Shaving

Should probably shave, I thought, grazing the hair on my face that never resembled a beard, but instead some bedraggled cat holding on for dear life. No, the hairs on my face rarely sculpt me into a sexy, rather hipster-ish Ryan Gosling look-a-like, but instead an unshaven bum.

So I retreated to the bathroom with my Neutrogena shaving kit and disposable razor pack (CVS; $4.99). The sink encrusted with spittle-mixed-tooth-paste, the mirrors streaked with the same concoction in patterns reminiscent of some Jackson Pollock painting.

Shaving is men’s equivalent to dyeing his hair. We arise fresh, awoken, somehow new. Certainly, we look different, sometimes more childish, sometimes more handsome. Either way, we come out of the experience different and cleansed. The feeling fades just as does that familiar Sunday Morning vibe that fizzles out once we smack into Monday and decide, well, why not try meth?

I finished and put down the razor, inspecting myself. Sometimes, when you look in a mirror, it’s strange—you don’t recognize your own face because you hardly ever see it. So that’s it? That’s how people see me? Ah, well, it does look better shaven. Maybe I’ll feel a little different, a little new.

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The Fall of Man

Man was once simple.

He stood in simple nakedness

with his simple, limp urinary tract extension

hanging between his simple legs

with a halo of wild hair

no one told him to shave, wax, or pluck.

 

He understood himself

even if not in a biological way.

But he understood that when his stomach hallowed

he could eat and feel better.

When his stomach felt ready to burst,

he could squat wherever he pleased

to expel his inner demons.

 

He understood the world too,

that he was the king of animals.

Even lions bent to his will

for Man had given them names.

When his body could no longer move,

he closed his eyes to return to Heaven.

When he woke alone in the Garden,

none of his stuff had been moved.

His pile of rocks stood as rocks.

His fig leaf collection remained scattered still.

 

Sometimes, Man even bathed

because the water felt good

on his body, but no one form him to.

It made his beard a sponge,

his beard no one ever asked to shave, wax, or pluck.

The Man, he was happy.

 

On the next day, God created Eve.

 

As a Writer, Do You or (How to Grow Writerly Chest Hair)

When I first started out, the advice I got the most was, “Write what you know.” This did not make much sense to me, since I was in fifth grade, and I wanted to write fantasy. And it’s a good thing I started out writing fantasy because it forces you to figure out the “rules” to your world, which, even if you’re writing a novel set in reality, you still must do.You still twist reality enough to constitute the need for rules. But here I was, 11, writing fantasy, yet people told me to “write what I knew.”

I thought that meant people wanted me to write about my life,which was boring. I might only be able to describe the highlight of my week as a Pokemon card game. Nothing major was happening in my life at the time, nothing I wanted to write about or felt comfortable writing, anyways. But now I see the purpose of the rule. It provides a sort of practice.

If how to describe something mundane, like a cookie or the scenery of a room, you’ll be better at expressing the minutiae of life. Which will make it much easier when you try to tackle larger ideas, you can write them better. When you conceived an immensely complicated but significant idea, you’ll know how to put that idea into words. But you have to start with describing the concrete before you can the abstract. From the concrete, you learn stylistic techniques that will help you in the long run.

The same rule goes for stories. If you begin writing stories about your day, your daily routine– how you bush your teeth and wait for your dog to poop in your neighbor’s lawn during your morning walk– it’s not a waste of time. Not many people many want to read such tedious chronicles of the most basic activities, but this will train you to be able to describe big-set scenes in the future.

Now, if you want to ever get published, you will one day have to write something someone will want to read. When writing without the intent of publication, however, you needn’t worry about the fickle tastes of the readers. Instead, do you. Write about whatever interests you, even if it’s butterflies. Spend pages describing a tin roof or the bark on a tree. In a published novel, this might not fly.

But the honest truth is, you’ll need to write thousands and thousands (hundreds of thousands) of words meant for fiction before writing anything “good.” This is not to demean you. It’s just a fact. Writers must write for a good long time before finding their voice. It’s a sort of writerly puberty, if you’d like to think of it like that. Sure, for a while, you’ll speak high-pitched, but then eventually you’ll get some hair on your chest. You know who had a lot of hair on his chest? Ernest Hemingway. No, seriosuly, he did.

So you spend a lot of time honing your craft, writing whatever you’d like. You must do this before attempting to write for the market or else you’ll start copying others’ styles and stories. You’ll be the writer writing paranormal romances and stories called The Boy with the Penguin Tattoo.

You have to find your voice before really delving into the selling part of writing. And that’s just if you want to get read. But if you’re just starting out, write for yourself, then focus on others. Write about the little things that worry you, then you’ll have practice to tackle the huge existential questions you might face in the future.

