Seinfeld Monday: “The Soup Nazi”

SOUP NAZI

I am finally back to blogging about Seinfeld. When we left off, I was in the middle season 7, and now, we have come to one of the most iconic Seinfeld episodes of all: “The Soup Nazi” (TSN) I actually have memories of this episode from when I was a kid, but I can’t remember from when. In any event, I don’t think I saw the whole episode then or even most of it, but I’ve carried a picture of the soup stand in my head since then. For a long time, when I thought about Seinfeld, that mental picture was all that came into my mind. All that to say, I was happy to finally get to experience this episode in its entirety. Here is my breakdown of TSN.

The Periphery

There are a few issues unrelated to the plot of TSN that are, nonetheless, entertaining. Jerry is dating a woman named Sheila who he affectionately refers to as “Schmoopie.” However, she also calls him “Schmoopie,” resulting in an ongoing debate over which one of them is really “Schmoopie”-and irritating everyone within earshot.

A frustrated George retaliates by lobbing his own terms of endearment at Susan in front of the Schmoopies, causing Jerry spews forth more ridiculous pet names at Sheila. Not to be outdone, George grabs Susan and starts making out with her, and Jerry and Sheila follow suit. It is a war of affection.

This is war.

George’s brief victory comes back to bite him later in the episode when Jerry and Sheila break up, and Susan tells him she is thrilled with the step forward his new public display of affection represents for their relationship.

The Premise

"You will be stunned! You can't get this soup standing up; your knees buckle!"

“You will be stunned! You can’t eat this soup standing up; your knees buckle!”

Peripheral details aside, the plot of “The Soup Nazi” revolves around a chef who makes the best soup in New York, the kind of soup you would choose over your girlfriend.

This chef earned his nickname because he operates his soup stand like a Nazi regime. There is a very strict ordering process, as Newman correctly demonstrates. If a costumer fails to follow the procedures, he is forced to leave, traumatized and soupless, as illustrated by George and one Spanish patron.

"This guy makes the best soup in the city, Jerry; the best!"

            “This guy makes the best soup in the city, Jerry; the best!”

The Armoire

While the rest of the gang is feasting on soup, Elaine is distracted by an armoire she finds at a street sale.

armoire

Elaine skips the best soup in town for an antique armoire. Only $200 with the “nice face” discount.

Because she isn’t able to load it into her apartment on Sunday (which sounds insane for New York), she gets Kramer to watch it for her until Monday. He requests a hot bowl of Mulligatawny for his services, and Elaine goes to see TSN without knowing the proper ordering procedures. The results are disastrous. In the meantime, two “street toughs” intimidate Kramer and steal the armoire.

Kramer, the one who introduced the rest of the gang to the soup stand, is the only person who seems understand TSN and build a friendship with him.

"He's not a Nazi. He just happens to be a little eccentric. Most geniuses are."

“He’s not a Nazi. He just happens to be a little eccentric. Most geniuses are.”

One day he tells TSN about the fate of his friend’s armoire, and-not knowing the identity of Kramer’s friend-he offers up an armoire he has laying around in his basement. Kramer delivers it to an excited Elaine.

the k man

                             “Did the K-man do it, or did the K-man do it?”

She goes to thank TSN, but he is less than thrilled upon discovering she is the recipient of his armoire,  

The episode-and with it, the soup stand-is brought to a close when Jerry discovers TSN’s recipes in a drawer of Elaine’s new armoire. She makes them public, allowing everyone to make delicious soup in their homes and breaking the regime’s stranglehold on the neighborhood.

 

"You're through, Soup Nazi. No more soup for you. NEXT!"

                 “You’re through, Soup Nazi. No more soup for you. NEXT!”

 

Where does “The Soup Nazi” rank in your all-time Seinfeld episodes? 

Is it one of the best or just one of the most iconic? 

Tuesday “News:” A Recap of 90s Media I Discovered Last Week

Between work, the NCAA Tournament, and attending my buddy’s wedding in St. Louis, I did not have much time for 90s exploration last week. However, reminders of that decade managed to come up throughout the weekend. My buddies and I listened to 90s music all the way down to St. Louis (in my 1998 Buick, mind you), discussed potential Seinfeld episodes using the personality quirks of our close friends, and finding myself sufficiently warm for the first time in 6 months, I tied my jacket around my waist like I did back in elementary school:

photo (12)

Jacket tied around my waist on a warm St. Louis day at the City Museum. Somebody get me a Capri Sun and Lunchables Pizza (photo by Anthony Flora).

But beyond that, I had a few good discussions about the blog and the 90s in general. I have been encouraged by people’s genuine interested in my project, eagerness to suggest 90s media for me to explore, and curiosity toward what I am learning along the way. A few comments stuck with me. In passing, my buddy Collin referred to Seinfeld as the “Shakespeare” of the 90s, a phrase which I immediately informed him I was going to steal. Another friend Jon said something about Nirvana that I stopped and wrote down immediately:

“I remember hearing Smells like Teen Spirit for the first time, thinking the world was about to explode, and wondering if there was any other song that should exist.”

