PAX East 2011: Getting Ready

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Mar 8, 2011

Filed under: Nerd Culture 118 comments


Plans are made. Supplies are purchased. Babysitting is arranged. Tickets are obtained. Hotel is booked.

This trip is sort of dual-purpose for us. My wife and I haven’t been on a trip without kids since our honeymoon. In 1997. (Our firstborn arrived just a few days before our first anniversary.) I think we’re due. So, we’ll be doing PAX on Friday and Sunday, and vacationing in a more general sense on Saturday. We have no firm plans for PAX. I know we don’t want to spend all day in lines. We’ll probably gravitate towards the less populated events to avoid that particular temporal torture.

I have no idea if I’ll spend any time writing. We might be too busy. I might have things that demand blogification. If you’re one of the twos of people who have said you’ll be looking for me, then here is who you’re looking for:


Waaait a second. Shamus has a beard? Yeah. Funny you should bring it up. You see, there’s a really boring story about that…

In the past, I’ve made a big deal about how I can’t grow a beard. Over the last few years my chin-stubble has been thickening. Occasionally I’ve let it go for a couple of weeks at a time, and the result was so shameful that I always shaved it off. This time I let it go for a month. It’s still thin, and I think it makes me look even younger, since this is not how grown men grow beards. But my wife likes it and she’s the one obligated to kiss me.

I’m not crazy about it, myself. The other men in my family can grow a beard during breakfast. Great big UNIX beards. I’ve got about six active follicles on each cheek, so a full beard is out of the question for me. Maybe it will thicken as I get older, but I doubt it will get THAT much thicker. I’m done growing up. I turn 40 in a few months, for crying out loud.

Anyway. Pax East. Soon. This is a thing that is going to happen.


From The Archives:

118 thoughts on “PAX East 2011: Getting Ready

  1. chabuhi says:

    You’re turning 40 this year? Well, let me welcome you to the age where your doctors just stop trying.

  2. Nathon says:

    Note to self: grow UNIX beard by Friday to make Shamus jealous.

  3. Dev Null says:

    Wow. Strange how jarring it is to realise that you don’t look like your blog avatar. (Says the guy whos avatar is a cat…) But its the picture I’m used to looking at when reading your stuff, so I guess it had sort of crept into my subconscious.

    The beard kinda suits, actually. But as you’ve said, there is exactly one person whoose opinion matters in this case, and you’ve already asked her. Random blog audience-members have to rate a looooooong last in that list.

  4. Samrobb says:

    Bah! It’s a wonderful beard, Shamus. Just be thankful that you’re not entering into the land of salt-and-pepper (yet). And, as you mentioned, so long as your wife appreciates it… who cares what other people think? :-)

    1. Shamus says:

      It totally is salt & pepper. It’s just light enough to not be visible yet. But I do see gray hairs when I trim it.

      1. Adam says:

        Congrats on managing a beard! You give your fellow beard-deprived men hope that they too can grow respectable facial hair by the time they’re middle-aged!

        1. Galad says:

          umm, I’m 23 and I’d rather NOT have to run a shaver on my face at least twice every week. Am I being foolish for not wanting to have facial hair?

          1. Deoxy says:


            Shaving sucks. Five o’clock shadow by lunch REALLY sucks.

            UNIX beard in three days REALLY REALLY REALLY sucks.

      2. Fat Tony says:

        Unfortunatly i can grow a UNIX bear… but i’m 16 and it doesn’t start on mt face it starts on my chin and grows down my neck, it looks fucking stupid

        1. Stupidguy12 says:

          Oh, neckbeards.

      3. MichaelG says:

        My gray hairs just give up and fall out. Too bad, since bald is not a good look for me.

      4. Chris Arndt says:

        Evil Mirror Shamus has crossed over.

    2. Simon says:

      I think this would be appropriate at this point in time:

      Good to see you join the bearded ranks Shamus!

