Posts Tagged ‘Pygmoelian

25
Apr
19

Quote of the Day

“I’d been called ugly, pug-ugly, fugly, pug-fugly, but never ugly-ugly.” – Handsome Moe

Happy birthday, Hank Azaria! 

24
Feb
16

Quote of the Day

ActingBug

“As a child, I was bitten by the acting bug.  Then it burrowed under my skin and laid eggs in my heart.  Now those eggs are hatching, and the feeling is indescribable.” – Moe
“I know what you mean.  Our dog had that.” – Homer Simpson

26
Jul
15

Quote of the Day

Pygmoelian4

“Ooh boy, what a mug.” – Nurse
“Yeah, you should see his genitals.  Would you like to see them?” – Cosmetic Surgeon

12
May
13

Quote of the Day

Pygmoelian3

“Like the cleaning of a house, It Never Ends.” – Soap Opera Announcer

23
Aug
12

Compare & Contrast: Hey There, Handsome

Simpson and Delilah10

“Attention, Homer Simpson, you have been promoted.  You are now an executive.  Take three minutes to say goodbye to your former friends and report to room 503 for reassignment to a better life.” – Mr. Smithers

Even in the freewheeling world of animation, where it’s just as easy to send Homer to space as it is to send him to the supermarket, every character on screen has a few well established traits that make them who they are.  Burns is evil; Bart is a troublemaker; Barney is a drunk, etcetera.  Messing with those traits, like having Burns try not to be evil in “The Old Man and the Lisa”, is one of the oldest tricks in the comedy playbook, and it often works quite well.  You get to see the other side of a character and laugh as they are put in situations that make them react in ways that are anathema to who they usually are.  Of course, this sort of switch doesn’t always have to be about someone’s personality.  Physically changing a character can have much the same effect, which is exactly what the show did to Homer, in “Simpson and Delilah”, and Moe, in “Pygmoelian”. 

By default, neither Homer nor Moe are what you’d call handsome, and neither is, to borrow Moe’s words from another episode, “fending off movie starlets with a pointy stick”.  But, by giving Homer hair and giving Moe plastic surgery, both of them can be transformed into men who makes the ladies turn their heads and the gentlemen respectfully defer. 

As is to be expected with any comparison between Season 2 and Season 11, not only is the latter repeating an idea, but it’s also shot through with plot holes, Jerkass Homer, and general nonsense.  Homer’s new executive job makes sense, Moe’s soap opera gig does not.  The secretary applicants all make “kissy faces” at Homer because they want the job, that odd assortment of hot babes at Moe’s just seems to be hanging out for no reason.  Homer losing his looks flows from the first act, Moe losing his new look doesn’t have anything to do with the first act, or the second, or really even the third.  Setting those aside, there is another enormous, glaring neon difference between how Season 2 and Season 11 employed the same concept. 

In “Simpson and Delilah”, the story is about Homer, but the satire and jokes are mostly at the expense of the people around him.  With his new hair, we see Homer impress Patty & Selma, we see him get promoted and succeed in the boardroom, we even see him go through with the big speech that could’ve turned him into one of the most powerful executives at the nuclear plant.  That he fails in the end isn’t his fault, it’s because the social stigma of baldness caught up with him.  In another of those evilly subversive endings The Simpsons tossed off regularly, we see the executives scoff at his presentation not because he screws it up or mispronounces the big words, but because:

Full Haired Executives

Male Executive #1: This bald man has no ideas.
Male Executive #2: If this is a joke, I’m not laughing.
Female Executive: Some nerve, telling us how to run the plant.  He doesn’t even have hair.

The joke here isn’t just Homer failing again, though there is that.  The joke here is on the superficial people who can’t see past Homer’s hairless dome to the millions of dollars of savings he’s offering them.  They don’t know that these are all really Karl’s ideas, they just know that no one who looks like Homer can possibly have anything to offer to people like them.  It isn’t just Homer who fails here, it’s the power plant too. 

