Thursday, July 31, 2008

(ga-ah, ga-ah) Lady Looks Like a Dude

It had to be easier in the old days, didn't it? To tell the difference? The Common Man is mildly mortified to learn that, these days, Olympic officials are having trouble keeping track of just who's what gender. According to Duke University professor of law (and former track and field athlete) Doriane Lambelet, the practice of lifting up athlete's skirts and checking under the hood (actually a blood test) is not a new one. As early as 1968, Olympic officials were testing women to make sure they were, in fact, women, particularly in light of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc's heavy involvement in anabolic steroids and willingness to cheat by any means necessary, and the fact that a lot of their women athletes looked like dudes.

According to the British newspaper, The Telegraph, eight women have "failed" the test in the past, getting results that suggested they were men. All were cleared on subsequent appeal, as "seven were found to have been suffering from an 'intersexual' condition in which they had some male and some female chromosomal features."

Two part of this story, aside from the inherent curiosity one feels when they visit the carnival, interest The Common Man. The first is that there might actually be men who want to compete as women. Now, as thrilling as Juwanna Mann was, it's hard to believe that anyone would really be able to relish the glory of winning, and endure a celebration of that victory if it were all a deception. At least with the baseball steroid controversy, those who cheated a) never had to lie about who they were and b) were reasonably certain that a lot of their competitors were also getting an unfair boost. In this case, these men would be trying to gain a competitive advantage simply because of their gender. While The Common Man doesn't want to engage in any "men are better athletes than women" bantering, it's clear that anyone competing as a member of the opposite gender would believe in that advantage and would still bask in the glory of the win. The Common Man can't understand that phenomenon.

The second issue that plagues The Common Man is that not all female athletes will be tested. Initially, in the interest of fairness, every woman was checked. However, beginning with the Sydney games in 2000, women were tested "only after doubt had been cast on an athlete's gender," according to Professor Tian Qinjie of the Peking Union Medical College Hospital. Now, consider that. You're minding your own business, swimming your 400 meter freestyle, and somebody has the gall to ask you to step aside 'cuz they aren't sure you're a woman. And this is supposed to be fair, how? Think of the psychological impact something like that could have. ”The aim," Professor Tian says, "is to protect fairness at the Games while also protecting the rights of people with abnormal sexual development.” Well, The Common Man can understand the desire to protect women's medical information, but what about the rights of the women who are yanked aside because someone suspects something. How would you feel, men, if you're in line for the trough at a football game and someone pulled you aside and said, "Hey, no offense, pal, but I don't think you're a dude. You should get out of here."? The Common Man thinks that fella might have a fight on his hands. Or at least an indignant and justified argument.

The Common Man wonders why the Olympic committee can't just test everyone and not release the results until after the games are over and everyone has a chance to get their sexual development disorders in a row? This can't be so complicated that you have to crush the self-esteem of manly women who just want to toss a shotput for their country.

Stupid Man Tricks?

The other day, The Common Man may have endorsed texting on your motorcycle, car, unicycle, or ornithopter as a way of saving time and being able to be with your family at home. As it turns out, that may not have been a well-thought out endorsement. According to one NPR story (sorry, no link), and to virtually every other news organization on the planet (seriously, just type texting while driving on YouTube), it turns out that texting on the move often has very serious repercussionsons. Color The Common Man shocked, but emergency rooms are seeing more and more accidents involving drivers and walkers who aren't watching where they're going. And it has led to extra padding for one London neighborhood:

Now, although the texters in the story are all male, it's worth pointing out that this is a problem that affects both men and women (particularly young men and women). But finally, someone is doing something about it. Someone is finally making multi-texting (multi-tasking + texting) safe and feasible. And of course, it's a man (or men) doing it:

Thanks fellas, you have made it safe for men to be stupid again. And The Common Man (who is the slowest texter in the short history of texters) salutes you for helping to make future stupid man trick videos possible.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In Your Debt

As the American government continues to spend money that it doesn't have, The Common Man is encouraged by a study done by Javelin Strategy & Research that suggests that Americans are beginning to eschew their credit cards in favor of debit cards or, perish the thought, paying in cash. CNN reported in May that, in light of rising food and gas costs, more Americans were having to rely on their friends Visa and MasterCard to get by from month to month. The Federal Reserve reported that, "Americans' credit card debt jumped 6.7% in the first quarter of this year to $957.2 billion. This spike comes despite the fact that nearly one in three banks is tightening guidelines for credit cards." The Javelin study contradicts these findings, reporting that "The sharp decline in credit card spending challenges the popular belief that more Americans are charging basic goods in order to sustain their quality of life. Consumers are making deliberate cutbacks like shopping at superstores, eating out less and watching what they charge. We believe this is because most people have already been impacted by the downturn or they’re anticipating that we haven’t seen the worst of it. It’s very cautious behavior.”

Maybe so, or maybe Americans are getting close to their credit limits, and therefore can't spend more on their cards ("Delinquency rates on credit cards are at their highest rates since 2002," according to But consumers should make dramatic cutbacks on their spending and their debt. After all, two of the largest problems with the financial system in this country, the mortgage crisis and the budget deficit, were caused by people spending money that they did not, and could not hope to, earn. The Common Man has heard the argument that the U.S. economy will suffer if its consumers do not consume and, while that's unfortunate, each family must do what is right for itself, and that certainly involves not carrying around massive debt that will curb Americans' abilities to save for retirement and spend later in life. Despite what the Bush Administration has seemed to argue in the past, it is not every American's civic duty and responsibility to go out and consume. To spend until it hurts. To tear through that paycheck like a little boy tears through corn on the cob.

It's time for Americans to realize that, quite frankly, debt is not manly. Debt takes away your control over your life; you become beholden to others and are at the mercy of their generous spirit. In this case, The Common Man must agree with Proverbs 22:7, which says that "the borrower is the slave of the lenders." Of course, The Common Man is not talking about not borrowing to pay for a home (The Common Man has a common mortgage after all) or for school (especially given the disparity in earning potential for college graduates versus high school graduates, and those with advanced degrees versus those without), but not being a slave to your credit will only help you in the long run, so you don't keep having to make minimum payments into your 90s. Living within your means is the surest way to be the master of your own destiny, rather than subject to the whims of American Express.

If you haven't already, The Common Man suggests you watch the documentary Maxed Out, about the practices of credit card companies, the nature of American debt, and the repercussions of it. Heck, you should probably buy it. With a debit card.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Common Sportsman: Un-Manny

A few days ago, The Common Man kinda, sorta defended Manny Ramirez, but not really. One pundit was calling Manny out for actively trying to sabatoge his team and, while The Common Man had heard about Manny's lackadaisical attitude and questionable motivation in the past, he was certain that Manny's accomplishments earned him the benefit of the doubt.

Apparently, however, so does Manny. According to the dean of baseball journalism, Peter Gammons, "Manny clearly has decided that he has already fulfilled his obligation to the first eight-year [$160 million] contract, and wants the next $100M right now." Gammons argues that Ramirez's "trying to opt out in the middle of his contract during the season," by "blackmail" -ing the Red Sox into giving him an extension or trading him to a team that will. Now, when Joe Sportsguy claims on the radio that Manny is tanking on purpose, it's one thing. But when Peter Gammons puts his sizeable reputation on the line to outline the ways in which Manny has "bag[ged] it," The Common Man pays attention. It's not that The Common Man was wrong, per se (because The Common Man is never wrong). It's that The Common Man did not fully appreciate the levels to which Manny would sink and sulk to get his payday, making clear "his disdain for the game, for winning and for any form of authority."

