Thursday, May 27, 2010

Evelyn Evelyn

I had a blast yesterday at the Evelyn Evelyn show in LA at Largo at the Coronet. The show was simply amazing. It opened with Sxip Shirey, who plays songs using found instruments and instruments he alters himself. Some of his instruments include a marble in a bowl, an antique hotel bell, the Sxipenspiel (a present from Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman), and three penny whistles taped together. The sounds he makes with these instruments and how he manipulates them is like nothing I've ever heard before.

Evelyn Evelyn are the absolutely unique singer and songwriter duo that are also conjoined twins. Their new album just came out and I couldn't be happier with it. They sing in a variety of styles, including country, ragtime, 80's pop, as well as their own unique style. The story of their tragic, yet inspiring life occupy three tracks of their new album. The twins were reluctant to even enter the stage, only encouraged by the audience's most enthusiastic of applause. They carefully cleaned every instrument they were handed with a cloth from their purse and cringed in fear and disgust as the stage boy placed instruments on them. They seem painfully shy, which is hardly surprising considering the events they have experienced. Some say they bear a striking resemblance to Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley, but I don't really see it. ;) Their performance was awesome. They succeeded in playing the accordion, the piano, the ukulele, and the guitar with each twin being designated the left or right hand parts. Here are some great videos of other performances:

Jason Webley and Amanda Palmer also performed separately. I loved Jason's song, Dance While the Sky Crashes Down. When he sings, he is incredibly passionate and brings his whole body into it. He sings kind of like a young Tom Waits. His passion and enthusiasm for music is absolutely infectious. Amanda Palmer also took the stage, singing a Fuck the Police/Do You Swear to Tell the Truth the Whole Truth So Help Your Black Ass* mashup (which was hilarious!), Oasis, Coin Operated Boy, Astronaut, and a beautiful cover of a Radiohead song. She also sang Electric Blanket with Jason Webley and Sxip Shirey. The show ended with a drinking song, where we all got dizzy (much cheaper than alcohol) and joined in singing.

This was such a fun show with super talented and creative artists! If you live in the LA area, I would highly recommend going to the show. Tonight is the last day of the show, so this is your last chance for now.

* This song is available for FREE here to celebrate her separation from Roadrunner Records.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Espressologist

Jane Turner is an Espressologist. She studies the type of people that order certain drinks and matches them with a person that would best compliment them. She’s been secretly working on this project for a while, matching a couple here or there when she sees a strong match. She doesn’t take school seriously and often skips school in order to get more hours of work at Wired Joe’s. She matches a boy from her class, Cam, with her best friend, Em, to help Em get over a bad break up with her long term boyfriend. One day, she is promoted to assistant manager when her best friend turns down the position. Her Espressology is found out by her moody manager and she is suddenly the feature for the month. Will she be able to keep her manager happy and make matches on command to keep sales up? Why does the match she made with Em and Cam bother her so much?

This book was a bit of cute fluff. It was like watching a middle grade chick flick: not spectacular, but not horrible. The plot was a little like a rip-off of Jane Austen’s Emma, but not done as well as Clueless. I liked the story and the ending. The romance aspect between Cam and Jane was well developed and enjoyable to read. There were some things that bothered me. Jane’s problems with school were only addressed in the first half of the book. I would have liked it to be a little more realistic and she had to face the fact that she neglected school and got bad grades or had to repeat the classes or just leave this part out altogether. I also felt that the Espressology led her to be incredibly shallow and judge people by their looks and what they drank only without seeing how the people really were. This aspect was also not addressed. The characters beyond Em, Jane, and Cam were just typical, flat stock characters that don’t develop, like the mean girl, the brainless jock, and the unreasonable boss.

If you’re looking for a cute, fast read without much depth, I would recommend this to you. It suited my mood when I read it as the first book I read on my summer vacation.

My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins

Monday, May 17, 2010


Micah Wilkins is seventeen years old and a compulsive liar. She outright admits it at the start of the novel. She attends a unique high school where talent and intelligence are nurtured in a relaxed environment. Micah is not very popular, ever since she led everyone to believe she was a boy when she first arrived. Her goal is to just be invisible. Then, one of her classmates, Zach, is killed. She had been seeing him outside of school, unbeknownst to her classmates and his girlfriend. Micah finds herself at the center of attention despite her best efforts to remain invisible. She is also a suspect in the murder as well. Did Micah have anything to do with murder? Can we really believe anything she says?

Micah is the epitome of the unreliable narrator. By admitting she’s a liar at the outset of the novel, she calls into question everything she says, even that very first statement. This concept reminds me of a discussion of Shakespeare that I had in a class about Renaissance theatre. If someone says, “Everything I say is a lie,” it’s a paradox. If, with that statement, they are lying, it means the statement isn’t true. But it also isn’t true if they are telling the truth. I just think it’s fascinating. Anyway, getting back to the book, I can’t say I really like Micah, but her narrative held my interest throughout and I did care for her. I’m not going to spoil anything, but there are so many different ways this book can be read that it’s kind of ridiculous. I really commend Justine Larbalestier for writing such a book. It’s definitely not a book that everyone will like, but one that everyone will talk about.

