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Watch Harry Shearer Perform his Simpsons Voices

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After 26 years, Harry Shearer and The Simpsons have parted ways. The actor has had a complicated relationship with the show for a large bulk of that time, and he announced that he was leaving on Twitter, citing an inability to work on other projects:

After 26 years, any relationship starts to show wear and tear, but Shearer has had issues with The Simpsons for well over a decade. In 2001, he spoke with East Bay Express about the show's wavering quality:

It depends on the script. There are writers' names that, when I see them on a script, I get very happy and look forward to the week, because I know there's gonna be a pretty sound script that is satirical but smart and not just sort of pointlessly parodic, if I may. And there are other writers' names that make my heart sink. It's sort of unavoidable this far along that that's going to be the way it is.

Shearer's voice talent made much of Springfield what it is, and we have him to thank for Mr. Burns, Waylon Smithers, Ned Flanders, Reverend Lovejoy, Kent Brockman, Principal Skinner, Rainier Wolfcastle, and a whole battalion of other characters.

During the cast's appearance on Inside the Actors Studio, Shearer held court as Burns, Smithers, Skinner, and Wolfcastle:

Those characters will remain, but they won't be the same. Alan Sepinwall spoke with Simpsons showrunner Al Jean, who confirmed that a replacement actor (or actors) will be brought in. "Burns and Flanders will not die," he says. "They are great characters and will continue."

Considering the network has threatened to replace the voice actors during previous contract negotiations, this move isn't surprising. It sure is disappointing, though.  

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'Embiggen,' a Made-Up Word from The Simpsons, Has Officially Landed in the Dictionary
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iStock

From d’oh! to dorkus malorkus, the English language owes a lot to The Simpsons, particularly when it comes to made-up neologisms. As io9 reports, the animated series’ latest contribution to everyday chatter was made official earlier this week, when Merriam-Webster announced that the Springfield-originated verb embiggen is one of 850 new words that have just been added to their online dictionary.

Though the word has transcended its animated town origins, being regularly used by online outlets (“click to embiggen this map”) and superhero Kamala Khan in the Ms. Marvel comic book series, its original popular usage dates back more than 20 years, to a seventh-season episode of The Simpsons titled “Lisa the Iconoclast.” In it, the students of Springfield Elementary School are treated to Young Jebediah Springfield, an educational film that depicts the early days of the founder of their great town. His secret? “A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.”

Though the rarity of the word led even Edna Krabappel to question its authenticity (fellow teacher Ms. Hoover assures her that “it’s a perfectly cromulent word,” a reference to yet another piece of The Simpsons lexicon), writer Dan Greaney actually coined the phrase even before the episode.

Amazingly, it turns out that Jebediah Springfield may have been very hip to the times when he used the phrase after all; the word was also used by author C.A. Ward in his Notes and Queries: A Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, General Readers, Etc., which was published in 1884.

[h/t: io9]

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Someone Figured Out How Old the Simpsons Would Be If They Ever Aged
20th Century Fox Television
20th Century Fox Television

The Simpsons is far and away the most dependable show on television. You can turn on any episode from any season—be it the first or the 29th—and you'll always see the same exact characters you grew up with: Homer and Marge are perpetually in their late thirties, while Lisa and Bart have been attending Springfield Elementary since George H.W. Bush was in office.

But how old would the Simpson family be if they actually aged like the rest of us? As Laughing Squid reported, cartoonist Randall Munroe figured it out, and the results will probably make you take stock of your own mortality a bit. In real life, if Homer and Marge aged at the same rate as the rest of us, they would be in their mid-60s today, if we estimate that they are about 36 years old on the show. Bart and Lisa, on the other hand, would be 39 and 36, respectively. They’d basically be as old in real life as their parents are on the show. Meanwhile, Maggie would be nearing 30, despite still sucking on that pacifier. Which means that if you were around Bart or Lisa’s age when the show began in 1989, you probably relate more to Homer and Marge these days, as you're about the same age as they have been since the series premiered.

This is all by design, though, as series creator Matt Groening always imagined the show as having a “rubber band reality,” where continuity and consistency take a backseat to whatever stories the writers could come up with. That’s why a 1995 episode could jump into the future and show Lisa getting married in 2010. And when 2010 actually came and went, she was in her 21st year in second grade. It’s all in an effort to be timeless, Groening explained. And after nearly 30 years on the air, don't expect the laws of nature to show up in Springfield anytime soon.

[h/t/ Laughing Squid]

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