Monday, February 28, 2011

Strange Karma

This has been a really odd sort of a day. The way chance encounters can work together in unexpected ways can really surprise you sometimes. They don't have to be major events either, just mundane affairs that align themselves in certain ways at certain times that can leave you pondering how interconnected and weirdly coordinated our lives can be.

To start off, I was exhausted this morning, so I decided to ditch my earliest class of the day so I could go back to sleep. This put me walking to school a couple hours later than usual. On my way I met an elderly man named Bob, 85 and barely able to walk, who had set out to reach the bank on foot and realized halfway there that he couldn't make it. I've never been asked to help a senior cross the street before, so I felt a bit like a boyscout, but I resigned myself to being late or possibly even missing a second class of the day (though this one factors attendance into the grade) to help Bob reach his destination. I then waited while he took care of his business so I could help him get back home. When we got back to nearly the same spot I had met him, we ran into somebody he knew who offered to drive him back home. So off he went and I headed toward school again. As I approached the main campus gateway, I looked at the time and saw that I would be about 10-15 minutes late for class, and since I hate walking in late I decided to change course and go get some lunch instead of going to class. As I'm nearing the next intersection I hear "Patrick?" and I look over to see my professor for the class I should currently be sitting in standing on the sidewalk looking at me. Turns out he was detained and was also arriving extremely late to class, so instead of awkwardly entering the room midway through a lecture, I walked with him and arrived "on time" for class. The rest of the day I found myself pondering the peculiar sort of karmic balance of the whole thing. By skipping a class I should have attended I was put in the right place to help an old man who repeatedly asserted "I don't know what I would have done, I never could have made it without you" which not only made me feel good but left me thinking how such a small amount of effort can really make a difference to somebody in the right place and time. And then, as though in cosmic payment for my good deed, somebody else took over getting Bob home and not only was my professor late to class but he was also in the right place to spot me on the street (especially fortunate, since if I had taken the appropriate route when I first decided I was probably going to miss class I would have been on an entirely different street). I realize that this whole thing sounds like I'm making something out of nothing. Maybe I am. Nonetheless, I can't help but reflect on how a simple little thing like hitting the snooze button in the morning can so totally alter the course of the day.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Moustache Length

I am happy to report that, although it's not quite there yet, my moustache is now starting to reach the length where it's not in my mouth all the time. It's still a little bothersome at times, but for the most part I can now keep it brushed to the sides and it will pretty much stay out of my mouth. Like I said, not quite all the way there yet, but it's very close.

This is also good on an aesthetic note. You see, while my beard comes in just fine, my moustache is a touch on the thin side, and in an odd sort of pattern to boot. With sufficient length swept to the sides, though, it pretty much covers that and looks quite a bit better than it would if I left it short. I'm optimistic that over the course of the coming weeks, my moustache will continue to bother me less and less until it becomes a very minor issue.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Waste Journal

One of my classes (Environmental Geography) is making keep a "waste journal" for one week. I have to write down everything I throw away, from a bit of floss to a piece of gum to a used paper towel, for that week. Yesterday was the beginning, and already I am astounded at how quickly the discarded items are piling up. Granted, many of the things on the list are quite small, but this is nonetheless proving to be a highly enlightening project. I'd actually recommend that everybody try this once, just for your own reference. You'd probably be as surprised as I have been, provided you don't fudge or estimate numbers. If you do try it, I'd suggest keeping a handy way of making notes on the go so you don't have to try recalling things when you get home, since there's a good chance you'll forget some of the things like napkins that you pitch without really even thinking about it.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Monkey Junction has got to be one of the fuzziest, grooviest, best sounding sounds I've ever heard. It's not like I'm just realizing that or anything, but I keep finding myself playing it today. It's like I have a musical itch in my ear and only Monkey Junction can scratch it.

