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, December 31, 2013

T-shirt #285 - Hawaii, the Land, and the Kilauea Lodge


Here's a suggestion for my fans and friends: use the above as graffiti. I want to see the quote above on a bathroom stall or on a highway underpass or a railway car.

As you can see my wife posted it, and I think it's a fitting way to the end the year.

The quote captures the spirit of what I have tried to provide since March 22nd on these pages.

And I want to start today's post by proclaiming loud and clear: "I believe."

T-shirt #285 - Hawaii, the Land, and the Kilauea Lodge

Today is a picture fest. I realized the other day that I let my Hawaii trip shuffle through the cracks. I still have three shirts (counting today's) from my Hawaii trip to feature on the blog. So, I figured it was time to get busy. Welcome to the photo fest, dedicated to my wife Liesel.

When I originally planned this blog entry, I decided to extend my story from Christmas Day on the Greatest Gift Ever for how Liesel and I met (re-met, actually as I will explain), fell in love, and got married, the last of which, the marriage part, was the subject of T-shirt #279. My plan formed a nice capstone: marriage in the Christmas Day post and falling in love in the New Year's Eve post. Then it occurred to me that there's a more significant day coming up to commemorate: the date of our first date, which by the time I report on it, will be five years ago to the day (January 10th). So, you, dear reader, have this awesome story to look forward to. Meanwhile, I restrict myself to a travel log, returning to comic books tomorrow for an early Weekly Comic List post, and then sundry and various, some easy, some pre-written, as Mr. T-shirt Blogger Man takes a little blog vacation for the visit of his best friend, the Lord of Chaos. Just a little preview of what's to come.


Today's shirt  was purchased at a cool little shop in downtown Hilo on Hawaii, the Big Island, called Hawaiian Force. The shop is run by local activists who believe in the spirit of the land, which is a "mainland" to them. I learned that many people on Hawaii do not like that the rest of the United States is called "the mainland" and Hawaii is referred to as just an island, so these folks refer to the rest as "the continent" and Hawaii as "the land."


I am sorry that the picture below is a bit blurry. The shirt bears the inscription in Hawaiian, which means "How you care for the land, is how the land cares for you."

One thing I was told that stuck with me was a story shared by the tour guide who took us to the top of Mauna Kea (which I have written about -- see T-shirt #197 and  T-shirt #198 and I have more to share about it). He talked about the way many Hawaiians believe that the land is sacred and that taking anything from the island that is not freely given, even a little sand in a jar, will bring great misfortune upon the thief of the sacred land. He told us this story standing next to an altar on our way up the mountain. The altar was made of many sacred stones, family stones, special stones that had been in families for many generations. He told us of a special office kept by the Volcano National Park that has hundreds, possibly thousands of packages of sand, stones, and all kinds material taken from the island that people later regretted taking, possibly because of all the misfortune that they began to suffer, and so they returned the items in the hopes of balancing the karmic scales.

The guide, Deano, talked for quite a while, and I cannot recreate all that he shared, but one bit struck me. When he decided to become a guide, he spoke with many elders of the families on the Big Island, so that he could best represent it, its people, and its spirit in taking people on what would be, for many of them, one of the most memorable experiences of their lives as they journey to the top of Mauna Kea. He shared what one old Auntie said to him. When someone takes a rock or a jar of sand from the island, it's like cutting off her ear or her little finger and taking the piece away to the continent. "Would you cut off my ear to take with you? Would you cut off one of my fingers?" she asked. This, she explained, is what it felt like to have someone take something from Hawaii that was not meant to leave, something that was a part of Hawaii and it's spirit.

Essentially this story illuminates the shirt's inscription.

"How you care for the land, is how the land cares for you."


HAWAIIAN TRAVEL LOG part # Unknown

When we stayed on Hawaii in October, Liesel's Aunt and Uncle gave us a night in Kilauea Lodge in the village of Volcano (named for the, um, volcano...), as a way to celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary. It was a lovely time, so some of the pictures to follow are from that stay, but I included a few others with a theme of the land and caring for the land. I insert a bit of text in between some of the shots.

The photo to the right is from the Ribbentrop's backyard. Below is my favorite tree from the entire trip. It's in Hilo, near the downtown area. It's a shower tree or Rainbow Shower Tree, though at this time it was not so rainbowed. I feel strongly spiritually connected to this tree and trees like it. Something about it speaks to me. The sense of shelter is palpable.

When I saw this tree, I had a strong desire to live in Hawaii.


These are the majority of the pictures I shot when were at the Lodge, except the first two, which are from the Lodge's website.





The dining room. This was taken at breakfast the next morning.


My dinner. German chef's meatloaf. AMAZING and delicious.


The lovely place setting for our anniversary dinner.


