Sunday, April 26, 2009

Shield Beard

When you enter a fist-fight, the popular myth is that having a beard puts its wearer at a distinct disadvantage. It's a liability that can be yanked on and used to throw one to the ground. This, however, is not the case for those in the know. A beard is, in fact, an excellent defensive mechanism against a potential attacker. 

Imagine with me, a beard just at the bristly stage. As an incoming punch approaches the face, one thinks that definite damage would occur. Instead, the punch is not only cushioned by the beard, but the beard acts to do damage to the hand of the attacker. If honed just right, the attacker's hand will come away bloody. 

Of course, the problem with such a finely sharpened beard is that less loving from one's wife is likely to occur. Say goodbye to kisses, and hugs are certainly in jeopardy as well.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chins: part deux

The relationship between chins and beards is complex and often finely nuanced.
Those with very prominent man-chins may do well to balance their face with a mustache. Those whose chins are alive should not cover them with facial hair, out of respect. Those with butt-chins, such as my colleague (see previous post) have their own demons.

But some of us grow beards precisely because we have receded chins. It happens--don't judge.

According to the 2004 ed. Chinology Diagnostic Manual,

[a chin] is said to be receded if it meets at least two of the following three criteria:
(a) the distance between the lower lip and the bottom of the chin is less than 100th the length of the bridge of the nose.
(b) a profile of the face in question, as acquired by shadow tracing in a kindergarten class, shows that the chin is more that 3 ft. back from the tip of the nose, so long as the distance between said tip and the upper lip is not more than 1 ft.
(c) the person in question embarrassingly "misses" his target at least 50% of the times that he attempts to scratch his chin.

Well, it's time to come out of the closet: although you can't tell because of my beard, I have a receded chin.
In a bad enough case, you may want to consider wearing only a goatee--no mustache or beard... you'll have some serious compensation going on.
But, in a mild case, such as mine, facial hair of any sort (except Friendly Mutton Chops) should do the trick.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Split Chins

I, like my Polish forebears, have a split chin. A cleft chin, if you like. This facial architecture allows for interesting dynamics when growing and trimming beards. 

First, the growth. As my hair grows, it seems to want to grow with a small indentation directly in the middle of my chin. Much like Lazar Wolf in Fiddler on the Roof, I find myself stroking the two protruding tuffs of hair. Grabbing the two offshoots and twisting them outward, I find myself wishing to cackle. Like an evil Hollywood archnemesis. Or something.

Second, the trimming involves a navigation skills of Luke Skywalker in the Death Star Trench. Failure to trim successfully will leave an uneven beard, which no doubt will result in the whole beard coming off. The ultimate defeat. As such, the cleft chin beard must be handled with utmost care. Nimbly do my hands go over the crevice in my face... preventing the ultimate in humiliation. Others, however, do not have the same issues. Thus, I give it to SBC, who has the opposite kind of chin... the more prominant kind. 

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sparse Cheeks

Have you ever noticed a lawn, some patches of which grow thicker, or longer, than the rest? I thought so. Does it bother you? Me neither. Would it bother you if such was the case with your face? If you're like most guys, this is precisely the predicament in which you find yourself. Buck up! There's hope! Read on.

For several years, I lamented the imbalanced distribution of hair across my face: the goatee area is markedly thicker than the cheeks! Then I noticed that I was not the only one. This is the case with most men. For the first couple months of a beard's life, the goatee/mustache area can be several shades darker than the rest, resulting in a two-tone effect. Two-tone patterns can be aesthetically pleasing if Bibles are in view, but on your face?

Although there's little that can be done for those first couple months, there is a long term solution: trim the goatee area shorter than the rest. I call this "manual face balancing."

For me, for instance, a #2 over the goatee and #4 over the cheeks works very well, if I'm keeping my beard shorter. For a fuller look, I've kept the goatee at a #5 and the cheeks at #7. You see, the proportions can close in as the beard gets longer.

I've never grown a very long beard. If I ever do, I suspect that all such balancing will be unnecessary.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Neck Hair

Imagine sand paper. Now imagine sand paper on your skin. Now, imagine sand paper being rubbed over your skin with the force of fifty-thousand horses pulling a half-mile long concrete slab. You're only beginning to understand the pure, immistakable pain that is neck hair.

It's insidious. To leave the neck hair there is to invite wanton damage to one's neck. Few tell the tale, but an old Scotsman was said to have decapitated himself by turning his head too quick. His neck hair rubbed all the way through, and his head rolled. It was rumored that in the Inquisition one of their methods to keep the cost of execution down was to have men grow stubbly neck hair and then to make them look down too quickly. Their heads came off naturally.

Fellow men, remember to shave the neck hair. Unless you're going terminal with the whole beard. If that's the case, ignore my sage advice. Instead, grow it out. It'll only be a wonderous danger to others.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


There are few things that I get Monkish about, but facial hair is among them. An unsymmetrical goatee or neckline is absolutely unacceptable. Don't even talk to me about it.

