Thursday, September 30, 2010

Who is Shane Walsh-Smith?

Yesterday at work I received several emails from someone called Shane Walsh-Smith, who for some reason had put the qualifier (ne Smith) at the end of his email. This prompted speculation around the office as to why Mr Smith would decide to hyphenate his name. I offered that the most likely explanation was that he had gotten married and changed it - not an unheard-of step for a newly married young man, although certainly unusual. The (completely unsubstantiated) contention was that Ms Walsh-Smith may be the sort of person who would make Mr Walsh-Smith do the cooking and laundry when he got home, as well as paint Ms Walsh Smith's toenails and curl her hair.

I then suggested that there were a couple of other possibilities: first, Shane Walsh-Smith may actually be a woman (think Shane Gould), or second, Shane Walsh-Smith may be Shane Smith's cross-dressing alter-ego. This was too much - the mystery had to be solved! I typed 'Shane Walsh-Smith' into Google and got a link through to his Facebook page (I won't be so mean to our Shane to post a link to that page in this forum). This revealed that Shane Walsh-Smith was indeed a dashing young man from Canberra, who is married to Katie Walsh-Smith (nee Walsh), and has a baby girl named Annie (perhaps the real reason Shane decided to hyphenate his name).

He even has a blog at which you can find out about more things Shane-related (this I will post a link to):

Select From Shane

If you visit his blog, you will discover that Shane Walsh-Smith is a writer of graphic novels, both of which you can read for free on his website. It turns out his wife Katie also has a blog, which is more rudimentary than Shane's but appears to be updated more regularly. Katie claims that she is happily married to Shane - whether that is because he does do all the cooking and laundry and paints her toenails is yet to be revealed. (Note: We are only kidding, Ms Walsh-Smith! ... Although maybe we are only saying that because we are afraid of you.)

So, mystery solved! Well, it wasn't really all that much of a mystery, but it's interesting to know that you can find out pretty much anything about anyone nowadays...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Draw or Extra Time?

While I wouldn't go so far as to agree with Nick Maxwell's (or 'Max Nickwell' as he is known in the Wooden Finger-sphere) assessment that a drawn Grand Final is 'a joke', I would probably agree with Ross Lyon's assessment that, instinctively, extra time would be right course. All of the other finals go to extra time so that the season can remain on schedule, so why make an exception for the Grand Final? That being said, losing in extra time would be a crappy way to miss out on a premiership. At least this way both teams get another shot at trying to get a clear win. Collingwood should have won yesterday, and will probably get over the line next week, but the result is a bit of a blow to their alleged superiority. On that count at least, it wasn't all for nothing.

The Simpsons v Family Guy - Round Seven: Springfield v Quahog

For our last battle and deciding bout, we are putting the entire town of Springfield up against the entire town of Quahog. In Springfield’s corner we have the Flanders, Mr Burns, Smithers, Krusty the Clown, Patty and Selma, Police Chief Wiggum, Moe and Barney, Lenny and Carl, Milhouse, Nelson, Sideshow Bob, Tim and Helen Lovejoy, Lionel Hutz, Troy McClure, and Dr. Hibbert, just to name a few. In Quahog’s corner we have Joe, Cleveland, Quagmire, and… uh, you can start to tell already that Quahog may be in trouble.

The main difference here is that ‘The Simpsons’ has taken time to develop a fair share of supporting cast, often making them the subject of entire episodes. In ‘Family Guy’ most of the episodes revolve around the Seth McFarlane trinity of Peter, Stewie and Brian. Now it is true ‘The Simpsons’ has had more than twice as many seasons, but if you compare both shows at the same stage throughout their tenure ‘The Simpsons’ has always been a step ahead in developing its supporting cast. If I was to pick a place to set up house I’d pick Springfield. Although I’d probably still drop by Quahog for a beer.

Edge: Springfield
Simpsons 4-3

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Simpsons v Family Guy - Round Six: Grampa Simpson v Brian Griffin

No, I am not doing Brian against Santa’s Little Helper – the Simpsons’ dog is such a minor character that a more apt comparison for him would be the Evil Monkey. Abe ‘Grampa’ Simpson is essentially the sixth member of the Simpson family, and as such gets to go up against our favourite canine liberal.

Not that it makes much difference. Brian is to ‘Family Guy’ what Lisa is to ‘The Simpsons’; the closest thing to the voice of its creators and a considerable portion of its audience. Of course, the creators can still poke some fun at Brian’s pretensions, as shown by Quagmire’s stinging critique of Brian’s character and Stewie’s hilarious commentary on the slow progress of Brian’s novel. And Brian has had some horribly sappy moments, such as his infatuation with an old opera singer and his saccharine reunion with his son. But, like Lisa, he tries so hard to bring out the best in himself and others that you can’t help but wish him success. The only times I can remember rooting for Grampa was when that devil Monty Burns tried to steal his lady, and then his treasure. Generally I find him to be more of an annoyance, and if I was in his family I would probably stick him in a home as well. Plus, Brian is cuter.

