Face Off on SyFy is yet another Project Runway-type ripoff reality show, this one focusing on special effects makeup artists. (Get the feeling they’re running out of niches?) Of course I watched the first season last year, because really now, and it was a lot of fun, but it’s so oddball that I was afraid it wouldn’t get picked up for a second season.
But! Luckily! Season 2!
Aside: I almost missed the start of Season 2 because SyFy (I hate typing that every time) did a poor job of advertising it. I only saw an ad a few days before, and it didn’t even have an air date—just “January 2011.” I had to look it up, which just goes to show how excited I was for the show. (Thursdays at 10, icyww.)
My favorite part of the first episode, honestly, was when last year’s winner, Conor, showed up as a guest judge and it turned out he had been hired by one of the permanent judges, Ve Neill; both are currently working on The Hunger Games. It’s honestly so rare for winners of these shows to actually go on to become something in their given industry (Christian Siriano being the notable exception) that it’s awesome to see that he won this goofy little reality tv show and is now employed doing what he loves.
But back to the show. I don’t know why this one is so cool versus all the other copycats like Work of Art or Project Accessory. I think it might be because there is so. much. art involved. They sculpt and paint and design costumes and create characters and it has to be pretty and functional and tell a story all at once. The judges have exacting standards. The characters, er, people (at least last season) are the right mix of likable and dramatic. It’s simply fun to watch (especially if, like me, you have a professional artist on hand to go “ooooh that’s a bad decision” and then watch things go bad).
I think it helps that the show is so new that the challenges haven’t become monotonous yet. Project Runway, much as I love it, can get pretty predictable. You know every season they’re going to do certain challenges; with Face Off, everything is still new and exciting.
So. On the one hand I’m being selfish and advocating for this show because I want lots of people to watch it so it doesn’t get canceled. On the other hand it is actually a remarkably entertaining show. So! The moral of this story is if you aren’t watching Face Off you should give it a try. Because I mean really, look at this shit:
You’ve probably been following the flooding tragedy in Nashville.
One of my really good friends lives there. Mandy is, luckily, okay and her 3rd-floor apartment is mostly undamaged, but a lot of people weren’t so lucky.
IF YOU WANT TO HELP
Mandy and a couple other Nashville writers have set up this website, Do the Write Thing for Nashville, where they will be raising money for Nashville relief efforts by auctioning off critiques, signed books, etc. from writers, editors, and literary agents. If you are an aspiring author who wants an industry professional to critique your work, or if you are a fan who wants a chance to buy something AWESOME, stay tuned! I know they’re collecting some pretty cool things. And it will all go to the Metro Nashville Disaster Response Fund.
So. You may remember that Amanda Fucking Palmer gave me a ticket (I’m still pretending that it was a personal gift) to the world premiere show of her new project, Evelyn Eveyln. So it only seems fair to repay her kindness by telling you all how AWESOME the show was.
And it was pretty awesome.
(Quick aside: if you don’t know what Evelyn Evelyn is, they are conjoined twins from Kansas who play music. Any resemblance they have to Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley in a big dress is purely coincidental.)
The show was at Club Oberon in Cambridge, Mass, where I had never been. I really like the venue, though, it’s small and seems casual, though that may have just been the crowd. Since I get most of my musical experiences at the House of Blues, I really liked the coziness of Oberon. And a brief word on the crowd: I have never seen such a diverse band of misfits as I have at that show. It was spectacular. There were young people, old people, fathers and daughters, people in corsets and people in jeans. Two girls came dressed as Evelyn and Evelyn. I’ve never felt so completely at home in a crowd.
Jason Webley opened the show, and he is a fanfuckingtastic performer. He got the crowd going immediately (“I need you to pretend I just did something awesome so I can get you to help me with the next song… good! good!”) and by the end of his short set had the entire crowd spinning in circles with their fingers in the air. I honestly couldn’t tell you whether I liked his music (I think I did) because he is such a good show. Loved it.
And with the crowd ramped up from spinning and singing, Amanda Palmer made her entrance.
Let’s be honest, Evelyn Evelyn wouldn’t be able to go on tour if Amanda Fucking Palmer weren’t Amanda Fucking Palmer. Someone proposed marriage to her as she sat at her piano. I thought about it (hey, we’re in Massachusetts). She’s an amazing human being and an amazing performer and an amazing performance. I always forget that there are people who don’t know who she is, because she is such an important artist in my sphere.
But sometimes I get caught up in the excitement of Amanda Fucking Palmer being Amanda Fucking Palmer, and I forget how truly stunning her voice is. Watching her sing, especially from like 5 feet away, is entrancing. Perhaps she sold her soul to the devil to get that voice—I really don’t know. But I’d be okay with that explanation. And the woman knows how to work a crowd.
AFP was then joined by Jason and the third performer of the evening, a man named Sxip Shirey. (It will be easier if you pretend it’s spelled “skip.”) They played “Electric Blanket” (accompanied by Sxip on some random bell contraption) and then AFP and Jason disappeared and it was time for Sxip to perform.
