Monday, April 30, 2012

Epic Beards

I have a beard, but I don't often let it grow very thick. It starts driving me crazy and I have to thin it out again. Plus, my wife says it's very scratchy when it's in that in-between-thin-and-thick stage. So I thin it out. But I do appreciate and admire a well-grown beard. Some guys are better at it than others, just naturally I suppose. Here's a collection of photos of some famous epic beards. Enjoy!


1) Frederick Douglass:  Social reformer, orator, writer, and statesman, Douglass was also the possessor of an epic salt-and-pepper beard.

2)  Karl Marx:  Philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist, Marx was also proud to add "epic beard" to his list of accomplishments.

3)  Santa Claus:  He knows when you've been sleeping, he knows when you're awake, he knows if you've been bad or good, and he knows how to grow an epic beard. Whether you consider him to be "historical", "contemporary", or "fictitious" – Santa will forever be recognized as that jolly old elf with the flowing white beard.

4)  Rutherford B. Hayes:  The nineteenth president of the United States knew what it took to be elected in 1876: an epic beard. And he was up to the task. Long live long beards!

5)  Ambrose Burnside:  Soldier, railroad executive, inventory, industrialist, and politician, Burnside was a man of many talents. One of those talents was growing epic facial hair. Sure, he's clean-shaven below the lip, but look what's above and around it! Besides that, sideburns were named after the guy! You can't get much more epic than that!


1)  Jerry Garcia:  One thing there will never be a shortage of is rock stars sporting epic beards. By this point, it's almost a tradition. Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead was one of the first to bear a beard of epic proportions, and his beard legacy is sure to continue long after his death.

2)  Kenny Loggins:  Singer, songwriter, and soft-rock connoisseur, Loggins also once sported an epic beard. He's since gone clean-shaven, or even worse, worn the thin, stubbly "wuss" beard. But it was once epic, and here's the proof:

3) Brian "Head" Welch:  Once the hard-rocking guitarist for metal band Korn, Welch is now a solo artist who still plays hard rock music but that's heavily influenced by his newfound faith in Christ. One thing he didn't change when he turned his life around: that epic beard. In fact, I think it's actually become even more epic since then.

4)  Michael McDonald:  Highly-acclaimed singer McDonald keeps forgetting he's not in love anymore. But he'll never forget the time he decided to grow that epic beard – and liked it so much he kept it for, like, ever. Another salt-and-pepper classic, McDonald's epic beard is now almost all silvery-white.

5)  Rick Ross:  Rapper Rick Ross, the self-proclaimed "Boss" (of what, I'm not really sure), is definitely large and in charge when it comes to epic beards. Coupled with his often-shaved-bald head and bulky frame, Ross cuts quite an impressive figure, for what it's worth.

6)  Jim Morrison:  Poet and rocker Morrison was always known for his long locks, but in his later years he also sported a fairly epic beard of his own.

7)  John Lennon:  Former Beatle and all-around King of Oddity, Lennon was also known for growing long, epic beards and even sported an epic half-beard once (he shaved half of his face and left the other half bearded). I'll spare you the half-beard pic (you can Google it).

8)  ZZ Top:  Classic rock group ZZ Top is known for their blues-infused, guitar-heavy rock sound almost as much as they are known for their truly epic beards. Well, two of them at least. Dusty Hill (no relation) and Billy Gibbons have worn super-long reddish-gray beards for as long as anyone can remember. Ironically, the drummer Frank Beard (pictured in the middle below) is the only man in the group without an epic beard. Go figure!


1)  Brian Wilson:  The San Francisco Giants closer has, unquestionably, the most epic beard in baseball. Yes, it's real, though it doesn't look like it. The dark blackness of it is fake – he dyes it. The epicness of Wilson's beard has even spawned a slogan for when he comes into the game in the ninth inning: "Fear The Beard." I have to admit, if I was facing that thing from the batter's box, I'd probably fear it.

