The day no one ever dreamed would happen is here. As I write this, we are just a few hours away from broadcasting the 500th episode of THE SIMPSONS. So much has been written and said about this event over the past two weeks, including my two cents here on this blog. I just wanted to share a few of my personal thoughts and memories about being a part of this.
One of my favorite expressions (and one of my wife’s least) is “It’s better to be lucky than good”. She feels that the saying gives short shrift to the hard work that goes in to being “good” and that you shouldn’t live your life just waiting to be “lucky”. She’s 100% right, but my definition of “luck” is “when preparation meets opportunity“. I worked very hard at learning everything I could about film scoring and story telling before I ever had even a whiff of a job in this business. The latest example of someone being my kind of lucky and who’s gotten big national attention is New York Knicks player Jeremy Lin. There is a USA Today story that covers two aspects of his story: the surprise of him being an Asian-American excelling in a sport dominated by African-Americans; how he was ready to seize an opportunity when it came his way. By my definition, he’s the luckiest man in the NBA which means he also worked very hard to be ready to take the proverbial ball and run with it. I cannot stress enough to anyone who reads this blog looking for career advice that you have more than half the responsibility in your life to make your luck happen. Only you are in charge of your dedication, passion, and preparedness. The rest of your luck comes from forces and circumstances entirely out of your control. Jeremy Lin needed to have two or three front-line players on his team go down with injuries at the same time for the coach to even consider putting him in the game. What are the chances? But was he ready when the coach pointed at him? You bet your a** he was and he didn’t squander his moment.
I gave the tour at Universal Studios for four years and spent hundreds of hours of my free time visiting the scoring stage to observe, ask questions, and learn. I attended seminars, took classes at UCLA Extension, and composed scores and music edited student films for no pay. Then, I pestered Dan Carlin for two years to get my first job. It all paid off in 1986 when he hired me, but I was still three years away from THE SIMPSONS. I recount all these details to show you how I prepared for my future “big break” and as a way of saying “thank you” to all the people along the way who spoke to me, taught me, coached me, tolerated me, and hired me because every single one of them had a part in leading me down the path to the dream job I now have.
501 music spotting sessions ago (yup, we’ve already moved beyond #500 in the music dept.) I was very excited and grateful to be a part of this new series. I was a huge Tracey Ullman Show fan and really enjoyed the little cartoon bumpers the show used. A little over a year later, I was a little nervous when they hired a new composer and wondered if he’d want to work with a different music editor. Every time we changed show runners, I had the same little twinge of worry wondering if we would work well together, allowing me to keep my job. The ups & downs of the cast contract negotiations over the years is always cause to break out the antacid tabs. When James L. Brooks even hinted at pulling the plug on the show many years ago so that it wouldn’t overstay its welcome, I thought that would definitely be the end of the show. After all, he stopped THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW after only seven seasons for that very reason.
My occasions of happiness far outweigh those quibbles. I’ve been blessed to work on a show that is not only so popular, a cultural touchstone, and 23 years old, but is funny and has a staff of people that are genuinely nice to work with. I can’t imagine working for 23 years on a show about murder and destruction with grumpy people. Lucky for me I don’t have to.
Bart & Homer’s antics have allowed me to support and raise my family, keeping us all under a safe roof with food and clothing and college educations.
I’ve been able to meet some of the biggest names in show business and not just shake their hands or get an autograph, but have them actually take direction … from me!
FOX & Gracie Films has even showered me with swag over the many years, making the job all that much sweeter. I am spoiled beyond all rational standards.
I could ramble on and on with these random thoughts that pop into my head on this special day, but enough already.
One last thing…
A few posts ago, I asked readers and Twitter followers to spread the word about this blog and my twitter account with the goal of reaching a few milestones by the time THE SIMPSONS aired its 500th episode on Sunday, February 19, 2012:
- 15,000 total page views (since the first day of publishing)
- 500 page views in a single day
- 500 followers of my Twitter account
Well, two out of three barriers have been SMASHED, thank you very much!
To all of you who read regularly, to those of you have have just discovered the blog, and to the 306 Tweeps so far – Thank You for your support, kind words, thoughtful comments, and love of all things SIMPSONS. I ran into David Mirkin at the party for the 500th episode and he said to me, “Good job, Chris. Get ready because we’re only half way there.”
From his lips…