Interview with Champion Beardsman Jack Passion

Former rock musician and current author and entrepreneur Jack Passion has been making an admirable living off of something most men actively remove from themselves on a semi-daily basis. Author of “The Facial Hair Handbook” and multiple world champion “beardsman” in the “Full Beard, Natural” category, Passion is a star of the IFC television series “Whisker Wars” and was most recently featured in Morgan Spurlock‘s new documentary “Mansome,” executive produced by Ben Silverman, Jason Bateman and Will Arnett. I recently got the chance to briefly interview Passion via email.

Ezra Stead: First of all, and I’m sure you get this all the time, how long did it take you to grow your beard to such length and fullness?

Jack Passion: I’ve had this beard for almost exactly nine years. I keep it trimmed, but this length would probably take 3-4 years to achieve. My book’s first law is “Healthy Man, Healthy Beard,” and I attribute the thickness of my beard all to my diet and health. I also take VitaBeard, the beard vitamin, which is very easy and helps quite a bit.

ES: Would you ever consider styling it in some weird, unique way, in order to compete in “Full Beard, Groomed” categories, as opposed to “Full Beard, Natural”?

JP: I have done styled categories in the past. I already look silly enough as it is, and the products required for those designs ruin the hair. When you see the German beard-styling masters with their beards un-styled, the beards don’t look great. I view the beard as a natural thing, and so I like to present it naturally and care for it naturally.

ES: My beard doesn’t seem to grow past about two inches. Are there any special techniques or products you’ve used to encourage yours, or is it pretty much all genetic?

JP: A lot of it’s genetic, but facial hair changes a great deal as you get older, so don’t give up hope! I mentioned VitaBeard, which has really changed the way I grow facial hair for the better, but I would also recommend waiting, as your beard grows in cycles. In your case, maybe it’ll plateau at two inches for several months before starting to grow again.

ES:How did you get involved with the documentary “Mansome”?

JP: I wrote a book called “The Facial Hair Handbook” and had won a few world titles in beard competitions, so when Morgan Spurlock’s team needed a beard, they came to me.

ES: Why did you decide to “quit and renounce music”?

JP: This is a long conversation, one that I absolutely love to have, but one that is outside the scope of “Mansome” and male grooming. Perhaps another time?

  

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Video Vixen Jessenia Vice

Jessenia Vice is incredibly popular on the web, particularly on YouTube, and you can definitely see why by browsing through the slideshow above the checking out the video below. She’s stunningly beautiful with an incredible figure that will blow your mind.

Jessenia was discovered off of MySpace and her career as a model has taken off. She was called “Queen of the ‘Kim Kardashian’s” on the Tyra Banks Show. Last year she was christened as “Miss Apple Bottom 2011” by Nelly and Apple Bottom Co. It’s safe to say we’ll be seeing much more of her in the years to come.

You can follow Jessenia on Twitter, Facebook and on her website.

  

Blu Tuesday: Sherlock, Frenemies and Dogfights

If you didn’t believe me when I said that May was going to be a great month for Blu-rays, well, you never should have doubted me to begin with, but I forgive you. Following in the footsteps of last week’s releases, there are several great movies and TV series arriving in stores today, including Season Two of the BBC drama “Sherlock.” Although I would have liked to see Studio Ghibli’s latest animated film, “The Secret World of Arriety,” in time to review, it’s probably safe to say that it’s at least worth renting. Sadly, that’s not the case for every new release, but one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and that applies to one’s taste in movies as well.

“Sherlock: Season Two”

Fans of Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ modern-day update of Sherlock Holmes have had to endure an agonizingly long wait between seasons, but I think most people would agree that it was well worth it, because “Sherlock” is every bit as good (and perhaps even better) in its second year. Part of that likely has to do with Moffat and Gatiss choosing to adapt arguably the three most popular stories in Sherlock Holmes canon. Though I’ve never been particularly fond of the oft-filmed “The Hounds of Baskerville,” the two movies that bookend it – “A Scandal in Belgravia” and “The Reichenbach Fall” – are nothing short of perfect, featuring a pair of magnetic performances by Lara Pulver (as the sexy and smart femme fatal Irene Adler) and Andrew Scott, whose deliciously twisted Moriarty is one for the ages. Of course, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are still very much the heartbeat of “Sherlock,” because no matter how clever the writing may be, the show wouldn’t work as well as it does if it weren’t for the chemistry between its two leading men.

Blu-ray Highlight: There’s not a single weak link among the included extras, though it’s a bit strange that they’d include audio commentaries for the first two movies and not the last one. The commentaries are insightful and will appeal to both fans of the show and the original stories, while the making-of featurette “Sherlock Uncovered” offers a behind the scenes look at the work that went into producing each episode.

