Retro Relapse: 10 Laws On Growing and Living With a Majestic Beard

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2014.

People often come up to me and say, “Hey dude, sweet beard! Would you mind if I fuck it?”

Well, they don’t say exactly that but that statement pretty much sums up their initial reaction to my bold and luscious facial foliage.

The conversation quickly goes to “How long did that take to grow?” or “How do you take care of that precious pelt?” And then I spend some time educating people on how I do what I do and how I cultivate such a majestic mastodon of sexiness on my face.

Anyway, I thought that I should write an article about my ten tips for growing and maintaining a badass beard. People keep asking me, so now I can just refer them to this post and they can read it for themselves and pass it on to their friends in need of the God-like levels of confidence that can only come from giving birth to a cosmic man forest on one’s face.

So here we go, these are my ten laws for growing, maintaining and thriving with a majestic beard!

1. Don’t shave. As hard as it is accepting change in your life, don’t give in. In fact, throw your razors away and embrace your place in the universe.

2. Again, don’t shave. It takes some time to get passed the early growth stage but you have to commit to get to a better place. Bruce Lee didn’t learn how to kick God in the face by watching a YouTube video.

3. As it grows longer and fuller, don’t let any animals move in and make it a nest. Always check it when you wake up in the morning. I had an eagle trying to setup shop and drop some eggs around my left cheek but I put a stop to it real quick.

4. Treat it like a fine Persian rug and give it a little shampoo once in a while. Some manly dudes I know like to use beard oil. That’s optional.

5. Don’t mimic assholes like Jack Passion. His beard is a mess and I’m not sure why he is world-renowned. Of course, I wrote about that douche nugget in my article My Thoughts On Competitive Bearding.

6. Stop worrying about what people think. When your beard grows and your masculinity increases and you gain Thanos-like cosmic power, there will be haters. Why? Because weak punks will fear the power you now wield.

7. Just be chill as fuck. Why? Because after the haters rise up in your life, expect the women to fall at your feet like you are Brad Pitt with John Holmes’ dong and Carl Sagan’s sexy voice. You will embody true eloquence and your desirability will be enhanced by your grizzly bear-like essence. You are now the beastly lord of the forest. Let the lesser creatures cower and lick their bitch wounds.

8. Stroke the beard often. Enjoy it, feel its power and relish in the fact that you look like the toughest hockey player in the world and it isn’t even playoff time and you don’t even play hockey. And at this point, if your beard was hit by a flying puck, the hard rubber disc would explode into dust, as your beard is like a million whiskers transformed into a million Neos from The Matrix.

9. Smile and know that you have succeeded in becoming a full man. But as Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Rule your manly domain justly and with care. Just because you wield the power, doesn’t mean that you have to show it off at every turn. Face your daily challenges with confidence and pride and move forward in life – knowing that this universe is a giant oyster that you can pluck for pearls whenever the hell you want.

10. If you ever doubt yourself or your progress, look in the mirror, touch your beard and give yourself a sly, sexy little wink. Without breaking eye-contact with your reflection, pleasure yourself. Problem fucking solved.

Vids I Dig 380: The Critical Drinker: ‘Men in Black: International’ – A Waste of Time

From The Critical Drinker’s YouTube description: So I missed this one at the cinema (lucky me), but I guess it’s time to review another failed attempt to restart an old franchise. Join me as I explore the failure of Men in Black International.

Film Review: The Phantom of the Opera (1962)

Release Date: June 25th, 1962 (UK)
Directed by: Terence Fisher
Written by: John Elder
Based on: The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Music by: Edwin Astley
Cast: Herbert Lom, Heather Sears, Edward de Souza, Michael Gough, Thorley Walters, Patrick Troughton

Hammer Films, 97 Minutes

Review:

“I am going to teach you to sing, Christine. I am going to give you a new voice! A voice so wonderful that theatres all over the world will be filled with your admirers. You will be the greatest star the opera has ever known. Greater than the greatest! And when you sing, Christine, you will be singing only… for me.” – The Phantom

My memories of this film were much fonder than they probably should have been. Granted, I love Hammer horror, especially the films directed by Terence Fisher. Plus, this had Michael Gough in it and that guy’s typically fantastic.