 I really liked this "Friendship" fireplace, with many Rotary plaques from all over the world.

The German influence is also clear again here with the steins.

I tried for a close up of one of the plaques from England (below) but it did not come up too clearly.


Many shots from the gardens. These are mainly what I had in mind with the shirt today and its inscription. I could research all these plants and give identification, but that's way too much. Just enjoy the visual beauty. Though the pictures my wife took were much better.






Above is the backside of the secondary lodge house (there's two) where we stayed.





Yes, I was quite fascinated with getting a good picture of this flower. Not sure that I succeeded.













Here's the hot tub where we has a pre-dinner soak and Liesel asked me to read Night Film as I explained in T-shirt #204 (the first mention in which I explained how Liesel asked me to read it) and T-shirt #215 with the review once I finished it.


View from the hot tub.

The next two shots are of the Lodge common room.





Our room.









Anniversary love at the Kilauea Lodge.



COUNTDOWN TO THE END OF THE BLOG YEAR - 80 shirts remaining

- chris tower - first published - 1312.31 - 19:32
final publication - 1401.01 - 8:12

Monday, December 30, 2013

T-shirt #284 - Doctor Whisky!



T-shirt #284 - Doctor Whisky! via WarrenEllis.com


Nothing like whisky for breakfast.


Hey, isn't that the name of a local band and a song?


Our kitchen may look dark as night, and it was dark outside, but these photos were taken early this morning, December the 30th of 2013 by my dear wife Liesel, who also gifted me this shirt for Christmas as originally seen in T-shirt #278 - Three wise men? Be serious.

It is due to the morning hour that there's so little whisky in the glass. The picture was taken at 6:45 a.m. after all.

Today's blog post is about whisky but not all about whisky as I will exhaust the subject of this divine beverage rather quickly. I have a whisky category (see sidebar), though there are only four posts in it -- T-shirt #77T-shirt #108T-shirt #82, and today's -- there has been more whisky than that in my life these last nine months.

I plan to round out today's blog with a little blog recap and some reviews of books, movies, and comic books, though nothing like the extended and seriously overlong post on The Uncanny X-Force from Saturday's blog. I have a schedule to maintain after all.

In the post for T-shirt #82, you will find Warren Ellis Twitter diatribe on the excellence of single malt scotch and how it is "uisge beatha, the water of life." Find there the difference betwee "whisky" and "whiskey" as well as bourbon, which I like very much more than he seems to.


In the post for T-shirt #108, I share a toast for my Robert Burns scotch, gifted to me by my wife as I am named for the great Scottish poet: My dad is actually Robert Burns Tower and I am Christopher Burns Tower.

And lastly, in the post for T-shirt #77, in which I first revealed on these pages that I had prostate cancer and how this diagnosis prompted the blog into being, I shared a little of the Glenmorangie, seen in the photo above, which I bought immediately after my doctor's appointment in which I scheduled my surgery.

Those who know me via social media have seen me call in prescriptions from Doctor Whisky on many occasions. This is borrowed with credit from Warren Ellis, who coined the phrase, and thus has created and sells the shirt seen in the photos. I also have a Warren Ellis category as he's one of my favorite authors. He calls for prescriptions from Doctor Whisky all the time.

Wikipedia is not a bad place to start to educate yourself about whisky (or whiskey) if such is your desire.

The Whisky entry is valuable as is the Scotch Whisky entry and there are many more pages accessible from those two.

I have not been a lifelong whisky drinker. This is a relatively new thing. I preferred vodka and gin in my college days and for my period of drowning in my cups from around 2000 through 2005, a time during which I favored the flavored vodkas and 7Up or Sprite as a nightly beverage, something my doctor urged me to cease and desist when it seemed like I was destroying my liver.

this text appears on the
back of today's shirt
near the collar
Whisky hit my radar because of Warren Ellis and his frequent prescriptions from Doctor Whisky sent via Twitter and/or posted to his website, WARREN ELLIS. It is fitting that my wife gifts my whisky because there's history to our whisky sharing. In our first outing, after her then boyfriend John's improvisation group performance -- Some Kind of Pretty Woman -- we all set to drinking at Kalamazoo's London Grille pub. We shared a whisky flight, a sampler of several single malt scotches assembled by good friend Jeremiah "Miah" Newhouse, who was the manager at the time and a serious whisky connoisseur. This is not the first date for Liesel and me, but it was our first sharing of uisge beatha, the water of life. I began sampling scotch more often, and now it's my alcohol drink of choice along with Irish Whiskey and Bourbon.


