365 T-shirts - the reasoning

This blog should be sub-titled: a journal of my life in geek.

I get my geek on with things about which I am geeky: comic books, Baseball, Ultimate, science fiction, my favorite bands, books I have read and loved, and Jungian psychology to name some of the most frequently traversed subjects.

I began this project simply as a way to count my T-shirts. I own a lot of T-shirts. But how many do I have? Do I have 365? We shall find out.

When I started this blog, I thought about how each T-shirt means something to me. I bought it for a reason, after all. I set myself the task to post an entry about a new T-shirt every day as a way to simply write something every day, a warm up for writing fiction, which is my passion. Writing is like exercise. Warm ups are good for exercise. But after completing a month of blogging about T-shirts, I have learned that this blog serves as a journal; it documents my life in geek, sort of a tour of my interests in pop culture. The blog serves as a tool for self-inventory, for assessment and analysis of self and the origins of self, for stepping through the process of individuation in catalogues, lists, and ranks.

The blog also made me aware that I have some serious gaps in my T-shirt ownership, and I am in the process of collecting some new T-shirts for several of the great popular culture icons that I truly love. Stay tuned.

I was also a bit surprised that people checked out my blog and continue to check it, read it, and even comment on it. I am very appreciative of this readership. Please feel free to share your thoughts in my comments section. I will respond.

Also, please note that I have moved the original introductory text to the side bar. And now, I present to you the most recent entry of 365 T-shirts: a journal of my life in geek. Thank you for reading.
(Second Update - 1310.24. First Update - 1306.05 Originally Posted - 1304.25.)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

T-shirt #131: Starfleet Academy

T-shirt #131: Starfleet Academy Training: THE KLASSIC ARCADE

I have read a lot of very good books this year.

I would be hard pressed to pick a book of the year out of this year's choices--at least so far--and my "to read" book stack is looking very good with works like Joyland by Stephen King and Gadget Girl by Suzanne Kamata up next followed by City of Bones, Kite Runner, and Earth Afire among so many others. I also have a plan to re-read Dune and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

I posted about books that I have enjoyed recently in T-shirt #107: The Daily Planet with some newsy lists of favorite things. One of the books on that list was Ernest Cline's Ready Player One. I liked it so much that I also blogged about it here in T-shirt #61: Blade Runner. So far, everyone to whom I have recommended Ready Player One has loved it and had a difficult time putting it down. Though I thoroughly enjoyed John Scalzi's Red Shirts and Warren Ellis' Gun Machine, if forced at threat of a boiling in a pot surrounded by hungry cannibals, I would choose Ready Player One as my book of the year.

Is it cheating to quote myself? Well, I am going to do it anyway.

"Recently, I read a great book called Ready Player One, which had references to Blade Runner among many other references to favorite '80s media. This was a GREAT book, and if you love 1980s geeky media as much as I do (and even if you do not), you must read it. (Basically, everyone should read it.)" (T-shirt #61: Blade Runner).


"But really, out of this list, Ready, Player One by Ernest Cline is the most amazing. Everyone to whom I have recommended it has loved it, and the audio edition with narration by Wil Wheaton is fantastic! Beware. You will not be able to put it down. I originally mentioned Ready, Player One in the entry for T T-shirt #61: Blade Runner, another post that could have made the top five and of which I am enormously proud. (See how I am sneaking in more than a top five in posts?)" (T-shirt #107: The Daily Planet).

Here's my Goodreads review. I gave Ready, Player One FIVE stars: "This is one of the single most entertaining reads I have had in a long time, and I give it five stars with no hesitation. I finished it a week ago, but I have been waiting to share my review because I thought it needed a long review.

It does not.

Certain readers, geeks like me, will love this book. It's a lovefest for the 1980s. With a constant stream of TV show, movie, music, video game, and other game references, this book will be adored by any fun loving geek who grew up and/or lived through the 1980s. It's delightful.

The reading experience is made more delightful by listening to the audio book narrated by the brilliantly funny Wil Wheaton. This marks the third Wil Wheaton book I have listened to recently. The last one was the book I read right before this one, Scalzi's Red Shirts, which gave me a back-to-back Wil Wheaton love fest. The other book was Scalzi's Fuzzy Nation, which was another immensely entertaining reading experience.

I only wish to applaud this book and reveal no spoilers. Beyond sharing that it's an '80s love fest, I do not want to share anything else. I went into it with no pre-knowledge except the rave reviews of several of the vendors at Fanfare, the local comic and game shop.

All I can say is to READ IT. If you are in any way like me, you will love it.

Thank me later" (Goodreads review, 2013).

