Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #177 - Year end review and best blogs


Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #177 - Year end review and best blogs

Hi Mom,

Welcome to the last day of 2015. I wish you were here to see it.

Today, I create and publish the 177th blog entry in this series, inspired by wishing to continue my conversations with you. 177 is just five posts shy of the halfway mark for the year. And, like with the T-shirts project, I do plan to stop at 365 posts, which will come not on the day you died a year later but on the second day following the day you died in this coming 2016.

At this time, I felt it would be a good idea to reflect on this avocation, to share some statistics of readership, and to choose the twenty best entries of the year thus far. I tried to restrict myself to top ten and could not.

Like with T-shirts, that came from my struggle to understand having cancer and coping with recovery from having cancer, this blog series originates with your death, Mom, but becomes more than a journal about grieving; it has become a journal about living. My intent is that by writing about the things I want to write about, I will show that I have moved on, or at least how I am trying to move on.

So far, it has been easier than I thought it would be. Liesel, especially, thought I would be completely broken by your death, despite my assurances that I was more prepared than she believed given all that we had been through with you, Mom, in the last fifteen years, but especially the original situation, the bacterial meningitis that changed all of our lives forever.

But by saying that the moving on, the continuing, the living has been "easier" than I thought it would be, this does not imply that it has been easy. I feel the loss of you every day, Mom. I find new ways to cope with that loss every day. My choices are not the choices that others would make, but this difference does not make my choices wrong. They are my choices. This is my grief.

And yet, this is also my life. As I noted, I did not want this blog to be a daily cant on how much I miss you and how I am struggling to move on with life that does not include you in it as a living person (because I do feel you strongly in my daily life as a spiritual entity). I could simply post 365 variations on the theme of "I miss you," but that's not what I am trying to do. The blog theme comes from the idea of continuing my daily conversations with you as I called you nearly every day over the last six years. And I think I have done very well with a variety of content. Yes, some of it is specifically about grief, some of it consists of memories of our life together, but some of it really has nothing to do with you at all, Mom, it's just something I want to write about, such as yesterday's book reviews and Tuesday's review of book one of the Dark Knight III - The Master Race comic book. I have spent a great deal of time and energy on keeping my content varied and not only of interest to you, Mom (more or less). but also to others who graciously share some of their time by peeking in on what I am doing with mine (my time, that is).

I have 188 of these entries left to write, and I am confident that I can keep up my standards and achieve some new things. Not all of the entries will be verbose or complex, many will be short comments on a picture, my continuing reports on our Scotland trip (Liesel's and mine), or reprinted content from my T-shirt series (which is the greatest cheat but in a way one of my chief joys), but I will continue to post content daily (except when I get behind) and think of you daily, Mom, whether I am writing about something that would interest you or something that interests me and you have to listen politely.

STATISTICS
In an overall glimpse, I have 266 posts on this blog, of which 177 are devoted to this enterprise of "Hey, Mom!" I have been blessed with 24, 847 page views, which is decent for a modest blog such as this one, but still trails the T-shirt blogs whopping 36,956 page views, though I suspect that come Hey Mom #365, I will match or exceed the T-shirts total.

My average seems to be around 30 some pages views a day with spikes of 100-150 on some days with some posts.

Current stats show page views today at 55, page views yesterday at 96, and page views for the month of December at 1,972. Granted, I generate a fair number of these views myself but I would say that subtracting 5-10% for my activity, the rest resemble mostly readers and not robots, from what I can tell.

My peak month since starting Hey Mom was August with 3053 page views followed by July with 2880 and October with 2240

The most popular recent post was the one from December 26th on Christmases from 2009-2015, which is a very special post indeed and will probably make the top ten. This post also ranks as number one for the last month.

In terms of all time ranks, my top ten most page views are mostly dominated by non-Hey Mom content. My number one post with 1024 page views is this one KEEPING MISOGYNY ALIVE AND WELL FOR GEEKS NATIONWIDE, which is about the Heroes TV show and its depiction of women in its first season. My second most popular post with 642 page views is this one:
THINGS THAT SUCK #2: PLEASE PREPAY IN ADVANCE, of which I am inordinately proud.
The next two with 213 views and 154 views respectively are also from the pre-Hey Mom period: BURGERS OR BOOTY and THE “New and Improved” INVISIBLE WOMAN: Does she look like she needs protecting?, which happens to be the first post I ever made on this blog (and the one about Heroes was number two).

