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.)

Friday, January 31, 2014

T-shirts #316 - Sandman - the Logo

T-shirts #316 - Sandman - the Logo

"I would not recommend Sandman to anyone." - Andrew Boehme, "nerd" at Fanfare.

I would not go this far to exclude Sandman from a comic book recommendation list. I am reprinting my comic book recommendation list for non-comic book readers here today, and you will see that Sandman gets an honorable mention.

Sandman has earned many accolades. It has made the New York Times bets seller list. It ranked on Entertainment Weekly's best reads list fro 1983-2008. Norman Mailer has praised it as a "comic for intellectuals" if that means anything.

My criticism stems from the way comic book readers have adopted Sandman as the "go to" comic book to recommend to non-comic book readers. Boy comic geeks were all excited when they discovered that girls would actually read comics like Sandman. Suddenly, Sandman became the entry comic into comic reading. And as I described when I made my list of

LIST OF COMIC BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NON-COMIC BOOK READERS

it's not the only comic book in the universe and certainly not the best choice to recommend to new readers wanting to try out comic books. My list may be a bit biased, and it is surely limited to comics books I have read, but Sandman is not the best entry into comic reading. Really, the best comic depends on the person. I would probably choose Sandman for some readers. Since Gaiman wrote in story arcs, each collected in a separate volume, with TEN volumes in 75 issues, my two favorite volumes are the ones I am seen holding in the picture on the right: the first story and the "short stories" known as Dream Country. Usually, I recommend Dream Country to new readers because most new readers are not ready for a sustained reading experience. People who want to try comic books out want something easy to digest, usually. One should not recommend the 300 issues of Cerebus to a new reader. Dream Country works great because it contains several short, easy to digest stories, some of the very best work in the series (art by Charles Vess), and a story featuring Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

In my discussions with Andrew at Fanfare that provoked his comment about Sandman, we both agreed that too much hype is a turn off. I love comics, and I love Neil Gaiman as a writer, and yet, I am wary to avoid overhyping Gaiman, Sandman, or any comics for fear of turning off a potential new fan. Sandman is good stuff, but let's not get carried away. People treat it like the holy find of the Nag Hammadi texts. Seriously?

What follows are some reprints and quotes (plus my weekly comics list). First, Comic Vine's Sandman description because it's just as good if not better than what I would write on my own. Then the reprints of my LIST OF COMIC BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NON-COMIC BOOK READERS  and my comments on the character of DEATH from an earlier T-shirt entry, and last a cover gallery. This is two days late, but it's up. Don't hassle me.

THE FOLLOWING COMES FROM COMIC VINE's SANDMAN page

The award-winning Sandman follows the return of Dream , the personification of hopes and dreams, to his domain after being trapped and held prisoner for 70 years and his quest to regain the powers he once possessed. It also follows his family, known as the Endless .
The concept of The Sandman emerged fromNeil Gaiman's idea to revive Jack Kirby's 1970's Sandman series after his Black Orchidmini series at DC. Editor Karen Bergersuggested he keep the Sandman name but create the rest of the series entirely from scratch. Using ideas he had of a character that lived in dreams, Gaiman created the character of Morpheus, a literal take on the folklore concept of the Sandman and a personification of dreaming itself. With this, Gaiman revived several dormant DC horror and mystery characters and populated his world of The Dreaming with them. The series soon evolved beyond its DC Universe horror origins and became one of the most critically acclaimed fantasy comic series of all time, regularly outselling its superhero counterparts toward its end and introducing comics to whole new audiences outside of the comics mainstream. The collected editions have been reprinted numerous times and remain best sellers for DC/Vertigo.
The series was originally a DC book, but was one of the original titles moved onto the new Vertigo label with issue #47. Gaiman ended the series at 75 issues, but the run also included The Sandman Special (1991).
Spin-Offs
The series proved so popular that numerous spin-off titles were written, both by Gaiman and those that emerged after Gaiman's initial series ended. They include:
In 2012, Gaiman announced he would return to pen a prequel series.

Trade Paperbacks/Hardcovers

All ten of the main Sandman trades are available (at least if you are willing to buy used) in hardcover and trade paperback format as well as multiple editions of both formats. The most recent edition features the Absolute Edition Re-Coloring.
Also of note, although it's not part of the main Sandman series, The Sandman: Endless Nights is often advertised as "Sandman Vol. 11".

