Ten Things: Spooky Nerd Necessities From Generally Gothic

generally gothic feature

On this month’s (?) (unidentified measure of time)’s installment of Ten Things, I am thrilled to share the spooky musings of Hannah, creator of the Generally Gothic blog.

Generally Gothic is a collection of content on broadly gothic themes; articles exploring the Gothic within art, literature, architecture, film and television, social history, and life in general.
Today Hannah shares the ten things she finds necessary to maintain these spooky endeavors!

Peek in on Generally Gothic : Instagram // Twitter // Tumblr // Goodreads

‘L'autoportrait Interdit’ | © Generally Gothic

‘L’autoportrait Interdit’ | © Generally Gothic

Bio:
Hello! My name’s Hannah and I’m a Master of the Gothic. You can find me online as Generally Gothic, where I blog and post about (you guessed it) the Gothic within the arts and humanities. I am currently exploring literary and historical witches under my current theme: Season of the Witch. You will also find me as Associate Editor of dark literary journal, Coffin Bell, and in the upcoming edition of YOGURT Culture Zine.

One of the questions I am most frequently asked at, and as, Generally Gothic is how I maintain my blog. I am grateful to have found a space in which I am no longer asked why, but still find it shocking because mine is a sporadic and not very present online presence…

Regardless, during this weird year of confinement and armchair adventures, I thought I would share ten of the things necessary for maintaining my spooky endeavours, which I hope you can apply to whatever it is you’re nerdy about online.

1. A Sincere Passion

Mine was born on the bathroom floor at the age of seven.

I grew up in a house that had books in every room. Amongst the clothbound volumes on the bathroom shelves was a collection of short stories. And amongst their number was Edgar Allan Poe with ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’. I devoured most of the books on most of the shelves, but that moment with that story in that unlikely room was what can only be described as ‘formative’.

‘Library 1/n’ | © Generally Gothic

Library 1/n’ | © Generally Gothic

2. Inky Fingers

Just as gardening cannot be done without getting muddy, writing, for me, cannot be done without getting inky.

I find greater freedom in writing by hand ‒ that I cannot truly write without pen and ink. If you follow my posts closely, you will spot strong suggestions of my ecological beliefs. It should, therefore, be no surprise that I favour an ink pen that is refilled over and over again, without waste. Mine is very dear to me ‒ it was a graduation gift that I intend to collaborate with for the rest of my life.

I am sure that there are ways of refilling the cartridge without pouring ink into my pores, but I don’t think I want to know them…

3. So Many Papers

With inky fingers come papers… so many papers. Bound in books, and loose, ripped, recycled, and lost, and rediscovered in pockets once long forgotten.

I know that hoarding paper isn’t the most eco-friendly practice, but like inky fingers there is something in the physical, the tangible, that I cannot turn my back on.

Do you remember assessments in primary school to determine ‘what kind of learner’ you were? I am a note-taker. I don’t know that that’s even one of the options. I also don’t know that it works… but that’s what I am. And those notes are the seeds that develop into my blog posts, so I take it back; be a note-taker ‒ it does work, because it is the work. Or part of it, anyway.

‘A Different Pen & Ink’ | © Generally Gothic

‘A Different Pen & Ink’ | © Generally Gothic

4. An Internet Connection… Albeit a Terrible One Right Now

This post is consciously not about the whole Voldermorty (You-Know-What, or That-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named) state of affairs, but I would like to ask just one related question.

The internet has undoubtedly been an invaluable tool in innumerable ways during this time, but has anyone else been surprised at how it’s struggled to cope with the increased traffic? Maybe it’s just the service offered by They-Who-I-Really-Want-To-Name-(and-shame-)But-Won’t…

Anyway, the internet, though fatigued at present, is obviously a spooky nerd essential. There were already so many incredible resources, and now an influx of services have digitised or temporarily waived fees, which is as exciting as it is overwhelming. Go forth and discover!