Following this top four, number five with 102 page views and number six with 82 page views are two of my weekly comics posts: WEEKLY COMICS FOR 1404.16 -- which shared content on the Batman comic during the Riddler Year One saga, the conclusion of the Superior Spider-Man series, The Justice League featuring the Metal Men, "Who Shot Bruce Banner?" from 2014 issues of the Hulk, the Ms. Marvel reboot, and a few other comics -- and WEEKLY COMICS FOR 1405.21, which described recent TV shows and movies of comic book themes, along with reviews of Marvel's Original Sin #2, the conclusion of DC's Forever Evil, Image's Velvet #5, Daredevil #005, and Image's Saga #19 among a few others.

Finally, the first Hey Mom post -- New feature: Hey, Mom! Talking to my mother #1 - the explanation -- takes seventh place with 79 page views. I have added to this entry a few times and will probably add to it again, thus increasing the page views somewhat, but I think people are finding it from the top of the blog to better understand what I am doing.

One other pre-Hey Mom entry comes in at eighth before two Hey Moms close out the top ten.
With 74 page views, my Return of Doubt: Things that Suck scores eighth followed by Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #89 - Sixth wedding anniversary (65 page views) and Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #88 - 90 days and 88 blog entries (63 page views).

I am blessed to have readers. Thank you. And thank you, Mom, for inspiring it all and sitting patiently and listening when I go on about stuff you do not care all that much about.



MY TOP TWENTY HEY MOM POSTS SO FAR (thru 177)

There's actually twenty-one entries here because I had to include the first one, but it doesn't count towards the top twenty. I tried to avoid listing so many posts that deal with grieving, but a fair share of them deal with it because its been a constant issue for half a year now. I wanted to include one of the dreams posts and the second one is probably the best of three, despite Liesel's dream as feature of the third part. Post #83 may not be the best in terms of writing, but I love the picture from the post and have included it above. I tried to be choosy, and so I included only one post from the Memorial Service, and probably, my favorite story. But I did not include any posts from other series' I wrote, such as the seven songs sequence and the Traverse City trip group of posts. Early posts were all especially poignant, such as #s two, three, and fourteen. I like the pair #25 and #50 make between counting days and disbelief. But then, the majority of the posts in the second ten are about other subjects than my grief and the loss you, Mom, at least, that is, until Christmas. Still, this is a good list, and this post could serve as a good introduction to what I am doing. I am especially proud of the blog as a whole, but I am especially proud of these twenty entries.

New feature: Hey, Mom! Talking to my mother #1 - the explanation

Hey, Mom! Talking to my Mother #2 - last breath

Hey, Mom! Talking to my Mother #3 - "Don't be scared."

Hey, Mom! Talking to my Mother #14 - Meijer

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #20 - Memorial Service pt. 7 - Mints story

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #25 - Counting Days

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #50 - Disbelief

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #73 - Dreams part two

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #82 - Your Stuff

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #83 - LOL - not Laughing Out Loud

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #88 - 90 days and 88 blog entries

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #89 - Sixth wedding anniversary

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #92 - Gender Performance

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #93 - Happy 79th Birthday, Mom

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #97 - present tense

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #106 - Star Wars Boycott

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #119 - All life is precious - Aikido

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #124 - Gloria Steinem

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #153 - Warren Ellis & new year's resolutions

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #170 - Box of comics on Christmas Eve

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #172 - Christmases 2009-2015

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = 179 days ago


- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1512.31 - 15:27

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #176 - Books I have read


Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #176 - Books I have read

Hi Mom,

Here's a catch all of mini-reviews of books I have read in the last few months (no,  not A Dance with Dragons, that's just a good picture).

For the health of my blog, given my propensity to fall behind, I should space these out and post one book at a time, but I can't work that way, and I want to clear my office.

I am not in my Dickens phase for the year. I just finished listening to "A Christmas Carol," which is something I now do annually (just the third year in a row). This year I listened to Simon Vance's version, which was very good, though Jim Dale's version still reigns supreme.

Of all these books that I going to write about, I only read one with my eyes alone, the traditional way. The rest I experienced as audio books.



The Girl in The Road by Monica Byrne

I became a Monica Byrne fan this summer via John Scalzi. He supported Byrne's Patreon campaign to fund the column on pop culture that she was going to write for Wired but that the magazine nixed. She has since abandoned the column but I stayed on as her patron to support her writing of fiction. She gets paid every time she publishes a story, which she promised not to do more than twice a month.