By contrast, the soap opera in “Pygmoelian” isn’t really wrong about anything.  After all, it’s a soap opera.  They were right not to hire Moe before he was pretty; their operation didn’t skip a beat replacing Dr. Tad Winslow the first time, so it’s not like they can’t do it again; and if Moe hadn’t been dumb enough to listen to Homer, everything would’ve been fine.  There’s nothing deeper going on in “Pygmoelian”, it’s just a (wacky) story about a guy who gets plastic surgery and then has a wall fall on his face. 

So while “Pygmoelian” does a decent job of satirizing soap operas, that kind of thing had been done many times before (“Father McGrath, I thought you were dead!” / “I was!”), and it has nothing to do with Moe becoming pretty.  The cosmetic prejudice that runs through every scene in “Simpson and Delilah” is totally absent in “Pygmoelian”, which leaves it with little more to do in most scenes than have Jerkass Homer act out as Moe’s newfound sidekick.  Gone is Burns repeatedly mistaking Homer for brilliant (he promotes Homer completely because of his hair), gone is the life altering power of a minor appearance upgrade, gone is Homer traumatizing Bart by informing his son that one day he’ll be bald too. 

By the standards of Season 11, “Pygmoelian” is pretty decent.  The plot isn’t completely batshit, there are quite a few entertaining scenes, Azaria is fantastic, and, best of all, it’s got several memorable and useful quotes (“with sexy results” cracks me up any time I see a commercial for a TV show that teases a plot or an upcoming segment).  But it can’t hope to stack up to Season 2, not only because it’s repeating an idea that had already been done, but because it repeats it in a thoroughly hollow way.

22
Aug
12

Crazy Noises: Pygmoelian

Pygmoelian2

“First, we must install buttocks.” – Plastic Surgeon
“Nah, nah, nah, no luxury items, just the face.” – Moe
“Okay, I’m gonna move this up . . . this, wider . . . I’m gonna lose that . . . I’ve never even seen one of these.” – Plastic Surgeon

For the fourth summer in a row, we here at the Dead Homer Society will be spending some time discussing twelve year old Simpsons episodes.  This year we’re doing Season 11.  Why Season 11?  Because we’ve done Seasons 8, 9 and 10 already, and it’s time to take an unflinching look at the end of the show.  Since Skype and podcasts didn’t exist in 1999, and we want to discuss these episodes the way the internet intended, we’re sticking with the UTF-8 world of chat rooms and instant messaging.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (surprisingly enough, not on “animatronic”).

Today’s episode is 1116, “Pygmoelian”.  Yesterday was 1115, “Missionary Impossible”.

Charlie Sweatpants: This episode also manages to feature a half a B-plot.

Mad Jon: Yep.

Charlie Sweatpants: Though, in this case, it’s all because they wanted to make gay Republican jokes, which weren’t all bad.

Mad Jon: No they weren’t.

Charlie Sweatpants: The setup was incredibly long, but “We’re realistic” about 2084 is funny.

Mad Jon: I have not seen this episode in forever, but I still remembered some of the gay Republican lines. So that’s saying something.

Dave: Yeah, still worth a chuckle today.

Charlie Sweatpants: The main plot, though, is a bit of a mess.

It admits it at the end in mercifully quick fashion, but once Moe starts working in soap operas, things just go from dumb to dumber.

Mad Jon: Yeah, and Homer is there to tag along every step of the way. Especially if that step involves throwing a brick or lighting a TV set on fire.

…In one of two scenes where he is apparently allowed on set and nobody stops him.

Charlie Sweatpants: That was even dumber when Moe just walked on set to demand the job that just happened to be open.

Mad Jon: And why did Homer have to be the one to deliver the calendars?

Dave: I found that really obnoxious, and I’m not sure why.

Mad Jon: Other than the B plot, is there a scene he is not in?

Dave: Maybe it was that moment of pointless pacing around before Homer (why?) shows up.

Charlie Sweatpants: At this point in the show, whenever Homer’s not on screen all the other characters are looking around and asking “Where’s Homer?”, so you’ve just kinda go numb to a lot of it.

In between Jerkass Homer, Azaria gets in some great lines as both Moe and the plastic surgeon.

