Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

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

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #208 - More on obsessing

though backwards - 1968?
Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #208 - More on obsessing

Hi Mom,

Dad has scanned many slides like the one above, which I am guessing may have been taken in 1968, though I may update if Dad has a better guess. He has scanned many slides backwards as one can see from the mirror-reversed text in the sign in the upper left corner of the photo.

I have no idea where this photo was taken, but I like the idea of being swallowed by a green creature of some kind. The snout looks hippo-like, but hippos are not green. Then again, the actual color of a hippo is not as attractive or inviting as a hippo in this color, so it may be a hippo. It's benign whatever it is as there's no fangs or tusks. But the glare in the photo prevents me from seeing the full head of it and guessing its identity more accurately.

The being swallowed up by a green monster really accurately portrays today's subject matter.

Ten entries ago in HEY MOM #198, I discussed my efforts to limit my tendency to obsess. When I wrote about that, my friend HELENE sent me the following link, the content for which I am reprinting without permission  but with due credit. Of course, if anyone whose content I shared ever found it and objected, I would take it down. However, it's easier for me and I think better for readers to display the content rather than simply posting a link. When I post links, I expect to have content of mine to go along with it. And here, my content is minimal.

And here's another thing to obsess over. I do not really see this blog as just a reprint factory, and yet, when I get busy, reprints at least help me feel as if I am delivering good content, whether it's a reprint of my stuff from T-shirts, or a reprint of someone else's stuff.

I have been crazy busy with work work and school work and life. As my anxiety ratchets up on these gears of angst, so does my tendency to spin my obsessing wheels with thought time that is not very productive. Though I have supplanted much of my obsessing thought time with creative day dreaming and planning for a novel project I have been working on for over 20 years, I still find myself falling into the familiar trap of obsessing. I keep catching myself. I have yet to try timing myself like Maggie Stiefvater describes in this blog, but then, my obsessing, I don't believe is, strictly speaking, the cause of a mental illness. But then the grey area between healthy worry and thinking through an action plan for some work and unhealthy obsession and then the next level of the "not me" idea Stiefvater describes is a big expanse of colorless grey dimness, difficult to see through and difficult to identify one thing from another.

I found this article helpful and those with a tendency to obsess will find it helpful, too. And perhaps this is marketing for reading Stiefvater's fiction, which is very good.

From MAGGIE STIEFVATER THE OFFICIAL BLOG : Me, OCD, and a lot of "Ladybugs"



Me, OCD, and a lot of “Ladybugs”

It doesn’t rule my life, but it used to. Knowing that I have the capacity for that kind of thought is exactly why it doesn’t rule my life like it used to. I’m perfectly aware that I’m going to have that capacity forever, as studies have shown that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is genetic (if you have a parent with OCD, as I do, you have a fifty-fifty chance) and is caused by abnormal brain circuitry, which means you’re stuck with it. And I am okay with that. I’ll survive. Recently, readers have asked me a lot how I learned to control it, so this is my story.*
*with the obvious warning that I am not a therapist and you are not me and I am not you and this is just my story your mileage may vary.
I was an anxious child. OCD and anxiety play very well together, and back then, I didn’t really know what was happening. I was a twitchy creature of secret rituals.
The first thing that helped me was when I realized that my obsessions weren’t normal. Not everyone felt this way. And not all thoughts had to feel this way, either.
The second thing that helped me was realizing that OCD didn’t really look the way it looked on television. Obsession could be about germs or cracks in the sidewalk, but really, it turns out that I can obsess about all kinds of things.
The third thing that helped me was figuring out that my compulsions weren’t always straightforward. Sometimes they were directly related to the obsession:
Tags in shirts —–> change clothing eleven times a day
tweets —–> refresh the screen every twelve seconds
Some of them were less so:
Dying before making a mark —-> replacing all other activities like eating and sleeping with research, acquisition, and practicing of a new musical instrument
Datsuns —-> i don’t even know how i ended up with a datsun but i resent that entire chapter of my life
When my OCD was in control of me, it changed the way I looked at the world. Example. Here is life:
Life is always full of both bad and good things. Also trees. There will always be disasters and miracles happening in tandem. Mental illness changes the way you see it, though. For instance, a depressed person:
ocd 1
A content person:
ocd 2
The good or bad things don’t go away. You just point your gaze in a different direction. You are able to minimize some things and expand on others. When I got obsessive thoughts, they shifted my gaze onto something and held it there. It didn’t have to be something huge. It could have been about if my hair was dirty, or if I had said a prayer correctly, or if I had the precise same amount of air in each of my car’s tires.
In my head, the thought, whatever it was, became all encompassing.
It didn’t matter what else I tried to do, my mind would return to it. It became everything, my whole world, looped again and again and again.
I don’t even know if those are what lady bugs look like. I guess that’s okay. It’s a metaphor. They are only what I imagine ladybugs to look like, and my obsessive thoughts are not real thoughts, either. They aren’t really me. They are something my brain does to process stress and uncertainty and decision-making.***
***this took me a long time to figure out. More in a bit.
My personal breakthrough came when I decided that I would give myself rules. I was a champion with rules. I was a champion with rituals. I was a champion with things that involved numbers and counting and generally being compulsive. So my rule was that if I caught myself thinking about something obsessively, the timer began.
I would tell myself I could obsess for a certain number of minutes, and then I had to do something else until a designated time when I was allowed to obsess over it again. I could obsess for ten minutes. Then I had to put it down completely for thirty minutes. Then I could have another ten minutes. Then I had to put it down for two hours. Then I could have another ten minutes. I wasn’t allowed to act on any of the thoughts, either.
I told myself a rule was a rule. I couldn’t cheat on the time. And when I put it down, I had to really mean that I was putting it down. Did I want to be free or not?
And it began to work. I began to be able to reward myself with less and less obsessing time.
And then the really amazing thing happened, the thing that changed my life. Once I had spent enough time discipling my obsessive thoughts, I realized … they weren’t really my thoughts. They were markedly different in character from my ordinary thoughts. The further I got from them, the more I realized that they were mental illness, not me, and moreover, that I could be free of them if I wanted to be. All I had to do was identify a thought as obsessive when it first appeared:
And then give it the time it deserved:
And I got better and better at it. I still sometimes have to give myself three minutes, especially when under stress. I still have to sometimes remove myself from a physical location to give myself those three minutes. And sometimes I still end up with a Datsun. But mostly, I just live my life, and it’s invisible.
So much of it is knowing that it’s the place your brain goes to under stress. Knowing that you can be out from under it. Knowing that ladybugs don’t really look like that. I just googled them and it turns out they have an entire additional segment in front of that black bit where the head goes which means I just drew an entire flock of headless ladybugs.
Well, all the better reason to avoid them.