At the time I signed on as her patron, I decided to READ (as in read read, no audio) her one and only novel, which has endorsements by Neil Gaiman and John Scalzi.

I sipped her book slowly like fine wine, and I enjoyed it immensely. I admire Monica Byrne for how she traveled to the countries where the book is set and conducted on site research, but also kept in mind her own white privilege and the inherent flaw in writing about a world so outside her own world.

Nevertheless, she manages her tale with sensitivity, wisdom, and grace, I like the glimpses into cultures I do not know well wrapped in an interesting future idea about a flexible trail that spans the ocean. The two characters, whose lives intertwine, Meena and Mairama, share similarities and yet are distinct and compelling.

Byrne is a powerful story teller with a deft touch. I am eager to see what she writes next. But (there's always a but), this is not the kind of book that everyone will enjoy. I would recommend it to everyone. It's well written and quite elegant, but it's not a page turner. It's very cerebral and quiet. It's worth your time, and if it's not your thing, maybe open yourself to it and make it your thing. Still, 8.9/10 star rating for this issue alone.



The Peripheral by William Gibson

I started this book by trying to read read it and resorted to the audio not because the book is bad, moreover because the book is difficult like so many William Gibson books.

I love William Gibson as an author and have read most of his books. I also love him as a human as I attribute my discovery of and love for British music magazines, primarily Mojo to him.

And yet, I often have to read his books multiple times to understand them and still I may be hard pressed to explain to others what the book is about. I must have read Neuromancer at least six times, and I am still not sure I can describe it. Part of this problem is mine and not Gibson's. I do not have the best memory.

This book is almost 500 pages long, and it takes a good 200 or so to know what's driving the narrative. Thankfully, the chapters are short and all end with nice moments, not cliff hangers in all cases, but a good portrait, like a closing shot to a filmed scene.

But given my difficulty remembering Gibson plots, I do not even want to try to create a capsule description of it here. Simply, if you have read Gibson before and have not read this yet, read it. The book will satisfy Gibson fans immensely. If you have never read Gibson, don't start here. Start with Pattern Recognition. I give this one 8/10.


The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

I have enjoyed Patrick Rothfuss' two novels  The Wise Man's Fear and The Name of the Wind very much. I snagged this little gem when I heard it read more like poetry than prose. I was pleasantly surprised by this "day in the life" style novella about Auri and her crafting of special gifts in the Underthing.

The prose here is beautiful and elegant, AND the audio narration by the author himself is quite spot on. Often, I do not like listening to authors read their own works. For example, as much as I love him, Neil Gaiman does not bowl me over as a narrator. He's not bad by any means, but I feel a stronger voice performer would have done a better job with some of his books.

Rothfuss describes his issues with this work in an end note, which is a very thought-provoking bit, especially for us fellow writers. He received advice from a friend who encouraged him to publish this work, which truly violates all the rules of fiction as there is really no action, dialogue, or conflict to speak of. As Rothfuss describes it, he has written a thirty-thousand word vignette. Rothfuss jokes that the closest to an action scene in the book is an eight page description of Auri making soap. And so it is. It's not a normal story. This is a beautiful story. I may even like it better than his longer novels. It certainly will bear reading again and again. Rating = 9.7/10


Child of God by Cormac McCarthy


I am keen to read all the Cormac McCarthy books. My wife devoted herself to this task and has read them all. Child of God is a deeply disturbing. I was told that The Road would disturb me to the depths, but it did not touch me as this book touched me. This book works its way into the marrow like a worm and burrows there, laying its eggs, polluting the soul, and reminding us that we do not live in a fairy tale world. The real world is mean, cruel, and without mercy.

According to fellow author Mary Gaitskill: "The travails of a homeless, retarded necrophiliac killer roaming the hills of Kentucky. It sounds like a joke but somehow, it's not. (Though, if I were John Waters, I'd option it immediately.) Not only do you take this ghoul seriously, once you're halfway through the book, you realize you're on his side. Without psychologizing, or even getting into the protagonist's completely non-reflective head, McCarthy makes us understand him; what he's doing makes total sense to him, given what he knows. He comes to seem merely an extreme version of all people - blind, cosmically and comically ignorant, doing what makes sense to us given what we know." - Mary Gaitskill From The Salon.com Reader's Guide to Contemporary Authors, pg 156.