(So far all the bouts have been reasonably clear-cut, which may have in part been helped by the fact that I have matched up characters with widely varying roles. An interesting exercise is to consider what would happen if, say, I had matched Bart against Stewie, Lisa against Brian, and Maggie and Grampa against Meg and Chris. In fact, the ‘Family Guy’ cast may have come out ahead in all of those cases, but I would still consider ‘The Simpsons’ the better show. Why? Well, for the answer for that, you will have to wait for the final battle.)

Edge: Brian Griffin

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Simpsons v Family Guy - Round Five: Maggie Simpson v Stewie Griffin

This match-up is about as lop-sided as it gets. Maggie is essentially background material, and any attempt to drag her into the spotlight has always seemed a little peculiar. Stewie, on the other hand, has been an integral part of the Family Guy cast since the start. Evil genius, loyal friend (when he wants to be), lover of kitsch, latent homosexual - you could make the argument that Stewie is the most interesting character on ‘Family Guy’. All Maggie really does is suck on her pacifier. And shoot grisly old tycoons. Again, that hardly compares to Stewie’s body count; it's Stewie by the length of a nuclear missile.

Edge: Stewie Griffin

Simpsons 3-2

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Simpsons Vs Family Guy - Part Four: Lisa Simpson vs Meg Griffin

Poor Meg. She started out as simply another insecure teenage girl and has since devolved into the butt of some of the cruelest jokes that have ever been inflicted on a 2-dimensional being. Her classmates don’t like her, her family doesn’t like her, and even the show’s creators don’t seem to like her very much. (I wonder if Mila Kunis does.) There now seems to be little faith that she can carry an episode by herself, as shown when Peter told the audience that they were in for ‘a Meg episode’, and promptly pointed them to the remote.

Lisa, in contrast, has been the star of some of the most memorable Simpsons episodes: ‘Lisa Vs. Malibu Stacy’, ‘Lisa the Vegetarian’, ‘Lisa’s Wedding’, ‘Lisa the Beauty Queen’, ‘Mr. Lisa Goes To Washington’, and so on. She may be a bit of a know-it-all at times, but there is something heroic about her attempts to bring sanity and compassion to the crazy world that surrounds her. Homer and Bart may be the stars, but we would like to think that we are most similar to Lisa. Put bluntly, Lisa is a firecracker, Meg is a punching bag. Even Lisa would tell Meg to shut up.

Edge: Lisa Simpson
Simpsons 3-1

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Simpsons v Family Guy - Part Three: Bart Simpson v Chris Griffin

There is the temptation here to go for the upset – the quiet, unassuming loser Chris over the brash, skateboarding hellraiser Bart. And Chris has definitely had his share of under-rated moments, such as when he joined a goth band and sang tunes about the evil monkey in his closet, when he became the favourite target of golfers on the driving range, and when he was pulled into a supermarket aisle to dance to Aha’s ‘Take On Me’. Most of Bart’s best moments were in the first five or so seasons; after that, like Chris, he essentially became a foil for his father’s more enthralling antics.

But lest we be accused of short memories we shouldn’t forget just how many memorable moments El Barto had. Packed within those first few years of ‘Bartmania’ was a greater range of emotional states and social commentary than Chris is ever likely to muster: his training of an army of his classmates to take down the bully Nelson, his cutting the head off the statue of the town founder, his writing a song for his sister’s birthday, his sad, pitiful attempt at shoplifting, his hiring of a car with a fake ID and winding up as an international courier, his joy at getting a ‘D’ and subsequent disgust at kissing his teacher, his selling his soul for five bucks, the ‘I Didn’t Do It’ fad, the Radioactive Man #1 debacle, and so on … Yeah, Chris is a nice boy and Bart is a bit of a douche at times, but you can’t deny the Bartman his due. At least Chris has a cooler voice.

Edge: Bart Simpson
Simpsons 2-1

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Simpsons v Family Guy - Part Two: Marge Simpson v Lois Griffin

The First Ladies of Animated TV share a lot of similarities - they are both (vastly overworked) housewives/homemakers, they both have three children, they are both the voice of reason in their households due to their dumb-ass, impetuous husbands, they both are the subjects of intense male scrunity, they both rarely change outfits or hairstyles, and they both let you know when you are in big trouble, mister.

But which one would you rather hang out with? With Lois you could have hose fights, smoke pot, make fun of bimbo girlfriends, or launch an attack on the Oval Office. Marge has fun, but generally only of the type that the whole family can enjoy. Lois makes you want to stay at home, Marge makes you want to get out of it. In fairness to Marge, she doesn't have a talking dog to keep her company.