While I'm on the subject, Weedeater have a new album coming out in just a few days. I'm really looking forward to that. I just hope the local record store gets it in stock when it's released.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

That One Overrated Beard

Normally on this blog, when I talk about beards, I do so quite favorably. I like beards. I have a beard. I like seeing other people grow beards (primarily men, though if you're a woman and you can, I guess go for it if that's what you want). There is, however, one beard that gets talked about far too much, especially considering the unimpressive nature of that particular collection of whiskers. If you haven't guessed his name yet, the man behind that particular beard is Chuck Norris. I can't possibly be the only person who was tired of that meme almost before it started, can I? And no, Chuck Norris doesn't have another fist behind his beard. I don't even think he could hide a pinkie finger in there. So while I typically stick up for the beard and all its wearers, today I would like to state, in all fairness and honesty, that there are some individual cases where it gets a bit old.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cookie Monster

I'm him. Yup, that's right. I visited my parents over the weekend, and my mom sent me home with a tin cookie jar that was totally full on Sunday night. It is now Wednesday, and I have 2 1/2 . . . wait . . . 2 cookies left. It's a good thing I'm not one for baking, because if I were, I'd probably weight 500 lbs by now. The only thing I gobble worse than cookies is saltwater taffy. Had that jar been full of taffy, it would have been finished before midnight on Sunday night.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Class Registration

Okay, here's a good piece of general advice for any and all college students out there, and one which you'd think I would be able to follow by now, though evidently I can't. When you're already an enrolled student, find out as soon as possible when early registration starts for classes, and sign up on that day. As you can probably guess, I failed to do that for this upcoming quarter (yes, my school is one of the few using quarters instead of semesters) so today I found myself rummaging through the scrapheap looking for anything vaguely useful. I wound up with a really odd looking schedule that I'm not terribly happy about and I have nobody to blame but myself. So like I said, if you're already a college student and for some reason you haven't learned this lesson yet, do yourself a favor and don't repeat my mistake.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Beards and WoW

I have been playing World of Warcraft off-and-on for a few years now. And typically, I'm all about the Horde. They're big, tough, spikey, and cool where many Alliance races are just kind of... girly. Orcs in particular are my race of choice, and now that I've finally bought Cataclysm the first thing I did in-game was to get my orc warlock from 80 to 85. That said, there is one Alliance race for which I make an exception. No guys, it's not worgen (though I guess they can be pretty cool too, in their own way) it's dwarves. Those burly little guys with their hugely muscular arms and their thick Scottish accents and their tough sounding names like Hammerfrost really hit a soft spot for me. And beside all this, they have EPIC BEARDS! As evidence, for those of you who are too cool to play WoW (or who value your time too much to spend it on a fantasy mmorpg) I submit this screen shot of my level 80 dwarf priest Agachak. See what I mean? Even on the tough and manly Horde you don't see beards like that. So while I normally subscribe to the idea that playing Alliance is for little girls, today I'd like to salute the brave bearded warriors of Ironforge. For Bronzebeard!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekend Away

Well, I just got back home from a 3 day weekend at my parents' house. I went out to visit since it was my mom's birthday yesterday, and I had a fun time hanging out with everybody. Right now I'm pretty exhausted, though, so that's all for tonight. Regular posting will resume tomorrow.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Three Months

After the recent rash of random stupidity I've been posting, it's high time for something beard related. Fortunately, I have just such a thing in mind. Today I have officially reached 3 months of beard growth. The past couple weeks have actually been pretty good on that front, since the last area that was a little bit thin (the area directly behind my chin) has finally filled in enough that it blends in well with the rest of my beard. Also, it's about 1 1/2 inches long now; long enough to properly stroke it without looking silly, since let's face it, 1/2 inch of beard growth just doesn't cut it in that department. It feels good to have a real beard again, I missed it when it was gone. To any of you men out there who have never tried growing a beard, all I can say is you don't know what you're missing. You really ought to give it a shot at least once.

