MiSTed: On Beards And Evolution (Part 4 of 4)


We come now to the end of Arthur Claude Munyan’s mysterious rant, On Beards And Evolution. Munyan’s rant does include the insulting notion that some peoples — not white people, of course — might have extraterrestrial genes. If you don’t need that racist nonsense in your recreational reading, you are right, and we’ll catch up next week when I don’t know what I’ll do. I’m enjoying digging out old Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction of mine even if I come across jokes that I now regret. (For example, here, a pretty cheap shot at individuals who might “have extraterrestrial genetic material”.)

If you do decide to finish this fanfic, though, it’s got some of my favorite goofy riffs, particularly the set of science fiction stories. You should always be suspicious of jokes you love a little too much, but that exchange? Even the weaker lines in that are great lines and I won’t hear otherwise. The bit in the closing sketch about “authentic interviews” is also an adjective-noun combination that keeps making me smile.

Dr Alan Chartok and Steve Kmetko were Albany (New York) local news personalities in the late 90s/early 2000s. I don’t know where they now are. Gurmit Singh is a Singaporean comic actor. Madonna is someone I was startled to learn is from Bay City, Michigan because I just assumed she was from New Jersey. Doesn’t she seem like someone who’d be from New Jersey? Right? Also back then we all just thought it was merry fun to mock Michael Jackson like that and I regret that now. I don’t believe Zheng He’s armada circumnavigated the world, but I accept for the purposes of making a joke that it might have been able to. The riff about where the Ancient Egyptians are today is adapted from a Robert Benchley line about Napoleon. Please also appreciate how I really nailed the quirks of the History Channel of the late 90s.

All four parts of this MiSTing should be at this tag. If you’d rather read them in order here is the first part, and this link is the second, and here’s the third part. The fourth and final part starts … now.


>
> An interesting and related note is that the Egyptians used to
> harbor an incredible revulsion for facial hair.

JOEL: Oh, sure, I can see how that’s related — huh?

> Many of them would
> depilate their entire bodies, pencil in their eyebrows, and wear
> elaborate wigs made of human hair or wool.

CROW: Yeah, and just look where the ancient Egyptians are today.

>
> Indeed, much of the wisdom of the ancients became lost with the
> advent of later civilizations.

TOM: So they gave up Zheng He’s armada capable of circumnavigating the world, but they got to shave.

>
> I shall now come to the final phase of my theory.

CROW: I’m going to grow a beard and see if I get dumber.

> For the past
> several years, I have become personally involved in a body of
> research which points to the possibility of the existence of
> extraterrestrial aliens.

[ ALL burst out laughing. ]

TOM: I was afraid the theory was going to be silly!

> I have read extensively the works of such
> noted scholars in the field as Dr. John Mack, David Jacobs, Whitley
> Strieber, and Budd Hopkins.

JOEL: Plus a couple Piers Anthony things for flavor.

TOM: H. G. Wells’s “The Shave Of Things To Come”!

CROW: Joe Haldeman’s “The Forever Wax”!

>
> While reviewing the vast number of sketches that have been made
> of these alien beings, whether you want to believe they’re real,

JOEL: Fred Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth’s “The Moustache Plague”!

CROW: Anne McCaffrey’s “Dragonriders of Perm”!

TOM: Cordwainder Smith’s “Alpha Ralpha Barbershop”!

> imagined, or intentionally fabricated, one common denominator among
> them stands out.

CROW: E. M. Forster’s “The Machine Crops”!

TOM: James Blish’s “Surface Tonsure”!

JOEL: Douglas Adams’s “Salon, and Thanks For All the Fish”!

>
> Out of all these sketches, not one of them depicts an alien
> wearing a beard.

[ ALL laugh again. ]

JOEL: Nor do they depict aliens playing T-ball, does that mean T-ball shouldn’t exist?

CROW: No, and the failure of depictions of aliens to show them paying the electric bill indicates power companies are doomed!

TOM: It is abundantly clear that aliens never wear bunny slippers! I am adjusting my lifestyle to compensate!

>
> Not one.

