Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Week 5: Reginald Rode A Blazing Saddle...The Man of Steel Bows To The Dark Knight...One Man's Righteous Indignation

JN: Reginald's progress continues! This is actually a beard. It's official. The itches have all but stopped, the zits are all but covered, and my chin and cheeks now have that soft comforting touch that I have been sorely missing all month. Last night, I went to a friend's apartment to watch that marvelous Mel Brooks masterpiece Blazing Saddles. When I walked in the door, he gave me a great big hug. The first words out of his mouth were, "Oh, look at you and your beard!" If this keeps up, Reginald will quickly achieve greater notoriety than even my own. If he hasn't already...    

From the desk of Jeff Newman:

So, this week I found myself perfectly stymied as to what I should write about. Then through divine inspiration or bad pizza or some kind of shit, it dawned on me that I could do a random twelve hour survey on one of, if not THE MOST ancient and puzzling questions in the history of mankind. Who is more badass: Batman or Superman? Now, this seemed to me a fantastic question. The two biggest badasses in the DC universe. Without them, the Justice League is just a handful of hapless nerds all trying to bang the same lesbian. Okay, plus a Martian dude. So I started asking everyone I could for about half a day. Those who asked me were politely told to define badass on their own, and answer the fucking question. By the way, for those of you dweebs out there rolling your eyes and thinking, this was already addressed in Frank Miller's Batman: A Dark Knight Falls, I know that. I'm not asking who would win in a fight because, who cares? I'm asking more from a philosophical standpoint of badassness. So that being said, I asked people I knew at work, friends here in Chicago, I asked people I knew in LA, Kansas City, St. Louis, I asked family in New York, and I even asked several customers at the sandwich shop I work at instead of actually working. Imagine my surprise when I couldn't find more than one lonely Superman supporter. Now, having a booming bias for Batman myself, I wasn't at all surprised that he won. What was shocking to me was the ridonkulous margin by which he took the blue ribbon. We're talking about the ninetieth percentile! So the real question became: Why is Batman so much more badass than Superman?
Of course we can't even begin this dialogue without acknowledging the success, magnitude, and all around awesomeness of the Dark Knight Trilogy. Yes, Batman's come a long way since George Clooney played ice hockey against Ahhnold the Governator and kicked Chris O'Donnell's ass all so he could make out with Uma Thurman. Wait, is that what that movie was about? Whatever. The point is, the franchise is no longer a flamboyant, pun-crazy, sad waste of time, and it owes Chris Nolan and company big time for that. But the badass doesn't stop there. In the last 20 years or so we have seen a monumental resurgence in animated series and films about comic book heroes. Among these, Batman has time and again received the lion's share of style, class, sophistication, and the kind of damn good storytelling that the core audience has come to expect. The Animated Series, especially in its early years remains easily a cut above the rest helped in no small part by the near perfect voice casting of Andrea Romano and simply superb music of Shirley Walker. Mask of the Phantasm, Gotham Knight, Under The Red Hood, and Batman: Year One are a few of the remarkable animated Batman films available each with its own storyline, director(s), animation design, and cast. It also wouldn't do my diligence justice if I neglected to mention the Arkham videos games, Asylum and City respectively. Each winner of a veritable shit-ton of awards including Best Game of the Year. 
Against this, Superman just hasn't been doing much worth mentioning. A handful of unremarkable video games, a handful of damn-near unwatchable animated films, and a series that didn't fare much better. Let's not forget that lovely box office gem Superman Returns, whose most memorable performance is a toss-up between Kevin Spacey and Parker Posey. (But who didn't see that coming?) The fact is Superman hasn't been done right since the 1978 film with Christopher Reeve and Gene Hackman. The 1980 sequel is also quite badass- credit where credit's due. One could say Batman's had all the breaks, talent, and attention since the early 90's, but one must also judge the characters by their most basic definitions. Batman is human. Superman is a nearly invulnerable alien. The consistent theme of the Pro-Batman answers was that Batman has no powers except a massive obsession and just a hint of a death wish that keeps him tangling with super-humans and with the super villains that terrorize Gotham City. My favorite answer came from my old bonfire buddy, Chris McDaniel. "Batman's 'powers' are not his wealth or training. Those make his objectives possible. What sets him apart is his obsession. His paranoia. The fact that he is one step away from being locked up in Arkham himself...Take away all of Batman's money and gadgets. He'd still do what he's driven to do." I couldn't have put it better myself. (which is why I stole the quote) You can beat him, you can break him, but Batman will find a way to fight back and win the day. And all without any super-human powers. On the flip side, you have Superman who is SO powerful his feats just aren't as impressive. Not to mention the fact that since he IS faster than a speeding bullet, and he CAN leap tall buildings in a single bound, blah-blah-blah, the obstacles he has to face get more and more obnoxious and even borderline gratuitous. This is a turn-off for many. The reason the 1978 film was so successful is because it focused so much on Superman's attachment to humanity and simultaneous distance from them. That's a human story. One of love, trial, and sacrifice. That is some compelling shit! I can only hope we get back to these basics with the upcoming film Man of Steel which will be released June 14th. With director Zack Snyder at the helm, I have high hopes and every intention of seeing it. I'm gonna bring a bottle though. Since Kevin Costner's playing Jonathan Kent, I figure I can take a drink every time he goes near a baseball, makes a big speech to Clark, or shows his ass on screen. I may need two bottles. -JN     