  5. Specter says:

    pure envy for a wife that likes kissing a bearded face… I actually have to fight to keep mine… and I’m no longer allowed a self-grown scarf during winter :(

    1. MrPyro says:

      My not-quite-wife-yet is OK with my beard as long as I make some moderate effort to keep it tidy. I’ve been keeping it long for the winter recently*, so she is looking forward to maybe seeing my face again soon.

      *Well, that’s my excuse; I actually just hate shaving, hence the beard in the first place.

      1. Skyy_High says:

        This post is creepily similar to what I planned to write, down to the not-quite-wife-yet part.

      2. Deoxy says:

        I had a beard when I met my now-wife. The first time she saw me without it, she didn’t recognize me.

        10 years later, she suddenly decides that she can’t stand it (well, the kissing me with it part, anyway).

        Shaving *sucks*. :-(

  6. Kyte says:

    That beard looks pretty good on you. Beats the neckbeard, too! Esp. if you’ve got black hair. Makes it look like a creepy mass of shadow is swallowing you.

  7. TSHolden says:

    sudo beard /full

    Hey, it works! Also, Shamus, you said it makes you look Younger? Am I detecting an unintended pun?

    1. X2-Eliah says:

      Argh. Bad pun is bad. Where’s the execution squad..

      1. Skeeve the Impossible says:

        I will call in the Spanish Inquisition

        1. Taellosse says:

          Just don’t expect them.

          Sorry. Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

          1. RTBones says:

            I wouldn’t expect them in any event. Because no one expects the Spanish Inquisition. Their chief weapons are fear and surprise….

            1. Chargone says:

              among other things.

              1. Will says:

                And a comfy chair.

  8. Heron says:

    Shamus, you look suspiciously like a younger Rene Auberjonois in that picture.

    My wife hates that I don’t shave frequently enough :(

    1. BeardedDork says:

      My wife is the same way apparently “Trimming my beard in October” is not sufficiently frequent for her.

      1. krellen says:

        Did you explain to her that you’d have to change your screen name otherwise? Surely she’d understand that!

        1. BeardedDork says:

          I mentioned it, but alas, she was unmoved, I even explained that I’d have to buy a new domain name.

      2. Heron says:

        Oh, also, my wife doesn’t particularly appreciate Movember, either.

        1. BeardedDork says:

          That is awesome, unfortunately I grow a mighty mountain man beard in a about two months, but it takes me about two years to grow a mustache that matches.

    2. Ingvar M says:

      If I shave, I have to shave twice a day to keep the wife happy. But, as she doesn’t mind te beard, it stays as a more-or-less permanent fixture.

  9. KremlinLaptop says:

    I feel like Shamus was far younger when I started reading this blog. Far far younger. A dismal prospect for my own dreams of eternal youth.

    On the plus side my levels of interest in beards and things related to growing beards has only grown.

  10. Robyrt says:

    That photo is shot like you’re on the back jacket of “Mastering SQL Server 2010: A Handy Desk Reference.” Looks a lot better than the blog image, that’s for sure.

    1. Amstrad says:

      I 100% agree with this comment and further propose Shamus should be updating his blog images of himself with his new bearded form.
      Seriously, the blog images make him look like he’s in his 20’s.

      1. Fat Tony says:


        1. Andrew says:

          Fourth’d. You actually look pretty good with a beard.

          1. xuberfail says:

            5th’d. BEARD!

      2. Primgoenitor says:

        IIRC, there is a browser plugin (Greasemonkey?) that allows user “scripts” to do stuff like that. Designed for censoring hideous web sites, it might work here too.

      3. Alexander The 1st says:

        Given his name is Shamus Young, I fail to see what’s wrong with that.

    2. Zak McKracken says:

      Hmmm… I actually like the “old” image better. I don’t think Shamus looks better in either, but I like the photo itself more.
      The difference between the photos is striking, though, I wouldn’t have recognized him. I wonder what he’d look like shaved and without glasses.

  11. Drew says:

    I’ll be at PAX. I’ll keep an eye out for you.

  12. Strangeite says:

    Isn’t having a beard a prerequisite for writing a novel?

    1. Mathias says:

      As a rule of thumb, the more epic the beard, the better the novel. I put George R.R Martin up as my example.