2)  Johnny Damon:  He doesn't sport the long hair or the beard anymore, but when outfielder Johnny Damon played for the Boston Red Sox, this is what he looked like. I envy a guy who can grow hair – on his head and his face – that epic. While this look is now a thing of the past for him, photographic evidence confirms Damon's former epicness.

3)  Donald Sutherland:  You might know him from one of the many movies he's acted in. You might know him as 24 actor Kiefer's dad. But this photo reveals him for who he truly is: the possessor of an epic beard. At one time, at least. This is a good look for Sutherland, very Santa-Claus-esque. He should have kept it, in my opinion.

4)  Zach Galifianakis – His name is a mouthful, but his face is quite hairful (I know that's not a word, spell-check!). Actor and comedian Galifianakis is best known for his roles in movies such as The Hangover (Parts I and II) and Dinner For Schmucks. But he might be even more famous for his epic beard. Kudos to you, Zach, for not letting success force you into shaving your face to meet some arbitrary Hollywood standard for what a leading actor should look like! Carry on with your epic self!

5)  Dan Haggerty:  He played "Grizzly Adams" on the classic TV series The Life And Times Of Grizzly Adams, and he definitely looked the part. You can't even draw a beard that epic! Long live the Grizzly!

6)  Robbie Coltrane as "Hagrid":  Sure, it's probably a fake beard, or at least a makeup-enhanced one at best. But we, as moviegoers, got to experience the awesome epicness of that beard for eight – count them, eight! – Harry Potter movies. And for that, Robbie, we thank you!

7)  "Macho Man" Randy Savage:  Wrestling has had its share of characters over the years, but this guy was one of the best! Savage, who passed away last year, sported huge muscles and an epic beard throughout his career and long after. Rest in epic peace, Macho Man!

8)  Elmar Weiser:  The 2001 World Champion of Full Beard Freestyle (who knew there even was such a thing?), German-born Weiser is famous almost exclusively for his epic beard. I mean, just look at it! A windmill beard? Are you kidding me?!

9)  Will Chevalier:  Another man who's famous only for his beard, Chevalier sports a curlicue beard of truly epic proportions here. Chevalier is also a competitive "bearder" (I don't think that's a word, either) who undoubtedly has won his share of awards as well, just judging by this cool pic.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

What The World Needs (According To Popular Culture)

1)  Love, Sweet Love:  And apparently, we also need awkwardly choreographed finger snaps.

2)  More Cowbell:  If you've got a fevah, the prescription is "more cowbell." Don't believe me? Ask Christopher Walken.

3)  A Little Christmas:  He acknowledges that he may be rushing things, but "go ahead and deck the halls again", says Johnny Mathis. And who are we argue to with him?

4)  To Talk About Kevin:  Kevin's a crazy kid who's always said and done strange things. But now it appears he's gearing up for his grand finale: World domination? A killing spree? Revolting against having to eat his broccoli? Only Kevin knows.

5)  Speed:  Do you feel the need, the need for speed? These guys do. And from what I've seen -- after having driven and ridden on parts of a major interstate this weekend -- a lot of other people feel the same need.


 6)  More Lemon Pledge:  Sure, you probably should just bring it from your own home. But if we had it here, the problem would be solved already. So, go get some Lemon Pledge. What are you waiting for?

7)  A Few More Rednecks:  And some people who "ain't afraid to take a stand." And "a little respect for the Lord and the law and the workin' man." Also, "a little peace and satisfaction," "some good people up front to take the lead," as well as "a little less talk and a little more action." Can't argue with that.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Things I Find Fascinating: Words You Can Make Using Letters From The Name "Barack Obama"

Yesterday's "rules" apply for today as well. If you're looking for a political rant, you're not going to find it here. Depending on your political leanings, you may find that some of the words I've come up with using the letters of President Barack Obama's name could be used to describe him or at least your opinion of him. If that's the case, it's unintentional. My purpose today (and yesterday when I made words from the letters of Mitt Romney's name) is not to build up or tear down the character of the man, but simply to build interesting words using letters from his name. No hidden agendas, just mindless word games. That being said, enjoy...

