Undercutting the Competition

June of 1925 was an exciting time in the life of John Welles. He had graduated from high school with honors and been accepted to the University of Maryland for his pre-med studies. With his Aunt Prudence’s help, John was one step closer to achieving his dream of becoming a doctor.

undercutting-the-competition-3For the occasion of his graduation party, Prudence guided her nephew on the decision of clothing and haircut. She had her reasons for showing off John to his peers, their parents, and most importantly, John’s own family. While the lanky teen bore the new look well, his appearance and success drove home Prudence’s self-serving point better than she could have predicted, and the results were disastrous.

undercutting-the-competition-2I always pictured John with undercut hair for this scene. The style, popular in Edwardian times, the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, resurfaced in the 2010s. Soccer star David Beckham sports the style as do actors Brad Pitt, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Michael Pitt when he portrayed Jimmy Darmody in Boardwalk Empire. Unfortunately, the style was also favored by the Nazis, but don’t allow that to deter you from considering it.

undercutting-the-competitionThe haircut is defined by long hair on top, parted on either side or down the center, with the back and sides buzzed quite short. Originally, undercut hair was considered a sign of poverty because one could not afford a barber capable of blending the back and sides with the top. The style, popular with working-class men and especially street gangs, was held in place with paraffin wax.

undercutting-the-competition-5Throughout the years, the style enjoyed slight variations. One such disaster was the result of combining undercut hair with a centrally-parted bowl cut, which was favored by fans of new wave, synthpop, and electronic music in the 1980s, and curtained hair, an atrocity worn in the 1990s. In England, some schools banned undercut hair because it was reminiscent of the cut worn by the Hitler Youth.

undercutting-the-competition-4Today, a myriad of products, including wax, pomade, gel, and mousse, exist to keep one’s undercut hair looking slick. There are also tutorials on YouTube for everything from how to cut the style yourself, what to tell a stylist when requesting the undercut, and how to achieve the look you desire for the long top portion. I do have to wonder, though, what the men and boys who originally wore the style, and wouldn’t use anything other than a comb and wax, would think of the inclusion of hair straighteners, hair dryers, and curling irons to the routine of maintaining an undercut.

Woman in Gold – Movie Review

I’m not a fan of Ryan Reynolds especially after watching the disaster that was The Green Lantern and some piece of tripe he starred in with Jason Bateman. In fact, I don’t care for his acting at all, and I’m being generous when I call it acting. Helen Mirren, on the other hand, is brilliant, fabulous, and classy even if the movie she stars in is horrible and disintegrates around her.

When I saw that Ryan Reynolds had been graciously cast opposite Helen Mirren in the movie Woman in Gold, I cringed wondering if even she could carry the dead weight of Reynold’s flat acting and bleating voice. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that she didn’t have to.

Woman in GoldWoman in Gold tells the story of Maria Altmann, a young Jewish woman who fled Austria with her husband during World War II. Sixty years after her forced exile, Maria seeks the help of Attorney Randy Schoenberg to reclaim the famous Gustav Klimt painting of her aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer. Maria and Randy take the battle all the way to the US Supreme Court with a slowly building intensity that often left me clenching my teeth as I awaited the outcome of each painful step. I won’t spoil the ending, but rather, I’ll say this is one movie that should not be missed.

What I will focus on is the impression the movie left upon me. It is hard to imagine a regime so evil that it would perfect the practice of hatred to the level that the Nazis did. And yet, one can hardly turn on the news or surf the Internet without seeing this same type of barbarism taking place today all over the world. God forgive us that we are allowing it to happen again.

Equally chilling is the arrogance and indifference with which these acts of terror are met. Of course, it is absolutely criminal that personal property is stolen, but more important are the lives that are being destroyed. As Helen Mirren portraying Maria Altmann said regarding the restitution of the stolen art, it will not bring them back. Still, it is a small step toward acknowledging and righting the wrongs committed.

Then the problem becomes how do we stop the crimes that are occurring now as we make restitution for the past while preventing the evil from raising its ugly head in our future? I believe the answer lies within each person on a daily basis. What will you chose to do today? Acts of good or deeds of evil?

Woman in Gold 2

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