Month: October 2020

Over the Garden Wall: Lullaby in Frogland

Wha’ Happen’?:

Nearing the end of their journey, our heroes are riding a ferry to Adelaide’s house and everything seems great. Greg is having a grand old time and even Wirt (Wirt!) is happy and relaxed for once. Plus they’re on a boat inhabited entirely by fancy, fancy frogs and who doesn’t love frogs?

Cutest frog in town | Cute frogs, Cute animals, Baby animals

Daaaaaaaw don’t touch it, it is literally poisonous enough to kill an entire village.

Only Beatrice seems ill at ease and unhappy. Suddenly, two frogstables show up and try to arrest our heroes for sneaking on to the ferry without paying. Beatrice suggests they just surrender and get thrown off the boat but Wirt refuses because they’ve come so far. The cops chase them all over the ship until they disguise themselves using the Ol’ Totem Pole Trench technique.

Over the Garden Wall | Mad Love / Lullaby in Frogland

And afterwards, they can buy beer and go see R-rated Frog movies.

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Over the Garden Wall: Mad Love

Wha’ Happen’?:

We begin In Media Res…

…with Wirt, Greg, Beatrice and Fred the horse having dinner with the fabulously wealthy and utterly batshit insane tea mogul Quincy Endicott who thinks that Wirt and Greg are his nephews. And he thinks that because…Beatrice has straight up told him that they are because she wants his money.

Wirt is aghast that Beatrice wants to scam this sweet old man and Beatrice explains that she was actually thinking of just straight up robbing him.

Good Place Quotes • Chidi Anagonye

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Rimini Riddle: “I like shooting children”.

Greetings traveller. Remember how forty years ago in 2018 I cursed you all with the knowledge of Rimini Riddle, either a vanishingly obscure Irish children’s programme from the nineties or (as seemed more likely) a collective national nightmare akin to the time we all convinced ourselves that Twink was a real person?

Twink: 'I won't go into my coffin until I find out who tapped my phone for Zip Up Yer Mickey!' - Independent.ie

REMINDER: Twink is not a real person, and never has been.

Well, there have recently been developments. Significant developments.

Commenter Kev recently left a Kev comment as commenter Kevs are wont to do:

Right. Just “popped” into his head. What a completely normal and totally un-suspicious coincidence pause for bitter mocking laugh.

That was the beginning. I waited, caught in a mad no-man’s-land between dread and anticipation. And then, hark!

Oh GOD.

I told myself that it couldn’t be possible. the Riddle…survived? No. And it couldn’t be. Surely not. And then…

FUCK.

Yes. It’s true. Kev, that modern Prometheus, that monomaniac, that…guy, has, like a Carl Denham of the modern age, tracked the monster to its attic lair and dragged it in chains out into the harsh light of day to be gawped at for our amusement.

WE HAVE A (partial) EPISODE OF RIMINI RIDDLE. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

AND I AM GOING TO REVIEW IT MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON US ALL!

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UK Cover Reveal!

Oh I have been itching to show you guys this one!

This is the cover for the UK edition of When the Sparrow Falls and it is a feast for the eye.

See what I did there? Matt Needle, the artist, gave us three concepts for the cover and honestly picking one was one of the hardest parts of this whole process because they were all so beautiful. But I think we picked the right one. It manages to pack in so many of the themes of the book in one deceptively simple image. I love it. And if you want to get a first peek at the inside of the book, Rebellion have released and excerpt which you can read here.

When the Sparrow Falls Now Available for Pre-Order!

My new novel, When the Sparrow Falls, is now available to pre-order!:

“Welcome to the Caspian Republic. The last bastion of true humanity in a world given over to artificial intelligence.

Stray from the path towards anything “machine” and the state will correct you.

When propagandist Paulo Xirau dies, and is discovered to himself be a “machine”, State Security Agent Nikolai South is given a new assignment he could hardly want less: chaperone the widow, Lily, the only “machine” visitor ever invited from the outside world, and help her determine what happened to her husband.

Nikolai knows it will be nearly impossible to complete the job without running afoul of the Party—but when he sees that Lily bears an eerie resemblance to his late wife, Nikolai stumbles on a larger plot, one that exposes all the lies he’s told himself and which may bring down the Republic for good.

WHEN THE SPARROW FALLS illuminates authoritarianism, complicity, and identity in the digital age, in a page turning, darkly-funny, frightening and touching story that recalls Philip K. Dick, John Le Carré and Kurt Vonnegut in equal measure.”

When the Sparrow Falls will be published by TOR on June 29 2021, but you can order it now from the following retailers!

Over the Garden Wall: Songs of the Dark Lantern

Wha’ Happen’?:

Looking for shelter in the middle of a storm, our heroes arrive at a creepy tavern full of people dressed in American colonial era garb and who apparently have no names, only job descriptions. The Tavern Keeper insists that Beatrice wait outside as birds bring bad luck. When Beatrice tries to explain that blue birds bring good luck the Tavern Keeper snaps “good luck, bad luck, I don’t need any of it!” and hits her with a broom.

