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, February 21, 2014

T-shirt #337: Underdog - the blue shirt

T-shirt #337: Underdog - the blue shirt

Underdog received a fairly complete treatment in T-shirt #288.

Oddly, When I re-checked that page, I had to re-post the videos, which had gone blank. The page is looking good now. I am going to reprint a bit of it here just for fun.

T-shirt Blogger Man has been in a time crunch this week, which is disturbing as he is on vacation from the Grading Robot horrors he usually must endure. He also has a big computer program due. But still, I have set a new record for being behind on the blog. I posted three incomplete entries in a row (Wednesday-Friday of this week), I still have last weekend (2/14-2/16) incomplete, and farther back in time, there are two other incomplete entries. The hiatus is not really working as it should. And in a quirk of the law of inverse proportion, perhaps I am more capable of staying current or maybe only one day behind when I am busier.

Still, things did get done. Quality time was spent with the family. My Dad visited and we managed some repairs. I slowly started to organize things that have been put off, like logging spending and paying bills, laundry, breakfast with a friend, lunch with my sister, and of course, the homework for the computer programming class. There was also a D&D gaming afternoon in the last week, when, if we were keeping score, I have only posted two complete entries and have six incomplete entries.

I know, I know. I promise substance and look what happens. If I had decided to do the DAILY THING, I would take a TRUE hiatus instead of this odd, partial, incomplete one. But I am very close to finishing the blog year.

But while I was not producing blog work, my wife was very thankful that I took some time away from my workaholicness this week. We took Ivan (my step son) to the Alamo DraftHouse Saturday for a showing of Nebraska and some fine vittles. Wednesday night, we all joked around while making dinner, and I took a video of them dancing. My phone likes to invert things, and so the video playback is upside-down. If you're reading, and you know how to fix this, please let me know. Last night, Liesel and I watched the remainder of a Wiki-Leaks documentary and then re-watched Vanilla Sky, a movie neither of us remembered very well. My wife thinks Penelope Cruz is beautiful. I would have to agree with that opinion, but I think my wife, Liesel, is just as beautiful if not more so. Though the crazy love I feel may have me biased.

I am tempted to post a picture of Cruz next to a picture of my wife, just to prove my point, but I am resisting this urge. It's not necessary. I am not really trying to convince you all. It's what I think that matters.

At the rate I am going, the HIATUS may finish out my year, and then all special shirts that I am saving will get released one by one on a less demanding schedule (less demanding than daily), like, maybe, weekly. Though I may take true hiatus of a couple weeks to re-group before I resume a regular publishing schedule. We'll see. My blog and writing plans are still works in progress. Input is appreciated.

And now on to our content for today, which includes THE WEEKLY COMICS LIST. Enjoy.

HIATUS TEXT: REVISED 1402.18:  I have been trying to maintain a hiatus from large or over involved blog posts beginning with the start date of my hiatus on January 20th (almost a month ago) during which time I logged 21 posts, which I consider "Hiatus Shirts." By this term, Hiatus Shirt, I mean the shirt is not one that would cause me to write a great deal on the subject it features. These are shirts about which I can write anything, either a lot or a very little. The hiatus will continue, though as it has for the last few weeks, not consecutively as I will continue to mix Hiatus and Non-Hiatus shirts. The blog's year (365 shirts) draws close to a close. (I like the double word use in that previous sentence.) I hope to finish strong with some good entries with high quality content and imagery on some beloved subjects. To earn this time, I will need to intersperse shirts of little consequence, what I have come to call Hiatus Shirts.
My original goal of working ahead remains. I need time to write the enormously lengthy text to complete the extensive love letter to certain beloved popular culture icons featured on my many special shirts. Even with "Hiatus Shirts," I will try to share some worthy content as I have either an idea, a new suggestion of something to read/look at/listen to, or another installment of my various features, such as the WHY T-SHIRTS item, the WEEKLY COMIC BOOK LISTS, and the SHIRT I AM ACTUALLY WEARING TODAY among others. BTW, this is the standard HIATUS TEXT that I will include in every "hiatus shirt" entry.  Thanks for reading. I am always honored that people have taken some of their valuable time to look at my ongoing web writing project. Keep checking this address. I promise to make it worthwhile.

