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.)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

T-shirt #359 - Sandman - Shakespeare - Tempest

TODAY'S COUNT: 06 blog posts remaining in the T-shirt year!!

T-shirt #359 - Sandman - Shakespeare - the Tempest

Hello and welcome to one of the few remaining installments of the DAILY TRANSMISSION of the 365 T-shirts blog project.

A couple of things before I share the main content of today's post, which will be for the most part my review of The Tempest at the WHAT A DO THEATRE of Battle Creek.

But first two subjects: COSMOS and the BLOG JOURNEY/ BLOG OUTLOOK.


I missed the premiere of the new Cosmos program on FOX, but Liesel and I watched it tonight (which is actually last night as I am writing this a day later but time is dilated like that).

I had already seen some Facebook posts about the program, and one of the authors I follow, John Scalzi, wrote about it on his blog: JOHN SCALZI AT WHATEVER BLOG ON COSMOS, the series.

Like many, Scalzi was disappointed in the music, which was decent but the same caliber as the original Vangelis music. Since I read his reactions, I was watching for the asteroid belt during the tour of the solar system, and I have to agree: too many asteroids.

I did not know that Neil deGrasse Tyson was so well known in memes shared on Facebook. I am not well acquainted with the man, I must admit. Though I liked his narration quite a bit.

I agree with Scalzi on most points, except that the animation sequence featuring Giordano Bruno went long. I liked it. Though watching the original transmissions of the show conflicts with our watching of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, I have set the DVR, and Liesel and I will surely keep up with it.

Here's a bit I liked best from Scalzi's blog:

But the main reason why the show works this time is the same reason why the show worked the first time — it’s unabashedly aimed at a popular audience. I’ve said before that one of the things I learned from the original series is that so much of science is understandable to the average person; I thumbnail it as “anyone can get 80% of any scientific topic.” That other 20% is what takes real attention — but if you can get most people 80% of the way there, just by speaking plain language and being engaging while you do so, the benefits can be enormous in the long run. This series is made to provide that 80%. 


I could surely go on and on rhapsodically about the blog in each of these remaining blog posts. I could treat you to a lot of "Yipee! I am going to make it!" And then, I could close with a final "YIPEE! I MADE IT!!" But I suspect that will get tedious. I cannot promise to refrain from such ecstatic, prideful exhortations of glee, but I will try to keep these cries of joy somewhat minimal and low key.

In sharing about The Tempest today, I am reminded of what it seemed to mean to Shakespeare and why Neil Gaiman invoked it at the end of his run on the Sandman comic book as seen on Today's T-shirt. Shakespeare was putting an end to his magic when he wrote The Tempest, breaking his magic staff and drowning his magic book.

In a sense, I am doing the same thing as my magical year comes to a close. I had the merest glimmer of a notion that I dismissed as difficult and narcissistic, which I revisited after being diagnosed with cancer. Could I write something every day? This question plagued me the most. I needed to know that I could keep pace with a blog that would demand a daily installment. A secondary question also occurred to me: would anyone care? Would anyone read? I was less interested in the answer to this question, but I have been pleased with the results. My links do not always get liked on Facebook, and I do not get comments there or here on a regular basis, but I see activity, and I am inspired to do more writing and writing of other kinds (not just t-shirts) in the future.

In a way, I have woven my own magic spells in daily castings with this blog. I could presume to suggest that the spell worked on you, dear reader. But this idea is very presumptuous. I would rather declare that the spell worked its magic on me. I explored many aspects of my self and my interests over the course of this year of T-shirt blogging, and the spell I made shrouds me in comfort. I am more comfortable in who I am and why I am as well as where I am going. The blog has given me a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that I was lacking. And now I am geared for more accomplishment and challenges and tests of my fire.

The analogy with the Tempest is not quite in sync. I am neither breaking my staff nor drowning my book. Not only will the T-shirt blog continue but my writing and my blogging will also continue. I will be somewhat relieved to no longer be tied--by lashings of my own making to be sure but still ones I took seriously--to daily transmissions. I will still broadcast at least weekly, if not multiple times a week, and I am planning to continue a daily writing regimen, but the daily transmissions will cease as will the need to post an incomplete entry let alone leaving entries incomplete (there are still six incomplete entries on this blog as of this writing). And though my regular transmissions will broadcast from my other blog, the T-shirt blog will continue since I still have shirts remaining that were in my possession when I started the blog project as well as a bunch of new shirts and plans for some extensive love letters, such as my post on the soap opera The Young and the Restless (yes, I am a fan), which has languished in various states of draft and incompletion since at least August if not earlier. I late updated the Y&R blog post on September 17th.

