Kay McFadden / Times staff columnist
'The Simpsons': The predictions of Homerdamus
As practically the whole world knows, "The Simpsons" will air episode 300 at 8 tonight. It will be part of a 90-minute skein running from 7:30 to 9 and featuring one past, one present, and one bonus installment (KCPQ-TV).
"The Simpsons" first appeared as vignettes on "The Tracey Ullman Show' in 1987. The first half-hour special, "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire," ran Dec. 17, 1989, although the series' official debut is considered to be "Bart the Genius" on Jan. 14, 1990.
That makes the show 13 years old — the longest-running prime-time animated series in history, and the longest-running sitcom currently on prime-time TV.
So what is left to say about "The Simpsons"?
While many tributes note its uncanny knack for satirizing existing pop culture, what's far less explored is the series' ability to prognosticate (for Homer fans, that means tell the future).
In short, virtually every episode of "The Simpsons" has come true. And in an exclusive arrangement through unnamed sources, we now have proof: the astounding Predictions of Homerdamus, interpretation included.
So without further ado, let us pull back the veil on this soothsayer's opaque pronouncements and in the immortal words of Fifth Dimension, let the sunshine in.
Homerdamus: In the 20th century, a shining martyr will grace the planet / And command we behold as-yet-undreamed-of visual aids / Creating a mighty flood of woe / Plus a hit song.
Origin: Undoubtedly the episode "Radio Bart," in which Bart accidentally drops a Mr. Microphone down a Springfield well and then pretends to be the voice of trapped little Timmy O'Toole. Timmy's cries for help ignite a massive rescue effort, a media firestorm and a three-ring circus of profiteering grief-mongers that include Sting, whose maudlin ballad "We're Sending Our Love Down The Well" goes platinum.
Proof: "Radio Bart" aired Jan. 9, 1992 — more than seven years before Princess Diana's untimely (albeit image-enhancing) death provoked the exact same outpouring of tears, souvenirs and the top-selling Elton John rehash, "Goodbye English Rose."
Not convinced? In "Radio Bart," Timmy's story is ditched when the media discover a squirrel that looks like Abe Lincoln. In 1997, Princess Di's death was bumped by a fund-raising imbroglio involving Vice President Al Gore, a political figure who resembles oatmeal, which squirrels sometimes eat.
Homerdamus: A great affliction will fall upon humankind / Making the women of Earth beg surcease / Until a savior comes to tell them / Don't worry, your menfolk will be able to hula again.
Origin: "Grandpa vs. Sexual Inadequacy." Homer is having troubles in the bedroom, and Grandpa comes to the rescue with a love potion. In a series of montages — train going into tunnel, hot dogs on a conveyor belt — we sense Homer has been set aright and Marge has been set afire.
Proof: Airing Dec. 4, 1994, "Grandpa vs. Sexual Inadequacy" clearly forecasts the 1998 invention of Viagra.
Not convinced? Bob Dole — the public face of Viagra — has made more appearances on "The Simpsons" than any other former Republican Senate majority leader from Kansas.
Homerdamus: A humble man
shall be born near Springfield / But rise to universal belovedness / Only to be struck down by jealous people, women's libbers / Oh — and a plague of locusts.
Origin: "Homer Badman." Homer is accused of sexually harassing the family baby-sitter after he spies a Gummi Venus de Milo stuck on the seat of her pants and swipes it.
He becomes the target of every politically correct group and then television, which puts him through the grinder of confessional shows ("Rock Bottom"), round-the-clock cable news ("Simpson Scandal Update") and made-for-TV movies ("Homer S.: Portrait of An Ass-Grabber").
Proof: "Homer Badman" aired Nov. 27, 1994, four years before a real U.S. president also was caught in a nearly ruinous sex scandal. Bill Clinton — born near Springfield, Ark. — was able to stage his own TV confessional and NOW actually supported him, but otherwise, wow.
Not convinced? Substitute "cigar" for "Gummi Venus de Milo" and "Republicans" for "locusts" and your objections will be crushed by these powerful metaphors.
Homerdamus: Thirst will come in a terrible form / To parch the throats of guys who can't remember all those names for wine / Then, lo, a miracle will set their tongues afire / And the Cocktail Makers shall rejoice.
Origin: "Flaming Moe's." Moe the bartender's tavern is losing business until Homer concocts an elaborate new cocktail — which Moe swipes and renames.
The resulting boom turns Moe's into a velvet-rope joint with live acts (Aerosmith performs "Walk This Way"), fashion-model bartenders and a self-conscious camaraderie that sets the stage for an outstanding send-up of the "Cheers" theme song. The real Moe's is ruined.
