and it didn’t do shit for the government image as baby-killers and unfeeling thugs.
Well, this won’t do. We gotta clean this up. We can’t have government portrayed this way, and man, dead college kids and crying college kids just really bums out today’s delicate hipster snowflakes. So let’s take away the bummer parts.
National Guardsman give ungrateful hippies free ice cream in a desperate attempt to calm and disrupt a heavy, misinformed trip. See? We don’t have to get rid of Vietnam, protest, or any of that, we just tweak a couple little unsettling things… Problem solved.
As long as we’re on the subject of Vietnam, it pretty much sucked. And you wanna know what sucked the most about it? A guerilla enemy who dressed and mingled with the civilians. Made them hard to find. REAL hard to find. Sometimes innocence got caught in the crossfire. Sometimes innocence got caught in the crossfire of napalm. One photo encapsulates that horror for my generation, and history up until now:
Naked burning children running away from a burning village while soldiers casually follow behind. There’s a certain “taken out of context” vibe to this photo, but the imagery of that little naked girl running down the street crying can give a person nightmares. I mean, I’m sure everyone in this picture had serious nightmares for years, but it gives people who have never seen a dead body up into their 20’s nightmares. Well, that’s gotta have something to do with burning naked children. I can’t think of any other reason. But what if we replaced “naked children” with “sale on capri pants” and “napalm inferno of Hell” with “Snuffleupagus”?
Ahh, doesn’t your history feel so much more digestible now?
On second thought… no. Hell no. The minute it becomes okay to modify a word of art or history is the minute history becomes meaningless, and art becomes wasted. Everything I mentioned above happened. It’s ugly, but it happened. The same applies to the history of blacks and native americans in this country. There were some dark times. We are all the children of those times. Mark Twain was a brilliant, progressive thinking man. To modify his critical social commentary even by one word is to modify the plea he is making in his parables about equality of man. To take out this word, “nibbler” because it offends some people doesn’t point out progression toward racial sensitivity, it celebrates emotional immaturity in the face of empathetic thought. Pandering to immaturity will NEVER garner a harvest of maturity. It will validate continued immaturity at the price of progress. We will give future revisionists a precedent upon which to brutalize history further for their own intentions.
Our children live in an age of entitlement. We shield them from death, sex, profanity and competition at every turn in a misguided attempt to “protect” them. From life. What we leave behind are inept, fragile, and self-important husks of people increasingly dependent on a system to continue protecting them. We give kids trophies just for showing up now. shame on us all.
And shame on us for attempting to modify literature, history, and art to pander to these crippled and fragile souls. Mark Twain wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to teach us a lesson about loving each other. He named a character “Nigger Jim” because nigger was a word that, like today, was painful to hear and challenged the reader to face some important social issues in post-civil war America. And it should be hard to hear and it should not be used lightly. Ever. (I’m looking at you, Gangsta Rap) But it shouldn’t be ignored, replaced, or glossed over either. Don’t further cripple our children intellectually by removing the challenge presented by Nigger Jim. And don’t destroy literature, art or history for fleeting social guilt. To alter the wording is tantamount to book burning, it’s destroying the intention of the written word, and posthumously emasculating the artist.
Oh, and while we’re on the subject, “Injun Joe”? Indian Joe is supposed to be racially sensitive? Go point to India on a map, assholes, then point to the Mississippi River. Notice a problem with your logic?
*look it up kids. Images of Mohammed were routinely published (often respectfully, sometimes SouthParkedfully) in the media before 2005.
Apparently the lord of some of you out there, Jesus Christ decided that he’d been a baaaad, baaad boy and reached his sparkly vampire finger out of the heavens to smite himself deep in the heart of Ohio, in the visage of a statue affectionately known as “Touchdown Jesus.”
The Simpson/Hemstead theological strategists have been burning the early morning oil (not to be confused with a lower gastro-intestinal disorder I had last year) since the call came in to reason out why Jesus would become the omnipotent version of a “cutter” and this was the short list of reasons:
These all seem viable to us, but another article in the news around the same time peaked our interest. It showed this photo:
That’s right. The Bieberdashian is merging. Slowly but surely, the Bieberdashian will form an unholy Voltron of suck. And Jesus didn’t stop it when he had the time.
Ladies and gentlemen, JESUS HATES JUSTIN BIEBER.