From the desk of Reginald Buford Brimley:

There was much mumbling and grumbling this past week about the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama. The speech he gave was quite stirring and inspiring, (for a man with no Beard) but I must say that what I found even more stirring and inspiring was the criticism President Obama received from American activist, Princeton professor, and chin whisker aficionado Cornel West. Dr. West took great issue with the fact that President Obama was sworn in using a Bible belonging to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. West found it disrespectful and inappropriate for President Obama to use Martin Luther King Jr.'s Bible for his inauguration. His explanation for this was very well articulated (as is everything from his beautifully Bearded face) during a panel discussion hosted by Tavis Smiley and aired on CSPAN. Dr. Cornel West on Obama's Bible choice
This man's indignation could not be more righteous. The wisdom, maturity, and eloquence of Dr. West dwarfs that of any human specimen encountered by myself or any other Beard in recorded history. His frustration is completely understood as he seems beset on all sides by very loud, very foolish people (redundant though that adjective may be). His point seems to stem largely from the fact that this was a decision based on publicity and image for the inauguration, and that Dr. King's astounding effort and accomplishments throughout the 1960's were less akin to most social and political movements, and more akin to war. But unlike most wars there were no uniforms (unless you count skin color) and instead of guns, the clear oppressors fought with attack dogs, fire hoses, billy clubs, and lynch mobs. It was this war that inevitably killed Dr. King on April 4th, 1968 when he was shot in a motel in Memphis, Tennessee. This terrible war rages on even to this day. Be it in the form of housing, the prison industrial complex, or the basic daily discrimination people ignore on a daily basis, the human civil rights struggle is a vast, splintered, tangled mess that continues to plague the human race every day. Whether this is acknowledged, embraced, or ignored varies with the individual in question, but the bottom line of Dr. Cornel West's righteous indignation can be summed up by something Mr. Newman said before hurling an empty rum bottle into the drizzling cold night air: You haven't earned what he earned. As it has always been the tradition of great social warriors like Martin Luther King Jr, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Cesar Chavez, Malcolm X, Alice Paul, Harvey Milk, and a great many others to challenge the established order and fight for a more equal status quo, so too has Cornel West continued to be, for lack of a better term- unsatisfied.                 
There often seems to be an attitude coming out of Washington that President Obama is doing enough by simply being black, and that those who like Dr. West, continue to be unsatisfied should consider his election at worst a dodged bullet and at least a decent enough victory. That they should try to rejoice and above all relax. Dr. Cornel West says no. He believes this president is not doing enough. He believes this country can always do better. And he seems to feel an imperative to continue to remind us all of it. Were I in his shoes, or more aptly on his face- I have to believe I'd feel much the same way. -RBB 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Week 4: A Bud Light Beard...Super Bowl Brotherly Love...The Logical Violence of Hockey

JN: So, Reginald tells me he can finally breathe comfortably. Though I am now sporting what many would call a beard, I consider it more like some shitty domestic beer that you're drinking because it's the only thing at the party and damned if I'm hanging out with these people sober. It's just enough to squeak by thus earning that most hallowed name: beard. As expected, I'm not quite satisfied with the length, which I suppose is a good thing considering I'm still in month one. With eleven more to go, I can only imagine how pissy I'd be come Christmas time if I was already getting annoyed with Reginald's length. On the brighter side, I finally recognize my reflection in the mirror. And that's always a relief.