5. Open Eyes

Whilst memory is not a strong point of mine, I do have a spongey constitution.

Perhaps it’s an individual thing, but once I began to look for it however long ago, manifestations of the gothic in life around me became delightfully inescapable. Whatever it is that I am researching, reading, or writing about at any given time, I will find echoed in likely, and very unlikely, places. I suppose this synchronicity relates to passion. If you find what you love, you will seek it. Once it takes root, you will encourage it to grow wild, as I do.

‘Gardner’s Short Gallery’ | © Generally Gothic

‘Gardner’s Short Gallery’ | © Generally Gothic

6. Inspiring Surroundings

Though the world of natural and human invention is ripe with inspiration, it is undeniably more so in certain corners than others.

Just as the great poets and painters sought intellectual salons, country retreats, and dimly lit cafés, I find that connecting with the existing work of the world positively impacts my own output.

Personally, I have a soft spot for museums, galleries, and historical homes. I know I said I wouldn’t mention it again, but one of the greatest things to come out of the pandemic is level access to the arts. I honestly cannot say whether theatres, performers, workers, establishments, etc., are being supported sufficiently by governments and public donations, but I can say that I am hugely grateful for the resulting geographical and financial equality afforded to their expanding audiences.

7. Human Inspiration

Once again making an example of historical creatives, we know that, whilst many succeeded in isolation, with community as muse, art proliferates.

Through Instagram, I have found myself surrounded by a collection of companions with whom I can share and from whom I can learn about all sorts of interesting things that spark endless inspiration.

I remain open about the fact that I would be doing what I do whether anyone was listening or not. And, whilst it’s true that I began by whispering into the silent void, it would be entirely dishonest to discredit the impact that community has had on Generally Gothic. A discussion, rather than a lecture, allows for everyone to grow and, having just this year learnt that I am 3 inches shorter than I had previously believed myself to be, that sounds pretty appealing to me…

‘Giving Away du Maurier’ | © Generally Gothic

Giving Away du Maurier’ | © Generally Gothic

8. Tea, Coffee, and Cake…

…for I am human, and I need fuel. I can write without tea, coffee, and cake, but I’d rather not. It really is that simple.

9. Libraries

As you may have gathered, I feel very passionately about access to information and equality in education. I believe in books, and I believe in trees.
I am soon moving from the place that I have called home for the past 2 years. Amongst an assortment of wonderful organic things, such as people and landscapes, one of my favourite foreign discoveries has been the local network of Little Free Libraries. (Take a book, give a book whether back or forward.)

I vouch to build one of my own when I am a home-owner, but until then, I aim to share books online. I am currently giving away 2 vintage Daphne du Maurier hardbacks that I purchased from one of my favourite, virtual second-hand book shops. It is an ongoing attempt at practising what I have always vaguely known to be true: that books need people as much as people need books. And that I can exist without hoarding them all… particularly when my luggage allowance is limited.

I have scattered a selection of my library back around the Little Free Libraries I frequented. If you ever find a novel with a Generally Gothic stamp inside, let me know! I’d love to see how far they travel.

‘In Progress: The New Gothic Review Review’ | © Generally Gothic

‘In Progress: The New Gothic Review Review’ | © Generally Gothic

10. Embracing the Chaos, with Open Arms

I have a really strict schedule of expectations, and also a whole load of other commitments that are as demanding as they are unavoidable.

I have found that when I choose to cut a bigger slice of cake, take a break with a book, and shrug it off if I miss my self-imposed deadline for another formless week in a row, I create better.

Remember point 1? It’s a passion ‒ enjoy it!

Currently {May 2020}

currently featureMy little sister has done an admirable job with keeping a “plague diary” over the course of the last X number of days (yikes, has it really been that long?) I wish I had that same dedication and fortitude and the …motivation, I guess, to summon thoughts and what to say about them, but I guess I don’t. So much of this time right now feels exactly like the life I was leading up until this crisis, and it seems…profoundly uncool to talk about how much my life has not changed. Still working from home. Still a homebody. Still relieved when it comes to canceled plans. Still living in my own little world.

