I mentioned last week needing time to figure out who this Arthur Claude Munyan name I referenced was. Munyan was the name given as writing a lovely little rant that I had MiSTed, On Beards And Evolution. So I’d like to share that. Bit of a content warning for the whole piece, although not so much this week’s installment: Munyan shows some racist attitudes and vocabulary, terms along the lines of “Asiatic People” or referencing professional racist Phillipe Rushton in apparent sincerity. If you don’t need that in your recreational reading, you are right and we’ll catch up on a later piece.
Rants were a special sort of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. Since they were never solicited, and were rarely even on topic for the Usenet group, they were treated with a particular disdain. This included refusing the courtesy of asking authors for permission to MiST them. How did we rationalize disregarding someone’s copyright in this way? Well, the normal mode of Usenet was for people to reply to posts, with new text inserted into the old. If you published on Usenet you accepted that, at least in principle, anyone might do that. So, we did.
[ OPENING THEME ]
[ 1.. 2.. 3.. 4.. 5.. 6.. ]
[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. At the desk are GYPSY, CROW, JOEL, and TOM. All looks normal. Too normal. ]
JOEL: Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Satellite of Love. I’m Joel Robinson, these are my bots Gypsy, Tom Servo, and Crow, and it’s a holiday week.
CROW: So you know what that means …
GYPSY: It’s a half day!
TOM: And there’s inexplicable TV specials that have nothing to do with the holidays on.
JOEL: Also it’s your mother’s birthday on Friday, don’t forget to call her, so we’re going to jump right into the invention exchange.
TOM: We’re inspired by the electric toothbrush, which many dentists say is a good way to adequately brush even those hard-to-reach back teeth —
CROW: Especially if you’re incredibly lazy.
[ JOEL takes from behind the desk a two-foot tall electric toothbrush. ]
JOEL: So we’ve invented the electric soap-brush! Just lather it up, turn it on —
[ JOEL presses the side, and the soapbrush starts whirring. It splashes foam everywhere, in as excessive a manner possible. ]
GYPSY: And gently wave it over your body…
CROW: Scrubbing you clean!
JOEL: So you don’t have to!
TOM: Coming for Father’s Day, the power loofah.
JOEL: Now down to you, Bausch and Loam.
[ DEEP 13. DR. FORRESTER is wearing a train engineer’s uniform, down to the striped cap, with Deep 13 patches sewn on. TV’s FRANK is standing behind, similarly dressed. The floor is bare. ]
DR. F: And hello, Atcheson, Topeka, and Santa Fe. Like many generic middle-aged men, TV’s Frank is an avid model railroader.
FRANK: I *am* the God of PlasticVille USA!
DR. F: Much as model railroads excel in simulating vaguely 1953 small-town America, if you want the thrill of the big city and of high-population-density transportation networks, you have to look to our invention this week.
FRANK: It’s the model subway!
DR. F: In O, HO, Z, or N gauge now you too can recreate the experience of shuttling hundreds of thousands of tiny passengers far beneath your busy city streets.
[ TV’s FRANK goes to the upper left of the screen, half kneels, and holds his hands out, `showcasing’ the floor. ]
DR. F: There’s the New York City Interboro Rapid Transit lines (Brooklyn Mass Transit sold separately).
[ TV’s FRANK moves to the upper right, and repeats his gestures. ]
DR. F: The stylish and elegant Paris Metro!
[ TV’s FRANK stands stage center and kneels. ]
FRANK: Boston’s MTA — Charlie sold separately! Also available in MBTA.
[ TV’s FRANK moves just behind and left of DR. FORRESTER and gestures. ]
DR. F: The granddaddy of them all, the London Underground!
[ TV’s FRANK moves to the right, and gestures. ]
DR. F: And for the novice, Singapore’s shiny new North-East Line MRT.
[ TV’s FRANK and DR. FORRESTER begin grinning at a private joke. ]
DR. F: What station you at, Frank?
FRANK: Dhoby Ghaut!
DR. F: [ As Ernie Anderson ] In Color!
FRANK: [ Also as Ernie Anderson ] A Quinn Martin Production!
[ BOTH giggle for several seconds, and look to the camera. ]
[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. JOEL is toweling off TOM SERVO and CROW. ]
CROW: They’re just amusing themselves now, right?
JOEL: I think they shouldn’t have skimped on their oxygen budget.
[ DEEP 13. As above. TV’s FRANK is humming a generic 70s detective- show-style theme song. ]
DR. F: Well, Robert Moses, your experiment this week is a little piece all about facial hair and political destiny. It’s sure to make you think you’re hallucinating. Bon appetit!
[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. As above. ]
TOM: Did they actually make anything?
CROW: I’d buy the Washington Metro, if they’ve got it.
JOEL: I’m thinking of the fantasy line for Madison.
[ MOVIE SIGN flashes. General alarm. ]
ALL: Aaah! We got movie sign!