One cannot be unmoved by this novel. The main character acts as if he has no conscience at all. The narrative is startling and stark and gripping. The writing is poetic and intricately beautiful. The sensory impressions are visceral. McCarthy is one of the greats of modern literature. Rating = 10/10


The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

Of all the books in this entry, I think I enjoyed The Water Knife the most even though it will not receive the best rating. I found this book much easier to follow and digest than The Wind Up Girl, which I liked a lot but had a rough time distilling (and so I need to re-read it). The Water Knife won a rating as an Amazon Best Book of June of 2015. I listened to the Brilliance Audio edition, and the narrator did a remarkable job. Though the book starts with action and the situation of the water-less southwestern America derives from a contemporary issue, I found that I could not really get into this book until the character stories really started to move the narrative forward, around page 100. But then, after page 100, the rest of the book zooms along a strong narrative pulse of action and excitement with a bit of mystery thrown in. The characters become compelling and propellants for the narrative after 100 pages of set up, and in the end, I care about them all very much.

Three main characters drive the narrative throughout the book: Angel Velasquez, the water knife of the title, whose boss, Catherine Case, quenches Las Vegas with her "arcologies," or water independent residential towers, unafraid of wetting her far reaching talons; Lucy Monroe, a "Journo," who reports on the corruption and machinations surrounding the Taiyang, a Chinese funded arcology in the middle of Arizona; and Maria Villarosa, a teenager refugee from Texas, who, along with her room-mate Sarah, struggles to survive on the incendiary streets of Phoenix (the symbolism of which is not lost on this reader). Bacigalupi eventually tosses the three together, stirs and turns up the heat.

Rating: 9/10.


Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = 178 days ago


- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1512.30 - 14:10

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #175 - DK III The Master Race - book one


Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #175 - DK III The Master Race - book one

SPOILERS!!! PROCEED ONLY IF YOU'RE NOT GOING TO READ THIS ISSUE OR DON'T CARE.

Hi Mom,

And here we are again, in the continuing series of things you don't really care about, Mom, but will listen to politely, my thoughts on the new DARK KNIGHT comic. I had planned to write some quick thoughts right after the first issue came out, and then with exams and final grades, I did not get to it.

I had strong anticipation for the new series, DKIII, The Master Race, based solely on the iconic art seen in the banner up top and here. The striking image of Batman in silhouette had me eagerly anticipating a new installment of the seminal series, started all the way back in 1986. In a discussion in Fanfare, my local comic shop, when asked for my thoughts on Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, I had no memory at all of the 2001-2002 series. And so, my anticipation of the new series was based more on the original than the forgettable sequel.

I remember that when my family and I were traveling in the U.K. in 1986, I forsook seeing the Tower of London and Buckingham palace with them to seek out London's Forbidden Planet comic shop in the West End to buy the recent issues of The Dark Knight Returns and The Watchmen, which I then read while drinking espresso at a cafe on Rupert Street where I also spent time writing poetry.

The original The Dark Knight Returns emerged in a halcyon era for comic books. DC was in one of its prime periods enjoying great success with The Teen TitansCrisis on Infinite Earths, a reboot of Superman with John Byrne's Man of Steel as well as Alan Moore's Swamp Thing and new guy Neil Gaiman's Sandman on the horizon, DC was dominating the small industry with more successes to come, such as the Green Arrow pivotal prestige series Longbow Hunters, Frank Miller's next Batman project in Batman:Year One, Animal Man, and Doom Patrol among others. Sure, Marvel had the X-Men and strong work happening in Spider-Man, who found his black suit and one of his most compelling arch-enemies (Venom) in the mid-1980s, which all came out of Secret Wars, which was not nearly as excellent as Crisis on Infinite Earths. Arguably, DC had the better product for most of the 1980s, and one of the cornerstones of its pantheon of excellence was The Dark Knight Returns. 

In The Dark Knight Returns, Batman fought Superman and won (sort of). The art followed clear lines. The book was published in a new prestige format on high quality paper, and the story telling techniques were innovative, much like American Flagg, popular at the time from First Comics.

Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again was dreck, which is why I forgot, at first that it even existed. With a little Wiki reading, I was pleased to see that I was not the only one who found it "disappointing" as the nicest way to categorize it.