My fears and anxieties come not from concern for my own safety or worries about my continued financial stability (although quite frankly I am not sure how or why I am still employed) but rather…sympathy pains, I suppose you could say, for my friends and family and the rest of the world. I’ve internalized so much of the collective chaos and I am sad and stressed and scared; this article says it has something to do with “allotastic load” and this article says that the discomfort I am feeling is grief. From whichever perspective I look at it, man, I am drained. And I can’t even believe I am saying this…I have now officially spent too much time at home.

Last month I was to have visited (and met in person for the first time) a dear friend in the midwest; this past weekend I was supposed to meet up with my sisters to celebrate one of their birthdays; typically we visit Y’s parents every month or so, we go into Orlando for a weekend, we have a few dinners out during the week, and not to mention the absence of grocery shopping and hair appointments! But. Nobody’s going nowhere and there’s nothing to be done about it and that is all for the best.

As far as all of this time we supposedly have on our hands now. I’ve got the same amount of time as I’ve always got. It just feels different. It simultaneously feels like swimming in jelly or running in slow-motion as though in a dream, except there’s this dreadful urgency there, because, although I am still feeling foggy and slow and drained, I am expected to work my same 8:30-5:30 (or sometimes 6:00 or 6:30 every day.) I feel like I’m both in this liminal, holding pattern place–sort of like how it feels here, in FL, right before hurricane hits–and I am in real-life, where things are needed and expected of me, and it’s taking a superhuman effort be in both places at once.

I also should note I have been trying to write this blog post since the beginning of April. Ugh. Is there any point to finishing it and posting it now? I think there is. Even if it feels like life is at a standstill…it’s not. It’s not on pause. It’s still happening and unfolding every day, and I guess I’d like a record, of sorts.

biscuits chai pasta saladcake
japanese guacamole

Instead of the travels I had planned, then, let me tell you about my culinary explorations. I made biscuits for the first time, ever! I made my first-ever chocolate cake from scratch (it looked horrible, but it was delicious–and I don’t even like cake!) I ground my own spices and made Masala chai; I made a vegan caesar salad dressing and vegan jerky; I made what I am calling a “savory fruit salad” in an attempt to salvage a few tomatoes and an avocado that were just past their prime.

Which is to say: combine diced and ripened tomato and avocado, a bright green funky flurry of chopped scallions, a nutty slick of sesame oil, a tangy dribble of rice wine vinegar, and several enthusiastic shakes of aromatic shiso furikake. It may look like a glunky pile of unpleasantness, but holy Japanese guacamole, was it incredible.

sweater1 sweater2

carlina…and have I shared sweater journeys with you? I haven’t knit a sweater in years and years, and the reason for this is because they require more precise measurements than I care to deal with; socks and shawls don’t really have the same fit issues that sweaters do, so I’d prefer the fiddliness of tiny stitches and complicated lace to the prospect of a sweater that’s going to end up being the size of that tent that the Weasley family travels with for Quidditch matches.

However! I was gifted with a sweater pattern book for the holidays, and I thought “well, hey, now that I am living in the semi-tropical climate of Florida again, it sure seems like a great time to knit up some heavy woolen sweaters!” When the imp of the perverse calls to me, I must obey. And so I did.

And do you know what? Now that I’ve got another decade of knitting under my belt, these things actually fit!

From the top photo down is the Sashiko sweater by Mona Zillah, the Emerge sweater by Andrea Cull, and the work in progress at the very bottom is the Carlina pullover by Whitney Hayward.

bday list occultcoloring dress

Other things I have done while self-isolating and social distancing over the past few months:

♢ Had a birthday and bought a new book bag and lots of books to fill it up with.
Resistance | Handbook of American Folklore | The Heart: Frida Kahlo in Paris |
Southern   Vegan | Ghosts and Grinning Shadows |
♢ Made an insane number of to-do lists and did a lot (probably too many) things
♢ Attended an exceptional online occult writing class, as well as a sigil magic class!
♢ Attempted a calming coloring book session, got very stressed out
♢ Finally fit myself into a dress that never actually fit in the first place
♢ Watched Knives Out. It was fun. Also watched Satanic Panic. Meh? But that orgy scene scored with the Chelsea Wolf song made it worthwhile, I reckon.