[ 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… ]
[ ALL enter theater. ]
> Path: rpi!usc.edu!attla2!ip.att.net!in.100proofnews.com!in.
CROW: The only news source that’s constantly drunk!
JOEL: Line? Anyone?
> X-Admin: firstname.lastname@example.org
> From: email@example.com (Professor Munyan)
TOM: Professor Munyan and his bunion enjoy some Funyuns!
> Date: 22 Sep 2003 10:21:20 GMT
> Organization: AOL http://www.aol.com
CROW: So all of AOL sent this post?
> Subject: On Beards And Evolution
JOEL: I was wondering when somebody would finally connect them.
> Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Xref: rpi alt.fan.cecil-adams:653846
TOM: It’s the Xref that makes this extra special.
> ON BEARDS AND EVOLUTION
CROW: Oh .. uhm …
TOM: This is gonna be good.
> I am an educator and an American.
CROW: When Miss Brooks ruled the world!
> As an educator, I fulfilled a dream two years ago by becoming
> principal of my high school.
CROW: Finally he gets to show the bullies in gym class who’s boss!
> Prior to that, I taught American
> history for over twenty years.
JOEL: He stopped when somebody pointed out America has almost four hundred years of history, not just twenty.
> I taught with a passion for the patriotism and traditional
> American values that made our country great.
CROW: Memorization, rote learning, conformity and mindless obedience!
> As a member of our
> local American Legion, I was also the faculty sponsor for our Boys
> State Club.
> I made damned sure
CROW: *Darned* sure.
> that our members dressed, groomed, and
> conducted themselves like young clean cut gentlemen.
TOM: He was embarassed to learn he taught at a girls’ school.
> This meant no
> punk or hippie haircuts.
JOEL: Which served him well when he was teleported back to 1968.
> No earrings, no tattoos, and no beards.
CROW: Oh, yeah, tough guy stopping ninth graders from growing beards. What next, you suspend the girls who grow feathers?
> Today, I want to talk about beards.
TOM: We’re all mighty excited to hear that.
> We have just embarked upon a new millenium,
JOEL: Please keep your hands and feet inside the cart until we come to a complete stop.
> one whose beginning
> marks a critical juncture in the evolution of human civilization.
TOM: Unlike the rest of human civilization.
> In order to facilitate its progress, it behooves modern men today to
> abstain from the wearing of beards.
CROW: Oh, well, sure, if you put it like — huh?
> I will grant three exceptions.
JOEL: Oh, *thank* you, Mister Munyan.
> First, I will excuse the actors.
TOM: So Skeet Ulrich, you go ahead and grow a beard.
> Sometimes, an actor is called
> upon to portray a historical figure who wore a beard.
> I can relate to this personally.
JOEL: I was afraid he’d have to relate to it only through other people.
> About ten years ago, I was
> offered the opportunity to play the role of General Stonewall
> Jackson in a school play.
CROW: But the play was “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.”
> Normally, I would have considered it a dream come true to play
> a man like Stonewall Jackson.
TOM: Men like him, such as Braxton Bragg.
> But with deep regret, I had to turn
> it down.
> It was early in life when I learned that my face was not cut out
JOEL: No, your face is supposed to be attached to you. That’s how it works.
> for the beard I would have had to grow for the part.
TOM: So this guy can only grow pathetic wispy beards, and we have to hear about it?
> During a survival camping expedition during my twenties, I went
> an entire week without shaving,
JOEL: I barely escaped with my life!
> and that was about all that I could
TOM: Coincidence? Read the book.
> My face itched to high heaven until I was able to seek the
> relief of a razor.
CROW: Then it took another two weeks till I remembered which way the blade is supposed to face.
> Second, I will excuse certain religious groups.
CROW: He’ll grant permission to people who don’t care about getting his approval.
> The Amish, in
> particular, have earned my highest admiration for their old
> fashioned morality and simple way of life. They deserve a lot of
JOEL: So you can have buttons, or you can have a beard. Choose wisely.
> The Orthodox Jews are another example. So are the Sikhs.
> Finally, I will excuse the liberals.
JOEL: And the occasional Labour MP.
> If they want to look like
> the leftover overaged hippies they truly are, then I won’t stand in
> their way.
CROW: Yeah, he’s scared somebody’s going to drag him into their psychedellic circus.
> In the meantime, I call upon any good conservative out
> there who is still wearing a beard to shave it off.
> Otherwise, I see no other legitimate reason for any modern man
> in this day and age to wear a beard.
TOM: Except for Will Riker.
> Any man who does so without
> just cause is obviously suffering from a deep seated personal
JOEL: So why are *you* growing a beard?
TOM: Just ’cause.
JOEL: Well, you pass.
> If a man is truly content with his manhood, then why does he
> need to grow all that excess hair?
JOEL: They’re selling it on the black market!
> What is he trying to hide?
[ To be continued … ]