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In Step with the World: A Message from the Commoner’s

Well, it seems that our friendly rivals, The Centurion, are back in print this year. And we are right here with them in spreading our newsletter to about the .0001% of teenagers in high school who actually read. I picked up a copy of The Centurion today at lunch to read and after skimming through it and quickly determining that there were no teacher coupons in it, I then proceeded to use the newspaper as a napkin to wipe away some sauce on my mouth. (I'm kidding of course. It was really juice.) Jokes aside, the Centurion is pretty cool. However, they can't hold a candle against the new (and improved!) Commoner’s Newsletter. It is back to being updated on a regular basis (I’m guessing once every 2 weeks or so). I had actually planned to update it when the recent terrorist attacks first occurred, but I figured that there would be more important & news-worthy places for you to find information & opinions about such things. Instead of rehashing rhetoric better-spoken by other people, I've decided to just get along with regular Commoner's business that went on here before I dropped off from updating this website a few months ago. Check out the whole website when you get a chance; I haven't added any new sections or anything, but I've updated a bunch of the pages. True to form, I seem to be the only person adding articles at the moment (except a short one by Yin), but hopefully that'll change soon. I suppose that's the end of my spiel about the triumphant return of the Commoner's Newsletter. If you want to make any comments at all, feel free to email us at thecommoners@lycos.com or visit the message board. Peace.  

- By ÜberMike


Chatting with a Smurf

Ever wanted to chat with a smurf? Well Greg did, and we have his conversation with this small blue creature here on the Commoners. Read up on Greg's chats with Smurfbot60 & laugh your ass off.

- By Greg Leo



This article is here. Not anywhere else. People put it here because they want to, but mostly I probably wrote this article for filler space. Eh, not like many people read this sad lonely pathetic excuse for a website. I guess, people have other things to do? and we haven't done anything here, since... forever? I dunno. People go. things change. and this article fills space.

- By Mr. E


The Saviors of Rock & Roll
If you follow music news closely at all, then there's probably no doubt that you have heard some sort of rumor or gossip about the next big band in rock music. Now the name on everyone's lips is "The Strokes". Hailing from the always-ultra-hip NYC music scene, the Strokes' members all look like they were time-transported from the early punk days of the 60's/70's. They've got the scruffy hair, the leather jacket, & the mood to boot. The Strokes have received massive amounts of press buzz in the last few months, and numerous publications are hailing them as the new saviors of rock music. ("They're Lou Reed, Television, and the Ramones rolled into one!" reads the Guardian.) Obvious musical influences & comparisons include the Velvet Underground, Television, and the Stooges. All of this hype is a mixed blessing - true, they are receiving many accolades for such a young band, but they are also receiving undue (& unfair) labels such as the "2nd coming of [insert really cool band from the proto-punk era]". After listening to their debut album, Is This It?, I have to say it's a hell of a debut. However, I don't see the Strokes as the next Velvet Underground, or Julian Casablancas as the next Lou Reed. There's nothing groundbreaking or truly 'original' on this album. Basically it's a trip through proto-punk nostalgia. (If you want 'original' music, check out Mogwai, Air, or Godspeed You Black Emperor!) Because many have come to hear about the Strokes through all of this hype, some people have slammed them for not living up to these (ludicrous) expectations. However, these people are just as much at fault as the critics who have labeled the Strokes as the next VU. It would be quite amazing to find a band that embodies every group that the Strokes have been compared to recently; though I doubt that will ever happen. Is This It? may not be as revolutionary as many people have made it out to be, but it is a damn good rock album - something that's increasingly hard to come by these days. And taking into account that they are a young band with the members all in their early twenties, the Strokes could be one of the few bright lights in rock music over the next few years.

Song to download: Barely Legal, Take It or Leave It

- By ÜberMike


ÜberMike checks the mail

Here's the time where ÜberMike checks the mail. Kind of like on Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, but with more angst coming from the reader. We have received one letter in about 3 months concerning the Commoner's Newsletter. It's pretty straight-forward. Here's the email (in it's entirety!)


Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2001 23:26:04 -0400
From: "Inagaki" <inagakin@bellsouth.net>
         To: <thecommoners@lycos.com>
Reply to: "Inagaki" <inagakin@bellsouth.net>

Yeah... you guys suck


- By ÜberMike


The Triumphant Return of the Archbishop

Salutations readers. It is I, The Archbishop.  You may wonder where I have been these last few months.  Frankly I don't care what you wonder.  It's because I hate you personally.  Especially if your name starts with David and ends with Friedman.  But, I digress.  It doesn't matter if I hate you or not, the point is I have returned in my full glory.  And as a member of the Commoner's staff, my opinions are automatically more valid than yours.  But before I launch into my usual ranting and raving (as has been displayed in all 2 of my articles) I would like to get a few things off my chest.     

First of all, The Archbishop's birthday is rapidly approaching.  On August 15, I will triumphantly celebrate the 16th anniversary of my prodigious birth, and while this date is not yet a national holiday, you all just wait.  But anyways I would like to say this... because I share my wisdom with you readers, I demand gifts to my greatness.  Here is an approved list of gifts.  Anything less than this will be deemed as an offense to me. 