(My wife pushed for Lois on the basis that she was less of a doormat than Marge, and can occasionally kick ass. I am not sure about that distinction: Marge did join the police force and has kicked ass on other occasions when necessary. But I do think Lois is generally the less passive-aggressive of the two - more likely to yell and wave her arms than lower her eyebrow and let out a long 'mmmmmmmmmmmmmm'.)

Edge: Lois Griffin

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Simpsons v Family Guy - Part One: Homer Simpson v Peter Griffin

Homer Simpson is the archetype of the anti-American Dad (no reference to the other Seth McFarlane show intended). When he is not strangling his son Bart, he is either neglecting his kids to go drinking or imparting life lessons like 'two wrongs make a right'. His selfish treatment of his wife Marge has led to their marriage almost breaking down more times than fans can remember. He routinely does stupid things like sell his soul for a doughnut, and invest in pumpkins on the belief that they will peak around January. He's hilariously funny but if you knew him in real life you would go running in the opposite direction.

Peter Griffin is, in many respects, the hyper-Homer: he's fatter, louder, angrier, drunker, stupider, dirtier, lazier, and even more likely to drop a pop culture reference. His abuse of his daughter Meg makes Homer look like the model of compassion. His selfish treatment of his wife Lois borders on the misogynistic. He routinely does stupid things like saying he has to work late while on the phone in the other room and bringing home a mentally retarded horse as a housepet. He's hilariously funny but if you knew him in real life you would take a Peter-copter in the opposite direction.

So why is Homer more likable? Homer Simpson is more likely to give you a wide-eyed stare of childish puzzlement, Peter Griffin is more likely to give you a knowing wink. Consider, for example, their respective experience with homosexuals, in the episodes 'Homer's Phobia' and 'Family Gay'. Homer spends most of 'Homer's Phobia' ranting about how much he dislikes homosexuals, while Peter (thanks to his being injected with the 'gay gene') actually spends most of 'Family Gay' experiencing life as a homosexual. Yet of the two, you feel that Homer comes out the more enlightened. By the episode's end Homer has learnt to see, in his own way, a view of the world beyond his own. Peter, on the other hand, transforms from hyper-Homer to hyper-homosexual and back again, with little hint that the experience has taught him anything. To put it another way: Homer gives himself and his audience room to grow, while Peter is too busy sneering at the audience to grow. And that's enough to make Homer our winner.

Edge: Homer Simpson

Simpsons 1-0

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Wooden Finger All-Australian Team 2010

Yes, it's that time of year again... with the final squad of 40 having been picked, I'm now prepared to take a slightly better than 50-50 shot at who will make the All-Australian team for 2010.

Most of the players pick themselves, but let me go through a few of the potential eyebrow raisers. I have fitted Luke Hodge in on the half-back line, because I think the selectors will cop out in a bid to fit more midfielders in (as with Dane Swan on the forward line last year). Buddy Franklin gets the nod over Pavlich at centre half-forward by virtue of kicking more goals in less games (but I wouldn't be surprised if the reverse occurred). After having missed out on Corey Enright for two straight years I am not prepared to pick against him for a third, nor am I prepared to be wrong on Lenny Hayes again. And of the players that I have left out Adam Goodes, Nick Malceski and Brad Green are the ones I think are likeliest to win a spot.

B: Corey Enright, Brian Lake, Harry O'Brien
HB: Brendon Goddard, Harry Taylor, Luke Hodge
C: Leigh Montagna, Joel Selwood, Dane Swan
HF: Alan Didak, Lance Franklin, Paul Chapman
F: Mark LeCras, Jack Riewoldt, Barry Hall
R: Aaron Sandilands, Chris Judd (c), Gary Ablett
I: Lenny Hayes, Mark Jamar, Scott Pendlebury, Matthew Pavlich (vc)

As an added bonus, here is my All-Australian team for 2000-2009. I had initially done this a couple of weeks ago, with a slightly different team. But the AFL website is now running a competition where you have to try and pick the team that most aligns with former Essendon player's Scott Lucas selections. (Ironic, since Lucas is probably the best player never to make an All-Australian team.) In the spirit of this comp (and as a way of shifting blame for any more eyebrow raisers), I have stuck to the positions they allocated players to.

B: Dustin Fletcher, Matthew Scarlett, Gavin Wanganeen
HB: Andrew McLeod, Justin Leppitsch, Luke Hodge
C: Nathan Buckley, Michael Voss (c), James Hird
HF: Nick Riewoldt, Jonathan Brown, Jason Akermanis
F: Brent Harvey, Matthew Lloyd, Brad Johnson
R: Dean Cox, Chris Judd, Gary Ablett
I: Matthew Pavlich, Adam Goodes, Scott West, Mark Ricciuto
Coach: Leigh Matthews