Cheerleading November 2013: Brent Hayes

Brent Hayes, Cancer Fighter (Movember)Brent Hayes may look like just some ordinary guy from the heartland, but make no mistake: Brent is a living, breathing destroyer of cancer. I don’t think of him as a mere “cancer survivor” – I think of him as a “cancer fighter” because not only did he fight and win, he continues to fight every year by growing a mustache and collecting money for the Movember organization.

Brent Hayes’ Mo Space:
http://us.movember.com/mospace/1611776

Not only does he fight cancer, Brent is also an air traffic controller, which means in addition to being impossibly physically tough, he must by default be extraordinarily mentally tough as well. He’s a little bit like Chuck Norris. Brent is NOT a person to be trifled with. Go ahead, I dare you. Trifle. You’ll lose.

Despite his questionable taste in football teams, Brent is a stand-up American with more grit and more guts than you and me put together, so I’m asking you now: visit his Mo Space, gaze upon his glorious mustache, and chip in whatever you can to fight cancer. IT’S THE LEAST YOU CAN DO.

Brent Hayes’ Mo Space: http://us.movember.com/mospace/1611776

Cheerleading November 2013: James Gunn

James Gunn: SEO Pro, Mo BroMy digital marketing colleague James Gunn is a father, a fisherman, a gardener, a small business owner, and now a Movember soldier of fortune. I’m here to raise awareness of James Gunn so he can raise funds and awareness for prostate cancer research.

James Gunn likes plenty of the same things I like: fishing, craft beer, fresh vegetables and integrated SEO, to name a few. He apparently dislikes prostate cancer, which also happens to be one of the things I dislike. So he’s growing a mustache and he could use our support.

James Gunn’s Mo Space: http://us.movember.com/mospace/7993757

On a personal note: James is seriously an impressive individual. When I say he’s a gardener, it’s an understatement – he’s more like a farmer. He grows massive vegetables at his place. He also launched his own digital marketing business earlier this year, which is handy for small businesses, beacause he’s very good at what he does, has well over a decade of experience, and he provides services to other small businesses that previously couldn’t get help from someone as talented as him because all that talent tends to work at agencies that only service large businesses. James Gunn is GOOD FOR AMERICA.

James and I have spoken frequently, emailed often, collaborated on numerous SEO campaigns, and still we’ve never met in person. But I’m not letting that stop me from sending money to his Movember campaign, and I suggest you do the same:

James Gunn’s Mo Space: http://us.movember.com/mospace/7993757

Every little bit helps, you guys. Please donate. If you don’t donate to James’ campaign, donate to someone else’s campaign. Movember is an awesome movement.

Also: are you a small business owner in need of better search marketing services? Click here: James Gunn Marketing.

Defending The Hipster

Hipsters are cool. There, I said it. I’m still on the fringe on this one, I think. I like the subculture. I think hipsters are some of the best poets and playwrights living today (whether they self-identify as hipsters or not). They’re like the Beats of my generation.

So it makes me sad and a little angry that the word “hipster” is so commonly used nowadays as an insult rather than a simple, descriptive categorization.

Hipster? Or human being?I saw an article the other day from Mashable, pointing out what they describe as the hipster-est hipster in history. Here’s the link:

http://mashable.com/2012/05/03/hipster-king/

It’s actually worth a read, ‘cause it’s sort of funny. And the picture is rather amusing. But the greater social issue here is that it’s a picture of a person just out enjoying himself, and the picture is put up on display with a slew of rapid-fire assumptions.

This is not a fair trial. Let me just defend this guy for a moment, and I’ll preface it with one of my favorite quotes ever, courtesy of Simon Pegg:

“Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. It means never having to play it cool about how much you like something. It’s basically a license to proudly emote on a somewhat childish level rather than behave like a supposed adult. Being a geek is extremely liberating.”

Now, I’ve seen people who dress up for the Renaissance Fair mock hipsters. I’ve seen a person make glib, insulting references to hipsters while wearing a Star Wars t-shirt. What’s the difference between these geeks and a hipster? Different style choices? Different musical tastes? Different interests? Surface-level shit.