      1. Mari says:

        In that case my husband could write the most epic novel ever in the history of written language. What do you get when a guy that has to shave twice a day to stay clean-shaven goes over a year without shaving or even trimming? Epic beard.

        1. Deoxy says:

          Wow. Since I once shaved over two inches of hair off my face after less than 2 months without shaving (and still had a decent beard left… the trimmer’s battery ran out), that’s kinda scary. I think I could just about lose my house in my beard after a year…

  13. Brandon says:

    That actually doesn’t look bad on you at all. I don’t think a full on UNIX beard would suit you terribly well. I guess we’ll never know, though.

    1. Mari says:

      I think you have to be – ahem – portly to pull off a UNIX beard. Shamus’ lack of facial padding and barrel chest would screw up the lines of a solid UNIX beard.

  14. deiseach says:

    “My wife and I haven't been on a trip without kids since our honeymoon. In 1997.”

    Oh, way to make me not want to have kids!

    1. Nope, that should make you not want to be poor and hate to leave the house. It had absolutely nothing to do with having kids and everything to do with Shamus preferring to stay home while the kids and I go visit people because we have no money for hotels. And this is NOT a dig at Shamus’–this is how we choose to live. Still going to PAX is going to be awesome!

      1. Fat Tony says:

        Shame, taking digs at shamus is fun. =D

      2. deiseach says:

        Crikey. Getting a response from Heather. It’s like the appearance of God in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (less the beard of course, that’s Shamus’ domain now). I’m averting my eyes . . .

  15. Andrew B says:

    Regardless of the beard, the longer hair works for you.

    1. Zak McKracken says:

      seconded. Long hair FTW!

      1. Chargone says:

        Right up until it starts getting in your eyes. then it’s just annoying.

        1. X2-Eliah says:

          That just means it’s not long enough.

  16. McNutcase says:

    Your successful entry to beardedness so late in life gives me hope. I’ve had a goatee since 2004, you see, but my cheeks are slacking, and I can’t manage a full beard. On the other hand, I’m 30, and if you’ve gotten to being able to grow a beard post-30, then there’s still hope for my full-beard ambitions.

    1. MrPyro says:

      I’m about a year ahead of you in the same boat. Goatees are better anyway.

  17. Maldeus says:

    I guess I’ll pitch in and say that the beard does look good on you.

  18. Zukhramm says:

    Your moustache certainly looks better than mine.

    Anyway, I’d be there if it wasn’t on the other side of the planet.

  19. RTBones says:

    Excellent. Glad to hear you could make this happen. Boston is a neat town – hope you get the chance to see a little of it while you’re there.

  20. Jeremiah says:

    Since you’ll be at PAX East, you need to check out this event. A friend of mine is a game designer and one of the systems he came up with is called Parsely that emulates old-school text adventures. Last year he ran it for a room of about 320 people. He’s hoping to break that record this year:

    A little more about Parsely:

    You should also check out the panel he does with Luke Crane, “Game Design Is Mind Control”, which is pretty excellent.

  21. Jenx says:

    Meh, I think the beard looks good on you. Me, I can barely even grow stubble.

  22. Taellosse says:

    I would happily trade facial hair patterns with you, Shamus. Shaving regularly (and still having a clear shadow on my chin even immediately afterwards) is a constant irritation for me, and I have no interest in growing a beard. My only saving grace is that, while thick, my facial hair also grows sort of slow–I don’t need to shave daily. I kind of should shave every other day, but tend to do it only twice a week. By Wednesday around noon, though, I do tend to start looking a little scruffy.

    1. Daimbert says:

      I’m with you, except that my facial hair is thick AND grows quickly. To be remotely presentable for work, I have to shave every morning, and even on vacation if I don’t shave every second day I’m looking at a bit of a struggle and dulling of blades.

      If I only shaved twice a week, I’d be getting close to the “start with scissors” approach [grin].

      I’d trade with anyone who can’t grow a beard any day.

