Ask and Ye Shall Recieve: An Evening with Amanda F****ing Palmer

I discovered The Dresden Dolls in college. They appealed to my angsty artsy side, which is tucked away in my hoodie pocket at any given time. I instantly connect to confessional lyrics and pianos. Amanda showcases both, with the Dolls or on her own.

The first time saw Amanda Palmer in concert was right after she had split from her label and I think the Dolls had broken up. At that point, I don’t think I’d purchased any of her music firsthand. Plus, from her numerous open blogs on the the subject of the music business, it didn’t sound like buying her music was the way to help her profit directly. So I bought concert tickets and merch instead. I wasn’t disappointed. Her concert ended with her singing “Making Whoopie” on a ukulele from an opera box at the Bijoux Theater in Knoxville.


Then the Dresden Dolls announced a reunion tour in 2010 and the husband and I bought tickets immediately for the Atlanta show at The Buckhead Theater. There’s something magic about Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione. You can’t bottle it. It just is. I remember watching their Paradise dvd over and over again after their inital breakup, so sad I’d missed the chance to see them live when they initially split. But see them we did. They played until I couldn’t stand up or hear straight and it was pure magic. Neil Gaiman wrote a piece about it in Spin. You should read it.


It was an amazing show. I still have a flower Amanda threw into the crowd that someone gave me. I pressed it into a glass locket and it hangs on my nightstand.

Throughout her time without a label, I supported her indie releases, buying cool merch packages with buttons and stickers and sharing links to her videos on Facebook. I liked how she offered a custom experience for her fans. I respected that she was tuned in to giving people a great experience or product. She often addressed delays upfront. She was honest, messy, and interesting to watch, as human beings often are. Her honesty–through her songwriting and tweets–made it impossible for me to look away.

Then came the Kickstarter. I did not support the Kickstarter, for whatever reason. None of the packages appealed to me, or I just wanted the buy the album in a record store later. The husband loves Kickstarting games and comics so I was aware of the business model before people started freaking out on the Internet. I did buy Theatre is Evil at the store and it changed my life. Because The Bed Song.

And then came her TED talk. If you’ve never heard of Amanda Palmer, you should maybe start here.

Asking is a skill I’m continuing to learn in my 30s. As is trust. As is receiving help. As an artist, Amanda Palmer has helped me consider myself and what I want more deeply. She’s helped me understand I can’t be a one-woman show. I can’t do it all on my own.

So this past week, the husband and I drove to Birmingham to see AFP on her short whirlwind tour and meet a friend we actually met at a Neil Gaiman signing. Sixteen weeks pregnant at the time of this performance, I wasn’t sure what to expect. No opening act, just Morrissey and The Smiths blaring over the PA system, which lead to dance-and-sing along.


And then there was Amanda, luminous in a satin nightgown and floor length coat. She opened the show with Astronaut, banging on the keyboard like she was trying to bring blood.


And so it went. She crowd sourced her playlist, letting first timers choose songs for her to sing. And then there were other surprises. Midway through the show, she talked about how she recorded her first album with Ben Folds producing and she had never covered him. So she covered Ben Folds Five’s Brick. Readers, THERE ARE NO WORDS. Later, she played The Bed Song, and I openly wept, shoulders shaking, every word, every piano key lodged deep in my heart. It was a beautiful, cathartic concert. People laughed, cried, and lost their shit. I was one of them.

After years of seeing her and never staying for the signing line, I did, my River Song journal in hand, as well as a freshly purchased copy of her book. By the time I got to her, she was tired, luminous, but gracious. She asked my name and signed her book. Then I presented her with my River Song journal.

“TARDIS journal!”

“Neil signed the first page. You can have your own page, or if you can share his, if you like.”

“I’ll split a page with him,” she said.


This brought me mad amounts of happiness, because they are two of my favorite artists who not only love each other but are now having a child. Consider the bedtime stories and lullabies and utter love. Consider that. I am so glad I went, and have been devouring her book in the days since. There’s a section in her book that crystallized what I felt that night, with a few other hundred people (and one dog) in that room at WorkPlay:

“…Listening to those songs performed live, in concert, and sharing that blanket feeling, with a crowd of strangers, gives me a feeling of humanhood that I don’t often get to experience; it’s the closest thing I have to church.” 