Absolute Editions

Annotated Editions

*Solicited for a December 25, 2013 release

Omnibuses

  • Vol. 1: #1-37 and The Sandman Special #1
  • Vol. 2: #38-75 and stories from Vertigo Jam #1 and Vertigo: Winter’s Edge #3***
***Solicited for a November 2013 release


LIST OF COMIC BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NON-COMIC BOOK READERS
  1. Optic Nerve - Adrian Tomine (all the collected editions)
  2. Marvels - Busiek/Ross (for those wishing an introduction to super-heroes)
  3. Bone - Jeff Smith
  4. Concrete - Paul Chadwick (all collected editions)
  5. THB - Paul Pope (all collected editions)
  6. Fables - Willingham/Buckingham/others
  7. Tale of One Bad Rat - Bryan Talbot
  8. Ed the Happy Clown and all the other books by Chester Brown
  9. Blankets - Craig Thompson
  10. Maus - Art Spiegelman
  11. Jar of Fools and Berlin - Jason Lutes
  12. Planetary - Warren Ellis/John Cassady
  13. V for Vendetta - Alan Moore/David Lloyd
  14. Cerebus - Dave Sim (first three volumes to start: CerebusHigh SocietyChurch and State)
  15. Y the Last Man - Brian K. Vaughan/Pia Guerra
Honorable mentions: Phonogram (Gillen/McKelvie), Watchmen - Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons, From Hell - Alan Moore/Eddie Campbell, Box Office Poison - Alex Robinson, Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi, Sandman - Neil Gaiman and various, Black Hole - Charles Burns. UPDATE 1311.30: I think Honorable mention should be given, also, to Alison Bechdel's Fun Home: A Family Tragicomicwhich I would rank ahead of almost all the comics in the honorable mention list except The Watchmen and Black Hole.

Added 1401.11: Madman Comics and all various work by MIKE ALLRED, especially Red Rocket 7.

The list above has many obvious omissions, many of which I did not add to the honorable mention list either. It's my list. It's hardly THE DEFINITIVE list. And the recommendations would have to be tailored to each individual and what the individual wants from sampling the comic book world. If the person is interested in superheroes, I would start her with Marvels. But if the person specifically is interested in Batman, I might suggest Batman: Year One to start followed by Batman Earth One and then The Dark Knight Returns and Hush. If the person is a fan of horror, I might recommend The Walking Dead, which did not even make my list this time around. Fantasy lovers would hear me suggest Bone and Fables. Those with more science fiction interests should start with Planetary and Y The Last Man. Alt-kids and those with fine art and/or a European bent should sample THB, Optic Nerve, and the work of Chester Brown first. Some of these comics just would not work for some readers. I know my wife would love Bone andFables much more than Optic Nerve or Blankets.

I would welcome suggestions for comic books that should be on this list and are not.






Did I mention that the character on the t-shirt is called "Death"? Of course, I did.

See DEATH(DC Comics) at Wikipedia.

In this incarnation, Death is the creation of Neil Gaiman and Mike Dringenberg, though the entire visualization of Death came from Dringenberg, and no, despite popular urban legends, she is no way based on Gaiman's friend Tori Amos.

Death is one of the "Endless," the family of anthropomorphic beings who are the main cast of Gaiman's Sandman comic book, one of whom is the eponymous title character. The Endless, whose names all start with the letter D, are the most powerful beings in the universe, more powerful than gods. The Endless family consists of Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Despair, Desire, and Delirium.

Though in Gaiman and Dringenberg's incarnation, Death originally appeared in The Sandman #8, the character achieved her most vivid and potentially best loved characterization with the art of Chris Bachalo in two limited series--Death: The High Cost of Living (1993) and Death: The Time of Your Life(1996)--one of which was published immediately after The Sandman ended its publication run. The Sandman had become wildly popular and had a huge cult following, fans rabid for more stories of the Endless gobbled up the book in droves. Death as has also appeared in other related books in the VERTIGO line from DC Comics, including Lucifer and The Books of Magic.

Here's a sampling of some fan ravings about one of the DEATH books: Pai Picks Blog.

The whole rabid fan reaction to The Sandman invokes my contrary and oppositional personality. When faced with too much pushing, too much popularity, something being "jammed down my throat" as Andrew at Fanfare said, I react by going the other way.

Let me start by saying that I like Neil Gaiman's work very much. I have actually corresponded with Neil, and I think he's a super guy and a very talented writer. So, let's just put that out there, shall we?

Yes, I can be critical of him as I was after finishing his new book The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which I reviewed in T-shirt #138.

I also addressed my feelings about The Sandman, somewhat, in T-shirt #160, which contains my list of comic book recommendations for non-comic book people.

It's not that I think The Sandman is a bad comic book. Not at all. It's a very good comic book, and one I enjoyed immensely.

BUT PLEASE, comic book fans need to stop making it the single go-to comic book recommended to non-comic book fans (often women). Even when it was first published in the 1990s, it was not the ONLY comic book that people (often women) who do not usually read comic books would read and like.