      1. Deoxy says:

        Same here! Well, since my wife doesn’t like it anymore… back when she didn’t mind, being able to grow a full and good-looking beard meant I never had to shave at all (well, I shaved my neck, but that’s the easiest part, anyway).

  23. Amarsir says:

    It looks writer-ish, so I’d say it’s a good look for right now. I for one would like to try a full beard but I just don’t have the folicles on my cheeks for whatever reason. I can barely pull off a goatee.

    Anyway, I hope you and your better half have a great time, though I’m pretty sure that going to PAX and not wanting to stand in line is a direct contradiction.

  24. Specktre says:

    Holy crap! Beard! 0_0

    … it actually doesn’t look bad at all. :)

  25. Irridium says:

    You know Shamus, you look just like my Freshman Algebra teacher.
    I liked my Freshman Algebra teacher. He’s a cool guy.

  26. Bobby Archer says:

    Nice beard. I think it suits you.

    I grew my own facial accessory while my girlfriend (now my fiancee) was in Japan for two months. I picked her up at the airport when she got home and it took me a minute to realize why she was giving me such a weird look.

  27. See, now I have wished for years that I could STOP growing facial hair!
    And neck, back, chest, etc., hair…..
    Maybe get it to focus on my head since that has been disappearing for years (the hair on the head, not the head itself! I hate when my head spontaneously disappears… TO clarify, the hair, on my head, is what is doing the actually disappearing. The head is not disappearing. Got it? Good.)…

    My theory is that all the years I had long beautiful hair as a youth have rebelled against me.
    I am now “The Man” in the eyes(?) of my hair.

    I have past the 40 year mark and I’m just not as exciting as in my younger/healthier days!
    So, the hair has not disappeared, just redistributed…
    All that nice hair from on top of my head has started migrating…

    I now have more hair than I ever have in my life, even when my hair was so long it almost reached my ass…
    It’s just no longer on my head…

    And now the white hairs have started infiltrating the beard…..

  28. Fat Tony says:

    Before balding:
    After balding:

    For some reason the picture of shamus reminded me of this pic of notch.

    1. Mari says:

      Perhaps because Shamus and Notch share a nose. That’s kind of creepy. Is it like a Mr. Potato Head nose that they take on and off, passing it back and forth for photo ops?

  29. Slothful says:

    I grew a beard for the purposes of stroking sinisterly once, and now every time I shave it, IT COMES BACK.

    I was a fool! To have tampered in what man was not MEANT to know! What ABOMINATION have I SPAWNED from my unwitting chin?!

  30. Jarenth says:

    Shamus, I think you might be terribly misrepresenting the amount of people who’d like to meet you in real life. And you’ve just giving them an up-to-date accurate picture of who to look for.

    Unless this is a trick.

    Jokes aside, it is quite funny how that one picture of you that’s all over the blog has come to dominate my (our?) mental image of you. I’d go as far as saying that I probably wouldn’t have recognized you on sight, the way you look now.

  31. Darthricardo says:

    Ah, I remember my first beard…
    Of course, I was fifteen. 17 now, with a beard the size of a guinea pig.

  32. MrWhales says:

    Shamus, the top half of your head looks like the ol’ Shamus we know. The bottom looks like you grabbed the closest 20 year old and pulled ;) I like it though. Looks cool.

  33. toasty_mow says:

    Your beard is still better than mine. But I’m going to use force of will to turn mine into a manly beard. GROW DAMMIT GROW! (I’m 19, btw; but my dad didn’t grow his beard out till he was married and in his 20s, so there is still hope for me).

  34. Gantidae says:

    As has been mentioned the blog photo and the updated photo are so different that I’d not have recognized you if I went to PAX. My mind is thoroughly blown.

  35. Eltanin says:

    I love it.

  36. Deadpool says:

    Here’s hoping me and my friends run into you two… And here’s hoping you and your wife have a fun time out in Boston. It’s a nice town.

  37. Katesickle says:

    Bah, clearly this new bearded Shamus is actually Shamus’ Evil Twin. He’s locked the real Shamus in a closet, and has taken his place at PAX East in order to enact some nefarious scheme, which no doubt involved bad puns and cookies.

