December 3, 2017
“The Band Goes to a Movie”
After our show at “The Mansion” in Maharishi Vedic City, we played a few unannounced shows in parking lots throughout eastern Iowa using a 17,500-watt generator Jake bought from someone at a “steep discount” because the muffler was no longer attached. It is really loud. Louder than we are, actually. At one show, we didn’t realize the instruments were off until the last song. At that point, we just pantomimed the final number to the two people in attendance who were certain we were a “hidden camera show” or the “world’s worst flash mob.”
The two grand Jake dropped on the generator was unanimously agreed upon by the rest of the band as a poor investment. When confronted about this, Jake replied that he would simply win another award and make back “one hundred times” that much. It was the first incident in which the whole band had a real fight. Not that we didn’t fight individually. In fact, it is getting alarming how many times we have to pull the van over so two members can physically assault one another on the side of the road.
Amy seems to be the most frequent combatant. She will “drop gloves” for literally any reason. Jeff mispronounced the word “melee” by putting the emphasis on the second syllable like “muh-LAY” and that was enough. Even though Amy had just finished splitting my lip in two places, she didn’t even bother getting back in the van. She just used a wet wipe on her knuckles to avoid cross contamination of blood and waited for Jeff to “come get his.”
The whole band fighting was something different. It was evident that morale was falling since our next paying gig was a week out. The parking lot shows are fun, but it is cold, and Jason has taken to aggressively reading excerpts from Zinn’s People’s History of the United States between songs and challenging what few people stop to listen, “Do you even know? Do you? Do you? You don’t know. You don’t know.”
Instead of letting the animus grow to a boil, we decided to go to a movie together at a discount movie theater. We let Jeff choose the movie because of the regularity in which he is on the receiving end of a roadside beating. He chose Jigsaw thinking it was a documentary on his favorite pastime. Even at the urging from the rest of the band that it was not what he thought, he wouldn’t listen. He simply would plug his ears, stomp his feet as if marching, and chant “No spoilers!”
Needless to write, but the film was considerably different than what Jeff expected. After the show and as we continued east in the van towards our next parking lot gig, we discussed the nuances of the film; each pretending as if they were writing a film review column. What follows are the five reviews of Lionsgate Film’s Jigsaw as reviewed by the five members of the band.
“An action committed in anger, is an action doomed to failure.” That’s Genghis Khan who, fun fact, it turns out is related to me. I took one of the ancestry DNA tests and I am four percent Khan. Anyway, I can’t remember how the movie starts, I was looking something up on my Apple Watch (series three, no big deal, but just to get things accurate), and kind of went down a rabbit hole on the history of the Saw franchise. That guy in the first one, Princess Bride guy, he has a woman’s name, I think. Anyway, turns out he didn’t die. I thought I read he was shot by police because he pointed some cigarettes at them. Couldn’t confirm it, and Snopes listed it as false, so I guess it is still undecided.
So, the movie starts, or at least started for me and there were these people with buckets on their heads for some reason. I didn’t catch why, but they got out of the buckets and went to the next room. It reminds me of one of those “Escape Room” games. I went to one of those one time. I looked up the name of the place I went to during the movie, so I missed another chunk of the plot. I was able to find some pictures I took when I was solving all the challenges for my team at the escape room place. It is amazing how good pictures are on the iPhone X (that’s what I have, again, no big deal, just being factual).
I remember at one point in the movie, some people were being buried by cornmeal, I think. There was also a laser collar that someone wears that eventually kills the cop who is really the bad guy. Maybe, who knows.
All in all, I would give the movie a B-. It didn’t really hold my attention, Apple makes the best consumer electronics, and Genghis Khan is my uncle.
“I want to play a game.” You and me both, Pal!
When I was nineteen, I started going through puberty. I couldn’t wait for my voice to drop, peach fuzz to turn into real whiskers, and most importantly, be six feet tall. Well, as Meatloaf tries to argue, “Two out of three ain’t bad.” Unfortunately, Meatloaf is wrong! Even after using gravity boots every day for a year, I never did make it to six feet, and that fact haunts my family to this day.