Reflect and connect.

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

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 210 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1601.31 - 10:10

The Daily Bowie #11 - "Sunday"

The Daily Bowie #11 - "Sunday"

"The beginning of nothing..."

I started to post this song yesterday, and then I realized that it was Saturday and the next day is Sunday, and so wouldn't it be better to post the song "Sunday" on Sunday?

"Sunday" is the first track on David Bowie's 2002 album HEATHEN.

Many people attributed the album's influence to the 9-11 attacks of 2001. No necessarily so.

FROM WIKIPEDIA: "Bowie denied that any of the album's songs were written after September 2001, though he admits that the songs deal with the general feeling of anxiety that he's had in America for a number of years, adding "it's not unlikely that you're going to have a sense of angst in anything that's recorded in New York or by New Yorkers." He has also said in a 2003 interview: "It was written as a deeply questioning album. Of course, it had one foot astride that awful event in September. So that was quite a traumatic album to finish. This one hints at that, but it's not really trying to resolve any trauma. [September 11] did affect me and my family very much. We live down here."

"SUNDAY" - Moby Remix


Nothing remains
We could run
when the rain slows
Look for the cars or signs of life
Where the heat goes
Look for the drifters
We should crawl under the bracken
Look for the shafts of light on the road
Where the heat goes

Everything has changed
For in truth, it's the beginning of nothing
And nothing has changed
Everything has changed
For in truth, it's the beginning of an end
And nothing has changed
And everything has changed

[first voice]
In your fear
Of what we have become
Take to the fire
Now we must burn
All that we are
Rise together
Through these clouds
As on wings

[2nd voice]
In your fear, seek only peace
In you fear, seek only love
In your fear, seek only peace
In you fear, seek only love
In your fear, in your fear
As on wings
This is the trip
And this is the business we take
This is our number
All my trials, Lord
Will be remembered
Everything has changed


- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1601.31 - 7:58

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #207 - Random stuff - what's in a name?

Lori, Mom, and me - 1970?
enroute to Pinkster island - SPST picnic
Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #207 - Random stuff - what's in a name?

Hi Mom,

Trying to stay on top of things. Working so hard. SO tired.

Will there ever be a day when I don't miss you?

In that picture above, our faces, so perfectly serene and happy. This is the feeling I want to capture in a bottle and drink out of every day.

Material here originally presented in T-SHIRT #312.


The rest of the text in today's blog is dedicated to random stuff. If you like random stuff or glimpses into what's been pulling at my attention lately read on.

To start random stuff, I would like to share a blog entry called RANDOM UPDATE. My friend Walter Curley just posted this blog with pictures of t-shirts. What's the deal Walt? No selfies? Though COVET, especially the WONDER TWINS shirt.