The hipster in this photograph is there with his lady friend, minding his own business, being himself, freely enjoying things he enjoys. He’s listening to some music, and frankly, he’s being respectful to the rest of the café by wearing headphones instead of subjecting everyone else to his tunes. He likes vinyl records because there’s a sound quality that comes with this medium and presumably he enjoys it enough to put up with the inconvenience of it. His vinyl player is portable, which makes sense, because he’s outside his home, enjoying the lovely weather and some beer. Mashable assumes this is during normal business hours, but really, we don’t know. It could be 6:30 in the summertime, or hell, it could be a fucking weekend. (Anyway, even if it is during normal business hours: since when is day-drinking an uncommon and reprehensible thing?)

And here comes this blogging bully from Mashable assuming his coat is vintage, but that’s not necessarily true, it could be a cheap modern coat from anywhere. He makes a stretch and claims that his goatee qualifies as “micromanaged facial hair.” He even implies that the way the subject crosses his legs is a pretention, taken as a conscious decision to look more European. Point one: maybe he IS European? And point two: it’s not necessarily European; evidently the author has never been to the Eastern half of the United States of America.

The author even claims his lady friend is wearing a “retro” dress, but nothing about her screams “retro.” It all looks very modern and in tune with today’s mainstream fashion. Clearly, the author is reaching for anything to make the title of his post seem legitimate. And it’s cheeky and funny, but the underlying issue is that somehow, somewhere, hipsters became the favorite punch line of the uninformed.

Apparently, elsewhere on the web there is a debate about geeks and hipsters happening. I don’t know anything about it, but PBS has a really great video that sort of sums it all up:

So, without rambling too much more, let me just make a few points for all you hipster-haters out there:

Point one: if you hate them based on looks alone, you are only proving their point – or more specifically, the point of any counter-culture movement. If you hate them because of their clothes, then the hipsters win, and so do the Goths, and so do the rudeboys, the emo kids, the punks, the hippies, the skaters, the surfers, the greasers, the beats, and so on. Their looks are surface-deep.

Point two: if you hate them because you think they are assholes, you are wrong. If you claim to know this from personal experience, please partition your hatred only to the individuals you know. If you label an entire subculture assholes because you think the few assholes within that subculture are indicative of the entire group, you are not only mistaken in a general scientific sense, you are mistaken in this particular case. Hipsters are mostly cool. Every subculture has its assholes, and they are usually more outspoken than the cool ones. This is true with mainstream American culture, urban city culture, country culture, sports culture, Hollywood, and Congress.

In any case: prejudice makes you an asshole. Don’t be an asshole.

I would absolutely love to hear anybody’s well-thought-out treatise on why hipsters deserve to be the cultural punching bag we’ve turned them into. You can leave comments on this page, or you can take it to Facebook or Twitter. I’m all ears.

Cheerleading November 2012: Eagle Sharks

Silverfish Longboarding Eagle SharksHow kick-ass is this? By accident I came across a Movember team called the Silverfish Longboarding Eagle Sharks. Evidently, there is a company that makes sweet-looking long skateboards and the company has a Movember team. And their mascot is an eagle shark. Longboards plus shark-eagle hybrids plus Movember is like a trifecta of awesomeness that appeals specifically to me, and I don’t know how to cope with it. It’s a perfect storm.

Obviously, I prefer the one-word spelling of “eagleshark,” but that’s okay, these guys are still rad.

Donate to Movember for this team if you think eagle-winged, mustachioed sharks RULE!

Cheerleading November 2012: Caleb Dann

Caleb Dann's Movember Mutton Chops
For the ladies: shirtless & mutton choppy!

The art and science of facial hair as demonstrated by Movember rock star Caleb Dann brings balance and joy to a troubled world.

As a Tour de Cure cyclist, Caleb knows a thing or two about health for charity and charity for health. He also knows a thing or two about handlebars, so Movember, it seems, couldn’t be a better fit for one single person. I don’t know too much about physiology, but I’m pretty sure his active lifestyle has contributed no small amount to the strength and glory of his too-enviable ‘stache.

If all this wasn’t enough to make the twee fans swoon, Caleb is also a home brewer, meaning he WEILDS CONTROL OVER EARTHLY CHEMICALS. This is especially impressive to me, a guy who got absolutely terrible grades in chemistry, despite good grades in math and other sciences. Chemistry is the one that eluded me, and having worked at a brewpub, I know just how complicated and delicate the chemical process of crafting beer is. I’ve got mad respect for people who not only know how to do this, but can actually do it in their own home.

Clearly, Caleb is a gent bent on world-improvement. But he needs your help and your money to do so – won’t you donate some funds to his MoSpace?