So, why do I bring this up? Two reasons: one, therapy is expensive. The second reason is probably more relevant; Jigsaw is the epitome of a 5’11” movie: worthless in almost every single way.
See, a 5’11” person looks like they could be six feet tall (perfection), but they are not. They are simply masquerading as something better than they are. Jigsaw could have been an amazing movie about puzzles and the people who love them. Instead, it is an hour and a half of torture. So, if you are in to torture, it could be worth your time. If you are in to jigsaw puzzles, don’t bother.
If I had to apply some type of rating system to the film, which I clearly am under no obligation to do, I would give it the dreaded “Kansas City Star, December 26, 1987 Crossword.” In other words, nearly impossible to get through.
Has anybody ever looked at Jeff? I mean really looked at him. There is just something about him that makes me want to pull the van over to the side of the road and just attack him.
First, he picks this movie based on absolutely nothing but the name. He thinks it’s about puzzles. Really, Jeff!? You think Hollywood made and released a movie about jigsaw puzzles? Also, have you heard him say “melee?” I mean, who says it like that? Does he think it’s French? Sure, it probably IS French, but it’s not that French. He sounds like he is saying “m’lady” wrong.
I have no idea what the movie is about. I was so distracted by Jeff’s whimpering throughout the whole film that I couldn’t concentrate for more than a few seconds. I usually am all about a good torture film. I don’t even need story. College kids traveling abroad? That’s enough setup for me. Ancient god being brought back to life? Almost too much exposition. Just get to it. I did catch a couple of good scenes in my peripheral while staring at Jeff. There was one with a laser collar towards the end, but I don’t want to ruin it.
Oh! And has anyone heard Jeff eat popcorn. He slurps it! God as my witness, he somehow has found a way to slurp popcorn. It’s incredible!
I give the movie seventeen roadside beatdowns because that is what I am going to be dishing out after that experience.
I don’t know how many of you sheeple have read Howard Zinn’s People’s History, but I would bet not many. You really should if you want to stop being a sheepson (sherpson? sheperson?) Jigsaw really reminds me of the book in a lot of ways. See, America has always been a nation where an elite minority exploit the majority and nobody does anything about it. Do you even know? Do you? You don’t know. Well, Jigsaw is just a thinly veiled allegory of the True history of America.
There is this guy. Super powerful, behind the scenes type guy, maybe he is “Jigsaw,” I don’t know. You only hear him on tapes, and everything he says everybody just has to do. Like, he gives them some cryptic riddle that says what he wants, and they have to figure it out before they get killed by this saw. Basically, they have to sacrifice their own sweat and blood (their life essence) to stop the saw.
This is an almost embarrassingly simplistic metaphor about the working class in this country. “Hey, you. Person with original thoughts, go to school” (sweat). “Now, go to college” (blood) “Now, go get a job” (lots of blood and sweat). “Now buy things” (so much blood). “What’s that? You don’t have any more blood to give? Make kids so they can do the same thing” (Kid blood). So obvious! It’s almost like they weren’t even trying to disguise the fact that they are a “Zinn-Fidels” (that’s what we call ourselves).
Later in the movie, two of the characters are being buried alive. The other character has to admit that he did something bad to save them. Howard Zinn says the most revolutionary act is to tell the truth. The guy who has his leg trapped is America; he needs to admit what he has done (war, genocide, slavery) before the other characters (the youth) are buried (in ignorance and debt.) Man, you don’t even know.
I give Jigsaw one accusation of plagiarism and one star for at least attempting to enlighten a docile populace.
I am not angry I saw it. Three out of five stars.