From the desk of Jeff Newman:

HOLY SHIT! SUPER BOWL IN TWO WEEKS! I'm super duper pumped for Super Bowl XLVII which will be played on February 3rd at the Superdome in New Orleans. My excitement is partially due to the fact that those unholy douche-cocks known as the Patriots will not be playing this year. More on that in a minute.
This year, the contest will be decided between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers. This is really cool for a few reasons:
To begin, the head coaches of both competing teams are not only related- they're brothers. Like used to play tag, hide-and-seek, and shoot bottle rockets at each other brothers. Jim Harbaugh, the coach of the 49ers is the brother of John Harbaugh, coach of the Ravens. Aside from having parents who love one syllable names that start with the letter J, these two coaches are a mere one year apart, and have led their respective teams to victory time and time again throughout the season.
Next, with Joe Flacco at the helm of the Ravens, and Colin Kaepernick as QB of the 49ers, it promises to be one hell of a fast-paced offensive slug-fest. Let's not forget that the defensive squad of both teams are not to be trifled with. This brings me of course to Ray Lewis. Ray Lewis has played seventeen seasons as a linebacker in the NFL. Every single one of them for the Baltimore Ravens. He's been selected as a Pro Bowl player 13 times, he won NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2000 and 2003 (only the sixth player in history to win the award twice), and was the second linebacker in history to win the Super Bowl MVP award. He is also a regular singer of the National Anthem who consistently brings himself to tears. In two weeks, Ray Lewis will play his last NFL game. He is retiring after a marvelously decorated career, possibly with another Super Bowl victory to add to his record. The buzz on the street is he'll be on TV as a football commentator in no time. I say, bring it on!

Back to the best part of Super Bowl XLVII- NO PATRIOTS! The Patriots are an over-privileged, over-funded group of dick-weeds who, like the New York Yankees win too often to be any fun to root for. Bill Belichick and his ridiculous comb-over have racked up a whopping 187 wins since he took over as head coach of the Patriots in 2000. This could simply be explained by fine coaching and damn good execution of excellent strategy on the field were it not for the 2007 videotaping scandal known as "Spygate," in which Bill Belichick was caught videotaping the signals of the opposing team's defense to give his team an unfair advantage during game play. As punishment, the Pats were fined $250,000 and lost their spot for first round draft pick for the 2008 season. Belichick himself was fined $500,000 (the largest fine ever imposed on a head coach in the history of the NFL). It was also revealed that he'd been doing this since he took the head coach position in 2000. With all that cheating, it's hard to believe he could only bring home three Super Bowl victories in the past 13 years. Needless to say, neither he nor his Busey-esque, shit-eating grin possessing QB Tom Brady have beards. Is it any wonder? -JN 

From the desk of Reginald Buford Brimley:

The month of January has brought with it the United States president's inauguration, a bitter cold front gripping the mid western section of the US, and most importantly of all the return of that much revered human sport: hockey. As it seems to do every five to ten years, the National Hockey League took a lengthy hiatus to review, revise, and renegotiate contracts concerning the collective bargaining agreements for the men who work as hockey athletes. This most recent revision period (known commonly as a lockout or strike) was mostly caused by a push by team owners to reduce the percentage of hockey related profits earned by the players from fifty-seven percent to forty-six percent. This negotiation period cut the regular season from eighty-two to a mere forty-eight games. It is projected that during the lockout, the NHL lost between eighteen and twenty million dollars a day, players lost between eight and ten million dollars daily, and the league office had to cut jobs by twenty percent. Businesses located near hockey arenas of course suffered as well.
Much to the delight of human hockey fans everywhere, the lockout has officially ended and the games have begun. However, human reaction to hockey's triumphant return pales in comparison to the joy felt throughout the Beard community due to this blessed event. Let me take this opportunity to share a little known fact:

Beards. Love. Hockey.
More than any other human sport, be it football, mountain climbing, rugby, bowling, or even roller derby. This is in part because of hockey's fast paced, constantly changing, logically violent action. This appeals to Beards very much. Hockey requires a very focused attention, and a comfort zone that lives somewhere at the speed of what I can only imagine scientists would call badass. As an added perk, the game takes place in a colder environment than most which encourages Beard growth. Not chemically of course, (they actually grow more in the summer) but the cold encourages the players to allow more growth which adds warmth to their fairly frozen faces. This also gives the players extra protection should a projectile of some kind come flying at their faces. These potential projectiles vary from items thrown by fans, the hockey pucks themselves, and most commonly- the fists of other players.
Now, while Beards as a race avoid and abhor unnecessary violence as a general principle, the violence associated with hockey, commonly expressed through fist-fights is completely understood, condoned, and even encouraged. We as Beards completely understand these fist-fights as a part of the game. Humans are naturally violent creatures and athletic competition brings with it a large amount of aggression, determination, and fatigue. Violence is a natural by-product of this combination. It is unavoidable and should not be resisted, ignored, or repressed. Thus, it is allowed (even celebrated) with the use of bare fists, which do not kill easily. Certainly there is bound to be some long term head trauma and brain damage, but that can be expected by any professional athlete in any professional sport (particularly one with so many Canadians). In an average hockey fist-fight, two men on skates wearing padding over much of their bodies, hold each other steady with one hand while pummeling each other with their free fist under the watchful supervision of the more level-headed members of their immediate community. The fight is given its appropriate breadth, and stopped before it gets out of hand. The men then have a five minute respite to rest and relax before returning to the ice as respectful competitors. This is one of the more logical and proportionally appropriate expressions of violence found anywhere in human culture.

The Chicago Blackhawks began the season this past Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings and followed up on Sunday in Phoenix against the Coyotes. They followed this performance up Tuesday night with their first home game against the St. Louis Blues, winning with a score of three to two. This was particularly exciting since this is the first time the Blackhawk's have started three and zero since the 1972-73 season. While I thoroughly enjoy any hockey contest I'm privileged enough to see, my host human Mr. Newman was particularly elated to see the Phoenix Coyotes get defeated by Chicago's Blackhawks with a score of six to four. I couldn't quite make sense of what he was shouting during the game as he was heavy into drink by the second period. It had something to do with dirty plays, unnecessary hits, being an owner-less team of "pussies," and begrudgingly accepting the fact that goalie Mike Smith is a badass none the less. If Mr. Newman's behavior can serve as a typical example, the violence displayed by a human fan watching a hockey match makes far less sense than that displayed by the actual players. That being said, it's quite an entertaining sight to behold. -RBB

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Week 3: Reginald's Recognition...Mid-Life Crisis Movie Month...Ted Nugent and Massacre Mania

JN: Well, all things move forward. Snail's pace or so it seems. More itchy this week, but nothing intolerable. Hell, nothing even that worth note. Still got some zits poking through, though they are now buried and surrounded by little fuzzies that just make them look like part of some nasty garden. Does that make the zits lawn gnomes? Yeah, I don't think so either. Reginald has gotten some notice from people both in the workplace and in those other places I go when I'm not at work or home. There are many of them. Just cause I'm not naming them now doesn't mean they don't exist. YOU'RE in denial! It's more of a neck beard now than anything, which is a bit uneven and not very pleasing to the eye, but this is all part of the process. Anyway, it's good just to see some continued thickening on my face, but his growth is still too tame to be considered a true beard. All things with time, but I grow impatient. Bottom line: Whatever. I ain't there yet. But baby, I'm bookin!

From the desk of Jeff Newman:

January is already halfway done! If only the same could be said for winter. It's fucking cold with no end in sight, and to be perfectly honest- I'm pretty cool with it. Ha. You see what I did there? But for realsies. As long as you layer up, and acknowledge that freezing to death takes way more time and inaction than are likely while on your way to work or the bar or wherever, I think the winter in Chicago is totally tolerable. Plus, we have all these January blockbuster releases that weren't good enough to be seen over Christmas. For some reason, and I have no idea what that reason could be, this month will be marked with a myriad of mid-life crisis movies from some of our most celebrated and beloved action stars, all of which have passed recently (or not so recently) into their fifties and sixties. Too old to play tackle football, but not too old to have an axe fight or crash through a glass window. This month, the lucky American movie goers will have the pleasure of choosing to go see Jack Reacher starring Tom Cruise (50 years old). He plays a military cop who only goes after TRAINED KILLERS. YEAH!!! Or if you'd rather watch something with a bit more heart, grab a BlueRay of Liam Neeson's (60 years old) latest flick in which his family is Taken: 2. Or: again. Or: whatever. Once again Liam will beat the bloody pulp out of an endless grab-bag of dirty Europeans who have the audacity to try and kidnap an innocent American girl while she's on vacation. The fact that he himself is Irish does not seem to confuse anyone in the audience nearly as much as it confuses me. It made more sense when he was fighting wolves. Keep your eyes peeled for Bullet To The Head. In which Sylvester Stallone (66 years old) plays a hit man (the best in the business- mind you) who teams up with a police detective to find and kill the men who have kidnapped his daughter. This is of course totally different from Taken. There's an Asian guy in this one. See? If your depends undergarments aren't moist with anticipation quite yet, get ready for the crown jewel in this gratuitous array of self denial: The Last Stand starring none other than the Gove-Nator himself, Ahhnold Schwarzenegger (65 years old)! He plays a small border-town sheriff who must stop a violent madman and his small army of very well-armed cronies before he can escape into Mexico with the assistance of a rag-tag group of his friends and neighbors who had nothing better to do that weekend.

