Thank Grog It’s Firday…
Just so we are clear, I’m not talking about the Simpsons coming to Disney Plus…which may be one of the worst launches of a “Major Streaming Service Ever.”
Besides the fact that their servers barfed…and loads and loads of subscribers couldn’t get any programming…apparently, what they can get, is altered…a lot.
This includes the SIMPSONS!! The much vaunted, much ballyhooed new home for the back episodes of ALL of The Simpsons, has Simpsons Fans Fuming!
The Disney Plus is formatting the show, cuts out a ton of the picture. And because of this, a ton of the jokes/gags/content are just not visible. CHECK THIS STORY OUT…
But…This is NOT what I’m here to talk about today…as the most recent episode of the Simpsons actually took place in the REAL BIRTHPLACE of the Simpsons. And it was hilarious!
Let’s just get this out of the way. The episode, “Marge the LumberJill” (S31E6) had a ridiculous premise. Really, really, really silly. But then, it got great!
In basic overview…The family goes to a school play that was written by Lisa. It portrays Marge as dull, boring and predictable. Which drives Marge to try to find something that is “her own,” which turns out to be professional lumber-jacking…or, as the name implies, Lumber-Jilling, which is apparently the female version of a lumber-jack. Go figure.
Marge does so well, under the tutelage of Paula, a gay lumberjill teacher/coach/partner (voiced by the non-binary actress, Asia Kate Dillon of “Orange is the New Black” fame), that she decides to train for a huge regional competition in Portland, Oregon, and leaves Homer and the family for a month…which drives Homer to thinking that he is losing his wife to “the other side.” Confused and offended yet? It’s OK. The premise was just a way to get everyone to the Birthplace of the Simpson… Matt Groening’s hometown of Portland, Oregon.
Look…I get it. This was the writer’s chance to do a couple of things. First, they get to be totally “woke” and sling about 30 gay/lesbian stereotype jokes, while resolving it all with Paula being married to an Olympic rhythmic gymnast. But, as you would expect from this group, with their pedigree as Ivy League nerds…it was a pretty ham-handed attempt.
But…it had it’s bright spots.
Here’s a shot of Paula and Marge “lumberJilling”
At one point…Paula and Marge clear-cut an entire hillside, and then make “chip angels” in the mayhem they have created. Ugh…on several levels. Not a fan of clear-cutting.
The concept of Marge in a Timber competition isn’t that far-fetched. However…not in Portland. The World Timber Carnival was held for more than fifty years in Albany, Oregon…about 75 miles south of Portland. It used to be a HUGE thing back in the day, when timber was the primary income for much of Oregon. It was so big, it was often broadcast on the program, “ABC Wide World of Sports.”
Lisa, trying to be supportive makes a comment that she is happy for her Mom, but isn’t happy that they cut down so many trees in the process. Bart replies, “I heard that trees are the cause of global warming… I read it in my science book!”
(Exxon Mobil Unteaches you Science- forward by Mitch McConnell).
But, once Homer and the kids waited out the 30 days of being “Marge-less,” they decide to go to Portland to fetch her. And this is where all of the Portland insider jokes start.
Don’t adjust your screens…these really are suppose to be this dull, and rain-soaked. Portland has a reputation for continuous rain…but it is mostly a myth, as for the last decade, Oregon is turning into Northern California weather-wise…and California is on fire. But, I digress..
The accuracy of the pictures (with the gags thrown in) are a testament to how unique Portland is…and frankly…how much Matt still loves his hometown. It is a beautiful city.
All of these shots are based on actual places…mostly.
This gag cracked me up. I had to go back and freeze frame it, as it flies by in a montage of Portland shots. Woody…loves his artisanal craft cannabis.
Lisa says, “Let’s just enjoy Portland…I mean, indigenous artwork, Craft breweries, independent movie theaters, and that’s just in one coffee shop!”
When they spy Comic Book Guy, he explains his presence…
Comic Book Guy: I Come to Portland to re-charge… In Portland I’m quirky rather than objectionable…
Bart: Do you sell comic books here?
CBG: No… Marijuana and artisanal salami laced with marijuana.
So yes. Cannabis is legal in Oregon.
As the family heads into Portland to find Marge, the scenery is beautiful…and accurate. This is the Burnside Bridge, crossing the Willamette River, with the icon Portland sign in the foreground.
And as they drive, they pass countless familiar sounding street names…which as I have written about before, were the less-than-inspirational source of many of the characters in the Simpsons. Yes…they ALL exist.
As does the actual Groening home in the West hills of Portland.
When they get to Paula’s, they find the two lumberjills together, with their pet pugs, “Nike” and “Swoosh,” an homage to Nike, which is headquartered in Beaverton, a suburb of Portland.
Marge describes her clothes, “These are locally-sourced dungarees and Pendleton flannel! It’s what Jill Sobule wore when she played the Crystal ballroom.
For those of you who aren’t into “meta humor,” Jill Sobule did the song, “I kissed a girl,” and the Crystal Ballroom is one of Portland’s favorite concert venues.
There, he has this classic exchange…
Hipster Dude: What are you doing here…you OK?
Homer: Oh I’m sitting in a bar…and my wife’s in love with a female lumberjack…
Hipster Dude: Classic Portland where are you from?
Hipster Dude: Which one? Oregon?
Homer: I don’t know!
This is Matt Groening at his best. Honoring his past…the real sources of the Simpsons, while having fun with the mystery of Springfield. Which of course…is no mystery at all.
Paula and Marge are in Portland…training for the regional lumber competition…after winning in SPRINGFIELD…which is just a couple of hours down I-5. The family drove. They didn’t fly. They live in Springfield, Oregon.
What a great bit of fun…in an otherwise oddly written story. For me…they could have just as well done an “Our Trip to Portland” travel short…and left the rest out.
I was just there last weekend for my niece’s wedding. All of my daughters were there, as Hannah, my niece, is like the “sixth Miller girl.” We stayed in downtown Portland…and it is truly a beautiful city.
Thanks for the finally coming clean, Matt. Portland loves you too…
AND…for those of you who care about flooring, and my wife’s choice in island stools (Fred)…here ya go.
Next up…molding, trim, wall covering, back splash new lighting…
Click picture to enlarge…