The Blog Journey has been rich and fulfilling, and the Blog Outlook promises good weather and favorable winds to propel me through the rest of this year. I hope you will stay tuned.



I am blessed with the opportunity to see great local theater, write my views, and have these published in The Battle Creek Enquirer. I saw a very special production Friday night that truly was a work of art. here's the link to the published review.

Review: 'Tempest' spirits audience away to magical world

Next, I will share the promotional text for the show, some promotional videos, and my unedited review.

Thanks for reading.
What A Do Theatre’s second production of the New Artist Series will feature Resident Company Member Tara Bouldrey as director and welcomes Chicago-based aerial choreographer Genevieve Lally-Knuth in this enchanting version of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” Set on a remote island the exiled Duchess of Milan, Prospera, plots to restore her daughter Miranda to her rightful place using illusion and skillful manipulation. The eponymous Tempest brings to the island Prospera’s usurping sister Antonia as well as the complicit Alonso, King of Naples, and his royal entourage. Three plots are intertwined throughout the rest of the play and are eloquently told under Bouldrey’s direction and Lally-Knuth’s aerial choreography.
“It was when Genevieve Lally-Knuth came to see “Back County Crimes” last January that the idea for this production was born. A Chicago-based performer, Genevieve has a long history with physical theatre, Shakespeare and aerial acrobatics. She was instantly drawn to the steel rafters that contribute to the unique performance space at What A Do,” says Bouldrey.
The new artist series strives to spotlight up-and-coming artists and allow for that art to be incorporated into elements on the stage. Bouldrey made the decision to take the original text and cut it heavily in order to establish the mysterious and magically masque-like atmosphere under which “The Tempest” was originally performed. This production is a must-see as the space, cast and production team are utilized to their fullest capacity.
Lally-Knuth states that, “The work is all done as an ensemble so that the finished product really showcases the strengths each actors brings with them. And I love that we all have such stock in the finished piece. We built it together. This is true ensemble work.”
This production features Kristin Marie Stelter, Averi Beck, Sam Friia, Joshua Olgine, Emily James, Rachel Markillie, Heather Cerridwen, Jared Sheldon, Vanessa Banister, Quinton McDougall, Stefani Lynn Wallace, Lars J. Loofboro, Tara Bouldrey, and Genevieve Lally-Knuth.

Performance dates are: March 14 & 15 - 8PMMarch 20, 21, & 22 - 8P


The Tempest- Shipwreck

The Tempest- Teaser What A Do Theatre


"The Tempest”
a production of What A Do Theatre
Attended Date: March 14, 2014
reviewed by Christopher Tower

Welcome to the storm. Magic, aerial choreography, and special effects merge in an organic aesthetic quite unlike anything seen before with the second production of the New Artist Series launched by the What A Do Theatre Company. Resident artist Tara Bouldrey collaborates with Chicago-based aerial choreographer Genevieve Lally-Knuth for a unique interpretation of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”

Upon entering the unique space of the Dickman Road theater, the magical and other dimensional ambience of this special production takes shape. Large fabric curtains shield the performance space, painted with cabala and mandala, some adorned with runic or astrological symbols, which effectively shrouds the performers in the magical spells of the show’s main character. Eerie lighting effects and insistent, infectious music add to the other worldly feel as the theatrical journey spirits the audience away from the mundane world to a magical world, much like the characters are transported in what is considered to be Shakespeare’s last play.

The spectacle of this production is unlike anything attempted yet at What A Do or anywhere in the west Michigan area. As an organic work of art, a whole, this production of “The Tempest” is unique, powerful, and beautiful. Though not perfect in every aspect, the elements that recommend this production far and away outweigh those that would count against it.

For Shakespearean purists, some adjustments will be necessary as Bouldrey not only cut the script extensively but recast many of the roles, reversing genders. The re-interpretation works very well and fits the aesthetic of the entire show, though the performances do not always well support the interpretation.
Though in the original, the magician and rightful Duke of Milan Prospero and daughter Miranda are shipwrecked on an island after he was betrayed and cast off to sea by his brother Antonio, aided by Alonso, King of Naples, for the dukedom of Milan. Here, the magician is Prospera (Kristin Marie Stelter), mother of Miranda (Averi Beck), whose sister Antonia (Vanessa Banister) has conspired with Alonso (Rachel Markillie) to depose her from her rightful place as Duchess. Prospera’s servants, Caliban (Joshua Olgine) and Ariel (Sam Friia) remain male, though other characters see gender reversals, such as Ferdinand (Emily James) and Trincula, a jester (Stefani Lynn Wallace).