Last week I left the house and drove my car for the first time since mid-March. I went to the dentist for a tooth-cleaning. It was both scary and underwhelming. I’m ready for more normal, stupid activities like this, but at the same time, I’m almost certain we’re collectively not ready for this at all. I guess we’ll see. A dental visit and an expression of depressing uncertainty is a bummer of a way to end this missive, and pretty anticlimactic to boot, but that’s all she wrote, I’m afraid.

(That’s all she wrote: I’m afraid.)

Writer’s Log // Thoughts & Rambles

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This week on the YouTubes I am taking a page from the book of friend and fellow writer Lucinda Rose, whose weekly Writer’s Log updates I very much enjoy. This sort of update will not be a regular occurrence, but I thought it might be a good exercise to share what I’ve been up to with my writing, what issues and concerns I have had in the process, and what I’m looking forward to now that I conquered what I hope is a final deadline, wooooo!

Anything I’ve mentioned in this video that you might be curious about, people, books, etc., I have linked to below! I include this for friends who don’t like watching videos or who might get an awful, visceral fremdschämen reaction to watching a recording of one of your friends talking. Trust me. I get it. If anyone wants to peek in on my YouTube otherworlds, it is much appreciated, but I promise my feelings are not hurt if that’s not your bag.

The Art Of The Occult preorder
Writer’s Log with Lucinda Rose
Shadow’s Tale by Lucinda Rose
The Pomodoro Technique
Ritual Poetica Interview
Online Occult Writing Workshop
Bad Books For Bad People Podcast

Better Late Than Never: Work From Home Tips

96681855_1547689345389523_6507882601796075520_nEarly on in our days of self-isolation and social distancing during this pandemic crisis, my baby sister asked if I would write a guest post for her blog about how I’ve worked out the kinks of working from home over the past decade. I happily agreed.

In classic Taurean fashion, it took me about eleventy billion hours of ponderous thought and laborious execution, but here we go– some work from home thoughts from “one of the most beguiling and original voices to echo across the Internet.” But she’s my sister, so she has to say nice things about me!

Mosey on over and have a peek at my guest post for her, and while you’re there, poke around a bit! She’s dedicated herself to recording a daily pandemic check-in with her Plague Diaries series and I think you’ll find some relatable stuff there and a great deal of keen insight and heartfelt sentiment. And I’m not just saying that because she’s my sister!

36 + 8

bday

Last night I woke every hour on the hour, troubled by tummy terrors and dreams of my sisters frustrating me in the classic ways that they relentlessly do in my dreams. I rolled out of bed and the sunlight was cheerily streaming through the windows, anyhow. There’s a squirrel out there hungry for my tomatoes and I hear a woodpecker tok-tok-toking high in the branches of our neighbor’s pine. Another year around the sun, today. I guess I would have preferred a rainy morning but I’ll take what I can get and be glad of it.

Today I am eight years older than my mother was, when I realized she had been 36 for a suspect amount of time. Even though it’s really no one’s business, I don’t see the point in lying about one’s age. I know a lot of younger people who are smarter than I will ever be, and I know some folks with a few years on me who are absolute morons. It means so little, that number. Meaningless or no, it keeps climbing and adding up. Another year around the sun. I’ll do my best not to fritter away, act a fool, or fuck up this new year of mine.

Fingers crossed.

Things That Scare Me

 

In this week’s YouTube upload, I chatter about a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, and one that’s held a lifelong fascination for me: the things that scare me and strike fear into my heart! From a very young age I’ve been obsessed with the things that frighten me and in this video, I share a few of those things, which, as an adult, I find mildly unsettling, or straight-up freaky.