Sxip Shirey was the surprise of my evening. I’d never heard of him and had no idea what to expect, but now I’m in love. He’s part circus, part musician, part storyteller, part hair, and all awesome. He’s one of those “makes music with random stuff” guys, and his tools included bells, a train whistle, a police siren, a harmonica (on which he appeared to be beatboxing) and some foot-pedal-thing that did strange and amazing things to his microphone.
This is not the greatest video, but it’s my favorite song that he played:
His new CD went on sale yesterday. BUY IT!
So then after a brief break the twins came on.
The twins are pretty amazing.
It’s really kind of difficult to describe the show. It was part story/play (Sxip was the ringmaster-type, blatantly exploiting the twins), part cabaret, part puppet show. Each twin played one half of an instrument—they each played one hand of a piano, or one hand of the guitar, or ukulele, or accordion. (The accordion may have actually been all Jason the Left Twin, I wasn’t at a great angle.) It’s been years since I’ve played music, but that seems really difficult. The music is the sort of oddball thing you would expect from people who are pretending to be conjoined twins a band discovered by Amanda F. Palmer and Jason Webley. Each song is really a different genre, but it all seems to tie together pretty well. And the show is great. It feels very circus-freaky: “come into my tent and see this great freak of nature!”
There were a lot of little things that made the show even more genius. For instance, the “waiting for the show to start” music consisted of lots of songs about sisters (that Eurythmics song) and being close and being apart—and at least one song that was by Evelyn Evelyn. (I only remember Happy Birthday, but I think there might have been more.) It was brilliant.
Some things didn’t go quite so well, of course, since it was the first time this show had ever been performed. Jason seemed to have some trouble remembering some of the Evelyn Evelyn lyrics, and AFP kept almost cracking up, but as she said during her set, “anything that goes wrong tonight we can just call ‘charming.'” (That is a very rough paraphrase.) The show seemed to end slightly too mellow (this was pointed out by a couple of people in the Q&A session at the end) especially because they’d teased us by playing the opening to “Poker Face.” And there were a few tech issues. But everything was just opening-night kinks, which will probably be fixed over the course of the next few performances.
The entire thing was amazing.
I’m pretty sure the show is sold out, like, everywhere, but I hereby give you permission to find someone with a ticket and murder and/or maim him/her. Sometimes art is worth it.
SHE ANNOUNCED AT THE END
They’re ending their tour HERE in BOSTON in JUNE at my favorite venue the House of Blues! Tickets aren’t on sale yet, but stay tuned. They’ve promised that it will be total extravaganza and that they’ll have perfected the show (possibly making it entirely different) and I am super super excited.
There is my very very long review of the first ever show by Evelyn Evelyn. Thanks again, AFP.
So let’s see if I can adequately describe this weekend I had.
First, a reminder: Enter to win Suzanne Young’s debut, THE NAUGHTY LIST! I was with her at her first signing yesterday, at the SCBWI conference in New York, and the book SOLD OUT. Here’s a pic of Suz IN ACTION:
I’ll be drawing a name Wednesday night. (I don’t remember what day I said in the original post, but I am hereby declaring it to be Wednesday.)
So yes, SCBWI.
It was everything I could have hoped for and more. First, Sophie and I prepared for our big surprise entrance—Naughty List shirts! We didn’t quite bring Suzanne to tears (which was my ultimate evil goal) but I like to think we came close. Here we are with our shiny new signed copies:
So we spent the first day hanging around with Suz while she did her awesome conference blogger thing. Afterwards, Soph and I hiked back to our hotel through the bitter bitter cold, stopping partway to enjoy some classic NY diner food. Yummmm.
Sunday was just me, because Sophie had to go home to “go to school” or some BS like that. I spent the afternoon with Suz while she did her first ever book signing. People loved her! And there were so many who were so upset when the book was gone. THEN, I ended up at lunch with some truly fantastic people who I am going to keep anonymous so I don’t feel like a name-dropping heel. But wow, I felt like a rockstar.
Unfortunately, come mid-afternoon it was time to catch the sketchy Chinatown bus home. Nobody was having phone sex this time, so it was a much more enjoyable ride than the last time I took Lucky Star to New York. (At least, for me.)
So. A couple of things I took away from SCBWI:
1. I want to be a writer. The conference basically reignited my desire. Being around writers and industry people in general is always a good spark, but I think this time it just made it… tangible? somehow. Like, oh yeah, THIS is the dream you’re shooting for, Grace. It is real, it doesn’t just happen to people in the movies.
2. The authors I had lunch with gave me some reassuring words about heavy subject matter in YA fiction, and I was just generally encouraged to keep going. It was wonderful.
3. I really want to go to SCBWI LA. Can I afford this? Probably not. Can I dream? Yes.
So, thank you to everyone I met who was so awesome, especially to Suzanne. I had a truly fantastic weekend.