The core story survives. Prospera engineers the romance between his daughter Miranda and Alonso’s son Ferdinand. Caliban hatches a plot to kill Prospera with the drunken Trincula and Stephano (Lars J. Loofboro), and Antonia and Sebastian (Jared Sheldon) conspire to kill Alonso. This last plot works all the better now with Antonia as a woman thus entangling the two romantically, which is a reading of the relationships well supported in the original text.

Much of the original Shakespearean script is supplanted by choreographed sequences by Genevieve Lally-Knuth. The performing space features hanging fabrics and one hoop that are used in various ways for amazing aerial movement sequences. The storm that shipwrecks the cast on Prospera’s island and a later sequence in which Prospera ensorcels Alonso and his cadre are among the show’s most impressive scenes. The aerial choreography is reason enough to go see this show, but Bouldrey’s strong direction and smart choices with the Shakespearean text make it all the more worthwhile. The show flows artfully and exquisitely like a masterwork symphony due to the synergy of these two brilliant creators.

And yet, direction and special effects alone might not be enough to satisfy all audiences if performances were lacking. And though Shakespeare demands much of its performers, the majority of the performances in this show are awe-inspiring.

Left: Kristin Marie Stelter as Prospera;
right: Joshua Olgine as Caliban
Kristin Marie Stelter continues to prove that she is one of the most important and talented members of the What A Do company with her majestic work as Prospera. She is regal and frightening when the role demands it and aggrieved and miserable when stripped of her powers at the end of the show. Her work is sophisticated and a driving force for the production.

Joshua Olgine has proven many times that he is an extremely talented actor, but his work in the role of Caliban is mind-blowing. He is a consummate actor with a range so vast that he is transformed to an almost unrecognizable state in this role. Olgine contorts his body in ways only a yoga master could attain. He performs for most of the show in crouched position with his torso bobbing near the stage floor. His vocal work as well as movement in addition to his shaved head and body painted skin make his role one of the most special in the show.

Sam Friia as Ariel
Sam Friia turns in his best work to date in the role of Ariel. He is true to every moment, every nuance, and subtlety in this role. Averi Beck proves once again that she has talents beyond her years with impeccable diction and stature in the role of Miranda. Beck has achieved a quality of talent and mastery of the craft by the age of fifteen rarely seen in performers of her age. The drunken clowns played by Loofboro and Wallace are over the top hilarious and without flaws. And Vanessa Banister’s Antonia is sufficiently sinister early on and later redeemed as Propsera forgives her.

In nearly every aspect, this production of “The Tempest” is a complete and organic work of art. Direction, choreography, special effects, and performances merge into a two and a half hour spectacle of magic, power, and energy rarely seen on stages in our Michigan communities. Innovative, well-conceived, appropriate, and even true to the essence of the original despite the re-interpretations this production is a special achievement that repeats through March 22nd. Don’t miss it!

this is the shirt
I am actually wearing today
OFFICIAL BOILERPLATE TEXT OF THE LAST TWENTY POSTS COUNTDOWN: Hi. Thanks for reading. I am posting this "boilerplate" text everyday for the last TWENTY posts in the T-SHIRT blog year, which started on March 22, 2013. I will close out daily transmission on March 21st, day 365 of my T-shirt blog-tastic extravaganza spectacular. I will give myself a short hiatus of total non-transmission or  publication for an as yet undetermined period of time, though I am estimating about two weeks. After my blog vacation hiatus, I will resume T-shirt posts on a regular basis, also as yet to be determined (weekly? Twice monthly?) to finish blogging about all the T-shirts that were not featured in the blog year. At some point, once I feel I am rolling along nicely, I will begin regular posting through my main blog: SENSE OF DOUBT. T-shirt posts will direct to the T-shirt blog from SENSE OF DOUBT. I will continue to post THE WEEKLY COMIC LIST, the features of occasional T-SHIRTS I AM WEARING THIS WEEK, book reviews, comic book reviews, and other popular culture nonsense as I have been for a year now but all will go up at SENSE OF DOUBT and some will direct back here to 365 T-SHIRTS. Ultimately, I will begin Internet publication of my fiction, primarily the comic book satire episodic story called POP! among other projects. So, in summary, 365 T-SHIRTS will continue though intermittently. SENSE OF DOUBT will host my main blog presence and fiction writing as well as links to any T-shirt posts shared here. I hope you will continue to follow me in my journey as a writer and a content provider. Thank you for your kind attention and time you have spent with me on this and/or any other day this year. I am humbled and blessed by your readership. - chris tower, blogger, originated 1403.02
COUNTDOWN TO END OF THE BLOG YEAR - 06 shirts remaining
- chris tower - first published - 1403.15 - 19:57
Final Publication - 1403.16 - 13:07