CROW: Actually, the ones in “Cocoon” are *all* beard.

>
> I believe that there may very well be a connection between these
> alien beings and the Mongolian race.

TOM: They are all connected in the great Circle of Goofiness.

> A careful study of these
> sketches reveals that these beings resemble the Mongolian race to a
> greater extent than the other races.

CROW: If you kinda squint.

JOEL: I’ve noticed as well aliens are never depicted painting houses, spackling drywall, or replacing window trim. This bodes ill for the future of odd-jobs workers!

> The most obvious similarity is
> that both tend to exhibit a sloping pattern to their foreheads.

TOM: Unless you’re on Star Trek, when it’s where they put bumps.

>
> A more significant similarity is that they both appear to
> exhibit a trait which is clearly indigenous to the Mongolian race.

JOEL: Jellyfish ready for barbecue.

TOM: Come to think of it, aliens never stop off at Burger King. You know what this means!

> This trait is known as the "epicanthal fold."

CROW: Hey, you can’t say “epicanthal.”

> This is a biological
> trait that accounts for the distinctive shape of the eyes that
> Asiatic people possess. This same trait also appears evident in
> many the alien sketches I have studied.

TOM: Case closed.

CROW: Notice, too, no depictions of extraterrestrials feature them picking up jumbo boxes of Cheez-Its at Kmart. This is why the retailer’s emergence from bankruptcy is a waste of effort!

>
> Could it be that the Mongolian race is our closest genetic human
> link to these extraterrestrial beings?

CROW: How many humans have extraterrestrial genetic material?

JOEL: At a guess, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Gurmit Singh, and Doctor Alan Chartok.

> I don’t know. We are
> probably eons away from finding out.

JOEL: Longer, if we hit the red lights.

>
> However, the physical similarities between the Mongolian race
> and the alien sketches I have studied are compelling enough to
> warrant further investigation in this direction.

TOM: How, by watching more “Space Kidettes” cartoons until a new breakthrough shows up?

JOEL: I have observed that space aliens almost never play Monopoly.

>
> As stated earlier,

TOM: Was this before or after beards won the Thirty Years War?

> members of the Mongolian race wear beards to
> a lesser frequency and of lesser thickness than do males of any
> other race.

CROW: Including the 10-K fun-run.

> If the sketches of the extraterrestrial aliens I have
> seen are any indication, they don’t appear to wear beards at all.

TOM: So if you see a man without a beard, he’s probably an alien.

JOEL: It occurs to me now that there are no depictions of aliens who eat cold canned ravioli, so shape up! You know who you are.

>
> The implications facing modern men today should now be obvious.

CROW: I’m in way over my head.

>
> In my considered opinion,

JOEL: I’m glad he considered this. If he just posted off the top of his head he might’ve said something goofy and embarassing.

> these advanced beings are trying to
> tell us something.

TOM: They’re telling us to point and snicker at him.

>
> In keeping with the spirit of the new millenium,

CROW: We must abandon our music boxes, to live up to the standards of the aliens who never play them!

> I propose that
> bearded men everywhere surrender to the will of evolution and follow
> their example by shaving them off.

JOEL: But the example of bearded men is wearing beards.

TOM:Our shining new future: Short, pudgy, hairless, big-eyed entities with no way to differentiate between individuals!

>
> Our cooperation will surely facilitate the evolutionary pattern
> that our Creator,

[ CROW, TOM stare at JOEL. ]

> in His divine wisdom,

[ CROW, TOM snicker. ]

JOEL: Don’t start, you two.

> has set in motion for the
> future course of human civilization.

CROW: Under the petty totalitarianism of high school principals.

JOEL: This guy’s his own sort of Woolly Bully.

>
> Arthur Claude Munyan, Sr.

TOM: Not to be taken internally.

CROW: “Arthur Claude Munyan”? That’s not a name, that’s a minor Charles Dickens character.

>
>

CROW: Let’s blow this popsicle stand.

JOEL: [ Picking up TOM ] Not a minute too soon.

TOM: What of the aliens, who never watch Steve Kmetko?

CROW: We don’t care.