And today, with the large selection of both super-hero books and non-super-hero books to choose from, there is no reason to make The Sandman the single most recommended comic book. With our current wealth of comic books to choose from, as I hope I made clear in T-shirt #160, the recommendation should be tailored to the individual. Not everyone is going to LOVEThe Sandman. Some readers may prefer Fables and others may prefer The Walking Dead.

With all of that said, I must say that I count Chris Bachalo among my current favorite artists and I may love the Death: The High Cost of Living (1993) and Death: The Time of Your Life (1996) books more than the regular Sandman comics.

There's always a weekly comics list, and it always happens on Friday. Though now that Ultimate is over, I could pick up comics on Wednesdays, though I probably won't.

It is sort of fitting that I featured Death today (and not just because of Halloween) and discussed The Sandman because a new Sandman comic book was released this week, a prelude to the seminal comic book series. I have two other Sandman shirts, so I will delegate future comments to those blog posts.

WEEKLY COMICS LIST

It is sad to see Superman fall so low in the weekly lists. Miracleman is reprints, which I am interested in re-experiencing, but not high on my list.

I had to buy the World's Finest annual because of the cover (seen right).

Aquaman continues to top my list both because I love Aquaman and because the comic is damn good. The Bendis/Bagley Cataclysm issues rank highly, even if I have not read the Ultimates or X-Men issues (and I have not). With Remender writing and McNiven on art, Uncanny Avengers is going to rank highly when it comes out.

Most interesting in this week's list is the books that I usually rank lower simply to be able to take my time with reading, like Fables, Saga, and Uber all rank very high and higher than some standard superhero books that I usually read before those issues.

I have an insanely huge and ever growing pile of comic books I want to review, but I am supposed to be in hiatus and building content for future posts, which is not wholly successful yet. I still have one outstanding post (T-shirt #304), which is still unfinished. SIGH.


COMICS FOR 1401.31

Aquaman #27
Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand #004
Inhumanity #002
Uncanny Avengers #016
Guardians of the Galaxy #011.NOW (The Trial of Jean Grey #1)
The Superior Spider-Man #026
Clone #14
Fables #137
Saga #18
Uber #9
Thor: God of Thunder #018
Flash #27
Thunderbolts #021
Teen Titans #27
Earth 2 - Annual #2
World's Finest - Power Girl and Huntress Annual - (First Contact Prelude) #1
Catwoman #27

BACKLOG

Superman #27
Miracleman #2


HIATUS TEXT: I am taking a short hiatus. A "hiatus" for the 365 T-shirts Blog does not mean that there will not be shirts or that I will skip posting on any forthcoming day. There will be shirts. But the shirts will not be exciting or the featured shirts will not require me to write a small novel to properly generate the content I feel is sufficient. I created a category for my hiatus so as to group together those "easy" shirts that I consider to be "hiatus shirts." The goal of the hiatus is to fill in many blog days with easy shirts in order to complete longer love letters to beloved popular culture icons on more special shirts and to write more complex entries AHEAD OF TIME. The daily grind is becoming too much and causing me to fall behind and to be forced to post incomplete entries. I am hoping that a series of hiatus shirts will allow me to catch up, get ahead, and stay ahead. Ideally, I would like to be writing the bulk of each entry three days ahead while always working on at least one other. I have a lot of great shirts to share before the end of my blog year (after all I was just given SIXTEEN shirts for my birthday). Stay tuned. I promise to post the more interesting and longer T-shirt entries as I finish them. Thanks for reading. BTW, this is the standard HIATUS TEXT that I will include in every "hiatus shirt" entry.

Important note: The URL for just this page is goofed. I accidentally typed "216." Once the URLs are set, they can't be changed (at least not that I could figure out).

COVER GALLERY

Dave McKean did all the covers for the run of Sandman. These are among my favorites, though it was a tough call at times, and I did not want to post too many.











COUNTDOWN TO END OF THE BLOG YEAR - 49 shirts remaining

- chris tower - first published - 1401.31 - 20:34
final publication - 1402.02 - 9:47

Thursday, January 30, 2014

T-shirt #315 - The National Air and Space Museum

T-shirt #315 - The National Air and Space Museum - The Smithsonian, Washington DC

I am a space junkie. I can't get enough of books, movies, TV shows, TV news, written news, and especially museums that have to do with outer space, the exploration of space, and other related subjects.

This shirt is a companion to T-shirt #310: Tropical Rainforests as both have a listed copyright of 1988 on the shirt, and I suspect that both were purchased at the same time. Though I am guessing that these were gifts, as I wrote in the previous entry, purchased by my mother and father on a trip they took to Washington DC, a few days has improved my memory. I may have been with them on this jaunt. I was still going on trips with my parents in 1988 as I recall a trip to Milwaukee with them the year When Harry Met Sally came out, which was 1989. I remember a trip to Washington DC, in which I had dinner with my friend John Locke in the Takoma Park neighborhood, and I must have been with my parents. So, it's likely that these shirts came from such a trip.

