Category Archives: Friends and Family

weekly rounds

  • At the risk of inducing a recursive weekly roundup loop, it seems that Overlords Johnson and Miller are starting up a Friday Minion Roundup feature on the retooled Secret Lair site. Everyone involved is stupefyingly talented, which makes this an imperative thing for you to check out.
  • Jim has threatened to hit us with a weekly dose of critical gaming links on The Vintage Gamer, and he is making good on said threat. The only thing more interesting and awesome than the information he’s corralling together is Jim himself (which sets said bar orbitally high), so I command you to go and read.

Cmar is also… Croatian Metal and Rock

In which I will continue to note all things “cmar”…

The website, or Croatian Metal And Rock, has been serving the undoubtedly vast Croatian metal community since 1999. While much of it is in Croatian, the site is intuitively navigable and there are English forums, for those interested in poking about. While I can’t say this is a prime resource for my musical needs, the trifecta of 1) the excellent name, 2) shout out to my European ancestry, and 3) addressing one of my favorite auditory genres makes this site a win.

That, and any place that can advertise death metal, dance parties, and Extreme on the same tour page without any irony whatsoever requires my complete respect.


El Cmar, technico

[Edit February 7, 2016 – Shame on me for letting this lay fallow for a number of months, but El Cmar revealed himself in the comments below to be none other than Chris Harrington! Chris, who is better known as Mookieghana, is renowned in the pro wrestling world as the preeminent keeper of statistics related to all things in the squared circle. From both his Livejournal and other postings, it is evident that he actively worked as El Cmar from 1999 through 2006 or so in various wrestling promotions.]

Last week I directed you to check out Matt’s comments on present day gladiators. The entire thing is resonant for me (for particular reasons I have yet to divulge), and also an excellent starting point for some fascinating sociological and philosophical commentary on us as a species.

On a vaguely related note, today I stumbled across this video from independent pro wresting organization Next Era Wrestling, circa 2005. What it contains is a triple threat match in which one of the participants is clearly my luchador alter ego, El Cmar. The match is bad, and the videography is worse, but it’s worth watching at least the first few minutes to see El Cmar in all of his resplendent glory – in this case, a goofy white guy billed as being from Mexico wearing a football uniform with a luchador-style mask who’s ring entrance music is the “come on down!” tune from the Price Is Right.

Research indicates that El Cmar was active in at least two indy wrestling promotions during 2005, but is otherwise a mystery. While he is likely the masked identity of another wrestler who has (one can hope) moved on to bigger and better things, I would like to believe that El Cmar has crossed back south into Mexico, where he is giving syphilitic rudos hell to this very day.

weekly rounds

  • Natalie, wife of Tee, tragically and unexpectedly died this week at far too young of an age. Laura and I have had the privilege of counting them as friends for nearly a decade, and to say that Nat will be missed is an great understatement. A memorial site, including information about a trust fund and auction set up to benefit their young daughter “Sonic Boom,” can be found here.

weekly rounds

  • Much like Chris and Jared, I’ve set up my own Tumblr site as a repository for interesting bits that I come across in my online travels. Some will be used for plans nefarious, and some will be forgotten… but all will be marked as worthy of attention.

ten years ago…

…Laura and I were doing this, scant hours after being married:

the Moon Ranger and the Plague Doctor united in matrimony, photo by Janine Spang
the Moon Ranger and the Plague Doctor united in matrimony, photo by Janine Spang

Let the world know that she is a brilliant Ranger of Joy and Win, and the past 10 years have been simply amazing. I consider myself uniquely fortunate to be her partner in life, and can only hope to update this post for many decades to come.

I am a lucky, lucky man.

Explore Our World 2010

Laura has been known to take some awesome photos on her many planet-spanning travels, and has hit upon an excellent idea – compiling them into a calendar for your viewing pleasure! As such, I am immensely pleased to present her Explore Our World 2010 calendar, available through LuLu:

Explore Our World 2010, photo by Laura Burns
Explore Our World 2010, photo by Laura Burns

While I’m hardly an unbiased observer, I can attest that the pictures she has chosen are among her best from the last year. In addition to awesome imagery, she’s selected a roster of notable days for each month that span the world (quite literally) of cultures and perspectives on our pale blue dot. The calendars are available for $14.99 apiece, and all proceeds benefit the brilliant Space Generation Foundation.

These make inexpensive, versitile holiday gifts, and benefit a great cause, so be sure to check them out.

the Cmar Beard Awards

November has come and gone, and How Not To Grow A Beard Month is officially a matter of history for 2009. While David Moore and I were locked in bitter combat for first place on the last day, Mur surged ahead and won out in the end – congratulations, Mur! (This is only appropriate, as of all of us, she is 1. the least capable of growing a beard, which best exemplifies How Not To Grow one, and 2. has the most appreciable breasts, which we were collecting money for to save from cancer.)

Bob’s recap says it all, but I want to add my own copious thanks to all those who contributed. Your generosity on behalf of breast cancer research is outstanding, and truly blew us all away. Thank you.