    Well I’m not falling for it, Evil Shamus. I’m on to you.

    (Though it does look rather dashing, even if it is a sure sign of villainy)

    1. MichaelG says:

      Ah, that’s why he’s writing a novel instead of coding! Authors are the evil twins of programmers.

  38. [d20]thegrinner says:

    So, what’s the protocol if we do see you at PAX? Wander up, gibber madly, and run off in fear and embarrassment?

    1. Regiment says:

      That’s my plan, anyway. Well, first my plan is to ask everyone who looks vaguely like the picture if they’re Shamus and then slink away sheepishly.

    2. Shamus says:

      That’s my plan if I run into Mike Krahulik, Jerry Holkins, Felicia Day, or JC Denton.

  39. William says:


    Just a heads up.

    1. BeardedDork says:

      If Kid and Play are to be believed anyway.

    2. Mari says:

      When I leave my children alone in the house my last words before walking out the door are always, “No wild house parties, no burning the house down, and no inviting bums in to roll and kill them.”

      Note that just this week the children in question had a violent argument that required adult intervention over whether “no burning the house down” indicates that they are physically unable to do so or simply prohibited from attempting it.

      1. Jarenth says:

        Your kids are either amazing or terrifying.

        1. Mari says:

          Both, actually. Oh, and the terrifying/amazing 13-year-old is in awe of your offshore drilling platform on the twentymine server.

      2. Mari–our house mantra is “No hitting, no biting, no punching, and no calling each other George.” Which quickly degrades into them calling each other George in the most ridiculous way possible. Which is why we never suggested the “No burning the house down” because your kids response would be that of ours.

        1. Mari says:

          LOL That is exactly what would happen in our house. Unfortunately I’d probably be the one to start calling everyone “George” ;-) When it comes to silly stuff like that, my poor hubby probably feels most of the time like he’s a single parent of three instead of a married parent of two. I’ve been known to bust up name-calling sessions between the kids by repeating “I know you are but what am I?” ad nauseum. My theory is that if you can get them giggling over the pointless stuff they’ll forget to be mad about it.

      3. Soylent Dave says:

        The rules for my son are “No drink, no drugs, no strange men”.

        Obviously we don’t actually check that hard to see if he’s broken any. I’d rather not know.

  40. Alex says:

    For some reason I looked at that picture and thought of Gabe Newell. The glasses and nose, I think. Now you just have to consume a planet Galactus-style, and the resemblance will be complete.

    But yeah, I’m surprised how much that beard suits ya, Shamus. You look prepared to not really kick butt, per ce, but at least take a name or two. Or perhaps to chew gum and kick ass, but you’re all out of… ass.

    …Which I guess means you’d be chewing gum… I’m not sure where I was going with that…

    1. Klay F. says:

      You know every time you make a “Gabe Newell is fat” joke, Newell delays the release of Episode 3 by a month right? EPISODE 3 WILL NEVAR SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY!


      1. Mathias says:

        Duke Nukem Forever is being released. That is all.

        1. Raygereio says:

          Boy, it’s chilly in here all of a sudden.
          *looks outside*
          Holy crap! It’s snowing?!

          1. Mathias says:

            I live in Denmark. We’ve had snow for quite a while here.

            …The frogs falling from the sky are a bit unnerving, though.

            1. Bubble181 says:

              And having to clear pig shit from my windscreen has added 5 minutes to my commute every day. Damnit.

              1. Mathias says:

                Ugh, you’re telling me. Bacon just doesn’t taste the same once you’ve seen enough avian piglets flying into the window of your apartment. My grandpa isn’t exactly having a field day.

  41. Deadpool says:

    Btw, if you ever go here:

    Nice little sports bar, there’s a server Nikki, good friend of mine, will take care of you.