According to the Wikipedia page for Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, "The Dark Knight Strikes Again received heavily negative reviews. Grovel.org.uk gave The Dark Knight Strikes Again two stars out of five, and said that it "reads as a thunderous artillery barrage, all smoke and noise, lacking in nuance".[3] Claude Lalumière of The Montreal Gazette gave the series a mixed review and said, "the script lacks the emotional nuances of its predecessor, and ... the artwork is rushed and garish", and that it "has considerable chutzpah, but its careless execution is regrettable".[4] Roger Sabin of The Guardian wrote that the series has "flashes of brilliance—few can control page layouts like Miller—but in general the idea of the ironic superhero seems rather dated."[5]

The first issue of "DK2" ranked #1 in December 2001 with pre-order sales at 174,339. [6] The second issue of DK2 was ranked third in sales for the January 2002 period with pre-order sales of 155,322.[7] The final issue of the series had pre-order sales of 171,546 returning to #1 for the month of February 2002. [8]" 
panel from DKIII - Adam Kubert

The citations can be found by following the Wiki link above. So, critical reception was about the same as my reaction -- it's forgettable -- and yet sales were unaffected. But then, in comic books more than any other genre, sales do not correlate directly to satisfied readers. I highlighted the passages I found most compelling in the quoted Wiki text above and the text I find to be most indicative of my own feelings, causing me to forget the thing existed (even though I own a copy, though relegated to the basement, I am no longer staring at my book shelves every day). I reread the whole thing yesterday, and though it is not quite as bad as these passages make it out, I find the art just as described: "rushed and garrish." Yes, there are good moments, but the thing as a whole is pretty awful.


Given DKII, my enthusiasm should have been lower for DKIII, but then, I did not remember DKII, though I should have known it existed. After all, there could not be a DKIII without a DKII. Duh.

For DKIII, I like this review (mostly) from POP CULTURE UNCOVERED best.

In the review roundup, the overall rating is 7.7 from critics and 7.6 from readers. Though there is only one review at 10/10, there are FOURTEEN reviews between nine and nine point six. On the low end, there is a 2.0  and two at four from "critics." Though the term "critic" is used loosely in the comic book world. By and large, no qualifications are really needed or tested for being a critic of comic books.

Were I to post more often, I would qualify and could probably get Roundup to link my reviews. Some sites ask for writing samples and are somewhat picky, but most are not and many people can start their own sites and post their own reviews. There is no school for comic book critics, and one can assume that some may not have college educations.

In any case, my feelings about the comic are much in tandem Adam Frey of Pop Culture Uncovered.

It's disappointing that there's no "real" Batman in this comic. The twist that Carrie Kelly (from Robin, former Cat Girl) is masquerading as Batman and beating up cops for no reason (except that they seem intent to capture her but this alone is not a good reason) is a good one, but it's also disappointing in a first read given that she tells us that "Bruce Wayne is dead."

I must admit that in my first impression I had great anticipation based on my memory of The Dark Knight Returns. But then, in a first read, I was underwhelmed. I remembered being more powerfully moved by the first issue of the The Dark Knight Returns. Undoubtedly, I knew from the start that this project was a cash grab for Miller and DC Comics. DC has needed a hit after the abysmal Convergence crossover of 2015 and the low quality of most of its titles. And so, my first reaction was "meh." I was unimpressed and not blown away.

I disliked the cover art to the mini-comic as it harkened to the scribbled style of DKII. But I do like the Atom and the return to his story, started in DKII. I also like the introduction of Kandor and the questions surrounding it.

The Wonder Woman sequence may outshine the later battle between "Batman" and the Gotham cops, but both sequences are well-drawn, exciting, and arresting visually.

I am still not sold on Lara, Superman and Wonder Woman's daughter, as a character, but after how DKII ended with Superman capitulating to being a ruler of the planet with Lara, it's odd to see him frozen in a giant block of ice in this issue.

But most of these favorable impressions came from subsequent re-reads and the reading of reviews. In re-reading DKII, it's obvious that this comic is INFINITELY better than DKII with much stronger art, which makes all the difference. Kubert's art is smartly composed and relatable, unlike the scribbled mess that was DKII. And as Frey points out in the POP CULTURE UNCOVERED review, Miller's contributions may be minimal so we may have Azzarello to thank for most of the writing.

In multiple re-reads, I like the comic much better than I did the first time, and I am inclined to give it an 8/10 unlike Frey's 6/10.