1)  CARAMBA:  Spanish interjection used as an exclamation of astonishment, dismay, or anger.

2)  MACRO:  Very large in scale, scope, or capability.

3)  AROMA:  (1) An odor arising from spices, plants, cooking, etc., especially an agreeable odor; fragrance.  (2) The odor or bouquet of wines or spirits.  (3) A pervasive characteristic or quality.

4)  KARMA:  (1) Action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation.  (2)  Fate; destiny.  (3) The good or bad emanations felt to be generated by someone or something.

5)  COMA:  A state of prolonged unconsciousness, including a lack of response to stimuli, from which it is impossible to impossible to rouse a person.

6)  AMOK:  A psychic disturbance characterized by depression followed by a manic urge to murder; mad with murderous frenzy.

7)  MACK:  To hit on, flirt with, or seduce another by using verbal or sometimes physical means of persuasion.

8)  MOCK:  (1) To attack or treat with ridicule, contempt, or derision.  (2) To ridicule by mimicry of action or speech; mimic derisively.  (3) To mimic, imitate, or counterfeit.  (4) To challenge; defy.  (5) To deceive, delude, or disappoint.

9)  CRAM:  (1) To fill something by force with more than it can easily hold.  (2) To force or stuff something.  (3) To fill with or as with an excessive amount of food; overfeed.

10)  ROB:  (1) To take something from someone by unlawful force or threat of violence; steal from.  (2) To deprive someone of some right or something legally due.  (3) To deprive of something unjustly or injuriously.

11)  MOB:  (1) A disorderly or riotous crowd of people.  (2) The common people; the masses; populace or multitude.

12)  BRO:  Brother; friend; pal; buddy. Commonly used in greetings.

*Definitions courtesy of and

Things I Find Fascinating: Words You Can Make Using Letters From The Name "Mitt Romney"

If you're looking for a political rant, you're not going to find one here. Depending on your political leanings, you may find that some of the words I've come up with using the letters of Mitt Romney's name could be used to describe him or at least your opinion of him. If that's the case, it's unintentional. My purpose today (and tomorrow when I make words from the letters of Barack Obama's name) is not to build up or tear down the character of the man, but simply to build interesting words using letters from his name. No hidden agendas, just mindless word games. That being said, enjoy...

1)  ENORMITY:  (1) Outrageous or heinous character; atrociousness. (2) Greatness of size, scope, extent, or influence; immensity.

2)  METONYM:  A figure of speech that consists of the use of the name of one object or concept for that of another to which it is related, or of which it is a part.  (Examples: Using "scepter" for "sovereignty," "the bottle" for "strong drink," or "count heads" for "count people.")

"Washington is badly broken. I think we recognize that.
Washington has not dealt with the problems
that we have in this nation." ~ Mitt Romney

Here Romney is using "Washington" as a metonym not to indicate that the city itself is actually broken and in need of repair, but rather that the United States government system (which is, of course, seated in its capital, Washington, D.C.) is broken.

3)  OMITTER:  One who leaves out, or fails to include or mention something.

4)  TORMENT:  (1)  A state of great bodily or mental suffering; agony; misery.  (2) Something that causes great bodily or mental pain or suffering.  (3) A source of much trouble, worry, or annoyance.

5)  ENMITY:  A feeling or condition of hostility; hatred; ill will; animosity; antagonism.

6)  MEMOIR:  (1) A record of events written by a person having intimate knowledge of them and based on personal observation.  (2) An account of one's personal life and experiences; autobiography.  (3) A biography or biographical sketch.

7)  MERINO:  (1) One of a breed of sheep, raised originally in Spain, valued for their fine wool.  (2) Wool from such sheep.  (3)  A yarn or fabric made from this wool.

(On a related note, the word ROMNEY is defined as: "One of an English breed of hardy sheep, having coarse, long wool.")

Merino Wool
Romney Wool

8)  OTTER:  Any of several aquatic, fur-bearing, weasel-like mammals of the genus Lutra and related genera, having webbed feet and a long, slightly flattened tail.

