Review: Over the Garden Wall and On Turning 24

Think 1920s, superb animation, musical interludes, and some of the wittiest and most creative writing you’ve heard in a long while and you will start to get the gist of Over the Garden Wall, my new favorite thing. Over the Garden Wall is a ten episode animated mini series created by Patrick McHale and released on Cartoon Network. The total run time if you binge watch it in its entirety (which I have done multiple times) is about an hour and forty minutes. Each episode is a ten minute bundle of joy and strangeness.

Look at that animation and wonder!

The show follows two brothers, Wirt and Greg, who are lost in the Unknown, a strange place inhabited by strange creatures, magic, darkness, and intrigue. It has a faerie tale/fable-like quality to the narrative and a humor that is on point. Greg and Wirt are hands down some of the funniest and most endearing characters I have had the pleasure of watching in a long time. The basic premise is that the boys are lost in the Unknown and are trying to find their way home. There is a scary and mysterious Beast that must be avoided, a vaguely intimidating and cryptic woodsman, a talking bluebird, and a whole host of amusing and engaging characters and locales from episode to episode.

Weeks after watching it, I still find myself thinking about its story, laughing at its jokes, and quoting its dialogue (“You have beautiful eyes”). Wirt is something of a stick in the mud, which acts as a perfect foil for Greg’s genuine and carefree nature. Greg is positively a whimsical ball of bizarre sunshine and I love it. The show begins as a light but vaguely twisted tale and gets increasingly dark and serious in the most wonderful and compelling way.  At its core, it is a magnificent story about love, brotherhood, and responsibility, but it is surrounded by a palatable wrapper of jokes, fab dialogue, and excellent pacing. It is a true work of art and I cannot recommend it enough.

In other news, today (19 January) is my twenty-fourth birthday. I feel a little bit weird about turning twenty-four. It feels strange in a way no other birthday has to date. I am in my “mid-twenties.” I am hurtling toward adulthood like a bottle rocket. This birthday comes with the unsettling expectation that I should really start to get a grasp on what I want to do with my life. I feel a need to assess what I’ve been doing and what I’m planning.

I’ve been out of school for a little over two years and I’ve really struggled with that. I think it has taken me all of that time to really come to terms with what my postgrad life is and what I can do with it. I write now, daily. I do yoga and think about fitness. I read like it’s my job (sometimes it is my job). I take free online classes when I can and play the ukulele (badly). Just because I’m no longer in school does not mean my life has to be absent of structure, wonderful structure which I love and cherish like few other things on this planet. I have been spending all this time building my own life framework. Neil has been a huge help in that regard as one of the most hardworking and dedicated people I know. He is quite the inspiration and motivator.

I do not have anything figured out. I have been working on a novel that is really just god awful terrible. It kind of gets me down sometimes, but I am really enjoying the process of writing and getting that baby out of my system, even if it is a crying, horrifying infant. I just have to keep up my momentum in writing and in life. There’s really no need to slow down.

I’ve had a wonderful birthday weekend: Friday night dancing, Saturday night house party with my closest friends, Sunday night dinner with my family, and today. My birthday. Relaxing, writing, reading, tea drinking, light shopping. Brunch/lunch. I am immensely grateful for all the wonderful people in my life. I feel so, so, so much love. Thank you all. ❤

Until next time!


Songbook and Art

Songbook by Nick Hornby

I just recently finished Songbook by Nick Hornby. Pretty good collection of essays on music. But one of my favorite bits was about the importance of  what I like to call “happy art.”

“It’s important that we are occasionally, perhaps even frequently, depressed by books, challenged by films, shocked by paintings, maybe even disturbed by music,” wrote Hornby. “But do they have to do all these things all the time? Can’t we let them console, uplift, inspire, move, cheer? Please? Just every now and then, when we’ve had a really shitty day?”

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Oh, how I’ve missed you (updates & book reviews)

Hello! It’s been a month! Or a little over a month. Why the radio silence? Because I have been WRITING. There was much uncertainty and I did not think I could do it, but I did! NaNoWriMo I have bested you this year! In one month, I wrote a 50,007 word novel. It is not a very good novel, but it exists. Neil and I did the project together (he worked on his own novel and his idea is brilliant). It was a good feeling, writing fiction every day. I found that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. My biggest fears about writing are that I will sit down and stare at that little blinking cursor with absolutely nothing to say. Sometimes I can’t find the next words, but more often than not I can type out something, even if it’s bad. Especially if it’s bad. If I can keep up that kind of rhythm and pace with my writing, I should be able to accomplish a lot more. I was averaging at least a thousand words a day, sometimes up to two or three thousand on a good day. It gives me hope. Though, I freely admit I am not looking forward to delving into the editing process.

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Round-Up: Movies, Writing, and Musings

Things that I know:

  • It snowed today. Which means that on top of the BLIZZARD we got last weekend, there is an additional two inches of snow on the ground. I LIVE IN UNENDING WINTER.
  • The amount of heart-shaped York Peppermint Patties I ate today numbers close to double digits.
  • Writing, when it comes, does not usually come easy.
  • There is no way I am going to be able to watch all ten films nominated for Best Picture by next Sunday.

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Hello America

I’ve recently returned to the United States from Europe. And by recently I mean five days ago, in which time I have languished in a European  contracted head cold and turned 22.

I miss Europe. Since before I was even able to identify the phrase anglophile I have been obsessed with all things British, or perhaps more specifically English. My life has been a constant dream of drinking tea with the people who do it best and being among the cities where my favorite literary minds flourished. (Surprisingly enough, it is very difficult to find a traditional English tea shop in England, at least not in London anyway.) The European lifestyle is opposite that of the states. It holds a different rhythm. I feel vaguely treasonous for saying it, but I may prefer that European rhythm. Though, upon reflection that longing for Europe makes sense. We always prefer what we do not have.

But now I’m back in the States (that’s another thing. Being abroad makes me want to refer to the US purely as the States. Why? I do not know) real life needs to start up again. But as a way of documenting my trip for myself and ordering my thoughts, I’m going to blog retroactive posts detailing my European adventures across the United Kingdom and Paris. Get excited.

In other news, now that I’m back I need to buckle down and get serious about my writing and my quote unquote artistic ventures. That phrase makes me feel something of a joke. I have a glass menagerie of story ideas floating in my head that I can never manage to actually get on paper (or electronic screen really, but saying paper sounds so much more romantic – it’s the same way I feel about e-readers). Then there’s that whole video making business I do, which I’m committed to but feel like I never have the time to execute adequately enough. Hopefully this head cold will pass and I can rediscover the momentum I had in college (which was momentum I possessed only a short month ago). Here’s to the post-grad lifestyle. Here’s to Europe.