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.)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

T-shirt #181 - KUDL 2013 Purple: I am teacher; hear me roar

T-shirt #181 - KUDL 2013 Purple: I am teacher; hear me roar

It's Wednesday and that means another KUDL shirt. I am not close to running out of those yet.

This is another 2013 shirt, the purple one. Purple was a cursed color at KUDL, having won no games until it was resurrected this year and that team won some games. Though technically, the winless purple team was my KUSS team (T-shirt #137), and that was KUSS not KUDL, so maybe purple was not actually cursed in KUDL.

But I have written quite a bit about KUDL, and so I will move on to other subjects.

I wore my purple KUDL shirt to school on Monday (1309.16) and have pictures of me teaching at WMU in the new Sangren Hall.

The word of the day was "phlegm." I give words of the day, and I have since I started teaching in 1987. I like to share "phlegm" because not too many people know how to spell it properly. I also like to share the actual dictionary definition: "thick mucus secreted in abnormal quantities." What if you have a little bit of stuff? That's not phlegm. Phlegm is an abnormal quantity. What if it's thin and runny? Also not phlegm. Phlegm is thick. Plus, any word that has mucus, secreted, and abnormal in the definition is a favorite of mine as those are many of my favorite words. This is part of my criteria for choosing words: my own biases.

Though today will be somewhat quick, I plan to expound on a few subjects related to reading (which is what I am seen teaching here), writing, and a few other things.

One of those other things is something I should have mentioned Monday, which is that on Monday (9/16) I celebrated my one-month post surgery date as a cancer survivor, 100% cancer free. The last check was the PSA which was within two-hundredths of zero, so that's essentially zero. I am not back to full activity. After getting back on the ultimate field last week, I am going to try getting back on the bike today and see if I can make the one mile ride (each way) to WMU.

I am also so happy that I have the kind of job in which I can dress as you see me dressed here.

I am very lucky.

I have shared quite a bit about my reading experiences on this blog. But I am not sure that I have given any serious attention to my use of audio books. I did mention them recently (in T-shirt #176) and my recent completion of the audio book of Dimension of Miracles by Robert Sheckley, part of the Neil Gaiman presents audio series. I was even so bold as to post the majority of the page from Audible on my blog.

Back around 2001 or so, I started listening to audio books after I calculated that my time in the car alone each week was over five hours. I also found that the car time I had often enjoyed for using my imagination to prep writing ideas or do actual writing in my head was instead being eaten up with obsessing about stressful crap or situations that were in some way bothering me. I tend to stew and obsess about why someone doesn't like me, what I have done wrong, or what I can say in a given situation when I next encounter a person or some circumstances. I decided that these regurgitations and cycling repetitions of stress and obsession were not healthy and actually a waste of my precious time. Given that I was not using the time productively for writing, I discovered that I could read instead using audio books.

Though my mind would still wander, and though I was still inclined to obsession and anxiety, I found that I could reduce my angst significantly, and I could read three or four times more books per year by listening to audio books. I started with cassette tapes and CDs and later moved on to digital files. But soon I was listening to audio books any time I had something to do that did not take much brain capacity, such as driving, riding my bike, doing dishes, doing laundry, doing yard work, and even just making food for dinner and eating it. Grocery shopping takes just enough of my brain power to make it difficult to track an audio book, but I was one of the first people to soundtrack the experience with my digital music player. I did not see anyone with ear buds until after I started the music while shopping thing, though I hardly think I started the trend but rather other people had the same idea I had around the same time.

During the four moves I have been part of in the last ten years, I listened to audio books while packing an unpacking.

I frequently experience audio book deja vu, in which a place will evoke the memory of the audio book I listened to while riding my bike past that spot or packing boxes in that storage room.

I am a peculiar audio book listener. I always have the paper copy at hand, and I keep my place in the paper copy much like if I were reading it the traditional way. Also, the paper copy helps me to review pages when I feel my mind has wandered, and I am afraid that I may have missed key material. I am always amazed at how much of the audio book actually enters my consciousness.

Though some narrators are awful, and though some books are terrible (such as City of Bones as reviewed in T-shirt #169, I enjoy the audio experience immensely. If not for audio books, I would not be slowly working my way through all of Terry Pratchett's genius Discworld books (I recently finished #16 Soul Music), I may not ever re-read  Dune, which is next up on the docket, and I would never have read at all such wonderful books as Elsewhere and Confessions of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin.

I am also reading books the traditional way, but my progress is slower. I do break each night and try to reserve one or two hours in bed for reading before I go to sleep. But with a stack of comics books, a graphic novel, and two books going at a time, my progress is somewhat slow. I actually spend more time with audio books on average per day than with traditional reading.