Brilliant/awesome. But besides these things, I found time for a little 90s discovery last week:

1. Marching Through Seinfeld

One night last week, my roommate and I put our responsibilities aside for cocktails and a Seinfeld binge. I think I watched 9 episodes that night, spanning the end of season 7 and into season 8. I always knew George was going to find his way out of his relationship with Susan, but I never thought it would take her death at the hand of toxic wedding envelopes for it to happen.I feel like George and Kramer made a resurgence late in season 7 after their characters had become somewhat predictable by the end of season 6. I’ve last seen “The Foundation” (S8/E1), the first episode after Larry David left the project and Jerry became the sole director. Only two more seasons to go…

2. Andy Wood

I was a bit late on this, but last week I wrote a brief commemorative post for Andy Wood, lead singer of Mother Love Bone, who passed away 24 years ago on March 19th. Mother Love Bone later added Eddie Vedder and reformed as Pearl Jam.

3. Kur(d)t Cobain Photos

This week, the Seattle Police dept. released 35 new photos from Kurt Cobain’s suicide scene. I saw something about this a few weeks ago, but it seemed like the police only released two new photos that didn’t reveal much. The other 33 new photos show police around the greenhouse where Cobain killed himself, as well as Kurt’s open heroin kit and suicide note with a pen stuck through it (read the full text here and hear Courtney recite it at his candlelight vigil here). Thanks for the heads up, Katie!

Kur(d)t Cobain's suicide note.

        Kurt Cobain’s suicide note.

4. Seattle 

This week I’m headed to Seattle for the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death. I am thrilled and excited. More on that tomorrow.

HT: Collin Joyce, Jon Guerra, Katie Stipanovich, Anthony Flora

Seinfeld Sunday: “The Hot Tub”

Kramer hot tub

I recently saw three fantastic Seinfeld episodes in the same week. Rather than letting them get lost in the shuffle, I am breaking my usual rule and writing about all three. Last Sunday was “The Wink,” and this week is “The Hot Tub” (S7/E5).

The name of the episode comes from the hot tub Kramer buys and puts in his living room:

He enjoys opening the windows and cranking the heat up to 120 degrees until he falls asleep on a nightly soak, the heat pump breaks, and the water temperature drops dramatically.

Kramer Cold

“I fell asleep in the hot tub, and the heat pump broke. The water went down to 58 degrees. I can’t get my core temperature back up!”

Kramer spends the rest of the episode trying to stay warm while until his new industrial strength heat pump arrives….

You will recall from the last episode that George has recently taken a new job, but he has little to do until the season starts and is looking for a way to kill time at work without letting his boss know he is screwing around. He has mastered the art of looking annoyed which makes it seem like he’s busy. He also gets some circumstantial help along the way:

Mr. Willhelm believes George is stressed and suggests he goes to spend time with some representatives from the Houston Astros to discuss inter-league play. George does so and learns a whole new vocabulary in the process:

bastards

“We’ve been talking to a real friendly son of a bitch in the front office…he told us that George Costanza’s gunna be taking us bastards out on the town. I said that sonofabitch doesn’t know what he’s got in store for him!”

Eventually, news of George’s “stress” reaches the top of the front office, and Mr. Steinbrenner suggests they take some time to relax…in a hot tub.

Elaine is writing for a Jay Peterman catalog but has trouble coming up with a description for Himalayan walking shoes (a condition Jerry refers to as “catalog writer’s block”).

writer's block

                                                           “Come on!”

Kramer, George, and Elaine play minor roles in this episode, while the bulk of it highlights Jerry‘s obsession with Jean-Paul Jean-Paul, a runner from Trinidad &Tobago who has come to stay with Elaine and plans to run the New York marathon. Four years earlier, he overslept and missed the Olympics. Jerry and George discuss what might have gone wrong with his alarm:

George: I’ll tell you what happened: I bet you he got the AM/PM mixed up.

Jerry: My money’s on the snooze. I bet ya he hit the snooze for an extra five, and it never came back on.

(turns out it was the volume) Jerry makes it his mission to get Jean-Paul to the marathon on time and reminds Elaine of her responsibility to do so every chance he gets: making sure she has a functioning alarm clock, berating her for her tardiness, flipping out when she burned her muffin by setting the time on the microwave incorrectly:

I set it for twenty seconds

Elaine: Oh no, my muffin!
Jerry: What happened?
Elaine: Oh I don’t know. I set this thing for twenty seconds!
Kramer: It’s set for two minutes…

Jean Paul gets kicked out of Elaine’s apartment by calling one of her neighbor’s kids a bastard (which he believed to be a term of endearment based on George’s earlier remarks). When Elaine comes home and can’t find Jean Paul, she searches the streets frantically, and in that process cures her writer’s block (see “The Shower Principle“):

Himalayan walking shoes

                Elaine celebrates the end of “catalog writer’s block.”

With on where else to go, Jean-Paul calls Jerry who is on the case immediately. He checks Jean-Paul into a hotel room, sets the alarm, and schedules his wake up call. However, the wake up guy becomes annoyed with him, and Jerry is unsettled.

wake up call

Jerry: …it’s a very important wake up call, and I don’t want to take any chances.
Operator: Every wake up call I make is important. You are no more important than any of our guests.
Jerry: Well I just don’t want to get into a whole thing with you here but-
Operator: Are you through?
Jerry: Yea I am, but I just-
[click]

Jerry takes Jean-Paul back to his apartment and sets his alarm (he also has Kramer set his mental alarm), but Kramer’s industrial strength heat pump blew all the fuses and they wake up late. Jerry flies through traffic, and Jean-Paul makes it in time for the race to start. Kramer and Elaine wait with Jerry a mile away from the finish line.

run

                                                             “There he is!”

Jean-Paul is winning the marathon until he reaches out for a cup of water and accidentally grabs Kramer’s scolding hot coffee…

 

Next week….”The Soup Nazi.” Happy Selection Sunday everybody!