And so, this is where The Common Man gets off the Manny bandwagon. What he could once dismiss as quirky, kooky,and playful, The Common Man now sees as symptoms of Manny doing whatever he could get away with because he was Manny Ramirez, and the Red Sox needed the thunder in his lumber. The Common Man calls you out, Man-Ram. Calls you out for your unwillingness to hustle and try your hardest, your cowardly refusal to face tough pitchers, and your mercenary attitude toward the game and the fans. Manny Ramirez, you ain't no kind of man at all. Your manhood is hereby revoked.

Stupid Man Tricks

Sure, gas prices have dropped a little in recent days. Why, it's even under $4.00/gallon in The Common Man's neck of the woods. But that doesn't mean that the oil and gas crisis is in the rearview mirror. Indeed, this brief respite, and the relief people feel at paying only $3.85 per gallon only underscores how broken the national infrastructure and transportation system is. Over at Return to Manliness, Kevin is arguing that U.S. drivers need some tough love, "High gas prices are here to stay and we must adjust several aspects of our lives before the pain starts to subside. Nobody is coming to the rescue. We must do what every generation has done before us and sacrifice today for tomorrow’s security and success." Though his ideas are extreme, many of his proposals, such as making driving within downtown areas prohibitively expensive (as London did), increasing the number of carpool lanes at the expense of regular lanes, and ending new road construction in favor of mass transit construction, can help set the tone for an America that is more independent of foreign oil.

Inspired by Return to Manliness, this individual is doing his part to help end the gas crisis:

He has since, undoubtedly, traded in his gas-guzzling pickup truck for a new Prius, and delivered a profound statement about American energy consumption. That message? The United States is headed straight for a telephone pole of disproportionate oil imports and unimaginably high prices, and it will crash suddenly and violently if someone doesn't get off the damn roof, back in the car, and turn the wheel.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dodging the Bullet, But Getting Hit By the Train

The Common Man was profoundly interested by the story of RoseMary Shell and Wayne Gibbs this past week. She, of course, is the jilted bride who claims to have left a well-paying job and life in Florida to move in with and marry her fiancee in Georgia. When he got cold feet (and announced it by leaving her a note in the bathroom), reportedly after learning about some substantial debt, she sued him and won $150,000 for her pain and suffering.

Now, obviously, this is no kind of man. Money is more important to him than the woman he purportedly was in love with. He didn't have the courage or the decency to tell her what was going on to her face. Instead, he bailed. He refused to face up to his responsibilities and to address the mess that he had created.

But, The Common Man is wondering if, in fact, this guy did the right thing by breaking the engagement. It's not like the marriage was destined for great things anyway. He obviously didn't love her, to be able to leave her so coldly and for such a shallow reason, and she didn't even have a clue that the man she loved was such a weasel. And if the marriage wasn't going to work, it seems to The Common Man that the responsible thing to do was to break the engagement.

To echo a common refrain, marriage seems to be too cheap to come by in the U.S. these days. The high divorce rates seem to indicate that men and women are not taking their obligation (to themselves, to their spouses, and, in many cases, to God) seriously. The don't think through the biggest decision of their lives, and end up marrying someone it turns out they can't live with for the next 5 years, let alone 50. And of course, it doesn't help that a large proportion of prominent marriages fail (next up, John Edwards?), and that those failures are trumpeted so loudly in the mainstream press. Sure, proposing marriage implies a promise, but getting married is making that promise explicit. You will love, honor, and cherish this person for the rest of your life (barring any abuse, most cases of infidelity, and dishonesty from the outset).

Anyway, this strikes close to home for The Common Man because when he first met The Uncommon Wife, back when she was The Uncommon Girlfriend, they were living in totally different parts of this great country. After a year of dating long-distance, The Uncommon Wife decided to leave her home and move closer to her beau. After seven months or so of living in close proximity, The Common Man proposed marriage and they were wed the next year. It has worked out pretty well so far.

But the Gibbs/Shell verdict seems to suggest that The Common Man was obligated to marry The Uncommon Wife once she packed her bags and drove East. And that seems wrong. What if she didn't like to brush her teeth? What if The Common Man didn't like to shave. What if they ended up like Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, except that one of them had girl parts? Should The Common Man have been responsible to pay her for her trouble? And what about The Uncommon Wife (and Ms. Shell)'s complicitness in the deal. They were adults at the time and, presumably, made a risk/benefit analysis, and came to the conclusion that following their sweeties was a heck of an idea. The issue seems to come down to whether the proposal of marriage constitutes a promise to get married and live happily ever after. And The Common Man is not sure that, these days, it is or that it should be. After all, just think how miserable these two people would have been if they had actually gotten married.

Anyway, the new poll question is about this issue, and The Common Man invites you to vote and to post your thoughts, about the story, marriage, and/or engagement in the comments below.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Stupid Man Tricks

The Common Man is suffering from survivor's guilt today. Both The Boy and The Uncommon Wife have been felled by a mysterious flu bug. That survivor's guilt is important. It demonstrates empathy, genuine human compassion. That's something that is missing more and more in today's men, the ability to genuinely empathize with others. Take for instance the friends of this young man:

After he obliterates himself up against that pillar, their primary concern is for him to slide the rest of the way down (undoubtedly hoping to watch him splat again). Wouldn't the world be a better place if people weren't so eager to watch their friends break their bodies by slammming into pillars? Sure, it's funny to watch, but shouldn't you be the least bit horrified/remorseful at the site of your buddy upside-down between two escalators?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday Beer Review (kind of)

Tonight's beer review begins with a story. The Common Man was innocently enjoying the farmer's market today; the veggies were relatively cheap and fresh (as were the bagels) and The Common Man managed to find two neat-looking beers to review by New Glarus Brewing Company. On the way home, since they had had such a wonderful time at the market as a family, The Uncommon Wife sweetly asked The Common Man whether he'd like to take a walk with her and The Boy and The Evil Dog that afternoon. The Common Man agreed since he needs to exercise more anyway and it's always good to spend more time with the fam. "Perfect," she told him, "I already have the route planned out.

What The Uncommon Wife failed to mention, however, was that the route was four miles long. With The Boy. And The Evil Dog. And what The Common Man figured as a half-hour jaunt around the neighborhood turned into two hour odyssey through the west side of Madison. The Common Man's two bum knees are a little sore tonight, he's dead tired, and sunburned.

Now, The Common Man would have been able to deal with this development. After all, what's two hours on a Saturday anyway? He could have one beer with dinner, after all, and one later. Or one to celebrate the end of his Bataan Death March, and one to chase the food down his belly.