Side note, today made for 2 days in a row with beautiful weather. T-shirts are a lovely thing to be wearing in February.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Good Day

This has been a really good day. Not that anything singularly spectacular happened, no winning lottery tickets or anything, but it was just one of those days where it seems like things just go well all day. I got some chocolates in the mail this morning, the weather was beautiful (mid-60s, clear, and calm), got pizza and beer with a couple girls, got back an excellent grade on the make-up exam I did (there were enough poor grades that he weighted the score, now mine rounds to 107%), and I got two new albums for free (by Dark Tranquility and Vintersorg). Plus, at my radio station music meeting tonight I got some interesting material to take home and review, and I got the first bits of training for the department-head position I'll be screening for in early April. So yeah, all in all, it was a good day.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

All Quiet... For Now

Amidst a series of exams, events, and obligations today has, for the most part, been extremely quiet. And of course I spent this time sitting back and relaxing rather than doing anything productive. Although I did manage to get that make-up exam done today, so that was one good thing. And on that note, I will now return to my regularly scheduled lethargy.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Morning NOT to Have

Today I woke up thinking "huh, my alarm hasn't gone off yet", rolled over, and looked at the clock. 4:42pm. I had a midterm exam at 4:00. It wasn't even like I was out partying or anything last night, I just slept in to an extreme. So now I've got to get a college professor to let me schedule a make-up exam on the basis that I slept through his. At 4:00 in the afternoon. Great.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Day in the Hairy Life

Well last night I went to a party to celebrate the life of America's greatest bearded president, Abraham Lincoln. It was a fun time spent hanging out, watching terrible movies, eating this bizarre monstrosity of a pizza (toppings included macaroni, fries, and bbq sauce), and of course doing a little too much drinking. While there, I met a very friendly guy who I'm going to refer to as Epic-Beard Mike. In talking to Epic-Beard Mike I encountered the only person I've ever met in real life who is actually aware of competitive bearding. In fact, he was telling me how upset he'd been about having to work the day of the first ever Ohio Beard Championship, since at the time he was living only a couple miles from where it was being held. This encounter was, of course, quite an unexpected pleasure.

Then today my brother showed me a new picture of our old college roommate, Chase. Turns out Chase has jumped on the beard-wagon himself, having now been growing his facial hair for about 3 months.

On a final note, my moustache growth, particularly near the middle of my mouth, has begun to severely test my patience recently. It's no longer just long enough to get in my mouth at times. Instead, it is almost perpetually in my mouth. I dislike the idea of putting wax in it and I am resisting the urge to trim it, but I can't tell you how anxious I am for the point where it is long enough to past this phase.

So yeah, there's a day in the hairy life for you.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Date Auction

Well, last night was fun. I went to a date auction fundraiser for the college radio station where I work. Got to hang out, have a few beers, and I even had the winning bid on a couple girls I know who auctioned themselves as a pair. The big cash earners for the night, though, were one of the bands who played. Whale Zombie auctioned themselves and, as was promised to the girls who won them, played the rest of their set shirtless. All in all, it was an entertaining evening.

On a side note, it's ironic that I would technically miss a day of posting right after giving that whole explanation of why I didn't want to skip any days. However, since it's still the 11th in my mind despite being an hour and a half past midnight, I'm going to count this as my post today and post a second blog for the 12th.

Also, since it's technically the 12th now, I'd like to say "Happy Birthday!" to my best friend Cliff.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Upcoming Beard Lists

I have been gathering information for a couple new beard related lists I want to put together, but I've found myself busier than usual this week so I have yet to actually make the lists themselves. I'll probably get to that over the weekend. I know there isn't much point in writing a blog post to announce a future blog post, but I had resolved to myself when I started this thing that I would post every day, even if I didn't have anything astounding to say, because I require routines. It's funny, I don't even like having routines. I need them, though, because I am the type of person who, if I put something down and say "Eh, it's ok to skip it occasionally," will end up skipping it more and more often until eventually I don't do it at all. I don't know why that's the case, but over the years it's just something that I have learned about myself. The problem is that I have a tendency to take on little pet projects, none of which is essential or terribly pressing in terms of time consumption, but as I stick to daily maintenance of an increasing number of such projects, they begin to really add up quickly. Eventually I am forced to drop some of them and it's just a question of which ones I have to cut. Since I would like to keep this blog active, I'm trying to make a point of sticking with my daily posts so it doesn't end up as one of those forgotten pet projects. The result, of course, is an occasional post like this one. Oh well, I guess it is what it is.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Swedish Meal Time!