Cheerleading November 2012: Matthew Jackson

Matt Jackson, Movember Man
Is that a dog on his face, or is it the world’s burliest mustache?
Movember champ Matthew Jackson deserves your donations because he’s JUST SO CUTE.

I know Matt from our time at UC Riverside. We both majored in theatre, and we also had at least one Spanish class together. As an actor, Matt Jackson is the perfect ingénue. Matt has since gone on to grad school at UC Irvine for stage management, and I can only assume that as a stage manager, Matt Jackson is – again – the perfect ingénue.

Seriously, he’s one of the top ten nicest guys I’ve ever known. The fact that he’s raising money via Movember to give to cancer charity is just one more feather in a cap full of feathers.

You wouldn’t know it from recent photos, but Matt’s ‘fro is a ‘fro to be feared and admired. His hair, like his heart, is very strong and very curly. What kind of mustache can a head like this grow? I’ll tell you: the kind that fights cancer, that’s what.

Give money to cancer and show your love for Matt’s mustache here:
http://us.movember.com/mospace/5450037

Cheerleading November 2012: Stephanie Hammer

Stephanie HammerStephanie Hammer is a professor of mine from way, way back in my days at UC Riverside. Devon & I recently met up with her again in Hollywood and got all caught up on kids, books, kids’ books, and film noir from the 90’s. We also briefly touched on NaNoWriMo, and let me tell you all: when Stephanie Hammer says she is going to do something, she does not mean she is going to just kind of do that thing. She means she is going to DO THAT THING. With gusto. With applomb. With verve. She does it all the way and then some.

She is currently rocking a word count that most people would be happy with having written in a whole year, and we’re barely halfway through the month. But you know what? That’s no reason to start coasting. Now is the time for the slow clap.

Clap…

Clap…

Clap clap…

Clap clap clap clap clap clap *HOOOORAAAAAAY!!*

DO IT, STEPHANIE HAMMER! DO IT ALL THE WAY TO THE END OF THE MONTH! YOU GOT THIS!

Whoo!

Cheerleading November 2012: Brent Hayes

Brent Hayes, Mo BroCarrying on with the cheerleading for November of 2012: on the other side from NaNoWriMo is Movember, a global initiative to raise awareness and funds for men’s health issues like prostate cancer and the like. Gentlemen all over the world start the month clean-faced and spend thirty days growing and grooming the finest mustache they can muster, which, of course, is the truest test of manliness known to man. I did it last year, but this year I had to meet some people for the first time on November 6, and six days into a mustache race leaves me looking pretty awful.

So instead of participating myself, I’m rooting on others that I know of. First mustache to the plate is one Mr. Brent Hayes of somewhere-near-Jacksonville, FL.  Brent is a harcore bad-ass for many reasons, not the least of which is his impressive (most impressive) Star Wars fan status. This guy like Star Wars as much as me, if not more so. If being a Star Wars fan were a martial art, Brent would be a blackbelt.

Another thing that makes him bad-ass is his job. Brent does that FAA super-stress-out job like the guy from Breaking Bad, only Brent has never allowed any airplanes to crash in midair. That’s pretty hardcore bad-ass if you ask me. That job is mega-tough, and never once has he complained about it on Facebook.

What’s more, Brent goes for the glory. The mustache he’s growing? That’s right, it’s a Captain Morgan mustache. Nobody can ever say Brent aims low.

AND THE BEST PART: If Brent’s tally at the end of the month is $1,000 or more, Brent will keep this mustache FOR A FULL YEAR.

Make it happen, folks!  Donate to Brent’s MoBro fund here.

Cheerleading November 2012: Devon MacGregor

Male CheerleaderNaNoWriMo and Movember are two exceptionally great things that come about each November. This year, I’m not participating in either, but I know people who are, and I want to do everything I can to cheer them on.

To kick off this cheerleading racket, I would like to lead the cheer for one Devon MacGregor, who is participating in her very first NaNoWriMo!  Devon, as you may or may not know, is my illustrious wife and mother to my daughter Aliena, and Devon claims she is not a writer.  This may be the case, if you count being “more of an editor” the same thing as “not a writer.”  But she’s got the skills, and she’s got a graduate certificate in publishing from the University of Denver, so don’t think for one moment that this lady can’t put down 50,000 words in a thirty-day window.

Her novel is unexpectedly science-fictiony, and because I live with her, I’ve had some sneak previews.  I love what I see so far.  When she hit 15,000 words, I high-fived her so hard I shattered my hand.

