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Aug 17, 2003: Extra, Extra! Mystery Solved by Usability Engineer!

WARNING: narcissism ahead

Wow, no Blougage for a while. Not surprising; I've been on a couple of extended road trips much of the past few weeks, and there just don't seem to be many Internet cafes in places like Wilmington, New York or Joliet, Illinois.

I'll get back into the swing of things soon, though work is already picking up a bit too fast for comfort. For now, I leave you with something educational--no, really more than that--a fantastic solution to one of history's great mysteries. My friend, Dean Karavite, a usability engineer at IBM, has decoded Homer's ancient epics to unearth the origin of that holiest of holy hair cuts--the mullet!

"Work in front, man, party in back!"

Here's Dean's piece; enjoy.

Recently I decided that my liberal arts education was incomplete and that my personal reading would focus strictly on the classics. This week - The Iliad (translated by Robert Fagles). Little did I know or expect the rich intellectual rewards that awaited me.

Within an hour of picking up the book, I made an Earth shattering discovery. At first I couldn't believe that I alone recognized the few lines of text that help unravel one of histories great mysteries. Countless scholars have poured over the Iliad for centuries and yet there it was, plain to see - Book 2, The Great Gathering of Armies, lines 632-33:

"The sprinting Abantes followed hard at his heels, their forelocks cropped, hair grown long at the back,"

Yes, this indeed appears to be the earliest historical written evidence of the hair "style" known as the mullet! (Of course I will attempt to verify the originality of my finding via that firmly established scholarly resource utilized by so many contemporary university students - Google).

With my discovery came an equal mixture of fear and excitement. How many academic careers would I ruin? How many enemies will I make? Dare I expose myself and my family to the chaos that is bound to erupt from this? The answer is clear to me. No matter the cost, Truth must prevail!

It was instantly clear to me that many long held scholarly assumptions and debates must now be reexamined if not simply tossed into the dust bin of history. For example, the famed beauty of Helen? If those who fought for her for ten years indeed sported mullets, can we not safely conclude that Helen herself was no more than Chariot-trash? Maybe she just looked hot in a wet tunic contest and that was enough to get the boys going in a macho frenzy after she ditched her husband and child? Following this, it seems patently obvious that the Trojan conflict was actually founded on deeply ingrained class issues that were ignited when Paris picked up a girl from the 'wrong side of the olive grove'! Being Greek myself, I found this all rather disturbing, and yet it clearly explains that branch of Macomb county cousins on my father's side.

The influence of the Greeks is revealed throughout western civilization and culture. However, we must not isolate the Greeks! Though it is largely lost to us, the Greeks certainly had their own rich history and cultural influences. Just where did this Greek mullet come from? Does the Abante warrior represent a form of deeply rooted Jungian mythic warrior archetype? If so, is this archetype not obviously expressed in modern times by Canadian and Eastern European hockey players? Like a Zamboni of history, the ice is now swept clean for the sharp blade of critical thinking. Though the white walls of Troy fell and crumbled long ago, they can be found today in the ad plastered boards at Joe Louis Arena. Though the beauty of Helen (or more than likely just a hot bod) has faded to dust, she can be found today seated behind those walls, sporting her own somewhat feminine version of the Abantes hair style, cheering on her champions...

Allan Bloom and Vartan Gregorian are right! Who says a deep immersion into the classics is useless in modern times! What other revelations await me? Next week, on to Faust!

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Comment: Dean Karavite (Aug 18, 2003)

Alas, I was not first in the original discovery:
http://www.mulletsgalore.com/male_sack/history.html (do an in-page search on "Iliad")

But darn it all Lou, my theories are far more developed! I mean, this other guy doesn't even touch on the socio-cultural ramifications!

Comment: Lou (Aug 18, 2003)

So I'm wondering if any of you non-US or Canadians out there reading this hoo-hah about mullets has any idea what we're yammering about?

Sure, there are some mullet pockets outside the US (e.g., the aforementioned Eastern European hockey players), but is one likely to encounter a mullet proudly on display while strolling the streets of Montevideo, Windhoek, or Kuala Lumpur?

Comment: alex (Aug 18, 2003)

For more on mullet anthropology, allow me to recommend American Mullet, a brilliantly weird documentary that traces the roots of the modern mullet back to early encounters between Europeans and Native American tribes.

see also: Mullets Galore

Comment: alex (Aug 18, 2003)

oops, those links didn't come through. trying again:

American Mullet - http://www.partyintheback.com/

Mullets Galore - http://www.mulletsgalore.com/

Comment: Paul Nattress (Aug 19, 2003)

Hi Lou, we (rather unfortunately) know what a mullet is in the UK. We always believed it to be an American import that baffled and confused us as to why it existed (just like Seinfeld actually).


Comment: DonnaM (Aug 19, 2003)

And here I was thinking that the mullet was fairly uniquely Australian. Boy was I wrong...

Comment: TimS (Aug 24, 2003)

I'm with DonnaM on the Australian mullet call.

There is a deep body on knowledge and cultural law maintained on the mullet within Australia. And, like our indigenous law, this knowledge is passed on by the stories of our elders… Roy and HG.

PS:You may have seen these Aussie statesmen playing the role of commedians at the last summer and winter olympics.

Comment: Gene (Aug 25, 2003)

I had dated the mullet back to the time of Proust (see http://dirtnerdluv.diaryland.com/PMullet.html ), but had no idea its, um, roots went so deep.

Comment: Mark Thristan (Sep 9, 2003)

A colleague of mine came up with "the Mullet Game" where the offending cut has to be inserted into a famous film, book or TV show. The game caught on very quickly across Europe and the Near East - I think "Portrait of the Mullet as a Young Haircut" and "The Mullet with the Golden gun" may have been the winners, but I'm not sure...

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