Pull up a chair, pour a bracing libation for your stout heart, and let’s have a chat about the nightmares and dreadful imagery that haunts our subconscious and lurks in our individual shadows. What scares you? Please feel free to share in the video comments!

Books/stories mentioned in this video:

💀 The House Next Door by Anne River Siddons
💀 The House Next Door Lifetime adaptation
💀 Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edogawa Ranpo
💀 “The Human Chair” LP by Cadabra Records
💀 “The Lady Maid’s Bell” by Edith Wharton (read online)
💀 “The Wendigo” by Algernon Blackwood (read online)

My mother is a poem I’ll never be able to write

momI share with my mother a profound love of beautiful things, gorgeous fragrances, an obsessive appreciation for visual arts and the written word, and a fascination with the mystical and arcane. From her, I also received some decidedly unlovely things: soul-deep self-esteem issues, heaps of childhood trauma, and what I think of as our family’s ancestral depression, which some are marked with more than others, but we all suffer from it.

My mother died in 2013 (or was it 2014? It’s getting harder to remember and this both scares and saddens me.) I am no longer as angry with her as I once was. And to be honest, more than anything else, now I just miss her. You did the best you could, Elaine. I’m doing my best, too.

I just read something so sharp and true, it cleaved my heart clean in two.

My mother is a poem
I’ll never be able to write,
though everything I write
is a poem to my mother.

― Sharon Doubiago

I hope I’m making you proud, mom. I used to feel that was a weird and fraudulent longing, but I now know it is not. It’s the truest thing, and it always has been. Every word I have ever written has been, in some way or another, for you.

The Art Of The Occult And The Elusive Rosaleen Norton

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Image via

There’s a lot of different moving pieces that go into an image-heavy book like this that I never even thought about before I began work on The Art of the Occult. Obviously you must obtain permission from the artists whose work you wish to include… but it turns out that is not at all a straightforward process.

Between tracking down contact information for the artist (if they are still traversing this mortal plane, that is–otherwise, you might be dealing with galleries, estates, etc.) and actually finding them and receiving those permissions, you then have the concern of whether or not the artist can provide a high-enough resolution of the work, whether it fits with the layout of the book, and to backtrack a bit–whether or not the publisher even agrees that the images you’ve suggested will be appropriate for the overall project.

"Black Magic." Rosaleen Norton

“Black Magic.” Rosaleen Norton

In the course of this process of research and reaching out, which was never tedious, believe it or not–I live to track down elusive art and artists!– I got a lot of email bounce backs, and oftentimes even if the email appeared to go through, there were a handful of artists I never heard back from. Sometimes I did get a response and received a “no” right off the bat. Sometimes, too, this occurred after some back and forth between myself and the artist, and we arrived at the determination that maybe my book wasn’t a good fit for their artistic vision. And that’s OK! It really is. It’s not all going to work out, and you can’t always get everything you want, and after getting over a bit of initial disappointment, I frequently came to the conclusion that it was probably for the best.

With regard to those artists who are no longer with us, sometimes I couldn’t track down an estate contact, and when I did I never heard back from them.  If it was the publisher reaching out, sometimes they either couldn’t come to an agreement or they were perhaps unable to acquire a high enough resolution image that would work for this particular print medium.

"Lucifer," Rosaleen Norton

“Lucifer,” Rosaleen Norton

Sadly, such was the case with Rosaleen Norton, a fascinating artist and human I’ve long been enchanted with, and who was one of the very first individuals I had on my list for The Art Of The Occult.