Thank you for church, Amanda. Thank for seeing all of us in the crowd. I can’t wait to see what you do next.


The Geeky Jetsetter: From Los Angeles to Asheville.

The last days of this winter were filled with wanderlust, and I found myself in many an airport terminal or behind the wheel. Each experience was definitely worth it!

Gally One

February saw me flying out to the West Coast for the fabulous Gallifrey One. While Alex Kingston had to cancel at the last moment due to work commitments, I was glad to band together with my River Song sisters and celebrate the woman that brought us there in the first place.



I also loved running around in my Charley Pollard cosplay with a friend who was a fantastic Eighth Doctor. BIG FINISH FOREVER!


The level of cosplay at the this con still blows my mind. I think it’s some of the best Whovian cosplay in the country, so I’m always honored when I’m asked for a photo.


I love talking with other cosplayers and asking them how they constructed their cosplays or props. I love seeing people’s inventiveness at work.


My new favorite cosplay? Clara from “Mummy on the Orient Express.” It’s all about that dress!


After the con, the husband and I headed off for some family time, visiting the Queen Mary and various beaches. California is beautiful, and I can’t wait to explore it more. Last year we hit up Hollywood. Next year? Who knows!


Con Nooga

This year at Con Nooga, I was busy co-running the British Media Track with the founders of the Tennessee Who Authority, which left little time for pictures. I was, however, being followed around for a short documentary, so check me out in action on this wonderful piece for Greater Chattanooga. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like going to a convention, this gets #conlife right.


Four in the TARDIS asked if I’d like to attend ConGT with them in March, and I happily accepted. Smaller cons tend to be my favorite all-around just because you have more time to hang out with your friends, meet other cosplayers, and enjoy the con. ConGT boasted great programming and had family-friendly vibe for a first year con. Definately look into it if you’re in the Middle Tennessee area!


Dressing Downton

It’s always nice to get away from the con scene and go on an adventure. True to cosplayer form, it did involve costumes. The husband and I accompanied two friends to see the Dressing Downton exhibit at the Biltmore Estate. It had been years since I’d toured the house, but it was the perfect locale for the meticulously detailed and crafted costumes. The weather was clear and crisp. Afterwards, we enjoyed hanging out in downtown Asheville, North Carolina, which is one of my favorite cities anywhere. [Breakfast at Early Girl Eatery is the way to go.]

Since seeing the costumes in person and binge watching the first two seasons, I’m sure a Downton Abbey cosplay is in my future.


Remembering All The People I Was in 2014.

“But times change, and so must I… we all change. When you think about it, we are all different people, all through our lives and that’s okay, that’s good! You’ve gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this, not one day. I swear.” – The Eleventh Doctor, Time of the Doctor

It’s been a minute or three, and suddenly 2014 is nearly over. I’m not the same person I was when this year started and I am excited for what 2015 holds. I’m in need of a fresh start as the last few minutes of 2014 slowly tick away.

But let’s pause and see where I’ve been this year.

There’s Gally in LA.

There’s Gaga in ATL.

There’s Macbeth in NYC.

And so many miles in between. Dinners spent with friends. Laughter. Tears. Sheer exhaustion. The world’s longest cold. All these things happened this year.

And then there’s December, so quiet and cold and gray, all drizzle and chill. I would like to personally thank whoever invented Christmas lights, because they are truly joyous, even if I’m pulling a dour face.


I’ve been spoiled by so many people this month. Most of all my husband, who bought me Outlander knitted things (absolutely obsessed and mid-way through Voyager currently), rare Anais Nin books, and a Kate Bush Fish People keychain (I’ve spun her albums a lot this year, and am impatiently desiring Before the Dawn on DVD.) I can’t wait to use my new River Song bag and wear all the fab Out of Print things I received.



So who was I in 2014?

Writer. Cosplayer. Wife. Friend. Daughter.

Who do I want to be in 2015?

All of the above.

And more. Always more.