[ ALL exit. ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. GYPSY, CROW, JOEL, and TOM SERVO are there. ]

JOEL: Hello. I’m Sam Waterston, and you’re watching the Arthur Claude Munyan History Channel.

[ CAMBOT puts up a yellow serifed `MH’ in a circle, covering most of the screen, for a moment. ]

JOEL: If you just joined us you’ve missed “The Moustache That Never Was,” the incredible true story of how British intelligence diverted the Germans away from the invasion of Sicily by planting facial hair on the body of a “drowned” British courier.

CROW: I’m David Aykroyd, and you can catch it again at 11:00 tonight. Coming up next, “Barbershops of the Third Reich” explores how a chance allergic reaction to that blue liquid foiled a plot which could have ended the war in 1942.

GYPSY: And now an Arthur Claude Munyan History Channel Moment.

[ ALL stand stand silent for a few seconds. JOEL holds his breath. ]

GYPSY: This has been an Arthur Claude Munyan History Channel Moment.

TOM: I’m Roger Daltrey. On Civil War Journal we explore to what extent was General George Thomas mislead by his follicles? You’ll find out at midnight in “The Tweezer of Chickamauga.”

JOEL: Tomorrow at ten we use authentic interviews, amazing dramatic re-creations and actual computer analysis to help solve the greatest crime of the 20th century. Tune in to see “The Men Who Shaved Kennedy.”

CROW: All this and more on the Arthur Claude Munyan History Channel!

[ CAMBOT puts the `MH’ logo back up, for a moment. ]

GYPSY: Let’s all be there!

JOEL: What do you think, sirs?

[ DEEP 13. DR. FORRESTER and TV’s FRANK are crouched on the ground and studying a random patch of it closely. ]

DR. F: Yes, yes, all well and good, Joel, now just hold a second.

FRANK: Here it comes!

DR. F: And there’s the one at platform C!

FRANK: And A and B are pulling up!

DR. F: We got it, man! All four platforms!

FRANK: Yes!
[ They high-five each other. ]

DR. F: Ssh! Ssh! We have to savor this.
[ They both pause, listening. ]

FRANK: We did really build something, right?
[ DR. FORRESTER glares at TV’s FRANK for a second. ]

DR. F: Push the button already.
[ TV’s FRANK leans over, reaching out of camera. DR. FORRESTER looks directly at the camera. ]
DR. F: Well, folks … goodnight.

                             \  |  /                          
                              \ | /                            
                               \|/                           
                             ---O---                          
                               /|\                            
                              / | \                          
                             /  |  \ 

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the characters and situations therein are the property of Best Brains, Inc. The essay “On Beards and Evolution” is the property of Arthur Claude Munyan, Sr. This MiSTing as a whole is the creation of Joseph Nebus, who intends no particular ill-will towards Arthur Claude Munyan, Mystery Science Theater 3000, or the History Channel. All beards used in this MiSTing were fictional and any resemblance to actual beards, whether living or shorn, is entirely coincidental. I’m pretty sure that model subways already exist, but the idea I find funny enough to use as an Invention Exchange even though it is so visually boring. When in Singapore be sure to enjoy the shiny new North-East Line, which is fully automated and has windows on the front and back cars, so you can stand there and pretend you’re the engineer. Come back, Dr. Mike Neylon!

> Out of all these sketches, not one of them depicts an alien
> wearing a beard.

MiSTed: On Beards And Evolution (Part 3 of 4)


Now to the third part of another Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. This one ridiculing Arthur Claude Munyan’s rant On Beards And Evolution. Part 1 ran two weeks ago, and part 2 ran one week ago. This is how things should work but when I write it like that it sounds harder than it needs to be.

This part includes my original addressing of the question: is this guy for real? And my conclusion, as mentioned last week: does it matter? If the piece was written sincerely, then it deserves its ridicule. If it was written to spoof a particular attitude — a racist, sexist, authoritarian attitude — then it did well. I would hope my falling for the joke makes the original better, then.

