Thursday, August 2, 2012

VIDEO: Pat and Bill in the Holy City (an Epic Poem)

I am delighted to announce my latest beard contest video -- Pat and Bill in the Holy City -- is now available:

The video was shot at the Third Annual Southeastern Beard and Moustache Championships in Charleston, SC on May 26, 2012, which was hosted by Paul Roof and the Holy City Beard and Moustache Society.  It covers the competition generally, but more specifically tells the story of Bill Mitchell (one of the judges) and his wife Pat at the event, and what it means to be a member of the bearding community.

In fact, I was so inspired by Pat and Bill's story that, rather than just writing a normal prose script, I decided that only epic verse could do the tale justice.  So I wrote a 28 quatrain narrative poem in iambic septameter.  I'm pretty proud of the poem as a stand-alone piece too (in addition to as a script for the video), so, for anyone who's interested, I've reproduced it below:
Pat and Bill in the Holy City
Bill is a bearding man, known for the hair upon his face
Two mighty sideburns flank his chin in grand fibrous embrace
They curl most nobly round, with not one hair stray'd out of place
A stranger fame than some, perhaps, but Bill wears it with grace

But like a single chop alone or pants with one leg bare
Bill longed to find his other half with whom his life to share
And lo! The flowing strands of fate did answer good Bill's prayer
And so came Pat to join with Bill, like twined and braided hair

Pat quickly loved the man, but not at first his fluff'ed wings
'til Bill learned of odd battles where they crowned a barbate king
So off they went to distant lands where Bill entered the ring
And when Bill won, Pat grabbed his beard and said "I love this thing."

Meanwhile, the holy Charles' Town declared a jubilee
A day to honor facial hair by mayoral decree
The main event: a contest to select the attendee
With most impressive whiskers, be it beard, 'stache or goatee

So Bill with Pat rode into town one sweltry summer's day
Not to compete, instead to judge, so Bill could view and weigh
Which of the beards comprised the best follicular bouquet
And crown as winner he who had the the manliest display

The whiskers flocked from 'cross the land to enter in the fight
A crowd one thousand strong came too, to see the awesome sight
of seven score of beardos perched on stage in tufted flight
All wondering whose plumage would arouse the most delight

And though a competition all were mainly there for fun
These rivals came for friendship, not simply to see who won
They laughed with one another as tall whisker tales they spun
And knew they’d stay true friends long after this event was done

Yet still true fight it was, not merely puffing up in jest
Though all were friends, all too were foes as each beard was assessed
All there that night sought victory for his proud and virile crest
And on his chosen battlefield to be revered as best

So Bill greeted the crowd then turned all thought just to the job
Of picking out the best whiskers from this unshaven mob
But still the night grew hotter, and the heat set out to rob
All comfort from those present, turning man to dripping blob.

And yet the fight was joined as each contender took the stage
First came the salty dogs, their beards all grey and white with age
Their years have taught there's more to life than learning from a page
And that we all must step outside conformity's stern cage

Next came the whiskerina belles, with beards crafted by art
These ladies cannot grow their own, but still yearned to take part
And doing so, they had a mighty lesson to impart
Testosterone may grow a beard, but not as much as heart

Then came the college beards so younger men could have their chance
To show off youthful fuzz before new bosses looked askance
And goatees marched by too, each searching for that kindly glance
A sign from Bill of who would to the final round advance

The Donegal, or whaler beard, was next before the crowd
As worn by Amish men who have the moustache disavowed
And then the sideburns had their turn to show how they're endowed
But though their hair was his, Bill stayed impartial as he'd vowed

The next onto the stage were styled and natural moustache
Though shorn of chin hair these men still do make a mighty splash
If beards are complete vestments, then lip hair's a manly sash
And sometimes he who dresses down displays the most panache

Yet still the heat was growing worse, all skin coated in sweat
Which even for the heartiest can pose a  parched threat
Pat felt her head grow light  and was by dizziness beset
But still Bill judged, quite unaware of the arising threat

So groomed beardsmen came next, with whiskers full but also neat
You need a steady trimming hand in this class to compete
Just one uneven patch will lead to shame-face'd defeat
But honing every detail makes a win even more sweet

And now up on the stage gathered a most peculiar group
The freestyle men, with hair arrayed in hoop and swoop and loop
All well-gell'd against gravity, to make sure they don't droop
Like any work of art, mere words cannot describe this troop

Then beards not longer than one foot were on the stage amassed
The largest class by far, a tightly-packed and motley cast
And each one glad to be there, from the first man to the last
Each smiling, laughing, dancing, simply having quite a blast

And lastly, full beards natural were called to be appraised
A daunting judging task, though Bill remained wholly unfazed
He sized up all these regal men, each of whom should be praised
For beards so full and flowing, they leave one and all amazed.

And so each of the classes had a victor duly named
But towards the biggest question of the night all thoughts soon aimed:
Of these class winners, who would now be publicly proclaimed
The overall grand winner, and so be forever famed?

But then a panicked beardsman from the crowd began to yell
That where once Pat had stood, now to the ground she'd senseless fell
The moment that Bill heard, beards were forgot in worry's swell
For Bill's one care was to make sure his treasured Pat was well

And so Bill fled the contest stage to kneel down by his bride
He promised from that moment on he'd stay right at her side
But when Bill rose to join his wife for her ambulance ride
She grabbed his hand, held tight and lovingly began to chide

She said, "I'll go alone, for we both know you're needed here.
We all have our odd passions; beards are one that you hold dear
And not just you, but all these folks need you to persevere
You took an oath to judge, and to that oath you must adhere."

And when Bill still looked torn, Pat just worked harder to persuade
"I simply got too hot; I should have rested in the shade
So put aside your worries; for my health be not afraid
But your health, dear spouse, is at risk when I am disobeyed."

So Bill stayed back and did his job of choosing the best beard
All thanks to Pat who steered him straight when off his path he veered
Too soon the night was over, and as time to depart neared
Both Bill and winners bade farewell as the audience cheered

Perhaps the humdrum herd will say that Pat had gone insane
When off she went for treatment while she bade Bill to remain
But that's what partners do, help one another to obtain
That which the other needs, whether outlandish or mundane

Pat knew this beard event was to Bill more than just a show
It was part of his life he loved, that he'd never outgrow
And letting him stay was a gift she'd happily bestow
To later have a chance to bask in Bill's post-contest glow

A beard is more than just some hair that dangles from the chin
It proclaims to the world just who you are and where you've been
Pat never stood onstage, yet she left Charleston with a win
Though Pat's chin may be bare, that night she proved her beard within
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This work is licensed by Joe Palmer under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.