Comme des Garçons Finds Waldo, Officially Rocks Our World

Rei Kawakubo really gets me. The CFDA International Award winner and designer behind the eternally cool, cult-classic Japanese label Comme des Garçons has rolled out another genius collection that tugs at the pop culture heartstrings of children raised in the ’90s. As a follow-up to the label’s clever collaboration with American cartoonist and The Simpsons creator Matt Groening, CDG presents the Where’s Waldo? (or Where’s Wally? if you’re in the UK) collection: a salute to the 25th anniversary of British Illustrator Martin Handford’s celebrated franchise.

According to the Telegraph, the super limited-edition capsule (as in, only 17 pieces have been produced of each style) features men’s and women’s tees and scarves with all-over prints reminiscent of scenes from the iconic cartoon. And yes, each piece include’s a cameo from the namesake star, decked out in his memorable red and white striped sweater and bobble beanie. 

The CDG x Where’s Waldo? collection is stocked exclusively at most CDG boutiques, which means, unless you race to their sole NY outpost right this second, statesiders will have to wait until pieces start popping up on eBay. (But the pricey range already retails in-store for £160 ($248) to  £305 ($473), so I can only imagine what items will cost once prices are jacked up online.)

Ten Late-Era ‘Simpsons’ Episodes That Should Be Canonized

Practically any Simpsons snob will pinpoint where, how, and why the show stopped being good, whether you’re listening to them or not. And while there’s no denying a steep drop in average quality somewhere around the turn of the millennium, those who refuse to watch past the tenth season (or even the eighth, as some diehard purists claim) are cheating themselves out of a few diamonds in the rough. As it can be irritating to wade through that rough, we’ve rounded up some episodes that deserve recognition, if not stone-cold classic status.

“The Cartridge Family” (Season 9, Episode 2): This one harkens back to the old days with its wildly simple, all-American premise—Homer buys a gun. As spot-on a satire about firearm laws as you can hope for.

“Realty Bites” (Season 9, Episode 9): Too many episodes revolve around Homer getting a ridiculous job (with ridiculous consequences), but this down-to-earth entry features Marge getting into the home realty business in a Glengarry Glen Ross-type office, complete with the late Phil Hartman’s sleazy Lionel Hutz as manager.

“Viva Ned Flanders” (Season 10, Episode 10): Ned Flanders, realizing he’s barely lived out of an overactive sense of caution, recruits Homer to teach him how to live in the moment. The ensuing bender in Sin City was long overdue and flawlessly done—“Las Vegas doesn’t care for out-of-towners,” the pair is told when they’re dumped at the border afterward.

“Brother’s Little Helper” (Season 11, Episode 2): Bart’s trademark disruptive, capering ways lead him to a role as guinea pig for Focusyn, an Adderall-like behavior modification drug. A scathing look at the pharmaceutical industry and overmedication of children, with a fantastic last-act twist.

“A Tale of Two Springfields” (Season 12, Episode 2): Springfield is riven with class warfare when a new area code is forced on the “poor” half of town, ultimately giving rise to a Berlin-type wall of garbage in the middle. As ever, angry mobs provide some of the show’s best moments.

“The Computer Wore Menace Shoes” (Season 12, Episode 6): Early-era loyalists will insist that the end of this episode leans on the exact kind of absurdity that derailed the series. Everyone else will enjoy a wonderful parody of The Prisoner, preceded by Homer’s successful tenure as muckraking blogger.

“New Kids on the Blecch” (Season 12, Episode 14): Bart, Nelson, Milhouse, and Ralph are handpicked by a record label exec who wants to make them the next ’N Sync (who are great sports about their cameo). But an even weirder agenda is afoot.

“Weekend at Burnsie’s” (Season 13, Episode 16): Look, if you can’t see the merit in a plot where Homer adopts a flock of crows and eventually becomes hooked on pot—which only propels him into an upper-level position at the nuclear power plant—just don’t talk to me.

“I’m Spelling As Fast As I Can” (Season 14, Episode 12): Many of the old classics deal with Lisa’s moral quandaries, and that plot is expertly resurrected here, when she must decide whether to throw a national spelling bee for material gain. Egging her on is a crooked George Plimpton in perhaps the best as-themselves voiceover part ever.

“Bart-Mangled Banner” (Season 15, Episode 21): Aired in 2004, it’s the only episode to directly engage the George W. Bush administration, and does it ever. Bart accidentally moons the American flag at school, sparking a chain of events that land the entire Simpson family in permanent detention for treason. 

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

A Supposedly Brief Chronology of “The Simpsons” Literary References

In its multi-decade, 500+-episode run, The Simpsons has sported all sorts of popular culture references, from the Immortal Bard (a Hamlet parody still shown in high schools all across America by English teachers who want to get hip with the young people) to Spider-Pig (does whatever a spider-pig does).

Last night, The Simpsons aired a surprising homage to David Foster Wallace, titled “A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again,” which borrows its title — and plot — from DFW’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. The episode, in which Bart assumes the role of Wallace on his disdain-inducing luxury cruise, also includes musical snippets from Hot Chip (“Boy From School”) and Animal Collective (“Winter’s Love”).

With a television run as long as the one Matt Groening’s iconic series has had, there have been a whole lot of other surprising, notable and overall funny salutes to important literary tomes, from Hemingway to Stephen King to the Bible. Here’s a look back at just a few of the other key Simpsons moments that went by the book.

Edgar Allen Poe has been a rather popular source of inspiration, particularly with the Treehouse of Horror Halloween episodes. One of the first Halloween shorts was a direct take on "The Fall of the House of Usher;" in “Lisa’s Rival,” she replaces perfect Allison Taylor’s diorama of "The Tell-Tale Heart" with an actual beef heart, with the real diorama torturing her from the floorboards. But this early Treehouse of Horror installment, a retelling of “The Raven” featuring Marge as Lenore and Bart as the titular bird, is the best of these.

Lisa meets a group of college students in her gymnastics class and pretends to be one of them in order to belong to a group of her intellectual equals. One of her new friends is re-reading Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (one of a few Pynchon references that have appeared on the show), but more importantly, the episode includes one of The Simpsons’ best lit. moments. Lisa attends a reading from former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky (as himself), who gets some support from a group of frat dudes with “BASHO” painted on their stomachs. It did make us wonder about the possibility of a world where poetry slams sported SEC football-caliber tailgates.

Harry Potter has had a few nods as well, including a pretty-okay Treehouse of Horror installment. But it was Lisa’s encounter with the real J.K. Rowling that included the words all fans wanted to hear. When she asks the author what happens to Harry at the end of the series, she responds, “He grows up and marries you. Is that what you want to hear?”

And finally, the Hamlet episode, inspiring curricula since its airing. Although it’s certainly difficult to condense a five-act play into a digestible TV mini-sode, The Simpsons did it as only they could. The episode is notable for its expert use of Ralph Wiggum (“I’m gonna go kill Hamlet! Here’s my mad face.”), “Rosencarl and Guildenlenny,” Lisa’s brief cameo as Ophelia and Bart’s one-sentence review of the play, which sums up the feelings of so many: “How could a play with so much violence in it be so boring?”

Comme des Garçons & Matt Groening ‘Play in Hell’

PLAY Comme des Garçons, the younger men’s and women’s streetwear line from Rei Kawakubo, has launched a collaboration with none other than American cartoonist and The Simpsons creator Matt Groening.

The “Play in Hell” collection will include a line of four t-shirts, featuring artwork from Groening’s famed Life in Hell comic strip, with PLAY’s familiar bug-eyed heart logo making a cameo in each style. As reported by The New York Times, the line will be available in CDG stores after March 15.