Also, the fan community is all a titter about seeing Wonder Woman's nipple in the sequence in which she breast feeds her son. I do not think I even noticed this detail until I read it in a review and then went looking for it. Though it may be the first time we have seen Wonder Woman's bare nipple in a DC comic.

Frey even ends his review by using "wonder-nipples" as his rating system. Oh, please, grow up.

USEFUL LINKS


THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS - complete digital (follow the links for the whole graphic novel)


DARK KNIGHT III - THE MASTER RACE - book one - ROUND UP OF REVIEWS

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Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = 177 days ago


- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1512.29 - 11:24


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ART GALLERY





Monday, December 28, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #174 - I miss you

Christmas 1972

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #174 - I miss you

Hi Mom,

Yes, it's redundant. Yes, it's not unique to me. But, given the theme of the blog, it needs repeating: I miss you, Mom.

I know it will be a year of firsts. I get how that works. We already survived our first October 7th (your birthday) without you, first Thanksgiving without you, and now the first December 28th without you. All the days are firsts. I get it.

And I am okay, really I am.

For all my friends who have lost loved ones (as I can think of two easily, as a good friend lost his brother recently and another friend lost her mother), I understand your loss and grief and yet we go on, because we have to. We are okay because we have to be.

And, I am working on longer posts, which are not about grief and loss and missing you, Mom, and so by necessity, this one is short, and mainly exists to share this photo of our annual visit to the manger scene in Bronson Park. I believe we always made this visit on Christmas Eve along with the drive of Christmas Card Lane and in later years, church. But here, in 1972, at ten years old, almost eleven, (Lori is three), we had not started attending church yet. So this visit was our sole reminder of the reason for the Christmas holiday, and why some, like my friends the Frayers, choose to celebrate Winter Solstice.

I am reminded of something Dad told me when we were in Traverse City. He pointed out a church where you took me for Bible school of some kind so that I could socialize with other kids. It was a church at the base of the Old Mission peninsula, one that I had passed hundreds of times in my years of staying out on the Old Mission, and never knew that it was a place I had spent a great deal of time when we lived there. This Bible School you took me to, of which I have no memory, also explains a book of Christian stories for children that I own and never knew where it came from. The small Bible in its zippered case also came from this school that I did not remember.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.
Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = 176 days ago


- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1512.28 - 15:25

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #173 - King of New York


new photo 1512.26
to be a better recreation of the
original photo

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #173 - King of New York

Hi Mom,

I recreated a photo for the photo up top, the original is here on the page but not as good.

sent this photo to my chums on 1507.09
with the text "Bought this game.
Playing it will help with my grief."
The day after you died, Mom, I went over to my friend Randall's house and met John and Mark to play King of Tokyo, the first edition of the game seen above. Three days later, to assuage my grief, I bought this game, King of New York, hoping to play it soon as a way to cope with grief.

On July 5th, the day after your death, John tried to talk me out of joining you to game. But I wanted to play, as I felt it would help me in carrying on with things I like, with normal things. The day of your death, Mom, I had plans to play D&D with my pal, the LOC. I kept those plans as best I could, but we did not play much, though we did have a cook out.

So, I finally managed to get the guys together yesterday at One Well Brewing to play King of New York, which is quite fun.

Fellowship. It's a good thing. But even the distraction does not keep me from missing you, a lot, Mom.

As I said yesterday, that feeling of being in a Twilight Zone episode about an alternate reality is still very strong.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = 175 days ago


- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1512.27 - 12:45

John and Nathan playing
at One Well - 1512.26

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #172 - Christmases 2009-2015

Christmas 2009
Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #172 - Christmases 2009-2015
cheat photo from Turkeyville 2011
to stand in for missing 2010 Christmas photo

Hi Mom, Just some pictures today

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.
Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

When I was working on a Christmas post, I thought of posting pictures from this year's Christmas without you in them, Mom.

But then I remembered that I had a picture of your chair from right after they took away your body. The empty chair. It seemed like the right way to end this.

Original posting, I had to cheat as I did not have a picture from Christmas 2010, but now I have one from the Bob Tower photo archive.

Thus, I am updating on 1601.01 - 11:21.

I love you, Mom.

