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, August 6, 2013

T-shirt #138: Classic Starman

T-shirt #138: Classic Starman

There are so many things to do in this world.
There are so many things to read, to watch, to take in via the ears.

Not like "back in the day."

Back then, there were only three TV stations if your family lived in a good area and had a decent TV. Some people lived in burgeoning metropolitan centers and had access to maybe five TV stations.

Books came from the library more often than from the bookstore. And the Internet?
What's the Internet? Is this something invented by Stark Industries or Advanced Idea Mechanics in Marvel Comics?

Had you told my eleven year old self in the weird year of 1971 that in 40 years I would be creating and publishing a daily journal dedicated to reviewing these past experiences with popular culture and other issues around our identity, our own process of individuation, and that I would be publishing this daily log on a vast computer network used by billions of people every day, I would not have been able to understand you.

Okay, no. Strike that. I was a reader of science fiction, comic books, and an avid viewer of Star Trek, The Time Tunnel, and Dark Shadows all of which featured time travel and some of which featured computers. So, yeah, I would understand you. But I would have been blown away nevertheless.

And I know many of you would agree with me. Even those younger than me, born after the invention of the early Internet (ARPANET - 1971), but before the true proliferation of the Internet among the public at large (commercialized in 1995) may connect to what I am saying and may have similar experiences.

The world was so much smaller then. Bigger is not necessarily better.
In fact, people want to make the world smaller. Smaller is easier to deal with. Bigger is overwhelming.

Even this blog, at times, feels overwhelming. There's so much to say, so much to share, which is why I often write WAY too much. I am trying to get it all in and share with you during your one stop to my page as I always assume is the most common reader, though I know some are visiting more often, and I am humbled by your kind attention. I will try to make your time spent here worthwhile. So I am working to be more focused and less diffused. Long jams that go on for thirty minutes in concerts may inspire some people, but in our fats paced and short attention span culture, sometimes, even 100 words seems like a burden let alone over 3000 words. One of the recent blog entries I am most proud of is T-shirt #128, which clocks in at 3140 words. I just had a nice conversation about that one with my friend Andy "Big" Momotiuk. Thanks Big Andy!

What's my point? I am promising a bit more focus and spacing out the big essays with shorter posts. I suspect today is sort of medium-sized.

The long term exploration here will be in the subject of how the world is different today. I know it's obvious that the world is different, but I am interesting in exploring how this works for how identity shaped by popular culture works. Back in the day, I watched a lot of crap or read some crap simply because there was nothing else to read or watch. My choices were limited. Do I love a show like Gilligan's Island because it was very good or because I had little choice but to watch it if I wanted to watch something because it was on every day.

So, today is dedicated to a quick little round up of a half dozen things of interest, all of which are things to read.

But first, two quick comments.

1. Today's shirt is the Classic Starman (Ted Knight circa 1941). I am ashamed to say that I had thought the shirt was Kurt Busiek's Samaritan from Astro City (great comic). But when I searched images online, no, actually this is the original Starman. I am not exploring the subject of Starman today. DC has put the character through many iterations, but the comic by James Robinson and Tony Harris that ran from 1994 to 2001 featuring Jack Knight was some DC's best recent stuff. I actually own a shirt from the Robinson/Harris comic and a watch, so I can devote more text to this great comic then. For now, on to other subjects.

2. Valiant in Yahoo news??  UNITY ARTICLE. I spend mornings on Yahoo going through sports stuff. Sometimes I look at other things. The other day, glancing at Yahoo's entertainment news feed, there was an article about Joss Whedon's SHIELD TV show (because Yahoo is now linked with ABC news) , something about Miley Cyrus, and this article about a new Valiant comic.

VALIANT? I consider myself a big comic geek, but even I cannot read everything. I read Valiant books when Jim Shooter launched them in 1989-1990, but then I lost interest and did not return when the company rebooted in 2005.

But here's the puzzling thing: there were THREE stories in the feed from Yahoo and one was about Valiant. Is this because the vast social media network knows I like comics and the feed is tailored OR is it just that even the smaller comic companies are making big news now that Comic Con is one of the biggest entertainment events of the year (up there with the Oscars and the Emmy's for media attention).

Review OPTIC NERVE #13

Drawn and Quarterly Blog announces OPTIC NERVE #13

I wrote about Optic Nerve in T-shirt #98.