I have been informed that I was wrong that only those geeky kids of the 1980s would thoroughly enjoy this book. One reader, a child of the late-1990s and early 2000s, told me I was dead wrong. So, I will qualify: the resonance for those who grew up in the 1980s or the late 1970s and early 1980s will find a richer experience here than those who have consumed 1980s culture in retrospect. The experience of reading the book will be just as enjoyable for both readers, but their experiences will inform their enjoyment differently.

At this point, many of you may be asking: "what does Ready, Player One have to do with that Starfleet Academy shirt you are wearing and the Klassic Arcade?"

Good question.

First, the Klassic Arcade. After finishing  Ready, Player One, I did a Google search to find a local arcade. With my love of old 1970s and 1980s electronic arcade games rekindled by this book, I needed an outlet to play the classics. This is how I discovered the Klassic Arcade of Gobles, Michigan. But this was back in March. My delayed gratification system seems to be working well. Four months after finding this place, I made my trek on Saturday July 27th, accompanied by my step-son Ivan and his girlfriend Olivia (pictures courtesy of both). Believe me, after visiting this great place and spending most of my time at the Asteroids machine, I will be back soon.

Second, the shirt. I have featured SEVEN Star Trek shirts so far on this blog. This one makes eight.

This was my first Star trek shirt, and it was a gift from my parents (or my sister, I forget). I may have lied when I claimed in T-Shirt #39 that the UFP logo shirt was the first Star Trek shirt that I owned. Since I am committed to accuracy, I may have to try to fact check these claims, but that's nothing I can do now. So it goes on my list (it's a short list) of potential updates to make later.

In any case, why this shirt? Well, why not? I have written quite a lot of Star Trek related content. My love for Star Trek is well documented on this blog. So, I do not feel that I needed to write more about Star Trek (though I could and I probably will as I expect purchasing at least one more Star Trek shirt before this yar of 365 days ends). Also, I do not own an Asteroids or an Atari shirt. No classic arcade game shirts, though, again, this may change. So, it seemed fitting to wear my Starfleet Academy shirt. After all, what is the Kobayashi Maru but a big video game? And what better training for something like Starfleet than simulations like electronic games, which will be demonstrated in the Ender's Game film due out this fall (and the controversy over which is the subject of an upcoming blog post). My friends and I always said we were the military's secret training project, and each game had a hidden video camera that sought the best and the brightest to recruit for the future war against the alien invaders. Hmmmm... there's a book there.

I am afraid I will have to sign off soon before I can do a full love letter to the games of the 1980s as Grading Robot is still in high production mode. But as I share my silly pictures, more snippets of fun. Thanks for reading me today!

I have always pronounced the game in the sign above as "Gal-AH-ga" rather than "GAL-a-ga," IE. a long "a" sound on the middle A and emphasis rather than a short "a" in the middle and an emphasis on the first "a." My wife and step-kids love to tease me about this pronunciation, but before them, no one corrected me. Apparently, I have been mis-pronouncing this game's name for years. And yet, when I look at the word, it makes more sense to me to pronounce it my way. Hey, I have to do my own thing. Besides, I have always preferred Galaxian anyway, and I know how to pronounce that name.

My favorite all time video arcade games are Asteroids, Joust, and Robotron followed by Galaxian, Tempest, and the little known Elevator Action.

Sadly, the arcade's Robotron is in for repairs.

But the arcade has a Joust machine. This games is prominently featured in Ready, Player One, and its pairing with another great 1980s popular culture artifact is reason alone to read the book. If you read it, you will see what I mean.

But Asteroids is my all time favorite game.

When I arrived at the arcade, I went straight for the Asteroids machine. I set the high score for the day at 13,500-ish because playing Asteroids is like riding a bike. I had not forgotten how to fly and shoot and avoid death, especially in killing the tiny, annoying spaceship with the excellent targeting system.

For my old days, 13,500 is a low score for me, so I was definitely rusty. But hey, I haven't played Asteroids in about 25 years, so give me a break.

The rest of our time at the arcade (about two hours), I could not beat my first game score. The closest I came was 11,000-something.

I also had forgotten (but quickly remembered) that I used to sign all my high scores with the initials ARM, which comes from Larry Niven's Gil Hamilton books.

One important play tactic with Asteroids is to use the thrust to fly, not only to dodge asteroids but also to avoid and KILL the two ships that will come to break up asteroids and kill you. I call them fatty and the annoying little fucker, respectively.

I also remembered that we used to often cry out "certain death! certain death!" while playing games like Asteroids and Robotron.

If you are interested, play of all of these games can be found on You Tube, including my wife's favorite: Moon Cresta.

- chris tower - 1307.30 - 9:23