Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Top 10 Moustaches of All Time

Well I'm already on this kick, so I figured I'd provide the logical follow-up to my sideburns list: a list of the top 10 moustaches of all time. Unlike the previous list, this one got really hairy (nyuk nyuk) as I got near the bottom and had to decide who to exclude. Frankly, there are just far more notable moustaches out there than there are notable sideburns. Therefore, I've decided to open this list with a little rundown of honorable mentions. As before, I combined the whole famous/recognizable/iconic/influential criteria with the actual size, quality, and overall physical incredible-ness of the hair itself.

So, as I said, here are some honorable mentions. Those of you guessing at home can scratch these gentlemen, fine though their bushy upper lips may be, from your scorecards.

Honorable Mentions:
Albert Einstein (Famous, but not terribly impressive looking.)
Charlie Chaplin (Distinctive, but not too impressive and definitely ruined by Hitler.)
Howard Taft (Best presidential moustache, but just didn't quite make the cut.)
Doc Holliday (Great, but you'll see why it would feel redundant.)
Groucho Marx (Most duplicated moustache ever, but it loses points for being half paint.)
Joseph Stalin (Good moustache, but I didn't want to put a mass murderer in my top 10.)
John Holmes (The cause of the phrase "porn star moustache", so it's significant but unappealing.)
Mr. Pringles, Mr. Monopoly, and Yosemite Sam (They're not real.)


#10. Frank Zappa

After thinking long and hard about the rock-moustache paradise of the '60s and '70s, I've decided that the absolute best upper lip of the era's musicians belonged to Frank Zappa. Highly recognizable, thick and full, and perfectly complimented by the best soul patch I've ever seen. When I think of facial hair in 1970, I picture Frank Zappa's moustache.


#9. Nick Offerman

As Parks & Recreation's brilliant Ron Swanson, Nick Offerman has become the modern flagship of the moustache fleet. His simple, manly, straight-to-the-point moustache perfectly epitomizes the masculine ideal.


#8. Gunter Rosin

Germany's Gunter Rosin is a king in the world of competitive facial hair, having won three world championships and numerous other awards. His huge Hungarian styled moustache is possibly the most physically impressive set of whiskers on this list.


#7. Hulk Hogan

Hogan's bleach-blond walrus moustache is the most distinctive symbol ever to emerge from the world of pro wrestling. It perfectly captures the spirit of Americana and 1980s excess. Paul Sr. from American Chopper has helped to revitalize the look in recent years, but it ultimately still belongs to the Hulk.


#6. Rollie Fingers

Many athletes have sported moustaches over the years, especially in baseball, but none did so with quite so much flair as the Hall of Fame reliever Rollie Fingers. Now in his 60s, he still sports his signature waxed and curled lip ornament.


#5. Salvador Dali

Admittedly, Dali's style was not for everybody. In fact, I'd argue it isn't for anybody at all, other than Dali himself. It is (thankfully) rarely imitated. That said, the man sported one of the most bizarre and famous moustaches in history, and he actually managed to pull it off for the most part.


#4. Tom Selleck

Arguably no actor has ever made the moustache seem more natural and appealing. Almost certainly the favorite moustache of American women, Tom Selleck's signature look has made him one of the only figures in Hollywood to be synonymous with manliness, moustaches, and sex appeal.


#3. Sam Elliott

However, the best actor moustache has to go to Sam Elliott. Like Selleck he's become inseparable from his lip whiskers, but Elliott's grey bristles are thicker, fuller, and more impressive than those of any other notable Hollywood figure.


#2. Friedrich Nietzsche

A crazy bramble of bushy awesomeness, Nietzsche owned one wild moustache. Add to that the fact that he's one of the most famous and important philosophers to emerge outside of ancient Greece, and you've got a powerful combination. Other great thinkers may have stroked their beards, which Nietzsche lacked, but he had more than enough moustache to stroke instead.


#1. Wyatt Earp

Earp is my top choice because of his winning combination of all the factors I considered. Not only is his moustache famous and emblematic of a highly recognizable period in American history, it is also good enough from a purely physical perspective to warrant a spot on the list regardless of the face to which it belonged. Besides, in terms of bad-ass manliness it's hard to top a marshall from the wild west, even if his exploits were exaggerated in later years.