Proof: "Flaming Moe's" aired Jan. 21, 1991, presaging a decade in which millions of beer- and wine-swilling Americans converted to pricey, grotesque cocktails, and cheap-shot dive bars were remade into haunts for nouveau Bohemians.
Not convinced? Check your tab. As Moe presciently observed, "He may have come up with the recipe, but I came up with the idea of charging $6.95 for it."
Homerdamus: The third millennium will see Man embrace Man / And Woman embrace Woman / In a universal love-fest / Wait a minute. Where is this going?
Origin: Although the quatrain's last line is enigmatic, evidence rests on the seminal episode "Simpson and Delilah." We see the shape of things to come when Homer and his new assistant, Karl, engage in a serious smooch. Karl is voiced by gay actor Harvey Fierstein, a bit of casting that lends extra definition.
Proof: "Simpson and Delilah" aired Oct. 18, 1990, with Homer's and Karl's act forever changing the course of same-sex necking on TV. In their osculating lip-steps followed the first lesbian kiss ("Relativity"); the first man-on-man teenage kiss ("Dawson's Creek"); and the first male homosexual foreplay (Showtime's "Queer As Folk").
Not convinced? On Jan. 1, 2003, the first British ad with two men kissing debuted in a commercial for the venerable product Marmite.
Homerdamus: Tribes will be pitted in a terrible war / Of cunning and strength and greed / Making some friends, some foes / And some dumb slobs just plain out of a job.
Origin: "Mountain of Madness" sent pairs of coworkers from the nuclear plant scrambling up Mount Useful as part of Mr. Burns' scheme to build esprit de corps. The last team to reach his cabin will be fired. Desperation, conniving and an apparently rigged game ensue as Mr. Burns and Homer get to Mr. Burns' cabin first; meanwhile, other teams are lost or confused. (Lenny hopefully suggests to Carl that the search is really for "the cabin in each of us.")
Proof: "Mountain of Madness" aired Jan. 2, 1997, more than three years before CBS unveiled "Survivor," a wildly successful reality series about erstwhile teammates competing for first prize amid desperation, conniving and careful editing.
Not convinced? The winner of the "Mountain" episode was crafty plutocrat Mr. Burns, object of the semi-closeted Smithers' affection; the first winner of "Survivor" was crafty nudist Richard Hatch, whom many tribe mates wished had been semi-closeted.
Homerdamus: Shadows will darken the landscape/ In the form of a large, clawed beast and a slightly smaller one / Whose actions threaten the nation's children / Unleashing a force of [undecipherable hieroglyphics].
Origin: "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge" sends Marge on one of her periodic crusades, this time against television's harmful influence on children.
She launches a campaign that turns "The Itchy & Scratchy Show" into a cartoon of bland niceties ("Love love love, share share share") and then is horrified when the same methods are used to ban a Renaissance art exhibit in Springfield.
Proof: "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge" aired Dec. 20, 1990. In 1996, Congress pressured television to devise the parental ratings system — a cascade of undecipherable hieroglyphics — that helped guide children to the most violent and inappropriate shows on TV.
Not convinced? While archaeologists can't be absolutely sure, many feel the missing symbols at the end of Homerdamus' prediction most likely were TV-Y, TV-Y7, TV-Y7-FV, TV-G, (D,L,S), TV-PG (V,S,L,D), TV-14 (V,S,L,D), TV-MA (V,S,L,D).
Homerdamus: A vessel shall arrive, long and wheelied / Bound, yet unbound, by the limits of land and sky / Carrying the people to wherever they want / Including the Kwik-E-Mart.
Origin: "Marge vs. the Monorail," which pits Marge's desire for downtown renovation against a slick singing consultant and bedazzled town boosters.
Convinced through a song inspired by "The Music Man" that a monorail will solve Springfield's problems, the townsfolk buy one using funds from a settlement with a radioactive-waste company. The monorail proves an out-of-control folly; along the way, we encounter mechanized ants, a Popsicle skyscraper and an escalator to nowhere.
Proof: Ten years after "Marge vs. the Monorail" aired Jan. 14, 1993, a commuting monorail may be built in Seattle! This Northwest place, nicknamed "Emerald City" for its Oz-like forms of transportation and moss-growing administration, also is exploring mechanized ants to build it.
Not convinced? Gaze Fifth Avenue-ward and behold the wonders of Homerdamus. You say you still can't get to the Kwik-E-Mart? D'oh!
Kay McFadden: firstname.lastname@example.org