Speaking of the joke. This is the part where Munyan asserts he is not a white supremacist but wishes to make a “bioracial” argument. So if you don’t need that kind of white supremacist drivel in your life, even as it’s held up for ridicule, you are right and we’ll catch up again later.

And speaking of that ridicule. I have changed some of my ridicule. One change was of a riff mocking professional racist Phillipe Rushton’s name. The man deserves ridicule but “Phillipe” by itself doesn’t. I remember having doubts about the riff when I wrote it, fifteen or more years ago. But I ignored those doubts because the line sounded, to me, like the riff the Brains would make. And maybe they would have, in the 90s, and maybe they’d regret going for mocking someone’s name. I need to better listen to those doubts in myself.

There were also a couple of riffs about Munyan’s assessment of Asian people. As I re-read this, I saw too much of a gap between my anti-racist intent and how a reasonable person who had not invested the effort to know me might take my exact words. So the thing to do is say something better and I have taken that chance.


>
> Even the courageous victory of Mayor Daley’s Chicago police
> force against the demonstrators at the 1968 Democratic National
> Convention

JOEL: Oh, yeah, glorious victory. They’re still cheering about that one.

> failed to bring us back to our senses. It wasn’t until
> Ronald Reagan assumed the presidency more than ten years later that
> much of our dignity and national pride began to return.

TOM: By running up the debt, slashing environmental protection laws, pretending AIDS would go away by itself, and selling weapons to terrorists.

>
> Today, we are blessed with the definitive knowledge that beards
> are unsanitary.

CROW: Not if you don’t use them to scrub the toilet.

> The excess hair of a beard on a man’s face secretes
> oils which clog up the pores of the underlying skin at an
> accelerated rate.

JOEL: And it passes the savings on to you!

>
> These oils can lead to increased productions of harmful
> bacteria,

TOM: But only if they’ve completed their studies.

> resulting in formations of acne and other skin problems.
> A beard does nothing more than obstruct the surface area of the
> face,

CROW: Which is why shaven people never have pimples.

> preventing it from getting the thorough cleansing that it
> needs.

TOM: Killing hundreds of thousands of people each year — deaths covered up by the powerful Commissar of Beards!

>
> Common sense says that the cleaning of any type of surface is
> best achieved in a succession of layers.

JOEL: My gramma says it’s best achieved starting from the top and working down to the bottom.

> Consider the task of
> cleaning a floor that is cluttered with dust clods.

TOM: I think it would go … something like this:

> One would not
> rush right in and mop the floor without first sweeping or vacuuming
> all that dust.

CROW: Why not? It’s fun!

> Doing so is just as futile as trying to wash a face
> that is cluttered with the stubbles of a beard.

JOEL: So mop your beards after every meal.

>
> One only needs to examine the face of a man who has just shaven
> off his beard to verify the truth of these words.

TOM: Warning: Use only volunteers for this experiment.

> What you
> typically see is a pallid and pasty skin tone, populated by the
> presence of one or more unsightly pimples.

CROW: Munyan’s the kind of guy Singapore tells to lighten up.

>
> In addition to all the oil and bacteria they generate, beards
> prevent the facial skin cells from receiving the amount of
> circulation and sunlight they need.

TOM: Circulation? What, they’re vampire beards?

> A bearded face is not a happy
> face.

JOEL: Even if the person wearing the beard is happy.

>
> The scalp is different. It was designed for hair,

TOM: And not for porridge.

> and that is
> where it belongs. God made it that way.

CROW: And beards were created by, who, General Mills?

> With the hard bony surface
> of the skull directly beneath, there are fewer subcutaneous layers
> of skin where bacteria can grow. This is why pimples hardly ever
> grow on the scalp.
>
> I will say nothing derogatory about nose hairs.

TOM: He doesn’t want to get in trouble with their advocacy groups.

CROW: Oh, come on! This guy can’t be for real. “I will say nothing derogatory about nose hairs?” Who *writes* stuff like that?

> They play a

TOM: You think Munyan’s insincere about his beard feelings?

CROW: This has got to be somebody’s parody of Internet rants.

> vital role in keeping bacteria and dust from entering one’s

TOM: So they sent us a counterfeit?