Norton, an Australian artist who became widely known in the 1950’s as The Witch Of King’s Cross, was a natural trance artist who experimented with self-hypnosis and whose visionary explorations resulted in supernatural beings cavorting across the canvas; “pagan” art, which earned her continuous criticism and controversy. Occult writer Neville Drury wrote a detailed and thoroughly compelling account of the artist’s life in his book Pan’s Daughter: The Magical World Of Rosaleen Norton; I read it a great many years ago and was heartbroken when I lost it in hurricane-related flooding. I repurchased a copy early last year to pore through again when I began initial image research for this book, and even though in the end I’m unable to include any of Norton’s wildly evocative work, I am glad that I’ve got a copy of this book in my possession again. It’s quite a treasure.

"Lilith," Rosaleen Norton

“Lilith,” Rosaleen Norton

It’s quite frustrating to imagine (and I’ve got a good, catastrophizing imagination) that once the book is released there are going to be readers or critics who say “oh, I can’t believe she didn’t include X/Y/Z artist!” Well, the thing is, nine times out of ten, I probably tried to! And when you’re that reader, I get that you might be frustrated or disappointed to see a lack of representation when it comes to your favorite art and artists– so I just wanted to share a glimpse into why that might not always be possible.

At any rate, I like to think that there are a great many fabulous, fantastical artists who are illuminated betwixt and between the shadowy nooks and crannies of this forthcoming tome…and if you are one of those lovely and brilliant artists whom I directly interacted with, you have my sincere and profound thanks. In future posts I hope to give some sneak peeks into the art that will actually be in the book, as I realize it’s pretty unfair to show the stuff that didn’t make it!

I am told that despite the unstable, unsettling state of the world right now, we are still on target for a September 2020 publishing date and that is such a thrilling thing to look forward to right now. Thanks for coming along with me on this weird, wild ride.

Preorder links for The Art Of The Occult can be found here!

Occult Fashion Files: The Spiritual Dimensions of Lenny Niemeyer’s Summer 2018 collection

Lenny Niemeyer 2017In researching something-or-other last week, I fell down an incredible occult couture rabbit hole, and I wanted to share my findings with you in case you hadn’t already seen some of these mystical catwalk marvels from designer Lenny Niemeyer. The collection is from a few years back, São Paulo Fashion Week on August 29, 2017, to be accurate. But it was totally new to my eyes, and I was pretty thrilled to have serendipitously stumbled across these wondrous pieces!

Hilma af Klint, Group X, No. 2, Altarpiece, 1915, oil and metal leaf on canvas

Hilma af Klint, Group X, No. 2, Altarpiece, 1915, oil and metal leaf on canvas

Untitled, 1940, Emma Kunz

Untitled, 1940, Emma Kunz

The 2018 Summer collection was meant to be a “tribute to feminine strength,” according to the designer, and takes inspiration from Swedish artists Hilma Af Klint and Emma Kunz, visionary artists born in the late 19th century and pioneers of geometric abstractionism who arrived at their innovative artworks through “conscious collaboration with spirit.”

The artwork of both painters can be seen through their “remarkable elements such as lines, spheres, and triangles”, present in the collection’s tessellating geometric prints. Soft colors such as Sky Blue and Rose Morocco provide a mysterious counterpoint for the vibrant hues of Tomato Red and Lime Green. Additionally, fashion critics noted an “80’s revival” which “shows strength through low-cut swimsuits and draped garments.” Complimenting the mystical mood are accessories showcasing different stones and sacred shapes, perhaps recalling the phases or the platonic solids, providing even more esoteric personality to the season’s pieces.

Lenny Niemeyer 2017 (3)
Lenny Niemeyer 2017 (6)

Lenny Niemeyer 2017 (7) Lenny Niemeyer 2017 (8) Lenny Niemeyer 2017 (9) Lenny Niemeyer 2017 (10) Lenny Niemeyer 2017 (2) Lenny Niemeyer 2017 (5) Lenny Niemeyer 2017 (4)

Lenny Niemeyer 2017 (11) LennyNiemeyer (12) LennyNiemeyer (13) LennyNiemeyer (14)

Images (via)

The Top 10 things I Love About Animal Crossing New Horizons

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Last month I put out a call on Instagram, pleading with my friends to fill me in on the appeal Animal Crossing, and what is it, exactly, anyway? Don’t get me wrong, I do understand the appeal of escapist video-games (I mean, we’re entrenched in the FF7 remake right now!) but I just knew absolutely nothing about Animal Crossing, and I was SO curious. Not curious enough to play, mind you–I know how easily I get sucked into games and I don’t need that temptation right now–but I just wanted to hear, from someone’s personal perspective and experience, just what is it that makes Animal Crossing so special? If nothing else, I can live vicariously!