Fuming, Beatrice waits outside in the stable with a weird horse that seems to be wearing lipstick. She hears the sound of someone chopping wood in the dark forest, and a deep voice singing…

In the tavern, the Tavern Keeper demands to know what Wirt and Greg’s deal is but Wirt doesn’t know what to tell them. After listening to the Highway Man’s song, Wirt asks the way to Adelaide’s House. This leads the tavern patrons to decide that he’s The Young Lover and throw him up onstage to sing his love song.

Outside, frustrated that Wirt’s not making any progress, Beatrice flies off into the dark forest in the direction of the singing and chopping, hoping to ask for directions.

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Over the Garden Wall: Schooltown Follies

Wha’ Happen’?:

After leaving Pottsfield, Wirt, Greg and Beatrice are now trying to reach the house of Adelaide, the Wise Woman of the Woods. In order to get Greg to stop singing, Beatrice tries to crush his indefatigable optimism. She tells him that the world is a miserable place and that he should be more like Wirt, a beaten down husk of a pushover who just quietly does whatever he’s told. Well, Wirt may be a triangle nosed goober cosplaying as David the Gnome’s secret abandoned lovechild, but even he has his pride. So when the trio stumble across a small school in the middle of the forest where a young woman named Miss Langtree is trying to teach a class of blank eyed animals to read, he joins the class just to spite Beatrice. Greg, who isn’t that big on book learnin’ (I know, stunned gasps all round) instead hangs around outside the school with a bunch of truant racoons, deer and possums.

As Miss Langtree explains in a wistful monologue, the school’s in real trouble. Her father, the owner of the school, is threatening to shut it down, her fiancée Jimmy Brown has done R.U.N.N.O.F.T. and there is the little matter of a mad gorilla on the loose.

Top 30 Schooltown Follies GIFs | Find the best GIF on Gfycat

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Over the Garden Wall: Hard Times at the Huskin’ Bee

Wha’ Happen’?:

Still following the Woodsman’s directions, Wirt and Greg come across the Beatrice the talking bluebird again. She’s trapped in a thornbush and offers to do the boys a good turn after Greg frees her. She tells them that she can take them to Adelaide the Magical Woman of the Woods, who could send them home, but Wirt really isn’t up for a magical Wizard of Oz esque quest and they continue looking for a town with a reluctant Beatrice in tow.

They come to a town called Pottsfield where the locals are celebrating the harvest in pumpkin costumes and dancing to music that’s ever so cheery and it’s not creepy at all…

Watch Over The Garden Wall | Pumpkin Stare GIF by reikert on Gfycat. Discover more over the garden wall GIFs on Gfycat.

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Over the Garden Wall: The Old Grist Mill

Over the Garden Wall is the creation of Adventure Time alumnus Patrick McHale which first premiered on Cartoon Network in 2014. Consisting of 10 ten-minute episodes, the series is a gorgeously animated brew of 17th, 18th and 19th century Americana, children’s literature and deep cut references to the Golden Age of animation. Which, as you can probably guess from that description, means that if it was any more my jam I’m be spreading it on my crumpets. Throughout October I’ll be doing short reviews of each episode so let’s crack on. Episode 1. The Old Grist Mill.

Wha’ Happen’?:

After the opening song a montage introducing many of the characters we’ll meet over the course of the series we meet two young boys, Wirt and Greg (and a frog) making their way through a dark, spooky forest. Wirt realises that he has no idea how they arrived there and begins to panic because this place is creepy as hell and everything just seems slightly off. Greg, who’s very much “the Mabel” in this Dipper/Mabel dyad, offers to leave a trail of candy behind them but that’s of little use since they’re already deep in the spooky, scary forest.

“You can’t make squirrels wearing bow ties creepy!” they jeered, mockingly. Patrick McHale simply smiled coldly.

They come across an elderly woodsman carrying a lantern and chopping down trees that are filled with a strange, black ooze. Wirt’s too afraid to approach the woodsman but then the boys are approached by Beatrice, a talking bluebird who offers to help them escape the forest. She flies off when the Woodsman overhears them talking and demands to know what they’re doing.

The Woodsman tells them that they’re in a place called “The Unknown” and that they need to am-scray because “The Beast walks these woods”.

The Woodsman takes them back to his mill and offers to let them stay the night. Wirt is getting serious stranger-danger from the Woodsman and asks him what he’s doing out in the forest. The Woodsman tells them that he has to grind the wood of the Edwelweiss trees into oil to keep his lantern lit. Wirt nervously suggests to Greg that they might need to knock the Woodsman out and make a run for it, before immediately dismissing that as a really bad plan. Seeing that Wirt’s nervous, he tells the kids that they’re free to go whenever they want but that if they’re still at the mill after he’s finished with his work, he’ll try to help them fin their way home.

Unsure of what to do, Wirt stays by the fire while Greg goes looking for his frog.  Outside the mill he gets attacked by a terrifying beast who, as Greg notes, has beautiful eyes.

Over the Garden Wall / Nightmare Fuel - TV Tropes

 Greg runs back into the house, chased by the beast. The Woodsman tries to defend the children but gets knocked unconscious by Greg, who didn’t get the memo that they weren’t going with that plan.

