‘The Simpsons’ to Soldier on to Episode 500

As a young person, I was a big fan of two things: Major League Baseball and The Simpsons. Over the years, each institution has grown, adapted, and broken a few records. But while news of Barry Bonds eclipsing Hank Aaron’s all-time home run count came surrounded in controversy, I can’t help but root for The Simpsons as they inch towards becoming the prime-time television episode champion.

Currently, only Gunsmoke (635 episodes) and Lassie (588) trump The Simpsons‘ record. Now that the show has been renewed for a 23rd season, Fox has ensured the residents of Springfield that they will live to see 500. The new season will take the show to episode 515, and, according to producer Al Jean, there’s enough material for an unconfirmed 24th season as well. At that point, it seems pretty ridiculous for the network to deny greenlighting the 25th, especially considering the eleventy-billion dollars that could be made on selling merchandise for the quarter-century anniversary.

The show’s ratings are still strong, and it’s managed to cycle seamlessly through multiple generations of viewers. It’s hard to imagine that falling off, especially with the show’s tendency to get high-profile stars and the Internet’s tendency to report on them ad nauseum. “When we started it was before the computer had even been invented,” Jean joked with Vulture. “But we’ve really grown up with the Internet. And we’re a show that rewards repeated viewing.”

Gene Shalit Retires, Inspires Awesome Twitter Hashtag

Late yesterday, with the words, “It’s enough already,” Today movie and book critic Gene Shalit, the man who Wikipedia says is known for his “frequent use of puns, his oversize handlebar moustache, and for wearing colorful bowties,” retired from his illustrious post. At press time, it is uncertain who will inherit a mantle of such intimidating legacy, such fantastic facial hair, such sartorial splendor.

Where to turn in such desperate times to pay tribute to the man? The answer is Twitter. More specifically, Twitter user Evan Minsker and his wonderful hashtag #geneshalitbandnames. Some highlights include: MeShalit Ndegeocello, Broken Social Gene, And You Shalit Know Us By the Trail, and of course, Gene Day.

Now on the Internet: Baked Celebrities

The world wide web has given us so much over the years, not least pictures of drunk celebrities, pictures of angry celebrities, and pictures of naked celebrities. Now, the powers that be have bestowed upon us a new kind of famous person picture: The baked celebrity. Stay with us, because it’s not what you think.

Bread People is the latest, greatest way to see celebrities as you’ve always imagined them—as various pastries and loaves of bread. There’s Danish Cook, Crostini Ricci, and our personal favorite, Clint Yeastwood. But while highly pleasing to the eye, the site has some major shortcomings. It describes itself as a “service that provides pictures of bread celebrities for you to look at,” but the two best things about baked goods are how they smell and how they taste. After all, what good is Sylvester Stallscone if you can’t butter him up and eat him?

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Conan O’Brien Tweets the Light Fantastic

Tonight, finally, Conan O’Brien’s new show will premiere on TBS. We all remember back in January how O’Brien became the fall guy during the now-famous late-night wars—the consensus-approved funnyman ousted by that other guy with the car collection and the big chin. But before you could shake your fist and yell, “But Jay Leno’s not even funny!” O’Brien started taking advantage of his time off, touring the country to rapturous reviews and playing high-profile locales like Bonnaroo. Perhaps more importantly, especially in terms of staying on people’s minds and in their hearts, O’Brien joined Twitter, becoming a prolific sharer and a maker of minor celebrities in the process. Mere hours away from the first Conan episode, we take a look back at some of his best tweets from the past month.

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A Chilean Miners Movie, Finally

It only took five days after the Chilean miners emerged from the earth for Antonio Recio to begin shooting his movie, The 33 of San Jose, and approximately 30 days for the news to reach the internet. Good work, everyone!

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the movie was in preproduction three weeks before the biggest media event of 2010 unfurled. Currently sourcing financial backers, the project matches up writers JJ Barrios and Jacobo Bergareche, producers Andres Calderon and Feline Braun, and a cast of 32 Chilean actors and one Bolivian actor. The film will include exclusive news footage of the actual event. For now, potential investors are being plied with a trailer (!!!), which includes the following teaser: “You’ve seen the outside, now take a glimpse of what it was like inside.” Oscar bait, anyone?