And those are my picks for the top 10 moustaches of all time.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Top 10 Sideburns of All Time

A few weeks ago I made the decision to shave my chin and go back to the friendly mutton chops. As patently unattractive as they may be, I personally like them. Additionally, this time I didn't trim the hair down shorter, as I have in the past, so they have a couple inches of length (which leaves them nice and bushy).

In the course of thinking about what I'd like to do with my big ol' sideburns, I've found myself looking at pictures online. Additionally I've already followed competitive bearding for several years, I recently watched the two completed seasons of Whisker Wars, this blog is still at least partially related to facial hair, and I haven't done a top 10 list in a while. Thus, a perfect storm has lead to the creation of this, my list of the 10 greatest sets of sideburns ever donned by man. I judged based partly on fame/recognizability/influence, partly on size, and partly on pure awesomeness.

Without further ado, since we've had plenty of that already, here's the list:


#10. Joe Namath

Mr. Namath's sideburns may not be as huge and crazy as many of the others on this list, but they earn their place here by being arguably the most iconic in sports history. Namath sitting on the sidelines in Super Bowl III with his bushy burns resting above the collar of a lush fur coat has become one of football's most famous images.


#9. John Lennon

Lennon was not famous for his sideburns, but for much of his music career he sported quite an impressive pair. When one of the music world's best known faces is framed by such impressive sideburns, it's easy to see why they belong on this list.


#8. Eric Harvey Brown

I'm guessing most of you don't know who this is. Well he was, at least for a time, one of the major photographers in the beard competition world. So, while his sideburns are impressive enough to speak for themselves (I mean, how can those monsters NOT make the list?) he has actually spent more time capturing the awesome beardliness of others.


#7. Lemmy Kilmister

Lemmy wins the title for the most metal sideburns in history. They're just as ragged, manly, and downright awesome as everything else about him. Additionally, Lemmy has stuck to his guns and sported this style for so long that it's pretty much impossible to imagine the Motörhead frontman without them.


#6. Jürgen Burkhardt

If bigger is better, than Germany's Jürgen Burkhardt belongs at the very top of this list. His insanely long sideburns earned him top honors in the category at the 2007 World Beard and Moustache Championships. Just look at those things.


#5. Hugh Jackman (as Wolverine)

While he doesn't always sport the impressive chops, as Wolverine Jackman has become the king of pop culture sideburns in the new millennium. They look fierce, they're instantly recognized by anybody who has owned a television this decade, and for those reasons they belong in the top 5.


#4. Toot Joslin

Another competitive bearder, Toot is the winner out of that crowd because of his styling. It is both appealing and functional, keeping his extremely long whiskers nicely contained (their actual length is similar to Brown's in his picture). He's also the reigning national champion in the sideburns category, and has won many other titles including world champion.


#3. Elvis Presley

Probably the most famous sideburns in history belonged to the King. Elvis Presley sported jet black spears that are to this day the most imitated sideburns in the world. They weren't as big or impressive as most of these other entries, but in terms of influence they take top honors.


#2. Martin Van Buren

Once upon a time, US presidents donned facial hair with stunning regularity. In terms of sideburns, none ever did so with such striking commitment and intensity as Van Buren. The eighth president, who is reputed to have presided over cabinet meetings while carrying a pair of pistols, was clearly a man who played by his own rules. His own wild, bushy rules.


#1. Ambrose Burnside

A famous Union general in the American Civil War, Burnside really has to have the greatest sideburns in history. I mean, the facial hair style is, by most accounts, named after him. How can you top that as a credential? Besides, he really did sport an impressive set of chops throughout his adult life. After all, you don't become the name source of a whole new type of beard style unless you rock it like a pro.


Those, ladies and gentlemen, are my picks as the top 10 sideburns in history.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Oh, Their Faces!

This video has been floating around for about a month, but I only just watched it today. I'm not going to say that the 6 and 9 year olds' attempt at black metal on America's Got Talent was "good" per se, but I love that they gave it a whirl. More importantly, I laughed quite a bit watching the faces of the judges and audience.

As one commenter observed, this is clearly the result of parenting done right.

Ronnie James Dio: The Beginning

I've seen several years, ranging from 1958-1962 listed as the official release date for the two songs in the first video, but one thing that is consistent is that they are the first two tracks to feature the legendary metal front-man on vocals.