JOEL: I don’t know … the Mads are evil and all, but that would be mean.

> respiratory system. Ear hair also plays an important function in

CROW: Yeah, but *nobody* connects politics and beards.

TOM: No, no, there’s nothing so stupid it doesn’t have some advocate on the Internet somewhere.

> helping to filter out foreign bodies from entering too deeply into

JOEL: Well, whether Principal Professor Munyan’s man or myth, guys, there’s one thing I know for sure.

CROW: Yeah, and what’s that?

> the ear canal, thus serving to prevent harmful infections.

JOEL: We’re stuck reading the rest of him.

TOM: Great.

CROW: Sheesh. I just feel lied to somehow.

>
> Armpit hairs serve their purpose as well.

JOEL: They’re no shirkers.

> They work in
> synchronocity with the sweat glands

TOM: Let me draw a ridiculous diagram to illustrate.

> in regulating a man’s body
> temperatures during times of physical exertion and stress.

JOEL: I can’t tell you how many times I was stressed out, but the thought of armpit hair kept me going.

>
> Unfortunately, evolution has yet to eliminate the unneeded
> armpit hairs of women.

TOM: Yeah, get on the ball, you mutative processes!

> They look a lot better without them, and
> they certainly don’t need them for their housework.

CROW: What about for their armpit puppet shows?

TOM: And, of course, women can’t do anything else in life.

> A truly
> feminine woman in this day and age keeps her armpits shaven.

JOEL: *IF* she knows what’s good for her.

>
> Hair is good.

TOM: Think about it, won’t you?

> As long as it is kept in the right places.

JOEL: Do not keep your hair in the fridge.

CROW: Avoid storing surplus hair under the car’s distributor cap.

TOM: Under no circumstances put your hair on another person’s tongue.

>
> However, the most compelling reason for modern man to shun the
> wearing of beards

CROW: …is to make it easier for us to find the real Santa Claus.

> is to humbly cooperate with the evolutionary
> pattern of human civilization which has been destined for us.

JOEL: You know, I kind of bought it when he said beards brought an end to slavery, but now I think he’s getting a little silly.

>
> I herewith present a bioracial basis for this argument.

TOM: Good. Nothing makes our lives more pleasant than hearing somebody’s “bioracial” arguments.

>
> But before I do, let me make one thing perfectly clear. Contrary
> to a lot of popular suspicion, I am not a white supremacist.

CROW: Somebody warning you he’s not a white supremacist is usually letting you know he’s a white supremacist.

> Being
> a Caucasian male, I do not consider myself to be a member of a
> superior race.

CROW: We agree.

>
> Instead, I believe this distinction may very well belong to the
> Mongoloid race,

JOEL: The “Mongoloid race”? Where does this guy teach, 1912?

CROW: He *can’t* be for real.

> which includes the various peoples of Asiatic
> descent. The Chinese and the Japanese are our best known examples.
>

TOM: In that they’re the only ones Munyan’s heard of.

> Marco Polo himself expressed this view in the year 1290 when he
> said:

CROW: “Hi! I’m Marco Polo! And I’m padding my travel voucher!”

> “The Chinese are the wisest people in the world.”

ALL: — In bed.

> It is no
> secret that Asians have generally overwhelmed the other races in the
> academic arenas in our nation’s public and private schools and
> institutions of higher learning.

JOEL: That’s just ’cause they got the help of Gamera.

>
> According to Professor Phillipe Rushton of the University of
> Western Ontario,

TOM: “Hi! I’m Marco Polo! And I’m *still* padding my travel voucher!”

> who is one of our leading scholars in the
> scientific investigation of racial differences, there exist various
> indices of significant and striking Asiatic superioity.

CROW: Why, the superioity in their spell checking alone …

>
> When compared to identical average measures for Caucasians, for
> example, Asians have been generally shown to possess larger brains,
> more brain cells,

JOEL: Better fluency in Asian languages!

CROW: More family in Asia!

TOM: Greater average distance from Stamford, Connecticut!