Outside of a special one night stopover benefit show in Vermillion in late September, the band has been touring in support of their nearly non-existent presence on the national (and even regional) music scene. However, they believe their hometown fans always like to keep up-to-date on what they are doing and where they are doing it, and, although completely unsolicited, they have begun sending what amounts to journal entries detailing their journeys around these United States. Originally, they suggested a feature on the website called “Missives from the Minstrels,” but they clearly don’t know what a missive is, and that name just sounds dumb. What follows is something no one asked for, but content is king…
September 29, 2017
“Jason Hits a Deer”
There is an imbalance in the tires of the van that is causing them to wear unevenly. Jeff is behind the wheel and he is driving at a constant fifty-seven miles per hour. He says that this is for two reasons. The first is that it is the most fuel efficient speed to travel, and since most of the gigs Jake set up for us are paying us in bar food and various types of something Jason refers to as “legitimate” crypto-currency, we have to conserve as much as possible. I did ask Jason what he meant my “legitimate.” I specifically asked if we were being paid in Bitcoin. He just smiled at me and said “Yeah, sure. Bitcoin.” So, I don’t think we are being paid in Bitcoin.
The second reason we are driving at fifty-seven miles per hour everywhere (and I mean everywhere; we have gone through a couple of towns at fifty-seven and it is terrifying) is that the uneven tires make a dull thudding noise because of how much we have worn them due to the imbalance. Driving at fifty-seven, according to Jeff, makes the thud happen at eighty-three beats per minute. The reason this is important is because the song Jeff has the most trouble keeping the beat on is a song we play at eighty-three beats per minute. Jeff says he is essentially practicing the entire time he is driving.
It was good to see my kids again after Monday’s show. It had been nearly a month, and if all goes well, it may be several years before I see them again. The music business is a fickle mistress, but we are all in it for the long haul. Jason and Amy worry that the babysitter is going to get wise to their texts of “sorry, just a few more hours” that they have been sending for nearly four days. Vermillion is where our hearts are, but it was time for us to remove our training wheels and fly like an eagle. Freedom.
We are on our way to our next show that Jeff booked at “The Mansion” in Maharishi Vedic City in Iowa. The place sounds pretty great if Jeff is to be believed. Nobody else in the band has ever heard of it. I try to get more information out of Jeff about the place, but he is really focused on the thud-thud-thud, so I leave him be.
Jake is in the far back seat answering what he calls “fan mail.” I put it in quotes because responding to cease and desist notices from all of the Hard Rock Café hotels in North America doesn’t really count. Jake likes to point out it solidifies we are a band since it is addressed to “The Beards” AND most states allow for fifteen days from the time the notice is received before it is acted upon, so he still thinks we have a chance with some of them right up to when the fifteen days transpire. “A day and a dream,” he likes to say, which would be a lot more meaningful if it wasn’t the name of a hip hop website he visits several times a day.
We continue to get hopelessly lost because Amy insists on navigating by a Rand McNally atlas she received when she first signed up for auto insurance in the nineties. She claims it makes the experience of being on the road more “authentic.” Of course, since some of the roads did not exist when the atlas was printed, it is taking us quite a while to get anywhere. On top of that, it appears that Maharishi Vedic City did not exist before 2001. Amy just has us making larger and larger rings outward from Iowa City in the hopes that we will eventually see a road sign… And that is when it happened.
Jeff had long since succumbed to the highway hypnosis brought on by the eighty-three beats per minute. The aimless directions and hours past a needed restroom break caused him to lose focus and nearly hit something that had wondered on to the small county road. Luckily he swerved and missed it, coming to a stop with the front end of the van in the ditch. There in the road stood a full grown adult whitetail deer. The chaos of the swerving van didn’t seem to affect it at all. It continued to stand unflinching in the road.
Jeff and I exited the car to chase the animal back into the woods where it would be safe, but the animal wouldn’t move. From a distance we yelled at it like ranchers at a cattle drive. The deer took no notice. We walked closer, making our way to the front of the deer to make sure it saw us; the last thing we wanted to do was have the thing get startled and kick at us. The closer we got, the more it unnerved us that the deer made no outward sign of being frightened. We both spread our arms wide, trying to look as big as possible. Unfortunately for Jeff, he is a pretty small man, so even with his arms spread, he is not very frightening.