My friend Shay rose to the occasion. Shay and are internet friends who have actually met in real life, and to say I adore her is a vast understatement. She and I were in somewhat similarly bad places in our lives when we first crossed each other’s path on the internet in the comments section of a blog that we both loved. As we became friendly and learned more about each other over the years, I’ve really come to lean on her friendship and cheer and perpetually bubbly nature, and I am happy to say that, while we switched places geographically (when we first started chatting she was down south and I was up north, and now the reverse is true) we chat at least once a week, and are always cheerleading each other on in our various goals. Shay–much like my Best Good Friend–is a very Aries Aries and as a slow, shy, sort of detached Taurus, I really need those dynamic, enthusiastic Aries energies in my life.

Thank you, thank you, darling Shay for taking the time, especially right now, which is a super weird and scary time, to have given this some thought and to have shared it with me. See below for Shay’s Top 10 things I Love About Animal Crossing New Horizons I hope you guys found this as illuminating and enjoyable–and fun!– as I have!

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Hello, I’m Shay and I’m a casual gamer that has found a little place of zen in a game. I have played puzzle, design, and sim games for years. I played Animal Crossing beginning on the GameCube and have played every iteration of the game since. It’s the game with no rushed goal, no actual end, it’s a game where you just exist. There is something special about the town and now it’s an island that you get to create and curate.

The Sounds and Songs

Kazumi Totaka has created something amazing with Animal Crossing. The ASMR is being recorded and people are making YouTube videos of his hard work. The Washington Post described it as “a blissful 24-hour lullaby that’s helping countless players weather countless hours of forced downtime.” Totaka recorded the sounds of the island that you hear while out in nature. The ocean waves, a crackling campfire, walking through wet grass, the sound of the mole cricket, cicadas and he changed into sandals to get the sound just right for walking through sand. There is also a theme song that changes throughout the day starting slow chill in the morning and building up to a pop song around noon, happy hour sounds a little jazzy and then as you get late into the night and the dark sets in the tune takes on a slow gothy sound. It’s all so lovely and thought out.

My island celebration for the museum expansion! Hooray!

Cute Anthropomorphic Characters

If you have played the game before, most of the characters are still here and there are quite a few new additions as well. I’m pleased to say my islanders so far are enjoyable but if they weren’t you could go to the town hall and submit a complaint to Isabelle, she’s the dog that works there. There are different animals and they all have different personalities. Personality types tend to be nice, hard workers, lazy, jocks, rude and some are just eccentric. I currently have 2 that think they are a pop star & a superhero (a panda and a rabbit).

Creepy Zipper on Bunny Day

Creepy Zipper on Bunny Day

The Ever-Changing Seasons and Holidays

Depending on if you choose to play the game in your own hemisphere and time zone your game will follow the current seasons. The fish, bugs, and flowers change with the seasons. There are a number of holidays that come along with the season change. We just had Bunny Day that had the CREEPIEST bunny I have ever seen. It really topped the charts in its creep factor, right down to the zipper in the back of his suit. Cherry blossoms bloomed with the beginning of Spring so all the hardwood trees turned into trees covered in pink flowers and at the end of the season the town was raining in pink blossoms.

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All The Outfits!!!

My character is nothing but stylish. She has a packed closet and since you get Nook Miles for changing the outfit….she pretty much changes daily. I have been stuck on a retro 1940’s look lately but I have so many to choose from. The Able Sisters show up on the island and start selling you clothes from a stall, but soon get a store and you can go daily and buy new pieces. I have hipster outfits, gothic lolita outfits and some of my favorite are my punk outfits.