Pictured to the right, the shirt features a picture of the earth and a caption: "The sphere of the Earth as photographed from Apollo 17 spacecraft during the final lunar landing mission in the Apollo program. The photograph extends from the Mediterranean Sea area to Antarctica south polar ice cap."

I would amend that caption, explaining that the Mediterranean is visible at the very top of the Earth's sphere but the dominant image is Africa and part of Asia. Madagascar looms very large in this perspective. Antarctica is at the bottom of the sphere as it always is and as it is always visible from this angle.


Though I love this and the rainforests shirt, I think both are destined to become pajamas as I have worn neither in years, and with constant wear and washings, the current pajama shirts are growing more worn and thin.

The picture above depicts the The Southern Pinwheel-spiral galaxy M83. I cannot remember where I snagged the picture. I think it was Reuters pic of the day, and it's been sitting in my T-shirts Blog folder for months.

I divulged my love of space and things to do with space science and exploration in the first ten blog entries I posted. T-shirt #5: Do you want to move to Mars? featured a shirt Liesel bought for me after I asked her if she wanted to move to Mars once the Mars One Project gets underway. I was half-serious. I used to fantasize about space exploration when I was a kid and a young man. Not so much as I got older and more settled. After all, I like too many of the comforts of Earth and our life here that would be missing in a move to Mars, where we would not even be able to go outside. If I am feeling cabin fever now with the dangerously cold temperatures this January, I can only imagine how much more intense would be the cabin fever on Mars and enroute to Mars. I should amend my former comments. It's not that I could not go outside the spacecraft or domed-living-environment-pods, but I could not do so without a space suit.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin stands on the MoonI also mentioned space stuff in my post devoted to Spektrmodule, the Warren Ellis podcast, in T-shirt #75.


I am surprised that I have not written more about space and associated topics given my love the subject. Obviously, my love of science fiction comes from my love of space. The love of space came first. One of the first sets of things I learned were the planets of our solar system in order. I may have known these before I knew the alphabet. Though the "science" category only has three entries currently (and now this one) and none of them really to do with "space" (obviously the two I named already should be grouped there), the science fiction entry contains 29 posts (one of which is still a draft). These contain all the Star Trek  and Star Wars entries as well as ones focused on other print or multimedia science fiction.

APOLLO SPACE PROGRAM

My last point today (and I could make many but I am Grading Robot and I have to keep it short) concerns an apocryphal story I tell. I am not sure if this story is actually true or not. But I have told it so many times that I have made it true. I was about to start second grade in 1969 when the Americans sent the three most famous astronauts in the history of space exploration thus far to land on the moon for the first time (Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins).

My affection for the Apollo Space Program and science fiction surely kept me hoping to explore "brave new worlds and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before." But instead I settled for being an English teacher, an ultimate player, a husband/father, and a writer. Wait... maybe I am going there, to that place the no one has gone... you tell me. :-) But in the summer of 1969 if you had asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have probably said a superhero, which you would have rejected and made me pick something real and attainable, so my real answer would have been an ASTRONAUT.

Apollo 11 landed on the moon in July of 1969, not long before my sister was born, when my family was moving from Schoolcraft, just south of Kalamazoo, to Richland, just northeast of Kalamazoo, and before I started second grade at Richland Elementary in the Fall of that year. However, there were several Apollo missions after the first moon landing, two of which, Apollo 12 (November of 1969) and Apollo 13 (April of 1970), took place during my second grade year of school. For some reason that still puzzles me today, my teacher was more interested in teaching us subtraction, basic spelling, grammar, and other useless bits of knowledge when AMERICAN ASTRONAUTS WERE LANDING ON AND EXPLORING THE MOON!!!!!!!!

I mean, really, what was she thinking? Her name was Mrs. Tuttle, and she was a strict, disciplinarian. And yet, I was a precocious child. I insisted that we have  a television in the classroom showing the news broadcasts of the Apollo landings. Here's where my memory is a bit murky, and I just have always made up the details to make the story work, much like any good writer of fiction.

For accuracy sake, let's say this is in November of 1969 and the advent of the Apollo 12 project. In my usual version of the story, Mrs. Tuttle cannot do anything to comply with my request, and so I bring my own family's TV to the class to watch the orbits and landing. This is the part that is probably not true. I have a clear vision of television atop a big metal cart in that second grade classroom with Mrs. Tuttle presiding in front of it, attempting to make deals with us for our right to watch: so much subtraction, so much spelling and grammar, so much time watching the TV. I remember the principal also in attendance as this was the first time there had been a television in a class room at Richland Elementary. It was historic.