A new YouTube channel has recently been brought to my attention, which is both hairy and hilarious. Swedish Meal Time is a cooking channel like no other, with a bearded madman attacking the food as he prepares it (ever try punching your ingredients together instead of using a blender?) that I would recommend anybody with a sense of humor.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Misprint Contest

I don't really have much to write about today, but I thought I'd just jot down a quick note to anybody in or near Austin, Texas that Misprint Magazine puts on an annual beard and moustache competition which is coming up on Feb 19th. There will be drinking and parties the whole weekend, and while I have unfortunately never been able to attend a Misprint Beard and Moustache Contest, it's got a reputation for being a great time for all. So anyway, if you think you might find yourself in the Austin area on the 18th, 19th, or 20th it would probably be worth your time to check out the action.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Of Steelers and Beards

Well the dust has settled, and Pittsburgh are, as many Americans love to put it, the first losers. But take heart Steelers Nation, there was one manly battle where you can proudly claim victory. "What is that?" you may ask. Well, if you really don't know, then you have dropped the ball as a fan, but I am here to illuminate you. One of the few things more manly than a game of football is . . . beards, of course! And Pittsburgh DE Brett Keisel is the rightful NFL champion of facial fur. I mean, just LOOK at that lion's mane. It is truly a glorious sight. In fact, the NFL Network recently compiled the Top 10 Beards in NFL history, inspired purely by Keisel and featuring him atop the list. His beard has its own Facebook fan page, it is the subject of questions at press conferences, and there is even a website ( dedicated to letting users decorate their own photos with Keisel's excellent beard. Unfortunately, now that the season is done, all signs point to this magnificent beast suffering an untimely death. All good things must come to an end, I suppose. However, despite failing to collect any new jewelry at the end of the season, the 2010 Steelers can always look back with pride and know that they had in their ranks the best beard in all of football.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Surprise Visit

So I woke up today (I guess technically yesterday now, since it's 3 a.m.) to somebody banging on my door. And who is it? It's my brother! Turns out my dad and my two brothers decided to make the 3-hour trip down from Salem to see me today. They tried to call, but I had mistakenly left my phone ringer off, so when they arrived it came as a total surprise. It was an enjoyable visit, and I'm glad they came.

The one thing that was slightly disappointing, though, was also the one thing that relates to this blog. One of my brothers grows a thick red and blond beard that looks great, and he had shaved it off since the last time I saw him. It's really too bad, because it looks good on him, and the coloring makes it look like fire. It's unofficial nickname is even "the awesome flame-beard". Well R.I.P. flame-beard. But take heart, for like a phoenix rising from the ashes, I'm sure we'll see you again some day.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Metal Beards

Beards and metal have had a long and profitable history together. In fact, the metal world has become something of a haven for beards. The audience at a metal show is one of the few crowds where beards are openly accepted and even admired, and this really makes perfect sense without even having to think much about it. Both convey a sense of wild, rugged individualism. Both reside decidedly outside of the mainstream. And both seem to be unsettling and often detestable to a general public that just doesn't quite understand them. Plus, if you're singing about viking invasions or slaying dragons, a shaggy monster of a beard really ties the image together. But it's not just beards. In the metal world, facial hair of all kinds abounds. Beards, moustaches, crazy goatees... metal has it all.

