Author: Gabriel

A slapdash attempt at the slipshod
Lisa the Beauty Queen

Lisa the Beauty Queen

There’s some old advice on narrative writing from Arthur Quiller-Couch about murdering your darlings, by which he meant ornamental prose. The phrase has since evolved to “kill your darlings” and expanded to include characters, plots, or any other bit of a narrative that, attached to it as one may be, clogs the whole. It’s close to the “git gud” of literature, advice that chides but doesn’t actually advise, and seems comically hypocritical when Couch’s original style guide is written in early 20th century prose that time has made impenetrably ornate. Like a lot of bad advice, it’s true but entirely unhelpful.

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A Streetcar Named Marge

A Streetcar Named Marge

My Recollection.

I remember having some of the references to the episode’s namesake explained to me, but even as a child, images of Stanley crying for Stella were common sights on various VHS promotional materials to help some of them land. I remember it for that season-four energy and confidence, this is a season that does some odd things at times and the Birds reference with Maggie and the room full of babies is burnt into my mind as a perfect example.

It’s familiar, and I expect to enjoy this episode.

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Retrospecticus: Season Three

Retrospecticus: Season Three

Wow, if you’d have asked me when I started this if it would take me four years to write about three years of The Simpsons, I’d have said, “Yeah, that sounds about right.” The initial plan was for 1 per week, but it turns out things like being shit at judging time are side-effects of ADHD, so you can’t get mad at me. If anything, I’m a hero. That, and believe it or not, knocking out getting on 7k words on anything is solid labour, let alone arranging those words to make sense. I now have even less respect for the people that mash out a cookie-cutter thousand and call it a day.

In my even further defense, there were some irregular occurrences that put legitimate demands on my time. I had to move house, which is always a nightmare, and then clean the whole thing myself, which is a whole new form of nightmare. I will never do this again and have sworn to hire monkeys to do it in future. Then my mother had to move house, and as she is a tiny old lady that means I am moving another house. This was slightly less of an ordeal, but still a goddamn drain. Couple this with having to learn and do foundation repair on the fly, an evolving puzzle requiring various skills I am not proficient in, and my energy for writing just didn’t exist.

I am still aiming to speed this up, though, and it is for that reason I’m cutting out the anecdotes. Fun as they can be, shifting gears between them and the analysis is something that takes a bunch of energy and is clogging the process. I may hammer one or two out from time to time, but there’d need to be some level of interest as motivation.

On the plus side, what time I’m not spending on that can be better spent on the Stray Thoughts section, which is both enjoyable and more relevant to the work. It allows me to reinforce points, bring up discarded primary ideas, and do more focal joke deconstruction. There’s a weird thing among comedians, Conan O’Brien for instance, about joke deconstruction and how it kills it. You’ll hear similar gruntings regarding the science of some beautiful or confounding thing or another. It’s a dismal perspective, anyone who can’t see the cosmic artistry in understanding has blinded themselves to the best shit. Seeing how jokes can be layered, interwoven, counterwoven, etcetera is fun, and I pity anyone who thinks otherwise.

Pursuant to that, next series will have some added features. Things like Joke of the Episode and the like that will culminate in a series end First Annual Gabriel Morton Award for Outstanding Achievements in the Field of Simpsonness that will weigh these against each other. Unlike most awards, which render themselves pointless by using broad genres and occurrence within a set time period as their measuring sticks, these will be categorised in a way that allows for some degree of meaningful comparison.

I thought of this far too deep into season three to go back and do it properly, but it’s a moot point as the Raiders of the Lost Ark opening would have won Best Thing anyway. It’s 30 years old and still funny. If you want to find out why, go read the article on Bart’s Friend Falls in Love as I go into detail there.

Speaking of season 3, it really shakes off the growing pains of the first two. There are still some turds in there, Bart the Murderer springs to mind, and there are a few faceless episodes that lack a memorable hook, but otherwise we start getting into what made it great. Lisa’s Pony, Saturdays of Thunder, and Homer at the Bat are great comic works, wile the aforementioned Bart’s Friend Falls in Love, Mr Lisa Goes to Washington, and Bart the Lover pull off some great character work. Even the lesser remembered stories are now good for a few great jokes or stories, as the writer’s room begins to fill out with young comedy nerds.

That filling out pays dividends. I am excited to get into season four as it’s the first of the miracle run. I started listing ones I was looking forward to here, but it kept evolving into basically the whole series, so that’s the kind of territory we’re talking about. I mean, Last Exit to Springfield is in this series, and it’s a fucking miracle.

Your collective pittances are adding up, which is nice. Now I buy the expensive salami and the self-serve checkout machines have to treat me with respect. Remember that you pay to be treated like a real person, which means you can harangue me when I’m late via Twitter or post questions to be answered on the Audio episodes. I do things this way A: to reward the evolved class of money chimps, and B: because talking is a little quicker, so I can get into more detail without taking forever writing basically another essay. I bring this up as there are usually some elements of what you pay for that few to none of you ever really use. I am more than okay with being paid to do nothing, but usually only when the person paying me is a drunk venue owner. Taking money from Eastern European shed-dwellers, people who secretly live in another family’s crawlspace, and Americans makes me feel the faint pangs of guilt. Even though nothing short of several Willies Wonka could meaningfully change your circumstances, the radishes and insulin you scrimp and save for are the thin rays of light I just can’t take from you. So, make sure you take advantage of these things, or I’ll be forced to deem you subhuman to alleviate my pain.

This is a binding designation that comes with an internationally recognized tattoo behind your ear.

Yours in being sleepy because I wrote this at two AM, Gabriel.