I really like the format of the novel. The past and present occur side by side instead of in the typical linear fashion. It allows Micah to control what the reader knows and what they don’t. In between the “Before” and “After” chapters, there are history chapters (of Micah, her family, her school, etc.) and chapters that admit lies that she’s told within the narrative. It only took me about two days to read the novel. This style of novel also reminds me of another class I took this semester. A novel that exists in the mind of one character where time is distorted fits right in to postmodernism. It’s an incredibly sophisticated novel and shows how great writing can be in any genre.

I sort of enjoyed the novel. It’s very thought provoking and well written, but I was kind of numb by the end. I felt that I didn’t really know what to think about it. I think it might have been because I had been expecting an easy read after reading tons of books for school. Or I was just floored by how many interpretation I could come up with and couldn’t really settle on one. I will definitely read other works by Justine Larbalestier. I would recommend this book to someone looking for a thought provoking read.

My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins

Friday, May 14, 2010

Survival of the Dead

Survival of the Dead occurs immediately following Diary of the Dead. It follows Sarge Rocket (the same military man who stole from the group in Diary) as he and his three friends as they try to survive the zombie apocalypse. In a chance meeting with a young boy named DJ, they are led to Plum Island off the coast of Delaware where two rivaling Irish families have different ways of dealing with the undead menace. The O'Flynn’s simply kill the zombies. The Muldoon's want to keep the dead with them and believe that there might be a cure for their affliction or they can eventually coexist in peace. These are opinions these families are willing to kill over. Will they resolve their difference before the zombies will overrun them?

The film overall was pretty good. There were some moments of fantastic cheesiness that seem straight out of Looney Toons. It gave a lightness to a typically dark and dreary genre. All the conventions of the zombie movie are there: the person who stupidly thinks that their zombie relative recognizes them and gets bitten, the person who's health deteriorates throughout the movie because of infection, the hero tough guy, the snarky techie guy, etc. A new aspect of this film is the setting of the island and the crazy fighting families. The setting of the film is absolutely beautiful, which provides counterpoint for the blood, gore, and violence of the zombie apocalypse.

One of the things in the film that I liked was the evolution of the able bodied zombie. Some people don't like this concept, but it's even seen in the original Night of the Living Dead when a zombie picks up a rock to smash in the window of Barbara's car. The feuding families were interesting. Shamus Muldoon was a great villain, complete with creepy religious reasons keeping his dead, zombified relatives chained up around the island. Religious fanaticism is generally left by the wayside during times like this, but Shamus was just crazy enough to hold on to these ideals. Plus, he killed or attempted to kill everyone on the island that wasn't a part of his family. In a monster movie, he's the example of what a real human monster is. I really loved to hate him. As always, political subtext can be seen in the film. Especially with the families that fight, even beyond the grave, when the reason for the fight is long forgotten.

There were a few things that I felt were lacking. I had a problem with the reasoning behind the Muldoon's. He wanted to teach them to eat other things and keep them alive until a cure is found. But, if a dead person is "cured," they're still going to be dead. Killing them is the only logical choice I can see. And, even if zombies could be taught to eat animals, they would still go after humans as well. One thing that really bothered me about the movie was how many bullets the characters wasted on humans instead of zombies. I wanted to scream, "You share a common enemy! Stop shooting at each other!" The characters were generally fairly flat and stereotypical, who didn't really change throughout the course of film.

This film was generally entertaining and kept my attention throughout. There were some flaws, but I still enjoyed the film. I would definitely see it again. I hope this film so well so we can see more from George a. Romero.

My rating: 8/10 fishmuffins

Tomorrow: the Q & A with George A. Romero and the party!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Zombies Awareness Month!

Well, as most of you know, it's Zombie Awareness Month at the Zombie Research Society!! I think awareness of this debilitating and dangerous disease is important and needs to be addressed by our leaders. To show your support of this important movement, wear a grey ribbon and to to the Zombie Research Society website for daily giveaways! Today, the prizes are signed copies of Patient Zero (which is an awesome zombie read) and Zombie CSU by Jonathan Maberry. Go here with your worst way to die during the zombie apocalypse to enter!

Over this last weekend, there was a giveaway of 25 pairs of tickets to go to a special screening of George A. Romero's new zombie film, Survival of the Dead. This giveaway was on Bloody, which is a great way to find new independent films, free screenings, and updates on horror films in production. I entered not really expecting to win and worried about finals week (which is next week. Eep!). On Monday, I was notified that I won the grand prize: two tickets to the movie at the Arclight in Hollywood and passes to the VIP party afterwards for free food and drinks and mingling with the actors, producers, and, of course, George A. Romero, teh director and creator of the zombie genre as we know it. I debated not going for about 2 seconds and decided to take my boyfriend so we could spend some time together. I was so excited! Plus I deserved to relax and have some fun before my head exploded from stress.

So we got to the screening early, only to see a crowd of moaning, shuffling zombies! They were volunteers who also got to see the movie for free. Their makeup was amazing! My favorites were the zombie nuns with rulers. They were super nice and it was hilarious to see them approach random people. Alas, no pictures because I'm lame and forgot my camera again. :(

Tomorrow: my review of Survival of the Dead!

* picture from Zombie Research Society