Of course Kerry King, Dimebag Darrell, Scott Ian, Johan Hegg, Björn Gelotte, Zakk Wylde, Brent Hinds, Ivar Bjørnson, and Lemmy Kilmister may be some of the best known hairy faces in the metal world, but they are merely the tip of the iceberg. Why, even the incomparable Toni Iommi has sported various forms of facial hair throughout his career. So to them, and to every other metal musician and fan out there with a face full of fuzz, I tip my hat. Hail my hairy brethren, and long live the metal beard!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Stop Motion

I don't know what it is, exactly, but there is an odd sort of charm to stop motion animation. In fact, I've recently found it so intriguing that I've completely killed the batteries in my camera working on little video projects that utilize it. At least before the battery totally died I was able to put together some short finished products. They're very primitive looking, but that's ok with me; I'm kind of going for that look. I have some other ideas in mind for when I get fresh power, but for now my work has been halted.

This is a stop motion video I just finished.

On a side note, I'm still waiting for the arrival of that t-shirt I ordered. I hope it gets here soon, I'm starting to worry that it may have been lost in the mail.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Top 25 Metal Bands

I listen to a lot of music, with a reasonably broad range, but it is distinctly true that metal gets the lion's share of my listening time. Well, with that in mind, I have decided to satisfy my lust for lists by compiling my top 25 favorite metal bands. Please note that I said "favorite" rather than "best". I am well aware of the fact that my personal taste does not necessarily equate to actual quality or importance. In fact, I am often annoyed by the inability of people to make that distinction. Anyway, these are my top 25 favorites. Some of them may shuffle around and change places now and then, and there are certainly plenty of bands I enjoy who just didn't quite make the cut but who could have crept in on some other day. That said, this is as stable a list as I can make on the subject. Enjoy!

#25: Swallow the Sun
Finnish death/doom outfit that is, at their best, as good at what they do as anybody else and better than most. Their debut album "The Morning Never Came" is one of the highlights of the past decade in metal.

#24: The Chasm
A fantastic Mexican death metal band whose obscurity is matched only by their excellence. These guys mix in enough originality and melody to keep things interesting without ever going so far that they sacrifice grit. A unique band that has arguably the strongest recent output of any death metal group. I only rate them this low because I have not been familiar with them for a terribly long time.

#23: Immortal
The epitome of Norwegian black metal cheese, Immortal's image is essentially a joke. Their music, on the other hand, is some of the sharpest and strongest to arise from that infamous scene, and their fantasy themes appeal to the dork in me.

#22: Dawn
Swedish melodic black metal group who never got as much attention as they deserved. They, like their compatriots Dissection, play a black metal which borders at times on crossing into melodic death metal, but it keeps just enough harshness to avoid ever quite making that leap. Their discography is both small and expensive, but what little output they've had has been fantastic.

#21: Apophis
Criminally underrated Egyptian-themed death metal band from Germany. Nile has risen to prominence and taken the Egyptian image, but Apophis did it first and they they did it better. Unfortunately, their discography is extremely limited. Nonetheless, their 1998 album "Heliopolis" instantly shot near the top of my list of favorite albums the very first time I heard it.

#20: Metallica
This one should be pretty recognizable to everybody. I'm not a big one for thrash metal in general, but in Metallica's case I'll make an exception, even though they kind of lost their minds in these later years.

#19: Hypocrisy
In many ways a bridge in the gap between the early Swedish death metal scene and the later Gothenburg movement toward melodic death metal. Hypocrisy have been one of the longest standing and most flexible fixtures in Swedish extreme metal.

#18: Korpiklaani
A Finnish folk metal group, who, unlike most similar bands, had their roots in folk rather than metal. They play mostly drinking songs and their music is fun, catchy, and energetic.

#17: Dark Tranquility
Hugely important Swedish melodic death metal band. One of the "Big 3" of that sound, in their later years Dark Tranquility managed to outlast all their early fellows in terms of quality output.

#16: Saint Vitus
Important American traditional doom outfit. Saint Vitus plays what can only be described as open Black Sabbath worship. Their impact on the development of the doom metal sub-genre was huge, and their sophomore release "Born Too Late" is high on my list of personal favorites.

