Beards And Bacteria

Beards seem to be a source of endless fascination for medical researchers and health care reporters.  Ever since Peter Griffin grew a beard that served as home to a nest of birds on Family Guy, their prevailing view seems to be that male facial hair must be host to countless forms of microbial life and teeming with potential disease-causing agents.

bird-beard-peterSome stories contend that the coarser nature of beard hair makes it more likely to trap food particles, note that stroking beards can cause a transfer of germs, and offer helpful observations like “If someone [is] eating dairy products it can get stuck in their beard and become a bit rancid.”  In another recent incident, a microbiologist took swabbings from beards, pronounced himself appalled by the results, and provoked stories with leads like this one on the USA Today website:  “Beard hygiene is important unless you want to have the equivalent of a dirty toilet seat growing out of your face, according to a microbiologist who swabbed a bunch of beards and was shocked by the results.”

Makes you want to cringe any time you’re in the vicinity of some stranger with a rancid sour milk-scented hairy toilet seat on this face, doesn’t it?

So, speaking as a guy who’s had a beard for the last 20 years, it was refreshing to see a new bit of research that counters the notion that beards are germ-ridden potential public health disasters waiting to spread plague and illness throughout the population.  A study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection found that clean-shaven men are more than three times more likely to have a challenging form of infection-causing bacteria called MRSA (for methicillin-resistant staph aureus) on their cheeks than bearded guys, and also are more likely to have faces with staphylococcus aureus, which can cause skin and respiratory infections and food poisoning.

Why would this be true?  Researchers think that those two forms of bacteria might form colonies and breed in the microabrasions caused by men repeatedly scraping their faces with sharp objects (otherwise known as shaving).  And, even more intriguing, a separate analysis indicates that beards may be home to microbes that actually kill bacteria, which could lead to the development of new forms to antibiotics — which something that the world desperately needs because bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to the current array of antibiotics.

That’s right:  in the space of a single article, beards go from filthy petri dishes of lurking disease to the potential salvations of the human race!  I think I’ll celebrate by guzzling some dairy products and letting a few drops find a whiskery home.

Family Guy (Still) Sucks

Some time ago, I wrote that Family Guy sucks. It still does.  I tried watching the first two episodes of the new season, and they blew with the mighty force of Hurricane Katrina. In one episode, Brian takes psychedelic mushrooms, freaks out, and cuts off his ear.  In the other, Peter shoots Joe’s eye out on purpose.  I couldn’t even finish the episodes, and I wondered who watches this stuff.  If anything, the show has gotten even unfunnier, which I didn’t think was possible.

I mention this not to beat a dead horse — which, come to think of it, is a sight gag that Family Guy probably did some time ago — but because the creator of Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane, now says that the show has gone on too long.  He told the BBC that he wishes fans would say they are done with the show — but there are still fans who want to watch it.

I agree with MacFarlane, of course — but don’t you find his attitude appalling?  He created a show that he thought was good, and now he thinks it sucks . . . but he’ll keep it on the air because some saps still watch it and he can make a few more bucks.  The creative well has run completely dry and his show has become an awful embarrassment, but he doesn’t care enough to pull the plug.  The show’s few remaining viewers should keep that in mind the next time Family Guy makes an ironic, knee-slapping reference to money-grubbing by somebody else.

Family Guy Sucks

After suffering for months, I feel compelled to state for the record:  Family Guy sucks!  I’ve watched the show for a number of years; it’s been on our auto-DVR list forever.  Now I am taking it off that list, because it is just unwatchable.

I’m not sure when Family Guy turned rancid.  Right now, however, it just seems like the show is just a lot of crappy anti-gay humor and gross-out activity, with very little creativity.  I couldn’t even finish the most recent episode I saw, which featured Brian and Stewie locked in a bank vault, Brian eating the poop from Stewie’s diaper, Brian eating Stewie’s vomit, the two of them getting drunk, etc.  Does anyone actually think this stuff is funny?  Do the writers’ meetings for this show just involve people trying to one-up each other in coming up with disgusting behavior?

I admit that I actually find some gross humor to be funny.  I thought the Family Guy episode where Brian, Stewie, Chris, and Peter drink ipecac and have a vomit contest was hysterical.  The tone of the show has changed for the worse since then, however; it is harsh, mean, and totally off-putting.  It’s time to send Family Guy to the glue factory.

The Carpenters, Or Bread?

I enjoyed UJ’s post on the Carpenters and his crush on Karen Carpenter. Although I can’t say that I had a crush on Karen Carpenter — nice hair, by the way, in that 1971 Australia performance footage! — I did secretly like some of the Carpenters’ songs, like Superstar. My only question is: Was it lamer to like the Carpenters, or Bread? I grudgingly admit that I liked Bread songs like Diary, although I never would have admitted it to my high school friends.

But, every self-respecting guy has to draw the line somewhere, and for me it was Barry Manilow. Unlike the studly males of Quahog, I never liked his stuff.