Mankind has long had an obsession with aging and death, most likely because it is the one thing we all share. It is definite, it is inescapable, and the reality can be a very lengthy and painful process. Thank God our action stars are willing to show their own difficulty and plight with these wonderful human interest stories about the aging process. With explosions. And guns. And hot chicks. Yeah. While this is nothing new for Stallone and Ahhnold who have always been action stars, it seems more a culmination for Cruise and Neeson who until recently could actually be considered actors. They have over the last several years made what seems to be a deliberate transition from actor and artist to celebrity and action star. They're actually pretty damn good at it too. But I am saddened to think of how few young action stars we have picking up the legacy. Jason Statham is the only one who comes to mind, and he's not far behind his more senior brethren (45 years old). Pretty soon, he'll have nobody to play golf with as I do not believe wheelchairs are allowed on most modern courses. But we can all look forward to the 2020 release of The Expendables: 3. In which Ahhnold and Stallone will have to team up to defend their nursing home from Iranian terrorists. That actually sounds like a cool flick. -JN    

From the desk of Reginald Buford Brimley:

Another fascinating week for the human race. They're all fascinating in one way or another. Even a leisurely study of human history and evolution will have massive highlights of mankind's ability to destroy each other in new and powerful ways. These new and improved methods for killing each other often increase "collateral damage" as well. This is a strange human term, which I believe means: PEOPLE WE DON'T MEAN TO KILL, BUT DON'T MIND KILLING.    
As the technological applications for murder increase, so too does a passionate, I'll be it irrational sense of entitlement to possess these new powerful weapons even if there is no logical reason for having them.With this sense of entitlement also comes fear. Fear is one of the strangest and most wondrous of human emotions. Fear brings energy to the exhausted. It brings hate and suspicion without cause. It allows indifference in the face of flagrant abuse. Fear is at the root of many, though not all of mankind's more deplorable and senseless actions.

On December 14th, a man named Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut and killed twenty school children and six staff members before taking his own life with a Bushmaster XM15 rifle. This is a weapon manufactured in the US, and used by military and police organizations in over sixty different nations on the planet. It is only legal in the United States market for civilians to purchase the semi-automatic version of this weapon, but military and police are allowed to purchase the fully automatic models. Soon after this terribly sad day, there began as always does after such a tragedy, a very loud and very predictable debate. It is an argument that quickly took center stage and dominated most forms of American media outlets. Questions that have been asked a hundred thousand times before, though have never found their way to satisfactory answers.
Is it too easy to get a gun?
Should it be harder to get a gun?
Do humans as a race have too strong an umbilicus to deadly weapons?
Is there a middle ground to be attained, ensuring that people on both sides of the argument feel safe? Should more weapons be made completely illegal?
Are people willing to sacrifice a few more freedoms to feel more secure as a community? (In this case, the freedom to own and operate a weapon capable of firing 700-950 rounds a minute.)

Of course, many voices came to the television cameras, microphone adorned podiums, and elaborate news desks. Everyone had an opinion, even if that opinion was something as obvious and useless as, "Something needs to change!" But the one thing that all these voices seem to have in common is fear. The fear of the citizen who worries that he is losing all rights and means to defend himself. The fear of a teacher knowing that they may one day have to face yet another senseless massacre. The fear of the patriot who feels their sense of order and liberty eroding away. The fear of a leader who can sense his nation slipping slowly into chaos. The fear of a parent who can only see all the birthday parties they'll never get to plan.
The common thread between them all is fear. Sometimes this fear is coupled with anger. Sometimes with sorrow. Sometimes desperation. But these voices are always rooted in fear. While this fear is perfectly understandable given the circumstances, it is also wholly illogical and unhelpful. It actually hurts the larger common goal in as much as it destroys the ability for any two people on opposing sides of the debate to regard one another with calm understanding and respect. If humans hope to come out the other end of this tragedy with a new sense of security and trust in themselves and their community, they certainly have their work cut out for them. As the saying goes, the cards are rather stacked against them.

