Q&A with Ian Maxtone-Graham about a certain Waylon Sr.
As someone who is obtaining a minor in creative writing and a major in the biological sciences I am a naturally curious person, being that yours truly needs to find out a lot more about their interest. My routine is to analyze my subject of interest with the curiosity of a five-year old, then asking unlimited questions about said desire like a 4-year old with constant ‘why’s if you don’t stop me. With research you have to go to the sources. Luckily I was able to find Ian Maxtone-Graham the writer of the episode The Blunder Years, (and many more Simpsons episodes in his catalog,) and was able to hook up with him on a Q&A of a character that is pretty dear to my heart, and one with hardly any characterization or backstory surrounding his persona, which makes it even the more fun for observation and headcanon translation for my brain dictation machine.
Again, I cannot give enough thanks and appreciation for his input (though building a pontoon or stealing a yacht is out of the question,) and while some things may eventually be changed in unforeseeable plots and whatnot on the show, it’s nice to obtain just a sliver of information on a powerful force in Montgomery Burns’ life.
Though, I will curse that he may have sunk a personal ship of mine. For that you have made a powerful enemy today, my friend. *shakes little fist. Dogs howl in the background while thunder claps like a whip above*
What is really generous is that he allowed the interpretation open to us, the fans, for some of the questions including his history and perhaps with more tether, his sexuality (”Straight, I think.”)Waylon is also outstandingly intelligent, which is really something that Burns looks in a right-hand man (and the mun of this blog really admires. I cannot thank you enough for showing me another genius-level character.) Pretty much Smithers Sr. is the Ernest Kanzler to Henry Ford (though a quick search tells me that they did have a strong dynamic, clashing a bit before Kanzler’s plans with Edsel Ford failed and then he was humiliated and shunned until death.)**
** Actually I have an update. Ian sent me an e-mail after he was linked to this article via a twitter response and apparently my source was incorrect about Kanzler becoming humiliated and shunned before death. This is what I get when my research accounts as nothing more than a couple of sites, a paperclip and a few references. Brevity is never the key.
So, I received this in my box which nearly gave me a heartattack afterwards because I thought he was going to hunt me down and kick my ass, send flying monkeys or something:
Just took a second look at your blog post and that sentence is not accurate, if,
as I gather, it was meant to apply to Ernest Kanzler.
He had a great career,
head of the war production board during WW II, which ain’t nothin. American
Industry won World War 2, and the WPB made that all work. He worked for Bendix
and other places. Then went back to Ford Motor with Henry II. So played a role
in both Henry Ford eras.
I highly recommend you watch Sarah Colt’s
documentary about Henry Ford. Ernest is in it, and it is utterly fascinating.
HF was a great industrialist but deeply flawed as a person, beginning but not
ending with an ugly lifelong anti-semitism, which was not rare on those days but
in him was pronounced.
So, thanks again to Mr. Maxtone-Graham for emerging from the shadows and pointing me in the right direction. Whether the resulting research was propaganda or misinformation is unknown to me, but when you go deep you always have to go deeper ( and for that I will give you another carbon rod to your score. Just one. Can’t get too greedy)And I am going to give the documentary a look because I love watching documentaries and new information. Yes, as a kid, I was weird.
We give Ian Maxtone-Graham a 6 and a half carbon rod salute here at this blog, for exemplary achievement of the highest regard within the fandom and answering questions whether how dumb, insignificant or short they are.Wondering where the other half of the carbon rod went? It’s probably holding open the door to the garage or moonlighting as a paper weight or in Congress passing bills unchallenged or something. How should I know where it went as long as it comes back sober and before 11 o’clock before the news reminds me where my children are at. I don’t want another responsibility on my head, dammit.
Episode Specific questions:
1. Where did the whole idea of Smithers Sr. come from?
POSSIBLY ME, HARD TO REMEMBER. THE SHOW IDEA WAS AL’S.
2. Was his name originally Ernest. K. Smithers and if so, why the name
change? Was it to keep the anagram ‘Wants Him Sorely’?
I THINK WAYLON
SENIOR WAS TO MAKE SMITHERS HIS NAMESAKE AND THUS BELOVED OF BURNS, ETC.
JUST SIMPLER TOO WITH A FATHER. ORIGINALLY HE WAS ERNEST K.
3. Did you have his death in the reactor core planned from the beginning
or was it going to be something else?
WOW. DON’T REMEMBER. THE STORY
WAS BULT SLOWLY IN THE ROOM FROM AL’S IDEA
4. We were
speculating about his job title at the plant. What was it?
I’UNNO. SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR OPERATIONS? PLOT DEVICE?
Was there any reason for him to bring Waylon Jr. to the plant?
WOULD SEE HIM AS A BABY. AND BURNS COULD BOND WITH HIM.
Character Specific questions:
1. How did he meet Burns? Was it though a nuclear project, or something else?
YOU DECIDE. NO BACK STORY WAS EVER PITCHED ON.
2. What is his birthdate?
UP TO YOU.
3. I surmised from his appearances in From Cur With Love he was pretty
stoic, and The Blunder Years he was also brave and caring. How would you
describe his personality?
YES. HIGHLY CAPABLE. ERNEST KANZLER SENIOR.
4. Did he occasionally clash with Burns? If so, what would it be over?
ERNEST KANXLER AND HENRY FORD I WOULD BE A GOOD COMPARISON. THE TITAN
AND THE VERY CAPABLE RIGHT-HAND.
5. How smart is he?
VERY. HARVARD LAW.
6. We were speculating about how close his relationship was with Burns.
How would you describe it? Would it be unrequited love on Monty’s
behalf? ( you can leave that last part out if you feel that you cannot
answer it. We were kind of thinking about this since some of the
previous Smithers in other incarnations, including ancestal ones seemed
to have a fondness for their Burns counterparts much like the current
PURELY PROFESSIONAL, WITH RESPECT BUT ALSO WARINESS. READ
WOLF HALL ETC. - SIMLAR TO THAT PERHAPS.
7. Any quirks?
UP TO YOU
8. Was he bisexual, straight or gay (asking that because lavender marriages were common at the time.)
STRAIGHT, I THINK.
9. What similarities and differences does he share with Waylon Jr.?
DEVOTION TO MB, AND SMARTS.
10. How did he gain Burns’ respect and admiration (I think that last
term would be what you would call those emotions? I mean, I have never
seen Monty act like that around another before.)
11. I know Burns is an emotional drunk, so what type of drunk would Waylon Sr. be like?
CONTROLLED. NOT A BIG DRINKER.
12. Did he once work at Springfield University or another college?
For seven seasons we watched Gilmore Girls’ Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel) laugh, cry, and eat. Among the duo’s favorite sweet treats—cherry donuts from Luke’s Diner. Happy National Donut Day!