I have been raving in my local comic shop (Fanfare) about Adrian Tomine and Optic Nerve.  And then the issue comes out and the style is much than some of the more realistic panels and pages I posted when I did the send up in #98. Still, despite Tomine's more cartoony work for this issue, the story is just as strong as the other work (mostly to be found in collected editions).

"Go Owls," the main story of issue 13, is described on the D&Q blog as  "a dark comedy about 12-step programs, drug dealing, and minor league baseball."

The story is just as strong as Tomine's other efforts. The art appears ultra cartoony but has great depth and nuance. Tomine also takes guff from readers who want to see his work on the Internet in digital form as seen in this panel included here.

So far this book is only available in paper form either for shipping from a comic vendor online or from your favorite local shop assuming they ordered some copies. It's $5.95, but it's well worth the cost for such a rich and complex story that features no super-heroes at all.

Because all these comics do not have to be about super-heroes or fantastic things, right?

Review of Lazarus

Another fantastic comic book that I want to recommend by singing its praises is Lazarus by Rucka and Lark.

I know I say that I am "a huge fan" of some thing quite often, but I really am a huge fan of Gotham Central from DC (2003-2006) that featured the last pairing of Rucka and Lark (and Ed Brubaker co-wrote the series with Rucka).

Image has been hitting it out of the park lately with some of the best comics in the business. I cannot possibly read everything being published even from the major companies, but I have added several excellent Image books to monthly orders, including Mind the Gap, Saga, Mara, Clone, Great Pacific, America's Got Powers, Satellite Sam, FataleTen GrandJupiter's Legacy, and now, also, Lazarus.

Lazarus is a great near future thriller about a world in which the wealth is even more consolidated in the hands of a very, very few. Here's the preface blurb: "The world now lies divided not amongst political or geographical boundaries but amongst financial ones. Wealth is power, and that power rests with only a handful of FAMILIES. The few who provide a service for their ruling Family are cared for. All others are waste. In each Family, there is one person given the best they can offer, training and technology and assets, every scientific advantage. This person is named their Family's sword and shield, their protector, their LAZARUS. In the Family Carlyle, the LAZARUS is called Forever. This is her story."

The first issue told a compelling story, only providing enough background on this new world to aid the immediate set of scenes. The same style of storytelling (less background, more direct mimesis) held true in the second issue. The first issue did come with a long afterword written by Rucka explaining how the book came to be; the second issue contained more letters but a short newsy bit on how current tech predicts what is being shown in LAZARUS.

Some of the vital stats help put the book into perspective along with startling imagery by Lark:
Los Angeles, Family: Carlyle
Population [Family]: 3 (2 permanent)
[Serf]: 322,274
[Waste]: 2,874,500 (estimated)

As an extrapolation of our current state of affairs, Lazarus is even more compelling, thought-provoking,. and worthy of discussion. Possibly Image is proving itself capable of better work than any of the other big name companies. This book is well worth your time.

Comic Book Resources on Lazarus

"Ultimately, Rucka wanted to emphasize that while "Lazarus" is a book set in a new and different world, the story really boils down to character.

"Look," Rucka said, "I don't like books that are polemics and I don't like reading something that feels like I'm being lectured to," Rucka said. "We talked about the economic divide and things like that, but the fact is, this is an adventure story, this is a story about a woman, it's about Forever Carlyle. Everything else is backdrop. Just the opportunity to do this story the way we want, how we want, man, I love it. I'm so excited. I'm so excited that we finally get to show people what we've been working on for so long. i really hope folks will dig it, I really do. I think Michael has done some of the best work of his career on issue one certainly and I am having a blast. That's what I've got to offer'"(Comic Book Resources on Lazarus, 2013).


"Lazarus by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark is (by the author’s own admission) “hard sci-fi” but it’s also as frightening as it is exciting. Frightening like the fear that comes with knowledge, the more you learn the more you know and the more you know the more you fear. Knowledge may be power but it’s also goddamn unsettling" (BLEEDING COOL ON LAZARUS, 2013).

DAMN Good Comics: Charles Skaggs on Lazarus
SPOILER ALERT! Don't read the next quote if you want to avoid it.

"This first issue opens with a demonstration of said resurrection ability as Forever is shot three times and left for dead, only to rise a minute or two later and swiftly kill all three of her attackers.  As Forever relays the details of what happened to her doctor James, we get our first glimpse inside her head with hints that she isn't entirely satisfied being her Family's protector against people who are only looking for something to eat" (DAMN Good Comics: Charles Skaggs on Lazarus, 2013).

