Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

Ruminations on theatre, music, and just about anything else that crosses my bipolar brain.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas from Aunt Ginny!

Karen's Aunt Ginny gave me lots of awesome Red Sox stuff for Christmas. Topping the list was this set of nesting Russian dolls depicting the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox!

Check them out! Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, David Ortiz, Jason Varitek, and Trot Nixon. Made in Russia, no less! Made by the Russians! The Russians!

Thanks, Ginny!

Go Sox!

Merry Christmas!

I wish everyone the merriest of days! It's a fairly typical Richmond Christmas, 50 degrees and raining. Aunt Ginny gave me loads and loads of awesome Red Sox stuff, and James Brown is in Heaven singing "Merry Christmas! I feel good!"

As a present to all my friends and readers (all three of you), all four songs from Under the Star on my MySpace page will be available as a free download for the twelve days of Christmas. Feel free to share them with your loved ones.

Everyone please be safe out there this week.

God bless us, every one!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Best Thing I've Read All Year: "Pride of Baghdad"

Fans of graphic fiction, go out and get yourself Pride of Baghdad, the new graphic novel by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon. It's the most affecting piece of comic art I've read in a very long time.

Pride tells the story, based on real events, of a small group of lions who were freed from the Baghdad zoo by U.S. bombs. The four lions, unexpectedly liberated, find themselves roaming the war-torn streets of Baghdad. It is an amazing piece of work, one of those rare times in graphic fiction where writer meets artist in a perfect union, both of them combining to create a story no one else could have told nearly as well. With only cameo appearances by human characters, it is a unique piece of work, expertly creating characters that are accessible to human readers but still unmistakeably leonine in their behavior.

Please, if at all possible, buy it from a comics store, not a book store. This is one of those pieces that's going to be on "Best Graphic Novels of All Time" lists. It's also one of the only times a comic has made me cry.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

"Under the Star" Blogs Are Up

If you're interested in the extended notes for Under the Star, go check out I won't be posting them here.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Come Hear Some Christmas Music!

I'm playing a couple live gigs in the next few days to spread the Christmas spirit (a challenging task when it's 65 degrees outside), and you should come out!

Friday, December 15 at 7:30 at Crossroads Coffee and Ice Cream (3600 Forest Hill Ave). Free music, coffee, sweets, and lite fare, and Under the Star CDs for sale! Try the Guinness Chocolate Stout ice cream.

Tuesday, December 19 at 7:30 at ComedySportz (7115-A Staples Mill Rd). $10 for adults, $7 for students. Under the Star CDs for sale! Come out, eat, drink, and be merry.

And, of course I'm playing before all the remaining performances of A Christmas Carol for Two Actors by the Richmond Shakespeare Theatre (Thursday and Friday at 8:00, Saturdays at 2:00 and 8:00 through December 23).

Singing along is encouraged at all shows.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Ask Andrew: Caveman versus Astronaut

Today's question comes from Joey, who asks me many questions on a daily basis. Joey asks:

I may have asked you this before, but I would like the most in-depth answer that only a blog can present:

Who would be the victor in a fight between an astronaut and a caveman? Here are the rules:

I. There is no setting for the fight, therefore the contestants are unable to use the enviroment to their advantage.
II. Since the astronaut is obviously of higher intelligence then the caveman, the caveman is allowed to use a wooden club to make up for this mental indiffrence.
III. No outside interfierences are allowed.
IV. No kicks to the groin are permitted.
V. The theme song is Survivior's "Eye of the Tiger", and it plays in loop through out the fight.

That's easy. The astronaut wins. As soon as "Eye of the Tiger" starts playing, the caveman freaks out at hearing this magical sound from wherever it's coming. Astronaut just whacks him on the head with a telescope while he's cowering.

Thanks for this important question, Joey. I'm sure all of my readers have been quivering with anticipation waiting for the answer to this all-important question.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

"Ask Andrew!"

Welcome back to "Ask Andrew," where I publicize interesting email conversations with my friends. Brad from Seattle writes in:

I read on that many right wing Christians hate Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I don't have a TV. Can you inform of (a) why they would hate it and (b) your opinions.


Well, Brad,

One of the principal characters of Studio 60 is a left-wing comedy writer who delights in writing sketches that tweak the Evangelical right.

Hating the show because of Matt is the stupidest thing ever. First of all, the writing hardly glorifies his opinions; he is painted as pretty much the most intolerant person on the show. Secondly, his ex-girlfriend and the show's female lead, Harriet, is an Evangelical Christian, and she's the best-written and most multi-dimensional Christian character on TV in years, maybe ever. You want to know what Aaron Sorkin thinks of Christianity? Look at Harriet, not Matt. And look at Sorkin's long history of great respect for religion and people of faith (Jeremy and Isaac from Sports Night, Jed and Abbey Bartlett from The West Wing).