The following is reprinted from T-shirt #288. I just do this to increase the chances that this content, of which I am more than a little proud, gets read, or if you read it before, since it's been almost two months, you may enjoy reading it again.

Underdog was possibly my first superhero. First seen on NBC in 1964, Underdog predates Atom Ant (1965) whom I wrote about in T-shirt #111, according tothe Underdog Wikipedia. Though I did not have a blue cape, I did have a red blanket that my mother would pin on me, so I could run around as Underdog: "There's no need to fear, Underdog is here!" But my favorite battle cry is surely:

"When Polly's in trouble I am not slow, for it's hip-hip-hip and away I go!"

Though I did not have a blue cape, I did have a ring with a secret compartment in which to hide my "Underdog Super Energy Pill," which was often a vitamin supplied by my mother, though sometimes, since I may need many energy pills per day, a tiny candy that would fit inside the ring.

Okay, I am probably not being accurate. I just remembered that Mighty Mouse first appeared in the 1940s and was a staple of CBS Saturday morning cartoons from 1955 to 1967. And the mouse had a red cape like mine. I do recall crying out "Here I come to save the day!" (Mighty Mouse's battle cry) often, so surely I played at being Mighty Mouse, but I have more vivid memories of play as Underdog. And though I would like a Mighty Mouse shirt and toy, I do not own either, and given my recent binge-spending on T-shirts and such and sundry, I am cut off (by my own hand and choice).

Underdog ran for 124 episodes until 1967 but continued in syndication until 1973. This is important because I may not have seen all the episodes that began to air when I was two years old. However, with nine years of broadcasting, I surely managed to see them all at least once and usually all of them multiple times by the time I was eleven years old.

Underdog is a good example of how classic cartoons of yesteryear are kept alive. In the pictures, you see me with an Underdog plush toy, an Underdog PVC doll, and an Underdog T-shirt. The shirt is worn and old. It's one of my older shirts, and it's losing its thickness. I need a new one.

The toys demonstrate two very smart marketing ideas. Toy companies and others who hold copyright on the best cartoons of our childhoods have figured out that two things will happen with the release of Underdog gear: adults will buy the stuff for themselves (as I have done) and adults will buy the stuff for their kids. The Underdog PVC sits atop my TV in my office (as seen in the photo above), and though I have not found the perfect place for the Underdog plush, he's here, sitting nearby as seen in my office tour in T-shirt #268. Also, I have more Underdog gear that I did not have easy access to for the photos.

My friend Tom Meyers arrives for a visit today, as I mentioned, and he has bequeathed to me all sorts of Underdog stuff: a lunchbox, a storage bin, and a few other things that I cannot readily recall. And of course, DVDs. With streaming video, DVD, and YouTube, it's easier than ever before for a parent to say to a child, "Hey, do you wanna watch some Underdog with me?" And the love of this great cartoon continues, like  a virus, but a virus of love.

Wednesday, when I took my own Underdog, Satchel, for a walk, I stopped to chat with the neighbor across the street and his little boy, Caleb, who was wearing a Scooby Doo cap. Caleb explained that he is a massive Scooby Doo fan and began extolling the virtues of some movies he had seen. And so, the generation gap is bridged. The love of the old cartoons continues, though unlike Underdog I believe that new Scooby Doo material is currently being produced.

I have circled the subject of growing up and letting go quite a bit. I do not believe we must let go of all things dear to our hearts from childhood as we get older as some pathetic example of being "adult," which, in my mind, is simply a form of self-imposed misery and serves no purpose but producing misery and possibly resentment. Granted, I no longer put on my little red cape and run around taking energy pills from my secret compartment ring and crying out the rallying heroism of Underdog, though I surely would play such a game with a little boy or girl who was still afloat in the deep ocean of the imagination and the animistic universe if I had the chance. But I find it immensely comforting having my Underdog PVC figure watching over me as I work, and when I see Underdog perched on the TV next to the Mystery Machine clock and Robby the Robot, I am placated. I feel secure in knowing that though many things have changed in my life since I was that little boy playing at Underdog, many things have remained the same. With the modern world, we can keep these things from our past in our hearts, we can easily reconnect with these loves of yesteryear, and smart companies new and old market brand new products that we can purchase and enjoy anew and/or share them with the small children in our lives.