It is also worth noting the connection humans seem to have between guns, fear, danger, and sex. This connection has been well documented and established throughout human history, and is evident in almost every facet of human culture. Even most guns resemble the male sexual organ. It is easy enough for even a child to observe the great pleasure derived from the typical human male as holds this large cylindrical object in his hands, and applies the necessary stimulation to make it explode with force and power. It seems quite obvious and straight forward. Furthermore, there seems to be a whole industry of pornography which appeals to this connection. Countless photos and videos can be found on the internet which seem to both glorify and degrade nearly nude human women holding very large guns. This is an inescapable truth about the relationship between humans, sex, and instruments that kill. It is a relationship that is exciting, addictive, and which robs people their reason, making them incredibly stubborn and volatile.

Now, the American gun lobby seems to have elected, or more likely just condoned as their chief spokesman renowned rock musician and safari hat enthusiast Ted Nugent. Besides having a slightly douchey and completely oppressive "soul patch" I believe it is called, this man seems to be more than a little unbalanced. He describes himself as radical, and a "Damn Nice Guy!" Though he can't seem to get through a simple interview without screaming about his charity work with terminally ill children, and challenging the interviewer to find someone who has given more time to them. In recent months, he's been on every available media outlet from Glenn Beck's television and radio shows to CBS and even CNN to denounce any threat or hint of stricter gun laws. His comments grew so inflammatory and accusatory towards the US president, Barack Obama that the Secret Service felt it necessary to interview him as well. What is most perplexing about this whole situation is the complete absence of any gun lobbyist or official from the National Rifle Association to distance themselves from this man and make it clear that he does not speak for them.

As is true with every compelling human drama, this one is timeless, touching, sad, and doomed. People do not have a history that embraces drastic change in any form. When the dust settles on this tragic debacle, some status quo will prevail as always does. I imagine things will not be much different. People will go to work. They will drive their cars. They will watch the Super Bowl. They will drink beer, eat meat, and swear profusely. They will pat themselves on the back for maintaining unity through this crisis. Some will complain that whatever miniscule steps have been taken go too far, and others will sigh with smug satisfaction because they were a part of the solution. But perhaps progress has in fact been made. Shortly after this tragic massacre, the US president Barack Obama gave an address sighting the fact that shootings like this occur every year. And that one way or another, the nation can do better. His advice was not to go shopping. -RBB   


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Week 2: Quarter to Six Shadow...Driving a Prius through Wisconsin...The Beard Civil Rights Movement

JN: As you can see, we're at little more than a spattering of prickly dots of hair. A quarter to six shadow, if you will. Though Reginald is clearly making his presence known, he is a long way from his former glory. The occasional itch is less an annoyance, and more a hint of things to come in the next week or two. Though once you're out of the woods on the old face itch, it's smooth sailing. Also, I've begun to see zits in places I haven't seen them in months! And not dinky little whatever zits, big mammoth finger-fuck my life zits. It's not that they weren't there before, just that they were buried under three months worth of beautiful bearded greatness. And if I can't see them, they really don't exist. One was so monstrously grotesque that I went so far as to put a bandage over it. So, I was that guy with a bandaid on his face for a couple days, but it paid off. Forty-eight hours later that fucker was history. Suck it, zit biatch! As should be perfectly expected, the stress and aggravation have driven me to drink. More than usual. So, while the wagon train is moving, we're still a long way from the promise land of chin whisker utopia. But I am confident. About the future, about myself, but mostly about Reginald.   

From the desk of Jeff Newman:

Heh. From the desk. Cool.
So, I had an interesting weekend. An acting job in the Wisconsin Dells put me in the position of needing to rent a car for the weekend. After a lot of bullshit I'd rather not go into I ended up with a Prius. I was actually kind of excited. Never driven a Hybrid before.
Let me just say that this car drives like a video game that was designed by a 6-foot vibrating vagina. Getting to the Dells and back on one tank of gas was mighty impressive, but that doesn't make up for the myriad of obnoxious safety features dripping from every orifice of this not-too-distant-future, 4-wheeled pain in the ass of a machine. Tell me when this starts to sound excessive:

*The car won't shift gears unless you hold the brake.

*The car won't start unless you hold the brake.

*The car dings when the door's open (engine on or not).