This record, released by Ronnie and the Redcaps, doesn't sound bad for the type of music that it is. It's just amazing to listen to "An Angel is Missing" right next to something like "Heaven and Hell" and realize that it's the same man. See for yourself:

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Joys of YouTube

I was just re-re-re-re-re-re-rewatching the music video for Metallica's cover of "Turn the Page" because, well, that song is awesome. Actually, the whole thing was prompted by a friend who asked people on Facebook what their favorite metal cover songs were, and that happens to be mine. Anyway, while I was there there I noticed this comment:

"Not being funny but these old guys really need to retire, music is crap too! Look at how amazing Lil Wayne is compared to these old dicks!"

I've long since given up caring even a little bit what people have to say in the comment section, as something about online anonymity seems to breed next-level stupidity. Still, I have to be honest, a little part of my faith in humanity died. I mean, even if we were to accept this guy's rather poor assumption that rap is inherently better than metal (a point I absolutely refuse to concede), are you telling me he couldn't have come up with a better rapper than Lil Wayne? Seriously? Not even Tupac or somebody? Yikes.

Let's forget about him, though. Metallica calls.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Stomach Earth

Someone posted this on Facebook, and I am quite happy they did. I haven't had a chance to listen through the full album yet, but if you like really dark and ugly doom, I'd suggest giving it a whirl.

Stomach Earth (full album stream)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Finntroll - Bloodsvept

Finntroll have long resided on the list of bands I like reasonably well but don't actively follow. They were largely responsible for piquing my interest in folk metal, but after that they just kind of faded into the background of my consciousness.

Well with the release of the Finnish crew's newest album this spring, I decided to give them my attention again, and I wasn't disappointed. Their music really hasn't changed in any notable way: it's still fantasy-infused folk metal played with plenty of skill and energy. This album feels a little angrier to me than the last Finntroll material I listened to, but to be fair I haven't caught the last couple of albums. In general, I'd say that this has a little more metal and less folk than their old music, but it still feels very much like the same band I remember.

The snarling Swedish vocals, the hyperactive guitars, the spash of flavor from accordions and synths, and the goofy costume aesthetic of the band are all still there and they all click. This is not a brilliant, powerhouse album that redefines the sub-genre or anything, but it's a very good record that works well on a number of levels. If you like folk metal then you already know these guys and have likely checked this out yourself by now. If you don't, then this is as good a place as any to start.

Grade: B+

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Manegarm - Legions of the North

First off, sorry I haven't posted in such a long time. In the past couple months I finished college, moved all my stuff to my parents' house, went to work raising some cash, packed up and moved from Ohio back out to Nevada (a car-trouble-filled odyssey in its own right), and started up my new job here in Las Vegas. So, basically, I've been occupied. I'm pretty much settled in at this point, so while I won't be posting daily or anything, I'm finally going to start producing some material again.

A couple weeks ago, one of my absolute favorite metal bands released their first album in nearly four years. Månegarm are a Swedish Viking metal band who came into this release on a streak of six excellent albums. Their 2007 record Vargstenen in particular deserves a place amongst the top handful of albums in the sub-genre's history.

With all the anticipation I felt for this record, it's perhaps understandable that it didn't quite live up to my expectations. Now don't get me wrong, this is a good album. But it lacks that "it factor" that the band usually brings to the table. The songs are entertaining, but they feel a little bit cheesy in comparison with the group's previous material, with more of an emphasis on bouncy catchiness and less of the hostile beauty I've come to expect.

One really major factor that has affected the feel of the record is the band's lamentable decision to transition from Swedish to English lyrics. Somebody in Finntroll (I forget who) once noted that Swedish sounds "damn trollish" and it's kind of true. The Nordic languages have a sound that suits this kind of music really well, and by stepping away from both their roots and that guttural harshness, the band has lost something.

The songwriting in general is somewhat culpable as well, given the aforementioned bouncy catchiness. The riffs, the tempo, and the overall feel is just more (and I hate the hipster implications of saying this) . . . commercial. I mean, it's not Korpiklaani or anything, but it feels much more geared toward accessibility than their previous work. There's nothing wrong with accessibility, unless it comes at the cost of quality, and here I think it does.

It's funny how negative this review sounds, because like I said at the start, I actually liked this album just fine. It really wasn't bad at all, and I'd have little hesitation in offering it up to fans of the genre. Comeing from a band that has maintained such a tremendous level of quality, though, it's a clear step down from the summit.

Grade: B