I still like this film and I thought that the look of it was great and akin to what one would expect from a Hammer horror movie of this era. I also love the look of The Phantom and thought that his mask is one of the best the character has ever had in this story’s long history and countless adaptations.

My biggest issue with this film, though, is that it is really slow and kind of boring, as some segments just drag along at a snail’s pace.

Also, the alterations to the plot didn’t really seem to benefit the story and I have to question why this deviated so much. I mean, that’s something that Hammer did often, as they wanted to tell their own story while using these famous literary characters but The Phantom of the Opera is already a pretty one-note story with a pretty one-note monster. This is probably why there weren’t a slew of Phantom sequels in the classic horror runs of Universal Studios and Hammer Films, which saw several Dracula, Frankenstein and Mummy movies.

Still, this is a good, competent film. It’s just not Hammer or Fisher’s best and it sort of feels like it was half-assed at the production stage. Maybe Hammer kept striking oil with all of Fisher’s other films based on classic monsters and all parties involved just phoned this one in.

I used to think of this as one of my favorite film adaptations of the story but it doesn’t hold a candle to the Lon Chaney or Claude Rains versions.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: other Hammer films of the late ’50s through early ’70s, especially those directed by Terence Fisher.

Film Review: Ben (1972)

Release Date: June 21st, 1972 (Los Angeles premiere)
Directed by: Phil Karlson
Written by: Gilbert Ralston
Based on: characters by Stephen Gilbert
Music by: Walter Scharf
Cast: Lee Montgomery, Joseph Campanella, Arthur O’Connell, Rosemary Murphy, Meredith Baxter, Bruce Davison (archive footage)

Bing Crosby Productions, Rysher Entertainment, Cinerama Releasing Corporation, 94 Minutes

Review:

“[singing while showing his Ben marionette to the real rat, Ben] Start the day, oh come along now, Ben. Come on out, before I count to ten. If you stay, you will miss all the fun and there’s room for everyone.” – Danny Garrison

Well, this is a very different movie than its predecessor. But I think a lot of that is due to the main character being a young, sick boy who has a passion for making marionettes and singing his own show tunes.

It’s a weird film in that the tone is completely inconsistent throughout, as on one hand, it feels like a dramatic kids movie about a sad boy that likes being creative and theatrical, while on the other hand, it’s about rats that eat people. These two things can work together but in this film, they don’t.

Also, coming off of how dark the first film ended, this comes off as even stranger and not really sure of what it’s supposed to be building off of.

That being said, I still kind of enjoyed it. Not to the point that I’d probably ever watch it again but it’s such a unique and disjointed picture that it’s hard not to be somewhat lured into it.

Also, the kid is really charming and you do feel for him and his situation, even if there are moments where he show signs of being a totally evil little shit.

This also feels more like a TV movie than an actual theatrical motion picture. It felt like a two-hour pilot to a TV series sequel of the first film. Weirdly, it plays like its trying to appeal to kids.

Anyway, a boy finds Ben, the leader of the rat army from Willard, befriends him and sees him as his only friend because the only other kid in the movie is a bully. The kid lies to his sister and mother about what’s actually going on and he even covers up for the rats when they try to eat the bully kid.

There’s not much to really sink your teeth into with this one and honestly, it’s probably most famous for the theme song Michael Jackson provided and simply because it’s the sequel to a cult classic film. 

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: it’s predecessor Willard, as well as the 2003 Willard remake with Crispin Glover.

Comic Review: Nightwing: Our Worlds at War – One-Shot

Published: July 11th, 2001
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Rick Leonardi, John Lowe, Noelle Giddings, Jae Lee (cover)

DC Comics, 36 Pages

Review:

While this was released as a one-shot comic book, it is tied-in to a larger story arc. Therefore, working as its own story, it kind of falls flat, as I wasn’t privy to the details and didn’t have the context to fit this into.

It’s pretty enjoyable though for those who like the relationship between Nightwing and Oracle. They’ve been my favorite semi-romantic pairing in comics since it was first teased and they’ve always had good chemistry when written well. Thankfully, this benefits from having Chuck Dixon as the writer, as he really gets both characters and their bond.