Apollo program insigniaThis was also the year that due to my obsession with the soap opera Dark Shadows that I sold a case or two of plastic fangs to all the students in my classes and others. The fang sale was my first business enterprise as a primary school student though not my last. But that's off topic. More on this one some other time.

I like my version of the story best. We brought in the family TV. It's probably not true, but it shows my overriding focus on the space missions that year, when I was not watching Dark Shadows that is.

Okay, so reprinting T-shirt #5 because it fits this subject, it's short, I am not sure it was widely read, and I like it. :-)

T-Shirt #5: Mars One: Funny thing, my wife bought me a T-shirt. It's not really funny as in laughter evoking by itself. But it's quirky and cute.

One morning last year, I asked my wife Liesel: "Would you like to go live on Mars?"

I was just checking. I wanted to see what she would say. I have always liked the idea of going into space. Moving permanently to Mars is a neat idea but maybe not realistic.

This subject came up because of Ray Kurzweil.
"Raymond "Ray" Kurzweil is an American author, inventor, futurist, and director of engineering at Google" (Wikipedia). 

If you like science, Ray Kurzweil runs a great Twitter feed of science news here:


KurzweilAINews

@KurzweilAINews

KurzweilAI is a newsletter/blog covering nano-bio-info-cogno breakthroughs in accelerating intelligence
California/Mass · http://kurzweilai.net


Google has hired Kurzweil to work on AI, which is an exciting proposition.

There is also a great website: Kurzweil Acclerating Intelligence.

I like to follow Kurzweil and watch the news he shares. He sends A LOT of Twitters, and they are always entertaining and informative.

Late last year (2012), he sent this
Mars One plans to establish human settlement on Mars in 2023



Liesel called me a "dork" for asking about going to Mars, but then, she searched the Internet and bought me a T-shirt from the Netherlands based Mars One project and gave it to me as a birthday present.

Kuzweil has updated the search for people to colonize Mars here:

WANTED: MARS COLONISTS TO EXPLORE RED PLANET



At this time, we have no plans to move to Mars, but I do like the shirt.
- 1303.26 7:46


PLEASE NOTE: WHY T-SHIRTS: I am taking a day off from the WHY T-SHIRTS? series as I am at full power as Grading Robot, and this shirt is very much a continuation of yesterday's item, the proof I did something and the promotion of it: I went to this museum, and I love space science.


HIATUS TEXT: I am taking a short hiatus. A "hiatus" for the 365 T-shirts Blog does not mean that there will not be shirts or that I will skip posting on any forthcoming day. There will be shirts. But the shirts will not be exciting or the featured shirts will not require me to write a small novel to properly generate the content I feel is sufficient. I created a category for my hiatus so as to group together those "easy" shirts that I consider to be "hiatus shirts." The goal of the hiatus is to fill in many blog days with easy shirts in order to complete longer love letters to beloved popular culture icons on more special shirts and to write more complex entries AHEAD OF TIME. The daily grind is becoming too much and causing me to fall behind and to be forced to post incomplete entries. I am hoping that a series of hiatus shirts will allow me to catch up, get ahead, and stay ahead. Ideally, I would like to be writing the bulk of each entry three days ahead while always working on at least one other. I have a lot of great shirts to share before the end of my blog year (after all I was just given SIXTEEN shirts for my birthday). Stay tuned. I promise to post the more interesting and longer T-shirt entries as I finish them. Thanks for reading. BTW, this is the standard HIATUS TEXT that I will include in every "hiatus shirt" entry.

COUNTDOWN TO END OF THE BLOG YEAR - 50 shirts remaining

- chris tower - first pubished - 1401.30 - 20:07
final publication - 1401.31 - 9:58

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

T-shirt #214 - Traverse City - Blue Earth

T-shirt #214 - Traverse City - Blue Earth

I have written about Traverse City before, though I have not made a Traverse City category. There's a "Places" category but none of the Traverse City posts were in it when I started this entry. It's an oversight I fixed. I thought I had written about Traverse City more, but I only have two entries, seen below.

T-shirt #85 - Up North

T-shirt #171 - The Neahtawanta Inn - Goodbye Bob Russell

I have at least three more Traverse City shirts, so I m not going to deliver more content on the most glorious city on the planet in this entry. Stay Tuned.

I will share one thing. For me, Traverse City evokes many wonderful memories. Much of the best times of me childhood were spent there both living for three years and visiting for summer vacations. I resumed the vacation ritual in my adult years and made Traverse City a place I retreated each summer for up to two weeks to write. Now, these memories are inextricably linked. Traverse City is a place of childhood nostalgia and happy memories of family and love. But it is also a place of retreat, renewal, and writing. I spent weeks and weeks there over a 15 year period, mostly alone, reflecting, exploring self, and working on various novel projects.



