February 2, 2006

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The Simpsons Library of Wisdom: The Ralph Wiggum Book (Harper, 2005), and The Simpsons Library of Wisdom: Comic Book Guy’s Book of Pop Culture (Harper, 2005)

The Ralph Wiggum Book B Comic Book Guy’s Book of Pop Culture A-

“Alcohol, the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems.”

“You don’t make friends with salad.”

“You don’t like your job, you don’t strike. You go in every day and do it really half-assed. That’s the American way.” 

You want wisdom? You go to The Simpsons. As the above quotes prove, they know whereof they speak.

So even though the latest bit of Simpson paraphernalia is of the novelty book variety, and even though novelty books are usually just watered-down bits of the show, I’m absolutely willing to give anything Simpsons a chance.

In the Comic Book Guy’s Book of Pop Culture, you get a look of the inner workings of the sarcastic fan-boy’s inner life, most of it in list or diagram form. A list of his personal top 40 includes “original packaging,” “my Muppet pelt jacket” and “women who measure distances in parsecs.” A look at his brain shows that the space devoted to “Klingon rites of passage” is bigger than the “remember to bathe” part and both are eclipsed by the “quotable lines form Star Wars, Star Trek, LOTR, etc.” His bottom 40 includes “getting Oreo McFlurry on the new comics shipment” and “Ewoks (Worst Anything Ever!).” The Comic Book Guy is actually the originator of the “Worst. [Whatever.] Ever.” line (his: “Worst. Episode. Ever!”) and for that reason, if for no other, he deserves his own volume.

In The Ralph Wiggum Book, you get the top 40 likes of marginally “challenged” classmate of Lisa and son of the chef, many of which include putting something up his nose and one of which is “the funny things the leprechaun tells me to do.” Bits of wisdom: “Hamburgers come from little hambs” and “Satan told me to tell you ‘hello!’” Inside, we get suggestions for homemade crafts (“Hanukkah/Fourth of July Menorah: Instead of boring candles, use leftover 4th of July fireworks. Now each day of Hanukkah is sure to be a festival of light and smoke and piercing eardrum damage.”) and great moments in history according to Ralph (“World War I was started by the assassination of R2-D2.”). A two-page spread features Ralph debating Professor Frink over issues of science. We get a scrapbook of pictures of an increasingly angry Lisa Simpson. And a two-page letter to Santa Claus that asks for “sticky remover,” “big boy underpants” and “‘no more tears’ toothpaste.”

All of this is much funnier than it sounds. Sure, these aren’t books that reveal new aspects of the long-running series or behind-the-scenes facts, but they bring a smile to your face and perfectly serve their purpose as a gift item for the birthday of a little-known acquaintance or co-worker.

Books featuring Bart and Homer are also available. When you’re dealing with the character (Homer) who first said “Television! Teacher, mother, secret lover,” how can you go wrong? The Ralph Wiggum Book B Comic Book Guy’s Book of Pop Culture A-

Amy Diaz

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