Today I discovered a new web site for techie news. This may be old news to a lot of you.
re/code NET

I was drawn to Re/code after learning that Google bought the AI company Deepmind, which gave me all kinds of ideas.

If only I had stuck with computers. In 1978, I was programming on the high school Altair 8800 computer with a whopping 4K of RAM compared to the 6 gigabytes I am currently using (my laptop has 8 GB).


Stephen Hawking has some new ideas about black holes. He's Stephen Hawking, so you have to take him seriously, though many physicists are scoffing.

LINK: Stephen Hawking's new theory on black holes

Some BITCH MAGAZINE fare, starting with a great comic about comics (and I may have to do more than post the link). Oh cool, I can post the whole thing...
A comic explaining the lingo people use when describing comics

"Don't be a dick!" A comic about how to talk about comics

Also, this next thing from BITCH MAGAZINE.

An Epic Feminist Edit-a-Thon Takes Aim at Wikipedia's Gender Gap
It's well known that female artists are underrepresented in art museums, but what about in our more modern and malleable institutions?
Next week, groups of artists and tech-savvy folks around the country are taking aim at gender imbalance in representation of female artists on Wikipedia. The "Art + Feminism Edit-a-Thon" being held in New York on February 1st has inspired simultaneous editing marathons in 17 other cities, all focused on adding more female artists to the public encyclopedia and fleshing out the meager entries of existing women artists.
The exciting thing about Wikipedia is that it's a cultural institution with very few gatekeepers. Artists don't have to impress a curator or strike it big at a fancy gallery show in order to get their work on the site. Instead, they or one of their fans just has to have the tech skills to create a Wikipedia entry. The huge number of people adding information to Wikipedia should theoretically mean that the ever-changing encyclopedia can present a more accurate and diverse portrait of American art than, say, the Met. But while anyone can edit Wikipedia pages, surveys show that the vast majority of people who actually do edit the site are men: less than 13 percent of people who create or change Wikipedia entries are women. 
Read on at the link above...

a photo by krystal south shows a woman wearing a shirt that says "never log off"

The photo (above) comes from multidisciplinary artist Krystal South's internet-exploration project Identify Yourself: IDENTIFY YOURSELF.

What has identity become, now that our social selves are laid bare online? How is identity established within the form-fields of Facebook? Our connections are tagged and bound to our profiles. These digital networks have not only transformed our societal structure, they have also re-shaped our internal selves.
Read more from IDENTIFY YOURSELF. Awesome STUFF.

The Psychedlic Experience short film 1965

Introduced by Timothy Leary with music by Ravi Shankar.

Woman Takes Short Half-Hour Break From Being Feminist To Enjoy TV Show (this is a link...)

David Bowie - Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division)

Also, see I GUESS I KNOW ABOUT ORIGINAL SIN for bloggery committed in regards to this rare and unreleased Bowie cover.

Listen: Cocteau Twins' Simon Raymonde's Band Snowbird: "All Wishes Are Ghosts"

Listen: Cocteau Twins' Simon Raymonde's Band Snowbird:

And lastly, Bully's Comics at Blogspot is doing a 365 Days of Kirby Tech, as in the far-out and freaky technology from comic books drawn by Jack Kirby.

Here's two bits. This stuff is great!!

DAY 9 -The Growth Machine

DAY 10 - Reed Richards' Heat Image Tracer

Read more at the links.
Classic stuff.

That's enough for today.


Reflect and connect.

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

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 209 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1601.30 - 10:10

1971? enroute to Pinkster Island - SPST picnic

The Daily Bowie #10 - "Where Are We Now?"

The Daily Bowie #10 - "Where Are We Now?"

Deep sadness today.

But "the moment you know, you know, you know..."

From 2013's The Next Day.

FROM WIKIPEDIA: The first single was the ballad "Where Are We Now?", a track which Visconti described as "the only track on the album that goes this much inward for him".[24] Visconti suggested that Bowie chose "Where Are We Now?" as the opening single because "people had to deal with the shock that he was back [after a 10-year absence]" and that the introspective nature of the song made it an appropriate choice.[10] Opening lyrics for "Where Are We Now" reflectively recall the name of a train station (plaza) and a street in west Berlin, where Bowie once lived. A video accompanying the single includes props such as a dismantled photo frame lying discarded on the floor in the opening shot, a large ear in the background, and a two-headed soft doll with the torn faces of Bowie and a voiceless counterpart "pasted" onto it in. Lyrics also include the phrase "the moment you know you know, you know."
More on the song at this link: "Where Are We Now"


"Where Are We Now?"