Mad Jon: The surgeon was pretty good.

Charlie Sweatpants: He was, and Moe got in some good ones too, like “diseases of the head holes”.

Mad Jon: Funny indeed.

I also liked the drunk simulator, especially “Now you’re charming!”

Charlie Sweatpants: I like the animatronic robots. You think you’re better than me?

Of course, all that stuff has to be carefully observed while Homer is throwing bricks and walking onto what are apparently live soap opera shows.

Mad Jon: Yeah, didn’t mind Duff Days too much. Just how they got there. They could have just gone.

That’s right, it was indeed a live soap opera, onto which any old idiot can walk while wearing a homemade angel costume.

Also, I get that Homer doesn’t really have a job anymore, but do the kids still go to school?

Dave: Maybe?

Charlie Sweatpants: Not that I can tell, and at this point Lisa was basically only ever at school to interact with Skinner or Ralph or someone. Miss Hoover’s actual class is gone at this point.

There’s also no distinction between events and actions that I, the audience member, am supposed to think are real and those that aren’t.

Moe and Homer eventually get taken by soap opera security, right? But since there hadn’t been any security at all up to that point, it leaves the entire thing feeling not just goofy and improbable, but flat out impossible.

Mad Jon: Yeah, and like you mentioned earlier, they point it out at the end. But in my opinion that was more of a cop for the lack of an ending again.

Charlie Sweatpants: It was, but at least it was short.

Mad Jon: True enough.

Charlie Sweatpants: The other thing that bugs me here is that Springfield is now apparently host to a wildly popular soap opera, Duffman, and a high rise with gay Republicans in it.

Springfield increasingly feels like no place in these episodes.

That said, “It Never Ends” with the tagline “Like the cleaning of a house” is a damn funny soap opera title.

Mad Jon: I also liked the sign at Duff Days “A lost weekend for the Family”

They were still pretty solid with things like signs and titles and what not at this point.

Charlie Sweatpants: There were some good toss off jokes too, “Daddy I’m stealing” and “TV-ugly, not ugly ugly”.

Dave: Those were cute.

Mad Jon: Yeah, I liked the TV ugly thing.

Charlie Sweatpants: Things like that keep me from hating this episode too much. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s not a giant volcano racist lava pit or whatever.

Mad Jon: I liked this one more than the missionary one. But perhaps like is the wrong word. I hated this one less.

Dave: I was going to say, “like” seems a bit strong.

Mad Jon: I still won’t be putting it in the queue anytime soon.

Dave: Truth.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, I can’t say that this one gets watched with any frequency by me, but at the same time, I get slightly less nauseous when I think about it the way I do with many of these other ones.

Between Azaria’s deliveries (I’ve been meaning to get that updated, for this state, and real) and some good one offs and signs, this is definitely above average for Season 11.

Mad Jon: Yeah, It probably would have been even better if they wouldn’t have insisted on shoving Homer into every damn scene. But overall I am in agreement, better than average, some good things, some things not so good, some things very angering.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well put, Lrrr from Omicron Persei 8.

25
Apr
12

Duff McKagan and Duff Beer: An Internet Investigation

Pygmoelian1

“You said if I slept with you, I wouldn’t have to touch the drunk.” – Titania
“Duffman says a lot of things!  Oh, yeah!” – Duffman

In a Reading Digest last spring, I noted that Duff McKagan, bass player for (among others) Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver, and Loaded, had claimed that Duff beer was named after him.  It came up again last summer, and has been bubbling up on-line ever since.  In addition to it being noted in articles and the like about him, McKagan himself has mentioned it several times.  In an ESPN.com column he wrote:

My name is Duff McKagan, and I play rock and roll music. The beer on "The Simpsons" show was named after me, and not the other way around. (I suppose it is a testament to how much alcohol I used to drink. Yeah, not too sexy really.)

In addition to that, one of those generically crappy radio station “blogs” quotes him in an (unlinked) interview:

”Our management for GN’R got a fax but it was from like an adult cartoon.  Now there wasn’t any adult cartoons in 1988.  There just wasn’t and like, ‘an adult cartoon?’  They want to use your name as the name of the beer on the thing and they just want your blessing.  It’s not like I own the name Duff, I should’ve trademarked that thing on up if I would’ve known but yeah, that think took off, that Simpsons deal.”