Don't pretend that you don't know what I'm talking about, either. I recently screwed up, dinking around with a cheek-line (inadvisable and unnecessary for most of us), and by the time I tried correcting it, the inevitable was obvious: it was time to start over. I shaved. Fascinatingly, about 4 different guys who beheld the nakedness of my face the next day said, "ah, a tragic trimming accident?" They knew! All guys know.

Goatees are among the toughest. I mean, you've got to keep both sides perfectly parallel. If one turns an awkward angle, the other must be made to mirror it precisely. Or what about the angle at which the sides turn under the chin? Getting those to match is well-nigh impossible. For these and other reasons, I don't even bother with goats anymore.

Necklines can be almost as tough. If one side moves up toward the back of the jaw at a steeper angle than the other... I'll lose sleep.
Cheeklines are even more visible than necklines...I advise against them, except for picking off the occasional renegade making a break for the eye socket.

So, next time your wife asks you what the heck you're doing for so long in the bathroom, ask her if she'd like you to look like this guy, or this guy, or these guys.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Follicide by Yank

It's a rare and brutal form of follicide when the hairs of the beard are actually pulled out from their moorings. The pain that accompanies this is akin to having your eyeballs skewered with toothpicks, but with a more lingering sensation.

Take this for instance: last night, we were at Scott's house, watching a movie. I had a rare moment of silliness swell up within my soul, and was acting baboonish while trying to kiss my wife. She began to laugh, and as I came in for the kiss, she (not paying attention and with her head thrown back in laughter) closed her mouth. Around my beard. Only a couple casualities resulted, but the effect was severe. After rubbing, jumping, and bashing my face into the wall (perhaps not that last one), the damage was still felt to the core of my face. Alas, men... let me warn you. Avoid the yanking death of a follicle, known as follicide by yank.

Friday, April 10, 2009

This Week's Beard Salute: Midguardians

Middle Earth (Midguard in Norse mythology) has some great beards.

Take Gandalf, for instance:

Or Aragorn, whose pre-king beard...

 not to be compared with his post-king beard:

Gimli has an exceptional beard:

Although he'd rather plummet with the Balrog than have it pulled.

In Middle Earth, even the trees have beards:

Which all leads to my totally legitimate question:


Oh well, at least he makes the attempt when not in Middle Earth--


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bib Beard

New discoveries abound when you're growing a beard for the first time. Little things, like how annoying it can be to have a head cold with a beard. You can imagine. Or how much more seriously people take you. Doubt it? Grow a man-beard, you'll see.

Moments ago, I had another such discovery. My wife handed me a cup of water, and I rapidly downed it. Quite thirsty was I. And of course, as I tilted my head up, I realized I hadn't quite shaped my lips to the cup. I felt the water trickle down onto my lower lip and no doubt onto my shirt. That's what's happened every other time I've drank too fast. All over my nice Spurgeon hoodie. But not this time. To my amazement, when I looked down at my hoodie, there wasn't a drop of water on it. Like a sponge, my now-somewhat-thick beard soaked up the rebel liquid, squashing its insurgency against my rule over my hoodie. With one hand, I stroked the beard, and the water came off like a wet bear twisting in the wind. Pretty much awesome.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Nazarite Vow...Only... Not...

Some guy vowed to go unshaven until Metallica produces another album. I'd give him a beard salute if his motives weren't so impure.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Great Beards of History

Hans Nilsen Langseth, 17.6ft

Zachariah Taylor Wilcox, 14ft

Valentine Tapley, 12ft

Alistair MacWilkie, 11ft

Louis Coulon, 10.11ft

Edwin Smith, 8ft

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Follicide: n. the act of killing a follicle. 

Yesterday evening, I took my razor and my Barbasol and began to splash water on my face. Then, liberally applying the Barbasol to my face, I began the work. The key is to start where the beard ends, and move away from it with the razor. Not towards the beard. 

Moving the razor slowly and carefully, I shaped and shaved the stubble, cleaning my face up. This was not by edict, but by choice. Please, don't be alarmed. The beard, in all its out-of-control glory, will remain. For now. When the work was done, the beard was nicely trimmed, still long. But then, the mirror revealed another abnormality: on my chin, a tuff of hair considerably longer then the rest. I will likely be commiting follicide again soon...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

When Will the Carnage End?

For our purposes today, I'll classify three sorts of people: Non-Christians, Christians who enjoy bearded bliss, and Christians involved in the institutional emasculation of men.

The latter category, which as of this post includes the administration of certain universities, has prompted today's lament:

I have seen a great evil under the sun. Men--grown men--walking into a bathroom with masculinity fully intact, leaving clean shaven--shame faced--unable to look you in the eye as they mutter, "I feel like a 12 year old."