Had to get the train
From Potsdamer Platz
You never knew that
That I could do that
Just walking the dead

Sitting in the Dschungel
On Nürnberger Strasse
A man lost in time
Near KaDeWe
Just walking the dead

Where are we now, where are we now?
The moment you know, you know, you know

Twenty thousand people
Cross Bösebrücke
Fingers are crossed
Just in case
Walking the dead

Where are we now, where are we now?
The moment you know, you know, you know

As long as there's sun
As long as there's sun
As long as there's rain
As long as there's rain
As long as there's fire
As long as there's fire
As long as there's me
As long as there's you


- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1601.30 - 12:20
- I woke up and had trouble getting back to sleep; this song haunted me.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #206 - Nighthawks, Translucence, and Drift Music

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #206 - Nighthawks, Translucence, and Drift Music

Hi Mom,

Another day passed by and I failed to get this posted. I am so overwhelmed right now. But the next day (not a dollar short) I am posting something.

I had this one saved up. Here's music that I have been listening to for about a year that I bought with some Christmas money (Thank you Creagers).

I bought a 3 CD set of Nighthawks, for which I have saved a video set here, plus Drift Music and Transcendence, neither of which were available on You Tube.

It's pretty, ambient music in the Brain Eno and David Bowie tradition.

Here's some links.


Above link to article about John Foxx & Harold Budd
Translucence/Drift Music / John Foxx, Harold Budd, Ruben Garcia: Nighthawks
by John Garratt.

John Foxx / Karborn / Barnbrook - B-Movie (Ballardian Video Neuronica)

This is a film.

Published on May 13, 2014
Inspired by the work of J G Ballard.
John Foxx album, 'B-Movie (Ballardian Video Neuronica)'. Released 14/04/2014

John Foxx blog - info on his film.


Sorry there is not more content, Mom. But there's music. Scroll down.

NIGHTHAWKS - John Foxx, Harold Budd, & Ruben Garcia

Reflect and connect.

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

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 208 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1601.29 - 10:10

The Daily Bowie #9 - "Time"

The Daily Bowie #9 - "Time"

Correcting an injustice.

Though I love him, I will never forgive my friend Brett for making us leave the Glass Spider concert before the encore. Bowie was starting this rendition of "Time" from 1973's Aladdin Sane, with these awesome glass wings when we walked out. WTF?

Brett wanted to escape the traffic jam, but really? He means well, he's a good friend, but PUH-LEEZE. We should have stayed.

So, here's my Aladdin Sane song if only for that reason. It is becoming increasingly difficult to choose one song at a time.

LYRICS - "Time."


"Breaking up is hard, but keeping dark is hateful"

"Time" - from 1973's Aladdin Sane


- Bloggery committed by chris tower - date - time

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #205 - "Tomatoes," a poem

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #205 - "Tomatoes," a poem

Hi Mom.

The other day when it came time to grab books for the class I teach, my eye fell on this book by Stephen Dobyns.

I used to read poems and SHORT short stories to my students every class period, and with the brief time I have with my WMU students, I have fallen out of that habit, and I miss it.

So from time to time, I grab a poem and read it.

Students should be exposed to poetry and literature in college.

I have always read this poem, "Tomatoes," to students. i do not discuss or analyze it.

Sometimes you just has to let the art flow over you.

I am very skilled and practiced at reading it given that I have been reading it for close to 30 years.

And it's about a mother who has died, Mom.

Not necessarily applicable or maybe it is.

So, today, just this.

Stephen Dobyns

A woman travels to Brazil for plastic
surgery and a face-lift. She is sixty
and has the usual desire to stay pretty.
Once she is healed, she takes her new face
out on the streets of Rio. A young man
with a gun wants her money. Bang, she’s dead.
The body is shipped back to New York,
but in the morgue there is a mix-up. The son
is sent for. He is told that his mother
is one of these ten different women.
Each has been shot. Such is modern life.
He studies them all but can’t find her.
With her new face, she has become a stranger.
Maybe it’s this one, maybe it’s that one.
He looks at their breasts. Which ones nursed him?
He presses their hands to his cheek.
Which ones consoled him? He even tries
climbing onto their laps to see which
feels most familiar but the coroner stops him.
Well, says the coroner, which is your mother?
They all are, says the young man, let me
take them as a package. The coroner hesitates,
then agrees. Actually, it solved a lot of problems.
The young man has the ten women shipped home,
then cremates them all together. You’ve seen
how some people have a little urn on the mantel?
This man has a huge silver garbage can.
In the spring, he drags the garbage can
out to the garden and begins working the teeth,
the ash, the bits of bone into the soil.
Then he plants tomatoes. His mother loved tomatoes.
They grow straight from seed, so fast and big
that the young man is amazed. He takes the first
ten into the kitchen. In their roundness,
he sees his mother’s breasts. In their smoothness
he finds the consoling touch of her hands.
Mother, mother, he cries, and flings himself
on the tomatoes. Forget about the knife, the fork,
the pinch of salt. Try to imagine the filial
starvation, think of his ravenous kisses.