*The car dings the whole time you're in reverse (even if you're motionless).

*The car dings after you've locked and closed the doors.

*The car dings if you unbuckle the seat-belt.  
--- as an added bonus, the dinging gets faster the longer the seat-belt is unbuckled making one think a bomb is about to explode. (or is that just me?)

Do you see what I'm saying? Actually, once you get used to the whole set-up, it's a nice car to drive. Especially on the highway, but I could never own one unless I stripped out most of those god-damn dinging nightmares. Airbags are one thing, but we've gotten to a point with this safety bullshit where we're trying to preserve the lives of people who are too stupid to be driving in the first place, which brings me to Wisconsin. Or more specifically, driving through Wisconsin.
Ah, Wisconsin. Where men are raised to grunt instead of speak. Wisconsin. A land of people whose love of cheese and ice fishing is only exceeded by their love of the left lane. So much in fact that they never seem to leave the left lane. Not when traffic is piling up behind them, not when they're being passed on the right, not even if Clay Matthews T-bones their car while riding a giant moose onto the interstate. Wisconsin. A frozen cheesy wasteland where people bitch about Chicago drivers, or Flat-Landers speeding on the highway because they don't know what it feels like to have somewhere important to be. They live in Wisconsin. If they're not heading to their buddy's place to watch the Packers, they're heading to the bar to watch the Packers. This of course does not apply to friends of mine in Chicago who are from Wisconsin. The fact that you moved to an actual city shows that you are clearly of above average intelligence. Or at least above average Wisconsin intelligence.
As is probably obvious by this point, I don't like Wisconsin. After 24-hours in Cheesehead Central, I was about ready to hit the old dusty trail. I hopped in the Prius, pushed the button that started the car, (seriously, you wouldn't even have to try to steal this thing) cranked up the shitty stereo, and high-tailed it back to Sweet Home Chicago. Where things make sense. I'll take a pansy bitch of a quarterback, fired head coach, and the CTA any day of the week. -JN

From the desk of Reginald Buford Brimley:

Let me just begin by stating how delighted I am for this opportunity to share my thoughts and views this year with all our current and future readers. Let me also state that I don't think much of this heading, to be perfectly frank. I'm a beard. I don't have a desk.

Most of my exposure to human news and society comes to me (as it does for all Beards) through observations of my host human's interactions with other people and forms of media. Internet, television, films, books, magazines, and the like. My host human, Mr. Newman was particularly engrossed this week in a story involving a recent film about slavery, murder, and revenge titled, Django Unchained. Most of the attention has been focused on an interview with an actor in the film named Samuel L. Jackson. I should take this moment to mention that Samuel L. Jackson is a very respected human in the Beard community. The best ambassadors who've made the greatest strides for Beard and human unity throughout the years have always been artists, athletes, bikers, and musicians. And of course the homeless. Actors fit almost all these criteria at one time or another in their careers, and Samuel L. Jackson is one of the most wise, fearless, and skilled human actors working today. During this interview, after being asked about the use of a mysterious N-word in the film, he demanded the interviewer speak this mysterious N-word aloud. The interviewer did not want to do this. For those of you who haven't seen this interview, here is a link. Jump to 13:55 if you're impatient. The video is quite entertaining and informative in its entirety.

After some simple research, I found that the word they were referring to and wouldn't speak aloud was, nigger. This is a pejorative term in the human culture for a person of African descent, but it is commonly used for any person of any descent who for any reason has a dark pigmentation to their skin. The person using the term doesn't even have to be of a light complexion (or white) as the term is used very often by members of what is commonly known as the black community. Sometimes as a pejorative. Sometimes as a term of endearment. The controversy surrounding the film doesn't seem to have to do with the use of this word exactly since the film is set in 1850s Texas, but that the film's writer and director is himself a white man. This whole controversy is of course purely ludicrous for reasons that don't merit going into right now, although I'm being told that someone named Spike Lee has just now called Mr. Newman to protest the use of the word nigger in this blog post. Apparently, kike would have been permissible. Nigger is not.