Review of Ocean at the End of the Lane

REVIEW FROM GOODREADS: Simple truths: Neil Gaiman is an excellent writer. Neil Gaiman's books are always excellent and enjoyable. I am giving this book five stars simply because I cannot give it 4.5 stars. It's excellent and well worth reading. But I am suffering from symptoms of wanting something more. Like _The Graveyard Book_, this story is entertaining and chimerical. Gaiman is smart enough to leave much of the explanations to our imaginations, which is a wonderful technique to increase my enjoyment of the book. But I want something into which I can sink my teeth all the way, something like _American Gods_, and so news that he is writing a sequel to coincide with the projected six-season HBO show is more exciting to me than this book as excellent as it is. If you want to give it a try, do the audio. Neil Himself (his Twitter handle) narrates, and it is an excellent way to read the book, much like his wife's experience, for whom he wrote the book, and to whom he read each day's pages in bed before sleep. I recommend a similar method of ingesting this story.

KamerTunes Blog

I found this other blogger doing something similar to what I am doing. Instead of working his way through his T-shirt collection, he is working his way through his music collection, tackling one musical artist[s] at a time.

I made the header above the link.

Right now, Rich Kamerman is touring through XTC with very lengthy essays on each album and the tracks of each album. It's well worth reading if you like XTC and pop music in general. Recently, he also toured through Alice Cooper, Neil Young, and PJ Harvey.

Check out his blog!

GUN MACHINE by Warren Ellis (and the DEAD PIG COLLECTOR)

My Gun Machine review from GOODREADS: SPOILER ALERT!! Do not read my review if you intend to read this book. Finished! I wanted to give this book five stars. I really did. I am a big fan of Warren Ellis' work. He is a big part of my daily life. I receive his Twitters. I follow his web site. I get his Gun Machine emails. I read and have read pretty much everything he's done. This book is a great read. It's fast paced, clever, intriguing, and well written. The characters are vivid. The situations are realistic. The premise is imaginative and quite puzzling. Ellis unfolds the story with great pacing and elegant design.

Two aspects held back my fifth star. His use of figurative language is at times a bit over-wrought, and this is coming from Mr. Gorpy Baroque himself. But sometimes, Ellis' figurative word play just doesn't work. It reads like he's trying too hard. Some of these tropes work in Twitter messages. In prose, not so much.

But it's really the ending that held back the fifth star. As I was about twenty pages from the end, I wondered how he could possibly wrap up all these loose ends in so few pages. Well, he didn't completely wrap them all to my satisfaction (not the caveat: "my satisfaction") and the whole ending plays out in a very hasty way. The trap the main character, Tallow, lays for the antagonist, The Hunter, is a good one and that plays well, but the rest is too rushed and disappointing given the slow build-up of the investigation. But the crown to the disappointment tree came with the easy explanation of the gun machine, given by the villain no less, after coming back to himself after being pumped full of anti-psychotic drugs. It reads like an after thought and is very anti-climactic after the 280 pages of build up. Knowing that Ellis was writing to a set maximum (perhaps set by the publisher) because I watched him work toward it daily (and complain about it), I may be biased into thinking the ending is rushed. But then again, I think I could make the argument with anyone that the book could have benefited from at least another 25 pages and possibly a few more.

Still, I loved it. I love Ellis' work. The book deserves its accolades. The book deserves to be read. If you read this far, I hope I have not spoiled it all too much.

Diegesis-Mimesis: DESIGN FICTION

The other night in bed I was reading the links I posted the other day about Ellis and his recent story Dead Pig Collector.

Warren Ellis Talks About His New Novella And Living In A Science Fiction Present

'Dead Pig Collector': Eight Questions With Author Warren Ellis [INTERVIEW]

In the Forbes interview, Ellis mentions "Design Fiction," which is a new art form championed by Bruce Sterling, which led me to a posting on SLATE:

In turn that article led me to explore diegesis and mimesis in relation to Design Fiction. More products of this thought process to come. Meanwhile, if you are interested, check out the Slate article and the cool article because as Ellis mentioned some of the most intriguing fiction work today is being done in Design Fiction video.

- chris tower - 1308.06 - time