Reflect and connect.

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

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 207 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1601.28 - 10:10

The Daily Bowie #8 - "Yassassin"

The Daily Bowie #8 - "Yassassin"

Hi all,

Image above taken from HOW BOWIE USHERED IN THE 1980S ON SNL. More on that subject another time.

"Yassassin" is Turkish for "long live."

I had this song stuck in my head all day.

This is the first Daily Bowie I am sending back in time. I was actually asleep at the posted time.

When I was in my Sophomore year of college, I was listening to  A LOT of Bowie. I had just bought Lodger, and I was pleased with myself as it was hardly a popular album but it was one more notch in my then growing but incomplete Bowie collection.

I had to write a paper about Moby Dick for my American Literature class, but I was very into Bowie and spent a lot of time writing an essay about Bowie, mostly about Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) that I entitled "Yassassin"

My professor, Dr. Herb Bogart, one of my all time favorite teachers, wrote that my essay started with "a Bowie bang but ended with a Pip whimper."

"I walk without a sound."

"Yassassin" from LODGER - 1979


- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1601.28 - 9:00

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #204 - Slash shippers & fandom

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #204 - Slash shippers

Hi Mom,

I am back again after slogging through the Java Code Mines of Khazad-dûm also known as Moria.

Though I try to continue or conversations as best I can, writing a blog is different than calling you every day on the phone, Mom, or our visits when I would share in person. Certainly, this is not something I would have talked about on the phone. But I may have shared this in person over dinner or a snack of chocolate, which you enjoyed every afternoon.

And I remember, Mom, how much you liked ice cream, which was one of your last communications with us.

But on to today's subject which is SLASH SHIPPING for Finn and Poe in the new Star Wars film The Force Awakens. These images above and below came across Twitter, and I saved them as potential subject for a blog entry.


I am glad you asked.  Basically, it's something that happens in fandom in which fans "ship" for (read as "wish for) relationships among characters in a story. It comes from the idea of classic love triangles, in which a reader would favor one pairing, say Guinevere-Arthur versus another, say, Guinevere-Lancelot. The reader prefers to see the heroine (in this case, though sometimes love triangles involve one male and two women, though not the old time classic ones) with the reader-favored partner.

The word comes from "relationship" and has evolved in fandom as a verb, IE. "to ship" for something and thus "shipping" as the act of promoting the favored relationship. All of this is explained in the links below.

As long as there has been stories, there has been fandom. People want stories. And once people have stories, they will have feelings about the stories. And once the stories involve characters partnering with other characters, then readers, listeners, FANS will want something there, too. After all, isn't shipping for Penelope and Odysseus one of the original ships?

I found fandom in the 1960s when I started reading comic books and watching science fiction, like Lost in Space and Star Trek. In the 1970s, I began to hear about conventions and fanzines, but it wasn't until the 1980s that I found APAs, Amateur Press Associations, in which fans would write fan fiction, collected into books and mailed to other fans on a regular schedule. I was very active for many years in TitanTalk (through which I met some great people who may actually be reading these words) , and I was a shipper for Richard Grayon (Robin/Nightwing) and Donna Troy (Wonder Girl/Troia) to "hook up" as they were best suited for each other and truly in love (though unaware of it themselves).

Fandom has really taken off since the Internet, and shipping has become a big deal, especially with stories like Twilight in which shippers divided into camps named as Teams: Team Edward or Team Jacob.

Slash shipping is differentiated because people feel the need to separate it because of discomfort caused by homophobia (whether they wish to admit this or not) as same-sex shipping. Slash shipping is ALL about reading SUBTEXT as the creators of Star Trek never had in mind any romantic relationship between Kirk and Spock, and yet the men love each other and are close, like brothers, or is it more?

There are many ways slash shipping is further defined but read SHIPPING - FANLORE for more on those ideas.

Here's some links about shipping.



Slashing versus 'Shipping, or Why it's Easier to be a Slasher by T'Mar


The first link, LET'S TALK ABOUT SLASH SHIPPING, is really the best read if you want to go farther in this subject dear reader (Mom, I know you are just listening patiently; plus, do spirits read?). Mostly the article deals with shipping involving the show Supernatural and an incident at a recent con that blew up the Internet. But it has a great explanation of shipping and the issues involved. It's a good read if you have never heard of shipping and are curious.

Today's post has to do with shipping for Finn and Poe Dameron from the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens and some Twitter activity I have saved. Up top is a post from John Scalzi, a favorite author of mine who maintains a very active blog. Below are post re-shared by author Alyssa Wong, who I have recently begun to follow closely. Her stories are VERY COOL.

