Tag Archives: reviews

REVIEW: Polarity by Max Bemis and Jorge Coelho

Polarity

As much as I enjoy Say Anything (the band fronted by writer Max Bemis), I was hesitant to pick up this comic because, well, the premise sounds exactly like the pseudo-autobiographical premise of their first album “…Is A Real Boy,” which kindofsortamaybe chronicled Bemis’s descent into super-powered bi-polar disorder — except that, while recording said album, Max Bemis was actually diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and locked himself up for a while. But, the book was on sale for $4 on ComiXology, so I figured hey, why not.

While I tend to be the kind of person who connects with comic books more the writing than the art (although I do love a good collaboration), I’d first look to say that the artwork on this book is PHENOMENAL. It’s slightly cartoonish, but not a childish way, and accurately portrays hyperviolence, superhero action, internal mindscape struggles, and hipster culture. As for the story itself, it didn’t shy away from the fact that it was a slight variation on the story that Bemis has told several times already. The basic premise is that Tim is an artist and self-loathing hipster who suffers from bi-polar disorder, and after he’s institutionalized and begins taking pills, he can’t create his art. So he goes off his medication, and soon discovers that his untreated condition literally gives him superpowers. But maybe he’s too dangerous, and maybe there’s a Shadowy Government Organization trying to create an army of Bi-Polar Super Soldiers? Meanwhile, his art is getting better, and he meets a girl.

Overall, it’s a pretty enjoyable story, and while applying science fictional concepts to mental illness is nothing new, I actually think that Bemis does it in a pretty fresh way — by essentially saying that yes, mental illness IS a superpower, but the same way that traditional superheroes suffer from their extra-human abilities, maybe it’s still better if you take your pills and try to function like a normal person. That being said, I’m not sure how this book would read to someone who was unfamiliar with “hipster” culture. The main character spends a lot of the book criticizing everyone around him for being hypocrites and poseurs, and ultimately realizes that he’s just the same as the rest of them. If you’re familiar with Say Anything’s music, Tim’s rants are all basically pulled straight out of the song “Admit it!” As far as cultural critique is concerned, it is an interesting analysis of hipsterdom that I mostly agree with, even if it is a bit misanthropic (which works well in a loud rock song, but feels different as internal monologue).

That being said, I wonder how someone who was outside of or unfamiliar with “hipster culture” would feel about this book. It’s very insular, and some might even say that hipsters criticizing hipsters for being hipsters is THE most hipster thing possible, and while the story does acknowledge that irony (while also criticizing irony as the cheapest form of hipster self-defense), it never quite transcends it. I suspect that if you weren’t already aware of and/or immersed in that post-art-school-Williamsburg-landscape, you’d think, “Okay, so these are a bunch of Urban Outfitters asshole who are too cool for Urban Outfitters and this main character is kind of an unlikeable dick who judges everyone around him for being fake judgmental assholes — why should I care?” And if that’s you, I might suggest that you’re better served by listening to “Woe” and “Admit it!” by Say Anything, which pretty much sum up the book.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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REVIEW: The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty

The Shambling Guide to New York City

This was enjoyable, but it took me longer to get through than it should have, because I didn’t care enough. It’s a fun concept, I like the world, but I wish it had either been funnier, or darker (for example, and this is a slight spoiler: if you have a co-worker who’s a succubus and feeds on sexual energy, and he tries to seduce your character at a nightclub because he’s hungry, and you DON’T find a way to make that a metaphor either for date rape, or a regrettable but consensual one night stand with a co-worker? C’mon! It’s right there!). Instead, it was kind of a mediocre middle ground between monsters and tourism that was certainly fun, but nothing remarkable. I loved the idea of Public Works, and the zombies, and some of the characters were still fun (despite the fact that I have literally no idea what the protagonist looked like). By the time the epic ending came around, which I guess was kind of cool, I was more interested in finishing the book than I was in what actually happened to any of the characters (spoilers: they all live happily ever after. lame).