Though I plan to share some reviews of movies, books, and comic books today, I am not going to share much in the way of whisky reviews. I do not feel qualified to write about the tastes, and even if I did, I am not home at the moment where I can sample them all. Plus, in the picture above, four of the bottles are finished: Glengoyne, Pig's Nose, McClelland's Lowland, and McClelland's Speyside. Of the scotches, I like the Glenmorangie the best. It was recommended to me by my friend and ultimate teammate Ian T. Smith just two days before I scheduled my surgery and then bought myself a bottle. It's smooth and delicious. I gifted a bottle to my father from Christmas as seen in T-shirt #280. My friend Ed Kenny recommended the Lagavulin, which I like, but its taste is sharper and more medicinal than the Glenmorangie. I bought the Isle of Sky at my father's suggestion, but I prefer the Robert Burns over it, though it is a blend, Of the finished bottles, the GlenGoyne is definitely my favorite, and I will have to get another bottle sometime. I did leave out my bottle of Buffalo Trace bourbon, and some others, like Bulleit bourbon, I finished an recycled.



I feel like I am connecting with my Scottish ancestry by drinking scotch, and of course, the pure single malts are the very cream of the scotch crop.

I love that scotch whisky has a legal definition, which I think bears repeating from the Wiki entry.


Legal definition

As of 23 November 2009, the Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009 (SWR) define and regulate the production, labeling, packaging as well as the advertising of Scotch whisky in the United Kingdom. They replace previous regulations that focused solely on production. International trade agreements have the effect of making some provisions of the SWR apply in various other countries as well as in the UK. The SWR define "Scotch whisky" as whisky that is:


  • Produced at a distillery in Scotland from water and malted barley (to which only whole grains of other cereals may be added) all of which have been:
    • Processed at that distillery into a mash
    • Converted at that distillery to a fermentable substrate only by endogenous enzyme systems
    • Fermented at that distillery only by adding yeast
    • Distilled at an alcoholic strength by volume of less than 94.8% (190 US proof)
    • Wholly matured in an excise warehouse in Scotland in oak casks of a capacity not exceeding 700 litres (185 US gal; 154 imp gal) for at least three years
    • Retaining the colour, aroma, and taste of the raw materials used in, and the method of, its production and maturation
    • Containing no added substances, other than water and plain (E150A) caramel colouring
    • Comprising a minimum alcoholic strength by volume of 40% (80 US proof)

Historically, Scotch whisky evolved from a Scottish drink called uisge beatha, which means "lively water" or "water of life." The earliest record of distillation in Scotland occurred as long ago as 1494. Distillation was well-established by the late 15th century (as cribbed from the Wiki entry).

These words are true.

Try scotch. Keep a bottle or twelve on hand. Sample frequently. Drinking scotch is health-smart. This advice would be an addition to the Rules of Chris. Heed the prescriptions of Doctor Whisky. DRINK SCOTCH.

 
A TASTY BIT OF BLOG RECAP

As a point of order, I wan to share with you my list of other Blogger blogs that I follow, soon to contain one more as a friend of mine, who shall remain anonymous until I have his permission to reveal his work, is creating his own blog and claims to be inspired by me, for which I am very honored. Here's the list of blogs I follow on Blogger in case you care to investigate:

adrian tomine news
Bully Says: Comics Oughta Be Fun!
DAMN Good Coffee...and HOT!
Diversions of the Groovy Kind
I Am Walter
lieseltower
life and opinions of andrew rilstone
Linda Dick's Inkblot365
Lit and Life
Maira's Books
No Hurry in J.C.
Pencil Ink comic book artists blog 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s
Pulp Sunday
Retreat To Write - A Writer's Retreat
That'll Do
The Aquaman Shrine
To Read it? Or NOT!

As for my own blog, my page views have spiked near 100 or over three times in the last week. Thank you for your interest. The Hogwart's and thirtysomething posts are neck and neck for most popular this week followed by the posts from Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the various Marvel heroes post (though so far no one has helped identify the heroes on the t-shirt). The volcano post continues to be the top post for the month, and though I copied similar content from the overview for Spamalot to see if I could replicate the results, the latter is not generating as many page hits. There's something in the volcano post, which I could identify it. The Spamalot post comes in second, followed by the Serenity/Firefly post, the Starman post, and just now, the Hogwart's post. The all time list remains the same since the last time I reported.

The Blog Journey goes ever onward as I discover new things about myself, reconnect with old things, and clarify those things that are important to me, like whisky, comic books, and the love of my wife and family. If the blog has done nothing else, and it has done a great deal and so many things, it has helped me to define who I am, who I have always been, who I was at different times and have given away those masks and identities, and who I will be going forward. There's still more work to do on my process of individuation, but with good whisky, good books, good comic books, and great love, I will figure it all out and report with WAY TOO MUCH text about on these pages. As always, thank you for reading.


REVIEWS

I always have such ambitions, and then I just cannot meet my own expectations. Still I want to jot down some quickie reviews, but there's more in my stack, and I won't get to everything, so check back throughout the week.