I was struck by Alyssa's observation (or re-sharing someone else's observation) that the current most popular Internet shipping is NOT about any white people, as both Finn and Dameron are people of color.

This may be a first time ever that fandom activity at this level of intense frenzy is focused on people of color (the shipping for Storm and Black Panther in Marvel Comics does not even come close to this level of shipping currently for Finn-Dameron).

It's just another sign of the progress of our culture being comfortable with and revering characters and people of all colors, heritages, and aspects just because they're COOL.

I agree with Alyssa, even though I am just regular old ultra-privileged caucasian, THIS ISSUE is really important to me, too.

Good job, fandom, good job.



Reflect and connect.

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

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 206 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1601.27 - 10:10

The Daily Bowie #7 - "We Are The Dead"

David Bowie - Diamond Dogs tour - 1974
Charlotte, NC
from this source - http://www.flickriver.com/photos/hdport/3329403366/
The Daily Bowie #7 - "We Are The Dead"

This song today.

No other.



"We Are The Dead" lyrics


"We're today's scrambled creatures, locked in tomorrow's double feature..."

"We Are The Dead" - DIAMOND DOGS - 1974


- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1601.27 - 8:22

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #203 - Warren Ellis and Silence

Christmas - early 1980s?

NOTE: Our family did not produce that many "every day" photos, and most of what I have to share are holiday photos. But I like the vibe of this photo and it feels like a good fit with the content, which doesn't really have anything directly to do with Christmas.

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #203 - Warren Ellis and Silence

Hi Mom,

Time again for some reprints so I can deliver good content even though I am really busy with work and homework and many things, but I do not want this to sound like I do not think of you often, Mom, and by extension this blog, which is my daily chance to reflect and connect. In fact, a ghost of you, or supposedly of you, appeared in my dream last night.

Anyway, as you know, every Sunday, at least each Sunday in which he sends one, I read Warren Ellis' weekly newsletter entitled ORBITAL OPERATIONS in its current incarnation. Other readers not Mom, subscribe at that  link if you dare.

I was struck by something Warren quoted as he interviewed author and actor and general man about the Internet, Patton Oswalt. This idea connected with an idea about silence that Warren Ellis had written about silence and about work and life and things that I worked through my own filter, reprinting him and adding a lot of me here T-Shirt #299, the core of which I have reprinted below.

Here's the Oswalt quote:

That’s a hard truth to face about any life, but there are days we burn away. If we admit it, then the days when we are present and apply ourselves become more poignant and precious."- Patton Oswalt

So, it's Sunday night, and I am lying in bed reading the newsletter, and I get to this quote, and I get chills. THIS IS IT, EXACTLY IT! Carpe Diem is a crock. Can we seize the day every day, every moment? Hardly? The best we can hope for is a moment in a week, a few moments, a really spectacular day once a month. There is work and homework and dishes and gas to pump and chickens to feed and things people want that we do not have time to give them.

I have burned many days. I have some regrets about that waste.

But your meningitis and coma was a wake up call, Mom. When you were becoming your self again, you called the family meeting. You wanted to be present in as many days as you could be. I gave you so many days after that. I applied myself to time with you, and it was all precious and poignant.

As you started to slip away and were less present, we still applied ourselves to days together. I often wish I had found more time for those days in the last years, but I also am comforted that I did not really waste time, and I made you a priority for many years in the extra fifteen we were granted with you after the coma.

Those days are precious and poignant.

Because I like to deliver what I consider to be significant content here on the blog via HEY MOM, here's text from T-Shirt #299, another in a series of reprints from 365 T-shirts.


I have written about the author Warren Ellis enough times that he has his own category in my list.

For those who want their links here for easy clicking. T-shirt #22 featured his excellent Internet comic FreakAngels.  T-shirt #75 featured his ongoing "hobby" podcast called Spektrmodule. Ellis just posted his first Spektrmodule since August HERE. It's good, though one of the drone tracks is a bit difficult to abide, at least I found it so last night and had to shut it off. Usually the podcasts are golden. I updated T-shirt #75 just for you, dear reader. Check it out.

I shared Warren Ellis' Twitter "lecture" (rant? tirade?) about whisky and whiskey via (fittingly) a t-shirt about Cerebus the Dictator in T-shirt #82. I did not reprint the whisky lecture in my post for the DOCTOR WHISKY T-shirt #284, mainly because I like to try to increase readership of previous posts in my sneaky, link-referencing way, much like I am doing here.

Also, (and I just caught and corrected this oversight), I reviewed Ellis' novel Gun Machine in the post for T-shirt #138, which I have now added to the Ellis category.

