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Oh boy! Sleep! That's where I'm a MeFite!
October 25, 2007 6:39 PM   Subscribe

Today on BoingBoing TV: MeFi's own Greg Nog asks Simpsons director David Silverman: " Does Ralph mean he dreams of being being a literal viking when he sleeps, or does he use "viking" as an absurd way of saying that he excels at the act of sleeping?"

The answer: "I'm pretty sure [the writer] means that when Ralph falls asleep, that's when he becomes a viking."
posted by arcticwoman to MetaFilter-Related at 6:39 PM (70 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

Greg Nog is so my hero.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:42 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


That's a Bush Administration-style "answer".

FAIL.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:57 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ya, he so didn't answer the question.

I like how her hair looks like it's part of her head, though. Kind of a shellac-ed painted-on style, like dolls from the '50's.
posted by chococat at 6:59 PM on October 25, 2007


It's sad, how David Silverman could be so wrong.
posted by sugarfish at 6:59 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


TOLD YOU.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 7:00 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


The answer: "I'm pretty sure [the writer] means that when Ralph falls asleep, that's when he becomes a viking."

(...at sleeping.)
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:08 PM on October 25, 2007 [9 favorites]


I am not satisfied by this, and not being satisfied by things is where I'm a viking.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:08 PM on October 25, 2007 [13 favorites]


What will it take to please you people? WHAT WILL IT TAKE?!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:10 PM on October 25, 2007


Tonight when I go to sleep, I'm going to become Greg Nog.
posted by homunculus at 7:22 PM on October 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


The answer: "I'm pretty sure [the writer] means that when Ralph falls asleep, that's when he becomes a viking."

YEAH BUT HE DOSN'T KNOW WE MUST ASK THE WRITER HIM/HERSELF!!!!!!!!!!!

But seriously. DUH.
posted by delmoi at 7:23 PM on October 25, 2007


He totally answered the question.

"When Ralph falls asleep, that's when he becomes a viking."

Not "it's a metaphor for Ralph excelling at sleep," but "when he becomes a viking." Thusly, not the metaphor, but a literal viking.

The only way you can see the answer as ambiguous is if you assume that it's a metaphor, but isn't that begging the question?

"Viking or metaphor?"
"Viking."
"And by 'viking' do you mean 'metaphor?'"
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 7:28 PM on October 25, 2007 [22 favorites]


Man, the church of the subgenus was much cooler before wikipedia
posted by delmoi at 7:29 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh boy, snark! That's where MetaFilter is a viking!
posted by never used baby shoes at 7:48 PM on October 25, 2007


This just happened.
posted by ND¢ at 7:48 PM on October 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


Man, the church of the subgenus was much cooler before wikipedia

Well, it was a pretty boring concept to start with. I mean, of all the things to worship.
posted by nanojath at 7:49 PM on October 25, 2007


There are people like Greg Nog and you and I who understand grammar and the language we speak...

There is a hyper-aware subset of those people that has realized the rest of us cannot by nature stand silent witness to rejections of logical grammar and have turned this into a game...

Then there are the morons...

What the Ralph Wiggum/Sleep Viking nonsense has created is a perfect, perpetual equilibrium between the three.

That is to say, nothing will every satisfy, and this thread should be locked in an attempt to break the cycle of violence.
posted by pokermonk at 7:53 PM on October 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


I just like that the original post had over 400 freakin' comments. It's the viking of posts.
posted by starman at 7:54 PM on October 25, 2007


Could somebody go through the original thread and put together a list of insane MeFites? It could be part of the wiki.
posted by Partial Law at 8:05 PM on October 25, 2007


To try and prevent what pokermonk has predicted, I've created a handy flowchart.