#15: Falkenbach
A relatively early German viking metal solo project, Falkenbach stays closer to the roots of that sound than most of the metal bands who have entered into the recent viking/folk trend. The term "epic", as cliché as it has become, is the perfect word to describe the imagery evoked by Falkenbach's music.

#14: Eluveitie
A Swiss group that walks the line between folk metal and straightforward melodic death with a couple folk instruments. Their songs are incredibly catchy and surprisingly accessible for an extreme metal group. Their track "Inis Mona" is one of my all-time favorite metal songs.

#13: Cathedral
Hugely important English doom band. In their later releases, Cathedral evolved into more of a heavy stoner rock band, but their debut album "Forest of Equilibrium" is often hailed as the greatest doom album ever recorded. Throughout all the stages of their development, Cathedral have managed to remain interesting and to maintain a unique sound which makes them instantly recognizable, thanks primarily to the unique vocal work of Lee Dorrian.

#12: Amorphis
An eclectic Finnish group, Amorphis started out as a death metal band, but with each record have altered their style. They've touched on death, doom, progressive, and even gothic sounds at different points in their careers. Amorphis, as their name might suggest, are an ever-changing musical outfit that are hard to label.

#11: Månegarm
Fantastic Swedish viking/folk metal band. Månegarm, unlike many other bands in that vein, actually play their folk instruments rather than simulating them with keyboards and synthesizers. The difference shows, as the objective quality of their work is second to none in their field.

#10: Woods of Ypres
A Canadian group usually labeled as melodic black metal, I would argue that Woods of Ypres have developed into more of a slow progressive metal with some blackened flavor. They call themselves "summer metal". In any case, there really isn't anything else that sounds quite like them, so when I have a hankering for whatever you choose to call their unusual sound, nothing else will do.

#9: Ensiferum
Finnish viking metal group. Their first two albums were amazing, especially their second release "Iron", but unfortunately their vocalist and primary songwriter, Jari Mäenpää, left after that to pursue his work in Wintersun. They were never quite the same again, but for those early years they were a great band. Their newest album, "From Afar" was a step back in the right direction.

#8: Weedeater
A doom/sludge/stoner metal band from South Carolina, Weedeater are grimy sounding in the extreme. There is just enough southern rock flair mixed in with their fuzzy, pot obsessed music to make them sound like something that just lumbered out of a swamp.

#7: Black Sabbath
As easy a pick as they come, Black Sabbath should need no introduction. In fact, I'm not sure if it's even possible to know what metal is without being familiar with Black Sabbath. The only question, much like one a Trekkie or Bond fan might hear, is whether you prefer Ozzy or Dio. For me, it depends on the day.

#6: Electric Wizard
Alright, this is where it gets really tough, as my short "favorite bands" list has six names on it. On a given day, several of this top group might trade places. In any case, Electic Wizard are an English stoner/doom band. Their music, especially in the early days, has been notable for its extremely slow, heavy approach. Monolithic riffs lumber through 10-minute tracks, taking their style near to its crushingly heavy, amazingly slow limits. The albums "Come My Fanatics..." and "Dopethrone" are both classics of their sub-genre.

#5: Moonsorrow
A Finnish viking metal group who prefer the label "heathen metal", Moonsorrow are possibly the most beautiful sounding metal band on the planet. Their long, flowing, melodic songs often feature pianos, acoustic guitar, and occasional pipes or flutes. These often serve as intros or interludes, and they combine with well-chosen sound effects like clashing swords and breaking surf to weave a tapestry unlike anything else in the world of metal. "Voimasta Ja Kunniasta" is amongst my favorite albums of all-time.

#4: Amon Amarth
These Swedes are everything a metal band should be. They're big, hairy, and ferocious sounding. Their riffs are as catchy as they are heavy, their live performances are great, and their songs center on viking battlefields and ancient warriors. What more could you want? The only real problem with Amon Amarth's sound is that they tend to repeatedly release very similar sounding albums. On the positive side, though, this means they have never released a bad album. Picking an individual Amon Amarth album that stands out is nearly impossible, but if I had to recommend just one I'd say "With Oden On Our Side" is probably my favorite.