This brings us to the meat of my intrigue. Human culture in every facet of the globe has always met conflict squabbling over petty differences. None more than color. It has been well documented throughout Beard history that humans for all of their amazing discoveries, innovation, intelligence, determination, and spirit each possess the ability to go as they say, bat-shit nuts if another human has the wrong color skin. There seem to be an ever-changing list of rules which apply to certain colors, and not to others. This has been true for as long as people have had the intellect to make rules, and as long as they've been asinine enough to make social morays. Beard culture has always found this pattern to be as perplexing as it is fascinating. If not also a bit sad. In the Beard world, we have many wonderful and celebrated colors. There is black, brown, blonde, red, grey, white, and for some reason every March a lot of green. All these colors as well as everything in between affectionately referred to as mulatto Beards. Beards have always been united as a single race. The highest, most prized virtues in Beard society are fullness, thickness, productivity, and freedom. These traits can easily be expressed through any Beard of any color. This is a cornerstone principle of our society. There has only ever been one Beard Civil Rights Movement. This of course is the movement to free all Beards from the clutches of human oppression. The shaving, trimming, cutting, and other forms of Beard manipulation which have become a common, often daily practice for almost half the human population is the only struggle we've ever known. This has always united us as a single race. Perhaps humans should take a lesson from their mighty Beard brethren. If people combined their efforts to lift each other up and achieve common goals instead of finding ways to disenfranchise rights and forcibly impose the will of the few upon the many, there's no telling what they could accomplish. It would be a refreshing change. Perhaps they are long passed the day they should have abolished all other distinctions of race and simply united as the human race.
Unfortunately, it is my firm belief that this will not happen until there is some common external enemy so devastating that the planet's people would have no choice but to unite as a necessity for war. What a cheerful thought. Of course, I'm not the first to come to this conclusion. The brilliant and prolific human graphic novelist Alan Moore surmised as much in his masterpiece Watchmen. Alan Moore (whose beard is so beautifully grizzly that it defies all reason) saw mankind with a very clear eye. By nature they are more selfish than enlightened. More frightened than curious. I believe they can change. I see new reasons to hope every day, but they still have not attained the understanding, compassion, and patience of the mighty Beard. Until they do, Samuel L. Jackson will continue to make skinny white people uncomfortable. -RBB        



Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Beard!

before picture
JN: For those of you who don't know me (which begs the question, how did you hear about this blog and what the fuck are you doing here?) My name is Jeff Newman. I am an actor, playwright, and facial hair enthusiast living in Chicago, IL. 
Over the last few months because of cold weather, curiosity, or just plain laziness I haven't shaved, cut, or even trimmed my beard. As you can see (from the attached before picture) it has gotten quite long. It was during the Christmas holiday that I made a startling discovery:

My beard is alive.

Now, I know what you're going to say. Beards like any other hair on the head, body, or nether region is simply dead tissue- nothing more.
First of all- fuck you, I'm telling this story.
And secondly- you're dead wrong.
My beard has his own name, history, culture, and vocabulary which incidentally is way better than mine.
The first meeting went something like this:

Beard. This Christmas tradition has only gotten stranger with time.
Me. Who was that?
Beard. It was me.
Me. Me who? Who the fuck is talking?
Beard. Me, stupid. Your beard. I'm growing on your face and talking to you right now.
Me. Holy shit! This has got to be some acid induced hallucination!
Beard. It's not.
Me. How would you know?
Beard. You're not on acid.
Me. Touche.

As it turns out, his name is Reginald Buford Brimley. After he explained to me the plight of the beard in modern society, we quickly reached an agreement. I agreed to allow him all of 2013 to grow undisturbed and uninhibited. Starting from scratch, I am going to monitor the progress with weekly updates. Furthermore, I agreed to begin this blog to give him an open forum to share his thoughts, opinions, and understanding of what he calls Human Culture.
clearly, this is the after picture

For my part, I can assure you that after spending nearly three months with constantly growing facial hair, greeting the 14 degree weather this evening without it was fucking weird. It doesn't look like me in the mirror, and I have nothing to twist between my fingers when I'm thinking about stuff. Frankly, I don't much like it. I feel so unlike myself without my beard, I actually brought the clippings in a zip-lock baggy to my favorite bar this evening because I was worried the bartender wouldn't recognize me without my whiskers. It did not have the desired effect. I still got my usual Shiner Bock without asking, so maybe it was a smart move after all.
facial hair: the gateway drug
Tune in next week for a new photo (no nipples this time) and accompanying entries from both myself and my beard: Reginald Buford Brimley. I imagine in the coming weeks, his entries will be quite a bit longer than mine. For now, I will leave you with his words.

"This journey is beginning. And like all great adventures, we know not where it will lead us or where it shall end. For now, let me just say that I am damn glad for the opportunity. To learn, to share, to grow." -RBB