1. World domination 
2.A fleet of Shelby GT500 cars 
3. If not world domination, a small island... like Greenland or Africa or Europe 
4. The head of George W. Bush on a silver platter 
5. The Playboy Mansion (Playmates included) 
6. An attractive woman with who I can have a meaningful relationship (see below) 
7. A copy of This Side of Paradise 
8. Your soul 

At any rate, that's the short list, for a long list e-mail me. Now get me gifts.     Issue two: The Archbishop needs a woman.  Badly.  You know the book One Hundred Years of Solitude?  That's how the Archbishop feels.  So many years of solitude... so alone.  I just can't take it.  Nor can I understand it. Why are not women flocking to me? I am an attractive man.  I am witty, intelligent, attractive, emotionally stable, a member of the Commoners, attractive, and a bit odd.  I am a good person. I want a meaningful relationship. So why am I alone?  To solve this problem I will be holding auditions to be The Archbishop's woman. A woman I can love and cherish, a woman to be with and share my innermost self with. A woman who is attractive, and fun to be around.  A woman who shares my same values and skewed view of what goes on around me.  A woman who likes Vincent Price movies and Kurt Vonnegut novels.  That is all I ask.  I just want to be loved and to love. So spread the word... the Archbishop is in search of a woman.  Auditions Tuesday.     

Hmmmmm... and now on to the helter-skelter issues that dominate our world.  I must preface everything I say with a simple statement: I hate George W. Bush.  So I begin.  The first thing is stem cell research.  I know you minds have become saturated with information and arguments over this issue, but I'd just like to publish my two-cents worth (or perhaps is it worth even less?).  Having read Brave New World, there is a definite part of me that is troubled by where such research could lead. For sure, none of that could come about in my lifetime, but I worry for future generations.  Should they not have the benefit of being an individual?  Sure this new world seems nice, but what is the point of life without emotional extremes.  How can you truly appreciate happiness without knowing how bad the other emotional extremes can be?  But I digress.  Stem cell research may also have some great results in the future, but is that worth the loss of potential life.  I'm not sure where I stand on this issue, except for one point.  Human embryos should not be created solely for the purpose of stem cell research.  There is a point at which humans overstep their limits.  There is a line where research purely becomes playing God.  Are we humans that arrogant about our beings? How far are we willing to go?  Will someday Bokanovsky groups become a reality?  And on the other side of the coin: Could cancer, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's all be cured?  Will this make the future safer against disease? But also, does that not weaken the human race in a counter-evolutionary manner?  Where does it all end?  What does it all mean?  Who is Spain? Why is Hitler? When is right?  I'm not sure what I believe or don't believe on this issue, all I know is that whatever decision George W. Bush makes, he's screwed. 

An ode to toast: 
o toast you don't boast 
o toast you are so crunchy 
so munchy 
so buttery good 
not like wood 
so great on my plate 
I love you o toast     

Another thing that has been on my mind lately troubles me greatly.  It touches on a subject about which I am very sensitive.  Harry Potter.  I love the book series.  I absolutely adore the wild lands and characters.  Yet, there is a large part of me that is bothered by the crass commercialization of these books.  I don't want to see Harry Potter sheets and Harry Potter magic kits and the Harry Potter board games.  That's what things like The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Pokemon are for.  They were made as commercial products.  Harry Potter was not.  There is no doubt that perhaps I reap some benefits from this selling-out of my favorite book series.  I do own a Harry Potter shirt, which I enjoy greatly.  Yet, this does not outweigh indignity at the horror of this merchandising frenzy.  I mean, dammit, she hasn't produced a new book in the series in over a year (1 year, 0 months, 24 days... dammit I need a new Harry Potter fix), yet the market is flooded with Harry Potter shit and a new movie will be released shortly.  I would give back my shirt and other assorted merchandise, if only J.K Rowling would restore some dignity to the series.  She has made it a money whore.  Sadly, I will see the movie, although it may ruin my Harry Potter world forever.  Damn money-grubbing bitch.     

And now I bid thee adieu. It has been fun.  And my updates will become more frequent throughout the year. I hope.  But at any rate, have a most pleasant time and I hope you have enjoyed this twisted little piece of "writing" loosely called an "article."

- By The Archbishop


Various Things

This is just a collection of odds and ends of stuff we've been doing recently. Check this stuff out. I'd rather not put it in this page as it would make load times larger, but you should be able to see all this stuff in your browser.

- By ÜberMike


America? Tight...

Wanna know how I spent my 4th of July? Reading Andersonville for about 6 hours before heading over to Centennial Park where the fireworks show was promptly rained out. Then I went back home to watch the Psychedelic Furs on the Craig Kilborne Show. I've been pondering if what I actually did yesterday was appropriate for the day on which we celebrate this nation's 225th birthday. Andersonville is about the Civil War so I figure that it was fitting to read it for Independence Day. As for Centennial Park, what's more patriotic than eating Gyro wraps and watching the ASO play "Star Wars" songs while waiting for firecrackers in the rain? Surprisingly, Centennial was packed with people, which only added to the festive mood and aura at the park. As a certain Allen that I know would say, "It was tighter than your mom". (That sentence can be taken any number of ways, but I'm pretty sure it's a compliment.) I would have thought a lot of people would have stayed home because rain was threatening all day, but I guess there are a lot of citizens who love this country enough to stand in the middle of a thunderstorm for a chance to see some firecrackers. With that said, this is where I start writing about what America means to me. To start off, there is a lot wrong with this country. I could 'bullshit on the grill' about how the economy has been in a recession; or about how capitalism sucks; or about how our president is as articulate as a 5 year old; or about how I disagree with capital punishment and the death penalty; or about how the WTO and IMF are destroying the Earth; or about how I could care less for much of American pop culture; but I won't. All I have to do is take a look in the newspaper and remind myself that despite whatever reservations I have, I am very fortunate to be living in the U.S.A. where I am free to write this very article. The phrase, "This is the worst country to live in the world...except for all the others" rings true. But just because this is the 'best worst' country on our planet doesn't mean that I will be showing any undue fanatical patriotism anytime soon; and I doubt anyone else I know will be either. I'm not sure why, but this may be due to the fact that each successive generation of Americans is more jaded and cynical than the last. With all that's happened in the last 50 years, it seems inevitable that people would see past the facade of America being the righteous superpower of the world. One reason why I do not like patriotism is because it goes hand in hand with nationalism, and we all know how dangerous an overzealous nationalist can be (as well as an overzealous communist, religious fanatic, environmentalist, etc.) As Martha Nussbaum, an ethicist at the University of Chicago stated, "The accident of where one is born is just that, an accident. Any human being might have been born in any nation". While I am fortunate for living in a country where my basic human rights are guaranteed (and for living in a upper-class suburb where I am pretty well off), I do not see any reason to show undue nationalistic or patriotic pride for what this country has done in it's 225 years of independence. As quickly as the Americans claim independence from the British, they go and drive the Native Americans off of their rightful land and enslave millions of blacks. But putting those early days aside, I must give credit where it is due. The U.S. has worked to guarantee basic liberties for all citizens of this country - which can't be said for many other countries. It's just unfortunate that everyone else in the world doesn't have the same rights and luxuries that we have here. There are still many things wrong with this country (and the rest of the world), but this is the best we've got at the moment. So while there will still be some radicals burning American flags and blasting this country for everything that it stands for - and they have a valid reason for their protests - they should remember that in other countries, they wouldn't even be allowed to make such demonstrations. In conclusion, I'd like to make one last statement to sum up my feelings about this country: "America is tighter than your mom."

