The Missing Nuances of TSTO –vs- The Simpsons and Real Life

So…let’s just go with the fact that a lot of you don’t watch the Simpsons. You may have at one point, or perhaps can’t see it in real time where you live (outside of the United States), or simply came to TSTO because you love games and gaming.  And, let’s also be clear that while Wookie and others may see it as “the Best Show Ever,” it doesn’t always hit on all cylinders (like last week’s episode…argh).

However, as a life-long Simpson’s fan, I loved, and continue to love the show because it is so much more than just a bunch of gags, or “Eat My Shorts” set-ups.  It is a show with pathos, and true love between a family that is really no more dysfunctional than most average modern families.

This is a point that is often lost in the game of TSTO, simply because the dialogue is oftentimes not remotely derivative from the script of the actual show that the update was “based upon.”

Case in point… the “Rommelwood Academy” update, in  comparison to the episode on which it is supposedly based, “The Secret War of Lisa Simpson” (S8E25).

This is one time that TSTO really missed the mark.

Let’s look at the WIKI recap…(my comments in BOLD)

After a day watching mind-numbing videos in class (like “The story of Sand”), Lisa becomes concerned that her education is not challenging enough.

Meanwhile, Bart’s class goes on a field trip to the Springfield Police Department (including a hilarious visit to the Police Museum of Crime where we see a re-creation Hippie Couple high on dope),

Where Bart finds a room with several megaphones. After placing them end to end and increasing their amplification, he inadvertently creates a sonic shockwave that shatters all the glass in Springfield. Chief Wiggum suggests sending Bart to military school to correct his behavior. When the family visits the school, Lisa is impressed by the challenging curriculum and decides to attend with Bart.

Lisa stirs discontent among the students, as she is the first female student and gets her own barracks (Hear that North Carolina???). She and Bart are subjected to hazing; Bart is eventually accepted and distances himself from his sister. Lonely, Lisa considers going home, but decides to see it through. As the school year comes to a close, the Commandant reveals the final test for the students: the “Eliminator”, a hand-over-hand crawl across a rope suspended high above thorn bushes. Lisa fears she will not be able to complete the task, but Bart helps her train in secret (once again, proving that family comes first).

On the day of the test, Lisa is the last to cross the Eliminator. She is about to fall and the students jeer, but Bart cheers her on and she makes it across safely. The other students vow to make the rest of the semester a living hell for him, but realize they graduate in three hours. The Commandant awards Lisa a special medal “For Satisfactory Completion of the Second Grade”.

And in another case of The Simpsons prognosticating the future; wars being fought with Drones, I offer this piece of dialogue from the Commandant, giving his graduation speech.

The wars of the future will not be fought on a battlefield or at sea.
They will be fought in space. Or possibly on top of a very tall mountain.
In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots.
And as you go forth today, remember always your duty is clear- To build and maintain those robots.
Thank you.

Real Life Imitates Art

As a big brother to three sisters, this episode hit me with one of those weird “buried memories” that snap into your cerebral cortex without warning,  when something random triggers it. It happens often when you get old(er). I have a lot of snaps these days…

I was in 6th grade, and as a member of the “Sacramento Grade School All Star Baseball Team” (actually in Parkrose, Oregon…not Sacramento) we were “honored” with being chosen as umpires for the intramural games with the lower grades.  As it turns out, my sister Jane was not the greatest athlete, and was prone to injury from almost any random attempt at any sport that had a ball associated with it.

She was concerned as a 4th grader, who was forced to play on the team as part of her P.E. class, that she was going to “look stupid” when she tried to hit a softball. As anyone knows, “looking stupid” to a young girl, is far worse than “being stupid,” as most girls are particularly catty about those who are natural leaders, and good students, as was my sister.

So…for a full two weeks, after school, but before my baseball practices, I would meet her on the softball field, and pitch to her, helping her to know when to swing, and when to wait, if a pitch was out of the strike zone.  After several days of drilling, she had learned how to make contact, but even more important…how to wait out the pitcher and draw a walk…which in most cases was a small victory for her.

When the playoffs commenced, she ended up have a respectable “on base average,” and we were both content with our efforts…until the 4th grade championship game.

In the final game…with her team behind by just one run, with their final at bats…Jane found herself in the unenviable position of being up to bat, with two outs…and the bases loaded. I wish I was making this up…but it is all true.

As the umpire of a grade school softball game, we stood behind the pitcher, so we could also call the plays on the bases. So, I had a “player’s view” of what transpired next.

On the first two pitches, Jane stood without moving. One was well outside…one in the dirt. The next two pitches, the pitcher found the strike zone, with Jane taking a called strike on one pitch, and swinging but hitting a foul ball on the next.

The crowd started jeering from the sidelines…half yelling at her to swing, the others begging her to wait out the pitch.  The pitcher missed way wide on the fifth pitch, and I actually started to get the feeling that she may in fact be the hero of the game, by simply drawing a walk, and forcing in the tying run.

But, as the final, full count,  pitch arched into destiny, time slowed down in a way that was simply cruel to both siblings.  As the pitch began to come down from its arc, it was clear to the pitcher, the umpire, and most likely the batter, that it was a perfect strike, the kind of pitch that almost anyone can hit...if they swing.

Jane froze.

As the ball hit the catcher’s glove…I heard myself call out, in as commanding a voice as I could muster, through what was an almost instant lump in my throat, “STRIKE THREE!!”