Pick and choose as you will because all my reviews contain spoilers. Beware and skip if you do not want plot surprises spoiled.

First up, my review of Dune Messiah. I read this long ago, while in high school, and I copied my entire page with the review from Good Reads (seen below). I re-read the book via the audio edition narrated By Scott Brick, Katherine Kellgren, Euan Morton, and Simon Vance and running a brief 8 hours and 57 minutes. I am now on the version of A Christmas Carol narrated by famed Harry Potter audio book narrator Jim Dale. I passed over many versions (Patrick Stewart, Tim Curry) for Jim Dale, who I find excellent but also familiar and comforting as I have listened to the Harry Potter books so many times. I will move on to the third Dune book, Children of Dune, some time soon, though I was not wholly enthusiastic about Dune Messiah.


MOVIES - Liesel and I did something unusual, for us at least, Friday and Saturday just passed (December 27th and 28th), we went to two movies, one each day, trying Kalamazoo's new Alamo Drafthouse. We saw The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and American Hustle. As movies go, despite my love for Tolkien, I think the latter is a better movie. I really enjoyed the Hobbit, and I am eager to see it again and see the first one again as well, but American Hustle is a better movie in terms of acting, directing, and as an organic whole. Or maybe I just think this because I did not know what was going to happen, where with the Hobbit, despite the additions, I knew the story very well.



I know that many geek purists do not like the changes to The Hobbit, but I do like them. Tauriel is a great character and a much needed female character. The use of the orcs in pursuit of the dwarven party is a good addition as are Legolas and Tauriel to aid the dwarves. The pursuing orcs, which were not pursuing in the novel, also tie in well with Gandalf's investigations of the Necromancer and Dol Goldur in the south, a story told in the Lord of the Rings as happening around the time The Hobbit takes place. So to see all of this dramatized is very gratifying for Tolkien fans or at least this one.

I expected this Hobbit movie to end before Smaug's death, saving the slaying of the dragon and the last big battle, which is resolved very quickly in the book, for the third movie.

American Hustle is a great story of con artists in the late 1970s disco era with excellent performances by a high octane cast as seen in the poster above and left. I did not even recognize Jennifer Lawrence until half way through the film. Fantastic story, fantastic acting, great directing, and a wonderful twist ending. The story is plausible and true to the time period. It is also suitably long clocking in at a little over two and a half hours.

It's also wonderful to see movies at the Alamo Drafthouse. Not only are we supporting local, downtown Kalamazoo business, but I like being able to eat and drink good food and beverages while watching a movie in relative comfort. I also like the attention to detail in the pre-film trailers and clips from vintage film and television as well as the obvious love of the ownership for movies as a genre. There's some nice paintings with homages to classic films in the lobby, some old movie posters, and a giant Barbarella display.

The next two reviews are from Good Reads.

EAST OF WEST volume one review

Once again, I fall prey to the recommendations of the employees of Fanfare. This one from Andrew Boehme. I really liked it, but I hesitate to give it five stars. It's good, but it's not great. There's something missing, and it will take more thought on my part to figure out what is missing. But it's very good stuff. Great writing (Hickman), great art (Dragotta/Martin). I highly recommend it for people who like apocalyptic, Judeo-Christian tweaked alternate histories. Back story. Character. Premise. There's elements missing in these aspects. In a comic book, like a novel, but more forgivable due to its genre, these completions and connections may be forthcoming in future issues. This is an enjoyable read, but I am left a teensy-bit dissatisfied.

NOTE: I was going to deliver an extended review of East of West here, explaining many of the comments I make in the text above, but my content is growing over long. Expect more on East of West, The Hive, and God is Dead in future blogs, possibly as soon as tomorrow.


THE HIVE REVIEW

Charles Burns is a genius. Black Hole ranks highly on my list of favorite comics. Apparently, I got a bit turned around as I just read this volume because Liesel gave it to me for Christmas without reading the first volume Xed Out. Still, Burns is amazing in his merging of story lines, fantasy and reality, creepy and sweet. If anything captures the spirit of a nightmare, which is more complex than being simply horrific, it's this volume.

I included a couple of pages below. ADULT MATERIAL! :-) But then I figure that most if not all of my readers are adults.

Burns' renderings of the girl, Sarah, are very lovely. But even in the "normal" sequences, there's a strange nightmarish quality. Notice the other pedestrians, especially panel #5 of the page below, which is an odd shot between other people with non-story characters in the foreground. This comic is very much worth reading as is Black Hole.



GOD IS DEAD


Read this last night and loved it. More to come in a future blog.

Jonathan Hickman Talks Infinity, Thanos And God Is Dead




COUNTDOWN TO END OF THE BLOG YEAR - 81 shirts remaining

- chris tower - 1312.30 - 14:05