Have I mentioned that Warren Ellis would be at my Dinner Party? See the Dinner Party category. One of these days I am going to have to make the guest list and keep it updated, but not today. Also, one of these days, I am going to have to reference Judy Chicago's Dinner Party, which surely influenced my writing about this fantasy Dinner Party populated by the people I would most like to talk with and would like to observe talking with each other. And so I just did reference Judy Chicago. Linked and referenced.

I am very grateful for Warren Ellis. Planetary is one of the best things I have ever read ever in comics in fiction in anything.

I shared Warren's photo (seen here) about coffee in T-shirt #286, which I have added to the Warren Ellis category, but I think the photo deserves another go here. I am nothing if not repetitious to make sure all that needs to be seen, gets seen. So, there you go (above and left).

Warren Ellis has started a newsletter. I am going to present nearly the ENTIRE contents of the most recent one on my blog today. I am hoping Warren will be okay with this if he happens to find out. I am giving him full credit for the following text, so I don't see pasting his newsletter to my blog as much different than sharing it on Facebook as a link. Warren maintained an email newsletter recently to promote his book Gun Machine, but it died when there was some dust up with the publisher. He had some other newsletters deeper in Net history and has actually published many of these ramblings as small books or spine bound "comic" books (text books by comic publishers in comic-sized formats). I like to keep up with what Warren is on about as it fuels my own imagination and my own quests to be going on and daydreaming about my own things.

Warren's most recent email missive struck me as a subject worth more exploration. I would say that when Warren is in full-band broadcast mode from his sea fort in England, he lives more in what he calls "the flow" than I do. I am often stepping back from the flow of media to get work done. In fact, as I type this, I am taking a one hour break from work to make some progress in the blog while also checking email and Facebook, and then I will shut back down to barrel through work.

I am not a natural multi-tasker. What Warren refers to as the silence is in disconnecting from the social media flow, the techno-flow, the churn of the machine. I find that I have been more adrift in the flow this year as I have devoted myself daily to blog content and to just enough social media attention to feel like a participant. But I find that I cannot easily split my attention forty ways. Often Twitter is too much. I control in a miserly way the number (a small number) of messages that I allow through to my phone. I have disabled the phone's squawk when a message comes over the prow. I often ignore Facebook, and I do not even delve daily into the vast wilderness that is the Twitter feed let alone Tumblr or Instagram as I would be lost. This blog alone is enough of a sink hole for my attention and effort.

And yet, when I mu blog year is over, I will cease daily operational capacity. What T-shirts remain will be parceled out at a slower pace or at least that is what I say to myself now. And though I cannot claim that I am showered with daily feedback from readers, I do receive enough feedback that stepping back from the transmission and reception cycle may prove as jarring as breaking one's phone and being unreachable by the portable device until a new one is procured. (Did you wonder how I was going to bring this back to the broken phone thing?) And I am not even as much of a phone junkie as others. I rely on it mostly for communication and as a way to pass time when I am not in my office. I especially like the ability to read and archive email while waiting in line for a prescription or at the grocery checkout.

I am hatching my plans for when I enter the silence and stop the daily broadcasts. I plan to transition to fiction work, which I plan to transmit, though not on a daily basis. However, the satisfaction of just a little attention from the blog cycle may compel me to try some kind of daily updating. As I wrote, I am hatching my plans. The plans are not fully hatched yet.

And yet, I envy the true "silence" that Warren writes about in stepping out of the world and into a cocoon as he has done and as Gaiman is reportedly doing in order to write. Ellis has THOUSANDS of readers. I was searching for the number as I could swear he reported it in an Orbital Operations, and I want to say it was 10,000, but I am not sure. With Twitter and other social media outlets, authors and various artists can broadcast daily and build a following in new and ever more powerful ways. To "go dark," as Warren calls it, must be difficult and require great self-control and yet it must be very necessary for creation and productivity, as he explains in the following.

I am still "unpacking" this idea (as Warren likes to say). After all, it was Eco (who Warren quotes) that said that all cultural phenomena can be studied as communication. And so I am contemplating my own upcoming silence and how it will serve as a transition for new broadcasts and new information.

I hope you enjoy reading Warren Ellis' writing that follows. It's all set apart in a white box, so it is all clearly marked as his. If you are inspired to subscribe to his newsletter, then please use the link that follows. If by some completely CRAZY coincidence and a rare treat YOU ARE WARREN ELLIS, I hope it's okay that I re-transmitted your transmission.



“I would say that one of the ethical problems we face today is how to return to silence. And one of the semiotic problems we might consider is the closer study of the function of silence in various aspects of communication, to examine a semiotics of silence: it may be a semiotics of reticence, a semiotics of silence in theater, a semiotics of silence in politics, a semiotics of silence in political debate—in other words, the long pause, silence as creation of suspense, silence as threat, silence as agreement, silence as denial, silence in music.”