Christian institutions are wielding Hanun's razor, ignoring nature's lesson concerning gender-distinctive hair dynamics.

Why is this? Lewis offers a suggestion through the demon Screwtape, who says to his nephew Wormwood,
“It is the business of these great masters to produce in every age a general misdirection of what may be called sexual ‘taste’...Thus we have now for many centuries triumphed over nature to the extent of making certain secondary characteristics of the male (such as the beard) disagreeable to nearly all the females — and there is more in that than you might suppose…"
Of course, Lewis was not alone in this. 1,800 years before him, St. Clement of Alexandria said,

“How womanly it is for one who is a man to comb himself and shave himself with a razor, for the sake of fine effect, and to arrange his hair at the mirror, shave his cheeks, pluck hairs out of them, and smooth them!…For God wished women to be smooth and to rejoice in their locks alone growing spontaneously, as a horse in his mane. But He adorned man like the lions, with a beard, and endowed him as an attribute of manhood, with a hairy chest—a sign of strength and rule.”

What if the question is not, "are men permitted to grow beards," but rather, "are men permitted to shave?"

Every Scriptural reference to the shaving of beards involves disease, idolatry, judgment, or mourning.

Indeed, it is with mourning that our beards go down to Sheol.

I ask you, when will the carnage end?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Great Beards of Fiddler on the Roof

Tevye's beard pretty much rocked.

Motel's beard grew bigger by the time the movie was over. Quite the baller for his lady.

Even the town people's beards obviously contributed to the overall amazingness of the movie.

Lazar Wolf has the best beard in the movie, honestly. Too bad he didn't get the girl; 'twas the only fluke in the movie.

Perchik also did what was necessary to get his lady. Crazy socialist that he was, he was still pretty cool. I think he should've had a random beard pop out of his face when he did this. The stubble semi-suffices.


Examining my facial hair tonight, I discovered an abnormally long hair. Well over twice the size of the remainder of my follicles. The debate began: snip it? Let it grow in all its resplendence? Or yank it out? I finally decided to let it stay, so that its brethren might see it as an example and grow to a similar stature.

So my Brent Belford folicle will stay, and hopefully by osmosis the other hairs will grow. Tonight, we're doing a special blog post: the Fiddler on the Roof Edition!

Mazel tov!

Facial Hair Types

Thursday, April 2, 2009

This week's beard-salute: Jon Dyer

Men gather around things. Football. BBQ. Trucks.
Of course, the moment that attention is drawn to the gathering part--which is to say, the moment that focus shifts from football, bbq, or trucks to being together--men quickly disband with a grunt and a swagger. (Sort of like when two guys are walking and accidentally bump hands and both say "Wo..." in uncharacteristically deep voices.)
Well, at the risk of undermining my aim, I'd like mention that men gather around beards, too. I hasten to add that they do not gather around beards, they gather around beards.

Not only do men do so, they do so online. Yes, there is a thriving online beard community, and we'd like to introduce you to it. In that spirit, I plan to post links on a regular basis...the first of which involves a man that I respect more than most in the beard community.

By way of introduction...Have you ever heard of Africa's "big five"? If not, it's probably because, like me, you don't have enough money for your 69 cent morning java, let alone a rocking awesome african safari. Nonetheless, the "big five" is the holy grail of african big game hunting-- taking lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and cape buffalo. One who has done so is said to have accomplished "the big five."
Well, the world of beards (sometimes known as beard-world) has a holy grail of its own: the big 25. Wanna see? I bet you do. This week's beard-salute goes out to Jon Dyer:

Welcome: part deux

During my two years in the Israeli foreign legion--during which time I was made to wear a beard, of course--the unique luster of my beard secured my involvement with an elite special ops group, known then as the Facial Follicle Freedom Front. F4 operated undercover in Western society, dulling razor blades, filling Barbasol canisters with Rogain, and spreading pro-beard propaganda via subliminal messages in Cosmopolitan. Although our efforts produced something of a renaissance of goatees, and other half-hearted attempts at masculinity, full-orbed beardity was never realized en masse.
The Front has since been disbanded and my term with the Legion is up. But the spirit of F4 lives the Better Beards Blog. Gentlemen, our cause is no light thing. Will you join us?
This is nothing less than a call to beards...whatever. Ditch your razor, despise the kisslessness of your misguided wife, and hold your head up high: you're a man--a bearded man--and I salute you. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


The world of beards is vast and ancient. I myself have only recently ventured into this unknown territory, and I have only a few guides. My Father, who has gone before me, had a beard. Now, I venture out on my own experiment with my frothy forest of folicules; what becomes of it will be the annuls of this blog.

In addition, my friend Scott will be joining me. He has more experience in the ancient lands than I do, and his insights and posts will no doubt be helpful for those of us who are exercising our new found freedom, or discovering the freedom they enjoyed all along.