Right now, as I have mentioned before, I am reading both Stephen King's On Writing (the delightful audio version that he narrates) and Robert McKee's Story (which I wish was on audio...okay, I just checked, and it's an abridged edition, so I wish it was available as an unabridged audio), and I have been thinking a great deal about a novel I was writing in large part during my Traverse City retreats from about 2001 through 2009. I had abandoned the project because it had grown too complex and was turning into a different book than the one I had wanted to write. I am going to return to it and simplify it. King's thoughts on story especially are driving my determination to tackle this project again. I just have to find the time, now, to dump what's in my head into a file, re-read what I had done before, and start banging out a new draft of this book, which just happens to be set in the region up north, near Traverse City. Also, and this is probably more interesting to me than to you, I decided to set the book in 1985, which has helped me to do away with complications caused by modern technology. This and a couple of other projects are the work (both writing work and blog work) that I am planning to shift to when my blog year sends on March 22nd (less than two months from now).

I have many bits and insights on writing to share from what I am reading and thinking, but in the interest of keeping this short (and since it's late), I will save those for now and present them another time.

WHY T-SHIRTS EXPLANATORY BLURB
I am doing a series of snippets that will add up to a larger whole answering the "Why T-shirts?" or "What's with all the T-shirts?" question. I have also decided to include the previous items in an ever growing list, hence the "previous items" section next.

PREVIOUS ITEMS
#1: T-SHIRTS ARE COOL
#2: I BE BRANDED - CHOOSING TO ADVERTISE
#3: It's my tattoo
#4 PRIDE AND STATUS - "It's my thing."
#5 -  "LET ME GEEK FLAG FLY!!"
#6 - UNIFORM SHIRTS ARE COOL

TODAY'S ITEM - WHY T-SHIRTS #7. PROOF THAT I DID IT - SHIRTS FOR EVENTS



Today's featured shirt on Traverse City makes the point as well as a shirt featuring a concert or a play. I have featured all of these types of shirts in abundance: shirts featuring places; concerts T-shirts; other types of shows, like theatrical plays; and even shirts from businesses or special events all qualify under this motivation for why I am so inclined to wear T-shirts. Colleges factor here also. I have several shirts from my undergraduate alma mater, and I have not even featured them all yet, I also have several shirts from my graduate alma mater, and I have featured none of those.

Obviously, this reason connects strongly with the pride idea. If I feel pride and feel I have achieved a certain dubious status with a shirt featuring the logo of a superhero team, then surely a shirt with the name of my college, a place I labored for years to earn a degree, carries with it great pride and powerful status. It's funny. I was very out spoken in my criticisms of Kalamazoo College while a student there, but after I graduated, the love and affection I have for the place drove all those criticisms away. I wear the shirts now with unabashed pride.

Also, I have been accused of being a hipster. I don't think I qualify. But one of my failings is pride for the many concerts I have seen and how I am likely to tell stories in a tale swap of "one-upsmanship" that drives my wife crazy. But again, like with the schools, I am proud of the concerts I have seen and feel that there's some status conveyed here. Sadly, I purged many of my most vintage concert shirts in the packing up and clearing out of my parents home just before I decided to start work on this blog. What was I thinking? Clearly, I had dismissed the idea of doing a blog like this, and I was quite convinced that there was no way I could maintain a daily pace, especially with my tendency to be long-winded. How wrong I was.


And so, I add another post to The Blog Journey category, which is about writing, which is the topic I started with before today's Why T-shirts blurb. I needed proof. I needed confirmation that I had the chops to write EVERY DAY, even on Christmas and my birthday and the Fourth of July. Though there have been some skip days, though I have fallen behind quite often (this entry being a case in point as I originally published it last night, Wednesday, and I am finishing it this morning, Thursday), and though I still have one unfinished entry that's going on day eleven of not being done (I am working on it, if you keep checking it -- T-shirt #304 -- you can watch it grow, I am doing it. One day at a time. One word at a time. I am building a huge body of work that lays bare my own journey of self discovery as a geek, as a reader, as a writer, as a husband, as a father, as a man.

And I am not done yet. Stay tuned.