However, fate would have other ideas. Along the parade route, The Common Man, The Uncommon Wife, and The Boy (but not Ralph the Evil Dog) managed to get invited to a party. For this to make much sense, The Common Man needs to backtrack here for a second. The backyard of the new house has a jungle gym and a basketball court. And so it has become a Mecca for kids around the neighborhood who either a) have no basketball court/jungle gym or b) don't have a little brother as adorable as The Boy. And The Common Man and Uncommon Wife encourage their presence, since it gives The Boy a chance to practice socializing with other kids. The upshot of all this is that The Common Man knows virtually every kid in the neighborhood but very few of the parents (though he tries to meet them whenever possible; he doesn't want to be known as the sketchy guy who lets kids play in his yard).

Anyway, out of the corner of his eye, The Common Man spots one of the kids in a backyard jumping on a trampoline. He waves, then sees a man coming out of yard's house. "Hi," says The Common Man, trying to be neighborly. "Are you A_____ and L_____'s dad?" He says something about being a stepdad and a conversation begins. He mentions that he's having a small get together that night and would everyone like to come by for brats, beer, and corn on the cob. Not wanting to turn down an offer for some adult company and really hoping to get in good with the neighbors, The Common Man, et al agreed to drop by.

And so, upon their return The Common Man and The Uncommon Wife sprang into action. The Boy needed dinner (because he couldn't last until the party), and if he was having dinner, everyone else might as well join in. And The Common Man never shows up to a party empty-handed, so he drove to the store and brought home a sixer of his old standby, Bass Ale.

Bass, to The Common Man, seems like the perfect beer to bring anywhere. It is flavorful and different enough to not offend the denigrators of Budweiser, Miller, and the other American waters. But it's also light enough that people who don't like heavy beers won't be offended. And though a pale ale by name, Bass lacks the hoppiness of most of its compatriots. It is perfect to drink in the heat, and just fine in the winter. It's great to drink in a crowd or by yourself. You can drink it here or there, you can drink it anywhere. It is, in fact, the perfect compromise beer. It has something to appeal to everyone.

So, what happens? The Common Man returns home, and the kids in question are playing in the backyard with The Boy. And they are happy to report that, somewhere, there has been a miscommunication. Actually, the friendly fellow from the walk isn't their stepdad, but that of their friend Chloe. And so, The Common Man, The Uncommon Wife, and The Boy head to the party of the man they don't know and have no connection to, with beer and cookies. Everyone there is perfectly nice, but, as it turns out, they do not drink or need any Bass (there's a kegorator of Bud Light in the basement). In fact, they return the leftover Bass when The Common Man leaves to put The Boy to bed.

So, now The Common Man is dehydrated (from the walk, and from drinking the Bass by himself), has no more room for the New Glarus, and hasn't had time to drink them anyway. So you get a story and a review of The Common Man's old stand by, Bass, filling in once again in a pinch. The perfect beer for every occasion.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Better Late Than...

Look, The Common Man knows that he's a little late with this review. Heck, the movie opened a week ago. But between having to arrange childcare for The Boy, finding a time that both The Common Man and The Uncommon Wife could go, and not wanting to deal with obnoxious crowds, The Common Man feels like he did a pretty good job of getting out to the theater in a timely fashion. And it's a good thing, because The Common Man was totally geeked up when he finally got there.

Yet, The Uncommon Wife leaned in to get close to The Common Man as they entered the darkened theater. Very innocently, she mused that a co-worker had said that he didn't like The Dark Knight. Very sweetly, almost non-chalant. The Common Man's bulged wide, but he can understand that point of view, he supposes. The movie is incredibly dark and violent, after all. And perhaps most importantly, it isn't at all what moviegoers have come to expect from a superhero flick. Director Christopher Nolan constantly keeps his audience guessing with fake-outs and curveballs and red herrings. And while The Common Man may be willing to accept the fact that not everyone will like the new Batman movie (though the jury's still out on that), there is no denying that this is an excellent movie and that anyone who says otherwise is itching for a fight.

The film is impeccably cast. Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, and Michael Caine return, of course, from the first movie and are all very good. Maggie Gyllanhall does fine. And of course Heath Ledger shines (or slinks), more on him later though. And Aaron Eckardt is terrific as the pivot point around which the movie turns. Sure, the film stars and features Batman and The Joker, but Eckardt's Harvey Dent is the soul of the film.

More than anything, it is about him. The secondary casting choices are also excellent, however. Bit parts went to big time actors. William Fichner plays a pissed off bank manager. Michael Jai White is a mob boss, as is Eric Roberts. Anthony Michael Hall is a reporter. "That guy" actor Ron Dean plays a prominent role. And gravel voiced Keith Szarabajka (who Angel fans will recognize) seethes. It's like good actors were pounding on Nolan's door, begging to be part of this film.

The tone of the film is just so dark. Like the first film, there's not much to laugh at here. It's a punishing grind of murder and explosions. It's like a two-and-a-half hour root canal for your mind, as Bale, Eckhardt, Caine, Ledger, and Nolan play with your notions of heroism, bravery, and decency. And the conclusions that they come to about those things, and about the nature of humanity and our Dewmocracy will bend your brain.

Yet, it's gripping in a way that the first film was not. A large part of that is due to Heath Ledger's scintilating performance. His Joker oozes slime, hate, and bile. When he's on screen it's impossible not to feel greasy, but even harder to turn away. He's the worst kind of villain, one who hates himself but doesn't want to change. So in order to feel better about himself, he has to bring everyone else to his level. He's the antithesis of manliness.

The Common Man can certainly see how someone could buy into the hype surrounding Ledger's untimely death and it's connection to the movie and overrate his performance accordingly. However, that doesn't change the fact that Ledger has given one of the most memorable performances in modern movie history. His Joker, while not definitive, is iconic and will leave a mark in the minds of all those who see it.

If you haven't already, you should see this movie, as The Common Man believes it is destined to become a cultural touchstone. When critics and scholars and filmmakers look back on the current era of filmmaking, the era of blockbuster superhero/comic book action movies, they will have to talk about this film and its legacy on the superhero genre. And if you don't like it (though you really should), at least appreciate it for what it is: the most cerebral and intense film of its kind thusfar.

Rodney: The Century Mark

Hey everybody!

Rodney here, The Common Man's official web lackey. I just had to take a break from my morning man meditation when I heard the news. I am so pleased to announce to you all that The Common has reached an important milestone. As of this morning, we've had 100 unique visitors come to read the wisdom of The Common Man. I don't know about you, but I think that's a pretty good start considering that we've been doing this for about two weeks. I told the boss about it, and he seemed pleased. He may have even smiled. But don't tell him I told you, since, as he taught me, real men are stoic above all things.

Anyway, I'm sure he would want me to thank everyone who's visited so far and to encourage you to keep coming back every day for more new content and more deep insight into the mind of the ultimate man. And tell your friends, and neighbors, and neighbors friends and friends neighbors all about, him.

The boss himself will be back this afternoon to deliver his review of Batman. I hope it's good. He won't let me see it before him, because he doesn't want to hear any spoilers, and I just can't stop my yammerin', as he told me yesterday (he wants to make me into the strong, silent type). Anyway, I'm going to get back to my meditation. Today, I'm contemplating an important question: If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is around to hear it, how fast must the majestic, manly lumberjack who cut it down with one swing of his mighty axe have been to get far enough away?