Please consider consulting the flowchart as an acceptable alternative to posting your opinion.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:11 PM on October 25, 2007 [17 favorites]


The interesting thing about this whole debacle is that even if "viking" didn't mean "one who excels" before, it sure does now!
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:17 PM on October 25, 2007 [4 favorites]


Oh boy! Vindication! That's where I'm completely correct!
posted by Rock Steady at 8:19 PM on October 25, 2007 [7 favorites]


Mmm. Good beans.
posted by stevis23 at 8:32 PM on October 25, 2007


I'm still convinced it was all orchestrated by one person with a lot of free time and a few sockies around here (and on some other boards). I mean, seriously, does anyone actually believe that it could possibly be metaphorical? That should be nonpossible, right?
posted by mosessis at 9:04 PM on October 25, 2007


Well, when I get drunk and shout I AM A VIKING RAAAR and hit you over the head with a chicken bone, I am not speaking metaphorically. At that moment I am literally a viking.

I await further pointless hairsplitting disputation on this burning issue.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:08 PM on October 25, 2007


I wish BBTV would make the seek bar a different color for the portions in which Xeni appears.
posted by blasdelf at 9:09 PM on October 25, 2007


Please. Since when does the author know anything about what they wrote?
posted by bonehead at 9:09 PM on October 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


I feel it needs to be pointed out that Ralph is never literally a viking, so those of you advocating a "literal" interpretation should maybe reconsider your position.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:20 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Okay, figurative viking.

Sheesh.
posted by yhbc at 9:22 PM on October 25, 2007


I feel it needs to be pointed out that Ralph is never literally a viking

Let's go empty a bottle or two or rye and see what happens.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:26 PM on October 25, 2007


This is why I love Simpsons. It's funny for everyone, genius for some.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:27 PM on October 25, 2007


Mr President, I think that's why the guy's answer is genius. Two readings are offered by Greg Nog, and Silverman rejects them both, instead offering a reading according to which Ralph literally becomes a Viking when he sleeps -- in a stunning nocturnal transformation that we never witness onscreen. Not a dream, not a metaphor. Ralphie Wiggum, at the prow of the longboat, in full berserker rage, blood covering his eyes as he fights for the thane.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:32 PM on October 25, 2007 [8 favorites]


Greg Nog's favorite drink? Egg nog. True story.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:04 PM on October 25, 2007


I don't buy it, kirkaracha. I say his favorite drink is the juice from a jar of Half-Sour Kosher Dill pickles. You can ask him, or cite to his profile, but I'm pretty sure that when he says "egg nog," it's a metaphor for pickle juice. Prove me wrong. Oh, and if he says, "No, it's not a metaphor, I really mean egg nog," that's just a metaphor for the fact that it's a metaphor.
posted by Partial Law at 10:26 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


... in bed!
posted by aubilenon at 11:58 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nice use of the word Thane LobsterMitten. Es war kein Traum.
posted by jouke at 12:07 AM on October 26, 2007


Never before have I been so confused. Never. Not even that one time.
posted by philomathoholic at 12:41 AM on October 26, 2007


One morning, as Gregor Nog awoke from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his sleep into a monstrous Viking.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 3:34 AM on October 26, 2007 [4 favorites]


Exactly Jon Mitchell.
posted by jouke at 4:10 AM on October 26, 2007


I AM A VIKING RAAAR
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:45 AM on October 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Longboats are still longboats, right?
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 6:18 AM on October 26, 2007


Longboats are still longboats, right?

Dunno - let's check:

"I am a viking. Wanna see my longboat? It is very long."

Apparently not - I'm afraid that's a euphemism
posted by Sparx at 6:38 AM on October 26, 2007


So what meaning pertains to Marge's recent viking ship ride in the Springfield amusement park? Huh? Was she a real viking? Did she sleep? I think NOT!
posted by AwkwardPause at 7:27 AM on October 26, 2007


If your idea of a first date is burning down her village, you just might be a Viking.
posted by box at 7:51 AM on October 26, 2007


Oh well.. not even David Silverman is infallible.
posted by xorry at 8:01 AM on October 26, 2007


He could have taken a cue from J.K. Rowling and replied, "That's where he becomes a viking. A gay viking."
posted by brain_drain at 8:08 AM on October 26, 2007


Seriously. That answer made it sound like he thinks Ralph is physically transformed into a Viking, as LobsterMitten describes.