This is from Umberto Eco’s INVENTING THE ENEMY, which I finally started reading on a plane a couple of months ago. The quote is found in a lecture he gave some years ago, but it seems to speak directly to some of the talk about internet and social media over the last year. And while some of that talk has been sourced in privilege and an intent (conscious or otherwise) to assert social-media silence as a new badge of exclusivity (remember the business cards that didn’t have phone numbers on them, because if you didn’t know how to contact the bearer of the card then you weren’t worth their time?)...

...well, I’ve gone internet-dark for extended periods over the last couple of years. Silence is restorative. Neil Gaiman’s off to write for six months, because his process requires quiet. Silence, frankly, has cultural utility. Remember how everyone thought David Bowie had gone away?

And silence on social media -- particularly performative social media --

I have just seen someone use the phrase "bad doge syntax" and I am therefore now on the side of the NSA and drone strikes

-- reserves keystrokes and “thoughts” for pursuits perhaps more productive.

(If you’re minded to, you can see the majority of social media use amongst the creative clade as performance, process/transparency, community-building and curation.)

I myself am looking forward to shutting down social media for four or five weeks after I get to LA. Not ORBITAL OPERATIONS, though. ORBITAL OPERATIONS continue regardless of location because I am orbiting you constantly like a satellite of love.

I still skim some things when I’m on silent running, because I have Twitter tuned as a news feed -- I personally still believe that the realtime news stream is what made Twitter great -- and because Instagram is pretty.

(My favourite thing is actually Instagram.)

I’m not good with the quiet. I need to feel the flow of the world. But I find that, to a large extent, going dark allows me to go back to books. I’ve gotten terrible at sustained reading, and it’s entirely possible that living with my head in the flow for a couple of decades has done something to (some aspect of) my attention span. I am not going to subject you to the unread-books list on my Kindle. Which I make worse for myself by using the Send To Kindle extension for Chrome, which turns Kindle into my Instapaper. I’ve got to tell you, Send To Kindle has buried itself in my workflow now. I mean, sure, death to the Stacks and all that, but that extension is genuinely bloody useful.

“The Stacks” is a Sterlingism. 

The Stacks are Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook. Or, it did in 2012. You can probably add Twitter to that, though I understand that to be arguable. And The Stacks are part of the reason that people are considering going dark. Things like Send To Kindle are becoming the exception. Interoperability is not what it used to be. Functionality is not what it used to be. People have been talking about IndieWeb again, pulling back to personal websites from company-owned streams, but some of those same companies own your web browser, and shit could get weird, and, yes, I’m completely aware that I’ve been talking just a paragraph ago about two of those Stacks collaborating to my benefit. WHICH IS HOW THEY GET YOU (PARANOID GLITTER IN EYES, TAKES OFF CLOTHES, PRODUCES KNIFE FROM BEARD)


Okay, back to me. Isn't it interesting how Ellis relates Eco's comments to his own work process and I did the same thing? Maybe not interesting. I read Warren's newsletter before writing my own comments. But whereas a writer can step back to get the silence she needs to produce work, Eco is also ruminating on the ethical dilemma of silence by political leaders in the 24-hour news cycle, which is quite a different animal.

When Warren Ellis is in full broadcast mode, he transmits multiple messages, and up to five hit his web page on average in a normal day when he's had enough coffee, whiskey, and bull semen. Others I follow, such as John Scalzi and Cory Doctorow manage at least one post a day in their own feed (Cory is more active on average than Scalzi but then Cory helps run Boing Boing!). They have audiences. People rely on them for a constant stream of entertainment. But writing books is a thing that for many of us (I must be in the same boat with Gaiman and Ellis) requires SILENCE. I am on Day 299 of my blog (tomorrow is the big 300), and I have mental time for my fiction but not much typing time. What I have learned is that I can find the time to produce LARGE VOLUMES of text for this blog, so, ipso facto, one would assume I could convert that time to fiction at the end of the blog year. Somehow I do not think it will be that easy, but I am keen to try.

On another note, I have no idea how Cory Doctorow does all that he does. I think he has Cory robots to help him.

SIDENOTE: I love that Google has started remembering my recent searches, so when I search again, I hit "Grendel Comic" first. Brilliant. Thanks again Google. It's a little creepy, but it's bloody useful (as Warren says).

SIDESIDENOTE: I am very afraid of the "send to Kindle" thing that Warren was on about. not sure I am ready to load that app in the browser. Damn. I am still transferring links via email and assembling them in text files that I will probably never look at again. Besides my Kindle is an early gen unit and not so handy with web stuff.

Reflect and connect.

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

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 205 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1601.26 - 10:10