And here’s how he put it in his autobiography:

When Guns N’ Roses began to break into the public consciousness, I was known as a big drinker.  In 1988, MTV aired a concert in which Axl introduced me – as usual – as Duff “the King of Beets” McKagan.  Soon after this, a production company working on a new animated series called me to ask if the could use the name “Duff” for a brand of beer in the show.  I laughed and said of course, no problem.  The whole thing sounded like a low-rent art project or something – I mean, who made cartoons for adults?  Little did I know that the show would become The Simpsons and that within a few years I would start to see Duff beer glasses and gear everywhere we toured. 

That last quote caused a brief stir on-line last fall when the book was released.  The first eighty pages were put on-line for free, and that quote appears on page 9.  Just about any time a celebrity puts out a book (or someone puts out a book about a celebrity), one fact/revelation will inevitably be used as the hook to describe it so that people can talk about it without actually having read it.  In this case, that one thing was the Duff Beer-Duff McKagan connection, which was mentioned in articles about the book by everything from little blogs to The Los Angeles Times and The Huffington Post

Now, I don’t particularly care about this.  Whether or not McKagan’s drinking (at one point, he had a championship belt that had Budweiser caps instead of jewels on it) was a factor in naming Homer’s beer “Duff” doesn’t change Duff Gardens, Tartar Control Duff, or Duffman one bit.  However, the internet has a way of mistaking repetition for confirmation, and in the last year this idea has become truthy enough that it gets included as a throwaway fact in semi-respectable publications like Business Week:

How he drank so much beer at one point that Guns N’ Roses lead singer Axl Rose introduced him as “The King of Beers” and a producer from The Simpsons called to ask if he could name the show’s beer, Duff, after him, which they did.

As well as independent blogs:

The name Duff comes from Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan, known for drinking lots of alcoholics.

And the world’s largest source of information, Wikipedia:

In an excerpt from his autobiography, former Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan said that the beer was named after him as the writers were fans of the band and he was known for his extreme alcohol consumption.[3]

That citation, by the way, goes to Maxim’s website, where there’s an excerpt from the book that includes the paragraph I cited above.  The sentence in Wikipedia is carefully worded, but that kind of caution has a way of washing out over time, and experience says that as more people read, write and rewrite the same claim, it’ll become more and more difficult for someone to trace it all the way back to its actual origin. 

As near as I can tell, no one else from Guns N’ Roses has mentioned this story, nor has anyone from The Simpsons ever said anything similar.  That doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t true, but right now “Duff Beer inspired by Duff McKagan” is a completely unsubstantiated claim by a single guy who freely admits he was drunk out of his mind during the period in question, put the word “Lies” in the title of his book, and wrote this in his Author’s Note:

My friends and old band members may remember some of the stories I recount differently than I do, but I have found that all stories have many sides.

In other words, it’s as far from confirmed as it is possible for something to be.  Again, it could be true, but with the currently available information, there’s plenty of room for doubt.  Maybe someone from The Simpsons did call (or fax) them, but was it one of the guys who came up with it, or was it some paranoid junior lawyer in the bowels of FOX?  Maybe someone not from the show called him and told him about it, and over the years his memory changed that to someone from the show.  Who knows?

McKagan is an extremely accomplished, financially secure guy; he has no reason to lie about this.  However, and by his own admission, he does have a lot of reasons to be confused about it.  Therefore, simple prudence says that it needs to be confirmed by one or more other sources before it’s generally accepted.  Unfortunately, right now acceptance is running well ahead of confirmation.  This post likely won’t slow that down, but it’s here if anyone cares to look. 

[Note: I’m only about halfway done with the book (through the time period when this call/fax would’ve happened), but this post is already two days late and Google Book Search tells me that the Simpsons doesn’t get mentioned again for the rest of the text.  If I come across something that changes any of the above, I’ll update this post.]




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