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Fishing and Bug Catching

Part of what drives the game is catching fish and bugs and digging up fossils that eventually start being collected by Blathers, an owl that runs a museum. You also get to sell these items to help pay off loans that the island creator Tom Nook (in the American version of the game they call him a raccoon but he is actually named after his Japanese likeness…a play on words, he is a tanuki which is a raccoon dog that lives in East Asia) give you when he helps you set up your house. Tom Nook continues to help you build up the island with loans for expanding your house and costs that the island creates as a whole to build bridges and inclines to easier get around the island. The money is called bells and you get bells when you sell items to Nook’s Cranny, the local general store. The fishing and bug catching is very much like the real thing. A relaxing pastime that allows you to clear your mind a bit and focus on a task that requires sneaking up slowly to a butterfly or outwitting the tarantula.

Watching the fish from the tunnel in the museum

Watching the fish from the tunnel in the museum

The Museum

As mentioned above, part of what drives the game is the seasonal comings and goings of fish and bugs. This makes the collection to help fill the museum have time frames (again, a few months’ time that isn’t rushed by any means). You have a few months to catch a Marlin. Come May 1st that fish leaves along with the elusive hard to catch tarantula. Taking the place are a scorpion, catfish, and rainbow fish just to name a few. Filling the museum is probably one of my favorite activities. Once Blathers has taken the item from you he adds it to the museum. You can wander through the many halls anytime you like. The museum is quiet. The music is in hushed tones. You can hear the splashing of the water recycling through the tanks, you can hear buzzing from the bees and chirping of crickets. It’s part of the game that feels the most like a meditation. You can sit in the museum and watch the fish swim in schools. It all feels very natural.

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Decorating the Home & Island

Islanders share recipes with you and you can collect flowers, stones, clay, and iron to create furniture to fill your home and the island. You can also buy things from Nook’s Cranny to fill your home. There are multiple random ways to get furniture or designs for furniture. Filling your home and making the island feel cozy lead to happy homes awards and visitors deciding to stay. I tend to like decorating games, so with this part of the gameplay I end up taking a long time changing up wallpapers, flooring, rearranging the furniture in my home and all over the island.

Moon gazing from the cliffs

Moongazing from the cliffs

Terraforming

One of the final tools you unlock allows you to then take your designing even further. Terraforming allows you to change the shape of the island. This allows you to build cliffs, create waterfalls, and lay down paths. I spent days building paths. I found myself cutting down trees and moving flowers so that everything moved in a flow that felt like a little village I would want to live in. I carved a waterfall into an area I dubbed my zen garden. This game has become an escape from a world that is troubling. When the news is too much I find myself turning off the TV and picking up my Switch.

My husband was my first visitor .We play on separate consoles.

My husband was my first visitor. We play on separate consoles.

Connecting With Friends and Visiting Islands

Finally, the last thing that I love about this game is sharing the fun with friends. You can swap codes and fly to each other’s islands. Here you can swap recipes, trade fruits (you start with only one type of fruit and build all the fruits by traveling and visiting other islands), and get ideas for all the many ways you can design your island and make this game your special Universe. I find myself watching YouTube videos of the 5-star islands. If any of this interests you, you must look up the Zelda island and the Twin Peaks island. These are both spectacular examples of people taking an idea and making it so wildly, wonderfully weird. I hope when my friends that are playing visit my island they feel the love, glitter, and weird I have added to make this place something that takes me away from all the bad in the world.

If you are interested in becoming Animal Crossing friends, you can find me on Instagram @shaynovinnyc and send me a DM for my friend code. I sometimes make stories about my island, but most of the time what you see is what interests me on my walks through the New York park near my apartment or something cute my cats did while we are in quarantine in a tiny apartment. Take care, stay safe, stay weird and happy gaming.

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