Mom at Christmas 2010

Christmas Day 2011
Christmas 2012
Christmas 2013


Christmas 2014
Christmas 2015

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- Days ago = 174 days ago


- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1512.26 - 10:10
updated 1601.01 - 11:22

Friday, December 25, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #171 - A FAMILY CHRISTMAS 2013



Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #171 - A FAMILY CHRISTMAS 2013

Hi Mom,

In a series of great pictures of you, Mom, I present the picture above from Christmas 2013. Please note the chocolate around the mouth from cookie eating!

This is a great smile on you, Mom. We didn't get too many more smiles like that one after 2013 as the degenerative palsy robbed your ability to smile much at all.

I can't write much more that's special and means as much as this T-shirt post I made in 2013 for our family Christmas. It was our next to last Christmas with you, Mom. I will post pictures of the last Christmas, 2014, in another entry.

I should be ashamed of wearing an Israel t-shirt given some of the atrocious things the Israelis have done, but I am not wholly ashamed. I don't really want to engage in the kind of debate that trying to defend the actions of Israel, as government, would entail. And I am not sure I want to defend Israel. It's just a shirt, and it's meant to share my fondness for the Jewish people, in whom I find myself to be a kindred spirit.




























T-shirt #280: Israel


Grading robot powered down for two days for the holidays despite the looming final grade deadline Friday morning (12/27). I am happy to report that Grading Robot is once again powering down. This is the only time in the year that all work for which Grading Robot is needed ceases until January 13th. One school commences on Janury sixth with the other following on the 13th, but Grading Robot will not be needed for the first school until the 13th. Thus, the greatest vacation of the year for Grading Robot begins with a full ELEVEN days of no work and an eighteen day period of partial work. Grading Robot will not be at full power again until the week of January 20th, which happens to be the day after my birthday. So my birthday sort of signals the end of my full work vacation.

To celebrate the time off, I plan to spend time with the wife and kids, see movies, finish some household projects, help the parents, and most importantly host my best friend who will be here for five days of GAMING EXCELLENCE in January. Thus, it is fitting that this Israel shirt was gift from said best friend, Tom Meyers, better known as the Lord of Chaos.

It's rather interesting that this shirt is a 3XL, but it fits like a regular XL.

I am not interested in defending any political affinity with Israel or justifying any actions of this country or lack of actions. I like the shirt because I have always felt an affinity with the Jewish people, which is more interesting when recently my wife expressed interest in attending Temple. I like the shirt because Israel is the home of the holy lands of many people. And despite the country's actions toward Palestine and other actions or lack of actions in the area, I have always been rather pro-Israel because I have always felt very pro-Jewish. However, I am aware that there are many issues about which people would argue against showing pictures of myself in this shirt let alone with the Israeli flag (also a gift from the LOC) or of me in the shirt wearing my Hebrew Detroit Tigers cap (says DETROIT in Hebrew).

I have already featured Hebrew shirts on this blog:

T-shirt #3: Michigan in Hebrew

T-shirt #40: Indiana University in Hebrew

Mainly, I thought this would be a good shirt for me to share many pictures of my Christmas celebration with my birth family: my parents, my sister, Lori, and her husband Noel. Liesel always works on Christmas, and the kids are with their Dad, which is why pictures of our Christmas were posted with Christmas Eve, the day we celebrate.

Today is just pictures and text, some in captions and some not. You will see (as you did with T-shirt #278 - Three Wise Men? Be Serious) some previews of shirts to come as they were given to me as gifts. With birthday coming (January 19th in case you were thinking of gifting me a T-shirt), I think I am going to finish the blog year with enough shirts. But we shall see. I am trying to assemble another "break" from the blog in which I post shirts about which I have little to say while my friend is visiting (five days). So be prepared for light content that week. I still have much Pathfinder to prepare even though I am using modules.

Back to comic books tomorrow. Huzzah!

By the way, yesterday's post (which had its final publication today on the 26th) has become immensely popular very quickly, and I think more because it's about my wife and my wedding and not so much because it's about thirtysomething, too.

Onto my Christmas picture gallery. As always, thanks for reading.

CHRISTMAS PICTURE GALLERY - 2013 - TOWER HOUSE - PATTIWOOD


One of the purposes of this blog is a review of my geeky past. One of my fondest memories of Christmases past is my ever-burning, constantly yearning, and all-consuming desire for the toys for Big Jim's P.A.C.K. in 1976. I have found some BIG JIM shirts, so I am planning more BIG JIM content in the new year. I just wanted to share one of the best example of Christmas dreams. For at least a month in 1976, I dreamed of the stories I could make, the fun I could have, with these toys. These are definitely some of the coolest toys from my childhood.