“This Means War”

Simon Kinberg has written some pretty good movies in the past (“Sherlock Holmes,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”), but he’s also written his share of bad ones as well, and “This Means War” falls somewhere in the middle. The film’s biggest problem is that it squanders its potential at almost every turn, and a lot of that blame falls on director McG, who fails to make the most of the promising setup. Though it’s not as flashy as you might expect compared to some of McG’s other work, “This Means War” really isn’t as much of an action movie. Instead, it’s a romantic comedy where the two love interests just so happen to be real-life action heroes, and while the scenes between Pine and Hardy in the field are a lot of fun, the main plot involving Reese Witherspoon dating both men at the same time is beyond ridiculous. Chelsea Handler is probably the only memorable thing about the movie, and not even in a good way. She’s so terrible as Witherspoon’s advice-bearing best friend that one can only hope it’ll finally expose her as the talentless famewhore she is.

Blu-ray Highlight: McG’s rapid-fire commentary is hands-down the best extra on the disc, with the director offering details on just about every aspect of the filmmaking process, even if he does talk about the attractiveness of his three stars quite a bit.

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Can audits be fun?

Check out the “fun audit” to see how much fun you’re having . . .

  

Game of Thrones 208: The Prince of Winterfell

SPOILER WARNING: All events that have occurred in the TV show up to and including yesterday’s episode are fair game. I have read the books but I will not go any further beyond small hints that only fellow book-readers will catch on to. You’ve been warned.

Note: Because it can be hard to keep all the names and faces straight, the first mention of each character contains a link to a picture of them which will open in a new tab.

Winterfell

Before last night, Theon’s sister Yara was manipulative and mocking of her baby brother. She went so far as to allow him to get some inappropriate groping in to find out who he really is (and humiliate him). Well, inappropriate unless you’re a Targaryen, Cersei, or Jaime. As I so often discuss, every character in “Game of Thrones” is a human being, and we finally saw Yara’s human side last night.

As much as she is in competition with Theon for both power and their father’s affections, her anecdote about Theon, the “terrible baby” who finally stopped crying and even smiled when she came over to his crib showed that she truly cares for him despite being sent away for half his life. Furthermore, her insistence, and hope, that Theon doesn’t “die so far from the sea” was about as affectionate as the Greyjoys get.

On a happier note, Bran and Rickon are still alive. Along with Osha and Hodor, the boys have doubled back and are now hiding in Winterfell’s crypts, hopefully the last place anyone will think to look for them. That final scene was so perfectly executed, with Osha and Maester Luwin discussing how they could not tell Bran that Theon burned  the orphan boys and passed them off as the Starks, because he’d blame himself.

Eddard Stark’s influence is still incredibly evident in all the children he raised. Indeed Bran heard everything his caretakers said, and his teary expression indicates he does blame himself. Bran feels he has failed in his duty as Lord of Winterfell, and it has shaken him to the core despite his age. Ned’s tutelage is even apparent in Theon, who despite his many failings takes no joy in the things he’s done. Theon is not a sadist and the fact that he even has inner conflict is the direct consequence of the caring nature of the man who raised him. However, we see the most of Ned in Robb, as I’ll discuss right about… now.

The King in the North, the Kingslayer’s roadtrip

We saw Ned’s impact on Robb a great deal tonight, both literally, as in Robb’s initial conversation with Talisa, as well as in the young king’s actions (although not entirely in the way one might expect).

When Robb discovers that Catelyn freed Jaime in an effort to rescue Sansa and Arya, he feels understandably betrayed. Cat once chastised Renly, saying “my son is fighting a war, not playing at one,” yet now she seems to be playing as well. And not just at war but hostage Go Fish. “Got any Aryas? No? How about a Sansa?” As a result, Robb is slowly realizing that no one else, not even his mother, abides by the same code of honor which he does. This upsets him, but at the same time he recognizes some need to change. Robb knows what happened to Ned when he played the game of thrones too honorably (and stubbornly).

I believe something Tywin said to his war counselors was foreshadowing Robb’s, er, “slip up,” with Talisa. Tywin said, “He’s a boy and he’s never lost a battle. He’ll risk anything at any time, because he doesn’t know enough to be afraid.” Indeed, Robb may have risked a great deal by forsaking his pact with the Freys. It’s very telling, and displays the Ned in him, that he waited as long as he did. It’s clear he fears for his siblings just as much as Cat does, and he succumbed, in a moment of weakness, only when Talisa told her story. She knows the feeling of having a brother in mortal peril, which gave him something to latch on to. While his actions weren’t very honorable, Ned (allegedly) had his own moment of weakness while away fighting a war.

Meanwhile, Brienne is escorting Jaime back to King’s Landing. And thus, a buddy-buddy road trip comedy was born. The two appear to be exact opposites, one’s a man, one’s a woman, one seems to be a machine that runs on honor, while the other was quite recently called “a man without honor,” the quote for which last week’s episode was named. Will opposites attract or will the two be at each other’s throats the whole way to the capital (if they even make it there)? If nothing else, Jaime and Brienne’s interactions are sure to provide plenty of humor. We saw the beginnings of it last night. “Have you known many men, my lady? No, I suppose not. Women? Horses?”

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