Let’s give this girl all the cheer she can get!  GO, DEVON, GO!  GO, DEVON, GO!

I’d really love to link to her author page, but she doesn’t really have one, so instead, I’ll encourage everyone to go visit her Instagram feed.  She’s really talented visually, as well.

Movember: Conclusions

Priority number one: solve problems at work and don’t get fired.

Priority number two, I decided earlier today, is to create a list of things I learned from my month of cultivating a handsome mustache and trying to get money for it.

Priority number three is to defend “Star Wars” against “Star Trek” fans in a public Facebook debate. Guess which one has preoccupied me the most.

I had to cut things short on the Facebook debate, much to my chagrin, but I must properly conclude Movember so I can move on with my life.

Also, fires are still raging at work. Data feeds are dangling in the wind. Dealerships are raising the drawbridge. Gorillas are dancing with sloths. Trust me, all of these metaphors work. So first, that…

LATER:
Okay, work is done for the day. The work that pays me, I mean. The work of explaining the dramatic depth and epic scope of the “Star Wars” universe will probably never end.

Here is what happened with Movember. I spent all month growing a mustache. I had hoped I’d be more involved with the charity organization part of it, but with a death in the family and the craziness of the holidays, plus the ongoing task of building some structure in the life of a five-month old girl, this month really got away from me. I couldn’t find the time or mental energy to read up on LiveSTRONG or the Prostate Cancer Foundation. At some point during the third week, I just decided to accept that all the money I raised was going to good use and left it at that.

I also raised less money than I thought I would raise at the beginning of the month, but much more money than I thought I would end up with when the month end approached. I initially thought I could reach $500. But the fund raising efforts ceased entirely for a short time and never really got back on track, so I adjusted my forecast by the 20th of November to a mere $100. I ended up with $145 at the end of the last day, and that was quite a pleasant surprise. Half of it all came on the last day. Lesson for future marketing career: always send out that one last email blast.

And the mustache part of it. That is where most of the unintended learning happened. This is what I take away from a month of growing a mustache:

  • I, Bil Gaines, can not grow a super-stud handlebar mustache in just one month’s time. I barely cleared the “respectable businessman” line in 30 days.
  • Shaving every single day does not, in fact, suck monkey balls.  It takes less effort than I would have guessed, and frankly, it makes me feel more professional.  And that feels good.
  • Drinking more coffee does not make facial hair grow any faster.
  • I still have zero white hairs on my upper lip.  Bonus.
  • A mustache is not, in fact, a sufficient filter for soup or other liquids.
  • My daughter doesn’t give a crap what I look like, she loves me no matter what.  However, I suspect my wife loves me less with a mustache.
  • A mustache doesn’t blossom overnight; a mustache creeps up on you like a bastard.  Any comedic effect I can wring from a mustache on my face wears off well before there is even any decent growth.
  • Some people take me more seriously with a mustache, some people take me less seriously.  One thing is for sure: more people take me in some way.

Now that Movember is over, I have shaved that fucker right off my face.  I used to think that without facial hair, my face was far too plain and my chin was too insignificant to go out in public.  But after trying to maintain dignity in a month of growing a mustache for charity, now I think my clean-shaven face ain’t so bad.

Sharkblog: A Missing Piece

Sharkstache or MustasharkMovember has been a strange experience; I’m not learning as much as I would have liked about men’s health issues, but I am learning a few disturbing things about myself.  More on that later.  What’s on my mind right now is a gaping hole in all our lives, and it affects both men and women.

Mustachioed sharks, it occurs to me, are sorely lacking in our culture’s literary & cinematic cannon.

In previous posts I have described my intention to write a series of screenplays involving a monster that’s part shark, part octopus, and part Orson Welles.  If we go with the Orson Welles from “The Stranger” we get the mustache.  This solves the problem of having NO mustachioed sharks, but it doesn’t make mustachioed sharks a widely-accepted and normal phenomenon.  We must go further.

Therefore, in light of this gaping inadequacy, I hereby declare on behalf of all Americans a desire — nay, a need — for a remake of the classic movie “Jaws” but with a mustache on the shark this time around.

The ball’s in your court, Stephen Spielberg.

Movember!

Onto the next great challenge: Movember.  Per the rules, for the entire month of November, I’ll be growing a mustache.  I will leverage my mustache to ask for donations for (per the website):

…programs supporting prostate cancer and other male cancer initiatives run by Movember and through our men’s health partners the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG.