I think the show is just magnificent. It's taking a bit longer than his previous shows to get its feet under itself, and Sorkin foolishly made Matt's anti-Christian stance the main story of the first few episodes, but it's very good. Heck, with Heroes coming on right before it, NBC's Monday night alone is worth having a TV for.

Thanks for writing in, Brad. And everyone should feel free to email questions, both silly and serious. Just "Ask Andrew!"


Monday, December 04, 2006

Why You Should Read "Watchmen"

(I just posted this over at HCRealms, in response to the question "Why should I read Watchmen," and thought it should go here too. I haven't written about comics in a long time, after all...)

Watchmen is one of a very small handful of pieces of comic art that undeniably deserves discussion as one of the great works of 20th Century literature. Watchmen is in a very small handful of works such as Maus, The Dark Knight Returns, the Wolverine limited series, and Squadron Supreme (which deals with similar issues in a more pure-comic way) that rise above the rest.

Watchmen is that rare combination of "incredibly important" and "fun as hell to read." The only thing more awesome than reading it the first time is reading it the second time--which you will want to do the moment you turn the last page the first time.

I strongly disagree with those who suggest skipping the interstitial sections. They are essential. Watchmen shouldn't be read in one sitting; in fact, it shouldn't be read more than one chapter as a time. Read a chapter, read the interstitial material after the chapter, then take a break and do something else before moving on.

It's fun to see just how much of today's comics are essentially re-telling Watchmen over and over again. As much as I enjoy Warren Ellis, pretty much all of his pet themes come from Alan Moore, and from Watchmen in particular. Brian Michael Bendis' dialogue owes much to the conversational tone of Watchmen's un-powered superheroes. Nothing clarifies modern comic storytelling like reading Watchmen.

It's the superhero Lord of the Rings, and everything since is The Belgariad and Sword of Shanarra--pretty good books, but not exactly Tolkien.

It will change the way you look at the possibilities of what comic art can do. Watchmen is the ultimate example of how comics can do things that novels and movies can't even touch. No comic story I have ever seen mines the possibilities of comic storytelling a tenth as much as Watchmen. Every panel contributes; every word is carefully chosen; every page is essential.

It will remind you about everything you ever loved about comics. It's just effing great. Some people don't like it. I have no idea why. Watchmen is the ultimate funnybook. Drop what you're reading and start reading it now.

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Andrew Hamm's New Christmas Album Is Finished!

Under the Star is finally complete and available for purchase!

Four sample tracks are up on my MySpace music page for your holiday listening enjoyment!

Featuring such beloved favorites as:
"What Child Is This?"
"Little Drummer Boy"
"O Come O Come Emmanuel"
"Silent Night"
and "The Twelfth Night of Christmas"

The cost is a mere $15, oh so much better than the $18.99 you'd have to spend at Best Buy. Be the first on your block to get one! Get one for all your friends and family! Get one for all your enemies! A portion of the proceeds goes to the continuing work of Richmond Shakespeare.

Email for ordering information.

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Go See "The Fountain," and Do It Soon.

"If you're a movie lover who despairs that big-scale filmmaking today consists of little more than a self-cannibalizing system of cliches; if you are fed up with putatively ambitious movies that turn out to sorely lack not just vision but actual brains and actual heart as well, then you need, badly, to see The Fountain, soon, and under the most optimum viewing conditions available. It may well restore your faith in the idea that a movie can take you out of the mundane and into a place of wonderment."

Thus wrote Premiere magazine's Glenn Kenny, my new favorite person on Earth. Karen and I just got back from watching Darren Aronofsky's new film, and neither one of us can remember being rendered so completely speechless by a movie in our lives. The only things I've ever seen anything like it are 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Even those two films, masterpieces in their own right, pale in many respects in comparison to The Fountain.

You're not getting a review from me here, and I recommend you avoid reading any. Just go see this dazzling and demanding film, and see it now; it's already starting to disappear from theatres. If you wait to see it on video, you will dearly regret it.

EDIT: Having slept on it, I am even more convinced that The Fountain may be the most remarkable and beautiful film I've ever seen. Don't miss it.
EDIT: Two days later, I still can't stop thinking about it.

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The RTD's Review of "A Christmas Carol for Two Actors"

Congratulations Jen and Grant! A great review of a wonderful performance.

I watched Susan Haubenstock watch the show and was pleased to see she had the same difficulty as I did in getting that silly smile off her face.

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