It is now time to bequeath the Cmar Beard Awards for HoNoToGroABeMo 2009. These have nothing to do with donations, and everything to do with the glorious pictography of crackling virility hedges:

  • Best Beard Photo: There were many entertaining and creative entries these past 30 days. In the end, the nod goes to Jim Van Verth for Day 3: Me Abrasive Personality, as he demonstrated for us how to scrub cookware… LIKE MEN ONCE DID:
Rub, rub here, Rub, rub there, Whether you're tin or brass..., photo by Jim Van Verth from
Rub, rub here, Rub, rub there, Whether you're tin or brass..., photo by Jim Van Verth from
  • Man Most Exemplifying How Not To Grow A Beard: I’d like to say this one was close, but alas, it was not. As he himself prophesied, Jeff Greiner takes the prize.
The final beard?, photo by Jeff Greiner via
The final beard?, photo by Jeff Greiner via
  • Man Most Exemplifying How To Grow A Beard: For a month of trying to show how NOT to grow a beard, this one was surprisingly close. Given mane thickness, and a preserved neck-beard unblemished by the trimmer’s blade, Bob Voegerl wins the award.
The best plastic guitarist this side of 35., photo by Bob Voegerl from
The best plastic guitarist this side of 35., photo by Bob Voegerl from
  • Daily Commitment to the Task: Few had the stamina to start on Day 1 and produce a post for all 30 days, but Jeff, Jim, and Bob each gain this esteemed recognition. In addition to myself, that means that all four of us completed NaBloWriMo – National Blog Writing Month – as well.
  • Best-Spun Beardy Yarns: All participants strove to tell excellent tales this month. That said, the undisputed master of facial hair storytelling is Kris Johnson, as exemplified by his copiously-researched and amazingly accurate Better Know a Beard series.

To all the participants, it was a pleasure joining you in this nutty endeavor! To everyone else, I’ll merely note that only 332 days remain until HoNoToGroABeMo 2010, and this whole mad affair will start up again.

Finally, I shall leave you with the perfect footnote to HoNoToGroABeMo, discovered by Natalie Metzger. Thanks again to all!

weekly rounds

  • This week was a bit abbreviated due to the Thanksgiving holiday, and I’ve just returned from my southern Ohio homeland, where the obligations of family, rest, and celebration were somewhat barely balanced. It is now time, as they say, to get back at it.

HoNoToGroABeMo, or how poor facial hair development is funding breast cancer research

I am participating in How Not To Grow A Beard Month this November, or HoNoToGroABeMo for short. Rather than give a sub-par summary of the origins and nature of this exercise, I will lift Kris‘s excellent write-up from the official website:

How Not To Grow A Beard Month owes its existence to three things: National Novel Writing Month, Evo Terra, and genetics.

National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo, as it is known to participants worldwide) is an annual challenge in which would-be novelists attempt to write 50,000 words in the span of 30 days. Since its inception in 1999, NaNoWriMo has grown from a mere 21 participants to more than 101,000 in 2007. The 30-day challenge has also spawned a host of imitators, among which HoNoToGroABeMo can be unabashedly included.

But applying the NaNoWriMo formula to facial hair would likely not have happened if not for Evo Terra’s largely unsung 5 O’clock Shadow project. In March of 2007, the podcaster and new media entrepreneur began including a photo of himself with his blog posts; specifically, a photo taken at 5 o’clock in the evening. The project continued on a more or less daily basis until Mr. Terra had amassed 100 photos of his early evening stubble.

And this is where genetics comes into play. When Evo began his 5 O’clock Shadow project, I decided it might be fun to do the same. Only in my case, it quickly became clear that the paltry stubble I managed to grow between my morning shave and 5 o’clock wasn’t visible in my self-portraits. Some of the blame could be cast upon the low-resolution cameraphone I was using at the time, but the truth of the matter was that I was not genetically disposed to beard growth.

So, in November of 2007, I decided to combine the month-long-challenge aspect of NaNoWriMo with the facial hair of Evo’s 5 O’clock Shadow into a single, cohesive event. Given my less-than-impressive record with growing anything beyond a simple goatee, I dubbed the challenge “How Not To Grow A Beard Month”.

The concept was simple:

  1. Shave every bit of hair off my chin, cheeks and upper lip on October 31st.
  2. Don’t shave again until December 1st.
  3. Take a photograph of the “progress” at roughly the same time every day and post it to the Internet.

I made two small (but necessary) exceptions to this rule: the front of the neck may be shaved for the sake of comfort, and basic beard grooming (trimming along the jawline and upper lip; minor trimming to make the beard length even) is acceptable for the sake of not looking like the Unabomber.

After 30 days, my beard was (as predicted) less than impressive. Some of the words and phrases that were not used to describe it include thick, Norris-like, lush, Lincolnian and brawny. Despite this, I determined that HoNoToGroABeMo would be an annual event, and that I would invite anyone foolish enough to set aside their razor for a month to join me in my quest.

I was content to confine the scope of HoNoToGroABeMo to my personal blog, but wily web developer Bob Voegerl decided that the challenge was just ludicrous enough that it deserved a home of its own, and so created, a place where beards of all shape, color and density can come together and grow in unison and harmony.

Clearly, this was pursuit originally borne of silliness, although since last year ideas were considered about how it could be used to raise a meager amount of money for charity. That opportunity surfaced in an unfortunate way – earlier this year, Bob tragically lost his mother to breast cancer, which he describes in more detail here. As such, HoNoToGroABeMo 2009 has been dedicated to the Beards4Boobs project, which aims to raise money for the Ann Voegerl Memorial Breast Cancer Research Fund. Thus far, it is in the waning hours of day 2, it has accumulated $666, which is both mind-blowingly awesome and has already far succeeded everyone’s expectations.

To give you an idea of what is in store for you, here’s my own Day -1 picture:

HoNoToGroABeMo Day -1 for Cmar
HoNoToGroABeMo Day -1 for Cmar

And the shocking reveal of November 1:

HoNoToGroABeMo Day 0 for Cmar
HoNoToGroABeMo Day 0 for Cmar

My participation thus far is documented here – Day -1, Day 0, Day 1, and Day 2. Please, check out the site, be amused by our progress (or lack thereof), and consider donating to this most worthy of causes. As Bob rightly notes, sponsorship helps beards grow… and that, my friends, is SCIENCE.