> and higher average IQ scores. They have also been
> shown to have higher marital stability, greater tendencies to abide
> by the laws of their governments, and better mental health and
> administrative capacities.

JOEL: Which I learned from playing them in Civilization II!

>
> They also put us to shame when it comes to sexual restraint.

CROW: Heck, they embarassed us all with that foot binding stuff.

> As
> a whole, the Asians display a significantly reduced proclivity to
> sexual promiscuity in comparison to all other racial groups.

TOM: Which is why there’s three billion people in Asia.

>
> Another difference not yet mentioned is that Asian males have
> fewer beards and beards of less thickness than do males of other
> races. How often do you see a Chinaman with a full length beard?

JOEL: How often do I see a “Chinaman”? I don’t know, depends how often I go building the Transcontinental Railroad.

> My guess would be not very often.
>
> There is a wok chef in one of our local Chinese restaurants who
> has worn a beard for as long as I can remember.

TOM: Case closed.

> Although it has
> reached a considerable length, it is of a very thin and wispy
> thickness and texture. Such is the case of every beard I have ever
> seen worn by an Asian male.

JOEL: And I’ve seen three!

>
> The reason for the lower incidence of beards and reduced beard
> thickness among Asian males is not entirely clear.

CROW: Perhaps the beards are simply waiting to ambush us.

> One theory holds
> that the early Mongolian people used to burn the faces of their
> young male children with heated metal in order to stop the growth of
> facial hair, sparing the lip areas for the growth of mustaches.

TOM: Evolution doesn’t work that way, but where would Comparative Beardology Science be if we rejected every theory that doesn’t work?


[ To be concluded … ]

MiSTed: On Beards And Evolution (Part 2 of 4)


Another special consideration with MiSTing rants? How did you know they were sincere? How do you tell a genuine loopy argument from someone mocking a loopy argument? Like, I remember one Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic that mocked an argument we had proof of time travellers meddling with history by how some events were put inexplicably out of order. The argument gave an example: how could Bruce Lee’s Return of the Dragon, released in 1972, have logically come out before Enter the Dragon, released in 1973? The MiSTing snarked that oh, yeah, one reference book gets movie dates wrong and that proves time travel? Except that, yeah, Return of the Dragon was made before Enter the Dragon. So was the original time-travel-conspiracy rant in earnest? Or making a really sly joke?

Arthur Claude Munyan’s On Beards And Evolution gave me similar vibes. It still does, some. Like, this is an expertly-crafted parody of a particular kind of petty-authoritarian attitude, right? The author didn’t really believe it, right? And yeah, I know, we have the coward excuse that however dumb an argument is someone believes it. But did I get taken in? Or was I ridiculing something actually deserving the ridicule?

Ultimately, I decided, it doesn’t matter. When I say something facetious and find it taken in earnest, I am delighted (and my love offended). If the person behind this rant had similar intentions, I hope they are similarly delighted. Anyway, there’s a lot of riffs in here that I really like, and only a couple that I regret.

And, again, a content warning: Munyan’s piece contains racist attitudes and while my riffing sneers at that, you’re right if that’s not something you want in your recreational reading. We’ll catch up again with, I don’t know, that old Reboot fanfic or something.


Last week featured part 1 of this rant. It’s got two weeks to run yet.

>
> I never cease to be amazed at all the male high school students
> I see who are wearing beards.

TOM: Yes, some minds can find amazement in the most mundane things.

CROW: I thought he stopped all the high schoolers from growing beards?

> Misguided parents who allow this to go
> on are guilty of the worst form of permissiveness.

JOEL: They don’t hate dandruff enough!

>
> These parents ought to be teaching and modeling the true
> meanings of manhood

TOM: Like playing sports and blowing stuff up.

> instead of encouraging their sons to flaunt such
> false symbols thereof under the phony banners of freedom and
> self-expression.

CROW: True individualism consists of watching what everybody else does and conforming without being told.

>
> Let me make it clear that the grooming standards I am promoting
> apply to the twentieth century and beyond.

JOEL: He does not *necessarily* endorse travelling back in time and shaving historical figures. But he wants to keep the option open.