Here’s to 2015.

Summer’s Gone.

Suddenly I turned around and it was autumn. I’ve been burning the roads here, there, and yonder over the past few months, so here’s some highlights of the rest of my summer till now.


Is there a better early birthday present than a Day with a Doctor? Especially if it’s Paul McGann? I think not.


Fancy dinner with friends is pretty awesome too.



Tellus’s annual Night at the Museum was a great success again. Always happy to be a part of the Whovian cast for this event.


Dragon*Con was a bit of a blur. The best cosplay moments were mashups.



Was glad to see so many War Doctors, though. Mine remains the happiest.


I also had fun at the annual Pond Paradox shoot, and wore one of my first cosplays.


I organized a small River Song Brunch and it was great to catch up with so many lovely ladies after a crazy con.


Tony Curran was the loveliest, dearest celebrity I’ve met.


And this might have happened too.



I found myself at Anime Weekend Atlanta for a day. My River Song cosplay was met with screams, hugs, and shouts of “Professor Song!” Always take River Song to a con.



I’ve enjoyed spending time falling back in love with hometown, after so much travel. Highlights include book readings, volunteering at the library, time with friends, and seeing the Secret Sisters.




Jetsetting in June.

Dear Summer,

I love you.

Let me count the ways.

1. Seeing Macbeth in New York with my fellow Rivers and lovely friend Jennifer.

It was my first time in the concrete jungle, so I was glad to be with friends, to wander through the city and see the gorgeous architecture.

Also, Alex Kingston and Sir Kenneth Branagh performing the Bard’s glorious words 10 feet from our faces. (NO BIG DEAL.) We were divided into clans and walked the moors, were rained on and watched the actors unravel into madness. It was stunning. I don’t think I’ll ever see anything more amazing. That’s not an overstatement. It’s just the truth. Watching Alex Kingston as Lady Macbeth floating across an altar, lighting candles in silence and praying to the gods. Seeing Branagh reach out into the dark as if to clutch a dagger. Richard Coyle making me sob when he gasped, “All my pretty ones?” The witches crawling up Stonehenge-esque rocks. Scottish warriors beating the boards and carrying their dead. It was extrodinary.

2. Geeks in New York.

Cat set up a welcome party for us at The Way Station, and it was just the best. I drank too many Christopher Walken Deads and Stormageddons. Brooklyn is beautiful. Thank you to all that joined us!

3. Central Park.

We parked at the Dakota and walked by the door where John Lennon was shot. One crosswalk later, we were in Starberry Fields, and people were singing Beatles songs and I was crying behind my sunglasses because there will always be things I will never understand about this terrifying world. Later, we took up a shady spot on the rocks and Cat taught me how to play Amanda Palmer’s Ukelele Anthem and the following verses just filled my whole heart:

Imagine there’s no music, imagine there are no songs
Imagine that John Lennon wasn’t shot in front of his apartment
Now imagine if John Lennon had composed “imagine” for the ukulele
Maybe people would have truly got the message

You may think my approach is simple-minded and naïve
Like if you want to change the world then why not quit and feed the hungry
But people for millennia have needed music to survive
And that is why I promised John that I will not feel guilty

Jennifer also took some amazing shots of us in the park, which you can see here.

My favorite?
“What kind of time do you call this?”

So long, New York. Thank you for friends that serve you coffee in Twin Peaks cups and buy you Blue Velvet cake. Thank you for your neon and stone. I’ll be back again.

4. HeroesCon! The Rivers parted ways, on their way to Philly Con. Jennifer and I flew to Charlotte, North Carolina, to meet our husbands. So much art. So many comics. My brain couldn’t take it. Thankfully, I did get to meet Terry Moore, creator of my favorite comic, Strangers in Paradise, and not be utterly tongue tied.

I was too exhausted to cosplay, but thankfully Her Universe has the cutest Doctor Who dresses on the face of the planet. I was comfortable and geek chic.

So, thank you, Summer. I love you. To the moon and back.


