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.)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

T-shirt #304 - Abbott's Magic Company

UPDATE 1401.28: So far this entry holds the record for longest incomplete. I posted it originally on the 19th of January and now it's the 28th of January. Despite declaring a hiatus from really long blog entries, I have not saved enough time to finish it yet. I am working on it now. I will update this note once I am complete. One problem is that there is so much I can put in this one. But I have to remember that you, dear reader, probably don't know what's missing. And I do not need to pack in ALL OF MY magic-related content in this one blog entry.

OFFICIAL INCOMPLETE BOILERPLATE TEXT: Thank you for coming to my blog. If you have been here before, you know why I post unfinished blog entries. If you are new to the blog, and came here by an Internet search or some other nefarious means, you may be wondering why someone would post something incomplete to the Internet. The shirt (ha ha.... leaving in that typo: I meant "short") answer is that I must post something every day because of the goal I set for myself when I began 365 T-shirts in March of 2013. And though there is a way to post backwards in time thanks to Blogger's scheduler utility, I would rather post an incomplete entry when the daily chaos of work, family, and the universe prohibits me from completing the blog entry for that day. Sometimes, I need a few days to complete the entry, and readers who check may see a work in progress slowly bloom.

In other words, more tomorrow. Thanks for checking.

T-shirt #304 - Abbott's Magic Company

The picture above comes from Christmas 1975. I can be seen in the photo (in my Captain America PJs) experimenting with a magic trick that I had received as a gift. I do not remember the gift very well, and I am not sure where the trick has got to. It did not become one of my regulars as seen in the pictures below.

Today is my birthday.

I was planning to catch up today as the last blog entry I completed was Thursday January 16th, which I finalized last night (Saturday the 18th). But since it's my birthday, I am giving myself permission to only work on the blog for a while and leave it incomplete once it's time for me to officially celebrate my birthday, which I will do by lounging on the couch with my puppy while reading comic books and watching football.

Today's shirt features The Abbott's Magic Company of Colon, Michigan, which I wrote about here:

T-shirt #134 - Secrets of Balloon Anatomy

T-shirt #135 - KUDL 2007 Yellow

T-shirt #136 - KUDL 2013 Pink

I used to perform magic as a semi-part-time professional. I re-connected with the magic world this past summer as I fulfilled a "bucket list" item shortly before my prostate surgery, in which I attended a day of a magic convention (with my step-son Ivan) and took a ride up the Kal- Haven trail (with my pal Chris Dilley) as explained in those three T-shirt posts linked above (134-136).

I have many plans for topics I want to explore in regards to magic, but I cannot get them all in one blog entry.

The next picture, directly left, shows me with my magic table, which serves as both a storage cabinet and a performance space. More on that in the text below.

In this first picture, I can be seen holding a top hat, which you would think I could have found easily and purchased at some magic shoppe. But in the mid-to-late 1970s when I did the majority of my performing, there were none to be found. Eventually I located a hat in a theatre costume shop and begged the costumer to let me buy it.

Many of my favorite magical "illusions" (dogs do tricks; magicians do illusions) sit on the table. From left to right, there's a standard Abbott's die box, a lotus jar, the Blarney Die, Dissecto is the big one with the yellow blade in the handle, a crystal box in front of that with a chick pan on top, a Genii Tube in red and yellow, and the Cube in a Tube, which I am about to describe. Though I will describe the genesis of the magic table in forthcoming text, I do want to point out the table cover with the gold fringe, classic magician fare that my aunt made for me, a special order organized and supervised by my mother. My parents were extremely supportive of my magic endeavors.
This illusion is known as the Cube in a Tube.


Though Abbott's still sells it (see link), it is about five times more expensive than when I bought it. I remember mine selling for $45 in the late 1970s.

I like the Cube in a Tube illusion because of it's visual impact and how it ends with something that can be held and examined by an audience member.

The magician begins by showing the square die cube, a wooden piece painted black with white dots. This die is placed in a red square box. A metal tube is pounded into the box with a wooden hammer. The magician lifts away the box to reveal just the tube. When the tube is lifted (as in the picture), the cube has been "tubed," the die is now a wooden cylinder that an audience member can examine.

Awesome, right?

It's quick and can be performed silently because the visual impact is so clear and dramatic. This is one of my favorites.

I became interested in magic around 1973 or 1974. I am not sure what started it. There were magic sets advertised on television. There were ads for magic shops in my comic books. But probably the thing that closed the deal was the annual Christmas catalogues. My sister and I always started our Christmas lists by scouring the annual catalogues from Sears, JC Penney, and Montgomery Ward. I know I started my magical interests with a magic set sold by one of these companies. The magic advertisements and TV commercials probably only stoked the fires of my passion for magic.

There was also a magician (as there often is), but I am not sure if I had the magic set before or after I met the magician. I think I already had the magic set when we were staying at the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island for a convention my father needed to attend, and I met Robert Downey (no relation to the actor), who was performing magic at the hotel.

After these two influences inspired me, I discovered that the "Magic Capitol of the World" was about an hour's drive (not even) from my house. The great Abbott's Magic Company called Colon, Michigan its home and annually hosted the Abbott's Magic Get-Together as magicians from all over the world flocked to the little town of Colon for many events, the best of which were the nightly performances in the Colon high school.

Abbott's published a HUGE book sized catalogue that became my new shopping spree and holiday list making enterprise.

I do not perform magic so much anymore. It's very stressful. If an actor flubs his or her lines in a live show, it's often no big deal. Sometimes the audience does not even notice. The actor can cover or someone else covers for the actor if needed.

With magic, if a magician makes an error, flubs the prestidigitation part of the magical illusion, the mistake ruins the effect, the "magic" is lost, and the performer may as well quit because the willing suspension of disbelief that kept the audience engaged has left the building.

Audiences of senior citizens tend to be very forgiving, especially those in nursing homes, anything to break up the monotony, and some of them are not fully "home" anyway. But children and drunk people are especially vicious. Blow an illusion around them, and you're goose is cooked.

Other stuff


Blarney Die

My magic table

........... still under construction.

to be finished SOON.

COUNTDOWN TO END OF THE BLOG YEAR - 61 shirts remaining

- chris tower - first published - 1401.19 - 15:38
final publication - date - time