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

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Now Or Later Opening!

Now Or Later officially opened this past Wednesday, and we couldn’t be happier with the results! Okay, well, I guess we could a little bit, but overall, the reaction has been pretty fantastic for this “heady and provocative” 75-minute political thriller. So here’s a little somethin’ I put together to show off the overwhelmingly positive audience reaction, along with some footage from the production itself:

True Believers Closing and More Reviews

Before I run away to Florida and sleep for 2 weeks straight because I need it, here’s a final roundup of more reviews for the world premiere of True Believers:

“Dunn’s script is smart and sharply written. He creates memorable and believable characters set in this world who many of us can either relate to, or just be familiar with.  The comedic moments are great and chock full of fantastic one liners. He also is able to create strong and powerful dramatic moments that help balance the comedy.  It doesn’t become a parody, but a snap shot of what this world could very well be like. What else can be said about this show except only more praise?”  – MuffinEatsDragon.com

“I was impressed with this show for many reasons, but the foremost was the interesting, thoughtful story that they told extremely well. The second is that it spoke authentically to the nerd fringe community. I know, ‘nerd culture’ is the hip thing right now with comic book movies dominating the box office, but I agree with the sentiment that this newfound cash cow does not represent the community in a real way. Though it does help to normalizesome nerd culture. True Believers by Thom Dunn feels like a play that intimately knows what conventions are like. Their lights are clever, their sound is full of hilarious nerdy references, the script is clever, the characters are interesting, and the actors are brilliant. I could not recommend this show more.”  – My Entertainment World

And to top it off, we were the Pick Of The Week in RadioBoston! All in all, I’d say that’s not so bad for a nerdy little play about a comic book convention.

Now without any further ado, I’m going to retreat and recuperate for a few years. You’ll hear from me eventually…

First review of True Believers is a rave!

From EdgeBoston:

Heroes and villains clash in Thom Dunn’s True Believers; it’s not the fate of the cosmos that hangs in the balance, but rather the personal worlds of everyone involved. This salute to comic-con is fraught with sharp writing and impeccable performances. Comic books are wildly colorful exaggerations of life, a form of contemporary myth, and Dunn understands this. Dunn’s energetic script takes on the general form of a farce, albeit one in which aimless young men dress in crude cardboard approximations of cyborg armor. The play’s particulars may be specific to a certain social subset, but its themes and motivations are universal. The characterizations are well wrought and the jokes are smart, sometimes downright wicked sharp.

Yeah, alright, I’ll take that! You can read the full review online as well. We have just 5 more performances this week (Wed – Sat) before the show closes, so make sure you catch it will you can!

Haiku Beer Review: The Third!

Continuing in my established tradition from the Mass Brewer’s Fest and last year’s Winter Beer Jubilee, I present for you the latest installment of Haiku Beer Review, compiled at the 2012 Winter Beer Summit. I make tasting notes into my phone as the night goes on, so that I can turn them into haikus when I get home (and eventually sober up). I know, I know, I’m a genius, it’s true. Anyway, enjoy!

(Also, thanks to Dig Boston for the free tickets and for putting up with my whining. #thomdunnwantsbeer)

“Haiku Beer Review #3: Winter Beer Summit 2012” on FiveByFiveHundred.com

Haiku Beer Review — Part 2

In a tradition that began back in January at the Winter Beer Jubilee in Boston, I recently posted the second iteration of my “Haiku Beer Review” series, which is precisely what it sounds like — beer reviews, in haiku form (I also try to tweet Haiku Beer Reviews whenever I try a new brew at a bar). These reviews began as voice memos that were taken by my friends and I at the Mass Brewer’s Fest at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston on September 2, 2011, but I only just got around to compiling the voice memos and turning them into haikus. Anyway, if you like beer and/or poetry and/or drinking, I’d advise you check it out (along with, hopefully, some new beers)!

“Beer Review Haiku part Two” at FiveByFiveHundred.com