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October 20, 2014

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Thousands lining up to see ‘Simpsons’ house

HENDERSON -- It was a hot day at the cool house and people were seeing red. And screaming purple, and blazing orange and canary yellow, the whole jacked-up color scheme of Kaufman & Broad's "The Simpsons" house.

You could tell it was Homer Simpson's place the minute you drove up -- the parking lot was a mess: discarded drink cups, general trash, odd curls of light-blue material. But what looked like the aftereffects of Simpsonian binge consumption was actually the sign of heavy foot traffic.

Four of those feet belonged to Jean Brandt and Marie Evens, two Henderson seniors who'd braved this steamy Friday morning to see the nutty house modeled after a cartoon show they had never seen.

"It's adorable," said Jean. "I'd like to buy the furniture."

"We were here the first day it opened," Marie said, "but the line was so long we left and came back today."

In fact, long lines have been the story since the house opened to public tours Aug. 13. The promo sapiens in Kaufman & Broad's marketing department must be tickled hot pink -- as of last week, more than 20,000 people had trooped through the house.

"Yesterday was a slow day," said Kaufman & Broad's Victor Allen, "and we had 1,100 people." His guide corps numbers 16 a day, two shifts of eight "Simpsons"-trivia-spouting people leading 10-minute tours.

The home will be given away Sept. 21 during the season premiere of "The Simpsons." The lucky fan with a winning number gleaned from the products of a soft-drink company that isn't Coke will be able to move in next March. By then, Kaufman & Broad will have painted the gaudy exterior a color more compatible with the surrounding homes, lest the neighbors raise a hue and cry.

The retina-straining paint job inside, however, can remain. Kaufman & Broad will even supply a decorator to help you do ... something with it. However, you'll have to pay for your own psychological counseling. And buy your own furniture -- the cartoony decor doesn't come with the house.

Although the line of visitors usually includes quite a few out-of-towners, this day's early crowd seemed mostly local. "I've been meaning to come and see it," said Chuck Adamson of Henderson, peeling off the light-blue booties visitors wear to avoid scuffing the painted floor. "I like it!"

What if you win the place, Chuck -- what'll ya do with the inside? "Oh, I'd keep the inside the same," he said.

Not Dorothy Spencer and George Cebuhar, both locals. "It's too much color for everyday living," George said. "But to see it for the first time, it's very enjoyable."

"It's absolutely adorable," Dorothy said.

Well, could you live in it?

"No," said Dorothy. Apparently it's no place like home.

Say, are you two seniors fans of "The Simpsons"?

"We've started watching," George said hesitantly, looking for just the right word. "It's ... very interesting."

"We'll ask 'em if they're fans of 'The Simpsons,'" said K&B's Allen. "If no one raises their hands, it's what, morbid curiosity?"

But the house is more than curious, it's exciting, it's razzmatazzy, it's nonhumdrum, it's fantastic, it's ...

"It's OK," said Sandy Kidd of Temple City, Calif., who was here -- in town, that is, not at the Simpsons house -- to visit relatives. "It kinda reminds me of Toon Town in Disneyland. I couldn't imagine living in it. But then, I don't watch the show like he does."

He is her son Michael. "It was interesting," he said. "It wasn't as big as I thought it would be." Indeed, although the house is 2,222 square feet and two stories, some of the rooms seem too small to accommodate both Homer's Duff beer-swollen duff and Marge's hyperextended blue hair.

Questions of livability seemed beside the point to the Bart pack of school-age girls who were, somewhat suspiciously, not in school. Hey, they're not ditching! "We got out of school to come see the house," claimed Linda, Laura, Tiffany and Jessica. Ah, another quantum leap for the school district curriculum. Anyway, they're eager to soak up a few Simpsons vibes. "We're fans of the show," giggled Linda or Laura or Tiffany or Jessica. "We watch them every night!" Totally!

Leave it to Jean Brandt, employing the clarity and wisdom bestowed by a long and productive life, to slice to the best reason to see the house before it closes to the public Sept. 14: "When you're old," she said, "you go to see all the stuff that's free."

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