It's important to toast with fine spirits during any holiday celebration.

Liesel gave me a special bottle of Kentucky bourbon, 1792, for Christmas, and so here we are toasting and sampling this fine beverage.

I had seconds as seen below.



My mother loves Christmas. The Christmases of my childhood were magical and extra special. My mother devoted herself to so much shopping in the months prior to Christmas, carefully budgeting and yet buying many little things that showed how well she knew her children, that Christmas was all the more extra special because it was a living example of her love. Our stockings were "works of art," as my sister called them. She would carefully select very large and choice apples and oranges (one each) along with small toys and special doo-dads that she knew we would love. Some of these things we had asked for. Other things she found in her endless and months long shopping excursions.


One of my fondest memories of Christmas is that every year my mother would assemble a box of school supplies for us: pens, notepads, stamps, bookmarks, paper clips, folders, and so much more. All these items were lovingly selected to fit our personalities and interests. Often, this meant she had to go many places. Continuing the tradition while we were in college and after college, she would have to plan ahead. For my sister's box, she would have to make sure to buy University of Michigan stuff during a trip to Ann Arbor sometime that year. The thoughtfulness and love expressed by these boxes was a huge influence on the person I am today as I try to live up to my mother's example.


My Dad is the one mainly responsible for my love of comic books. Every year I would receive a large box of comic books on Christmas Eve. The tradition continued with my sister once she was born and old enough for comics. Knowing we would wake up in the middle of the night, my parents wisely let us open the comic book box the night before so we would have comics to read in the middle of the night when we were too excited to sleep anymore. We were not allowed to wake our parents until 7 a.m.


My Dad has been loving Christmas more and more lately, especially since my sister and I are both married and on our own. Also, BTW, the shirt he is wearing was originally mine and I give it to him because he likes red shirts so much. I have been keeping it in reserve, intending to use his shirts, the ones I gave him, in case I needed to round out my year of T-shirts with ones in his closet.


Tried to get a good picture of Princess, my Mom and Dad's cat, who doesn't remember me anymore, even though I used to feed her and clean her litter.


This is shirt with a special embroidered design. That's my father's logo for his architecture business.


My father asked us to get him scotch whisky but not to spend more than $30. Silly rabbit.


Great T-shirt gift!! Soon to be featured on the blog. And by soon, I mean before March 22.


My sister and Noel laughing that I now give them cards with dogs on the front because I am now a dog person as well as a cat person.


Another AWESOME T-shirt gift. The image comes from Kate Bush's The Dreaming. Don't worry. I will write about it.


My sister is thrilled to receive this special Vera Bradley purse.


My sister is also very happy here with this set of nested measuring cups shaped like a kitty cat.


Here's the Christmas tree (above) and the Christmas Village (below) all lovingly and carefully decorated and assembled by my sister who helps to keep the Christmas traditions our mother set and perpetuated alive and well. She also made cookies (not pictured) and a pecan pie.






Updates on 1312.29 from my Dad's camera. To start, a great picture of my mother laughing with chocolate on her lips.


I love page-a-day calendars. I have been disappointed this year with the Intellectual one I have. I currently run two, a word of the day one and the intellectual's checklist. At one time, I had five, so I have cut back to two.


More previews of shirts to come. When I started the blog, I soon realized that there were dear popular culture products that I wanted to write about. Can you guess which one this is in the photo below?


I mentioned Pogo in my Calvin and Hobbes post (T-shirt #122) since Walt Kelly was such a huge influence and Watterson and so many others. My brother-in-law pointed out that Pogo has been accused of containing racist content. However, in the Wikipedia entry for POGO (linked here), the word racism does not appear. A Google search did discover one lone book by some academic nerd who sees racism and sexism in every strip and obviously misses the point. I love POGO, and I have since I was a kid.


In addition to using page-a-day calendars and an engagement calendar, I have two wall calendars, though I may reduce this number to one. Here's the one for 2014.


Good times were had by all.



If it's not obvious, I love my family very much. Happy holidays to all, and thank you for reading.

COUNTDOWN TO THE END OF THE BLOG YEAR - 85 shirts remaining

- chris tower - first published 1312.26 - 20:06
final publication - 1312.27 - 9:59
update - 1312.29 - 8:47



Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = 173 days ago


- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1512.25 - 10:10