HIATUS TEXT: I am taking a short hiatus. A "hiatus" for the 365 T-shirts Blog does not mean that there will not be shirts or that I will skip posting on any forthcoming day. There will be shirts. But the shirts will not be exciting or the featured shirts will not require me to write a small novel to properly generate the content I feel is sufficient. I created a category for my hiatus so as to group together those "easy" shirts that I consider to be "hiatus shirts." The goal of the hiatus is to fill in many blog days with easy shirts in order to complete longer love letters to beloved popular culture icons on more special shirts and to write more complex entries AHEAD OF TIME. The daily grind is becoming too much and causing me to fall behind and to be forced to post incomplete entries. I am hoping that a series of hiatus shirts will allow me to catch up, get ahead, and stay ahead. Ideally, I would like to be writing the bulk of each entry three days ahead while always working on at least one other. I have a lot of great shirts to share before the end of my blog year (after all I was just given SIXTEEN shirts for my birthday). Stay tuned. I promise to post the more interesting and longer T-shirt entries as I finish them. Thanks for reading. BTW, this is the standard HIATUS TEXT that I will include in every "hiatus shirt" entry.

COUNTDOWN TO END OF THE BLOG YEAR - 51 shirts remaining

- chris tower -  first published - 1401.29 - 19:11
final publication - 1401.30 - 8:05

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

T-shirt #313 - Kaaaawasaki Productions

T-shirt #313 - Kaaawasaki Productions


My wife made a friend on Facebook named Sam Campos who has his own media company (comic books among other things) called

KAAAWASAKI PRODUCTIONS .

When my wife visited him a few years ago, he gave her this shirt, which became mine because it fits me and my wife doesn't wear T-shirts.

Apparently, Sam's production company made a movie called DRAGONFLY, stills and some of the vitals about the project can be seen via the link above. The costumes look awesome.

Kaaawasaki Productions looks to be a progressive, right-minded company based in Hawaii.

I thought that this was a good shirt to share today because my WHY T-SHIRTS text is focused on uniforms and logos.

Also, Check this: from JUNE 19, 2012 1:15 PM:

Interview with President, Creative Director, and Janitor of Kaaawasaki Productions about ‘Dragonfly…!

I will include a video I found in my searching. The production looks good and the outdoor visuals of Hawaii are breathtaking.

Martial arts, motorcycles, cool costumed hero, Japanese influence, great location visuals, and a punchy editing job make this a fun video to watch. Also, DAFT PUNK music, which is always awesome.

Here's the data from YOU TUBE about the video:
"Published on Sep 10, 2013
DRAGONFLY starring Cole Horibe, Alison Kam, Mitchell Kekoa Campos, Jim Akina, Maki, and Kahinu Holt. Created by Sam Campos Kaaawasaki Productions LLC. This is a Proof of concept video for DRAGONFLY. Music is by Daft Punk. Kaaawasaki Productions LLC does not have or own the rights to this song."

DRAGONFLY Legacy



WHY T-SHIRTS EXPLANATORY BLURB

I am doing a series of snippets that will add up to a larger whole answering the "Why T-shirts?" or "What's with all the T-shirts?" question. I have also decided to include the previous items in an ever growing list, hence the "previous items" section next.


PREVIOUS ITEMS
#1: T-SHIRTS ARE COOL
#2: I BE BRANDED - CHOOSING TO ADVERTISE
#3: It's my tattoo
#4 PRIDE AND STATUS - "It's my thing."
#5. "LET ME GEEK FLAG FLY!!"




TODAY'S ITEM - WHY T-SHIRTS - #6 - UNIFORM SHIRTS ARE COOL

Today's WHY T-SHIRTS installment contains a reprint from T-shirt #83: The X-Men Logo.

Much of this subject I explored in the previous entry, and since I feel I did a good job with it, I am reprinting it. But first some preamble and additional thoughts.

As I explore in the previous entry, there is an element of "dress up" or what is today known as "Cos Play" in wearing a shirt that replicates the uniform look of a superhero character's outfit. As an adult, I am not immune to the effect that when I wear the X-Men shirt, I am feeling like one of the X-Men. I am barely suppressing the impulse to wear cool red quartz shades and raise them to release my optic blasts or gesture in way that shows I am manipulating all the metal in the area with my magnetic powers. I do not feel that any kind of adulthood is achieved by leaving those playful thoughts behind. Surely, I could engage in such make believe with a four year old without suffering ridicule. Why could I not engage in such imaginative play without the four year old? What is it about adulthood that supposedly prohibits us from playing and using our imaginations?

Cos Play has suffered much ridicule over the years and has only recently (and in large part thanks to the Internet) become cool enough or accepted enough that there's less ridicule. People still laugh when the Big Bang Theory characters show up dressed like the Justice League. This idea of "adults" dressing up is still silly and the brunt of jokes. But now that the San Diego Comic Convention is featured in its own issue of Entertainment Weekly each year, and the Internet makes "okay" and brands as "cool" Cos Players, the ridicule is less, but it's still there.