Butch Otter (left) with Mitt Romney (right)

9)  MIMER:  An actor who specializes in the art or technique of portraying a character, mood, idea, or narration by gestures and bodily movements.

10)  MONEY:  (1) Any circulating medium of exchange, including coins, paper money, and demand deposits.  (2) Gold, silver, or other metal in pieces of convenient form stamped by public authority and issued as a medium of exchange and measure of value.  (3)  Any article or substance used as a medium of exchange, measure of wealth, or means of payment, as checks on demand deposit or cowrie.

11)  OMEN:  Anything perceived or happening that is believed to portend a good or evil event or circumstance in the future; portent.

12)  YETI:  A legendary large, hairy, humanoid creature said to inhabit the Himalayas; another term for the Abominable Snowman.



*All definitions courtesy of .

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"Blue" Songs

On days like today, when I can't think of anything else to blog about, I come up with a theme that interests me and post random stuff about it. Today. it's a collection of songs entitled "Blue." I've never even heard of half of these bands and artists before, but apparently they all have one thing in common: they have recorded a song called simply "Blue." So here goes. Enjoy?  ~  JH

1)  The Birthday Massacre – Let's see...creepy dolls that walk around in your house. Check. A cute emo girl in a white dress with bunny ears. Check. A hole in the floor filled with black goo. Check. Sounds like the stuff of nightmares. Which means, of course, that I kind of like it. Go figure!

2)  A Perfect Circle – A lady visits her man's grave, then decides to dig up his body so she can eat dinner with him. But, like a dead man, he just sits there unmoving and not eating, which causes her to laugh hysterically and almost spit up her pale-green soup (don't want to know what's in it). Strange video. Okay song. Perfect for this post.

3)  LeAnn Rimes – Then 13 years old, chubby-cheeked, and oh-so-innocent, all-american girl LeAnn Rimes channeled Patsy Cline to shoot to the top of the charts with this remake of a 1958 Bill Mack song. It's still a good song, but they overplayed it back then (I was "into" country music at the time) and I got sick of it. Nice to hear it again after all these years.

4)  Joni Mitchell – This list wouldn't be complete without including this classic Joni Mitchell song, the title track from her Blue album. I love her voice – she could be singing about changing a tire, tying her shoe, or having the flu, and it would still sound beautiful. No video here, just her smooth vocals.

5)  Eiffel 65 – This has got to be one of the worst songs I've ever heard, and most definitely one of the worst music videos. The pointlessly stupid lyrics would be terrible even if they were written by a kindergartner. The cheesy computer-generated special effects were bad even for 1998 when this video was made. Watching this video, I realize that it would only be halfway decent if I were under the influence of psychotropic drugs (which I'm not). So why was I tapping my foot the whole time I was watching it? All I can say is: I dare you not to. Let me know how that goes, okay?

6)  Elastica – There was a time, back in my grunge rock days (yes, I liked grunge rock), when I would have been ecstatic to watch this video. Elastica was one of my favorite alternative bands. Being partial to "girl singers," I loved the fact that the band's two singers were both ladies. Their all-out rock-and-roll style appealed to me at the time. I even remember this song fairly well. But now that I'm older and wiser, this all sounds like a bunch of noise to me. That surprises me, and saddens me. But only a little.

7)  The Jayhawks – I was never a huge fan of this alt-country band, but apparently this song was one of their bigger hits. The video is more recent (this song charted back in 1995), and the guys are a bit older – perhaps their voices aren't quite as polished as they once were, but it's still pretty darn good for the style of music that it is. (For you sports fans out there, I thought these guys would hail from Kansas, being named what they are. But nope, they're from Minnesota.)

8)  Smashing Pumpkins – Again, in my grunge rock days, I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Smashing Pumpkins! I still appreciate their musical talent and Billy Corgan's unusual, very distinctive voice, though I don't actively listen to their music anymore. This is a nice video of them doing one of their songs live and outdoors several years before they hit it big. Even if you don't care for his voice, the musicality of the song is quite lovely.