We eventually get close enough to almost touch the deer. It is a profound and moving experience, not unlike watching a Brendan Fraser movie. Jeff begins to reach his hand out to the deer. “Aren’t you worried it could have rabies?” I ask.
“Only bats and small children can get rabies,” he tells me. I’m not sure if it is true, but he’s the biologist. Jeff begins to stroke the underside of the deer’s chin and speaks softly to it. He is using English, which seems stupid.
Suddenly, the once docile animal’s head shifts slightly and its eyes seem to focus on something behind Jeff and me. A rustling sound grows and it is obviously the quickened footfalls of another person. A voice booms, “Git’ on out of here, y’here? Git!” Splitting between the two of us, Jason comes leaping with his fist cocked and swings wildly, landing a haymaker on the animal’s head. The force of the blow stumbles the animal backwards falling to its front knees. Then, as if a newborn, it regains the balance of its front legs and runs off. Slowly at first; then faster.
Jeff and I stare at Jason in silence. He turns to us after watching the deer make it to the tree line and says, “Better this way. Thing probably had rabies. Besides, we are running late.”
We file back into the van. Amy traces her finger along a blue line in the atlas that will take us no closer to where we are going, but we will get there; at fifty-seven miles per hour.
Some time ago an oddity appeared in the data that I mine almost hourly in regards to this ghost town of a website. The oddity was a visitor from a foreign IP address. In and of itself, a foreign fan isn’t that odd. Usually they are looking for grooming tips, or they have some strange fetish, and their cursory grasp of the language allows them only general search terms consisting of the nouns they want to look at. Whatever brings them here, they are usually disappointed and leave within a few seconds.
The oddity I spotted was when a visitor from overseas didn’t leave right away. Not only that, but he came back a few days later, then a few days after that. He would spend time listening to the music and reading old posts. However unlikely, he was becoming a fan. When I saw the reported region of where the access was coming from, it told me it was Shelekhov, Russia (I hope I am saying that right, my Russian is pretty terrible).
He didn’t try to contact us at any time, and he never went more than a week before checking back in with the site (even though we sometimes neglect the page way more than we should). I started calling him “Russ” because I am not very creative, and I started imagining what he is like. It started becoming my “Rivers Cuomo” moment from the song “Across the Sea.” Don’t worry if you don’t get the reference.
I reached out to Russ with my broken Russian and asked him about himself. It turns out we are more alike than I first thought. Russ lives on the second floor of a three story building. He hates it because the people above him sound like they are “constantly practicing traditional Russian dancing” and the people below him are “extremely violent and steal from him constantly.” He is thirty-two and has a job twenty kilometers away in Irkutsk. When I ask him if the area is anything like it is in the game Risk, he pretends to not know what I am talking about, but I think he is just trying to cover up the fact that it is so easy to conquer and really doesn’t have much in the way of strategic advantage.
Russ tells me he would love to someday come and see a live show by the Beards, and I tell him that he should stop trying to change the outcome of our elections. We like to tease each other late at night.
By the by, he also said he would love to see some of the propaganda (his word not mine) that the Beards use to promote their shows. I thought the least I could do was give him that.
“Three Blades” is a feature that weareallbeards.com publishes wherein we invite different members of the community to share three tips/tricks/tales about what it is like to be a hirsute hero in an age of naked chins.
For our second installment, we snagged city engineer Jose Dominguez to give us three “blades” of life with a beard
With Jose Dominguez
When I was a young boy in Puerto Rico, I dreamed of one day moving to a small city in the United States where its sparseness was rivaled only by its homogeneity. Granted, these were the feverish dreams of a sickly boy that had posters on the wall of Pedro Rodriguez (the famous engineer, not the Formula One racer). I was confident that one day I too would be a great engineer. I was also confident that my boyish, some would say coquettishly soft and pretty, features would make it more difficult to break into the “boy’s club” that is civil and city engineering. It was only when I saw a portrait of Roberto Cofresí y Ramírez de Arellano that I saw the solution to my problem. This man was revered, feared even. There, in his portrait was my salvation, his beard!