Over The Garden Wall — cartoon: The best of Greg from Over the Garden...

The boys are chased by the beast into the mill where it ends up getting caught in the gears. This causing the whole mill to break apart but also dislodges one of Greg’s candies from the beast’s throat, which causes it to change back into a perfectly ordinary dog. (EDIT: Thanks to Alice Shattuck for pointing out that it’s not actually the candy that caused the dog to transform but the turtle that the candy was stuck to because it turns out that the black turtles have a mysterious connection to the Edelweiss trees and the Beast itself because dang but the lore is deep in this despite the whole thing clocking in at 100 minutes). The Woodsman regains consciousness and is furious to discover that the mill is gone and most of his oil has been lost. Wirt says that, hey, at least they got the Beast and the Woodsman yells that the dog was not the Beast. A beast, sure. But not The Beast. Wirt gets angry at Greg but the Woodsman tells him that as the elder brother, Greg’s dumb-fuckery is his responsibility and as an older brother myself that I find that sentiment to be rank Only Child Privilege. Anyway, the Woodsman wearily sends them on their way, calling after them “Beware the Unknown! Fear the Beast! And flee these woods if you can!”

How was it?: The Old Grist Mill is simultaneously an excellent cartoon and probably the worst OGW episode. Not a criticism, it just shows how insanely high this series sets the bar. It’s great, but the night-time setting means we don’t get the gorgeous autumnal colours of the later episodes. Beatrice (the blue-bird) only gets an early-bird cameo (see what I did there?) and while Lloyd is fantastic as the Woodsman, he’s no Auntie Whispers or Quincy Endicott. My point is, knowing all the fanastic stuff that’s coming down the line makes this first episode seem a little drab in comparison.

Holy Crap, that sounds like…: Wirt is played by Frodo Baggins himself, Elijah Wood. The Woodsman is played by a magnificently husky Christopher Llloyd.

Can I see some references?: This episode draws heavily on classic fairy tales. The two children lost in the woods, the candy trail and the Woodsman are all echoes of Hansel and Gretel. Greg’s terrified “You have beautiful eyes…” to the dog is a clear reference to Little Red Riding Hood. As for animation references, the creepy forest with its macabre, scowling trees is pure Snow White.  And the whole concept of a huge, gooey monster becoming small and harmless after a single corrupting influence is expelled reminded me very much of Hayao Miyazaki.

This frog’s name is: After the Woodsman tells Greg to give the frog a proper name, Greg spends the rest of the series trying to do just that. This episode, the frog is called Kitty and Wirt (to avoid confusion, Greg renames Wirt “Kitty”)

Disney(ish) reviews with the Unscrupulous Mouse: Artemis Fowl

“So I said to him: “Sir, if your attempts at neo-realism were any more bourgeois, they would have political rights in the Ancien Regime!””

 

NPG x133037; Martin Amis - Portrait - National Portrait Gallery

“Very droll.”

 

Zadie Smith - Interview Magazine

“Yes. Quite.”

 

“Sick burn, Salman.”

 

“So Mouse, before we invite you to join our exclusive club for novelists, what were you doing before you took up the quill?”

 

“Oh, you know. One blogs a little. Film reviews. Cultural critiques. All very serious and highbrow. No talking maps.”

 

“Talking…well, very good. Very good. I’m delighted to welcome you..”

Breaking Down The Wall on Make a GIF

“MWA HA HA HA! Nobody move!”

 

“Dude, not cool! I’m with people who matter!”

 

“Mouse! Who is this rakish, uncouth rodent?!”

 

“Sigh. This is my evil twin brother the Unscrupulous Mouse. He’s a supervillain”

 

“I think you should leave.”


“Yeah, no shit, Salman. Okay, asshole what are you doing here?”


“What the hell is wrong with you?! Disney release a movie set in Ireland and it’s the worst thing ever and you don’t review it?! That’s three of your wheelhouses right there!”


“I reviewed Darby O’Gill, it was fine!”


“Not that one, fool! Artemis Fowl! The new Cromwell!”


“Look, I don’t have time to drop everything every time Disney goes plop plop. I’m a busy writer now, and quite frankly too good for that sort of thing.”


“FINE! I’LL DO IT MYSELF!”

I loved the Artemis Fowl books. Growing up as an evil mouse in Ireland I didn’t have many role models. Sure, there were a few villains I aspired to. The cartoon villains that were beaten by the heroes every Saturday morning or the Irish politicians using their power for personal gain. But there wasn’t a kid villain that I could root for! I wanted someone that outsmarted the good guys! Someone who’s plans weren’t foiled every week. Then Artemis Fowl entered my life. Not only was he a smart villain, he was Irish too! Then after a few books into the series, I heard the news! They were making an Artemis Fowl movie! Holy crap! young me squeaked! I’ll finally see my hero villain on the big screen!

Originally intended to be launched as a franchise by Miramax way back in 2001, the film languished in development hell until Disney acquired the rights in 2013. And I hate them for what they have done.

“Excellent. I feed on your hate.”

Okay, let’s get this over with.

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