9)  Utada Hikaru – I have no idea what this singer is singing about, as the entire song is in Japanese, but it's beautiful. Her voice is stunning! I've never heard of her before, but I'm going to look for more of her music. It's such a pleasant sound it doesn't even really matter what she's saying – to me, at least.

10)  Yngwie Malmsteen – I probably should have heard of this guy before, but I haven't. He's an exceptionally good rock guitarist, rivaling Jimi Hendrix, Slash, and (insert your own favorite guitarist here). No vocals here, just intense electric guitar playing, and it's pretty cool! His name, not so cool. Yngwie? Really? Wow!

BONUS TRACK: The Blue Man Group – If you've never heard of the Blue Man Group or never seen a video of them performing, you have to watch this one! Primarily percussionists, these blue-makeup-clad guys use nontraditional percussion instruments (along with traditional instruments in their backing band) to perform a very unique style of music. They put a lot of theatricality into it, which I really appreciate. Take a look for yourself – in this video, they're using drainage pipes as their instrument of choice.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Skit: "You Gotta Eat"

Just wrote this one out of the blue. The message is not that "church-hopping" is a good thing – I don't think it's a good idea to do that indefinitely, and definitely not without a clear goal in mind. The message is not that I have issues with my own church (Unity Free Will Baptist Church) – I love my church, and am fully convinced that "meat" is served there on a regular basis. The message is that you can't grow spiritually if you're not being fed spiritually. If all you ever get fed is milk, then all you'll ever be is a spiritual baby. (I Corinthians 3: 1-2)  The message is also that you shouldn't rely on your pastor and your church to be the only sources of your spiritual food. You should read and study the Word on your own on a daily basis. That's how you grow. Am I guilty of not doing this faithfully? Absolutely. So I'm talking to myself here as much as anybody else. Call it a reminder for me and for you of what we as Christians ought to be doing. If you're not even a spiritual baby yet, talk to someone you know who's a Christian, and ask them what it's all about. They'll be glad to usher you into the family of believers. Now for the skit....

DENISE:  Hi. I'm Denise.

ED:  Hello, Denise.

DENISE:  What's your name?

ED:  Ed.

DENISE:  Hi, Ed. If you don't mind, I'd like to give you something.

ED:  Okay. What is it?

DENISE:  It's an invitation.

ED:  To what?

DENISE:  Read it and see.

ED:  "Montosat Minuswed Community Church"?

DENISE:  That's right.

ED:  That's quite a name.

DENISE:  We're quite a church!

ED:  No offense, but I'm not much into the church thing.

DENISE:  That's okay. We're not either.

ED:  Excuse me?

DENISE:  What I mean is, we're not your typical church. We don't meet on Sunday mornings and Sunday evenings, or even Wednesday nights like most churches.

ED:  Well, when do you meet?

DENISE:  Monday through Saturday, excluding Wednesday.

ED:  Monday through Saturday? 

DENISE:  Excluding Wednesday.

ED:  That's a lot of church services!

DENISE:  Well, you know what they say. You gotta eat. We find that folks get too hungry if they only eat on Sundays and Wednesdays. So our members go to their regular church services on those days and come to us all the other days.

ED:  So, let me get this straight. You don't actually have church, you just feed people?

DENISE:  No, silly! We feed people by having church.

ED:  I think you lost me there.

DENISE:  Spiritual food!

ED:  You mean, like, manna and fishes and loaves – stuff like that?

DENISE:  Not exactly. You see, the Word of God is our food. It feeds our spiritual hunger. We can't just go to church on Sunday and Wednesday, get fed by the Word, and expect to live it out the other five days. You gotta eat every day.

ED:  Well, that makes sense, I suppose. But doesn't that get a bit – I don't know – tiring, being at church all the time like that?

DENISE:  Sometimes. But it's a sacrifice we make willingly. Because we want to be fed.
ED:  Why can't you just read and study the Bible on your own time, at home or on your lunch break at work?