Thursday, July 24, 2008


The Common Man is proud to introduce a new feature today, which was inspired by DirecTV's generous offer to provide The Common Man and the Uncommon Wife with Showtime and Starz free of charge for three months and by The Common Man's refusal to go to bed at a decent hour, dammit. <
For years, men have had to suffer through films like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and The Lake House, dragged to the local theatre or the drama aisle by well-meaning girlfriends and wives who just have to watch The Notebook or The Prince of Tides or Sweet Home Alabama. Then, sadly, men are forced to suffer through two hours of Ryan Gosling or Matthew McConaughey or some other McDreamy churn through some plot that any intelligent person already knows the ending to.

Frankly, The Common Man feels slightly ignored by the movie industry these days. Sure, men are typically attracted to the action movies with their big explosions, sexy dames, and choreographed fights. But, let's face it, the vast majority of these movies star Matt Damon, Orlando Bloom, or some other eye-candy to bring in the lady-type viewers. Even the new Batman movie (which The Common Man is going to see tomorrow, so don't give anything away please) is appealing to both genders. Christian Bale? Aaron Eckhardt? The Uncommon Wife can't wait to get to the theater.

No, guys need more movies just for them. Movies they don't have to share. Movies their wives and girlfriends will be embarrassed to admit seeing. And so, it is with great pleasure that The Common Man announces a new genre, the D*#k Flick. Movies for guys. Every so often, The Common Man will pop up to review a D*#k Flick, letting you know exactly what was so wonderful or terrible about it from the man's perspective. And now, to the impetus of today's column, the 2006 release, Crank.

Crank is either the single most self-aware action movie of all time or an hour-and-a-half tutorial on taking uppers. Jason Statham stars as Chev Chelios, an assassin for hire who's about to hang up his silencer for good in order to be with his girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart). As you might expect, Chelios's bosses are less than amused at his decision and poison him with a chemical that is slowing his body down. To stay alive, Chelios must keep his adrenaline levels extremely high. To this end, he steals cars, drives through shopping malls, shoots at cops and criminals alike, has (very) public sex, takes cocaine, drinks an obscene amount of caffeine, terrorizes a hospital in an attempt to get a shot of epinephrine, and swears a lot (dropping an m-effer is known to tick your adrenaline levels up by 1-2%, apparently). Also, he remembers to stop and buy flowers for his girl. See, he's a sweet hitman on a rampage who kills anyone in his path.

Anyway, the film is essentially a live-action "Grand Theft Auto," to the point where the first scene is shot in first-person and the opening credits look like '80s video game graphics. Chelios careens through Los Angeles on a mission to kill the gangsters who have killed him with almost no resistance from law enforcement and no consequences. The film is an adrenaline-filled power-trip of male fantasies. That said, it never stops winking at the audience.

Frankly, the film is better than Statham deserves. Since bursting onto the Hollywood scene in the terrific 2000 film Snatch, Statham has made a career of starring in high-concept, high-action, low-brow, and low-effort action movies. He's the British, 21st century Sylvester Stallone. Seriously, his filmography is wall-to-wall adrenaline-pumping action movies, The One, The Transporter (1, 2, and, coming soon, 3), Cellular, Revolver, In the Name of the King, War, The Bank Job, and the upcoming releases Death Race (blatantly and shamefully reimagining the cult-classic Death Race 2000, which, of course, starred Sly Stallone) and Crank 2. Any lazy director looking around for an intimidating British anti-hero in the last 8 years has called Statham first, and he's been happy to oblige. His one moderate success was as part of an ensemble cast in the mediocre Mini-Cooper commercial, The Italian Job.

And it's not like this is a good movie. It's definitely not. But it revels in the fact that it's a bad movie. First time writers and directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor never let the film break character, cranking the action up to 11 (this one goes to 11) and refusing to back off as they hit and exceed all the typical extravagances of action movies. Explosions? Yes, so many things explode in this movie. Chase scenes? Definitely, through a crowded mall. And while receiving oral sex. Gratuitous sex? Absolutely. The aforementioned chase scene, and an absurd scene in which Statham and Smart are having sex up against a newspaper box, surrounded by cheering Chinese onlookers (some of whom are schoolgirls). All that and more. Blood and violence? Um, yes. Yes, there is. Severed hands, shots to the head, etc., etc.

As such, what could have been a mind-numbing experience turns into campy, hilarious fun. The film doesn't take itself at all seriously, and that's a good thing. The film gets serious points for its self-mockery and ridiculousness. It loses points for making me at all care what happens to Jason Statham.

So, in all, The Common Man would give this film 1 ball (2 being the highest you can go without being some kind of genetic freak). While an excellent movie for guys, it was not necessarily a good movie in general. It seemed more a glorification of the kind of violence that inhabits video games like Grand Theft Auto than a knowing condemnation of it. No one learns anything, least of all the audience, except that violence is awesome. If it could have bridged the gap to become satire, it would have gotten at least half a ball more. So now, excuse The Common Man. Not that he's influenced by popular culture or anything, but he's going to go snort an eight-ball and rob a bank.

Stupid Man Tricks

The world is seemingly getting busier every day. Suburbanization has only added to this burden, as The Art of Manliness points out, as people try to micromanage every aspect of their existence and keep up with the proverbial Joneses. What's more, suburbanization has taken more men (and women) further away from the home. Because of dreadful commutes that can last an hour or more each way, there is less time for family interaction. And if you have to bring work home with you, forget it. You might as well never see your children. This is not a uniquely American problem, as many families struggle to come together around the globe.

So it is in the spirit of family that The Common Man suggests using your time creatively. Multi-task. Do whatever you can to be with your children when you're home with your children, and your spouse when you're home with your spouse. After all, taking care of your family is the most manly thing that you can do. And if you need help thinking of ways to get more done during the day, here's one to get you started:

Now that is a dedicated father.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ah-vah Akbar

The Common Man has a problem. It's The Boy. He loves the "ah-vah". He loves the vacuum cleaner.

The Common Man knows what you're thinking. "What's the big deal?" you wonder, "He's just a kid, and it's just a vacuum." But you don't understand. The Boy loves the vacuum. Any vacuum. All vacuums. And brooms. And mops. And rakes. And swiffers. If it cleans, he loves it.

It began, The Common Man believes, on a trip to Bah-bah (Grandpa)'s house. While The Common Man and The Uncommon Wife were checking out some pyramids and some statues and some Nile, The Boy was sequestered with his grandparents. Now, The Boy had always shown some interest in "ah-vah". He followed The Common Man around while he vacuumed, tried to play with the cord, and wondered at how the stem of the vacuum reclined and stood upright.

The Common Man has since discovered that, while his parents were away, The Boy convinced his bah-bah to give him rides on the vacuum. Up the hall. Down the hall. The Boy would ride on the base of the vacuum, while his grandfather pushed him. He would feel it vibrate and hear it churn beneath him.

So, when The Common Man returned, he found a child obsessed with that damn vacuum. He would point to it. He would cling to it. He would push it. When it wasn't visible, he would search for it, calling "ah-vah! ah-vah!" It became his solitary concern (other than food), and he was never happier than when he wrapped his fingers around the cord or the handle.