Because of my love of reading, I have started a new practice. Since I have a captive audience in my classes at WMU, I am going to recommend one book per class period in the hopes that I inspire even one student to read one of the books. Even that little success will make the work worth it. Monday's book was Blindness by Jose Saramago. Today's book is The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.


If you take a look at Monday's to-do list image (T-shirt #179), you will see that writing is on the list of daily tasks but is separate from Daily Shirt, which is blog writing. One of my intentions with starting and maintaining this blog project was to exercise, to do a daily warm up to write fiction. So far, I am letting the blog take the lion's share of the time, and I am not making time for daily fiction writing.

I have many projects in the hopper or on the back burner as one of my friends and I had originally planned a film production company called Backburner Films. Among my projects, I have a YA apocalyptic novel, a combination of cyberpunk and sword and sorcery in an epic series format (I hope), a manual for vampires bent on world domination, a prequel to the aforementioned cyberpunk-sword-and-sorcery epic, and a junior reader series about kids with powers called the Spyder Club.

But right now the project I most want to be working on, and I am trying to find time to work on is called POP! It's a parody of superhero comic books, much in the same vein as things like Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy or more aptly the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett.

I feel that there is a market for such a parody, even though superheroes and comic books are already so over-blown to almost be parodies of themselves at the same time as they try to take themselves seriously. This is a hurdle I am currently trying to decide how to best approach and navigate around (or through).

Given the recent success so many authors have had with e-books, and feeling my oats with readers of my blog (as always thank you), I started to think that releasing POP! as monthly e-book episodes (much like John Sclazi's The Human Division) would be a worthy project. So far, progress has been slow, and I do not want to release the first episode until I have at least five-six in the can, which, by now, I was hoping to have or be close to completing. I had not wanted to let the cat of the bag about this project so as to avoid a jinx. And yet, I am eager to start making progress on the project, and I am ear marking my upcoming trip to Hawaii as a chance to log some time on my project.

In any case, as I approach the halfway mark for the blog, I have decided to share a taste of this project for those who may be curious. This passage experiments with the rambling, aside-prone narrative voice that I may use with the introduction to a story that at best is a single issue and not the main story on which I am at work. But it provides an idea...

Throughout history, or rather for the last century, okay, maybe just for a few minutes today after lunch and a lot of gas produced by a pastrami sandwich on rye, there have been men (sometimes women, too, but not for today’s story ... okay, yes there is a woman in the story but she’s not the main character) who have possessed powers beyond the mortal Barbie and Ken of human reasoning. These men (and women, okay, yes, women, too) have become what some idiot decided to call super-heroes, a common noun that has given the super-powered community no end of headaches, grammar lessons, and nuisance lawsuits. These super-heroes (for lack of a better term) have thrilled the world with their colorful fashion sense, fast and flashy costume changes, and the occasional good deed. Our story today is about such a man (yes, a man, dammit, we introduce the woman later!!) + (no, we don’t always introduce the women later, sometimes they’re first, too. See first issues of The Countercatacalysmic Enema Examination of the SheeSulk and Wipsy Willow Fights the Roller Derby at the Tar Pit), a scientist known to the world as Henry Raymond Pimperton or HRP for short. Since he liked being called HRP so much, people took to calling him Herp as a sort of pronunciation of his initials. But you, dear reader, know him as The Astonishing Shrink! a marvel of diminutive power and precision, a tiny wonder of incredible shrinking heroism in the face of any danger.
You will learn here for the first time on any page (because the story has been shared around a few bars and at one collect-the-keys party) the reason that Herp became the Shrink, the past that gnaws like a cancer at the soul of this man, giving him no rest, driving him to the strangest, most macabre and unusual adventures any human being has ever known! (Okay, not really, but it sure sounds like a more interesting story that way, doesn’t it?) And you will see Herp find a companion to aid in his fight against crime, tyranny, grammatical mistakes in store signage, and other gross injustices that affect us all. The companion (this is the woman, now, okay?) who will become known as... Horntail! would be the one to save Herp from the soul-gnawing cancerous angst chewing holes in his already perforated psyche, if only Herp could let go of the past and live in the present of crime-fighting, sign correcting, excitement and adventure.
Come with us now, as The Shrink and Horntail battle the not quite human – but closely resembling the people who shamble about all-you-can-eat buffets on Friday nights – the terrible menace from beyond time and space... THE CREATURE FROM THE GALACTIC PANCAKE!! 
(NOTE: A link on my tumblr about a Dark Matter Pancake...


Lastly, the link to the full cartoon on reading by Lynda Barry and the last few panels. ENJOY!

Lynda Barry: The 20 stages of reading- full cartoon at The Washington Post

- chris tower - 1309.18 - 13:12