A night with Matt Groening and the importance of faeces, feces and faces

So – I participated in a fundraiser for Emily Levine’s “The Edge of Chaos” film a week ago. And one of the key guests was Matt Groening. Not only did I get to hang out with him and discuss fecal transplants with him (really) but I had a front row seat to Matt discussing the history of how he came up with the general outline of the Simpson’s characters.

And in addition to this being just awesome to witness, one part of it struck me. See the video below and in particular the part that struck me was the beginning:

  Groening
basically said that only a few simple changes in faces can be recognized by people very easily. This reminds me of Jenna Lang’s talk at the Lake Arrowhead meeting this year where she discussed using facial drawings as a form of visualizing microbiome data.

So – since I discussed fecal transplants with Matt and since he gave a good description of facial characteristics being easy to identify, I think we should definitely (1) try and get him to include microbiomes on the Simpsons and (2) for our work we should use Simpsons characters as model faces for different microbiomes …

Oh and I also showed Groening some of the pics of my kids reading his “Hell” books:

So – basically it was a night of feces, faeces and faces.  Seems ideal.

About Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis
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2 Responses to A night with Matt Groening and the importance of faeces, feces and faces

  1. Yes, you had to demonstrate you hipster cred by showing that you knew his pre-Simpsons work. 🙂

    In regard to faces as data representations, is this using Chernoff faces (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernoff_face) or is it a new method?

    Like

  2. It is basically an attempt to turn microbiome data into Chernoff Faces

    Like

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