I remember making eye contact with my horrified little sister. Then walking off of the diamond, and then breaking into a run, not stopping until I reached the bathroom…where I wept openly for a full ten minutes.

Jane, to her credit, after I came out of the bathroom, where a number of my friends were hovering by the door, said just one sentence when she saw my tear-stained face…”It was a strike…I should have swung.”

I never loved her more than I did at that moment…or felt as lousy as a brother. It wouldn’t have mattered, because her team may still not have won the game…and I could have saved us both from the gut-wrenching feeling of betrayal I felt…and perhaps still feel.

So, when Bart took the bullying for doing the right thing…I felt envious.

TSTO is a silly game.  The Simpsons is far closer to real life.  And sometimes, life teaches us lessons that we never forget.

Jane is an amazing person, who spent her years as a teacher, and principal. She is now deservedly living in retirement, on a substantial state Pension. I just saw a bunch of pictures on Facebook, with she and her also retired-teacher husband, skin-diving on the reefs in Grand Turk, off of the Bahamas.

I’ll be working until I croak…

Which one of us really struck out??

I will now go back to my life…writing blog posts about a mobile app game… SAD!

Phew. Got that one off of my chest. And yes…I will be sharing this with my sister, so she can gloat. LOL!

Do you have any stories of sibling loyalty (or regret)?  Let us know. We LOVE to hear from you!

20 responses to “The Missing Nuances of TSTO –vs- The Simpsons and Real Life

  1. I was an only child, but I always admired that bond siblings had. Now with three of my own, I never worry about how much they squabble (oh my goodness…….so much!), as long as I see those moments. The flash of complete “I’m going to kill him” rage when someone has hurt one of their siblings or the older brother who nearly broke his leg racing over to check on his sister when she had a bad fall at school and was crying (and raced over like that in full view of all his sixth grade friends no less!!)….or even when they comfort each other after I lose my sh$t at them for misbehaving… Yep, as long as I see those moments, I know I’ve given my kids family and best friends for life.

    • Absolutely. I’ve got 3 sisters..and even now we still fight like you wouldn’t believe when we’re all together, but they’re my best friends in the world. I’d do anything for them (and their kids) and vice versa. Even push someone down a hill lol

  2. Sounds like you’re a great brother, coach! Just like Bart was in that episode, an episode that I think is often overlooked. I really enjoyed your story. You did the right thing, and I understand why you felt love for your sister in that moment when she admitted she should’ve swung: she saw in your face how hard it was for you to do the right thing at the expense of her being a hero, but more important than being a hero, she was proud of you for doing the right thing. In that moment, you were HER hero. I think then and there she felt more thrilled than if she’d walked in the tying run or driven in the winning run… because she was proud of her brother for doing the right thing for everyone, not just for her, but for everyone who was competing their hearts out in front of their own families and loved ones.

  3. Love it! Siblings should always look out for each other, but, if it’s a strike, you have to call it! I’m the youngest of 3; the only girl. My big brothers are 3 & 4 years older. We had a lot of comraderee as kids. I was usually being the one told what to do and say (or not say). We’ve had our times where we came together and made our stories and all stuck together. There were also times they kicked my butt and, I probably deserved it but, no matter what, we’ve always been there for each other. A quick story: when I was like 7, my brothers got 10 speed bikes from grandma. I was jealous and wanted to ride a 10 speed. My brother let me ride his, from the top of a hill, the road is actually called Hilltop Rd. I didn’t know how to work the brakes so, when I started down the hill and couldn’t stop, my brother ran after me and pushed me over into the grass. That’s a good brother!

  4. Thanks for the sweet story! My older brother and I have the same age difference as Bart and Lisa, and we had a pretty normal tormet-but-protect brother-sister relationship. So I love the episodes like this where Bart and Lisa are good to each other after they’ve been fighting (“Lisa on Ice” and “Summer of 4 ft 2” are also good examples of this). Seasons 7 and 8 of the Simpsons were new on TV when I was in middle school, and someone who felt sort of lost and out of place, Lisa was basically my soulmate. I love the episodes from those seasons where she gets to prove herself and stand out 🙂

  5. Way to go….u made me cry. If we have siblings….we all have some kind of memory that your story triggers. Thanx for making me dust off a few with this one. Lol. Have a great weekend😊😊😊

  6. But…but…

    You DID the right thing! You made the correct call!!

    Now I’ve got the munchies…

  7. How long does Lisa do the eliminator and gives prizes
    I’ve got all.. accept the bomb…. everything is repeating
    I’ve got the fences, and the dummy , the bomb shelter
    Many times ….

  8. Sob… This story was so sweet…

  9. Fix the word principle to principal. I’m sure your teacher/principal sister will appreciate that.

  10. Wow, Patric. GREAT post. I got verklempt. I am happy to say I have no sibling regrets. Luckily for us, we all had unique strengths and areas of expertise. But I seem to recall times my siblings seemed to pile on the bullying. Perhaps they have similar memories. And since I lost my older brother in 2015, and am estranged from the remaking 2 sibs, it doesn’t look like I will ever get a chance to compare recollections. Which made your ability to share this experience with your sister even more precious.

    I am happy…and sad…for you. Happy that this incident didn’t sour your relationship with your sister. Sad that you still carry around such an ancient feeling of guilt, even after your sis acknowledged you did the right thing. Ah, well, such is life.

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