221B + Gaga + TimeGate

The past month has been a blur of tea, glitter, confetti, no sleep, champange, dancing, all the sleep, and laughter. Pictures always speak louder than words, so:

221BCon #cluingforlooks


Lady Gaga in Atlanta #pawsup


TimeGate #fitzfaced #titanicon


I wore a lot of different faces at TimeGate…I have to say they’re all my favorite.


Cons From Coast to Coast: Gallifrey One and Con Nooga.

I’ve never been a jetsetter, but last year when the Mister wanted to go to Gallifrey One in Los Angeles, I was like “Sure, Why not?” And until it happened, it sort of felt like a dream playing in the back of my mind, a hazy Lana Del Rey video on repeat.

And then we stepped on the plane on a gray, cold February day and four hours later, we were in sunny, breezy California. My body never adjusted to the time change, so the days felt longer and I never knew if I was falling into or out of time. The Mister’s mother and her husband were happy to show us the sights and take us around town. We drove up and down Santa Monica Blvd., the mountains breaking up the radiant blue sky. I inhaled a Double Double from In N Out Burger and we headed to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, littered with Johnny Depp impersonators. At one point, we made a U-turn by The Viper Room and I was pretty sure my inner 13-year-old was having a coronary. [In another life, I crushed hard on Johnny Depp before it was cool.]


One of the highlights of the day out was visiting Marilyn Monroe’s grave. I’ve loved her for years, my bookshelf overflowing with biographies and fictional accounts of her life. The memorial garden where she and many other stars rest is hidden amongst office buildings and libraries that have grown up around it. We wandered around just as the sun was setting, and it was the most beautiful and peaceful places I’ve ever visited. It was Valentine’s Day, so a group had left Marilyn flowers.


We pounded the pavement a bit longer, stopping into Millions of Milkshakes for celebrity-named milkshakes [I had the Britney — peanut butter and Oreo] then found a little Korean dive that had the best spicy pork the Mister and I had ever eaten. We dined al fresco while the mother-in-law spoke in animated Korean tones I’d forgotten I’d missed. Next, we popped into Gally’s infamous LobbyCon to pick up our badges. We had drinks, and my hands were filled with ribbons and adipose cookies. Was this heaven?


So many beautiful cosplays, panels with Billie Piper and Arthur Darvill, and Paul McGann watching Night of the Doctor for the first time! It was insane. I met so many people I’ve only talked to on the Internet or met in passing at Dragon*Con. It was magic. My River diary is bursting with autographs, and we bought all the photo ops. The Mister decided to arm wrestle Paul McGann at the last minute, so my Charley Pollard expression of shock is 1000 percent legit. Billie Piper was a trooper for making the flight under the weather, although the next week many joked that they’d caught the Bad Wolf Flu.



Oh yeah, and that one time that Arthur Darvill showed up to the Amy Pond photo shoot and said “Um, this is weird.”


As a cosplayer, I loved that there were tons of backgrounds and welcoming cosplayers to pose with.


Amazing cosplayers, intricately built costumes, and breathtaking props. I actually can’t.


There’s so much I could say, but Gally was one of the best con experiences of my life and I would love to go back.

After touching down back in Tennessee and alleged reality, it was time for ConNooga. This is one of my favorite smaller cons held in my hometown, so I stayed busy all weekend, running panels, hosting a post-parade tea party and catching up with people I’m so honored to call friends.


The Brit track was excited to have two special guests this year: Lady Soliloque and Gareth David-Lloyd, promoting Lady’s latest project Enoch the Traveler. If you love time travel, check it out! The audio cast did a wonderful read-through at a special panel.


There was plenty of Whovian and British cosplay, too.


The Moment is quickly becoming one of my favorite cosplays. Doctors can’t resist a big red button. Typical.


February 2014, you were so timey-wimey, my head hasn’t stopped spinning. But I’ll always be dreaming of In N Out, palm trees and the Hollywood sign perched forever in the distance, the Spanish style houses, laughing with friends on the Marriott patio, and Paul McGann waving and blowing kisses as he left Gally, his satchel slung over his shoulder. The Doctor has left the building.

Want to see more photos from GallyOne or ConNooga? Head over to All Back to Front! I’ve still got photos I’ve yet to post!