It was the beard that granted him power and authority over so many. It was the beard that made him a modern hero. Of course, I would learn years later that it was more likely his connection to the death of some several hundred people over a couple year span as a pirate that gained him respect, but I digress. So, I grew a beard. At first it was wispy, and instead of it making me look more masculine, it just made me look unclean. I would draw in with an eyeliner pencil more whiskers to trick the casual observer into thinking me more masculine than I was. Sadly, many saw right through it, and I was henceforth known as “eyeliner beard face” (I admit people were not trying very hard).
Eventually, my beard came in a little thicker, and I owe a lot of what I have today to it. I still have that poster of Pedro Rodriguez in my office, and that blood thirsty pirate Roberto Cofresí y Ramírez de Arellano is the wallpaper on my computer at work. My first tip to all men out there trying to have their best beard possible, use an eyeliner pencil to make it look thicker than it is. I still do it to this day. Next time you see me, look really close, you will be able to tell. Let’s just keep it our little secret, deal?
When my wife and I took our dream second honeymoon to Pierre, SD, I was worried that without all of my products, maintaining my “chin chinchilla” (as the Mrs. affectionately calls it) would be near impossible. Thankfully, I was able to procure a travel bottle of Beard Band Beard Brand Beard Oil from a local supplier. Since it is such a sought after product, they thankfully ship it in an old ExtenZe shipping box, so when it sat in the entrance to City Hall all day, I did not have to worry about someone swiping it. I do however think several people may have secretly known what was in it because I was getting strange looks all day; chalk that up to jealousy.
Pierre was magical. We got wind of a gin distillery that gave tours. It turned out to be an abandoned warehouse that some squatters were using illegally to make bathtub gin of really low quality. I only gave them two stars on Yelp, but gin is gin. Here is my second tip: alcohol dehydrates you, Pierre bathtub gin straight up wrecks your skin (I got two tetanus shots after my trip just to be safe. Admittedly, that is only tangentially related). If you want to keep your beard looking its best, you really should use moisturizer as often as possible. Again, I use Beard Band Beard Brand Beard moisturizer. It is hard to get a hold of, but they ship it in a Cialis box so that nobody will swipe it; man are my coworkers jealous.
Finalmente, una barba es esencialmente grasa y proteína. Es importante que usted tome en grandes cantidades de ambos. Ignorar el consejo de los médicos, amigos y familiares y consumir tantos alimentos grasos como puedas. Hay una buena probabilidad de que esto causará estragos en su vesícula biliar, pero hemos evolucionado más allá del punto de necesitar uno de ellos y la cirugía tiene sólo una tasa de mortalidad de .7 – 2%. Le prometo que su barba nunca se verá mejor una vez que limpie todas las migas y la mayonesa que más que probablemente se han secado en grupos en varios parches alrededor de su boca.
Viva La Beard,
“Three Blades” is a new feature that weareallbeards.com will be publishing wherein we invite different members of the community to share three tips/tricks/tales about what it is like to be a hirsute hero in an age of naked chins.
First up, we were lucky enough to snag local biology professor, drummer, and fruit enthusiast Jeff Wesner to share a little about his life with a beard.
Ice Cream Cones and Facial Follicles
By Jeff Wesner
The first thing most people ask me is how I keep my beard looking so healthy. I find this rather odd since I can’t recall a time I asked a perfect stranger for grooming tips, maybe it’s my crippling shyness. Usually, my arm is left extended with an unshaken hand as the anonymous citizen waits eagerly for me to respond. Admittedly, my beard is closer to art than the common chin whiskers of the traveling train yard hobo, but the answer to their initial question is quite simple; I use Beards Band Beard Brand Beard Oil, or B5O for short. When they ask where they can get it, I tell them “You can’t” and then walk away while maintaining eye contact.