> Before then, we did not
> have the knowledge of good grooming and personal hygiene that we
> have today.

TOM: Basically, everybody before about 1957 was stupid.

>
> Many Americans lived under very adverse frontier conditions.

JOEL: Today, they just struggle to survive network TV.

> By
> necessity, daily survival itself was more important than shaving.

CROW: Hm, should I survive today, or should I shave?

TOM: Well, Billy decided to shave yesterday.

CROW: Did he survive?

TOM: Nope.

>
> Pre-twentieth century man was guided by a different set of
> priorities. Most honorable among them was our noble quest to
> fulfill our divine mission of completing our western expansion.

JOEL: Hm, should I massacre the Sioux today, or should I shave?

CROW: Well, Hank decided to shave yesterday.

JOEL: What happened?

CROW: The Sioux hung on to a scrap of their territory.

JOEL: Dang!

>
> The many savage Indian tribes who constantly tried to stop us
> kept our hands full. Shaving was the least of our worries.

CROW: Being on “Gunsmoke” was worse.

>
> As Americans, we prevailed. Because we are Americans.

TOM: Except for the Americans who were here first.

>
> Therefore, I fault no man for wearing a beard prior to the
> twentieth century. After all, many of our most famous Civil War
> generals wore beards.
>

CROW: And … that’s the only example he can think of.

> However, I cannot help but wonder

JOEL: How *can* I tell a cabbage from a lettuce?

> if the fate of the confederacy
> might have turned out differently if some of Robert E. Lee’s faulty
> military decisions had been made without the itchy distraction of
> his beard.

TOM: So slavery ended because of beards? Good for facial hair!

> I also suspect that Abraham Lincoln was similarly
> distracted when he put forth his Emancipation Proclamation.

CROW: Well, again, yay for beards!

>
> During the early part of the twentieth century, our armed forces
> finally wised up.

TOM: Not to hear the enlisted men tell it.

> They adopted the practice of giving all recruits a
> decent haircut, and a shave if necessary,

JOEL: Two bits.

TOM: And a pantsing where applicable.

> on their first day of
> basic training.

JOEL: And that has to last them *all* year.

>
> They finally realized that they can more effectively tap into
> and train the "inner man" into the fighting machine he was meant to
> become without a lot of superfluous hair in the way.

CROW: What, the beard absorbs orders that would otherwise be followed?

>
> History has shown us that military decisions are best made with
> a clear head.

TOM: And a lot of shouting.

> A clean shaven face and a decent haircut go hand in
> hand with a clear head.

JOEL: Wait a minute — hands don’t go in heads!

> Even the Roman warriors favored clean shaven
> faces, in order to give their adversaries less area to grab hold and
> pull during hand to hand encounters.

TOM: And by having all males shave now, that’ll save us ten minutes before starting at the next war!

>
> They were also among the first to adopt the "high and tight"
> hairstyles

CROW: ‘Nuff said.

> that most of our recruits wear with honor and pride in
> our military boot camps today. It is most unfortunate that our
> Civil War heroes failed to follow their example.

TOM: Or the North could’ve won two years earlier.

>
> The twentieth century marked a major turning point in the
> history of grooming practices among our leaders.

CROW: Yes, the twentieth century will be remembered for automobiles, airplanes, computers, *and* the Gilette triple razor blade.

> The last U.S.
> president to wear a beard was Benjamin Harrison, who served his term
> from 1889 to 1993.

JOEL: His first 20 years were OK, but the last 84 kind of stank.

CROW: His effectiveness declined sharply after he died.

>
> Since then, not one of our presidents has ever sported a beard.
>
> Not one.

TOM: Their loss.

>
> Indeed, the first sixty years of the twentieth century was a
> golden age of grooming among men.

TOM: Soon they started grooming each other, but found they liked it too much.

> Most men were clean cut and
> shaved on a regular basis. Barber shops in practically every town
> and city in America fluorished.

TOM: Charlie Brown’s dad had steady work!

>
> However, this glorious era was temporarily interrupted during
> the turbulent and ugly decade of the sixties.