And so, tonight, when The Common Man got out ah-vah to vacuum the living room, The Boy's eyes glowed bright. For a moment, he stood back in awe, his face breaking into a grin. "Ahhhh-vahhhh!" he cried and ran toward it. The Common Man started the motor and The Boy stood back, confused as to why his friend did not want him to ride. And so, as The Common Man ran the vacuum up and down the carpet, The Boy went and got his toy ah-vah, which his father bought for him. The one with googly eyes and a big smile. And The Common Man and his son vacuumed the carpet together.

Now, you might think this was cute (and it was). But The Common Man is worried that The Boy's worship of this false idol may have drastic implications on the rest of his life. What if The Boy is simply too clean? What if he refuses to enter his parents' room because it is cluttered? What if he won't eat off a plate that hasn't been boiled first? What if the other kids make fun of him for being too neat? What if he becomes a neat-freak, like Julia Roberts's abusive, yuppie husband in Sleeping With the Enemy?

What if he ends up as Julia Roberts's husband in Sleeping With the Enemy? What if he grows that mustache??? And what if, when he grows that mustache, he looks like Jason Giambi?

What if he uses steroids??? Wait, is it better to be an abusive, controlling yuppie who tries to kill Julia Roberts or Jason Giambi, rocking the porn 'stache and injecting steroids in your butt? The Common Man is unsure; he's been listening to sports talk radio too much.

As you can see, The Common Man is a little irrational about this whole thing. Maybe he should find other, more important things to worry about. Like, hey, did you hear that Israel is going to attack Iran?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


There are important, important things in America that this nation's leadership needs to be paying attention to. There is a two-fronted war (or perhaps there are two wars) being fought in the Middle East. The economy has struggled under the weight of high fuel prices, credit shortfalls and defaults, a weak dollar, and non-existant consumer confidence. The nation's ports still are not secure (nor are America's northern and southern borders for that matter). And, on top of everything, there's an election race going on that will determine the course of this nation for the foreseeable future.

With all that is going on, The Common Man wants to know just how the hell New York Congressman Peter King thinks he has the time to worry about what ads are going to be run on the New York City subway system that he will never ride on. Apparently, Muslim-American religious organizations are poised to purchase ad space on the trains as a way to promote awareness of their faith. The ads, according to, are
"simple black-and-white panels, [and] will feature key words or phrases about Islam on one side of the panel such as 'Head Scarf?' or 'Prophet Muhammad?' and the words 'You deserve to know' along with the Web site address on the other side."

"I have no problem with the ad itself, but I have a very, very real problem with those behind it," King said. Noting that the ads would be up during the seventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks, he continued, "I'm calling on the MTA not to have these ads, not to go forward with them, and I don't see this as a free speech issue at all." The New York Post, with its usual sensitivity, has referred to the New York subway as the "Jihad Train," and has featured the headlines "Train-ing day for jihadists" and "Allah aboard!" Classy guys, the New York Post.

"I think that even more so reinforces the idea as to why a project like this is necessary, where Muslims have to be more pro-active in terms of educating people about their religion, by no means proselytizing the faith in any capacity, but really setting a standard and defining what mainstream Islam stands for," says New York University Imam Khalid Latif. Indeed, it seems that American Muslims are doing exactly what conservative pundit blowhards, such as Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity have long demanded, getting the word out about Islam's peaceful, faithful, and virtuous majority and what they believe Islam stands for. It's typical for reactionaries like King and the Post to lambast them now for their positive, proactive efforts. The Common Man wonders if it really matters who is delivering the message, if the message is a positive one.

The Common Man urges Congressman King stop maligning positive people trying to make positive change. This country has enough trouble without fear-mongering, prejudiced opportunists such as yourself making ideological mountains out of molehills. Would the Congressman object to Catholics and Protestants advertising their faith in Northern Ireland? The Common Man sincerely doubts it. Get back in the hole you crawled out of, Congressman King. You're only hurting your party. It speaks ill of this nation's Dewmocracy that a man like you, a man who would prefer to use fear and innuendo instead of telling truths with calmness, prudence, and eloquence (The Common Man is relatively pleased with the relative maliness of the remaining Presidential candidates in '08), could win an election. A man like you, Congressman, is hardly a man at all.

Stupid Man Tricks

Sometimes life is frustrating. Schaefer's Blog has been running an interesting series of posts on failure, which The Common Man heartily endorses. Not failure. The articles. The articles on failure. Those are excellent. Schaefer explores the need to not look at the failure itself, but the underlying cause(s) of the failure, using the Columbia disaster as an example. The Common Man would also recommend reading Jared Diamond's follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize winning Guns, Germs, and Steel, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed for similar thoughts.

Anyway, in honor of Schaefer's insight, and the frustration of failure that makes men want to bash their heads into the wall, The Common Man presents you with this:

Perhaps this man was being too literal. Larry Bird must be very proud.

Monday, July 21, 2008


It's been an exciting 48 hours in The Common Man's fiefdom. First, The Common Man successfully turned 30 the other day, making him far more common than before. It was a good day. It began, as many days do, with The Common Man getting up with The Boy, taking him downstairs for breakfast, and making coffee for The Uncommon Wife. When The Uncommon Wife needs her coffee to be so uncommon, and so The Common Man doesn't mind helping her recharge her batteries.

Anyway, after church and mowing the lawn (The Common Man does love mowing the lawn), the family drove to beautiful minor-league-baseball-ville to catch a ball game. The home team, frankly, was terrible. They couldn't hit, pitch, throw to the right base, or tie their shoes without help. Still and all, it was baseball, The Boy behaved and had fun, and the "K-Man" struck out 3 times (2-for-1 beers each time!). The Common Man had seats behind the plate and sat next to the scouts (who really weren't in the mood to talk).
And, following the tragic final atbat, as Johnny Notaprospect struck out with his bat on his shoulder, The Common Man got to run the bases with The Boy for the first time.

And at that point, The Common Man realized something. Even though he (at 30, and never playing organized ball above Babe Ruth League) and his son (at 20 months) can find their way to the right bases, and the 20-23 year olds of this team can't find the right bases to run and throw to, The Common Man's dreams of playing pro ball need to die. There simply is no call these days for a 30 year old, doughy white rookie on a baseball team.
29, maybe. But at 30 some dreams need to die so you can focus on how much fun it is to run the bases with someone who may, some day, have those same dreams. So that you can enjoy watching him try to run between the bases, stomping his little feet, and can feel his sweaty hand holding yours for literal and figurative support. And so that you can help him pick himself up when he trips over second base, and point him in the right direction when he gets up and is a little unsure where third base is. And so you can feel his pride when he stomps on homeplate, and can lift him onto your shoulders in triumph. It was a good day.

And when The Common Man returned home, he learned something equally important. 30 candles on a tiramisu is a fire hazard. Take note.

Back to our regular schedule tomorrow morning.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Saturday(ish) Beer Review: Kennebunkport Ales

Last week, The Common Man reviewed beer some Midwest brews, and came away less than totally pleased. This week, The Common Man will venture far to the great Northeast in search of brews yet undiscovered. Namely, The Common Man will seek out the beers of that great unexplored wilderness and colony of Massachusetts, Maine.

It is in this vein that, while shopping at Trader Joe's this week, The Common Man happened across Kennebunkport Brewing Company's Wheat Ale and Blueberry Wheat Ale. Since it's hot as Satan's SUV in the mall parking lot these days around here, The Common Man thought a couple of lighter beers would hit the spot. As it turns out, he was largely right.

Kennebunkport Brewing Company operates out of Portland, ME and appears to be affiliated with Federal Jack's, a brew pub in Kennebunk who also makes Shipyard and Old Thumper (two Maine standards). The company's website has no real information about the KBC brand of beers it brews, so The Common Man will just skip to the results.

The KBC Wheat Ale presents as a dark gold color, but has a light and crisp taste that is clean and refreshing. It finishes with a hint of hops, to give it a small bitterness on the back end. It is, most assuredly, a pretty good beer, especially on a hot day. That said, it was also largely forgettable. So while a good experience, it isn't necessarily a distinct one.

The Blueberry Wheat Ale has a lot more character to it. Its blueberries dominate the flavor of the beer, but not with the obnoxiousness of the Berryweiss. It still, if you look hard enough, tastes like beer underneath the blueberry. As an added bonus, between the berries and the wheat, it's basically like drinking a blueberry muffin. While that may throw off some drinkers, it makes this particular beer memorable and, since The Common Man loves him some blueberry muffins, endearing. This is another beer to beat the heat, one that your friends will remember if you bring a sixer of it to their next party.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Your Presence Is Compelled

The Common Man requests, nay demands, your presence at Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog when you have 45 minutes to kill. But check it out today. Starting Sunday, you will need to shell out $1.99 to download an episode (or just wait for the DVD). It will be worth the money, but you get to see all three episodes for free until then. Joss Whedon's new creation, starring Neil Patrick Harris and Whedon-muse Nathan Fillion, is groundbreaking in the way it delivers original content to consumers. "Doing [the online series] was an effort to send a message to the community that there was another way ... that we could create content and ultimately create jobs without the studios," he said. It's terrific; the story is terrific and leaves open the possibility for future hilarity.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Common Sportsman

Look, The Common Man loves sports, particularly baseball. And since this is his site, he feels like he should have free reign to write about them. That said, this site really isn't so much about sports as it is about the things guys should do and care about. So, to hedge his bets a little, The Common Man is introducing a new feature, The Common Sportsman. Every so often, he will focus on sports from a man's perspective. Read along and see what he means, as he documents two storms that caught his eye this week, one that you've probably heard about and one you probably haven't (unless you follow baseball like it's a religion).

The first story comes out of Boston. While for most of you, it probably has little immediate impact, people in the Northeast will be foaming at the mouth for the next few days, given the voracious appetites and surly nature of Boston media-types. According to Bob Lobel, the former sports director for local station WBZ, Manny Ramirez may have struck out on purpose in the 9th inning of a tie game, as some form of petulant revenge on the front office of the Red Sox.

Here's the short version of the backstory. Baseball players get to request tickets for their family and friends and anyone who does them a favor from major league teams. Minor leaguers get to do this too, but they get fewer tickets. The tickets become a form of currency, as players use them to exchange for meals, services, whatever. It's a nice perk, but the players generally need to request these tickets a day or so in advance, since they are typically good seats and the home team likes to sell them. In June, while in Houston, Manny asked a member of the team's front office for a large number of tickets, perhaps as many as 20, a few hours before the game. When the team employee informed Manny that he might not be able to fulfill the request, Manny got pissed and shoved the 60-year old to the ground. The Sox heavily fined their leftfielder, and all was, supposedly forgiven.

Lobel, however, got a different story. Upset at the heavy fine, Manny (according to Lobel) began acting out. The highest crime came in a June game against the Yankees, when Manny allegedly laid down. Lobel alleges, "The bat on the shoulder for the three pitches from Mariano Rivera. That was a big [expletive] to the Red Sox after the fine. I'm just telling you ... there are things in the front office that are perceived ... I'm saying that there is a strong feeling that that [three-pitch strikeout] was the message to the Red Sox and it's a strong feeling that that's unacceptable ... there's a feeling that he didn't give it his all, let's put it that way ... I'm just saying the front office has not forgotten that moment. It's akin to Nomar sitting on the bench [in a game in which Derek Jeter dove into the stands at Yankee Stadium in 2004]. It's the same thing. It's an at bat that resonated very strongly in the front office."

Rob Neyer's analysis of Lobel's accusation is that "Manny had been struggling: In his 21 games before July 6, he'd batted .188 with just one homer and 22 strikeouts.... What to make of all this? I don't know. But we might guess that somebody told Lobel about the fine, and that somebody suggested to him that MannyB struck out on purpose." But there's little to indicate, aside from Lobel's unsupported allegations, that Manny intentionally struck out. Is he a prima dona? Undoubtedly. Difficult and aloof? Surely. A professional hitter, and one of the best right-handed bats of the past 50 years. Truly.

And so The Common Man doesn't really think that Manny struck out on purpose. But perhaps the cardinal virtue of manhood is that they are supposed to, in all times and all places, give their best effort. No excuses, no exceptions. Never quit, never say die. And certainly never give up on their comrades. Lobel is accusing Manny of being the worst possible kind of man. One who would betray his brothers and behave like a petty child.

These are the kinds of accusations that will dog a man for the rest of his days. Once applied, labels are tough to shake, regardless of what other evidence is brought forward to the contrary or is added to complicate the picture. And so, Joe DiMaggio will always be graceful elegant, and Ted Williams The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived. Dick Allen will always be surly. John Kerry will always be a flip-flopper. It's a beanball to the head. Once you let it go, there's no calling it back. Lobel, and all men, should be reluctant to lob this fastball in particular.

Our second story comes from the north woods and frozen tundra of Green Bay and the bayous of Louisiana, where the Packers and their legendary quarterback and movie star, Brett Favre, have been sniping back and forth at one another and playing a game of chicken as to whether Favre is going to be donning the green and gold next year. Not finding a daytime NPR station to his liking ,The Common Man has had sports talk radio on a bunch these past weeks, he's been forced to hear the back-and-forth, he said/he said, petty nonsense coming from both parties. Favre retired in February, was given the opportunity to reconsider in March (which he decided against), and now has decided he wants to play again. The Packers, stuck between a veteran quarterback who may have one last run in him and the nominal future of their franchise (Aaron Rodgers), have understandably balked at Favre messing with their plans so close to the start of training camp. Favre is hinting he may show up at camp and ask to be reinstated by the league; the team is saying he's welcome to come back, but as the likely backup.

Caught up in the hoopla and hollerin', the Minnesota Vikings (The Common Man's team of choice) have been accused by the Packers of tampering with Favre. The Vikings, according to the rival Packers, have been sowing seeds of discontent in Favre, trying to throw the whole of Green Bay, nay the whole state of Wisconsin, into chaos. By hinting privately to Favre that he might have a spot with their team, the Vikings, if these allegations are true, would be guilty of tampering.

This, to The Common Man, seems an awful lot like stealing someone's girl. Or perhaps it's trying to date someone's ex. Now, The Common Man knows that you never, ever date a friend's ex. That is verbotten. Fruit from the tree of knowledge. To taste it is to be forever changed, to have knowledge that one should not have and cannot unlearn. That's an offense for which it's reasonable (though not mandatory) to dump a friend.

That said, The Common Man wonders if it's ok to date/steal the ex-girlfriend of some guy you know, see a lot, but can't stand. Say, a co-worker. Say, Dwight. The Common Man presumes, awkwardness aside, that it's ok to go after that guy's ex. But is it ok to steal her? What if they are "on a break"?

Basically, if these allegations were true, what would the Vikings' obligations be, as men? Are they acting inappropriately? Should they be respecting the boundaries of the "relationship" between Favre and his (former?) team? Or is Favre fair game, NFL rules aside?

Stupid Man Tricks

Presented without comment, except that The Common Man can honestly say he has never been this bored.

And people wonder why Minnesota has banned fireworks.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

This Film Has Been Rated XX

Late last night, as The Common Man stubbornly refused to go to sleep at a reasonable hour, he saw Trainspotting for the first time. As it turns out, Trainspotting is not the movie that the father of a young child should be watching just before bed. If you haven't seen it, the plot hinges on the crib-death of Baby Dawn, the daughter of a heroin addict, which is grotesque and haunting. Needless to say, The Common Man did not sleep well.

That said, it got The Common Man to thinking that it was time to make a list. So, here are the 5 movies that no man should ever have to see.

Exit to Eden - Look, there are many things in life that The Common Man hopes to never see. One of those things used to be Rosie O'Donnell in a leather dominatrix outfit. It's not that The Common Man dislikes Rosie. There was a time, believe it or not, that Rosie was pretty funny. Then she got her own show, then she went nuts, then she started ranting about 9/11 conspiracies. Sadly, in 1994, crazy 2008 Rosie traveled back in time, knocked her old self out and locked her in the closet, and decided to make a sex/buddy-cop comedy with Dan Ackroyd. Chasing diamond smugglers, Rosie and Ackroyd go undercover at a sexual retreat center run by Hector Elizando and Dana Delaney. But frankly, who cares about the plot. Rosie O'Donnell and Dan Ackroyd in leather bondage gear. No man should have to endure that.

Thelma and Louise - This is certainly a good movie. The Common Man does not dispute that. And it features Susan Sarandon at the top of her sultry Southern older woman hotness. And Geena Davis wasn't bad either in those pre-Cutthroat Island days. But it's hard to argue that any man comes across well in the buddy/road movie for female empowerment. After one man tries to rape Thelma, Louise shoots him and the women go out on the lamb. Louise's boyfriend steals her money and Thelma's husband is a controlling ass. Brad Pitt is Brad Pitt, but he's also a felon who has broken parole. Harvey Keitel may be sympathetic to their plight, but he is also part of the posse that chases them over the edge of the Grand Canyon. Not much to hang your hat on in this film, boys.

The Color Purple - Speaking of movies where men don't come off well. Stephen Spielberg's The Color Purple features a wife-beating, alcoholic, unfaithful, and uninterested male lead, Mr. ____________. The second male lead, Harpo, is a buffoon whose primary responsibilities involve getting beat up by his wife and falling through roofs for comedic effect. Celie's step-father, who she believes to be her real dad, rapes and impregnates her as a youth. And, well, that's pretty much it except for Mr.__________'s father, a cantankerous old coot who has shaped his son into the woman-beating, lazy slob he ultimately became. The book, a masterpiece by Alice Walker was underserved by the film, as it allowed the male characters to redeem themselves by the end of the novel without sacrificing the overall theme of female sexual awakening and empowerment. Do yourself a favor and skip the movie, read the book, and find the awesome Thanksgiving Dinner scene, the only truly wonderful scene in the movie, somewhere on You Tube.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants - The Common Man has not seen The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. It's entirely possible that it's a good movie. But the words "sisterhood", "traveling", and "pants" have somehow found the magical word combination that neutralizes the curious sections of The Common Man's brain. He simply has no desire to learn anything more than the title. He doesn't even want to know how pants travel. Or how the traveling pants somehow spawn sisterhood. At least The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood had Ashley Judd and Sandra Bullock. And James Garner, a real man's man. Not that, uh, The Common Man has, uh, seen it.

At this point, The Common Man is stuck and will solicit nominations from the peanut gallery. What movies should men never be forced to endure? What other movies should be rated XX, for gals only?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Long, Dark Night in the Man Cave

The Common Man tried to hang in an do a live-blog of the All Star Game last night, but hung up his spikes after nine innings, and just enjoyed the rest of the game. Instead of doing a blow-by-blow, he'll instead hit the highlights from 6 hours of baseball-watching. Some are time-stamped (CST). Also, it should be noted that Shysterball stole a bunch of The Common Man's good jokes in his write-up of the game. But since The Common Man blatantly stole the idea of a running diary from Bill Simmons, he has no right to complain.

First, of all, The Common Man loves the All Star Game. Prominent baseball writers (Keith Law, Shysterball, Fire Joe Morgan) on the interwebs have taken the time in the last few days to remind him that it's an exhibition, that (even though "this time it counts") it has no real meaning, and that it's an over-hyped three-hour commercial for baseball and Fox. Frankly, The Common Man doesn't care. This probably goes back to The Common Man's childhood, when Kirby Puckett won the game's MVP in 1993 after hitting a homer and a double, or 1988 when five Twins made the team.

But the spectacle of it all was always fun for The Common Man. That collection of talent all being introduced at once. It's impossible not to appreciate it, when ARod is standing next to David Ortiz, who is standing next to Roy Halladay. That's amazing stuff. Plus, every so often, baseball collects its history and puts it on display, carting out the greatest living players to celebrate their abilities and legacies. It began with the wild success of 1999's pre-game where the top 100 players of the 20th century were introduced, which culminated in a massive group hug in the center of the diamond as every player on the field tried to get to Ted Williams at the same time.

This time, a massive collection of living Hall of Famers attended the event, including giants of the past, Willie Mays and Henry Aaron. Both are paragons of manhood, brave and talented, generous and inspiring leaders. They should live on forever. Quick, the Carbonite!

Bob Gibson is 74 years old and 1500 miles away, and The Common Man is still a little intimidated. He shifted over in his seat to make sure he wasn't too close to the plate. He doesn't want to take one in the ear. Meanwhile, the world is turned on its ear when Goose Gossage gets a bigger ovation than The Chairman of the Board, Whitey Ford.

Joe Buck calls this "the greatest collection of stars ever assembled on one field. The Common Man doesn't mean to quibble, but he thinks that the 1999 assemblage was better. C'mon, Ted Williams was there.

7:30 Oh no, Cheryl Crow has a guitar. Someone stop her before she honors America! Quick, someone find Tony Bennett. Or Paul Simon. Or 50 Cent. Anybody? Can anybody from New York sing a little bit?

7:34 Reggie, let Yogi walk as close to the plate as he wants. Oh! He got it there on the fly! Is it dusty in here? No? Anyone? Windy

The game starts at 7:45. That's just nuts. 45 minutes of intro???

Tim McCarver is ridiculous. He points out that the Indians got Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, and Lee Stevens, for Bartolo Colon. And "all four payed dividends, but perhaps none more than Cliff Lee this year," says Tim McCarver. Ha. Grady Sizemore, his 23 HR, his .273/.374/.539 batting line, and four consistently excellent seasons of production beg to differ, sir.

In the second, Madonna’s boyfriend steps to the plate. Seriously, who cares? Why is this man a story when the economy is in shambles (thanks for reminding everyone, John McCain), the country is fighting two wars, and taking Flomax may result in a reduction of semen (sorry, commercial)? Pops up to the catcher.