- By ÜberMike


Quick Picks (movie reviews)

Yeah....more movie reviews. Anyways, if you don't want to read it, you don't have to. I left the page with the movie reviews formatted as a .doc file. Click here if you want to read the reviews.

- By ÜberMike


That's one smart (assed) computer program

In case you haven't figured it out or haven't talked to him yet, "Googly Minotaur" is an AIM bot created by Capitol Records. And in case you haven't figured it out or don't know, a bot is a scripted program that is supposed act humanlike. They are prevalent in chat rooms like mIRC. Their overall usefulness or 'human-like qualities' depends on how well the programmer wrote it. What makes "Googly Minotaur" so special and important is that it adds a new function towards instant communication with programs like AIM, Yahoo and MSN Messenger (which GM is compatible with). As the case with GM, any Radiohead fan (me) can find out anything about the band, concerts, or CDs instantaneously because GM is updated all the time. It's like talking to a rep of the band. However, GM's capabilities extend far beyond that - it also converses well, plays Hang-Man, and has horoscopes and movie times. Many corporations have taken note of this and are implementing many similar types of bots on intranets to tell employees important information. I, on the other hand, have searched for a place to get a bot on AIM for my own pleasure. However, the company that made it for Capitol records only does it for corporations, and being as TCN is NOT a corporation, I had to find some shareware program. After about 30 minutes of searching, I found a lone bot program for AIM from Zabaware. I used it's HAL bot (and it's deviants), but they are sub-par to say the best. I can't customize my own scripts unless I send them my home address, phone number, etc., but I'm not that desperate. Until I find a better program, anyone can talk to my bot when he's online (usually when I'm online). He uses my old screenname, ktrout78, so talk to him. He is rather 'smart' when it comes to conversing, but he is hardly informational at all. One final note: I've set the bot as uncensored HAL - that makes him funnier, but not very bashful. He'll probably start insulting your mother, but if you keep talking to him, he's got some pretty good (and by 'pretty good', I mean corny) jokes. Also, I had nothing to do with the programming of this bot, so if he happens to offend you (probably very easily), don't complain to me. Complain to the guy who made him. 

(P.S. I'll probably post some of the logs of chats he had with various people. It's rather amusing)

- By ÜberMike


Who needs plot? We've got explosions and breasts!

I have lost most of my faith in Hollywood now. While it has always been this way, most of the mindless drivel that comes out of Hollywood seems to be increasing as we enter summer 2001. After seeing previews for movies like "Freddie Got Fingered", "the Animal", and "What's the Worst That Could Happen", it's amazing that people get paid to produce and act in this stuff. And after seeing "Swordfish" and "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider", I don't feel much better. While these two movies weren't really that bad when compared to the likes of "Pearl Harbor" (comparing anything with that piece of shit will justify that thing's existence), they could have been a lot better. It seems as if the studios who produced these films spent more on marketing and media hype than competent storyline and script writers. That was certainly the case with "Pearl Harbor". The thing that all 3 of those movies have in common is that they rely heavily upon visual spectacles and cinematic effects to keep the audience watching the movie...And "Pearl Harbor" probably did the best job at that. But that aside, there is nothing within these films to keep your attention than more than a few minutes (except for maybe Halle Berry and Angelina Jolie...) The storylines in both "Swordfish" and "Tomb Raider" are formulaic Hollywood drivel - and "Swordfish" just didn't make much sense. It could have been better if director Dominic Sena had abandoned all pretense of a plot and tried to make it a visual feast (like how "Gone in 60 Seconds", also done by Sena, was enjoyable). Instead, he tries to make the next "Matrix". But while "the Matrix" was smart and well thought out, Swordfish just comes off as another machismo action movie. Contrary to what many people would think, the movie has little to do with hacking, and more to do with hostages-turned-walking-claymore-mines, high-speed car chases in (empty!) L.A. streets at night, massacres of FBI agents, assassinations of U.S. senators, flying buses, and computer hackers who are expert manual drivers (after learning how to drive one in 5 seconds) and expert shots with rocket launchers. And when they do get to the hacking scenes (max of 3), it's so insular to the hacking community that you wouldn't really understand what's happening unless you were up on IT and hacking techniques. There are also many gratuitous sexual scenes in the movie that would have been more at home in say a porno movie. What exactly did a blond giving the main character a blowjob while he hacks into the DoD base, three  giggling blonds taking off their tops as they go into a pool, and Halle Berry reading a book topless actually have to with anything in "Swordfish"? Even the main storyline didn't flow very well, and left a lot up to the viewer to figure out (and not in a good way). Stuff like this marred the movie as a whole and prevented the movie from becoming very good. Now onto "Tomb Raider". Not much to say about this movie because going into it, I didn't expect much at all. I just wanted to see Angelina Jolie. How good could a movie be that is based on a video game? ("Final Fantasy" better prove me wrong on July 11th.) We all know that video games are just meant to be mindless fun - hence, "Tomb Raider" was mindless fun. It was fun watching Angelina Jolie kick some robot/Cambodian statue/multi-headed statue ass. But if you thought that there was anything more than Jolie looking good in a tight shirt while driving around in nice cars and motorcycles while she saves the world, you will sorely be disappointed. Now that I've spent $10-$15 on two movies that probably didn't deserve that money, the next two movies I plan to see, "A.I" and "Final Fantasy" better be worth it - or else I'll just stick to watching movies pre-2001.