For the record, I would definitely read The Boy with the Penguin Tattoo.

Poem: Manly

I have no idea what it means

To really be a man

But if I can come up with some half-good

Answers for all my questions

I’d be halfway to the moon by now

And I guess I ain’t going soon

Because I don’t know anything

 

When I was ten I knew

What being a man was all about

You wore cowboy hats and drove a motorcycle

Or rode a horse in foreboding sunglasses

Or tats of naked women straddling eagles

Or snakes or dragons

And did whatever it takes to keep hold of your dignity

That sort of manliness is something I lack

I certainly don’t look like a buff, bearded lumberjack

 

But these days that idea of masculinity

Holds all the necessity of a bullet in my head

Which mind you, I don’t think I need

So I plead with you, know

That it’s not always men who go into fights

Who are manly

But instead the ones who spend their nights

At home with their families

Working two jobs just to have enough to send his little girl

To college one day

That place he never got to go

Because he’d throw a punch

Every single time his honor was questioned

But now he forgets about that

And instead says “I love you”

Every single chance he can

Because he knows now what it means

To be a man

Mustaches Win Elections

The 2012 election, though still a year away, already consumes the headlines. But for how long can the media keep us interested in a

If only... she might actually win.

clash of two parties, both failing miserably?
The inherent problem here is that the public is becoming bored with the current presidential candidates. We need someone new, even if we don’t expect them to win. To watch debates between Barack Obama and Mitchell Romney for the next twelve months would be the suicide of our media-consuming self-interest. Not that both candidates are bad, but definitely, both are boring. Both speak with quiet, dry voices—controlled pragmatic politicians.
While I might someone pragmatic and controlled as president, I sure do not want one for a presidential candidate. Sarah Palin, a major header of the American Tea Party, recently announced that she would be bowing out of the 2012 race. Though not a fan of Palin for president, I would have enjoyed her candidacy antics. Who doesn’t love the phrases that that Alaskan hockey mom coins? But now, the race is frighteningly deficient of crazy. With two reasonable candidates who will likely lead the Republican and Democratic primaries, who is there left to make fun of?
Every election requires a dark horse—if not that, then a stupefying, gaudy unicorn. Someone with a unique voice, even if that voice is spewing conspiracy theories about redirecting education funds in an effort to excavate Atlantis and about how Barack Obama illegally immigrated to America from Jupiter. What we need is someone potentially insane to pit against Mitchell Romney—a Republican Battle Royal.
We had Donald Trump for a few weeks, though he quickly gave up after being booed for wanting to destroy every other country on Earth. Fun, possibly unstable candidates like him—that’s what I’m looking for.
Of course, Romney is likely to win, but if the race for the primaries is already over, that means that the media will have to crank out more stories about the secrets to playing Scrabble and household tips to clean your bathroom floor tiles. Use ammonia mixed with plain white vinegar, if you’re interested in knowing how and perhaps stumbled onto this blog looking for such information.

Now that Sarah Palin has given up on being our make-fun-of-Republican-candidate-who-will-eventually-lose-the-race-and-be-promptly-forgotten, the public needs someone new. Who, though, will step up to the plate? Maybe Idaho Governor Butch Otter might run, toting his vast expertise as a hunter to support gun rights?
My suggestion, however, is Giovanni Dominice, an American who won first prize for the best Imperial Mustache in the World Beard Championships. If there is any man I cannot help by deeply respect, it is a man with a really cool mustache. His campaign starts officially… right now. So construct some homemade pickets and begin fighting for a president who can grow decent facial hair.

Now... THAT is what I am talking about!

                                                                                                            Dominice for President!

Fun With Poetry

Posting blogs sometimes takes time, so instead I’ll share something else. For the record, I have been immersed in schoolwork. If you don’t remember high school, here’s a refresher:  you spend a lot of time with your nose in the spine of a book.

I love Calculus so much, I spent all weekend with her. My face was so close to her pages, we were practically making out. What draws me to her, really, is that she never- no, never “makes love.” What we do implies something more passionate. We stay up all night together and when she’s finished with me, I’m usually sweating and out of breath.

We’re taking a break right now, because honestly, the arguments may splinter our relationship. It’s almost as if we’re spending TOO much time together.

