Saturday, May 19, 2007

Giant Yellow Hands, or: Each Man Kills The Thing He Loves

The phone rang yesterday with someone requesting a television interview.

No, you’re not reading the wrong blog.

The truth is that some time ago I was responsible for putting together a couple of price guides for collectibles involving The Simpsons. The end result has been that every once in a great while, usually when something is heating up in the Simpsons universe, we get a phone call from someone looking to beef up an article or promotional piece.

And this week (I’d almost forgotten) brings the 400th episode of the show on the eve of the long-awaited feature film. So you’re probably going to have a hard time escaping them this summer.

There’s the various Springfields that are all competing for the honor of hosting the film’s premiere, and the handful of 7-11’s that will be converted into Kwik-E-Marts, and the 100 limited Xbox 360’s that will be given away at special events.

There was a time when the collecting aspect was a lot more fun, largely due to the fact that being a completist almost seemed possible and you had the fun of finding unusual items you’d never seen before at toy fairs and collectible shows. Most of the coolest stuff was coming from overseas and eBay was just coming into its own.

After my books and similar ones appeared, it seemed to get through that there were American fans only too willing to spend their disposable income on yellow memorabilia. The result was a tidal wave of domestic merchandise that spelled the beginning of the end for my participation in the hobby, for not only could I no longer afford to collect everything, there was simply no place to put it all.

Having written the books had also allowed me to make more purchases than I probably should have, of course, since I had the excuse of needing to keep up with the subject. And soon the need to do that started to take a little of the fun out of it.

So on some level, I felt like I had probably ruined it for myself. But this is the way of the world. If one loves something to death, one should be prepared to accept the consequences.

Oh, I’ll still buy something from time to time, but it has to be something cool, like when I started. And I’m still a big fan of the show so it’s kind of a kick to have had something on the bookshelf about the subject.

It’s sort of the yang to my yin of enjoying things that are unknown and obscure, I suppose. I’m equally excited and thrilled by things that are so massive, such a common cultural currency. And these giant yellow hands are going to be with us for decades after we’re gone.

The woman running the camera handed me a lavaliere microphone and stood back awkwardly, as if she were a prom date too nervous to pin on a corsage.

“The wire goes down your shirt…” she explained. I nodded.

The interviewer, a good-natured fellow who looked to be a little younger than me and resembled Kevin Spacey, was a big fan of the show and we enjoyed shooting lines back and forth at each other.

I’d brought out a handful of eye-catching stuff and some large stand-ups that I thought would work for them.

I wondered what I would say, frankly, but the guy had a handful of topics that were easy enough to elaborate on. I found myself babbling and losing my train of thought and getting off some surprisingly good bits of off-the-cuff analysis in equal measure. Because we’d decided to tape the interview in the front yard, we had to stop every few minutes or so because of the noise made by this giant corkscrew machine that was planting trees down the street.

“How old are you?” the interviewer asked me as he swatted away a mosquito.

“51,” I said, “52 in October.”

“When in October?” the camerawoman broke in. “Are you a Libran?”


“Yeah, me too,” she said. “Everything has to be fair, right?”

“Right,” I said.

“While you piss off just as many people at the same time,” she added.

You know, there could be something to this whole astrology thing.


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