- By ÜberMike


Fun with Choking Victims!

What would you say if I said found an amazing satanic-socio-political-ska band that was formed in NYC for only a couple of years by a bunch of f*cked up bums who had body lice, scabies, and crabs wasting their lives in the streets? Well, technically, not all of what I said was true. (At least in my mind), this band wasn't satanic - but everything else is true. The band was called Choking Victim and they formed in NYC in 1993. However, after a few EPs and 1 album on Hellcat Records (their 'breakthrough' in the underground community), they broke up, and most of the members went on to form the band Leftover Crack (Stza explains the band name: It was just an oxymoron I came up with, I wasn't smoking an excessive amount at the time, but I knew enough that there were no leftovers.) Leftover Crack are also on Hellcat Records. I've heard some songs by Leftover Crack, but I really got interested in Choking Victim a while back when a friend of mine told me about them and I listened more closely to some songs of theirs that I had on compilations. Now Mr. E has burned me every song they ever made, which is only about 20 or so. It's rather easy to compare them with Operation Ivy, which the members of the band took influence of (although they will not say directly). They both were amazing and influential young bands that while short-lived, created some amazing music. However, whereas OpIvy gave hope to the problems that plague America, Choking Victim, after being through all that they have in the squats & slums of NYC have decided to abandon all hope. Judge for yourself from their lyrics. As stated earlier, most people seem to think the band is satanic, and they may very well be, but I think they've got too much of a sense of humor to be taken that seriously. I think it's just a front, much like the Mephiskapheles do just to get some attention from people who would be otherwise horrified to hear this kind of music. Instead, Choking Victim seems to be fed up with religion, politics, and American society, morals, and ethics in general. What's funny and ironic is that they've taken the light & breezy sound of ska that originated from Jamaica and have perversely transformed it into a brick wall of hard-hitting ska infused punk. At first listen from someone uninitiated with them, Choking Victim may sound like a bunch of bums play horrendous and evil music as loud as they can - and that's exactly what they did - but they could play their instruments, and they could play loud. It should be illegal to dance or even move to the beats of their music, but it's impossible not to. I heard that their only album "No Gods No Managers" was complete shite, but their 3 EPs, "Squatta's Paradise", "Victims Come Alive", and "Crack Rock Steady" were some of the best of the hardcore punk and ska underground scene. However, I've found some very good songs on the "No Gods No Managers" CD. Most of the songs come from their 3 EPs, but they are remixed and different versions Some of the best songs that Choking Victim released are "Infested (Lindane Conspiracy Pt. 1)", "Suicide (Better way)", "Money", "Apple Pie and Police State", "500 Channels", "Crack Rock Steady", and "5 Finger Discount", "Fucked Reality", and the 'true ska' rendition of "Crack Rock Steady" that shows that they acknowledge where the music's been and they "give the crack rock steady much respect". Since the band was never about money (just check out the lyrics to "Money") they don't give a shit about copyright protection or the artist's rights. You can find full mp3 downloads of all of their songs at Choking Victim MP3s. As you may have guessed, these guys do seem to be mentally psychotic, but with a refreshing sense of humor about themselves and the band (although this can't be discerned from their overtly pessimistic music). It's not too healthy listening to too much of Choking Victim in one sitting, because it slowly opens (corrupts) your mind to the views of the slums and lowlife of the NYC squats; but it's something that everyone should experience at least once - even if you throw it in the trash with hate the next minute - much like the world has done to these 4 guys still squatting for a living in NYC....

- By ÜberMike



Olympus Fallen

Olympus Fallen It¹s funny how karma works--one minute you are like a god sipping scotch aged thirty years, the next your living among the plebeians watching your two brothers gasp their last breathe of air.  Everything looks different when you are looking from the other side, especially the lower side.  I do not belong here among the ignorant masses; I am a CEO.  I was fair to my employees.  Without me they would still be starving in their one-room shanties without heat or running water.  And after all I did for them what do I get in return, two cracked ribs and a swift boot into the street.    

SKYnet was the wave of the future.  The competition could never keep up with our brilliance, our passion, our power.  SKYnet, at its peak, stretched over the entire globe.  There was not a single square inch on the planet that our communications technologies could not reach.  And it was all thanks to me.  This company was my masterpiece; it was my creation and I intended to destroy it.  They should not have taken it from me.  I was just and I was accessible.  Sure I had my vices, the fast women and fast cars.  When you have money what else are you supposed to do?  I never hurt anyone with my midnight excursions.  My wife was the real culprit: she tortured my mistresses.  But even she did not do enough to warrant what they did to my brothers and me.    

My brothers were fair guys.  The older of the two, Lucus, was the proud CEO of the Diamond International System (D.I.S. for short).  If you needed diamonds, there were no substitutes for D.I.S.  His company controlled every aspect of the business: he practically owned the ground beneath our feet. He was by far the best businessman of the three of us, sooner or later everyone ended up in his grasp.  If you crossed him, you had no less than eternal damnation to look forward to.  He had a way of thinking of the best ways to exact revenge on his enemies.  For instance, we once had a cook who fed us bad Hunan chicken.  Lucus was enraged by the cook¹s insolence and vowed that the man would never see the light of day ever again.  Lucus stayed true to his promise. The cook was stuck in the basement level mailroom, his pay docked so low he could not afford to eat or drink. The younger brother was Pons, a nautical genius.  He lived and breathed the sea.  Without his assistance fleets could not sail and merchants could not trade.  The shipping company he ran dwarfed the competitors.  Those who tried to render oceanic traffic without him mysteriously disappeared; needless to say, most companies that were in the business of making money used his assistance.  It was almost as if the currents were at his fingertips.    

On the rare occasions we were all in town, we would sit down as a family and eat dinner.  ³Rege,² they would say, ³we are on top of the world.²  And we literally were, sitting on the top stories of the world¹s largest skyscraper.  The family had our disputes, but they were all forgotten at the dinner table.  We were at peace then. Outside the mensa sunshine we were businessmen.  Business was like politics in our family and politics was like war.  No trick was too sly and no ill deed went unpunished.  We were not immoral; we were just out to make a profit.  Profit maximizing, that is what capitalism is all about, right?    I had always thought that keeping the competition from sneaking up from behind was how to stay in business, and I was right.  But I was looking in the wrong direction.  We believed in free market: the market was free to anyone who could take it.  The populace, however, did not share the same sentiments.  Apparently, equal opportunity was not what the mob ruled in favor of.  Corporate heads could not be trusted.  The people believed that they needed a moral father figure to take the place of the trusts.  There were complaints of the big corporations taking advantage of consumers. Claims of unfair price increases raided the tabloids, while the average Joe sat at his cup of coffee lapping up every word.    

When profits began to decline after numerous consumer strikes, I decided to take a course of action against the man who began all of the confusion. He was one of those rags to riches, born in a stable kind of stories. His words were hypnotic and his far-fetched ideas were just what the public wanted.  According to this messiah of economics the mighty hand(s) of capitalism had reigned far too long.  "The time for change is now," he would say, "embrace Monopecuneism and you will be free from the tyranny of the trusts."  Person by person the empire was poisoned by the idea of an economic system that placed all power into the hands of one autocrat.  To set an example of this economic messiah, my brothers and I cut of his funds, a small carpentry firm.  Before the ridicule of the populace (thanks to my satellite technology) the foolish heretic was forced to carry his small cardboard box of belongings out of his business through the streets.  He took to hiding in a home up in the hills, where he was later killed by a pack of hungry wolves.   

 With the enemy defeated, business continued as usual.  Our ill deeds, however, had serious repercussions.  News of the resurgence of the faction leader spread through the streets like a plague of rats. No one had seen the ³messiah² after his flight into the forest except a few crazed homeless people, yet the ignorant sheep cultivated hope in the false words. He quickly became a virtual martyr, even in his physical absence.  The following of the Monopecuneistic regime increased in size with every day. Our popularity slowly diminished as the disdain for our political appointments increased.  The errors made by the politicians became too frequent and too fatal.  The people took matters into their own hands and elected a pawn that supported their new economy.  The family became powerless; the scare tactics and economic influences had no force behind them.  A mysterious man was given complete control over the economy.  No one ever spoke to him or could even describe what he looked like; his very existence was questioned by the wise (but they were quickly silenced).   

Followers of the former system were ostracized, the trusts were dismantled, and the heads of companies were dethroned.  I myself was in the office on the day the dismantling occurred.  They burst into my office and dragged me out.  Here¹s where the story is ironic; I was tossed into the street after a futile struggle that left me with broken pride and injured bones.  A small cardboard box followed me.  My brothers did not have the same luck.  I sought refuge in my loft atop the Divine Suites Hotel, but the doors were barred.  On the opposite side of the glass panes Lucus and Pons lie gasping on the floor after a brutal struggle.  Their deaths were soon forgotten, but I wondered the streets smelling the putrid filth of the plebeians and licking my wounds.  I was waiting for the opportunity to strike back.  To regain our chairs would be impossible so I prepared to do the next best thing.    

Little remains of the system I created: a new, weaker economy stands on the same lots that once pronounced my glory.  A hierarchy just as like the last controls fate, except in this age one sits on the top of the apex.  An infernal smile has replaced the bitterness that once rested on my face. Their own weakness and corruption will be their downfall just as it was ours.  My identity is different now.  I reign over the polypecuneistic psychotics who dwell in the districts of misfortune.  They hate the same people I do.  They are terrorists.  Bearing an age of darkness, they will bring the collapse of the marble and I will have vengeance.

- Submitted by David A.



Ah! Popularity

I’m part of the in-crowd, the elite clique, 
But the road that lead here was not so quick, 
And purging twelve pounds made me kind of sick. 
It was out with the old, in with the new. 
Shedding past friends was the next thing to do 
On my quest to join the popular crew. 
Now I strut down the hall with a stud in tow, 
While brightly the eyes with jealousy glow
Of other girls staring at me and my beau. 
Though reverted to grade school has my vocab., 
I still hear words that like a blade stab 
When, behind my back, friends gossip and blab.
I’ve heard people whisper I’m outright rude, 
But surely my words have been misconstrued; 
They just don’t understand my cool attitude. 
For certainly there’s an unwritten rule 
in the code of popularity and cool: 
To maintain status, you have to be cruel. 
I’ve got new clothes, more style to my dress, 
And my closet refurbished, the goal to impress.
Alas, I have found the key to success. 
A new tan and highlights I bought from the store 
With hope of belonging a little bit more 
In this awesome world I ne’er knew before. 
For my cool persona some things were changed; 
Priorities had to be rearranged; 
Old habits and hobbies were exchanged. 
My grades have already begun to sink, 
But that’s what happens when you’re cool, I think; 
There’s less time to study, more time to drink. 
I’m into some things that are definitely hot - 
Like going to parties with beer and pot - 
But I’m way too smart to ever get caught. 
So it seems like my future’s looking great,
For the halls of this school I dominate. 
My superiority will never terminate.

- By Cool Papa Bell



Send in the Clowns

What has happened to our country's beloved clowns? It seems like these past two decades have proved disastrous for this once noble profession. There was the clown/secret agent in "Octopussy". He was cut down (no pun intended) by the evil knife-throwing twin brothers. However, 009 was later redeemed by Roger Moore (a.k.a James Bond) at the end of the movie. Then there was John Wayne Gacy....And what about "It" by Stephen King? Because of that book and film, I'm sure many people are more afraid of clowns than they ever were. Just recently, WGN pulled the plug on the Big Top Circus show with Bozo the Clown. Finally, just this Thursday at the Clowns International Convention (no I did not make this up), circus clowns were advised to take out "Custard Pie Insurance Policies" against the risk of being sued by specatators who fail to see the humor in getting smacked in the face with a pie. Although a clown has never been sued for throwing a pie in an audience member's face, it is only a matter of time. Clowns International released this statement: "With an increasingly litigation-crazy public... the ethics and legal implications of 'splatting' and 'sloshing' are expected to be hotly debated under the Big Top". If a clown threw a lemon meringue pie at an audience member's face, and that person was allergic to lemon meringue, maybe I could see a court case there for personal trauma and damages, but really, what could the clown do about that? What kind of society do we live in where another human being cannot throw food in another person's face without the risk of getting a lawsuit slapped into their own face? Or what about throwing a football at another person's groin a la America's Funniest Home Videos? Is that not allowed either? The producers at AFHV are gonna have a hard time trying to come up with more funny footage of people in sleds crashing into trees and babies making weird faces to fill that void. Has America really lost its sense of humor so that every little thing must be settled in court? Maybe it's the fact that people are suing their neighbors for millions of dollars because the neighbor's dog pooped in their yard. Or maybe the lady who sued McDonald's for her own stupidity of spilling hot coffee on herself. Oh, did you hear about the girl who found a severed rat's head in her happy meal? What about the lady who found a fried chicken head in her meal? Take a look on t.v. - you've got Judge Judy, Judge Mills Lane, Judge Brown, Judge-who-gives-a-damn, Divorce Court, Animal court, and other such programs that are so outrageous that they make a person feel cynical for even watching. What's the best way of settling an argument between another person? Take his ass to court, preferably on t.v. so that you can both demonstrate what complete idiots you are. One can only hope that in light of these events the world will slow down and regain a sense of humor. And maybe along the way people will learn to settle disputes the right way - good old fashioned street brawls and pistol duels.

- By ÜberMike



Rantings on digital music

I'm sure I've jumped on just a bit late for the digital music issue bandwagon, and that my opinions probably have already been expressed a long time ago by many other people. But still, I'm going to vent anyways. Just recently, Napster was dealt a huge blow when the RIAA took them to court and Napster was forced to ban all copyrighted songs that the record companies asked. Besides that, Napster is also planning on turning into a pay-service in attempts to pay off the $5 billion compensation deal that they have struck with the record companies. They planned on losing over 98% of their users in the process. When I used the service back late last year, the number of Napster users online was usually around 8 million something. Now, they numbers have dropped to about 8,000. And those people generally only have un-copyrighted songs - usually from local, independent, or underground bands. However, some people have still managed to pilfer copyrighted songs by typing in song titles and artists in backwards or getting special software to find the music. Still, others have just decided to take their business elsewhere with programs like Bearshare, Gnutella, Scour, Napigator, and Aimster - which is what I plan to do. More sites may shut down, but many more will spring up using the peer-to-peer file sharing system as opposed to a central server-peer system. But the root of the problem is not in the digital music or in the methods of transfer - because it is and will continue to be a revolution in the way music is distributed and heard. As many people have noted, digital music has forged into new frontiers while the record companies stood on the sidelines. If the price of music wasn't so outrageously inflated, perhaps less people would have turned to finding music online for free. By using trickle down economics, the record companies have shifted the burden of compensating for the expensive time in recording studios onto the customer. It takes very little money to produce a CD (a couple of bucks), so most of the cost of the CD you buy as the consumer is for the artist's actual music. However, with the money generated in radio play, music videos, touring, compilations, merchandise, royalties, endorsements, and record contract bonuses, you would think that musicians (as well as all other entertainers) wouldn't need to charge so much for their music. Just goes to show what kind of society we live in when these type of people are some of the richest in the world. Not to say that all musicians are pompous over-paid people, because many are not in it for the money. In fact, musicians such as Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, R.E.M, Moby, and even Limp Bizkit support the use of online music sharing and realize that it can be a force to help push music further. If I did had a steady stream of money coming, I would probably buy more CDs, because I would want to support artists that I enjoy listening to, but with the current prices that the recording industry pushes onto us, it shouldn't surprise them that people would turn to the internet to find alternatives to the over-inflated and unfair pricing of CDs. Instead of haggling with Napster, which is probably a dispensable player in the digital music scene, they should try and work with them to develop a system in which they can combine the profitable music industry with the internet. But now that millions of people have experienced quick and free ways of exploring multitudes of music around the world, listeners may be too jaded with the record industry to ever do business with them again.

- By ÜberMike



  Movies that aren't Pearl Harbor

[ Momento: "F*cking amazing movie. Go see it!" ]I find it odd that I am thanking myself for watching "Pearl Harbor". Because of that movie, I have taken it upon myself to start a perpetual quest to find movies that do not suck. Maybe all of the movies that I see will erase the horrible memory of that horrible movie. To start off, I saw 2 movies yesterday that were very good. The first was "Kramer vs. Kramer". I heard about it on a couple of 'Best movies ever' lists and by the fact that it won 5 Oscars in 1981. A career-obsessed husband (Dustin Hoffman) has just receieved a huge business account to work on from his boss. But when he returns home, he finds out that his jaded wife (Meryl Streep) is leaving him and 'finding herself in the world'. So now he is forced to juggle his job and his 7 year old son that he has never become close with. As the months pass, he forms a very strong paternal bond with his son. But then his ex-wife returns, and she wants custody of her child. A rather simplistic plot, but the movie plays on the viewer's emotions rather than saying anything profound. There isn't much that I want to - or can - say about this movie besides the fact that it is an emotional movie that has very convincing performances from all actors. I'd give it 4 stars (which it did get). The second movie I saw was "Memento". Going into it I didn't know much about the movie. I heard that it did well at the indie festivals across the country and that it got rave reviews everywhere. But that didn't really interest me enough to go see it initially. But yesterday I decided to go see it on a whim at some place near Cumberland Mall. Honestly, I must say that it is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time (and in my opinion) the best movie so far in the year 2001. Leonard (Guy Pearce) is searching for the man who raped and killed his wife. However, on that night, the killer (or his accomplice) smashed Leonard's head into a mirror while Leonard tried to defend his wife. Because of this incident, Leonard has no short-term memory although he can remember everything about his life up to and including the point when his head was smashed into the mirror. Leonard's condition does not allow him to form new memories, so in his quest to find his wife's killer, he cannot remember anything or anyone he comes across for more than 15 minutes. He is forced to write little notes to himself, take Polaroids of everyone he comes across (and write a brief caption for them so he knows what that person is like), and makes permanent tattoos on his body of important 'facts' about his wife's murder to remind him daily on why he is living his life. It is a complicated plot that requires a lot of thought not only on the producer's part, but also the viewer's part. Emotionally, this is also an effective movie because everyone that Leonard tries to enlist to help him find his wife's killer ultimately uses his handicap in someway to use and abuse him. Whether it's Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss) or "Teddy" (Joe Pantaliona) getting Leonard to commit murder, or even the owner of the motel who dupes Leonard into renting two rooms. Whatever good intentions Leonard has, he is always the vehicle for other people to carry out their motives. Although probably not meant to be a comedy, there are some scenes in the movie filled with a dark humor owing to Leonard's loss of short-term memory. This off-kilter sort of humor will more likely leave a smirk on your face than laughing out loud. Stylistically, the movie plays out like a cross between "Pulp Fiction" and "Fight Club". "Memento" is told backwards - that is - you see the ending (in rewind) of the movie and work your way backwards in short little clips until you get to the beginning (at the end of the movie). It's kind of like how the same was done in "Pulp Fiction" and with the fact that all of the vignettes in "Pulp Fiction" overlapped and intertwined. Because it works backwards, everything you see in "Memento" will turn upside down on it's head as you see what lead up to what you just saw, and why. Above all, this movie blurs the lines in Leonard's head of what is truth and what are lies. Much like "Fight Club", this movie will keep you questioning as you walk out the theatre whether what you just saw was what really happened, or was it all in Leonard's mind. As Leonard proposed, "Does the world end when you close your eyes?" Overall, "Memento" is an amazing movie (if just a tad bit drawn out) that will probably leave you wishing that you had also taken Polaroids of everyone in the movie so that you could figure out who his wife's killer really is.

P.S. Next on my list for movies that don't suck: "The Usual Suspects", "Trainspotting", "Reservoir Dogs", "Traffic", "Bringing Out the Dead"

- By ÜberMike  



Rites of Summer

Damn, it sure has been a while since anybody on the staff has written an article. Can't really blame anyone though. It's too nice outside to be cooped up in a hole in your house playing computer games 24/7. After a while your eyes will become shot and you will be jumpy ever few minutes. And of course I would know... But anyhow, I've been spending most of my time outside playing basketball at my neighbor's hoop. Considering the fact that I never bothered to find out who they are, it's a good thing that they haven't caught me yet. Otherwise, it could turn into an awkward situation. While I've been gone playing computer games...um...that is...playing basketball, I see that counter has risen to over 1000 visitors. That's a pretty nice number considering the new site has only been up for a little over 1 month. After doing a bit of simple subtraction and matching, I have found out that the 1000th visitor to the Commoner's website is
spider-th084.proxy.aol.com. Now, whoever's IP (internet protocol) address/hostname that is, he/she will receive a prize from me for being the 1000th visitor. Although if I am correct, spider's are programs that companies periodically send out on the web to verify websites for users and other chores. So maybe the AOL corporation has won the prize...Sadly, about all I have to give away are:

a) A tape of some XFL game
b) A couple of overdue books
c) Amnesty International membership renewal form
d) Some crappy CDs I don't listen to anymore

You take your pick. Personally, I would choose the XFL tape, but that's just because it features scantily-clad cheerleaders and Jesse Ventura growling fake football commentary when he should be governing some state up north near Michigan. However, if the winner is a girl, I don't really see any reason to choose the XFL tape... Anyways, getting back on topic, the counter that says there are 1000 visitors to the site isn't really accurate. Most of the visitors to the Commoner's website are the same couple of people who come back over and over. (And when I say 'a couple of people', that's namely me.) We do occasionally get visitors from rather odd places - like the University of Richmond, Washington D.C., Canada (oh those crazy Canucks), and even Holland. One that thankfully hasn't showed up is 'the gatekeeper of Cobb County'. Apparently that person visited Friedman's site, which probably can't be a good thing. He can tell you about it. Many of the odd IP's that visit here find out about this site by typing "teen issues" into a search engine and stumbling across the Commoner's Newsletter. I think that was probably my fault for being misleading. There's no such thing as "teen issues", and if there were, this would probably be the last place any parent would want their kid visiting for advice on troubles in their lives. Not to sound mawkish (vocab word) or overtly sentimental, but it's summer - it's great outside and it's beautiful weather. I'm sure no one here will think about their school (or non-school) related problems one bit for the next 3 months. I know I sure as hell won't be thinking about school. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to start reading my summer reading books.

(P.S. In the words of the D.J. Pugilist: "Get off the damn computer and GO OUTSIDE!)

- By ÜberMike  



Robot Dogs

Yes, you have seen these lovable little metallic canines on TV. They play, they lick, they don't loose bowel control, but do they kill? There was only one way to test this hypothesis. I went out to buy a Robo-Dog. After putting in the batteries, nitrous oxide, and gunpowder required to run Fluffy (the name given to the dog by my crazy Aunt Whipomerch), I hit the "On" button and suddenly I had a real life fake metal dog. Then I made the mistake of looking it in the eyes. Before I knew it, 32 ounces of pure plastic/metal composite was mauling me relentlessly. I reached for the rusty shotgun that I keep under my bed; it was just out of reach (as was the glock, oozy, and hairdryer). To my dismay the dog amputated both of my arms before I was finally able to pacify the beast with my rolled up Sunday Newspaper (prerolled of course, I had no arms). Next week I will acquire a Robo-Komodo-Dragon and begin my next editorial.

(Ed. note: In order to erase all doubts about the issue of Friedman's masculinity, he would like to say that he did NOT in fact actually by a 'Robo-Dog'. I repeat, he did NOT actually buy a 'Robo-Dog'.)

- By David Friedman



Is it too late to turn in the money for the Academic Bowl Banquet? Because I just found the form for it in my bookbag while doing my homework today.

Now then - you are probably going to here a lot of rumors about Greg and me being lazy. Let me assure you, we are not....for the most part. To show that, I will now write an article that will hopefully divert your attention away from the stuff I'm supposed to be doing (like scanning the Academic Bowl pictures). It was entirely not my or Greg's fault that we didn't get anything done last year. Most of the time we spent envisioning what we would do next year and consider it done. Have you checked out the virtual trophy case room with panoramic view? Or what about the practice questions online, the shockwave games, or the flash animation? Consider it done. Oh yea, we also answer emails from people cursing at us for: 

a) spelling their names wrong on the web page 
b) not putting up the pictures 
c) not putting up news 
d) not mentioning their names enough

So far, the only thing that I think we've done to the academic bowl page is changed the design; and I stole half of the pictures for it from another site and the design from the Subway Sandwiches site. Nobody cares about that, because judging from most of the emails we got, people keep saying that we're 'basking in the glory of Brian Udoff' and that we should 'put up the damn pictures'. Apparently Greg got a new scanner (or maybe he was b.s.ing just to get people to vote for us on Thursday), but either way, it buys us some more time to envision what we're going to do in the future. I'm not too sure if we actually won for co-historians on Thursday, but I hope it won't affect our deal with Yin - who ran against us and is putting the pictures up now.... We're supposed to find out who won at the Banquet, but judging from the form I found in my backpack today, the money for that was due yesterday. I would like to go to the Banquet again though - if only for the cult-like induction ceremony with the candles (Greg still has his). I'm a little short on money though, so I need to raise $14 (and then some for Ms. Martin's gift) to mail off this afternoon. How about if we cut a deal? For a small fee, I will post this message on the Academic Bowl website: 

"[Insert your name here] answered 73 questions in Room 'A' yesterday. He/she stunned all of the varsity players by buzzing in with lightning quick speed. [Your name] skyrocketed to the top of the stats list and is now Ms. Martin's new protégé. Please congratulate [Your name] the next time you see him/her for his/her outstanding performance." 

And after all of the hard work I put into my conniving and get-rich-quick schemes, who now can consider me a lazy bum?

- By ÜberMike  


Inside Mr. E's Head

Why is it that when I write something, it's always crap. I dunno, maybe I suck at writing. I guess my scientific study of snot a while back just didn't cut it. Or.. or maybe it's just that The Commoner's doesn't get enough visitors, since it's crap too, wait... I never said that... Maybe it has something to do with my iron intake.. Wow, it's a wonder that people even think this is worth reading, since all I do at home is talk to people on the internet and play CounterStrike. I like paintball and cats, but not both at the same time. I have a tie with cats on it... It's hard to tell unless you look closely. And how can ÜberMike write so much about each CD I make for him? And why does it suck so bad when you are sick? Okay.. I guess my thoughts today are done kicking the crap out of you, blah.

- By Mr. E