Personally, I don’t know any prostate cancer survivors.  I’m not doing this for any one particular individual.  Furthermore, I have to disclose that I’ve never been particularly passionate about, or even interested in, men’s health issues.

But that’s just it.  As I get older, I become more and more aware that I’m not invincible, and my personal health is slowly building itself a presence in the back of my mind.  So here comes Movember, declaring that men’s health matters, and this strikes a chord in me.  But I don’t know very much about anything related, so I’m a little in the dark.

…Which is exactly why I’m taking this on: to raise awareness, mainly for myself, but also for anyone else that I can bring some information to.  Because awareness is the first step.  And awaring is caring.

Bil Gaines, with a mustache, circa April 2011.
Mustache. Glory.

Also, I can’t resist a mustache challenge.  So there’s that.

Interested?  Talk to me.  Comment on this page or message me via one of many social media outlets.

Care to donate to the cause, but don’t care to talk to me?  Click here.

Sharkblog: OrsonSharktopus vs. HydraHeston (Synopsis)

Sharkblog OrsonSharktopus
OrsonSharktopus
OrsonSharktopus

Various stolen ideas have paved the way for a screenplay I’m tentatively calling “OrsonSharktopus vs. HydraHeston” and it’s exactly what you think it is.

OrsonSharktopus is a mythical beast, not only because a shark with the tentacles of an octopus and the head of Orson Welles is not (yet) a physical possibility, but also because “OrsonSharktopus vs. HydraHeston” will play out as the sequel to an as-yet-unwritten screenplay.

That’s right: I’m skipping the original (just “OrsonSharktopus”) and going straight for the match-up between a seemingly equal yet wildly different creature.

HydraHeston
HydraHeston

HydraHeston is basically a seven-headed sea monster, and each head is Charlton Heston.  Advantages to having seven different heads of Charlton Heston include multiple beard/mustache/baby face configurations and fourteen rifle-scope-keen eyeballs.  OrsonSharktopus has only two eyes and one mustache, but it does have eight bitchin’ tentacles.

The dialogue’s going to have to be as hard-boiled as I can make it.  Style will play an important role.  As will wooden acting, if I have anything to say about it.

I cooked up a basic synopsis while doing laundry this weekend.  Here is what I wrote down:

Setting: beach town

  • Idyllic, except when something goes wrong
  • People are completely ill-equipped to deal with adversity

Characters:

Mayor up for reelection

  • will do anything to get reelected
    — Clings to power like it’s fucking air or something; massive fear of losing power.
    — Cares more about election results than actual townspeople
  • Wants to have election day on the beach, with a barbeque
    — will produce higher turnout
    — will also sort of “bribe” townspeople to vote for him
    — Willing to risk lives to have elections on beach

Journalists in love

  • Work together as a team
  • Have to hide marriage from mayor (and everybody else) in order to continue working as a team
  • Are very close to the mayor
  • Man journalist is very reserved and cautious
  • Lady journalist is totally balls-to-the-wall troublemaker, a la Lois Lane (but less annoying).

Scientists with a common guilty past

  • Living with guilt of creating OrsonSharktopus and not destroying the monster
  • Reach out to journalists when Mayor won’t return phone calls
    — Mysterious note to journalists
    — Meeting in dark cafe prior to showing them the lab with OrsonSharktopus
  • Tell journalists about OrsonSharktopus with their promise they won’t publish findings
    — Only way they were able to stop OrsonSharktopus was to freeze it in Carbonite
    — Tell journalists best way to stop HydraHeston is to freeze it in Carbonite
  • These two were some of the main characters in the original “OrsonSharktopus”

Old Pirate General

  • Mayor uses this guy to head all military-type operations
    — Retired, but gets pulled out of retirement from time to time.
    — No one is really sure if he was a pirate or a general, but he certainly knows what he’s doing…
  • He wears an eye patch and has lots of tattoos, including a battleship across his chest and anchors on his forearms.

ACT ONE:
HydraHeston terrorizes the town. The journalists implore the mayor to close the beach, but he refuses because of the elections. He forbids the journalists to publish any news about HydraHeston, so they instead publish an article about how the mayor won’t close the beach because of the election barebeque; they fill the article with innuendo about how the mayor is willing to risk innocent lives and is also willing to censor the newspapers. The enraged mayor gets the two journalists assigned to an out-of-town assignment, but just as they are about to board a plane, they receive a mysterious note with a meeting request and promise of info re: HydraHeston…they decide to meet the scientists and stay in town to get the full scoop on the creature.