And if that's the case, this guy is clearly not sane, and hence not an authority on the meaning of this quote.

So neener.
posted by GrammarMoses at 8:46 AM on October 26, 2007


This is why I love Simpsons. It's funny for everyone, genius for some.

Not to burst your bubble, but, um, fuck no. The Simpsons has become so unfunny it's sad.

In any case, it's clear that Silverman's intended meaning is that Ralph becomes a literal Viking, albeit a sleeping one. It's a Schroedinger's cat joke.
posted by Reggie Digest at 8:59 AM on October 26, 2007


Oh boy, the internet! That's where I'm annoying!

By the way, my favorite beverage is, in fact, a big ol' glass of metaphor.

And that was totally a non-answer. I'm gonna have to kidnap David Cohen or something.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:38 AM on October 26, 2007


GrammarMoses, you don't think that's pure genius, as an answer to the question?
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:58 AM on October 26, 2007


I'm gonna have to kidnap David Cohen or something.

See if you can trick him into an interview around the time new Futurama DVDs start hitting.

I'd give you a shiny nickel if you actually went to the source.
posted by sparkletone at 11:04 AM on October 26, 2007


Enough of this!

I am a literal viking, my real name is Björn Skullcrusherhammer, I wear an iron helmet and I ride a horse and shit. I can definitively tell all of you that Ralph Wiggum is a viking.

None of that figurative 'viking means good' kind of bullshit, but an honest to Odin, burning, looting, raping viking. Hel, we went on a raid last week and the ferocity of that boy's attacks stunned even a war-hardened veteran like myself.

So, don't question Rölf Wiggumströmcleaver's vikingness, lest you fall under the wrath of it.
posted by quin at 12:46 PM on October 26, 2007


SLEEP IS WHERE I'M A PLATE OF BEANS
posted by quonsar at 12:58 PM on October 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Mr President, I think that's why the guy's answer is genius. Two readings are offered by Greg Nog, and Silverman rejects them both, instead offering a reading according to which Ralph literally becomes a Viking when he sleeps -- in a stunning nocturnal transformation that we never witness onscreen. Not a dream, not a metaphor. Ralphie Wiggum, at the prow of the longboat, in full berserker rage asleep, blood covering his eyes as he fights for the thane snores.

The only transformation alluded to is the transformation into a viking, not the transformation to, you know, being awake.
posted by Anything at 2:04 PM on October 26, 2007


SLEEP IS WHERE I CAN'T FIND CAPSLOCK
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:33 PM on October 26, 2007


LobsterMitten, I always admire someone who manages to find a Third Way (or, for that matter, a loophole). So Silverman may well be ingenious/a genius. That doesn't make him sane (see above, yadda yadda).

Metaphorical Vikings, represent!
posted by GrammarMoses at 3:07 PM on October 26, 2007


I am a literal viking

I thought you wuz a eskimo Inuit.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:29 PM on October 26, 2007


It's been said before, but I'll say it again: Name one instance where Ralph speaks in metaphor, and I will entertain the question.

You can't find one, can you?
posted by spiderskull at 3:49 PM on October 26, 2007


"Sleep. That's where I am a viking!"

The "where" is not a literal place, it's a mental construct, also referred to as the "STATES ARE LOCATIONS" metaphor.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:28 PM on October 26, 2007


It's been said before, but I'll say it again: Name one instance where Ralph speaks in metaphor

In that other gigantic thread, statolith pointed out that Ralph says "Lisa's the new Ralph!" when she earns academic disapproval. That's in the episode "Lisa the Skeptic". I think it's safe to say that he doesn't think Lisa has literally transformed into Ralph Wiggum and usurped his life.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:59 PM on October 26, 2007


Is "literal viking" a mefi user name yet?