And ultimately, this story is carried by that bond.

Other than that, this sees our heroes traveling backwards through time in an effort to arrive at a place where the story’s unseen villain can’t touch them and thus, alter their present and future.

This is pretty short but we do get to see several different scenarios of the heroes coming into a new time and having to immediately deal with the threats waiting for them. In the end, they have to find a way to outwit the villain who is orchestrating these traps.

I wasn’t aware that this was tied to a larger plot and it probably would’ve read better had I known that beforehand and actually read the whole arc. However, there is still enough to sink your teeth into and it just further solidifies why these two characters are two of the most beloved in DC Comics lore.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other Chuck Dixon era Nightwing and Batman comics.

Vids I Dig 379: Comic Tropes: Donny Cates: Writing About Addiction

From Comic Tropes’ YouTube description: Donny Cates is an up and coming young writer at Marvel Comics, writing Venom, Thor, Guardians of the Galaxy and more. This video takes a look at his history interning at Marvel, studying at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and getting his work published at Dark Horse Comics and Image Comics as he broke in. Specifically, this video analyzes the themes Donny Cates writes about which include father issues and addiction issues.

Video Game Review: Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six (NES)

While not all licensed property video games are created equal, most in the 8-bit era were terrible. While this isn’t as good as DuckTales or the ’89 Batman game, it is actually better than most games like it. It certainly blows that Nintendo X-Men game out of the water! It’s also a lot less frustrating than the Silver Surfer game, which gave me an ulcer and a permanent lifelong migraine when I was eleven years-old.

This Spider-Man game is fairly okay but it pales in comparison to the 16-bit games like the first Genesis Spider-Man title and the much beloved Maximum Carnage.

Still, this brings together the Sinister Six and lets you fight through them all in an effort to stop their nefarious plan.

This version of the villain group consists of Doctor Octopus, Hobgoblin, The Vulture, The Sandman, Electro and Mysterio. All of them are regular Sinister Six members so I was pretty happy with the lineup, as we didn’t get stuck with some schmo like Carrion, Boomerang, Tarantula, Vermin or Shocker.

As far as design goes, the levels are pretty basic and a bit tedious to work through. Granted, the game certainly isn’t unbeatable and you can get through it with enough practice or if you’re just an 8-bit platform master.

The biggest thing working against you though, isn’t the level design and overabundance of enemies and projectiles, it’s the clunky, shitty mechanics. Spidey is a bitch to control and the physics are terrible.

When it comes to boss battles, most of them seem pretty hard the first time but once you figure out the enemy’s pattern, they aren’t too hard to beat. I actually thought the final boss, Doctor Octopus, was one of the easiest in the game.

Overall, this is both fun and frustrating. For those who grew up in this game’s era and who loved the Sinister Six story arcs in the comics, you’ll most likely enjoy this. Even if it overwhelms you about midway through, it’s not a hard game to adjust to and eventually conquer.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: other side scrolling 8-bit era action games based on comic books characters.

Book Review: ‘The Secrets of Writing: How to Write Great Fiction’ by James Hudnall

This book was recommended to me by a friend on Twitter who knew that I was currently working on a comic book script. The author, James Hudnall, also has a pretty invaluable YouTube page with a lot of solid advice on it, as well.

That being said, even though I’ve been a writer my entire life and have published four books, I’m always down with learning new techniques and new approaches from others.

Hudnall, who has had a ton of experience writing in multiple mediums gives some good, solid pointers on how to create better works in regards to fiction.

For me, even though I’ve always written fiction, it’s the one area where I’ve had the most trouble, as I’ve found it difficult ending stories in the right way. I can build worlds, create good characters and send them off on adventures but in the realm of wrapping things up, I’ve always had some difficulty.

I can write non-fiction all damn day, though. Hell, I can pump out ten-to-twenty reviews daily if I have to. Granted, they’d wane in quality but writing a mass amount of content has never been the issue for me.

Hudnall’s book really helped and I’m glad that I read it after finishing the first draft of my current comic book project. It’s allowed for me to go through the draft and pinpoint areas that need some improvement.

For those that want to write fiction or that feel the need to get better at it, this is a pretty cool book to read and it just may help.

Rating: 8.5/10