ACT TWO:
The journalists learn from the scientists of a possible way to stop HydraHeston, a plan that worked before…when they captured and froze OrsonShaktopus in Carbonite.  When the journailists present this plan to the right parties, i.e. the mayor and the pirate general, they give it a try.  Unfortunately, HydraHeston is just a little too bad-ass and the plan to freeze it in Carbonite totally doesn’t work.  The journalists go back to the scientists for more ideas, but all they can come up with is to release OrsonSharktopus into the water to fight HydraHeston.  They debate the consequences of releasing OrsonSharktopus, but the mayor shows up and orders it to be done…far away from the beach.  He charges them to find a way to draw HydraHeston out, away from the beach, where they could release OrsonSharktopus to fight it and kill it.

ACT THREE:
The plan is in motion: the scientists will take the frozen OrsonSharktopus in a boat out to a floating mass of garbage in the ocean, and the journalists will fly with the old pirate general in a chopper, throwing steaks along the way to lure the beast out.  Once near the floating mass, the chopper will land (on the garbage), the scientists will row to shore (of the garbage), and once together they will detonate explosives on the boat, sinking it, allowing the Carbonite to release the monster OrsonSharktopus.  Once released, the humans will all board the chopper and fly away.  The only snag comes as they are luring HydraHeston; somehow, the beast takes a piece of garbage and manages to throw it at the chopper.  It hits the chopper so hard, one of the journalists falls out onto the garbage.  She survives the fall, but is now lost on the garbage mass.  What’s worse, HydraHeston has figured out how to climb on dry land (garbage); it chases her and she evades to the best of her abilities.  The scientists detonate the explosives, starting the process to release OrsonSharktopus, but there’s no telling what will happen while HydraHeston is on land…as the journalist falls off a cliff of garbage into the water, it looks like all is lost — and as HydraHeston seems about to gobble her up by leaping into the water, OrsonSharktopus catches it.  There is a humongous fight scene between the two mythical beasts as the humans scramble to help the journalist and get everyone back to the chopper.  They nearly get caught up in the fight as the mass of garbage gets torn apart by the titans, but they eventually make it back to the chopper and escape.  Flying away, they can see that OrsonSharktopus has killed HydraHeston, but then swam away…As they get back to dry land, they tell the voting public about OrsonSharktopus and demand that the mayor be held accountable for his actions.

 

I’m hoping to live near the beach when we move out to California (whenever that will be).  I trust any town on the beach could be considered “idyllic” and will be great for research purposes while writing this screenplay.  Also, great for surfing.  And terrifying, because of the threat of massive sea monster attacks.

Obviously, this is preliminary.  If anybody has any thoughts on story and/or characters, please let me know.  I’ll be happy to take all comments into consideration.  I’m good like that.

Otherwise, it’s all systems go on a full-length screenplay.

…And by “all systems go” I mean I’ll get to it in my spare time.

My Week With a Mustache

I spent a week in a mustache recently.

It started off as a joke, a goofball stunt.  I ran Chicago’s big season-starting 8K, the Shamrock Shuffle, and I didn’t have a goofy costume to wear.  I did, however, have a full beard leading up to the event, so I shaved down to mustache and that became my goofy costume.

If you don’t understand the necessity of a goofy costume during massive 8K events, then you probably don’t run, and therefore probably don’t care.  That’s all right, no one here is judging you.

Anyway, part of the Shamrock Shuffle sponsorship came from Nike, who invited participants to post a photo of themselves on the Fleet Feet Sports Chicago Facebook wall.  I did exactly that, thinking a hearty mustache would raise some eyebrows.

Indeed it did — my photo was one of five chosen for a special prize from Nike.  No one knew what that could be, so we all assumed it was a lifetime’s supply of unicorns.

The photo even came in a close second place to the ultimate mystery prize, provided by Fleet Feet, but I didn’t win it so I’ll never know what the prize was.

I’d never really participated in one of those photo contests before, so I was worried that if I shaved my ridiculous mustache off before the end, they wouldn’t recognize me at the prize claiming booth (or whatever, I had no idea how it worked) and I’d get turned away.