To remedy this, I had some fun. I took a poem (Ode to the Stache: https://derekberry.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/poem-ode-to-the-stache/) and translated it into Italian. Read the original first. I translated it then back into English, because what’s more hilarious than mistranslated poems? This is why I can never quite appreciate Lorca. First, here is the poem in Italian:

Oh, peli glorioso, spuntano dal viso!
Con calore e uno stile rasoio non poteva cancellare,
 I capelli crescono come erbacce, poli labbro robusto,
Quali sono adorati e sono soggetti di canzoni,

Si trova come compagno, un peloso, amico rossetto,
Che si può torcere, lo stile, piroetta, spirale, e piegare,
Tu sei il capitano, e il tuo primo ufficiale,
Con essa si ha un legame a cui nessun altro corpo capelli possono riguardare,

Si potrebbe preferire il Belvedere, o forse il Dali,
Potrebbe essere il vostro sport come Frank Zappa e crescere un pizzetto,
Può essere un manubrio, oppure si può lasciare caduta,
Una fine può essere un pallone da basket, l'altro un cerchio,

Si può guardare come Einstein e guardare come Ringo troppo,
Si potrebbe crescere molto lungo fino a quando è necessario 'shampoo Stache,
Può essere una matita uno, o un Fu Manchu,
Un paio di baffi è un paio di baffi, e nessuno lo farà,

Alcuni guardare piuttosto minaccioso, qualche aspetto di cute,
Alcuni ti fanno sembrare professionale, alcuni come un bruto,
Si può indossare con la barba, pizzetto, o braciole di castrato,
Sembra proprio sul cowboy, Hitler, e perfino poliziotti,

Questa è una piccola ode di una caduta di poco,
Una curva di capelli che possono assorbire tutta la minestra,
Alcuni sono piuttosto scarsi, alcuni vale la pena guardare un sacco di denaro,
Ma non dimenticate mai la potenza e la freschezza del 'Stache,

Now here is the poem in the English-translated-version of Italian.

Oh, glorious hair, sprouting from your face!
With warmth and style razor could not erase,
   The hair grows like weeds, lip sturdy poles,
What are worshiped and are subject of songs,

It is found as a companion, a hairy, man lipstick
What you can twist, style, twirl, spiral, and bend,
You are the captain, and your first officer,
With it you have a bond that no other body hair may concern,

You might prefer the Belvedere, or perhaps the Dali
It could be your sports such as Frank Zappa and grow a goatee,
It can be a dumbbell, or you can let fall,
One end can be a basketball, the other a circle,

It can look like Einstein and look like Ringo too,
You could grow very long until you need the 'Stache shampoos,
It can be a pencil or a Fu Manchu,
A mustache is a mustache, and no one will do,

Some look pretty ominous, some aspect of skin,
Some make you look professional, some as a brute,
It can be worn with beards, goatees, mutton chops, or,
Looks like the Cowboys, Hitler, and even policemen,

This is a small ode to fall slightly,
A curve of hair can absorb all the soup,
Some are rather scarce, some worth looking at a lot of money,
But never forget the power and freshness of the 'Stache,

It made me chuckle quietly under my breath. Just so you dear readers know, I’m doing quite a lot with poetry including making a chapbook. Also, next weekend I’ll begin work on something quite unique: a video of one of my poems. Wait? Derek, you do those ALL the time. Wait, but a poem made into a music-video with an award-winning director from Boston? No, Derek hasn’t done THAT yet.

Not yet. But soon, one of my poems will receive the MTV treatment, and become like a music video. It’s exciting stuff, indeed. Beyond that, I’m working with the same director on a script for a short film. More on that once we’ve worked out more news.

Although I’m currently cheating on writing, having such a rampant love affair with Calculus (Honestly, she’s a frigid woman), I’m very busy with writerly things. You’ll hear from me soon.

Poem: Ode to the ‘Stache

Tonight, I read the first poem I ever wrote in honor of IFC’s new “Whisker Wars.” Check out this poem and check out the open mic night at Cafe Rio Blanca, hosted by the Aiken Guild of Poetic Intent.  Every third Tuesday of the month! Here’s the poem:

 

Oh, glorious hairs, sprouting from face!

With warmth and a style no razor could erase,

 Hairs grow like weeds, sturdy lip prongs,

Which are worshipped and are subjects of songs,

 

It sits as a comrade, a furry, lippy friend,

That you can twist, style, twirl, whorl, and bend,

You are the captain, and it your first mate,

With it you have a bond to which no other bodily hair—can relate,

 

You might prefer the Belvedere, or perhaps the Dali,

You may sport yours like Frank Zappa and grow a goatee,

It can be a handlebar, or you can let it droop,

One end can be a basketball, the other end a hoop,

 

You can look like Einstein and look like Ringo too,

You could grow it very long until you need ‘stache shampoo,

It may be a pencil one, or a Fu Manchu,

A moustache is a moustache, and any one will do,

 

Some look pretty menacing, some look kind of cute,

Some make you look professional, some just like a brute,

You can wear it with a beard, goatee, or mutton chops,

It looks right on cowboys, Hitler, and even cops,

 

This is a little ode about a little droop,

A single curve of hair that can sop up all the soup,

Some are rather sparse; some look worth a lot of cash,

But never forget the power and coolness of the ‘stache