If not, anyone who signs up under that username from this point forward owes me for giving them the idea because clearly I am the first person to have ever thought of it.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 6:33 PM on October 26, 2007


Name one instance where Ralph speaks in metaphor

I wonder, does "it tastes like burning" count?

(I don't believe the metaphorical Viking theory, I'm just wondering if this quote would count as a metaphor, or just as evidence that Ralph doesn't use English all that well.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:04 PM on October 26, 2007


LobsterMitten, there's the rub. What one person calls a metaphor, another can interpret as defective speech -- which, in a literal sense, it is. But so many words have actually been born via metaphorical usage -- so where does that leave us? Can we ever truly confine ourselves to the literal?

spiderskull, I give you:

"Lisa's bad dancing makes my feet sad." ("Last Tap Dance in Springfield")

(After being soaked in fake blood) "I look like cable TV!" ("The Great Money Caper")

Also, to the extent that Wikipedia can be considered authoritative, consider this: "Ralph often makes metaphors for things to explain to himself how the world works around him, such as describing shutting down the Nuclear Power Plant to avert a meltdown by comparing it to catching a pixie and wrapping it in tinfoil. "

MMmmmmmm, wine. Mmmmm, beans.
posted by GrammarMoses at 7:49 PM on October 26, 2007


Name one instance where Ralph speaks in metaphor
I wonder, does "it tastes like burning" count?


Nope.

"I'm pretty sure [the writer] means that when Ralph falls asleep, that's when he becomes a viking."

This is completely clear: Ralph says that's where he's a viking. Whether or not he actually transmogrifies into a Scandinavian warrior is irrelevant. He says he does.
No metaphor needed.
posted by signal at 12:16 AM on October 27, 2007


The "where" is not a literal place, it's a mental construct, also referred to as the "STATES ARE LOCATIONS" metaphor.

Huh.. okay, so if I said, "I had a dream last night where I was a cat," then you're saying it makes reasonable sense to assume I mean a construct -- nay, a state of mind -- of being a cat?
posted by spiderskull at 1:23 AM on October 27, 2007


That would not be reasonable; however, if you said "Last night I had a dream where I was this total chick-magnet," it would make reasonable sense that you weren't actually becoming a piece of soft metal that attracts baby birds.

Lord, lord... every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:13 AM on October 27, 2007


The dream is the state. Dreams aren't physical places that you can visit. When you use "where" to describe a non-physical place you are using a metaphor. And the place that the "where" describes defines an area, with boundaries. The things that happen "inside" that area are part of the dream state, the things that lie outside are part of the wake state. That's why people say "In my dream I..." You aren't actually "in" anything.

Metaphor is complex, and sometimes extremely subtle. The obvious examples are, well, obvious. The sneakier ones get into everything we say and shape our culture, thoughts, and cognitive frameworks.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:04 AM on October 27, 2007


Last night I had a dream where I was this total chick-magnet

But, Greg, the much-less-often-used (or possibly NEVER) used interpretation of chick-magnet, that being the baby-bird-attractor, is pretty much the one you INSTANTLY leapt to in the case of Ralph's Viking.

Seriously, he means he dreams of being a Viking, and that's that. Although my interpretation of the word is now forever fuzzy and random after that thread, and the ensuing pub arguments.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 2:53 PM on October 27, 2007


Seriously, he means he dreams of being a Viking, and that's that.

Seriously, though, you're wronger than child beauty pageants, and that's that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:04 PM on October 27, 2007


The dream is the state. Dreams aren't physical places that you can visit.

Oh! So it's like Wyoming.
posted by Reggie Digest at 12:14 PM on October 28, 2007


I can't decide if I'm amused or horrified that this argument is still going on.

NOT A METAPHOR.
posted by Hildegarde at 6:34 PM on November 3, 2007


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