So I kept the ‘stache.  I even went to work with it.  I felt strange, because what you never realize until you spend some time with one is that a mustache changes your entire face.  It puts the focus in a different spot.  You don’t recognize yourself in the mirror.

You feel somehow more distinguished, even if you really look like a redneck.

And you don’t know if you look like a redneck or not, you only know that you FEEL more distinguished, and this odd combination brings with it a whole new set of insecurities.

But the really weird thing is that this new set of insecurities COMPLETELY REPLACES all your old insecurities.  You become more confident in almost every aspect of your life.  You actually stop worrying about money and the inevitability of World War III.  You only worry about whether people think you’re distinguished or think you’re a redneck.

It was the first time I’d ever spent any real time with one.  I’d done the shave-down-for-a-laugh before, but always took some photos right away and then shaved it entirely before going to bed.

As I walked around the office for a week looking like that, I began to notice how tall I really am — or, it would more accurate to say, I felt taller than I might actually be in a physical sense.

I began to accrue compliments.  Actual, genuine compliments that implied this was the best possible look for a man of my height, with my facial features.

Here’s the biggest difference I noticed: everything I said carried an air of quiet authority.  I intended none of it, but I got the distinct impression that people took everything I said more seriously.  And when I made jokes, more laughter accompanied.

It dawned on me at some point: this mustache makes me more powerful.  I was like Spider-Man discovering his new radioactive Spidey-powers.

I caught myself thinking things like, “Yes, perhaps this is the best facial hair configuration for me.”

But at some point, something inside my brain sprang up and shouted, “WAIT A MINUTE! STOP IT, BOY! WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?!”

This was the insecurity of the past, making one final attempt to hang on before falling entirely out from my brain.

“Don’t do it, Bil, it’s not right.  It’s not you.  It’s some kind of weird adult you.  You’re no adult.”

“Okay, fair enough,” I replied, “but people seem to like it for various reasons, and anyway, I should really be an adult now because I’m going to be a father very soon.”

“No, Bil, that’s exactly what they want. They want you to kiss Never-Neverland goodbye. They want you to move on to a new phase in life.”

“Oh, man, that’s not cool.  Not cool at all.”

“No, Bil, that’s the opposite of cool.  This mustache will destroy you.  There will be no original Bil left, and one day you will look into the mirror and see the truth…YOU ARE YOUR FATHER.”

“NOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

“Search your feelings, Bil, you know it to be true.”

“It can’t be…It’s impossible!”

This conversation with my insecure subconscious went on like this for several days, and in the end I decided that I’m not ready to commit to being That Guy With The Mustache.

I’m also not ready to be compared to my father.  Admire him though I do, I’ve always believed that I wouldn’t wear a mustache without being ironic, and that core belief is not so easily shaken.  So off it came after seven days.

But now I’ve got a taste for it.

There may be a sequel.

 

 

P.S. The prize for the photo contest was shoes. Nike sent me shoes. Rad.

Django

I use WordPress. If you’re reading this, it means you use WordPress, too, but more for the reading and not necessarily for the publishing. I use it to publish this which you read. WordPress helps us all out.

The latest version of their platform, version 3.1, is called “Django” (after old-timey jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt). Since I happen to know that the world’s most famous Matt, Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress, is a bit of a jazz fanatic, I can only assume that Matt loves WordPress 3.1 as much as he loves Django Reinhardt, which is probably a lot.

I, too, love Django Reinhardt. I would like to believe, therefore, that I too will love WordPress 3.1.

So I’ve downloaded it and installed it, but so far I detect no noticeable difference. Perhaps it’s got more to do with site architecture and SEO friendliness. I guess I could go read up on it. Maybe. Maybe not.

The only thing that I hoped for, really, was for my website not to look like this on my computer at work:

Pssst...if this doesn't look any different to you, please let me know.

Unfortunately, the upgrade did not help. It still looks like that at work. Not a big deal, I haven’t been hearing from anyone else that it looks so bad, but you never know. If it’s a Windows 7 thing, I may be in trouble down the line, but not so much right now.

Luckily, this video of Django Reinhardt still comes through beautifully.

Man. Look at that pencil thin mustache. It is something to aspire to. I’m working on a beard to distract from my too-short haircut, but perhaps when my hair is of a length appropriate to cream-oil the bejeezus out of it, I’ll trim my face down to the suave Django look.

Then maybe I’ll let both my hair and the ‘stache grow out. You never know. It was a pretty popular look once upon a time.