Those audacious enough (Note: I am referring to the 2nd definition of audacious meaning “with a lack of respect.”) to follow up usually ask if they can feel, and even smell, my beard. Of course, due to my incessant need to please others, I let them. See, B5O (Which uninterestingly enough would have a Molar mass of 70.0544 g/mol) is specially made for very exclusive people, and each batch has a slightly different make up of carrier and essential oils. My latest was a mix of sour cherries and a concoction named “happiness.” The sour cherries remind me of my home in Oklahoma; the “happiness” helps me forget about my paralyzing fear of dying alone.
The next most common thing people come up and say to me is, “Is everything okay, you look like you’ve been crying?” The third most common thing is, “Mr. Wesner, our lawyers have made it clear to you that the ban is for ALL Arby’s restaurants.” However, the fourth most common thing people say to me is, “It’s hard enough eating an ice cream cone without a beard, how do you eat one without making a mess?” I usually respond by asking why they have trouble eating an ice cream cone since they said “It’s hard enough.” I am genuinely intrigued by the idea that there are people who have a difficult time eating an ice cream cone. My daughters could do it. They don’t because we only drink Quinoa Milk and that stuff is borderline inedible, and I can’t imagine it would get any better once frozen, but you get the point.
Also, I am realizing that it may come across as sexist for me to say that something is easy simply because a girl can do it. That is not what I am saying. I am simply trying to say that even very young children can eat an ice cream cone, regardless of the biological sex or gender identity. Of course, now I am worried that I am being an ageist because I am saying if a young person can do something than everyone should be able to. That is not it at all, I promise. Sorry, I am losing my train of thought. I think what I am trying to say is that no matter who you are, whatever your age, whatever your gender, whatever your anything, I think everyone can agree that Quinoa Milk is disgusting? I think that’s right. Oh, and use napkins to wipe the ice cream off your beard between bites. Is that really something someone has to tell you?
Finally, here is a grooming tip that I developed on my own. One of the most irritating things about having a beard is keeping it out of your mouth when eating. So many things that are not eaten with silverware end up shoving in the longer strands of facial hair from around your mouth. Most people will tell you to use a hair scissors a few times a week to cut back the area immediately around your mouth and you won’t have any trouble. To this I say, balderdash. First, who has a hair scissors? I get my hair cut at Walmart like a good American. Second, there is a much easier way.
What you need to do is grab large patches of your beard from really anywhere on your face and twirl it into a cone shape where the point is between your fingers. Then, pull the point of the cone of beard hair towards your mouth. If the point reaches your mouth, put it in your mouth and start chewing on it. Make sure that you really go to town on it. Chew through all the whiskers until nothing reaches your mouth anymore. Move on to the next patch and the next patch until you no longer have any hair that can reach your mouth. Problem solved! If you want to check out how you look, I have always found the lighting in most Arby’s bathrooms to be spectacular.
I know what you are thinking. “I didn’t know they had a website,” or, “I didn’t notice you haven’t posted in two months,” or, “those interviews were kind of funny.” No matter what you are thinking at this moment, the important thing is that you are thinking.
You may also notice that the site looks a little different. Who cares? Not you, probably. However, it serves a purpose. The new look will usher in the new focus of the website. Sure, you are still going to get all of the Beard goodness that you have to expect. In fact, scroll down to see our entry to the Tiny Desk concert put on by NPR. We took dead last out of thousands of entries (I’m guessing), but we had fun recording it.
In addition to everything Beards, this site will now also serve as a men’s grooming website. We will have guest columns by different people from around the area writing about how to keep your beard looking its best. The first column should be up in no time and is written by a member of the band!
Some people like relaxing, soul-awakening music.
Some people want to punch a hole in a cloud.
The Beards have you covered. The first two songs off of what will someday be a full album are here for your listening pleasure.
Listen to “Hey, Robin (Don’t Let it Get You Down)” & “All is Not Lost.” If you are on a phone, just click on the menu button, and they will appear.
Of course, if you are actually on a computer, you should be able to see both songs right now.
⇐ They are right over there.