#3: Opeth
This Swedish progressive metal group were one of the first metal bands I really fell in love with. Their songs tend to be long, diversely-styled affairs. I've heard it said that the only genre classification that really fits them is "Opeth", and that's not far from the truth. They fuse death, doom, and progressive metal with elements of jazz and soft acoustic passages to create a sound all their own. While I have enjoyed almost all of their music on some level, "Blackwater Park" and "Still Life" both stand out as incredible albums.

#2: Bathory
Swedish pioneers of black metal and viking metal, Bathory are solid contenders to challenge for the top spot on my favorites list. Their output, prior to the death of the sole constant member Quorthon, was a bit erratic. Their music was plagued by poor recording and technical flaws. Yet, somehow, these shortcomings are more endearing than they are annoying. And in terms of importance, Bathory can legitimately claim to be the first black metal band as well as the first viking metal band. Their self-titled debut is often called the first black metal album, but "Under the Sign of the Black Mark" created the backbone of the black metal sound and stands as one of the greatest black metal recordings ever made. A few years later, the phenominal "Hammerheart" became the first viking metal record. "Blood, Fire, Death", another excellent album, is sandwiched between those two. "One Rode to Asa Bay" off the "Hammerheart" album is my absolute favorite metal song.

#1: In Flames
Yet another group of Swedes, In Flames have long maintained the honorarium of being my favorite band. One of the "Big 3" Swedish melodic death metal bands, In Flames were also one of the groups most responsible for kindling my interest in metal in the first place. Their recent albums have been a step away from their roots toward a more metalcore sound, and the recent departure of founder Jesper Strömblad marks in my mind the end of "real" In Flames. Still, their first five albums "Lunar Strain", "The Jester Race", "Whoracle", "Colony", and "Clayman" are all excellent records, the latter four of which I have played countless times. My Personal favorite is "The Jester Race", which was one of two extremely pivotal albums in the development of my musical taste (along with Opeth's "Blackwater Park") and was also their first album to feature the band's current vocalist. "Come Clarity", while not a return to their older sound, is the best of their new recordings.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Natural Resources

Ok, so I was poking around earlier and ran into THIS awesome video. It's got beardliness, a cleverly delivered message about natural resources, sound effects, and beardliness. Oh, did I mention it stars an excellent beard? Well it does.

Actually, while we're on the subject of YouTube beards, I ought to share ANOTHER excellent beardly video. This one is a little less G-rated, though. Still, both these videos make me happy they exist.

Cultural Beard Paradox

I find that, when growing a beard, there is a single significant psychological paradox which one encounters. The issue is: "how do you feel about the idea of beards becoming popular?" On the one hand, as a bearded man speaking in defense of beards everywhere, I would of course love to see beards gain the kind of general acceptance and even popularity which I think they deserve. On the other hand, one of the great things about having a beard is the individuality and non-conformity beards represent. If beards remain a societal red-headed stepson, so to speak, then the irritation of dealing with derogatory remarks and discrimination in employment will continue indefinitely. But if beards become popular then the unique independence they demonstrate in their wearers will become lost. I am not, in saying this, making any attempt to prevent the popularity of beards. I love beards, and I would never fight against their continued growth. I am simply stating that, as is true of any minority activity or counter-cultural movement, once it becomes big enough it loses a part of what drew people to it in the first place. Of course, even though beards are making a bit of a comeback in the past few years, I don't see them ever becoming the norm in Western culture again, so this whole debate is probably moot. Nonetheless, it's some interesting food for thought.

Hair to Match

There is no question that I plan to let my beard grow wild and free, but there is some uncertainty about what kind of hair best suits a big beard. Long and wild, just like my face? Short and easy? Or completely buzzed off leaving the facial hair alone on my head? It may seem like a girlish thing to fuss over, but I feel nonetheless that it's a question worthy of a little consideration, since if long is the answer, I need to let it grow as I let my beard grow.