I removed the tag. Can you see it?
Great cartoons like Underdog live on in our hearts and in the hearts of those whom we inspire and to which we bequeath this brilliance, kindling a new flame.

I am an adult. I pay bills; I work for a living; I have a mortgage; I shoulder responsibility. But none of that excludes me from enjoying Underdog much as I did when I was two years old, and seven years old, and nine... and anyone who expects adults to divest themselves of childhood loves is an unpleasant and bitter Scrooge, which brings me to my next subject. Ah... streamy connections.

I just finished reading Dickens' A Christmas Carol via audio, narrated by Jim Dale, who brilliantly narrated the HARRY POTTER novels. Much in the same way that Scrooge learns to keep Christmas in his heart and practice goodwill toward his fellow men year around, so too, is this blog a journey of discovery of the things I wish to keep in my heart, those things that--like Christmas--embody the spirits of love, charity, kindness, generosity, forgiveness, compassion, and so much more. As I think about what I want to share in content for each shirt, I discover more and more about myself and the things that matter to me. There's more than an affection for popular culture icons here. There's a growing aspect of my greater spiritual connection to others and to the universe, which is a subject for another time. Stay tuned.

Underdog is surely a part of the milieu of my greater journey of identity, individuation, and spiritual awakening. For real. And so the Blog Journey continues...



If you read on, new comic plot point will be spoiled. If you care about this kind of thing, proceed at your own risk.

I have been eagerly awaiting the return of the METAL MEN to the DC Comics landscape. In fact, I am sitting on THREE Metal Men T-shirts that I have been wanting to write about plus news of a METAL MEN movie in the works.

So, it's no surprise that this comic vaulted to the top of my weekly stack.

Anything with the Metal Men is likely to rank highly with me as they are among my favorite heroes in all of comics. I know I say this a lot, but this time it's true. After the Legion and the Teen Titans, the Metal Men are my favorite DC characters and teams. In fact, if I was to go back and get many older comics that I do not own individually (as I have bought collected editions devoted to these six robots), I would buy up old Metal Men comics. More on this in future blog posts.

As for the issue, I have a few quibbles, but overall it's not so bad. I am not so much of a purist that I cannot stand to see favorite heroes of yesteryear redesigned, and I even like some of the redesigns, like with Superman, Wonder Woman, and some others. My first reaction to the re-designs of the Metal Men seen here was not favorable, especially Gold's "hair." But the issue dealt well with why the robots took these forms, and there's a page in which they strip out their individuality and look more like the original versions. If nothing else, this issue of Justice League enjoyed a huge boost in quality for a title that's been suffering of late. When this title debuted, it was hitting the top or near the top of my stack every week. Last time, it came out (T-shirt #309 - 1401.22), Justice League ranked SIXTEENTH out of twenty-one comics that week. HUGE BOOST!

In the next comic in my stack, Daredevil #036, BIG things are afoot in Daredevil. As if enough misery had not been heaped on Matthew Murdock, now there's more. To remove leverage a crime cartel tries to exert in him to force him to represent a clearly guilty man accused of murder, Murdock reveals in a court of law, going on record that he is Daredevil, an accusation he avoided and even litigated to overturn years ago. During the testimony, he explains for the public at large the one question no one can understand about the Daredevil-Matt Murdock connection: Daredevil is not blind but Matthew Murdock clearly is, so is Murdock faking or what? How can a blind man be Daredevil?

All of us readers know the answer to this, of course, but the general public never understood it. Despite the havoc it will cause, Foggy Nelson, who is trying to fight off cancer that threatens to kill him, endorsed Murdock's decision to reveal his true identity as one of integrity. However, in the wake of the testimony, Murdock and Nelson are both disbarred for ethical lapses of their law practice in how Murdock's secret identity contaminated so many cases, ethically speaking. Legally, Murdock's career is over, except for a legal loophole. He can practice law in a state where he previously practiced and where the New York disbarment may not effect him or where he can renew his license legally.