JOEL: What’s so funny about peace, love, and Wildroot creme oil?

>
> Perhaps, the first omen of what was yet to come took place when
> Richard Nixon himself failed to give himself a proper shave before
> his televised debates with JFK in 1960.

CROW: He explained it as his Flintstone fandom, but nobody bought it.

> His five ‘o clock shadows
> clearly did him in,

TOM: When it grabbed a knife and attacked Jack Paar.

> as he came across as a character on a wanted
> poster instead of the dedicated communist fighter he truly was.

CROW: If he was a dedicated communist fighter, shouldn’t he at some point in his career have found a communist instead of just mudslinging Daniel Ellsworth?

>
> As a result of being duped by a more clean shaven and
> charismatic Kennedy,

JOEL: People stopped wearing enough hats.

> the American electorate had to endure eight
> years of Democratic rule and all the turmoil that it wrought.
>
> Shortly after this fateful election,

TOM: Fate stepped in.

> the Beatles came along with
> their mop style hair cuts. Teenage boys everywhere began to forsake
> their Brylcream and started growing their hair like the mangy
> sheepdogs that their heroes emulated.

JOEL: Oh, yeah, remember the “longhair” Beatles of ’64, with hair that grew as much as two and a *half* inches long.

> Popular American culture was
> just beginning its rapid descent into depravity.

CROW: What, when “Gilligan’s Island” came on?

>
> The cancer grew even worse with the emergence of the hippies a
> few short years later,

CROW: Short years are like regular years, but staffed by Munchkins.

> with even longer, more unkempt hairstyles and
> beards. Their influence on our American youth was devastating.

JOEL: Those pesky minorities started acting like they should have actual civil rights and stuff.

> Clean cut young men everywhere were seduced into their ranks, taking
> up pot smoking, internalizing anti-American ideas,

CROW: Watching Adam West on Batman.

> and protesting
> our nation’s gallant efforts to stop the spread of communism in
> Southeast Asia.

TOM: Efforts which were cancelled to make room for the Vietnam War.

>
> Instead of listening to leaders like Richard Nixon and Spiro T.
> Agnew,

CROW: They followed people with souls.

> they started following the likes of Jerry Rubin, Abbie
> Hoffman, and scores of other political agitators

JOEL: Vince Lombardi!

CROW: Tommy Smothers!

JOEL: Rowan and Martin!

TOM: Bubble Puppy!

JOEL: Robbie the Robot!

TOM: Sandy Koufax!

CROW: Underdog!

JOEL: Neil Armstrong!

TOM: Danny Bonaduce!

> who were glorified
> to high heaven by our liberal news media.
>
> Rock stars with beards and long dirty stringy hair started to
> multiply like rabbits.

CROW: I loved seeing their cute little bunny paws working slide rules.

> Clean cut wholesome musicians like Lawrence
> Welk and Pat Boone became passe.

JOEL: Oh, they were passe even when they were hot.

CROW: Notice he says nothing about Liberace.

>
> Something was wrong. Our nation was going to hell.

TOM: If Woody had gone straight to the police this would never have happened.

> The chaos
> and decline of traditional moral values the hippies wrought was
> clear evidence that long hair and beards were clearly inappropriate
> for modern twentieth century man.

CROW: Every other century could handle beards, but they were just too much for the 60s, man.


[ To be continued … ]

MiSTed: On Beards And Evolution (Part 1 of 4)


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!

> 100proofnews.com!cycny01.gnilink.net!cyclone1.gnilink.net!ngpeer.
> news.aol.com!audrey-m1.news.aol.com!not-for-mail
> Lines:

JOEL: Line? Anyone?

> 329
> X-Admin: news@aol.com
> From: professormunyan@aol.com (Professor Munyan)

TOM: Professor Munyan and his bunion enjoy some Funyuns!

> Newsgroups:alt.fan.cecil-adams
> 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: <20030922062120.08275.00001245@mb-m14.aol.com>
> 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
> stand.

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
> credit.

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
> inadequacy.

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?

CROW: Communism!


[ To be continued … ]

%d bloggers like this: