Thursday, November 27, 2008


It has been a wonderful Thanksgiving, and The Common Man hopes that you have had a happy Thanksgiving as well. The morning began with a breakfast of birthday cake for the whole family, kindly provided by The Deacon and his Lovely and Delightful in celebration of The Boy and The Uncommon Wife. After that, The Common Man faked a sore leg in order to avoid driving the go-cart-esque Versa. However, when God punished The Common Man's cowardice by draining the car's battery, The Deacon came through with a battery charger and The Common Family was able to head even further into rural America to spend dinner with The Uncommon Wife's family. To give you an idea of the rurality The Common Man is talking about here, the family has chickens...and cows live down the road. The nearest store is 20 minutes away. It's out there (not that The Common Man is complaining, he just wants to give you context). Of course, the day pinnacled with a massive dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, mashed turnips, stuffing, rolls, pumpkin bread, creamed onions, green bean cassarole, cranberry sauce, corn, olives, and pickles. And after the meal, The Common Man retired to the couch to watch a surprisingly entertaining You Don't Mess With the Zohan with the age-appropriate members of the fam. Good times all around.

Anyway, because The Common Man is a lazy writer, bereft of good ideas, The Common Man wants to tell you some of what he's thankful for this holiday season.

1) A beautiful wife who supports her husband in all of his endeavors, except the ones likely to burn down the house.

2) An adorable two-year old who can count to thirteen and sings his ABCs while running in circles around the dining room while others are trying to eat their turkey.

3) Good friends with a spare bedroom and a battery charger.

4) An extensive collection of baseball cards that The Common Man will someday pass along to his son as evidence of his father's incredible nerdiness.

5) Stephen Colbert's Christmas Special and nutmeg for his eggnog.

6) An Obama-centric 2009-2013.

7) That gas has fallen down under $2/gallon, making life a little easier for Americans.

8) A space like this to rant and rave and talk in the third-person, and loyal readers like you.

9) Jack Daniels and ice.

10) The coming Christmas season, generosity of spirit, faith in goodness, and exploding turkeys:

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

8 Simple Rules

The Common Man is safe in rural America this evening, tucked into the home of The Deacon, The Common Man's private brewmaster. The trip was a good one. Here is what The Common Man learned over the course of the day:

1) No matter how early you get up, you will still be rushing to catch a 7:05 flight. The Common Man woke up at 4:30 today, jumped in the shower, and packed the car in record time. He threw The Boy in his carseat and told him to "work it out" and graciously acquiesced to his wife's request to add a suitcase to the luggage (The Common Man was hoping to make it with just one bag). Then, despite his excellent planning, he inexplicably took the absolute longest plausible route to the airport. After traversing the heart of downtown and narrowly avoiding a pedestrian (a black overcoat at six in the morning in the middle of a poorly-lit intersection is awfully hard to see after all). Finally, after getting The Uncommon Wife, The Boy, two suitcases, a diaper bag, and two briefcases up to the counter, The Common Man realized he had forgotten the carseat back in the parking lot. The moral of the story, The Common Man realized as he walked onto his 7:05 flight at 7:03, is that no one makes good decisions before seven.

2) Being alone in coach. > Sitting in first class with a two-year old.

3) The future will look like the Detroit airport. There will be people-moving trams, calming blue-green lights that dance along the walls, and eerie synth music coming from unseen speakers. Also, it will smell like pollution, desperation, and failure.

4) Until the Cone of Silence technology is perfected, The Common Man decrees that all advances in headphone technology need to cease. When The Common Man, from across the aisle, can make out the words to every crappy Nickelback song blasting through your headphones as you appear to be sleeping, headphones have progressed as far (indeed further) than is either necessary or practical. As amused and befuddled as The Common Man was at this passenger's lack of consideration for other passengers, he felt horrified for the man's seatmate, who seemed relatively annoyed that he couldn't hear his own music over the other guy's music.

5) The Nissan Versa is an exceptionally small car. Exceptionally, exceptionally small. Like, it could fit in your walk-in closet small. Despite its size (or lack thereof), the car looks nice. But it lacks any and all of the muscle that a real man requires from his transportation. Indeed, The Common Man gets up to 60 before the Versa, and he's got a bad wheel. Eventually, humiliated by the car's lack of oompf, The Common Man encouraged The Uncommon Wife to take the wheel while he slept. Thus, The Common Man was spared the embarrassment of pulling up to The Deacon's house driving an enclosed golf cart.

6) The beer has been flowing like wine at The Deacon's house, and The Common Man has many excellent options for his beer review this week. If you are in need of good beer, it's good to have a private brewmaster on hand to produce some variety and to provide new and exotic beers. The Common Man suggests making nice with your local home-brewer, perhaps the most manly of hobbyists.

7) When your wife asks you if you want a milkshake, and you respond that she should "look in her heart," be prepared for her answer to be, "I saw heart disease and clogged arteries."

8) With Thanksgiving just two short days away, The Common Man thinks it is important to be eating less rather than eating more. Indeed, if his stomach is full of sauerkraut, ham-and-cheese on a pretzel roll, milkshake, jalapeno-stuffed big pretzel, steak sandwich, and copious amounts of beer. Tomorrow, as he learned from competitive eating sensation Takeru Kobayashi, The Common Man will feast on only grapes to stretch out the walls of his stomach and increase his eating capacity.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Is Something Missing?

The Common Man apologizes for his conspicuous absence this past week. He has been swamped by work and The Boy, and unable to break free. He missed you all, just as he knows that you missed him. That you felt a conspicuous hole in your heart that was just the size of The Common Man.

Well, fear not, hearty readers. The Common Man will be periodically updating his blog this week from the road, as he and The Common Family spend Thanksgiving in rural America with family, and will have time to burn since, frankly, there's nothing to do in that town.

For now, however, The Common Man must rest. He has an impossibly early flight to catch in the morning, and just a few hours left to sleep before he needs to wake, shower, and throw the family in the car. The Common Man wishes you well. He's sure he'll talk to you again tomorrow, with tales of horrific travel.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Waiting Game

The Uncommon Wife has left The Common Man all alone with The Boy for the rest of the week, while she flies out to NYC to visit The Brother-in-law. Faced with complete, utter freedom from womanly ways, The Common Man tried to figure out how to have the manliest time possible and to impart manly wisdom to The Boy before he turns two next week. As is typical, The Common Man tired of thinking around the 30 second mark, and decided instead to take the boy back to Minnesota to, again, visit his grandparents.

Like The Common Man, it seems as though the United States Congress does not want to think long and hard about the problems facing the nation's economy these days. Today, before House Committees, Treasury Secretary Harry Paulson and FED Chairman Ben Bernanke tried to quiet panicky lawmakers who claimed that the banking bailout plan, approved in September, was not working. Since originally receiving the ok to use government funds to buy up at-risk mortgage debt, Paulson has shifted strategies and used the money to infuse $158 billion in cash into troubled banks. Paulson defended his strategy, saying, "When the facts changed and the circumstances [surrounding the financial crisis] changed, we changed the strategy. We didn't implement a flawed strategy. We implemented a strategy that worked." Yet critics are still worried that Paulson's strategy has not yet freed the wheels of the frozen credit market.

While lawmakers are right to closely watch how Americans' money is being spent by Paulson, The Common Man again hopes (once again) that everyone can just take a deep breath here. After all, how long did it take for this crisis to develop? Years, perhaps a decade or more. The pressure has been building for a long while for sure. To be up in arms because the proposed solution hasn't been an unparalleled success within two months is either a) impatient and moronic or b) blatantly opportunistic, using the crisis as a smokescreen to further shift blame for the meltdown onto an unpopular and ineffective lame-duck president who has next to no political capital at this point.

As for Paulson's apparent shift in strategy, The Common Man doesn't claim to be smart enough to know whether his new tactic will be a success or not. The Common Man is not an economist, nor does he have a lot of experience with macroeconomics (sorry Grandpa, only now does The Common Man see the folly of not taking that Econ course, as you suggested). But he does know that when financial systems are this unhealthy, like a patient recovering in ICU, they will take some time get back to normal. And lingering symptoms of whatever disease made them sick may be felt for some time, no matter how good the doctor treating it is. And given how slowly Congress can move and how rapidly the financial crisis may shift in composition and tenor, perhaps its best that Paulson have the flexibility to shift gears when he needs to, rather than waiting for approval to do so.

So sit back, America. Just hold off on the panic a little longer. The Common Man knows your portfolios are hurting (his is too). And he knows that there are still some tough times ahead. But for God's sake, don't shout blindly to the rafters that the roof is falling while Paulson works hard to prop it up. Show some restraint. Show some backbone. And show some manly fortitude. Wait and see what this this strategy can do before you come to bury it.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Since this past Easter, The Common Man has officially been Catholic (as opposed to a virtually Catholic, which is a little like being "near-beer" in that you get the same beer-belly of guilt but none of the benefits of consumption, such as beer buzz, the feeling of invincibility, and the miraculous ability to eat an entire pizza and a plate of cheese-fries at 3 AM). And he's proud to be Catholic. But before he became Catholic, stories like this kept The Common Man and the Church at arm's length from one another.

According to the Associated Press, a Greenville, SC priest, Jay Scott Newman, sent a letter around to his parishioners, telling them that they must do penance before receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama. Newman, obviously forgetting Kang's short-lived campaign slogan "Abortions for all!" (which he and his campaign team quickly changed to "Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!") claims that Obama is "the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate or to run for president." He went on to say,
Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ's Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.

What The Common Man has learned, however, is that while Newman is being terribly narrow-minded and dead wrong about the tenor of an Obama administration and the relative merits of an Obama presidency versus a McCain one (certainly a vote for John McCain would have violated one or several Catholic tenets), he is an outlier within the church. Already, his own diocese has contradicted the priest, saying "Father Newman's statements do not adequately reflect the Catholic Church's teachings. Any comments or statements to the contrary are repudiated." Indeed, whenever a priest goes off the reservation and says something ridiculous, it seems as though it gets picked up in the mainstream press. Meanwhile, obscure protestant bigots around the country are allowed to say what they will without media attention.

The Common Man doesn't know where the fascination with Catholocism and the Catholic priesthood has come from, and why the media's obsession with the laity is largely focused on Catholics. Perhaps it has roots in a 19th and early 20th Century anti-immigrant backlash that mythologized the Pope and popularized the idea that Catholics were somehow subserviant to the whims of the pontiff, like the orders of a Catholic George III. Or maybe it's that Catholics, for all their success in this country, are still a minority (though a growing and not a very marginalized one). Or maybe it's the Latin. Or the incense. Or the pretty robes. It doesn't matter. The Common Man doesn't necessarily need the media's hyper-focus on Catholocism to be rectified (because all powerful organizations should be watched and questioned), but wishes that others were subject to the same level of scrutiny.

Meanwhile, American bishops have indeed been active in drumming up support for the anti-abortion movement. Last Tuesday, according to the AP, "the nation's Catholic bishops forcefully confront the Obama administration over its support for abortion rights." The Common Man hopes they do, and that their efforts bring about some kind of consensus between them and Barack Obama. Indeed, while reasonable people can and do disagree on the issue of abortion, surely all can agree that it would be better for everyone involved if there were fewer of them. And perhaps by working together, instead of throwing around heated rhetoric, these disparate groups can come together to promote more comprehensive and useful sexual education and to better educate parents on how to keep their children from having unplanned pregnancies. Anyway, that's what the Obama-supporting The Common Man is going to pray for before he takes Communion on Sunday.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Marching In a New Formation

The Common Man is not writing tomorrow, as he'll be visiting with his good friend Bill in Chicago. He'll try to sample a beer while he's there and have a review for you on Sunday. In the meantime, Semper Fi y'all...

Cha Cha Slide USMC Style

Getting Real

The name "reality show" has always been a fairly nominal title, since the success of The Real World and the rise of so-called "reality" programming. Indeed, there almost nothing "real" about it. In real life, 20 strangers don't end up on an island in the middle of the Pacific, and slowly vote one another off the island. And 8 (or however many) people from various innane and stereotypical walks of life don't randomly cohabitate in the same apartment and not have jobs and get drunk every freaking night. Teams of two don't race around the world. And singing stars are not regularly semi-randomly plucked from obscurity to become overnight, overpackaged, and overexposed stars.

However, reality, the real reality, has sadly and brutally finally reared its head on reality TV this fall. By now, many have heard about Paula Goodspeed, a young woman who auditioned on season 5 of American Idol, and had her dreams crushed thusly:

Since then, some online celeb news outlets are reporting that Goodspeed's fixation on Paula Abdul had grown and that she had begun stalking the former pop star. And two days ago, Goodspeed's body was found in a parked car near Abdul's house, dead from an apparent suicide. On her Myspace page, following her appearance on Idol, she wrote, "It's very hard reading such awful things being written about yourself...or hearing things being said...not like a lot of people would understand what it's like having so many haters, just because I made the mistake of trying out for a singing competition before I was ~even~ ready vocally, emotionally and physically. I have to believe there is ~something good about me..."

Then, last night on Survivor, a show The Common Man still digs, Randy, a 50s+ wedding photographer, accused fellow survivors (and lone African-American cast members) Crystal and "her boy" G.C. (who was previously voted off), of "running the tribe like a gang". And no one, not even the aforementioned Crystal, who looks as though she could kick his ass in a fair fight, called him on his blatantly racist language. In an age when a black man can be President of the United States, it pained The Common Man to hear such a disgusting accusation. Up until that point, The Common Man had had little use for Crystal, and had mildly dug Randy (who arrogantly kept plugging away, despite a caustic personality, average intelligence, and little athletic talent). And he had no real affection for either Crystal or G.C., who came across as whiny and sulking. But given how big of an ass they were partnered with, The Common Man can forgive a great deal of their sad-sack attitudes. The Common Man hopes that at some point this season, someone calls Randy on his bigotry.

Anyway, the tenor of reality programming was never high-minded (even the uplifting Extreme Makover: Home Edition and The Biggest Loser cater to the most voyeuristic impulses of the American public, and Home Edition doubles as an hour-long commercial for Sears every week). But perhaps, in light of these sad developments, the tenor needs to change somewhat. Sure, schadenfreude is a powerful force that eggs these shows on. But the producers and watchers of these shows (of which The Common Man is one and is equally guilty) need to realize that the "stars" of these shows often act deluded is because they are, indeed, unstable. And this instability can be further triggered and heightened when their bubble of delusion is pricked. And their downfall can have sad and terrible consequences for them and those they love. And when the basest rhetoric and accusations are levied by a boor and a bully at another person, and those challenges are not answered, this discourse can be normalized. Indeed, not everyone is going to disagree with Randy, or interpret his comments in the obviously racialized way they were uttered.

Anyway, The Common Man isn't sure how to take the more dangerous edge off of reality programming without getting rid of the vibe that makes it popular (though The Amazing Race tends to do a good job of that), making sure that those who utter blatantly racist or ignorant comments look like a fool on a regular basis). The Common Man doesn't want a touchy-feely reality, just one in which the vulnerable are not picked on, out, and apart by aging, acerbic asses in tight-fitting cardigans and overweight, middle-aged metrosexuals with waxed eyebrows and cowboy boots who appear to know no other phrases than "keepin' it real," "yo dog" and "1000%."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

8 x 2

The Common Man is still up in arms over this country's continued refusal to provide equal rights for its gay citizens. Today, in the comments of The Common Man's Prop. 8 entry, a new commenter, Erasmus, asks an important question, the answer to which is essential to defusing the Pro Prop 8 propoganda. While The Common Man sought to answer him in the comments section, the response ended up being far too long. So, The Common Man reprints Erasmus's question here, and offers his reply.

Sorry for the lateness of the response. I don't read the Common Man as often as I should. Without comment on either, it occurs to me that the argument in favor of gay marriage is identical to the argument in favor of polygamy. Does the Common Man draw the line anywhere on the consenting adults union continuum? Yes I appreciate the irony that most polygamists are against gay marriage. :)

Your tardiness is excused, Erasmus, provided you are dutiful in checking in in the future. Dissent here is welcome, and The Common Man appreciates your input.

That said, you're comparing apples to oranges. Indeed, the argument for polygamy is typically a numbers-based dispute, while the gay marriage issue is simply one of fairness and equal opportunity. Even if you believe in polygamy, you can be married to the person you choose (just not to more than one person). If you are gay, however, you cannot.

Also, Erasmus, Prop 8 was an action of the state and people of California. This is significant because when a state hands out rights, it cannot (or at least should not) selectively deny them for specific subgroups of people. It's not "Congress shall establish no law prohibiting the freedom of speech except for left-handed people, who should just shut the Hell up and be grateful that they get scissors and notebooks that cater to their backwards ways." The promise of America is that everyone should have the same basic opportunities, and that what they do with those opportunities is up to them. California, and those who oppose gay marriage deny opportunity to a category of humanity, and that's not right.

The Common Man does draw the line on the consenting adults continuity, Erasmus. Be clear, the problem with polygamy in this country (and around the world) is that it has led to an exploitive and predatory patriarchy that has abused and neglected women and kept them in perpetual servitude. And it has, in its insane and out of control need for more brides, resorted to preying on young girls to fill that need. So it is in the government's interest, and the public's, to make sure that half of its citizens aren't subjected to the lunacy of the Warren Jeffs compounds.

In general, however, The Common Man believes that legality should have little to do with spirituality. If, a la Big Love, three women want to live with one man who is committed to supporting them all and raising their kids, that's ultimately not The Common Man's business (so long as the women aren't being exploited; there's a difference between being a polygamist and being an asshole), anymore than it's The Common Man's business that a young boy lives at home with his mother, father, sister, Uncle Fester, Grandpa Munster, Aunt Clara, and mom's best friend from high school who just left her husband and needs a place to stay for a while.

In fact, The Common Man knows some de facto polygamists (though not actually married, as far as he knows), who he finds intelligent, self-assured, and generally pleasant (and who did not have, nor want, any children). Weird people, very very weird, but kind. The Common Man may not like it, may not agree with it, and may generally find it perplexing (The Common Man has enough trouble catering to the whims of one wife, thank you), but it's ultimately not his place to get angry about it. They are all happy and their arrangement in no way interferes with the sanctity and efficacy of his own marriage. In the same way that allowing gay people to marry one another has absolutely no effect on The Common Man's marriage to The Uncommon Wife.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Great Moments in Terrible Filmmaking: Eaten Alive

The Common Man, because he kept getting turned off by the terrible production values, the utter incoherence, and the overall yuckiness of Tobe Hooper's second film, Eaten Alive, kept putting off this edition of Great Moments.... But having finished the film, and again wanting to feel like the time spent watching it wasn't a total waste of his time, The Common Man is good to go.

Hooper, of course, you'll remember from the vampires from outer-space film, Lifeforce, which The Common Man reviewed in August. Eaten Alive, Hooper's follow-up to the cult success of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, is the heartwarming tale of a man and his crocodile, who live together at the man's dirty, falling-down hotel that is probably the single biggest reason The Common Man will never visit the South. When business from the local brothel begins to spill over, Judd, the hotel's owner takes offense to the lasciviousness that has landed on his doorstep. The trouble starts small, as Judd pushes one hooker over the totally not-safe-for children handrail of his porch and into the croc pit.

While his first crime goes off without much of a hitch, Judd's dream existence of living a solitary life in a perpetually dark corner of nowhere with just his cuddly croc (who he tells everyone is from Africa and warns will eat anything) to keep him company goes awry when more guests inexplicably begin showing up on his doorstep, desperate for shelter. Shockingly, many of these people end up going ass-over-tea kettle into Judd's croc pit, most of them after getting a throat full of the business end of Judd's scythe.

Does this sound convoluted yet? Good. It should. The film makes no sense for a number of reasons. First, the plot focuses entirely on Judd's increasingly panicked attempts to hide his crimes. And as Judd loses his sanity, the movie slides deeper into chaos. Perhaps this is intentional. Or perhaps Hooper simply felt the need to justify the film's title. New characters show up out of the blue and leave almost as quickly (usually via crocodile); before The Common Man had time to feel sorry for them, they were dinner. Finally, and most ridiculous of all, the entire series of events begins when that first hooker is kicked out of the brothel for refusing to accomodate a john (played by Robert Englund, who would grow up to be Freddie Krueger) whose big, kinky request was to have non-missionary sex. Apparently, down South, the hookers have standards (which she, of course, pays for when she's fed to the croc).

No! Wait! The Common Man forgot the dog. Indeed, the most implausible part of Hooper's film is when a family, road-weary, arrives on Judd's doorstep and rents a room, even after finding a dead monkey in a cage on the front porch. When the family dog gets too close to the crocodile, it is of course a goner. However, despite the fact that their daughter is crying and screaming uncontrollably, her laughably incompetent parents still decide to spend the night. And rather than try to comfort the child, they yell at one another about whose fault it is that they stopped in the first place.

Anyway, film feels greasy and is a precursor of the Saw and Hostel-style torture-porn in today's theaters. The primary difference between those movies and Hooper's work here, however, is that those movies feel far less half-assed. They ramp up gore and the horror, while Hooper downplays the blood and ramps up the scuzzy. And while those films tend to torment men and women relatively equally, Hooper's movie relishes over the domination and torture of women. In its most disturbing scene, after disposing of the husband (who was going to report the croc to the local sheriff, leaving his wife and daughter alone in the hotel with Judd and his pet), Judd ties the mother up a bed and gags her. While her mother struggles, the daughter runs down the stairs and ends up under the porch, right next to the crocodile. Meanwhile, for 45 minutes, the movie follows other subplots while continually cutting back to the partially disrobed and bound mother struggling and writhing suggestably against her bonds and the daughter cowering under the porch.

So, while the comically incoherent plot is enough to sink Hooper's project, his unabashed and unsubtle hatred of women makes it a sick exercise. The Common Man was really hoping to see a good horror movie for Halloween, when he initially recorded the film. Instead, he just got queasy and needed to take a shower. And while he gave the world The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, after seeing Eaten Alive, The Common Man feels confident in saying that Tobe Hooper should never be let near a camera again. His films are not the campy fun of bad movies, but woman-hating, nasty bile that are as scuzzy as they are incompetent. If you'll excuse The Common Man, he's going to go take another shower. And disinfect himself with some steel wool and rubbing alcohol, which sounds infinitely more pleasant than ever seeing this film again.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

In This Corner...

Today has been a day of celebration in the Catholic Church, the day The Common Man and his mackerel snapping brethren commemorate the founding and continued existence of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the official papal church in Rome. The Basilica was founded in the fourth century, and was originally a gift of Emperor Constantine I. It is, by all accounts, a wondrous building with a unique architecture that the world is lucky is still standing.

Indeed, sometimes The Common Man has a hard time believing Christianity is still standing after 2000 years. After all, Christian churches have, throughout their existence, brought a large amount of suffering on themselves with their schisms, their wars, their persecutions. If it weren't for the awesome guy who founded it, The Common Man thinks that it may well have gone by the wayside years ago.

And, as if to confirm that is the miracle of Christianity's continued existence, comes this CNN story out of Jerusalem. In preparation for a ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Greek Orthodox and Armenian monks were engaged in negotiations for who would be in the procession. When negotiations broke down, Israeli police had to be called in to break up the ensuing battle royale.

It was Brother against Brother in some monk on monk violence as, apparently, dozens of holy men scrapped over who had the right to enter the church. The Armenians, commemorating the discovery of a relic they believe to be the cross of Christ's Crucifixion, wanted to get into the church, built on what many believe is the site of Christ's Crucifixion and resurrection. The Greek Orthodox monks, who are claiming some kind of right to the church and the site, wanted to ensure that the Armenians couldn't make any claim on the site for themselves. According to one Greek Orthodox monk, "We were keeping resistance so that the procession could not pass through ... and establish a right that they don't have."

Think about that for a moment. Two thousand years after Christ's church was founded, the various factions are fighting in the street over who owns his church. Indeed, this petty infighting saddens The Common Man, as it trivializes Christ's sacrifice and desire for his church to be one. And it only gives the entire name of Christianity a bad name. In a time when Christians are being persecuted for their beliefs, how can Christians persecute themselves? Particularly when the rabble beating the snot out of each other is composed entirely of men who are supposed to be holy.

And the really terrible thing is, you know it was a terrible fight. After all, we're talking about Christian monks. Were these Shaolin monks, a bunch of monks fighting in the street would be awesome (and directed by Ang Lee). Instead, you got a bunch of scraggly, scrawny, bearded buys tugging said beards as hard as they can. That there is not fighting that pleases the Lord. Rather, it's the fighting that makes the Lord wish he were only selectively omnipotent, so he wouldn't have to know about it.

Their sissy-fighting has turned one of Christianity's greatest churches into a commodity that must be possessed, not honored and revered. And in doing so, commodifies both the death and resurrection of Christ. Then again, after 2000 years of bloodshed, maybe that's the Christianity that Christianity deserves.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Perils of Facebook

Damn it all, The Common Man was all set to talk about pop culture today (in the form of a What You Should Have Been Watching), when two of his favorite other topics converged in the person of Buck Burnette, the former backup center for the University of Texas Longhorns. Now, football and politics are both good and manly topics. However, like pickled eggs and baby back ribs, the combination thereof only spells trouble in both the near and long term.

In this case, in the wake of Barack Obama's impressive victory on Tuesday night, Burnette changed his facebook status to "all the hunters gather up, we have a #$%&er in the whitehouse." Upon learning about it, UT coach Mack Brown immediately kicked Burnette off the team for a "violation of team rules." Given that Burnette has to practice against any number of premiere defensive linemen who are African-Americans, Brown's decision not only sends a strong message that hate and racism won't be tolerated by the Longhorns and protects Burnette's health.

Where someone gets the notion that this kind of vitriol is acceptable to think, let alone express, is beyond The Common Man. As if Barack Obama were not already a target of hate groups and nutjobs, this kind of idiocy only highlights that racist attitudes have been internalized and normalized in virtually every culture and subculture in the U.S. Every region and every walk of life. Fortunately, the public attention that Burnette's post has generated is an opportunity to highlight and combat these racist attitudes.

As for Burnette, he has been contrite. On his Facebook site, he wrote
"Clearly I have made a mistake and apologized for it and will pay for it. I received it as a text message from an acquaintance and immaturely put it up on facebook in the light of the election. Im not racist and apologize for offending you. I grew up on a ranch in a small town where that was a real thing and I need to grow up. I sincerely am sorry for being ignorant in thinking that it would be ok to write that publicly and apologize to you in particular. I have to be more mature than to put the reputation of my team at stake and to spread that kind of hate which I dont even believe in. Once again, I sincerely apologize."

While it's important to note that it's not just not ok to write it, it's not cool to think or believe that either, Burnette has done all in his power to make it clear he knows he was wrong. And it's entirely likely he grew up in an environment where these jokes were both accepted and prevalent. And given that he's 19 or 20 year old kid who thought a sick joke was funny, The Common Man doesn't want to pile onto his problems. Clearly, his punishment has been severe and he has been chastened. Hopefully, he will use the opportunity to interegate his own beliefs to better understand them, speak out against the kinds of statements he made, and use this time to focus on self-improvement.

Perhaps that is the best The Common Man can hope for at this point, meager though it seems. Racism has the power to ruin all of the lives it touches. Buck Burnette is learning that the hard way, but, on the bright side, he's learning.

Addendum: If Obama is smart (and by now, you know he is), here's what he'll do. He'll call Texas coach Mack Brown and ask the coach to reinstate Burnette after the season's over. After all, Burnette is more valuable in the fight against racism if he can remain active and in the public eye, and tell his story both to kids and the media. And Obama can earn easy points with UT fans. Not enough to win in Texas in '12, of course, but at this point, it's a move that costs him exactly nothing in political capital and would make him seem more acceptable to conservatives.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

8 Is Enough

The Common Man has been recovering from his long, dark night of the blogging soul, and catching up on some work in the past day or so. His excitement over the Obama victory (and there was a good deal of excitement), however, was tempered by his disappointment over California voters' decision to ban gay marriage. Proposition 8, which sought to amend the state constitution to codify a marriage as a union of a man and a woman, won by a 52-48 percent margin, undoing a California Supreme Court ruling from last year that made gay marriage legal. The Common Man has people he loves and cares about who are gay, and he feels very sad that they are not afforded the same opportunity as their straight brethren.

This election highlights just how unacceptable the general public of this country finds gay marriage. Indeed, if a state as liberal as California can't turn out enough voters to defeat such a ridiculous amendment, no state can. Anyway, The Common Man wants supporters of equal marriage rights to know he is with them, and so presents of all the reasons supporting gay marriage is manly, or at least not not manly:

1) You are secure in your masculinity and your marriage. You understand that your marriage is not in jeopardy because Adam and Steve can now tie the knot. Adam and Steve have their own problems to worry about, without looking for ways to undermine the sanctity of your union. And just because they have the option to walk down the aisle doesn't mean you are suddenly going to put on short-shorts, buy a Shih-Tzu, and go looking for a James Gandolfini-look-a-like in San Francisco's Bear Bars. Indeed, your sexuality is your own. And your marriage is your own. And they will both thrive or fail based on your ability to be a man, not on the influence of some outside force. The only reason to feel threatened is because you feel afraid, afraid like a girly scaredy man.

2) Fairness is manly. Sure, life isn't fair sometimes. Nor should it be. But as a society, America should always strive to make opportunities equal for all. In some instances (school busing policies, for examples), the best overall way to promote fairness of opportunity isn't crystal clear. In this case, however, it is. Gay people are being denied a right that straight people have. If marriage is a right (and its inclusion in state constitutions suggests that it is), then it is a right that should be extended to all peoples. Besides, who says marriage is a benefit? Lyndon Johnson said about Affirmative Action, "You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, `You are free to compete with an the others,' and still justly believe that you have been completely fair." If marriage is a ball and chain around the feet of straight men everywhere, The Common Man welcomes putting that same chain around the limbs of gay couples. Let's even the playing field.

3) Choice is manly. Men crave the ability to control their own destiny. Whether that is owning their own businesses or driving the car. It's the American dream to be able to make the choices that shape who you are and what you will do. This goes for the associations men keep as well. Men don't like to be told who to date or who to be friends with, who to like and who to hate. Indeed, when states ban gay marriage, they are essentially limiting choice. These states are saying that they don't think you have the ability to make the choices about your life that are best for you. Conservatives often complain about a big government, and getting that government off of citizens' backs. The Common Man has a hard time imagining a more intrusive government than one that won't even allow its citizens choose how they will be associated with the people they choose to associate with.

So grow a pair, support gay marriage and denounce Prop 8. You know it's the right thing to do.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Night Liveblog

The Common Man is going to kick this thing off a little earlier than he thought last night. The Boy and The Uncommon Wife are off at swimming lessons, and The Common Man is nuking some leftover French Onion soup to ease an aching throat. The Common Man plans to switch between networks throughout the night and to update his blog every 15 minutes or so. He hopes to hear from you as the night goes on (and on and on), if you're so inclined. All times are central.

6:00 Good God, look at that panel on CNN. It's like watching an rerun of Family Feud.

6:02 The nation breathes a sigh of relief as Vermont and Kentucky fall to the Obama and McCain camps respectively. So far, all is right with the world.

6:03 With 0% of the precincts reporting, CNN calls the Virginia Senate race for Democrat Mark Warner. How does that work exactly, The Common Man wonders? How big are the crystal balls needed to make that call?

6:06 At this point, it's a good time for The Common Man to tell you all that he voted today at around noon. Unfortunately, he accidentally did so with his fly open. Perhaps The Common Man is, indeed, one of those sad few he discussed yesterday who should be discouraged from voting. Don't even make The Common Man tell you how he completed the arrow.

6:12 Oh God, oh God, oh God. McCain is ahead of Obama in Virginia. Oh, wait. That's ok, it's only MSNBC. By the way, if CNN is right, and Warner has won Virginia, there's no way Obama lost. And if Obama wins Virginia, The Common Man has a hard time believing he can lose the election.

6:14 Hi Keith Olbermann! Doesn't the mediocrity just drips off him. And he's interviewing Mayor Wilder of somewhere in Virginia, who just called his state "microcosmic," which clearly makes it the most awesome state ever. The Common Man wants to be any kind of cosmic. Micro or macro. Inner or intra. It doesn't matter. It sounds great!

6:23 CNN is showing footage of the crowd running in to watch Obama's potential victory speech. It would be like Woodstock or Lollapalooza except for all the union members plodding along.

6:25 CNN: Doing the Math For You!

6:29 John King has a very indepth and impressive analysis of Indiana, comparing the results reported so far to those of John Kerry in '04. The upshot: good news for Barack Obama.

6:34 The Common Man loves it when everyone talks at once and nothing is discernable. That's good tv. Thank, CNN!

6:35 AHHHH! James Carville. Look away! Look away!

6:37 Good question, did Democrats just shift their votes to vote earlier. The Common Man's gut says no (and as Stephen Colbert always says, you should go with your guy), that the early voting allowed many of those who wouldn't normally have the chance to vote to get their voices heard. But The Common Man has nothing to back that up.

6:40 If it's "still early" and the numbers that CNN projects essentially don't mean anything, why do they post them? The Common Man knows the answer, of course, they have to show something. But given the potential for those numbers to mislead other voters in other time zones, why not find other interesting, less horse-racey things to talk about during the early coverage? The fewer numbers the better, The Common Man thinks. Less to keep track of.

6:47 See? Stories like that. CBS has a camera crew outside of Martin Luther King's church in Geogia, where supporters of Barack Obama are gathering and hoping to celebrate. And many of them remember segregation. There's a story!

6:50 CBS seems to be very aggressive in allocating its electoral votes. At this point, while CNN has McCain up 8-3, CBS has him up 21-3, though The Common Man hasn't seen what states CBS has called.

6:52 CBS has given West Virginia to McCain, in addition to Kentucky. ABC is calling South Carolina for McCain.

6:56 CNN says South Carolina is McCain's as well, despite Obama being up in the vote count (again, The Common Man doesn't get that). That's 16. The Common Man approves of CNN's measured pace. Ah, guy at the far end of the desk of CNN Pundits Playing the Feud explains that it's all the exit polls.

7:00 Anti-climatic deluge: Obama takes Massachusettes, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, D.C., and Illinois, and 3 of Maine's electoral votes. McCain takes Oklahoma and Tennessee. Again, no surprises. The count is now Obama 77, McCain 34. The magic number is 270.

7:03 He doesn't care what you say, The Common Man knows that Soledad O'Brien has no human emotions. A robot? You said it, not The Common Man. At least some kind of Latina/Irish Cyborg.

7:05 John King talks up CNN measured approach. The Common Man approves, but wishes they weren't such dicks about it.

7:10 Now, however, John King (mostly) effectively demonstrates that John McCain seems to be underperforming President Bush's performance in 2004.

7:12 A half million to a million celebrating Obama supporters in Chicago? Quick, pot dealers, get to Chicago stat!

7:15 The Common Man thinks now is a good time to pop open his first beer of the night. In honor of the two campaigns and the occasion, The Common Man is is drinking Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale (because Barack Obama is a crazy-ass pinko socialist, as Sean Hannity told him), out of Petaluma, California, and Rogue Chipotle (for Sarah Palin's recent mavericky decision to "go rogue." And if those run out? Maybe margheritas to highlight America's "problem" with "illegals" (damn Candadians!). First, the Commy! The Common Man will let you know how that goes.

7:20 The Common Man's first trip over to Fox News is largely non-eventful. That's disappointing. He wants to watch Hannity's head explode (even though a Democratic government is going to give him golden material for the next 2-4 years.

7:22 Neither CNN nor Fox is calling Pennsylvania yet. Good for them. And The Common Man can't believe he's writing that.

7:23 Whew! That commy beer is harsh. Very strong hops overwhelms almost everything. The Common Man enjoys it, but just doesn't quite have a handle on it. Maybe he shouldn't be drinking from the bottle.

7:26 Jeanne Shaheane takes New Hampshire's open senate seat, according to Fox News. That's good news for Obama too (and for Democrats, as that's a pickup for them).

7:27 The local Fox station finally has their election coverage up and running. Apparently The Simpsons and Two-and-a-Half Men were just too good to bump between the 6:00 and 7:00 hours.

7:29 Oops, The Uncommon Wife and The Boy are home from swimming. The Common Man will be back in 5.

8:11 Or, in 42. Somebody needed dinner (The Boy) and somebody nearly burned down the house making French Toast (The Common Man). Since The Common Man's been gone, CBS has called Pennsylvania for Obama, which is a huge nail in McCain's coffin. He has to win Virginia, Florida, and Ohio now. At this point, it's Obama 174, McCain 100.

8:15 On NBC, Giuliani believes that tomorrow the country will unite whoever wins because they will all be Americans first (The Common Man thought Republicans had already put country first). If that happens, The Common Man will be pleasantly surprised, but he refuses to hold his breath. The dissention will be just as loud and rancorous.

8:26 ABC has called Ohio for Obama. PBS has not. If Ohio goes blue, McCain is dead man walking until California reports.

8:31 NBC reports New Mexico for Obama. But believes that Cochrane in Mississippi and McConnell in Kentucky have won, dealing a strong blow to Dems chances of picking up their 60th senate seat.

8:34 Ooh, NBC hasa Minority Report wall. Far cooler than CNN's Star Wars wall.

8:36 Oh, that's unfortunate. Did Brian Williams just make a reference to the Confederacy and Virginia as a symbol? Not that the legacy of slavery isn't all around us, but it's hard to equate Virginia of 2008 to Virginia of 1863 with a straight face.

8:43 The Boy's going to bed. The Common Man needs to spring into action. Back in a jiff.

9:10 OK, The Common Man is back. The Boy is in bed. Is this thing over yet?

9:13 Luke Russert has the same doughy likeability as his father. Though, c'mon, young Russert just makes The Common Man sad and miss his father, given his mispronunciations and lack of charisma.

9:17 Congressman John Lewis, Civil Rights Movement veteran, Freedom Rider, and honored American, is currently on ABC. While not the most fiery and inspirational a speaker, his history speaks louder than his voice. One of very few Americans who can talk with relevant, first-hand accounts of Dr. King and Lyndon Johnson. Lewis calls this a "nonviolent revolution". A revolution implies a fundamental reordering of the way a society functions. Gosh, that'd be nice. This is an opportunity for that kind of changing of the national priority. It will be a shame if America misses this opportunity.

9:23 A rhino holding a laser, shoots a golden helmet onto Obama's head to announce he won Rhode Island. Oh, The Common Man is watching Comedy Central. Better graphics. Also, dynamic and hilarious talent like Steve Forbes.

9:27 Ooh, Sam Donaldson is still alive. Who knew?

9:28 Oh, that was sad, as Donaldson fumbles the send to commercial.

9:35 Random dude: I don't have to be a racist to be a Republican. I'm having dinner with an Iranian, a Syrian, and an Indian. John Oliver: Because you're keeping an eye on them.

9:39 Opening up the Rogue Chipotle Ale. The Red Ale was refreshing, but not flavorful. Extremely hoppy and surprisingly bitter, given how well the evening is going for Barack Obama.

9:43 Wow, that's a spicy meat-a-ball. Crisp and clean, the Chipotle Ale seems somewhat sweet but nondescript until it reaches the back of your throat. There, it explodes with a spiciness that belies its beverage-i-ness. And that spiciness lingers as slight tingle. While it won't have you running for a flower vase to find water (particularly because the spiciness bypasses the tongue), it will remind you of what you're drinking for a while.

9:55 Fox News is giving Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan 5-10 uninterrupted (and unchallenged) minutes to pimp his roadmap for bringing Republicans back from the hinterlands and end the "Europeanization" of America. Grrr.

10:01 A new President: Barack Obama. Look out, America! It's an orgy of Democratic exuberance.

10:02 Juan Williams almost cries on Fox News. The Common Man likes Juan Williams and thinks he is one of the smartest pundits working today. Far less loathesome than most of them out there. It was cute.

10:18 John McCain, ladies and gentlemen. Gracious in defeat, though still refusing to tell his supporters to be classier than they are being as they boo Obama's victory. A shell of the man who ran in 2000. Would that man have won this year?

10:22 There's Sarah Palin. What's she going to do now. It's not like she can remain prominent nationally while staying up in Alaska.

10:25 Here's where she goes rogue and grabs the microphone, leading a "Two-thousand-twelve" chant.

10:26 "Thanks so much to all my 6 volunteers."

10:27 Bill says "Stop booing, morons." See idiots, you've dissuaded someone who only wants to love and embrace you and your policies. But you had to be spiteful, angry, bitter bastards, and embrace the negative tactics and rhetoric of McCain's campaign.

10:33 Oprah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (on CNN)

10:39 Hilary issues a press release. She finally concedes the nomination to Obama.

10:54 So, um, nothing much is happening. Obama is on the way to Grant Park to address his throng, and in the meantime The Common Man is so happy that he is nowhere near that throng. Close to his heart it is. That's a lot of people.

10:57 Ladies and Gentlemen, The President-Elect of the United States of America: Barack Obama.

10:58 The best part of the evening so far? Watching Michelle swing her daughters' arms back and forth as they walk back from the podium. There is joy there. Unadulterated joy and love. A true mommy moment.

11:03 Whose arm is Jesse Jackson trying to pull off and wave above his head?

11:03 Good deal. Dad wins the election. You get a puppy. Must be nice to be an Obama.

11:06 Oh, some of them did it for you, Barack. Sure, the task is enormous, but some gals just like your big ears.

11:15 The conclusion of an excellent speech. Here's a question: America is living in the age of political satire, where it is acceptable and profitable to criticize those in power. How does modern political satire go forward in the face of a figure as popular and as inspiring as Barack Obama has been? Indeed, how do you make fun of John Kennedy? The Commmon Man is very interested to see how that develops going forward. The ball is clearly in the court of Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, and Lorne Michaels (not so much in MadTV or Frank Caliendo).

11:20 Oh, The Common Man loves Joe Biden's mother. So very, very cute.

11:27 At this point, The Common Man thinks he's going to sign off. He's got a lot to do still and a bottle of champagne to crack open with his lovely wife, whose birthday starts in a half-hour. God bless you all and God bless America. And good luck to President-Elect Barack Obama, his family, VP-elect Biden and his huge brood. America needed a strong, bold new President and direction, a manly man with wisdom and strength of character. He thinks (he hopes) it found him.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Quick Hits and a Programming Note

As The Common Man previously wrote, Halloween was a rousing success at his house. The candy was distributed, the pumpkins remained on the front porch (not smashed in the street), and The Boy adorably made his way about the neighborhood scoring candy and dishing out "Happaween" cheer. However, not everyone had such a Happaween. In particular, 8th grader Alex Woinski, of Paramus, NJ, was sent home from school for dressing as his lord and savior. According to the Associated Press, "Alex, who has shoulder-length brown hair, wore a white robe, a red sash, sandals, a fake beard and a crown of thorns." Woinski, whose shoulder-length brown hair has invited similar comparisons from his friends, apparently has a significant interest in religion and is studying the Bible in his spare time. So, regardless, it seems unlikely that Woinski meant any disrespect in his choice of costume. And The Common Man applauds him for his creativity at age 13, and the quality of the getup.

Still, it's likely that the school acted appropriately in this case. They did not single out Woinski; other students were directed to alter their costumes that were deemed "distractions" and offered him the opportunity to stay at school and in costume if he removed the beard and thorns (making him a Roman (Pilate?), The Common Man supposes). It's simply the case that some costumes are more distracting than others and that distracted students don't learn. While The Common Man loves Halloween, loves Woinski's costume, and loves The Lord, if the school felt as though he was being a distraction they have the right and responsibility to send him home.

--On a tragic note, Halloween went horribly awry for 12-year old T.J. Darrisaw, of Sumter, S.C. Stopping at a house to trick-or-treat, T.J. was shot and killed by an AK-47, wielded by a convicted felon. The 22-year old shooter, who had been robbed and shot in the past year, was afraid that polite burglars were knocking at his front door. So, he fired close to 30 rounds through the door.

The Common Man believes strongly in the constitutional right to bear arms. Whether or not there is actually a need for a militia today is less a valid argument and more of an excuse for anti-gun lobbists to get angry and whine. After all, a traditional interpretation of the Bill of Rights has allowed gun ownership for hunting and protection, as well as recreation. That said, (pardon The Common Man) can't everyone fucking agree that
AK-47s are not necessary for hunting or recreation or protection? After all, what can an AK-47 do for you that a .357 can't, aside from its ability to go from assault rifle to fully-automatic, rapid fire machine gun? God only knows how this deluded, dangerous, ex-felon got ahold of the gun, but the fact that it was available for him to acquire speaks volumes about how indescribably stupid it is for such weapons to be in general circulation. How it can take the death of an innocent 12-year old to make gun manufacturers and gun nuts realize that (or worse yet, if they remain unconvinced) that these weapons should be off the street is totally beyond The Common Man.

--Switching topics almost entirely, The Common Man is incredibly geeked up for the election tomorrow. First of all, the day itself, every four years, practically hums with excitement. There is so much to pay attention to in national and state races that The Common Man is always on the edge of his seat. And every time one of the networks calls a state (and then uncalls it and then calls it for the other guy) butterflies dance in his stomach. Indeed, after two years of foreplay and frustrating tantric games, election night is essentially a national ejaculation of voting. And The Common Man loves to be a part of it (even if it sounds as though this year's results will be anti-"climactic").

And while The Common Man doesn't mind the ads so much (though he's sure there are states where the advertising is far more obnoxious than it is in Wisconsin), he is excited that he won't have to see videos like "Obama Is Going To Pay For My Gas And Mortgage," posted below:

Now, of course, Peggy Joseph never says that Barack Obama will pay for her mortgage and gas. Rather, she contends she'll not have to "worry about" them. So instead of being a mother full of hope and optimism about how a new president's administration will bring the high cost of living back under control, so that she won't have to decide between food and gas (she can buy both with her own money, huzzah!), it becomes a racist "look at the silly black woman who thinks that Obama will pay for her goods and services." It's this sly, ugly, backhanded racism that The Common Man finds most offensive, that couches itself in rooting out "socialists" while trying to paint black Americans as clowns and sheep. Again, pardon The Common Man, but fuck all you who think that a meaningful number of Americans are not smart enough to see through your bullshit. Meanwhile, Senator Obama is called "traitor," "terrorist," and all manner of vile unspeakable names that would make your nana blush, but you don't give a damn. That The Common Man gets to go a 2-3 years without hearing from these jackasses delights him. Perhaps some of them will have a change of heart between now and then. Or perhaps they'll drive off a bridge in disgust at having a competent, educated, clear-eyed, and dynamic man as President (who happens to be African-American). Frankly, The Common Man doesn't care which.

--Finally, The Common Man urges you all to get out and vote tomorrow, regardless of who you decide to vote for. A few weeks back, Cameron Schaefer wondered whether some Americans should not vote. The Common Man thinks, perhaps, that some Americans should not. But by and large, the Americans that should not, will not, regardless of how much encouragement, education, or enticement they are given. If you have an interest in who will run this country for four years, and how it will be governed, you should vote. It's as simple as that. You should pull a lever and express your preference. And if you don't care or can't be bothered, then don't. In the end, the effect of "unfit" voters will be minimal (and who the hell gets to determine who's fit and who's not, anyway?). But this dewmocracy is far healthier when people participate in it. Almost a democracy even.

--One final programming note: The Common Man plans to live-blog the election night, starting at about 7 PM Eastern. Reviews of the previous live-blog were overwhelmingly positive. So, he hopes you'll join him, and maybe even participate.