  42. Dante says:

    The “Unix beard” remark reminded me that Unix t-shirts come in sizes from M to XXXXXL

  43. Bubble181 says:

    First off, I wouldn’t have recognized you either, thanks to the blog picture. Just goes to show how easy it is to hide in plain sight, I guess.
    Second, I agree with above posters – the beard suits you.
    Me, I had a full face beard for a couple of years, which, combined with short-cropped hair on top and the fact that my facial hair is always curling up and forming some sort of…I dunno, got me stopped at EVERY airport, body screened EVERY time, searched extra thoroughly, and so on.
    Due to receding hairline and such, I now shave my head, and keep a goatee (yes, Kane-from-CnC-style). Much better, and suddenly I breeze through all security checkpoints.
    Seriously, the moment muslim terrorists figure out shaving their head/beard is enough to walk in anywhere unstopped, we’re doomed :-P

    Anyway, I like the beard, and you shouldn’t be striving for a full face of beard – it’s got more downsides than upsides.

    Oh, and if you ever make it to PAX Brussels, I’ll be there, waiting for you :-D

    1. Mathias says:

      …Kane Lives!

      Sorry, my latent Nod fanboyism had to be brought to light.

      1. Bubble181 says:

        Of course. I have never played Twilight, so I can still happily assume he is, in fact, the Biblical Kane, forced to wander the lands of Nod for all eternity.

        1. Josh says:

          I seriously hope the new C&C studio retcons that. What a terrible failure of a payoff.

          Actually a total reboot of the series in the Tiberian Sun era would be preferrable to my tastes.

          1. Bubble181 says:

            If you haven’t yet, try to pick up Kane’s Wrath somewhere. Insight in the persona of Kane, plot twists, internal power struggles. All quite interesting (some storyline assets better than others, but nothing’s perfect). All of it thrown overboard in the final game…

            1. Ringwraith says:

              If it didn’t require a constant internet connection, I was almost tempted to pick up Twilight cheap, just to see how badly they butchered it.
              I did quite like C&C3, and I think Tiberian Sun might not quite be my favourite because Mammoths were no longer double-barrelled tanks.
              I do love my mammoths tanks, so prohibitively expensive that they were, as it made amassing a division of them all the more satisfying.

              1. Bubble181 says:

                Hmm, yes, the walking mammoths were less interesting than the big double-barreled tanks.
                I do quite like C&C3, too. The Scrin were properly introduced, had a reason to exist, made sense in the setting…Compare them to the Empire of the Rising Sun in C&C RA3 and the difference is…Odd. I’m replaying C&C RA3 as we speak, having just recently bought the expansion. The whole how and why still doesn’t make sense, and I still don’t like their flavour. Oh well.

                1. Mathias says:

                  Kane’s Wrath was about the best EA’s run on C&C produced, even if the Scrin à¼ber-unit was stupidly overpowered (it has four gun placements, could teleport, and was already a baller -before- it got upgrades), but the insight into Kane’s persona was interesting, even if the other actors could not live up to Joe Kucan’s almost legendary hamminess.

                  It did give us Nod fanboys plenty of material to work with, though. IN THE NAME OF KANE!

  44. Zaxares says:

    I’m with you in the genetic lottery, Shamus. My beard grows really slowly compared to other men, and it’s much more thin. It often takes me a good three days to get to something that other men would term their 5 o’clock shadow, and even then it looks so spotty that it just looks embarrassing.

  45. Gil says:

    I have, sad to say, an identical beard on my face that my wife loves, while I would prefer to shave it off. right now.

    Hope you have a lot of fun this weekend! Relax, vacation, honeymoon, enjoy! And have fun at PAX, too!

  46. Oleyo says:

    Shameless! When did you learn to grow a beard?? Lookin’ good fella!

  47. Mephane says:

    I must say, that beard looks really good on you. And that comes from a person very picky about beards (most are so damn ugly, especially all mustaches).

    You should keep it.

  48. Knight of Fools says:

    If I decided to avoid shaving for three or four years, people would look at me and ask, “Why do you have, like, nine strings hanging out of your face?”

    I’d then make up something ridiculous not related to the fact that I can’t grow facial hair.

  49. Neil Polenske says:

    You look like a young Stephen Root.

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