I am not thrilled with Daredevil no longer being in New York. As synonymous with his city as Batman is with Gotham, Daredevil belongs in New York. There's a reason his career in San Francisco was short lived. But next month a new chapter opens in the life of Murdock and his friend and partner Foggy Nelson: they're moving to California.

Alex + Ada has consistently impressed me. As I shared before, reprinted below, I was not a huge fan of the Luna Brothers work. That said, I taught Ultra my last semester of teaching Women's Studies at WMU. And if I am truthful, I am not immune to the beautiful, naked women aliens of Girls. I am highly critical of the comic and it's twisted misogyny. But it's good enough that the "misogyny" is highly debatable. Is it misogyny or is it commentary on misogyny, objectification, and masturbatory fantasies of fan boys.

Alex + Ada also plays on those masturbatory fantasies of the fan boy fan base, but the unfolding story does in a a much less gratuitous way and the main character is noble and honorable rather than being a douche bag, like many of the characters in Girls.

I am hooked enough to keep reading to see where it goes.

Reprinted from T-shirt #254: Fight Censorship Chester Brown Image

I would not say I am a big fan of the Luna brothers. I likeUltra enough to teach it in my last semester as a Media and the Sexes instructor. But I had mixed feelings about Girls, which I may or may not explore sometime in the blog.

With the newest offering, Alex + Ada, one Luna brother is out and replaced, ostensibly, by Jonathan Luna's girlfriend, Sarah Vaughn. Okay, fine. The story involves a future world in which robots have become common place in servile and manual labor jobs but can also be purchased as companions as Alex's boozy old tart of a mother explains "Who knew an android might be the best lover I ever had."
My reaction: Eeeeewwwww. And: "Oh relax. He's kind and attentive and says all the right things."
At the end of the comic, Alex arrives home from his birthday party, alone and single, mourning the loss of his last girlfriend, to discover that his mother bought him an android, a beautiful woman named "Ada."

Again Jonathan Luna is playing with male fantasies in much the same way as he did in Ultra and especially with the beautiful, naked clone women of Girls, and though this is more sophisticated and less exploitative than Girls (most any story would be), it's still quite a bit the stuff of fan boy masturbation. Stay tuned. I will keep reading and keep reporting.

Lastly, of the comics I have read already, since I am writing these words on Saturday for the post published yesterday, Friday, for comics that I bought Thursday, I have also read
Nova #013.NOW and New Warriors #001. The Nova comic is billed as a "number one" for some unknown reason. I have always been a huge Nova fan. See the birthday cake in the post about my birthday, T-shirt #303. I think the image bears repeating. The cake was decorated by my amazing father. Isn't that great frosting work?

I have really liked the Nova comic so far. Paco Medina's art is top notch, and the story telling is worthy. As a fan of the long ago canceled New Warriors comic, I was eagerly anticipating this revival. Though some of my favorite characters were not (or have not yet been) returned to the comic (what's this fascination with Speedball?), I was not disappointed. As first issues go, for readers who like this kind of team book, or liked the original New Warriors, this is worth a look.

COMICS FOR 1402.19

Justice League #28
Daredevil #036
Alex + Ada # 4
Nova #013.NOW (#1?)
New Warriors #001
-+-+-+--+-+-+--+-+-+--+-+-+- current bookmark -+-+-+--+-+-+--+-+-+--+-+-+--+-+-+--+-+-+-
Uncanny X-Men #017
Amazing X-Men #004
Avengers World #003
Captain America #017
The Punisher #002
Fables #138
Red Sonja (volume two) #7
God is Dead #7
Iron Man Annual #001

NOTE: I love this cover from this week's Uncanny X-Men comic. Bachalo is a genius.


X-Men #011
Birds of Prey #28
Wonder Woman #28


Revival : Volume Three - A Faraway Place

Looking forward to reading the next volume of this wonderful series. See cover below. :-)


You all deserve to see these fine comic book covers in larger form. I also included the original New Warriors for comparison's sake.

COUNTDOWN TO END OF THE BLOG YEAR - 28 shirts remaining

- chris tower - first published - 1402.21 - 18:51
final publication - 1402.22 - 19:12