8:06 Budweiser has a new commercial: “As long as there’s been the Great American Pastime, there’s been the great American lager,” which has just been sold to Belgium. Do you think they’ll downsize the Clydesdales?

8:12 Let’s see how well Tim McCarver dances around the Milton Bradley getting injured last year without mentioning that Bradley was baited by the umpire with racially dicey comments.... Waiting.... Well, that was awkward.

8:20 If you think The Common Man isn’t going use the word “Dewmocracy” as much as possible, you don’t know The Common Man. Thank you Mountain Dew

8:23 Since The Common Man’s grandfathers have passed away, The Common Man has decided to nominate surrogate grandfathers to be the Official Grandfather of The Common Man. The first nominee is Yogi Berra. He reminds him of his Uncle Wayne, who also passed away in the past year. Funny guy, lots of stories. Though Yogi seems a little confused at this point. Other thoughts?

8:32 Derek Jeter grounds into a double play in the 3rd. But he did so clutch-ly.

8:34 Josh Hamilton’s quick at bats are not giving Joe Buck the time to fawn on and on about his unique and heart-warming story that The Common Man is, frankly, getting a little tired of. The boys at FJM said it best, of course, "it's better to do heroin and then stop doing heroin and then lose the Home Run Derby after an impressive first round than it is to not do heroin and then keep not doing heroin and then win the Home Run Derby after a pedestrian first round." But, you know, good on you Josh Hamilton. The Common Man wishes you only the best.

8:39 Ichiro Suzuki makes a terrific play, playing a carom off the right field wall perfectly, and firing a strike to 2nd base to nail Albert Pujols, who was trying to stretch a single. Pujols was actually safe, but it was close and Ichiro’s incredible defensive skills were clearly on display there. He’s perhaps the best defensive outfielder in baseball, so why are the Mariners playing him in RF? What kind of pictures does Willie Bloomquist have of Seattle's owner and how compromising are they?

8:46 Tim McCarver starts arguing with statistics that are placed on the screen. There’s no way he’s hitting .167 on pitches down and in.

8:52 Ervin Santana starts out with a 97 MPH fastball, 95 MPH fastball, 85 MPH breaking ball, to Matt Holliday, who looked overmatched at first, but fights back and lines a 97 MPH fastball over RF. Man, a good major league hitter can destroy a fastball, no matter how hard it’s thrown, if he knows what’s coming. Call it the Billy Koch effect.

9:06 John Hiatt does a great job of drowning out Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.

9:14 A bevy of changes for the AL to start out the 6th. The best thing about Canada, Home Run Derby champ Justin Morneau, is now playing 1B.

9:29 The Common Man pops opens his 3rd Berryweiss of the game. It’s not like they’re going to drink themselves, and The Common Man is not going to pawn them off on his friends. That would be wrong.

9:32 The Uncommon Wife wants the AL to win because “the pitcher [Justin Duchscherer] has a cute butt.” Also, “If you play baseball, you should not be allowed to scratch your nutsack, no matter how sweaty it is.” By the way, The Uncommon Wife has descended into the Man Cave after getting tired of watching Tori Spelling’s and Denise Richards’s reality shows upstairs

9:37 The Uncommon Wife “does not, does not want the National League to win because that pitcher [Dan Haren] needs to cut his hair. That Grady Sizemore looks so respectable.”

9:43 What the hell? Why do all sports interviews start with “how did it feel to…?” Or "How special was it to...?" That’s the stupidest way to ask a question ever. Please quantify for me what is entirely unquantifiable. Here's a sliding scale. If 10 is the most special, aka the birth of a child or winning the lottery, and 1 is you stepped in gum on the way in the ballpark, where does this fall? What the hell is the guy supposed to say. How did it feel to hit that home run? Eh, it was ok. Not very special at all really. Argh.

9:46 The Uncommon Wife: Who’s that guy for Pittsburgh? Is that Rathskeller? Rosenthaller? What was his name?
The Common Man: You mean Rothlesburger?
UW: Yeah, where’s he?
CM: Probably playing football somewhere, I guess.
UW: Can’t they cross over?
Has The Uncommon Wife been getting into the Berryweiss? Perhaps an investigation is in order.

9:45 Leave me alone, woman. I’m blogging.

9:50 Alfonso Soriano picks his nose on national TV. Was it his good hand? Is his mother proud? Will he ever be asked to sign an autograph again?

9:53 J.D. Drew hits a no-doubter to RF to tie the game for the AL. Just a lazor. All tied up going into the 8th.

10:03 That’s right, Joe Buck, Miguel Tejada was rejuvenated after his trade to Houston. To the tune of .275 .316 .423 in a park that’s beneficial to right-handed power hitters. Nice analysis.

10:19 Evan Longoria makes the NL regret allowing Sizemore to steal second, as the rookie laces a ground rule double down the LF line. What a stud. Longoria, of course, was the consensus #1 prospect in the country before the season began. Prospect analysis has come so far in recent years. Of Baseball Prospectus’s Top 100 prospect list coming into this season, only Homer Bailey can honestly be called a disappointment.

10:27 Huge ovation for the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera, as he comes in. Exit light, enter ni-ight!

10:33 Wow, a strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play for Mariano Rivera ends the 9th. Now the AL gets last ups.

10:44 We go into extras tied. Bonus baseball! !! Ryan Dempster, of all people, struck out the side in the 9th to get us here. If you had that happening in your all star pool, you were drunk at the time you placed the bet.

OK, so in the interest of full disclosure, this is about where The Common Man stopped making copious notes. It was getting late. The Uncommon Wife had fallen asleep on the sofa. He was chatting with a friend about the game. But a couple of final notes.

Dan Uggla looked bad. Really really bad in this game. Like he didn't belong there. 0-4 with 3 Ks, six left on base, and 3 errors. Just an abysmal performance. Which is a shame, because Uggla really should have been the starter. He's been better than Chase Utley this year and the All Star Game would have been the perfect time to show off his skills and gain some national recognition for a guy that nobody wanted 3 years ago except the Marlins.

News out of New York is that Jonathan Papelbon's pregnant wife was threatened and pelted with insults while riding in a parade yesterday, because of a controversy manufactured by feckless and irresponsible "journalists" at the New York Daily News. You stay classy, Yankee fans. You too, print media. What were you saying about sensationalist and classless bloggers?

Finally, congratulations to the American League, as Justin Morneau (yay, Canada!) slides home on a Michael Young sac fly in the bottom of the 15th. Fun, long game. Now, to bed!
G'night folks!

Postscript: Bill's question in the comments section of the previous post is a good one. The Common Man will reprint it in full and feel free to debate in the comments:

Given that managers are never going to give up the idea of trying to get everybody in the game (because we've gotten to the point where lots of players wouldn't show if they didn't think they'd get to play), should they be permitted to reinsert players (as though the game started over, with the lineup at that time as the starters) in the event the game goes beyond the 9th inning?

Bill's answer is yes, but The Common Man is not convinced. The problem last night was with the scant supply of pitching on the AL side, not position players. And you shouldn't want to remove a pitcher from the game, then reinsert him later after he's cooled down. That sounds like a recipe for arm injury.