It's this ridicule that made me very choosy about my T-shirts as I started to make purchases and as I chose which ones I would wear out of the house. Early on, I would only buy and wear logos that were not immediately recognizable as logos from comic books. And if I did buy a T-shirt with the picture of a super hero on it or the name of a comic book on it, I would be unlikely to wear it out of the house. This has changed, I am happy to say. I felt I was letting it all hang out before this blog, but the blog work has removed the final shackles holding back my geekiness, and so, as I wrote yesterday, I let my "geek flag fly" with reckless abandon and no inhibition.

Still my wife wants to make sure I am not going to become a Cos Player or a LARPer (Live Action Role Playing), and though I will buy and wear costumes for Halloween or KUDL costume night as I have shown on this blog, and though I will buy and wear shirts that mirror comic book costumes, I am not likely to Cos Play or LARP any time in the near future. But this is less about inhibition or thinking something is inherently wrong with it, as just not having the time to devote to it and do it well. Because the costumes look pretty damn cool... :-)


Logos are cool.

But why? Why are  logos so cool?

I have written about logos many times so far in the history of this blog. One of my best descriptions of this idea set comes with the Flash Logo and T-shirt #20. In entry #20, I listed many of my favorite logos and their appeal. Few logos are as iconic as the X-Men logo. And yet the X-Men were named by default. Originally, Stan Lee wanted to call the comic The Mutants, but this title was rejected by the publisher as being too arcane ("no one will know what the Hell a mutant is"), and so The Uncanny X-Men resulted not as a tribute to Professor Xavier, the team's leader and teacher, but for the X-Gene that gives the mutants their powers.

UNIFORM COOL: I AM AN X-MAN: Part of the appeal of logo shirts is the uniform aspect. It's costume play. When I wear a logo shirt that matches or resembles the costumed hero's uniform, I am engaging in a form of "dress up," what role players now call "cos play" because these days everything people do must be defined with a label and a sub-culture.

The X-Men have all gone through many uniform changes. The movies and animated series programs also affected uniform changes in the comics. Unlike many superhero groups, the X-Men had a uniformity from the earliest days of the team in regards to their wardrobe. Whereas groups like the Avengers, Justice League, and Teen Titans are all collections of individuals with their already established costumes, groups like the X-Men and the Fantastic Four have more of a homogeneous relationship and often have matching uniforms. The original X-Men all wore matching uniforms with iconic X logos. Later incarnations got away from that model, though the character of Cyclops has consistently worn some version of the classic blue X-Men uniform that he began wearing in the late 1960s during the re-invention period by Roy Thomas and Neal Adams (more forthcoming on this subject). This shirt most closely matches Cyclops' uniform.


LOGOS ARE VIRAL

Logos assume iconic status and spread like viruses. The most powerful logos are simple yet stunning. They tap into something primal and deeply rooted in the human psyche. They correspond with a reptilian, seminal core located in the locus coeruleus or basal ganglia of our human brains, what some feel is the first step of our pre-mammalian, evolutionary development.










I am extrapolating. But the power of a logo derives from instincts, and our instincts trace back to our reptilian and bird, pre-mammalian origins. Because we all share this feature of the brain stem, the reaction should be universal. One can argue that these logos are archetypal. I am arguing that our connections and attraction to them is not only hard-wired into our anatomy, and possibly coded at the genetic level, but also tied to a spiritual, energy connection through the Collective Unconscious. The most iconic logos are archetypes because they are ancient, archaic paradigms matching our repeated experience not just as a species but as living and evolving beings. The simple X logo is one of the best examples of this kind of iconic archetype.

Thank you for reading or re-reading.

For a supposed "hiatus," I am still generating a lot of text. And don't worry. I won't reprint all the time.

HIATUS TEXT: I am taking a short hiatus. A "hiatus" for the 365 T-shirts Blog does not mean that there will not be shirts or that I will skip posting on any forthcoming day. There will be shirts. But the shirts will not be exciting or the featured shirts will not require me to write a small novel to properly generate the content I feel is sufficient. I created a category for my hiatus so as to group together those "easy" shirts that I consider to be "hiatus shirts." The goal of the hiatus is to fill in many blog days with easy shirts in order to complete longer love letters to beloved popular culture icons on more special shirts and to write more complex entries AHEAD OF TIME. The daily grind is becoming too much and causing me to fall behind and to be forced to post incomplete entries. I am hoping that a series of hiatus shirts will allow me to catch up, get ahead, and stay ahead. Ideally, I would like to be writing the bulk of each entry three days ahead while always working on at least one other. I have a lot of great shirts to share before the end of my blog year (after all I was just given SIXTEEN shirts for my birthday). Stay tuned. I promise to post the more interesting and longer T-shirt entries as I finish them. Thanks for reading. BTW, this is the standard HIATUS TEXT that I will include in every "hiatus shirt" entry.

COUNTDOWN TO END OF THE BLOG YEAR - 52 shirts remaining

- chris tower - 1401.28 - 19:08