DENISE:  Well, we could, of course. But we wouldn't do it. It's just like that old saying goes: "Out of sight, out of mind." If we're not reminded constantly that we need to read the Word, and pray, and tell others the good news of the Gospel, then we simply won't do it. So we go to church every day to feed our souls and refresh our hearts.

ED:  Okay, I get what you're saying. But let me ask you this: If you're really that hungry for the Word, won't you be compelled to read it for yourself whenever and wherever you need it, to satisfy that hunger? Won't it consume you in such a way that you have to fill that void immediately, not wait till the next church service – even if one is held every night?

DENISE:  I – I don't – 

ED:  It just seems to make sense to me that you eat when you're hungry, not just when someone tells you it's time to eat.

DENISE:  So you're saying that we shouldn't have church services every single day of the week?

ED:  That's not for me to decide. I'm just saying you shouldn't have to.

DENISE:  Are you sure you don't go to church somewhere? You seem to really know what you're talking about.

ED:  Oh, I've been to church plenty of times in my life. I just haven't found one that will satisfy my needs yet. 

DENISE:  Oh? And what needs are those?

ED:  Well, spiritually speaking, I need meat. And every church I've ever been to only serves milk. I know it does a body good, but I've gotta have more than just milk if I'm going to grow.

DENISE:  Can I have that brochure back now, Ed?

ED:  Sure. What's the problem?

DENISE:  You wouldn't like my church, either.

ED:  Oh yeah? Why not?

DENISE:  All we serve is spiritual broccoli. Pretty on the outside, even a bit nutritious. But all you taste is bitterness.

ED:  Ugh!

DENISE:  Yeah. Come to think of it, I'm not too crazy about it myself.

ED:  Understandably so.

DENISE:  Well, don't give up, Ed. I'm sure you'll find a church that will feed your soul. Till then, stay in the Word.

ED:  Of course, I will. And you do the same. After all, you gotta eat.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Things I Find Fascinating: Real Names Of Famous People

Do you think Michael Caine would have ever made it big if 
he'd gone by his real name, Maurice Micklewhite? Probably not.

 This lovely and talented lady made a name for herself as 
an actress and dancer. But she must have thought her birth 
name of Tula Ellice Finklea wouldn't get her very far, so she 
changed her name to the more poetic-sounding Cyd Charisse.

For some reason, the name Vincent Damon Furnier just didn't
have that scary rock star vibe he was going for. So he changed
 his name to Alice Cooper. Yeah, that's SO much better!

 Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage, everyone's 
favorite jazz singer: Norma Deloris Egstrom! Haven't heard of her? 
Well, maybe you know her as Peggy Lee! (If you're my age or younger,  
you probably haven't heard of her at all -- but that's beside the point.)

Even with the old LP records of the day being much larger than 
the CD's of recent history, I don't think that the name Henry John 
Deutschendorf, Jr. would have fit very well running across the top 
there. So he changed his name to John Denver instead. Wise move.

Morgan Fairchild: A glamorous name for a glamorous lady. 
Had she gone by her original name of Patsy Ann McClenny
would she have been quite as famous? The world will never know...

Whether you know him as Little Joe from Bonanza, Pa Ingalls 
from Little House On The Prairie, or an earthbound angel on 
Highway To Heaven, you probably know that his real name is  
Michael Landon. Except that it isn't. His parents called him  
Eugene Orowitz.  He opted to change it. Thankfully.

The queen of 1990s romantic comedies was born with more 
names than you shake a proverbial stick at. This poor girl's parents 
got carried away and named her Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra 
at birth. Since that would never look right alongside the shortly-named 
Tom Hanks on the silver screen, she opted to go by, simply, Meg Ryan.

This is world-famous fashion designer, Ralph Lauren
Name at birth: Ralph Lipschitz. No comment.

You may know her from Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Or, if
you're younger, you may recognize her as that pretty middle-aged
British lady on the jewelry commercials. Hollywood knows her as simply 
Jane Seymour. At birth, she was called (as the Brits say instead
of "named") Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg. Yeah, 
that would have never worked for her, I don't think. Good choice, Joyce.