Jonathan Richman Plays Jimmy Fallon, Readies New Album for December

Must be nice to live a day in the life of Jonathan Richman. We imagine it goes something like this: Wake up. Say to yourself, “Self, I was in the Modern Lovers!” Alternately: “The Velvet Underground rules!” Go about your day. Sometimes, though, when you’re Jonathan Richman, you decide to quietly put out an album. And that’s just what Richman recently did. The result is O Moon, Queen of Night on Earth, to be released on Neil Young’s imprint, Vapor Records, on Dec. 7. That’s another thing you do when you’re Jonathan Richman: make great music with little-to-no fanfare on the record label of a rock ‘n’ roll legend.

For O Moon, Richman is joined by longtime drummer Tommy Larkins for a release that finds the witty songwriter “looking up to the lonely night sky during the wee small hours—when time slows down and everything is as melancholy as it is beautiful.” The album’s artwork consists of Richman’s own paintings. Meanwhile, Olöf Arnalds, Nicole Montalbano, Roger Montalbano, Kelly Houston, and Ted Saverese all guest on the record.

Watch Richman play a new song from O Moon (the excellently titled “These Bodies That Came to Cavort”) on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon as well as a web-exclusive classic below.

“These Bodies That Came to Cavort” (starts around the 38:00 mark)

“I Was Dancing at the Lesbian Bar”

Early Tom Waits Albums Get Fancy Vinyl Reissue Treatment

Before he was Tom Waits, Cookie Monster Impersonator, he was Tom Waits, Gutter Lounge Act. On Dec. 21, just in time to be wrapped up in pretty paper and given to someone you love, Rhino will release Waits’ first four albums from that early era on 180-gram vinyl. Recorded from 1973-1976, back when Waits was but a drunken young man in his early twenties, Closing Time, The Heart Of Saturday Night, Nighthawks At The Diner, 
and Small Change are all classics in the eccentric songwriter’s oeuvre, records that set the stage for his later, weirder experiments in sound.

Super nerds and fan boys like your humble correspondent should direct their energies to TomWaitsStore.com, where all four of the records are available for pre-order in a limited-edition (1,000 copies each) red vinyl edition. All the records are $24.98 ($26.99 for red), except Nighthawks, which is a double LP going for $34.98 ($37.99 for red), which is pricey, yes, but this is the way Waits was meant to be heard. Put on a shabby thrift-store suit, pour a snifter of scotch, and you’ll eventually forget how broke you are.

Twitter Sensation @badbanana Readies First Book

If you know Tim Siedell’s work, chances are you’re one of the 400,000+ followers of his hilarious Twitter account, @badbanana. Siedell, the mild-mannered creative director of a brand communications studio in Nebraska (if that was your job title, wouldn’t you crack wise on the internet too?) uses the account to regularly dispense absurd, Jack Handey-esque nuggets, like this one from earlier today: “I took the Special K cereal challenge. I didn’t lose weight, but I did turn into a woman.”

Now, StoryPeople Press is releasing 80 pages of Siedell’s humorous musings alongside crude but charming sketches from artist Brian Andreas. Judging by the title, Marching Bands Are Just Homeless Orchestras: Half-Empty Thoughts Volume 1, it’s the first of hopefully many books from Siedell. It’s $18.95 and you can preview a few pages here.

Public Enemy Fans Donate $75,000 for New Album

Just a little over a year ago, rap pioneers Public Enemy announced they would use Dutch website Sellaband.com to raise a staggering $250,000 to fund their new album. Somewhere in between, that figure was downgraded to a relatively scant $75,000, and late last week, they hit the lowered mark. In a statement on the group’s fundraising page, Public Enemy wrote, “It has been a long and winding road. We’ve had explosive starts, media attention, corporate troubles, media criticism, recalculations and finally resurgence. When its all said and done, the bottom line is that we never lost faith in ourselves, our fams and the future of fan funding as a model.”

Sellaband incentivizes donors of varying levels, much like Kickstarter and similar fundraising websites. Although no “believers” in the Public Enemy campaign took their love to the “PE Number One” level of a $10,000 buy in, 10 of them did commit to the $1,000 “Terrordome” Level, meaning, amongst other things, they get unlimited-use backstage passes for the next three years. In case you’re not a math major, that breaks down to a slightly less ridiculous $333.33 a year.

Originally slated for a 2010 release, PE’s 13th (!!!) album will presumably come to fruition next year, following the group’s current series of European dates. Here’s hoping some of those 10 big spenders are spread across Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Itlay and the Netherlands.